President commemorates Stutthof death camp victims

The Stutthof camp started operation on September 2, 1939, near a town of the same name (today Sztutowo). Adam Warżawa/PAP

The Stutthof death camp is a warning for Europe and the world, President Andrzej Duda wrote on Monday in a letter commemorating the 80th anniversary of the first prisoner transport to the camp, sited in today's north Poland.

Ceremonies marking the anniversary took place on Monday at the Stutthof site in Sztutowo (Germ: Stutthof) in Poland's northern Pomorskie province.

"Today we are paying homage to the memory of the camp's victims (...). Already on September 2, 1939, hours after the German Third Reich attacked Poland, around 150 prisoners were taken to a place intended to serve as an annihilation site for the Polish elites and the Polishness of Pomerania, where all traces and all memory of the achievements of generations of Poles on this soil were to be eradicated," Duda wrote.

In his letter, Duda pointed out that in the run-up to the war German territorial defence units in the region had compiled name lists of Polish social activists, teachers, academics and clergy, who were then easier for the Nazis to locate and arrest. Duda also commemorated the camp's Jewish, Roma and Soviet inmates.

Deputy Culture Minister Jarosław Sellin recalled that the Stutthof camp operated longer than any other Nazi-German concentration camp on Polish soil (until May 9, 1945). Sellin stressed that the treatment of the camp's inmates by the Germans could only be branded as "genocidum atrox" (vicious genocide).

The Stutthof camp started operation on September 2, 1939, near a town of the same name (today Sztutowo). Initially intended as a prison for the local Polish population, it was transformed into a concentration camp in 1942 and began to receive inmates from various parts of Europe.

An estimated 65,000 people perished in the camp, 28,000 of whom were of Jewish descent. According to historians, the camp's female population numbered around 46,000.

The Stutthof Museum opened in 1962 on an initiative by former inmates.