The Forced Labour Camp in Nowa Huta

“I have been living in Nowa Huta for the last four years. I moved here from Warsaw. Of course I have heard the history of its construction, the one from 70 years ago, but then I heard other things, other places. Because somehow there was a ‘Huta’ before ‘Huta’ ” says Grażyna Olewniczak, a retired journalist. “And once I heard a war story which I had never heard before and it was surprising. I started to look for information and it was not easy to find. It concerned the forced labour camp Baulager 15/XVI, which Germans had founded in the beginning of the 1940s on a very large area: approximately from Mogiła (ulica Klasztorna) to the Central Square. In 1941 the camp was divided into sub-camps: in the first one a few hundred Russian prisoners of war, in the second one Jewish women. Barracks were build, and they were surrounded by barbed wire. The Russians worked building the airport at Cyzyny, but also on building a fake airport, which the Nazis placed around the Kopiec Wanda, in order to lead the enemy into error (they had fake airplanes there)” – says Maciej Miezian of the Nowa Huta Museum (part of the Museum of Kraków). The Jewish women worked in a fabric factory and in the warehouses. The sub-camp for POWs was destroyed just before the advance of the Red Army into Kraków, the sub-camp for women remained until 1943. The barracks for women were there, where later the Swiatowid cinema was built. Today it is the main office of the Nowa Huta museum. The fate of the prisoners is unknown. Historians claim that they were taken to one of the extermination camps in Poland and murdered there. When Nowa Huta was build, the barracks were destroyed. There are not many traces left of that story.

translation Dr. D. Cohen