Next to the canal, you can see a tipper wagon. Such wagons were used to transport the clay dug out of this clay pit into the brickworks. The entire area behind the wagon, between the brickworks and the SS camp, all the way to the remaining prison walls consisted of clay pits. The field railway connecting the pits was laid by the prisoners. The clay shoveled into the wagons had to be pushed all the way to the brickworks. This work was one the prisoners dreaded the most due to the immense physical strain it demanded of them and the fact that they were exposed to all kinds of weather with no protection. Working with tipper wagons often meant severe injuries because the rails were not professionally laid and the wagons often ran off of them. Whenever this happened, the prisoners had to load the clay back onto the wagons while being beaten by the SS guards.
After the liberation, Josef Händler told us about the difficult work with the tipper wagons:
"The work in the clay pits was the most difficult, the hardest physical labour, as we had to remove the first forty centimetres before reaching the clay in these two by four metre pits. There was just sand and sludge before the clay started. The clay pits were dug out two metres deep, we often stood up to our knees in water and still had to shovel up clay. We had to load the clay into the tipper wagons; we scooped the clay out of the pit into the wagon, which stood, above our heads on the edge of the pit. It was not always easy. Meanwhile, the next wagon was already arriving from the previous pit since they followed one another, and, if possible, one wagon shouldn’t delay the next."
In late 1943, steam locomotives were supposed to be used for transportation of tipper wagons. However, they could not run on the makeshift rails so the prisoners were forced to keep doing this difficult work despite their ever-decreasing strength.
There are more tipper wagons at the ramp of the brickworks. If you go there, you will see the rails going up the ramp. Whenever the motor-driven winch broke down, the prisoners had to push the wagons up the ramp themselves.
The brickworks is our next station and there we will tell you more about it.