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Nazi Labor Camp HASAG

 

HASAG

Hugo Schneider Aktiengesellschaft Metalwarenfabrik

 

 

 

A view of the HASAG camp at Czestochowa

HASAG was founded in Leipzig Germany in 1863 as a small lamp factory and became the Hugo Schneider Aktiengesellschaft in 1889, when it was converted into a metal products factory.

 

In 1930 the company had about one thousand employees and an annual turnover of 5 million marks. In 1932 Paul Budin, a member of the Nazi Party and a Sturmbannfuhrer in the SS, was appointed General Manager of HASAG. His deputies were Dr. Georg Mumme, Hans Fuhrer and Gustav Hessen; Dr Ernst von Schon was Chairman of the Board, and the shareholders included Hugo Zinsser, Ernst von Wildeneg and Richard Koch.

 

Beginning in 1933, the company developed contacts with the infantry ordnance branch of the Wehrmacht High Command, and it became a regular supplier of ammunition to the infantry and the Luftwaffe.

 

In 1934 HASAG was classified as a Wehrmachtsbetrieb (a company working for the armed forces). By 1939 its annual turnover was 22 million marks and it employed thirty-seven hundred workers.

 

HASAG’s status was raised to that of Rustungsbetrieb (armament’s company) in 1939. When the German armaments industry was re-organised in 1940, Budin was appointed the Chairman of Special Committee II, which had the task of supervising the production in the Reich of light ammunition for the infantry and the air force.

 

When Albert Speer was appointed Minister of Armaments in 1942, the committee’s range of responsibilities was broadened and Budin’s stature also grew as a result. In 1944 HASAG was charged with the mass production of infantry rocket launchers and received Hitler’s thanks for its achievements. HASAG – Leipzig was also singled out as an “Exemplary National Socialist Enterprise.”

 

In Germany during the war HASAG had eight plants in Germany, with two categories of workers. The first was that of civilian workers, men and women from all over Europe, especially the Slavic countries.

 

Some chose to work for HASAG but the majority were forced labourers, by 1941 HASAG was employing a large number of Polish and Croatian voluntary workers, and in subsequent years it also employed French and Russian workers.

 

Special open camps were established in the vicinity of the plants for the Slavic workers, but they were kept under strict police surveillance, the pay for these workers was very low.

 

The second category was that of concentration camp prisoners. Beginning in the summer of 1944, labour camps were established next to each HASAG plant, all of them as Aussenkommandos (satellite units) of the Buchenwald concentration camp.

 

According to incomplete data based on the Buchenwald concentration camp card index, the composition and size of the work force in the HASAG labour camps on the 31 January 1945 was as follows:

 

Aussenkommando

Number

Location

Number of Jewish Men

Number of Women

Total

3

Altenburg

52

2616

2668

24

Colditz

300

 

300

42

Flossberg

396

 

396

65

Leipzig

221

5067

5288

74

Meuselwitz

290

1376

1666

95

Schlieben

2,339

242

2581

107

Taucha

426

1256

 

1682

Total

 

4024

10557

14581

 

The employment by the HASAG industries of such a large number of female forced labourers was determined by a number of factors: 

  • The mechanisation and automation of the production of small – and medium-size munitions enabled women to replace men in the assembly line.

  • Women cost less than men. HASAG paid the SS less for women prisoners, both in the Reich and the nt. Generalgouvernement.

  • HASAG’s experience with Jewish forced labour showed that, all other things being equal, women’s adaptability and resilience were much greater than men’s. The average mortality rate was higher for men than for women.

Slave laborers from Czestochowa marched to the camp at HASAG

Between twenty thousand and twenty-two thousand prisoners of different nationalities passed through the HASAG labour camps in Germany from their establishment until their final liquidation in April 1945.

 

With the advance of the Allied forces, some of the prisoners were transferred to other camps, some prisoners embarked on “death marches” in small groups and it is difficult to estimate the number of prisoners who were murdered or who died en route.

 

Between 70 and 80 percent of the Jewish prisoners in the HASAG camps in Germany were estimated to have survived.

In Poland following the German invasion in September 1939 and occupation HASAG began operating in the Radom district and a year later in 1940 on the recommendations of the Armed Forces High Command HASAG was put in charge of the administration of the ammunition factories in Skarzysko – Kamienna, the Granat grenade factory in Kielce and the Rakow foundry in Czestochowa.

 

The three plants were also classified as Wehrmachtsbetriebe and in early 1943 HASAG acquired the plants from the Generalgouvernement for a payment of 16.5 million zlotys – 1.5 million Reichsmarks.

 

Read more here: http://www.holocaustresearchproject.org/nazioccupation/hasag.html

The Holocaust Education & Archive Research Team

www.HolocaustResearchProject.org

 

Copyright Carmelo Lisciotto H.E.A.R.T 2010

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