• Gross-Rosen Museum
In the summer of 1940, the SS established a camp close to the village of Gross-Rosen (Polish: Rogoźnica), about 60 kilometres west of Breslau (Polish: Wrocław), which was in operation until February 1945. Today, a memorial honours the approximately 40,000 victims of the former concentration camp.
Image: Gross-Rosen, undated, Entrance to the camp, Muzeum Gross-Rosen w Rogoźnicy
Gross-Rosen, undated, Entrance to the camp, Muzeum Gross-Rosen w Rogoźnicy

Image: Rogoźnica, 2007, Entrance to the memorial site, Alan Collins
Rogoźnica, 2007, Entrance to the memorial site, Alan Collins
In summer 1940, the SS set up a satellite camp of Sachsenhausen in the Lower Silesian village of Gross-Rosen. This site was chosen for two reasons: Firstly, there were no concentration camps in Silesia, meaning prisoners from the east of the Reich had to be deported to the Sachsenhausen and Buchenwald concentration camps. After new territories had been annexed in 1938/1939 and mass arrests had been conducted in Poland following the outbreak of war, these camps became overcrowded. The second reason was of an economic nature: Near the site was a granite quarry, which the National Socialists intended to exploit in order to build monumental architecture in German cities. The plot of land was rented by the SS-owned Deutsche Erd- und Steinwerke GmbH.
At the beginning of August 1940, the first 100 German and Polish prisoners arrived at Gross-Rosen. From May 1941 on, Gross-Rosen became an independently administered camp. At the time, the camp held 722 prisoners: mostly Poles, Czech and German prisoners in »protective custody« as well as »asocials«. The prisoners had to work in the quarries for twelve hours a day, they were abused by the guards, hunger and illnesses were widespread - as a result, the death rate was very high. Sick prisoners were regularly deported to other camps and exchanged for healthy ones. The number of prisoners rose constantly, and at the end of July 1942, there were 1,890 men incarcerated at Gross-Rosen. Many prisoners were being admitted from state police headquarters in cities such as Breslau, Kattowitz and Posen.
Towards the end of the war, when more and more camps and prisons in the east were being shut down, the number of prisoners at Gross-Rosen rose dramatically; about 100 satellite camps were set up. On January 1, 1945, the Gross-Rosen concentration camp complex held a total of over 75,000 prisoners, about a third of them women. The camp was dissolved in February and most of the prisoners were chaotically transported to camps in the west.
Image: Gross-Rosen, undated, Entrance to the camp, Muzeum Gross-Rosen w Rogoźnicy
Gross-Rosen, undated, Entrance to the camp, Muzeum Gross-Rosen w Rogoźnicy

Image: Rogoźnica, 2007, Entrance to the memorial site, Alan Collins
Rogoźnica, 2007, Entrance to the memorial site, Alan Collins
In 1941, the majority of prisoners at Gross-Rosen were Germans, later Poles and Soviet prisoners formed the majority. Most of the prisoners were politically and racially persecuted people from the German Reich and occupied territories. In the course of the war, many so-called »Ostarbeiter«, (forced labourers from the Soviet Union) and prisoners of war were sent to the camp.
Gross-Rosen also served as a site for executions, especially Soviet prisoners of war were shot or murdered by poison injections in large numbers after 1941. In 1944/1945, the SS increasingly deported Jews to the camp, most of them from Poland and Hungary. During the evacuation of Auschwitz alone, which had taken place since autumn 1944, tens of thousands of Jewish men and women were transferred to Gross-Rosen. The percentage of Jewish prisoners was especially high in the satellite camps of Gross-Rosen. When the camp became overcrowded in 1944, hunger and illnesses became unbearable. The weakened and sick prisoners were abandoned to their fate. In total, about 120,000 prisoners passed through the Gross-Rosen concentration camp complex, almost 60,000 of them Jews. Between August 1940 and February 1945, about 40,000 prisoners were murdered or died of exhaustion, hunger or illnesses.
Image: Rogoźnica, undated, A mass grave is uncovered, Muzeum Gross-Rosen w Rogoźnicy
Rogoźnica, undated, A mass grave is uncovered, Muzeum Gross-Rosen w Rogoźnicy

Image: Rogoźnica, 2007, Former execution site with memorial plaques, Alan Collins
Rogoźnica, 2007, Former execution site with memorial plaques, Alan Collins
Despite the camp's high death toll, the history of the Gross-Rosen concentration camp remained largely unknown to the public. In March 1947, the camp premises were officially handed over to the Polish authorities by the Soviet army, and they immediately began preserving the remnants of the camp. In September 1947, a competition for the design of a mausoleum in memory of the victims was launched. In autumn 1953, the mausoleum for the victims' ashes was completed based on a design by Adam Procki. The alcoves in the granite wall of the mausoleum store urns containing earth from the satellite camps of Gross-Rosen.
In 1983, the Gross-Rosen Museum was established. Its foundation had been initiated by former prisoners. The museum has since then been responsible for preserving the former camp premises and the remains of the camp archive as well as documenting and teaching the camp's history. The SS canteen and the camp gate are among the few original buildings still standing, housing exhibitions now. Visitors can also see the foundations of the barracks and the crematory as well as the execution site and the quarry.
Image: Rogoźnica, 2007, Mausoleum at the memorial site, Alan Collins
Rogoźnica, 2007, Mausoleum at the memorial site, Alan Collins

Image: Rogoźnica, 2007, Field crematory, Alan Collins
Rogoźnica, 2007, Field crematory, Alan Collins
Name
Muzeum Gross-Rosen w Rogoźnicy
Address
Rogoźnica
58-150 Rogoźnica
Phone
+48 (0)74 855 9007
Fax
+48 (0)74 842 1594
Web
http://www.gross-rosen.pl
E-Mail
muzeum@gross-rosen.pl
Open
May through September daily from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
October through April daily from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Possibilities
Guided tours, exhibitions, film screenings, archive, publications