Kirschau-Bautzen Forced Labour Camp

Country Germany
GPS 51° 5' 31.4016" N, 14° 25' 41.016" E
Address C. Otto Engert Textilwerke AG and Gebrüder Friese AG in Schirgiswalde-Kirschau, Germany; Lessingstr. 7, 02625 Bautzen, Germany
Dates Active 1941 — 1945

Channel Islanders imprisoned in Bautzen Forced Labour Camp:

Evelina Kathleen Garland née Weston, Emma Constance Marshall née Gander

By Roderick Miller

At least two Channel Islanders were imprisoned in Kirschau-Bautzen Forced Labour Camp (Bautzen Außenarbeitslager Kirschau) / Bautzen Prison II (Untersuchungshaftanstalt Bautzen, Strafanstalt Bautzen II) in the city of Kirschau, now called Schirgiswalde-Kirschau, in the Bautzen District of the German state of Saxony. Kirschau can be traced back to the 14th century and was a small village until the establishment of a yarn manufacturing industry there in the mid-19th century. Photos of the city show a disproportionate amount of smokestacks and factories for its relatively small size, as the town grew to become a textile centre in the region. As with most German industries in the Second World War, factories in Kirschau exploited the availability of inexpensive forced labour, increasingly so after the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941.

Kirschau is about 25 miles due south of the district capital city Bautzen, where the regional prison and courts are to be found. The District and State Court building in Bautzen was built in 1906 with a prison large enough to incarcerate 206 prisoners. The prison proved to be larger than necessary for the court’s remand prisoners, and after the Nazis came to power it was integrated into the Bautzen main prison (Bautzen I). The former remand prison was then called ‘Bautzen II’, and as with all prisons in the Nazi regime, was used for political as well as criminal prisoners. The Bautzen prison officials were responsible for administering and supplying forced labour for a number of industries in the region, including Kirschau-Bautzen Forced Labour Camp.

Both of the women from the Channel Islands were transferred to Bautzen from Gotteszell Women’s Prison. Evelina Garland arrived at Bautzen Prison II on 5 May 1944. Soon thereafter she was transferred by prison officials to Kirschau-Bautzen Forced Labour Camp:

We were moved on to Bautzen prison camp where we used to go out to a sort of cotton mill to work constantly under armed guard but were driven so hard with only about half a cup of food, whatever it was, & 1 slice of bread all day. With the consequence my right [arm] got really bad, exactly what I do not know. But finally they decided they would have to take me to the civilian hospital in Bautzen where they opened it up from elbow to under arm & in front shoulder. I was in hospital for about eight weeks but when I finally returned to camp I could not use my arm at all, in fact the doctor said it was finished. I do use it now but cannot do all I would like to be able to do… — Evelina Garland, 6 November 1964

…we were taken to Bautzen into a camp in fields, had to work in a spinning factory, taken each day at 5.30 AM until 6 PM. Had our mid day meals at the machines while working. My longest stay here, about 11 months. Emma Marshall, 1965

There is very little documentary evidence available about forced labourers in Kirschau. A 1942 advertisement for Gebrüder Friese AG, a blanket and cleaning cloth manufacturer, boasts that they had over 2,500 workers, and C. Otto Engert Textilwerke AG was known to have employed Eastern European women [1] as forced labourers, so it is possible that Garland and Marshall were at one of these larger factories. It is not known if the camp was a standard barracks camp with a barbed wire fence, or if the women were accommodated within or immediately adjacent to the factory, as was often the case.

The documentary evidence for Evelina Garland shows that although the forced labour made her severely ill, with a severe phlegmon infection in her right arm, the camp responded quickly by providing her with proper medical attention in the Bautzen city hospital, and after she was released from hospital she was rated as unfit for further labour with the recommendation that she continue to receive medical care. Survival in Nazi camps often depended upon the many-tiered status of the prisoners, and this is clearly a case of a Western European women receiving relatively decent care in a situation where, had she been Jewish or Eastern European, she probably would either have died or been killed outright.

The Nazis added up the weeks that Garland had spent in hospital and added that amount to her sentence, since according to their logic, time spent in a hospital was not time spent being punished — this despite the fact that punishment was what caused her hospitalisation in the first place. After being released from Bautzen hospital on 8 October 1944, she was again in Bautzen Prison II. Due to her assessed inability to perform further forced labour, she was transferred from Bautzen on 30 December 1944, arriving at Leipzig-Kleinmeusdorf Women’s Prison on 6 January 1945, where she was liberated in April.

Emma Marshall arrived in Bautzen sometime in early 1944, and according to her estimated stay there, left around mid-February 1944 to perform forced labour at a variety of other sites in Saxony. She was liberated by American troops on 12 April 1945 in Schönebeck Forced Labour Camp.

Soon after the war, the Americans handed Saxony over to the Soviets, and the penitentiary in Bautzen was used as ‘special camp’ by the Russians, and by 1956 nearly 3000 political prisoners had died there and were buried in mass unmarked graves. In the communist Democratic Republic of Germany, the word ‘Bautzen’ was practically synonymous with ‘prison’ and Bautzen I remains today one of the most notorious prisons in Germany. Bautzen II, where Garland and Marshall were briefly held, continued to be a prison until 1992. Since 1993, it has been occupied by the Stiftung Sächsische Gedenkstätte (Saxon Memorial Foundation), who are dedicated to the memorialisation of victims of political repression.

Most of the privately-owned factories in Kirschau were seized by the communist state after the war, but many companies reverted to private ownership after the communist regime collapsed in 1989. Some of these companies still exist today but there is no acknowledgement on their websites for the role their companies played in exploiting forced labour during the Nazi Regime. The city of Kirschau was merged with nearby Schirgiswalde in 2010 and is now officially called Schirgiswalde-Kirschau. As of date (2017) there is almost no documentation and certainly no memorial at the sites where forced labour was performed in Kirschau.

Both of the Channel Island women would go on to a series of camps and prisons before being liberated by the allies. Both survived the war, but like many would go on to suffer a variety of chronic physical disabilities and post-traumatic stress disorders for the rest of their lives.

[1] A Soviet woman who officially died of tuberculosis (or drowning, according to witness testimonials) performed forced labour for Engert AG. She and three children of Soviet forced labourers are buried in a cemetery in Crostau, a community about half a mile distant from Kirschau.

Further Reading

Carr, Gilly; Sanders, Paul; Willmot Louise: Protest, Defiance and Resistance in the Channel Islands: German Occupation, 1940-1945, Bloomsbury Academic, London & New York, 2014.


The National Archives (TNA), Foreign Office (FO):
TNA FO 950/1162 (Garland)
TNA FO 950/1185 (Marshall)

Monse, E.M. (publisher): Einwohnerbuch für die Amtshauptmannschaft Bautzen, Bautzen, 1924, Signatur Hist. Sax. H.864.db-1924. Link.

Sächsisches Staatsarchiv (Saxony State Archive), records on Leipzig-Kleinmeusdorf Prison (20034), Garland (sig. 195).

Stiftung Sächsische Gedenkstätten, Dokumentationsstelle Dresden: ‘Crostau: Friedhof am Friedhof’ (in German). Link.

Weinmann, Martin (editor): Das nationalsozialistische Lagersystem, Frankfurt am Main, 2001. A reprint of Catalogue of Camps and Prisons in Germany and German-Occupied Territories, published by the International Tracing Service (ITS) 1948-1952, p. 276, Bautzen, O52/A60.