Polish Political Prisoners
Following the attack on Poland in September 1939, some parts of Poland were integrated into the German Reich while the rest was administered as a „Generalgouvernement“. The persecution of the Polish population was based on political as well as racist considerations. While the Jewish population was subject to systematic extermination, any Polish national suspected of contact with the Polish resistance was persecuted mercilessly.
The first Polish prisoners arrived from Buchenwald on 8th March 1940 to take part in the construction of the camp. Between May and August 1940, a total of approx. 7.500 Polish prisoners were transferred to Gusen from the camps at Dachau and Sachsenhausen. Starting in early 1943, several thousand Polish SV-prisoners - inmates of Polish jails - were transferred to Gusen concentration camp.
Despite strong racist prejudice and high mortality, some Poles managed to work their way up within the camp hierarchy. In the final count, at least 25.000 Polish prisoners were deported to Gusen; on the eve of liberation there were still 8.300 Poles in the Gusen camps, including approximately 1.300 Jewish prisoners. At least 13.000 Poles died at Gusen, were murdered at Hartheim, or sent to Mauthausen to die.