Saturday, August 25, 2012



 Plaszow can be characterised at the beginning by arbitrary killings and atrocities without regard to the preservation of the prison labour potential. The camp was under the jurisdiction of the SS and Police Leader (SS- und Polizeiführer), and was thus free of any control.  Most assaults and abuses  occurred In 1943, for which some members of the camp SS were sentenced later.
One of the first executions at Plaszow was the hanging of two young women in March 1943, who had dared to escape. All prisoners had to be present during the hanging at roll call. On 3 August 1943, two Jews, engineer Krautwirth and a 16-year-old youth named Haubenstock were hanged for alleged communist views, they had been singing a Russian duet, which in the views of the SS was a Bolshevik song. In October 1943, some prisoners who were employed in the administration were killed. They had stored food in their rooms, which Göth had found. All subjects were taken to the "Hujowa Gorka" site and shot there. In July 1943, the SS-men, Staib and Grün shot and killed three Jews in the brush-working barrack, whom they surprised in prayer. SS corporal William Staib, because of his glass eye was called by the inmates 'Oczko' (Äuglein), he was a sadist who beat with particular fondness into the faces of inmates with his riding whip. SS-man Wolfgang Gross was said to have been in love with a pretty Jewish girl. In late summer of 1943 they were caught together 'in flagranti' by Göth at the SS-Accommodation and Göth  commanded, she [the girl, sic] to be killed. SS Sergeant Albert Hujar shot her and her little brother. [Statement of Naphtali D. 3/26/1079, in: ibid B 162/1126, page 2896, sic]
Göth owned by two dogs,  a Great Dane, 'Rolf' and a Shepherd 'Alf', who only came into the camp as  his escorts. Both were trained to attack people on command, to bite or even kill.  What can be proven that at least one prisoner  on command by Göth was attacked and mauled by the dogs. [Statement by the accused Karl-Heinz Bigell,  that one of the dogs mauled and fatally injured inmate Olmer and he killed him with a well aimed shot through the head, in ibid, AR-Z 60I/67 Vol 4, page 1346, sic]

After Selections, unsuitable inmates awaiting Transport
All witnesses stressed that the SS-man Grün, had reached a particularly sadistic level of violence. "His greatest pleasure was walking around in all corners of the camp. He suddenly appeared where he was not expected and in most cases found victims, and would punish them  in various different ways". By order of Göth he shot the administrative staff member, Goldstein, who had written all night secret correspondence for Göth. [Thus he knew too much and had to go,sic] A very decent SS man was the chief of the Construction Management in the camp, Engineer Huth, a number of inmates in their post-war statements did speak highly of him.
Inside the camp there were three killing centres, two of which were used mainly for the shooting of prisoners by the Gestapo. The first and oldest of sites, the prisoners called it "the Excavator"(Bagger) and was located next to the bathhouse. The name went back to an old stationary excavators that covered the bodies with earth. Whatever the circumstances, when a prisoner in the camp died, it was said he was "gone under the Excavator"(unter dem Bagger gegangen). At this location  approximately 270 Jews were shot, who were tracked down out of their hiding places when the ghetto was liquidated. The shootings were committed and led by the SS-men Francis Grün, Arwin Janetz, Albert Hujar and Edmund Zdrojewski. Right next to the excavator in the immediate vicinity of the old bath house area, smaller groups were killed. Some distance away, towards the roll call grounds, there was a slight elevation, were the larger groups were shot and the bodies then placed into a pit. Later on the new bath house, a delousing station and some barracks were built onto this site. There are  almost 2,000 Jews  buried there who had been shot in the course of the ghetto closure on March 13, 1943, [A funeral employee (Leichengräber) , counted the bodies as 1860 murdered in his statement: AZIH Warsaw, 302 / Report No. 3851, sic], as well as  38 Jews from Bochnia, which were in possession of foreign securities on March 28, had been shot and buried there. They were  transported by truck to Plaszow  from the Gestapo jail, housed in Bochnia Montelupich by the commanders of the Security Police and SD,  Max Grosskopf,  Rudolph Körner, Kurt Heinemeyer and killed there.

Montelupich Prison
The approximately 130-200 elderly, the sick and children from the disbanded Jewish Labour Camp I in November 1943 had been executed at this point as well. When, after a campaign (Aktion) in the ghetto of Bochnia in the fall of 1943 a large group of Jews was deported to Plaszow, the Germans selected from the newcomers, a group of ten to 20 older people and commander Göth ordered SS-man Wolfgang Gross to have them shot during the night at "the Bagger". "Hujowa Gorka" was the second of the three execution sites in Plaszow, where there were shootings at the end of summer 1943.  This place was a former Austrian artillery site from World War I. The land rises slightly above the surrounding terrain, which is why it was called in camp jargon as "Gorka" (hill). "Hujowa", sometimes "Chulowa" is a vulgar term for the male reproductive organ, a pun on the SS man Hujar,(a chuja=a dick)  who often took part in the shootings. This hill was clearly visible for working prisoners from the new expanding  terrain. The executions themselves were carried out in pits and could not be observed, one could only guess when prisoners had arrived and shots were heard. Although no one was allowed at the time of the executions in the vicinity,  there were  situations when camp inmates could monitor the approaching trucks, which brought victims to the execution site.
At "Hujowa Gorka" mainly non-Jewish Poles died there, prisoners from the Gestapo prison in the Pomorska Sraße of Montelupich were trucked-in to the site.

Inmates of Montelupich with Guards
Almost regularly, usually twice a week, vehicles brought prisoners to be shot. They were mostly Poles, who had been active in the underground, resistance fighters, partisans, who were arrested during raids and sometimes Jews that had been tracked down hidng on the "Aryan side". It was extremely rare that Plaszow Camp Inmates were murdered there. Nafatali D. recalls that the trucks were brought straight to the mass grave when the shooting started. "The groups consisted of a few people, sometimes between 15-20 in total, many of them were Poles". Shlomo L., who escaped because of a happy co-incident in the proverbial last moment of the shooting, says: "I have personally witnessed how [...] 20 men and 14 women were shot dead at Plaszow, it was on May 27, 1943.  I was staying at that time in the prison at Montelupich in custody.  On this day, I was taken out of the cell and brought into the court yard [...] and was sent to stay with  these people. [...] We were all taken to Plaszow, where already two pits (Gruben) were prepared. There, we had to get off.  The women were initially staying on the bus, while the men went into the pit and had to undress [...] When I (again) was on the bus, I could look out of the window, and saw what happened next. [...] SS-man Heinrich called out: fire! I've seen then a German with a MG [Machine  Gun,sic] shoot into the pit "[Statement Shlomo L. 19/03/1968 in: ibid, 162/III2 B, page 744, sic.] In the summer of 1944, there were such executions almost every day, carried out and attended by Gestapo Personnel only. Members of the Camp Staff usually did not take part in these executions. See: [Willner, Moja droga, page 103, sic]
.During this type of actions entrance to the new area was usually barred. The event was always much the same: The execution site (Richtstätte) was cordoned off, and during that evening the SS imposed a "no-go-zone", so the prisoners could see nothing. The victims were led to five 20 meter long, 2 meters wide and 3 meters deep pits. They had to undress and get into the ditch and lie down or kneel. Then they were shot. The bodies were then covered with lime (Kalk) and earth, " in several camps until the trench was full at this point, they then continued on another site." [Statement 11/02/1983 P. Leopold, in: BArch Ludwigsburg, B 162/1126, page 3123, sic]  later on, the bodies were immediately burned in the pits. Witnesses tell of several instances in which the victims were trying to show their courage, conviction and pride even in the hour of death to the murderers, they tell of people who sang "Poland is not yet lost,"(Noch ist Polen nicht verloren) of women, who were asked to remove their fur coats, and threw these at the feet of their murderers. [Kielkowsky, Oboz pracy, page 30, sic], according to a report of a survivor  during some executions, at the Göth's High Society Evenings, they were celebrating, eating, drinking and laughing. A dentist, after each shooting had to search the oral cavity of the murdered for gold teeth. All bodies were buried after examination. The deceased from the camps hospital and about 90 victims of a typhus epidemic in Tarnow were burned and the remains buried at the same location. Several witnesses report the shooting of a Wehrmacht Officer. On October 9, 1943, the Jewish Day of Atonement, Göth ordered a selection from the camp's inmates for about 50 to 60 Jewish prisoners who were shot on the "Hujowa Gorka." [ see: Reasons for the judgement on 05.09.1946 against Amon Göth in ibid B 162/1124 page 2307, sic]
The third execution area was a pit near the potato cellar. It was called no less vulgar "Cipowy Dolek", the female counterpart to "Hujowa Gorka", in contrast to the picturesque expression "Lipowy Dolek" The Linden Pit. There 'resistance fighters from the Underground were shot. They rode in an enclosed vehicle to the edge of the pit and then let them jump into. At the same time they were shot by the SS standing around the pit". [Statement Sigmund H. 20/08/1980, in ibid, 162/II26 B, page 2940, sic]
On May 7, 1944 about 10-15 SS officers conducted a "health check" with the aim by singling out the sick, the elderly and the weak for the deportation to Auschwitz. SS physician Captain Dr. Maximilian Blanke led the investigation. He let the inmates at 4 ° C march naked to the doctor's tables, the men on the parade ground and the women in front of their barracks. A week later, on May 14, all selected prisoners were deported from this appraisal to Auschwitz. That day the sick from the infirmary were also included. The medic Kaulfuss together with doctors helped the sick to get onto the transport carriage, which took them to the train station bound for Auschwitz. A total of about 900 prisoners in this transport were thus transferred, probably for extermination. [see: Weichert, Pamietniki; Leon Poliakov/Josef Wulf, Das Dritte Reich und die Juden-Dokumente und Aufsätze, Berlin 1955, page 286. sic]
Also on 7 May in Plaszow, the "Children's Action" took place. On the parade ground children under the age of 14 years were assembled. Their names had to be read out, and those children were not allowed to go to work. A week later they were sent to Auschwitz to receive their deaths, together with the smaller ones out of the Kinderheim. An eyewitness testified:... "We have never seen our Moshe again, it was immediately known that the whole transport would go to the crematorium in Auschwitz, it was confirmed later to me by prisoners from the 'Kanada-commando' in Birkenau, that the children came directly there. While the boys and girls boarded the vehicles, we heard a gramophone playing a German children's song about mother's love. By all accounts, it was on the parade ground just because of the pointed sub-machine guns of the many guards that no revolt took place.
In the camp there were only 16 children left: eight children of privileged prisoners, a girl, Dr. Biberstein had hidden in the toilet of the infirmary, and five girls and two boys who had been hiding on that day in the latrine up to their necks in excrement . Some of these kids went during October 1944 with their parents into the camp at Brünnlitz in today's Czech Republic, where Oskar Schindler had moved his factory. Of 294 children in the Plaszow camp less than 20 survived". [Statement Anna P.  217.1971, in:BArch Ludwigsburg, B 162/II20, page 1625, sic]
On June 9th a transport from Auschwitz of 5000-6000 Hungarian Jewesses from the ghetto in Mateschalka arrived. Most of the young women were in a great panic. They had their hair shaved off and given grey clothes. The majority of them were assigned to the Depot Building Commando.
Under the leadership of Victor Traubman a conspiratorial group was formed in the camp by inmates of the 'Zydoska Organizacja Bojowa' (Yidishe Kampf Organisatzije). Members were among others David Hertz, Berek Fisher, Jacob Palerer, Victor Reif, Joseph Immerglück, Monek Hecht, Josef Fuglewicz, Mundek Reich, Samuel Kempler, Adam Stab, Pesia Warszawska and Czesia Frimat. The trigger to form a cell was the forcible removal of Jews from  Jewish Labour Camps to Skarzysko-Kamienna in November 1943. They wanted to be prepared in case of liquidation of their camp. Link to the outside world were the Polish caterers, that supplied the building materials and mostly belonged to the Underground. In the wagon itself they could smuggle goods into the camp, protected from searches by bribes of vodka and bacon. Inside the bridles of the horses the prisoners hid secret messages. According to these reports the situation in the camp  reached the outside,  including detailed plans of the camp.

Russian Partisan Unit operating behind German lines, if caught, summary execution took place. 
The group succeeded to steal two revolvers from the weapons depot in the camp and from SS man Scheidt two automatic pistols. Samuel Kempler, who was the [horse] riding instructor and stable manager of Göth's, had  the privilege to leave the camp, during a chance meeting with a member of the communist Polish Workers' Party (PPR) by the name of Laptas, he was able to obtain 100 cartridges and additional guns which he smuggled into the camp. The weapons were hidden in the metal processing workshops under the floor. From small sewer pipes and gunpowder (Schwarzpulver) from the quarry, hand grenades were manufactured. Rumours about the hidden weapons reached the SS, Adam Stab was arrested and tortured, he betrayed neither accomplices nor the whereabouts of the weapons. Of his execution on 13 August 1944, the same day that the camp leader Chilowicz and his wife were killed, several versions have survived. Some report that he died by hanging, others that Göth shot him. What all stories have in common is, that Adam Stab, a very young man who showed great courage and resisted the torture of the SS. [see:Müller-Madej, Das Mädchen, page 8If, and Biberstein, Zaglada, page 276, sic]
The group also managed in helping some inmates to escape,  who then joined the partisans. With the assistance of bribed guards prisoners were taken at night hidden under garbage onto the landfill outside. Among the escapees were two doctors, Dr. Otto Schwarz and Dr. Romuald Sachs. In the Watch-making Barrack No. 83, a radio was kept hidden. The Polish civil engineer Boleslaw Kowalski, who worked in the camp, although he was not a prisoner, and had contacts with an underground organisations, succeeded in smuggling the three-year old Jozek Weinstein hidden in a bag in his car outside the camp. [see: Sliwinski, Periturus, page 79, sic]
"German soldier taken Partisan prisoners"
                                   continued under part 5        


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