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The Budy Massacre - A grim anniversary

10-10-2007

Recent days have seen the 65th anniversary of the tragic events that befell the women’s penal company of the Auschwitz German camp in the sub-camp at Budy, outside Oświęcim. One night in early October 1942, German women prisoner functionaries battered 90 French Jewish women to death.

The events of 65 years ago have never been fully explained. Many sources term it a mutiny. Auschwitz commandant Rudolf Hoess referred to it as the “Budy-Revolte.”

The penal company for women prisoners in Budy, about 7 km. from Oświęcim, was founded in June 1942 in reprisal for an escape from Auschwitz by a Polish woman prisoner. 400 women of various ethnic backgrounds were imprisoned in Budy. Their living conditions were lamentable, and the Germans forced them to perform backbreaking labor. German women criminals and prostitutes made up the cadre in charge of the penal company.

The massacre of the French Jewish women prisoners took place in early October. Using clubs, hatchets, and rifle butts—and throwing some of their victims from the windows in the loft of the building—female prisoner functionaries and SS guards butchered 90 women.

The camp administration investigated the incident, but failed to discover the cause. Commandant Rudolf Hoess defined the massacre as “a revolt instigated by prisoners who used stones and clubs in an attempt to terrorize the capo and make their way out of the camp.”

SS man Pery Broad claimed that a German woman noticed a stone in the hand of Jewish woman returning from the toilet to the dormitory room. Broad felt that this was a “hysterical illusion.” Nevertheless, the German woman called for help and shouted that the Jewish woman had struck her. At that point, the female supervisors and guards began slaughtering the French Jews.

The following day, the Germans exterminated all the women who remained alive after being injured in the massacre. They also killed six German women functionaries who had taken part in the incident.

The penal company at work. Janina Tollik. Collections of Auschwitz Memorial
The penal company...