The Story of Stutthof
The Stutthof camp was planned long before the war broke out. It was built as a regional prison camp, but during the war the Nazi’s enlarged Stutthof and incorporated it in their overall camp system. Finally, Stutthof became a concentration camp that contributed in the attempted extermination of all European Jews.
Long before the war broke out, the Nazi leadership in the Free City of Danzig developed the idea of establishing a camp for "undesirable Polish elements". Since 1936, they closely watched Polish organizations and a special SS troop looked for sites to build detention camps. The Stutthof camp was established on 2 September 1939, only one day after the beginning of the war.
After Himmler’s visit in November 1941, the Nazi’s expanded Stutthof to an interregional camp. From June 1944 it became a tool for mass-extermination. At its largest extension, the camp measured 120 ha, stretching out over 39 subcamps. In total, 110.000 people were imprisoned here. Among them were Poles, Jews, Russians, Ukrainians, Belorussians, Lithuanians, Latvians, Estonians, Czechs, Slovaks, Finns, Norwegians, French, Danes, Dutch, Belgians, Germans, Austrians, English, Spanish, Italians, Yugoslavs, Hungarians and Roma (gypsies). They were exposed to forced labour, malnutrition, terrible sanitation, disease, mental and physical torture. 65.000 people died as a result of atrocious living conditions as well as executions by shooting, hanging, gassing, lethal injections, beatings and torture, and as a result of hardship and murder during evacuations by land and by sea.
Stutthof was finally liberated on 9 May 1945 by the 48th Army of the 3rd Belorussian front.