In my blog post today, I am answering a comment made by one of my readers. The comment is quoted below:
“So he [Amon Goeth] didn’t shoot from the balcony. That excuses the thousands upon thousans whose deaths he ordered? Where did you study convoluted logic and denial at? You ought to have a master’s degree.”
Here is my answer to this question:
Several years ago, I went to visit the spot where the Plaszow camp was formerly located. I also visited a small museum in Krakow, where I copied Goeth’s mugshot photo at the top of this page. Goeth had been arrested by the Germans for stealing from the warehouses of the Plaszow camp.
I read several books about Amon Goeth where I studied “convoluted logic and denial.” In all my study of this subject, I never learned that Amon Goeth had had the authority to order thousands of deaths.
As the commandant of the Plaszow camp, Goeth had been ordered to carry out the executions that were ordered by others. These executions took place at the Plaszow camp. The people who were executed were not prisoners in the Plaszow camp.
According to David Crowe’s book, entitled Oscar Schindler, Wilek Chilowicz was a Jewish prisoner, who was the head of the OD, the Jewish police at Plaszow. Crowe wrote that “Göth sought permission to murder Chilowicz and several other prominent OD men in the camp on false charges.”
In all the Nazi concentration camps, the staff had to get permission from headquarters in Oranienburg to punish a prisoner, but punishment did not include murder.
Dr. Georg Konrad Morgen was 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, and his later execution by the Nazis.
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.
Due to the fact that Germany was losing the war and the SS now had bigger problems, Goeth was never put on trial in 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, which had been converted into “War Crimes Enclosure No. 1” by the American military. According to David Crowe’s book, Wilek Chilowicz was the head of the OD, the Jewish police at Plaszow. He wrote that “Göth sought permission to murder Chilowicz and several other prominent OD men in the camp on false charges.” In all the Nazi concentration camps, the staff had to get permission from headquarters in Oranienburg to punish a prisoner, but punishment did not include murder.
Dr. Georg Konrad Morgen was 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, and his later execution by the Nazis. 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.
After World War II ended, the American military turned Amon Goeth over to the Polish government for prosecution as a war criminal. He was brought before the Supreme National Tribunal of Poland in Krakow. His trial took place between August 27, 1946 and September 5, 1946. Goeth was charged with being a member of the Nazi party and a member of the Waffen-SS, Hitler’s elite army, both of which had been designated as criminal organizations by the Allies after the war. His crimes included the charges that he had taken part in the activities of these two criminal organizations. The crime of being a Nazi applied only to Nazi officials, and Goeth had never held a job as a Nazi official. In fact, at the time of Goeth’s conviction by the Polish court, the judgment against the SS and the Nazi party as criminal organizations had not yet been made by the Nuremberg IMT.
At Goeth’s trial, the Nazi party was said to be “an organization which, under the leadership of Adolf Hitler, through aggressive wars, violence and other crimes, aimed at world domination and establishment of the National-Socialist regime.” Amon Goeth was accused of personally issuing orders to deprive people of freedom, to ill-treat and exterminate individuals and whole groups of people. His crimes, including the newly created crime of genocide, came under a new law of the Allies, called Crimes against Humanity.
The charges against Amon Goeth were as follows:
(1) The accused as commandant of the forced labour camp at Plaszow (Cracow) from 11th February, 1943, till 13th September, 1944, caused the death of about 8,000 inmates by ordering a large number of them to be exterminated.
(2) As a SS-Sturmführer the accused carried out on behalf of SS-Sturmbannführer Willi Haase the final closing down of the Cracow ghetto. This liquidation action which began on 13th March, 1943, deprived of freedom about 10,000 people who had been interned in the camp of Plaszow, and caused the death of about 2,000.
(3) As a SS-Hauptsturmführer the accused carried out on 3rd September, 1943, the closing down of the Tarnow ghetto. As a result of this action an unknown number of people perished, having been killed on the spot in Tarnow; others died through asphyxiation during transport by rail or were exterminated in other camps, in particular at Auschwitz.
(4) Between September, 1943, and 3rd February, 1944, the accused closed down the forced labour camp at Szebnie near Jaslo by ordering the inmates to be murdered on the spot or deported to other camps, thus causing the death of several thousand persons.
(5) Simultaneously with the activities described under (1) to (4) the accused deprived the inmates of valuables, gold and money deposited by them, and appropriated those things. He also stole clothing, furniture and other movable property belonging to displaced or interned people, and sent them to Germany. The value of stolen goods and in particular of valuables reached many million zlotys at the rate of exchange in force at the time.
The last charge, as stated in number (5) above, was the crime for which he had been arrested by the Gestapo on September 13, 1944, after an investigation by Waffen-SS officer Dr. Georg Konrad Morgen.