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Susanne Barth

Junior Fellow (10/2015 - 05/2013)

The Oberschlesische Hydrierwerke AG and the Auschwitz Subcamp of Blechhammer 1939-1945

barthBased on newly accessible source material, this project investigates the history of the Oberschlesische Hydrierwerke AG, a synthetic fuel plant founded in Blechhammer (Upper Silesia) by the Reich Office for Economic Development in 1939. Along with nearly 20,000 foreign and forced labourers from all over Nazi-occupied Europe and Allied prisoners of war, Jewish inmates were made to work on the construction site. A forced labour camp for Jews was set up by the Reichsautobahn in March 1942. When it was taken over by Auschwitz in April 1944, it became its second-largest subcamp with a prisoner population of 4,000-6,000. This project examines the plant’s ideological and economic function in war-time Upper Silesia as well as the industrial elite’s co-operation with the Schmelt organisation and the Auschwitz extermination camp, while at the same time trying to reconstruct the daily life and suffering of Blechhammer prisoners.


Susanne Barth is a PhD candidate at the University of Oldenburg (Germany), from where she also received a Master’s degree in History and Political Science. In 2012, she was an EHRI-Fellow at the Netherlands Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies (NIOD) in Amsterdam and a Saul Kagan Claims Conference Academic Fellow in Advanced Shoah Studies in 2012-13. Her main research interests are forced labour and social histories of the camps.

May 2024
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The Vienna Wiesenthal Institute for Holocaust Studies (VWI) is funded by:


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