The Satel­lite KZ Walldorf

The fol­lo­wing texts form part of the History Nature Trail which has been built around the grounds of the for­mer KZ Außen­la­ger in Walldorf.

Ous­ting, For­get­ting, Reminding

End of March 1945, US-American mili­tary units came to Wall­dorf. The war was over. The Social Demo­crat mayor Adam Jour­dan, who had been dri­ven out of office in 1933, was reinstated.

Nor­male life” began again for the popu­la­tion. This “nor­ma­lity” of the post-war Ger­man society inclu­ded an enor­mous thirst for action — reconstruc­tion, demo­li­tion and und buil­ding anew. Thousands of dis­pla­ced per­sons and refu­gees came into the towns and com­mu­nities. The return of the sol­diers was expec­ted wist­fully — fathers, bro­thers, husbands.

But this “nor­ma­lity” also inclu­ded the fact that not much time was spent thin­king about the 12 year long ‘nazi­fi­ca­tion’ of state and society. Until the late seven­ties, no atten­tion was given to the signi­fi­cance of the many hund­reds of satel­lite KZ’s that had exis­ted throug­hout the ‘Reich’.
The grounds of the camp were re-forested in the fif­ties. The know­ledge about the his­to­ri­cal mea­ning of the place vanished.

Inqui­ries of For­eig­ner Tra­c­ing Ser­vices direc­ted to all town halls during the late for­ties and fif­ties were respon­ded to, but were not scru­ti­ni­zed any fur­ther. So in 1951 in Wall­dorf it was sta­ted that such a camp had exis­ted here, under admi­nis­tra­tion of the SS. The Jewish women impri­soned there were eva­cua­ted via an air­port owned rail­way track on Novem­ber 24, 1944. It was sta­ted that no one knew who these women were and where they had been brought to, since the camp did not belong directly to the com­mu­nal area of admi­nis­tra­tion. Thus, the case see­med to be clo­sed. The grounds of the camp were re-forested in the fif­ties. The know­ledge about the his­to­ri­cal mea­ning of the place vanis­hed.
About 1970 Zsuz­s­anna Far­kas, a for­mer inmate of the camp, came to Town Hall and asked com­mu­nal employees for the loca­tion of a memo­rial stone for the for­mer KZ. Nobody was able to give an ans­wer. The Town Hall employees assu­med that Mrs. Far­kas had con­fu­sed pla­ces. They knew not­hing. The had never heard about it. This chan­ged only a few years later. In 1972, during a study trip, three young men from Mörfelden-Walldorf dis­co­vered a map showing all satel­lite KZ’s in the Buchen­wald KZ memo­rial place. They were bewil­de­red to read the name of their own home town there: Walldorf.

Übersichtsplan über die verschiedenen Konzentrationslager und ihre Außenstellen im damaligen Deutschen Reich, 1945. Darauf entdeckten 1972 drei Jugendliche den Hinweis „Außenstelle Walldorf“.
Map showing various con­cen­tra­tion camps and their satel­lite camps throug­hout the for­mer Ger­man Reich, 1945. On this map the three young men had dis­co­vered the entry “Außen­stelle Wall­dorf“ in 1972.

So they star­ted inves­ti­ga­ting on their own. Federal Archive files even­tually pro­vi­ded the con­fir­ma­tion: Here, in this piece of wood­lands, a satel­lite camp of the KZ Natz­wei­ler had exis­ted from August to Novem­ber / Decem­ber 1944. 1.700 young Jewish women from Hun­gary had been put up in shacks. They were sup­po­sed to build the first con­crete covered run­way of Frank­furt air­port. This buil­ding pro­ject was “vital for war­fare” accor­ding to Ger­man “Luft­waffe”. In town no one was really exci­ted about this new know­ledge. In the seven­ties, many felt that the work the young men had done was “fou­ling the own nest”.

Zsuzsanna F. bei ihrem Besuch in Mörfelden-Walldorf 1980.
Zsuz­s­anna Far­kas visit­ing Mörfelden-Walldorf in 1980.
Die drei Jugendlichen, Jossy, Gerd und Alex, die die Geschichte der KZ-Außenstelle 1972 wieder entdeckten. „Opening to the past“ betitelte ein amerikanischer Journalist dieses Foto für die Zeitung „Stars and Stripes“. 4. November 1978.
The three young men, Jossy, Gerd und Aleks, who redis­co­vered the history of KZ-Außenstelle in 1972. “Opening to the past“ was the cap­tion given to this pho­top­graph by an Ame­ri­can jour­na­list working for the Army news­pa­per “Stars and Stri­pes“. Novem­ber 4, 1978.

City Coun­cil mem­bers dis­cus­sed in length whe­ther a memo­rial stone should be erec­ted at the site, and if yes, with which inscrip­tion. In March 1980 the stone was inau­gu­ra­ted and pre­sen­ted to the public during a digni­fied cere­mony. Wit­hin the frame­work of the muni­ci­pal cul­tu­ral pro­gram “Mee­ting Hun­gary” the museum again took up inves­ti­ga­ti­ons regar­ding the camp in 1996: a mul­ti­tude of new files, par­ti­cu­larly pro­to­cols of wit­ness accounts given by women pre­viously impri­soned here could be viewed and made acces­si­ble to the public wit­hin the scope of an exhi­bi­tion. A Hun­ga­rian Jewish woman living in Wall­dorf heard about this pro­ject. Her fri­end (Mar­git Hor­váth) had been impri­soned here in the camp in 1944. We had inten­sive talks and inter­views with her. The 12th class stu­dents of Ber­tha von Sutt­ner School used this as an oppor­tu­nity to con­ti­nue inves­ti­ga­ting on their own. They went to Hun­gary and met ano­ther sur­vi­vor of the Wall­dorf KZ in Pápa. Deeply moved they retur­ned to Mörfelden-Walldorf.

Ibolya bedankt sich nach dem Gespräch bei einer Schülerin der 12. Klasse. Aufgenommen in der westungarischen Stadt Pápa, 1997.
Ibo­lya expres­ses her thanks after talks with a 12th grade stu­dent. Pho­to­gra­phed in Pápa City Hall, 1997.
Eröffnung einer Ausstellung über die Geschichte der KZ-Außenstelle Walldorf im Rahmen des städtischen Kulturprogramms „Begegnungen mit Ungarn" Rathaus Walldorf, November 1996.
Opening an exhi­bi­tion about the history of KZ-Außenstelle Wall­dorf wit­hin the scope of the muni­ci­pal cul­tu­ral pro­gram “Mee­ting Hun­gary”. Wall­dorf City Hall, Novem­ber 1996.

They were doing a lot — also with regard to the con­struc­tion com­pany these women had been forced to work for in 1944. Equally, City Coun­cil the press, the museum, and more and more (a gro­wing num­ber of?) people of our town got invol­ved. The result of this work done by most dif­fe­rent people and groups is the “His­to­ric Nature Trail” inau­gu­ra­ted in Novem­ber 2000. We wish to thank all those who have par­ti­ci­pa­ted in this work. Inten­sive occupa­tion with the history of this satel­lite KZ is now a mat­ter of course for our population…

In an age when we wan­ted to be young and beau­ti­ful, we were arres­ted and depor­ted…” Ibo­lya says (born 1921)

After mili­tary defeats at the Eas­tern front in 1942/43, the Hun­ga­rian govern­ment had tried to dis­en­gage from its to date ally Ger­many. Hun­gary took up secret diplo­ma­tic con­ta­cts with the Wes­tern allies. Talks were held regar­ding a pos­si­ble sepa­rate peace. In order to prevent this, Ger­man tro­ops mar­ched into Hun­gary on March 19, 1944. The for­mer ally Hun­gary had pur­sued an anti-Semitic policy as well. The Hun­ga­rian so cal­led 3rd Law on Jews, pas­sed in 1941, resem­bled the Nurem­berg racial laws of 1935. But the Hun­ga­rian govern­ment had not com­plied with the Ger­man request to adopt the pro­gram of the so cal­led “final solu­tion”. This star­ted only with the day of the inva­sion of the Ger­man Wehr­macht. At that time, about 800.000 Jews lived in Hun­gary. The NS-leadership had pre­pa­red ever­y­thing in a gene­ral staff fashion. April 4, 1944: Dis­play­ing the yel­low star beco­mes com­pul­sory in Hun­gary. Begin­ning mid April 1944, the Jewish popu­la­tion had to live in ghet­toes. Alre­ady from May 15, 1944 the depor­ta­tion trains star­ted rol­ling towards Auschwitz.

We were unloa­ded at a small rail­way sta­tion near Frank­furt. It was noon time, we were exhaus­ted and had no water …” Sze­ren remembers.

During the roll call of August 19/20, 1944 in Ausch­witz, 1.700 young Jewish women aged 14 to 45 were selec­ted for a work assi­gn­ment at Frank­furt air­port. Since the begin­ning of the war the air­port was under the aut­ho­rity of the Ger­man air force. For the new jet figh­ter plane (Me 262) a con­crete covered run­way was necessary. the buil­ding pro­ject was labe­led “import­ant for war­fare”. The “Orga­ni­sa­tion Todt” filed an app­li­ca­tion for the necessary work force with the SS main office for eco­no­mi­cal admi­nis­tra­tion on August 10, 1944 — that meant: KZ inma­tes. The camp con­sis­ted of six shacks for the inma­tes and a guard bar­rack — con­struc­tio­nally, ever­y­thing was in a com­pa­ra­tively new and good shape. There was a bar­bed wire fence all around the camp. After a three day ride during which the women had barely recei­ved anything to eat or drink, they had to march from the rail­way sta­tion through the forest into the camp. One of the 1.700 women alre­ady died on this day of arri­val: Jolan Frei­feld; she was just 40 years old. The for­mer camp com­man­dant com­men­ted on the death of Jolan Frei­feld during an inter­ro­ga­t­ion in 1978:

Today, I can not say any­more if the inmate was alre­ady dead upon arri­val, or died right after that. Even if the expla­na­tion on the docu­men­ta­tion is con­tra­dic­ting its­elf, I can­not say anything dif­fe­rent today. The cause of death “car­diac and blood cir­cu­la­tion insuf­fi­ci­ency” sta­ted by mys­elf must have been com­ing about because her fel­low inma­tes had tal­ked about such a diagnosis …”

Vera als junges Mädchen, 1942.
Vera as a young girl, 1942.

Vera was only 13 years old in 1944. She says:

Since I was too young, I was sepa­ra­ted from my mother (in Ausch­witz) and came into Block 12 in Camp B. II. C. My mother came to Block 3. But I took the risk any went to my mother.… We were selec­ted several times. On August 19, my mother and were sor­ted out into the sepa­ra­ted group coun­ting 1,700 per­sons which was adja­cently “wag­go­ned in”. On August 22, 1944 our train arri­ved in Frankfurt/Main an. We were rus­hed — totally exhaus­ted — on a very hot day, we were all thirsty and had no water. I can remem­ber that we had to walk on foot to the camp; the way see­med to very long to me. Me thinks that one of us was shot on the way”.

Eine Tafel des Historischen Lehrpfads, der rund um das ehemalige Gelände des KZ-Außenlagers verläuft.
A panel of the History Nature Trail sur­roun­ding the grounds of the for­mer KZ-Außenlager.

Con­tem­porary Wit­nes­ses Reporting: Please click on the photographs

Wir lernten Isabelle 1999 in Budapest kennen. Diese Aufnahme entstand in Budapest ungefähr ein Jahr vor ihrer Deportation. Ca. 1943.
We met Isa­belle in Buda­pest in 1999. This pho­to­graph was made in Buda­pest about one year before her depor­ta­tion. About 1943.
200 - 300 Arbeiterinnen, mit denen Klára M. in Csepel zusammen in der Fabrik gearbeitet hat, waren später mit ihr in Auschwitz und dann auch im Lager Walldorf. Aufnahme der ehemaligen Fabrik „Manfred Weiss“. Csepel, Budapest, 1999.
200 — 300 female workers who had pre­viously worked toge­ther with Klára M. in the fac­tory in Cse­pel were later toge­ther with her in Ausch­witz and then in Lager Wall­dorf. too. Pho­to­graph of the for­mer fac­tory “Man­fred Weiss“. Cse­pel, Buda­pest, 1999
Die Erzählerin Elvira mit ihren beiden Schwestern Margit (li.) und Betty (re.) Aufnahme von 1942.
Nar­ra­tor Elvira with her sis­ters Mar­git (left) und Betty (right) Pho­to­graph of 1942
Deportationsliste mit dem Namen von Margit Horvath, geb. Racz.
Depor­ta­tion list showing the namen of Mar­git Hor­vath, mai­den name Racz.
Ibolyas Elternhaus in Pápa, Westungarn. Fotografiert von einer Schülerin aus Mörfelden-Walldorf, 1997.
Ibolya’s par­en­tal home in Pápa, Wes­tern Hun­gary. Pho­to­gra­phed by a stu­dent from Mörfelden-Walldorf, 1997.