Scrapbookpages Blog

July 31, 2016

the Manor house at Chelmno

Filed under: Germany, World War II — Tags: , , — furtherglory @ 9:10 am

One of the readers of my blog mentioned the Manor house at Chelmno in a comment.

The Chelmno Schlosslager had neither prisoner barracks nor factories; its sole purpose was to murder Jews and Roma who were not capable of working at forced labor for the Nazis. In 1939, there were around 385,000 Jews living in the Warthegau; those who could work were sent to the Lodz ghetto where they labored in textile factories which made uniforms for the German army.

On January 16, 1942, deportations from the Lodz ghetto began; records from the ghetto show that 54,990 people were deported before the final liquidation of the ghetto in August 1944. The Jewish leader of the Lodz ghetto, Chaim Rumkowski, compiled the lists of people to be deported, although he had no knowledge that they were being sent to their deaths at Chelmno.

The gassing of the Jews at Chelmno was carried out in two separate phases. In the first phase, between December 7, 1941 and April 1943, Jews from the surrounding area and the Lodz ghetto were brought to Chelmno and killed on the day after their arrival. Although the Nazis destroyed all records of the Chelmno camp, it is alleged that around 15,000 Jews and 5,000 Roma, who were deported from Germany, Austria, Belgium, France, Czechoslovakia and Luxembourg, were brought to Chelmno to be killed in this remote spot.

Chelmno was allegedly a Nazi extermination camp. It was located in the small Polish village of Chelmno nad Neren (Chelmno on the river Ner), 60 kilometers northwest of Lodz, a major city in what is now western Poland.

Foundation of the Manor house

Foundation of the Manor house at the Chelmno transit camp [Photo credit: Alan Collins]

Location of Manor house at Chelmno

Location of the Manor house at Chelmno transit camp [photo credit: Alan Collins]

The site of another building at Chelmno Photo Credit: Alan Collins

The site of another building at Chelmno [photo Credit: Alan Collins]

Alan Collins, the photographer who visited the site of the camp, and took these photos, wrote the following with regard to the fate of the Jews at Chelmno:

Begin quote:

The [Jewish] victims were driven to the Castle Site during phase 1 which stared in December 1941, though the building is sometimes described as a Manor House. They were made to undress after being told they were going to be resettled in the east but required a shower before they left.

They were forced through the ground floor of the building and via a ramp into a specially constructed lorry which was waiting at the end of the building. The exhaust of the lorry could be directed into the rear of the vehicle.

The lorry was driven to the Forest Site in the Rzuchowski Forest, about 4km away and the victims disposed of. To add to the horror the Manor House was blown up by the SS on the 7th April 1943 with a group of victims inside the building. These people had arrived unexpectedly late and it was feared by the Germans that they had typhus so they were ordered to go to the first floor of the building which was blown up with them inside.

End quote from Alan Collins.

The victims of the Nazis at Chelmno also included Polish citizens and Soviet Prisoners of War. The POWs were taken directly to the Rzuchowski forest where they were shot.

The Yad Vashem Museum in Jerusalem has a list of 12 names of children from Lidice who were sent to Chelmno, although other sources claim that the number of orphans from Lidice was far higher. These were children whose parents had been killed when the Czech village of Lidice was completely destroyed in a reprisal action after the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich.

The Chelmno camp, which was opened by the Germans some time in October or November 1941, was in the Warthegau, a district in the part of Poland that had been annexed into the Greater German Reich after the joint conquest of Poland by Germany and the Soviet Union in 1939.

Chelmno was called Kulmhof by the Germans and Lodz was known by the German name Litzmannstadt.

The Warthegau had been a part of the German state of Prussia between 1795 and 1871. After the German states united in 1871, the Warthegau was in Germany until after World War I, when it was given back to the Poles.

The Jews were brought on trains to the village of Kolo, 14 kilometers from Chelmno. Kolo was the closest stop on the main railroad line from Lodz to Poznan. At Kolo, the victims were transferred to another train which took them on a narrow gauge railroad line 6 kilometers to the village of Powiercie.

From Powiercie, the victims had to walk 1.5 kilometers through a forest to the village of Zawadka where they spent their last night locked inside a mill. They were then transported, by trucks, the next day to Chelmno.

You can see more photos, taken by Alan Collins, on this page of my website: http://www.scrapbookpages.com/Poland/Chelmno/Tour01A.html

 

June 26, 2016

Was Chelmno a transit camp or an extermination camp?

Filed under: Germany, Holocaust — Tags: , , — furtherglory @ 7:15 pm
Chelmno Castle aka the Manor house

Chelmno Castle, aka the Manor house, where Jews were imprisoned Photo credit: Alan Collins

There has been some discussion on my blog about the Chelmno camp. Was it a transit camp, as claimed by Holocaust revisionists, or was it a death camp?

The Chelmno Catholic church where the victms spent their last night

The Chelmno Catholic church where the victims spent their last night Photo Credit: Alan Collins

Here is the official story of Chelmno. The reader can decide for himself or herself.

Chelmno was a Nazi camp located in the small Polish village of Chelmno nad Neren (Chelmno on the river Ner), 60 kilometers northwest of Lodz, a major city in what is now western Poland. The camp, which had been opened by the Germans some time in October or November 1941, was in the Warthegau, a district in the part of Poland that had been annexed into the Greater German Reich after the joint conquest of Poland by Germany and the Soviet Union in 1939.

Foundation of the castle which has been torn down

Foundation of the castle, where the Jews were kept before they were allegedly killed Photo Credit: Alan Collins

Chelmno was called Kulmhof by the Germans and Lodz was known by the German name Litzmannstadt. The Warthegau had been a part of the German state of Prussia between 1795 and 1871. After the German states united in 1871, the Warthegau was in Germany until after World War I when it was given back to the Poles.

After World War II ended in Europe with the surrender of the German Army on May 7, 1945, the provisional Polish government set up the Central Commission for the Investigation of German Crimes in Poland. The purpose was to gather evidence for the Nuremberg International Military Tribunal which was set to begin on November 20, 1945, and for the planned trials of Germans who had committed war crimes in Poland.

The main report by the Central Commission was entitled GERMAN CRIMES IN POLAND; it was originally published in two volumes in 1946 and 1947. The report included an overview of the main Nazi concentration camps and death camps in Poland. Two of the death camps, Auschwitz and Chelmno, had been in Greater Germany while they were in operation but now they are located in Poland.

The Chapter on Chelmno in the report is reprinted below.

Begin quote from report:

Report of the Central Commission for Investigation of German Crimes in Poland

GERMAN CRIMES IN POLAND (Warsaw, 1946, 1947)
Extermination Camp Chelmno (Kulmhof)

Part I

The extermination camp at Chelmno was a typical death camp, i.e. a place designed exclusively for killing all who where brought there. The only ones to be saved were a small group of workers selected by the Germans for work connected with their criminal activities.

The extermination camp at Chelmno demands special attention, because during the German occupation only a very few people in Poland ever knew of its existence and the hundreds of thousands of its victims.

The village of Chelmno (district of Kolo) is situated 14 km. (8 3/4 miles) from the town of Kolo, through which runs the main railway line from Lodz to Poznan, and which is connected with the village of Chelmno by a branch line. Lodz, the second largest city of Poland, which in 1939 had a Jewish population of 202,000, was relatively near (60 km or 37 1/2 miles); the road to it was good and little used.

In the village there was a small country house surrounded by an old park, which was owned by the State and stood empty. In the vicinity was a pine-wood, sections of which, densely planted with young trees, were almost impenetrable. This site the German occupation authorities selected for their extermination camp. The park was enclosed by a high wooden fence which concealed everything that went on behind it.

The local inhabitants were expelled from the village, only a few workers being left to do the necessary jobs. Inside the enclosure were two buildings, the small country house and an old granary, besides which the Germans constructed two wooden hutments. The whole enclosure where hundred of thousands of people were done to death measured only 2 hectares (5 acres).

Those who were brought here for destruction were convinced till the very last moment that they were to be employed on fortification work in the East. They were told that, before going further, they would have a bath, and that their clothes would be disinfected. Immediately after their arrival at the camp they were taken to the large hall of the house, where they were told to undress, and then they were driven along a corridor to the front door, where a large lorry, fitted up as a gas-chamber, was standing. This, they were told, was to take them to the bath-house. When the lorry was full, the door was locked, the engine started, and carbon monoxide was introduced into the interior through a specially constructed exhaust pipe. After 4-5 minutes, when the cries and struggles of the suffocating victims were heard no more, the lorry was driven to the wood, 4 km (2 1/2 miles) away, which was enclosed with a high fence and surrounded with outposts. Here the corpses were unloaded and buried, and afterwards burnt in one of the clearings.

Part II

The aim of the Chelmno camp was the extermination of the Jews from the Warthegau, the part of Poland which consisted of the 1939 province (voivodship) of Poznania, almost the whole province of Lodz, and a part of the province of Warsaw, inhabited altogether by 4,546,000 People (including 450,000 Jews).

The camp was established in November 1941. The extermination process began on December 8, with the ghetto population of the cities and towns of the Warthegau, first from the neighbouring Kolo, Dabie, Sompolno, Klodawa and many other places, and later from Lodz itself. The first Jews arrived at Chelmno from Lodz in the middle of January 1942. From that time onwards an average of 1000 a day was maintained, with short intermissions, till April 1943.

Besides those who were brought by rail, others were delivered at the camp from time to time in cars, but such were comparatively rare. Besides those from Poland there were also transports of Jews from Germany, Austria, France, Belgium, Luxembourg and Holland; as a rule the Lodz ghetto served as a distribution centre. The total number of Jews from abroad amounted to about 16,000.

Besides the 300,000 Jews from the Warthegau, about 5,000 Gypsies and about a thousand Poles and Russian prisoners of war were murdered at Chelmno. But the execution of the latter took place mostly at night. They were taken straight to the wood, and shot.

In 1943, four lorries filled with children aged from 12-14 without Jewish emblems were brought. The witnesses took the impression that they were “Aryans.” It was just at this time that the Nazis were expelling the Polish population from the neighbourhood of Zamosc, and as a rule separating children from their parents.

Part III

According to the evidence of three witnesses (Podchlebnik, Srebrnik and Zurawski) who succeeded in escaping from the camp of Chelmno, as well as to that of Polish witnesses drawn from the population of the neighbourhood who had been able to get in touch with the inmates of the camp, and finally, that obtained from the railway transport records, the following preparatory phases in the process of mass execution can be distinguished:

Jews who were taken were told that they were going for military work in the East. Except for those from Lodz, it was the practice to surround the town at dawn with gendarmerie, police, SS, army, and Nazi party units in order to prevent the escape of the Jews. The latter were collected at appointed places, and were allowed to take hand-baggage with them; having been told that they were going to be taken for work on fortifications in the East. Only small numbers of craftsmen, such as tailors, furriers and shoemakers, were selected and sent to the ghetto at Lodz.

At the same time, all that was going on at the camp was kept so secret that the Jews taken there had no notion whatever of what was awaiting them. Many, indeed, applied voluntarily to be sent to Chelmno and the East.

The railway trains which used to bring the Jews from Lodz consisted as a rule of 20-22 wagons. At Kolo the transportees, usually about 1000 at one time, were reloaded and sent by the branch line to Powiercic, the rail-head, whence their baggage was dispatched straight to Chelmno, while they themselves were taken under an escort of 6 to 8 gendarmes to the neighbouring village of Zawadki, and left for the night in a large mill building.

The next morning 3 lorries used to come for them from Chelmno, about 2 km (a mile and a quarter) away. Not more that 100-150 were taken at a time, that being the number which could be gassed in one operation. The whole process was so arranged that the next batch of victims remained till the last moment ignorant of the fate of those who had proceeded them. The whole thousand were disposed of by 1 or 2 p.m.

The loaded lorries entered the camp grounds and stopped before the house, where the newcomers were addressed by a representative of the Sonderkommando, who told them they were going to work in the East, and promised them fair treatment and good food. He also told them that first they must take a bath and deliver their clothes to be disinfected. From the courtyard they were sent inside the house, to a heated room on the first floor, where they undressed. They then came downstairs to a corridor, on the walls of which were inscriptions: “to the doctor” or “to the bath”, the latter with an arrow pointing to the front door. When they had gone out they were told that they were going in a closed car to the bath-house.

Before the door of the country house stood a large lorry with a door in the rear, so placed that it could be entered directly with the help of a ladder. The time assigned for loading it was very short, gendarmes standing in the corridor and driving the wretched victims into the car as quickly as possible with shouts and blows. When the whole of one batch had been forced into the car, the door was banged and the engine started, poisoning with its exhaust fumes those who were locked inside. The process was usually complete in 4 or 5 minutes, and then the lorry was driven to Rzuchow wood about 4 km (2 1/2 miles) away, where the corpses were unloaded and burnt.

Meanwhile lorries were bringing from Zawadki the next batch of 100-150 persons, destined to be disposed of in the same way, all traces of the previous batch having been removed and their belongings (clothing, shoes, etc.) taken away.

When the camp was “liquidated” in 1944, the gas-chamber lorries were sent back to Germany. At the inquiry it was established that they had originally been brought from Berlin. There were three of them, one large enough to hold about 150 persons, and two with a capacity of 80-100 each. Their official name was Sonderwagen.

As the Sonderkommando of the camp had no repair shops, and the cars often needed overhaul, they were sent to the Kraft und Reichsstrassenbauamt repair shops at Kolo. Eight Polish mechanics who had worked there and were examined at the inquiry described their construction as follows: the large lorry measured 6 x 3 metres (20 x 10 ft.) and the smaller ones 4.5 or 2,3 x 2.5 metres (15 or 16 x 8 ft.). The outside was covered with narrow overlapping boards, so that it looked as though it were armoured. The inside was lined with iron plates and the door fitted tightly, so that no air could let in from outside. The outside was painted dark gray.

The exhaust pipe was placed underneath and discharged its gas through a vent in the middle of the floor, which was guarded by a perforated iron plate, to prevent it from choking. On the floor of the car was a wooden grating. The engine was probably made by Sauer. By the driver’s seat was a plate with the words: Baujahr 1940-Berlin. In the driver’s cabin were gas-masks.

Part IV

In Rzuchow wood, 4 km (2 1/2 miles) from Chelmno, the camp authorities enclosed two sections and posted sentries on the adjoining roads. Here the gas-lorries brought the corpses from Chelmno. After the door was opened, ten minutes were allowed for the complete evaporation of the gas, and then the bodies were unloaded by the Jewish Waldkommando, and carefully searched for concealed gold and valuables. Gold teeth were pulled out, finger-rings torn off.

Until the spring of 1942 the remains were buried in large common graves, one of which measured 270 x 9 x 6 metres (885 x 30 x 20 ft.). In the spring of 1942 two crematoria were built, and after that, all the dead were burnt in them (and the bodies previously buried as well). Details about the furnaces are lacking, for the investigator could find no witnesses who had been in the wood in 1942 or 1943. Those who lived near had only noticed two constantly smoking chimneys within the enclosure.

The furnaces were blown up by the camp authorities on April 7, 1943. Two new ones were, however, constructed in 1944, when the camp activities were resumed. The witnesses Zurawski and Srebrnik, and the captured gendarme Bruno Israel, who saw them in 1944, describe them as follows:

They were built deep in the ground and did not project above its surface; and were shaped like inverted cones with rectangular bases. At the top on the ground level the furnaces measured 6 x 10 m (20 x 33 ft.) and they were 4 m (13 ft.) deep. At the bottom by the ash-pit they measured 1.5 x 2 m (95 x 6 in. ft.). The grates were made of rails. A channel to the ash-pit ensured the admittance of air and permitted the removal of ashes and bones. The sides of the furnace were made of firebrick and faced with cement. In the furnace were alternate layers of chopped wood and corpses: to facilitate combustion, space was left between the corpses. The furnace could hold 100 corpses at a time, but as they burned down, fresh ones were added from above.

The ashes and remains of bones were removed from the ash-pit, ground in mortars, and, at first, thrown into especially dug ditches; but later, from 1943 onwards, bones and ashes were secretly carted to Zawadki at night, and there thrown into the river.

Part V

The number of people killed at Chelmno could not be calculated from reliable data or railway records as the camp authorities destroyed all the evidence. The investigators were therefore obliged to confine themselves to the evidence given by witnesses concerning the number of transports sent to Chelmno.

In order to obtain as accurate an estimate as possible, witnesses were called from various points through which the transports passed (Lodz, Kolo, Powiercie, Zawvadki and Chelmno) or on individual observation and the counting based on the collective Railway tickets which they had seen (e. g. that of the woman Lange, a German booking-clerk at Kolo station), or finally individual observation and the counting of transports; or finally on what the members of the Sonderkommando told them about the number of victims.

All the witnesses agree that the average number of persons brought to the camp was at least 1000 a day. There were times when the number was larger, but 1000 may be accepted as a reliable average – exclusive of those who were brought in cars. These latter were not a negligible proportion, coming as they did from numerous small towns.

As to how many railway trains arrived during the whole time of the camp’s existence, investigators found that the extermination activities at Chelmno lasted from December 8, 1941 to April 9, 1943. From April 1943, till the final “liquidation” of the camp in January 1945, strictly speaking, the camp was not functioning; the total number of transports in this period amounting only to 10, bringing approximately 10,000 people.

Considering only the time from December 8, 1941 to April 7, 1943, 480 days, we must allow for a break of two months in the spring of 1942, when transports were stopped, as well as for certain interruptions due to merely technical causes, which, it was found, did not exceed 70 days altogether. This gives (61 + 70) or 131-150 days lost. The remainder, 330 days of full activity, may be unhesitatingly accepted, and if 1000 victims were murdered a day, the total was 330,000. To this number must be added the 10,000 killed in 1944. The final total therefore is 340,000 men, women and children, from infants to old folks, killed at the extermination camp at Chelmno.

Part VI

This mass destruction was carefully planned, down to the smallest detail. The victims were kept in ignorance of their fate, and the whole German staff did not exceed 150-180 persons. Sonderkommando Kulmhof consisted only of a party of 20 SS-men, N. C. O.s of gendarmerie, and over 100 members of the German police, who served as sentinels, helping in the camp and in the wood where the corpses were burnt, and guarding the neighbouring roads.

At the head of the camp was Hauptsturmführer Hans Bootman. For the first few months, the Commandant of the camp was a certain Lange who had come, like all the SS-men, from Germany. The assistant of the Commandant was first Lange, then Otto Platte and Willi Hiller. All activities in the camp were managed by Untersturmführer Heffele. In charge of the works in the wood was Wachmeister Lenz. The crematoria were superintended by Hauptscharführer Johann Runge, who had directed their construction with the help of Unterscharführer Kretschmer. Hauptscharführer Gustav Laps, Hauptscharführer Burstinge and Gilow served as drivers of the gas-wagons.

The investigators cited the names of 80 Germans who were members of the Sonderkommando. In addition to their wages, they received hush-money (Schweigegeld) amounting to 13 RM a day. The Canteen was well stocked with food and spirits. The inquiry showed that Greiser Gaulciter of the Warthegau, during one of his visits to the camp at the beginning of March 1943, handed each of the members of the Sonderkommando 500 RM at a banquet specially given for them, and invited them to his estate when on leave.

It should be pointed out that when, in January 1945, in view of the Soviet offensive, arrangements were being made for the final “liquidation” of the camp, the camp authorities waited till the last minute for Greiser to give the evacuation order (evidence of Israel Bruno, the arrested gendarme from Chelm).

The camp was also inspected personally by Himmler, and Dr. Bradfisch, chief of the Gestapo at Lodz, and Hans Bibow, the manager of the Ghettoverwaltung at Lodz, were constant visitors.

It was found that Greiser and the higher functionaries of the German administration who were in contact with the camp had received valuables which had belonged to murdered Jews. But the gendarmerie and police were very severely punished if they appropriated such things.

Apart from the Sonderkommando, some 70 Jewish workers and 8 Polish prisoners from concentration camps were employed in the camp on searching and burning the corpses. They worked in two parties: the Hauskommando in the camp enclosure, and the Waldkommando in the wood. As a rule, after several weeks of work, these Jewish workers were killed, and replaced by fresh ones, newly arrived. They were fettered to check their movements. The workers at the ash-pit in the wood as a rule did not live longer than a few days. The attitude of members of the Sonderkommando towards the Jewish workers was cruel. Members of the SS used them as living targets, shooting them like hares.

Besides this, members of the Sonderkommando very often killed infants and small children, as well as old people, although they knew that they would be gassed anyway within the next few hours.

Part VII

A further important factor inspiring the destruction of the Jews by the Nazi authorities was economic. The value of the property owned by 340,000 people amounted to a large sum. The majority of things had been already taken from the Jews at the time of the evacuation of the ghettos, but many valuables and gold were stolen in the camp itself.

The things which were seized were sent to different centres, mostly to Lodz, where they were collected and underwent a final examination before being sent to the Reich. It was stated for instance, that on September 9, 1944, 775 wristwatches and 550 pocket watches were sent from Chelmno to the Ghettoverwaltung at Lodz.

At the inquiry it was stated that the clothing of the victims was sold for the benefit of the winter assistance fund (Winterhilfe). Among the documents of the case, there is a letter of January 9, 1943 to the ghetto administration at Lodz, sent by the Winterhilfswerk des Deutschen Volkes: Der Gaubeauftragte Poznan. It runs as follows: “Concerning the supply of textiles for NSV by the ghetto authorities. According to a personal understanding between you, my principal local Manager Kichhorn and the local Manager Koalick, clothes, dresses, and underwear are to be provided after cleaning. The 1,500 suits supplied do not correspond in any way to the textiles which we saw at Chelmno (Kulmhof), which were put at the disposal of the ghetto authorities: Your consignment contains various assorted articles of clothing, but no whole suits. Many articles of this clothing are badly stained and partly permeated with dirt and blood-stains. (Ein grosser Teil der Bekleidungsstucke ist stark befleckt und teilweise auch mit Schmutz und Blutflecken durchsetzt). In one of the consignments sent to Poznan containing 200 jackets, on 51 of them the Jewish stars had not been removed! As they are mostly Polish workers in the camps of the district, the danger is that the settlers (Ruckwanderer) who receive this clothing will become aware of its origin and WHW will be discredited (und das WHW somit in Misskredit kommt).”

From the above it may be concluded that German philanthropic institutions knew that the clothing sent from Poland had been owned by murdered Jews.

Part VIII

The final activities of the camp at Chelmno in 1944 differ from those of 1941-1943 in this, that the victims were brought from Kolo by a local branch railway line direct to Chelmno, where they were left for the night in the church, and the next day were taken directly to Rzuchow wood. In this wood, at a distance of only 150 metres from the crematoria, two wooden huts were constructed, one of them designed, as was previously the country house at Chelmno, to be a dressing room for those going to the bath, and the other as a clothing and baggage store.

The general procedure was exactly as before, the victims, completely naked, being forced into gas-lorries and told they were going to the bath-house. After gassing the victims, the lorries were driven to a nearby clearing, in which stood the crematoria where the corpses were burnt.

The total number of persons murdered in 1944 was about 10,000. According to the testimony of the witness Peham, the wife of a gendarme from the camp at Chelmno, trainloads of Hungarian Jews in 1944 were to be directed there. In the end, however, they were not sent there, but to Oswiecim.

In the autumn of 1944, the camp in the wood was completely destroyed, the crematoria being blown up, the huts taken to pieces, and almost every trace of crime being carefully removed. A Special Commission from Berlin directed, on the spot, the destruction of all the evidence of what had been done. But up to the last moment, January 17, 1945, the Sonderkommando and a group of 47 Jewish workers stayed there.

In the night of January 17/18, 1945, the Sonderkommando shot these last remaining Jews. When they tried to defend themselves and two gendarmes were killed, the Sonderkommando set fire to the building. Only two Jews, Zurawski and Srebrnik, survived.

End of official story of Chelmno camp.

I personally think that the Chelmno camp was a transit camp. Jews were brought there and then sent on to other camps where they were put to work. There was no gas chamber at Chelmno, only alleged “gas vans.”

June 3, 2015

Chelmno, the little known “death camp”

Filed under: Germany, Holocaust — Tags: , , — furtherglory @ 10:12 am

Jewish headstones stacked  against the wall of a Museum a Chelmno

Jewish headstones stacked against the wall of a Museum at Chelmno [photo credit Alan Collins]

Quick! Name the six Nazi “death camps.”  Most people can easily name the most famous death camp: Auschwitz. Many people could also come up with the name Majdanek [Maidenek in German].  Holocaust experts would have no hesitation in naming the three Operation Reinhardt camps: Treblinka, Sobibor and Belzec.

But what about Chelmno?

The church where Jews were held overnight at Chelmno before being killed (Photo Credit: Alan Collins)

The church where Jews were held overnight at Chelmno before being killed (Photo Credit: Alan Collins)

Chelmno [Kulmhof in German] was the very first death camp, so it should be a household name, but it isn’t. Why does Chelmno get no respect?  The very first gassing of the Jews took place at Chelmno.

The Chelmno death camp has historical significance because it is the first place where the Jews were gassed in the genocide known as the Holocaust, which took the lives of six million Jews. According to Holocaust historian Martin Gilbert, the “Final Solution” began when 700 Jews from the Polish village of Kolo arrived at Chelmno on the evening of December 7, 1941 and on the following day, all of them were killed with carbon monoxide in gas vans. The victims were taken on 8 or 9 separate journeys in the gas vans to a clearing in the Rzuchowski woods near Chelmno.

In his book entitled Holocaust, Martin Gilbert wrote the following:

Begin Quote:

On 7 December 1941, as the first seven hundred Jews were being deported to the death camp at Chelmno, Japanese aircraft attacked the United States Fleet at Pearl Harbor. Unknown at that time either to the Allies or the Jews of Europe, Roosevelt’s day that would “live in infamy” was also the first day of the “final solution.”  End quote

Wikipedia has a page under the title: Chelmno extermination camp

This quote is from Wikipedia: “It [Chelmno] was built to exterminate Jews of the Łódź Ghetto and the local Polish inhabitants of Reichsgau Wartheland (Warthegau).[4] In 1943 modifications were made to the camp’s killing methods, as the reception building was already dismantled.[5]”

The following quote is from a book by the Central Commission for Investigation of German Crimes in Poland entitled “GERMAN CRIMES IN POLAND” (Warsaw, 1946, 1947):

The ashes and remains of bones [at Chelmno] were removed from the ash-pit, ground in mortars, and, at first, thrown into especially dug ditches; but later, from 1943 onwards, bones and ashes were secretly carted to Zawadki at night, and there thrown into the [Ner] river.

[…]

In the autumn of 1944 the camp in the wood [Chelmno] was completely destroyed, the crematoria being blown up, the huts taken to pieces, and almost every trace of crime being carefully removed. A Special Commission from Berlin directed, on the spot, the destruction of all the evidence of what had been done.

The word “extermination” is routinely used to mean the killing of the Jews, mainly by gassing them to death. All over the world, people have been murdered or killed, but not the Jews. The Jews were always “exterminated,” like bugs, with a poison gas called Zyklon-B, or with carbon monoxide.

You can read the official version of the Chelmno camp at http://www.theholocaustexplained.org/ks3/the-final-solution/the-death-camps/chelmno/#.VR2zL2Z9ut8

The Chelmno Schlosslager [Castle camp] had neither prisoner barracks nor factories; it’s sole purpose was to murder Jews and Roma [Gypsies] who were not capable of working at forced labor for the Nazis.

In 1939, there were around 385,000 Jews living in the Warthegau; those who could work were sent to the Lodz ghetto where they labored in textile factories which made uniforms for the German army.

On January 16, 1942, deportations from the Lodz ghetto began; records from the ghetto show that 54,990 people were deported before the final liquidation of the ghetto in August 1944.

The Jewish leader of the Lodz ghetto, Chaim Rumkowski, compiled the lists of people to be deported, although he had no knowledge that they were being sent to their deaths at Chelmno.

The gassing of the Jews at Chelmno was carried out in two separate phases. In the first phase, between December 7, 1941 and April 1943, Jews from the surrounding area and the Lodz ghetto were brought to Chelmno and killed on the day after their arrival.

Although the Nazis destroyed all records of the Chelmno camp, it is alleged that around 15,000 Jews and 5,000 Roma, who were deported from Germany, Austria, Belgium, France, Czechoslovakia and Luxembourg, were brought to Chelmno to be killed in this remote spot.

The victims of the Nazis at Chelmno also included Polish citizens and Soviet Prisoners of War. The POWs were taken directly to the nearby Rzuchowski forest where they were shot.

Wall at the spot where Jews were buried after they were killed in the forest

Wall at the spot where Jews were buried after they were killed in the forest (Photo Credit: Alan Collins)

Bodies of Jews were buried behind  the wall at Chelmno (Photo Credit: Alan Collins)

Bodies of Jews were buried behind the wall at Chelmno (Photo Credit: Alan Collins)

The Yad Vashem Museum in Jerusalem has a list of 12 names of children from Lidice who were sent to Chelmno, although other sources claim that the number of orphans from Lidice was far higher. These were the children whose parents had been killed when the Czech village of Lidice was completely destroyed in a reprisal action after the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich.

The foundation of the Castle where prisoners were held at Chelmno

The foundation of the Castle where prisoners were held at Chelmno (Photo Credit: Alan Collins)

The first phase of the liquidation of the Lodz ghetto began on June 23, 1944 and continued until July 14, 1944. Records kept by the Judenrat (Jewish leaders) in Lodz show that 7,716 Jews left the ghetto during this period of time.

Upon arrival at Chelmno, the Jews from Lodz were told that they were going to be taken to Germany to remove the rubble from the streets of German cities following the Allied bombing raids. Instead, they were loaded into vans and killed with carbon monoxide from gasoline engines. What a waste of manpower!  The German women had to remove the rubble.

In August 1944, the remaining Jews in the Lodz ghetto, except for a few who hid from the Nazis, were sent to either Chelmno or Auschwitz. A few who were sent to Auschwitz survived only because the gassing operation there stopped at the end of October 1944.

Monument to the Jews who were killed at Chelmno (Photo credit: Alan Collins)

Monument to the Jews who were killed at Chelmno (Photo credit: Alan Collins)

The Chelmno Granery (Photo Credit: Alan Collins)

The Chelmno Granery (Photo Credit: Alan Collins)

The Jewish workers, called the JudenKommando, who did the work of burning the corpses at Chelmno, were housed in the granary during the second phase of the killing at Chelmno. The granary is shown in the background of the photo above.

On the night of January 17 and 18, 1945, the SS men began taking the 47 Jewish workers out of the granary building and shooting them in groups of five, according to the two survivors, Shimon Srebnik and Mordechai Zurawski. The Jews defended themselves and two of the SS men were killed. According to the survivors, the SS men then set fire to the granary.

Monument to the Jews who were killed at Chelmno

Monument to the Jews who were killed at Chelmno (Photo Credit: Alan Collins)

May 1, 2014

“Hitler didn’t want to contaminate German soil” by gassing Jews in Germany

Filed under: Dachau, Germany, Holocaust — Tags: , , , — furtherglory @ 12:53 pm

The title of my blog post today includes a quote from a recent news article which you can read in full at http://www.northjersey.com/news/teaching-the-holocaust-passaic-county-community-college-students-confront-horror-1.1004635

This quote is from the article:

Speaking to the initial location of major concentration and extermination camps outside of Germany, he said “Hitler didn’t want to contaminate German soil.”

It is true that some of the extermination camps (Treblinka, Sobibor, Belzec, Auschwitz, and Majdanek) were outside of Germany, but what about the Dachau gas chamber, which was in Germany. Is he denying the Dachau gas chamber?

What about Chelmno, which was located in the Greater German Reich, as was Mauthausen?

Speaking to the initial location of major concentration and extermination camps outside of Germany, he said “Hitler didn’t want to contaminate German soil.”  – See more at: http://www.northjersey.com/news/teaching-the-holocaust-passaic-county-community-college-students-confront-horror-1.1004635#sthash.iqLivnqd.dpuf
Speaking to the initial location of major concentration and extermination camps outside of Germany, he said “Hitler didn’t want to contaminate German soil.”  – See more at: http://www.northjersey.com/news/teaching-the-holocaust-passaic-county-community-college-students-confront-horror-1.1004635#sthash.iqLivnqd.dpuf

The words in the quote were spoken by Professor Elliot S. Pollack, an adjunct professor of English Competition at Passaic County Community College, who used to teach at Ridgefield Park High School. In 1993, after Governor Christie Whitman signed legislation mandating Holocaust education in New Jersey public schools, Pollack visited concentration camp sites at Terezin, outside Prague, Czechoslovakia, and Auschwitz in Poland to make a video, which he recently showed to his class.

According to the news article, “the video reveals Terezin (Theresienstadt) and Auschwitz in all their horror.”

The following quote is from the news article about Professor Pollack’s lecture to his class:

“The gas chambers were a labyrinth of darkened corridors where thousands were led to their deaths, some scratching at the walls in their final moments.”

The scratches, which can be seen today, are on the walls of a gas chamber at Auschwitz, but I don’t know of any gas chambers in a “labyrinth of darkened corridors.”  That must have been at Theresienstadt.

I blogged about the gas chambers at Theresienstadt on this post: https://furtherglory.wordpress.com/2010/05/13/gas-chamber-at-theresienstadt/

I blogged about the scratches on the wall of the Auschwitz gas chamber on this post: https://furtherglory.wordpress.com/2011/09/06/dying-victims-scratched-the-walls-of-the-auschwitz-gas-chamber-with-their-fingernails/

The article also mentions “human ashes dumped into urns and stacked against a wall.”

I previously blogged about the ashes that were put into urns at https://furtherglory.wordpress.com/2011/03/30/the-urns-used-for-ashes-at-dachau-and-other-concentration-camps/

 

Speaking to the initial location of major concentration and extermination camps outside of Germany, he said “Hitler didn’t want to contaminate German soil.”  – See more at: http://www.northjersey.com/news/teaching-the-holocaust-passaic-county-community-college-students-confront-horror-1.1004635#sthash.iqLivnqd.dpuf

Pollack, an adjunct professor of English Competition at PCCC, used to teach at Ridgefield Park High School. In 1993, after Governor Christie Whitman signed legislation mandating Holocaust education in New Jersey public schools, Pollack visited concentration camp sites at Terezin, outside Prague, Czechoslovakia, and Auschwitz in Poland to make the video he showed the class on Monday.

The video reveals Terezin and Auschwitz in all their horror. The gas chambers were a labyrinth of darkened corridors where thousands were led to their deaths, some scratching at the walls in their final moments.

– See more at: http://www.northjersey.com/news/teaching-the-holocaust-passaic-county-community-college-students-confront-horror-1.1004635#sthash.iqLivnqd.dpuf

Pollack, an adjunct professor of English Competition at PCCC, used to teach at Ridgefield Park High School. In 1993, after Governor Christie Whitman signed legislation mandating Holocaust education in New Jersey public schools, Pollack visited concentration camp sites at Terezin, outside Prague, Czechoslovakia, and Auschwitz in Poland to make the video he showed the class on Monday.

The video reveals Terezin and Auschwitz in all their horror. The gas chambers were a labyrinth of darkened corridors where thousands were led to their deaths, some scratching at the walls in their final moments.

– See more at: http://www.northjersey.com/news/teaching-the-holocaust-passaic-county-community-college-students-confront-horror-1.1004635#sthash.iqLivnqd.dpuf

Pollack, an adjunct professor of English Competition at PCCC, used to teach at Ridgefield Park High School. In 1993, after Governor Christie Whitman signed legislation mandating Holocaust education in New Jersey public schools, Pollack visited concentration camp sites at Terezin, outside Prague, Czechoslovakia, and Auschwitz in Poland to make the video he showed the class on Monday.

The video reveals Terezin and Auschwitz in all their horror. The gas chambers were a labyrinth of darkened corridors where thousands were led to their deaths, some scratching at the walls in their final moments.

– See more at: http://www.northjersey.com/news/teaching-the-holocaust-passaic-county-community-college-students-confront-horror-1.1004635#sthash.iqLivnqd.dpuf

Pollack, an adjunct professor of English Competition at PCCC, used to teach at Ridgefield Park High School. In 1993, after Governor Christie Whitman signed legislation mandating Holocaust education in New Jersey public schools, Pollack visited concentration camp sites at Terezin, outside Prague, Czechoslovakia, and Auschwitz in Poland to make the video he showed the class on Monday.

The video reveals Terezin and Auschwitz in all their horror. The gas chambers were a labyrinth of darkened corridors where thousands were led to their deaths, some scratching at the walls in their final moments.

– See more at: http://www.northjersey.com/news/teaching-the-holocaust-passaic-county-community-college-students-confront-horror-1.1004635#sthash.iqLivnqd.dpuf

August 2, 2013

Holocaust survivor stories must fit the basic premise of the Holocaust — the genocide of the Jews

Filed under: Holocaust, movies — Tags: , , , — furtherglory @ 8:00 am

When I visited the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in the year 2000, I wanted to buy Claude Lanzmann’s nine-and-a-half hour documentary film, entitled Shoah.  I went to the book store at the Museum, with my credit card ready, but I balked when I learned that the price was $900.  Now Lanzmann has a new documentary out, and his original masterpiece is available at Amazon.com at a fraction of the original price.

There is an article about Lanzmann’s documentaries, which you can read in full here.  This quote is from the article:

Director Claude Lanzmann’s choice to focus only on those witnesses who were regularly in contact with the process of extermination forces the viewer to be reminded that the ultimate goal of the Holocaust wasn’t to harass the Jewish people or move them or make them uncomfortable. The purpose of the Holocaust—to obliterate the Jewish people entirely—is reflected in the empty landscape of Chelmno, where only the foundation stones of the killing area still remain.

The Chelmno camp was located in the small Polish village of Chelmno nad Neren (Chelmno on the river Ner), 60 kilometers northwest of Lodz, a major city in what is now western Poland. The camp, which was opened by the Germans some time in October or November 1941, was in the Warthegau, a district in the part of Poland that had been annexed into the Greater German Reich after the joint conquest of Poland by Germany and the Soviet Union in 1939.

Monument at the location of the Chelmno camp

Monument near the Chelmno camp, overlooking the Ner river Photo Credit: Alan Collins

The “purpose” of the Holocaust was genocide.  Lanzmann’s original documentary is a collection of the stories of the survivors. Every survivor has his or her unique story, but every story is about how the survivor escaped death in the gas chamber.

The article about Lanzmann begins with this quote:

Only the Stories Still Exist

A lone man rows himself down [the river Ner] in a boat, singing a Polish folk song. His voice slips across the banks of the river, into the forests beyond, and disappears. No echo returns to indicate that the man, Simon Srebnik, is drawing closer and closer to the forest clearing in Chelmno, Poland, where poison gas was first used by Nazi forces to murder Jews. One of the first Jews to be brought to the Chelmno killing center, Srebnik speaks with teary eyes about moving the bodies of the dead at the command of German soldiers and Polish special police.

A young man when the Holocaust began, Srebnik enchanted his captors with his beautiful singing voice. Strains of his song were heard by the non-Jews in Chelmno, several of whom still vividly remember the mixture of beauty and desperation they sensed in the boy’s voice. Srebnik himself calls singing for the soldiers while they were killing his people “true German irony”.

Like all of the witnesses who speak about the Holocaust in Shoah, Srebnik was intimately close to the process of Jewish extermination. As the film unfolds, more and more survivors tell stories about working in crematoriums and surviving the death camps. Filmed in their homes, at the camps or on stages designed to illicit their testimony, Shoah visually and figuratively approaches the Holocaust from multiple angles without losing its sense of purpose.

Simon Srebnik was a Sonderkommando, one of the Jewish helpers who assisted the Nazis in burning the bodies of the dead.  The Nazis kept no records of the Jews who were killed.  The proof of the Holocaust depends on the testimony of the Sonderkommando Jews and the numerous survivors who witnessed the “extermination” of the Jews, but somehow managed to escape.

Each of these survivor stories must fit the basic premise that the Nazis had a plan, called “The Final Solution,” which was the plan to genocide the Jews.  This plan was discussed at the Wannsee Conference on January 20, 1942.  Yet, the gassing of the Jews began at Chelmno on December 7, 1941, before the conference was held.  Fortunately, the Nazis left witnesses alive to tell about it.

Jewish workers lived in the granary, the building in the background

Jewish workers lived in the granary, the building in the background  Photo Credit: Alan Collins

The Jewish workers, called the JudenKommando, who did the work of burning the corpses at Chelmno, were housed in the granary during the second phase of the killing at Chelmno. The granary is shown in the background of the photo above.

On the night of January 17 and 18, 1945, the SS men began taking the 47 Jewish workers out of the granary building and shooting them in groups of five, according to the two survivors, Shimon Srebnik and Mordechai Zurawski. The Jews defended themselves and two of the SS men were killed. According to the two survivors, the SS men then set fire to the granary.

The price of Lanzmann’s documentary, with the testimony of numerous survivors, has now dwindled down to less than $40.00 but I have lost interest, and probably won’t buy it.  I’ve got better things to do.

P.S.  If you like fairy tales and such, read this blog post by Carolyn Yeager:  http://www.eliewieseltattoo.com/elies-adventures-in-buchenland/

July 9, 2012

The plan to execute German-American citizens of the USA during World War II

Filed under: Holocaust — Tags: , , , — furtherglory @ 9:44 am

I was reading the very informative blog of Herb Stolpmann today when I came across his blog post about the Chelmno extermination camp here.  It started off with this startling statement:

Readers of the New York Times found on July 2nd 1942 page 6 an unusual item. Under the title “Allies are Urged to Execute Nazis,” it was reported by a call of the Polish government in exile in London, initiating threats of retribution (Vergeltungsdrohungen) against German citizens living in western countries abroad. […]

For this reason, it was recommended the liquidation of Germans in the U.S. and other countries as a deterrent.

I had to read this several times before it sank into my brain.  The “Polish government in exile in London” was calling for the murder of German citizens living in western countries.

According to Wikipedia, there were “over 110 German-American citizens arrested between 1941 and 1944 in cities such as Chicago, Detroit, Honolulu and Los Angeles.”

This quote is from Wikipedia:

A total of 11,507 Germans and German-Americans were interned during the war, accounting for 36% of the total internments under the Justice Department’s Enemy Alien Control Program, but far less than the 110,000 Japanese-Americans interned.[26] Such internments began with the detention of 1,260 Germans shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbor.[27] Of the 254 persons evicted from coastal areas, the majority were German.[28]

In addition, over 4,500 ethnic Germans were brought to the U.S. from Latin America and similarly detained. The Federal Bureau of Investigation drafted a list of Germans in fifteen Latin American countries whom it suspected of subversive activities and, following the attack on Pearl Harbor, demanded their eviction to the U.S. for detention.[29]

The article in the New York Times states that it was the news of the killing of the Jews in gas vans in Chelmno which prompted the Polish government in exile in London to call for the murder of German civilians in retribution. Fortunately, this never happened, as far as I know.

I was a child, living in Missouri, during World War II.  There were whole towns in Missouri, which were predominantly German-American.  The most famous one is Hermann, MO which is now a tourist attraction.  I knew about the internment of Japanese-Americans during the war, but I didn’t know about the German-Americans who were imprisoned in internment camps.

This quote is from Herb Stolpmann’s blog post:

After listing the main sites of mass murder in eastern Poland, it was said in the (New York Times) article: “In early winter the Germans methodically continue to kill all Jews. They sent special mobile gas chambers to western Poland, into territories incorporated into the Reich. In places like Chelmno near Kolo, ninety people were put at once into those gas chambers. The victims were buried in graves that they themselves had dug in the forest of Lubarski. Between November 1941 and March 1942 about 1,000 people a day from the residential districts of Kolo, Dabie, Izbica and other places as well as the 35 000 Jews from Lodz were killed during the period 2-9 January.

Chelmno is listed as one of the six extermination camps, but it differs from the other five “death camps.”  Chelmno didn’t have gas chambers.  Instead, the Jews were killed in “gas vans.”  The killing of the Jews at Chelmno began on December 8, 1941 — before the start of the Wannsee Conference where the genocide of the Jews (“the Final Solution”) was planned.  Some historians say that the start of the killing at Chelmno was on December 6, 1941.  This was before Germany declared war on America and America then declared war on Germany.

After World War II ended in Europe with the surrender of the German Army on May 7, 1945, the provisional Polish government set up the Central Commission for the Investigation of German Crimes in Poland. The purpose was to gather evidence for the Nuremberg International Military Tribunal which was set to begin on November 20, 1945, and for the planned trials of Germans who had committed war crimes in Poland.

The main report by the Central Commission was entitled GERMAN CRIMES IN POLAND; it was originally published in two volumes in 1946 and 1947. The report included an overview of the main Nazi concentration camps and death camps in Poland. Two of the death camps, Auschwitz and Chelmno, had been in Greater Germany while they were in operation but now they are located in Poland.

This quote is from the report by the Central Commission on the Chelmno camp:

The camp was established in November 1941.The extermination process began on December 8, with the ghetto population of the cities and towns of the Warthegau, first from the neighbouring Kolo, Dabie, Sompolno, Klodawa and many other places, and later from Lodz itself. The first Jews arrived at Chelmno from Lodz in the middle of January 1942. From that time onwards an average of 1000 a day was maintained, with short intermissions, till April 1943.  […]

Those who were brought here for destruction were convinced till the very last moment that they were to be employed on fortification work in the East. They were told that, before going further, they would have a bath, and that their clothes would be disinfected. Immediately after their arrival at the camp they were taken to the large hall of the house, where they were told to undress, and then they were driven along a corridor to the front door, where a large lorry, fitted up as a gas-chamber, was standing. This, they were told, was to take them to the bath-house. When the lorry was full, the door was locked, the engine started, and carbon monoxide was introduced into the interior through a specially constructed exhaust pipe. After 4-5 minutes, when the cries and struggles of the suffocating victims were heard no more, the lorry was driven to the wood, 4 km (2 1/2 miles) away, which was enclosed with a high fence and surrounded with outposts. Here the corpses were unloaded and buried, and afterwards burnt in one of the clearings.

All this seems very strange to me.  Knowing how the German people are always highly organized and efficient, it doesn’t make any sense that they would start killing the Jews before the plans for “the Final Solution” were made at the Wannsee Conference.  And they did it by the very inefficient method of gassing them in vans with carbon monoxide!  Say what?  They couldn’t be bothered with building a proper gas chamber?  And they had no ovens to burn the bodies?  What was the big hurry that they couldn’t take the time to set up a proper death camp?

The wall around the place at Chelmno where the bodies were buried, then later dug up and burned Photo Credit: Alan Collins

In the winter of 1941-1942, the bodies of the Chelmno victims were buried in mass graves in the frozen ground of a nearby forest. In the Spring of 1942, two open-air crematoria were built and the bodies were dug up and cremated. The cremation ovens were open concrete-lined pits where the corpses were burned on grates. After the first phase of the killing between December 1941 and April 1943, these “furnaces” were destroyed on April 7, 1943. When the second phase began in May or June 1944, two more open-air crematoria were constructed, but they were also destroyed by the Nazis in order to get rid of all the evidence.

Place where bodies were buried behind a wall in forest near Chelmno Photo Credit: Alan Collins

The following quote is from a book by the Central Commission for Investigation of German Crimes in Poland entitled “GERMAN CRIMES IN POLAND” (Warsaw, 1946, 1947):

The ashes and remains of bones were removed from the ash-pit, ground in mortars, and, at first, thrown into especially dug ditches; but later, from 1943 onwards, bones and ashes were secretly carted to Zawadki at night, and there thrown into the river.

[…]

In the autumn of 1944 the camp in the wood was completely destroyed, the crematoria being blown up, the huts taken to pieces, and almost every trace of crime being carefully removed. A Special Commission from Berlin directed, on the spot, the destruction of all the evidence of what had been done.

Memorial stone at Chelmno  Photo Credit: Alan Collins

The text on the Memorial stone in the photo above says that about 350,000 Jews – Men, women and children – were murdered at Chelmno.

Martin Gilbert wrote in his book, entitled Holocaust, that 360,000 Jews were killed at Chelmno just in the first phase of the killing, between December 7, 1941 and March 1943. The US Holocaust Memorial Museum says that “at least 152,000” Jews were killed at Chelmno. The Museum at the villa in Wannsee, near Berlin, says that “152,000 Jews and 5,000 Gypsies” were killed at Chelmno.

Obviously, the Nazis destroyed all the evidence, so the number of Jewish deaths at Chelmno is unknown.

July 24, 2011

December 12, 1941 — the day that Hitler ordered the Final Solution

Filed under: Germany, Holocaust, World War II — Tags: , , , — furtherglory @ 9:05 am

This morning I was searching the internet when I came across a web site which mentioned that Hitler ordered the extermination of all the Jews on December 12, 1941.  The source given for this information was Christian Gerlach.  I looked him up on Wikipedia here and learned that he is a professor of Modern History at the University of Bern in Switzerland.  Professor Gerlach has written lots of books and essays and his credentials are impeccable, but is he right about the date of Hitler’s order?

Let’s consider what was happening on December 12, 1941:  Hitler had just declared war on America in a long-winded speech on December 11, 1941 which you can read in full here.  President Roosevelt immediately responded by declaring war on Germany on the same day.

According to Christian Gerlach, Hitler gave the order to kill all the Jews the next day after his declaration of war against America. But wait a minute!  The gassing of the Jews had already started on December 8, 1941 at the Chelmno death camp.  Every student of the Holocaust knows that!

(more…)

July 4, 2011

Claude Lanzmann: “the proof of the Holocaust is the absence of corpses”

Filed under: Holocaust — Tags: , , , — furtherglory @ 4:56 pm

Claude Lanzmann, the director of the 9 and a half hour Holocaust documentary Shoah, recently said that the proof of the Holocaust is not the corpses; the proof is the “absence of corpses.”  You can read Lanzmann’s full quote here and more comments on his film here.

Lanzmann went to Iran recently and the Iranian Holocaust deniers wanted him to prove to them that the Holocaust happened: They wanted to see the corpses.

This was Lanzmann’s answer:

“I told them there’s not a single corpse in Shoah. The people who arrived at Treblinka, Belzec or Sobibor were killed within two or three hours and their corpses burned. The proof is not the corpses; the proof is the absence of corpses. There were special details who gathered the dust and threw it into the wind or into the rivers. Nothing of them remained.”

One of the Jews, whose job it was to dispose of the remains at the Chelmno death camp, was Simon Srebnik. I’ve never seen Lanzmann’s documentary, but according to Lanzmann, in the opening scene of Shoah, “we see Srebnik being rowed along the Narew river. As the boat eases through calm waters, Srebnik sings, his lovely voice mingling with the sound of the breeze in the summer trees.”

Since Chelmno was the first extermination center where the Jews were gassed, this was the logical place for Lanzmann to start his documentary on the Holocaust.   (more…)

April 8, 2011

In “The Final Solution,” where and how did the Chelmno death camp fit in? (Updated)

Filed under: Holocaust — Tags: , , , — furtherglory @ 2:44 pm

Update: May 26, 2015

The following quote is from an article which you can read in full at http://www.fairobserver.com/region/north_america/practice-practitioners-holocaust-denial-92241/#sthash.10InrNPA.dpuf\

Begin quote:

In order to conceal the growing scope of these activities in the east, the Nazi leadership looked for alternatives for mass shooting that would provide greater secrecy. In the closing months of 1941, new decisions were taken on what had moved from mass murder to systematically-planned genocide. On September 3, gassing with Zyklon B was tested at Auschwitz-Birkenau; from November 1, 1941, construction began on new extermination camps at Bełżec and Chełmno, with the latter starting to murder Jews by carbon monoxide on December 7, 1941, in occupied Poland.

End quote

I have a large section about Chelmno on my website at http://www.scrapbookpages.com/Poland/Chelmno/index.html

Continue reading my original post:

In a news article which you can read here, I noticed that the reporter included Chelmno as one of the Operation Reinhardt camps.  This quote is from the news article:

Belzec was one of four secret death factories, the others being Treblinka, Chelmno and Sobibor, that the SS established to kill the Jews of Poland and some Russian prisoners of war early in the war.

By the time the camps were destroyed – to be replaced by Auschwitz – more than 2.5 million people had been killed in them in a programme the Nazis dubbed ‘Operation Reinhard’.

The Nazis tried to cover up their genocide of the Jews by claiming that the three Operation Reinhard camps (Treblinka, Sobibor and Belzec) were transit camps for the purpose of evacuating the Jews to the East.  These three camps were set up following the Wannsee Conference on January 20, 1942, but Chelmno was not one of the Operation Reinhard camps.

Chelmno was set up in November 1941 and the gassing of the Jews actually started at Chelmno on December 8, 1941, according to Martin Gilbert, a noted Holocaust historian. (The Nazis called Chelmno a transit camp and claimed that the prisoners were being sent to work in the East, after being disinfected.)

In his book entitled Holocaust, Gilbert wrote the following:

On 7 December 1941, as the first seven hundred Jews were being deported to the death camp at Chelmno, Japanese aircraft attacked the United States Fleet at Pearl Harbor. Unknown at that time either to the Allies or the Jews of Europe, Roosevelt’s day that would “live in infamy” was also the first day of the “final solution.”

So the Jews were sent to Chelmno and gassed BEFORE the Wannsee Conference where the genocide of the Jews was planned?

According to Martin Gilbert, the first 700 Jews that were killed at Chelmno were from the Polish village of Kolo; they arrived at Chelmno on the evening of December 7, 1941 and on the following day, all of them were killed with carbon monoxide in gas vans. The victims were taken on 8 or 9 separate journeys in the gas vans to a clearing in the Rzuchowski woods near Chelmno, where the bodies were first buried, and later dug up and burned.

The Operation Reinhard camps had gas chambers which used carbon monoxide to kill the Jews, but the Chelmno camp was unique in that gas vans were used.  Adolf Eichmann admitted at his trial in Jerusalem that gas vans had been used at Chelmno.

Memorial stone at Chelmno honors 350,000 Jews who were murdered there  Photo credit: Alan Collins

The text on the Memorial stone in the photo above says that ABOUT 350,000 Jews – Men, women and children – were murdered at Chelmno. The exact number is unknown because the Nazis destroyed all the records, but the number is too low according to  Martin Gilbert, who wrote in his book, entitled “Holocaust,” that 360,000 Jews were killed at Chelmno in just the first phase of the killing, between December 7, 1941 and March 1943.

The US Holocaust Memorial Museum says that “at least 152,000” Jews were killed at Chelmno. The Museum at the villa in Wannsee, near Berlin, says that “152,000 Jews and 5,000 Gypsies” were killed at Chelmno.

After World War II ended in Europe with the surrender of the German Army on May 7, 1945, the provisional Polish government, which was controlled by the Soviet Union, set up the Central Commission for the Investigation of German Crimes in Poland. The purpose was to gather evidence for the Nuremberg International Military Tribunal and for the Polish trials of Germans who had committed war crimes in Poland.

The main report by the Central Commission, which you can read here, was entitled GERMAN CRIMES IN POLAND; it was originally published in two volumes in 1946 and 1947. The report included an overview of the main Nazi concentration camps and death camps. Two of the death camps, Auschwitz and Chelmno, had been in the Greater German Reich while they were in operation, but after the war they were located in Poland.

The Chelmno death camp was located in the small Polish village of Chelmno nad Neren (Chelmno on the river Ner), 60 kilometers northwest of Lodz, a major city in what is now western Poland. The camp was in the Warthegau, a district in the part of Poland that had been annexed into the Greater German Reich after the joint conquest of Poland by Germany and the Soviet Union in September 1939.

Chelmno was called Kulmhof by the Germans and Lodz was known by the German name Litzmannstadt. The Warthegau had been a part of the German state of Prussia between 1795 and 1871. After the German states united in 1871, the Warthegau was in Germany until after World War I when it was given back to the Poles in the Treaty of Versailles.

The Jews, who were destined to be killed, were brought on trains, via a main railroad line that ran from Lodz to Poznan, to the village of Kolo. The village was 14 kilometers from Chelmno; it was the closest stop on this railroad line.

At Kolo, the victims were transferred to another train which took them on a narrow gauge railroad line 6 kilometers to the village of Powiercie. From Powiercie, the victims had to walk 1.5 kilometers through a forest to the village of Zawadka where they spent their last night locked inside a mill. They were then transported by trucks the next day to an old manor house, called the Castle, at Chelmno.

The foundation of the Castle which was destroyed after the first phase of the killing Photo credit: Alan Collins

The Chelmno camp had no prisoner barracks nor factories. According to the Polish Central Commission, its sole purpose was to murder Jews and Roma who were not capable of working at forced labor for the Nazis. In 1939, there were around 385,000 Jews living in the Warthegau; those who could work were sent to the Lodz ghetto where they labored in textile factories which made uniforms for the German army.

On January 16, 1942, deportations from the Lodz ghetto began; records from the ghetto show that 54,990 people were deported before the final liquidation of the ghetto in August 1944. The Jewish leader of the Lodz ghetto, Chaim Rumkowski, compiled the lists of people to be deported, although he had no knowledge that they were being sent to their deaths at Chelmno.

The gassing of the Jews at Chelmno was carried out in two separate phases. In the first phase, between December 7, 1941 and April 1943, Jews from the surrounding area and the Lodz ghetto were brought to Chelmno and killed on the day after their arrival. Although the Nazis destroyed all records of the Chelmno camp, it is alleged that around 15,000 Jews and 5,000 Roma, who were deported from Germany, Austria, Belgium, France, Czechoslovakia and Luxembourg, were brought to Chelmno to be killed.

The victims of the Nazis at Chelmno also included Polish non-Jewish citizens and Soviet Prisoners of War.

After the first phase of the murder of the Jews at Chelmno ended, the Castle was blown up on April 7, 1943 by the SS. The second phase of the killing at Chelmno began in May or June 1944. During this second phase, the Jews were housed in the Chelmno church on their last night of life. The church is shown in the photo below.

Church where the Jews spent their last night before being gassed at Chelmno Photo Credit: Alan Collins

The Granary where the Jewish workers stayed at Chelmno  Photo Credit:  Alan Collins

The Jewish workers, called the Juden Kommando, who did the work of burning the corpses at Chelmno, were housed in the granary during the second phase of the killing at Chelmno. The granary is shown in the background of the photo above.

Exact information about Chelmno is not available because all the records were destroyed and there were only four Jewish survivors, according to the Polish Central Commission. In the second phase, the Jews spent their last night in the church, which is shown in the background of the photo of the destroyed castle.

The following quote is from the Polish Central Commission:

The camp was established in November 1941. The extermination process began on December 8, with the ghetto population of the cities and towns of the Warthegau, first from the neighbouring Kolo, Dabie, Sompolno, Klodawa and many other places, and later from Lodz itself. The first Jews arrived at Chelmno from Lodz in the middle of January 1942. From that time onwards an average of 1000 a day was maintained, with short intermissions, till April 1943.

Besides those who were brought by rail, others were delivered at the camp from time to time in cars, but such were comparatively rare. Besides those from Poland there were also transports of Jews from Germany, Austria, France, Belgium, Luxembourg and Holland; as a rule the Lodz ghetto served as a distribution centre. The total number of Jews from abroad amounted to about 16,000.

Besides the 300,000 Jews from the Warthegau, about 5,000 Gypsies and about a thousand Poles and Russian prisoners of war were murdered at Chelmno. But the execution of the latter took place mostly at night. They were taken straight to the wood, and shot.
[…]

Those who were brought here for destruction were convinced till the very last moment that they were to be employed on fortification work in the East. They were told that, before going further, they would have a bath, and that their clothes would be disinfected. Immediately after their arrival at the camp they were taken to the large hall of the house, where they were told to undress, and then they were driven along a corridor to the front door, where a large lorry, fitted up as a gas-chamber, was standing. This, they were told, was to take them to the bath-house. When the lorry was full, the door was locked, the engine started, and carbon monoxide was introduced into the interior through a specially constructed exhaust pipe. After 4-5 minutes, when the cries and struggles of the suffocating victims were heard no more, the lorry was driven to the wood, 4 km (2 1/2 miles) away, which was enclosed with a high fence and surrounded with outposts. Here the corpses were unloaded and buried, and afterwards burnt in one of the clearings.

So the victims were told that they were going to be taken to the East to work?  This means that the victims themselves did not think that they were too old, or too young, or too sick to work; otherwise, they would have known that they were going to be killed.  They were completely fooled by this ruse.

But why would the Nazis kill Jews who were capable of working?  And why did they start killing them even before the plans were made on January 20, 1942 to kill all the Jews.  Why was Chaim Rumkowski allowed to choose Jews from the Lodz ghetto to be sent to Chelmno?

You can read more about Chelmno on this website, where you will see the photo below.  This famous photo allegedly shows Jews at Chelmno just before they were gassed.  Note that the man in the foreground of the photo was allowed to wear his trousers into the gas van, but the other prisoners were forced to undress.

Jews at Chelmno, just before they were gassed

On the night of January 17 and 18, 1945, the SS men began taking the 47 Jewish workers out of the granary building and shooting them in groups of five, according to two survivors, Shimon Srebnik and Mordechai Zurawski. The Jews defended themselves and two of the SS men were killed. According to the survivors, the SS men then set fire to the granary.