Scrapbookpages Blog

October 28, 2016

How many prisoners were murdered by the Nazis at the Majdanek camp?

Filed under: Germany, Holocaust — Tags: , — furtherglory @ 7:22 am

The answer to the question, in the title of my blog post today, depends upon what day and what year you are talking about.

According to the Majdanek museum guidebook, which I purchased in 1998, the camp was initially called the Concentration Camp at Lublin (Konzentrationslager Lublin); then the name was changed to Prisoner of War Camp at Lublin (Kriegsgefangenenlager der Waffen-SS Lublin), but in Feb. 1943, the name reverted back to Concentration Camp. Throughout its existence, Majdanek received transports of Prisoners of War, including a few Americans, according to the guidebook.

Although the first prisoners at Majdanek were Russian Prisoners of War, who were transferred to the camp from a barbed wire enclosure at Chelm, the camp soon became a detention center for Jews after the “Final Solution of the Jewish Question” was planned at the Wannsee Conference on January 20, 1942.

Mass transports of Jews began arriving at the Majdanek camp, beginning in April 1942, during the same time period that the Auschwitz II camp, which was originally a POW camp for Soviet soldiers, was being converted into an extermination camp for Jews.

Double fence around the Majdanek camp

Double fence around the Majdanek camp

Photo credit: Simon Robertson






The Majdanek concentration camp, in the Polish city of Lubin, was in operation from October 1, 1941 to July 23, 1944 when it was liberated by soldiers of the Soviet Union.

In 1998, I visited the site of the former Majanek camp, where I purchased a book,  entitled  “Majdanek,” by Jozef Marszalek, at the Visitor’s Center.

According to this book, the actual names of only 47,890 prisoners are known, including 7,441 women prisoners.

According to the 1998 Museum guidebook, only 41% of the 300,000 prisoners, who were brought to the camp, were Jewish, which would mean that around 123,000 Jews were brought to Majdanek and approximately 59,00 of them died, if the latest figures claimed by Tomasz Kranz are correct. Most of the Jews sent to Majdanek were from the Lublin area, according to the Museum booklet.

The Majdanek camp was also a labor camp; the women worked in the clothing warehouses and a shoe repair shop. The men were engaged in constructing buildings for the SS headquarters of Operation Reinhard at Majdanek.

In his book, Marszalek wrote that the prisoners at Majdanek were from the following 28 countries: Albania, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, China, Czechoslovakia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Holland, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, the USSR, the United States of America, and Yugoslavia.

Marszalek wrote that Polish citizens were 59.8% of the total, followed by citizens of the USSR at 19.8%, Czechoslovakia at 13.3%, the German Reich at 4% and France at 1.7%.

All the other countries put together accounted for only 1% of the total. There was a total of 54 ethnic groups represented, including 25 different ethnic groups from the Soviet Union and 4 ethnic groups from Yugoslavia.

The Lublin Jews, who were unable to work, were sent to the Belzec death camp. All the prisoners at Majdanek were required to work.

According to information in the Museum guidebook, there were around 43,000 Jews, in the Lublin district, who were brought to Majdanek and shot on November 3rd, 4th, and 5th in 1943,  These victims were brought to Majdanek from other camps, such as Poniatowa and Trawniki, and they were not registered in the camp.

A memorial plaque near the Majdanek Mausoleum states that 18,000 Jews were shot at Majdanek on November 3, 1943 and buried in mass graves, which were later dug up, so the bodies could be burned.

June 30, 2016

Treblinka 1 and Treblinka 11

Filed under: Holocaust — Tags: , , , — furtherglory @ 5:01 pm

One of the readers of my blog mentioned the Treblinka II camp.

There may be some people reading my blog who do not know that there were TWO Treblinka camps.

I visited the site of the Treblinka I camp in 1998, accompanied by a tour guide. After we finished our tour, we met another tour guide who was preparing to take a group of young students to the site of the Treblinka II camp; he invited me and my guide to go along. My guide advised me not to go because it was a mile there and a mile back, which was quite a hike for a 70-year-old like me.

Treblinka was second only to Auschwitz in the number of Jews who were killed by the Nazis: between 700,000 and 900,000, compared to an estimated 1.1 million to 1.5 million at Auschwitz.

The Treblinka death camp was located 100 km (62 miles) northeast of Warsaw, near the railroad junction at the village of Malkinia Górna, which is 2.5 km (1.5 miles) from the train station in the tiny village of Treblinka.

Raul Hilberg stated in his three-volume book, “The Destruction of the European Jews,” that there were six Nazi extermination centers, including Treblinka. The other 5 extermination camps were at Belzec, Sobibor, Chelmno, Majdanek and Auschwitz-Birkenau, all of which are located in what is now Poland. The last two also functioned as forced labor camps (Zwangsarbeitslager), and were still operational shortly before being liberated by the Soviet Union towards the end of the war in 1944 and early 1945.

The camps at Treblinka, Belzec, Sobibor and Chelmno had already been liquidated by the Germans before the Soviet soldiers arrived, and there was no remaining evidence of the extermination of millions of Jews. The combined total of the deaths at Treblinka, Belzec and Sobibor was 1.5 million, according to Raul Hilberg.

In June 1941, a forced labor camp for Jews and Polish political prisoners was set up near a gravel pit, a mile from where the Treblinka death camp would later be located. The labor camp became known as Treblinka I and the death camp, which opened in July 1942, was called Treblinka II or T-II.

There were no “selections” made at the three Operation Reinhard camps, nor at the Chelmno camp. All the Jews who were sent to these camps, with the exception of a few who escaped, were allegedly killed in gas chambers. There were no records kept of their deaths.

Bridge over the Bug river on the way to Treblinka

Bridge over the Bug river on the way to the Treblinka death camp

Treblinka and the other two Operation Reinhard camps, Sobibor and Belzec, were all located near the Bug river which formed the eastern border of German-occupied Poland. The Bug river is very shallow at Treblinka; it is what people from Missouri would call a “crick” or creek, compared to the Missouri and the Mississippi rivers. It is shallow enough to wade across in the Summer time, or to walk across when it is frozen in the Winter.

As this map shows, the territory on the other side of the Bug river was White Russia (Belarus) and the section of Poland that was given to the Soviet Union after the joint conquest of Poland by the Germans and the Soviet Union in September 1939. This part of Poland was formerly occupied by the Russians between 1772 and 1917; between 1835 and 1917, this area was included in the Pale of Settlement, a huge reservation where the Eastern European Jews were forced to live.

September 16, 2013

Proof of Nazi genocide found at Treblinka — it’s the pits

Filed under: Holocaust — Tags: , , — furtherglory @ 11:15 am

If you think you know all about Treblinka, one of several Nazi “death camps,” think again!

A new article entitled “Unearthed … the horrors of Hitler’s WW2 death camp in Treblinka” was published in the online EXPRESS British newspaper just yesterday.  The photo below, which was taken at Treblinka, accompanies the article.

At the top of the article about the new discoveries at Treblinka is this quote:

Unearthed… the horrors of Hitler’s WW2 death camp in Treblinka
A POWERFUL, disturbing TV documentary about the Nazi death camp Treblinka is set to silence the “lies” of those who deny the Holocaust.

The Treblinka “death camp” was one of the three Operation Reinhard camps where Jews were sent, following the Wannsee Conference on January 20, 1942. The genocide of the Jews was allegedly planned at this conference.

New stone has been added in front of the Treblinka Memorial

New stone has been added in front of the Treblinka Memorial

This quote is from the article in the online EXPRESS newspaper:

In an interview as she began her work, Dr. [Caroline Sturdy] Colls, who lectures at Staffordshire University, said: “When the Nazis left in 1943 they thought they had destroyed it. They had knocked down the buildings and levelled (sic) the earth. They had built a farmhouse, installed a Ukrainian ‘farmer’ and had planted trees.”

But her work has revealed a number of pits across the site and she said: “If they thought they had removed all evidence of their crime, they hadn’t. For a forensic archaeologist, there is a vast amount to study. Victims arrived at a fake railway station, and were made to undress and walk naked to the gas chambers along the ‘Road to Heaven’.

“Another five pits of varying sizes are located nearby. Given their size and location, there is a strong case for arguing that they represent burial areas.”

Discussing her findings she said: “It is clear that the ash contains many bones. Bone fragments can still be seen on the surface of the ground, especially after rain.

“Considerable evidence also exists to suggest not all of the bodies were exhumed and cremated [by the Nazis]. Photographs show bodies littering the landscape as late as the early Sixties.”

This quote is also from the newspaper article:

The wooded site [of the Treblinka camp] in Poland 50 miles north-east of Warsaw was bulldozed in 1943 by the Nazis in an attempt to destroy all evidence of what had taken place and even today the exact location of the gas chambers, where more than 870,000 Jews and gypsies were murdered, is still not known.

The remains of 870,000 bodies would have covered a vast area, yet the Treblinka camp was very small.  What were they thinking?

Auschwitz-Birkenau was 425 acres in size: plenty of room to bury 870,000 bodies. Also, there were plenty of ovens at Auschwitz to burn the bodies, and plenty of space to bury the ashes.  Why not send all the Jews and Gypsies to Auschwitz, which was the location of THE major railroad hub in Europe?

According to the EXPRESS article, Treblinka was only 50 miles from the Warsaw Ghetto, so it was a convenient location for the Warsaw Jews, but Jews were sent from 10 countries to Treblinka.  The Majdanek camp, near Lublin, was only a few miles from Treblinka and there were allegedly 5 gas chambers there.  Why send Jews from Greece all the way to Treblinka?

Two of the 10 stones at Treblinka in honor of the countries from which Jews were sent to Treblinka

Two of the 10 stones at Treblinka in honor of the countries from which Jews were sent to Treblinka

There is a symbolic cemetery at Treblinka, and near this cemetery, there are 10 large stones with the names of the countries from which the victims came. These 10 countries are Poland, Czechoslovakia, Germany, Austria, the Soviet Union, Greece, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, France, and Belgium.

Would it have killed the Nazis to have put a couple of gas chambers in France or Yugoslavia?  This would have allowed them to use their trains to transport the German troops.

According to Martin Gilbert, who wrote a book entitled Holocaust Journey, there were 13,000 Jews deported to Treblinka from the Greek provinces of Macedonia and Thrace, which were then occupied by Bulgaria, so their stone says “Bulgaria.” Bulgaria was an ally of Germany, but no Jews from that country were deported. There is another stone at Treblinka for the 43,000 Jews sent from German-occupied Greece to Treblinka.

What really happened at Treblinka?  The Nazis sent 870,000 people to this tiny spot in the woods, near the tiny village of Treblinka, where there were no ovens to burn the bodies, and not enough space to bury the bodies.  To this day, according to the article in the EXPRESS, the location of the gas chambers is unknown.  For years, it was not known whether the gas chambers at Treblinka used carbon monoxide or Zyklon-B gass.

This quote is from the EXPRESS newspaper:

Inside Treblinka is part of a groundbreaking new season of Channel 5 documentaries about the Nazi regime which also includes the real-life quest for the Holy Grail, which inspired the film Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade, and a secret plan by Adolf Hitler to fly German planes into Manhattan skyscrapers in an eerie portent of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center.

Simon Raikes, Channel 5’s commissioning editor, said: “These films offer a dramatic new perspective on the regime by taking the viewer inside the minds of the Nazi leadership.

“What was their vision for the Everlasting Reich? And what did they do to try and achieve it?

“From the ludicrous quest to find their Aryan roots and harness the supernatural, through the chilling attempt to breed a racially ‘pure’ new generation of Nazi children, to the brutal industrialisation of genocide in the death camps, this season will reveal the true horror of what the Nazis were planning and unfold the absurd, mind-boggling, incomprehensibly evil things they did in pursuit of their plans.”

It is clear that the British are getting way off the track. There were very few skyscrapers in Manhattan in the 1940s when Hitler was allegedly planning an “eerie portent of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center.”

Let’s get realistic! Here’s what really happened:

In June 1941, the German Army invaded the Soviet Union and “liberated” the area formerly known as the Pale of Settlement, where the Jews had been required to live. By the time that the Aktion Reinhard camps were set up in 1942, German troops had advanced a thousand kilometers into Russia. The plan was to transport the Jews, from all over the world, as far as the Bug river and kill them in the three Operation Reinhard camps, which were all on the banks of the Bug river? No, no, no!

The trains had to stop at the Bug river because the train tracks east of the Bug river were a different gauge. The Nazis had built disinfection chambers at the three Operation Reinhard camps, in an effort to combat typhus, before sending the Jews to the East.  Keep in mind that 4 million people died of typhus in World War I, and that was just in Poland.

The first Jews to be deported to the Treblinka death camp were from the Warsaw ghetto; the first transport of 6,000 Jews arrived at Treblinka at about 9:30 on 23 July 1942. Between late July and September 1942, the Germans transported more than 300,000 Jews from the Warsaw ghetto to Treblinka, according to the US Holocaust Memorial Museum. Jews were also deported to Treblinka from Lublin and Bialystok, two major cities in eastern Poland, which were then in the General Government, as German-occupied Poland was called. Others were transported to Treblinka from the Theresienstadt ghetto in what is now the Czech Republic. Approximately 2,000 Gypsies were also sent to Treblinka and allegedly murdered in the gas chambers.

Why send Jews from Lublin, where the Majdanek gas chambers were located, to Treblinka?  Why send Jews from Grodno, Narew, and Bialystok WEST to Treblinka?

Trains were sent to Treblinka until May 1943, and a few more transports arrived after that date.  Why go to all the trouble of setting up the Treblinka camp, only to tear it down less than a year later?

Why not just send all the Jews to Auschwitz-Birkenau to be gassed?  There were 300 barracks buildings at the Auschwitz II camp (Birkenau) where the Jews could have been housed while they were waiting for their turn in the four gas chambers, and the two little houses (the Red house and the White house)?

Jews waiting for the gas chamber at Auschwitz-Birkenau

Hungarian Jews waiting for the gas chamber at Auschwitz-Birkenau

The photo above is from the “Auschwitz Album,” a set of photos taken by the Nazis at Auschwitz-Birkenau. The Jews in the photo are looking toward the Sauna building where there was a shower room.  However, Holocaust Believers say that they are waiting for one of the four gas chambers at Birkenau.

On October 19, 1943, Odilo Globocnik wrote to Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler: “I have completed Aktion Reinhard and have dissolved all the camps.”  According to the Nazis, Aktion Reinhard was the plan to transport the Jews to the East.

Hermann Goering testified to this at the Nuremberg IMT; he said that “The Final Solution” was the plan to send the Jews to the East, not kill them.

The website of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum has two maps here and here, which explain the transportation to the East.  In my humble opinion, Dr. Caroline Study Colls is off on the wrong track in her search for pits at Treblinka.  She should be studying the trains instead.  I wrote about the trains that went to Treblinka here.

March 27, 2012

When did the Holocaust gas chambers become common knowledge?

Filed under: Holocaust — Tags: , , — furtherglory @ 11:51 am

A reader of my blog, who has his own blog here, wrote a comment which I am quoting below:

At least since the summer of 1942 the Belzec extermination camp was known in far away remote areas of the General Government (German occupied Poland). Although not all the details were reported back to the public, the majority of Poles, Jews and Germans, had been aware of the name of this camp and associated it with a place of Jewish exterminations.

Belzec was the first of the three Operation Reinhard camps which were set up to carry out the Final Solution of the Jewish Question, which was planned at the Wannsee Conference on January 20, 1942. The other two Operation Reinhard camps were Sobibor and Treblinka. The Belzec camp was located just outside the village of Belzec, on the eastern border of German-occupied Poland.

Jews from the ghettos of southern Poland were sent to Belzec where there were three gas chambers that had been put into operation on March 17, 1942.  This was the start of the gassing of the Jews.

All three of the Operation Reinhard camps were conveniently located near a major Jewish ghetto. Belzec was between the Lublin and the Lvov ghettos. Treblinka was 60 miles from the Warsaw ghetto and Sobibor was near the Lublin ghetto. All three Operation Reinhard camps were near the Bug river, which formed the eastern border of German-occupied Poland.

In other words, the Jews were first rounded up and put into ghettos; they were then transported, as far as trains could go, to the eastern border of Germany territory, where they were killed.  In spite of the secrecy involved, the people in the area knew about the gassing.

Memorial to the Jews who were gassed at Belzec Photo Credit: Bonnie M. Harris

The memorial at the site of the Belzec camp was designed by Andrzej Solyga, Zdzislaw Pidek, and Marcin Roszczyk. It was opened in a solemn ceremony on June 3, 2004 as a joint project of the American Jewish Committee and the Council for the Protection of the Memory of Combat and Martyrdom in Warsaw. The complex at the former death camp consists of a memorial to the 600,000 victims, who were murdered in the camp, and a museum with an exhibition about the history of the Belzec death camp.

The Belzec death camp was only in existence for nine months, after which it was completely dismantled to destroy the evidence of the murder of the 600,000 Jews who were killed in the gas chambers. The bodies, which had been buried, were exhumed and then burned on pyres before the camp was abandoned.

When did people in the rest of the world first know about the gassing of the Jews?  I learned about it in elementary school when I was in the seventh grade.  I was in Catholic school where we studied Catholic history, which was actually world history. We had been learning about how the Jews had been persecuted for centuries, in many different countries, so the story of how the Jews were being gassed by the Nazis fit right in with what we had been learning about past history in Europe.

The first news of the gassing of the Jews had come from the BBC in June 1942.  My family did not have a radio, but our neighbors had a radio that was capable of hearing the BBC broadcasts.  Back then, news spread by word of mouth, so it was very quickly known around the world that the Jews were being gassed.

At the time that I first heard about the gas chambers, I didn’t think that this was anything unusual.  I lived in Missouri where there was a gas chamber in Jefferson City.  I had actually gone on a class trip to see “the Big House,” as the Missouri State Penitentiary was called.  The Missouri gas chamber was a very small stone building that was outside the huge prison.  I only saw it from a distance and didn’t see the inside, which had two chairs where two criminals could be gassed at one time.  I imagined that the Jews were being gassed, two at a time.  I didn’t dwell on this at the time; it never occurred to me that this would have been a very inefficient way to kill millions of people.

The photo below shows the broken concrete which now covers the entire area of the former Belzec camp where 600,000 Jews were gassed to death in only nine months.

Close-up of  Belzec memorial shows field of broken concrete  Photo credit: Bonnie M. Harris

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\

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

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.