The massacre of Palmnicken
In January 1945, most of the prisoners of the main Stutthof camp were forced to walk to Danzig/Gdansk and beyond. 13.000 inmates of several subcamps were sent on a seemingly similar death march, east to Königsberg. This march however ended in a singularly brutal massacre at the beach of Palmnicken.
the approach of the Soviet Army in January 1945, 13.000 prisoners from Stutthof subcamps in Heiligenbeil (today Mamonowo), Jesau (Juschny), Seerappen (Ljublino) and Schippenbeil (Sępopol), were forced to march to Königsberg (Kaliningrad). The prisoners were mostly Jewish women from Poland and Hungary. But as Königsberg was already besieged by the Red Army, the prisoners were directed further to Palmnicken (today Yantarny). Less then 3.000 prisoners arrived there, the rest had perished during the marches. The roads to Palmnicken were lined with dead bodies.
The Germans planned to wall up the remaining women in a tunnel of an amber mine, but the commander of the Volkssturm, Hans Feyerabend, disagreed. The SS and most of the local inhabitants however insisted to get rid of the prisoners. When Feyerabend realized that he wouldn’t be able to rescue the women, he committed suicide. The 3.000 prisoners were taken to a nearby beach and driven into the ice cold water where nearly all of them were killed by machine-gun fire. The murderers could not hide their crime as the bodies washed ashore over a long stretch of the coastline. Less than 200 women survived the massacre, and only 15 of them survived the war. Ten weeks later the Soviets, whose commander was a Russian Jew, forced the German inhabitants of Palmnicken to bury the corpses. Palmnicken was one of the last massacres of Jews during the Second World War.