Picture Taken of Barracks after liberation 1945 Auschwitz camp.
Wall of execution in Yard of housing blocks (in back ground)Prologue:
Court Yard between block 10 and 11, Auschwitz I
Court Yard between block 10 and 11, Auschwitz I
I have never been or seen the concentration camp at Auschwitz, the only contact I ever had were a hand full of Polish Engineers that had been transferred as prisoners (they apparently had the freedom of movement) to Dachau who maintained the infrastructure of the entire camp facilities there as late as the 1950s holding senior management positions and could never been drawn into any discussions as to their own activities in the past. I assume they were privileged inmates who's skills were needed or they knew very little about it.
I did see however about 500-600 women inmates at the end of the war about March 1945 near the Czechoslovakian border in the vicinity of the township of Asch, after we had an encounter with American troops. We retreated and regrouped having lunch at at a road side when this group of human misery slowly marched by controlled by SS women in tandem. I approached some stragglers including a young girl,(she had no shoe laces in her foot wear and had difficulties walking) pretty, despite her tear streaked face with a slice of dry bread who was slapped rather viciously by an SS women, my protest did not help she pulled her PKK at me and told me: "You do your job I do mine,Geh weg!" (Go away) I will never forget the incident , it was the only time someone had pointed a weapon at me at close range.
Material I am using in the following narrative is written by a number of researchers and not by any individual author, sponsored and published under the auspices of the Cultural Foundation of the German Federal Republic as well as by Alfried Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach and its Foundation.
As a Blog the entire history would be too long and I will mainly write about the worst atrocities, the Extermination of people, which I call "Völkermord" rather than Holocaust, which has more meaning and a greater impact in German than a Greek derivative. The translations are my own, for any grammatical errors I do apologize. Again I dedicate my writings to my young Indian School Pupils that still have to sleep on the footpaths of Delhi.
H K W Stolpmann, Auckland NZ, October 2011
The town of Oswiecim(Auschwitz) in the Wojewodschaft (County) of Cracow at the confluence of the Vistula and Sola lay already on the 1st of September 1939 with the German attack on Poland and the start of the second world war under the bombardment of the German air force. On the 4th September in 1939 the armed forces took the city. Auschwitz was annexed by the decision of the Boundary Commission of the Interior Ministry of Upper Silesia on the 26th of October 1939, as it was formerly a German linguistic territory prior to the Treaty of Versailles when Poland first became an independent state in October 1921, thus it was again integrated as part of Upper Silesia (Oberschlesien) and into the the Third Reich. The largest Nazi concentration and extermination camp was technically within Germany. Administratively it belonged to the district of Bielsko-Biala (Bielsko) in the newly formed Silesian Region of Katowice. However, Upper Silesia, Katowice, including that of East Upper Silesia during May1941 was divided by a police border (Polizei-Grenze). In this special zone the application of German Law was abrogated.
Imperial Germany 1871 - 1918
Arrow Points to Approximate location of Auschwitz
The Germans set up at the beginning a brutal occupation regime to "Germanize" and ruthlessly exploit the region economically. (Although initially they allocated 600 Million Reichsmark for industrial developments around the town. To establish this type of Industrial Complex was one of the largest investments made during Germany's war time period, then again Labor Costs were low and was there for the taking.) The higher police authorities promised to remedy short-comings and in December 1939 the construction of a camp in the district of Katowice was planned. Against the background of the expected attacks in Western Europe and in the wake of further anticipated arrests, Himmler ordered the Inspector of Concentration Camps Richard Glücks to look for suitable sites and objects of "interest" to the SS. Finally, in general terms only two places were available: The transit camp for Jews in Sosnowiec and the former Saxony-goers camp in Oswiecim. The decision was later decided by the Security Police and SD in Breslau by Arpad Wigand who decided for the construction of a concentration camp at Auschwitz. The 22 brick houses and 90 wooden barracks were previously built under the Austrian-Hapsburg Rule for Saxony-goers (Sachsengänger) is a colloquial Polish expression for: "go to work in Prussia " and was capable to accommodate 12 000 workers. Two years after the end of World War I, the work flow dried up and the re-established Polish state had taken over the grounds.
|SS Sphere of influence and control|
Up to summer 1941, Zyklon-B gas experiments conducted in the main camp so far have had been for delousing purposes and not for the killing of people. The poison pellets were delivered by the Hamburg-based company "Tesch and Stabenow" on a regular basis only as a pesticide to Auschwitz. [To what I understand the safety level is at 25 degree Celsius sic]. The first homicidal experiments took place in the basement of Block 11 (formerly Block 13) were Soviet prisoners of war were used as human guinea pigs. Probably the most extensive killings carried out with poison gas in this test phase, and the hitherto initially the largest perpetrated mass murder in Auschwitz took place in early September 1941. (131) 250 inmates including selected ill prisoners, about 600 Soviet prisoners of war, and some prisoners from the penal company were put into the basement whose cell windows had been previously filled in with earth were put to death with Zyklon-B (132) A large number of prisoners were employed at the crematorium for for the removal and evacuation of victims from the basements, which led to a rapid announcement of the events of what had taken place, within the prison community. The basement of Block 11 did not function long enough as an extermination facility using gas, soon it became clear and the first gas chamber was installed in a room at Crematorium I - Auschwitz.
Equipped initially with a combustion furnace with two combustion gas chambers by Topf and Sons, Crematory I in the main camp could cremate more than 100 corpses on a daily basis until1942. The crematorium received two additional ovens so the capacity increased to 340 corpses (133), which commenced operation on 15 August 1940 as a cremation site. Prior to this the municipal crematorium in Gliwice (Gleiwitz) had been used. In autumn 1941 the mortuary was converted to function as a gas chamber with a capacity of 700 to 1,000 people. (134). In addition to this mass execution of up to 200 took place of those that had been sentenced to death by the police-state court (Standgericht).[literally meaning "Standing Court"the verdict is read out, accused has no defense, German Army deserters were treated like this and shot immediately sic] . The Gas chamber was only one year in operation, it served upon the establishment of a gas chamber at Birkenau only as a backup system. (135). The use as an incineration plant ended in July 1943 with the the larger cremation facilities in Birkenau. From early 1942 the killings by poison gas took place successively in the new camp there, initially in two provisional gas chambers (bunkers) in converted farm buildings (inmates referred frequently to the facade color "Red" and "White" called cynically "Home"), which were shielded by trees from view. The distance from Oswiecim freight station was about 2,5 km to the extermination facilities and victims were taken either on foot or by truck to the bunkers where they were forced to undress in the gas chamber into the (Bunker I) which had a capacity of 800 prisoners or (Bunker 2) which could hold up to1200 people (136).
DECISION OVER LIVE AND DEATH
From spring 1942, the deported Jews were singled out as such, from July of that year they were selected systematically by their ability to work. They had to line up separately by gender, children stayed until about the age of 14 years with their mothers. Within a short time it was decided the selection shall proceed on the basis of external characteristics on the decision of an SS camp doctor, Mengele among others, and Schumann who would decide which prisoner would be sent into the camp or not. Old, the sick, the weak and children were sent to the left side, from where they reached directly by foot or by truck the gas chambers. Inmate functionaries of the "ramp commands" that were responsible for the unloading of freight trains tried often to convey the new-comers the importance of this decision to make it clear and gave them false hope. "When we arrived in Auschwitz, we were immediately sorted at the ramp". They were whispering to the new-comers constantly "You are young and healthy, you are young and healthy!" They did not know what this meant but soon found out. Anyone who was old and sick walked away from the ramp towards the gas chambers. All children and mothers with children, all pregnant women went in the same direction. [there have been some who gave birth and kept their babies sic (a)] Many did not want to part from their loved ones and preferred death in the gas chambers rather than live without them.(137)(a)If the pregnancy was noticed after arrival the SS would kill the infants as a rule immediately or it died soon after birth due to inhumane living conditions. One of the few cases where a baby was able to be protected until the liberation is described by Anna G.: "On April 18, 1943 shortly after assembly was finished I brought my son Joseph into this world right in the open,[meaning the delivery was performed on open ground sic] with the help of fellow prisoners I succeeded to hide my baby in my bed in the dormitory ..... about four months later, however, he was found ..... by a big dog and and run with the bundle of my child into the courtyard where we were gathered. Although my mates wanted to hold me back I've made it known that I myself am the mother."The SS tried to kill mother and child but by pure coincidence it was found during the subsequent counting in the gas chamber that one person was registered too many. Thus, both narrowly escaped death. The boy was tattooed on his right thigh."From that time my son was officially recognized. I always kept him with me even at work. The child even delighted SS women and often had fun [sie hatten viel Spass mit ihm]..... Some times I was warned that my child should be killed, but with the help of a Jewish nurse ..... I was able during all these years to keep my child alive."(75)
[There are many stories about babies born at Auschwitz-Birkenau. Olga Lengyel, a prisoner at the Birkenau camp, wrote a book entitled “Five Chimneys.” In her book, Lengyel described how Dr. Mengele would take all the correct medical precautions while delivering a baby at Auschwitz, yet only a half hour later, he would send the mother and baby to be gassed and burned in the crematorium. Lengyel herself was selected for the gas chamber, but managed to break away from the group of women who had been selected, before the truck arrived to take the prisoners to the crematorium.
Ruth Elias, a survivor of Theresienstadt and Auschwitz, wrote a book entitled “Triumph of Hope.” Ruth was one of the women who gave birth to a child at Auschwitz. In her book, Ruth described Dr. Mengele as follows:
“Mengele was an attractive man. A perennial little smile showed the gap between his front teeth. Immaculately dressed in jodhpurs, he wore a cap bearing the SS insignia and carried the obligatory riding crop, constantly slapping it against his gleaming black boots. Whenever he spoke to me, he was very polite, giving the impression that he was interested in me. It was hard to believe that his little smile and courteous behavior were just a facade behind which he devised the most horrific murderous schemes.”
Ruth Elias and her husband had conceived a child while she was a prisoner in the Theresienstadt camp, although the men and women were kept in separate barracks. When Ruth arrived at Birkenau on a transport of Czech prisoners in December 1943, she was three months pregnant. In spite of this, Ruth passed several selections for the gas chamber even though she was obviously pregnant. She and her husband were assigned to the Czech “family camp.” On July 11, 1944, after a selection made by Dr. Mengele, 3,000 prisoners in the Czech family camp, who were not considered fit to work, were sent to the gas chamber, but Ruth passed the selection even though she was in her eighth month of pregnancy. On July 14, 1944, Ruth was sent to Hamburg, Germany to work in clearing rubble from Allied bombing raids, even though she was pregnant.
After only four days of working in Hamburg, Ruth Elias was escorted by an SS man, in a private compartment on a passenger train, to the infirmary at Ravensbrück, the women’s concentration camp near Berlin. From there, Ruth and Berta Reich, another prisoner who was nine months pregnant, were sent back to Auschwitz on another passenger train. Ruth wrote in her book that she gave birth to a baby girl at Auschwitz, but Dr. Mengele cruelly ordered her to bind her breasts and not to nurse her child because he wanted to see how long it would take for a baby to die without its mother’s milk. Mercifully, a woman dentist named Maca Steinberg, who was a prisoner at Auschwitz, obtained some morphine and gave it to Ruth so that she could inject her baby and end its life, after Ruth told her that Dr. Mengele was due to arrive the next morning to take Ruth and her child to the gas chamber.
Berta Reich gave birth a few days later and immediately injected her baby with morphine, then told Dr. Mengele that her child had been stillborn. After saving themselves from certain death in the gas chamber at Auschwitz, both Ruth and Berta were sent to Taucha, a labor camp near Leipzig, which was a sub-camp of Buchenwald.
Gerda Schrage was 24 years old when she was sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau in 1944. She had been in hiding in Berlin during the war, until someone betrayed her to the Gestapo and she was arrested. According to Gerda’s story, as told in the documentary film “Gerda’s Silence,” when she arrived at Auschwitz, she was pregnant by a married man with whom she had had an affair while she was in hiding. Her baby died in her arms at Birkenau because Dr. Mengele was conducting yet another cruel experiment and would not allow her to nurse the baby.] Source:Scrapbook Pages furtherglory 26.9.2011
Anyone who was registered as a prisoner went first into what was called a "sauna" an unheated building for the recording procedure where he or she undressed and accompanied by glances and laughter of the SS-men usually had a shower with cold or overheated hot water. Here the prisoners were given clothing, Holspantinen [wooden clog-like slip on shoe popular in North Germany sic]or ill-fitting footwear. It was followed by virtually the "shearing" of hair usually with blunted utensils which left a number of injuries. That was followed by the painful tattoo on your left forearm with your number which replaced your name, and in future you would be called or addressed and responded by it and kept in all your records. [Gypsies had the letter "Z" tattooed on their number as a prefix for the German word "Ziegeuner" sic]
In July 1942 the construction of crematorium II was produced by the company Huta. In August 1942 the decision was made for three additional furnaces by the firm Topf and Sons for the installation and necessary auxiliary equipment. Due to delays in deliveries the completion of four new furnaces was not carried out until between March and June 1943 (139). The capacity of the availability for cremations now ready for use at a running time around the clock at crematoria I (which however had been shut down in July 1943) was 340 corpses, in the crematoria II and III, each of 1440 corpses, in the crematoria IV and V respectively 768 corpses(140) . At its peak, as in the extermination of Hungarian Jews or Ghetto-liquidation up to 8000 people were burned per day (141). The crematories were built outside the prison camp at Birkenau and partitioned off and protected by a "Green Belt" with high fences made of branches from the view of prisoners (142).
Crematoria II and III were almost built to identical plans and possessed a combustion chamber with five furnaces and underground changing room and an about 210 square meter large gas chambers with mechanical ventilation and three or four specially made in the machine shop of the concentration camp throw-in chutes for the Zyklon B pellets, there were two rooms for the storage of hair, glasses and other objects of the murdered victims. In addition crematorium III had a plant for the smelting of gold teeth. Also both crematoria possessed a small stove as a waste incinerator for the elimination of worthless objects removed from the dead, in which during the end phase of the Auschwitz camp the SS would burn documents of the mass killings that taken place.(143)
Crematoria IV and V, the low capacity differed significantly structurally from II and III. The gas chambers and undressing facilities were not underground but on the ground floor.
The method and procedure of extermination was very similar in all four crematoria. Those that were selected at the unloading ramps to be gassed walked out towards the crematoria or driven in by trucks .... After the gas chambers were filled first with women and children, the men were pushed in when the SS members left the room and locked the doors. So-called Disinfectors [prisoners sic] then poured under the supervision of the attending SS-physicians, (Kieselgur) diatomaceous-linked Zyklon B into the insertion devices. The deaths occurred within a maximum of twenty minutes, dependent on factors such as temperature and humidity and the number of victims in the gas chamber . After the death had occurred, the ventilation system was switched on and prisoners of the Sonderkommando (Special Work Team) entered the chambers with gas masks and began with the removal of corpses .... [The dead were removed with a type of tongs clamped around their neck and pulled by two men who wore rubberized protected clothing and dragged the cadaver for cremation sic] The evacuation of a gas chamber took about four hours, the burning of three corpses in an oven for about 20 minutes . The ash was collected in pits and later poured into surrounding waters or for the production of fertilizer used in the agricultural areas of concentration camp.[the sequence and comment by the researcher in the method of disposal of ashes is not quite correct, bone fractions had to be removed, crushed and pulverized sic]
|Posed photo shows body being dragged from the morgue|
|Bodies were picked up with large tongs and loaded onto a stretcher|
Method of deposing of bodies. Pictures taken posed at Dachau KZ - note corpse is a Plastic (WAX) dummy
In late 1942 Dr Clauberg began in barrack 30 within the women's camp at Birkenau B Ia to test his method of operation without sterilization. From April 1943 Clauberg was assisted by Johannes Goebel and continued his activities in Block 10 of Auschwitz. Between 150-400 Jewesses of various nationalities have been subjected to this method of intra-uterine injection of a caustic substance which caused the inflammation of the fallopian tubes and became impermeable. Side effects of the painful procedure such as peritonitis or general sepsis often lead to death. Clauberg's test station was placed in May 1944 into Block I of the new women's camp in the protective custody camp extension, from January1945, he continued his activities in the camp
In another method who worked from November 1942, was Dr. Horst Schumann, who had been in the Euthanasia facilities in Grafeneck and Pirna-Sunstone and murdered "incurably ill" patients and then participated in the Action 14f13. In Auschwitz, he tried a method by using X-rays on men and women to make them infertile. Schumann worked in the barrack 30 of the women's camp Birkenau B Ia were under his supervision male and female prisoners were surgically castrated (147) [I doubt that women can be surgically castrated it is more likely it was Oophorectomy(Hysterectomy) when both ovaries are removed sic] . Few survived the estimated 1,000 victims of the experiments of Clauberg and Schumann.
The person with two doctorals (medicine and philosophy), SS Major Josef Mengele was a practicing leading researcher in the physiology of dwarfism in Auschwitz. Mengele was from May 1943 in Auschwitz and did service until November 1943 as Lagerarzt (Camp Doctor) at Birkenau. He was interested in an experimental station in the gypsy camp where he also studied the Noma Disease caused by malnutrition and poor hygiene of which many prisoners were suffering from, and had another facility in barracks 15 of the men's Krankenbaulagers (Hospital Building Camp) B II f and an additional one in the women barracks, camp B Ia.During the selection at the ramp Mengele made certain the ones he wanted to use for his experiments, children that were twins, people that had certain anomalies. Many children were killed after tormenting studies by phenol injections so that they could be dissected. Mengele was assisted by detained inmate doctors (148).Anatomical specimens were sent to Berlin-Dahlem for evaluation. Mengele continued to serve at the camp until January 17th 1945 at Auschwitz.
The exploitation of the prisoners did not end with their murder.Since September 1940 the tooth gold was added to the inventory of the SS from inmates that died in a concentration camp on Himmler's orders and not to members of their families. In October 1942 the Medical Inspection of the Waffen SS a local service and inspection team of precious metal in Auschwitz got sufficient gold for all the dental care of SS members to last them for the next five years. Therefore, the excess of gold should be delivered to the Reichsbank. At the height of the mass murder of Hungarian Jews in the summer of 1944 at least 40 inmates were involved in breaking out of the gold teeth of the victims (153).Members of the illegal opposition group alleged that in early 1944, the SS collected every month, ten to twelve kilograms of tooth gold.
[This statement of breaking out gold teeth from the dead is somewhat simplistic and in parts utterly false. Rigor Mortis sets in within 1-8 hours and start to putrefy after that, did they ask the dead: "open your mouth wide I want to extract your gold teeth?" Not very likely! SS men I have spoken to in Dachau where the same procedure was conducted, told me:"Wenn Du solche Scheißerei glaubst, glaubst Du noch an den Weihnachtsmann"! (If you believe such shit you still believe in father X-mas too). The "extraction" of gold was done after cremation when the ashes were scraped into a vessel and put through a sieve, fragments of bones removed and the gold fillings picked out for further processing. The SS did not trust the inmates at all as they attempted to conceal gold on their bodies and even tried to swallow the pieces. The Germans were meticulous when it came to hygiene and took precautions to stop the spread of diseases from congealed blood of a cadaver which could effect their own contingent which exceeded 7000 men and women plus their families. In the early days the SS returned the gold (if any) together with the ashes to the next of kin, but made them pay for the cremation. I do not know if bone crushing machines were used in Auschwitz or Dachau, they were in use by the SS Einsatzgruppen in Minsk, Mogilev and Smolensk i.e.- Russia sic].
Members of a SonderKommando 1005 unit pose next to a bone crushing machine in the Janowska concentration camp. (Jun 1943 - Oct 1943)
THE NUMBERS OF DEATHS AT AUSCHWITZ FROM1940-1945
THAT DIED OR WERE KILLED Not Registered Registered
1.1 million (1.082 million) Total All* 900 000 200 000
1 000 000 (960 000) Jews 865 000 100 000
70 000-75 000 (74 000) Poles 10 000 60 000
21 000 Gypsies 2000 19 000
15 000 Soviet POW's 3000 12 000
10 000-15 000 Others: N/A 10 000
Austrians and others
[*The above figures should be treated as estimates at this stage as computerized results are not available at the time of writing and are based on research by Franciszek Piper's publication "Research 1945-1990, Oswiecim 1993" page 202 which uses the factor of total Deportations to Auschwitz. One must assume that the unregistered victims went from the Ramp upon arrival straight to the Gas Chambers.sic]
Standard Personal Details kept in Auschwitz for Registered Inmates, in this case for Sigismund Gajda, a Pole, married with two children. I can not make out the handwriting for the reason of his arrest dated 18.4.43, but it states in part: "Has helped the Jews fleeing.. He apparently had no previous convictions. He committed an offence within the Camp (left lower stamp) and was sent to Mauthausen on the 4th December 1944. His inmate number was also changed to 112047.
LOVE ESCAPE and DEATH
|Mala and Edek|
The guard at the gate, who did not even glance at the pass, opened the gate and allowed the escort to leave. Several hours later, the sound of a siren announcing an escape filled the Camp.
Edek Galinski, prisoner number 531 was missing from the Men's Camp, while from the Women's Camp the same was true of Mala Zimetbaum, prisoner number 19880. This escape became legendary within the Camp...
|A telegram informing the escape of a female prisoner Mala Zimetbaum|
"The love of Edek Galinski and Mala Zimetbaum became camp legend in Auschwitz; a symbol of the victory of good over evil, of what is human over what is bestial. They gave us hope". (Statement: Camp Survivor Rene Raindorf of Brussels)
Mala Zimetbaum was a Jewish woman born in the Polish city of Brzesko on 26 January 1918. In 1928, her father Pinkus, a merchant, emigrated to Antwerp with her whole family. Mala attended elementary school in Belgium, where she became fluent in Flemish, French, German, English, as well as Polish and some Russian. Because of the difficult financial situation due to her father's blindness, she was not able to attend high school and began working as a seamstress. Mala was arrested on 11 September 1942, during a round-up of Jews at the main railway station in Antwerp and was in a convoy of 1,048 Jews sent to Auschwitz. On 17 September 1942, the convoy reached the camp; 717 people were sent to the gas chambers from the ramp. Mala was among those judged fit for work and was given number 19880.
|'Fragment of a list of transports sent to Auschwitz with prisoner numbers September 19, 1942 a transport from Malines. The female prisoners were given the numbers 19821-19921 (underlined in red)'.|
Edward Galinski was born in Jaroslaw on October 5th, 1923 and was a student at the maritime school in Pinsk when war broke out. In the spring of 1940, he was arrested and several weeks later, on 14 June 1940, he was brought in the first transport of political prisoners from Tarnów to the Auschwitz concentration camp. He became prisoner 531 out of the 728 transported. He survived the next four years of camp life, until, thanks to help from fellow prisoners and chance, he got into a "better" commando and began to work in the camp locksmith workshop. He served under chief Kommandoführer (Corporal) Edward Lubusch. Lubusch was an SS-man, who rather than tormenting the prisoners, helped them.
|Photo was taken in the camp metal workshop. In the foregrround SS-man Edward Lubusch who provided Galinski with SS uniform before the planned escape and next to him is Edward Galinski'.|
|Portrait of Mala Zimetbaum. It was made in the camp by fellow prisoner Zofia Stepien-Bator|
|A document from the file of prisoners working in the camp metal workshop. Galinski Edward, prisoner 531, trained profession: high school student, employed in the camp as metalwork apprentice'.|
PREPARING TO ESCAPE
At the end of 1943, Edek began to make efforts to be transferred from the camp locksmith workshop in Auschwitz to the fitters` commando in Birkenau, because he hoped that from there it would be easier to arrange an escape with his good friend and colleague from Jaroslaw, Wieslaw Kielar. Edek and Wieslaw Kielar had persuaded Antoni Szymlak, a tiler by trade, who had entry to the camp zone as a civilian worker, to provide shelter for them once they had escaped before they went further to Zakopane, to Wieslaw Kielar's sister. When everything was ready, Edek became abstracted and reticent. Kielar suspected that Mala Zimetbaum was the reason. They met when Edek went with the fitters commando to the women's camp to make repairs. Since their first meeting at the turn of 1943/1944, a deep affection had grown between them.
"I love and am loved", Mala told one of her fellow prisoners. Edek also confessed his feelings to his friend.
|Phograph of Wieslaw Kielar taken 1978'|
They crossed the line of camp guard post by showing a forged SS pass, for which Mala had stolen the form. They successfully reached the village of Kozy and received help from Antoni Szymlak.
Wieslaw Kielar's testimony on the events of 24th June 1944'.
Wieslaw Kielar's testimony on the events of 24th June 1944'.
|Map showing sited related to the escape'.|
At Mala's insistence, they changed the next stage of escape route. Instead of Zakopane, they went towards Slovakia, where Mala's relatives lived and where they wanted to take refuge until the liberation.However, luck had abandoned them. On 6 July 1944, they met a German border patrol. Mala, who was in front, was stopped.
Edek, not noticed by the Germans, could easily have withdrawn to safety, but he refused to do so. They were recognised as fugitives and sent back to the camp. In a telegram dated 27 July 1944, Auschwitz headquarters informed the superior authorities of their arrest.
|elegram announcing the recapture of Edek and Mala'.|
Testimony of Boleslaw Staron'.
|Interrogation and imprisoment sites'|
|The basement of the Death Block where Mala and Edek were detained after their failed escape from the camp'.|
|Fragment of the wall from cell 20 in the basement of Block 11 of the former Auschwitz I camp|
In secret messages sent to Wieslaw Kielar they reassured Lubusch and the prisoners who knew about the escape that they had nothing to fear. In the camp they were talked about as heroes.
"... Now, everyone made their way towards the kitchen and stood at the edge of a square, where a gallows had been placed in the centre. After some time, the cell doors were opened and Edek appeared in the doorway. There was a sudden silence. Only the gravel beneath their shoes could be heard as they walked towards the gallows, Edek (the condemned) and Jupp (the executioner)... [ One could contemplate, that the tiger would pity the fawn, the wolf would weep over its lamb, before a hangman would cringe at the corpse of a dangling prisoner, sic] Then I saw his upright back and his hands twisted behind him and tied with wire. This was the work of Jupp, who, was walking after him with a truncheon in the direction of the gallows. Here, Edek stepped onto the podium without hesitation and then immediately onto the stool that was placed beneath the gallows... An SS-man came forward from the group of SS standing at the side of the guardhouse and started to read the sentence in German from a piece of paper that he was holding in his hand.
|The current appearance of the "Death Bloc" in the Main Camp|
Quote: "He suddenly yelled with an astonishing voice 'Long live Pol...', but he could not finish"
Execution by hanging was also planned for Mala. However, a young Slovak woman and fellow prisoner described to Wieslaw Kieler what really happened:
"When she (Mala) was already on the platform, as the sentence was being read she cut her veins with a razor that she had prepared beforehand, but as with Edek she was not allowed to die that way.
Testimony of Wieslaw Kielar, "Execution".
Rapportführer Taube ran over to her and she slapped his face with her bloody hands. At the same time, the SS-men practically trampled her to death before the eyes of the whole women's camp. She died on the way to the crematorium."
"I donate two locks of human hair to the Museum. They are wrapped in paper with German printed on it. On the edge of the paper is a pencil inscription: Mally Zimetbaum 19880, Edward Galinski 531. It is an inscription made by Galinski and his hair and that of Mala Zimetbaum. The camp Lager kapo, Jupp Windeck, who hanged Edek, gave me the hair and the note an hour after his death in the presence of Rapportschreiber Kazimierz Gosek, stating that it had been the last request of the condemned that I take them and give them to his father. That tragic memento went with me through all the camps and I kept it to this day". (Statement from Wieslaw Kieslar dated January 29th, 1968)
|Tragic momentous left of Mala and Edek. Locks of their hair|
Curator- Dr. Maria Martyniak and Alicja Bialecka.
The exhibition featured many, in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions. Listed who have supplied the content: Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum.
Kazimierz Piechowski, born October 3, 1919 Rajkowy, Poland) is a retired engineer, a Boy Scout during the Second Polish Republic, a political prisoner at Auschwitz concentration camp, a soldier in the Polish Home Army (Armia Krajowa) then a prisoner for seven years of the communist government of Poland. He is known for his famous escape from Auschwitz I along with three other prisoners dressed as members of the SS-Totenkopfverbände, fully armed in a stolen SS staff car, in which they drove out the main gate—"a universally acclaimed...feat of exceptional courage and gallantry", in the words of Kazimierz Smolen.
After the collapse of Polish resistance to the German invasion, Piechowski along with fellow boy scout Alfons "Alki" Kiprowski were captured by the German occupiers in their hometown of Tczew and impressed into a work gang clearing the destroyed sections of the railway bridge over the Vistula, which had previously been blown up by the Polish military to impede Nazi transports.
|Railway bridge over the Vistula River; Piechowski was in a forced work gang clearing the rubble'|
Piechowski was sent to Auschwitz as a political prisoner, the so-called Legionsgänger, one wishing to join Polish military formations—or "legions"—abroad. Moreover, the Polish Boy Scouts were labeled a criminal organization in Occupied Poland. Piechowski was among a transport of 313 Polish deportees to Auschwitz on 20 June 1940: it was only the second transport after the initial one from Tarnów. Among this Tarnów group was another Pole who would escape in an SS uniform: Edward (Edik) Galinski. Galinski's escape was short-lived.
Piechowski received inmate number 918. He credits Kapo Otto Küsel (inmate number 2)—one of the original 30 German deportees from Sachsenhausen—with his survival by assigning him lighter work. Piechowski was in the Leichenkommando, assigned to bringing corpses to the crematorium, including those shot at the "Black Wall" by SS-Rapportfuhrer Gerhard Arno Palitzsch. Piechowski was present when Polish priest and fellow Auschwitz prisoner Maximilian Kolbe offered to exchange places with a fellow Pole who was among a group of ten sentenced to be starved to death. The sentence was in retribution for a perceived escape attempt of a prisoner.
On the Saturday morning of 20 June 1942, exactly two years after his arrival, Piechowski escaped from Auschwitz I along with two other Poles, Stanislaw Gustaw Jaster, inmate number 6438), veteran of Invasion of Poland in rank of first lieutenant from Warsaw; Józef inmate number 3419), a priest from Wadowice; and Ukrainian Eugeniusz Bendera, inmate number 8502), an auto mechanic from Czortków, Ukraine. Piechowski had the best knowledge of the German language within the group, and held the command of the party.
They left through the main Auschwitz camp through the Arbeit Macht Frei gate. They had taken a cart and passed themselves off as a Rollwagenkommando—"haulage detail"—a work group which consisted of between four and twelve inmates pulling a freight cart instead of horses.
Bendera went to the motorpool, Piechowski, Lempart and Jaster went to the warehouse in which the uniforms and weapons were stored. They entered via a coal bunker which Piechowski had helped fill. He had removed a bolt from the lid so it wouldn't self latch when closed.
Once in the building they broke into the room containing the uniforms and weapons, arming themselves with four machine-guns and eight grenades. Bendera arrived in a Steyr 220 sedan (saloon) car belonging to SS-Hauptsturmführer Paul Kreuzmann, license number SS-20868. As a mechanic he was often allowed to test drive cars around the camp.
|Steyr 220, similar to car used in escape'|
He entered the building and changed into SS uniform like the others. They then all entered the car, Bendera driving Piechowski in the front passenger seat, Lempart and Jaster in the back, and drove toward the main gate. Jaster carried a report that Witold Pilecki had written for Armia Krajowa headquarters. When they approached the gate they became nervous as it had not opened. Lempart hit Piechowski in the back and said to do something. With the car stopped he opened the door and leaned out enough for the guard to see his rank insignia and yelled at him to open the gate. They then drove off.
After the escape the fugitives abandoned the stolen escape vehicle in the vicinity of Maków Podhalanski, at a distance of some 60 kilometres from the camp. Kazimierz Piechowski eventually made his way to the Ukraine, but was unable to find refuge there due to anti-Polish sentiment. Forging documents and a false name, he returned to Poland to live in Tczew, where he had been captured. He soon found work doing manual labor on a nearby farm, where he made contact with the Home Army and took up arms against the Nazis within the units of 2nd Lt. Adam Kusz nom de guerre Garbaty (one of the so-called "Cursed soldiers"). His parents were arrested by the Nazis in reprisal for his escape, and died in Auschwitz; the policy of tattooing prisoners was also allegedly introduced in response to his escape. Piechowski learned after the War from his boy-scout friend Alfons Kiprowski, who remained a prisoner at Auschwitz for some three more months after his escape, that a special investigative commission arrived at Auschwitz from Berlin to answer—independently of the camp's administration—the question as to how the escape so audacious as Piechowski's and his companions' was at all possible.
After the war he attended the Gdansk University of Technology and became an engineer, and then found work in Pomerania. He was denounced to the communist authorities for being a member of the Home Army and sentenced to 10 years, he served 7. At the end of his sentence, he was 33; he reports thinking, "They have taken away my whole youth—all my young years." Thereafter he worked as an engineer for the communist government for some decades.
After the democratic transition, he declined the Order of the White Eagle when Maciej Plazynski tried to award it to him, politely (but also enigmatically) replying, "I do not feel that this honour is owed me". In 1989 he sold land he owned near Gdansk and travelled with his wife to various parts of the world, visiting over 60 countries. In 2006 Piechowski was named an honorary citizen of the city of Tczew with which he has had a longstanding association (as his pre-War hometown). Likewise in 2006 Kazimierz Piechowski was the subject of the 56-minute-long documentary film Uciekinier ("Man on the Run") produced by Marek Tomasz Pawlowski and Malgorzata Walczak, which won several international awards. In 2009 the British singer Katy Carr released a song about Piechowski under the title "Kommander's Car"; while 2010 saw another documentary on the subject from the filmmaker Hannah Lovell, the 26-minute Kazik and the Kommander's Car He currently lives in Gdansk.
The kapo Kurt Pachala, a native of Neusatz (inmate number 24), in charge of the motor pool (Fahrbereitschaft; or alternatively, of the food stores or supply depot, the so-called Truppen Wirtschaftslager) at Auschwitz, was implicated in Piechowski's escape by the circumstantial evidence uncovered during the ensuing investigation, and as a result was tortured and then sent to the standing cell in Block 11 where he died of thirst and hunger on 14 January 1943. He is said to have been reduced at the end to eating his own shoes. His treatment and death were recounted at the Frankfurt Auschwitz Trials in 1965 which formed the basis for the 1965 play Die Ermittlung (The Investigation) by Peter Weiss. Pachala is the only known victim of reprisals for the escape within the Auschwitz concentration camp itself (apart, that is, from the family members of the escapees): it was the ruse of the fake work commando that saved other prisoners from reprisals.
Eugeniusz (Gienek) Bendera from Tschortkau, Podolia, then in the Austro-Hungarian Empire): According to Kazimierz Piechowski, Bendera was the originator of the idea of the escape, and the one who conceptualized the whole plan. After the War he returned to Przedbórz to live with his wife (married in 1930; one son), until a divorce in 1959 when he moved to Warsaw. He died after 1970.
Józef Lempart, after the escape he was dropped off by the escapees at a monastery in Stary Sacz, a locality some 155 kilometres from the camp, in a state of total exhaustion. His mother was deported to Auschwitz in reprisal for his escape and killed. He left the priesthood, married and had a daughter. He died in 1971 after being run over by a bus while crossing a street in Wadowice.
Stanislaw (Staszek) Gustaw Jaster, nom de guerre Hel, was the youngest of the escapees. In Auschwitz he was a member of the secret underground military organization ZOW. In Warsaw he reported to the Home Army High Command about the resistance in Auschwitz and became a personal emissary of Witold Pilecki. His parents were deported to Auschwitz in reprisal for his escape, where both died (his father, Stanislaw Jaster, b. 1892, having perished at Auschwitz on 3 December 1942; his mother, Eugenia Jaster, b. 1894, first deported to the Majdanek concentration camp, eventually perished at Auschwitz on 26 July 1943). He continued to fight against the German occupiers in the ranks of the Home Army as a member of one of its most important special-operations units, the Organizacja Specjalnych Akcji Bojowych (Osa–Kosa 30), but also at his own initiative taking part in engagements staged by other Home Army units, most notably participating in the successful action at the Celestynów railway junction on the night of 19 May 1943, carried out under the command of Captain Mieczyslaw Kurkowski nom de guerre Mietek, whose object was to free the prisoners being transported by the Nazis from the Lublin Castle prison to the Auschwitz concentration camp by train, when he gained special distinction through an act of bravery whereby he virtually single-handedly assured a victorious outcome for the operation in which 49 prisoners were freed. His comrades-in-arms have described him as a man "of enormous stature invested with extraordinary physical power".
According to the account first promulgated in a 1968 book by Aleksander Kunicki, Cichy front, Jaster was accused of collaboration with the Gestapo and executed in 1943 by members of the Home Army. This account has since been discredited as lacking foundation in documentary evidence. What now appears to be reasonably certain is that Jaster was rearrested by the Gestapo in Warsaw on 12 July 1943, and that he perished sometime between July and September of that year. The exact circumstances of his death remain however a bone of contention. Both Eugeniusz Bendera and Kazimierz Piechowski himself as well as many others who knew him personally made their voices heard in an effort to exonerate the memory of Jaster in the wake of the controversy engendered by the publication of Cichy front. It has been pointed out that the author of the accusing book, Aleksander Kunicki (1898–1986), an intelligence officer of the Home Army during the War (see Operation Kutschera), had himself been subsequently accused of having collaborated with the Gestapo and sentenced to death, only to have his conviction set aside by the authorities of the Communist Poland (who instead awarded him a state pension for "meritorious service to the nation" — an extraordinary outcome for an operative of the Home Army, a military arm of the Polish government in London, whose members were persecuted after the War by the Communists either with lengthy imprisonments (as in the case of Kazimierz Piechowski himself) or by being killed, as in the case of Witold Pilecki, a figure directly connected with the events dealt with in the present article, Gen. Fieldorf, and others). Kunicki's book was submitted to a closely reasoned and devastating critique by Tomasz Strzembosz in 1971, which uncovered (among its other weaknesses) deliberate selective concealments and falsifications of published sources which Kunicki invokes in support of his thesis.
In the slowly emerging consensus of opinion in the matter — while the uncorroborated allegations of Aleksander Kunicki presented as "facts" in Cichy front remain what they are, namely allegations, unsubstantiated, in parts fanciful, and (in the light of emerging facts about Kunicki himself) perhaps self-serving — the book is thought nevertheless to contain an element of truth concerning Jaster's ultimate fate. It would appear that after his second arrest by the Gestapo in Warsaw on 12 July 1943 Jaster may have managed to escape yet again (this time by jumping out of a speeding Gestapo car moments after having been seized in a street together with a high-ranking Home Army commander, Mieczyslaw Kudelski nom de guerre Wiktor) — a feat so unprecedented (both in the degree of bravura displayed and in the fact that it would have been the second time that Jaster managed to extricate himself from Nazi clutches) that it would have aroused suspicions among the Home Army just then plagued by a series of devastating setbacks which could only have been caused by a well-placed mole, leading to a hasty and unjust execution of Jaster. If this hypothesis as to the fate of Jaster were to be accepted as a fact, it would remain to be explained why no documents relating to the case have come to light, however.
The authors of the aforementioned award-winning 2006 documentary film about Kazimierz Piechowski, Uciekinier ("Man on the Run"), Marek Tomasz Pawlowski and Malgorzata Walczak, are currently working on a sequel centred on the person of Stanislaw Gustaw Jaster.
Alfons "Alki" Kiprowski, Piechowski's fellow boy scout, was separately deported to Auschwitz (inmate number 801). He would escape from Auschwitz independently from Piechowski, just 94 days later, on 22 September 1942, together with two other prisoners, Piotr Jaglicz and Adam Szumlak inmate number E-1957
Links: The 2006 documentary film Uciekinier ("Man on the Run") about Kazimierz Piechowski Kazimierz Piechowski video on YouTube Singer-songwriter Katy Carr visits Piechowski Blown-up bridge at Tczew
THE CRIMES OF AUSCHWITZ BEFORE THE COURTS
After the liberation of Auschwitz the total of 7000 men and women who were members of the SS who had been involved and done service in the camp complex were under investigation as suspects in the crimes against humanity. The hour of reckoning and their punishment, so the victims and their relatives believed had finally arrived ... The Nuremberg Tribunal, the four allied powers who signaled a new era of law against war criminals which would enshrine human rights in future within international law failed partly on political grounds due to the cold war and was the cause that it was only considered as an opener. Thus the punishment of Nazi crimes was now in the national interest, primarily by the re-created Polish State. About 1000 individuals who had worked in Auschwitz were extradited to Poland, around 700 were tried during the the postwar prosecutions. (265)The Supreme Peoples-Court in Warsaw prosecuted the former camp commandant Rudolf Höß and sentenced him to death April 2nd1947. The sentence was carried out 14 days later in the grounds of the Auschwitz Stammlager. Also before the Supreme People's Court were former officials, among them Höß's successor Arthur Liebehenschel who was also sentenced to death and was executed in 1948 in Krakow, the court accused further 23 SS-members and in these particular proceeding 21 death sentences were carried out, (two accused were pardoned). Six others were sent to life in prison the rest sentenced to fixed-term imprisonment, the doctor Hans Münch was acquitted. This process took place in Krakow.Between 1946 and 1953 further court proceedings took place in the cities of Krakow,Wodowice, Raciborz, Gliwice, Katowice, Lublin and Torun the accusation was against a total of 673 former members of the Auschwitz camp complex (administrative staff, guards, maintenance personal etc.). While the sentence was on the average three to four years imprisonment, the acts of the accused guards were treated more severely, of 17 female defendants four were sentenced to death, the others received mostly heavy prison terms.
Between 25th April and 31st May 1946 before the Special Law Court at Danzig, a trial was held against fifteen guards of the Stutthof Concentration Camp. Six men and five women were sentenced to hanging in public. [The SS-women sat on chairs and had their hands tied in the back. For the execution they were lifted up on chairs, this was very difficult as they had their their legs already tied at the ankles sic.]
|From left to right: Jenny Barkmann, Ewa Paradies, Elisabeth Becker, Wanda Klaff, Gerda Steinhoff|
The American, British and French military tribunals in the early post-processes in the Western occupation zones of Germany took actions against people that had carried out functions in Auschwitz, but had then been transferred to other concentration camps. During the 1945/46 Dachau trials, a U.S. military court sentenced the Camp Leader of Monowitz, Vinzenz Schöttl and the head of the crematorium at Birkenau, Otto Moll to death. During the Mauthausen-Process the camp doctors Helmut Vetter and Friedrich Entress were convicted, in the Buchenwald Trial the Chief of Dog-Handlers Merbach, in the process of the Ravensbrück camp leader of the men's camp of Birkenau Schwarzhuber all received the death sentences. Also during 1946/47 under US Jurisdiction at the Nuremberg Doctors Trial the medical experiments at Auschwitz were subject of discussion and provided the basis for subsequent trials.[No women were executed under American jurisdiction sic.]SS doctor Josef Mengele did not have to answer for his crimes: he had gone into hiding after his release from an American prisoner of war camp in his home town of Günzburg, he worked then as a laborer on a farm and went in 1949 with a Red Cross passport to South America. Mengele died in Brazil in 1979 ....[During his funeral while the casket was lowered into the grave two of his friends gave the Hitler salute. Note all members of the SS had their blood-group tattooed under their left upper arm, except doctors, as he was released from an POW Camp, he must have passed inspection, POW's were all checked by the Allies for any give-away scars under the arm or the blood group sic.]
Doctor Carl Clauberg was arrested in 1955 was put on trial but died of a heart attack in his cell before the trial could start.[Deaths in cells during a trial are always suspicious, it is quite possible that he committed suicide sic.]
Doctor Horst Schumann opened his own consulting practice with a refugee credit [he was entitled to that, sic.] and was recognized as a war criminal in 1951, he did flee and worked as a ship-doctor,settling in Sudan in 1955, four years later he fled again to Ghana. In 1966 Schumann was extradited to Germany where the trial was opened September 1970 which was interrupted as the defendant suffered from high blood pressure[so do I and many others sic]. Without any public interest he was released from prison and spent the rest of his life in Frankfurt and died May 1983. A British tribunal prosecuted in 1945 at Bergen-Belsen, among others, Josef Kramer who was the adjutant of the camp commander and from summer1944 chief of Auschwitz- Birkenau acting camp commander and sentenced him to death. In the British Neuengamme process the camp doctors Trzebinski and Kitt were tried. A French court in 1946 during the Natzweiler process sentenced Sturmbannführer Friedrich Hatjenstein (Commandant of Birkenau until summer 1944) and SS Captain Heinrich Schwarz (Commandant of Auschwitz- III-Monowitz) to death. Schwarz was executed, Hartjenstein died in 1954 in French custody.
Hoes(Höß) under the Gallows
Pictures of Hoes excution The British had arrested Höß, who was one of the most sought-after war criminals. He appeared on the witness stand several times during at the International Military Tribunal in Nuremberg. While never denying that he had committed crimes, he contended that he had only been following orders.
Höß was turned over to Poland in 1946. He was calm and controlled during his trial. He had no illusions about the fate that awaited him. To the end, he contended that, at the most, a million and a half people had died at Auschwitz, not 5 or 6 million. At the end of the trial, he requested the court’s permission to send his wedding ring to his wife. The court announced its verdict, sentencing Höß to death by hanging, on April 2, 1947.The day after the verdict, former prisoners petitioned the court for the execution to take place on the grounds of the camp. It was scheduled for April 14, but postponed because of fears that Oświęcim residents would attempt to lynch Höß when he was being transferred to the site.
German POWs erected the gallows, with a trap door, at dawn. It cannot be ruled out that they were also the hangmen. No one was admitted to the grounds without a special pass. Armed, uniformed guards stood everywhere. Höß arrived at 8 a.m. and was taken to the building that had once housed the commandant’s office. There, he asked for a cup of coffee. Once he had drunk it, he was led to a cell in the “bunker,” the camp jail in Block no. 11, also known as the “Death Block.”
Höß was led out punctually at 10 a.m. He was calm. With energetic steps, almost strutting, he walked along the main camp street. Since his hands were handcuffed behind his back, the executioners had to help him climb onto the stool placed above the trapdoor. A priest, whose presence had been requested by the condemned man, approached the gallows. This was Father Tadeusz Zaremba, a Salesian from Oświęcim.
A prosecutor read out the sentence. The hangman placed the noose on Höß’s neck, and Höß adjusted it with a movement of his head. When the hangman pulled the stool from under the former commandant, his body struck the trapdoor, which opened, leaving Höß hanging. The priest began to recite the prayer for the dying. It was 10:08 a.m. A physician pronounced Höß dead at 10:21. His remains were probably cremated.
The Polish press noted the execution only briefly. Newspapers were apparently forbidden to print eyewitness accounts. Documents found among the records of the Höß case indicate that the state authorities decided in early 1947 to stop holding public executions of German war criminals. This occurred after the execution in the summer of 1946 of Arthur Greiser, Gauleiter of “Warthe-Land.” Crowds of people watched his hanging on the slopes of the Citadel in Poznań. A picnic atmosphere prevailed, there were children among the observers, and vendors sold ice cream, soft drinks, and sweets. After the execution, people fought over pieces of the hangman’s rope. Intellectuals and Church officials protested to the authorities. The ministry of justice decided that the execution of the Auschwitz commandant should be a less public affair. More than 100 people former prisoners and high officials from the ministry of justice, the state prosecutor’s office, and the Security Bureau witnessed the hanging. This was the last public execution in Poland.
Born in 1900, the son of a small shop keeper in Baden-Baden, Höß was pressured by his pious father to become a priest. Instead he joined the Nazi Party in 1922. The next year he was implicated and convicted of murder, together with Martin Bormann of school teacher Walter Kadow, a communist, who allegedly had betrayed Albert Leo Schlageter, a German saboteur in the Ruhr who was executed (rather cruelly) by the French Occupation Forces and became a Nazi martyr. Höß received a life sentence. He was released in a general amnesty in 1928, joined the SS, whose principal job was guarding of the concentration camps. His first job in this Unit was at Dachau. Thus he spent almost of his entire adult life first as a prisoner and then as a jailer
----Additional post---- 29th of July 2012
BRITISH METHOD OF INTERROGATION
There was a burning thirst for revenge on those who had executed Hitler's notorious eastern policy. But it could not be slaked immediately. In the case of Rudolph Hoess,[the correct spelling should be Höß, but it is sometimes spelled as Höss or Hoess, sic] also Commandant of Auschwitz, it was to take over a year from the war's end. [...] At 5 pm on 11 march 1946, Frau Hoess opened her front door to six intelligence specialists in British uniform, most of the tall and menacing all of then practised in the more sophisticated techniques of sustained and merciless investigation. [...] Then all at once his manner [Clarke's} had changed and he was shouting: 'If you don't tell us we'll turn you over to the Russians and they'll put you before a firing-squad. Your son will go to Siberia.' It proved enough. Eventually, a broken Frau Hoess betrayed the whereabouts of the former Auschwitz Kommandant, the man who now called himself Franz Lang. Suitable intimidation of the son and daughter produced precisely identical information. [...] Clarke recalls vividly: "He was lying on top of a three-tier bunker wearing a new pair of silk pyjamas. We discovered later that he had lost the cyanide pill most of them carried. [In fact, Höss stated: My phial of poison had been broken two days before,sic] Not that he would have had much chance to use it because we had rammed a torch into his mouth". Hoess screamed in terror at the mere sight of British uniforms. Clarke yelled: What is your name? With each answer of ‚Franz Lang‘, Clarke's fist crashed into the face of the prisoner. The fourth time that happened, Hoess broke and admitted who he was. The admission suddenly unleashed the loathing of the Jewish sergeants in the arresting party whose parents had died in Auschwitz following an order signed by Hoess. The prisoner was torn from the top bunk, the pyjamas ripped from his body. He was then dragged naked to one of the slaughter tables, where it seemed to Clarke the blows and screams were endless. Eventually, the Medical Officer urged the Captain: "Call them off, unless you want to take back a corpse."A blanket was thrown over Hoess and he was dragged to Clarke's car, where the sergeant poured a substantial slug of whisky down his throat. Then Hoess tried to sleep. Clarke thrust his service stick under the man's eyelids and ordered in German: "Keep your pig eyes open, you swine". The party arrived back at Heide around three in the morning. The snow was swirling still, but the blanket was torn from Hoess and he was made to walk completely nude through the prison yard to his cell. It took three days to get a coherent statement out of him. But once he started talking, there was no holding him.
|...„verhaftet“... in custody|
|...und „verhört Interrogated|
At the end of his trial at Cracow; Höss greeted his death sentence with apparent indifference, Rupert Butler comments as follows:
Höss reasoned that the Allies had their orders and, that there could be absolutely no question of these not being carried out. (ibid.)One could not say it any better. It seems that Rudolf Höss, like thousands of accused Germans turned over to the mercy of conquerors who were totally convinced of their own goodness, had quickly grasped that he had no other choice but to suffer the will of his judges, whether they came from the West or from the East.
Here are the words Höss uses to describe, in succession, his arrest by the British; his signing of the document that would that would become NO-1210; his transfer to Minden-on-the-Weser, where the treatment that he underwent was worse yet; his stay at the Nuremberg tribunal's prison; and, finally, his extradition to Poland.:
"I was arrested on 11 March 1946 (at 11 pm). My phial of poison had been broken two days before.
When I was aroused from sleep, I thought at first I was being attacked by robbers, for many robberies were taking place at that time. That was how they managed to arrest me. I was maltreated by the Field Security Police.I was taken to Heide where I was put in those very barracks from which I had been released by the Bntish eight months earlier. At my first interrogation, evidence was obtained by beating me. I do not know what is in the record, although I signed it. Alcohol and the whip were too much for me. The whip was my own, which by chance had got into my wife's luggage. It had hardly ever touched my horse, far less the prisoners. Nevertheless, one of my interrogators was convinced that I had perpetually used it for flogging the prisoners. After some days I was taken to Minden-on-the-Weser, the main interrogation centre in the British Zone. There I received further rough treatment at the hands of the English public prosecutor, a major.The conditions in the prison accorded with this behaviour.
After three weeks, to my surprise, I was shaved and had my hair cut and I was allowed to wash. My handcuffs had not previously been removed since my arrest.
On the next day I was taken by lorry to Nuremberg, together with a prisoner of war who had been brought over from London as a witness in Fritzsche's defence. My impnsonment by the Intemational Military Tribunal was a rest-cure compared to what I had been through before. I was accommodated in the same building as the principal accused, and was able to see them daily as they were taken to the court. Almost every day we were visited by representatives for all the Allied nations. I was always pointed out as an especially interesting animal.
I was in Nuremberg because Kaltenbrunner's counsel had demanded me as a witness for his defence. I have never been able to grasp, and it is still not clear to me, how I of all people could have helped to exonerate Kaltenbrunner. Although the conditions in prison were, in every respect, good -- I read whenever I had the time, and there was a well stocked library available -- the interrogations were extremely unpleasant, not so much physically, but far more because of their strong psychological effect. I cannot really blame the interrogators -- they were all Jews.
Psychologically I was almost cut in pieces. They wanted to know all about everything, and this was also done by Jews. They left me in no doubt whatever as to the fate that was in store for me.
On 25 May, my wedding anniversary as it happened, I was driven with von Burgsdorff and Bühler to the aerodrome and there handed over to Polish officers. We flew in an American plane via Berlin to Warsaw. Although we were treated very politely during our journey, I feared the worst when I remembered my experiences in the British Zone and the tales I had heard about the way people were being treated in the East".
"CONFESSEN' OF 15 MARCH 1946
"We had rammed a torch in his mouth [this was to check according to Clarke, to see if Höss had a poison pill in his mouth, as he alleges they all had them, [which in most cases were glass capsules, sic] The blows and the screams were endless". Statement by Bernard Clarke
After the abduction, Bernard Clarke took three days until Höss finally started talking and said what he wanted to hear. In the allegedly sustained Polish-Soviet captivity autobiography, Rudolf Höss says: "Under the circumstances of this "first hearing", the overwhelming evidence came during my first interrogation. What stands in the records, I do not know, although I signed it. Alcohol and the whip were too much for me.
And even before his interrogation as a "defence witness" before the Nuremberg Tribunal in the trial of Hans Fritsche another defence witness Moritz von Schirmeister, Hoess said: 'Gewiss, ich habe unterschrieben, dass ich 2 Millionen Juden umgebracht habe. Aber ich hätte genausogut untershrieben, dass es 5 Millionen Juden gewesen sind. Es gibt eben Methoden, mit denen man jedes Geständnis erreichen kann -- ob es nun wahr ist oder nicht'.
"Certainly, I signed that I have killed 2 1/2 million Jews. But I might as well sign that there have been 5 million Jews. There are just ways that you can reach any admission - whether it's true or not".
On 15 March 1946 Rudolf Höss signed at two thirty in the morning an eight-sided typed "document" in German ( NO-1210 ) which contains numerous spelling and grammatical errors as well as deleted sentences and apparently is a derivative of a "translation" marked as the English text.
Another Confession Signed by Rudolf Höss:
The British torturers of Rudolf Höss had no reason to exercise any restraint. After making him sign document NO-1210 at 2:30 in the morning of the l4th or l5th of March 1946, they obtained a new signature from him on March 16, this time at the bottom of a text in English, written in an English handwriting style, with a blank in the space where the name of the place ought to have been given. His guards made him sign a simple note written in English:
Statement made voluntarily at ______ Gaol by Rudolf Höss, former Commandant of Auschwitz Concentration Camp on 16th day of March 1946. "I personally arranged on orders received from Himmler in May 1941 the gassing of two million persons between June/July 1941 and the end of 1943 during which time I was commandant of Auschwitz". signed.
Eh. (?) Kdt. v. Auschwitz-Birkenau(even the word "signed" was written in an English hand).
Bernard Clarke is "today a successful businessman working in the south of England" (Legions of Death, 1983, p. 235). One can in fact say that it is his voice that was heard at Nuremberg on 15 April 1946, when Assistant Prosecutor Amen read, piece by piece, to an astonished and overwhelmed audience, the supposed confession of Rudolf Höss.
--Additional Post Sept 10th 2012--
THE FATE OF WITOLD PILECKI A POLISH RESISTANCE FIGHTER
Witold Pilecki (13 May 1901 – 25 May 1948; Polish pronunciation: ['vit?lt pi'l?t?sk?i]; codenames Roman Jezierski, Tomasz Serafinski, Druh, Witold) was a soldier of the Second Polish Republic, the founder of the Secret Polish Army (Tajna Armia Polska) resistance group and a member of the Home Army (Armia Krajowa). As the author of Witold's Report, the first intelligence report on Auschwitz concentration camp, Pilecki enabled the Polish government-in-exile to convince the Allies that the Holocaust was taking place. During World War II, he volunteered for a Polish resistance operation to get imprisoned at Auschwitz in order to gather intelligence and escape. While in the camp, Pilecki organized a resistance movement and as early as 1941, informed the Western Allies of Nazi Germany's Auschwitz atrocities. He escaped from the camp in 1943 and took part in the Warsaw Uprising. He remained loyal to the London-based Polish government-in-exile and was executed in 1948 by the Stalinist secret police Urzad Bezpieczenstwa on charges of working for "foreign imperialism", thought to be a euphemism for MI6. Until 1989, information on his exploits and fate was suppressed by the Polish communists Shortly before the outbreak of World War II, on 26 August 1939, Pilecki was mobilized as a cavalry-platoon commander. He was assigned to the 19th Infantry Division under Józef Kwaciszewski, part of the Polish Army Prusy. His unit took part in heavy fighting against the advancing Germans during the invasion of Poland and was partially destroyed. Pilecki's platoon withdrew to the southeast, toward Lwów (now L'viv, in Ukraine) and the Romanian bridgehead, and was incorporated into the recently formed 41st Infantry Division, in which he served as divisional second-in-command under Major Jan Wlodarkiewicz. During that conflict (known in Poland as the September Campaign), Pilecki and his men destroyed seven German tanks, shot down one aircraft, and destroyed two more on the ground. On 17 September, the Soviet Union invaded eastern Poland pursuant to the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. Involved in more heavy fighting on two fronts, Pilecki's division was disbanded by 22 September, parts of it surrendering to their enemies. Pilecki returned to Warsaw with his commander, Major Wlodarkiewicz. On 9 November 1939, the two men founded the Secret Polish Army (Tajna Armia Polska, TAP), one of the first underground organizations in Poland. TAP provided military expertise and leadership to the Armed Confederation (Konfederacja Zbrojna, KZ, the military arm of Konfederacja Narodu the Confederation of the Nation, KN). Both KZ and KN were clandestine incarnations of the pre-war National Radical Movement (Ruch Narodowo Radykalny, also known as ONR – "Falanga" – a large extreme-right splinter group of the National Radical Camp). The leader of both KN and KZ was Boleslaw Piasecki. Pilecki became organizational commander of TAP as it expanded to cover not only Warsaw but Siedlce, Radom, Lublin, and other major cities of central Poland. By 1940, TAP had approximately 8,000 men (more than half of them armed), some 20 machine guns, and several anti-tank rifles. Later, the organization was incorporated into the Union for Armed Struggle (Zwiazek Walki Zbrojnej), later renamed and better known as the Home Army (Armia Krajowa, AK). Within AK, TAP elements became the core of the Wachlarz unit. AUSCHWITZ In 1940, Pilecki presented to his superiors a plan to enter Germany's Auschwitz concentration camp at Oswiecim (the Polish name of the locality), gather intelligence on the camp from the inside, and organize inmate resistance. Until then, little had been known about the Germans' running of the camp and it was thought to be an internment camp or large prison rather than a death camp. His superiors approved the plan and provided him with a false identity card in the name of "Tomasz Serafinski." On 19 September 1940, he deliberately went out during a Warsaw street roundup (lapanka) and was caught by the Germans, along with some 2,000 innocent civilians (among them, Wladyslaw Bartoszewski). After two days detention in the Light Horse Guards Barracks, where prisoners suffered beatings with rubber truncheons, Pilecki was sent to Auschwitz and was assigned inmate number 4859.
concentration camp photos of Pilecki (1941) Auschwitz
At Auschwitz, while working in various kommandos and surviving pneumonia, Pilecki organized an underground Union of Military Organizations (Zwiazek Organizacji Wojskowej, ZOW). Many smaller underground organizations at Auschwitz eventually merged with ZOW. ZOW's tasks were to improve inmate morale, provide news from outside, distribute extra food and clothing to members, set up intelligence networks, and train detachments to take over the camp in the event of a relief attack by the Home Army, arms airdrops, or an airborne landing by the Polish 1st Independent Parachute Brigade, based in Britain. ZOW provided the Polish underground with invaluable information about the camp. From October 1940, ZOW sent reports to Warsaw, and beginning in March 1941, Pilecki's reports were being forwarded via the Polish resistance to the British government in London. In 1942 Pilecki's resistance movement were also broadcasting details on the number of arrivals (zugangs) and deaths in the camp, and the inmates’ state and their conditions using a radio transmitter that was built by camp inmates. The secret radio station, built over seven months using smuggled parts, was broadcasting from the camp until the autumn of 1942 when it was dismantled by Pilecki's men after concerns that the German's might discover its location because of "one of our fellow's big mouth" These reports (Witold's Report) were a principal source of intelligence on Auschwitz for the Western Allies. Pilecki hoped that either the Allies would drop arms or troops into the camp or that the Home Army would organize an assault on it from outside. Such plans, however, were all judged impossible to carry out. Meanwhile, the Gestapo redoubled its efforts to ferret out ZOW members, succeeding in killing many of them. Pilecki decided to break out of the camp, with the hope of personally convincing Home Army leaders that a rescue attempt was a valid option. When he was assigned to a night shift at a camp bakery outside the fence, he and two comrades overpowered a guard, cut the phone line and escaped on the night of 26/27 April 1943, taking with them documents stolen from the Germans. Outside the camp After several days, he made contact with the Home Army units. On 25 August 1943, Pilecki reached Warsaw and joined the Home Army's intelligence department. The Home Army, after losing several operatives in reconnoitering the vicinity of the camp, including the Cichociemny Stefan Jasienski, decided that it lacked sufficient strength to capture the camp without Allied help. Pilecki's detailed report (Raport Witolda – Witold's Report) was sent to London, where the scale of Nazi atrocities at Auschwitz ("During the first 3 years, at Auschwitz there perished 2 million people; in the next 2 years—3 million") was thought to be grossly exaggerated. The British authorities refused the Home Army air support for an operation to help the inmates escape. The Home Army in turn decided that it did not have enough force to storm the camp by itself. In 1944, the Russian army, despite being within attacking distance of the camp, showed no interest in a joint effort with the Home Army and the ZOW to free the camp. Until he became involved in the Warsaw Uprising, Pilecki remained in charge of coordinated ZOW and AK activities, and provided what limited support he was able to offer to ZOW. On 23 February 1944, Pilecki was promoted to cavalry captain (rotmistrz) and joined a secret anti-communist organization, NIE (in Polish: "NO or NIEpodleglosc – independence"), formed as a secret organization within the Home Army with the goal of preparing resistance against a possible Soviet occupation. Warsaw Uprising When the Warsaw Uprising broke out on 1 August 1944, Pilecki volunteered for the Kedyw's Chrobry II group and fought in "Mazur" platoon, 1st company "Warszawianka" of National Armed Forces. At first, he fought in the northern city center as a simple private, without revealing his actual rank. Later, as many officers fell, he disclosed his true identity and accepted command. His forces held a fortified area called the "Great Bastion of Warsaw". It was one of the most outlying partisan redoubts and caused considerable difficulties for German supply lines. The bastion held for two weeks in the face of constant attacks by German infantry and armor. On the capitulation of the uprising, Pilecki hid some weapons in a private apartment and went into captivity. He spent the rest of the war in German prisoner-of-war camps at Lambinowice and Murnau. Communist Poland On 9 July 1945, Pilecki was liberated from the POW camp, and soon afterwards he joined the 2nd Polish Corps, which was stationed in Italy, where he wrote a monograph on Auschwitz. As the relations between the Polish government in exile and the Polish Committee of National Liberation worsened, in September 1945, Pilecki accepted orders from General Wladyslaw Anders, commander of the 2nd Polish Corps (main unit of the Polish Armed Forces in the West) to return to Poland under a false identity and gather intelligence to be sent to the government in exile. Pilecki returned to Poland in October 1945, where he proceeded to organize his intelligence network. In early 1946, the Polish government-in-exile decided that the postwar political situation afforded no hope of Poland's liberation and ordered all partisans still in the forests (cursed soldiers) either to return to their normal civilian lives or to escape to the West. In July 1946, Pilecki was informed that his cover was blown and ordered to leave; he declined. In April 1947, he began collecting evidence on Soviet atrocities and on the prosecution of Poles (mostly members of the Home Army and the 2nd Polish Corps) and their executions or imprisonment in Soviet gulags. Arrest and execution On 8 May 1947, he was arrested by the Ministry of Public Security. Prior to trial, he was repeatedly tortured. The investigation on Pilecki’s activities was supervised by Colonel Roman Romkowski. He was interrogated by Col. Józef Rózanski, and lieutenants: S. Lyszkowski, W. Krawczynski, J. Kroszel, T. Slowianek, Eugeniusz Chimczak, and S. Alaborski – men who were especially famous for their savagery. But Pilecki sought to protect other prisoners and revealed no sensitive information.
Photos of Pilecki from Mokotów prison (1947)
On 3 March 1948, a show trial took place. Testimony against him was presented by a future Polish prime minister, Józef Cyrankiewicz, himself an Auschwitz survivor. Pilecki was accused of illegal crossing of the borders, use of forged documents, not enlisting with the military, carrying illegal arms, espionage for General Wladyslaw Anders (head of the military of the Polish Government-in-Exile), espionage for "foreign imperialism" (thought to be British intelligence) and preparing an assassination on several officials from the Ministry of Public Security of Poland. Pilecki denied the assassination charges, as well as espionage (although he admitted to passing information to the II Polish Corps of whom he considered himself an officer and thus claimed that he was not breaking any laws); he pleaded guilty to the other charges. On 15 May, with three of his comrades, he was sentenced to death. Ten days later, on 25 May 1948, Pilecki was executed at the Warsaw Mokotów Prison on ulica Rakowiecka street, by Staff Sergeant Piotr Smietanski. Smietanski was nicknamed by prisoners the "Butcher of the Mokotow Prison". Pilecki's place of burial has never been found but is thought to be somewhere within Powazki Cemetery. A symbolic gravestone was erected in his memory at Ostrowa Mazowiecka Cemetery after the fall of Communism in Poland. In 2012 the Powazki grave was opened to find Pilecki's remains. Pilecki's conviction was part of a prosecution of Home Army members and others connected with the Polish Government-in-Exile in London. In 2003, the prosecutor, Czeslaw Lapinski, and several others involved in the trial were charged with complicity in Pilecki's murder. Cyrankiewicz escaped similar proceedings, having died; Lapinski died in 2004, before the trial was concluded. Witold Pilecki and all others sentenced in the staged trial were rehabilitated on 1 October 1990. In 1995, he received posthumously the Order of Polonia Restituta and in 2006 he received the Order of the White Eagle, the highest Polish decoration.
The issue of why Auschwitz concentration camp was not bombed by the Allies during World War II continues to be explored by historians and Holocaust survivors. Michael Berenbaum has argued that it is not only a historical question, but "a moral question emblematic of the Allied response to the plight of the Jews during the Holocaust ..." David Wyman has asked: "How could it be that the governments of the two great Western democracies knew that a place existed where 2,000 helpless human beings could be killed every 30 minutes, knew that such killings actually did occur over and over again, and yet did not feel driven to search for some way to wipe such a scourge from the earth?" During his second visit to the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem in 2008, the U.S. President George W. Bush said "We should have bombed it." Other scholars, such as William D. Rubinstein, James H. Kitchens, Richard H. Levy, and others have noted that this argument has no basis and that the idea of bombing Auschwitz or the rail lines leading to it is to a very large extent a post-war invention. The issue was launched in the late 1970s when aerial reconnaissance films, which had never been developed or seen by anybody during the war, were found by Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) analysts to show that U.S. bombers had flown over Auschwitz-Birkenau on their way to and from bombing other targets. WHY THE BOMBING WAS NOT CONSIDERED Bombing Auschwitz (or the rail lines leading to it) was physically impossible until the beginning of 1944, and it would have required a very significant re-allocation of resources from other efforts, such as preparation for and support of the Normandy invasion. The idea of bombing Auschwitz was not conceived until May 1944, when Allied air forces were most heavily tied up by their round-the-clock raids on transportation infrastructure in the West of France, in advance of Normandy. The idea of bombing Auschwitz was proposed in the late spring and summer of 1944 by a tiny handful of individuals on the periphery, and it was not supported by any major organization. In fact, it was specifically rejected by the most important Jewish groups. When the idea of bombing Auschwitz was transmitted by the War Refugee Board to the War Department in the summer and early autumn of 1944, it was specifically done so without any endorsement by the WRB. The effectiveness of such a bombing raid was questioned. Contemporary experts who have examined the issue in recent years have questioned just how effective such a raid might have been.[who?] As it was just beginning to get organised, at the beginning of 1944, the War Refugee Board asked Jewish organisations and other groups helping refugees for suggestions on what it should do. Not one suggested bombing extermination camps or rail lines leading to them. There is no evidence that anybody came up with the idea before May 1944. Apparently the first such proposal was made by a Slovak rabbi, Michael Dov Ber Weissmandel, to the Jewish Agency on May 16. At about the same time, two officials of the Jewish Agency in Palestine separately made similar suggestions. Yitzhak Gruenbaum made his to the U.S. Consul-General in Jerusalem, Lowell C. Pinkerton, and Moshe Shertok made his to George Hall, the British under secretary of state for foreign affairs. However, the idea was promptly squashed by the Executive Board of the Jewish Agency. On June 11, 1944, the Executive, with David Ben-Gurion in the chair, overwhelmingly rejected a proposal to ask the Allies to bomb the railroad lines and the death camps, with Ben-Gurion summing up: "The view of the board is that we should not ask the Allies to bomb places where there are Jews." Shortly thereafter, Benjamin Akzin, a junior official on the War Refugee Board staff made a similar recommendation. It was put in writing in an inter-office memorandum dated June 29 to his superior, a senior staff member, Lawrence S. Lesser. These recommendations were totally rejected by leading Jewish organisations. On June 28, Lesser met with A. Leon Kubowitzki, the head of the Rescue Department of the World Jewish Congress, who flatly opposed the idea. On July 1, Kubowitzki followed up with a letter to War Refugee Board Director John W. Pehle, recalling his conversation with Lesser and stating: "The destruction of the death installations can not be done by bombing from the air, as the first victims would be the Jews who are gathered in these camps, and such a bombing would be a welcome pretext for the Germans to assert that their Jewish victims have been massacred not by their killers, but by the Allied bombers." On June 19, the head of the Jewish Agency's office in Geneva, Richard Lichtheim, wrote a five-page letter to Gruenbaum summarising detailed information about Auschwitz that had been provided by two recent escapees from the camp, Rudolf Vrba and Alfred Wetzler. Lichtheim explained that the information revealed that the Agency's previous belief about Auschwitz being a labour camp was wrong:"We now know exactly what has happened and where it has happened. There IS [emphasis in original] a labour camp in [the] Birkenau [section of Auschwitz] just as in many other places of Upper Silesia, and there ARE [emphasis in original] still many thousands of Jews working there and in the neighbouring places (Jawischowitz etc). But apart from the labour-camps proper [there are] specially constructed buildings with gas-chambers and crematoriums....The total number of Jews killed in or near Birkenau is estimated at over one and a half million....12,000 Jews are now deported from Hungary every day. They are also sent to Birkenau. It is estimated that of a total of one million 800,000 Jews or more so far sent to Upper-Silesia 90% of the men and 95% of the women have been killed immediately..." Although Ben-Gurion and his JAE colleagues had decided at their June 11 meeting against bombing, there was no subsequent meeting or vote at which the JAE went on record as reversing its earlier decision. On September 5, members of the World Zionist Organization’s Smaller Zionist Actions Committee, as it was known, convened in Jerusalem. The session included a discussion of the Allies’ failure to aid European Jewry. Yitzhak Gruenbaum of the Jewish Agency, who was a member of the committee, remarked that “bombing Oswiecim, destroying Oswiecim, bombing transportation lines” was the only way to save the Jews, "but it is impossible to say such things explicitly and openly in a resolution passed by the Actions Committee." Gruenbaum did not say why “such things” could not be included in a resolution; it was as if there was an understanding among the members that this was the case. When Pehle first discussed the idea with the War Department's John J. McCloy [who later became the first American High Commissioner to post war Germany, replacing General Lucius D. Clay,sic]that he specifically told McCloy that he was transmitting an idea proposed by others, that he had “several doubts about the matter,” and that he was not “at this point at least, requesting the War Department to take any action on this proposal other than to appropriately explore it.” Several times thereafter, in the summer and early autumn of 1944, the War Refugee Board relayed to the War Department suggestions by others that Auschwitz and/or the rail lines be bombed. It repeatedly noted that it was not endorsing any of them. WHAT THE ALLIES KNEW The Polish Army Captain Witold Pilecki was the only known person to volunteer to be imprisoned at Auschwitz concentration camp. He spent a total of 945 days at Auschwitz before his escape. From October 1940, he sent numerous reports about camp and genocide to Polish resistance headquarters in Warsaw through the resistance network he organised in Auschwitz (known as Związek Organizacji Wojskowej), and beginning with March 1941, Pilecki's reports were being forwarded via the Polish resistance to the British government in London. These reports known as Witold`s reports were a principal source of intelligence on Auschwitz for the Western Allies. Pilecki hoped that either the Allies would drop arms or the Polish 1st Independent Parachute Brigade troops into the camp, or the Armia Krajowa (AK) would organise an assault on it from outside. By 1943, however, Pilecki realised that no such plans existed. He escaped on the night of April 26–April 27, 1943. Pilecki's detailed report was sent to London, but the British authorities refused air support for an operation to help the inmates escape, as an air raid was considered too risky, and the AK reports on atrocities at Auschwitz were deemed to be gross exaggerations. The Polish resistance in turn decided that it didn't have enough force to storm the camp by itself. Before Pilecki escaped from Auschwitz the most spectacular escape took place on 20 June 1942, when Ukrainian Eugeniusz Bendera and three Poles, Kazimierz Piechowski, Stanisław Gustaw Jaster and Józef Lempart made a daring escape. The escapees were dressed as members of the SS-Totenkopfverbände, fully armed and in an SS staff car. They drove out the main gate in a stolen Steyr 220 with a smuggled first report from Witold Pilecki to Polish resistance about the Holocaust. The Germans never recaptured any of them. In 1942 Jan Karski reported to the Polish, British and U.S. governments on the situation in Poland, especially the destruction of the Warsaw Ghetto and the Holocaust of the Jews. He met with Polish politicians in exile including the prime minister, as well as members of political parties such as the Socialist Party, National Party, Labor Party, People's Party, Jewish Bund and Poalei Zion. He also spoke to Anthony Eden, the British foreign secretary, and included a detailed statement on what he had seen in Warsaw and Bełżec. In 1943 in London he met the then much known journalist Arthur Koestler. He then travelled to the United States and reported to President Franklin D. Roosevelt. His report was a major factor in informing the West. In July 1943, Karski again personally reported to Roosevelt about the situation in Poland. During their meeting Roosevelt suddenly interrupted his report and asked about the condition of horses in occupied Poland. He also met with many other government and civic leaders in the United States, including Felix Frankfurter, Cordell Hull, William Joseph Donovan, and Stephen Wise. Karski also presented his report to media, bishops of various denominations (including Cardinal Samuel Stritch), members of the Hollywood film industry and artists, but without success. Many of those he spoke to did not believe him, or supposed that his testimony was much exaggerated or was propaganda from the Polish government in exile. The former Foreign Minister of Poland Władysław Bartoszewski in his speech at the ceremony of the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the concentration camp at Auschwitz-Birkenau, 27 January 2005, said: "The Polish resistance movement kept informing and alerting the free world to the situation. In the last quarter of 1942, thanks to the Polish emissary Jan Karski and his mission, and also by other means, the Governments of the United Kingdom and of the United States were well informed about what was going on in Auschwitz-Birkenau." On April 7, 1944, two young Jewish inmates, Rudolf Vrba and Alfréd Wetzler, had escaped from the camp with detailed information about the camp's geography, the gas chambers, and the numbers being killed. The information, later called the Vrba-Wetzler report, is believed to have reached the Jewish community in Budapest by April 27. Roswell McClelland, the U.S. War Refugee Board representative in Switzerland, is known to have received a copy by mid-June, and sent it to the board's executive director on June 16, according to Raul Hilberg. Information based on the report was broadcast on June 15 by the BBC and on June 20 by The New York Times. The full report was first published on November 25, 1944, by the U.S. War Refugee Board, the same day that the last 13 prisoners, all women, were killed in Auschwitz (the women were "unmittelbar getötet"—killed immediately—leaving open whether they were gassed or otherwise killed).ALLIED BOMBING AND RECONNAISSANCE MISSIONS
'(Auschwitz II) extermination camp taken by an American surveillance plane on August 25, 1944. Crematoria II and III and the holes used to throw cyanide into the gas chambers are visible.One of a series of aerial reconnaissance photographs of theAuschwitz concentration camp taken between April 4, 1944 and January 14, 1945, but not examined until the 1970s.' From March 1944 onwards, the Allies were in control of the skies over Europe, according to David Wyman. He writes that the 15th U.S. Army Air Force, which was based in Italy, had the range and capability to strike Auschwitz from early May 1944. Auschwitz was first overflown by an Allied reconnaissance aircraft on April 4, 1944, in a mission to photograph the synthetic oil plant at Monowitz forced labor camp (Auschwitz III). On July 7, shortly after the U.S. War Department refused requests from Jewish leaders to bomb the railway lines leading to the camps, a force of 452 Fifteenth Air Force bombers flew along and across the five deportation railway lines on their way to bomb oil refineries nearby. Several nearby military targets were also bombed, and one bomb fell into the camp grounds. Buna-Werke, the I.G. Farben industrial complex located adjacent to the Monowitz forced labour camp (Auschwitz III) located 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) from the Auschwitz I camp was bombed four times. On December 26, 1944, the U.S. 455th Bomb Group bombed Monowitz and targets near Birkenau (Auschwitz II); an SS military hospital was hit and five SS personnel were killed. The Auschwitz complex was photographed accidentally several times during missions aimed at nearby military targets. However, the photo-analysts knew nothing of Auschwitz and the political and military hierarchy didn't know that photos of Auschwitz existed. For this reason, the photos played no part in the decision whether or not to bomb Auschwitz. Photo-interpretation expert Dino Brugioni believes that analysts could have easily identified the important buildings in the complex if they had been asked to look. On August 24, 1944, the U.S. Army Air Forces carried out a bombing operation against a factory adjacent to the Buchenwald concentration camp. Despite perfect conditions, 315 prisoners were killed, 525 seriously harmed, and 900 lightly wounded. THE ALLIES CONSIDERATIONS In June 1944, John Pehle of the War Refugee Board and Benjamin Akzin, a Zionist activist in America, urged the U.S. Assistant Secretary of War John McCloy to bomb the camps. McCloy is said to have told his assistant to "kill" the request, as the U.S. Army Air Forces had decided in February 1944 not to bomb anything "for the purposes of rescuing victims of enemy oppression", but to concentrate on military targets. However, Rubinstein says that Akzin was not involved in discussions between Pehle and McCloy, and that Pehle specifically told McCloy that he was transmitting an idea proposed by others, that he had “several doubts about the matter,” and that he was not “at this point at least, requesting the War Department to take any action on this proposal other than to appropriately explore it.” The British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, did not see bombing as a solution, given that bombers were inaccurate and would also kill prisoners on the ground. The land war would have to be won first. Bombers were used against German cities and to carpet-bomb the front lines. But according to Martin Gilbert Winston Churchill pushed for bombing. Concerning the concentration camps, he wrote to his Foreign Secretary on July 11, 1944: "... all concerned in this crime who may fall into our hands, including the people who only obeyed orders by carrying out these butcheries, should be put to death...." The British Air Ministry was asked to examine the feasibility of bombing the camps and decided not to for "operational reasons", which were not specified in wartime. In August 1944, 60 tons of supplies were flown to assist the uprising in Warsaw and, considering the dropping accuracy at that time, were to be dropped "into the south-west quarter of Warsaw". For various reasons, only seven aircraft reached the city. A 2004 documentary, Auschwitz; the forgotten evidence included interviews with historians William Rubinstein and Richard Overy. It mentioned the Jewish Agency's request to the Allies on 6 July to bomb Auschwitz and showed the aerial reconnaissance photographs. It then examined the operational and technical feasibility aspects, in two categories: precision bombing by Mosquito-type aircraft, and area bombing by larger aircraft. It considered that precision bombing of railway lines was so common by 1944 that the Germans had specialist teams that could repair damage within hours or days. The inmates' food supplies were assumed to come by rail, and so an unrepaired railway would cause them hardship. Area bombing risked killing too many prisoners. However, Rubinstein says that on 11 June 1944, the Executive of the Jewish Agency considered the proposal, with David Ben Gurion in the chair, and it specifically opposed the bombing of Auschwitz. Ben Gurion summed up the results of the discussion: "The view of the board is that we should not ask the Allies to bomb places where there are Jews." Credit: Wikipedia References: ^ Berenbaum, Michael. "Why wasn't Auschwitz bombed?" Encyclopædia Britannica. ^ Wyman, David S. "Why Auschwitz wasn't bombed," in Gutman, Yisrael & Berenbaum, Michael. Anatomy of the Auschwitz Death Camp. Indiana University Press, 1998, p. 583. ^ "Bush Pushes Peace in Kuwait, Says U.S. Should Have Bombed WWII Death Camp". Fox News. January 11, 2008. ^ Media Blog on National Review Online ^ wymaninstitute.org/special-reports/WymanAuschwitzReport2012.Section IV Minutes of the Jewish Agency Executive, 11 June 1944, 4-7, Central Zionist Archives ^ Wyman Institute.Special-reports/WymanAuschwitzReport2012.pdfLichtheim to Gruenbaum, 19 June 1944, A127/1856, Yitzhak Gruenbaum Papers CZA. ^ Wym