While the Nazis made a grim name for themselves in what are now well-known killing fields around Poland – Auschwitz, Dachau and even Łódź’s own Litzmannstadt Ghetto comes to mind – the atrocities at Radogoszcz prison were similar in their unflinching brutality despite its relatively unknown status outside of Łódź. What remains today of Radogoszcz, which was created by the Nazis to house Poles who were deemed “dangerous,” is a stark insight into the evil mechanics of the Third Reich. As if to bring the horror into even sharper focus is Radogoszcz’s location, smack in the centre of residential Łódź, and a visit to this often forgotten camp proves extremely sobering.
The buildings of Radogoszcz prison were originally constructed in the 1930s at the behest of the industrialist Samuel Abbe. At the outbreak of WWII the factory complex was requisitioned by the Polish Army before passing into the hands of the German invaders. For the first month it functioned as a Wehrmacht barracks before being turned into a transit camp for Polish prisoners deemed a threat to Nazi ideology. As time marched on the camp grew to operate as a prison and labour camp, processing an estimated 40,000 inmates – a quarter of which are thought to have been killed.