Saturday, March 24, 2012

BELZEC Extermination Camp part 4

By the end of May 1942 smaller shipments from the environments of (Cieszanow, Komarov, Krasnobrod, probably from Tyszowce and Zamosc) which was when the second deportation phase began to arrive at Belzec. (60) in early June 1942 it was followed by larger transports from the Krakau district, mainly from the cities of Krakau and Tarnow. 7000-7500 Jews were deported from Krakau between the 1-8 June in four transports to Belzec. Between 11 and 18 June approximately 10,000 people came from Tarnow in three large transports to the camp.

German officials examine the pile of abandoned luggage left on the platform after the departure of a deportation train on its way to the Belzec death camp
From 18 or 19 June 1942 to 8 or 9 July 1942, the camp once again closed for any arrivals and was partly rebuilt in two weeks. The old building with the three gas chambers was demolished, and new, massive, especially larger gas chambers  were erected there by Trawniki men and Jewish prison work teams.
Ref :60-Due to the incomplete information of places at their point of loading for this period, and can not be provided in all cases, it is unclear whether they were taken to Belzec or Sobibor, which commenced operation at this time. Compare this with: Yitzhak Arad, Belzec, Sobibor, Treblinka. The Operation Reinhardt Death Camps, Bloomington, 1999, statement by Ludwik Obalak, 10.10.1945, in: APMM, photocopies, sign 1284, OKBL, sign 1604/45
The new gas chambers were solid buildings and divided into six rooms. The details of the SS men to the actual size of these rooms are contradictory,  they were probably 20-30 square meters wide. Heinrich Gley testified that the new type would have the capacity of up to 3,000 people that could be eliminated at any time.  Another SS man Heinrich Unverhau claimed on the other hand, that you could kill 1,200 people at the same time, when there were six rooms in each with 200-250 people. Werner Dubois, described that in each chamber you would fit up to 750 people. This number was also confirmed by the former inmate Rudolf Reder.
The gasification plant was expanded, however, it was still connected to the old engine, which had been used in the first phase of exterminations in the camp. The gas chambers were to resemble as before to be a shower room. Whether there were also mock shower heads is not known .. The former SS officer Karl Schluch described in his testimony, the gas chambers: "They had a friendly, light-colored paint. Whether the paint was yellowish or gray, I now can no longer remember, it may well be that the walls were painted with an oil paint . [...] the newly arriving Jews should not have guessed,  for what purpose the rooms were prepared for, but they should believe it was a bath".

Gypsy couple sitting in an open area in the Belzec concentration camp.jpg
A detailed description of the new gas chambers is narrated by Rudolf Reder, who from the 16 August to November 1942 was as a prisoner in the camp: "The building, which housed the gas chambers was low, long and wide, made of gray concrete, with a flat tar-paper covered roof (Pappdach) and wire netting, which was covered with green stuff. From the outside, three steps led into the inside, one meter wide, with no railing. In front of the building was a large vase with colourful flowers. On the wall above had been legibly written 'Bathing and Inhalation Rooms'(Bade-und Inhalationsräume) . You went up the steps into a dark corridor, which was 1.5 meters wide, but very long. It was quite empty, four concrete walls, to the left and right there  were doors to the gas chambers. The doors were made of wood, one meter wide, and opened with a wooden handle. The gas chambers were completely dark with no windows and completely empty. In each chamber could be seen a round hole the size of a[electrical sic] socket. The walls and floors were made ​​of concrete. The corridor and the chambers were lower than normal rooms, they were less than two meters high. At the opposite side of each chamber were also doors, two meters wide, through which you threw out the bodies after the suffocation. On the outside of the building was a small extension, perhaps two meters by two meters wide, in which the 'machine' was located, a gasoline engine. [Note: This statement is contrary to all previous claims that Belzec had a Diesel Engine  see part of the Gerstein Report below,sic]. The chambers were located approximately 1.5 meters above the ground, the ramp behind the doors at the same height, so that the corpses were thrown down from there to the ground ", Ref (64). Reder, Bezec, page 51
A Witness: Lt. Gerstein
He reports that on 18 August he traveled to the extermination camp at Belzec where the next day he witnessed the arrival of "45 wagons with 6,700 people of whom 1,450 were already dead on arrival.” He continues by describing the procession in front of him: “Then the procession starts moving. In front a very lovely young girl; so all of them go along the alley, all naked, men, women, children, without artificial limbs. I myself stand together with Hauptmann Wirth on top of the ramp between the gas chambers. Mothers with babies at their breast, they come onward, hesitate, enter the death chambers!” After the doors are closed, there is a technical hitch: the diesel motor will not start, but finally he writes, “After two hours and 49 minutes - the stop watch has registered everything well - the diesel starts. Until this moment the people live in these 4 chambers, four times 750 people in 4 times 45 cubic metres! Again 25 minutes pass. Right, many are dead now. One can see that through the small window in which the electric light illuminates the chambers for a moment. After 28 minutes only a few are still alive. Finally, after 32 minutes, everyone is dead!”
Presumably, during the conversion of the gas chambers, the ramp on the arrival track was extended. Rudolf Reder remembers that the deportees had to jump from a height of more than one meter from the wagons, with some arms and legs broken. He also stated that the ramp was lengthened to a total of about one Kilometer long. (65, Ibid page 46f), this seems impossible. The ramp from the camp entrance to the very end could not be more than 500 meters long.[Which is half the length he is claiming sic.] Whether additional barracks were built on the grounds of the camp is not known.
In the second phase of the camp six Jewish musicians were obliged to perform  during the arrival of the prisoners and play music on their way to the gas chamber. Their instruments were from stolen Jewish property. The camp Band of Belzec played orchestral pieces, especially "It will all pass, it's all over," (Es geht alles vorüber, es geht alles vorbei)"Three Lilies"(Drei Lilien) and the famous Polish folk song "Hey Goral does, it not harm you?".(Hey Gorale, tut es dir nicht leid) The music could be heard up into the village.
The admission procedure of transports did not change after the rebuilding of the gas chambers. It, however, increased the number of those killed. While the average number of persons per transport in the first phase was about in 1500-2500, then during the summer of 1942 the Belzec trains delivered train loads, each containing 3000-6500 people. The high point in the transport numbers was in August 1942, as the "Great Action"(Große Aktion) was held in Lemberg . From the 10 to 25 August 1942, 40000-45000 Lemberger Jews were brought to the Belzec extermination camp. From Lemberg alone the transports on an average held 6000-6500 people. During the "Great Action" in Lemberg no other transports arrived from the district of Galicia, but from the district of Krakow(Krakau), including the counties of Krosno, and Jaslo Gorlice. (68) The largest transport arrived on the 10 September 1942 from the district Kolomyia with 8205 Jews from Galicia, Kolomyia, Kosow, Sniatynia, Horodenka and Zablotow. (69)
It must be assumed that probably in August 1942 alone, some 130,000 Jews were deported to Belzec. In September 1942 the number was conservatively estimated at approximately 80,000. (70) During the hot summer months of 1942 because of the crowded transports more deaths occurred even during a short train journey. Frequently, there were over 100 people compressed into a freight car, without sufficient fresh air, water or food. (71) Even on the relatively short ones with about 80 Kilometres route between Lemberg to Belzec  many people fainted or died in the cars.

Gypsy King Kwiek at Belzec
Ref :68-Arad: Belzec, Sobibor, Treblinka, page 388. In comparison with other sources and publications Arad's figures appear to be in increased slightly.
Ref :69-This transport is described in, Christopher Browning, Ordinary Men. The Reserve Polizeibattalion 101 and the "Final Solution" in Poland, Reinbeck, near Hamburg, 1999, page 52-56. Published in Polish only, the memory of a woman who fled from this transport is: Ruth Wermuth,. "I met people, the story of a tragic beginning and of an unusual end". Poznan 2002 Page 10-14.
Ref:70 -As already mentioned, the research to determine the number of those deported and murdered in Belzec in each month is still pending.
Ref:71-statement Edward Luczynski, 28/01/1965. In: AIPNL, Sign 08/298, investigation files to SS crimes in the area and other Wojeodschaft Lublin, Vol.I
Tadeusz Misiewicz, an inhabitant of Belzec and then ticket seller on the local train station, recalled: "I had several opportunities to notice that the people who were brought to the site were completely naked. You could see this through the missing planks in the boxcars. The Germans had forbidden to bring the Jews drinking water to the boxcars. [...] I was told at the station in Belzec, that the Jews from a wagon in which they were taken to the death camp at Belzec, had a board torn out,  through this opening  a Jewess stuck out her head and cried for help. But it was a German policeman who with such force smashed into her face that her head was shattered. Through this hole you could see that the naked Jews sat on naked dead bodies, which was perhaps representing a quarter of those trapped inside the car".(72)
Ref :72-statement of Tadeusz Misiewicz, 14.10.1945, in: APMM, photocopies, Sign 1284, OKBL, Ds. 1604/45. In the summer of 1942, the people removed frequently their clothing in the carriage by themselves, due to the high temperatures they could not endure. In the fall of 1942 the Germans ordered the deportees to undress before entering the cars, to prevent escapes from the transports. Wermuth, Spotkalam Iudzi, page 10-14.

Kurt Gerstein
Kurt Gerstein, director of the Office of "Technical Disinfection and Health Technology" in the SS Hygiene Institute, visited in the summer of 1942 on behalf of the Reich Security Main Office, the extermination camp at Belzec. His visit with Professor Wilhelm Pfannenstiel was associated with the testing of hydrogen cyanide(Blausäure) for mass destruction(Massenvernichtung) and of Zyklon B to disinfect the clothes of the murdered in the extermination camps. Besides Belzec, Gerstein visited the camps at Treblinka and Majdanek, which at this point were not finished with their gas chambers. Although Gottlieb Hering was already camp commandant at Belzec, Gerstein was led by Christian Wirth through the camp. Probably the visit took place on 18 August 1942, at a time when daily transports of Jews from Lemberg to Belzec arrived. Gerstein observed the extermination (Vernichtung) of a Lemberger Transport and noted in his famous report that the consignment consisted of 6500 people and that 1450 had died already in transit.

Gottlieb Hering
On the methods of murder, after Gerstein's visit nothing changed . The cyanide bottles were buried in the vicinity of the camp. Perhaps they are the 26 cyanide bottles, which were found in 1971 in a sand pit behind the former camp grounds. (74) Gerstein tried to pass his knowledge of the mass murder of Jews on to foreign embassy members abroad.
Ref: 74 - The cyanide bottles were secured by the Army Engineers Unit of Chelm. After a cursory documentation, including some photos, the Demolition Unit destroyed the bottles. On these bottles, there were German inscriptions. It is known that they were produced in Berlin, unfortunately not, of which company. Along with the bottles themselves were also the remains of the boxes in which they were packed. The bottles were blown up in the fields of the village at Kornie Lubycza Krolewska into the air, see: Protocol on bottle find on the grounds of the sand pit at Belzec, in: AIPNL, acts of OKBZH Lublin, Ds. 20/67, against Helmut Kellmeyer Investigation Records, responsible for building the gas chambers at Belzec extermination camp, interview with Tadeusz Wolzyk, Chelm, 25.2.2004, in: AMMPB, interviews and reports, Sign 46. Tadeusz  Wolczyk during the destruction of the bottles was the supervising officer.

Jewish children -all perished at Belzec

Upon arrival of the transports no names, but only the number of persons were registered. When driven into the box cars the deportees were counted and the number was written in chalk on the outside of the freight wagons. Probably no transport to Belzec had a list of names of the deportees. It could be that before the deportation in Ghetto lists of names were created. To date, no list of names of deportees to Belzec was found.
How the extermination process went on after the new and improved gas chambers were functioning is described by Rudolf Reder. "After all the chambers were filled, the doors were hermetically sealed, the outside doors locked  and wedged, the engine was  started and had been served by the prisoner Moniek. , a cab driver from Krakau. (77) The motor ran for 20 minutes, then Moniek gave a sign to a machinist and turned off the engine. After the engine was stopped, the prisoners working there opened to the command of  Moniek the doors, and a couple of them with the use of straps wound around the arms pulled the bodies down from the gas chambers and dragged them to the mass graves, which had been dug with the help of machines. On the way from the gas chamber to the pit, dentists pulled from the corpses the gold teeth. [...] The air in the gas chambers was after the opening of the doors clear and odourless. In particular,  there was absolutely no smoke or combustion gas from the engine. [...] During the first period after closure of the gas chambers, horrific screams could be heard and  complaints,(Klagen) but after a few minutes there was a grave silence. It seemed to be that never after the opening of the chambers that still someone was still living. The corpses were still warm, to drown out the cries, the prison orchestra was playing from morning till night".

hackenholt 1940
Ref:77-To operate the engine, the combustion gas which was introduced into the gas chambers, was the responsibility of Lorenz Hackenbolt, who was called by the other SS men for this reason the "Gas Master".(Gasmeister) He was assisted by a Trawniki-man named Wlasiuk.[How accurate Rudolf Reder's narrative is, I leave it to others to judge, he has taken unpardonable liberties with the facts on a number of occasions.He was 61 years old and spent apparently only four months in Belsec. Or one could blame his ghost writer. Only to mention one example.
[Reder’s escape from the “death camp” is itself something of a miracle, I quote:
"I had been in this nightmare for nearly four months when, towards the end of November, Irrmann told me that the camp would need metal sheets, and a lot of them. I was swollen and blue all over. Pus ran from open wounds. Schmidt bludgeoned me about the face with a truncheon. With an ironic smile Irrmann told me that I would go to Lemberg under escort to fetch the sheets, adding 'Sollst nicht durchgehen' ['Don't try to escape']. Off I went in a lorry with one guard and four Gestapo. After loading the whole day, I stayed in the lorry guarded by one of the thugs, while the others went away looking for fun. I sat there for a few hours without moving or thinking. Then, quite by chance, I noticed that my guard was asleep and snoring. Instinctively and without a thought, I slipped down from the lorry and stood on the pavement pretending to adjust the load. Then I slowly backed away. Legionowa Street was full of people. There was a blackout. I pushed my cap down lower and no one noticed me. I remembered the address of my Polish housekeeper and went straight to her flat. She hid me. It took twenty months for the physical injuries to heal. But what of the mental wounds? I was haunted by images of past horror, hearing the moans of the murdered and the children crying, and the throb of a running engine. Nor could I wipe from my memory the faces of those German thugs. And in such a state of continuous nightmare I survived until the liberation."
Thus despite being “swollen and blue all over”, with pus running from open wounds, having suffered injuries which it took “twenty months“ to heal, 61 year old Reder was chosen by the Germans for the work of loading metal sheets! One would suspect that an old man in Reder’s condition would have been chosen for the quote of 30-40 prisoner workers allegedly killed off each day, rather than for hard work, but the legend must have it otherwise. That the SS would bring a Jewish prisoner from a secret extermination camp to a town just in order to do work that could well have been done by, for example, an Ukrainian guard, is of course perplexing in itself. Regarding the details of the escape, it may suffice to say that it reads like something from The Boy’s Own Paper or an old episode of Hogan’s Heroes.sic]

                                                                                              continued under Part 5



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