The preserved documentation from the time of the prison’s operation confirms the death of 602 people. The most common causes of death given in the documents include heart and lungs diseases and diarrhoea. Death as a result of torture or gunshot wounds is only mentioned in a few cases. The figures and data provided in official German documents cannot be treated as reliable. Many deaths were not documented, and the bodies of the victims were not always returned to their families. A vast majority of prisoners died in the Radogoszcz prison as a result of abuse, severe beating, and torture inflicted by the guards, and of disastrous sanitary and dietary conditions. Most probably, we will never learn the true statistics on this.
Radogoszcz in Numbers
40 000 – the total number of people detained in the Radogoszcz prison during its operation (1940-1945).
1 000 – an estimate and approximate number of people murdered during the liquidation of the prison (January 17/18, 1945).
31 – the number of people who survived the liquidation of the prison (January 17/18, 1945).
83 – the number of guards serving in the Radogoszcz prison on July 1, 1940. As the German army suffered more and more defeats on the war fronts, this number gradually dropped, at the end of the war reaching 50 people.
10-15 decagrams–the daily ration of bread for one prisoner in the Radogoszcz prison.
2 – the number of wardens of the prison during its operation.They were SS-Obersturmführer Robert Ehlers (from January 1940 to July 1, 1940) and Revierleutnant Walter Pelzhausen (from July 1, 1940 to January 18, 1945).
4 – the number of guard towers in the prison.Each had a machine gun and a searchlight.Guards in the towers were obligated to shoot any prisoner attempting to escape or just looking out of the window.
300-400 – an average number of prisoners staying in one prison room in 1944.
72 – the number of members of different German units who took part in the liquidation of the prison on the night of January 17, 1945.
120-130 – the number of people that could stay in the sick ward at a time.
The Chronology of the Radogoszcz Prison
November 9, 1939
People arrested as part of an operation against the Łódź intelligentsia are placed in the former Michał Glazer’s factory in Radogoszcz (today’s 17 Liściasta Street). Many of the detained, after provisional trials, are sentenced to death and murdered in mass executions in the forests near Łódź.
September 1, 1940
Alfreda Rytel née Siewierska gets sworn as a member of the Union of Armed Struggle by the Commander of the Łódź-North Quarter of the Union of Armed Struggle/Home Army Wacław Górecki, pseudonym Wacek. From her home adjacent to the walls of the Radogoszcz prison, she and her sister conduct observations, and then share them with the underground organisation. She also delivers kites thrown over the prison wall by prisoners to their families.
April 1, 1942
As a punishment for stealing two loaves of bread, warden Walter Pelzhausen executes nine prisoners, even though only two of them were proven guilty. This is the largest execution in the Radogoszcz prison before its liquidation in January 1945.
List of people murdered in the execution on April 1, 1942 r.
Adamus Hieronim / born 31.01.1918
Antoni Józef / born 13.03.1923
Jędrzejewski Czesław / born 19.09.1917
Kisielewski Zdzisław / born 11.11.1918
Lauch Bolesław / born 15.04.1907
Niewiadomy Stefan / born 02.03.1918
Stala Antoni / born 23.04.1919
Wasiela Eugeniusz / born 12.09.1913
Żukowski Stefan / born 01.08.1905
Members of the Polish Socialist Party, arrested on November 11, 1941, are brought to Radogoszcz.
August / September 1942
A football player of RTS Widzew Longin Mielczarek is murdered in prison.
August / October 1942
As a result of a massive operation against the Łęczyca Division of the Home Army, many of its members are brought to the Radogoszcz prison, including a lawyer and author of Radogoszcz memoirs Władysław Zarachowicz.