Saturday, May 26, 2012


The official beginning of the history of Ravensbrück concentration camp,  which can be  determined as May 15th 1939.  On that day the transfer of prisoners from the previous central concentration camp for women at Lichtenburg was started. On May 27, 1939 the appropriate police authorities of the Reich received the message that the installation in Ravensbrück was completed and transfers from Lichtenberg had now ceased. Admissions of female prisoners held in protective custody now have to be made into this  camp. At that time, 970 women  were registered as inmates. But already before 15 May, at least 310 women had been in Ravensbrück. Also, another point, they were mainly coming from Lichtenburg and had already begun in November 1938 together with about 500 male prisoners from the Sachsenhausen concentration camp with the construction of the first barracks and the camp wall.

women prisoners at Ravensbrück during excavation work
The decision, to build north-east of the town of Fürstenberg at that time in terms of a modern contemporary Concentration Camp specifically for women was decided, probably at the end of 1938. The geographic location of the site along the traditional border between Mecklenburg and Prussia was favourable for the planned project. Other factors were,  good transport links by train to Berlin,[from the city, sic] to Highway 96 and the waterways in the area of the river Havel, furthermore the camp was surrounded by lakes and forests in a natural way and shielded from the nearby town and prying eyes. At that time prosperous Berliner had used the area for their retirement villas or weekend properties. Inhabitants of the city relied on tourism and from trade of the Inland Waterways, (Binneschiffahrt) on the whole they were fishermen, trades people or occupied in agriculture. There was also a "Weaving Factory"[Spinnerei Fürstenberg AG,sic] which was due to the Treaty of Versailles camouflaged as such, but actively used as a Rearmament Factory.
 Its  name of the concentration camp came from the small village of Ravensbrück immediately adjacent to it, which had developed and became at that time already a suburb of Fürstenberg. Ravensbrück belonged administratively to Prussia, while the city of Fürstenberg was part of Mecklenburg. The land border, which ran through the midst of the Schwedt-Sea offered, again and again occasion for bureaucratic conflicts around the question, which administration was responsible for questions of problems in the camp when these occurred.
After the end of the war, was the administrative segregation an issue, the inhabitants of Fürstenberg adopted a stereotype distance formula with which they expressed that they had nothing to do with the events in the Ravensbrück concentration camp. Only in 1952 was the village Ravensbrück incorporated into the city of Fürstenberg. Against the initial plans of the SED government,[Sozialistische Einheitspartei Deutschlands,i.e.East Germany, sic] to transfer and rename Fürstenberg to Ravensbrück, on this occasion the whole community stirred in fierce opposition and it was not done.

Land which was required for the building of the concentration camp sites for the most part was owned by the Prussian Forest Administration, but some of it belonged to private individuals as well as the"Faserstoff AG" ("Fiber Company"). In December 1938, the party office of the NSDAP,  initially started to buy the plots on behalf of the SS. Later on, the land registry records had been rewritten into the "Greater German Reich, Treasury  Waffen SS".  Since 1940, the terrain of the concentration camp expanded steadily and reached 1944 about the extent of the town of Fürstenberg. By the end of the war, however, not all land bought or occupied had been entered for some reason into the Land Register.
Like all the centrally planned and built concentration camps of the SS after 1933, Ravensbrück was also typical of this"ensemble". In a sense it symbolised the core of the "nationalistic" SS-ideal: a symmetrical scale of a shanty-town for slaves in addition to the workshops and industrial plants of a driven labour force, administrative buildings and clearly separated from that, but within sight, the homes for the"Herrenmenschen"(the ruling class)
In the first phase of construction until about 1940 the camp consisted of an area of ​​100 by 200 meters. It was surrounded by a four-meter high wall, on top of this was a high voltage barbed wire netting to thwart any escape attempt. Watch towers typical at other camp facilities were missing in the camp. Only the men's camp which was built later on had four watchtowers.
The prison camp consisted during its first phase of 14 Living-Barracks, two hospital barracks and an administrative barrack with kitchen and laundry facilities. The prisoner accommodations were originally designed and developed for the RAD Reichsarbeitsdienst[German Labour Service Units, where all males from the age of 18 had to perform physical labour for two years as a rule prior to military service, this was extended to females later on  sic] as low-rise buildings (Flachbauten) with their standardised items that were assembled on site and were dismantled at any time again if need be. [in modern term these were Kit Sets, sic] The contract for the establishment and development of barracks had been  taken over by the Ravensbrück carpentry Kühn, a company that prospered thanks to the orders of the SS since 1939. In the early years Kühn also manufactured and supplied coffins for the dead prisoners. Erich Kühn, the son of the former master carpenter, keeps in his by now disused factory timber beams that still bear the stamp FKL [Frauen Konzentrations Lager,sic]on them which his father and staff used during  his time as posts for the multi-storey bed frames.
The concentration camp was initially planned for a maximum of 3,000 female inmates. About this number,  there was a disagreement between Theodor Eicke, the Inspector of the concentration camps, and Oswald Pohl, then director of administration in the Main Office(SS-Hauptamt). Pohl first insisted for a capacity of 10,000 inmates,  Eicke who advocated for a lower figure apparently prevailed. Yet from the beginning, the camp was designed in its structure for a possible extension. The security interests as a result of the 1939 war and the resulting increased demand for slave labour in the armaments industry in the coming years created the dynamics of growth and expansion of the camp complex at Schwedtsee, with its own Water Works, Treatment Plant, Transformer Station and Telephone Exchange it was ideal and self-sufficient.

Female inmates in the construction of the SS-settlement 
" Residential area of the SS guards and Aufseherinnen" 
Just as in Dachau, Buchenwald, Sachsenhausen and other main camps (Stammlager) a common cell block was also established during the first phase for the women. The building was performed by the Fürstenberger Contrator Ahlgrimm. Ahlgrimm, at the end of April 1945 had helped some prisoners to escape, after the war he was ordered by the Soviet occupying power for the dismantling and removal of the camp. A camp own crematorium was put into operation in 1943 and 1944 expanded its capacity. Until then, the bodies of prisoners to be disposed off were taken and cremated at the municipal crematorium of Fürstenberg.

Crematorium and Road Roller
In 1940, the two-story headquarters building was finished and included a basement. The columnar-lined prestigious entrance located directly across from the SS-residential development, while its rear pointed back to the prison camp. In addition to the offices of the commander and the administrative department, the building housed the political office of the Gestapo, the infirmary for members of the SS, the postal censorship office and a pharmacy in the basement.

Former SS Commandants Residence and others. Today a museum 
Führer-house in the Residential area
The first workshops, in which the women prisoners had to work were probably built at the same time with the first living quarters at the back of the camp site. Since these shacks were used for other purposes and later moved like most shops to the industrial yard, this initial phase is difficult to reconstruct. The workshops were first under the control of the camp commander,  later they came under the jurisdiction of the SS administration office. The prisoners were doing there the traditional women's work as was also typical for the so-called work-houses: they sewed, did knitting, weaving on hand looms and made ​​straw sandals (Strohschuhe) and straw mats.
  A large proportion of the houses for the SS officers and guards were built in 1939/40. The SS-settlement, which still exists today, is located in an area beyond the shores of the Schwedt-Lake, a hilly terrain between the camp and the  village of Ravensbrück. If you approached from the Himmelpforter-Way straight to the camp, you are met first at a barrier (Schlagbaum), behind which are set in the "homeland preserving style"(Heimatschutzstil) and you will see, very visible, characteristic houses with half-timbered balconies and natural stone columns between manicured lawns, ornamental walls and little entrance steps. Location, size and features of each building are designed and followed to hierarchical architectural rules[very Nordic and Germanic, but pleasing to the eye sic]. At the highest point of the land were the four, well-equipped Leader Houses (Führerhäuser) in which lived the camp commander and other high-ranking SS officers with their families. There are two other  properties of Row-Houses next to it for NCO's and further eight for female overseers (Aufseherinnen). The latter were a mix of a new type of bachelor accommodation and garrison, in which the single female guards were housed in comfortable apartments in those days. The entire complex was built by the Ahlgrimm company. The elaborate interiors of the houses with wooden stairs and wall panelling and joinery was done by the Carpentry Company of Kühn.

The first Record of the strength of existing prisoners at Ravensbrück concentration camp, is dated the 21 May 1939. Accordingly, on that day 974 prisoners were registered at Ravensbrück. 114 of them were imprisoned for political reasons, 388 wore the purple triangle of the Bible Students (Jehovah's Witnesses), 119 women were so-called crime prevention detainees, 240 were considered to be antisocial, 95 women were detained because of allegations of racial shame. In addition, there were two so-called training prisoners and 16 miscellaneous  detainees in the camp.
The composition of this first group of prisoners in Ravensbrück principally reflected the spectrum of the Nazi policy exclusively towards women until the beginning of the war. Detained indefinitely in a detention camp, were not only as conscious opponents of the system, like the Political and the Jehovah's Witnesses, but also women who did not fit into the Nazi image of "normalcy" and "cleanliness"(Sauberkeit), although for the arrest criteria women differed in some respects from the practices of internment compared with men. Thus, for example, male homosexuals have since 1933, when exposed did face systematic arrest and once in a concentration camp had to suffer special harassment, while female homosexuality was not recognised in law as such or pursued. Male "protective custody" were mostly due to criminal grand theft and murder-related offences, while women were mostly detained for petty crime and abortion and put into a concentration camp. The females stigmatised as"asocial" prisoners were in the first place mainly prostitutes who had not adhered to government regulations,[they were legally obliged to register for health reason and income tax, sic] while men because of homelessness, begging, alcoholism were apprehended  during large scale area-wide raids and had been found as "lazy"(arbeitsscheu) and were sent to concentration camps. For women, the latter accusation played until after the war began with the introduction of compulsory service a larger role. The persecution for racial reasons , like Roma and Sinti were assigned by the SS the black triangle and considered as "asocial" elements. In June 1939 a total of 440 Roma women had been brought from the Burgenland in Austria to Ravensbrück. The Roma and Sinti women from Germany, Austria, and later from the occupied countries of Europe were up to their deportation to Auschwitz a significant group in the society of women prisoners' in the camp. Besides the Jewesses, they were exposed to the worst discrimination and harassment imaginable.
The most famous Jewish prisoner, no doubt was Olga Benario-Preste who later played in East Germany in the Tradition Of Care an important part.[Perhaps in a spiritual way, this statement by the researcher(Annette Leo) is confusing, as Olga was gassed in 1942,sic] The 31-year-old communist had belonged to the secret apparatus of the Communist-International and was during a failed attempt in 1935 after an uprising in Brazil by the authorities arrested and extradited to Germany. Olga Benario-Prestes was included  in one of the first transports of prisoners from Lichtenburg to Ravensbrück and was probably soon after Block Leader of the Jewish Block II.  Communist prison survivors later reported that she fought  bravely for the improvement of living conditions for the women in her barracks and dismissed as Block Leader for her insistence and for a time was locked in the cell block.
Testimony to the most cohesive and best organised inmates were the "Political's" and Jehovah's Witnesses, whose barracks because of the prevailing cleanliness and order wee considered the show piece of the blocks. A similar unity and discipline was also observed in barracks of the captive women (POW) of the Red Army. The Jehovah's Witnesses were not only numerically the largest group in the camp, but they also took a special place as prisoners. There were significantly more females detained as a religious community as fellow believers, while others were almost all persecuted groups, where the men had been in the majority. It has often been said, Jehovah's Witnesses were "voluntarily" in the camp. This opinion would probably be expressed that they could have been immediately released if they had renounced their religious beliefs and left their community by signing a waiver.. The women with the violet triangles were in eyes of the SS as particularly reliable. Margarete Buber-Neumann, who was nearly two years their block leader reported that: "The Jehovah's Witnesses up to 1942 (when a special punitive measure against the members of this group started), were the sought after workers that  had been in the concentration camp. "They cleaned the houses of the high-ranking SS officer and the guards headquarters, they cared for the children of the SS in their homes, they were maids in the commanders office, and to the officers in charge and the rest of the camp administration, they toiled in the SS nursery,  they took care of the bloodhounds of the SS,  as well as pigs, chicken and angora rabbits. In their devotion to duty, diligence, absolute honesty and in strict compliance with all SS commands, one could not imagine any ideal and better slaves under the camp prisoners. It went as far as that they were issued with special passes that allowed them to work without supervision and walk through the camp gate, for a Jehovah's Witness would never escape from the concentrate camp, it was simply against their belief, never to be deceitful".
The group of women with the red triangle of political prisoners was made up until the beginning of the War at first mostly from German and Austrian Communists, and Social Democrats. Many of them were there for an indefinite term of imprisonment and serving as "incorrigible" subjects time in a concentration camp. These women had been practising obstructive conduct, discipline, and solidarity before their detention in different jails. Numerically, they formed a small group in the prison society. In the post-war period until the end of the GDR, they published by their specific memories, a political organisation of a solid cohesion the image of Ravensbrück concentration camp to the public. The German Communist Gertrude Marx quoted the condition in Ravensbrück, and dedicated part in her narration with the words: "What impressed me in Ravensbrück from the outset was that comrades, mostly Communists, progressive people, received me at once into their circle, that they addressed me with 'Comrade' {...} These were all things that gave strength, courage and made ​​one help to survive.



Olga Benário Prestes was a German-Brazilian communist militant.
She was born in Munich as Olga Gutmann Benário, to a Jewish family. Her father, Leo Benário, was a Social-Democrat lawyer, and her mother, Eugenie (Gutmann), was a member of Bavarian high-society. In 1923, aged fifteen, she joined the Communist Youth International and in 1928 helped organize her lover and comrade Otto Braun's escape from Moabit[Berlin, sic] prison. She went to Czechoslovakia and from there, reunited with Braun, to Moscow, where Benário attended the Lenin-School of the Comintern and then worked as an instructor of the Communist Youth International, in the Soviet Union and in France and Great Britain, where she participated in coordinating anti-fascist activities. She parted from Otto Braun in 1931.
After her stay in Britain, where she was briefly arrested, Olga attended a course in the Zhukovsky Military Academy, something that led her to be charged in rightist histories with being an agent of Soviet military intelligence. Be it as it is, due to her military training, in 1934 she was tasked with helping the return to Brazil of Luís Carlos Prestes, to whom she was assigned as a bodyguard. In order to accomplish this mission, false papers were created stating that they were a Portuguese married couple. By the time they arrived at Rio de Janeiro in 1935, this cover had become a reality, as the couple had fallen in love. After a failed insurrection in November 1935, Benário and her husband went into hiding, and after barely escaping a police raid at their bunk in Ipanema, they were both eventually arrested in January 1936, during the harsh anti-communist campaign declared after Getúlio Vargas had proclaimed martial law and was already plotting the 1937 coup that would eventually lead to the institution of the fascist-like Estado Novo régime.
Pregnant and separated from Prestes, Benário clung to her alias, only to have her real identity disclosed by Brazilian diplomacy, working hand-in-hand with the Gestapo. Her lawyers' attempted at avoiding extradiction by means of an habeas corpus at the Brazilian Supreme Court (Supremo Tribunal Federal), based on her pregnancy, that would have left a newborn Brazilian national in the power of a foreign government. As Brazilian law forbids the extradiction of nationals, Olga's lawyers expected to win time until Olga gave birth on Brazilian soil to an ipso facto Brazilian citizen - irrespective of the child's paternity, which remained legally doubtful in the absence of evidence for Olga's and Prestes' actual wedding - something that would have rendered extradiction quite unlikely. The plea, however, was speedily quashed, the rapporteur-justice alleging that habeas corpus was superseded by martial law and that Olga's deportation was justified as "an alien noxious to public order". She was then, despite an international campaign, taken back to Germany in September 1936, the commander of the German liner that took her having cancelled scheduled stops in non-German European ports, therefore foiling communist attempts at rescuing her. On arrival, she was put in prison, where she gave birth to a daughter, Anita Leocádia. The child was subsequently released into the care of her grandmother, Leocádia Prestes.
Olga, however, was eventually sent to Ravensbrück concentration camp and from there to an experimental extermination camp set up at an old psychiatric hospital in Bernburg Euthanasia Centre in 1942, where she was gassed.

                                                                        continued under Part 2

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Warsaw Concentration Camp Part 3

In early September 1943 Pohl, Krüger, Globocnik and SS economist at the HSSPF Erich Schellin agreed, to put all labour camps with Jewish prisoners under the Administration of Majdanek within the Lublin Distrkt. (101) Globocnik was thus deprived of the access to these camps. The agreement secured for Pohl and the WVHA the disposal and availability of Jewish workers, in the combined Eastern Industries for their economic plans of the SS General Governement, who were previously excluded from mass murders. In a second step, not terminated by a date, all the labour camps in other districts of the General Governments should come under the control of the WVHA(Wirtschafts-Verwaltungshauptamt)=[Main Office of SS enterprises. 1942-1945 sic] .
The camp of Warsaw was by the restructuring of the management system in the General Government not initially affected, as it already was, since its inception, controlled by the central administrative of concentration camps. Despite this, it became sub-ordinate or a sub-camp to Majdanek by the end of April 1944, which was by then already in the process of being closed and in disarray. (102) With the change in camp administration was also an extensive personnel reshuffle in progress. The catalyst for these changes was proceeded from alleged corruption of higher camp staff and a subsequent scandal that led the SS for an internal investigation. For the camp SS to participate In the plunder of the ghettos despite explicit orders, was a  criminal offence. The members of the guards had to acknowledge in writing the notice of the prohibition to acquire items from the ghetto. (103) Nevertheless, they extorted from the prisoners valuables of any kind and in most cases made use of willing prison functionaries in their privileged positions under their fellow working inmates. The immediate cause of the interference of the SS-jurisdiction are not known. It must be assumed  the investigation was triggered during interrogation from escaped of prisoners. (104) The investigation was not led, as would have been proper, by SS Sturmbannführer Dr. Konrad Morgen, who prosecuted previously successfully against the commanders of Buchenwald and Majdanek, but  by the WVHA (105) The court officer of the WVHA SS Lieutenant Colonel Dr. Schmidt-Klevenow was a close confidant of Pohl. At the investigation Schmidt-Klevenow, arrested its staff, SS Captain Dr. Hermann Korschenrich, the Camp Administrator of KZ Warschau, Commander Nicholas Herbet, the Protective Custody Camp Leader William Haertel, and the Camp Elder Walter Wawrzyniak. (106) Wawrzyniak entertained with Herbet a special relationship of trust, a prisoner referred to in a post-war statement  the elder was a "confidant"(Vertauungsmann) of the Commander (107) All three were brought to KZ Sachsenhausen and interned there. After several months of fruitless investigation Herbet and Haertel were finally transferred back to the concentration camp services. Wawrzyniak was left in Sachenhausen and joined the Dirlewanger SS-Special Formation, which was formed from volunteering German KZ Inmates, mainly ex-criminals, and returned in August 1944 once again to Warsaw fighting there during the uprising of the Armia Krajowa( Polish Home Army)and was in their ruthlessness responsible for numerous crimes against the civilian population.
The subordination of "Labour Camp Warsaw" was ordered by Pohl on 24 April 1944 to be under the control of concentration camp Lublin-Majdanek. The takeover was completed on May 1st 1944. The arrangements were agreed upon with the Director of Administration of the Warsaw concentration camp, SS-First Lieutenant Henry Worster, in a "transfer-negotiation" later on 11 May 1944. The administrative staff of the Commandant of Majdanek took over all assets of the sub-camp Warsaw. The canteen fund and the prisoners' funds were transferred in  cash, other valuables in a form of a (Scheinwechsel) "Letter of Credit" went to the administration of the concentration camp Majdanek. With the ongoing changes within the satellite camp, it had far-reaching organisational rearrangements to overcome. The command staff was disbanded. In its place of the commander, a camp leader was appointed, who was no longer directly reporting to the Office Group D of the Administrative Main Office in Oranienburg, but only to the commander of Majdanek. With the exception of the roll call officer (Rapportführer), SS Sergeant Franz Mielenz, all members of the Warsaw headquarters were replaced and the guard company was returned early May 1944 and sent back to Sachsenhausen. The necessary personal to fulfil vacancies at the satellite camp Warsaw was recruited from the command staff of the Totenkopfsturmbann (the skull and bone storm-troopers) of Lublin-Majdanek. SS First Lieutenant Frederick Wilhelm Ruppert was the first senior and experienced member of the SS Concentration Camp-Administration that arrived. Ruppert was continuously since 1933 in the service of concentration camps, first in Dachau in 1942, then in Majdanek, where he rose in the leadership corps [This so called "NS-Führerkorps" was a selected Membership of intelligent, extremely indoctrinated with the nationalistic dogma, men and women, to ensure the Party Line was followed and had no other functions, than political "Brain-Washing of a Unit., and watched any sign of discontent,sic] . Before his transfer to Warsaw, Ruppert had worked most recently as the Administration Camp Electrician. The new protective custody camp leader was SS Sergeant Heinz Villain. Villain began his career in 1938 at the concentration camp in Sachsenhausen. Since 1941, he served in Majdanek, first as a block leader, then from May 1942 as a Feldführer (field leader).
The guards responsible for the custody of prisoners at the demolition work in the ghetto and the outer protection of the camp had been compiled from all the companies of the Totenkopf Storm Troops-Lublin. The second company of the Totenkopf at the concentration camp Lublin was still under the command of the Guard Association of Lublin, by SS Captain Martin Melzer. The unit itself was commanded by SS-Master Sergeant Alfred Kramer, who since September 1941, was active in Majdanek, most recently as a staff sergeant (Spieß). The entire security staff of the Warsaw concentration camp consisted of 259 men and was higher than that of other satellite camps. By  May 1944, it was almost consisted to a third of the entire SS Totenkopf-Lublin in "command" of Warsaw.
The guard company Warsaw replacing the previous Unit was mostly made up of "ethnic Germans"(Volksdeutsche) from southern Europe. They were fully aware, that their predecessors had been replaced because of a corruption scandal, which contradicted  Himmler's demand of morality and "decency" for the SS. Despite the rigid penalties it changed nothing in the bartering between prisoners and the camp SS. Up to July 1944 the Camp Administration discovered on prisoners and members of the SS money and jewellery that came from the ruins of the ghetto. The valuables were transferred against a "revenue bill"(Einnahme Schein) to the administration of Majdanek.

Ref.:101-Pohl's work records of meetings on 7 September 1943, in Nbg. Doc No-599
Ref:-102 to the following: Andreas Mix, labour camp in Warsaw. The labour camp in Warsaw as a satellite camp of Majdanek concentration camp, in: Zeszyty Majdanka 23 (2005), pp 55-70
Ref.:-103 - APMM, Fol 167/XX, k 3 The members of the guards had also sign a "fact sheet" in which they were NOT to accept any "gifts" and other articles of detainees prohibited under penalty of fines, in : AS, DI II39, personal diary Ludwig Muth, page 32
Ref :104-volume entry in the day book of the SS-Sturmmann Ludwig Muth's, a German Prisoner succeeded in March 1944, to escape from the Warsaw concentration camp, in: AS, D1 II39, Ludwig Muth's personnel file, page 15 ff
Ref: 105 - In his testimony before the IMT at Nuremberg on 7 August In 1946, of Dr. Morgen, he also arrested the commander of Warsaw, but does not give any details, in: IMT. The process against major war criminals before the IMT, Nűrnberg 14 Nov.1945 to 01 October 1946 Page 533 Vol 20 1947-1949 Nuremberg
Ref: 106 - Testimony of Dr. Schmidt Klevenow 08.08.1947, in: GStA, Rep. 335 case IV Vol 298, Doc 30: Testimony of Dr. Hermann Korshenrich 11.8.1947, in: ibid, document 32, questioning Dr. Konrad Morgen, 08/22/1947, in: ibid, vol 50, page 6603-6680
Ref: 107 - statement 05/01/1972 Paul F., in: BArch Ludwigsburg, 162/153III B, page 437-447. Similar statements are made by former prisoners ​​in the criminal case against Wawrzyniak before the district court of Leipzig
Case Nr.1227
Crime Category: Other Mass Extermination Crimes, NS-Crimes in Detainment Centers
Wawrzyniak, Walter Life Sentence
LG/BG Leipzig 510601 Az.: 19StKs4/50
LG/BG Leipzig 500428 Az.: 19StKs4/50
OLG Dresden 500802 Az.: 21ERKs129/50
Country where the crime was committed: Poland
Crime Location: Warschau, HS KZ Warschau
Crime Date: 05.1943-44
Victims: Jews, Prisoners
Nationality: Polish, unknown
Agency: Detainment Center Staff KZ Warschau (Prisoner functionary)
Subject of the proceeding: Mishandling, plundering and killing of prisoners. Participation in the selection of Jewish prisoners. Searching for Jews who had survived the suppression of the ghetto uprising and lived in hiding.

The evacuation of the Majdanek camp began in late March 1944. Several transports of prisoners were deported to concentration camps further west. The rapid advance of the Red Army after the collapse of army group(Mitte) centre, however, prevented the complete evacuation of the camp. Soviet troops liberated the concentration camp Majdanek which was the first Nazi-Camp on the 23 July 1944. At the same time the closure of the Warsaw-camp was initiated. In June 1944, a few days after the Allied landings in Normandy, Himmler had transmitted a command to the HSSPF(Höherer SS-und Polizeiführer) [which was Himmlers elite leaders, established to combine the SS and police force,sic] to give each command authority over the camp for the necessary force, in the "A" case. The HSSPF directly under Himmler were thus formally responsible for the closures of camps on the impending uprising of prisoners and the approach of enemy troops. For the closure of the Majdanek and Warsaw camps, HSSPF Wilhelm Koppe was responsible. July 20, 1944 SS Brigadier General Walther Bierkamp who was subordinate commander of the Security Police (Security Office), to him, ordered, to prevent at all costs, that "inmates" or Jews either WB (resistance movement) or the Red Army Prisoners, not be freed or fall alive into the hands of the enemy ".(115)
About the rapid advance of the Red Army, which had at the end of July 1944 reached the Vistula, the prisoners were informed through contacts through civilian workers during the ghetto demolition of events taking place. The demolition work in the Warsaw ghetto was halted in late July 1944,  the Central Construction Office of the Waffen-SS on orders by Koppes was transferred to Kutno and a curfew  was imposed on the camp (116) The remaining camp leadership had prisoners dig a trench and began to burn the files of the Prison Register.
During a roll call the inmates were informed  in late July 1944 of the the impending evacuation. Those who were too weak to march by foot during the anticipated evacuation, transport by trucks would be provided. Experienced "Konzentrationäre"[old KZ imates,sic] reacted with suspicion to this offer. They rightly feared that this was a deception.  Those unfit to march were sent to the infirmary and shot along with other prisoners there before the evacuation took place. The Camp Administration  in this way eliminated by an estimate of other prisoners about 200 people, the bodies were burned by a prisoner commando in the ghetto area (117)
The security situation in de city of Warsaw and retreating units of the Wehrmacht Army Group Centre delayed the evacuation of the prisoners. Equipped with supplies from the storage magazines, with blankets and utensils, an estimated 4,000 prisoners, divided into several small columns, left on 28 July 1944, the city towards the west. The guarding of the prisoners on the evacuation march was the responsibility of the commander of the guards, SS Master Sergeant Alfred Kramer. The high number of a 250 SS-contingent, which included several dog handler, was due to"dangerous bandits" in the General Government and was in addition increased by members of the Wehrmacht.
This evacuation does not compare with the horrors of the death marches later in the second phase of concentration camp closures in the winter of 1944-45. Within a few days the physically debilitated prisoners walked at a slow pace in high summer temperatures nearly 120 kilometres from Warsaw to Kutno. The route ran along the railway line from Warsaw to Berlin, via Sochczew, Lowicz and Zychlin. Those that could not keep up the pace, the prisoners were shot by the guards. The corruption of the camp SS continued during the march. In order to improve the inadequate rations, prisoners exchanged their last valuables with members of the SS for food and water. When the prisoners at Sochaczew plunged into the Bzura[river,sic] to quench their thirst, the guards, fearing a mass escape shot into the running prisoners. (120) On the 1 August of 1944, the prisoners arrived at Kutno, then a transportation hub in the eastern part of the Warthegau. From here, they were transported in railway cattle-wagons to Dachau, where they arrived on 6 August 1944. The health condition of the 3863 men was so bad that the Dachau Commandant Edward Weiter complained to the transportation leader  Kramer (121) The majority of the prisoners were then transferred in the following days and weeks into one of the many satellite camps of Dachau.

After the evacuation,  about 380 prisoners remained in Warsaw and some members of the SS in order to dismantle the rest of the camp and transport the remaining valuables to the Reich. The phasing out of the camp went parallel with the neighbouring Pawiak  jail (122) from mid-July, the inmates were deported in several shipments into the Lower Silesian concentration camp Gross-Rosen or shot on site. One group of over one hundred Polish Jews, among them 23 women, was on 31 July 1944 from the Pawiak prison transported into this camp. The Revolt of the[Polish,sic] Home Army interrupted further evacuation of the prisoners. Already on 1 August 1944, during the first hours of the uprising,  a unit of the Home Army was freeing during the attack on a depot of the Waffen-SS and had re-taken at the former "Umschlagplatz" a group of Hungarian and Greek Jews who were there engaged in loading operations. On 5 August, when German forces  regained the initiative and the rebels withdrew from the western districts of Wola and Ochota towards the old town, a unit of the Pfadfinderbataillion[pathfinder-battalion, sic] "Zoska" under the command of Ryszard Bialous alias "Jerzy" after several days fighting, in which they used a captured German tank, they entered the sub-camp Warschaau (125)
Prisoners of the sub-camp Warsaw after their liberation by the battalion "Zoska" of the Polish Home Army on August 5th 1944. The women had been transferred few days prior from the Pawiak Jail into the camp.
During the defence of the camp, the SS approached and used German prison functionaries. Among the 348 freed inmates were mostly Hungarian, but also French, Belgian, Dutch, Czech, German, Polish, Lithuanian and Greek Jews. Due to lack of arms of the AK,(Polish Home Army) the insufficient military training and Polish language skills there were just a few of the prisoners that could join the insurgents. The majority worked until the liberation in workshops and hospitals or helped in the construction of barricades. About their fate during the uprising is little known. Apparently it was only a few  individuals that succeeded  to hide even after the surrender of the AK in the ruins of the city until the arrival of the Red Army on 17 January 1945.

Ref :115-This order is in a letter from the KdS Radom detachment [Commander of the Security Police and SD, sic] on 21 July 1944 to the Foreign Service Station(Außendienststellen) referred to in Tomaszow, in: ibid, L-053
Ref, 116- Telex from Kammler to Himmler, 29.07.1944, in: ibid, No-2515
Ref :117-Statement, Hans Werner A. 11/17/1965 in: BStU, MfS HA IX/11, RHE-West 441, Vol 12 page 16, statement Isaak Egon Ochshorn, 21.08.1945, in: Nbg. Doc. No-1934
Ref :120-The incident is described by several members of the SS. Joseph Hermer statement, 04.11.1946, in: DaA, 6589 AIPN, SAW 24, Gemmel process, page 23f.
Ref: 121- With the Transport 3863 men reached the camp. The transport list also reported 89 deaths. ITS, ANF, KL folders 27 and 28, access point Dachau. Statement Alfred Kramer, 01.11.1945, in: DaA, 6589
Ref: 122-Leon-Wanat, "Behind the walls of the Pawiaks". Regina Domanska, Pawiak. The prison. "Chronicle of the Years 1939-1944, Warsaw 1978, pages 482-493"
Ref :125-The Liberation is one of the best-documented aspects of Warsaw AL: Report of Feliks Cywinski, in: sygn AZH. rel. 301/6297, page I [and many others, sic]

The Warsaw camp was, like many other concentration camps, after the war, initially used as a detention facility. From January to May 1945, the NKVD[Soviet Secret Police,sic] detained in the camp at ul Gesia members of the[Polish,sic] Home Army and German prisoners of war. In the summer of 1945 it became a prisoner of war camp, the Polish Ministry for public safety assumed security. Until the closure of the camp in 1949 there were over 5,500 prisoners of war, but also Reichsdeutsche  and "ethnic German" civilians interned (129) They continued in practical terms with the work of the KZ Inmates, were they had left off. The prisoners had to remove and secure building material from the destroyed ghetto, exhumed bodies and worked in the camps own workshops. After closure of the POW camp in 1949, on the grounds of the ul Gesia a jail was built in winch the Polish Security Service detained political opponents (130) It was disbanded in the De-Stalinization period of 1956.  The heavily damaged former headquarters building of the Warsaw concentration camp, during the Warsaw Uprising was demolished in 1963.  Along the ul Gesia which was to commemorate the commander of the Jewish uprising, Mordechai Anielewicz was re-named ul Anielewicza in 1948, and during the fifties and sixties, a socialistic new type housing complex in the neighbourhood was built.
The investigation of crimes committed in the Warsaw concentration camp were set into motion immediately after the war with processes the Allies are still continuing up till to this date. In the Nuremberg succession of prosecutions, which was conducted in 1947 against employees of the WVHA (Administrative Main Office) (case IV) for the destruction of the Warsaw ghetto was one of the charges against Pohl.
Members of the Headquarters and the guards of the camp Warsaw who had arrived in August 1944 at Dachau had previously been brought before American military tribunals. Among the defendants in the first Dachau trials which was made up with three members of the Warsaw camp SS, including the last camp leader Ruppert. All three were indicted but only because of its crimes committed in sub-camps of Dachau in December 1946 and sentenced to death. In some of the Dachau subsequent processes other members of the Warsaw camp SS went on trial, including two camp doctors, Dr. Heinrich Schmidt and Dr. Wihelm Jobst. Polish courts accused and convicted between 1947 to 1952 a total of 51 members of the Warsaw camp SS and two trusties. (131) They had been previously delivered by the Allies in accordance with the Moscow agreement to the Polish authorities. Among these people were mainly members of the guards who came with the evacuation to Dachau. Indicted and convicted, they were mostly for crimes they committed at Majdanek or on the evacuation march from Warsaw to Kutno.
Before a German court only one person had to answer for the crimes committed in the Warsaw concentration camp. The camp elder Walter Warwzyniak  was tried and convicted by the Regional Court in Leipzig for crimes against fellow inmates committed in Warsaw, initially sentenced to death and subsequently during renegotiation to life imprisonment (132)
Poland, carried out a total of three investigations regarding the Warsaw concentration camp.  As early as May 1945, a judicial commission commenced the inspection of the former headquarters building located and examined it at the ul. Gesia[street,sic]. This revealed 40 cans [empty or full is not indicated, sic] of what was used at the extermination camp Auschwitz of cyanide pellets, Zyklon B. Bullet holes in the walls were examined on the walls and several pits opened containing the ashes of cremated corpses (134) The Commission also inspected the unfinished crematorium behind the headquarters building and heard witnesses (135 )
Ref :129-Jerzy Kochanowski, In Polish captivity. German Prisoners of War in Poland 1945-1950. Osnabrück 2004, pages 98-104. Boguslaw Kopka, labor camps in Poland from 1944 to 1950. An encyclopaedic guide, Warsaw 2002, page 164ff. The camps not only held prisoners but also Reich and "vollksdeutsche" civilians were interned. Approximately 1,100 people died in the camp.
Ref :130-Kopka, Obozy, page 165, trans., Concentration camps, page 116
Ref :131-Elzbieta Kobierska-Mota, the extradition of war criminals to Poland from the four occupation zones of Germany from 1946 to 1950 Vol 2, Warszawa 1991/1992. The majority of the processes took place in courts of  Warsaw and Lublin.
Ref :132-judgments published in: DDR Justiz and Nazi crimes. Summary of some East German Nazi criminal sentences for murders. Volume 5 Munich 2004, pages 357-368
Ref :134-facsimile of the minutes of the local reports, in: Kopka, concentration camps, page 609-621
Ref :135-log of the site visit, 29.05.1945, in: AAN, 212/II-4, AIPN, NTN, 163/63, page 112-136. The interrogation logs: Kopka, concentration camps, page 149-210

Historiography Warschau KZ
The Polish prosecutor Maria Trzcinska published information about the Warsaw concentration camp and described it as "extermination camps in the centre of Warsaw".  She claimed that the concentration camps had spread over five camp complexes throughout the city. There were in an underground tunnel between October 1942 to August 1944 gassings by Zyklon B carried out. A total of 200,000 Poles in the Warsaw concentration camp had been murdered.
These propositions met with opposition. Thus, there are no statements of prisoners, which refer to gassings. Andreas Mix judges in a 2008 paper published in the theses, Mary Trzcinskas are "not scientifically reliable and have been criticized by historians." Nevertheless, the allegations found in the Polish "national Catholic milieu" echo.
The claim that the road tunnel in the Wola district worked as a gas chamber, were 200 000 were gassed in Warsaw, was officially recognised by the Institute of National Remembrance (Instytut Pamieci Narodowej, IPN) in the negative. Nevertheless, the National Catholic activists demand that the City Council of Warsaw, commence with the construction of a monument at state expense next to the tunnel. All the doubters are branded as traitors.

The Last Camps
With the Soviet army nearing the Polish border, the Germans also sped up the liquidation process in the camps. Most of the inmates were murdered on the spot while some were evacuated to the west. The elimination of the Jews in the camps of the Lublin area began in November 1943, under the code name “Erntefest”, meaning harvest festival. After the wave of deportations in summer 1942 the remnant of the Jewish communities of central Poland was concentrated in such ghettos as Radom, Kielce, Czestochowa, and Piotrkow Trybunalski. By mid-1943 all had been liquidated. Able-bodied workers were confined in the labor camps around Czestochowa and Piotrkow. These camps were evacuated to camps in Germany in late 1944.

The 36th Waffen Grenadier Division of the SS, better known as the SS-Sturmbrigade "Dirlewanger" (often referred to as the Dirlewanger Brigade), was an infamous military unit of the Waffen-SS during World War II. Originally formed for anti-partisan duties against the Polish resistance, it eventually saw action against the Soviet Red Army near the end of the war. During its operations it engaged in mass murder of civilians, pillaging and rape.
The history of the Dirlewanger Brigade is inextricably linked to the life of its commander, Oskar Dirlewanger. After winning the Iron Cross first and second class while serving in the Imperial German Army during World War I, Dirlewanger joined the Freikorps and took part in the vicious street fighting against communist revolutionaries. When the revolution had failed, he returned to university and obtained a PhD in political science. Joining the NSDAP in 1923, he was soon expelled and forced to reapply to join that organisation once more.
After completing his PhD, Dirlewanger went on to hold a teaching job. In 1934, he was convicted of sexually assaulting a female minor. He lost his position and was forbidden from returning to teaching. After serving a two-year jail sentence, Dirlewanger was released. Soon after, he was again accused of sexual assault and thrown into a concentration camp. Desperate, Dirlewanger contacted Gottlob Berger, an old Freikorps comrade now working closely with Heinrich Himmler, the Reichsführer-SS. Berger secured his comrade's release and an appointment for him with the Legión Cóndor, a German volunteer unit fighting in the Spanish Civil War on the side of Franco's Falange Española. Dirlewanger fought bravely during this campaign, being wounded three times.
Returning to Germany in 1939, Dirlewanger was granted admission to the Allgemeine SS and given the rank of SS-Untersturmführer. Berger organized the creation of an elite Communist-hunting military unit which would include some men convicted of poaching.
On 14 June 1940, the Wilddiebkommando Oranienburg (Oranienburg Poacher's Command) was formed. On 24 June 1940, Himmler admitted Dirlewanger into the Waffen-SS to be commander of this newly formed unit. By 1 July 1940, it numbered 84 men.
Initially a unit of convicted poachers, it became over time composed of increasing numbers of common criminals. In contrast to those who served in the German penal battalions for minor offences, the volunteers sent to the "Dirlewanger" were convicted of major crimes which would be considered criminal in civilian courts. While the theory was that service in the "Dirlewanger" would rehabilitate the criminals, it in fact provided them with the opportunity to continue committing criminal acts with no repercussions. Some Nazi officials romanticized the unit, viewing the men as "pure primitive German men" who were "resisting the law".
As the news spread of the new formation, hundreds of concentration camp prisoners applied for service with the unit. By September 1940, the formation numbered over 300 men. With the influx of criminals, the emphasis on poachers was now lost, and those convicted of other more severe crimes—including assault, burglary and rape—joined the unit. Accordingly, the unit name was changed to Sonderkommando "Dr. Dirlewanger" (Special Command "Dr. Dirlewanger"). As the unit strength continued to grow, it was placed under the command of the SS-Totenkopfverbände (the formation responsible for the administration of the concentration camps) and it was redesignated SS-Sonderbatallion "Dirlewanger" (it became a Waffen-SS unit again in late 1944).
In January 1942, to re-build its strength, the unit was authorised to recruit Russian and Ukrainian volunteers. In its final phase, Dirlewanger's men came to include, besides common criminals, increasing numbers of political prisoners, homosexuals, Gypsies (likely recruited from Dachau and Sachsenhausen concentration camps) and patients from psychiatric hospitals, as well as others considered unfit to serve in normal military units.
On 1 August 1940, the "Dirlewanger" was assigned to anti-partisan duties in the General Government region in Poland, and was answerable only to Heinrich Himmler himself. During the battalion's service in Poland, it was involved in numerous cases of corruption, rape, indiscriminate killings and looting. Desertion was also common. The General Government's Höherer SS- und Polizeiführer Friedrich Wilhelm Krüger was disgusted with the behaviour of the "Dirlewanger", his complaints resulted in its transfer to Belarus in February 1942.
In Belarus, the unit came under the command of Central Russia's Höherer SS- und Polizeiführer, Erich von dem Bach. The "Dirlewanger" resumed anti-partisan activities in this area, working in cooperation with the Kaminski Brigade for the first time. Dirlewanger's preferred method of operation was to gather civilians in a barn and set it on fire and shoot with machine guns anyone who tried to escape; the victims of his unit numbered about 30,000.
On 17 August 1942, the expansion of the "Dirlewanger" to regimental size was authorized. Recruits were to come from more criminals, Eastern volunteers (Osttruppen) and military delinquents. In September 1942, the unit mass murdered the remaining 8,350 Jews in Baranovichi ghetto and proceeded to kill a further 389 people labeled "bandits" and 1,274 "bandit suspects"
The second battalion finally arrived in February 1943 and the regiment's strength reached 700 men, 300 of whom were anti-Communists from Soviet territory. The unit was now redesignated SS-Sonderregiment "Dirlewanger". In May 1943, the ability to volunteer for service in the regiment was extended to all criminals and 500 men convicted of the most severe crimes were absorbed into the regiment. May and June saw the unit taking part in Operation Cottbus, an anti-partisan operation. In August 1943, the creation of a third battalion was authorised. With its expansion, the "Dirlewanger" was allowed to display rank insignia and a unique collar patch (at first crossed rifles, later crossed stick grenades). During this period, the regiment saw heavy fighting, Dirlewanger himself led many assaults, winning several awards for bravery.
In November 1943, the regiment was committed to front-line action with Army Group Centre in an attempt to halt the Red Army advance. The regiment, untrained and ill-equipped for such combat, performed poorly and suffered heavy casualties. By the end of the year the "Dirlewanger" could muster only 259 men. Large numbers of amnestied criminals were sent to rebuild the regiment and by late February 1944, the regiment was back up to full strength. It was however decided that Eastern volunteers would no longer be admitted to the unit, as the Russians had proved to be particularly unreliable in combat. Anti-partisan operations continued until June 1944, when the Soviets launched Operation Bagration, which was aimed at the destruction of Army Group Centre. The "Dirlewanger" was caught up in the retreat and began falling back to Poland. The regiment performed several rear guard actions and reached Poland, decimated, but in good order.
When the Armia Krajowa initiated the Warsaw Uprising on 1 August 1944, the "Dirlewanger" was sent into action as part of the Kampfgruppe of SS-Gruppenführer Heinz Reinfarth, again alongside Bronislav Kaminski's forces. While some of the regiment's more severe actions were criticized by von dem Bach and the sector commander, Generalmajor Günter Rohr, Dirlewanger was recommended by Reinefarth for the Knight's Cross and promotion to SS-Oberführer der Reserve. The "Dirlewanger" fought against the insurgents in Warsaw, suffering extremely high losses. The regiment arrived in the city numbering 881 officers and men; during the course of the two-month urban warfare it received reinforcements of some 2,500 soldiers and lost 2,733. Thus, total casualties numbered 315% of the unit's initial strength. During the fighting in Wola and Ochota district in Warsaw the unit engaged in an orgy of violence, rape, and murder, as well as simple thievery, with its men often under influence of alcohol; all together, 10,000 civilians were murdered.
By 3 October 1944, the Poles had surrendered and the depleted regiment spent the next month guarding the Vistula line. During this time, the regiment was upgraded to brigade status, and redesignated SS-Sonderbrigade "Dirlewanger" (SS Special Brigade Dirlewanger). In early October, it was decided to upgrade the "Dirlewanger" again, this time to a Waffen-SS combat brigade. Accordingly, it was redesignated 2.SS-Sturmbrigade "Dirlewanger" and soon reached its complement of 4,000 men.
When the Slovak National Uprising began in late August 1944, the newly formed brigade was committed to action. The conduct of the brigade played a large part in putting down the rebellion, and by 30 October the crisis was averted. With the outcome of the war no longer in doubt, large numbers of communist and socialist political prisoners began applying for the "Dirlewanger" in the hope of defecting to the Soviets. SS-Brigadeführer Fritz Schmedes, disgraced former commander of the 4th SS Polizei Division, was assigned to the "Dirlewanger" by Himmler as punishment for refusing to carry out orders. With his extensive combat experience, Schmedes became the unofficial advisor to Dirlewanger on front line combat.
In December, the brigade was sent to the front in Hungary. While several newly formed battalions made up of communist and socialist volunteers fell apart, several other battalions fought well. During a month's fighting, the brigade suffered heavy casualties and was pulled back to Slovakia to refit and reorganize.
In February 1945, orders were given to expand the brigade to a division; however, before this could begin it was sent north to the Oder-Neisse line in an attempt to halt the Soviet advance. On 14 February 1945, the brigade was redesignated 36.Waffen-Grenadier-Division der SS. With its expansion to a division of 4,000 men, the "Dirlewanger" had regular Heer units attached to the formation: a Grenadier regiment, a Pionier brigade and a Panzerjäger battalion. Individual Sturmpionier demolition engineers had already been attached to the force during the fighting in Warsaw.
When the final Soviet offensive began on 16 April 1945, the division was pushed back to the northeast. The next day, Oskar Dirlewanger was seriously wounded in combat for the twelfth time. He was sent to the rear and Schmedes immediately assumed command. Dirlewanger would not return to the division. Desertion became more and more common. When Schmedes attempted to reorganize his division on April 25, he found it had virtually ceased to exist. The situation was highly fluid, with men of the 73rd Waffen Grenadier Regiment of the SS lynching their commanding officer Ewald Ehlers (the former commandant of Dachau concentration camp, he had been convicted of corruption). On 1 May 1945, the Soviets wiped out all that was left of the 36. Waffen-Grenadier-Division in the Halbe Pocket. The small remnant of the division that managed to escape attempted to reach the US Army lines on the Elbe river. Schmedes and his staff managed to reach the Americans and surrendered on 3 May. Only about 700 men of the division survived the war.
At the end of the war, Dirlewanger was captured by the western Allies. On 1 June 1945, Polish soldiers, former forced laborers serving in the French occupation forces in Germany, took him to Altshausen jail. Over the next few days Dirlewanger was beaten and tortured. He died from injuries inflicted by the Polish guards around 5 June. Dirlewanger was buried on 19 June, but the French Military suppressed the news at the time. Over the next 15 years, many bogus sightings of Dirlewanger were made around the world. His body was exhumed in November 1960, to prove that he was dead.
On 17 April 2009, Polish authorities claimed to have identified three surviving members of "Dirlewanger" living in Germany and announced their intent to prosecute the men.

Sources: Literature,

                                                                                                                                          THE END          

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Warsaw Concentration Camp Part 2

The building complex on ul Gesia number 22 was since the spring of 1943 a Labour Re-education camp (Arbeitserziehungslager) under the command of the Security Police (KdS) in Warsaw. In the camp the Police kept mainly Polish citizens who had been  apprehended without papers or on suspicion of black market trade during street raids.  Staff from the Office of these detachments that operated  the camp held the rank of NCOs, the guards were the Polish "blue police" (Policja granatowa), which in turn was sub-ordinate to the commander of the German police administration. The detention period in the Labour Re-education camps was the same as in the Reich, for a period of eight weeks. After that the prisoners were released or deported as  forced labour into the Reich. The Warsaw concentration camp was built in the immediate neighbourhood, but separated geographically and organisationally, to the labour camps. In the Polish literature, both are called and bearing the term "Gesiowka", leading to frequent confusion. (66) In the fall of 1943, the labour camp, finally moved into the area outside of the ghetto police district on the ul-Litewska [road, sic].
The Warsaw concentration camp was not a "familiarization camp"(Einweisungslager)which means the inmates were not admitted through the Reich Security Main Office (RSHA) or the local Gestapo (Division IV of the KdS), but transferred from other concentration camps. This meant that the WVHA would independently decide on the transports of prisoners that came to Warsaw. The camp admitted males only. The first 300 prisoners arrived on 19 July 1943 from Buchenwald in Warsaw. None of these were Jews and consisted mainly of German Inmates from the Reich, many of which were interned since the late thirties into concentration camps. (68) Under this transport were also some French and Dutch. By the end of November 1943 more than 3700 Jewish prisoners had been transferred from  Auschwitz. Nearly all of them came from countries occupied by the Wehrmacht. The largest group were Greek Jews who had been brought via Auschwitz into the camp in the Spring of 1943. For reason of security, transports to Warsaw had only a few Polish Jews, as the SS rightly feared that they would make contact with the local population who in turn would be helpful in any escape attempts. However, many Jews from Upper Silesia came after the closure of the local ghettos there, in the summer of 1943 again via Auschwitz. In the early summer of 1944, just months before the evacuation of the camp, several transports of Hungarian Jews from Auschwitz arrived in the city, who were admitted into the second camp section. An estimated  2500 Hungarian Jews were now the largest group of prisoners in the camp. (70)
The inequality within its camp society was extremely profound in a concentration camp like this. The prison functionaries  were extraordinarily privileged. They enjoyed better health care, wore civilian clothes, were armed as well [I did not find any reference to the type of weapons,sic] and could even leave the camp temporarily. The blurred line between Guards and Guarded in this "Gray area of the camp" (71) where the thin layer of "dignitaries" had adapted themselves to methods of the SS.  At the top of this society were the non-Jewish prisoners from Buchenwald . Due to the racial classification system, the SS gave them privileged access to the functions on storage sites and as block leaders, overseers of the demolition commandos as well as in the camp workshops. Among the Jewish prisoners, they were perceived less than fellow prisoners, but rather as a tool of the SS. (72) The first requirement in a camp environment for survival are the social practices such as barter trade and corruption with which the more experienced "Konzentrationären" were more familiar than the later deported inmates from Auschwitz in 1943, when they first came into contact with the concentration camp system. Another advantage in the struggle for hierarchy and the associated access to material resources were the knowledge of the German language. Without it, the prisoners were exposed to the terror of the camp SS in a special way. Of these, that did not and could not follow a command, particularly the Greek Jews were affected, who spoke Ladino, the Judeo-Spanish and could neither follow orders and barely communicate with the other prisoners. (74)
The functionary prisoners also used separate rooms away from their fellow prisoners. With the exception of the block elders, they were housed in a barrack of their own. Only in certain circumstances did Jewish prisoners obtain better positions  due to their professional qualifications, protection or support of gentile groups and thereby became Block Elders and or Work Overseers.
The number of prisoners interned in the Warsaw concentration camp can only approximately be determined, the same goes for the number of victims due to lack of sources. In the nearly twelve months, in which the camp existed, there where at least 7800 and up to 10,000 prisoners interned. Of these, more than 3,400 detainees did not survive the evacuation. Most of them died during the epidemics or became victims of violence and the excesses of the camp-SS during the evacuation march .
Ref :66-There are numerous reports of the Delegation of the Council of the Polish Republic in the country over the labour training camp, give the arrival date, the number of prisoners, their work and guards, in: AAN, Sygna. 202
Ref :68-BwA, HKW, F.I. Almost three quarters (224) of the 300 prisoners belonging to the category of temporary Verbeugungshäftlinge) (professional criminals), 41 were considered to be political, 35 as anti-social prisoners.
Ref: 70 - About transports of Hungarian Jews there are no firm or reliable sources.
Ref :71-Primo Levi, the Gray Area. Selected Writings, The Drowned and the Saved, Munich / Vienna, 1986, pages 33-68.
Ref :72- statements, Bernard R. 09/16/1975 17/09/1975 and Herszek R. in: BWrch Ludwigsburg, B 162/15316, pg. 1632-1637 and 1639-1641.
Ref: 74 - James K. statement 13.2.1975, in: BArch Ludwigsburg, B 162/15314, pg 1112 ff Maurits Fränkles report, in: NIOD, 240d, Box 26, pg 15f.

SS troops and officers search the Jewish department heads of the Braur armaments factory during the suppression of the Warsaw ghetto uprising. 
The first two of the three commanders who led the Warsaw concentration camp, did not belong to the "Network of the SS concentration camps". During their careers in the SS and at their ages they differ from the administrative core of the permanently SS operating in these facilities. SS-Obergruppenführer (General) Oswald Pohl appointed as the first camp commander, SS Lieutenant Colonel William Goeke, who was a WW I volunteer and ascended to Leutnant (Lieutenant) during his time in service. After discharge from the Reichswehr in 1920 Goeke did not manage well to integrate into civilian careers. After the National Socialists regained power in 1933 he was hired as an instructor for SS troops. Repeated conflicts, decided him in 1936, to apply for the resumption of a position in the officers corps of the army. He was given command authority in 1940 over a Reserve Battalion of the Waffen-SS in Norway. After a booze-induced scandal, Goeke had insulted younger SS leaders as "communists" which resulted to a temporary suspension from the Waffen-SS in August 1941. [There is a grain of truth in his accusations, if one analyses the past of some members of the SS,sic] Even as a commander of a camp for Serb prisoners of war in Norway, Goeke could not "prove" himself.  Hans Loritz, the former commandant of Dachau and Sachsenhausen, wrote in an assessment that Goecke "is not suitable as a camp leader." The HSSPF Norway, then dismissed Gloeke from their staff.  After a "training" session in the Mauthausen concentration camp in March 1943 he was officially accepted into the Office Group D of the WVHA. However, during the construction of the Warsaw concentration camp, a former prisoner pointed out during testimony Gloeke made no specific commitment, nor showed very little interest. After a few weeks Gloeke was recalled from Warsaw and appointed commander of the newly established concentration camp at Kauen. Presumably, his experience in the Baltic's in the 1920's, he fought there as an officer of the volunteer corps(Freikorps) made this crucial promotion.
[After closure of the camp in August 1944 the WVHA waived to continue to employ Goeke in any concentration camps, confirmed in a letter from the staff at the main office of the SS Race and Settlement Office dated 29/10/1944.  Goeke,had been transferred at the end of August 1944 to the staff of the HSSPF-Adriatic Küstenland but  was already dead at that time, he was killed in action on the 22nd October 1944.sic]
Goekes successor, SS-Captain Nicholas Herbet was almost a generation older than the usual concentration camp commanders appointed by Pohl during the 1942's. Herbet was born in 1889, had completed his training in his profession  before the First World War, and started a family. Although he was among the first members of the SS, he reached as late as 1934 only the rank of SS-lieutenant. Working in a Dresden publishing company of the NSDAP (the Nazi Party), he remained until the outbreak of war an honorary member of the General SS (Allgemeine SS). In 1940 he was inducted into the Waffen-SS. Presumably owing to his age and his lack of military skills, Herbet was assigned to Mauthausen. From there he came with Goeke to Warsaw. With the exception of the camp elder Walter Wawrzyniak, with  whom he maintained a friendly relationship, Herbet had towards the prisoners or the running of the camp hardly any impact.
Unlike the main concentration camps  within Germany, at the Warsaw concentration camp, not all departments of the Commandants Staffs Offices had been fulfilled. Important positions in Administration remained vacant or were combined into one. There were for instance no "political department" and at times no camp doctor.(84) The compulsory division between internal and external security, between headquarters and guards did not exist. The protective custody camp leader, SS-First Lieutenant William Haertel, commanded the Protection Squad as well as the the Guard Company at the same time.
Among the members of the guard company, what they received or were allotted was the "dregs of the SS" (85) mostly older men, wounded in the war and "ethnic Germans"(Volksdeutsche), which in no way corresponded to the ideal of a disciplined and well-established ideological elite. The majority of the guard company consisted of SS members who were transferred in two contingents in August and September 1943 from Sachsenhausen. Of the nearly 150 men they were exclusively "Volksdeutsche" from Southeast Europe, which had been enlisted since 1942 in their home countries for the Waffen SS, and Eastern Europe as "auxiliary volunteers" (86) [They were considered as voluntaries and as such could not join the Wehrmacht,sic]   In Sachsenhausen or the SS training camp Trawniki in the district of Lublin they had completed a short training before they were moved to Warsaw . The relationship between "ethnic Germans" and the Reichsdeutsche did not meet the ideological concepts of a "blood relationship". In February 1944, Himmler ordered the SS to avoid the term "Volksdeutsche", because he felt it "is used with a certain derogatory tone" by the Rerichsdeutschen. (87) Former members of the Warsaw concentration camp guards reported after 1945 of Resentments and Group Formations. The communication and cohesion of the unit was complicated considerably by language barriers, so that the "Volksdeutsche" had to be given notice of the prohibition to acquire items from the ghetto, in their native language to be translated by an interpreter and read out to them (88) this is indicative of the fragile morale of the security forces and are the circumstances of two suicides of SS men due to the alleged  criminal offences as seen in entries for the troops guard muster rolls (Strafbucheinträge). (89) Lack of knowledge of the German language and an outward appearance that challenged the racial ideology of the SS was noticed by the inmates as well. In the German Federal Investigation after the war, ​​many former inmates gave information about an SS man, whom they called, because of his dark skin and hair colour simply "Zigeuner"(Gipsy).
Ref.;84- Orth, concentration camp SS, Page 47
Ref: 85 Hilberg, Destruction, Page 967
Ref: 86-AS, DIA 1143 (copies of the Special Archive Moscow) On 3 August, twenty-two men were transferred and  on the  29 September another 120 non-commissioned officers from Sachsenhausen went to Warsaw. In the spring of 1944 another three members from Sachenhausen  were added. Information on original and official channels in the SS troops muster roll of the SS Totenkopf shows in: BArch Berlin, Außsenstelle Dahlwitz-Hoppegarten, ZM: Data-bank in: AS.: About People in the German guards: Johannes Tuchel, the Wachmannschften of the concentration camps 1939-1945. Results and open research issues, in: Alfred Godfrey etc. (Eds), NS-Gewaltherrschaft, contributions to historical research and legal processing, Berlin 2005, pages 135-151.
Ref :87-Chief Order No. 3, dated 10 February 1944, in: BArch Berlin branch Dahlwitz-Hoppegarten, EG 6686, page 162
Ref, 88-facsimile in Domanska, Obozy, page 133 The guards apparently also included several illiterate enlisted men. John R. 08/03/1977 statement, in: BArch Ludwigsburg, B 162/15316, pages 1895-1898.
Ref :89-AIPN, M-168. The court officer first examined whether the people were suspect of corruption concerning the likely deaths. Only after he diagnosed with the chief medical officer during the investigation, he determined  "mental depression" as a cause of suicide.

The majority of prisoners were employed during the demolition of the ghetto. From the ruins they retrieved initially wood, metals, windows and furniture The working conditions and treatment apparently did not correspond to the commands of Pohl's instructions to the camp commandant, that "the labour output of prisoners to be maintained and increased even further." Six days a week, the prisoners had to work, only the Sunday was a day off. The work was affected by the seasons of the year. From early morning up to six clock in the evening was standard during summer months. In winter, the onset of dusk limited these hours, which offered the prisoners a chance to escape. For the first months during the demolitions there were no machinery available, so that the prisoners had to break off masonry with simple tools, under the guidance of the professional craftsmen and foreman of the construction companies involved in removal of the the ruins. Often accidents occurred during these work details, some of which were aware to the foremen or the security guards who had instigated or "engineered" them. [There is no reason given, as to why they would do this,sic] Due to the heavy physical work, long working hours, inadequate nutrition and lack of medical care, the tabor output of these prisoners was exhausted within a few weeks.
Only when heavy construction equipment and a demolition squad(Sprengkommando) was used working conditions were improved. Now systematically ruins in lines were blown up. The main task of the prisoners was now to clean the reusable bricks and stack them. This was less exhausting work then manually dismantle still standing walls within the the ruins of the Ghetto. The processed bricks for transporting were uplifted by Polish civilian workers with horse-drawn carts or loaded directly into rail way wagons onto the Eastern Railway (Ostbahn).
When working in the ghetto prisoners kept coming across victims of the ghetto uprising. Often prisoners discovered  Jews who had been hiding after the crackdown of the uprising after the ghetto had been destroyed. Supplied with food, mostly against money they were provided for by the Poles. On the other hand, Polish workers who were employed during the ghetto demolition, as well as prisoners denounced those Jews who could not offer any valuables or money for food to secure their safety (92) The SS guards took them to the headquarters or into the Pawiak prison, where they were interrogated by the security police and later shot.

The work in the ghetto gave the inmates the opportunity to barter and proceed with their smuggling of certain items. The Polish workers, with whom they came into contact accepted and exchanged the valuables, which they found in the rubble like  tableware, jewellery, laundry, often money for food and clothing. Although the prisoners were strictly forbidden to acquire valuables from the ruins of the ghetto. For the inmates these valuables were a vital part of available resources, which, however, not all prisoners had equal access. Primarily the functionaries of the detainees benefited because of their prominent position among the prisoners, but even those prisoners who were able to communicate due to their linguistic competence with the Polish civilian workers benefited from these transactions. When it comes to the Poles to whom valuables were offered in exchange for consumer goods they also had the opportunity to improve their own supply situation. The availability of food in the cities of the General Government was very bad. The allocation rates for Poland were significantly lower than those of the German population. In the city of Warsaw, where the situation was even more evident than in rural areas, which relied heavily on a Black Market to which the ghetto was indirectly connected (93). Working for the German construction companies also protected the Poles from being deported as forced labour into the German Reich. Compared to the concentration camp prisoners, they were in an envious  situation, which some took advantage of, by denunciation and extortion (94) But other inmates reported the fact that Polish workers had helped them providing them with food.  One has to recognise also, that for the Poles the trade of valuables from the ghetto involved a considerable risk. The smuggling was punishable with a sentence to the security prison or a labour camp(Arbeitserziehungslager).[The German word in fact indicates that this is a punishment work detail,sic]
A prison work commando worked in the autumn of 1943 a few weeks for SS Captain Franz Konrad, who confiscated for the Eastern Industries in the ghetto the remaining machines. (96) Since the concentration camp inmates were too weak because of their physical condition for removing the iron-working machines, Konrad had in the end requested a  labour force of Soviet POWs.[This is a rather intriguing admission as it is usually claimed that Russian Prisoners of War were almost starving to death, sic]
To be employed in the workshops of the Administration, like carpentry, electrical workshop, blacksmith, locksmith, piggery, vegetable garden, the laundry, clothing room and kitchen as well as in the office, was one of the privileged activities. In the workshops there were almost exclusively German nationals and prisoners who possessed trade qualifications. Part of the inmates worked outside of the "residual ghettos": in a laundry at ul Leszno [street], who did this for the Wehrmacht, and support troops of the Waffen-SS stationed in Warsaw,  in the municipal water works and in a "sand retrieving  driver command", which obtained sand from the river bank of the Vistula (Weichsel) which was used for construction work in the camp. This work detail had been repeatedly used to try to escape (97) In early summer 1944, when the news spread in the camp of the liberation of the eastern Polish territories by the advancing Red Army, Polish Jews fled from the work details. The camp authorities ordered that Polish Jews were only to be used in internal commands from there on. (98)
In their records and testimonies, some of which were described during  large intervals of the events, the former prisoners are judging living and working conditions in the Warsaw concentration camp very differently. It was characterised by  Robert Savosnik, that the camp was a "hell without any plan," much worse than Auschwitz, from where he was deported to Warsaw Oktober1943. (99) The Dutchman Samuel Holswilder remembered, however the good food and the opportunity "to organize things "(100) The judgements are each dependent on the preceding and following camp experiences of prisoners and their position among the prison society and their personal attitude they had within a group.

Ref :92-Bernad Goldstein, The Stars and witnesses. The downfall of the Polish Jew, Munich 1965, page 188 Charles Goldstein, life without a star. A report, Munich 1964 page 227f
Ref :93-Tomasz Szarota Warsaw under the swastika. Everyday Life in Occupied Warschau.01.10.1939 to 31/07/1944, Paderborn 1985, pp. 118-130.
Ref: 94 - Rabbi Jacob report, in: NIOD, 250d/39 page 41 Report Roodveldedts Alexander, in: ibid, 250d/39, page 9 Nico Engelsman report, in: ibid, box 25, page 7.Zidovke Muzeum Praha (ZMP), interview by Anna Hyndrakova with Jiri Kral, 19/04/1991.
Ref :96-report by Franz Konrad 08.01.1946, in: AIPN, NTN 163/63, page 207
Ref :97-The failure to flee of the Greek Jew Saul Sorin is mentioned in numerous reports and testimonies of former prisoners. Sorin was publicly hanged in the camp. Mannheim's Diary, page 99
Ref:98- Report, Itzchak David Mehls, in: AZIH, sygn, rel. 301/3352.
Ref :99-Robert Savosnicks report, in: DaA, 25 381, page 144
Ref :100-Samuel Holswilders report, in: NIOD, 250d/30, page 6

                                                             continued under Part 3

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Warsaw Concentration Camp Part 1

The concentration camp in Warsaw was established on the initiative of SS-Brigadeführer Jürgen Stroop, the "SS- and Police Leader for the Warsaw District" who finally liquidated the Warsaw Ghetto.
In his report of 16 May 1943, he wrote that the prisoners of this camp could be used to clear away the ruins and buildings on the territory of the ghetto, so as to re-use the bricks, iron and other materials needed by industry. Heinrich Himmler accepted this proposal, and by 19 July 1943 Oswald Pohl, who was responsible for the concentration camps in the "Third Reich", was able to report to Himmler that "KZ Warschau" was already established. The camp commandant was SS-Obersturmbannführer Wilhelm Goecke.
The Warsaw concentration camp was one of three main concentration camps of the General Government, the other two were Majdanek and Plaszow, but it never played a vital part within the Nazi terror and extermination policy. Neither a memorial nor a monument to commemorate the former camp can be found in central Warsaw. Even in Poland, the Warsaw concentration camp is largely unknown. Yet its story of the German occupation with the two most studied events, namely the Ghetto Uprising in spring 1943 and the Warsaw Uprising in the summer of the following year, it is closely connected. [The Płaszów or Kraków-Płaszów concentration camp was a Nazi German labour and concentration camp built by the SS in Płaszów, a southern suburb of Kraków (now part of Podgórze district), soon after the German invasion of Poland and the subsequent creation of the General Government. The Płaszów camp, originally intended as a forced labour camp, was constructed on the grounds of two former Jewish cemeteries in the summer of 1942 during Nazi German occupation of Poland, with deportations of the Jews from the Kraków Ghetto beginning October 28, 1942. In 1943 the camp was expanded and turned into one of many KL concentration camps.sic]

Jewish workers constructing the ghetto walls in 1940
The plans to build a concentration camp in Warsaw , reached back to the autumn of 1941.They are connected with the closure of some ghettos and the establishment of other SS-owned enterprises within the General Government.. But the camp was not built until the summer of 1943 in the wake of a renewed spurt of growth of the concentration camp system. This camp founded in Warsaw and the Baltic states emerged from the previously closed ghettos and were connected with local key personnel of the SS and the civil administration. The entire structure that of the prisoner society, governance, and the guards of the camp in the East differed clearly and was vastly unlike from the main concentration camps that were still linked to the ones in the Reich..
Within Warsaw, there was the largest ghetto in German-occupied Europe . It was in October 1940, earlier than in other cities of the General Government, that the civil administration in the north of the town district of Muranov  established this one and walled it in, which completely closed this part of the city off from the outside world. In the "Jewish quarter", as the German occupiers of the ghetto called it officially, there lived in an area of 403 hectares,  during January of 1941 more than 410,000 people . The German Ghetto Administration as part of their policy did deliberately target a policy of starvation, hunger and disease that led to an extreme increase in the mortality of the Jewish population. The Governor General Hans Frank in the early 1941's in his decision to strengthen the economic power of the ghetto, to allow its self-sufficiency, improved the conditions slightly since the fall of 1941. The person responsible for the ghetto economy and the Labor input,  the "Commissioner for Jewish Residential District" Heinz Auerswald recruited specifically companies that processed in the ghetto on their own account with Jewish Labor for the German military command of the Wehrmacht, textile, fur and leather goods. When it seemed to have calmed the situation in the ghetto, slowly, and more and more Jews found work in factories and decreased the mortality rate, the Warsaw ghetto was disbanded.

A young Jew is interrogated by the SS in Warsaw- [note all members are Wehrmacht officers ,sic]  
Since March 1942, the SS liquidated the ghettos in the General Government gradually. The Jews were shot on location or deported into one of the extermination camp facilities of "Aktion Reinhardt". The Ghetto closure was managed by the staff of the SS and Police Leader (SSPF) [SS und Polizeiführer,sic] in Lublin, SS General Odilo Globocnik, who was commissioned by Himmler with the liquidation of the Jews in the General Government. Since it had led to conflicts from the closure by Managers who took advantage of the exploitation of Jewish workers interested in Armed Forces Contracts,  the Higher SS and Police Leader (HSSPF), [Höherer SS-und Polizeiführer,sic] SS Obergruppenführer Friedfrich Wilhelm Krüger agreed, with the Arms inspection Department on July 17,1942 about the Jewish employees of firms whose production was seen as vital to the war effort, that they, with their families were initially exempted from deportation to extermination camps.

In the months proceeding the mass deportations increasing unease was felt, under the impact of growing reports and rumours about the deportations from other ghettos and places of Jewish habitation in occupied Poland.
After the expulsion, unrest and panic were created and grave doubts were raised among the ghetto population by the night raids undertaken by the German police and security forces. These raids were carried out according to prepared lists. The persons on the lists were seized in their homes, taken out and shot at a nearby location. The most murderous raid took place on 18 April 1942, when 52 persons were killed that night. This night became known as the "Night of Blood" or the "Bartholomew’s Night".
v. Sammern [the "v." stands for "von" and in German in most cases it means, "He" or "She" of aristocratic descent, sic] Immediately after completion of Treblinka the Große Umsiedlungsaktion ("Great Resettlement Action") started on 22 July 1942.
Responsible leaders of the "Great Action" were SS- und Polizeiführer Warschau Ferdinand v. Sammern-Frankenegg, Commandeer der Sicherheitspolizei und des Sicherheitsdienstes in Warschau, Dr Ludwig Hahn and SS-Sturmbannführer Hermann Höfle who acted as representative of Odilo Globocnik (SS- und Polizeiführer Lublin).
Executive bodies: The Warsaw Order Police, a small unit of the Warsaw Security Police, a special unit of Volksdeutsche (ethnic Germans) and the Jewish Order Service. Later SS-men from the forced labour camp in Trawniki played the main part in the ghetto liquidation.
The Jewish Order Service (Police) played an important role during the early stages of the "Great Action". The Jewish Police commander Josef Szerynski had been arrested by the Germans on 1 May 1942, on charges of smuggling furs from the ghetto to the Aryan side of the city. Jakob Lejkin, his deputy, took over the command and exactly carried out the German orders, saying that it is better not to leave it to the cruel Germans.
The 2,000 - 2,500 Jewish policemen and their families were promised immunity by the Germans for their co-operation. As the "action" progressed they began to understand that they were not more than a tool of the Germans and their future like ordinary Jews was clouded in doubt. Therefore they began to desert in droves. The German's response: each policeman was personally ordered to bring in five heads per day for deportation. Those who did not fulfil this order were threatened with having their relatives transported to make up the difference.
The SS directed the deportations from two centres in the ghetto. The Aktion Reinhard command, which consisted of a dozen SS officers, sergeants and soldiers set up its headquarters at 103 Zelazna Street (ul. Zelazna), after having evicted the Jews from the building.
Ber Warman, a Jewish policeman, who guarded 103 Zelazna Street, wrote at the end of August / early September 1942 that SS men started to live there. Before the end of August 1942 the Befehlsstelle ( Central order HQ) was on 17 Ogrodowa Street, at the Jewish police headquarters. At the door to one of the rooms was a plaque that read Gastzimmer des SS-Sonderkommandos Treblinka ("Guestroom of the SS Special Command Treblinka").
The HQ on Ogrodowa Street was mainly manned with SS and Gestapo-men who had been stationed in Warsaw for some time. The most prominent members of this group were Hohmann, Witosek, Jesuiter and Stabenow. The tempo and character of the "resettlement" actions were dominated by Karl-Georg Brandt and Gerhard Mende.
Announcement #1 At 10 a.m. on 22 July 1942 Höfle, Michalsen, Worthoff and other officers of Aktion Reinhard visited the Judenrat. Höfle dictated to the Judenrat the German conditions for the "resettlement to the east".
In this way the Judenrat was forced to help "cleaning" the ghetto. The main orders were:
All Jews will be resettled to the east, regardless of age and sex.
With the exception of:
Jews working for German institutions or companies
Jews working for the Judenrat
Jewish hospitals' staff
Members of the Jewish Order Service
Wifes and children of above-mentioned persons
Patients of a Jewish hospital on the day of resettlement.
Each person which will be resettled is allowed taking along 15 kg luggage and all valuables: Gold, jewellery, money etc.
Provisions for three days is necessary.
The resettlement will start on 22 July 1942, 11 o'clock (11 a.m.).
The Judenrat is responsible for delivery of 6,000 persons daily until 4 p.m.. Assembly point is the Jewish hospital at Stawki Street.
On 22 July 1942, the Jewish hospital at Stawki Street has to be emptied so that the building can be used for the people being resettled.
The Judenrat has to announce the German orders. ["Judenrat" is the German expression for the committe of Jewish representatives of the Ghetto population, sic]

German soldiers search the Judenrat building
Each Jew who is leaving the ghetto during the resettlement action will be shot.
Each Jew who is acting against the resettlement will be shot.
Each Jew who doesn't belong to the above-mentioned persons and who will be discovered in Warsaw after the resettlement action will be shot.
The first contingents put together by the Judenrat consisted of refugee assembly institutions, prisons and old people's homes.
If these orders will not be carried out, a corresponding number of hostages will be shot.
Announcement #2: When SS-Hauptsturmführer Worthoff ordered to provide 10,000 Jews for the 24 July 1942, including children of a children's transport, the Judenrat leader Adam Czerniakow committed suicide.
His successor became Marek Lichtenbaum.
The Jewish order service took over the control. It was responsible for hanging up posters on 29 July, announcing that each person who will volunteer for resettlement will get 3 kg bread and 1 kg marmalade.(i,e. Jam)
Because of starvation many Jews followed that announcement. The Germans provided 180,000 kg bread and 36,000 kg marmalade.
On 23 July 1942, the Jewish underground organisations met. Its leaders refused organising resistance. Only the organisation of the young Zionists, Hashomer Hatzair, organised a propaganda action in the ghetto, informing on handbills that the deportees will be sent to a death camp and not to work. The Jews in the ghetto supposed that it was just a German provocation.
The assembly point (Umschlagplatz) was formerly used by the Transferstelle [point of transfer, sic] as a corridor for transports to and from the ghetto. In the adjoining yard, which was surrounded by a high fence, was the abandoned Jewish hospital, into which the victims were crowded until the freight trains arrived. The Germans organised a Dulag (Durchgangslager - [transit camp, sic] on Leszno Street. From there after a selection on the Umschlagplatz Jews being able to work were sent to different work camps, including the KZ Majdanek.
In July 1942, 64,606 Jews were deported to Treblinka. This number doesn't include the people who were shot on the streets and in the houses in the course of "cleaning" the buildings. Until 29 July 1942, the round ups were organised only by the Jewish police in the ghetto. Afterwards the "actions" were carried out by members of Aktion Reinhard.
In August 1942, the deportations continued with the same relentless efficiency. During the first week in August the Janusz Korczak orphanage was closed. 200 children marched through the ghetto to the Umschlagplatz, accompanied by the old doctor and his long-time assistant Stefania Wilczynska. This incident became a legend.
Janusz Korczak, between 19 and 21 August 1942, the Warsaw Ghetto saw a break in the Aktion: During these days the Jews from the towns near Warsaw were deported to Treblinka: Otwock, Falenica, Miedzeszyn, Minsk and Mazowiecki. In fact the number of deportees to Treblinka in August could be estimated at around 135,000 people.
On 23 August 1942, Jankiel Wiernik was deported to Treblinka. He was one of a few Treblinka survivors, who participated in the Treblinka revolt. Read his story about his deportation!
From 28 August until 3 September 1942, there was another break in the deportations.This fact could be connected with the backlog at Treblinka, where Eberl (the commandant) had allowed more transports to arrive than the camp could manage. The inadequate gassing facilities at Treblinka led to a complete breakdown of the camp's operation. Irmfried Eberl was relieved of his command and Christian Wirth was ordered by Odilo Globocnik to dispose of the mass of corpses. All transports were suspended whilst order was restored.
In August 1942, the underground organisation of "Bund" in the Warsaw Ghetto sent their activist Zalman Friedrich to discover what had happened to the transports from the ghetto. In Sokolów Podlaski near Treblinka he was informed by Polish railway workers that every day a freight trains (with people on board) passed the town to Treblinka. After several hours these trains returned empty. There were no food supplies to the camp...
On Sokolów Podlaski market Friedrich met two naked Jews who had escaped from Treblinka. They described what had happened to the deportees. The information about Treblinka and the fate of the transports from Warsaw Ghetto were confirmed by Dawid Nowodworski who could escape from Treblinka. He returned to the Warsaw Ghetto in late August 1942.
On 14 August 1942, from the Warsaw Ghetto Dulag 1,260 Jews were sent to Lublin. About 1,000 of them were sent to the concentration camp Majdanek, others to the work camp on Lipowa Street 7 in Lublin.
The last phase of the "Great Action" opened on 6 September 1942. Its main feature was a comprehensive selection that went on until 10 September 1942.
The Jews having  permission for work (35,000 permissions have been handed out by the Germans) were concentrated in a "cauldron" in the David quarters ("Cauldron" means "Kesl" in Yiddish, "Kociol" in Polish). During this selection 35,885 Jews were deported, according to the Judenrat lists (published in 1988, Warsaw State Archive). 2,648 were shot on the spot and 60 committed suicide.
After this selection approximately 60,000 Jews remained in the ghetto.
On 15 September 1942, 2,100 Jews from Warsaw (among them 150 Jewish policeman) were sent to Lublin. 600 of them were sent to the work camp on 7 Lipowa Street, 60 to the Flugplatz Camp, and others to KZ Majdanek. Their names are partially available at the archive of the State Museum Majdanek in Lublin.
On 24 September 1942, SS-Untersturmführer Karl Brandt proclaimed the end of the resettlement action in the Warsaw Ghetto.
According to German sources 253,742 Jews were deported. According to Jewish sources 270,120 were sent to Treblinka, 10,300 died in the ghetto, 11,580 were sent to Dulag (among them more than 3,500 were deported to Lublin) and 8,000 escaped from the ghetto.
Exact figures about the Warsaw Ghetto drama are partially available but they differ. Jews were deported to the ghetto, escaped from it, were sent to forced labour camps, died by starvation and epidemics, perished somewhere in hidden places or lost their life's in the struggle against the Germans. Last but not least too many notes got lost and witnesses died before they could tell about their observations.

Stroop joined both the SS and the NSDAP in 1932. During the German election campaign of 1932 Hitler, Heinrich Himmler, and Göring became aware of him. In 1933, he was appointed leader of the state Hilfspolizei (auxiliary police) in the German state of Lippe. One year later, he was promoted from the rank of SS-Oberscharführer to the rank of SS-Hauptsturmführer. Subsequently he worked for the SS-administration in Münster and Hamburg. In autumn 1938, he was promoted to SS-Standartenführer.
After the invasion of Poland, he served as commander of the SS-section in Gniezno (today Poland). In May 1941, he changed his name from Josef to Jürgen for ideological reasons and in remembrence of his late son.
In April 1943, Himmler replaced the chief of the SS and police in the Warsaw district, SS-Obergruppenführer Ferdinand von Sammern-Frankenegg, with Stroop (as SSPF Warschau). A veteran of WW 1, Stroop had more recently been involved in operations against Soviet partisans in the Ukraine and was familiar with the latest techniques in counterguerrilla warfare.
Stroop was responsible for crushing the rebellion in the Warsaw Ghetto (19 April - 16 May 1943). The operation commenced at 06:00 hrs on 19 April; Stroop assumed command at 08:00 hrs on the same day. As the German forces were forced back by heavy Jewish resistance, he ordered the entire ghetto burned down. Afterwards, in his famous report to his superior, SS-Obergruppenführer F.W. Krüger, and Himmler, Stroop boasted that "the Jewish Quarter of Warsaw is no more".
For leading the German troops in the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising Stroop was decorated with the Iron Cross 1st class. His report was done in triplicate: one for Himmler, one for Krüger, and one for himself. It contained a summary about the Aktion, the sent telexes, and a collection of photos which have been taken in the ghetto during the fights.
After the war one report was confiscated by U.S. troops. Later it played a major role in the Nürnberg Trials. Stroop never denied the authenticity of the found version.
From September - November 1943, Stroop was SS- and Police Chief in Greece, then served in the Rhein (Rhine) area until end of war. U.S. troops captured him on 8 May 1945. A U.S. military tribunal in Dachau sentenced him to death on 21 March 1947. The sentence was not executed and Stroop was extradited to Poland. There he was sentenced to death again on 23 July 1951. Stroop was hanged on 6 March 1952 in Warsaw.

T. Berenstein: Zydzi warszawscy w hitlerowskich obozach pracy przymusowej. Biuletyn ZIH, No.67 (1968)
B. Engelking, J. Leociak: Getto warszawskie. Przewodnik po nieistniejacym miescie. Warszawa 2001
Tak bylo... Sprawozdania z warszawskiego getta 1939-1943. (Wybór). Oprac. J. Adamska, J. Kazmierska, R. Sakowska. Warszawa 1988
Archive of the State Museum Majdanek
Encylopedia of the Holocaust
Yisrael Gutman: The Jews of Warsaw,1939-1943: Ghetto, Underground, Revolt. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1982.
The Diary of Adam Czneriakow
Stanislaw Adler: In the Warsaw Ghetto

Jewish police at a barricaded entrance to the Warsaw ghetto. Poland, February 1941 
Jewish policeman & German guard

On 22 July 1942, three days after Krüger received the order from Himmler, to complete the extermination of the Jews in the General Government of the Warsaw Ghetto by the end of the year, the SS took over the civil administration and the rule of the "Jewish quarter". The Jews were rounded up and taken into the  recently completed facility at Treblinka extermination camp, north-east of Warsaw.  At the same time the SSPF SS-Oberführer Dr. Ferdinand von Sammern Frankenegg tried to regain the control over the ghetto factories.[Ferdinand von Sammern-Frankenegg was an SS-Oberführer (senior Colonel) and the SS and Police Leader of the Warsaw area from 1941. He was in charge of the first offensive operation in the suppression of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising on April 19, 1943. After the failed offensive, von Sammern-Frankenegg was replaced by Jürgen Stroop, court-martialed on April 24, 1943, and found guilty of "defending Jews". He was subsequently transferred to Croatia where in September he was killed in a Yugoslav partisan ambush near the city of Klasznic,, sic].

Jews during a deportation from the Warsaw Ghetto 
Contrary to the agreements between the SS and Wehrmacht,  Globocnik's staff, which was supported by members of the Warsaw Security Police, the Jewish Order Service and auxiliary police units, the so-called Trawniki-men, in the compilation of the transports, did this, with no regard to economic interests. The work managers intervened then, because of the deportation of their workforce, to the military command of the Wehrmacht in Warsaw, urging von  Sammern-Frankenegg to comply with the arrangements for the continuance of employment for their workers and not to jeopardise the output nor the closure of factories.(6) The HSSPF reiterated to the Arms Inspection Department in reconsidering the competence in using the Jewish workers. The remaining plants in Warsaw should be "combined in a special armaments Ghetto" (7). On this basis, at the beginning of September 1942 von Sammern-Frankenegg  with plant managers signed contracts with the SSPF in which the number of its workers, whose hours and wages, which had now to be at a uniform rate and made commitments  in consultation with the Judenrat(committe of Jews). In addition, the companies had to undertake to accommodate their Jewish employees in closed residential blocks in the workplace. The ghetto was now receiving the character of a labour camp. On 14 September1942 Globocnik's staff rescinded the deportations temporarily. Up to then, approximately 241 000 Jews had been deported from Warsaw to Treblinka and most likely exterminated.
Nearly a week later, General Curt Ludwig v. Gienanth the Military District Commander of the General Government, complained to the High Command of the Wehrmacht (OKW) over the "immediate removal of the Jews." (9) The deportations had led to a loss of production in the war factories. Basically, the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces of the General Government had no objection to the killing of Jews. However, Jews should be spared from deportations and should be employed in the war economy, until such time that corresponding Polish and Ukrainians had been trained as skilled workers and could be used as replacements. This intervention of the Armed Forces, made Himmler very angry, that he pushed for the replacement and removal of Gienanth. In his reply the Reich Leader SS  urged early October 1942, that the Warsaw ghetto factories shall immediately merge(an Ort und Stelle) to a "spot" into a concentration camp. (10) The control of the companies would then be directed by the local SSPF,  the Office Group D in the SS Economic and Administrative Main Office (WVHA ), the central administrative authority of the concentration camps. With the resources and manpower of the ghetto, the SS were planning to move the entire enterprises further east towards Lublin as soon as possible and build a "Closed Manufacturing Concentration Camp" and to run on their own account Armed Forces Orders to their bidding. The plants should be grouped in an SS-owned company, which was founded in early 1943 as Ostindutrie GmbH (OSTI) (11) The Warsaw Ghetto played in the plans of OSTI in their plans as far as resources and manpower were concerned a central role. (12)
Ref: 6-BARC / MArch, RW 23/19. The conflicts between the companies, the Armed Forces of the SS in Warsaw and documented in the war diary of the armament command of the Wehrmacht in Warsaw.
Ref :7-Protocol armament HSSPF and inspection, 08.15.1942, in BArch / MArch, RH 53-23/87, page 47-50
Ref :8-One of these contracts as a facsimile in: Helga Grabitz, last traces Ghetto Warsaw, the SS Labor Camp Trawniki, harvest festival, photos and documents about the victims of the Final Solution, Berlin 1993, pages 172f
Ref :9-Letter v. Gienanth to the OKW, 09/18/1942, in BArch / MArch, RH 53-23/87, page 116ff.
Ref :10 -Letter Himmler, 09.10.1942, in: Nbg. Doc No-1611. Because of its lack of cooperation with the SS offices, General v. Gienanth was retired from the Army.
Ref: 11 - Jan Erik Schulte, forced labor for Jews in Eastern Industries GmbH, Munich 2000, pages 43-74.
Ref: 12 -Himmler and Pohl gad reached an understanding "Regarding to materials and Equipment" from the Warsaw Ghetto during December 1942. Published by: Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw, Berlin 1961, page 408.

Despite Himmler's instructions, the ghetto factories first continued to work as before on their own, furthermore v. Sammern Frankenegg undertook no further steps towards its relocation. It was the surprise visit of the Reichsführer SS to Warsaw on January 9, 1943 that  sparked new Initiatives. Himmler appeared angry, and furious that his instructions were not followed dated October 1942, and demanded the "immediate elimination of the private companies." For the relocation of businesses and their workers to Lublin he sat v. Sammern-Frankenegg a period of six weeks. All Jews that were not employed with Defence Contractors were to be brought to Treblinka.

KZ warsaw
With the resumption of deportations, the SS met on January 18, 1943 for the first time an armed resistance, and also outside the ghetto, the security of the occupying forces deteriorated due to Himmlers arranged mass arrests,  (15) The timely relocation of the eight ghetto factories with a total of 20,000 workers was under these conditions impossible to achieve.
Himmler had, meanwhile, on February 16, 1943, issued orders to set up a concentration camp in the Warsaw Ghetto. Its inmates were after re-location of the factories to tear down the residential area, and with the associated tasks provide sufficient building materials for other projects and then create a park on the site. The arguments Himmler put forward for the demolition were of "political-security" reasons within the ghetto and the planned reduction in size of the city of Warsaw.

For the SS, the shifting of the ghetto factories were more difficult than expected. The staff did not trust the assurances of the managers, that production facilities in the district of Lublin would be rebuilt. They agitated openly against  the re-location during  the summer of 1942 and formed the Jewish resistance movement against the resettlement plans. Trying  as he may, v. Sammern-Frankeneggs plans to clear the ghetto by force, had the effect that violence broke out unexpectedly  on 19 April 1943 with fierce resistance that could only be struck down with the use of SS, Police and Wehrmacht units after several weeks. In the Warsaw ghetto uprising, thousands of Jews were killed and a number of machines were destroyed together with raw material, by systematically  setting them on fire. The SS destroyed, so that even a large part of the proposed equipment for the Eastern Industries did no longer exist (19)
Ref :19-This led to conflicts between Stroop and Globocnik, who came to Warsaw to inspect the relocation of the businesses and workers, in BStU ZUV 15, Vol 19, Vol. 88 Franz Konrad's report, 01/08/1946, Globocnik's report on the conclusion of "Operation Reinhardt", 18/01/1944, in: Nbg. Doc. No-057.

SS - men search Jews for weapons. Warsaw
In his report addressed to Himmler and Krüger of 16 May 1943 on the suppression of the insurrection SS Brigadefüfrer Jurgen Stroop proposed, that the police prison, which was on the ghetto area and during the fighting had remained intact to develop it into a concentration camp and use prisoners to remove usable building material out of the rubble of the Ghetto. Picking up on Stroops proposal, Himmler ordered on 11 June 1943 the Chief of Administrative Main Office, SS-Obergruppenführer Oswald Pohl, to secure the prison at ul Dzielna[street] and convert it into a concentration camp. Prisoners were to be used with the removal of usable building material of the destroyed parts in the  ghetto, while ensuring all recyclable materials are kept for further use. After that a park will be created on the premises.
But not in the prison of the security police at the Dzielna-[Street] known in Poland under the name of the Pawiak, but in the former military prison at ul Gesia (then known as Gänse-Strasse today ul Anielewicza) was the Warsaw concentration camp established in July 1943. The building complex on the east-west axis of Muranow held up to 1939 storage facilities and a prison for the Polish Army. From June 1941 to January 1943 arrest cells for the Central Jewish Order Service were housed there and since January 1942, the Jewish Council' (Judenraat) had its office in the building aswell..

For the demolition of the Warsaw ghetto and the development of the concentration camp was the responsibility of the Central Building Inspection WVHA (Official C-5). As an intermediary authority served the Central Construction Office (ZBL) of the Waffen SS in Warsaw, which in turn was subordinate to the SS economist at HSSPF and coordinated the construction site. The Central Building Office was responsible for all construction projects for the SS in the Warsaw district. Head of Service was an architect, SS lieutenant William Lübeck. For the demolition of the ghetto and the construction of the camp was that of the Zentralbauleitumg (Central Building Department), which had  about ten to twelve qualified staff such as architects, civil engineers, draughtsman and auditors employed,  and increased its personnel from time to time and formed a special Unit of the Special Task Force. Demanded by Himmler as "The Master Plan",  the Chief of the Office Group C in the WVHA, SS Brigadier General Dr. Ing Hans Kammler, submitted on 29 October 1943 his assessment . The area of the ghetto, he estimated at 320 hectares, of which 120 hectares had already been released back into the civil administration.

Aerial photography of the Warschau Ghetto, probably taken Novemnber 1944. The yellow line indicates the location of the Concentration Camp on the ul Gesia-[street]

The entering of the ghetto centre remained even after the suppression of the rebellion closed to the public. It was controlled by the Third Police Battalion of the SS of the 23rd Police Regiment that was from May 1943 to July 1944 stationed in Warsaw. The tasks of the unit was to patrol part of the ghetto wall, but also looking for Jews who had hidden after the end of the rebellion in the ruins of the ghetto. The police battalion was also used for the executions of Poles. Since the fall of 1943 the German occupation forces exacerbated the terror against the Polish population. The commander of the security police or the SSPF arranged executions which were often held in the immediate vicinity of the concentration camp in the ghetto area and therefore out of the public eye. The III-SS and Police Regiment shot and killed an estimated 3,000 people in Warsaw. The Polish underground were fully aware of the events in the Ghetto. In their reports of the underground government, the executions, but also the demolition work is regularly mentioned.

Jewish resistance women, among them Malka Zdrojewicz (right), who survived Majdanek extermination camp. Stroop Report original caption: "Hehalutz women captured with weapons".
The value of the salvaged material, several hundreds of millions of tons of brick and metals such as iron and copper, Kammler estimated at five million Reichsmarks, the cost of demolition and the construction of the camp to 150 million Reichsmarks. The value of the materials used was again less than four percent of the demolition costs. But even taking this amount into consideration the WVHA could not count on it. The materials needed for "consideration due to the particular conditions in the Warsaw area", and the Wehrmacht had to provide several companies material and services free of charge.

The concentration camp was built in Warsaw out of and from the ruins of the ghetto. The lack of the necessary infrastructure for a  camp suitable to house thousands of prisoners were missing at first. Neither accommodation nor water connections for sanitary facilities were available. The prisoners were forced to salvage out of the ruins of the ghetto,  building materials such as wood and bricks needed for the construction of a camp. Initially some wooden barracks at ul. Gesia, between ul. Lubeckiego and ul. Smocza were built. The wall of the central ghetto, which was at ul. Gesia limited the expansion of the camp to the south. The Headquarters moved into the Quarters of the former Polish military prison. The guard detachment  was placed outside the camp grounds.

When the first transport of prisoners from the Auschwitz concentration camp arrived in Warsaw during September 1943, the camp was far from being completed. Still, there was a lack of sanitary facilities, and even a hospital, called a Revier, was not available. Kammler already changed the plans to extend the camp in early February 1944. Instead of the originally planned 10,000 prisoners the camp could have accepted, only 5,000 were now projected. The construction of the third portion of the facilities were to be omitted. The first section which the prisoners called the "altes Lager"(the old camp) and the SS designated as "Camp I", at that time it was fully completed and the new part to 60 percent. This one was located almost next to "Camp I" and stretched from the ul. Smocza to the ul. Okopowa on the western edge of the former ghetto. With a thorough fare both camps were thereby connected. In "camp II" no wooden barracks were erected but basic, primitive single-storey accommodation blocks from reclaimed bricks had been built. On the  10th June 1944, seven weeks before the scheduled end of the ghetto demolition , Kammler reported, the Warsaw concentration camp was now "ready" and could be "occupied to its full capacity." Based on this information additional prisoners arrived from Auschwitz and were accommodated in the new camp. Gradually further Transports were directed by the SS-Administration to Warsaw.

 "Watchtower of KZ Warschau on the corner of ul. Gesia and ul. Okopowa. Picture taken, during Spring of 1945, by Juliusz Bogdan Deczkowski, member of the Battalion "Zoska" of the Polish Home Army.
Until the final closure of the camp, building work was carried out. They related mainly to accommodations, workshops, as well as a crematorium. When working in the ruins of the ghetto, inmates kept coming up against dead bodies of Jews who were murdered during the ghetto uprising. They were burned in the camp as well as the deceased prisoners on a temporary pyre in the ghetto area. The Police Regiment 23 of the III.SS maintained a work detail of their own for the disposal of the dead. It consisted of Jews kept interned in the basement of the property of the III SS and Police Regiment 23 at ul. Zelazna (then Eisenstrasse). In order to eliminate the numerous corpses, the Camp Administration built a Crematorium on the ul Gesia between the first Camp Section and the Main Administration Building in autumn 1943,  but it was never completed before the closure of the Camp.  A Polish Local Commission of inquiry found in 1946 charred human remains in the courtyards of the headquarters building at ul Gesia, although cans of Zyklon B were present, but there are no statements of former prisoners of the camp, indicating that in the camp area, a gas chamber was ever present.. Probably the Zyklon B was used for the disinfection of colthing to combat the spread of diseases.
Warsaw KZ crematorium
Plaszow Concentration Camp
Commanding the camp was Amon Göth, an SS commandant from Vienna who was known for being uncommonly sadistic in his treatment and killing of prisoners; "Witnesses say he would never start his breakfast without shooting at least one person."On March 13, 1943, he personally oversaw the liquidation of the Kraków Ghetto nearby, forcing its Jewish inhabitants deemed capable of work into the KL Plaszow camp. Those who were declared unfit for work were either sent to Auschwitz or shot on the spot. Under him were his staff of Ukrainian SS personnel, followed by 600 Germans of the SS-Totenkopfverbände (1943–1944),  and a few SS women, including Gertrud Heise, Luise Danz, Alice Orlowski and Anna Gerwing.
The camp was a slave Arbeitslager (English: Labor Camp), supplying manpower to several armament factories and a stone quarry. The death rate in the camp was very high. Many prisoners, including many children and women, died of typhus, starvation and executions. Plaszów camp became particularly infamous for both individual and mass shootings carried out there. Using Hujowa Górka, a large hill close to the camp commonly used for executions, some 8,000 deaths took place outside the camp’s fences with prisoners trucked in 3 to 4 times weekly. The covered lorries from Kraków used to arrive in the morning. The condemned were walked into a trench of the Hujowa Górka hillside and shot, bodies then covered with dirt, layer upon layer. In early 1944 all corpses were exhumed and burnt in a heap to hide the evidence. Witnesses later attested that 17 truckloads of human ashes were removed from the burning site, and scattered over the area.
All documents pertaining to the mass killings and executions were entrusted by commandant Göth to a high ranking female member of the SS, Kommandoführerin Alice Orlowski. She held these documents in her possession until the end of the war, then allegedly destroyed them. Alice Orlowski, a picture-perfect SS-woman, was known for her whippings especially of young women across their eyes. At roll call she would walk through the lines of women, and personally whip them.
During July and August 1944 a number of transports of prisoners left KL Plaszow for Auschwitz, Stutthof, Flossenbürg, Mauthausen and other camps. In January 1945, the last of the remaining inmates and camp staff, left the camp on a death march to Auschwitz, including several female SS guards. Many of those who survived the march were killed upon arrival. When the Nazis realized that the Soviets were already approaching Kraków, they completely dismantled the camp, leaving an empty field in its place. The bodies that were buried there earlier in various mass graves were all exhumed and burned on site. On January 20, 1945 the Red Army had reached only a tract of barren land.
Alice Orlowski:
In early January 1945, Orlowski was one of the SS women posted on the death march to Auschwitz-Birkenau and it was during this time that her behaviour, previously noted as being brutal and sadistic, became more humane. On the death march in mid-January 1945 from Auschwitz to Loslau, Orlowski gave comfort to the inmates, and even slept alongside them on the ground outside. She also brought water to those who were thirsty. It is unknown why her attitude changed, but some speculate that she sensed the war was almost over and she would soon be tried as a war criminal. Orlowski eventually ended up back at Ravensbrück as a guard.
After the war ended in May 1945, Orlowski was captured by Soviet forces and extradited to Poland to stand trial for war crimes. The "picture book SS woman" stood accused at the Auschwitz Trial in 1947. She was sentenced to life imprisonment, but was released in 1957 after serving only 10 years. In 1975, West Germany tracked Orlowski down, and placed her on trial in the Third Majdanek Trial. She died during the trial in 1976 at the age of 73.

                                                                         Continued under Part 2