Chelmno (Nazi extermination camp)

Chelmno concentration camp . It was a Nazi extermination camp that was located 70 km from Lodz, near a small town called Chełmno nad Nerem (Kulmhof an der Nehr, in German), in the so-called General Government of Poland (which was annexed and incorporated in 1939). to Germany under the name of Reichsgau Wartheland). It was the first extermination camp, opened in 1941 to kill the Jews of the Lodz and Warthegau ghetto; being the first place in the history of the Holocaust to use poison gas.

Summary

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  • 1 History
  • 2 When it was closed
  • 3 Who inaugurated the extermination camp
  • 4 Witness to the extermination camp
  • 5 Outstanding staff in Chelmno
  • 6 Guards who worked in this extermination camp
  • 7 SS Wardens
  • 8 After the war
  • 9Fuente

History

The Kulmhof extermination camp in the Polish city of Chelmno was the first dedicated to the systematic extermination of Jews in occupied Poland. From December 1941 through the spring of 1943 and the summer of 1944, German Security Police forces murdered almost the entire Jewish population in the Kulmhof area, which was part of the Warthegau region. It is believed that the decision to establish the camp in this area was decisively influenced by the local authorities of the Warthegau. At least 152,000 people were killed in this camp, mainly Jews from the Lodz Ghetto and its surroundings, along with Gypsies from Greater Poland and some Hungarian, Polish, Czech and Soviet POWs. The location selected for the killing center was a small town, Chelmno/Ner, near the city of Kolo, which had good communications with Lodz, the ghetto with the largest Jewish population in the region. In November 1941, the palace and the adjacent park were occupied, the premises surrounded by barbed wire, the local population deported, and the main buildings occupied by the Sonderkommandos.

In 1942, due to the process of decomposition of the bodies in mass graves and the threat of epidemics, the transports were stopped. Jewish prisoners were forced to dig up the bodies and burn them in crematorium fields specially created for this purpose. the facilities surrounded with barbed wire, the local population deported and the main buildings were occupied by the Sonderkommandos. In 1942, due to the process of decomposition of the bodies in mass graves and the threat of epidemics, the transports were stopped. Jewish prisoners were forced to dig up the bodies and burn them in crematorium fields specially created for this purpose. the facilities surrounded with barbed wire, the local population deported and the main buildings were occupied by the Sonderkommandos. In 1942, due to the process of decomposition of the bodies in mass graves and the threat of epidemics, the transports were stopped. Jewish prisoners were forced to dig up the bodies and burn them in crematorium fields specially created for this purpose.

when it was closed

In April 1943, when it was closed and its crematorium destroyed. In the spring of 1944 it was restored and closed again on January 17, 1945. A special SS Sonderkommando called the Sonderkommando Kulmhof gassed people with exhaust fumes and then burned them. The camp consisted of two parts: an administrative section, barracks, and warehouses for looted goods; and a burial and cremation site. He operated three cars on gas using carbon monoxide .

Who inaugurated the extermination camp

The first to pass through the camp were Jews from the local ghettos (Kolo, Dabie, Kowale Panskie, Klodawa and Izbica Kujawska). In January 1942 the transports of Gypsies from Lodz began, shortly before the Jews from the same ghetto, as well as the Jews from Germany, Czechoslovakia and Austria, who in the autumn of 1941 had been temporarily sent to the Lodz ghetto. The contingents of deportees were Jews from the communities adjacent to the camp and about 5,000 Gypsies who had been imprisoned in the Lodz Ghetto. Some 10,000 Jews were deported from Lodz to Chelmno and killed between January 16 and 29, 1942. About 34,000 were “processed” between March 22 and April 2, 1942. Another 11,000 were deported and gassed between May 4 and 15, 1942, 16,000 Jews between September 5 and 12, 1942 and a number of 15,200 Jewish forced laborers from the Lodz region were also gassed.

The mass murder began on December 8, 1941, with the almost total annihilation of the nearby population of Wartheland, subsequently three gas trucks, traveling between Kulmhof and a forest where a series of mass graves had been prepared. The first victims were Jews from the local communities, but they also included 4,300 gypsies (Sinti and Roma) who were imprisoned in a special section of the Lodz ghetto. The exact total of victims of that day is not known, although it is only known that more than 5,000 gypsies were gassed.

The transports of Jews came from Austria, Germany and the Czech Republic who, resettled in the Lodz ghetto, would be dragged to Chelmno to die. Among the prisoners taken to Chelmno were 88 children who were among the few survivors of Lidice, population that was totally devastated in revenge for the murder of Reinhard Heydrich; all were killed directly upon arrival. In March 1943, the population of Warthegau and theghetto were emptied of Jews entirely and killed in Chelmno; in Lodz alone there were 70,000 Jews left. Once this extermination was over, the racial cleansing of the region was terminated and the arrival of trains was slowed down.

Witness the extermination camp

Adolf Eichmann testified about the camp during his trial. He visited it in 1942:

‘ As soon as the ramp had been raised in the castle, people started coming to Kulmhof from Lizmannstadt (Łódź) in trucks… They told people that they had to take a bath, that their clothes had to be disinfected and that they could deliver any valuables in advance when being searched […] When they had undressed, they were sent into the castle cellar and then along a passage to the ramp and from there to the gas van. In the castle there were signs marked “to the baths”. The gas vans were large, 4-5m long, 2.2m wide and 2m high. The interior walls were lined with sheet metal. There was a wooden grate on the floor. The floor of the van had an opening, which could be connected to the exhaust pipe by means of a removable metal tube. When the trucks were full of people, the double doors at the back were closed and the exhaust pipe connected to the inside of the van […] The command member gave details while the driver would start the engine immediately, so that the people inside the truck were suffocated by the exhaust fumes.

Once this was done, the joint between the exhaust pipe and the interior of the truck was disconnected and the van was driven to the field in the woods, where the bodies were unloaded. In the early days, they were initially buried in mass graves, later cremated… So I brought the van back to the castle and parked it there. Here it would be cleaned of the excreta of the people who had died there. Afterwards, it would be used once more for gas poisoning […]’ So I brought the truck back to the castle and parked it there. Here it would be cleaned of the excreta of the people who had died there. Afterwards, it would be used once more for gas poisoning […]’ So I brought the truck back to the castle and parked it there. Here it would be cleaned of the excreta of the people who had died there. Afterwards, it would be used once more for gas poisoning […]’

By March 1943, many of the Jews in the Warthegau had been murdered. Only about 70,000 remained in the remnants of the Lodz Ghetto. Himmler ordered that the camp be dismantled on April 7, 1943, Chelmno was then closed and the facilities demolished. However, due to the necessity of the plan organized by the German forces, the operations continued on June 23, 1944, with a new Commander, Hans Bothmann, who led the “Sonderkommando Bothmann” together with Hermann Gielow and Walter Piller. In this second period, a contingent of more than 25,000 Jews from Lodz were murdered in Chelmno. In addition to this, the Sonderkommando 1005 under SS Standartenführer Paul Blobel, worked on cleaning up traces of mass murder. On the night of January 17, 1945, the task force consisting of 48 detainees were to be shot, but they rebelled and provoked a fight, only three managing to escape. It has been reported that at least 10 people managed to survive this field.

Outstanding staff in Chelmno

The camp had two commanders throughout its history:

  1. SS Sturmbannführer Herbert Lange(Killed in combat against the Russians, on April 20, 1945, near Berlin)
  2. SS Hauptsturmführer Hans Bothmann(Committed suicide while in British custody)

Guards who worked in this extermination camp

  • SS Sergeant Heinrich Bock
  • SS Sergeant Walter Burmeister (13 de prision)
  • SS Sergeant Walter Filer
  • SS Hauptscharführer Hermann Gielow (Executed by the Poles)
  • SS Sergeant Wilhelm Gürlich
  • SS Untersturmführer Alois Häfele (13 years in prison)
  • SS Unterscharführer Karl Heinl (7 years in prison)
  • SS Oberscharführer Wilhelm Heukelbach (13 and a half years in prison)
  • SS squad leader Gustav Hufing
  • SS Rottenfuhrer Fritz Ismer
  • SS Sergeant Bruno Israel
  • SS Sergeant Moyz Kerzer
  • SS Sergeant Oskar Kraus
  • SS Sergeant Erich Kretschmer
  • SS Hauptscharführer Gustav Laabs (13 years in prison)
  • SS guard Wilhelm Lenz
  • SS Scharführer Kurt Möbius (8 years in prison)
  • SS Sergeant Rudolf Otto
  • SS Oberscharführer Walter Piller (Executed by the Poles)
  • SS Oberwachmeister Albert Plate (Wounded in action by the Russians – Committed suicide)
  • SS Storm Sergeant Albert Richter
  • SS Sergeant Johann Runge
  • SS squad leader Franz Schalling
  • SS Rottenfuhrer Wilhelm Sefler
  • SS Sergeant Max Sommer
  • SS Oberscharführer Otto Stadie (7 years in prison)

SS Wardens

  • SS Wachmeister Bartel
  • SS Sergeant Belaff
  • SS Wachmeister Blanch
  • SS Sergeant Bulmann
  • SS Sergeant Burstinge
  • SS Sergeant Daniel
  • SS Sergeant Gorlich
  • SS Sergeant Han
  • SS Sergeant Richert
  • SS Wachmeister Ross
  • SS Wachmeister Rubmiech
  • SS Sergeant Schmidt
  • SS Sergeant Schneider
  • SS Wachmeister Shlipke
  • SS Rottenfuhrer Stark
  • SS Sergeant Thiele
  • SS Sergeant Zimmerman

after the war

At the end of the war, a trial was organized against some of the guards who had served in Chelmno, this process took place in Essen , Germany, between 1962 and 1965 and generated several medium-term prison sentences. Both camp commanders managed to escape justice: Lange would fall fighting the Russians and Bothmann would commit suicide while he was in the hands of the British

 

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