“..1,000 Jews from Moravska Ostrava. ..first station we reached was Cracow. I wish to add that we did not get any more water from ..early morning of ..17th; when ..people of Cracow wanted to offer us water they were chased away with lashes of ..whip by ..SD.” Max Burger.
The Polish people have not forgotten, under Treaty with both Germany and Russia, that Poland was isolated, even side stepped and then overrun by both powers. Both acted in accord, in order to steal from Poland what was rightfully Poland’s, its Sovereignty. Lest we Forget, while some 2,800,000 Polish Jews were Murdered in The Holocaust, we cannot forget the penalty for being Polish under Hitler’s regime. Between 5.6 and 5.8 Million Poles were killed as a consequence of German aggression. These were not simply the facts of War, or even the collateral damage brought about by War. There was also an attempt by Hitler to destroy many vestiges of Polish culture, dissolve their Catholic and Slavic nature and eventually, even their presence.
“..Farewell ..Cracow. ..driven out ..like a dog. Will I ever see you again? This place ..so close to me. ..wept my heart out on my mother’s grave ..shed last tear on my father’s tombstone.” Mordechai Gebirtig.
But that feeling is for another day, it is another page to be written! Here though, I will give a brief overview of what an impression Cracow and Poland and their People make upon Me during my stay. I will not forget the real reason I am here though, which is to place a stone before History which tells the World, that I will not Forget the 6,000,000 Murdered Jews of The Holocaust. In all that has happened to these 6,000,000 Jews of Europe, a newer tragedy must not beset their memory that would ignore the Fact that, having passed this way, every effort is being made to recall and name them. For those Jews, now consigned to History by a total indifference to their vibrancy and integrity, more and more of us will stand and deliver a posthumous Remembrance for them.
So Poland and Cracow will form part of the Narrative of the Holocaust, as it affected those Jews, who were Living and Breathing Cracovian’s at the time of Hitler’s invasion in 1939. Cracow had been occupied by Jews ever since the 14th. Century. Under the Nazi regime the City was situated in the General Government and lay on the River Vistula, some 60 kilometers West of Auschwitz. The Ghetto itself was established in March 1941 and was finally liquidated in May 1942. Cracow was one of the larger Ghettoes established by the Nazi regime and most of these Jews have been assigned to their deaths at the Auschwitz/Birkenau and Belzec death camps. Over the Centuries, and having survived numerous pogroms, some 57,000 to 64,000 Jews had established their existence here, and had grown in Influence and Commerce since the 14th. Century. These more than 57,000 Jews represented more than a quarter of the Town’s population and within 8 days of the German strike against Poland, the first killings were recorded around and about Cracow’s environs.
“..Old people ..women ..Children pass by ..like ghosts. ..old ..young ..some dressed ..some ..in their underwear. ..a blind old man ..eyes ..lost ..fighting ..with ..Germans. ..another elderly person ..with one leg ..on crutches. ..2 SS ..shout ..order for him to run. ..one comes from behind ..with ..butt of his rifle hits ..crutch. ..old man falls down. ..perhaps ..one ..among them unable to stand torturing people ..before their death. ..no such person in ..Cracow ghetto.” Tadeusz Pankiewicz.
Close by, and situated merely 5 kilometers from Cracow was the labour camp of Plaszow. It was utilised mainly for the exploitation of the Jews. The Camp became the means by which fortunes were made for those who exploited the Jews before destroying them. It was established in October 1942 mainly for the War economy of the faltering Nazi state, but Plaszow grew well from all it could exploit from the Jews of the ‘Generalgovernment.’ Formed from a region of the conquered Polish territories, it was overseen by Governor Hans Frank who overlooked his Murderous empire from Cracow.
After the War, between November 24th. and December 22nd. 1947, for the varying crimes at Auschwitz, this would be remembered as The Auschwitz Trial, But only a small fraction of those former staff members of the camp would be charged with any crimes. That any might not be charged at all is unthinkable, but the unspeakable fact is that such crimes against those Jews and others held and then Destroyed within Auschwitz and Birkenau’s confines didn’t appear as essential a process as the re-building of a Country. Those convicted were 41 officials of varying rank and position within the Camp hierarchy. 23 defendants were sentenced to Death, those others were sentenced to various terms of imprisonment and 1 was acquitted and released.
01) Hans Aumeier: Death Sentence Executed January 28th. 1948.
02) August Bogusch: Death Sentence Executed January 28th. 1948.
03) Therese Brandl: Death Sentence Executed January 28th. 1948.
04) Fritz Buntrock: Death Sentence Executed January 28th. 1948.
05) Wilhelm Gehring: Death Sentence Executed January 28th. 1948.
06) Paul Gotze: Death Sentence Executed January 28th. 1948.
07) Maximilian Graebner: Death Sentence Executed January 28th. 1948.
08) Heinrich Josten: Death Sentence Executed January 28th. 1948.
09) Hermann Kirschner: Death Sentence Executed January 28th. 1948.
10) Josef Kollmer: Death Sentence Executed January 28th. 1948.
11) Franz Kraus: Death Sentence Executed January 28th. 1948.
12) Johann Kremer: Death Sentence Executed January 28th. 1948.
13) Otto Latsch: Death Sentence Executed January 28th. 1948.
14) Arthur Liebhenschel: Death Sentence Executed January 28th. 1948.
15) Herbert Ludwig: Death Sentence Executed January 28th. 1948.
16) Maria Mandel: Death Sentence Executed January 28th. 1948.
17) Karl Mockel: Death Sentence Executed January 28th. 1948.
18) Erich Muehsfeldt: Death Sentence Executed January 28th. 1948.
19) Kurt Mueller: Death Sentence Executed January 28th. 1948.
20) Ludwig Plagge: Death Sentence Executed January 28th. 1948.
21) Hans Schumacher: Death Sentence Executed January 28th. 1948.
22) Paul Szczurek: Death Sentence Executed January 28th. 1948.
“..In ..morning attended a special action from ..women’s concentration camp .most dreadful of horrors. ..Thilo was right when he said to me that this is ..anus mundi. ,,Evening ..towards 8:00 attended another special action from Holland. Because of ..special rations they get a fifth of a liter of schnapps ..5 cigarettes ..100 gms. salami and bread ..men all clamour to take part in such actions. Today and tomorrow work.” Johann Kremer.
23) Arthur Breitwieser: Life Imprisonment.
24) Luise Danz: Life Imprisonment.
25) Hans Koch: Life Imprisonment.
26) Anton Lechner: Life Imprisonment.
27) Adolf Medefind: Life Imprisonment.
28) Detlef Nebbe: Life Imprisonment.
29) Karl Seufert: Life Imprisonment.
30) Oswald Kaduk: 25 Years Imprisonment.
31) Alexander Bulow: 15 Years Imprisonment.
32) Hans Hofmann: 15 Years Imprisonment.
33) Hildegard Lachert: 15 Years Imprisonment.
34) Eduard Lorenz: 15 Years Imprisonment.
35) Alice Orlowski: 15 Years Imprisonment.
36) Franz Romeikat: 15 Years Imprisonment.
37) Johannes Weber: 15 Years Imprisonment.
38) Richard Schröder: 10 Years Imprisonment.
39) Erich Dinges: 5 Years Imprisonment.
40) Karl Jeschke: 3 Years Imprisonment.
41) Hans Munch: Acquitted.
“.. order came that I ..had to take part in ..exterminations. ..Special treatment in ..terminology of ..concentration camp means physical extermination..gassing…they were gassed ..yes ..absolutely.” Hans Munch.
A simple piece of mathematics here might explain a certain consternation with regard to Justice, or the lack of Justice for those consigned to the vagueries of The Holocaust. Here at Auschwitz and Birkenau, 1,100,000 Jews were Gassed, or were otherwise Murdered. The Cracow Trial represents an indictment for each of the Defendants which should have made them all culpable in these Murders. That 41 stood trial presents to the World an answerable case of over 26,000 Murdered Jews for each of those indicted. When we bring it down to its furthest level, and those who were executed, this represents one Perpetrator tried for every 50,000 Jews Murdered here. Where’s the Justice?