Friday, December 20, 2013


During the period of its existence of the camp, executions of 'racially' or politically undesirable prisoners took place in the grounds of the concentration camp, to wipe out Polish Administrations and spread generally terror within the camp. As far back as January 1940 a Police State Court (Standgericht) under the chairmanship of Dr Helmut Tanzmann , head of the State Police office in Gdansk (Danzig) took place in the presence of the camp commandant Max Pauly. The court sentenced several dozen Polish officials and employees of the Polish state authorities in Danzig to death and 1,800 other prisoners for transfer to the Sachsenhausen concentration camp. The groups were sentenced to death in two groups near the camp in the woods and shot there.[Tanzman, when the war ended he fled in May 1945 on an U-boat to Scotland and was arrested there immediately. In British internment, he was subjected to interrogation,  to avoid an impending trial, he committed suicide in May 1946.HKS]

A naked prisoner is led to an execution site in the Stutthof concentration camp, where others either have been shot already or forced to lie face down prior to being shot.
The first group with 22 Danzig Officials, among them the priest Franciszek Rogaczewski and Bernard Wieki, Railwaymen, among others, were shot on the 11th January. The other group of 67 people, including the priests Broniuslaw Komorowski and Marian Goreki, the Polish deputies in the Danzig Senate Antoni Lendzion, Postal Workers and other Polish officials from Danzig were executed on Good Friday, the 22-März 1940. [Summary execution for soldiers were always carried out by a 'Standgericht', there was no defence. When German troops marched into Poland in 1939 these courts condemned Polish civilians as well, if suspected of partisan sympathies and were immediately shot, but in most cases hanged as a deterrent. A Führerbefehl was issued later, which was even more stringed.HKS] As from 1942, an increasing number of political prisoners were taken in, this also increased the number of executions. Some prisoners had been previously been convicted by a special court (Standgericht) or state court to death, mostly due to political activity. The leaders of the Sipo and the SD had 'ordered these as special treatment'. After the death sentence was entered in the camp records behind the names of those shot an 'E' (for Erschossen was marked).  in the death book it specified the type of enforcement as: 'Due to resistance against state power shot' or 'hanged on command'. But there were also executions without giving any details. 36 prisoners (35 men and one woman) came into the camp during 1942-1945 and executed for political activity, 14 Poles and 22 Russians. 13 of the executed Poles, who all came from the village of Stare Guby and were admitted as so-called resistance members (partisans) and had been apprehended on the15th April 1943 by the Stapo in Schröttersberg and admitted into the concentration camp and shot the same day. In the last documented execution on 15 March 1944 six Russian prisoners of Jewish descent, including a woman were shot of Jewish descent, including the woman who had been selected from the POW camp Hammerstein by the Stapo Schneidemühl and taken to Stutthof. Another three of them were doctors. The official reason for the shooting was communist activity in the POW camp, but in reality they were murdered as Jews.
Besides the firing squad, executions of death sentences were executed by hanging from 1942 to 1945. Executions of prisoners for crimes committed when they were inside the camp were usually carried out on the gallows on the parade ground of the new camp. Another gallow was next to the crematorium used for secret executions of prisoners who had already been sentenced to death, before they came into the camp. Executions in Stutthof took place  until the last day during evacuation of the camp on 25 January 1945. On January 16, 1945 eight Polish and Russian prisoners were hanged, including two Jewish Soviet prisoners of war, on 20 January another four Poles who had also been sent to Stutthof in December 1944, and January 1945 because of political activity by the Gestapo from Schröttersburg. This affected a total of 179 inmates (14 women and 165 men), 75 Poles, 102 Russians, a German National and an ethnic German (Volksdeutscher). End of 1944, more and more Soviet prisoners of war were executed, who had been brought by the State Police-Königsberg/Allenstein from Stalag IB Hohenstein near Allenstein into the camp. According to a secret letter from the Chief of the Security Police and the SD in Danzig dated the 5th of September 1944, it is clear that two Soviet prisoners of war had been selected as 'special treatment' (Sonderbehandlung). Igor Uszarow was executed on October 17, 1944, and Piotr Ardabajew on 11 November 1944. [Inmate personnel records, in: ibid, Sign I-III-4574, sic]. (There are no reason given as to why,HKS) But there are also known cases where prisoners were shot outside the camp. In the fall of 1939 Nuns and Jesuits were arrested from the camp Neufahrwasser nine out of ten as part of a 'purge' were taken to be shot, probably at Piasnitz, where about 12,000 inhabitant Kashubian were shot in the first months of the war. (Kashubian are NOT Poles and are of different tribal descendants, HKS) A survivor, the Jesuit Bronislaw Rutkowski, was sent to Stutthof on November 2, 1939. An excellent carpenter, he was appreciated by the camp management which interceded on his behalf and kept him with the Danzig Gestapo. Similar cases involved the 'police prisoners'. On 28 October 1941 after only a 13 days stay in Stutthof, Leon Lewandowsli, Leon Labuda and Ludeik Zuprych, officials of the Polish Scouts Association, they were transferred to the Gestapo . Then they were transferred to Königsberg and shot in the local jail. Similarly, the SS went against two Polish prisoners from Pomerania, Viktor Liedtke and Jan Liebon who had deserted from the German Army and went over to the guerilla unit 'Gryf Pomorski'. On June 5, 1944 they were handed over to the Danziger Gestapo and shot the same day, the action taken, was relayed to the commandant of Stutthof concentration camp.
Post war photo of the Gallows at Stutthof
A further twelve prisoners of Stutthof concentration camp were shot in the village Ocypel near Stargard along with 20 others on 23 November 1944. This was as a reprisal for an attack on a Gestapo official from Dirschau.  At that time among others Jan Belau and Hubert Manski, who had worked for the secret service of the Polish Home Army, and some members of the 'Gryf Pomorski' underground, Alojz Cybula and Jozef Radtke, were killed. From mid-1944, the concentration camp has been involved in the extermination of Jewish prisoners. At a meeting of the Camp Commandant Hoppe with the Chief of the Office D in the SS Economic-Administrative Main Department, SS-Obergruppenführer Glücks, the decision was made to build in Stutthof, gas chambers. Hoppe informed the camp physician Dr. Otto Heidl and his deputy, SS-Hauptsturmführer Theodor Meyer, about this decision. According to Mayer, Heidl got at that time from Berlin instructions to suffocate about 300 to 400 women with  gas. After Hoppes statements the first prisoners who were murdered in June 1944 by the gas were Polish partisans from the area around Bialystok that the RSHA had picked for 'special treatment' (Sonderbehandlung). Especially deeply affected in the memory of other prisoners was the deaths when 77 wounded Soviet Prisoner of War which arrived in Stutthof on the 15 August 1944, and were killed on 22 August in the gas chamber. The immediate extermination of Jews in concentration camps first effected those from which no further use was expected, because they could not be employed in any working capacity within the defence industry. They were most likely already separated at the first selections upon arrival. Probably the 300 to 400 women, that Dr. Heidl should have killed at the behest of Glücks, came from these selections when they first came into the camp. On July 20, 1944, 24 Jewish women from the Czech Republic, Austria, Germany and the Netherlands were sorted out in the Stutthof concentration camp and murdered (assumed gassed,) on July 24. [Receipt book, Sign I-II, Drywa, Zagłada Zydow, page 112 und129-132, sic] At the end of October/beginning of November 1944, a typhus epidemic broke out, which claimed especially many victims in the Jewish camp. Since the disease started, the killings in the gas chamber stopped, as more victims died since the beginning of the epidemic, than the orders from Berlin had foreseen.

The door of the Stutthof Gas Chamber
For the murder of the Jewesses during 'special campaigns', (Sonderaktion) other methods were used, as a shot in the neck (Genickschüsse) in the crematorium premises or lethal injections with phenol. Phenol injections had been used in Stutthof since 1940 to kill mentally ill prisoners. Between July and the end of October 1944, around 476 Jews, of them 430 women were killed by direct extermination in the concentration camp Stutthof. In addition, the SS transferred two transports with Jewish prisoners to Auschwitz for extermination. Most of them, 1683 persons who had been admitted in July from Kaunas, were selected on the 26th July 1944 and transported to Auschwitz. Together with other 210 Jews from Kaunas, who arrived on 25 July in the Stutthof concentration camp and were not even registered, this transport amounted to 1893 prisoners, including 801 women, 546 girls and 546 boys. In a secret telex from the Office group D of the SS WVHA to the commandant of Stutthof and Auschwitz it states, these women from the arriving transport should be treated the same as the Hungarian Jews.
A further transport to Auschwitz with 573 Jewish prisoners mostf of them under 20 years went off on the 10th September 1944. They included 25 'Aryan' prisoners , including eight mothers and nine pregnant women. Upon their arrival on September 11th 1944, in Auschwitz only two men came into the camp, the remaining 596 persons were most likely immediately murdered in the gas chambers. This information relates only to the organized and recorded killings. Under the prevailing conditions in Stutthof, it is hardly possible to distinguish between a 'natural' and a violent-induced death. From entries in the files as causes of death such as 'suicide by hangings' or 'bleeding to death after dog bite' all, in fact describes deliberate killings.
Bloody Sunday (German: Bromberger Blutsonntag; Polish: Krwawa niedziela) was a series of killings of members of the German minority that took place at the beginning of World War II. On September 3, 1939, two days after the beginning of the German invasion of Poland, highly controversial killings occurred in and around Bydgoszcz (German: Bromberg), a Polish city with a sizable German minority. The number of casualties and other details of the incident are disputed among historians. The Nazis exploited the deaths as grounds for a massacre of Polish inhabitants after the Wehrmacht captured the town.
Bydgoszcz (Bromberg) was part of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth until 1772, when it was annexed by the Kingdom of Prussia during the First Partition of Poland. As a part of Prussia, the city was affected by the unification of Germany in 1871 and became part of the German Empire. It would remain a part of the German Empire until the end of World War I. In February 1920, the Treaty of Versailles awarded the city and the surrounding region to the Second Polish Republic. This resulted in a number of ethnic Germans leaving the region for Germany. Over the interwar period, the German population decreased even further. The 1931 Polish Census reported the German population in the city was 117,200; according to the German historian Hugo Rasmus, only about 10,000 Germans remained by 1939.

Wehrmacht soldiers and journalists in front of German victims alleged to have been killed on Bloody Sunday. The photo was utilized by the Nazi press and bears the editor's cropping marks, showing the portion of the image that was intended to be used for publication

The emergence of the Nazi Party in Germany had an important impact on the city. Adolf Hitler revitalized the Völkische movement, making an appeal to the Germans living outside of Germany's post-World War I borders. It was Hitler's explicit goal to reverse the work of the Treaty of Versailles and create a Greater German State. By March 1939, these ambitions, charges of atrocities on both sides of the German-Polish border, distrust, and rising nationalist sentiment led to the complete deterioration of Polish-German relations. Hitler's demands for the Polish Corridor and, Polish opposition to negotiations with him fueled ethnic tensions. For months prior to the 1939 German invasion of Poland, German newspapers and politicians like Adolf Hitler had carried out a national and international propaganda campaign accusing Polish authorities of organizing or tolerating violent ethnic cleansing of ethnic Germans living in Poland.
After armed conflict erupted on September 1, 1939, statements that persecutions of ethnic Germans had occurred in Poland, especially in Bydgoszcz, continued to appear in the Nazi press. It was a part of campaign accusing Polish authorities of organising or tolerating violent ethnic cleansing of Germans living in Poland.
According to the most widely accepted version,[by whom?] the incident stemmed from groups of German saboteurs attacking Polish troops behind the front lines. This version holds that, as a contingent of the Polish Army was withdrawing through Bydgoszcz (Army Pomorze's 9th, 15th, and 27th Infantry Division) it was attacked by German irregulars from within the city. According to a British witness, a retreating Polish artillery unit was shot at by Germans from within a house; the Poles returned fire and were subsequently shot at from a Jesuit church. In the ensuing fight both sides suffered some casualties; captured German nonuniformed armed insurgents were executed on the spot and some mob lynching was also reported. A Polish investigation concluded in 2004 that Polish troops had been shot at by members of the German minority and German military intelligence (Abwehr) agents; around 40–50 Poles and between 100 to 300 Germans were killed.
The Wehrmacht War Crimes Bureau investigation in 1939–1940 concluded that the events were a result of panic and confusion among the Polish troops. The Wehrmacht investigation included the interrogation of captive Polish soldiers, ethnic Germans from Bydgoszcz and surrounding villages, and Polish civilians. The bodies of the victims were exhumed and the cause of death and the possible involvement of military rifles was assessed. According to this investigation, a squad of Polish soldiers was sent in to clarify the situation after hearing shots being fired within the city. Uniformed Polish soldiers, assisted by the local Polish population, were led to houses from which shots were allegedly heard. In households where weapons were found, people were subject to summary executions.
The killings were followed by German reprisals and oppression, including a "de-Polonisation" campaign.[4][11] In an act of retaliation for the killings on Bloody Sunday, a number of Polish civilians were executed by German military units of the Einsatzgruppen, Waffen SS, and Wehrmacht.[16] According to German historian Christian Raitz von Frentz, 876 Poles were tried by German tribunal for involvement in the events of Bloody Sunday before the end of 1939. 87 men and 13 women were sentenced without the right to appeal.[4] Polish historian Czesław Madajczyk notes 120 executions in relation to Bloody Sunday, and the execution of 20 hostages after a German soldier was allegedly attacked by a Polish sniper.[4][17]
According to a German version, Polish snipers attacked German troops in Bydgoszcz for several days (Polish sources and witnesses do not confirm this). The German governor, General Walter Braemer, (the commander of the rear army area), ordered the execution of 80 Polish hostages over the next few days. By September 8, between 200 to 400 Polish civilians had been killed. According to Richard Rhodes, a number of Boy Scouts were set up in the marketplace against a wall and shot; a devoted priest who rushed to administer the last sacrament was shot too, receiving five wounds. Murders continued all week; 34 of the leading tradespeople and merchants of the town were shot, as well as many other leading citizens.
Many Poles, particularly members of the intelligentsia and the Jews, were singled out for deportation, or killed outright. More than 20,000 Polish citizens of Bydgoszcz (14% of the population) were either shot or died in concentration camps during the occupation

                                            CONTINUED UNDER PART 5/10

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