Reichenberg

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Reichenberg
  • Version 1.0
  • Publication date 15 February 2024

Reichenberg is the name given to the city of Liberec in northern Bohemia, Czech Republic, when it was made the capital of the newly established Reichsgau Sudetenland within the German Reich in April 1939. The area around the city became the centre of the arms industry, which led to the extensive use of forced labour in local factories and businesses.

The first forced labour camps erected in Reichenberg were four detention camps intended for the internment of Sinti and Roma; they were established by the municipal government between 1939 and 1943. Our knowledge about everyday life in those camps is very fragmentary. Based on one witness statement and the database of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum, it can be assumed that the vast majority of the internees did not survive the later deportations to concentration camps.

Forced Labour and Detention Camps

The first camp in Reichenberg was operated by the local company J.W. Roth and it was probably in the two wooden barracks still preserved today near Kunratická Street, in the area where a quarry was opened later. The camp was apparently only in operation in the autumn of 1939. The Sinti and Roma were forced to do construction work for J. W. Roth and they built a housing development with fifteen residential houses in Reichenberg between 1939 and 1941.

The second camp was set up in Nádražní Street at the end of 1939, again on the initiative of J.W. Roth. It was in an abandoned building of an old factory owned by the Textilana company, which still stands today. There the Reichenberg municipal government rented a large hall on the ground floor with room for eighty people. The accommodation was completely unsatisfactory, as the building was in a dilapidated state. So far, only two complaints about the living conditions of internees in the camp have been discovered. The first complaint was made in January 1940 by Chief Planning Officer Funke (unknown–unknown), who described the housing conditions of the Roma as inhuman. The second complaint was written on 14 August 1940 by internee Franz Bernhardt (1888–1943), who later died in Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration and extermination camp, to the local police station. He wrote about the catastrophic state of the building, which was collapsing so noisily that the internees could not sleep and their lives were in danger. Based on this complaint, a commission went to the building and came to the conclusion that although the factory was collapsing, it only threatened the neighbouring buildings, not the Sinti and Roma housed there. Under these circumstances, no one was interested in investing in a dilapidated factory. The camp was dissolved between June and August 1941 and its inmates were moved to a newly built camp in Kunratická Street.

At the same time, a third camp for the Roma population was operating in the Horní Růžodol district. It is believed to have been located in a dilapidated private house, but more information about the camp has not yet been found.

The fourth camp (called a ‘concentration camp’ in contemporary official documents), near Kunratická Street, consisted of a brick barrack block and was built specifically for the internment of Sinti and Roma. According to the construction plans, the block was divided into a day room with an area of 96 m2, a sleeping area of 338 m2 and a laundry room with an area of 10.2 m2. Around 130 men, women and children were interned there from August 1941 before being deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau during 1943. Some of the internees were deported on 14 March 1943, but exact details about the deportations are currently not known.

Aftermath

On 25 June 2018, seven wooden crosses were placed on the site of the fourth camp (the building was demolished in the 1960s) on the initiative of the Association of Roma Representatives of the Liberec Region and the historian Ivan Rous (born 1978) from the North Bohemian Museum in Liberec, who pioneered historical research on the camps. The crosses represent the seven boys who were born in this camp and subsequently perished in Auschwitz: Anton Bamberger, Max Bamberger, Raimund Bamberger, Adolf Bernhardt, Fritz Richter, Johann Richter and Rudolf Richter. Between September and November 2020, archaeological research was carried out on the site and revealed the remains of the camp building. The municipality of Liberec built a memorial there, which was unveiled on 22 February 2024. On the initiative of the Association of Roma Representatives of the Liberec Region, Stolpersteine [Stumbling Stones] were laid on the central square of Liberec for three local Sinti who perished in Auschwitz: on 19 November 2018 for Alfred Kraus, and on 13 September 2019 for Adolf Bernhardt and Franz Bernhardt.

Zitierweise

Michal Schuster: Reichenberg, in: Enzyklopädie des NS-Völkermordes an den Sinti und Roma in Europa. Hg. von Karola Fings, Forschungsstelle Antiziganismus an der Universität Heidelberg, Heidelberg 15. Februar 2024. -

1939
September – Oktober 1939Im September oder Oktober 1939 wird in Reichenberg, ehemals Liberec (Sudetenland, deutsch annektierte tschechische Länder), ein Zwangslager für Sinti:ze und Rom:nja in Betrieb genommen.
1. Dezember 1939Ein zweites Zwangslager für Sinti:ze und Rom:nja wird in der Nádražní-Straße in Reichenberg, ehemals Liberec (Sudetenland, deutsch annektierte tschechische Länder), in Betrieb genommen. Gleichzeitig wird dort ein drittes Zwangslager im Bezirk Horní Růžodol betrieben.
1941
August 1941Das vierte Zwangslager für Sinti:ze und Rom:nja wird in der Kunratická-Straße in Reichenberg, ehemals Liberec (Sudetenland, deutsch annektierte tschechische Länder), in Betrieb genommen.
1943
14. März 1943Ein Teil der ca. 130 Männer, Frauen und Kinder, die im Zwangslager in der Kunratická-Straße in Reichenberg (Sudetenland, deutsch annektierte tschechische Länder) interniert sind, wird in das Konzentrations- und Vernichtungslager Auschwitz-Birkenau deportiert.
2018
25. Juni 2018Sieben Holzkreuze werden auf dem Gelände eines ehemaligen Zwangslagers für Sinti und Roma in der Kunratická-Straße in Liberec (Tschechische Republik) aufgestellt.
8. November 2018Auf Initiative des Verbands der Roma-Vertreter der Region Liberec (Tschechische Republik) wird auf dem zentralen Platz von Liberec ein Stolperstein für einen Sinto verlegt, der im Konzentrations- und Vernichtungslager Auschwitz-Birkenau ermordet wurde.
2019
13. September 2019Auf Initiative des Verbands der Roma-Vertreter der Region Liberec (Tschechische Republik) werden auf dem zentralen Platz von Liberec zwei Stolpersteine für zwei Sinti verlegt, die im Konzentrations- und Vernichtungslager Auschwitz-Birkenau ermordet wurden.
2020
September – November 2020Auf dem Gelände eines ehemaligen Zwangslagers für Sinti und Roma in der Kunratická-Straße, Liberec (Tschechische Republik) werden archäologische Untersuchungen vorgenommen.
2024
22. Februar 2024In Liberec, Tschechische Republik, wird eine Gedenktafel am Standort des ehemaligen Zwangslagers für Sinti:ze und Rom:nja in der Kunratická Straße angebracht.