Leo Freitag

Budzyn Labour Camp

Statement sworn at the Consulate General of the Federal German Republic in New York on 12 August 1968

At the end of 1941 or the beginning of 1942 I went from Krasnik to KZ Budzyn. When I am told that the Budzyn camp was, at the beginning a Zwangsarbeitslager and then later a KZ, when I think that I came there at the time it was a labour camp. That was at the time when the Jews were taken out of Krasnik. We wore civilian clothing. Only later did we get the striped clothing. The time of the change-over I can no longer remember exactly. It was either 1942 or 1943. As the Russians approached the camp was disbanded. We went next to Wieliczka, then to Gross Rosen via Plaszow and finally to Brunnlitz in Czechoslovakia, where we were liberated. I worked in Budzyn – as in all the camps I was in – as a joiner. During the construction of the factory I made for example, tables and doors, everything expected of a joiner. The head of the joinery workshop was an ethnic German by the name of Karl, he was a civilian. Of the guard detachment I remember especially well Feix and Hantke. There was also one with a name which sounded like Acker or Ackermann. When the name Axmann is mentioned to me, then I am sure this is the man I am thinking of. When the name Josef Leipold is mentioned to me, then I can now remember him very clearly. He was, I believe, an SS- Quartermaster Sgt. He was the last Commandant of the camp. He went with us to Brunnlitz. Not all the other guards came with us. In the course of time the younger SS- men were replaced by older SS-people and invalids. The younger ones went to the Front. This was not in connection with the change over from a ZAL to a KZ. The names mentioned to me of Wilhelm Kleist and Friedrich Buschbaum, mean nothing to me. When I am told that the conditions in the KZ were an improvement compared to the ZAL, then I must say to that, that the conditions in many respects were better in many ways, and in many others worse. Before civilians also had power over us and could kill prisoners, afterwards only the SS could kill prisoners. When asked whether prisoners were killed at that time, I think one day a prisoner was killed. The perpetrator, I remember was Feix.

I can remember the following single case:  Once, we came back from work in the evening and had to fall-in for roll call. A man was called out on whom money had been found. All the prisoners had to beat him, then he was finished off with a bullet by the SS. The exact date of this incident I cannot remember. I don’t know if, at that time, we already wore the striped clothing. When asked who carried out the roll call, I think that the camp commandant was present. The commandant at this time was Feix. On another occasion, some prisoners were given an axe on their work-free Sunday and led into a small wood to cut down saplings. In my view, this was only a pretext for killing the prisoners. Anyway 2 people were shot. I think that Feix and Leipold led this operation. When I am reminded that Feix and Leipold were probably not in the camp at the same time, then I am certain that Feix took part, the other man could have been Axmann.

I also remember well that one morning when we came out of the barracks, a German Jew was hanged on the roll call square. He had been an officer in the German army. The SS had hanged him; I did not see it myself. I do not know the reason for this hanging. Another time 2 Jews were drowned in the latrine, who had bought their jackets from Poles. They were civilian jackets. At another incident 5-7 prisoners had to spend the night outside the locked barracks. The next morning we found them dead. They had been shot by the guards. I cannot give an exact date for this deed. I also cannot say who among the Germans took part in the killing. 2 of the victims were the Davidson brothers who came from Krasnik. This incident must have happened in September or October. It was not so cold that the victims froze to death. When asked if I heard the shots in the night, then I cannot remember about it. Perhaps the Germans had simply kicked the victims to death with their boots. I am sure this incident happened during the time of the KZ. I think that we already wore the striped clothing. The barracks lay within sight of the factory – on the other side of the road, and we were taken there under guard – a 10-15 minute walk. Some of the people also slept near the factory building. I remember that once when we returned from work, the old and sick people and the children were no longer in the camp. We were told that they were taken out of the camp in a railway wagon – and had been killed. When asked whether I can remember any killings by Leipold, I cannot remember any such case…..

Now it occurs to me that shortly before the liberation of Brunnlitz, Leipold wanted to throw a couple of hand-grenades among the prisoners whilst drunk. He was prevented from doing so by Schindler, the German owner of the factory in Brunnlitz. With me in Budzyn camp, were my brothers Max and Harry Freitag, and my brother-in –law Louis Adler, who all live here in New York.


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