#StolenMemory online exhibition: Stutthof

To mark the 76th anniversary of the liberation of the Stutthof concentration camp on May 9, 1945, the Arolsen Archives and the Muzeum Stutthof w Sztutowie are jointly publishing a #StolenMemory online exhibition focusing on the fate of 20 prisoners from this German concentration camp.

The Arolsen Archives have found the families of six of these persecuted individuals. The remaining 14 families are still being sought so that the stolen keepsakes can be returned.

#Found

#Found: Michalska

Genowefa

Michalska

When the German occupiers deported Genowefa Michalska during the Warsaw Uprising in the summer of 1944, she had her husband Zygmund’s wedding ring with her as well as her own. He was already in the Stutthof concentration camp; the German occupiers deported Genowefa there too.

One month later, the SS transferred her to the Hanover-Langenhagen women’s camp, a sub-camp of the Neuengamme concentration camp. Shortly before the end of the war, the SS sent the female prisoners on a death march towards Bergen-Belsen, where the Polish Red Cross took care of Genowefa after the liberation. She returned to Poland and lived in Warsaw. In the summer of 2021, following the #StolenMemory exhibition that we put on with the Muzeum Stutthof w Sztutowie, volunteers in Poland found Genowefa’s niece and great-niece. Both of them knew her well, but they did not know much about Genowefa’s persecution. She had spoken little about the war and her time in the camp. Genowefa Michalska died in 1988. She had no children.

#Found: Dobrzenicki

Marian

Dobrzenicki

Marian Dobrzenicki was born on April 6, 1914, and lived with his wife Karolina and their son Bogdan in Warsaw during World War II.

At the end of August 1944, the German occupiers ordered the civilian population of the city to gather at assembly points. From there, they deported the people to the Pruszków transit camp and elsewhere. The Nazis first sent Marian Dobrzenicki from Pruszków to the Stutthof concentration camp. On September 4, 1944, he was transferred to the Neuengamme concentration camp as a forced laborer. Nothing more is known of his fate. In 2019, the Polish Red Cross found Marian Dobrzenicki’s daughter-in-law, Teresa, on behalf of the Arolsen Archives. She now has the pocket watch that stopped ticking over 75 years ago. 

#Found: Kase

Aleksei

Kase

Aleksei Kase lived with his wife Amata and their three children in Reval, now the city of Tallinn. On March 16, 1944, the security police sent the 40-year-old father to the Stutthof concentration camp for engaging in communist activities.

When he arrived, he was carrying a suitcase whose contents were meticulously itemized and stored away by the SS. He also had to hand over his wedding ring, which was placed in an envelope. When the SS transferred Aleksei Kase to the Neuengamme concentration camp one month later, they sent along the envelope with the ring. Nearly 20 years later, the ring found its way into the current collection of the Arolsen Archives. In 2019, the Estonian Red Cross tracked down Aleksei Kase’s son, and the Arolsen Archives returned the keepsake to the family.

#Found: Brzys

Wieslawa

Brzyś

“My mother was a stylish woman who attached great importance to looking elegant.” The personal belongings that the National Socialists confi scated from Wiesława Brzyś upon her admission into the concentration camp bear this out: a gold wristwatch, an amber bracelet, and brooches.

With her father’s help, she was able to return to Poland initially. During the Warsaw Uprising in 1944, Wiesława and her parents were sent to the Stutthof concentration camp. The SS transported mother and daughter to the Hannover-Langenhagen sub-camp, and then, shortly before the end of the war, to Bergen-Belsen. She was liberated there by the British army. Wiesława’s father did not survive.

The Stutthof Concentration Camp – 1939–1945 I

On September 1, 1939, Nazi Germany invaded Poland and incorporated the Free City of Danzig (now Gdańsk), in violation of international law. Within the borders of the Free City of Danzig the German occupiers established a concentration camp in the village of Stutthof. On September 2, the first prisoner transport arrived with around 150 Poles who had been arrested in Danzig the day before.

The National Socialists initially used the camp to implement Germany’s policy of extermination toward “undesirable Polish elements” – mainly intellectuals from Danzig and Pomerania. From 1942, Polish men and women from other regions and people from various European countries were also imprisoned in Stutthof. From mid 1944, the camp served as part of the German occupiers’ so-called Final Solution to the Jewish question – the systematic murder of the European Jews.

The Stutthof Concentration Camp – 1939–1945 II

From 1939 to 1945, around 110,000 men, women and children from 28 countries were imprisoned in Stutthof. Most of the prisoners came from Poland, the Soviet Union and the German Reich. They included about 50,000 Jewish prisoners. The German National Socialists murdered nearly 65,000 of the camp’s prisoners. Many of them died of overexertion, malnutrition and disease. Thousands of prisoners were murdered during the clearance of the camp and on death marches.

The Stutthof concentration camp covered an area of 120 hectares. Its 39 sub-camps ranged from Pölitz (now Police) near Stettin (Szczecin) to Königsberg (Kaliningrad), Thorn (Toruń) and Bromberg (Bydgoszcz). On May 9, 1945, the camp was liberated after 2,077 days by the Soviet 48th Army of the 3rd Belorussian Front.

#Found: Boboli

Zygmunt

Boboli

“I want to pass on this memory to my children and grandchildren.” In September 2017, Ewa Sioda was given a pocket watch in Warsaw that had belonged to her grandfather, Zygmunt Boboli. For the family, this watch symbolizes the fate of their relative: “My grandfather carried it with him until the day he was arrested.”

The Nazis arrested the Boboli family when the city of Warsaw was cleared during the Warsaw Uprising in 1944. They deported Zygmunt Boboli to the Stutthof concentration camp, the Neuengamme concentration camp and the Watenstedt/Leinde sub-camp. He was liberated by the Red Army in the Ravensbrück men’s camp. His wife and daughter were deported by the Nazis to the German Reich as forced laborers. All three survived and returned to Poland after the war. Zygmunt Boboli never spoke about his experiences.

#Found: Szumidło

Maria

Szumidło

Zbigniew Szumidło could hardly believe it when he discovered his mother’s wristwatch in the Online Archive of the Arolsen Archives in 2019. The German occupiers had expelled the 19-year-old student Maria Szumidło and her sister Jadwiga from the city during the Warsaw Uprising.

They were deported first to the Stutthof concentration camp and then to the Hannover-Langenhagen sub-camp, where they worked as forced laborers. British troops liberated Maria and Jadwiga in Bergen-Belsen. After the war, Maria lived in various DP camps. Her son Zbigniew was born in 1947. In 1950, she emigrated with Zbigniew’s father, Franciszek Zajder, from Bremerhaven to New Zealand on board the Hellenic Prince. Maria Szumidło died in 1999. In 2019, the Arolsen Archives sent her watch to her son in Australia.

#Found: Czaplicki

Franciszek

Czaplicki

Kamil Kaczyński was excited when he learned in April 2021 that the Arolsen Archives had documents and a pocket watch belonging to his great-granduncle Franciszek Czaplicki.

He never thought his research would lead him to find so much information, and even the grave of his lost family member and a personal item belonging to him. The decisive clue came from the Institute of National Remembrance in Poland.

Franciszek Czaplicki was born on December 8, 1903, in Darmopychy and was the third of seven children. His parents were named Tekla and Ludwik. He later moved on his own to Warsaw and married Stefania Najdzik. They lived in the village of Ząbki near Warsaw with their sons Tadeusz and Jerzy. He was a civil servant who worked for the Poczta Polska. During the Warsaw Uprising, the German occupiers deported him to the Stutthof concentration camp and then sent him to the Neuengamme concentration camp a short time later. Franciszek Czaplicki died on November 12, 1944. He is buried in the Ohlsdorf Cemetery in Hamburg.

Mementoes of Nazi Victims

In the Arolsen Archives in Germany, there are nearly 2,500 “effects” from concentration camps: pocket watches and wristwatches, rings, wallets, family photos, everyday items such as combs, powder tins or razors, etc. Often they were the last remaining belongings of the victims of Nazi persecution, the things they had with them at the time of their arrest by the National Socialists. They belonged to people from more than 30 countries—many of them from Poland and the former Soviet Union.

In 2016, the Arolsen Archives launched a campaign to return these stolen memories to as many families as possible. The exhibition tells what it means to people to hold these mementoes in their hands—and shows objects whose rightful owners the Arolsen Archives have yet to find.

#Searching

#Searching: Urbański

Jan

Urbański

We are looking for relatives of Jan Urbański, born on March 20, 1900. During the Warsaw Uprising, the German occupiers forced him to leave the city and sent him to the Pruszków transit camp.

They had established this camp outside the city gates shortly after the start of the uprising to hold imprisoned civilians who were then selected for deportation to German concentration and extermination camps. Within just a few months, the SS and Wehrmacht had funneled more than 550,000 people through the camp. From Pruzsków, the Nazis sent Jan Urbański to the Stutthof concentration camp, where he spent five days before being deported to the Neuengamme concentration camp. There is no indication of whether he survived. The Arolsen Archives have in their holdings his wedding ring, a chain with a pendant, and a razor blade belonging to him.

Invasion of Poland

The Second World War began with the invasion of Poland by the German Wehrmacht on 1 September 1939. When the Soviet Union, allied with the Germans, marched in on 17 September, the Poles had to surrender to the superior forces shortly afterwards. Poland was divided among the occupying forces in accordance with the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact. A period of terror and arbitrariness began for the Polish population. However, a resistance movement was quickly organized in the underground.

The Germans annexed territories, expelled and expropriated the population, deported hundreds of thousands to forced labor or concentration camps, murdered indiscriminately and plundered. Resistance fighters and the elites from administration, education and the clergy were deliberately persecuted. The Jews, who were completely deprived of their rights and crammed into ghettos, suffered particularly from violence and hunger.

#Searching: Jędrzejczak

Jan

Jędrzejczak

We are looking for relatives of Jan Jędrzejczak, born on September 18, 1898. When Warsaw was cleared during the Warsaw Uprising, the German occupiers deported him to the Stutthof concentration camp.

He arrived there on August 31, 1944, and was given the prisoner number 77 171. In early September 1944, the Nazis deported him to the Neuengamme concentration camp in Hamburg. The fragmentary documentation gives no indication of what happened to him after this. Around 180,000 Polish women and men were killed during the Warsaw Uprising, and another 60,000 were deported to German concentration camps. Around 6,000 of these deportees were sent to Neuengamme as forced laborers, including Jan Jędrzejczak. His pocket watch is in the holdings of the Arolsen Archives.

#Searching: Nowak

Alexandra

Nowak

We are looking for relatives of Aleksandra Nowak, née Elbe, born on August 15, 1918, in Warsaw. She was a seamstress who lived in Warsaw with her husband Stanislaw. During the Warsaw Uprising, the German occupiers ordered her to leave the city.

The Nazis deported her to the Stutthof concentration camp on August 31, 1944. Nearly one month later, the SS transferred her along with around 500 other female prisoners to the Hannover-Langenhagen sub-camp for women. The Allies bombed the sub-camp in January 1945. The women were then moved to the Hannover-Limmer sub-camp, and they were sent from there on a death march to Bergen-Belsen. After the liberation, Aleksandra Nowak was cared for in Bergen-Belsen by the Polish Red Cross. Her jewelry is held by the Arolsen Archives.

#Searching: Klinkowski

Janusz

Klinkowski

We are looking for relatives of Janusz Klinkowski, born on April 24, 1910, in Berlin. He was a master chimney sweep who lived with his wife Therese and their child in Gniezno.

The police in the nearby city of Inowrocław took Janusz Klinkowski into so-called “protective custody” in May 1940 on account of “anti-German behavior.” He was deported to the Dachau concentration camp shortly thereafter. In April 1942, the SS sent Janusz to the Stutthof concentration camp, where he was forced to work in the infirmary. In October 1944, he was transferred to the Neuengamme concentration camp. Janusz Klinkowski died on May 20, 1945, shortly after he was liberated, in a hospital in Rotenburg near Bremen. His last possessions are in the holdings of the Arolsen Archives.

Warsaw Uprising I

In the fifth year of the German occupation, which had claimed millions of lives on Polish soil, the summer of 1944 saw the Wehrmacht in retreat on every front. In eastern Poland, the Red Army had advanced as far as Lublin and Białystok and was moving on towards Warsaw. In the west, Allied troops had landed in Normandy and were fighting their way towards the border of the Reich. In order to liberate the capital by their own efforts before Soviet units marched into the city, the National Polish Home Army (Armia Krajowa, AK), with the support of a number of other groups, decided to stage a revolt.

Warsaw Uprising II

On the orders of the Polish Government-in-Exile in London, the Uprising began under the leadership of General Count Tadeusz Komorowski on August 1, 1944, a few days after the attempt to assassinate Hitler. The revolt was part of a nationwide campaign known as Operation Tempest. Polish units gained control over large parts of the city center during the first few days. There were many women and young people among the insurgents who fought fiercely for every house and every street. The resistance against the superior German military forces lasted a whole 63 days. Although the British Royal Air Force supported the Poles by supplying them with arms, the Red Army on the opposite bank of the Vistula did not intervene in the fighting. The reaction of the Wehrmacht and SS units was brutal.

#Searching: Kowalski

Julian

Kowalski

We are looking for relatives of Julian Kowalski, born on February 15, 1916. The state police arrested him in Koszalin and sent him to the Stutthof concentration camp. He was registered there as a “political protective custody prisoner” on March 29, 1944, and was assigned the prisoner number 33 254.

In the German Reich and occupied territories, the Nazis randomly took people into so-called “protective custody.” These prisoners would be detained indefinitely without any court ruling, and they had absolutely no rights. Two weeks later, in April 1944, the German occupiers transferred Julian Kowalski to the Neuengamme concentration camp. Nothing more is known of his fate. The Arolsen Archives have his pocket watch with a hinged protective case.

#Searching: Więtczak

Józef

Więtczak

We are looking for relatives of Josef Więtczak, born on March 12, 1912. He was married. At the end of August 1944, the German occupiers expelled the residents of Warsaw, including Josef Więtczak, from the parts of the city that were under Nazi control.

The expulsion of civilians was one of the brutal reprisals for the Warsaw Uprising. The Nazis first deported the 32-year-old to the Stutthof concentration camp, where he was imprisoned for four days. On September 4, 1944, he was transferred to the Neuengamme concentration camp in Hamburg and registered there with the prisoner number 46 427. He was put to work as a forced laborer there. Nothing more is known of his fate. His wedding ring is held in the Arolsen Archives.  

#Searching: Hryncewicz

Józef

Hryncewicz

We are looking for relatives of Józef Hryncewicz, born on November 1, 1903. During the Warsaw Uprising, the German occupiers forced him to leave the city, and on August 31, 1944, they deported him to the Stutthof concentration camp.

Four days later, they transferred him to the Neuengamme concentration camp. He was put to work as a forced laborer in the Hamburg-Steinwerder sub-camp for the Blom&Voss shipyard. From October 1944, around 600 Polish and Soviet concentration camp prisoners worked there in submarine production. Survivors of the sub-camp report that the prisoners were regularly abused. The death rate among the Blom&Voss forced laborers was especially high. Józef Hryncewicz died on March 23, 1945 – probably from the effects of hunger, cold and abuse. His watch and two rings are held by the Arolsen Archives.

Warsaw Uprising III

The SS murdered the captured soldiers of the Home Army – and civilians too – in mass executions. Even while the Uprising was still in progress, the German occupying forces began to clear those parts of the city they were able to access. First they ordered all the men who were under 50 to report to assembly points. A few days later, it was the turn of the women. The Germans drove large parts of Warsaw's population out of the city in convoys and transported them to transit camp Dulag 121 in Pruszków. From there, they deported about 60,000 Polish men and women to German concentration camps to do forced labor.
Once the Uprising had been suppressed, the city was almost completely destroyed. The Warsaw Uprising was the largest revolt against the Nazi regime in occupied Europe.

#Searching: Karczewska

Helena

Karczewska

We are looking for relatives of Helena Karczewska, born on October 14, 1896, in Stara Dąbrowa. She was a housewife who was deported from Warsaw in the summer of 1944 when the German occupiers cleared the city during the Warsaw Uprising.

On August 31, 1944, the Nazis transferred Helena Karczewska from the Pruzsków transit camp to the Stutthof concentration camp, where she was given the prisoner number 86 886. Nearly one month later, the SS sent her to Hannover-Langenhagen, a sub-camp of the Neuengamme concentration camp. Most of the prisoners in this camp were Polish and Soviet female forced laborers who had to work in armaments and aircraft production. All trace of Helena is lost after this. Her watch with a metal wristband is in the holdings of the Arolsen Archives.

#Searching: Orzechowski

Jan

Orzechowski

We are looking for relatives of Jan Orzechowski, born on January 19 or February 2, 1902, in Płońsk. His last known address was 23 Wołomińska Street in Warsaw.

During the Warsaw Uprising, the German occupiers expelled the civilian population from the city. Jan Orzechowski was deported via the Pruszków transit camp to the Stutthof concentration camp on August 31, 1944. Five days later, he was transferred to the Neuengamme concentration camp in Hamburg, where he was registered with the prisoner number 46 234. His fate after this is unknown. In 1949, Honorata Orzechowska from Warsaw, who was presumably a relative, submitted a tracing inquiry for Jan Orzechowski through the Red Cross, but no information was found. His pocket watch is stored in the Arolsen Archives.

#Searching: Bazyka

Alexander

Bazyka

We are looking for relatives of Alexander Bazyka, born in 1912 in Brest-Litovsk. He was a railway worker and the father of four children. The security police in Białystok arrested him for supposedly being “involved in a gang” and imprisoned him in the Stutthof concentration camp on February 28, 1944.

He was registered with the number 32 400 and categorized as a “political prisoner.” Six weeks later, on April 14, 1944, the Nazis deported him to the Neuengamme concentration camp in northern Germany. After the liberation, Alexander Bazyka lived in Bremen. The Main Committee of Former Political Prisoners later registered him in Hannover. His signet ring with his initials is stored in the Arolsen Archives.

Found in 1945

Shortly before the liberation by the Allies, the SS cleared the concentration camps, sent the inmates on death marches, and set fire to records as well as the victims’ belongings to cover the traces of the mass murder they had committed. The largest surviving collection of personal property in the Arolsen Archives comes from the Neuengamme concentration camp. As the Allies approached, the camp commandant had the belongings and clothing of some 5,000 inmates removed from the grounds. British soldiers later found these “effects” in Lunden in Schleswig-Holstein. Personal objects from the Bergen-Belsen and Dachau concentration camps also survived, but in much smaller numbers.

#Searching: Zawierucha

Krystyna

Zawierucha

We are looking for relatives of Krystyna Zawierucha, born in Zawiercie on April 12, 1924. She was only 20 years old when the National Socialists deported her during the Warsaw Uprising to the Stutthof concentration camp on August 31, 1944, where she was registered with the prisoner number 87225.

They recorded her occupation as “corset worker” on her prisoner card. Just one month later, they transferred Krystyna Zawierucha to the Hannover-Langenhagen sub-camp of the Neuengamme concentration camp, where she was given the prisoner number 7831. After the liberation, she came under the care of Allied troops and was looked after at Glynn-Hughes hospital. The hospital had been set up near the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp to provide medical care for concentration camp survivors. Krystyna Zawierucha died there only shortly afterwards, on May 4, 1945.

#Searching: Wolborski

Stanisław

Wolborski

We are looking for relatives of Stanisław Wolborski, born on March 31, 1910, in Łódź. He was a machine woodworker and was among the civilians expelled from Warsaw by the German occupiers during the Warsaw Uprising and held in the Pruszków transit camp.

He was sent to the Stutthof concentration camp on August 31, 1944, and the Nazis deported him a few days later to the Neuengamme concentration camp, where he was assigned the prisoner number 46 419. He survived Nazi persecution and resided in a DP camp in Neumünster after the war. We know from his marriage certificate that he married the Polish woman Helena Gwardiak there on July 12, 1945. His bride had probably also been a forced laborer. His pocket watch and a good-luck charm are stored in the Arolsen Archives.

Join the Campaign!

Please join the community and help us return the mementoes stolen by the Nazis to their rightful owners. Time is of the essence. Visit our website to see photos of the personal belongings and the names of victims of Nazi persecution. You can use the information there to conduct research and share important clues with us.

stolenmemory.org/en/

The Arolsen Archives, an international center on Nazi persecution, preserves the world’s most extensive collection of documents on the victims of National Socialism. Its holdings are listed in the UNESCO Memory of the World register. We use this unique source for a variety of projects seeking to anchor memory, knowledge and information in our lives today.

arolsen-archives.org/en/

#Found: Dobrzenicki

Marian

Dobrzenicki

Marian Dobrzenicki was born on April 6, 1914, and lived with his wife Karolina and their son Bogdan in Warsaw during World War II.

At the end of August 1944, the German occupiers ordered the civilian population of the city to gather at assembly points. From there, they deported the people to the Pruszków transit camp and elsewhere. The Nazis first sent Marian Dobrzenicki from Pruszków to the Stutthof concentration camp. On September 4, 1944, he was transferred to the Neuengamme concentration camp as a forced laborer. Nothing more is known of his fate. In 2019, the Polish Red Cross found Marian Dobrzenicki’s daughter-in-law, Teresa, on behalf of the Arolsen Archives. She now has the pocket watch that stopped ticking over 75 years ago. 

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