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July 13, 2012

The heartwarming story of how Moishe Perlman escaped summary execution in the Plaszow camp

Filed under: Holocaust — Tags: , , — furtherglory @ 9:47 am

I have been doing a lot of research on the Plaszow concentration camp, near Krakow, which was made famous by the movie Schindler’s List.  This morning, I came across the story of Moishe Perlman, which is quoted below:

Moishe Perlman

Brooklyn, N.Y.

Submitted by his granddaughter Rivka Perlman

My grandfather, Moishe Perlman was in the concentration camp, Plaszow, for most of the Holocaust. Plaszow did not tattoo their prisoners, they simply had to memorize their numbers. One Yom Kippur, grandfather gave one of his non-Jewish workers his bread because he was fasting. As a means of thanking him, the worker made him a leather and metal bracelet with his ID number etched into it.

One night a soldier stopped my grandfather and demanded his ID number. Faced with no other choice, he slipped off his bracelet and handed it to the soldier. The next day a list of numbers were called to be shot, as a lesson to the rest of the camp. All but one person came forward. The camp ledger was checked out but the number did not exist! My grandfather looked down at his bracelet and realized that his number comprised digits that could be read upside down as well as right side up. He had given his bracelet to the soldier upside down, and the soldier dutifully copied down the wrong numbers. All the people who had been called up were killed. Thanks to a piece of leather and some crude metal I am able to have a grandfather.

It is a pretty ugly bracelet to look at, yet more precious than any other jewelry our family can own.

Apparently, Moishe Perlman’s identification number included only the numbers 1, 6, 8, 9, and 0, which read the same upside down or right side up.

My first thought was that his identification number would have been printed on a white piece of cloth and sewn to his striped prison uniform.  Many of the prisoners in the concentration camps wore ordinary clothes instead of the striped uniform, but the identification number on a white piece of cloth was required.

Some prisoners at Dachau are not wearing both pieces of the striped uniform

The photo above shows two prisoners at Dachau wearing striped pants with their identification number sewn to the pants leg.

Photo of Jewish prisoner at Plaszow not wearing a uniform

The photo above shows a Jewish prisoner, named Karp, wearing a suit, but he has a star of David and a prison number sewn to his jacket.  The normal procedure was to sew the prisoner’s identification number to the striped prison uniform, as shown in the photos below.

Prisoners at Sachsenhausen camp wearing identification on their striped uniforms

Striped uniforms with identification sewn onto the jacket was the norm in the concentration camps

Moishe Perlman was apparently a Jewish Kapo, who was supervising non-Jewish workers.  Kapos were privileged prisoners who helped the Nazis in the concentration camps.  (Note that the plural of Kapo is Kapos, which means that it is not a German word, but a word borrowed from another language.)  As a Kapo, Moishe Perlman might have been able to get by without wearing his prison number on his clothes.

Photo in the Dachau Museum in 1997 shows a prisoner not wearing an identification number

The photo above was scanned from the English language version of the Dachau Museum Guidebook for the Dachau Museum which was set up in 1965. The caption under the photo says “The youngest of the French prisoners.”

In the background of the photo is a barrack building of the type used at Auschwitz II, also known as Birkenau. The Dachau concentration camp did not have barracks of this type, which clearly indicates that the photo was not taken at Dachau. Note also that the prison uniform does not have a badge, like those worn on the uniforms at Dachau. A prisoner in the background is wearing a yellow star on his uniform, like those worn by the Jews at Birkenau. There is no prison identification number on a white piece of cloth, because this photo obviously shows a prisoner at Auschwitz, who would have had a tattoo on his arm for identification.  Photographs displayed in the Dachau museum, that were taken in 1938, show most of the prisoners wearing a regular shirt and striped pants with their prison number worn on their pant’s leg.

According to the granddaughter of Moishe Perlman, the prisoners in the Plaszow camp had to memorize their identification numbers, since they didn’t have tattoos.  This implies that the prisoners did not have their identification number on their clothing.  The movie Schindler’s List shows prisoners with an ID number on a strip of white cloth on their clothing.

Moise Perlman was very lucky that an exception was made for him and he did not have to wear an identification number on his clothes at the Plaszow camp. Once again, a Jewish prisoner was able to survive the Holocaust because the Nazis were not vigilant in their administration of the camps.  The clip from Schindler’s List shows how inept the Nazis were.  They couldn’t do anything right.

9 Comments

  1. Is that place really called “Hujowa Górka”, “Prick’s Hill”? Polish word “huj” as well as Russian “хуй” means “prick” and is considered in both languages as extremely vulgar, obscene word, not to be printed, or uttered in the presence of women and minors. I can’t believe, that locals of Cracow named the hill with such obscene name.
    Where is this story coming from?

    Comment by Gasan — July 14, 2012 @ 1:58 pm

  2. Laughable they’d have time and the means (fuel) to burn thousands upon thousands of corpses. Oh, and an eyewitness report from a lying jew is proof? They’re all dodging gas chambers now or getting tortured by mengele. They’re storytellers.

    I have to say that watching photos of them doing manual labor was a real treat. They do *not* look thrilled about it. Weird Nazis would take a photo like that, just before he shot them all in a blood rage!

    Sickening lies. Thank you for your work!

    Comment by later — July 13, 2012 @ 9:27 pm

  3. Wow!
    Herb Stolpmann’s blog became a real piece of propaganda. It seems, that our friend Herb doesn’t even remember what the SS uniform looks like and posted a picture of the Wehrmacht officers interrogating a jewish looking person, still dressed in polish uniform. What does it prove? This is a clear misinterpretation of the photo evidence on Herb’s side.
    Contrary to Herb’s claim, that these jewish female fighters were pictured just before their execution:

    This is the same picture, he has posted on his blog
    Malka Zdrojewicz (on the right) survived Majdanek extermination camp.
    Really? She was not shot on the spot? How many of them have survived Majdanek “extermination camp”?
    Herb has really disappointed me.

    Comment by Gasan — July 13, 2012 @ 8:05 pm

    • Dear Gasan
      If you check again, I did recognise the error, my caption reads: “A young Jew is interrogated by the SS in Warsaw- [note all members are Wehrmacht officers ,sic]” I will correct the caption under the two Polish women Resistance fighters, I rather call the following propaganda: “Heha­lutz women cap­tured with weapons; used on the cover of Davka, Vol. 1, No. 4, Sum­mer 197. The pho­to­graph was used on the cover of Vol­ume 1, No. 4 of Davka (Sum­mer 1971) devoted to “The Jew­ish Woman”, the orig­i­nal locus of Rachel Adler’s arti­cle “The Jew Who Wasn’t There”. These women were def­i­nitely there. The cap­tion in the lower right cor­ner of the cover reads (inven­tively) “The women fight­ers of the Ghetto Ris­ing, after cap­ture, await their fate with res­o­lu­tion and dig­nity. In a moment shots will be fired.” The cover was also made into a poster that was dis­trib­uted around Los Ange­les. Copies of it still hang in some homes.
      I do search the net for relevant information but most comes from a number of foreign books, although I am almost fluent in four languages plus two others I understand, (yes Yiddish is one of them) it is sometimes an odious task to translate which represents the opinion of the researcher, on the assumption it is factual. Thus I do avoid when ever possible eyewitness statements of individuals now doing the speech-circuit in the States. I am rather taken aback by the amount of flack I receive from that direction. I do welcome the criticism thrown at me, to put me on he right path, but what I publish, I still think it was undeniable part of history .
      PS.: The suggestion to write and I hesitated dear Gasan come from you and another reader of this blog.
      Kind Regards

      Comment by Herbert Stolpmann — July 14, 2012 @ 1:04 am

    • Dear Gasan
      I finally found the reference to the comment I originally made regarding the Polish women to be executed, it reads: These two women, soon to be executed, were members of the Jewish resistance. Dispatches by SS and Police General J. Stroop reported that “…Jews and Jewesses shot from two pistols at the same time….The Jewesses carried loaded pistols in their clothing with the safety catches off….At the last moment, they would pull hand grenades out…and throw them at the soldiers”. Which I took as gospel,link:http://fcit.usf.edu/holocaust/resource/gallery/g1941wgu.htm

      Comment by Herbert Stolpmann — July 18, 2012 @ 12:45 am

  4. I am commenting on my own blog, in order to add this information from a blog post by Herb Stolpmann, which you can read in full at http://dachaukz.blogspot.com/2012/05/warsaw-concentration-camp-part-1.html

    Quote from Herb Stolpmann’s blog:

    Plaszów camp became particularly infamous for both individual and mass shootings carried out there. Using Hujowa Górka, a large hill close to the camp commonly used for executions, some 8,000 deaths took place outside the camp’s fences with prisoners trucked in 3 to 4 times weekly. The covered lorries from Kraków used to arrive in the morning. The condemned were walked into a trench of the Hujowa Górka hillside and shot, bodies then covered with dirt, layer upon layer. In early 1944 all corpses were exhumed and burnt in a heap to hide the evidence. Witnesses later attested that 17 truckloads of human ashes were removed from the burning site, and scattered over the area.

    All documents pertaining to the mass killings and executions were entrusted by commandant Göth to a high ranking female member of the SS, Kommandoführerin Alice Orlowski. She held these documents in her possession until the end of the war, then allegedly destroyed them. Alice Orlowski, a picture-perfect SS-woman, was known for her whippings especially of young women across their eyes. At roll call she would walk through the lines of women, and personally whip them.

    During July and August 1944 a number of transports of prisoners left KL Plaszow for Auschwitz, Stutthof, Flossenbürg, Mauthausen and other camps. In January 1945, the last of the remaining inmates and camp staff, left the camp on a death march to Auschwitz, including several female SS guards. Many of those who survived the march were killed upon arrival. When the Nazis realized that the Soviets were already approaching Kraków, they completely dismantled the camp, leaving an empty field in its place. The bodies that were buried there earlier in various mass graves were all exhumed and burned on site. On January 20, 1945 the Red Army had reached only a tract of barren land.
    End Quote

    Note that Herb mentions that the 8,000 people who were killed at Hujowa Górka were “trucked in 3 to 4 times weekly.” These were executions of people who had been condemned. He does not say whether the people who were executed were Jews or Polish Resistance Fighters who were fighting as illegal combatants. He does mention that all the documents pertaining to the executions were destroyed by a woman named Alice Orlowski.

    Why did the Nazis need to destroy the evidence of condemned prisoners being executed? Why was Amon Goeth charged with a war crime for the execution of condemned people? His crime was that he was the Commandant of the camp where prisoners were brought to be executed. Why wasn’t Goeth charged with his real crime: shooting prisoners from the balcony of his house?

    Note that Herb wrote on his blog that transports of prisoners left Plaszow for Auschwitz, Stutthof, Flossenbürg, Mauthausen and other camps. So this means that Plaszow was a transit camp, as well as a labor camp, and then a concentration camp.

    P.S. The barracks at Plaszow were horse barns that could be dismantled and taken elsewhere to be put up again. The barracks at Plaszow were allegedly taken down so that they could be taken to Bergen-Belsen. For some reason, the barracks never arrived and some of the prisoners had to sleep in tents, including Anne Frank and her sister Margo. Sleeping on the ground inside a tent is allegedly the reason that Anne and Margo got sick and both died before Bergen-Belsen was turned over to the British.

    Comment by furtherglory — July 13, 2012 @ 2:02 pm

    • FG
      I am writing at present about Plaszow at present herewith the introduction:
      The Plaszow camp was built in 1942 as a labour camp for Jews after the closure of the Krakow ghetto, which was 2.5 kilometres away. During the year 1943 it became a transit camp for other forced labour camp inmates from the ghettos in the district of Krakow which were gradually closed. The camp also served as a labour reservoir up the end of 1943, for the remaining camps at Skarzysko-Kamienna, Starachowice in the Radom district, as well as Tschestochau, Mielec, Wieliczka and Zakopane. In addition to the Jewish part of it in July 1943, it was a detention centre for non-Jewish Poles, who accounted for between 10-20 percent of the inmates. Here, the “political” prisoners are to be distinguished from the rest. Poles were arrested for a limited time simply for non-observance of curfew restrictions. But the political Prisoners were given usually indefinite prison terms and then transferred after a few months into the concentrate camps at Auschwitz or Gross-Rosen. Among them was a large group from the Gestapo prison in Pomorska and Montelpich, they were suspected of resistance activities by the Gestapo.
      Finally, Plaszow was converted in January 1944 into a concentration camp. This happened at the time, when most surviving forced labour camps and ghettos in September 1943 within the General Government were finally liquidated.

      Comment by Herbert Stolpmann — July 14, 2012 @ 1:26 am

      • You wrote: “The Plaszow camp was built in 1942 as a labour camp for Jews after the closure of the Krakow ghetto, which was 2.5 kilometres away.”

        According to my research, the liquidation of the Krakow ghetto was done in stages and the final liquidation was on March 13th and 14th, 1943. The Plaszow camp was already in existence when the first Jews from the ghetto were taken to the camp in October 1942. At the time of the final liquidation in March 1943, there were already 2,000 Jews in the Plaszow labor camp. After the final liquidation of the ghetto, there were 8,000 Jews at Plaszow.

        At first, the Jews who worked in Shindler’s factory had to walk to and from the factory each day. Then Schindler obtained permission to build barracks at his factory so that the Jews could live there and not have to walk 5 kilometers back and forth each day. His factory became a sub-camp of the Plaszow camp.

        Amon Goeth became the Commandant of the Plaszow camp in February 1943 when Plaszow was still a labor camp. He was arrested in September 1944 and charged with stealing from the Plaszow warehouses. Plaszow became a concentration camp some time in 1944 when Goeth was already the Commandant.

        Comment by furtherglory — July 14, 2012 @ 8:43 am

        • FG
          I am not that far ahead in my narrative, the date you are mentioning as 13 March 1943 is correct.
          Himmler ordered the SSPF in Krakow District, Julian Schemer, on 14 December 1942, that Jews who had lived during March 1941 in the ghetto of Krakau to be relocated to Plaszow labour camp. This affected the Jewish workers who were working in the arms industry, the military services, the enterprises of the military district commander and in private companies. The order was due to a number of reasons not immediately carried out. Thus the ghetto was divided into two parts, the “A” and “B”ghetto. The working-age group lived separated in the barbed wire surrounded compound “A” until they were transferred from 13 March 1943 onwards into the newly established forced labour camps of the SSPF. [This does not mean they all went into the Plaszow Labour Camp,sic.] The Reichsführer SS had set the deadline date for the 31st December 1942, which was, with this measure at least partially met, but apparently he was annoyed that his order was not carried out as instructed. .
          As of December 1942 leaving the ghetto for all non-workers was prohibited. Passes were difficult to obtain. The remaining Jews from the towns and villages around Krakow ghetto were taken into compound “B”. [This may be difficult to understand for outsiders, but the aim of the NS Leadership was to make the General Government “judenfrei”(free of Jews).sic] The Jews from Part “A” went to work in important defence plants, they were the “Blue Badges Jews” and wore the letters R -W or Z sewn onto their outer garments (R=Important military, W=defence workers or Z= civilian workers) on the left chest. From December onwards Jewish workers were no longer paid or rewarded, funds went straight to the SS: Five Zlotys per day for a male and four Zlotys for a female prisoner, less 1 zloty 20 Groschen for daily meals

          Comment by Herbert Stolpmann — July 14, 2012 @ 8:31 pm


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