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2013-01-03

The appeal of the Dulag 121

Museum in Pruszków The Dulag 121 Museum in Pruszków was founded in 2011 in the former area of the transitory camp called Durchgangslager 121 to commemorate the suffering of imprisoned Warsaw residents and the help of inhabitants of Pruszków and the surrounding area for the prisoners. The Museum calls for all former prisoners of the Pruszków transitory camp or for everyone who helped the refugees and the needy to contact and share accounts of the past with the Museum.

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The camp was established on August 5th, 1944, in the area of the Rolling Stock Repair Works (ZNTK), located in the Żbików Pruszków district. In the Fall of 1939, ZNTK served as a transit camp for Polish POWs, accommodating two thousand people. In 1944, bunkers and guard towers were still preserved and could be used in the new camp. The place was also chosen by the Germans due to the camp’s location near to Warsaw and close to the train route. Waves of Warsaw refugees were directed to the camp after the outbreak of the Warsaw Uprising. Initially, the camp was administered by the SS and military police but was handed over to the Wehrmacht in early August 1944. The conditions were horrible. There was shortage of water and the toilets were covered with filth and stench.

It is estimated that ca 550 thousand Warsaw residents and 100 thousand people from Warsaw suburbs were confined in the camp. Usually, prisoners stayed there a few days to undergo a selection. Weak people who were unable to work were shipped to the General Government, the others were transported to forced labour camps in the Reich. Prisoners who were suspected of fighting in the Uprising were sent to concentration camps.

In mid-October 1944, the function of the camp changed. The prisoners were forced to loot the destroyed capital city. On January 16th, 1945, when the Germans withdrew from Pruszków, the camp ceased to exist. In late January and early February, the first refugees returned to Warsaw.

ZNTK in Pruszków symbolizes the suffering of Jews as well. From the outbreak of WWII, Jews were also forced to work in ZNTK, loading heavy crates with ammunition. On January 30th, 1941, when the ghetto in Pruszków was being liquidated, local Jews were herded at ZNTK before deportation to Warsaw. Over the following few weeks, ZNTK operated as a forced labour camp, where ca one hundred and twenty Jews were imprisoned. There were Jews among Dulag 121 prisoners as well, mostly those in hiding under fake names at the so-called Aryan side and who were forced out from their hiding places in Warsaw after the end of the Warsaw Uprising. Their history is still waiting to be thoroughly investigated.

All former prisoners of the Dulag 121 camp in Pruszków and everyone who has information about former prisoners are asked to contact the Dulag 121 Museum by email (dulag@dulag121.pl) or by phone: (22) 758 86 63.

This article includes English translations of selected excerpts from the official witryny website of the Museum.

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