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Document OSS 66059, Record Group 226
National Archives, Washington
(Document NA 1)
UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT
DATE : 19 April 1944
TO Dr. William L. Langer
FROM F. L. Belin
Confirming my telephone conversation of this morning, I am transmitting herewith a report on conditions in the concentration camp at Oswiecim, prepared by a Polish source who asked that the subject be given publicity. This was received through our London Office and no indication was given on the memorandum transmitting it as to the reliability of the source. This report is for your information and retention.
DESCRIPTION OF THE CONCENTRATION CAMP AT OSWIECIM
1. Number of prisoners at the moment of writing : 137 000.
2. Mortality among Poles in the years 1940-41-42 averaged 80-130 daily.
3. Death was caused chiefly by the treatment by the Gestapo and the warders, by undernourishment and epidemics, which arose from vermin and filth in the camp and which were not treated (dysentery, typhoid, etc.).
4. Deaths were less numerous at the end of 1942 and in 1943.
5. About 80 % of the prisoners (Poles) were despatched in 1943 to DACHAU, MAUTHAUSEN and to labour camps in HAMBURG, BREMEN, WILHELMSHAFEN and other places.
Up to September 1942, 468 000 non-registered Jews have been gassed in OSWIECIM. Between September 1942 and the beginning of June 1943 there arrived approximately 60 000 Jews from Greece (Salonika, Athens), about 50 000 Jews from Slovakia and the Protectorate, approximately 60 000 Jews from Holland, Belgium and France, 6 000 from Chrzanow and 5 000 from Kety, Zywiec, Sucha, Slemien and vicinity. Two per cent of these people are alive to-day. Of their number 98 %, mostly young and healthy individuals were gassed and burned half-live. Each convoy arriving in Oswiecim is unloaded ; men are separated from women, and then packed haphazard, in a mass (mainly children and women) into cars and lorries and taken to the gas chamber in Brzezinka. There they are suffocated with most horrible suffering lasting 10-15 minutes, the corpses being thrown out through an aperture and cremated on a stake. It should be remarked that before entering the gas chambers the condemned must be bathed. Owing to shortage of lethal gas, half-alive people were also burned. At present three large crematoria have been erected in Brzezinka, for l0 000 people daily, which are ceaselessly cremating bodies and which the neighbouring population call « The eternal fire ». The remaining two per cent of each convoy are divided between the men’s camps in Oswiecim and Brzezinka and the women’s camp in the latter locality.
The women’s camp in Brzezinka is the most horrible place that human imagination can portray. There is no water, no trace of the most primitive hygiene needed for the most primitive vegetative existence. Workers employed outside – e.g. on the land, can never achieve any washing whatever, and they die in a very short time as they never have a chance of recovering from the most insignificant illness. There is, in addition, one more crematorium in the men’s camp near RASKO, where bodies of people executed in the Katowice, etc., prisons are disposed of (averaging 30 persons per fortnight). Girls (Jewish) of specially strong health are used in men’s camps for experiments, comprising artificial insemination and sterilisation. These too obviously perish in due course.
Very many Ukrainians have been drafted as warders over the prisoners. Recently several hundred Slovak soldiers volunteered as SS-men in Oswiecim.
In the winter prisoners were forced to work out of doors without winter underclothing and in wooden shoes at a temperature of minus 25° centigrade, so that every day numerous frozen bodies were dragged back into the camp from the places of labour.
Recently numerous convoys of Poles were brought from the Radom, Lublin and Siedlce regions. These were not gassed, but, as they were accused of great political crimes, were shot on the following day in a wood near Brzezinka.
In 1943 about 10 000 Gypsies from all the occupied countries and the Reich were rounded up and concentrated in the camp at Brzezinka. Regardless of their age they were all driven to hard labour. Since several days, however, they too have been gassed in large numbers.
As from 20.6.1943 mass convoys have been arriving in the OSWIECIM camp (Brzezinka), including : one convoy from NICE (870 persons), one convoy with more than 500 persons from Berlin, 800 people from Salonika, two convoys with l 600 persons from Brandenburg, one convoy from Sosnowiec, one convoy from LUBLIN, containing 391 people. These convoys contained 80 % Jews and 20 % of Gypsies from Greece and southern France. Possibly 10 % of these people have remained alive in the camp, the remaining 90 % were immediately taken to the gas chambers and gassed. Women and children, especially, practically never reach the camp at all.
Since that time numerous convoys with Poles (women and children as well as old people) have been arriving at the camp. Since recently they are being exterminated for the most part by gassing and also beheading. The gassing of Poles in the camp has become very popular. Very many prisoners who had survived a stay of 3-4 years in this camp, and who managed to survive the most appaling existence and yet somehow remained healthy became gassed only because they belonged to the « intelligentsia ». There is no method in the gassing procedure ; all those picked for it are unconditionally dragged away. New selections are made daily. Convoys with Poles arrive chiefly from the Radon, Lublin, Tarnobrzeg and Sandomierz regions.
In the night 3/4 July 1943 sixteen Ukrainians escaped with armed and a large quantity of ammunition ; they had been fully trained as warders by the SS Untersturmfuhrer Lange. The Germans arrested in consequence all the Ukrainian warders. The 16 Ukrainians fled in the direction of Gross Chelm, intending to escape across the river Przemsza to the Jaworzyna forests. The German gendarmerie from all the neighbouring localities started in pursuit which ended in a regular battle between them and the Ukrainians ; in the end the Germans lost count as to who was who, and fired on their own men. It was not until reinforcements arrived from Katovice, Myslowice and SS-men armed with automatic weapons were brought by several armoured cars, that a hand to hand fight ensued in which two SS-men were killed 4 seriously and 8 lightly wounded. Eleven Ukrainians were killed, 4 or 5 were caught and on the following day slowly tortured to death. After a few days Untersturmfuhrer Lange was also arrested. According to statements made by other Ukrainians, the escapees were chiefly former Russian officers.
For a time prisoners in the Oswiecim camp were always escorted by 1 Ukrainian and 1 German warder ; after the a/m incident all warders were disarmed. The Ukrainians were kept under arrest for 4 days. The company to which the escaped men had belonged was shot to a man. After Friday
the 9th of July the training of Ukrainians was resumed in the firing range of Rajsko and they are again given arms and ammunition for the daytime ; this is taken away before nightfall. On 5th July an order was read to the garrison, giving the names Reinecke SCHARF and Sch. Stephan Rahberger as men who had fallen in the execution of their duty. There have been recently many cases of typhus, mainly in the women’s camp in Brzezinka, where whole blocks were shut down for this reason. Naturally, the patients, and even people only suspected of having contracted the illness, are at once gassed. The spread of the epidemic is quite natural in view of the horrible living conditions in Brzezinka. There is no water whatever, all things needed for the maintenance of a vestige of cleanliness are lacking. There is typhus also in the Gypsy camp, so that the Kommandant HOSS was forced to issue orders for all SS-men on duty there to be billeted separately, away from other SS-men ; after completion of their duties they are bathed and de-loused every day.
Oswiecim 10. 8. 1943.
Mass Executions between 15th July and 8th August 43.
Poles : After 15. 7. 1943 mass convoys of Polish hostages arrived in the camp, including : 1 convoy from Tarnow, one from Cracow, one from Lublin, one from Radom and one from Warsaw. All trains were composed of « prison » waggons, and the people inside had their hands and feet fettered. All were immediately executed.
Up to 17. 7. 1943 one prisoner escaped from the camp and in reprisal 12 Poles were at once killed. Members of the « intelligentsia » were exclusively selected for this execution, mainly doctors, lawyers and engineers. The Germans announced that an)’ further attempt at escape would be followed by the execution of 100 Poles.
Weekly there arrive about 2-43 Polish convoys – most of the people, women and men alike, are killed. People who have been locked up in the Oswiecim camp for a number of months are also being killed off daily. The deportation of Poles took place on 28. 7. 1943. Only older people, as well as wives and children whose husbands and fathers resp. had fallen during the war or happen to be prisoners of war or are in concentration camps, or have been executed were taken away. Some of them were deported to Odarberg, some to the General Gouvernement, and a very small number of the very old remained in the camp, and was probably gassed, since there has been absolutely no news from them.
Czechs : During this time there arrived two convoys of about 100 Czechs, men, from Bohemia ; of those 50 % are alleged to have been executed for treason and the rest were left at the concentration camp at Oswiecim.
Two convoys with Czechs, who had been staying for some time at the Oswiecim camp have been deported to Buchenwald.
On 15th July there arrived single convoys with Jews from various labour camps in Germany. These people were already more dead than alive, mere exhausted bodies, which for labour, torture and starvation could no longer stand on their own feet. They could not even cross from the waggons to the waiting lorries and were thrown by the SS-men like dogs and taken
straight to Brzezinka where they were gassed.
The de-lousing of the whole camp (men and women) was announced for the 1rst, 2nd and 3rd of August 1943. De-lousing is nothing but mass gassing and it included everybody, regardless of race. The SS-men selected and dragged away all those whose faces they did not like.
At the same time when this « de-lousing » was carried out in Oswiecim, all Jews were deported from Sosnowiec and Bedzin. Fifteen trains arrived with about 15 000 and in addition, by day and night lorries kept going there and back.
About 100 people were loaded onto one lorry, men, women and children. A similar number of people were crowded into trailers. Naturally they arrived at their destination in a state of collapse. In an open field they were thrown out of the lorries, children were trodden to death, women beaten unconscious ; and the whole lot were left half naked, for a whole day, under the blazing sun, in the heat wave, without a drop of water, without any help.
It is impossible to describe the suffering of these people until death came to release them. But that is the usual procedure ; children, women sick people unable to walk, are dumped anywhere, kicked and beaten.
History knows no parallel of such destruction of human life and only a German could possibly have perpetrated it. Yet the Germans have the face to speak of the pitiless bombing of their towns, churches and monuments.
Since the crematories could not deal with so large a number of bodies, the latter were hurned in an open hole dug in a field and for three days nothing but clouds of smoke and flames were seen emerging from the place where people were being burned. There have also been convoys with people from France who were disposed of in a similar manner.
The record number of gassing in Brzezinka was reached when 30 000 people were despatched in a single day.
Oswiecim 12. 8. 1943.
Herewith names of German criminals from the Oswiecim concentration camp :
O.C. of the camp : Obersturmbannfuhrer HOSS ;
Hauptsturmfuhrer SCHWARTZ – was notorious for his ruthlessness in deporting Poles from villages near Oswiecim. His attitude towards the Poles is pitiless and to him are due the largest mass executions of Poles. He is one of the most deadly enemies of Poland.
Hauptsturmfuhrer AUMEIER – in charge of hangings and shootings.
Untersturmfuhrer SELL – a man feared by the whole camp ; inflicting suffering when ever he can. He has been specially beastly to the women’s camp.
The following Germans have played an important part in the selection and gassing of Jews :
Wardress DREXLER – who has devoted her energies to inflicting evil and
suffering on the women’s camp at Brzezinka.
SCHOPPE and STIBITZ were present when transports of Czechs and Poles arrived in Oswiecim. They kicked and beat up the victims as they were disgorged from the trains, fettered, unable to move, as yet unacquainted with the regulations prevailing in Oswiecim, so unable to act accordingly. Their behaviour towards women was particularly bestial, and the weaker and iller a woman was the greater their pleasure in kicking her to death.
One of the most devilish warders in the women’s camp at Brzezinka is a woman called MANDL. She is an impersonation of evil and sadism and was notorious at her previous post in the RAVENBRUECK concentration camp, where she was in charge of a so-called « penal block » for having starved to death a large number of girls and women. She appears to have invented a number of refined « punishments » and watches with satisfaction the suffering of the victims. After being transferred to the camp at Brzezinka she was appointed senior wardress and she now has a free hand in letting loose her sadistic leanings. She took special pleasure in selecting victims for gassing and punishments – the latter inflicted for the most part without any reason – possibly because she expected the work to be carried at a greater speed than was humanly possible.
A separate chapter in the iniquities of the Oswiecim camp is the « Political Department » run by Untersturmfuhrer GRABNER. It is he who issues all death sentences and confirms the imposition of penalties ; in practice he signs any paper presented to him. The lesser officials act with the utmost spite and malice and have fullest opportunities for displaying both.
Interrogations are attended by Oberscharfuhrer KIRSCHNER, Oberscharfuhrer BOGER, LACHMANN and Untersturmfuhrer WOZNICA. These men are the veritable scourge of the camp. Each of them manhandles and tortures the prisoners personally. The victims are tortured into confessing things they had never committed. A special torture chamber has been created with instruments of such refined cruelty as were not known ever to the Middle Ages. The men used for operating the torture chamber are selected from among SS-men known for their sadism.
Oswiecim 12. 8. 1943.
Source: Akribeia, n° 3, octobre 1998, p. 5-208
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