Haeftlings-Krankenbau Auschwitz I - block 28
In the Archives of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum there is an original Record Book of Block 28. In this document, the recorder of block 28 kept records of sick prisoners who stayed in the first floor of block 28, where six rooms housed the internal medicine ward. The ward was formed by the Lagerarzt (camp physician) SS-Untersturmführer (second lieutenant) Herbert Wuttke. The internists working there took care of the sick suffering from bronchitis, pneumonia, nephritis, gastritis, as well as kept feverish patients under observation which most frequently ended with diagnosis of typhus. They strived to fight those diseases, although they were deprived of basic medicines and injections and even of stethoscopes or thermometers.
Initially, the patients were taken care of by: Stanisław Suliborski (no. 2876), Stefan Pizło (no. 333), Michał Okoński (no. 6054) and Edward Nowak (no. 447). The inmate-physicians staff changed with time. The staff of the internal medicine ward included, among others: Władysław Tondos (no. 18871), Roman Zengteller (no. 20497), Stanisław Czelny (no. 93245), Tadeusz Śnieszko (no. 2620), Włodzimierz Ławkowicz (no. 26610), Czesław Jaworski (no. 31070), Adam Przybylski (no. 93224) and Janusz Makowski (no. 62378). In 1943, the following inmate-physicians started working at the internal medicine ward: Stanisław Zakaszewski (number never estabilished), Tadeusz Kowalski (no. 93197), Roman Łaba (no. 153263), Zenon Hoffman (no. 114634) and many others.
The preserved Record Book of block 28 is a wide-ruled notebook, A5 size, bound in hardback dark green covers. On the outer cover there is a label “Record Book of Block 28 from 27.08.1941 to 19.01.1944”. The recorder filled 544 pages. Columns where he wrote down information about prisoners were filled in by hand. Each page was divided into six columns. In each column, the recorder wrote down the following information: item no. (“Lfd. Zahl.” - Laufende Zahl), current number in the clinic (“Lfd. No.. Ambulanz” – Laufende Nummer Ambulanz), prisoner number (“Häftlings. No..” – Häftlingsnummer), name and surname (“Name u. Vorname” - Name und Vorname), went to (“Abgang. nach” – Abgang nach), remarks (“Bemerkungen”). Apart from basic information, the recorder sometimes noted the nationality, the diagnosis and the function of the prisoner.
In the last but one column, recorder noted information about death of the prisoner, which was marked with a “+” sign, as well as the date of death. The entries were kept chronologically. The recorder noted dates in red ink in the middle of the page, before the daily count of the prisoners. The rest of the entries were made mainly in blue ink, although some information was written in red ink.
The Record Book of block 28 covers records from the period between 27.08.1941 and 19.01.1944. The information contained in the Record Book concerns mainly the male prisoners, brought to the KL Auschwitz in the period between 14.06.1940 and 1.01.1944.
Database: “HKB 28”
The database “HKB 28” was created in the Digital Repository on the basis of the Record Book of block 28 (internal medicine ward). The task of digitalization of the whole document begun in 2005 with scanning individual pages of the Book. Then, from separate entries, 8769 personal records were made, to which the iconographical material, in the form of scanned pages of the Book, was attached, which made it easier to decipher the illegible entries. Correction and standardization were the next stage. Each time, correcting or adding information in the standardized column was extensively described in the commentaries.
The standardized database “HKB 28” was incorporated into the Central Register of Prisoners kept by the Digital Repository of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum.
The Register of Block 28, sztuba (i.e. room) 7 is a register of the Auschwitz camp hospital, in which sick male inmates were recorded as accepted to Room 7 (intended for the newly arrived inmates and for that reason called a Zugang room). The Room was located on the ground floor of Block 28 of the Auschwitz I camp. The Room served as an outpatient clinic where an inmate-physician would examine “candidates for the camp hospital” and determine whether they required hospital treatment or could return to work after receiving only ad hoc medical assistance. Then the physician would present the patients eligible for hospital treatment to an SS camp doctor (SS-Lagerarzt). It was him who made a diagnosis and the final decision concerning a given patient’s fate. Only some of the inmates were referred to the camp hospital. They were brought or carried in to the Zugang room. Initially, the Zugang room was located in Room 7, opposite the outpatient clinic. In the spring of 1941 it was the last room in the left part of the corridor where the numbering was changed from 9 to 7. The Register was set up and kept by room supervisor Franciszek Sobkowiak (no. 15493), who was keen on maintaining order in the room, which is why he set up the Register. In the Register he entered names of the patients staying in room 7. He would also indicate places where the inmates had been transferred to and mark deaths and killings of inmates by phenol in red and blue, respectively. Entries in the Register of block 28 clearly show that most patients referred to room 7 died soon after their arrival. If a patient did not die after one or several days, they were transferred to another room on the first floor of block 28 or to another hospital block.
The Register Book block 28 room 7 comes in the form of a notebook with wide lines, bound with hard violet covers. On the inside cover there are two entries: “Saal 7, Block 28“ (Room 7, Block 28) and “Arbeit macht frei“ in the top right corner. The book has 165 pages. The columns with inmate information are handwritten. Each page is divided into the following five columns: current number (“Lfd. Nr.” – Laufende Nummer), inmate number (“Häftl. Nr.” – Häftling Nummer), full name (“Zu. u. Vorname” – Zuname und Vorname), sickness (“Krankheit”), remarks (“Bemerkungen”).
In addition to this basic information the register keeper would also write down the following: date of arrival to room 7; the place where a patient had been transferred from (e.g. block number or subcamp); and the inmate nationality. The “remarks” column included, for example, information on inmate’s death (information on death itself and its date) or place and date of the inmate’s transfer from Room 7. If an inmate was transferred or died, their name was erased from the Register. Usually the register keeper would use ink rather than pencil to write down all this information. Nevertheless, all the underlined information (e.g. dates) or indication of death (e.g. “+”) is written with a crayon (red or blue).
The Register is kept in chronological order. The preserved fragment of the Register covers the period from 31 July 1942 to 4 March 1943. There is the following date on the first page: 1 August 1942. For the 11 inmates listed on the page there are no arrival dates. However, they were likely accepted to the hospital on the previous day, i.e. 31 July 1942. Unfortunately, preceding pages did not survive. The last inmate listed in the Register was accepted to the Room on 4 March 1943.
The Register includes 4527 entries on 4386 male inmates of different nationalities, brought to the camp in the period from 14 June 1940 to February 1943. Some of them are entered many times, e.g.: Antoni Halota – 8 times, Adam Kuryłowicz – 6 times, Marian Zbytniewski (no. 16410) – 4 times, Kazimierz Dulęba (no. 640) – 3 times. This results either from the inmates’ special roles in Room 7 or being accepted to the room as patients more than once.
During the efforts by the camp authorities in January 1945 to cover the tracks, the Register was saved by Adam Kuryłowicz (no. 18487), who was room supervisor’s assistant. In January 1963 he handed it to the Auschwitz-Birkenau Museum in Oświęcim with the help of Mr. Ludwik Rapers. Two or three initial parts of the Register were transferred outside the camp by Rudolf Diem, but no one knows what happened to them afterwards.
Database: “Block 28/7”
Works on full digitisation of the Register started in 2004. First the document was scanned. The next step consisted in reading all the information contained in the Register and inputting into a database. The database has 4527 records in total. Individual records have been supported by iconographic material, which in many cases helped decipher illegible entries. The next step was to correct individual entries and search other databases and archives. Such thorough search in large part allowed for supplementing the missing data and eventually reconstructing the stories of individual inmates referred to Block 28, Room 7 as divided by age, nationality or profession. Each data revision or information added to the unified field has been indicated in comments. The “Block 28/7” database has been incorporated into the Central Inmates Register kept by the Digital Repository of the Auschwitz-Birkenau National Museum.