From Bochum to Bergen-Belsen

On 17 March 1945, some 500 Hungarian women passed through the ruins of Essen on their way to Bochum on foot. The SS had brought them to the Essen-Humboldtstrasse camp from the Buchenwald Gelsenkirchen-Horst subcamp seven months earlier in response to a request for inmates from the Friedrich Krupp company.

Under the supervision of German workers, the Hungarian women and girls had been put to work in the Krupp cast steel factory. “We worked twelve hours a day, seven days a week – nights one week and days the next. Sundays we exchanged shifts. The furnace was not allowed to go out”, Rachel Grünebaum, who was 20 years old at the time, later recalled. Like the others, she had been deported to the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp as a Jew and from there to the Ruhr region.

The women and girls who reached Bochum on 17 March were put on a special train that took them to Bergen-Belsen by way of Buchenwald. There they continued the fight for their survival.

(Ronald Hirte)


Source: Rachel Grünebaum, Mein Leben nach Auschwitz: Erinnerungen, recorded by Holger Banse and Gabriele Grünebaum, Cologne 2014.

Reference: Michael Zimmermann, Essen (Humboldtstraße), in: Wolfgang Benz and Barbara Distel (eds.), Der Ort des Terrors: Geschichte der nationalsozialistischen Konzentrationslager, vol. 3: Sachsenhausen, Buchenwald, Munich 2006, pp. 436–439.