Holocaust Education & Archive Research Team
Introduction to the Holocaust Trials
The IMT Series
The Trial of Amon Goeth
The Indictment -Part 1
First Prosecution Council
In the framework of the activities of the accused Goeth, in particular his personal and direct involvement in mass murder, however clear, is only but a fragment of the whole matter. In order to recognise fully, understand and appraise the activities of the accused Goeth, it is our duty as prosecutors in this Tribunal, to introduce to you, the whole system of murder, thought out, and introduced by the Germans, into the life of our country.
The full might of these cruel German measures, were directed against the Jewish population. No other nation has been subjected to such crimes, so clearly and directly, as the Jewish nation. The accused Goeth planned the layout of the camp in Plaszow, in such a way to screen the activities within the camp from the outside. All barracks were positioned in order to block the view.
It was common knowledge in the vicinity of the camp, that the murder of the entire population of southern Poland, was the prime objective of the Nazi SS. The Germans were justifying these activities, of progressive oppression and murder of Jews, for no other reason, than because they were Jews, and as such, had no right to live.
The Nazis, had of course plans for the murder of other people as well, these plans were never put into action, in anywhere near the proportions, that have been reached, in the measures against the Jewish population. The extermination program of the Jewish population was executed thoroughly, and swiftly, all over Europe, and it befell upon Poland, to be the recipient of all the corpses followed by the ashes of the victims that have perished.
It is the task of the prosecution, to present to the Tribunal, the complete mechanism of the murderous machine in action. It therefore rightly follows, that every detail be established by experts, which will confirm the chain of command, and the degree of responsibility of the subordinates.
The basic investigations for this purpose have been carried out by the Main State War Crimes Investigation Commission, in conjunction with the Krakow District War Crimes team, dealing with the German atrocities.
In this respect, very thorough investigations have been conducted by the Jewish Historical Committee, it is therefore right, that Mr Borwicz, director of this organisation, be invited to provide expert evidence in these matters, representing the people who suffered the most, due to the activities of the accused Goeth.
I must however, emphasise, that in this case, as the accusing victims, the Polish nation stands side by side, with the Jewish nation, to see that justice be done. Not only because there were countless Polish victims in Plaszow, not only because, with the exception of a few transports of Jews from outside of Poland, who whilst indeed being practising Jews, were nevertheless in every way, rightful citizens of the Polish state, its culture and its traditions.
The prosecution therefore requests, that acting in the name of Poland, the accused Amon Goeth, be tried and sentenced by this Court, in the name of the Polish Republic. In addition, I would request that the name of Mr J. Sowinski be added to the list of witnesses, who is at the moment detained in the prison of Slupsk. The prosecution will prove, that the accused Goeth, allowed himself the murder of Chilowicz and his entire family.
Chilowicz was the Aelteste (Jewish Leader of the Camp) in Krakow – Plaszow. His murder is rather interesting, as Goeth induced Chilowicz to escape, and during this attempt, Goeth personally murdered him and his whole family, taking of course all the valuables that they had in their possession, in order to assist them in the escape. The evidence to this, is also available from Jewish witnesses, who were, during the material time in the camp.
I have asked for the name of Mr Sowinski to be added to the list of witnesses, as only yesterday it emerged that he found himself among the guards of the camp in Plaszow, although of Polish origin, he voluntarily confirmed, that he knew every detail of the escape of Chilowicz, and the subsequent murder of the entire family, at the hands of the accused Goeth.
Following the speeches of the prosecution, there followed addresses by the defence council; Dr Pokorny. First of all on my own behalf, and also on behalf of Dr Jakubowski, I would once again publicly request that we be relieved by the court from the appointed defence of the accused.
The accused Goeth is a German, the accused is a member of a nation that completely without precedent, committed crimes of unheard proportions, with the most serious intention of eliminating whole nations, certainly the citizens of Poland and the Jewish nation in particular.
In view of the fact that we belong to the population directly affected, we feel that the responsibility, and duty of the defence, forces us to suppress our personal views, convictions and feelings. The fulfilling of these responsibilities by us, as Poles becomes extremely difficult and that is the reason we beg the court to be relieved from this task.
Irrespective of this, we did have a conference with the accused Goeth, on the 21st of this month, and on his request have placed a written request for a specific number of witnesses to be called on behalf of the accused, in order to assist him in his defence.
Among others, the accused asks for Dr Leon Gross, who is at the moment detained in the prison of Montelupich 7, as well as Mr Biberstein, doctor of medicine practicing in Krakow, No 38 Dluga Str, who will no doubt testify of the sporadic incidents of murder that occurred. The killing affected those who breached the camp discipline, those who were found in possession of firearms or explosives or those who assisted or attempted to escape.
When asked how firearms or explosives could possibly be found in the camp, the accused replied that in the camp, were established tailoring workshops for the repair of army uniforms. Among the uniforms sent back for repair, ammunition, hand grenades etc were very often left by the soldiers. In addition, these witnesses will testify that in the grounds of the camp under his command, sentences of police courts were carried out - sentences of death given by various other police authorities that the accused Goeth could not dispute.
We would also call Mr M. Pemper, who is testify that the accused did breed dogs, not for purposes of cruelty, but simply for breeding. The only time anyone was hurt by these dogs, was when they were not careful when approaching them, or when they ignored notices clearly indicating the danger when approaching their kennels.
As regards the liquidation of the ghetto in Krakow, the accused will call Dr Michael Weichert, Dr Biberstein, former SS-Sturmbannfuhrer Willy Haase and Dr Leon Gross. These witnesses will confirm that the accused was restricted during this action to transferring four thousand persons to Plaszow from the Ghetto, who in any case were selected from the Ghetto by other authorities for this transfer. The accused carried out this work, assisted by a company of 80 Ukrainian. It then emerged that 2,000 additional people were found in Plaszow.
After checking lists of these 2,000 people from the Ghetto, they were handed back to the Ukrainian guards, who according to the accused, murdered all of them and he could not prevent this from happening.
As far as the liquidation of the Ghetto in Tarnow is concerned, the accused would ask the court for Mr Lehrhaupt to be called to testify, he is a furrier from Tarnow, and will confirm that the accused arrived in Tarnow, on orders from his superiors, in order to wind up the camp and the Ghetto there. In this operation he was assisted by a formation of 200 men.
On arrival, he informed the Jewish Council (Judenrat) that the inhabitants of the Ghetto, the number of which the accused suggests to be in the region of 3,000 persons, would be divided into four groups. One group is to be transferred to Krakow –Plaszow, consisting of craftsmen, the second group to be sent to Germany, the third group is to be sent to a camp in Szebnia and the fourth group, the size of which had not yet been determined at the time, would remain in Tarnow in order to tidy up in the Ghetto following its liquidation.
The previously mentioned witnesses will also testify that the accused, supervising these transports at the time of loading, ensured that wagons regularly loaded with 48 soldiers, their equipment and baggage was loaded by only 80 Ghetto inhabitants on their journey to Plaszow or Germany.
As regards the camp in Szebnia, the accused would like to call as witnesses, Mr M. Pemper, Mr. Z. Nurnberg, shoe-maker from Krakow residing at No 62 Dietlowska Str, Dr L.Gross and also SS Untersturmfuhrer Wilhelmi, who is at the moment detained in Dachau, near Munich.
All the above mentioned witnesses, according to statements made by the accused, are supposed to confirm, that all articles or possessions taken from the people to be interned, were handed over to German police authorities, situated in the vicinity of the Ghetto and confirmed by written receipts, furthermore, they will confirm that during the daily distribution of food to the prisoners, they were not subjected to any violence, this in particular, can be confirmed by Dr Gross, who was in charge of the kitchens.
It is relevant to point out that proceedings against the accused started by the German police during the war for dishonesty have been quashed by the police in Munich. Finally, on the specific request of the accused Goeth, the defence has been forced to call as witnesses Mr. L. Gross, Mr N.Heller, Mr L Rosner and Mr H.Rosner both musicians, now residing in Munich.
All these witnesses, according to the accused will confirm that the accused in certain cases was quite helpful and saved people from death as well. It was in those circumstances, that prisoners were admitted into the camp in Plaszow, into the custody of the accused who treated them in a very humane way.
I will begin with the second application of the defence, namely the documentary application. I am fully aware, that it is our duty, as well as of the defence, the search for and the unravelling of the real material truth, and if we will oppose certain documents, it will be only when we will be fully convinced, that these documents or evidence, are not leading in the direction of exposing the truth. Also, when we will be completely certain, that such documentation or evidence, is completely untreatable
Turning to details; The calling of witnesses to testify on circumstances, on the normal prisoner level in the camp, its changes, will be decided upon by the Tribunal in the course of the proceedings, if it will emerge, that such evidence may have an influence in the establishment of the degree of guilt. One such witness is already summoned for this, namely Mr Pemper and he will be examined on these circumstances.
As far as witnesses who reside abroad are concerned, it is my opinion that taking the various practical difficulties into consideration of contacting, interviewing, and then summonsing these witnesses to Poland, it will no doubt emerge during the proceedings, if the evidence they are likely to be required to give is not available in any event from other survivors.
For these reasons, I would ask the court, in the name of the prosecution, to decide on this matter during the proceedings, or towards the end, depending on circumstances. Witness Dr Biberstein, I notice from documents before me, has already been summonsed to appear.
As regards Dr Gross, at present detained in prison, the prosecution does not object to his appearance, on condition, that the court considers his appearance as necessary. Turning to the other witnesses, Dr Weichert, I believe he is ill (the chairman of the court confirms at this point that medical certificates to this effect are in possession of the bench). It may be possible for him to attend at a later stage, if not likewise, it may be possible to obtain the necessary evidence from other survivors. I would request that the court decides on this matter during the proceedings. The same applies to the witness Willi Haase, who is living probably somewhere in Germany.
Concerning Mr Lehrhaupt, should the proceedings dealing with the circumstances of the Tarnow Ghetto require a search for this person to be instituted, the prosecution will not object. It is my belief that most of the surviving witnesses due to appear in the matter of Tarnow Ghetto will make this unnecessary.
As far as Mr Nurenberg is concerned, he is already summoned to appear, the same applies to the witness Wilhelmi at present in West Germany. As far as the documents are concerned, requests by the defence for these to be made available to them, raises no objection from the prosecution and all such documents will be deposited with the prison authorities for this purpose.
The prosecution does not object to the appearance of Mr Pemper, regarding the matter of the brothers Rosner, residing in Munich, I would repeat my previous request, dealing with all witnesses residing outside of Poland.
Following a brief conference, the Tribunal ordered the reading of the court decisions on the various applications made in court so far.
Following this announcement, the Court proceeded to read the full document of the indictment.
The Prosecution of the Highest National Tribunal
Amon Leopold Goeth – Born on the 11th of December 1908, in Vienna, citizen of Austria, divorced, author by profession, at present detained in prison, is accused as follows, and because of.
As member of the N.S.D.A.P. in Austria and Germany, from the year 1932, also as a member of “Waffen-SS” from the 5th March 1940 to the 13th September 1944 within the territories of the Republic of Poland took part in a criminal organisation, being a member of that party, which under the command of Hitler has taken the path to rape, waging wars of terror against civilians, and with the assistance of other crimes, one of which has been the mass murder of Poles and Jews, aimed at the subjugation of the world and establishment of a Nazi order, in this Amon Goeth personally ordered the deprivation of freedom, torture, extermination of small groups, as well as whole communities of people, as well as personally killing, maiming and torturing an unknown number of people, Jews and Poles, in addition a great number of other nationalities.
The activities of the accused are of a character of prolonged criminality, and are covered by Art 1-1 of a decree 31.8.1944 (Dz U.R.P. No 4, poz 16 with changes introduced by decree of the 14.2.1945. DZ U.R.P No 7 poz 29) according to legal Articles 225, Articles 26 and 27, Article 93, with Article 97, 225, Article 235-1 , 246, 248, 257, 262, K.K, irrespective of these, the crimes are covered by numerous international decrees dealing with crimes against humanity.
Background Information on the Activities of Amon Leopold Goeth
The activities of the accused Amon Goeth, in the areas and surrounding districts of Krakow, were a fragment of the wider action with the ultimate aim of exterminating European Jewry, introduced in degrees, first restricting personal freedom, then economical freedom, followed by detention of all Jews in Ghetto’s, then transferring them by force to concentration camps, and finally murdering the victims en-mass, by shooting and gassing. Certainly, a great number lost their lives at each stage of these actions, by various methods, also in large groups or individually at the hands of the German or Ukrainian SS-men.
In the district of Krakow, ghetto’s were established in most localities, among these the largest and most famous were the ghetto’s of Krakow and Tarnow, both liquidated with enormous loss of lives by the accused Goeth, the actions against these ghetto’s were preceded by systematic forceful transportation of the inhabitants to extermination camps dispersed within the areas of the General Gouvernement (Poland).
The ghetto in Krakow was established on the 21 March 1941 and contained in excess of 68,000 inhabitants at that time. The establishment of the ghetto was preceded by a whole string of restrictive regulations affecting Jews. On the 8th September 1939 the German authorities introduced a law obliging all Jews to wear a distinguishing arm band with the Star of David. All Jewish establishments were subject to being confiscated, robbed and persecuted.
Followed immediately on the 10th October 1939 by all local government registration offices, being required to keep a separate register of all Jews on special identity file cards, clearly marked by a yellow band. On the 26th October 1939 Dr Hans Frank, the German Governor of all Poland, issued a proclamation, clearly declaring that in the territories occupied by the Third Reich, there will be no room for the Jewish usurpers.
On the 26th October 1939, Hans Frank introduced a decree for the compulsory conscription of Jews for forced labour, formation of so called labour groups, the implementation of this decree is assigned to his deputy for internal affairs within the office of the Hohere SS und Polizeifuhrer (Higher SS and Police Leader) in occupied Poland.
As from November 1939, on orders from the Gestapo, first in Krakow, followed progressively throughout Poland, registration of all Jews, blocking of all bank accounts belonging to Jews, deposits and bills, simultaneously all Jewish shops and industrial concerns are to be marked with the Star of David boldly displayed.
German authorities ordered the establishment of Jewish councils (Judenrate) in order to assist them with their plans against the Jewish population. As from the 1st December 1939 Jews were allowed on the streets only when wearing the Star of David armband, ten days later this was restricted to movement only with a special permit, and not at all, between the hours of 9pm to 5am.
As from the 20th January 1940, they are forbidden to travel by train, Jewish schools were being closed, in September 1940 only in Warsaw an elementary school system seems to have been allowed, where 5,000 ghetto children were able to attend for a short time. As from the 1st January 1940 Jews were forbidden to change an address without permission from the Germans.
Simultaneously, all Jewish districts are being blocked, searches instituted at random, robbery is taking place in the name of the Reich. As from January 1940, Jews were forced to clean the streets, remove garbage, snow, and clean the roadways generally. Everywhere at a moments notice, people are snatched from the streets, by organised snatch-parties and under various excuses ransoms are being extorted from the population, in ever increasing dimensions, which if not paid, the hostages in danger of being shot.
In June 1941 identity cards for Jews were introduced, yellow in colour, as from the 15th October 1941 Jews were forbidden to move from their recorded Jewish areas, punishable by death if disobeyed. As from the 1st December 1941 the post is prevented from accepting parcels from Jews, at the same time all furs were to be surrendered, and then skiing equipment, the latter also applied to the Polish population.
As from the 1st February 1942 were forbidden to use horse drawn carriages, as from December 1939 mass transfer of populations commenced from Austria, Germany, Silesia into Poland, distributing the new arrivals in various localities, restricting however the number of towns, where the Jews are allowed to concentrate.
The previously mentioned decrees, restricting the hours of movement, restricting movement without a distinguishing armband, restricting the place of residence in the ghettos, restricting access to public means of communication, and finally the separation of Jews from the rest of the world, with the construction of ghetto walls, had but one aim, to trap the Jewish population, in order to make the transfer of these innocent people to extermination camps easier.
As from February 1942 mass transfer of Jewish populations to extermination camps commenced, accompanied by mass murder on the spot of the various localities. That same month, an enormous action took place in Lublin affecting 12,000 people of Jewish origin. These actions are being instituted with ever increasing frequency and brutality, reaching maximum peaks during the month of July and August 1942.
During the course of the fourth week of June 1942, an action to transport Jews from the ghetto in Tarnow has taken place, during this action 6,000 persons were transported to Belzec extermination camp, and the same number approximately were shot in the ghetto of Tarnow.
In September 1942, the Tarnow ghetto was subjected to a second action of the same type, affecting a similar number of inhabitants, and at the beginning of September 1943 the Tarnow ghetto was targeted again with a bloody, complete liquidation.
In all these actions the accused Goeth has taken part personally during the final action killing a group of women and children with his own weapon and sent off to Auschwitz, a barbarically organised transport containing 10,000 Jews, only 400 of these arriving in Auschwitz alive as the remainder suffocated during the journey.
In accordance to the wishes of the German Governor of Poland, Hans Frank, the German authorities aimed first of all to make the capital of occupied Poland, Krakow, clear of all Jews (Judenrein). During the period between July 1940 to March 1941, 8,000 Jewish people were forcefully deported from Krakow, in addition to this, yet another 10,000 persons have been enticed by so-called voluntary means.
During the first eight days of June 1942 a very large action took place in Krakow again, during which great many murders were committed, in addition to which 5,000 Jewish people were sent to the extermination camps.
The so-called re-settlement orders at that time in Krakow were personally signed by the SS commander there at the time Rudolf Pavlu. Immediately after these actions, the area of the Krakow ghetto was reduced. Immediately thereafter, on the 28th of October 1942 the deportation of the Jews was repeated, by a barbaric action in Krakow, with a further reduction in the size of the Krakow ghetto, in that action 7,000 persons were sent to the extermination camps, and many others were killed on the spot. At that point, the Krakow ghetto contained over 14,000 persons, when in the summer of 1940, the ghetto contained 68,000 Jewish people.
During the month of December 1942, the Krakow ghetto, as probably other ghetto’s as well, were subjected to a division into two parts, one part occupied by people in employment, and the second part occupied by people not in employment, and living as from then, in constant fear for their lives.
On the 13th March 1943, we are dealing with the final liquidation of the ghetto in Krakow, directed personally by SS-Sturmbannfuhrer Wili Haase and carried out by Amon Goethe, assisted by his Jewish helpers, and by the SS officers Kunde, Heinrich and Neumann.
During that action, mass murders were committed in the ghetto. On the orders of Haase, 75 persons were killed in one spot, and the total number of those killed, including those deported to the extermination camps, exceeded 4,000 people, among these a mass of women and children. Amon Goeth personally fired at people, killing them.
Those, that were fit for work, numbering in excess of 10,000 people, were accommodated in the forced labour camp in Plaszow. Similar inhuman and bloody actions were being conducted throughout the Polish territory occupied by the Germans. With the result that, at the end of 1942, the Jewish population of Poland, was concentrated in labour camps and formally only in about forty towns.
In reality there were far fewer of these towns, as apart from the Krakow ghetto, which was liquidated on the 13th March 1943, Bochnia, Tarnow, Rzeszow and Przemysl, all of which were liquidated in the first half of 1943, there existed in Poland the ghetto of Warsaw, and a few smaller towns in the districts of Warsaw, Radom and Galicia.
These small ghetto’s, were systematically and quickly being liquidated. All resettlement actions during 1942 and 1943 were accompanied by mass placard announcements regulations, with the threats of death, to any person or persons, concealing Jews, or Jewish possessions. These orders, in many cases, were conducive in the acceleration of these actions. All these actions were accompanied by massive and organised by the German authorities, plunder of Jewish property, all towns affected by these actions, are being covered for months, by loose down feathers from household bedding which belonged to the former Jewish inhabitants.
On this background, appears the figure of the accused Amon Goeth, whose whole life and career is irrevocably entwined with the Nazi Hitler movement as from the very early days of its existence. The accused, by origin an Austrian from Vienna, joined the N.S.D.A.P and the SS already in 1932, and was a Party member up to its dissolution in Austria in 1933.
In March 1938, during the Anschluss, he immediately re-joined the Nazi Party, in whose ranks he remained to the very end. Following the outbreak of the war, he was called up into service in the Waffen-SS, and found himself on the 5th March 1943 in Krakow, after serving in Cieszyn, Katowice and Lublin, on the staff of SS-Gruppenfuhrer Globocnik, where he came into contact with the extermination camps of Sobibor, Belzec and Treblinka, officially as a close assistant of Globocnik.
In February 1943, he left Lublin as a result of some conflict with SS –Hauptsturmfuhrer Hoefle, chief staff officer of the commander of the SS, he found himself in Krakow, where as SS –Unterscharfuhrer, he had been nominated by the SS and Police chief Scherner to command the camp of Krakow-Plaszow, and there in July 1943, he was promoted to the rank of SS-Oberscharfuhrer.
The Camp in Plaszow
The accused Goeth must have achieved a great deal of experience about Jewish matters during his service and co-operation with Globocnik in the areas of Lublin, immediately following his arrival in Krakow, he began an intensive expansion of the camp in Plaszow, and simultaneously, under the direction of SS-Strumbannfuhrer Haase, Goeth commenced the final liquidation of the ghetto in Krakow, in addition preparing the final plans for the likewise liquidation of the ghetto’s of Tarnow, Bochnia, Rzeszow and Przemysl.
In all these actions Goeth participated personally, directing matters on the spot and at the same time, as commander of the camp in Plaszow, he conducted there, a separate extermination action. In these actions the accused was not restricted by any controls or interventions, from his superiors, as the camp in Plaszow, up to the time it was recognised as a concentration camp, in January 1944, was not under the central SS organisation, but as a forced labour camp Krakow-Plaszow of the police directorate in the district of Krakow, and as such he was under the exclusive control of local authorities.
Within the camp, there was no central file system, or record of the prisoners held there, whose numbers were constantly fluctuating, with a contiguous upward tendency. At the time Goeth took control of that camp, the camp contained about 2,000 internees. This number quickly grew to 10,000 as a result of the actions in Krakow. At the time of maximum pressure the numbers reached 25,000 and later quickly dropping as a result of the inhuman treatment of internees, and the repeated extermination transports to other camps.
Topographically the camp was laid out, at the beginning, on the grounds of two Jewish cemeteries, that is, on the ground of the new Jewish cemetery, in Abraham Street Number 8, together with its reserve ground, positioned at the back, covering an area of 10 morgens, as well as the old Jewish Podgorze cemetery, which was on the Jerozolimska Street No 25.
With the ever increasing number of prisoners, and the expansion of the camp, the camp keeps on growing, reaching in the west up to Swoszowicka Street, in the south up to Panska Street, and in 1944, the whole Panska Street area is incorporated, together with all the buildings that existed there. In the east the camp reached up to the main Wieliczka Road. The main entrance to the camp was situated in Jerosolimska Street.
The area was not suitable for a camp, mainly rocky, then lime, mainly boggy, malaria infested. In addition the area is hilly, uneven, and it was with great difficulties that it was made habitable for prisoners, with the construction of access roads, on a wet rocky soft ground. The camp expanded to cover an area of 800,000 square metres, and the length of the barbed wire external perimeter reached about 4 kilometres, the camp adjoined directly with the local stone and lime quarries.
At the beginning the camp was divided into two sections, one for the Jews and the second smaller section, separated by barbed wire, for Polish prisoners. The general prisoner level of the Polish camp sector did not exceed 1,000, only in August 1944, during the course of mass arrests in Krakow, on suspicion of membership to the Polish National Army (A.K.), more than 10,000 Polish persons were placed there, who were quickly transferred to other camps, and others released.
The relationship between the Polish and Jewish prisoners, in the camp, was very good, they helped each other, and wherever possible jointly eased their suffering.
The camp was expanding in stages, and ever more, it was becoming a Jewish camp, as the number of Jewish prisoners was increasing and the number of Polish prisoners decreasing. The construction cost great many lives, that list, begins with the name of the Jewish female architect Diana Reiter, former architect of the Krakow district building department, interned in the camp, and the buyer of the Bonarka brick works, Mr Ingber.
Ms Reiter was killed in the camp by Hujar, on orders from Goeth, because a wall collapsed, which was under the supervision of Ms Reiter, Mr Ingber was killed by Goeth himself, for some hesitation in the allocation of workers. The construction work in the camp, was made very difficult, due to the rocky, hilly, uneven terrain, in order to transport across that ground rocks, wagons were used tied mostly to women, who, unable to withstand the very hard work, were dying in masses.
Within the camp, the victims of mass executions were being buried. And so behind the barracks, there were the mass graves, of the victims from the liquidation of the Krakow ghetto, containing about 4,000 persons. Also there, the people brought from the Krakow prison of Montelupich, were being shot.
The second mass grave was on the so-called “Chujowa Gorka,” which was a artificial mound for artillery, from the first World War. There, almost every day, people were being killed, brought there in vans from outside of the camp. This continued until the ground evened out, after which they transferred the place of executions to a second such mound, situated at a lower level.
In September 1944 an exhumation of the remains was conducted, during which burning of the remains from both of these mass graves was taking place. At that time, about 6-8 thousand remains were buried, without any identification, following the removal of any gold teeth or dentures.
During 1943/44 the construction of gas chambers in the camp was started, the equipment for this has been brought there, from the now liquidated camp in Lwow, in Janowska Street. The construction of this, remained unfinished however, as the war ended.
The camp was surrounded by a double band of barbed wire, in between of which, there was a ditch filled with water. Guard towers, closely placed, equipped with machine guns, guarded the camp. The first commander of the camp was Unterscharfuhrer Pilarzik, who was followed by Oberscharfuhrer Mueller, from whom the command was taken over by the accused Amon Goeth, in February 1943, who remained in that position until the moment of his arrest, by the SS in September 1944.
The camp guards consisted of Ukrainians up till the camp was restructured into a concentration camp, when they were replaced by German SS men and SS women for the female sectors of the camp.
Goeth governed the camp in a calculated brutal manner, and for the slightest of complaint, he fired at prisoners, selected by him, himself, or he ordered others to do this, or conducted public hangings. In cases of escapes he applied collective punishments, shooting 10 people out of the group from which the escape took place, for each one that escaped. Such executions were conducted in public, and in this manner over 500 persons were murdered.
Despite these executions and the mass mortality of prisoners the numbers grew. From the initial 2,000, it grew to 10,000 after the liquidation of the ghetto in Krakow, and then again 12,000 following the liquidation of the ghetto in Tarnow. In 1943, within the camp, a Polish camp was established, where prisoners sentenced for normal police offences were held, also contacts with resistance movements. The commander of this sub-sector camp was Oberscharfuhrer Landsdorfer, responsible to Goeth.
People detained in that camp for a specific predetermined period, were nevertheless, detained there due to continuous delay, for all sorts of reasons by Goeth. They were exploited doing heavy construction work, shot at and tormented at every opportunity. Following the takeover of the camp by the main SS authorities, the random killing of prisoners stopped, which was followed by planned premeditated actions.
In May 1944 a “health appell” was conducted under the supervision of Goeth and the camp SS doctor Blancke. As a result of this so-called “health appell” around 1,400 persons considered as unsuitable for work by them, were sent to Auschwitz, where on arrival, the whole transport was gassed.
This action was conducted on the initiative of Goeth, who at his request, received permission to select around 1,000 persons, in order to make room for transports of Jews from Hungary. Despite the fact that the killing of a prisoner at that time, required permission from Berlin, the accused Goeth managed this in this way, that he tortured people, or ordered others to do this. in a short time, to such an extent that the victim was dying, irrespective of decisions from Berlin.
In the camp executions were taking place of prisoners taken there from the prison in Krakow, in Montelupich Street, around 2,000 persons, which is also blamed on Goeth, as the chief executioner of these mass murders. The approach of the Russian front-line, in the summer of 1944, was the signal to liquidate the camp, preceded by the exhumation and burning of remains, and the transportation of remaining prisoners to other camps, in order to erase all the evidence.
And so in July 1944, transports were leaving, each one containing several thousand persons for Auschwitz, Stutthof, Flossenburg, Muathausen and others. During the course of this action, Goeth was arrested on the 13th of September 1944 by the SS und Polizeigericht VI, in Krakow, accused of misappropriating valuables and property of his victims from the camp and the liquidation of the ghettos of Krakow and Tarnow.
Goeth did conduct frequent searches and confiscations in the camp, one such action took place at the end of March 1943, forwarding only a very small amount to the German authorities, retaining the lions share for himself. In addition, he was accused of robbing furniture and property during the ghetto liquidations, misuse of camp property, in particular the taking for his own gain. of meat, sugar, flour and other food products, in addition to prohibited treatment of prisoners against regulations.
The accused Goeth lived a very high style of life, in a luxury villa, where drinking parties were never ending, to which his friends from Krakow were invited. He had his permanent orchestra, consisting of prisoners and servants, whose members he was killing at the slightest excuse, or simply when being drunk. He had two dogs, one called Ralf and the other called Rolf, both trained to attack and savage people. Many people have lost their lives, following being attacked by these dogs, on command of Goeth.
His assistant was the “Lageraeltete” (senior prisoner) Chilowicz who helped him in the amassing of valuables and abuses. This Chilowicz, was the director of the camp prisoner police (Ordnungdienst) and ruled completely in the camp, enjoying the full backing of Goeth. However, as the liquidation of the camp neared and Chilowicz was about to be transferred to another camp, where he could have spoken of the various deals of Goeth. Goeth arranged the escape of Chilowicz and his family, for which he promised him his assistance, but in the course of this escape, Goeth ordered Chilowicz and his whole family to be shot, and thus rid himself of uncomfortable witnesses.
On his arrest by the SS, Goeth was placed in a prison from which he escaped and following the collapse of Germany he was arrested by the American authorities. The establishment of all surnames of people murdered personally by Goeth, or on his orders, is impossible, and we can only estimate the overall figure, from the period of his activities in Krakow, at approximately 8,000 persons.
Despite of everything, on the basis of testimonies of witnesses, we can identify a number of surnames and facts with a considerable degree of accuracy. The method of carrying out of executions by the accused was usually refined, when on the 3rd of August 1943, the 16 year old boy Haubenstock was being hung, for singing some Russian song, together with engineer Krautwirth for some remark at the camp guards.
Haubenstock fell from the gallows and Goeth ordered him to be hung again, despite the fact, that the boy pleaded with him, to let him live, engineer Krautwirth waiting for his turn to be hung, cut his wrists with a razor blade, but Goeth ordered the dying Krautwirth to be hung as well.
When the children were being taken out of the camp, Goeth ordered nursery songs to be played in the camp by the orchestra, “Mammie kauf mir ein pferdchen,” at a time when the mothers of these children, forced to stand on the parade ground, had to look on, and witness the transportation of their children to their deaths.
Goeth very often fired through the windows into the barracks, killing prisoners, with his own hands, beating prisoners with his whip, until they were unconscious, as well as systematically sentencing people to be whipped, across a bare back 25 or 50 times, in front of groups of people. Hanging by the arms, detention in bunkers, ravaging by dogs, these were the methods in daily use and application of the accused.
Very often, mass hangings would take place, in public, in the presence of Goeth on the Appellplatz, in the same manner, he organised mass shootings of prisoners. These executions on many occasions were conducted in a manner, that the victims were ordered to stand above the prepared ditch, after which they were ordered to jump in, several at a time, in cases of opposition they were knocked down with rifle butts. At the moment of the jump, the SS men standing on the edge of the ditch, fired their guns at the jumping people, after which others were being pushed in, without worrying about those that were in that grave already still alive and only wounded.
From the testimonies of witnesses, one can establish a series of victims names of persons killed by Goeth, or on his orders and so at his hands fell Kapo Hirschberg (middle of March 1943) prisoner Scheinfeld (November 1943) Kapo Penner (November 1943), prisoners Olmer, Feber, Moirzesz and Wirth with his sister and two children (13 March 1943), prisoners Sonnenschein and Spielman (1943) and many, many others.
Goeth, on the 15th March 1943, ordered 10 people to be hung in the summer of 1943, 16 persons from the firm “Kabel” were killed on his orders. In May 1943 Kapo Beim was killed, as well as the hanging of Haubenstock and Krautwirth. In November 1943 the O.D. man Bloch together with 10 other prisoners, at another, not exactly established date, 60 people were killed on his orders from the works group “Bonarka.”
For the Jewish New Year in 1943, on his orders, 200 people were killed, selected from the Appell assembly on the Day of Atonement in 1943, 50 people were lost, shot on orders of Zdrojewski, as well as many others.
The brutality, thirst for blood, and criminal instincts, are sufficiently illustrated by the preceding list of events and victims, as well as the description of his behaviour as commander of the camp in Krakow-Plaszow.
The Liquidation of the Krakow Ghetto
The ghetto in Krakow, at the time of its establishment, on the 21 March 1942 contained 68,000 people, this shrunk as a result of its residents having been transported away, to the extermination camps, so that in December 1942 only 14,000 persons remained there, living in part “A” of the ghetto, which housed the people in work, and sector “B” accommodating the unemployed, unskilled and elderly.
The final liquidation of the ghetto took place on the 13th March 1943, carried out by Goeth, under the overall supervision of SS Sturmbannfuhrer Willi Haase and others of the SS staff. At that time, approximately 4,000 Jewish people were killed, and about 8-10,000 were placed by Goeth in the camp of Plaszow. Goeth conducted that action with unusual brutality, assisted by Ukrainian SS men.
Ukrainian and Latvian SS camp guards were first taken through the Jewish hospital after which Goeth began the transfer of people to Plaszow. Those that were unfit for work, Goeth killed or ordered others to kill as he went along. The old, the ill, the children, all were murdered, among them all the children from the ghetto children’s home.
During the course of this action, Goeth completely liquidated the “B” sector of the ghetto, which contained all the unemployed and unfit people, and for the whole day following of this action, lorries were collecting the remains of people killed in the streets and buildings of the ghetto on that day, taking these to Plaszow, where they were buried in mass graves. Even on the following Monday, that is on the 15th of March 1943, in the ghetto “B” there were many dead people, still in the buildings where they were murdered, who were being searched for in order to bury them.
And so, in this manner, the Krakow ghetto was liquidated. The area was sealed after this for a long period, and armed patrols of Ukrainians continued searching for people in hiding, for a period of possibly several months.
The Liquidation of the Ghetto in Tarnow
In a similar way as in Krakow, the Tarnow ghetto is going through a progressive process of liquidation, through the despatch of transports into the extermination camps. In that manner in June 1942, about 6,000 Jewish people are being sent to Belzec, a similar number is lost on the spot in Tarnow.
In September 1942 a second resettlement action took place, and in the first days of September 1943 Goeth liquidated the ghetto completely, in a copy of the brutal style as in Krakow. Goeth personally kills with shots from his revolver many dozens of people and despatches on a train approximately 8,000 people to Auschwitz, in such conditions that only 400 persons survive the arrival in Auschwitz, the rest having suffocated on the way, or died of thirst, packed into wagons designed for 40 persons, but loaded in groups of 160, with sealed windows and other openings.
Goeth supervised the loading himself, separating healthy males, in order to send them to Plaszow, and loading onto trains, all elderly, ill, women and children, for transportation to Auschwitz. The women being taken on board for Plaszow, were taking their children, concealed with them. This was prohibited, and when such child was being discovered, it was taken away from the mother, after which, on many occasions, Goeth himself was killing these children, with a aimed shot, fired at close range from his revolver.
We are told by witness Erna Landau, how she managed to hide in a oven of a house in Szpitalna street, from where she saw as Goeth killed, in the street, the wife of Chaskel Klappholz, after which, some other woman as well, and later chased other people to that blind alley, where the two bodies already lay, and proceeded to kill them likewise. Among others he killed a small 6 year old child, who came to him, on his assurance and calls that nothing will happen to him.
To the transport from Tarnow, containing about 8,000 persons, another transport of about 3,000 Jewish people, was coupled on, in Bochnia, from these 11,000 people to Auschwitz, only 400 arrived alive, as previously mentioned. And these 400 were also immediately gassed. In this manner the ghetto’s of Tarnow and Bochnia were liquidated.
The Liquidation of the Camp in Szebnia
The camp in Szebnia, a place situated near Jaslo, came under the command of Goeth, who on the strength of his authority in the region, issued orders to his subordinate commander in the camp by the name of Kellerman. Szebnia was at the beginning designated for Polish prisoners, however, following the liquidation of the ghetto in Tarnow and others, Jews were placed there as well. Before the establishment of that camp, Russian Prisoners of War were held there, numbering around 5,000 soldiers, these were murdered before the arrival of Goeth on the scene.
The liquidation began on the 21st of September 1943, with the killing of about 700 Jewish prisoners, who were driven in lorries into a forest in Tarnowiec, at a distance of 3km from the camp, there shot and their remains burned on a pile.
This action was carried out by SS Hauptscharfuhrer Grzymek, overseen by the commander on the spot Kellerman, acting on directives received from Goeth. The liquidation commenced on the 21st September 1943, and continued until the 3rd of November 1943, on which day, 2,700 Jewish prisoners were marched out to the railway station in Moderowka, where after being undressed, they were put naked onto the train wagons, for the journey to Auschwitz. On arrival in Auschwitz they were gassed.
From the remaining 600 Jews in Szebnia, they shot and burned about 500 on the 7th of November 1943 again. All that remained in the camp at that point, were about 100 Jewish prisoners, who were dismantling the barracks, sorting the clothing, despatching these to Germany, and taking part in various functions connected with the dissolution of the camp.
Three days before the complete liquidation of that camp, which happened on the 1st of February 1944, Goeth arrived in the camp, personally inspected and took possession of the camp stores, inventory of all the equipment, the number of Jewish prisoners, which at that point amounted to 84, and together with the 1,000 Polish prisoners, sent the whole lot off to Plaszow, together with the personal prisoner office files of the camp.
Goeth used to visit that camp often, on inspections, giving instructions to the commander Kellerman and he personally issued the orders for the liquidation of the camp, together with all the other directives.
The actual liquidation of the camp in Szebnia was carried out on the orders of Goeth, in the absence of Kellerman, who was arrested a month before, by the SS, having been accused of abuses of power and dishonesty. The camp in Szebnia, at its peak, held around 4,000 Jewish prisoners, in addition to 1,500 Polish prisoners, and was referred to, as a forced labour camp (Zwangsarbeitslager).
Misappropriation of Valuables and Property by Amon Goeth
Goeth lived in Krakow, in a very high lifestyle. He lived in luxury fitted out villa, he laid on excellent parties for his friends, he was very generous towards his girlfriend and lover. In addition he was sending transports of furniture, equipment, clothing, underwear and valuables, back to Germany for himself.
During the liquidation of the ghetto’s of Krakow and Tarnow, as well as a camp commander in Plaszow, he had the opportunity of amassing property and valuables, which he confiscated, without any control, and surrendered to his superiors, only a small fraction of this.
Having the camp management in his hands, he used for his own needs, and those of his friends, enormous amounts of food, in particular meat, sugar, flour, which was earmarked for the prisoners. These food products he was also exchanging in Krakow, for expensive drinks and other items of luxury, or simply, these items were sold, which was possible, as there was no control, in the food distribution and allocation to the prisoners.
During the liquidation of the ghetto’s, he had in his hands enormous wealth, in the form of furniture, furs, clothing, underwear and jewellery, he made full use of the opportunity to enrich himself, without any scruples.
Even in a simpler way, he came into possession of valuables in the camp, he arranged sudden searches, following the arrival in the camp of new transports, at which he announced, that if after the search, he finds on anyone, an item of value, this will cost that person his life.
This was no idle threat that is why, valuables were being collected by the baskets, and after sorting by trusted assistants, the worst items were handed over to the SS authorities, the rest he retained for himself. A separate source of income, was the gold removed from the jaws and teeth of murdered victims.
Witness Elsner tells us of a search, arranged by the Gestapo, in the stores of Goeth in Bruenlitz. This store contained furniture, cases and crates filled with clothing, underwear, wines, spirits, tobacco and many other items of value, present at this, during that search by the SS, was his lover Majola , she was lamenting that Goeth is now in poverty, and he now had to abandon all these riches.
Another witness Mr. Schmeisser tells about his work in the shoe workshops of the camp, where a mass of luxury shoes were being made for Goeth and his friends, many of these products were being sent to Germany by him, he behaved in a similar manner, in the tailoring workshops.
These activities of Goeth were so obvious, that even the German SS authorities became alerted, as a result Goeth was arrested on the 13th of September 1944 on the accusation of multi-million abuses and misappropriation of camp property of enormous amounts of jewellery taken from the prisoners, as well as, of property robbed in the course of the ghetto liquidations in Krakow and Tarnow.
This arrest ended the career of Amon Goeth as commander of the camp in Plaszow.
30th July 1946
Prosecutor of the Highest National Tribunal -Dr Tadeusz Cyprian
-Continued in part II
Alexander Donat . The Death Camp Treblinka. Holocaust Library New York 1979.
Gerald Reitlinger, The Final Solution, South Brunswick, New York, Thomas Yoseloff 1961
Bernd Naumann , Auschwitz , Pall Mall Press, London,1966
Interpress , Auschwitz, Interpress Publishers Warsaw 1985
Jozef Marszalek, Majdanek, Interpress Warsaw 1986
Transcripts of SUPREME NATIONAL TRIBUNAL OF POLAND, CRACOW 27th-31st AUGUST AND 2nd-5th SEPTEMBER, 1946
Copyright. Chris Webb, Carmelo Lisciotto & Victor Smart. H.E.A.R.T 2010
Remember Me | Special Thanks | Holocaust Links | Publications
© 2011 H.E.A.R.T All Rights Reserved.