The Testimonies of the Last Prisoners in the Death Camp Chelmno

Introduction by Shmuel Krakowski and Ilia Altman.

Translated from Hebrew by Ada Holtzman and Bianca Shlezinger
 

The document enclosed herewith, belongs to the rare type of documents, the most appalling ones from the days of the Holocaust, which were written in the death camps themselves, near the gas chambers and crematoria, while the events themselves were taking place.

The writers were prisoners whose fate was even more cruel than that of the other prisoners: they were engaged in forced labor in the death camps. Their situation gave them the opportunity to witness the mass murders committed by the Germans committing in the extermination camps, and they were well aware of the fact that having witnessed such horrible crimes against humanity, they were doomed; the Nazis would not let them live and testify. Defenseless and helpless, without any possibility to resist or to disrupt the crimes, they became possessed with the compulsion to do the only thing that they believed could still succeed: to tell the free world and the next generations what the Germans tried to hide - the genocide of the Jewish people and all the criminal acts involved. This compulsive passion they could fulfill by only one out of two ways: by running away, or by leaving a written testimony, hoping that one day it will be found, after the death of the writers. The most well known documents of these type, are those written and published in "Auschwitz Scrolls"1 written by the "Sonderkommando" who were engaged in the forced labor at the crematoria of Auschwitz.

It is now discovered that also in Chelmno there were efforts made to discover to the outer world the truth about the crimes of the Germans and the horrors they committed. Chelmno ("Kulemhof" as was called by the Germans) was the first extermination camp erected by the Nazis, by full clear intention to serve for mass killing by gas. The camp started to operate on December 8th 1941 and run until April 1943. In this period over quarter of a million human beings were murdered in it, mostly Jews from Ghetto Lodz and from the cities of Warthegau district and about 5000 Gypsies.

In April 1944 started again murder operations in the camp, at the same time with the programs to liquidate the Lodz Ghetto. From 23 June and until 14 July 1944, more than 7000 Jews from Lodz were killed. After 14 July, the Germans decided to rush the Ghetto liquidation and transported the remainder of its inhabitants to Auschwitz Birkenau, where the apparatus for mass murder was more efficient. At the meantime the Germans were occupied in the Chelmno site in erasing the traces of the mass murder - they burnt bodies, straightened the earth and planted woods.

Among the prisoners brought to the camp to murder them, few were selected and sent to forced labor. They buried the victims and then burnt the bodies. They were also groups with special expertise, chosen to do some kinds of services for the camp personnel. after a while, also the forced slaves were murdered and replaced by others.

Those prisoners witnessed the process of the mass extermination. They lived in a regime of special terror. They were starved, their legs were permanently chained in iron chains, and the guards bit them and tortured them all the time. There were a few trials of running away and some tried to smuggle letters to the outside world, with information about what happens in the camp, hoping that their written testimony will be found this way or another.

Already in January 1942, in the first days of operation, two prisoners run away from it - Michael Podchlebnik and Yacov Griwanowski.

Griwanowski even managed to get to Ghetto Warsaw and deliver a detailed report to the Jewish underground there2.

Except trials to run away, the prisoners of Chelmno tried to smuggle from it information about the camp by concealing written documents in various places, at places where they might be discovered. We shall never know how many such desperate trials were been done by the Jewish prisoners, and no doubt that the Germans managed to thwart most of them.

In spite of that, some notes, papers and postcards written by the prisoners of Chelmno3 were found around the area surrounding the camp. The document revealed here is very unique in its scope and details. It has the date of 9 January 1945, and its authors were counted among the last group of the forced labor workers (47 only) who were engaged in the Chelmno camp.

Most of them were transported from Lodz, in gas vans in the period of 23 June to 14 July. Other authors were among the hundreds of Jews the German kept alive, temporarily, so that they will work in transfer of the victims belongings to Germany, after the liquidation of Ghetto Lodz. Few prisoners out of this group were transported to Chelmno on 16 September 1944.

In the night of 17 January 1945, the Germans executed all the 47 prisoners who were left: they transported them by groups of five, from the cellar where they lived and shot them. But two out of the doomed, miraculously survived; they were wounded but managed to escape from the Germans, and two days later the Russian Red Army entered the region and saved them. The two survivors are Mordechai Zurawski and Szimon Srebrnik .

On July 1945, both of them testified to the Polish Committee, headed by the judge Wladislaw Bednaj, which investigated the crimes of the Germans in Chelmno, and in time, they testified also in the Eichman trial in Jerusalem. For some reason, they did not mention the document which was written a short time before the last prisoners of Chelmno were murdered.

We don't know about the circumstances of the document writing, in the horror regime which prevailed in the camp. We don't know how they found pieces of paper, pencil, place and time to deliver quickly their messages. We don't know the identity of the man who found the document and delivered it to the front headquarters of the White Russia. There, this document had been translated and sent to the anti fascist Jewish committee in Moscow. This Committee was founded by the Soviet authorities right after the invasion of the Germans to Russia, to mobilize the help of the Jews from the free world to the war efforts of the Red Army. By the end of the war, its actions were considerably limited. A short while later the Jewish Committee was dispersed and the authorities seized its archive, including a lot of material about the destiny of the Jews under the Nazi regime in Europe.

The recent changes in the USSR brought, among other things, the opening up of archives which were closed until now. The documents of the anti-fascist Jewish Committee were kept in the State Central Archive in Moscow, and thus became material for research. here was found a translated copy of the document written in the death camp of Chelmno. After 46 years, we can finally read, research and investigate the testimony of the last murdered Jewish victims in the death camp of Chelmno.

Szimon Serbernik, the Only Witness Still Alive Today 24.4.1998

 

Testimony from the death camp Chelmno.
 

Extermination Camp in the district of Kolo.


A Notebook.

Translated from Polish by Eizenman. Poland, 10 March 1945.

The Anti-fascist Jewish Committee

To comrade Epstein

I deliver to your hands hereby, a notebook which was translated from Polish, and in it personal notes which were written by prisoners in the death camp in Kolo district. One of the prisoners gave the notebook to a Polish farmer who kept it until the arrival of the Red Army to the Kolo district.

enclosed 17 pages.

The deputy of the 7th main political directorate

of the workers and farmers in the red Army

W. Spojekow

(-)

10 March 1945
8204
 
 

Pay Attention!!!


 

Blessed by the person who finds this notebook. we ask from you to read it carefully and publish widely all what is written in it. We also ask you to inform all the family members who survived and live outside the premises of the terrible disaster!!!

On 15 September 1944, a command from the Ghetto Lodz Commander was received, H. Bibow, ordering the travel of the expert tailors Avraham Mordechowicz and Barak Oberfirst. With them there were other 4 tailors, to go with them for a period of 8 days: Laizer Mordechowitz, Abram Mizenmacher, Szaja Winblum and Noach Oberfirst.

We left in a truck from Lagiewcka street number 6, and traveled to Lagiewcka street number 36, where joined us the family of Dr. Mendelson. The family included 5 members: husband, wife and three children. From the market of Bluczki we traveled on the street of Limnowskiego to Alexandrow. Behind us sat two policemen. Thus we traveled 3 hours, in a closed truck, not knowing where we are heading to and which direction.

In the end, the truck was opened, the cover was lifted up and an SS man with a murderer face started screaming: "all the tailors out, only the Mendelson family to stay". An order is an order. We all climbed and got out of the truck and took with us our sewing machines. The family Mendelson stayed in the truck which than went to the direction of the wood. All of us, six people and the German commander, entered through the gate of the yard and found it hard to believe: are these people savages or really human beings? While we get closer all become clear. These are ordinary people, chained by iron chains, carry parcels and other kinds of things. We were delayed for a few minutes. The same commander ordered us to take out everything from the pockets and leave only handkerchiefs. Any one who wore good clothing, was obliged to strip out of them and wear other clothes, old and worn out.

Afterwards, first thing they chained us in iron chains. The commander made a speech, and said that this is a labor camp, and anyone who will not work or evaded work will be shot dead. Every word that the commander said pierced our chest, like true bullets. He said that we have to work, in order to help the Germans win the war, and that the Jews wanted the war. Imagine what we felt than: all these "death heads" surrounding us and a chain of policemen guard watch us. After this ceremony we were led to a room in the first floor of a small house, and small windows in it, covered by curtains, without light, without a key to the door and the door itself locked by a bar from the outside. In the room there have been eight tailors, five cobblers, one boots maker, two carpenters and four young men who helped in the kitchen. These veterans invited us to enter; advised us not to be sad, served us some food, and told us that we have to have hearts of iron to convince ourselves that all what we shall hear and see is only a nightmare and not a reality. They asked about the situation in the ghetto, about the well being of their family members, and where are they being transported to. After a few minutes of conversation, we understood in what type of a camp we are in, and that the Jews who were transported to Leipzig and Munchen were actually transported to the camp itself. The name of the camp is Chelmno, not far from the cities of Konin, Kolo and Dabie.

All those who were programmed to exit for work, the Germans rounded up in the building of the church and left them all through the night. In the morning, the Gestapo men entered the church and told the people to get out to the street, in groups, where they were all loaded onto trunks. After a ride to the wood, to a place where there was barracks, they centered the men, women and children and told them to get off their clothing. Imagine this. They told these men that they are going to have a bath. with machine guns and whips they forced them to enter a big truck and the moment that everyone was on, they shut the cargo cell hermetically. It was dark and suffocating inside. All these people were gassed, strangled by the gas which was blown inside. And at the time when people were suffocated inside by gas, the lorry rode to the two crematoria in the same wood, not far from the barracks. All the bodies were thrown out into those under ground crematoria which were made of cement and burnt to ashes. All the group who left to work in Leipzig or Munchen ended life in that fashion. And another thing. While these people were in the barracks, they were forced to write postcards to the ghetto, and say that their situation is well, they have good work, enough food etc. Every family who received this postcard was very happy to know that the father, brother or son succeeded so well. While the postcard was received, they didn't have the slightest idea that their relatives had perished already long ago without leaving any traces. Thus worked the propaganda in the ghetto, and everyone wished to be sent to work, to get also better living conditions in their new working place, instead of the hunger which prevailed in the ghetto. Nobody knew that this good work was death execution, operated in a beastly manner. All this we understood within a few minutes, while we sat with our friends over the sewing machines. The windows of our room faced the yard, and we could see from them the church' the road and all the transports which came to us.

Trunks full of load taken from the victims stopped in our camp' and Jewish workers, specially selected for the task, were engaged in sorting them out. Often it happened that such worker run into a bag which belonged to his father, his mother, his brother or sister or another relative. But what could we do? We were so weak, locked behind iron wires, surrounded by machine-guns. It is impossible to describe our sufferings!!! If someone from the outside world would have seen us, he would have said that he never saw people like us, that our nerves are made of steel that with our own hands we throw to the burning crematoria our fathers, mothers, sisters and brothers, our children are torn off our hearts, our beloved wives, and we watch all this with indifference, as if it does not concern us. What can be said about us? Again and again we ask ourselves the same questions but we do not have an answer.

The truck which brought us came back and personal belongings were thrown out. The workers informed us that these were the belongings of the Mendelson family. We were so shocked from the news and could not relax for a long time. the night came, and we found out that our bed is the floor. We slept on a blanket and covered ourselves with it. Breakfast was at 06:00 in the morning, and at 7 we already work in the sewing factory. The other friends work in other labors and some of them belong to what is called: "Waldkommando", go out to the wood and prepare burning lumber for the furnaces where human beings are burnt.

On 13 August, in the middle of the day, arrived a lorry full of people. We did not know who they were. After a short break they were all driven to the wood and only when the trunk returned with their personal belongings we realized they were our wives and children. Imagine this tragedy! The day of September 1st, the day when they burnt our families, we shall remember all our lives. The same fate awaits for us, but when this terrible moment will arrive, we don't know. We live in the hope that God will let us stay alive until the moment when we shall be able to revenge the revenge of all our beloved souls, torn off our hearts. We ask any man to revenge, because at the meantime we cannot do anything, and we wait for liberation.

  ***
 
 

In ...1944. Jacub Szlamkowicz is writing this. and this is my story: On 2nd. of August 1942 I was transported from the city of Sziradz to ghetto Lodz. With me were my brother Geniek and my father, while my mother, my sisters Kadzia and Estera and the three children of Estera were left behind, in a church in Siradz. After a few days I learned that all who were in that church, were driven in trucks to the wood between Kolo and Dabie and there poisoned by gas and burnt in big crematoria which were specially built for this purpose. During a few weeks there was "Sperre"4 in ghetto Lodz, and 20000 were taken from it to that wood and they too were gassed and burnt.
Among them my father. The same thing happened in all the region towns. After two years the cemetery of the Ghetto (and you know what was the food in the ghetto, people died there like flies), was spread with corpses of about 100,000 innocent men because they could not defend themselves. The rest were sent to labor camps. We already knew than what kind of work it was. I work as a tailor but my brother could not bear the tortures taking place in the wood and he fell. I have another brother in Russia, his name is Avraham Szlamokowicz, but I doubt if I'll live to see him again. I have a little request from those who will find this notebook. I ask them to say a few words to the people of Sziradz, Zielinski, Kuziczki, Olandra and Westodolski, and ask from them that if my brother will return from Russia they will tell him our story, and that God will pay them their proper punishment. I myself cannot do anything because here we are all chained in iron chains.

Yacov Szlemokowicz.
 

***
 

On 28 July 1944 I left with the tenth transport to work, this is what we were told anyway.

I left behind in the ghetto my wife and two children. I was selected from the transport and sent to work as a cobbler, and all the transport was sent to the furnace. I see all this, but what can I do, I am a weak person and defenseless. I am like all the others, who were already sent to death. After a few days since I arrived to the camp, all the Jews of Lodz were already taken, among them also my wife and kids. Now I am all alone, without a family, so what can I do? I ask everyone again and again, but nobody is capable of answering me. Until the beginning of the war I lived in Zawaczka Street number 14. I am a cobbler by profession. My grandfather, Gabriel Himelfert, lived in Masarska Street, and my brother in law, Kopel Berkowicz, in Lipowa number 36. They are in Russia now. I ask you to inform them of everything, and God will revenge them what they deserve.

Berek Himelfert.
 
 

***
 

21 September 1944.

This writing is made by Berek, son to the family Sietenfeld, who lived in the Ghetto in 82 Czegelna street. And this is my story:

On May 15th. 1944 I was transferred from the Ghetto to what was called "labor camp", but to be accurate, it is an extermination camp. In the Ghetto, I left my mother, sister and a brother.

In the beginning of the war they run away to Russia, three brothers and a sister, while me and my family stayed behind in the ghetto.

After two years of life in the ghetto, my father died of starvation. My second brother and his wife wanted to run away also and be saved, but they did not succeed and were compelled to return to the ghetto. At the meantime they were already transported, you know very well where to, and I was left alone with my family members, my beloved relatives. My heart is torn off me when I see what is going on here. I am only 16 years old. I was 11 years old only when the war broke out. In the five years during which I lived in the ghetto, I suffered so much and could not help my dear parents. How painful it was to see your own father dying of starvation in front of your eyes and you cannot help him. Imagine what I suffered through! Now when I see a few thousands Jews and Poles, innocent of any crime, die in such horrible manner, my heart aches and my only desire is to revenge the revenge of them all. But I am only 16, chained in iron chains like a criminal, surrounded by machine-guns, and what can I do?

Inform my brothers Izik, Lazer and Mordka, my sister Chawa Sietenfeld in Moscow. I have another sister, Regina (maiden name Sietenfeld in Armania; I forgot the family name of her husband. She used to live in Lodz, in Nowozgierska, or Czegelna number 84.

Tell my family what happened to me, this is my last request before I die. I am in a camp near Oniow, not far from the cities of Kolo and Konin.

I finished to write, and I ask all free human beings and from the armies who enter this region to revenge for the truth which I hereby told and revenge the blood of all the innocent people who were so brutally murdered, because I myself cannot do anything, and God shall reward you.

Berek Sietenfeld in the death camp.
 
 

***
 

This is written by Israel Ziegelman, who lived in Lodz, in Wolczenska street number 159 and later on Wrubla street number 10. And this is my story:

On February 1940 we were put in a Ghetto, me, my wife, both my children and my father in law. My parents were uprooted from Rzegow near the city of Lodz to Piotrekow in the protection territory. I did not receive any message from my father, my mother, two of my brothers and my sister, but the reason was censorship in the mail, and I had to accept that. thus I was separated from all my family, from those who raised me. Now they are no more.

They separated us and stabbed our heart by a dagger.

I was put in the ghetto with my wife and two children. One baby, 7 months old only, died of starvation, and I could do nothing to save him. Heartbroken I departed from my baby. Thus I passed two years in the Ghetto. On September 17 1942, there was an "Akzia" in the ghetto. In the middle of the day, Gestapo men and the men from the Jewish police took from me my second child, my treasure, the most precious thing in our lives. People! Imagine for yourselves this pain and sufferings. I could not do anything, and only convinced myself, again and again, that no harm will happen to him. But nothing gave me any joy anymore. My life was shattered, and since than I looked at everything with indifference. My wife tried to calm me down, but I was not interested in anything, I only dreamt to disappear somewhere, but where could I go, while we are caged, surrounded by wire fences? Finally, on July 14th 1944, I was sent to labor camp. While I departed from my dear wife she said to me: "may be you encounter somewhere out there, a children camp, and meet our beloved boy." As is she guessed, in her senses that I am going to follow him.

In the camp I work as a tailor and usually I get along well, because I eat, but any food I take to my mouth is like poison to me, because this is nothing but a death camp.

Two years ago they brought here all the children from the ghetto of Lodz, they gassed them and than burnt down their bodies.

What do you have to say about this?

I really found the traces of my child. A few weeks ago they rounded up all the people of the Ghetto and transported them, as they always described it to work.

I was left all alone, without my wife and without my children. They chained me up in iron chains like a criminal. I have already suffered in the past, and have to suffer also now, because I am Jewish. "Why" I ask? What wrong did I do, what did my wife do, and my innocent baby who died such a cruel death.

And you who live in freedom, can you watch it without response? Nobody answered me. No one can give any advise. Day and night I am looking for a solution, wearing my mind to find an outlet.

One request I have: tell my sister in law about me. She lived with her husband and one child in Shanghai in China; The name of her husband is Abraham Lamrancz, and her maiden name was Estera Peterman from the city of Lodz, Wolczanska street number 159. She is my only relative who survived, because she lives abroad, far from their filthy nails. I shall live to see the horrible day which they prepare to me also. There is no way out! I should have been with my family. I am left with only bitter complaint to the governments of England and the United States. If they wished only, they could have laid down the world hooligan on his back, and not let hundred of thousands of Jews die like this.

And for what?

Now I wish I would have been a bird, and fly from here to a better world and tell the world all what is going on here, and tell them what they have to do.

While in beautiful countries parties are taking place, wine, champagne and whisky is poured from bottles and lamps are giving clear soft light, in the same time, petrol is poured into the furnaces, lumber is thrown to enlarge the fire, so that human beings, among them our relatives, will burn better. Yes! This is the way things are done here. But I can only dream, nothing else. I don't know what I do if Yosi would not be here with me. He is a boy, and he also writes about himself in this notebook. I learned to like him very much, like my own son, and he likes me too very much. Together we share the sufferings. I have to finish now because my eyes are already aching from the tears and time comes to lie down on the hard floor.

I ask you, you the blessed ones, revenge these animals for our sake and our families.

Israel Ziegelman
 
 

***
 

Sewek Serebnik, who lived in the Ghetto, writes this.

First we lived on Lutomierska street number 17/32 and then on Lutomierska street number 21/84. All my family was poisoned here in Dabie, near the cities of Konin and Kolo. I want to revenge their vengeance, but I am unable to. Day and night I dream of revenge. There I work as a cobbler. My brother was transported from Ghetto Lodz to work, I do not know where to, but I think to the same place I was sent to. My blood is boiling inside me, I need revenge, but what can I do? I am too weak to do anything, and they force me to die and take my secret to the grave. Anywhere I look I see the craters of the machine-guns and pistols. All call upon all the Jewish people to take revenge for the death of the innocents.

Serebnik Shmuel, Serebnik Sewek.
 
 

***
 

These words are written by Bucian Laib, who lived in the city of Lodz and the street of Czudzczena 11, and later in the ghetto in the street of Marisinska.

This was my story: I lived in the ghetto with my mother, three sisters and a brother. Everyone knows what was the life in the ghetto like. We were sent in the same transport to the camp, not far from Oniow, near the cities of Dabie and Konin. It is called a "Labor camp" but as a matter of fact it is a death camp. People are brought here and poisoned by gas and then burnt in a crematoria which was especially built for this purpose.

A few weeks after I found myself in the camp, all the Jews from Lodz were taken. They were told they are being transported to work in Germany, in Leipzig and in Munchen. I know these "Leipzig" and "Munchen" are nothing but same death camps, like the one I am in now.

Also my family was taken than from the ghetto and now I am left all alone, without a family, without a relative, as a needless human being. And thus I continue to live, waiting for the day I shall join my family. Only one request I have from the good people:

Please inform my brother in law who lives in Russia, what has been my fate. His name is Wolf Wolkevicz. This is all.
 

***

 











Nesdzki Shmuel. Before the war I lived in Osziekow, region Zielon. In the Ghetto I lived in Lagiewniczka Street number 30.
 

***

Gliksman [Wendit?]. before the war I lived in Szczirciow, and in the ghetto, on Lutomierska street 24. My family lives abroad.

Their address: Meir Chil Gliksman, London.

***


Rappaport Natan and Rappaport Izek, lived in Lodz, on Pumorska street 32, and in the ghetto, on Lagiewnicka 43. Our sister is in Russia and her name is Fela Rappaport.
 

***

 

These words are written by Akin Pawel, who lived before the war in Lodz, on Pudzcina street 43, and in the ghetto, on Piewna street number 6. All my family, meaning Akin Moisze, Akin Aizik and Pomerancz Chanoch are in Russia.

***

These words are written by Srul Jacubowicz, a carpenter, habitant of Belchatow. One of my sisters lives in Palestine - her name is Merla Pszmilslawska. Another sister, Estera Londa, lives in Argentina.

***

Dawid Bendekowski, who lived in Lodz, on Bzezinska street 25, is writing these words to you. my sister, Fela Kersen... (maiden name Bendekowski) lives in Montevideo, Uruguay. My brother, Israel Bendekowski lives in Russia.

***


 

Mordechai Zurawski, from Lodzka street number 63 from Wloclawek, is writing this. All my family was transported from Wolclawek. Me, my father and brother were sent to a camp in the city of Poznan. After two years, we were transferred to ghetto Lodz, while my father and brother, who were very weak, because of the work in the camp, were sent to "RUCKZUG", meaning, extermination camp, with other 7,000 human beings. I was selected by the commander of the camp and since than I work here. All the other people from my transport were exterminated, all of them; The habitants of the ghetto really believed they were going to a place of work, and there, their situation will improve. Now I was left alone and I wait to the day when I go to heaven. One favor I ask of you, dear people: tell my sisters, my brother and two brothers-in-law- who live in Russia, what was my fate. The names of the sisters and brother are: Zurawski from Wloclawek, 36 Lodzka street. My brother-in-law are called Noyman Szaja, Weintraub Jacub from Wloclawek.
 


***


I wish to finish my tragic story, since my nerves are cracking down already. Today, 9 January, and I simply cannot believe we stayed alive so long. This camp is being liquidated and we were left alone. I met some Polish women who worked in the trenches. They told us that in this freezing weather they sleep in the barn, and not a single day pass, without one of them being frozen to death. So very soon we shall all be exterminated. I

If you meet on the road Germans, even the shadow of their shadow, erase them from this earth, as they did to us. In the name of 74 comrades I plead you, you who survived, to revenge our revenge and the revenge of our wives and children, and all the innocent Jews who were murdered in the most cruel ways. Kill and burn their wives and children, as they did to ours. Again I beg you, in the last time, fulfill our request, because it is our last request before our death.

Israel Ziegelman who lived in Lodz, in Wolczenska street number 159. Fulfill our request and God will reward you, Amen.

***

 

Dear friends, Hillel Belchatowski i and Mendel Belchatowski! You probably wish to know where your family members were murdered, on 24 September 1944.

Me, A[?] Kolton, was expelled from Lodz to this camp only in 1944. Every day about 1000 people were brought here from Belchatow, and were locked in a church near Wartbruken5, 12 km from Konin. From there, they were taken to the forests, poisoned by gas and their bodies were burned. Now me too, am waiting for my death.

With my own eyes, I saw how my brother, Moszek Kolton and Zelig Szmuel (your brother-in-law), were brought here. Moszek was stationed to work, temporarily, while Zelig Menasze Goldberg and Abram Moszek Kolton were taken from here and gassed to death. This happened in August 1944. For the time being, we continue to work here.

Remember! If you are among the living, revenge our brothers' revenge. Every German you see - kill him. I can do nothing, because of the I am chained by iron chains. If I was asked to describe all, ten years would not have been sufficient. Be healthy.

A[?] Kolton

Do not forget to revenge.

***


Please pass these pages to my brother, who until 1940, lived in Poland in Belchatow, on Pawienicka street number 4. In 1940, and may be in 1941 them moved to Russia. Their names are Hillel and Mandel Belchatowski.

Mandel! I know you well, and I am convinced that you will come here to see this church and the forest. The forest is 7 km away from here.

Israel Belchatowski

***

German officers who participated in the crimes against the Jews in Chelmno.

1) Hans Bootman, Hauptsturmfuhrer.

2) Walter Filer, the deputy of Bootman.

3) Max Heffele, lieutenant from the town of Karlsruhe, (the best specialist)

4) Albert Richter, Hauptscharfuhrer (division commander)

5) Wilhelm Lenz - the commander in the woods (Hauptscharfuhrer).

6) Johann Runge - commander and in charge of the crematoria,

(Hauptscharfuhrer).

7) Erich Kretschmer - Unterscharfuhrer (the deputy of Runge).

8) Gustav Laps, - Hauptscharfuhrer (driver of the gas van).

9) Walter Burmeister - Unterscharfuhrer and in charge of the gold.

10) Wilhelm Gurlich - ? expert to gold.

11) Scmidt - Hauptscharfuhrer, commander of the dinning room.

12) Herman Gilow - Hauptscharfuhrer, served as the driver of the gas-wagons

13) Burstinge - Hauptscharfuhrer, in charge of the fuel and all the he gas vans.

Privates:

1) Bartel - Wachmeister

2) Han - Uberwachmeister

3) Oskar Kraus - Uberwachmeister

4) Wilhelm Sefler - Wachmeister

5) Shneider - Uberwachmeister

6) Bulman - Unterwachmeister

7) Zimerman - Wachmeister

8) Ross - Wachmeister

9) Rubmiech - Wachmeister

10) Richetr - Wachmeister

11) Blanch - Wachmeister

12) Shlipke - Wachmeister

13) Daniel - Uberwachmeister

14) Israel Bruno6 - Uberwachmeister

15) Moys Kerzer - Uberwachmeister

MESSAGES


The wife of Bootman lived in Poznan, in Dispirterstrasse. Every time when the Jew Szimon Serbernik used to stop his work and stand for a minute, his spade in his hand, Bootman used to ask if he is tired. He answered negative, but if he said he was tired, Bootman used to tell him he will send him to the woods, [an unclear note of the translator to Russian] and there is also Dr. Lanz.

When someone was walking slowly, Bootman used to ask him to walk faster and force him to run and lie down, run and lie down many times.

2. Heffele used to say: ... [an unclear note of the translator to Russian]

3. Richter used to have a habit, to kill everyone who ate a piece of bread while working.

4. Lenz did the killings in the forests, [not clear], and so he did it:

naked Jews were forced to lie down and their faces facing the ground and each one of them was shot in his back. When there were a few victims they buried them in the earth.

When they killed a larger group, they used to gather all the corpses, cover them in layer of wood and burn them.

Runge had a bad duty - to kill with an ax!

Kretschmer - the same.

Laps - poisoned human beings by gas.

Burmeister - the "minister" of the crematoria.

Gurlich - Gold expert.
 

***

And while they threw the bodies to the crematoria, Finkelstein, a Jew from Pabianice was bitten by his sister, who did not die from the gas.

She screamed: "My brother! I am still alive! and my own brother throws me to the fire!!!"

***


Translated from Russian by the translator of the 7th wing of the Political directorion in the first front of white Russia.

Lieutenant (Aizegman).
 

Notes

1 Bar Marek, " Achwitz Scrolls, Tel Aviv University, Hapoalim Library, Tel Aviv, 1985.
2 See: Elisheva Shaul, "the testimony of a forced labor worker, grave digger Yacov Griwanowski Ibizia Kolo Chelmno". Yalkut Morshet 35 (april 1983) Yad Vashem, pages 101-122.
3 The testimony of the forced workers who were murdered in chelmno in april 1943 was found after the war. The document was written in Yiddish and Polish and published: Yehudit Kleinman (editor) "letters from no where - letters of Jews from the Nazi occupied territories", Yad Vashem, Jerusalem 1988, pages 94-98.
4 Curfew for the purpose of Akzia - a note by the translator to Russian.
5 The name of the city KOLO in German.
6 A German who was among the death camp personnel.
 


 

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