Records from the Auschwitz archive:


¦WISZCZOWSKI Stefan (like me) Eng. Architekt,

born  24.9.1903 Krakau, Pole


came 12. 8. 1941

Haftling Bauleitung  (commando of builders), No 20033.

transported to KL Flossenbürg 28.10.1944.


There is no information about why he was arrested in July 1941. There was only a short investigation, no trial, and then a sentence to go to the Concentration Camp for an unspecified amount of time. And all who were in the Cracow prison with him were treated in the same way. At this time many people from the educated class were arrested and even only a small suspicion about underground activity was a good reason for the occupants to send people to camps.


My father was leftist (before the war) and he was friends with socialists despite never being a member of any political party. Some socialists from Cracow were sent to Auschwitz even before his arrest, so his name may have been mentioned somewhere, which constituted a "reason". As we can read from his letters, he expected to be free very soon; he then spent 3 years and 8 months in camps.


At the very end of April or the first days of May ’45, after a three day death march from Flossenbürg, he was freed by US troops. He weighted about 39 kg then (normal weight about 70). He came to Crakow in August '45 after recovering enough in a US army hospital in Germany.


He told me very little of how it was, and he always avoided political demonstrations and gatherings. But during years I learned something from him and from his friends.


I know that in Auschwitz he worked mostly in Bauleitung, but not from the very beginning. There he worked in Baubiuro, making drawings, measurements, etc. This kind of work was called "a good job" as it was under a roof and in a heated place. Sometimes they sent him to another work position and in this way he knew both the Main Camp and Birkenau. The name of his kapo was W³adys³aw Plaskura, one of the few kapos who helped people. After the war Mr. Plaskura (no. 1000) was a professor at Silesian Technical University. My father told me that he survived thanks to him and thanks to the solidarity between the members of his group.


Mr. Nosal, no. 693, who lives in O¶wiecim now, was one of my father’s close friends and he also worked in Baubiuro. He is 89 now (end of 1998), with very good memory and sharp in conversation, though his legs are not good enough to go out from his modest flat. He wrote a history of Bauleitung for which he collected documents from  332 people from this commando. From this number about a half survived the camp, which was not a bad proportion for Auschwitz. Mr. Nosal expressed the opinion that only those prisoners who helped the others had a chance to survive.


In Bauleitung, Poles were the majority – mostly because it was formed at the beginning of the camp when Poles were almost the only prisoners, however later on there were others. Mr. Nosal told me about four Jewish girls who did not have a very bad life in Baubiuro for several months. One day they didn't come to work and SS-man said that they had been "replaced".


My father was in critical situations several times. He recovered from typhus even when his friends did not take him to the camp hospital in an attempt to avoid a "selection," carrying him everywhere in their hands. Dr. Klodzinski, no. 20019 (both him and my father were part of the same transport to Auschwitz), a man who really made his name in Auschwitz, was coming to my father with medicines when he was already working in Baubiuro, so such help was possible. Reportedly, my father was in a so-called random selection twice, but both times it was not him who was selected but the men next to him.


He was also discovered smuggling food into the camp, as they also worked outside it – smuggling food was in fact a routine for Baulaitung workers. This time he was directed to the SK-penalty commando, where he had little chance of surviving more than two weeks; he was rescued from it by Plaskura as an "absolutely necessary" man in Baubiuro. He was most probably traded for some gold or dollars which were stolen from Jews after the ramp selection and hidden by the "Canada Jews" (slang!) – those who collected victims’ belongings, traded with Bauleitung men for food, who then gave the gold or money to the SS in exchange for my father.


His worst time was at the end when he was sent to Flossenbürg where he was without friends and the whole system of food smuggling and false work, so well elaborated in the builders’ commando, ceased to exist. They had no food for days, and he became weaker and weaker every day. Flossenbürg was the main camp for several sub camps in the region and my father lived mostly in the sub camp Litomieritz, which according to information I have from Flossenbürg Information Centre, was nicknamed Lobositz2. Liberation probably came just in time, and then he was lucky again when a man much better off than he was, forced him to not eat much - many of his fellows died during the first days of freedom because of over consumption. One such man, Andrzej Czarnecki (my school friend’s father) died a day after the liberation of Mauthausen, together with 26 men in his group.


The description of the three day death march from Flossenbürg, when about 1/3 of prisoners died on the way, was the only piece of prose he wrote about the camps.


After the war my father was a witness in two trials, one in Cracow, a year after the war and in Vienna in 1972 where most of the witnesses were unsure of their memories, resulting in the freeing of some SS-men due to a lack of evidence.  Among the accused were Austrian architects from Baubiuro who treated prisoners well and witnesses gave evidence on their behalf. On the other hand those Austrians were designers of most of the camp structures, including crematoria buildings.


We have a unique collection of 53 letters and 3 cards which my mother got from my father from Auschwitz and Flossenbürg, of which I gave copies to the Auschwitz Museum. Here can be observed one of the differences between gentile prisoners (with the exception of Soviets) and Jews: Jews and Soviet prisoners were not permitted to write letters. From the letters, I can trace where he lived in Auschwitz Main Camp: Blocks 9, 8, 4a in 1941; 19a, 14 and 15 to October 1942; and lastly Block 16 Stube 5. Letters had to be written in German and were censored thus do not give any information about prisoners’ life.


After the war my father worked in Cracow as an architect, specialising in the renovation of historical buildings. He was also interested in the History of Architecture and wrote two small books about it; however his favourite subject was the history and architecture of the old Jewish part of Cracow - Kazimir. 


He died in June of 1989 in a car accident.


Written by Stefan ¦wiszczowski