Konzentrationslager Adlerwerke

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Adler_logo_1A while ago I wrote about the history of forced labor at the Seidel&Naumann factory in Dresden during the second world war. After noticing the Adler-logo on the Mod that Nick blogged about recently, I got curious about Adler’s history during the war.
As Nick already pointed out, the circeled cross and lightning seems to have nothing to do with Nazism, this specific logo was used before the war. Nevertheless, Adlerwerke itself, took a big part in Hitler’s war. It wasn’t at all hard to find any information about it’s dark history.

Adlerwerke was the largest bike manufacturer of Germany and became Frankfurt’s largest defense contractor during the first world war. That is when the Adlerwerke got it’s experience with the use of prisoners of war. During Nazism, the Adler factory produced almost exclusively for the Wehrmacht and rose to become the largest manufacturer of armored chassis. In 1938 it already has barracks for French civilian workers on site. In 1942 many Russian prisoners of war were also sent to Frankfurt and by 1943 Adlerwerke was the third largest factory which used forced labor. After an air raid in 1944, which caused severe destruction of the Adler factory site and a loss of many workers, the company called upon concentration camp prisoners. A subcamp of the concentration camp Natzweiler was completed on factory premises and received the code name “Katz Bach”.

A total of approximately 1600 forced laborers were held in concentration camp Katzbach, where SS was also present. The prisoners were selected by the management, especially out of the concentration camps Buchenwald and Dachau. Many others were abducted after the suppression of the Warsaw Uprising.

The death rate in Adlers concentration camp was very high. The prisoners were forced to work in unheated, partly ruined halls for 84 hours a week. During the cold winter of 1944-45 the prisoners only possessed their ragged summer uniforms. Sanitation and medical care were not practical. Violence and harassment were commonplace. The prisoners either starved to death or fell, completely weakened, victim to diseases. Attempts to escape were punished with public execution by the SS.

Before the Americans took over Frankfurt, Adlerwerke made sure to eliminate all possible evidence for the existence of their concentration camp. Liberation came too late for the prisoners who got transported to Bergen-Belsen or marched to Buchenwald (and from Buchenwald to Dachau). Only months later, military authorities found evidence after locating the main cemetery on it’s premises where 528 prisoners are buried. After more research they also found the prisoner statistics. Forty prisoners were rescued two days after reaching Dachau. Those responsible were never held accountable.

From what I can find, the prisoners worked on automatic transmission for the tank “Tiger” and “Panther” and turbine aircraft, Maybach and speedboat engines, half-tracks, various kinds of light trucks, torpedo drives, cartridge cases and driving mechanisms, as well as a range of other mechanical manufacturing semi-products needed by the German Wehrmacht. Triumph-Adler’s website states that 1942 marks the end of typewriter manufacture for the civilian market.

adler kfz

Gedenktafel_Adlerwerke

Source: kz adlerwerke.de