Kaisersteinbruch prisoner of war camp

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Bronze relief main camp XVII A Kaisersteinbruch by Alexandru Ciutureanu , 1939–1999

The Kaisersteinbruch prisoner of war camp , also known as Stalag XVII A Kaisersteinbruch , was the first prisoner of war camp in the "Ostmark" area in Wehrkreis XVII (Vienna) , but it was also one of the first camps in the entire Reich . It was mainly located in the area of ​​today's federal state of Burgenland , some former storage areas are now on the other side of the border with Lower Austria .

The first mention was the camp Kaisersteinbruch on 29 August 1939 by establishing the Dulag "J", the country's battalions XXV and XXVII were subordinated. As early as September 30, 1939, the name was changed to Stalag XVII A, while Gneixendorf and Edelbach-Döllersheim remained transit camps. In addition to its function as Stalag, Kaisersteinbruch, still named Bruck an der Leitha in autumn 1939 , continued to exercise its earlier function as Dulag.

Kaisersteinbruch 1938

Josef Wolf , Mayor, reported .. from June 1936 to April 4, 1939, I worked in the quarries of the company Amelin , also in road construction , in winter in the woods, and I am also very much unemployed have been . The municipality of Kaisersteinbruch was a large municipality until 1938 and consisted of the village of Kaisersteinbruch with the adjoining military camp and the royal court 2.5 km away .

On the morning of March 12, 1938, German planes were already flying all over Austria and from the west German armored columns rolled in unstoppable succession over Austria's borders without encountering the slightest resistance. Hitler had marched into Austria with the German Wehrmacht and intended to occupy it permanently. With this, however, a new chapter in history began for our dear home community, the decision about “to be or not to be . After the annexation of Austria , a lot of building activity began. No urgently needed residential buildings were built, but a new military camp was built. As a result, the military camp (Camp I) was taken over by the German Wehrmacht and occupied with troops.

Dissolution of the Kaisersteinbruch community

As early as July 1938, the community administration was informed that Kaisersteinbruch had to be completely cleared by the civilian population . At first nobody could and would really believe this. But when the mayor set a good example instead of organizing a resistance and was one of the first to clear the field, imitators gradually found themselves and in the summer of 1939, apart from a few families, Kaisersteinbruch was cleared. The second, who set a good example , was the Heiligenkreuz Abbey , which not only sold the rectory and the church with the associated parish grounds, but also the cemetery with the dead for expensive money and also cleared the field .

Resettlement in 1939

A letter from the Deutsche Ansiedlungsgesellschaft branch office in Bruck adL documents the ordered resettlement of Kaisersteinbruch. We confirm that Ferdinand Schweiger from Kaisersteinbruch has to give up his apartment as a result of the expansion of the Bruck an der Leitha military training area. The municipality Kaisersteinbruch must be vacated by March 15, 1939 ..

A letter from the command office of the military training area Bruck ad Leitha dated July 24th, 1939 granted a postponement .. since the location had to be evacuated on October 1st, 1939 .

Dissolution of the parish Kaisersteinbruch

In a letter dated March 31, 1939, the Apostolic Administration of Burgenland informed Abbot Gregor Pöck of Heiligenkreuz about new parish boundaries: The Kaisersteinbruch parish incorporated into the monastery now belonged to the parish of Winden am See and the Königshof settlement to the Wilfleinsdorf parish .

Complete evacuation of the church

The Central Office for Monument Protection in a letter dated May 20, 1939 to the camp command in Bruck / Leitha .. since the place Kaisersteinbruch with its artistically remarkable two-tower parish church has to be completely cleared, photographic recordings of the place and of the outside as well as of the inside of the Church to be made.

Neighboring Sommerein

In May 1938 the community of Sommerein received the devastating bad news of the complete evacuation of this place! The towns of Sommerein and Kaisersteinbruch had the same fate during the Nazi era.

The first prisoner of war camp in the "Ostmark" area

The experience with Kaisersteinbruch as a prisoner-of-war camp in World War I and as a “stopping camp” of the corporate state were responsible for the choice of location .

Kaisersteinbruch stopping camp

Camp 2

Immediately after the entry of the German troops into camp 1, construction of a new camp began. 30 large team barracks, 2 large team kitchens and 4 large garages for vehicles of all kinds, all made of wood, with a “normal floor space” for 6,000 men were built. In May / June 1939 the first troops could be accommodated there. In the summer of 1940, the greater part of this camp, called Camp 2 for short, was set up as a prisoner of war camp.

The 4 companies of the Rifle Battalion, housed as a guard in Camp 1, were relocated to the 4 barracks at the top of the forest, thus clearing the entire camp of Camp 1 to accommodate prisoners of war. After the Poles had been transported home, there were only Soviet Russians there, and in the middle of these, between 500 and 600 English prisoners of war, were housed in two barracks that were separately closed with barbed wire .

"Our Battalion 892"

A company diary in the Kaisersteinbruch prisoner of war camp .. So our march went via Wilfleinsdorf to our new home - Kaisersteinbruch! .. so we moved into our new quarters. What will you bring us

The camp cannot be overlooked. Rows of barracks rise towards the adjacent forest. In between there are wide thoroughfares. And what's new for us - people behind wire hurdles. The symbol of the camp - visible from afar: the watchtowers , raw wood construction with a ladder. Boxes covered at the top and open on one side. In the watch stand, machine gun barrels flash in the sunshine. We'll have to do service there soon! In the camp city, the barracks streets stretch unpredictably, with thousands of prisoners in between. The different uniforms, the unfamiliar skin color, all of this gives a unique image .

Anthropological measurements

Shortly after the outbreak of war, the Natural History Museum in Vienna, with the help of scientific institutes, put together an anthropological commission, which in January 1940 transferred its measurements to Stalag XVII A. Well over a thousand Polish prisoners of war were recorded here. An intended reader was addressed in the diary, .. all nations were represented so that you can get an idea .. Poles, Greeks , Little Russians , Bulgarians , Romanians , Magyars , Germans, Czechs , Italians, Serbs, Croats , Negroes . There were also Jews among the prisoners here. Most of them came from the south. Most of them had emigrated from Germany and immigrated to France earlier. They were strictly separated from the other prisoners and had various jobs to do.

A year later the records end .. The barrack camp with its barbed wire fences , watchtowers and camp alleys, fully occupied with prisoners of war, a dull, indolent, eerie mass of disarmed enemies, who lurk, whether somehow and at some point a gap in the barbed wire barred off opens up The way to freedom is open.

About the camp inmates

The main occupation in Kaisersteinbruch consisted of French prisoners of war. The workforce was z. B. on January 31, 1941 a total of 74,553 soldiers and 220 civilian internees:

Usage group French people Belgian Poland total
Officers 970 0 0 970
Teams & UO. 65441 5642 2500 73583
Civil internees 146 42 32 220

Until February 1941, Stalag XVII A was one of the largest camps in the entire Reich. From March 1941 onwards, there was a huge “loss” of inmates, which can be explained by the camps in Wolfsberg and Spittal / Drau . In June 1941 the Serbs formed the second largest group among the prisoners of war, but from December 1941 they were replaced in second place by Red Army soldiers . In the following months, the Kaisersteinbruch camp never reached the numbers of 1940, but it was one of the larger camps in the Reich. The total number of Italian military internees also came close to that of the French.

Review reports from an ICRC commission

The first inspection report received by an ICRC commission came from the summer of 1940. As early as 1940, the prisoners described the food as inadequate, and most of them wanted more bread. The kitchen itself, which was under the command of a German NCO, was clean and adequately equipped and was supervised by a French doctor. The clothing equipment was too low, and especially the uniform Belgian consisted of a material that was removed quickly, especially in those prisoners a labor rendered. The wishes of the prisoners of war were mainly in the direction of shoes, but also clothing in general and underwear.

The death rate among prisoners was very low, reaching 55 deaths in the summer of 1940, several of which were work accidents. In addition to a German doctor, five French doctors also worked in the infirmary and were generally satisfied with the hygienic conditions. The basic complaint of the prisoners was directed towards the receipt of mail, which was very sparse, especially from occupied France. Many had sent their prisoner cards to Geneva a month or two ago and were now receiving mail, which would make the men very happy as this was the first news from their loved ones. However, there were problems with the censorship of the camp due to the sometimes very long letters that were often difficult to read, which delayed their distribution enormously.

Visits by delegates to Stalag XVII A took place on August 20, 1940, March 19, 1941, March 28, 1942, November 10, 1942, April 30, 1943, January 10, 1944 and August 8, 1944. This camp was also Visited by representatives of the Swiss government, but the dates of the visit are not known. The visit reports were forwarded to the Foreign Ministry in Berlin, the detaining power at the time.

Religious activities

Regarding the religious activities of the prisoners of war, there seems to have been an exception in Stalag XVII A Kaisersteinbruch. Chaplain Josef Franzl was assigned to pastoral care among the state riflemen, but according to his own statement he was also allowed to perform this activity among the prisoners of war - which was officially forbidden. Essentially, this pastoral activity is likely to have affected the French and Polish prisoners who “huddled around the altar in church services in narrow barracks and sang their songs in faith”, while the other nationalities had their own pastors. In the inspection report of March 17, 1944, the commission speaks of a Catholic priest who had permission to read mass for the Catholic inmates of the camp on Sunday in the "Russian Theater". However, he was not allowed to visit the various work groups - an indication of Pastor Franzl's activities.

In the course of 1944, two British military chaplains also carried out their pastoral work among their faithful. In the course of the year, however, they were no longer allowed to visit the individual work groups in connection with the new safety guidelines.

French prisoners of war

Pastoral activity was most widespread among French prisoners of war. In addition to a chaplain who was active as a camp chaplain, there were some priests among the prisoners who were captured as normal soldiers, as well as a novice of the Benedictine order . With the support of international aid organizations, in 1941 the French were able to rededicate a barrack into a chapel and a theater - a “cult and cultural barrack” and redesign it accordingly.

Difficulties arose in 1944 with regard to the sporting activities of the prisoners of war in Kaisersteinbruch. The existence of a sports field was mentioned by the protective power commission in March 1944 and the good equipment of the camp with sports equipment was also praised. After the invasion of Normandy , the commander stopped all sporting activities on the large sports field outside the camp fence on the outskirts of Kaisersteinbruch. It is not known whether the attempts by the protective power delegation to reverse this decision were successful, as was the case in Stalag 398 Pupping .

In addition, there were occasional cinema screenings and book broadcasts by the YMCA for the prisoners . However, the protecting power commission was particularly impressed by a performance by the theater troupe and the camp orchestra that was specially arranged for them . This orchestra and the theater troupe were essentially a matter for the French inmates of the camp. Under the direction of a conductor from the Paris Opera , an orchestra with an average strength of 65 men was set up, whose activities also extended to concerts outside the Stalag XVII A. Concerning leisure activities for French prisoners of war, which was strongly encouraged by German propaganda , concerned the activities of the "cercle Pétain ", which was intended as an association to promote collaboration . In Kaisersteinbruch, the association obviously enjoyed very little interest from prisoners of war, as it was announced in July 1943 that the “mouvement Pétain” had completely fallen into the water.

As a camouflage and cover for a resistance movement among the French, as in Stalag XVIII A ( Wolfsberg ), the cercle in Kaisersteinbruch was obviously not or hardly used.

The telegram of an inspection report by the ICRC dated April 9, 1945 was the last mention of the camp in the archives. A French prisoner made the following entry in his diary about her situation with the German guards:

“You shouldn't think the Germans are stupid because they understand very well that the prisoners' work is not very effective. They use the intimidation method. Sometimes they act friendly, sometimes they get brutal. You can do what you want, we stay what we are: soldiers. By the way, if it goes too far, we play dumb. You get used to it and we have our peace "

- Unknown French

Soviet prisoners of war

Soviet prisoners of war occupied the lowest position in the internal hierarchy in the Stalag . Due to the poor state of health of the Soviet soldiers, typhus , typhus and dysentery quickly broke out in the camps, which led to their closure. The "contumation" of Stalag XVII A was lifted on April 18, 1942, after the first large transports with Soviet prisoners of war were brought to the camp as early as November 1941. Camp 1 was designated as a Russian camp and prisoners of war of other nationalities were evacuated from this camp . A high percentage of the captured Red Army soldiers did not survive the transport in the partly open cattle wagons from the Frontstalags or the camps in the Generalgouvernement to the Ostmark. The dead were buried in mass graves in the camp cemetery immediately after arriving at the Wilfleinsdorf train station, which was the “loading station” for Stalag XVII A. Pastor Franzl, "Pfarr-Rektor" of Kaisersteinbruch reported that he saw with his own eyes how eight dead Russians were carried on a cart and simply put into the ground, wrapped in paper, without any military ones no religious celebration at all ..

Prisoner of war rescued in Oberpullendorf hospital .

“Lishin Nestos writes .. During the war, I was a prisoner of war on forced labor in the Floridsdorf locomotive factory , suffered from hunger and was ill. My end seemed inevitable ... I tried to escape, but the escape failed and I was sent to the extermination squad 44, to Kaisersteinbruch. I saw many prisoners of war shootings there. I will never forget the downfall of prisoners caught trying to escape. They were torn apart alive by dogs. I managed to get out of this death prison. The dogs used could not find my trail. In the night, I fell powerless and weak from a rock near Oberpullendorf. When I woke up from unconsciousness , I was in the ICRC hospital there (today the state hospital). I learned that a compassionate policeman had brought me there ... Later, an organization of the prisoners of " Interstalag XVII A " near Bruck an der Leitha took care of me. There in the infirmary, in the French department, I happily escaped all tortures and torments. My fearless friends, French prisoners, carefully prepared a new, fourth escape for me. You succeeded!

After many difficulties and dangers, I met Soviet troops, joined them and returned to the Soviet homeland to do peaceful work after the war. "

- Lishin Nestos

Burial of Soviet prisoners of war

An express letter from the Reich Minister of the Interior dated October 27, 1941 issued orders for the burial of bodies of Soviet prisoners of war: “A coffin is not required for the transfer and burial. The corpse must be completely wrapped in strong paper (if possible oil , tar or asphalt paper ) or any other suitable material. The transfer and burial is to be carried out unobtrusively. If several corpses accumulate at the same time, burial must be carried out in a common grave. The corpses are to be bedded next to each other (but not on top of each other) at the local grave depth. "

A letter from the Wehrmacht High Command dated March 24, 1942 added: “[...] a German military delegation will not be provided. Comrades of the deceased who belong to the same prisoner of war camp are permitted to attend the funeral. Spiritual helpers, insofar as they belong to the camp themselves, may be involved. The graves of other prisoners of war must not be disturbed in camp cemeteries. ”The head of the Vienna undertaker expressed concerns. He demanded the provision of boards on which the dead would be fastened so that they could be loaded and unloaded in the Fourgons (hearses) enable. He wrote ... casual onlookers who do not know that they are Soviet prisoners of war could make the most unlikely assumptions and lead to all sorts of rumors .

However, since the deaths in June and July 1942, especially in the Wiener Neudorf camp , reached a previously unknown level, a new and definitive solution to the transport problem had to be found. On August 1, 1942, another meeting took place in the directorate of the municipal corpse burial , Vienna 4th , Goldeggasse 19 , at which, in addition to the commanders of the team main camps Stalag XVII A and Stalag 17 | XVII B, the commander of the prisoners of war in the Military district XVII participated. At this meeting it was decided that from August 17, 1942, the Vienna Army Base Administration would have to keep a vehicle, a covered car lined with sheet metal, ready. Furthermore, an emergency coffin made in a simple way and lined with sawdust was to be provided. The corpse, wrapped in paper, was placed in the emergency coffin and taken to the grave by tilting the coffin. The emergency coffin was still used. The ambulance service remained responsible for the transport of those who died of infectious diseases ...

Commemoration at the European Symposium Kaisersteinbruch 2007

Italian prisoners of war

German war crimes in Italy were committed between September 8, 1943, when Italy withdrew from World War II , and May 2, 1945, when German troops in Italy surrendered.

Memorial plaque in the Kaisersteinbruch Rosarium
Giovanni Savegnano, * 1924, visits Kaisersteinbruch with his family on April 26, 2019. For years he was Mayor Gerhard Dreiszker in Stalag XVII A., MuKV chairwoman Martina Watzek, Fabio Gianesi

The Italian military internees in Stalag XVII A, Kaisersteinbruch, fared a little better - in contrast to most of the camps in the Reich . The first transports of Italians arrived at Wilfleinsdorf station at the end of September 1943. In August 1944, the case of arbitrary mistreatment of an Italian - the Carabiniere Vittorio Gaspare - by the state rifleman Alois Weiß on a work detachment belonging to Stalag XVII A became known. Private White hit the Italian with the butt of the rifle in such a way that he had to be hospitalized with a broken forearm.

In the summer of 1944, the "reception and support staff" for a voluntary Italian brigade was set up in Stalag XVII A Kaisersteinbruch . At the end of 1944 , the "replacement brigade" set up in Grafenwöhr had 600 men out of the planned 6,000, and around 2,500 in Kaisersteinbruch. It can be assumed that these volunteers received a somewhat different treatment than their "non-voluntary" comrades in the Reich and that this different treatment also rubbed off on the situation of the Italians in Kaisersteinbruch in general, at least nothing contrary is known, although the situation of the Italian military internees in the Ostmark is generally better described than in the " Altreich ".

English and American prisoners of war

While the French and Yugoslavs often came to work individually with farmers , the Russians were only allowed to leave the camp in larger groups. But not the English at all, because the German authorities respected and feared them . They were granted a lot of things that other nationalities could never achieve. For the English, the two barracks were neatly coated with fresh lime and cleaned. They didn't go to work at all.

They had a few large bands with the most varied and expensive instruments, which were sent to them from home. They also ensured that they were allowed several times a week to march and play football on a football pitch belonging to the German Wehrmacht near the camp . On the march there, only one German NCO was allowed to accompany them as a guard without a rifle ! They put their feet on the ground so that it roared half a kilometer away.

The situation of the English prisoners of Stalag XVII A Kaisersteinbruch is well documented for the year 1944 by the protective power reviews. In February 1944 the "British Camp Leader" - " Warrant Officer 1st cl." Brown - complained to the protecting power agency about the poor clothing equipment of the British and US Americans . You would not have two complete sets, although these are available. On March 17, 1944: "The furnishings of the barracks leave a lot to be desired". Apart from the beds in three layers on top of each other, there are no tables, chairs or benches. Lighting is very bad. Warm showers are only possible every three weeks. The poor condition of the night latrinen was lamented, as well as the lack of a dentist in the camp.

The barracks were evenly divided, two large bedrooms on the left and right and a washroom, which in Kaisersteinbruch was more like an anteroom. The facility of the washroom consisted of six water taps and a large water basin made of sheet metal . Its setup was the worst the commission had ever seen. The three-story "monster bed" took up almost the entire room, and there was only one stove for which there was too little fuel. The British shop steward's complaints are likely to have been successful.

During the June 21, 1944 review, there were numerous improvements since the last visit. The head of the commission discovered that a number of British and American "special prisoners" were in an isolated section of Stalag XVII A. At the request that they contacted them and that the accompanying officer of the OKW - Major Römer - supported them, the Stalag commandant - Colonel Pamperl - allowed a brief visit to the isolated part of the camp. The British were members of a special operation force in the Balkans theater of war and acted as military advisers on the side of Marshal Tito's troops . A group of three officers and six NCOs were captured under the command of Brigadier General Davies. The British general's prisoner story seems extremely strange to a prisoner of war. After a stay in hospital in Tirana and Belgrade , he was imprisoned in a concentration camp near Belgrade, then in the Oberlanzendorf labor education camp , in the military prison in Vienna and finally in Stalag XVII A from the beginning of June 1944. The nature of their captivity was not in accordance with the Geneva Convention , which was held up by the Protection Power Commission to the camp commandant and Major Römer from the OKW. They replied that they were acting on higher orders from the OKW and that they had no authority to change the prisoners' situation. After all, the British received Red Cross packages after the intervention .

In another cell in the isolated wing, three American officers who were captured in Hungary in March 1944 after the occupation of Hungary by the Wehrmacht were held prisoner under conditions similar to those of the British, after they had previously been held by the Gestapo, according to a statement by one of the American officers had been treated extremely badly. After three weeks in Belgrade, two weeks in Berlin, seven weeks in Budapest and finally Vienna in early June, she went to Kaisersteinbruch. On August 8, the British and American special prisoners were still in a special section, which prompted the ICRC commission to issue a special report that day.

The prisoners' main complaint was primarily that they were treated not as prisoners of war but as malefactors. They were still held under arrest, without having been punished or attempted to escape, by being held in the same investigation barracks as ordinary soldiers and, until recently, in a cell with them. An American captain and two sergeants were beaten by Gestapo members during their interrogation in Ljubljana and in a police prison in northern Slovenia , with Captain Watt still bearing traces of this abuse . Your current treatment in Kaisersteinbruch and your state of health are not bad , the IRKR commission sums up, with the exception of the condition of the strict guard. Before leaving the camp, the camp commandant informed the commission that he had received orders to transfer the officers to an oflag and the NCOs (Non-commissioned officers ) and the British gunner to a Stalag .

The chief KGW in the OKW, Krafft, announced in Nuremberg that the isolated captivity of General Davies and his men in Stalag XVII A Kaisersteinbruch took place for their protection by the OKW. Based on an order issued by Hitler himself, this British military mission was to be shot by the Gestapo. The British prisoners were to be removed from the Gestapo by transferring them to a stalag.

Slovak prisoners of war

From autumn 1944 the soldiers of the formerly allied Slovak , Bulgarian and Romanian armed forces felt the lower position of the members of Slavic peoples (according to the Nazi value system ) ; in addition, many members of the German armed forces regarded them as traitors.

Ladislav Ťažký , Honorary President of the Slovak Writers' Association, in Bratislava, visited the former prisoner of war camp in 1990, which later became the Uchatius barracks of the federal army in Kaisersteinbruch; he had been imprisoned there from 1944 during the Second World War. Ťažký describes the changeful fate of the often forgotten Slovak soldiers, who had turned from allies to opponents of the National Socialists . (small excerpt)

"The train stopped again," Winkelbauer, where are we? "," In Bruck an der Leitha. "Winkelbauer yells:" There is another board "," Read! "" Kaisersteinbruch - main camp XVII A. "The whole car froze. Only a mysterious roar of cars can be heard.

We line up in rows of five. The first rows were already leaving Bruck and turning left. The soldiers had loaded the dead and injured onto two cars, which dragged themselves behind the prisoners in the first aisle and illuminated the path with the headlights, especially the edges where the guards walk with the dogs. In front of us on the slope stands a large, illuminated city. Isn't this city afraid of air raids? “Where's the quarry?” Asks a lonely voice from behind.

How long have we been going! One hour? Or more? The peeking headlights are already very close. Houses, alleys and towers can already be seen. The large lights on the towers move in a regular semicircle at regular intervals. They are strange towers. They do not resemble church towers, but rather sit up hunting . The roofs of houses are black, low, but wide and above all long. They are barracks surrounded by high barbed wire. “Halt!” Again the fuse (?) Is turned on with the commands, and the crowd has stopped. We look at a high gate and read the name of the city: Stammlager XVII A.

The illuminated camp city pulls us into the wire-fenced belly like a vacuum cleaner . A cleverly organized factory for the large-scale production of prisoners and corpses. Soldiers write their names on the window, as if in an office. They write down the names you dictate to them. Nobody can control whether they are wrong or right. But if you die, then with your own name. Behind us, a group of Soviet prisoners roll under the showers. The prisoners are emaciated, broken, with clean-shaven heads, like in the German newsreels ...

A life that drowns in a sea of ​​standing time. These are the long stretches of a short life ... Every morning the same questions: what will be tomorrow, what will come after? Why aren't we given jobs? Do they want to torture us by doing nothing? Why do the Germans torture some with inhuman inaction and others with superhuman work? Who came up with these huge camps without work? ... "

- Ladislav Ťažký
June 22nd, 2000 Mr. Ťažký kneels in front of the "Slovak" stone
Memory of the Slovak prisoners of war, Ioan Malinas pastor in Sommerein, Klara Köttner-Benigni , Walter Benigni , Ladislav Ťažký , Stefan Billes , Peter Roller , Hans Anthofer

The former Slovak prisoner of war Jan Kudela from Pressburg also described her situation in Kaisersteinbruch. In a letter in 1991 he wrote I am delighted that the museum was opened during my visit and that the souvenir photos could be seen. There I could see what I myself experienced as a prisoner of war in the concentration camp. I promised to write about it . Jan Kudela was brought to the camp by German soldiers on January 2, 1945. The reason was the refusal to join the so-called "Slovak Home Defense Forces", which had formed after the suppression of the Slovak National Uprising . Kudela had to hide as a deserter . Until his capture he worked with the partisans from October to December 1944 .

The fascists captured him and sent him to Trnava . After endless interrogations, he was transported to the camp with other affected comrades in a cattle wagon. In Bruck an der Leitha they all had to get out and continue on foot. Upon arrival, they were counted and sent to the barracks.

“That started a very difficult time for me. Very often life seemed hopeless to me, but we never gave up hope that we would all come home again.

The barracks were never heated, there was only cold water for physical cleansing, and people slept in empty, lice-infested three-tier beds. It was impossible to defeat these pesky animals, they made life almost unbearable. Prisoners of different nationalities had to work on the excavation work against the attacking Red Army . They were Russians, Romanians, Yugoslavs, Italians and also all those who had fought against Germans. The French, English and Americans were never involved. My comrades and I worked with Russians and Romanians in demarcated areas.

We started work very early in the morning and were almost starved. There was only 3 dl unsweetened tea made from unknown herbs until noon. At lunch, ten men shared 1 kg of bread and 1/4 kg of margarine . That was all until later in the evening. We came back to the camp every day in complete darkness. At the entrance, each of us got a ladle of bran and beet soup in our tin pot . This has happened to us day after day. Whenever we complained about the little food that not even a dog could eat, the soldiers would beat us with sticks and kicks. We were only shot with expressions like pigs, dogs, you all heard, .. called.

Our advantage was that we didn't spend long in the camp. Many prisoners of other nationalities died every day, especially Romanians and Russians, who had been in the camp since 1941. I can still remember how the German soldiers brought the naked bodies out. Back then we didn't know where to go .. but now I've realized that. They were brought to the newly prepared cemetery, which is now near Kaisersteinbruch. "

- Jan Kudela

Camp 3

With funds from the International Committee of the Red Cross , the so-called prisoner-of-war hospital , or camp 3 for short , was built in the spring of 1941. It consisted of a delousing station, a pharmacy , an operating room and an electrical cooling system for corpses . Eleven barracks provided space for sick prisoners of war, including an isolation barracks for typhus and other dangerous and contagious diseases. All from clay fired bricks built and the roofs of tarred roofing felt covered. These barracks were only a few meters away from the Kaisersteinbruch Church , but are still largely on Lower Austrian soil.

Camp cemetery

Due to the high number of dead prisoners of war from the winter of 1941/1942, a camp cemetery was built a few hundred meters from camp 3. Before that, the deceased prisoners of war were usually buried in the local cemetery ; a memorial was erected there in memory of the French prisoners of war.

About eight thousand Soviet Russians and one thousand Romanians were buried in the camp cemetery, as well as dead from other nations such as French, Yugoslavs, Greeks and Italians. In total there are about ten thousand bodies, including six from England and one from America. After the war, hundreds of ethnic Germans who died in the camp in 1945/46 were added. From 1945 to 1955 a large number of members of the Russian occupation forces who died here in the camp were buried in this cemetery. The Russian prisoners of war who died in the camp during the war were all placed in large shaft graves . Those of the other nations were housed in individual graves. Americans, British and French had their dead relatives exhumed and brought back home in the summer of 1947 .

On behalf of the Russian occupation forces, work began in September 1947 to level the camp cemetery using tractors. The property became a park-like facility with a surrounding wall made of natural stone and an entrance gate on the north side. A Russian memorial was built on the south side and memorial stones for the deceased of other nations were set up at regular intervals on the long sides .

The camp after the end of the war

When, at the end of March 1945, the Russian front - coming from Hungary - was getting closer and closer to the camp every day, it was decided to evacuate the camp. On Easter Sunday , April 1, 1945, all healthy prisoners who had been in the camp, around 15,000 men, were set off on foot to Upper Austria accompanied by their guards . Only about 1,000 sick prisoners who were unable to march were left, mostly Russians and Romanians, but their number increased after Easter with the prisoners who had been to work with the surrounding peasants and were now returning to the camp, mainly Yugoslavs and French approx. 4,000 prisoners of war without guard increased. The twenty or so men guards, mostly Viennese and Lower Austrians, fled themselves and left the prisoners alone. On April 3, SS formations flowing back blew up the three Leitha bridges and withdrew in the direction of Vienna. When the German troops had withdrawn, around 300 English prisoners of war immediately took command of all the prisoners of war in the camp.

Corpus Christi in Kaisersteinbruch 1945

Kaisersteinbruch in Burgenland, since the April days of 1945 the place where tens of thousands of members of many nations have prepared and gathered for their journey to their long-awaited homeland.

“Corpus Christi service! A wonderful, deep blue sky, the church crowded ( at this point still completely intact ), in the cemetery they stood close to the grave crosses, sat on the walls just to be there and to praise the Lord with all their hearts. What unity of nations, what unity of peoples! The gospel was preached in five languages, the others stood there patiently, even if they did not understand the language! What harmony, what harmony, they all came together to form a unity that was not in the least commanded or forced.

Triumph of faith that makes all one without crushing the individual, that unites all without overlooking or despising one! How moving it was at the procession! The Italians sang, the others listened, moved, then it was the turn of the Poles, who gave their songs of faith with devotion. The French waited without a murmur for their turn. At the edge of the road stood Greeks and Bulgarians, Romanians and Dutch, Belgians and Czechs, even if many of them were not Catholic, they felt: we belong together!

It was a tremendous celebration of unity that made everyone happy and showed everyone that a new and better world can only emerge on the foundations of faith. "

- Josef Franzl, prisoner of war chaplain

Document dated June 15, 1955

Austrian State Treaty , translation from Russian, drawn by Lieutenant Colonel F. Olisarenko, war commander of the Bruck an der Leitha district

The 228 × 41 m cemetery is surrounded by a stone wall. There are 10 communal graves in which 9,584 Soviet soldiers who were tortured to death in the former concentration camp 17 A and those who died later are buried. Concrete memorials with carved inscriptions have been placed on the communal graves (extracts):


In two separate graves with memorial stones of granite , military personnel of the Soviet army are buried. A total of 9,584 Soviet Army soldiers are buried in the cemetery. On the inscriptions, the names, in some cases also the year of birth, of 60 military personnel of the Soviet Army can be read in Cyrillic script .

There is also a memorial for the Poles in the cemetery, in Polish THE POLISH WARRIORS 1939–1945, two memorials for the Yugoslavs with the inscription: YUGOSLAVES. A monument to the Italians, inscription: ITALIENER. A monument to the Romanians, inscription: ROMANES.

According to the records of the Bruck / Leitha district administration, the following are buried here: Poles - 5 people, Bulgarians - 48, Yugoslavs - 125, French - 57, Italians - 99, Belgians - 7, English - 6, Americans - 1 and without citizenship - 37.

Former prisoners of Stalag XVII A visit Vienna and Kaisersteinbruch

Stalag XVII A was the name of the prisoner-of-war camp in Kaisersteinbruch, where many French got to know Austria as involuntary guests during World War II and - while working outside the camp - Austrian people. Stalag XVII A is also the name of an association of all these prisoners of war, which holds annual meetings in France. This year, the members of the association management went to Austria with their family members to see their former camp again and to talk to their Austrian friends who they found there during this difficult time.

Vienna's City Councilor for Economy Bauer, for example, was the camp's paymaster during the war . Mayor Jonas gave a reception for the French guests in Vienna's Rathauskeller, which was also attended by Vice Mayor Weinberger , City Councilors Glaserer , Koci and Maria Jacobi . The French ambassador de Crouy-Chanel also appeared, as did the city commandant of Vienna, Colonel Adamovich.

On May 25, 1993, fifty former prisoners of war came to Kaisersteinbruch. Joint planning by Colonel Petznek and the Kaisersteinbruch Museum and Culture Association .

Camp cemetery near Kaisersteinbruch

“From the car radio / Christa Ludwig / on the“ winter journey ”/ weeps“ some tears / from the eyes / into the snow ”. Mute / I get out of the car / and walk / across the white field. / The eyes / on the stones / freeze / in front of the anonymous / "Russian" / "Yugoslav" / "Romanian" / "Pole" / "Italian".

Occasionally / in Cyrillic scripts / the name / of a Soviet soldier / or captain. / In the whites / widely / no stones / space / for the anonymous peoples / whose sons / here / are buried / anonymous.

Those here / the anonymous / they had crashed / with staring eyes / and opened mouths / and without a coffin / and without funeral music / fell into the shaft.

You and I / we held each other / peacefully / by the hands / the border post sank / in front of the television set / from which an emigrant / eloquently / sowed strife.

In Slovakia / or in Ukraine / women / still women / mute / cry for their husband / who is “missing” in the war / and who may be / in Austria / in Kaisersteinbruch / / and whose name may be / Karol / or Šimon / or Ján / or Ivan / or Jogan.

His name was Jogan Feodorowitsch Awertschenko / and was an engineer / from Ukraine / He was a captain / of the occupying power / and he spoke / cultivated German with us / never about politics and the construction of socialism / preferably / about classical music / about the Austrian Schubert / whom he / heard on our radio. "

- Klara Köttner-Benigni , " Wortmühle ", Eisenstadt 1985.

Idea for a European fountain

After Hitler's invasion of Austria in the following summer of 1938, the question of “to be or not to be” for Kaisersteinbruch was clearly decided as an order of a dictatorship . The scales tilted heavily to the "non-existence." With the idea of a Europe wells followed by Europe Symposium Kaisersteinbruch in summer 1998 decided to free citizens of the " His " in a Europe of peace.

Memorial stone for Slovaks

At the special initiative of the married couple Klara Köttner-Benigni and Walter Benigni , both cultural workers from Burgenland , Helmuth Furch, the chairman of the Kaisersteinbruch Museum and Culture Association , asked the Federal Ministry of the Interior and the Lower Austrian provincial government for a memorial stone for the SLOVAKIANS on the not mentioned by name To be allowed to set up a camp cemetery. Any change in the cemetery requires the approval of the governor. This was granted in 1999, and the Slovak sculptor Peter Roller, lecturer at the Academy of Art in Bratislava, was commissioned. He also designed the country plate of Slovakia on the "Wall of Unity" .

Bronze relief "Stalag XVII A" 1939–1999

The ordered evacuation of the place and the establishment of the prisoner of war camp "Stalag XVII A" with all the terrible consequences (camp cemetery) was commemorated on November 28, 1999 by the Kaisersteinbruch Museum and Culture Association. A Radio Burgenland television team with editor Helmut Manninger interviewed contemporary witnesses, reported on the camp cemetery, museum, and the ceremony in the church. An ecumenical consecration of the work of art by the sculptor Alexandru Ciutureanu took place by the clergy pastors Josef Franzl, Joan Marin Malinas, Archimandrite of the Romanian Uniate Church , Herbert Sojka, from the Polish Church in Vienna, Peter Okeke, local pastor from Nigeria and Armin Cencic, Protestant pastor from Bruck an der Leitha.


  • Ladislav Ťažký: " Gospel of the platoon leader Matthew I and II". (Evanjelium čatára Matúša I. a II. , 1979), the chapter Kaisersteinbruch 1944 , translation Slovak-German by Karl Heinz Jähn, typewritten copy published in: Helmuth Furch (ed.): Mitteilungen des Museums- und Kulturverein Kaisersteinbruch No. 7, March 1991, pp. 9-19; No. 8, May 1991, pp. 8-20; No. 9, June 1991, pp. 10-20. ISBN 978-3-9504555-3-3 .
  • Hubert Speckner: Stalag XVII A Kaisersteinbruch . In: Helmuth Furch (ed.): Communications of the Museum and Culture Association Kaisersteinbruch, No. 39, November 1995. pp. 1–24. Excerpt from the dissertation below,
  • Hubert Speckner : In the power of the enemy. POW camp in the "Ostmark" 1939 to 1945 (= research on the consequences of war . Vol. 3). Oldenbourg, Vienna a. a. 2003, ISBN 3-486-56713-6 .
  • Josef Wolf: The suffering of the community Kaisersteinbruch . In: Helmuth Furch (ed.): 400 years of the Kaisersteinbruch 1590–1990 . Pp. 46-49. ISBN 978-3-9504555-1-9 .
  • Josef Wolf: A Kaisersteinbrucher Life Josef Wolf (1892–1966), especially the years 1938–1955 . In: Communications of the Kaisersteinbruch Museum and Culture Association, November 2005. The typewritten copy was given to the Museum Association for publication after the death of Josef Wolf, son.
  • Brigitte Krizsanits, Manfred Horvath : The Leithagebirge, border and connection, camp cemetery Kaisersteinbruch , S 72-75. Publishing House Library of the Province 2012. ISBN 978-3-99028-172-7 .

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Josef Wolf: An Kaisersteinbrucher Life .. p. 35
  2. Archive of the Kaisersteinbruch Museum and Culture Association
  3. Stiftsarchiv Heiligenkreuz 51-2-53.
  4. ^ Pastor Johannes Kurzja, handwritten notes in the parish memorial book, Sommerein parish office. In: Communications of the Kaisersteinbruch Museum and Culture Association No. 13, November 1991, The records of Pastor Johannes Kurzja .. p. 9ff.
  5. Konrad Biricz Archive, Bruck an der Leitha
  6. ^ Information from the General Secretariat of the Red Cross, Jany Bernhard. In: Helmuth Furch: Historisches Lexikon Kaisersteinbruch , p. 389
  7. ^ Report from Pastor Josef Franzl. In: Communications of the Kaisersteinbruch Museum and Culture Association No. 34, 1994
  8. Marcel Meyssignac, from 1941 a French prisoner of war in Stalag XVII A for five years, later vicar general to Tulle Cedex: Pourquoi je ne me suis pas évadé . P. 88f
  9. Swiss Federal Archives : E2200 Berlin / 3, Vol. 76
  10. Helmuth Furch: From Heiligenkreuzer Steinbruch to Kaisersteinbruch, 1981. P. 52 ISBN 978-3-9504555-0-2
  11. letter of Lishin Nestos from the Soviet city of Omsk , In: Free Burgenland of 14 March 1965 The work brave Austrians .
  12. ^ Heinz Riedel: Soviet prisoners of war in Vienna (with Stalag XVII A), 1941–1945 . In: Yearbook 2001. Documentation archive of the Austrian resistance , Vienna 2001.
  13. ^ Gerhard Schreiber : The Italian military internees in the German sphere of influence, 1943–1945 . Oldenbourg, Munich 1990, p. 496. ISBN 3-486-55391-7 .
  14. Josef Wolf: A life in Kaisersteinbrucher .. P. 40ff
  15. Swiss Federal Archives : E 2200 Berlin / 3, Vol. 76.
  16. Ladislav Ťažký: " Gospel of the platoon leader Matthew I and II". (Evanjelium čatára Matúša I. a II. , 1979), "Stammlager XVII A", translated by his son Peter Ťažký, for the chronicle: 400 years of the quarrying of the emperor, 1590–1990 . P. 63f. ISBN 978-3-9504555-1-9 .
  17. Jan Kudela, former prisoner in Stalag XVII A: Life in the main camp XVII A Kaisersteinbruch . In: Communications of the Kaisersteinbruch Museum and Culture Association, No. 13, November 1991. P. 14ff. ISBN 978-3-9504555-3-3 .
  18. Josef Franzl, prisoner of war pastor: Corpus Christi in Kaisersteinbruch 1945 . In: Helmuth Furch: 400 years of the Kaisersteinbruch, 1590–1990, p. 65
  19. ^ Archives Austrian Black Cross , Vienna-Wollzeile
  20. ^ Wiener Zeitung of August 14, 1959
  21. ↑ A worthy ceremony with the French. Report in the BF of June 2, 1993 . In Mitteilungen No. 27, June 1993, pp. 25-30.
  22. NÖN , December 1, 1999: High-ranking representatives of Slovakia with cultural attaché Juraj Záry, Poland with counselor Stanislaw Szypulski, Romania with cultural councilor Alexandru Popescu, mayors of the neighboring communities, .. in a church that was filled to the last seat .. were special The atmosphere of the event is impressive.

Coordinates: 47 ° 59 ′ 23.8 "  N , 16 ° 42 ′ 25.2"  E