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July 10, 2012

Did Amon Goeth really shoot prisoners from his balcony? (Testimony from his trial)

Filed under: Holocaust — Tags: , , — furtherglory @ 11:53 am

I am blogging about Amon Goeth today in answer to comments made on a previous post about him.  As every school child in America knows, Amon Goeth was the Commandant of the Plaszow camp, near Krakow, and he shot prisoners in the camp from his balcony.  Testimony from his trial, which you can read here, proves it. Or does it?

The photo below, which shows Goeth’s house, was copied from the H.E.A.R.T website.

The three-story white house where Amon Goeth lived

Photo on H.E.A.R.T web site shows Amon Goeth on the patio of the white house

The most important testimony in Amon Goeth’s trial came from one of his former maids, Helena Horowitz. (Goeth had two maids, both named Helen or Helena.)

This quote is from Helena Horowitz’s testimony, which I copied from the H.E.A.R.T website:

Witness -Helena Horowitz (age 30, seamstress)

Witness: I arrived in the camp on the 13th of February I managed to obtain work in the camp kitchen, where I worked as a potato peeler. Right at the beginning I received 10 strokes on my back for allegedly not working hard enough. A short while after, I have been selected by the kitchen Kapo to work in the kitchen for the Germans.

I enjoyed the work there, and I have been promised that if I continue to work as at present, I will be retained there permanently. At that moment I was there in place of a maid who was taken ill with Typhus, at a later stage I have been retained to work there permanently.

At the beginning I believed this to be tremendously lucky, but at that time I have not been aware of the terrible behaviour of the accused (Amon Goeth). My first encounter with him (Goeth), was as follows;

After a dinner I threw out the bones remaining on a plate, in the evening the accused appears in the kitchen and demands to know where are the bones, I replied I threw them out. He struck me in the face, with such a force, that I fell over and he tells me that if I will not obey his orders, he will shoot me. Once in the “Red House” entering a room I noticed a rifle, or another type of weapon

Chairman: You must clarify what was this “Red House?”

Witness: This was the private residence of the accused. That is where I noticed how he held a rifle, and congratulating himself on its ability, or his expertise, in front of other Germans also present in the room, he was firing at a group of people working at a distance of maybe 200 metres from the apartment window.

Next another fact, following the liquidation of the Ghetto in Krakow, Jews were brought into the camp and on to the hill only to be shot there. After the execution a party took place there, at which I have been subjected to abuse and torment.

There were women in the party as well, and despite the fact that they were of low morals, frequently they came to my defence. He would tell them that I am Jewish criminal who must be treated without pity.

Another fact in the “Red House” he drunk round the clock, still drunk he would come to me asking if I have prepared a dinner party, which he intended to give in honour of a president called Brauling, I believe that was his name. I replied clearly to this, that I am not aware of this at all, as I have not received any instructions to this effect.  At that point he grabbed me with both his hands by my throat, choking me, as a result of which I fell unconscious to the ground.

After regaining my consciousness I asked why he did this? He replied first of all because you ask questions, and secondly because you did not carry out my order, which in reality, he never gave, because he was drinking that day round the clock.

He then told me at the time that if the dinner party will not be a success, in the evening, I will be shot. Naturally, following such a threat, I did what I could, so that the dinner party was prepared in a exemplary way. All the food used to prepare this dinner came from the camp prisoner’s kitchen.

Luckily for me the party turned out to be a success, and to my surprise, the following day he was furious again. I did not know that an additional person would turn up for the party, Goeth summoned me to him, asking why was the table laid short for one person? Without waiting for my reply, he threw a sharp knife at me, which penetrated my leg.

Another fact, in the camp there was one German called Biegel who worked in the camp commercial buying and selling administration office. At one dinner party this officer Biegel gave an order to a boy, who worked there as well, he should fetch a carriage from the stables. The boy froze when told by Biegel, he will be whipped 25 times, if he fails to carry out his order.

Naturally, the boy brought the carriage, as ordered, which Goeth learned later. Goeth summoned the boy to him and asked him who gave him the order to bring that carriage there. The boy replied, explaining the circumstances and how it arose. Goeth without listening to the boy, killed him on the spot, the boy was 20 years old.

Chairman: Have you seen this?

Witness: Yes I have been present, when it happened.

Once I have been summoned to his room in the morning, where he showed me his uniform thrown against a wall. He asked me why I have neglected and failed to clean it?

I was unable to explain this, Goeth, assuming that I was neglectful, hit me across my face, that made me more nervous, it must have shown itself on my face, as he dragged me into another room, and there beat me without a stop, damaging my ear drum. Only following the interference of his mistress, that the beating stopped.

Chairman: What was her name?

Witness: Ruth Kalber
Chairman: Not Majola?
Witness: That was how she was called in the camp

Now let’s look at the photo of the house again.

The white house where Goeth lived with Ruth Kalder

I have proof that I saw this house, since I took a photo of it when I was there.  You can see in the photo below that the house is white, although it was badly in need of a fresh coat of paint when I took the photo in 1998.

White house where Amon Goeth lived with Ruth Kalder

The balcony and the patio on the rear of the white house where Amon Goeth lived

As the photo above shows, tourists are taken to see the WHITE HOUSE on Jerozolimska street where Amon Goeth lived.  When I visited this house, it was at least a 10 minute drive from the location of the former camp.

Now let’s read the testimony of his maid again:

….Once in the “Red House”entering a room I noticed a rifle, or another type of weapon

Chairman: You must clarify what was this “Red House?”

Witness: This was the private residence of the accused. That is where I noticed how he held a rifle, and congratulating himself on its ability, or his expertise, in front of other Germans also present in the room, he was firing at a group of people working at a distance of maybe 200 metres from the apartment window.

The testimony at his trial was that Amon Goeth was firing his rifle at a “group of people” who were “maybe 200 meters from the apartment window.” And there were other Germans present, presumably SS men, and maybe even his good friend Oskar Schlindler was there.

So he was NOT killing PRISONERS in the Plaszow camp.  He was FIRING HIS RIFLE….and not at prisoners, but at a GROUP OF PEOPLE who were very close to the RED HOUSE, not the white house that tourists are shown today.

The house that is shown to tourists is behind a hill which is between the house and the camp.  What was Amon Goeth really shooting at when he lived in the Red House?  No one knows because Helena was the only witness.

The movie Schindler’s List was based on a novel entitled Schindler’s Ark.  In the book, the author says that Goeth stepped out of the front door of a “temporary residence” and shot prisoners at random. Later when he moved into a three-story white house on Jerozolimska Street, Goeth shot prisoners from the balcony, according to the novel. In the movie, Schindler’s List, Goeth is shown standing on the balcony in the rear of his house, shooting prisoners, who were not working fast enough, with a high-powered rifle.

The “temporary residence” that is mentioned in the novel Schindler’s Ark might be the RED HOUSE where Goeth stepped out of the front door and shot at something at random.  We will never know because there was only one witness to this event.

Amon Goeth was arrested by the Nazis on September 13, 1944. Oskar Schindler was arrested a few days later and interrogated by the SS as part of the Goeth investigation, according to a book by David Crowe, entitled Oskar Schindler. Crowe wrote that Schindler “did move a lot of the former Plaszow commandant’s war booty to Brünnlitz” where Schindler had set up a new concentration camp. Göth, who still considered Schindler to be his friend, visited Brünnlitz several times during the latter months of the war while on parole, according to Crowe’s book.

David Crowe wrote that Amon Goeth had been arrested after a 6-month investigation of Goeth’s tenure as Plaszow’s Commandant.  The man who investigated Goeth was Dr. Georg Konrad Morgen, a Waffen-SS officer and attorney whom Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler had put in charge of investigating murder, corruption and mistreatment of prisoners in all the Nazi concentration camps in 1943.

Dr. Morgen’s first investigation had resulted in the arrest of Karl Otto Koch, the Commandant of Buchenwald. Koch was convicted by a Nazi court and executed.  When Goeth realized that he was being investigated by Dr. Morgen, he sought permission from Wilhelm Koppe in the central office in Oranienburg to execute Wilek Chilowicz, who could have testified against him.
According to David Crowe’s book, Goeth asked one of his SS officers, Josef Sowinski, to prepare a detailed, false report about a potential camp rebellion led by Chilowicz and other OD men. Based on this report, Koppe sent a secret letter to Goeth giving him the authority to carry out the execution of Chilowicz and several other OD men. The execution took place on August 13, 1944; Goeth was arrested exactly a month later and charged by Dr. Morgen with corruption and brutality, including the murder of Wilek Chilowicz and several others. The office in Oranienburg did not have the authority to give an execution order; an execution could only be authorized by the Gestapo in Berlin. Dr. Morgen did not charge Goeth with shooting prisoners at random from his balcony.

Due to the fact that Germany was losing the war and the SS now had bigger problems, Goeth was never put on trial by Dr. Morgen’s court and this was the last investigation done by the SS. After the war, Dr. Morgen was arrested as a “war criminal,” and imprisoned in the bunker at the Dachau concentration camp to await his own trial.

The charges brought against Amon Goeth by the Polish government did not include the charge that he had shot prisoners from his balcony. Nor did the charges brought against him by Dr. Morgen. If Dr. Morgen had talked to Goeth’s maid and learned that Goeth had shot at a group of people, he would have included this charge against him.

Unfortunately, Dr. Morgen never talked to Helena Horowitz, the only witness to the shooting at the RED HOUSE, who testified about this alleged crime.

The photo below, which purportedly shows how close Amon Goeth’s house was to the camp, is on the H.E.A.R.T website.

The title of this photo is “View of the Plaszow camp from Goeth’s terrace”

How do we know that the photo above was taken from Goeth’s terrace.  I would like to see something in the foreground that would prove that the photo was taken from the terrace.

View of Krakow from the location of the Plaszow camp

I took the photo above, from the location of the Plaszow camp, to show how close the camp was to the city of Krakow.  Whoever took the photo of the camp from Goeth’s house should have included the steps of the house in the photo.  In other words, the old black and white photo of the camp proves nothing.

I took the photo below to show how close houses are to the location of the former Plaszow camp.

The fence around the former Plaszow camp with a house in the background