Stutthof as "Extermination Camp":
The Official Version
In the introduction, we mentioned that according to the official version of history, Stutthof performed the temporary function of 'makeshift' extermination camp. This chapter reproduces the statements of the principal texts in connection with the alleged mass killings and, in particular, the mass gassings of human beings at Stutthof, in chronological order.
The first testimony to be mentioned is the Soviet expert report, drawn up only five days after the liberation of the camp, on 14 May 1945, which we quote in full:
"Protocol of the technical expert report on the SS concentration camp Stutthof, May 14, 1945.
The undersigned, the engineer Major Ivan Alexandrowitsch Fjodorow, deputy chief of staff of the 57th Red Banner Brigade of Engineers and Pioneers of Gomelsk, and Lieutenant Georgi Sergejewitsch Kapustin, Adjutant of the Commander of the First Department of the Brigade Staff, on behalf of the Council of War of the 48th Army, conducted an examination of the SS camp Stutthof, which established the following:
The Germans began construction of Stutthof concentration camp in 1939. Until 1941, there was a total of approximately 15 standard-type wooden barracks, as well as the necessary small buildings for guard personnel.
Initially, the above mentioned camp was intended for political prisoners. In mid-1942, the camp began to expand rapidly, and, by the end of 1944, consisted of the following buildings:
Wooden barracks: 60 units
Brick barracks: 12 units
Barracks for guard and service personnel: 17 units
Warehouses: 11 units
Workshops: 5 units
Factory buildings: 7 units.
Every standard type living barracks has a normal capacity of 450 people, which means that, with normal occupancy, the inmate barracks could house 450 x 72 = 32,400 people. In reality, according to the data of former inmate Woźniak, a Pole, 800 to 1000 people were crammed together in the barracks in each case. Consequently, the huge numbers of persons interned in the camp amounted to approximate 60 + 12 x 800 = 62,000 to 72,000.[]
In the living barracks, three tiers of wooden bunks had been erected; there were separate rooms for the guards, and common washrooms and toilets. The washrooms and toilets in the barracks did not work, since construction of the sewerage network was not yet completed.
From a model found in the office of the SS camp Stutthof, it may be concluded that the camp was, to some considerable extent, still uncompleted; in particular, it was intended to increase the number of living barracks to 180, in which event the new part of the camp would have been built of brick, in contrast to the old part.
The construction and expansion of the camp, as well as the construction of the factories, was performed by inmates.
Two factory buildings were erected and put into operation on the grounds of the old camp, while three others were unfinished; two factory buildings were finished on the grounds of the new camp, but not yet put in operation.
At the time of our inspection visit, there was no production machinery in the factory buildings. According to the testimony of former Polish camp inmate Woźniak, the installation was disassembled and removed in January 1945.
A barbed wire fence surrounded the entire camp terrain. Around the living area of the camp was a separate barbed wire barrier, mounted on porcelain insulators. The wire was under high voltage. On the barracks side, in front of the above mentioned wire barrier, was another barbed wire fence three meters high.
In the planning and construction of the camp, especially the living quarters, there were no installations at all for fire protection purposes, nor were there any sanitary installations, which are otherwise obligatory in all buildings. Open latrines without walls and roof, all of them only two to three meters away from the barracks, spread a penetrating stench all over the camp terrain. The distance between the barracks was 10 to 15 meters.
At the time of our inspection of the camp, 30 of the 72 existing living barracks had been burnt down.
The concentration camp contained one gas chamber of 8.5 x 3.5 x 2.5 in size, in the form of a simple box, built of bricks, with two hermetically sealed doors, and a ceiling of reinforced concrete; in the ceiling, there was an opening 20 cm in diameter which was used for throwing in the 'Zyklon' poisonous material. Outside the gas chamber, a small, primitive oven, built of brick and measuring 1.5 x 1.2 x 0.8 m, had been built on; this was heated with coal. A metal pipe 20-cm in diameter led from this oven to the interior of the gas chamber, and ran along the walls of the chamber. The pipe was embedded in a wall clad in concrete mortar, with perforations measuring 2.5 cm. CO was able to exit through a brick chimney, especially built on the outside of the gas chamber, next to the entrance door. Thus, death by asphyxiation of the people in the above described gas chamber was due, not to CO, but to another poisonous substance, a 'Gasgift' [gas poison] by the name of Zyklon, which was found near the west side of the gas chamber.
The gas chamber functioned as follows:
The people were led into the gas chamber, after which the doors were hermetically sealed. The poisonous substance 'Zyklon', in the form of irregular quadrilaterals of white color, was shaken out through the round opening in the ceiling, and, under the influence of the atmosphere as well as the increased air temperature achieved by means of the oven described above, as well as because of the tightly packed mass of people, was transformed into a gaseous poisonous substance.
The gassing procedure was primitive, and apparently was to be perfected later.
In view of the surface area of the gas chamber, which amounted to 8 x 3 m2, as well as the tight packing of the people doomed to destruction, it was possible to force 4 to 5 persons together in one square meter. In this manner, the gas chambers could contain 24 x 4 = 96 people standing up.
According to the testimony of a former Polish camp inmate, Zbignew Krawczyk, who was put to work for a longer time in the crematorium in order to cremate the corpses, the gas chamber could contain 90 persons standing up, which corresponds to reality.
According to the testimony of this same Krawczyk, the asphyxiation procedure lasted 45 minutes.
In visiting the camp, we discovered two crematory ovens built in 1943, which were operated with coke, as well as third oven heated with a flammable liquid fuel, that is, a total of three ovens. We did not find a fourth oven, but something resembling an oven foundation remained. There are grounds for assuming that the Germans blew up the fourth oven.
The most important technical data relating to these ovens are to be taken from the attached diagrams.
The oven consists of fireproof brickwork, with an opening for the introduction of the bodies on the front side; further down, also on the front side, is an opening for the removal of the ashes, the ash chamber. On the left side, two heating systems had been installed. On the front, there was also a small round opening 20-cm in diameter, which could be sealed with a small door; this was used to regulate the air supply. All openings had iron doors 7 to 9 mm thick.[]
The interior volume of each crematory oven amounts to 0.5 x 0.6 x 3.2 = 0.96 m3. If one considers the extreme emaciation of the corpses, which means that a corpse, on average, occupied a volume of 0.25 x 0.2 x 1.56-0.08 m3, this means that the oven was able to contain 0.96: 0.08 = 12 corpses. During use at full capacity, therefore, twelve corpses could be introduced lengthwise into the oven in two layers.
The design of the oven, intensively heated with coke, allowed to attain temperatures of 900 to 1000 degrees Celsius. At this temperature, the cremation process lasted 50 to 60 minutes.
The ovens were installed together with a room used for executions by shooting and hanging, and measuring 18 x 10 x 2 meters, including the surface area of the oven room area.
1. The normal capacity of the camp, assuming 2.7 persons per square meter, was 32,400 persons, but it was in fact inhabited by 62,000 to 70,000 persons, which meant that the inmates were subject to extraordinary overcrowding. The unbearably unhygienic conditions to which they were exposed; the absence of heating in the barracks at during the cold seasons; the quite insufficient, miserable nourishment; the exhausting heavy work, which lasted up to 16 or 17 hours a day;[] the lack of suitable clothing and suitable shoes, especially in winter; all this led to a total exhaustion of the inmates and to the rapid propagation of various contagious diseases, i.e., created the precondition for massive mortality by means of the above described methods.
2. The average capacity of the gas chamber, in operation twenty four hours a day at normal load, amounted, assuming a time period of 40 minutes to fill the chamber, and assuming the time period, as indicated by Krawczyk, of 45 minutes for the gassings, and assuming a time period of one and a half hours to empty the chamber, to the following:
24 x 96 = 768 persons in a time period of 24 hours
3. The concentration camp had three crematory ovens. Assuming, as stated above, that twelve corpses could be introduced into one oven at a time, that the cremation procedure took 50 minutes, and that 10 minutes were required to fill the ovens, then the total capacity over a 24-hour period was:
24 x 12 x 3 = 864 corpses.
At lower temperatures, i.e., 450-500 degrees Celsius, the cremation procedure naturally took twice as long, i.e., one hour and forty minutes; this means a capacity of:
24 x 12 x 3 = 432
4. That the concentration camp had one gas chamber, three crematory ovens, and one special room for shooting and hanging, is multiple proof of the fact that the people imprisoned in Stutthof were intended for extermination.
Major Fjodorow, Engineer (signature)
Lieutenant Kapustin (signature)"
In 1947, Zdzisław Łukaszkiewiczpublished an article entitled "Obóz koncentracyjny Stutthof" (The Stutthof Concentration Camp), which appeared in the Bulletin of the "Main Commission for the Investigation of German Crimes in Poland":
With regards to mass killings, he remarked:
"Executions were only one additional means of liquidation. There were four different methods: gassing, shooting, lethal injection, and hanging.
The building containing the gas chamber was, at the time of the investigation, still intact, so that it could be thoroughly examined. It was a masonry building. The gas chamber measured 8.5 x 3.5 x 3m. There were two entrances, which could be tightly closed by means of hooks. On the exterior, a fireplace for the gas chamber had been built; a pipe led from the fireplace, which was used to heat the interior of the chamber to approximately 25 degrees Celsius before they led the victims inside. The floor was of cement, the walls were plastered. In the ceiling was a round opening 15-cm diameter, with a shaft through which the gas-forming substance was shaken out. Under this opening, on the floor, was a second, square-shaped opening measuring 30 x 30 cm, covered with a wooden lid. Eyewitnesses have reported how the SS men shook a granular, yellow-brown colored substance out of tin cans through the opening in the ceiling. At the time of the investigation, several such cans were found in the vicinity of the gas chamber. The chamber was used to kill a group of over one hundred persons at one time. Death occurred after the lapse of approximately one half-hour. Although the chamber was usually opened after the lapse of a rather long period of time in order to remove the bodies, it happened that individual victims showed signs of life. The murders in the gas chamber lasted from the summer of 1944 until approximately December of the same year."
Łukaszkiewicz claims that the gas chamber was built in the fall of 1943, and adds:
"To all the witnesses, it is obvious that, to the German authorities, the intent was to exterminate as many Jews as possible; this was fully and entirely accomplished."
On the number of victims in the camp, the author states:
"Assuming a maximum number of 110,000 inmates, a number of inmates still living at the beginning of the evacuation of 50,000, and, finally, if one considers the approximately 3,000 inmate releases according to the estimates of witnesses, as well as the more or less equal number of transfers to other camps-not including Stutthof auxiliary camps-one must conclude that approximately 50,000 persons had died by the time of the evacuation."
Taking into consideration the approximately 15,000 victims of the evacuation (according to his own testimony), Z. Łukaszkiewicz concludes that a total number of 65,000 inmates died in Stutthof camp and its auxiliary camps.
"The gas chamber was in operation chiefly during the period from August until December 1944. The witnesses report that approximately 3,000 Jews were gassed during this time. Since the chamber was also used before this time, that is, from the moment of its construction onwards, the actual number of victims may be higher by at least one thousand. Thus, a total of 4,000 people were murdered in the gas chamber."
In 1967, Krysztof Dunin-Wąsowicz, former inmate and one of the leading Polish experts on this camp, discussed the thesis of a 'makeshift' extermination camp in an article, an excerpt of which has already been quoted.
Three years later, in 1970, Dunin-Wąsowicz published a book on Stutthof, in which he wrote the following in relation to the extermination of Jews in the camp:
"The Jews in Stutthof, quite apart from the severe working conditions in the camp, were decimated by two catastrophes, namely the so-called S.B. Action-Special Treatment-and the typhus epidemic.
The Special Treatment Action was basically a manifestation of the mass murder directed in particular against the Jews in the concentration camps. In other camps, it took the form of a selection. In Stutthof, the Special Treatment began in August 1944, and lasted until the beginning of November of the same year. The first victims were 70 Russian prisoners of war, most of whom were disabled, and who had just arrived from the prisoner of war camp at Czarny. Before their deaths, they spent three days in the open and received no food. They were utterly exhausted. The remains of their clothing, consisting solely of rags, were simply falling off their bodies. Finally, the SS men deceived them by making them believe that they were being taken to a sanatorium for the disabled, which made the poor wretches very happy. They attempted to clean up and bring order into their outward appearance. Near the gas chamber stood two third class railway wagons. The SS made the Soviet prisoners of war climb into them. They were told that they were only waiting for the locomotive to be hooked on. The victims entered the waiting room without resistance to have an evening meal. The 'waiting room' turned out to be a gas chamber. The iron doors were slammed shut and the Zyklon was thrown in.
The later Special Treatment action applied exclusively to Jews, particularly women. In August, a total of over 300 women and over 100 men died in this way; in September, over 300 women; in October, over 600 women and a few dozen men, and, in the first days of November, between two and three hundred women.
The death sentences were arbitrarily handed down by the Oberscharführer [Ewald] Foth. He was head of the Jewish camp, and a notorious drunkard. This man felt sick if he had not killed at least one inmate during the course of a day's work. The overseers were not inferior to him in their zeal, but in the Jewish killing actions, Foth was without doubt the most bestial and ruthless torturer. One time, when the gas chamber didn't work, this bloodthirsty sadist beat the doomed women to death with his own hands. There was no appeal against his decision. Every day, he ordered a role call lasting several hours, at which he took out the sick and weak women. He judged their state of health according to their legs, forcing the Jewish women to run races against each other. Those who could not run fast enough went to their deaths. There were frightful scenes during the separation of families. In particular, Foth sought out pregnant women who were unable to work. Once it happened that one of the young Jewish women, who was pregnant, fled from a group of candidates for death, and was able to hide on the top floor of a barracks. Foth led a search action, found her, and brought her triumphantly back to the group of candidates for death.
In the beginning, the Jewish women did not know the purpose of the selection, but they soon realized, and began passive resistance. They refused to go to the place of execution, which was located approximately 800 meters from the [Jewish] camp. They defended themselves before they entered the gas chamber.
The Hitlerites then staged a black comedy, setting up a doctor's consultation office in the enlarged gas chamber, and led the women in on the pretext that they were about to receive a medical examination. After the deluded women had entered without resistance, they closed the doors and let the gas in.
The Poles quickly discovered this new method of murder, and informed the Jewish women. This again led to resistance. Then SS men, Hauptscharführer [Arno] Chemnitz and Oberscharführer Foth, invented a new comedy-a transport. Transfer to an adjacent camp was considered by the Jews to be equivalent to a temporary extension of life. In particular, they believed that it would be easier to survive in the adjacent camps, where there was a greater need for labor. This new action was called the 'Stocking Commando'."
We will return to this "Stocking Commando" later.
A reference work published in Warsaw in 1979 by the "Commission for the Investigation of Hitlerite Crimes in Poland" contains a very detailed discussion of Stutthof, stating:
"The high mortality rate was due, not just to the living conditions, but to direct extermination as well. Many inmates died as the result of blows with a stick or rifle butts, either at work or in the blocks. Others were shot attempting to escape, or hanged or shot after failure to escape. During mass executions in 1939/40, many Polish activists and Jews from Danzig also died.
From the middle of 1944, mass killings were carried out in the gas chamber. It had been built in the fall of 1943, was located 20 meters from the crematorium, and was initially used for the delousing of clothing. At the end of June 1944, people were killed in it for the first time, using a gas (Zyklon B). The first group of gassing victims consisted of a group of disabled Russian prisoners of war brought from a camp in Czarny. Finally, a few groups of Polish resistance fighters from Warsaw, Plock and Pomerania, as well as 4,000 Jewish women in particular, who were sick and unable to work, were also gassed.
In the infirmary, patients were often drowned in the bathtubs or murdered by means of phenol injections in the heart.
Partisans or Soviet spies were also brought to Stutthof for the execution of death sentences. The last group of Soviet spies was shot in the crematorium in March 1945 [...].
Approximately 85,000 people died in Stutthof camp, its auxiliary camps, and during the evacuation."
The well-known anthology published in 1983, Nationalsozialistische Massentötungen durch Giftgas, contains an article on Stutthof written by K. Dunin-Wąsowicz. The article deals specifically with the question of the alleged mass gassings of human beings in the camp. The article is especially significant for two reasons: first, it was written by one of the most important of all Polish Stutthof experts, and, secondly, it appeared in a book that is considered a classic of official historiography. Dunin-Wąsowicz writes:
"Just when work was begun on the gas chamber in Stutthof concentration camp can no longer be established; the inmates who participated in the construction work cannot remember the exact point in time. The gas chamber was constructed according to the pattern in other camps: 8 1/2 meters long, 3 1/2 meters wide, and 3 meters high. The poison gas Zyklon B was thrown in through a round opening in the roof, measuring 15 cm in diameter.
The first verifiable gassing in Stutthof took place on June 22, 1944. Approximately 100 persons were killed-mostly Poles and White Russians under sentence of death. There were incidents with regards to the second group [...].
The next known gassing took place on 26 July 1944. 12 members of a Polish resistance movement were killed.
The next victims were approximately 70 disabled prisoners transferred to Stutthof from a camp for Soviet prisoners of war. [...]
As a result, Camp commandant SS Sturmbannführer Paul Werner Hoppe received the order to kill the Jews that had been delivered in great numbers to his camp."
According to the judgment of a BRD court, handed down in Bochum against former camp commandant Paul Werner Hoppe and others in Bochum on 16.12.1955, "the old, sick, and unfit Jews and Jewish women were exterminated first". The author Dunin-Wąsowicz continues:
"To maintain the pretence and to forestall attempts at escape, a passenger carriage from a narrow-gauge railway leading into the camp was temporarily used as a gas chamber [...]
It is estimated that in August and September 1944, 300 Hungarian Jewish women were killed by poison gas in each case. In October, more than 600 are supposed to have been killed, including a group of men. Another 250 women were killed in this manner before the gassing was stopped in the beginning of November 1944."
In his monumental book, Auschwitz, Technique and Operation of the Gas Chambers, Jean-Claude Pressac also discusses the gas chamber of Stutthof. In this regard, Pressac writes as follows:
"It is not known when the gas chamber for delousing prisoner's effects was installed. Its dimensions (8 meters long, 3 wide and 2.30 high, giving a volume of approximately 55 m3) are close to the standard dimensions of those erected by BOOS or DEGESCH. There are two gas-tight doors, one at the southern end and the other at the northern end. The doors do not seem to be original, since they were missing at the Liberation and there has been modification of the brickwork to adjust to the curved top of the frame, as can be seen by comparison with a photograph of this chamber published on pages 108 and 109 of '1939-45'. We have not forgotten', Polonia, Warsaw 1962. The agent used for delousing is not known precisely, but given the presence of the external stove [to the left of the door, see Photo 6], it must have been either dry heat or hydrocyanic acid [Zyklon B] used in a heated room. In this case, it was not essential to pour the product in through an external opening, as an operator wearing a gas mask could distribute the pellets or porous discs on the floor, then go out and close the door. At the end of the cycle, opening the two doors allowed efficient natural ventilation.
From June 22nd to the beginning of November 1944, it was used as a homicidal gas chamber for groups of about 100 people, Zyklon B being poured in through a small opening of 15 cm in the roof, a system apparently introduced on the advice of SS Lieutenant Colonel Rudolf Höß, former commandant of Auschwitz-Birkenau and at that time head of Department D1 of the WVHA of the SS [Economic Administration Main Office]. While the history of this gas chamber is known from testimoniesby Father Krzysztof Dunin-Wąsowicz, there has been no scientific examination of the 'murder weapon' since 1945, which means that we do not know how the chamber functioned as a delousing installation and are unable to provide material proof of its criminal use. The number of victims is estimated at one to two thousand." (Emphasis by Pressac.)
In a text first published in Polish and then included as part of an anthology in German translation five years later, Janina Grabowska deals at length with the "immediate extermination" of inmates. She remarks:
"In the second half of 1944, the importance of Stutthof in the extermination machinery increased significantly, since the camp was included in the 'Final Solution' of the Jewish problem. At this time, over 47,000 Jewish men, women and children were sent to Stutthof camp. The first selections of those unfit for work were undertaken immediately after the arrival of the transports from Eastern Europe. Stutthof was not yet equipped to liquidate that many people. The decision was made to transfer them to Auschwitz-Birkenau. A transport of 1,423 persons, including mothers with children, departed Stutthof on June 26, 1944. Another transport with 603 persons-including, again, mothers with children, pregnant women, sick and disabled inmates-left Stutthof on September 10, 1944. These people were killed in the gas chambers at Auschwitz-Birkenau".
The official camp guide states:
"The smallest building is the gas chamber, the construction of which dates back to the fall of 1943. It was initially used for the delousing of clothing. But in June 1944, one began to kill inmates by means of gas-Zyklon B-in the chamber. In the period from July to November 1944, Jews, mostly women, from the transports entering Stutthof at that time, were killed (more than 47,000 inmates, most of them women, entered Stutthof from July 29 to October 14). Two specially modified carriages of the narrow-gauge railway were used in gassing the prisoners".
The short entry on Stutthof camp in the Enzyklopädie des Holocaust, published in 1993, consists simply of a summary of articles by K. Dunin-Wąsowicz, which the author of the article, however, obviously failed to understand correctly. In particular, he states:
"Starting in June 1944, some of the new arrivals were immediately murdered in the gas chambers[] of the camp. Of the 50,000 Jews brought to Stutthof, almost all perished".
In the official camp history-prepared with the participation of eleven Polish historians-the chapter "Direkte Extermination", taken from Danuta Drywa, states as follows:
"In the second half of 1944, a new period began in the history of Stutthof. Starting in July, the camp was included in camps carrying out the 'Final Solution' of the Jewish problem. Beginning on June 29, 1944, mass transports of Jews from the eastern territories entered Stutthof, as well as of other Jews transferred from Auschwitz concentration camp.[...]
The Jews were subjected to selection. The initial selections were performed immediately upon arrival of the transport into the camp. As a result, a transport with 1,893 persons left Stutthof for Auschwitz on August 26, 1944. The transport consisted of women, including mothers with children unable to work. Another transport of mothers and children, as well as of the sick and unfit, was sent on September 10. These transports were for the purpose of extermination. Upon arrival at the destination, the Jews were sent directly into the gas chamber. Further selections in the camp were intended to select the inmates for gassing in Stutthof itself.
The gas chamber in Stutthof concentration camp, built in 1943, was initially used for the disinfestation of clothing. It is difficult to establish exactly when it was put to work for extermination. The earlier literature on Stutthof assumes that the first group of gassed persons consisted of Russian invalids from the prisoner of war camp at Czarne; this occurred at the end of July 1944, after receipt of the Inspectorate's approval. Again, based on research, Maria Jezierska was able to establish that this gassing took place on August 22, 1944. The Soviet prisoners of war arrived in Stutthof concentration camp, along with a large transport from the Security Police Riga, on August 15, and received the numbers 63224-63806. Of this group, 77 invalids were given the same date of death, that is, August 22. On the date, neither the number of the death certificate appears in the death register nor the letter 'E', which would indicate execution. This data is also missing from the personal identification sheet for these prisoners of war.
As physically unfit, they represented no economic value for the camp management, and were doomed for extermination by gas from the outset, according to guideline '14 f 13'. In the concentration camp regulations, '14 f' meant gassing as a form of euthanasia. Another date of a gassing of war invalids, also from August, is given by Aldo Coradello, in which he adds a pregnant description of their attitude upon entering the gas chamber. He learned of this from cremator Kapo Wilhelm Patsch and his assistant, Franciszek Knitter. The earlier gassing of another group of Soviet invalids at an earlier date cannot, however, be entirely excluded; but executions of unregistered groups took place as already mentioned. Since the documents for the first half of the year 1944 are missing, we can neither find confirmation nor denial of this fact in the camp records. For this reason, it is equally difficult to establish the date of the gassing of two groups of Poles, partisans from the Bialystok region, and partisans from the Warsaw ghetto uprising, often described by former inmates in their memoirs. These memoirs indicate that the gassing of approximately 100 partisans was completed at the end of July, while the Warsaw group was murdered between September and November. There are discrepancies in the reports relating to the date and procedure of the action, but most of these reports repeat that both groups were taken to the crematorium and attempted to hide in the camp because they had been warned of their fate. The SS escorts began to shoot; some of the inmates fell, and the others were taken to the gas chamber.
The killings by gas acquired greater proportions when the Jewish inmates arrived in 1944. According to the testimony of the former SS man Hans Rach, the gassing of the Jewish women lasted from July to November 1944; on some days, during this time, ten or even twenty-plus people were killed. The date was marked with the date stamp in the record books, and, as in the case of the Soviet prisoners of war, the numbers are missing from the death book. The death of the first larger group of female inmates was noted on July 24, 1944; the other mortalities were registered throughout August, September and October. The Jewish women were selected for gassing during role calls that lasted hours. The selections were carried out by the block elder with SS men, usually Ewald Foth, Otto Knoth and Otto Haupt; sometimes the camp doctor Otto Heidl, in addition to Theodor Meyer and Arno Chemnitz. Particularly pregnant women, mothers with children, and the sick were doomed to extermination. Their state of health was judged by the condition of their legs; foot races were therefore held between Jewish women. Anyone who could not run was loaded onto a wagon and taken to the gas chamber. When the gas chamber was full, the door was shut, and Otto Knott, who had undergone special training in Oranienburg and in Lublin concentration camp (Majdanek), climbed onto the roof and poured Zyklon B through a special opening into the chamber. In addition to Knott, SS Unterscharführer Hans Rach and Ewald Foth also did this. Initially, the women, children, and old people went unsuspectingly and quietly into the gas chamber. Later, when, thanks to the quick circulation of rumors in the camp, they knew what was in store for them, the groups of 25-30 persons being led to the gas chamber put up resistance; but they were violently forced inside. Since the situation became difficult at the end of October or beginning of November, extermination in the gas chamber was stopped. To fool the victims, two of the narrow gauge railway carriages were equipped for the gassing. In the Jewish camp, it was announced that there was a need for women who could knit and darn stockings. The selected persons, mostly older Jewish women, were given sewing and knitting needles (this is the origin of the so-called Stocking Commando), and taken away, since they allegedly were supposedly being taken to the workplace by train. The women saw SS men in railway uniforms and were convinced that they were being taken to work, and willingly climbed onto the trains. The narrow gauge railway made a round trip around the camp and stopped in front of the crematorium with the gassed Jewish women. In November 1944, the extermination action was stopped. But this did not reduce the mortality in the camp, since a typhus epidemic broke out, which affected mostly the Jewish camp, exhausted by work and illness. It is highly likely that the epidemic was provoked by the camp administration, since nothing in particular was done to combat it."
In the following chapter, we will examine the historical basis for the allegations made in the official version of history.
|||GARF, 7021-106-2, p. 1-6.|
|||Meaning (60+12)×(900 ±100) = 64,800 ±7,200|
|||In German in the original.|
|||This is a typographical error. The meaning is no doubt 7 to 9 cm; the doors of the Topf crematory ovens of Auschwitz, for example, were 10 cm thick, and consisted of 8 cm of monolithic lining material and 2 cm of cast iron.|
|||For the actual working times, see Chapter IV, section 1.|
|||Z. Łukaszkiewicz, "Obóz koncentracyjny Stutthof" in: Biułetyn Głównej Komisji badania zbrodni niemieckich w Polsce, Warsaw, 1947, III, pp. 59-60.|
|||Ibid., p. 77.|
|||Ibid., p. 62.|
|||Ibid., p. 79.|
|||Ibid., p. 82.|
|||Ibid., p. 83.|
|||See introduction, note 3.|
|||Krzysztof Dunin-Wąsowicz, Stutthof, Warsaw, 1970, p. 83f.|
|||With one eye on the German Democratic Republic-the Communist Central German State of 1949-1990-the original name of the "Commission for the Investigation of German Crimes in Poland" was changed accordingly. After the end of Communist rule, when their crimes were also investigated, it was called the "Commission for the Investigation of Crimes against the Polish People".|
|||Główna Komisja Badania Zbrodni Hitlerowskich w Polsce. Rada Ochrony Pomników Walki i Męczeństwa. Obozy hitlerowskie..., op. cit. (note 12), p. 500ff.|
|||E. Kogon, H. Langbein, A. Rückerl, et al. (eds.) Nationalsozialistische Massentötungen..., op. cit. (note 4), p. 263-266.|
|||Published by the Beate Klarsfeld Foundation, New York 1989.|
|||Ibid., p. 539f.|
|||Janina Grabowska, Stutthof. Informator historyczny, Danzig, 1990. The German translation is the first part of the anthology edited by H. Kuhn, Stutthof. Ein Konzentrationslager..., op. cit. (note 35).|
|||H. Kuhn (ed.), Stutthof... ibid., p. 62, 64.|
|||Romuald Drynko, Informator wystaw stałych Muzeum Stutthof w Stutowie, Gdingen/Stutthof, 1991, p. 27.|
|||Enzyklopädie des Holocaust, op. cit. (note 5), volume III p. 1,382.|
|||Note the plural!|
|||See notes 1 and 2.|
|||bid., German translation p. 250 and 251f.; the original German is clumsy in parts, which is the fault of the Polish publisher.|
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