The forced labour camp in the Polish town of Poniatowa was located 36km west of Lublin. In 1938/39 the Polish authorities built an equipment factory for the Polish army signal service.
Twenty one blocks, known as the “settlement” were built for the factory staff and the first industrial enterprises were established in the forest close to the village of Poniatowa. A narrow –gauge railway was also built which connected Poniatowa with Opole Lubelskie and the main railway station in Naleczow.
The German army used these buildings as an army base up until 1941. In September 1941 a camp for Soviet prisoners of war was established using these buildings, and it was called Stalag 359, guarded by Landesschuetzenbataillon 709.
24,000 Soviet prisoners were detained in this camp, the majority arrived during November – December 1941. Due to the horrible sanitary conditions, the hard labour and the severe hunger, the mortality rate among the prisoners reached hundreds per day.