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Transcript of Chelmno
By Caroline Duffy
Chelmno was a Nazi death camp located in the village of Chelmno, Poland. It was created as a killing center to annihilate the Jews of the Wartheland administrative unit. (The Wartheland unit was a district of Poland created by the Nazis as an organization technique).
The first killings in Chelmno began on December 8, 1941.
The killings were carried out by the SS and the police on the authority of "the higher SS & Police Leader for the Wartheland District, SS General Wilhelm Koppe" (USHMM).
The camp also used a special detachment to enforce Nazi rules at the camp.
The special detachment was made up of Gestapo, criminal police, and other branches of Nazi-selected law enforcement
When transports would arrive to the camp, few prisoners were chosen to stay and work in the camp.
All the others would be immediately killed by poisonous gas or being shot
The prisoners taken would work to exhume the graves and burn bodies
They would also sort clothing of the victims of Chelmno, and clean the gas vans
About 15 Jews worked in the manor house to sort and pack Jewish belongings
This was the manor house. It's main purpose was for relinquishing the Jews' belongings and clothes in its various rooms. It also functioned as a Nazi office building.
Other Jews worked to produce and repair goods for the SS special detachment
Another group of Jews would work to dig mass graves for the bodies and burn corpses in open air ovens in the forest camp
Periodically, the special detachment officers would kill the Jewish workers and replace them with stronger, healthier workers from future transports
Nazi's stand over a mass grave in the forest camp. The forest camp had 2.5 miles of land, and bodies would be disposed of here.
The SS special detachment would use cruel methods to kill the Jews sent to Chelmno
1) The SS men would dress up in white coats to appear as physicians to trick the Jews coming off of the freight trains after arrival
2) The Nazi "physicians" told the Jews that they were stopping to shower and have their clothes disinfected before they would be sent to a labor camp in Germany
3) After removing their clothes in the manor house on the camp, and leaving their belongings, they were led down a dark hall of the manor house to a van waiting for them
4) 80-100 Jews would get into the back of the van, the doors would be shut, and carbon monoxide would begin to flow into the truck; killing all inside.
*Sometimes, Jews would be led to mass graves in the forest part of the camp, and shot
The camp ran from...
...and then again briefly in June-July
...and the camp was abandoned on January 27
From early December 1941 until mid-January 1942, the special detachment deported Jews by truck from nearby towns and villages.
...and Kowale Panski
... SS and police authorities deported Jews in crowded freight trains from the Lodz ghetto
This included Jews deported to Lodz from...
Bohemia & Moravia
...Police and the SS continued to deport Jews from the Wartheland district to Chelmno
Other victims included were several hundred Poles & Soviet prisoners of war
Also, many of the 5,000 Roma (Gypsies) who had been sent from Austria to the Lodz ghetto in 1941 were among the first victims of the atrocities taken place at Chelmno
The SS & police canceled transports in March
Using the last of the Jewish workers, the SS & police demolished the manor house
they then shot the Jewish laborers
Deportations began again to liquidate the remainder of the Lodz ghetto
The 1944 victims were driven to the forest camp, where the authorities had constructed two reception huts in place of the previously destroyed manor house
They had also constructed two open air ovens in the forest camp
They killed the Jews either in the gas vans or by shooting, and corpses were burnt in the open air ovens
From mid-July 1944, the SS and police deported the remaining inhabitants of the Lodz ghetto to Auschwitz-Birkenau
Each group was treated the same:
give up their possessions
...and be killed by carbon monoxide or by shooting immediately after deportation
Only few members of the transports would be chosen to work for the Nazis in the camp: the stronger, healthier ones.
Seven Jews are known to have escaped from Chelmno
Mordechai Zurawski & Simon Srebnik
All worked in the forest camp in the burial detachment
*Survived the war*
*Did not survive the war*
*Did not survive the war*
*Survived the war*
All four men escaped during the winter of 1942
These two men escaped from labor work dismantling the killing center in January 1945
The camp was never liberated; there was no one there to liberate. Instead, the Nazis abandoned the camp as the Soviet army approached on January 17, 1945
All evidence of the camp's existence had been obliterated in November 1944
Jewish victim's belongings relocated to a synagogue in Kolo
Burial grounds c. 2007