Zabikowo is located on the southern outskirts of Poznan next to a large highway (A2) and a small community called Lubon. In 1940, the Nazis established two forced labor camps in Lubon called the Reichautobahn Lager Poggenburg whose Jewish prisoners were forced to work on the construction of a highway (Autobahn). The Nazis planned to link all major cities within the German empire through major highways.

In December 1940, the first 638 Jewish prisoners were sent to Poggenburg to begin construction of a highway between the former german/polish border at Frankfurt am Oder and Posen. All along the route, a total of 24 Reichautobahn warehouses were established with a total of about 10,000 Jewish prisoners from various ghettos within Warthegau. The Jews had been recruited and exploited to the extreme by various German firms, which in turn had been hired by the state for the construction of the motorway.

The conditions for the prisoners were primitive and they were housed in wooden barracks. As the military situation deteriorated for the Germans on the eastern front in 1942, these Reichautobahn stockpiles began to be dismantled. All industry was more or less focused on war production. Projects that were not necessary for the war effort were phased out, including the motorway projects. The prisoners were instead sent to other camps and the prisoners who were too weak to work were murdered, among other things, in the extermination camp Chelmno. Part of the camp was demolished by the Nazis in 1943 while other parts (barracks) were retained.

In connection with the dismantling of the Reichautobahn Lager, a prison on the site was established in April 1943 by Posen Gestapo. A few barracks that previously belonged to the Reichautobahn warehouse were taken over by the Gestapo and surrounded by both wall and barbed wire to prevent escape. The prison was called Polizeigefängnis der Sicherheitspolizei und Arbeitserziehungslager in Posen – Lenzingen and was a branch of the prison in Fort VII inside Posen.

When Fort VII was decommissioned in 1944, the remaining 750 prisoners, along with the 80-strong guard, were sent to Zabikowo. The prison was divided into a male and female section and political and criminal prisoners were separated. The prison was a temporary isolation prison where prisoners had to sit for anything from a few days to several weeks before they were sent on to concentration camps. Some prisoners were imprisoned for several months and conditions can be equated with other Nazi prisons and concentration camps.

Those sent to Zabikowo were suspected of hostile activities and subjected to both interrogation and torture. For some, Zabikowo was a final stop in anticipation of the death penalty. In addition to Polish citizens, russians, slovaks, hungarians, luxemburgers, americans, dutchmen and deserters from the german army were also imprisoned. A different category of prisoners were Poles who were sentenced to so-called weekend sentences. These worked in German companies/industries and had been sent to Zabikowo for disciplinary reasons. A punishment that did not extend beyond about a weekend, but that would make them disciplined and behave in the workplace.

Barely 22,000 people passed the camp in the scarce year in which it existed. There are 290 confirmed deaths. At the end of January 1945, the camp was evacuated and the remaining male prisoners were sent to Sachsenhausen. The female prisoners were sent to Ravensbruck. The SS set the camp on fire in the hope of destroying all evidence and the bodies murdered in the camp. The Soviet army captured Lubon and liberated the camp on January 26, 1945. Then there were no prisoners left, but well charred bodies.

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

Address: ul. Niezlomnych 2, 62-031 Lubon.

Get there: Car.

My comment:

A surprisingly interesting and modern museum that is easily accessible by both car and public transport. The museum has understood that too much information can actually scare away visitors and therefore there are many objects to see. It is also positive that part of the former camp area is next to the museum and gives the visitor a visual idea of what the camp looked like. A simple but informative museum with a good balance between information and visual impressions.

Follow up in books: Höhne, Heinz: The Order of the Death’s Head: The story of Hitler’s SS (1969).