Source: German Crimes in Poland. Volume 1. Central Commission for the Investigation of German Crimes in Poland. Warsaw, 1946

Extermination of the Polish Jews
in the Years 1939-1945

Part II

[Note on Source Material. The text contains numerous inaccuracies of spelling and of grammatical usage, which have been left as in the original. Page numbers precede text.]

Part I

IV. The period of the "Liquidation Activities" in Ghettoes and camps.
V. General Conclusions

IV. The period of "Liquidation Activities" in Ghettoes and camps.

During the first two years of the occupation the German extermination activities were not yet "total". All the above mentioned pogroms, executions, individual or group murders, accounted for the deaths of probably about 100,000 Jews.

The losses resulting from the so-called "cold pogroms" were much higher. Deprivation of civic rights, exclusion from all sources of livelihood, seclusion of ghettoes, hunger, and disease were decimating the Jewish population. In the larger cities especially mortality among the Jews greatly increased, and natural increase of population ceased almost entirely. Compulsory labour and bad living-conditions also caused many thousands of Jewish deaths.

All this obviously pointed to the gradual but complete extirpation of the Jews, but the tempo was too slow. The Germans realized that the old-fashioned pogroms alone could not "solve the Jewish problem". Dr. Stahlecker, ‘head of a special-service Einsatz group A, writes clearly on the subject in a report to his superiors of Oct. 15, 1941. It was easy to foresee from the beginning that the Jewish problem in the


East could not be solved by pogroms. According to instructions received, the "cleansing" activities of the. Police had as their aim the complete extermination of the Jews (Document No. 180 Records of the Nuremberg Trial).

The Germans now put their hopes, not on individual pogroms, but on a policy of pauperization and starvation of the Jews. These expectations were expressed in August 1942 quite clearly by Hans Frank, the Governor General, himself.

Speaking of the reduction by half of the food rations of the Poles, Frank said that "it must be done in cold blood and without pity; The fact that in this way we condemn 1,200,000 Jews to death by hunger is only of indirect importance. If the Jews should not starve I sincerely hope that it will inspire further anti-Jewish regulations". That is to say that if hunger and pogroms prove ineffectual for the "solution of the Jewish problem", more effective means must be applied. (Records of the Nuremberg Trial. Frank Diary. Dot. No. 2233).

The idea of the extirpation of the Jews probably took shape in the spring of 1941, before the Soviet campaign. It was decided first to root out the Jewish population of the territories conquered in the East from the U. S. S. R. as they were "infected with Communism" and therefore specially dangerous. This was decided, as the witnessess at the Nuremberg Trial stated, at a meeting not of the Reich Cabinet, but of some Hitler’s closest collaborators. At staff conferences which Hitler held several weeks before the opening of the Russian Campaign, he informed the High Command of the German Army of his plan to extirpate the Jews. The four special service groups (Einsatzgruppen) created during this period received definite instructions in this connexion, as is proved by the above-mentioned report of Dr Stahlecker.

The entire propaganda apparatus of the Third Reich was set in motion to work out a programme in preparation for this crime.


In Hitler’s speech of Jan. 30, 1941, one hears for the first time the gloomy forecast of mass slaughter: "Und nicht vermeiden möchte ich such den Hinweis noch darauf, den ich schon einmal, nämlich am 1. September 1939, im Deutschen Reichstag tat, dass näimlich, wenn wirklich die andere Welt von dem Judentum in einem allgemeinen Krieg gestürzt würde, das Judentum damit seine Rolle in Europa ausgespielt haben wird. Sie mögen auch heute noch lachen darüber, genau so, wie sie früher lachten über meine inneren Prophezeiungen. Die kommenden Monate und Jahre werden erweisen, dass ich auch hier richtig prophezeit hatte.

"Schon jetzt aber sehen wir, wie unsere Rassenerkenntnis Volk um Volk ergreift, und ich hoffe, dass auch die Völker, die heute noch in Feindschaft gegen uns stehen, eines Tages ihren grösseren inneren Feind erkennen werden, und dass sie dann doch noch eine grosse gemeinsame Front mit uns eintreten werden: die Front einer arischen Menschheit gegenüber der internationalen jüdischen Ausbeutung und Völkerverderbung". (Der Grossdeutsche Freiheitskampf, . 11 Band, Reden Adolf Hitters, p. 222).

Hitler’s speech on the day of the invasion of Russia, June 22, 1941, gives the direction to further anti-Jewish propaganda: "Nicht Deutschland hat seine nationalsozialistische Weltanschauung jemals versucht, nach Russland zu tragen, sondern die jüdisch-bolschewistische Machthaber in Moskau haben es unentwegt unterzunommen, unserem und den anderen europäischen Völkern thre Herrschaft aufzuoktroyieren, und dies nicht nur geistig, sondern vor allem auch militärisch macht-mässig". (Der Grossdeutsche Freiheitskampf, Reden Adolf Hitters p. 53).

The war with the Soviets is proclaimed as the "Jewish War" a war against the Jewish and Bolshevist authorities of the Kremlin. The same thesis is repeated in further speeches by Hitler on Oct. 2, 1941, and Nov. 8, 1941. The finishing touch is given by the Minister of Propaganda, Goebbels, in an article.


in Das Reich of July. 20, 1941, promising a "merciless and irrevocable judgement between us". This article is full of hatred and is entitled characteristi,cally: "Die Juden sind schuld" ("The Jews are guilty") and it clearly foretells the extirpation of the Jews.

Articles in the newspapers published for the German police emphasize the thesis that "the Russian Jews are a poison which may be got rid of only by destruction" (Cited after HitIer’s Ten Years’ War, p. 289). and declare that the aim of this war is "das judenfreie Europa (a Jew-free Europe") (Mitteilungsblätter für die weltanschauliche Schulung der Ordnungspolizei, Hg. v. Chef der Ordnungspolizei Gruppe: Weltanschauliche Erziehung, .l. Dezember 1941 Gruppe A, Folge 27. Nur für den Gebrauch innerhalb der Ordnungspolizei".)

But although in the summer of 1941 the declarations of the leaders of National Socialism announce only the coming annihilation of the Russian Jews, already at the end of 1941 a systematic campaign for the extirpation of the Jews was initiated far in the rear of the Eastern Front, extended later to the General Gouvernement, and finally to the area incorporated in the Reich - the so-called Warthegau.

In a speech delivered at the end of the year 1941 Governor-General Frank laid his cards before his closest collaborators, when announcing a big conference to be held in Berlin in January, 1942, under the chairmanship of the Chief of the Central

Security Office of the Reich (R. S. H. A.) Heydrich, during which important decisions concerning the Jewish problem were to be taken. Frank indeed anticipated them: "What are we to do with the Jews? Do you think that we shall settle them in the Ostland?... Why all this prattle? We have nothing to do with them, either in the Ostland (the Baltic provinces) or in the Reichskommissariat Ukraine. In short, liquidate them by your own means... We must take steps to extirpate them... The General Gouvernement must be as free from Jews


as is the Reich". (Doc. No, 2233, Frank, Diary. C. V. 1941. Oct. to Dec. p. 76-777).

Frank, one of Hitler’s most intimate advisers, showed himself no false prophet. The Berlin Conference gave results quite in accordance with his forecast. In April, 1942, Himmler issued an order concerning the "final solution of the Jewish problem" (Endlösung der Judenfrage). Only such Jews were to be left alive as were able to work, and these were to be concentrated in camps. This order was extended to all

countries under German occupation, and minister Goebbels expressed the hope that the extirpation (Ausrottung) would spread not only over the whole of Europe but even to countries outside "In Europa und vielleicht weit darüber hinaus..." (Article in Das Reich of June 14, 1942.)

With their characteristic efficiency the Germans began to realize their plan of destruction.

In the summer and autumn of 1941 the main blow was struck, at.the Jews living in the territories newly conquered from Soviet Russia. The second blow, in the winter of 1941, fell upon those Jews living in the lands incorporated in the Reich (Warthegau and Ostpreussen); and the third, in the first months of 1942, struck those who remained in the General Gouvernement.

The advance of the German Army into the territory of the U. S. S. R. was accompanied by a series of bloody actions against the Jews. They differ from the planless pogroms of 1939 in that they now were systematically organized. The number of victims in the larger cities amounted to thousands; in the smaller towns all the Jews were "liquidated" at once. The worst terror reigned in the districts of Wilno and Bialystok. The Jewish population of Wilno (65,000) paid a heavy tribute in blood, action against them lasting without interruption from June 22 to Sep. 5 (the date of the establishment of the ghetto). Afterwards it was renewed in the middle of October and went on until Christmas Eve.


The Germans pretended that they took the Jewish male population for labour, and drove them to a small wayside halt called Ponary 10 km from Wilno on the railway from Wilno to Landwarowo. There they were shot in masses and buried in the ditches dug to contain petrol by the Red Army. From October, the time of the "Cleaning" in the ghetto, onwards women and children were also brought to be killed. This monstrous mass action, which lasted half a year, accounted in the first period after the establishment of the ghetto for the deaths of about 30,000 Jewish victims; and in the second period for those of more than 15,000. (G. Jaszunski, Dos Naje Lebn Nr. 6, M. Balberyszki, Dos Naje Lebn Nr. 9, Sz. Kaczerginski: "Ponary", Archives of the Central Jewish Historical Committee. Records from Wilno.)

The 56,000 Jews in Bialystok were also attacked. Immediately after the advance of the Germans about 1000 were burnt in a large synagogue; on July 2 about 300 representatives of the Jewish intelligentsia were murdered; and on July 11 about

4000 Jews were taken outside the city and shot on the so-called

Pietrasza (S. Datner: Fight and Destruction of the Jews at Bialystok).

In the summer of 1942 in several parts of the region of Bialystok, at Szczuczyn, Grajewo, Tykocin and Wasilkow, the Jewish population were massacred, as they were likewise in the smaller towns of White Russia.

At Sluck, for example, the Commander of the XIth Battalion of the Security Police carried out mass murders on two successive days at the end of October 1941. Jews were shot in houses and in the streets, and their corpses left lying where they fell. The Commander of the battalion refused the request of one of the Commissars of the District to delay these activities for one day, ostensibly because he was instructed to commit these murders in a11 the towns of the District and therefore was in a great hurry. About 9,000 Jews perished at Slonim.


At Lwow, which had a population of about 150,000 Jews during the first three months after the German invasion, three pogroms were carried out between June 30 and July 3, July 25 and 27, and finally again at the end of the month. Each outbreak ended with the murder of several thousands of Jews. {Dr F. Friedman: The Destruction of the Jews in Lwow, p. 6-8). In other towns of the province of Galicia similar outrages took place; for instance at Kolomyja, where 3,400 Jews were shot in Szczepanow wood; at Drohobycz and Boryslaw, at Kamionka Strumilowa, Zloczow and Stanislawow. Hungarian troops who were quartered in this last town did not persecute the Jews; the first outrage was after the entrance of the Germans on Nov. 12, 1941. (Centr. Arch. J. H. C. ,Prot. No. 545, 515, 679, 1068, 1162, 801).

In Volhynia there was much bloodshed at Rowne, where some 16,000 out ,of 25,000 Jews were done to death on Nov. 5 and 6, 1941 (Centr. Arch. 1. H. C. Prot. No. 1190, Black Book, p. 113).

During the winter months of 1941 and 1942 fresh measures were directed against the Jews in the area incorporated in the Reich. Their numbers had already, by the end of 1939 and the beginning of 1940, fallen from 680,000 to 240,000 as a result of the intensified policy of expulsion with all its attendant brutality, which, indeed, at Kalisz and Bedzin, in the towns of Silesia, and at Wloclawek, (seeCentr. Arch. J. H. C. Prot. No. 375) passed over into outright massacres (Bydgoszcz, Kalisz etc. Centr. Arch. 1. H. C. Prot. No. 559).

The second phase of the so-called Judenreinigung (cleaning up of Jews) began in this area in the winter of 1941-1942. In contrast to their behaviour in the East, the Germans refrained from mass shootings and carried out their murders in a more discreet way. The first object of their fury was the Jewish population which still remained in the province of Lodz. A special extermination camp for Jews was established at Chelmno near Kolo, and started working on Dec. 8, 1941,


when the first transport of Jews from Debie, Sepolno and Kolo arrived. Other transports followed from Turek, Poddebica, Wlodawa, Bellchatowo, Pabianice and elsewhere. The ghetto of Lodz too was to pay its tribute of blood (Jan. 15, 1942, and Apr. 29, 1942). The Germans killed their victims by gassing them in specially constructed wagons. The camp at Chelmno was not the first scene of this kind of activity on Polish soil. It was about Sep. 15, 1941, that the first experiment in wholesale murder by gas was carried out with success in the concentration camp at Oswiecim (Auschwitz) in Silesia, when a group of Russian prisoners-of-war and another of Polish political prisoners were "liquidated". It is not known when the first transports of Polish Jews were similarly treated there.

It was in February and March, 1942, that large-scale "liquidations" of this kind were first practised in the area of the General Gouvernement. Previous cases there had been rather in the nature of courses of training as for instance at Rejowiec, in the province of Lublin, at Easter, 1941, (Centr. Arch. J. H. C. Prot. No. 89) in Dabrowa near Tarnow in July 1941 (rep. 1209); at Wegrow on Doomsday (Prot. No. 38); small-scale activities at Radom in October (Prot. No. 28); again at Radom and several small-scale activities at Lwow, on Dec. 3, (Dr. F. Friedman: The Destruction of the Jews at Lwow p. 13.)

The (proceedings at Mielec were particularly dramatic. Preparations for "expulsion" had begun in January 1942, as the official correspondence of the German authorities shows (Centr. Arch. J. H. C. - Records of Mielec). On Mar. 7-9 a very cruel expulsion of the Jews from Mielec began. Some were shot in the town or on the airfield and about 4,500 were taken to different localities in the province of Lublin (Centr. Arch. J. H. C. - Records of Mielec and Prot. No. 217).

The months of March and April abound in shootings and expulsions (Rzeszow: Centr. Arch. J. H. C. Prot. No. 678; Brzesko: Prot. No. 611; Zamosc Records J. U. S.; Krasnik; Prot. 275; Sanniki Records of the Centr. Arch. J. H. C.; Kielce;


Prot. 65, 64 - a and 67; liquidations at Wloclawek; Prot. 375; Lwow, Lublin, Ostrowiec, Lodz, Nowy Sacz and elsewhere). It is noteworthy that proceedings were taken against leaders and members of the Jewish Radical political groups in several localities almost at the same time, in April 1942 (for instance at Warsaw, Nowy Sacz, Prot. No. 1203; Ostrowiec, Prot. No. 270 and 146; Rzeszow, Prot. No 678).

The massacre of 15,000 persons at Lwow finished just before the Jewish festival of the Passover. One of the bloodiest and most cruel episodes of this period was the massacre at Lublin, which began on the night of Mar. 16/17, 1942, and lasted till April 20. The Jewish colony there was almost wiped out; about 2,500 to 3,000 Jews being killed and 35,000 being taken to the concentration camps at Belzec and Trawniki, while some were sent to the region of Poltawa and Krivoj Rog (U. S. S. R.). The remainder about 3,000 in number, were taken to Majdan Tatarski, where in primitive and shabby buildings they too were soon killed. (Memories of Ida Glückstein p. 11 Centr. Arch. J. H. C. Prot. 6. evidence of S. Turteltaub, Bl. Book, p. 95).

The requirements of mass murder inspired the idea of establishing special plants which were to serve Eastern Poland, as the camps of Chelmno and Oswiecim on the left bank of the Vistula served Western Poland. So the labour camp at Belzec and the concentration camp for prisoner-of war at Majdanek near Lublin were transformed into extermination camps. The larger transports of Jews from Lublin and Lwow were directed to Belzec, while smaller ones were taken to Majdanek (for instance from the town of Belzyce in May 1942). An extermination camp with gals-chambers was also established at Sobibor (first victims sent from Siedliszcze).

These spring activities, however, were merely introductory. The wave of extermination activities grew more and more threatening. "Liquidation", more innocently termed "expulsion", was applied systematically and gradually in every


Jewish centre. On May 12, 1943, the authorities of the province of Lublin sent out a secret circular letter to the local administrative authorities (Srotasta powiatowy) to prepare for the expulsion ‘of the Jews (Centr. Arch. - Records of Lublin) Undoubtedly similar circulars were issued by the government authorities of other districts.

The summer of 1942 witnessed a series of expulsions in Silesia (at Jaworzno, Sosnowiec, Dabrowa Gornicza, and Bielsko); in the General Gouvernement (at Belzyce, Zolkiewka, Siedliszcze, Rabka, Cracow, Tarnow, Radom, Rzeszow, Mielec, and Debica), in Galicia (Lwow, Przemysl and Tarnopol), in White Russia (Slonim) and in Volhynia (Rowne). In some localities the Jews offered resistance (Rowno, Slonim), in reprisal for which their houses were burnt down. (Prot. No. 1190, 141). At Przemysl no less than 12,000 Jews were done to death (Centr. Arch. J. H. C. Prot. No. 676, 691).

The culminating point was reached in August, September and October 1942. The destruction of the ghetto at Warsaw overshadows this whole period, going on, as it did, for two-and-a-half months. It began on the Eve of the Jewish Fast-Day, July 22, the anniversary of the destruction of the Temple and lasted till Oct. 3. According to the official report of the SS-Brigadenführer Stroop, 310, 322 Jews were killed. Probably the number of victims was even greater. The massacre was carried out with exceptional cruelty.

At the same time the task of "liquidating" the Jews at Lwow was taken in hand. Between August 10 and 22 some 40 or 50 thousand were slaughtered. And during this same month of August about 60,000 Jews were murdered in the Dabrowa coal-mining area.

At Radom about 20,000 Jews, including members of the Jewish Council, perished in a massacre on Aug. 16; at Miedzyrzec about 10,000 (Aug. 28); at Piotrkow some 15 thousand; and at Kfolomyja the whole Jewish population of the town and surrounding country. A series of mass murders was carried


out also in the vicinity of Warsaw (at Otwook, Falenica, Rembertow), at Cracow, Lancut, Rabka, Rymanow, Rzeszów, Drohobycz, Borysław, Kielce, Szydłowiec, Nowy Sacz, Wieliczka, Wolbrom, Lodz, Stanislawow, Buczacz, Brzezany, Brody, Sokal, Borszczow, Kopyczynce, Skole, Zbaraz, Belzyce, and Dolina.

As the existing extermination camps could no longer cope with the number of destined victims, a new one was opened at Treblinka B, near the railway station of Malkinia, at the time of the Warsaw massacres.

It is impossible to say how many persons altogether lost their lives in the large-scale executions which marked the autumn of 1942. According to a report by SS Brigadenführer Katzman, in Galicia up to Nov. 10, 1942, 254, 989 Jews were expelled; about 50% of the whole Jewish population. In other sections of the General Gouvernement the numbers were much larger, amounting probably to 70 or 80% of the Jewish population. It was much the same in the area incorporated in the Reich, where except for small communities only the two ghettoes at Lodz and Bialystok were left.

On Oct. 28 and Nov. 10, 1942, regulations were issued establishing 54 ghettoes in the area of the General Gouvernement, of which 31 were in Galicia. But by this time the majority of the Jewish population were already dead, and those who remained were well aware that the end of their lives was rapidly approaching.

In the winter of 1942/43 activity lessened. One of the greatest massacres of this period was that of the Jews at Pinsk, which lasted for four days (Oct. 28 - Nov. 1) and accounted for about 16,000 persons l). (1 Record of 15 Reg. German policy, published by Ilia Erenburg in the collection: The Slayers, Moscow 1944, p. 7-10.)

At the same time the province of Bialystok was "cleansed", only two ghettoes being left, at Bialystok and at Jasinowka; about 130,000 people perished.


Two pogroms (of Nov. 18-20, 1942, and Jan. 5-7, 1943) reduced the population of the ghetto at Lwow by more than 20,000 (Dr. F. Friedman: The Destruction of the Jews at Lwow p. 23).

During the pogrom of Jan. 18, 1943, the Germans combed out (auskämmen) 6,500 more persons at Warsaw. In a great pogrom at Bialystok on Feb. 1943, 11,000 persons were killed and 12,000 were "expelled" - to the death-camp at Treblinka.

The Jewish population of Galicia was rapidly disappearing, in incessant small "incidents". The camp at Belzec was no longer able to cope with the mass of "material" sent for "liquidation".

Accordingly a camp was opened at Janow near Lwow for those expelled from the ghettoes of Galicia. At the beginning of March Governor-General Frank stated with satisfaction that in the whole of the General Gouvernement there were perhaps about 100,000 Jews left l). (1 Frank Diary. Nuremberg Trial, Dot. 2233. Vol.: 1. I to 28. II. page 5.)

It seems however, that the calculations of the Governor General were a little too low. Warsaw had still about 60,000 Jews, Lwow 20,000, and Galicia about 100,000. There still remained small numbers of Jews in several other towns of the General Gouvernement, such as Czestochowa (in the labour camp "Hasag" and ,other camps) at Skarzysko, Radom, Cracow and Plaszow. Probably the number of Jews in the General Gouvernement at that time might have been estimated at between 1 and 2 hundred thousand.

There were also more than 100,000 still left in the incorporated area, about 70,000 of whom were at Lodz, and the remainder at Bialystok and in the towns of the Warthegau.

During 1943 and 1944 the Germans began the liquidation of the remaining 250,000 Jews. In 1943 the heroic defence of the Warsaw ghetto began on Apr. 19, 1943, and ended with


the symbolical blowing up by the Germans of the Main Synagogue in Tlomackie on May 16. In this uneven struggle some 50 or 60 thousand Jews perished.1)(1 According to the report by Brigadenführer Stroop, who had directed this action, the blowing up of the synagogue marked the end of the action. In fact the mopping-up operations in the ghetto continued for some weeks.)

Resistance in the ghetto at Bialystok was overcome, after another unequal struggle, on Aug. 16, 1943; and at Lwow during the first days of June, 1943, about 20,000 Jews were killed.

By 1944 there was only one ghetto left in Poland, namely that at Lodz with its 70,000 inhabitants; and this was now "liquidated", its population being dispatched in successive transports to Oswiecim. In August 1944, when the front was approaching Lodz, more than 60,000 persons were sent to Oswiecim in one huge transport (Aug. 2-30), so that at Lodz there remained only the so-called Aufräumungskommando, consisting of 870 persons.


The destruction of all the ghettoes in Poland and the expulsion of their inhabitants still did not bring that complete "solution of the Jewish problem" desired by Himmler. There still remained a few Polish Jews in various camps, since young men and women able to work were-for the moment-kept alive.

Those thus selected were sent to labour camps. Not that their death sentence was cancelled; it was only postponed. They were exploited to the utmost limit of their endurance, with stern and severe discipline and very bad housing, sanitary and food conditions. All this as well as the variety of tortures employed, both physical and moral, is exemplified in the account of the almost incredible conditions of work at Oswiecim and Janow. Conditions of work in the munition factories at Skarzysko were likewise dreadful, and the mor-


tality in these camps was frightful. Notwithstanding this high "natural" death-rate, however, and in order to quicken the tempo of destruction, the Germans from time to time arranged roll-calls, and selections of Jews for unannounced execution.

During the German occupation the whole of Poland was dotted with camps, some for prisoners-of-war and some containing workers in local factories, coal-mines, foundries, landed estates and farms, taken over by the SS. (the so called SS Liegenschaften); in these the percentage of Jews was very small. .

More detailed information has now been collected concerning the 30 forced-labour camps for Jews. The first of this type were already established in the year 1939, but they usually only existed for a short time. They were often closed down after l-2 years of existence, after they had served their purpose in the damming of rivers, the construction of fortifications, or the building of roads, and at the same time completely ruined the health and lives of the majority of the workers in them. It was only rarely that the latter survived till the time came for their release e. g. at "Hasag"l) near Czestochowa, Aufräumungskommando at 16 St. James’s St., Lodz, or at Plaszow near Cracow. (1 Hugo Schneider Aktiengesellschaft)

As the anti-Jewish polcy became more strict, some of the labour camps were transformed into concentration camps (e. g. Janow camp near Lwow; Plaszow near Cracow; Poniatow and Trawniki in the province of Lublin; or Szebnie near Jaslo). The Jews working in these camps were not treated as workers but as "work-prisoners" (see the report of the SS Bnigadenführer Katzman to the Chief of the SS and Security Police in the G. G.).

Hundreds and thousands of Polish Jews passed through camps of this type in their march to martyrdom and death; the


relatively low number of individual camps being explained by the fact that an enormous number of human beings perished in each of them. Thus at the Janow camp near Lwow the number of inmates rarely exceeded 20,000 and sometimes fell as low as 8,000 (for example, on March. 1, 1943, it contained about 15,000 Jews, on June 26 only about 8,000). Yet a total of some 200,000 people perished in this camp. Indeed a much larger number of Jews even than this passed through the camp, including the many murdered in the wood of Lesieniec near Lwow, and those deported for execution to Belzec. The Jannow camp thus served as a transit camp, or so-called Dulag (Durchgangslager). On June 27, 1943, after the final liquidation of all the ghettoes in Galicia, there were still 20 camps, in which were 21,156 Jews. (Report of the SS Brigadenführer Katzman to the Chief of the SS and Security Police in GG. Krüger). "But" - adds Katzman -" this number is constantly diminishing". The best known of these camps were at Janow, Kurowice, Jaktorow, Lackie, Kozaki, Drohobycz, and Boryslaw.

The province of Cracow also had a number of concentration camps, the best known of which were at Plaszow near Cracow, and in the district of Szebnie near Jaslo: in both of these about 20,000 Jews, mainly from Cracow, perished. Things were similar in Malopolska, at Pustkow near Debica, at Rozwadow and at Stalowa Wola, where in each case several thousand Jews perished.

In central Poland the greatest number of camps of this type existed in Trawniki in the province of Lublin and at Poniatow near Pulawy; in every one from 15 to 20,000 Jews perished. In the North there was another, at Stutthof near Gdansk; from 110,000 persons who passed through this camp 40.000 were Jews from different countries of Europe; Polish and Lithuanian being in the majority. It should be mentioned that before the evacuation of Stutthof the Germans drove several thousand Jews (men and women) into the sea, where


they were drowned or killed by machine-gun fire. (Archives of the Centr. J. H. C. Prot. No. 381. Diary of Aldo Coradello, Reminiscenses of L. Szeftel, late prisoner at Stutthof).

But all these figures amount to nothing in comparison with the frightful number of victims who were devoured by the "extermination camps".

This last type of camp was organized on Polish territory during the time when mass exterminations were intensified, as the Germans could not accomplish their criminal purpose with the existing means of destruction alone.

Several large concentration camps in Poland, such as Oswiecim and Majdanek, had been used for killing the Jewish population since 1940; but now special new camps were added.

The camp at Oswiecim was enlarged in 1942 and 1943 and adapted for mass murder, large gas-chambers and crematoria being erected. The numerous transports of Jews arriving there were almost all directed to the gas-chambers; only a small number of persons being selected for the labour camp. But even of these only a small percentage was left alive by the end of war; about 5,000 Jews.

Besides Polish Jews there perished at Oswiecim hundreds of thousands of Jews from Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Austria, Germany, Greece, Belgium, France and other countries.

The total number of victims executed at the second large concentration camp, at Majdanek near Lublin, is estimated at between 1½ and 2 millions, of whom the Jews constituted a very large percentage. In both camps (Oswiecim and Majdanek) the majority of Jewish prisoners were exterminated in gas-chambers by the use of the very effective "Cyclon B."

In the concentration camps at Grossrosen in Silesia in which 100,000 persons perished, the number of Jewish prisoner was small.

The extermination camps destined almost exclusively for Jews were those at Treblinka (called Treblinka B), Chelmno, Belzec and Sobibor.


At Treblinka, in the vicinity of the district Sokolow Podlaski province of Warsaw, between July 22, 1942, and the early autumn of 1943 from 760,000 to a million persons were killed, almost exclusively Jews.

The camp at Chelmno, a village 14 km from Kolo on the railway from Lodz to Poznan, continued working till January 1945, when it had destroyed about 350,000 Jewish victims, in special motor-trucks, fitted up with gas- chambers.

The camp at Belzec near Rawa Ruska, established at the beginning of 1940 as a labour camp, was developed into an extermination camp in 1942. Between the spring of 1942 and that of 1943 several hundred thousand Jews, mainly from Galicia and the Lublin and Cracow province were murdered there. Transports also came from the districts of Radom and Warsaw. At the extermination camp at Sobibor, near Chelm in the Lublin area, which was established in the spring of 1942, hundreds of thousands more were killed, chiefly in gas-chambers. Here too, a certain number of Jews from France, Holland, the U.S.S.R., and Czechoslovakia perished in addition to those from Polard1). (1 It was stated at the judicial enquiry into German crimes committed in the extermination camps of Belzec and Sobibor, that from these death camps only a few persons escaped. It is therefore a matter of serious difficulty correctly to calculate the number of victims, as the German authorities tried their best to wipe out all vestiges of their crimes.) On Oct. 14, 1943, a revolt was organised at Sobibor.

After killing about 20 SS-men several hundred prisoners escaped, but the majority were killed by the bullets of the camp guards and by mines which had been laid in the fields all round the camp.

It must be borne in mind that the above mentioned concentration camps were not the only places of extermination of Polish Jews. In the vicinity of every large centre of Jewish life in Poland temporary places of execution were to be found, in which thousands and tens of thousands of victims per-


ished daily; e. g. Ponary near Wilno, Lesieniec near Lwow, Pietrasza near Bialystok, Radogoszcz near Lodz, or Rakowice wood near Cracow.

Besides the better known camps, mentioned above, there were places of mass murder by gas which remained unknown until quite recently; e. g.. Kazimierz wood (near Kazimierz Biskupi, 40 km from Chelmno) where the Germans had used gas wagons as early as Sep. 1941; or the so-called "Gesiowka" in Warsaw, i. e. the Jewish prison in Zamenhof Street, where crematorium installations have recently been discovered.

V. General conclusions

I. How many Jews perished and how many were left alive?

The final "solution of the Jewish problem" in Poland ordered by the Nazi leaders was accomplished almost in its entirety. This is proved by the following statistical data:

The number of Jews in Poland on Sep. 1, 1939, amounted to about 3,474,000. How many of them are still alive?

The Central Committee of Polish Jews which was organized at Lublin in August, 1944, ordered a registration of the Jews who survived. This registration was carried out by the Jewish Local Committees in different towns and gave the following results:

Up to June 15, 1945, it was found that 55,509 Jews had registered themselves in Poland. To this number must be added 5,446 registered Polish Jews still in camps in Germany, and 13,000 Jews on active service in the Polish Army, together 73,955 persons.

These statistics, do not however, enable us to determine how many Jews were finally saved from destruction during the German occupation. For this a critical analysis and explanation are required.


The number 55,509 must be reduced, as there were numerous mistakes in registration, caused by the fluctuation and internal migration of Jews in the first months after their recovery of freedom, the same persons being registered twice, or even several times, in different towns through which they passed. How many, it is impossible to check. Moreover, a certain number out of the 55,509 had returned from Soviet Russia.

The number of 13,000 officers and men of the Polish Army does not include such as were saved in German- occupied territory, but is made up for the most part of Jews who were in the U.S.S.R. during the war and voluntarily enlisted in the Polish Army which was organised there.

But the number of 5,446 given for Jews still in camps in Germany is not final, as only an insignificant proportion of the Jews in these camps have sent in their data to be registered by the Central Committee of Polish Jews or to any Local Committee.

Later migratory movements after June 15, 1945, and territorial changes affecting Jews who were living in Poland and Germany are not taken into account, as they are not essential to the problem under discussion.

Of the 40,000-50,000 Polish Jews who are still alive in Poland, about 5,000 are children. (Data of the Chief of the Section of the Children’s Assistance, Dr S. Herszerhorn, quoted from the Bulletin of the J.A.P. of Nov. 12, No 99/109). This is a maximum number and includes those who returned from Western Ukraine, Western White Russia and the Lithuanian Soviet Republic.

It must be borne in mind, however, that a certain number of Jews were saved by escaping abroad in 1939 (mainly to the U.S.S.R.); while in 1941, after the German invasion of Russia, some of the Polish Jews living in the U.S.S.R. saved themselves by fleeing into the interior. Altogether about 250,000 Polish Jews from various European and extra-European


countries were saved (U.S.S.R., England, Sweden, Switzerland, Roumania, Hungary; Palestine, and the U.S.A.).

From the above it may be deduced that in German-occupied Poland the Jewish population amounted to about 3,200,000 or 3,250,000 persons. Of this number at the end of war only 40,000-50,000 remained alive.

In the territories occupied by the German armies only 1.3% or 1.6% of Jews were saved.

As compared with the pre-war total, the losses of the Jews in Poland amount therefore to 98%.

2. Different phases of extermination.

With regard to the tempo and intensity of the exterminations during the different periods, although definite data are lacking, the following approximate estimate can be relied upon.

1. "Jewish losses in the first months of the German occupation, i. e. up to the end of 1939: soldiers killed in the September Campaign 32,000; prisoners of this campaign murdered by the Germans, 60,000; Jewish civilians killed during the fighting, or during the earliest stages of the German murder-campaign, in pogroms, about 100,000. Altogether therefore about 200,000.

2. Jewish losses during 1940 and the first six months of 1941: as the result of executions, repressions and pogroms, expulsions, forced labour, and natural deaths (deaths resulting from disease, epidemics and hunger), about 300,000.

Up to the middle of 1941, i. e. to the outbreak of the German-Soviet war, about 500,000 Jews had perished.

3. After the occupation by the German Army of Polish territories previously annexed by the U.S.S.R. there were about 2,700000 Jews under German rule. From the numbers previously given it will be seen that by the end of February, 1943, only l0%, or 250,000, were still alive. If we add to this number the 150,000 Jews who were murdered in


January and February, 1943, we see that on Jan. 1, 1943, about 400,000 Jews were still alive. Thus for the last phase of Nazi rule in Poland (from Apr. 22, 1941, to the end of 1942) we get 2,300,000 as the number of victims of German extermination activities, disease and hunger combined.

4. In 1943 about 250-300,000 of the remaining Jews perished, this number including the rest of the Jewish communities in Warsaw, Lwow, and Bialystok; the rest of the Jews in concentration camps; Jews who had escaped to the woods; Jewish groups of partisans; and Jews living in concealment as Aryans.

5. In 1944 about 100,000 more Jews perished at the hands of the Germans. The last ghetto at Lodz was destroyed; many Jews passing as Aryans were caught, particularly during the Warsaw Rising and afterwards, and finally a certain number of Jews who had still been working in concentration camps succumbed.

Between 40,000 and 50,000 Jews were left, concealing themselves among the Poles, or using false Aryan documents, or hiding in the woods as partisans; or in some camps (Hasag near Czestochowa, and Oswiecim).

3. How many Jews from abroad perished in. Poland?

Besides Polish Jews, the Germans murdered a great number of Jews from abroad on Polish territory. According to information published by the Institute of Jewish Affairs in New York, of a total of 9,612,000 European Jews 5,787,000 perished during the Nazi occupation.

Of this number more then half (13,200,000) [Note: this is a typographical error and should be 3,200,000] were Polish Jews. Of the second half about l,000,000 perished in Poland, and the remainder in the Soviet Union, Roumania, Bulgaria, Hungary, Jugoslavia, or Greece.

The million foreign Jews killed by the Germans in Poland are made up of about 3-4 hundred thousand from Hungary,


2 hundred thousand from Czechoslovakia, 1 hundred thousand from Germany, and the rest from Austria, France, Holland, Belgium, Italy, Norway, Luxemburg, and Denmark, in numbers varying from a few hundreds to several thousands.

Jews from abroad were sent to Poland by the Germans as early as the end of 1939 (from Czechoslovakia and Austria), ostensibly for colonization, or for work on fortifications. Further transports during the years 1940-1941 were mainly sent to the small towns of the district of Lublin and to the ghettoes of Warsaw and Lodz. Owing to dreadful housing conditions and bad food, great misery and hard work, these Jews died in large numbers. In the year 1942 it was noticed that the deportations to Poland of Jews from West and Central Europe were intensified, but now they were not deported for work, but sent straight to extermination camps to be instantly killed.

The Jews from Greece and Hungary were the last to be exterminated. Mass deportations and executions of Hungarian Jews were not begun until the Summer of 1944; but owing to their specially cruel character they stood out even among the

German extermination activities of that time.


The murder of several millions of Jews in Poland is a crime distinguished from the many other German crimes committed during the second world war both by its wholesale character and by the criminal manner of its execution. We are faced with a crime to which, strictly speaking, all those European peoples who were not "Aryan" according to Nazi doctrine should have fallen victims. The ashes of millions of people in Polish soil prove that German National Socialism realized to a great extent its declared aim of destroying the European Jews. If the Germans could not completely wipe out the Jews from Europe, it was solely due to the fact that they lost the war before they had time to carry out their extirpation plans to the end.


We are faced with a crime executed by the agents of the Nazi rulers according to a strictly conceived plan in which an active part was taken not only by the Gestapo, SS and gendarmes, but also by the German military authorities, with whom were linked up not only the political party, but also the German railway workers, and German industry.

The vast majority of Germans who were living in Poland during the war knew perfectly well about these crimes, and the extermination of millions of Jews. All these Germans adopted at best a completely passive attitude towards them. Many Germans in the Reich who profited by Jewish plunder did the same.

The destruction of the Jews in Poland was only the first attempt of the Nazis to find a specific radical solution of the problems facing German imperialist policy.

The fate of the Soviet prisoners-of-war and that of the hundreds of thousands of victims from among the Russian and Polish civilian population murdered by the German authorities eloquently proves this truth.

The Jews were the first of a series of victims. The attempt did not succeed; but undoubtedly the Poles and Russians were next on the list of candidates for mass extermination, representing elements ethnically obnoxious from the point of view of German expansion in the East.

Deliberately setting aside all basic principles of good and evil, of right and wrong, profiting from the indifference and apathy of the German population, and applying terroristic methods in the occupied countries, the Nazis could, had military events taken another turn, have murdered still more millions of people in Poland and Russia "for the good of the German nation and the New Order in Europe".

The annihilation of the Jews on Polish soil is an eloquent proof of the German intention to go on until they had achieved the realisation of this plan. .

Document compiled by Dr S D Stein
Last update 07/02/2000
©S D Stein

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