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Research on Buchenwald Commando

This week Marissa Perry, undergraduate student at Michigan State University, has investigated the subject of the Commando Leipzig-Schönefeld, a subsidiary camp of Concentration Camp Buchenwald, in the archives of the International Tracing Service (ITS). “The personal files allow me to reconstruct the individual fates suffered by the women that worked here“, Perry comments, “while documents such as transport lists and correspondence are helping me to get a picture of the camp overall. When I return to the States, I will also listen to prisoner testimonies. By combining these two sources, I will be able to construct a social history of the camp.”

21-year-old Perry studies International Relations and German. She was awarded a scholarship in Holocaust research to fund her project on constructing a social history of Commando Leipzig-Schönefeld. “The prisoners of this Commando were recruited to do forced labour at the Hugo Schneider AG (HASAG) in Leipzig”, reports Perry. The company produced armaments and delivered munitions for the Wehrmacht. In 1944 the Reich Minister for Armament and Ammunition granted the concern a special permit to produce bazookas. When Perry began her project, she found it remarkable that only women were hired for the work. “This was due to the fact that the owners at Hasag were confident in woman’s work capability and women workers were cheaper to ‘rent’.”

From the general documentation on the Commando she has gathered that living conditions were relatively good during the first months at the camp. Food became scarce toward the end of the war. Another focus of Perry’s paper will be the death marches in 1945. Thousands of prisoners are said to have been evacuated from the Hugo Schneider AG in different directions.