Pruszków – Dulag 121

On 1 August 1944, the polish home army rebelled against the germans in Warsaw in the hope that the soviet red army would support the uprising. The red army, however, chose to stop outside Warsaw and the Germans were able to put down the rebellion. Thousands of civilians were murdered by the Germans in several massacres, including in the district of Wola where between 50,000 – 80,000 civilians were murdered. But the Germans also imprisoned thousands of citizens and kept them in transit camps before they were deported to be used as slave workers. The largest transit camp was established in a suburb called Pruszkow southwest of Warsaw.

The camp was called Durchganglager 121 – Pruszkow, abbreviated Dulag 121, and was located on a 50-hectare factory area belonging to the Polish railway authority. Before the war, repairs had been made on, among other things, train cars. In the autumn of 1939, the Germans took over the factory and used the premises as a temporary prisoner-of-war camp for Polish soldiers before being transported on. In January 1941, a labor camp was established for Jews who were forced to work on producing spare parts for trains. The factory was decommissioned in the summer of 1944, and when the uprising broke out, the factory premises are empty and thus fit the purposes of the Germans.

Current status: Partly preserved/demolished with museum (2011).

Address: ul. 3 Maja 8a, 05-800 Pruszków.

Get there: Car.

My comment:

Dulag 121 was established on the initiative of SS-Obergruppenführer Erich von Dem Bach-Zelewski on August 5 and was thus under the control of the SS. The first transport to the camp arrived on August 7, after which several transports by both train and truck arrived at the camp. Conditions were disastrous and the number of prisoners increased in line with the uprising and thousands of people were executed by the Germans. For a while it was discussed in the highest German place if the prisoners of the camp would be executed, but it was concluded that they instead use them as slave workers.

On August 11, the camp ended up under Wehrmacht’s control, which meant that SS and Gestapo’s arbitrary killings decreased, but did not disappear. About 500,000 went through the camp during its existence between August 1944 and January 16, 1945 when the Red Army approached (Warsaw was liberated on January 17). How many died in the camp as a result of illness, beatings or executions is impossible to determine except that they amount to several thousand.

Follow up in books: Davies, Norman: Rising ’44: The Battle for Warsaw (2004).