Friday, August 31, 2012


The history of the concentration camp at Riga (Kaiserwald) [very little is known or published,sic] marks the end of the National-Socialistic (Nazi-German) Jewish policies in Latvia. It had started with the extermination on Latvian territory shortly after the German invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941. A hateful and violent mood of the population enabled the new "Occupation Power" of anti-Jewish pogroms by the kindling the attitude of locals in the cities. These attacks culminated in the planned mass murder of Latvian Jews, by the use, of the so called Aufräumungs Abteilungen of Group A, the German Security Police and Security Service (SD) who had overall responsibility, but without the help of Latvian collaborators in the set time frame would not have been possible. The Germans were not the only ones who wanted to exterminate the Jews. Jews had been discriminated against for centuries, the Latvians finally had the power to act out their hatred of the race. The Jews could not trust anyone, especially the local authorities and government. If they had known this perhaps they may have seen the truth earlier, but unfortunately they had faith in humanity. 

Mass shooting outside Riga
In October 1941, on direction of the German Military Authorities the 'Great Riga Ghetto', was established and its inhabitants, Latvian-Jewish families, were a month later almost completely eliminated. Security Police and SD including Latvian auxiliary police officers shot and killed the inhabitants of the Riga Ghetto in the surrounding woods and buried the bodies in the previously dug pits by Russian prisoners of war. This created space for numerous incoming deportation trains in 1942 from the German Reich. The new ghetto dwellers, and the remaining Jews, mostly young men had to work for the German war economy as forced labourers. 

A Jew being dragged away by Latvian soldiers in the Riga ghetto
NOTE: [Forced labourer is called a person under threat of a penalty or other means to perform work expected of him/her against their will . It is - with blurred transitions - the severest form of work requirement. The International Labour Organisation (ILO) defined in 1930 in Article 2 paragraph 1 of the Convention concerning forced or compulsory labour, as involuntary work or service which is exercised under threat of punishment. It does not include, according to Paragraph 2 of the Convention: military service, normal civic obligations, prison labour (which could perhaps legally include KZ inmates) or labour necessary in cases of force majeure and work that serves the immediate benefit of the community. The ILO estimates the number of people who were forced to do this type of work in Europe during WW II to about 360,000. sic]
The elderly, children and the sick, in short, those unable to work (Arbeitsunfähige) were selected and killed in the surrounding woods. This phase lasted until the deportation of all Jews from Riga and up to their accommodation into barracks of the concentration camp Kaiserwald and its satellite camps from July 1943.
The KZ Kaiserwald received due to its location near the central administration of the Reichskommissariat Ostland in the city a special place in the system of Nazi concentration camps. It was operated as a nerve centre for all satellite camps, which was a decisive factor in the murder of the Jews of the Baltic States, either through hard physical labour or inhuman degrading treatment of the prisoners which was the principle method of extermination, of the SS leadership in Latvia.

Houses along a street inside the Riga Ghetto
The establishment of Kaiserwald falls into the period when the extermination camps in occupied Poland were closed and the system of concentration camps was extended again elsewhere. As a result from mid-1943 new camps in the eastern territories conquered in 1941 were established. Kaiserwald was formally under the jurisdiction of the WVHA headed by Oswald Pohl. It had, however, in reality, to the existing concentration camps in the Reich very little in common: In its function it was primarily intended as a collection and transit camp for Jews. The structure of the main camp was indeed very similar to the existing camps, but because of staff shortages its main Administration was restricted to five sections. The system of Prison Functionaries was also modified in its application of "Self-governing" (Häftlingsselbstverwaltung) . For these purposes, political and criminal prisoners from KZ Sachsenhausen were transferred, who should take over the "inmate Administration".
The German-Russian front line made it inevitable to close the concentration camp in the fall of 1944. The prisoners were evacuated by ship to Gdansk (Danzig). From there, the SS separated the female prisoners and sent them into a number of satellite camps which were under KZ Stutthof administration. The male prisoners were marched under heavy guard further into the interior of the Reich and in the direction of Buchenwald for relocation. Some 14,000 Jewish prisoners and Russian POWs were shipped from Riga and Libau to Danzig. Old, sick and children stayed behind and were killed by death squads in the forests of Riga. In January 1945, the second phase of the evacuation took place, in which the inmates of the Stutthof camp complex, including many former Kaiserwald prisoners, were further evacuated deeper into the German Reich. The German camps on Latvian soil of the former Soviet Union territory, there is very little knowledge, and remains largely unexplored.
Map of Riga Ghetto
The deportation and allocation of prisoners housed in the Riga area and it's surrounding sub-camps occurred mainly from there, after the registration of newly arrived transports. Due to disease, death, or selections in the satellite camps there was usually a shortfall of manpower, which was offset by the availability of able-bodied prisoners from Kaiserwald. This camp served as a control centre and management of all prisoners. The return to the main camp (Stammlager Riga) occurred only during severe illness, or a change of work allocation and finally the imminent closure of a satellite camp. Exact figures on the prisoners in the camps do not exist. In March 1944, on the assumption that the average strength of inmates in the main camp amounted to 2000, one can estimate at a prisoner population of about 9000 in all the satellite camps. In the summer of 1944, the SS decided to evacuate for security reasons all satellite camps in stages. They selected the elderly, sick, weak, and children and shot them. All others were taken into the Riga main camp and commenced in October 1944 with the the total clearing and evacuation of the prisoners. There were seven field camps further outside Riga and nine camps in the immediate vicinity.
Knowledge about the SS-staff in the camp is very limited. Only 28 SS-members could be identified by their names. How many people in total belonged to the Camp Administration or to the Guards can not be ascertained. The Camp Staff was divided, as in other camps, in the command personal and the security forces. Comparing the internal structure and functioning of the headquarters of Kaiserwald with other concentration camps, it is clear that these were different from the usual standards: So the availability of staff employed in the usual five departments was restricted. On the one hand this was due to the nearby front line, which in terms of human resources dictated its policy. With the approach of the front began also the reduction and the transfer of staff from the camp back into the Reich, which led to further personnel hardship. Even in the early days of Kaiserwald, the camp did not fill all necessary positions, so that some SS-man carried more than one important function in the camp, [in other words they doubled up, sic]. Secondly Kaiserwald acted as collection and transit camp and especially at managerial level, however this area was strengthened, staff wise, at the beginning 1944.
Removing a dead prisoner of war, winter 1941/42
Camp commander was Albert Sauer, who was born on 17 August 1898 in Misdroy on the island of Wollin [at the outlet of the river Oder, where I spent my youth, sic] which is in today's Poland. Back in 1931, he joined both the NSDAP (Nazi Party) and the SS and after being unemployed for a short period, became a full-time member of the Guard Unit V-Brandenburg, and served in the KZ Columbia House Berlin. That same year, his appointment came through and he was made Captain (Hauptsturmführer). Promoted, he became commander of KZ Sulza. On 1 April 1936 this followed by another step up as the second officer in charge of the concentration camp Sachsenhausen. Upon recommendation of the inspector of concentration camps, and the leader of the concentration camp guard units, Theodor Eicke, Sauer took over from August 1938 until February 1939, as the commander of the newly established camp of Mauthausen. In April 1943, Himmler appointed him Kommandant of Kaiserwald. Just before the war's end, Sauer was killed [[probably in action, sic] on May 3, 1945 in the vicinity of Berlin.
The management of labour assignments and control of the registration card index was taken over by SS-Hauptsturmführer (Captain) Hans Brüner. He was also deputy camp commander. His daily presence in the camp, left many prisoners with the impression that he was the real commander. While serving as assistant to the commander, it is likely that Brüner was also acting as the protective custody camp leader. This function was not always fulfilled in camps of the Baltic States because of manpower shortages and often not at all, or of a person that simultaneously held other functions. Brüner's predecessor in Kaiserwald was a not very well known member of the SS by the name of Kauffeld. As a member of the Camp Administration Brüner was involved in selection of work details in the Stammlager(Main Camp) and in the satellite camps. Twice a day, he led this type of sorting at Kaiserwald and separated prisoners for the so-called "Stützpunkt"(work base support). These "base" selectees had to dig up the graves of murdered Jews during the years 1941/42 in the surrounding woods of Riga and burn the heavily decomposed bodies afterwards. Even the nightly inspections of the camps own workshops were led by Brüner: "The visits were awful. They were always accompanied by beatings. He came at night, looking in our clothes after food, I remember how he kicked a woman inmate, he almost beat her[....] to death, he trampled upon her with his feet, struck her with his fists, as he had found something to eat in her clothes", said the former inmate Sara A. See: [Sarah A. 10/03/1973 statement, in ibid, I62/2985 B, page 2029, sic]

Durchgangslager(Transit Camp) the papers of newly arrived prisoners are burned
After the war, Brüner lived unmolested in Germany and died on March 2nd 1967 in Lüdenscheid before proceedings against the leaders of the camp staff of Kaiserweald in 1978 commenced.
The Administration in January 1944 employed at most seven members of the SS, but shows an increase in staffing levels within a few months to 14 administrative staff. In addition, the staff within the Administration changed in the first half of 1944 frequently. An increase was recorded only due to transfers from concentration camps of Sachsenhausen and Warsaw or through promotions of their own guards into the offices. In June 1944, seven members of the SS left the camp, three of which were transferred to other camps., four were held in custody and indicted. In January 1944, they were accused of misappropriation of convicts properties and appropriation (theft) of objects, demoted as late as June 1944 and transferred (strafversetzt) to other Units [most likely into the SS-Strafkompanie,sic] . In the summer of 1944 until the final evacuation of the camp in October 1944, the number of concentration camp staff declined steadily. The satellite camps were already disbanded, some of the prisoners sent to other camps or killed and the staff sent to concentration camps in the Reich or directly to camp Stutthof.
The guarding of the camp was carried out by local (Latvian) police, as well as other foreign Nationals recruited into the SS which were reporting and responsible to the local German Security Divisions. A woman prisoner reported that Ukrainians were also among the guards who served as watchmen at the gate to the women's camp.
In the women's camp there were two known female superintendents. Firstly, Emma Kowa who was trained as Aufseherin from the 1 February 1943 to 26 August 1943 in Ravensbrück and subsequently sent as Matron-Supervisor in charge of the women's section at Kaiserwald. During the evacuation of Riga she drove, starting from June 8th 1944 a prison transport to Breslau-Hundsfeld. At the local women's camp of Groß-Rosen concentration camp she became Commando Leader. In October 1945, Kowa was arrested in the U.S. Zone, and on 16 April 1946 turned over to the French occupiers. On February 10, 1948 her trial commenced before a French Military Court where former inmates testified that Kowa participated during several Selections and on a "Children's Action" in the spring of 1944 in the women's camp of Kaiserwald. They also claimed, that she had beaten prisoners, whipped and kicked them. The court sentenced Emma Kowa to twenty years imprisonment with hard labour. She was released early 1953, arrested again and accused in the 1960 years, for the shooting of women prisoners during the transport from the sub-camp Breslau-Hundsfeld to the main camp (Stammlager) Gross-Rosen in the summer of 1944. The case was dismissed because of the time limitation since the offence (manslaughter) took place.
The second Oberaufseherin the women's camp was a young Latvian woman named Maria, who walked around the main camp with a whip and used her whip indiscriminately. During the last Children Selection in the summer of 1944, Riwa Z., observed as Mary pulled three children from their hiding places out of a women's barracks. The children, aged between ten and eleven years were loaded onto a truck and taken away. [Statement Riwa Z., 25/09/1973, in ibid, I162/2985 B, page 1275,sic]

Kaiserwald, Latvia, The concentration camp
In the camp, both sexes, women and men were imprisoned. Most were between 18 and 45 years old. Elderly people and children and those unable to work fell victim to the regular selection for transportation. Apart from the main camp and remaining political criminals from Sachsenhausen, all prisoners were Jews.
By the end of July until the liquidation of the ghetto in early November 1943, the resettlement of its residents into the main camp and its satellite camps had taken place. On or about August 21, 1943 there were 1,950 former ghetto residents in camp Kaiserwald and further 5924 housed in its satellite camps. [One of them was Jungfernhof (Jumpravmuiza) a vacant farmhouse, three to four kilometers from Riga. Originally planned as a food warehouse for the SS and the police, but it was used from December 1941 to house 4000 'Reich Jews' (Reichsjuden) of all ages. There they lived in catastrophic conditions. The inmates were responsible at the nearby station for the sorting of baggage from arriving transports of Jews. As from summer 1942 it was Salaspils that served as detention camp for Latvians and Russians. [See: Alfred Gottwald / Diana Schulle, The 'The deportation of Jews' from the German Reich 1941-1945, Wiesbaden, 2005, page 114, sic] This represented 75 percent of all those able to work as at August 1943 of registered residents in the ghetto. Among them were mostly Jews from the Großderutschen Reich and Czechoslovakia, the majority of them came from places like Prague and Brno (Brünn). Most of them arrived in the winter 19421/42 from their homes into the Riga ghetto, or at Jungfernhof. Of the total of 24603 arriving at the station Skirotava / Riga at least 3449 people were shot in the surrounding forests. [See Schneider, "Reise in den Tod', page 170, sic] Later held selections and the miserable living conditions reduced the number of Jews in the ghetto considerably.
A much smaller group of inmates in Kaiserwald presented the Latvian Jews from Riga and outlying regions. With the establishment of the Great Riga Ghetto on October 25, 1941 over 30,000 Latvian Jews were imprisoned in the 'Moscow suburb' Riga's. Just one month later, on 30 November and 8 December 1941, an estimated 27.500 fell victims to mass shootings in Rumbala, a wood near Riga. About 2000 to 2500 young men and 300 women escaped the executions. They were allowed to return into a small isolated area of the ghetto. The larger part of this suburb, was called Reichsjudenghetto (Reich Jews) and remained the mainstay of German Jews deported to Riga.

Gate entrance to the Riga Ghetto
Upon Himmler's orders, to vacate the ghettos in the Baltic States and send the Jews into concentration camps, Polish and Lithuanian Jews from the Vilna Ghetto and Latvian Jews from the Ghettos Libau and the county of Daugavpils were taken to Kaiserwald. On 23 Septemmber 1943, the day of the final liquidation of the Vilna Ghetto, the SS deported between 1500 to 1700 able-bodied women and girls and 80 men by train to the concentration camp in Riga. Most of them were sent a few days later into the satellite camp at Riga Strasdenhof. One can only presume another Jewish transport of unknown size from the disbanded Vilna ghetto of the 'Factory Kajilis' followed a few days later. By the end of 1943 about 13.500 people had passed through the main camp (Stammlager) and shipped to other sub-camps and only about about 2,300 people were detained. Likewise, the few Jews of the Lithuanian city of Olea were deported to Riga and immediately sent into other sub-camps. At the beginning of 1944 several large shipments of Estonian Jews from the Reval arrived for some reason in the camp, their subsequent fate is unknown.

Vilna Ghetto's Main Gate
A larger group of Hungarian Jewesses from Auschwitz reached the main camp in April 1944 at the Kaiserwald just as a short transit station. After a few days they were relocated into two satellite camps Spilve and Dondagen. Only a small group of the young Hungarians remained in the main camp. Shoshana Rabinovici describes them. "The young women were upon their arrival from Auschwitz totally scared they had all their heads shaved, tattooed a number on their arms, and dressed in the standard striped prison clothes". Their subsequent fate is unknown. Only a fraction of this group was after the closure of the camp complexes evacuated to Stutthof.

Rumbula Viewed From The Riga Ghetto:
In Early October 1941, the Germans issued a decree that the Ghetto would be closed, or locked, by October 15, 1941 and that all Jews had to live in the Ghetto by October 25, 1941. Any Jew found outside of the Ghetto after this date was subject to arrest and prosecution. From that day on Jews could leave the Ghetto only by escort. Every day Germans, as well as Latvian's, picked up the Jewish labourers at the gate of the Ghetto and returned them at night time. Some SS and army units kept the Jews right at the place of work and housed them in confiscated housing with up to 50 persons in one room. Mostly men were taken from work, until one day, the Germans wanted sewing machine operators. 500 women volunteered for this work and actually 250 women were taken and incarcerated in the women’s jail.
The Food supply in the Ghetto was nearly zero and many people had to go hungry. Many workers tried to smuggle food in to the Ghetto when they returned from work. This was nearly an impossible task because they were searched by Germans as well as Latvian SS at the Ghetto gate. To make matters worse, German police units took over. It had members that were the outcasts of the human race. Some Jewish carpenters were taken to Jungfernhof, which was about four miles from Riga, where they had to build some barracks and put up some tiers in stables and barns. Nobody knew at this time what the purpose of this work was.
In the second half of November, 1941, the Germans announced that some people would be removed from the Ghetto to stop the overcrowding. The persons who would be taken would be relocated in a camp away from the Ghetto and if families were separated, they would be able to visit each other once or twice a month. Some of the people in the Ghetto believed the Germans and welcomed it, because a health and garbage problem had arisen in the Ghetto. No date for the removal of the people was given. Finally on November 30, 1941, the removal of the people from the Ghetto started. On that day the workers left the Ghetto as usual, but they saw quite a few Germans as well as Latvian SS and police by the Ghetto. Also a number of city buses were by the Ghetto gate. When the workers returned to the Ghetto nearly half of the population had been removed and one part of the Ghetto was now completely empty. Ludzas Street was the dividing line. The returning workers had to stay in a certain section of the empty Ghetto. What they found was shocking. Here and there were bodies and in many places snow was covered with blood. Houses were ransacked and some clothing and walls were blood stained. They had to carry the bodies to the cemetery and saw that the heads of the dead were partially blown off. The SS must have used special, or dum dum bullets[The ammunition used in the Walther PKK does look like a dum-dum bullet, sic] to kill the people. The Germans announced that only those people who resisted or refused an orderly resettlement were killed.

Riga, Latvia, Post-war, Houses at the site of the ghetto
According to the Ghetto inhabitants, the Latvians and Germans SS, as well as German police and Latvian auxiliary police went from house to house and drove all inhabitants out. Those who resisted or could not move fast were beaten or shot on the spot. The houses in the section were searched from top to bottom and anyone who was found was killed immediately. People were collected on Ludzas Street and were formed into columns five abreast. Then they were marched out of the Ghetto the direction of Salaspils, under heavily armed guards of the Latvian SS. Anyone who could not keep up was shot and bodies lined the snow covered street. That was all they could tell the returning workers. Some still had families in the Ghetto and asked for permission to see them which was granted by the Germans. Nobody knew what had happened to the people who had been removed from the Ghetto. The majority thought they had been put in a camp near Salaspils, because it was known that there was a camp near Salaspils which had been used by the Latvian army during summer training. How many persons were killed in the Ghetto that day is not known, but it may be close to 500.
Prior to the removal of the people from the Ghetto, Latvian workers had put up a barbed wire fence on one side of Ludzas Street. It created a smaller section in the Ghetto. This section was emptied of all inhabitants and became later known as the Ghetto of the Latvian Jewish males. In this section had to move all male workers when they returned from work after the so-called first action after November 30, 1941. Each time a group of people were (or had been) removed to a place unknown, it was called an action [Die Aktion, in German, sic]. In this action about 13,000 to 15,000 men, women and children had to be removed from the Ghetto. Nobody knew where they had been taken and no one suspected that they had been killed. It was just impossible to think that something like this, on a large scale, would happen. It was known, though, that thousands of Jews had been killed by the Latvians in July and August, 1941.
Some Latvians approached Jewish workers on the outside of the Ghetto and told them they saw their families and they needed clothing and money. Since no one suspected anything, the men would give whatever they could to spare the Latvians, to help their families in distress. Other Jews who worked for the German army asked the German commanding officer to find out where their families were. They actually sent some soldiers out to find the Jews. When they came back, they reported that they could not find a camp of Jews in the vicinity of Riga and Salaspils. A few days later a group of Jews from Lithuania arrived in an all male section of the Ghetto. They told quite a different story and reported about mass murder in Lithuania. It put doubt in many minds but they could not believe that their families could have been killed.
Jews could only work now. All normal life, as well as religious and cultural life, came to a standstill. Animals still had protection under the law, but to be a Jew in Latvia meant that you are less than an animal. The only thing you can do is work and die. This was the attitude of the Germans and Latvians. Every day, every inhabitant of the small Ghetto had to go to work. It was nearly impossible to stay home; it was safer to be working for a German army unit. The SS sometimes picked up a group of workers and returned only half of the men or women to the Ghetto. The rest were never seen or heard from. Any Jews was willing to work for the German army because it was a chance of survival, and some food was made available for the workers. Also, they had a chance to make contact with some Latvians who were willing to help some Jews, for a certain price, and trade some food. This group of Latvians was only a small minority, but it existed. Many Latvians were afraid to help Jews because they endangered their lives in doing so. Under the German decree any person who had contact with, or protected a Jew, was liable to arrest and prosecution. The majority of those who helped a Jew did it for personal gain. Something was always wanted in return for the slice of bread given to a Jew.
After the great action on November 30, 1941, life in the Ghetto returned to a normal routine. Even so, people were very apprehensive and wondering what was ahead next. Some younger men who wanted to go in the smaller part of Ghetto were hindered by the guards. In the mean time, some Latvians told some Jews on the work commandos that all women and children have been shot. Those who heard this did not want to believe this and kept their mouths shout, while others spread the rumour. The majority were undecided what to do until they were woken up early on the morning of December 6, 1941. They could see very little in the dark but they heard a lot of noise and shooting. This was going on in the Ghetto were the women and children were. With the arrival of daylight, they could see that the SS were breaking down the doors and forcing the inhabitants out of the houses. Those who resisted were shot on the spot. The SS tried to form people in to columns to march them out in to Ghetto. It was a repetition to what had happen a week before. A week before people walk like lambs, but this time they resisted and a lot of beating and shooting was going on. It was snowing heavily and people had a hard time to walk on the street. All males in the small Ghetto had to leave for work and only few could hide and watch the massacre scenes that were going on across the barbed wire. The brutality of the German and the Latvian SS, as well the police forces, had no limit. They were going from top to bottom through the houses and forcing everybody, dressed or undressed, into the streets. Screaming, beating and shooting was going on unabated. It looked as if the world had come to an end. Everyone was taken, even those who have served the Germans. The eldest of the Jews, as well as the Jewish police (who had been protected before) were taken, and the entire Ghetto was cleaned out. They were marched in the direction towards Dvinsk. They actually marched into the Forest of Rumbuli, where they all were shot.
Mass execution in the area of Task Force 8
A couple of horse wagons that had to follow the columns of men has to pick up the bodies of the killed people and their luggage. In the afternoon when the Jewish workers returned to the small Ghetto, they were taken to remove the bodies that were lying around in that area which was once the big Ghetto. Here they could see the inhuman behaviour of the Latvians and Germans. Nearly 900 men, women and children had been killed in the Ghetto because they resisted or could not move fast enough. This time it was far worse than the first action on November 30, 1941. Some of the clean-up people were shot by the police sergeant (Oberwachtmeister) Otto Tuchel because they did not move fast enough for his liking. Tuchel was in charge of the guards in and outside of the Ghetto and one of the worst sadists and Jew haters the Germans had in their ranks. He competed with the Latvians and it is a question of who killed the most Jews. This time nearly 12,000 to 14,000 Jews were removed from the Ghetto and about 3,000 to 4,000 Jewish slaves were left alive. I [Mr. Winter, sic] would estimate that nearly 28,000 to 30,000 Jews were killed in the two actions alone. The exact number is not known because some Jews who had survived the massacre in other towns an villages came into the Ghetto of Riga and added to the count of the survivors.
A few days later an apartment block on Ludzas Street was enclosed with barbed wire. . The 250 women who were in prison, plus some other women who were held at the place of work during the action, were brought into the Ghetto and put into the apartment block, separated from men. Their total may have been close to 300 women. Close to 20% of the Jewish population (mostly men) of Riga had been killed prior to the two big actions. Therefore and estimate of 34,000 to 35,000 men, women and children of the Jews from Riga, had been killed between June 30, 1941, and December 6, 1941, would be correct.
After the second action no one believed the Germans any-more and every survivor feared the worst for his family, despite assurances given by the Germans. Some drunken Latvians told a different tale than the Germans did. A few days later with the arrival of the German Jews, the reality began to sink in.
The mastermind of the mass likings was from the German side, an SS General, Jekeln, who stated in his trial after the war: Latvia was the right place and had the wager and willing people to eliminate the Jews. Anti-Semitism was so high in Latvia that no one had to convince the Latvian helpers that it was Hitler’s plan to kill the Jews. They would have done it without German help. His assistant was General Stahlecker, who was in charge of Einsatzgruppe A (Special commando) and commanding officer of the Security Police Ostland. Stahlecker was killed in January 1942 by Partisans. Next came Dr. Jur. R. Lange, who was the commander of the Security Police in Latvia. Lange was a sadist and killer like the world never had seen before. He committed suicide towards the end of the war to escape the hangman’s noose. Lange had, in the Security Police, many willing helpers who followed his orders to kill Jews. On the Latvian side was Major Arreis, the leader of t he Latvian SS, plus his helper Cucurs. (Arreis survived the war and is in a German jail. His helper Cucurs was killed in South America under unknown circumstances. ) Then there was the police chief of Riga named Stieglics who was a willing helper in the massacre. Also an army Lt. named Danscop and his gang were willing helpers. Man members of the Perconcrust and the Aisargi, plus auxiliary police out did the Germans when it came to atrocities towards the Jews. These murderous gangs did most of the killings in small towns with or without the assistance of the Germans. The Germans and Latvians did everything they could to demoralize the survivors of the massacres. They were completely cut off from the outside world and kept on a food ration which was too little to live on but not little enough to die a fast death. They had to work seven days a week and were the slaves of the twentieth century. Any infraction meant a beating and an instant death. Housing and living conditions were far below normal standards and up to 10 persons had to sleep on the floor in a small room. Quite a few people were in the age group of 14 to 16 years, and had to grow up over night to face a hostile word without their families. This was the beginning of the darkest hour for the Jewry of Europe.
A notice to the Jews of the ghetto stating that anyone who fails to properly greet a German clerk shall be punished
The "large ghetto" had been cleared of Latvian Jews. Mr. Winter wrote that German Jews deported from the government district of Düsseldorf, Germany had spent the previous day and night in unheated and now frozen railroad freight cars on a railroad siding at Skirotava station. On the morning of December 15 they were marched through the cold and snow to the Riga Ghetto. Mr. Winter continues...
When they entered the houses their eyes split wide open by the sight what greeted them. But they had no time to grasp it because other people were pushing and were looking for shelter. Some ten to fifteen people were in one room and it was standing room only. After a while it calmed down and some people were taken out in order that everybody could sit down. Then it finally started to dawn on them, that something terrible had happened when they looked around. There was frozen cooked food on the table, blood stained clothing on the floor, and baby carriages with a bottle of frozen milk, outside in the snow, overturned furniture and ransacked closets.
On the outer clothing, they could see that the former inhabitants were Jews because two stars of David were on the clothing but without the inscription (Jude "Jew") which they were wearing on the breast of their clothing. The former transport leader and group leader from Düsseldorf (a teacher from Neuss with the name Nussbaum) came around and took some people out because more houses had been opened up. When somebody asked him what was going on, he told them that he knew just as much as the rest of the deportees even though he had some authority. Authority he had, and if anyone in the Ghetto misused his authority, it was him. He was nearly one hundred percent in cooperation with the Germans, and he was open for bribes, from the first day on. While the new arrivals were considering their fate, a shot rang out. When they looked out of the window, they saw a woman lying in the snow who had crossed over to the other side of the street and had been shot by a Latvian guard. From that moment, the reality sank in that the resettlement was more than just a resettlement and that rough times lay ahead.

continued under Part 2

Saturday, August 25, 2012


On 17 April 1944 the then Town Captain in Krakow, Josef Krämer, sent a letter of complaint to the Governor General Hans Frank regarding the tenure of the commander Göth. He accused him of violating the Policies and the "promotion with steps taken to improve the treatment of the Polish population",  and noticed:  Göth had arbitrarily acted and unconstitutionally seized the Easter Inventories [which belonged to the Reich, sic] and valuables of residents in the camp area, which Krämer saw undermining his efforts to improve relations with the Polish people: "It is quite a blow (Faustschlag) against our policy, to achieve the loyal cooperation of Poland by caring and fair treatment. All of our efforts, including the opening of the Polish People's Theatre have no success, if such Wild West methods are not suppressed. What this gentleman (dieser Herr) Göth has broken here in a few hours, we can not build up in months of painstakingly work again". SSPF Julian Scherner tried to cover for Göth and reported the seizure as goods from a bandit robbery (Bandenüberfall).

"SS-Oberführer Julian Scherner" 
But Krämer called for Göth's transfer and the initiation of a criminal and partisan judicial proceedings. The next day Governor Frank called, Göth's approach: "[...] the Reich Policy of the Führer, for this is a  most seriously and incriminating range of hostile behaviour." [ibid]
In August 1944, Himmler was given a letter from his school friend, Hans Stauber, Paymaster of the Army Management Location in Kracow, who wrote to his "Dear Heini" dutifully: "About the Plaszow camp, where all the  Krakow hostages (Poles that had been taken prisoner after the outbreak of the Warsaw Uprising in a street raid in Krakow) are housed, there is just nothing good (nichts Gutes) to say about it. For example that the detainees had to give up their cigarettes and were then divided among the guards, or that the prisoners are offered a loaf of bread for 600-1000 Zloty's for sale (supposedly to Jews housed in the vicinity !!), this throws a bad light over the supervision of the camp's control ". [Excerpt from the letter of the Top Paymaster Stauber to the Reichsführer SS, 16.8.1944, in: BArch Berlin, NS 19/2586, sic]
Since SS colonel Brandt, on Himmler's staff had received on the 6th of September 1944 a telex from HSSPF in Krakow, William Koppe, who briefed him about the court action proceedings against Göth because of insubordination. The telegram from Wilhelm Koppe HSSPF East,  conveyed to  Brandt as a response to the position in terms of Göth:
 "Koppe's Telegram to Brandt regarding Göths pending Judicial Enquiry" 
"Against Captain Göth at the moment a judicial inquiry for abuse of authority is proceeding. During this procedure other suspicious factors surfaced and are investigated simultaneously.
On 13 September 1944, Amon Göth was taken into custody and picked up from his villa by two Gestapo agents and taken away. Göth will never be returned to Plaszow . The arrest warrant for Göth has been served by the SS and Police Court VI  in Krakow: The charges include suspected acquisition of personal property and money from Jewish prisoners with the aim of personal enrichment as well as the improper treatment of prisoners in the Plaszow concentration camp. In Vienna, Goeth  will appear before the SS-investigator Dr. Konrad tomorrow". [Dr. jur. Rudolf Brandt was born on 2 Born June 1909 in Frankfurt / Oder,  member of the NSDAP.
SS banner leader since 20 April 1944. Brandt was Himmler's personal adviser, Under-secretary and Chief of the Ministerial Office in the Reich Interior Ministry. He was brought on 9 December 1946 before a U.S. military court in Frankfurt / Main, and sentenced on 20 August 1947 to death and hanged June 1948 at Landsberg am Lech. Brandt was probably on 21 or 22 taken in May 1945 at  Bremervörde, together with other SS men who were with Himmler on the flight to the south. sic]
At the end of January Amon Göth appears in Brünnlitz and put the prisoners in fear and terror. Schindler reassures them: "This is not the same Göth, he can do nothing more. He only comes here to pick up his things". Göth takes the opportunity to questions Mietek Pemper. He wants to know what the SS had asked him about. Pemper replied to him that he could not give him any information, but then told him that they had questioned him about 'this' and 'that'. Because The conversation did not take long,  Göth sees Pemper only in autumn 1946 again in the dock in Krakow as a star witness against him. [Mr. Pemper died at age 91 on June 7th 2011 in Augsburg, Germany, where he lived. His death was announced by the Jewish Historical Society of Augsburg, where he had settled in 1958, becoming a German citizen and a management consultant. sic]

SS-Standartenführer Rudolf Brandt prior to his Execution' 
 It only took a few days later until Koppe was informed about Staubers letter to Himmler. In May 1943 SS- Lieutenant Colonel Dr. Georg Konrad Morgen , was appointed chief judge from autumn 1944 in Krakow, to investigate the abuses in the concentration camps as such. As a result of his research he had  Göth arrested and brought before an SS and Police Court while on vacation in Vienna on 13 September 1944. Goeth was staying in Vienna in February, perhaps due to his divorce form his wife. On 13 February, he is admitted to the hospital in the 74 Sternwartestraße. There was a suspected ulcer of the duodenum. On 17 February 1945 he was then arrested again by the SS military police and taken to the police prison Rossauerlände.
Göth was charged for corruption, abuse of power and murder of prisoners. From Vienna Göth was transferred to Krakow, where Dr. Morgen was SS chief judge. Probably he was soon dismissed. Since 80,000 RM in cash were found in Amon Göth's possession, and that he claimed the money came from Oskar Schindler, an investigation was launched and OSKAR SCHINDLER was brought back handcuffed from Brünnlitz to Krakow in October 1944. Oskar was scared during the eight days he was in SS custody. He was no longer certain that his contacts could get him out of jail because the charge of corruption was so serious. He had been brought to Gestapo Headquarters instead of Montelupich prison (where he had been incarcerated earlier), which also frightened him because 'only the [word of a] top Nazi, Himmler, could save you'.
On the fourth day of his imprisonment, one of his friends, Hut, visited Oskar and told him  that Plaszows new Kommandant , SS-Obersturmführer Arnold Büscher, refused to send the three hundred women initially selected to go to Brünnlitz via Auschwitz. According to Schindler, Büscher thought that Oskar was shipping these women to his new camp "for his own special reasons, and that he wasn't sufficiently anti-Jewish". Büscher wanted to take the Schindler women off the list and replace them with a different group of women. Oskar, who was becoming increasingly worried about the length of his detention, now had even more reason to try to find a way out of the Gestapo jail. And though Emilie Schindler does not mention this arrest, ( Schindlers third), in her memoirs, Itzak Stern said it was Emilie who got Oskar released after eight days "due to connections and a great bribe".
It was Baer, the Kommandant of Auschwitz, who finally agreed to release the 300 original Schindler women to Oskar in return for a payment of six RM  ($2.40) a day for each women for the time they were in Auschwitz. Bear then pocketed this money.
Even though Schindler was treated well by the SS, he feared for his life. One of the Nazi Officers who entered his cell spit on him and called him "a Jew lover, King of the Jews". Later, after his release, Schindler met the SS Officer in public and got into a fight with him. Schindler knocked the SS-man unconscious.
Jewish prisoners who had been unloading railway wagons at Krakow hastily began hiding Göths personal stuff ("treasures") which could have led to additional investigations. Schindler maintained that he knew nothing of the embezzlement and that he had never at any stage bribed Göth.[winch was a lie, sic] However, he admitted that Göth received money from him, which were in the form of a loan (Darlehen) After 8 days of investigations, thanks to his friendly relations with Arms Inspector, Lieutenant General Maximilian, Schindler was set free, just in time to oversee in Plaszow the "loading" of the 300 Schindler women to his factory. The new Kommandant of the camp SS First Lieutenant Arnold Büscher,had sent them together with  1,700 other women first to Auschwitz without separating them as had been ordered. Göth was also interrogated by the Sicherheitspolizei (Security Police) for giving information to the engineer Grünberg about the liquidation of the Krakow Ghetto. Grünberg a German who was sympathetic to the Jews and closely associated with Stern, Pemper and Schindler. He passed the information on to Schindler, who in turn warned the ghetto leaders. Philip Grimm testified as a witness during preliminary hearings at Göths scheduled trial: "Some time after I had left Plaszow, I was interrogated in Oranienburg by the SS judge, Lieutenant Colonel Dr. Kauke about Göth, and I heard that he would stand trial before an SS and police court and that he was accused of indiscriminate killings of Jews in Plaszow". In January 1945, Göth was taken to the Stadelheim prison in Munich, to be put on trial there.  This trial never took place.
One reason that Göth was never brought to justice by the SS was Himmler's decision in the spring 1944 to limit Dr. Morgen's investigation to the Koch case. Morgen, who had set up investigative commissions in most of the concentration camps, evidently pursued the case against Göth against Hiummler's wishes. The Morgen investigations had caused quite a stir in the SS, which oversaw the mass murder of millions of Jews and others during the war. Moreover, given the widespread corruption within some of the KZ-SS, an aggressive investigator such as Morgen could create all sorts of problems for any number of officers in the large network of camps. In the end, the SS dropped the charges against Göth, though there was enough evidence to convict him of various crimes. Unfortunately, politics and the end of the war kept Morgen from adding Amon Leopold Göth's name to the list of legal victories.

Identification Amon Göths as Prisoner of War"

Göth was released on 27 April 1945 from Munich-Stadelheim prison and transferred to the Flack and Replacement Regiment 3 in Munich-Freimann. From there, he was hospitalised due to poor health into a sanatorium in Bad Tölz. Already on May 5, 1945 American investigators had traced him in Bad Tölz and locked him up in the detention centre at Kornwestheim. On 8 February 1946 he was transferred to the camp for war criminals on the former grounds of the concentration camp at Dachau. After his identity as a former commander of the Plaszow concentration camp had been established, he was delivered on May 28 to the Polish Justices. On 27 August 1946 began the criminal process in Krakow before the Polish National Supreme Court.
"Göth on the way from court to prison" 
 During the eight days of the trial the prosecution was able to reconstruct what happened in the camp. The public interest was enormous. As the courtroom could accommodate only 250 people, loud speakers were installed in front of the courthouse. The daily press commented the course of the process, and it was obviously difficult for journalists to maintain their professional distance. The titles of the articles read: "A silhouette of a monstrous criminal", "The Plaszow Executioner brought to justice," "And yet he murdered", "He personally killed", "The brown Beast" this gives an indication of the mood that had set in during the process. Göth was finally sentenced to death by the rope as well as the loss of public and political rights[which is a formality] and confiscation of all property. The President did not exercise the right of pardon. During his trial Göth displayed a provocative indifference.

"Göth arrest photo"
 In fact there was no effective defence, although two court appointed lawyers had been available to him.  Göth was fully aware of the outcome and accepted what was coming to him, without any sign of remorse, he pleaded not guilty. Among the various charges he says: It was not true that there were thousands of people that died in Plaszow. It is also not true that he had tortured prisoners in the camp or were torn by his dogs. He believes that there are not a single witness that could claim that a single prisoner was tortured to death. In Plaszow there had been no murders for no reason. And he had to shoot Chilowicz on command of Koppe, he had been informed earlier about the intentions of the camp elder. Enrichment from the possessions of Jewish prisoners can not be proven, he bought everything properly, the invoices had been recognised by a former SS court. Fraud and embezzlement of food destined for the the care of the prisoners did not take place. He accepted responsibility for what happened at Plaszow. He had been given authority and permission to do everything he had done, he said, and was only carrying out orders and instructions received from his superiors. He also contended that the penalties he was inflicting upon the inmates including putting them to death, were within his disciplinary jurisdiction as commandant of the camp, and were in accordance with the German regulations in force.

Göth hears his Death Sentence.
Göth appealed for mercy[which is rather surprising, sic] to the President of the National State Council. After the President had decided not to avail himself of his prerogative of pardon, the sentence was carried out on 13th September 1946, he was 37 years old.

Handwritten Appeal Göths for Mercy

The Botched Hanging Execution of Amon Göth:
The hanging took place not far from the former site of the Płaszów camp. At his execution, Göth's hands were tied behind his back. The executioner two times miscalculated the length of rope necessary to hang Göth, and it was only on the third attempt that the execution was successful. [The claim is made that Göth defiantly performed the Hitler salute, as the eternal Nazi, this statement is incorrect,  following is Spielbergs Hollywood version of the final act.:, sic]
Göth was married and divorced twice. His first marriage was to Olga Janauschek in January 1934. They were divorced in July 1936. His second marriage was to Anny Geiger in October 1938, which ended in 1944. Soon after his second marriage ended, Göth was engaged to Ruth Irene Kalder, (nicknamed "Majola" in the Płaszów camp during her stay in Göth's "Red Villa"), who had taken Göth's name shortly after his death. Through these relationships, Göth had two sons and two daughters. Göth's first child, a boy named Peter, died seven months after his birth from a diphtheria infection. Göth had two more children with Anny Geiger, a daughter named Ingeborg and a son named Werner. Göth's last child was a daughter named Monika (chosen mainly from Göth's childhood nickname, "Mony") whom he had by Ruth Irene Kalder. Monika was born on 23 October 1945.

After the replacement of Göth, SS-Captain Arnold Büscher became the new commander of Plaszow. The Security Protection responsibility of the camp fell to SS-Hauptsturmführer Kurt Schupke.  Büscher was born on December 16, 1899 in Bad Oeynhausen, and since 1931 member of the SS. At the beginning of the war he performed duties only in concentration camps, serviced in them from Buchenwald to Sachsenhausen and Neuengamme. From April 1944 he was head of the camp's guards (Wachmannschaft) in Plaszow. Büscher was condemned to death for his actions in Plaszow  on 23 January 1948. Kurt Schupke, was born on 15 May 1898 in Greitz,  and did service in the camps of Sanok, Zaslaw, Rzeszow and from April 1944 to January 14, 1945 in Plaszow, then at Buchenwald. He was sentenced on 10 June 1948 in Krakow to death.
After the huge transports of male prisoners from the concentration camp at the beginning of August 1944 to KZ Mauthausem the number of inmates for the first time since early 1943 sank below the figure of 10.000. On 1 September 1944,  a total registered prisoners was 4952,  of these were 2843 men and 2109 women, a month later this figure fell to 4595, of these 272 men and 177 women were on the 23 September classified as "unable to work." It is most likely that they were Polish inmates who were sent as forced labourers into the Reich for other assignments.
On 6 September 1944 HSSPF Koppe cabled to Himmler that the camp "is already in the process of being dismantled," and "the problem should be resolved in the near future". In September and October 1944 less and less raw material was available for processing, so that many inmates had very little work or none at all. The metal workshop and Madritsch's company worked half shifts and in some Departments at reduced hours. The plant manager of the DAW Joseph Neuschel fought desperately against the deportation of his skilled workers from the camp.
As the front line approached forever nearer, machinery and raw materials were systematically shifted. Already in August and September 1944, the barracks were dismantled and sent in part by goods-trains to Bergen-Belsen and Neuengamme. With additional Transports of inmates, mainly in October 1944, the occupancy rate fell by January 14, to 625 prisoners. Of the remaining guards only 87 of them remained. In the meantime due to the clearance of the guard barracks, an emergency shelter was established for the remaining prisoners. Until then, the vehicles, construction machinery, and the so-called special assets, of confiscated books and scientific works, were packaged and  loaded for shipment. Some of the remaining prisoners were still working for the Office Group "C" (Construction), the official Group (EIG-DAW), the chemists for the SS office, and for the defence contracting firm Korgeld & Rasner.
Probably in August / September 1944 they began with the exhumation of bodies from mass graves and the burning of all evidence in the Plaszow camp.  This lasted about six weeks, with the fire burning from early morning.  At night, the prisoners dug out the corpses and prepared them prior for cremation at the funeral pyre,  by alternately placing a layer of wood and a layer of corpses. To prevent air attacks, the pyre burned only during the day. The exhumation were performed simultaneously in two places in the old cemetery and on the "Hujowa Gorka". Twenty to thirty prisoners were employed ten to twelve days in the "Burning Commando" or the "Excavation Commando", for a total of six weeks. After work vodka, sugar and  JUS-soup (Jusowka) was provided for an in unimaginative abhorrent task .  At that time, an unbearable stench hung over the camp. Seventeen loads of ashes left the camp. Taking the fact that many prisoners that took part in this operation and a relatively high number of witnesses reported the events after the war, one can safely assume that prisoners were not killed after finishing their assignments, as was  the case with inmates attached to "Sonderkommando 1005" at some other camp locations.
"On Sunday, 14 January 1945, the SS Obergruppenführer Koppe  issued by 1200 hours to the commandant of KL Plaszow  a direct order to report back by 1400 hours that all the prisoners, the entire force of 625 men and women  will be ready by 1700 hours to march towards Auschwitz", thus reported the Camp Administration of Krakow in its report. The artillery fire was heard in the immediate vicinity of Krakow, and constantly Russian bombers flew over the city, the telephone connection was broken. The march lasted three days, almost without interruption. Some prisoners escaped, and although the SS had threatened to shoot for one escapee ten other prisoners,  nothing happened. Protective Custody Camp Leader Kurt Schupke oversaw the death march, he behaved relatively decently.  One truck drove with the prisoners loaded with documents and goods, but did not include any inmates. Two days after arriving at Auschwitz some prisoners had to walk to a the sub-camp at Gleiwitz, where they had to spend eight days and nights under the open sky. With that the camp was empty.
From the Chronicle of occupied Krakow and Tadeusz Wonsli figures indicate  that a minimum of 1702 Polish resistance fighters were killed at Plaszow. With regular transports twice a week, this results in the course of the history  means an average of eleven  victims per transport. This does not seem too high, especially since we know that in the summer of 1944  almost daily shootings were organised. There are also 270 Jewish victims who were taken in the days and weeks after the Ghetto Closure thatwere taken from their hiding places and shot. The Gestapo killed at least 531 other Jews who had been detected outside the camps. Furthermore, in November 1943  about 200 selected Jews from the three Jewish labourwere shot within the  camp ground. As can be backed  and verified,  the murder of at least 237 Jewish camp inmates. This results in almost 3,000 murdered in Plaszow, including 1700 non-Jewish Poles. Together with the approximately 2,000 bodies that were brought out of the evacuated Ghetto to Plaszow, this indicates that nearly 5,000 people were either buried or burned on the site. The majority of these deaths were not inmates, even if the shootings carried out on the camp grounds.
Jewish soldiers who served in the British Army hunted down and executed up to 1,500 high-ranking Nazis in the immediate aftermath of the Second World War. The soldiers were members of the Jewish Brigade, part of the British Eighth Army, which fought with distinction in northern Italy in the latter stages of the war. As the conflict in Europe ended, the Jewish soldiers started their own mini-war. They formed "revenge squads", and with the help of their British Army credentials travelled around Germany and Austria searching for men responsible for the Holocaust. The brigade's officers and NCOs were British Jews - Edmund de Rothschild, scion of the banking dynasty, was a young captain - but the ranks were filled with Jewish volunteers from Palestine, and refugees who had fled Nazi-occupied Europe.
The hitherto untold details of the story have emerged in a new book, The Jewish Brigade: An Army with Two Masters, by author and historian Morris Beckman. He told the Independent on Sunday: "These were the first post-war executions of selected top Nazis. There were several dozen revenge squads operating; the highest estimate of executions was 1,500. The exact figure will never be known". Secret orders from Zionist leaders in Tel Aviv instructed members of the brigade to ensure that at least some of the senior members of the SS would be punished for their crimes against humanity. 
Jewish Brigade Group Emblem
Working under the codename "Operation Judgement", brigade members formed secret killing squads. In the book, one of the executioners, Israel Carmi, explains how they dealt with their selected targets. "When we arrived at the home of our suspect we would put on [British] Military Police helmets with the white band and police armlets. Then we would enter the home and take the suspect with us, saying that we wanted him for interrogation. Usually they came without a struggle. Once in the car we told the prisoner who we were and why we took him. Some admitted guilt. Others kept silent. We did the job."
Those who volunteered for the killings had lost their families and communities in the Holocaust and were burning with hatred. "We were young Jewish soldiers," one recalled. "We knew that our people would never forgive us if we did not exploit the opportunity to kill Nazis".  Initially, they used to shoot them in the head but later adopted the method of strangling with their own hands. The Avengers would not reveal anything to their targets before the execution – not who they were nor why they are killing them. They said the killing was like "a killing of an insect".

Antwerpen, Belgium, The "Buchenwald Group" with Jewish Brigade soldiers, before moving to Eretz Israel, 1946".
The most extremist group was the Nakam ("vengeance") Group. They numbered around 60 Jews who were former Partisans as well as other Jews who survived the Holocaust. The group arrived in Germany after the war in order to conduct more complicated and fatal vengeance operations. Their ultimate purpose was to execute an operation that would cause a broad international response that would be a warning to anyone who might consider trying to harm Jews again, as the Nazis had. Notables among the Hanakam group were Abba Kovner, Yitzhak Avidav, and Bezalel Michaeli. Through Chaim Weizmann later President of Israel according to Harmatz, Kovner obtained from Ephraim and Aharon Katzir a poison. He claimed it was to be used on 3000 loaves of bread for former SS guards, currently in American Prisoner of war camp in "Stalag XIII", but he was concealing their bigger plan of poisoning the water supplies of Munich, Berlin, Weimar, Nuremberg and Hamburg. The Nakam group intended to kill 6 million Germans – as many as the Jews who were murdered in the Holocaust. According to Harmatz, they would have taken care to except American residential areas from the area, so as to murder only Germans as far as possible. The Katzir brothers supplied Harmatz with the poison and the Haganah gave Kovner false documents of a supposedly Jewish Brigade soldier, and he boarded a ship in Port of Haifa. When the ship approached Toulon in France, the British discovered that Kovner's papers were forged. His accomplices managed to throw the poison overboard. Kovner was sent to an Egyptian jail. According to Joseph Harmatz, leader of Nakam after Kovner's arrest, they were betrayed. Although uncertain, he suspects the Zionists sabotaged out of fear that such a crime would diminish support for a Jewish state. As a result of the failure of the mass poisoning plan, it was decided to move to Plan B. Under the command of Kovner's deputy, Yitzhak Avidav, the Hanakam group poisoned hundreds of loaves of breads that were designated for the S.S. prisoners. On April 14th 1946, Nakam painted with diluted arsenic some 3,000 loaves of bread for the 12,000 German POWs from the Langwasser internment camp near Nuremberg (Stalag XIII). The camp was under US authority. 1900 German prisoners of war were poisoned in the US camp, and all got "seriously ill". The Associated Press:
Did it work? Just check the New York Times for April 20th 1946, where on page six you will find an Associated Press report that begins as follows: "Nineteen hundred German prisoners of war were poisoned by arsenic in their bread early this week in a United States camp and all are 'seriously ill', United States headquarters announced tonight". How many of those SS men actually died following the poisoning at Stalag 13 has never been verified, but some put the figure at several hundred, others at a thousand. According to Harmatz (Nakam leader), 300 to 400 Germans died. He said this "was nothing compared with what we really wanted to do".
The public prosecutor's office within the higher regional court at Nuremberg stopped the preliminary investigation of attempted murder in May 2000 against two Nakam activists, who professed to have involvement in the incident. The public prosecutor's office cited statute of limitations laws (In German: "Verjährung) "due to unusual circumstances" as reasoning for the suspension of the investigation.
The 'Nakam' Group British-born soldiers did not take part in the revenge killings, but provided practical support, such as forged papers. Londoner Mark Hyatt, who was an NCO in the Jewish Brigade, told the author that he provided the hit squads with "logistical support". He said: "We did what had to be done and there was no compunction about it."
He had transferred from the ranks of Eighth Army, with which he had fought in north Africa. He summed up the Jewish Brigade as a "very unorthodox outfit".
As well as the execution of the suspected SS and Gestapo war criminals, the brigade assisted tens of thousands of concentration camp survivors to reach Palestine, despite the fact that the British government was implacably opposed to Jewish immigration at the time and that the country was the subject of a naval blockade. The brigade also gave the Palestine-bound refugees military training and stole, from the British Army stores, thousands of weapons to help arm the Haganah, the embryonic Israeli army. While the Foreign Office, under the arch anti-Zionist Ernest Bevin, was hostile to the Jewish Brigade and wanted it to be stopped, the British military command refused to act and turned a blind eye to the brigade's clandestine activities. "The commanders of the Eighth Army knew what was going on but they were sympathetic, [as] they had fought alongside the brigade," said Mr Beckman. Ken Sanitt, an artillery sergeant who had transferred into the Jewish Brigade after four years of fighting in north Africa, Mesopotamia and at Monte Cassino, said: "The British and the Indian soldiers I had been fighting with were elite troops, but they were war-weary, while the Jewish Brigade were spoiling for action. Their fighting spirit was fantastic."
Indeed, the brigade became the template for the Israeli army and 35 former members of the Brigade later became Israeli generals.
In 1964, a 7-metr4 High 'Memorial o the Victims of Fascism in Krakow' (Polish: Pomnik Ofiar Faszymu w Krakowie) designed by Witold Ceckiewicz was unveiled. It is dedicated in general to the victims of Fascism. Few traces of the former camp remain. In 2003, memorial plaques were affixed to the former camp entrance, presenting information about the history of the camp. Next to it are two further memorial plagues. In 2000, one of them was dedicated to the Hungarian Jewish women who were deported from Plaszow to Auschwitz and murdered there. Another plague, one which honoured all of the victims of Plaszow, was donated by the Jewish community of Krakow. On one of the execution sites, Hujowa Gorka, there is a cross with barbed wire on it. The history of the camp is also dealt with in the permanent exhibition on the history of Krakow during World War II at the "Schindler Factory" museum (Polish: Fabryka Schindlera). The museum was opened in 2008 in the former Administration building of Oskar schindler's enamelware factory. Prisoners from Plaszow worked here, and Schindler could save about 1200 of them from being transported to death camps.


"Plaszow" the German text is published in the series of books "Der Ort 
des Terrors" by Wolfang Benz and Barbara Distel, published by C. H. 
BECK, volume 8, which was written by Angelina Awtuszewska-Ettrich which 
I translated into English.

Literature sources used:
Aleksander Biberstein, Zagla zydow w Krakowie, Die Vernichtung der Juden in Krakau, Krakow 2002.
Halina Nelken, Freheit will ich noch erleben. Krakauer Tagebuch, Gerlingen 1996
Angelina Oster, Im Schatten von Auschwitz. Das KZ Krakau-Plaszow, Geschichte und Erinnerung, in: Dachaauer Hefte 19 (2003)
David M. Crowe, Oskar Schindler, The untold account of his life, wartime activities and the true story behind the list
Mietek Pemper, Der rettende Weg. Schindlers Liste, die wahre Geschichte, Hamburg 2005
 172 references to Witness Statements and Court Documents



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

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

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

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

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