Slave Labor in Auschwitz, (Oswiecim) Poland

 


Back to slave camps Intro


Auschwitz - Birkenau

Auschwitz was the concentration camp; Birkenau was the death camp

Millions of Ukrainians perished in Auschwitz; but history by the victors records only the few Ukrainians sided with the Nazis.

Into Auschwitz, for Ukraine By Stefan Petelycky

"...his greatest tormentor in Birkenau was a Jewish kapo in Block 4 who beat him mercilessly whenever he caught him praying. That man hated Father Kovalskyi because he was Ukrainian and a priest. He did not care that Kovalskyi was there because he had tried to help Jews."

"I stayed in Barracks 7 at Birkenau for about another week. It was a mixed barracks, housing Jews, Poles, and Ukrainians, all of them trying to survive. After the first week, we were marched over to Block 11 in old Auschwitz. There were 29 of these blocks in all. They had been used as housing for Polish border troops before the war. Each one had two accommodation levels and a small attic above. We were on the top floor, which was almost entirely populated by Ukrainians. I notice that there were quite a few more SS men here guarding us. There were also quite a few Jewish kapos, dressed in black outfits, better fed than the rest of us, who did a lot of killing. Many of them belonged to a special formation known as the "Canada Commando" which sorted out the belongings of incoming prisoners, taking everything that was of value to the Third Reich's war economy, leaving only the naked men, women and children, many of whom were then gassed. That task gave those kapos many opportunies to steal, which they did, not that it helped most of them in the long run.

"I remember that there were this time a lot of Soviet POWs in the camp, including a large group of Ukrainian women. They were housed in Block 11, two floors below us. We could sometimes hear them singing Ukrainian songs at night. That went on for about three weeks, and then one night their singing abruptly stopped. We heard the next day that they had all been taken away and shot. Only the empty cellar floor and an echo of their songs were left in our minds."

"19 January 1945. I had fallen quite ill by that time and was so weak that I couldn't really walk. My friends half -carried and half-dragged me with them. We left a night. The rumours were that the Red Army was alreay in Cracow. So, between ten and eleven o'colock that evening we were told to get ready to go and at about one, we were paraded and counted up. I walked through the Arbeit Macht Frei (Work shall set you free) gate one last time. I was free in Auschwitz, but gave it no thought. I was almost a musulman (lost soul walking but with vacant look - one who has given up on life). Into Auschwitz, for Ukraine By Stefan Petelycky


Soviet War Crimes Report on Auschwitz

"An examination of the contents of the warehouses revealed all the objects had belonged to the peoples of various nationalities who were tortured to death or murdered. Clothing, footwear, and other articles bore the labels of French, Belgian, Hungarian, Dutch, Yugoslavian, Czechoslovakian and other manufacturers. Stickers from various European hotels could still be seen on the suitcases. On the camp railway platform, the commission discovered seven railway wagons loaded with clothing and bedding ready for shipment to Germany...

"In Auschwitz camp, the Hitler criminals murdered hundreds of thousands of children, from infants to sixteen-year olds. As a rule, children were sent to the gas chambers to be killed as soon as they stepped off the train, and only a small number of powerful youths were retained for work in the camp. The investigations have shown that the Germans demanded the same hard labour from children 8 to 16 years old as from adults...

German hangmen killed not less than 4,000,000 citizens of the USSR, Poland, France, Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia, Roumania, Hungary, Bulgaria, Holland, Belgium, and other countries during the period of the existence of Auschwitz camp...

The persons examined suffered from broken ribs, fractured limbs, fractures of the vertebral column and bones of the face, as well as various wounds, ulcers, and frozen hands and feet, the results of the tortures permitted by the Germans. Very many of the liberated prisoners suffered from severe nervous and psychological disturbances. The forensic medical commission held an examination of the corpses of 536 prisoners found on the grounds of the camp. It was established that in 474 cases (88.3 percent) the cause of death was exhaustion."


Einfahrt zum Konzentrationslager Auschwitz - Birkenau Auschwitz, nach Mai 1945
Photographie, Deutsches Historisches Museum, Berlin Inv.-Nr: BA F 78/275

40 subcamps Oswiecim (Auschwitz)


Ukrainians forgotten heroes of Auschwitz by Oksana Bashuk Hepburn

TUESDAY marked the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. Tanks of the First Ukrainian Front broke through the enclosures 70 years ago.

Twenty-year-old Ihor Pobirchenko was the first to confront the unimaginable horror perpetrated by the Nazis. Atop a tank, he saw people hanging from the barbed-wire enclosure. They were alive, but barely; the fence was not electrified. The tanks rolled in.

Recently, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov lashed into his Polish counterpart, Grzegorz Schetyna, for daring to dispel the popular Second World War myth that Russians alone liberated Auschwitz, Warsaw and Berlin. It is still Russia’s practice to credit itself with Soviet achievement, denying the role of some 100 million non-Russians of the former USSR. This is in evidence today as Putin wages spiteful wars with neighbours in a manner reminiscent of Soviet times.

My father spent nearly two years in Auschwitz for opposing the German Reich’s occupation of Ukraine. More than a million Ukrainians were incarcerated there. I was brought up on his stories about those historic times.
He avoided the Gestapo for over a year, hiding, among other places, in the Redemptorist seminary where he had studied. This bit of family history was revealed by fellow seminarian, the Metropolitan of the Ukrainian Catholic Church of Canada, at father’s funeral.

When the Gestapo police finally branded him with a concentration number in Auschwitz, he had to endure the "welcome" line. It comprised running the gauntlet with hundreds of katsetnyky, or prisoners, as they were beaten with batons. This experience was shared by other katsetnyky who came to live in Winnipeg, including Dr. Michael Marunchak, Rev. Semen Izyk, Petro Petelytsky, Theodor Chimko. Some had health issues for life.
Anyone who fell was dragged off and punished; anyone who abstained got the same. Fear and terror ruled. The camp’s commandant had decreed: You are nothing; I am the law. Too often, those who were unable to deal with the sadism any longer sought a quick, merciful end on the electrified enclosures. My father lost many friends in the mills of death, as the concentration camps were called.

He survived, living for nearly 50 years in Winnipeg, devoting his life to crossing Canada in the interest of his community.

Newspapers, churches, credit unions, children’s summer camps and the now $30 million Taras Shevchenko Foundation attest to some of his achievements. He was particularly proud of the creation of the World League of Ukrainian Political Prisoners that battled international bureaucracy for the right to state that some million Ukrainians who lived under Polish or Soviet rule had been incarcerated in the Nazi camps. He knew Canada from coast to coast, and loved it for its peace and security, the rule of law, even-handed politics and the helpful decency of a policeman. He hoped Ukraine would "one day be more like Canada."

Had he lived, today’s terror in Ukraine would be seen as a potential repeat of history.

He would equate Putin’s determination to subjugate Ukraine to what happened before and after the Second World War with Germany and with Russia. Father would be proud, so proud, of the courageous stand of the volunteer battalions holding the front. "I told you," I can hear him say, "Ukrainians will never give up fighting for their country."

YouTube videos show Russia operating in Luhansk and Donetsk using children and women as human shields, destroying homes, burning, killing, mutilating. They are not for gentle eyes.

More frightening is the annihilation of the "never again" promise made to humanity by Russia when the war ended and over and over again in other international agreements and recent ceasefires.

My father would be incredulous that NATO is unable to find a solution to this trampling of international law and democracy on its doorstep. He would question why America has stopped short of punishing Russia from spreading global chaos. He would have a message for his Canadian government as well: You have been a great friend to Ukraine, but now its time to call Mr. Putin on his actions.

Ihor Pobirchenko, the youth on the tank, became a well-known jurist in Ukraine. When last interviewed, at 88, he was covered with medals and awards, including the United States’ medal for heroism. In soft Ukrainian, he said he joined the army to defend his native land from an aggressor. Today, his descendants and those of his comrades are doing the same. My father has good reason to be proud.

Oksana Bashuk Hepburn, former director with the Canadian Human Rights Commission, is an opinion writer.
Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 28, 2015 A9

http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/opinion/analysis/Ukrainians-forgotten-heroes-of-Auschwitz-290069211.html

Russian POWs at Auschwitz taken by Nazis
http://en.auschwitz.org/h/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1&Itemid=3

Ukrainian President (2005), Viktor Yushchenko's father, Andriy, like all Auschwitz forced labor prisoners, was simply identified by his tattooed number on his chest while in the camp. He was there from February to July 1944. He was also in Dachau and Buchenwald, escaping seven times. One of a handful of some 14,000 Soviet (Ukrainian) prisoners of war to survive the camp where 1.5 million people, mostly Jews, died, he returned home after World War II to work as a teacher. He died in 1992. By Ron Popeski, Reuters, Krakow, Poland, Thu, January 27, 2005

Deaths:

"Approximately 400,000 people were registered and placed in the camp and its sub-camps (200,000 Jews, more than 140,000 Poles, approximately 20,000 Gypsies from various countries, more than 10,000 Soviet prisoners of war, and more than 10,000 prisoners of other nationalities)." Notice how the Auschwitz museum doesn't mention the millions of Ukrainians who were slaughtered in Auschwitz. Thank them for airbrushing history to color it the way they want it to look.

Kaczmars who died in Auschwitz:

    1. Kaczmar, Andrzej (1900-08-26 - 1942-04-06)
    Birthplace: Warolce, Place of Residence: Mechtahl, Denomination: katholisch / Catholic

    2. Kaczmar, Piotr (1892-05-15 - 1941-11-04)
    Birthplace: Grabowiec, Place of Residence: Swiete, Denomination: grekokatholisch / Greek Catholic


Living conditions:

Over 50% of the registered prisoners died as a result of starvation, labor that exceeded their physical capacity, the terror that raged in the camp, executions, the inhuman living conditions, disease and epidemics, punishment, torture, and criminal medical experiments.
Traces of War: http://en.tracesofwar.com/article/1206/Concentration-Camp-Auschwitz-I.htm

Address and contactinformation
Ul. Wiezniow Oswiecimia 20
32-620 Oswiecim
Email address: muzeum@auschwitz.org.pl

OP-ED By Bohdan Koczor, Chicago Tribune, Illinois, Tue, 21 December 2004

I was just a teenager in western Ukraine when World War II broke out. The Soviets came claiming they would liberate us. Instead they began liquidating us. The Germans drove them out. They also said they had come to free us from the Bolsheviks.

Then they began to execute us, to exploit us, even to export us as slave laborers to the Third Reich. Too many people still bury Ukraine's losses among those of the Soviet Union or Poland. They pretend Ukrainians did not exist. We proved otherwise. We resisted. Ukraine's anti-Nazi and anti-Soviet movement would carry on an armed struggle for our people's freedom well into the 1950s.

People forget all that. When they speak of Ukrainians and the war, they refer to us only as collaborators or camp guards. I was in a camp, in fact several. But I wasn't there as a guard. In fact, that's where I got my number. It's 154754. The Nazis gave it to me.

I was 19 years old when they did that to me at Auschwitz. They brought me there because I was a member of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists. I know it has become politically correct to label Ukrainian nationalists as anti-Semitic Nazi collaborators. That is not true.

Yes, there were some Ukrainians who collaborated, out of fear, out of greed, out of prejudice. But I saw such scum among every nation represented among those at Auschwitz. I also saw them in the other concentration camps the Nazis carted me off to, including Mathausen, Melk and Ebensee. Many Ukrainian patriots, men and women, perished at the hands of the Nazis. Only a few were lucky enough to survive and to find a new life in the West, even as our homeland fell under Soviet occupation, again.

Interview with Vakov Vinnichenko by Ruben Sergeyev, The Guardian, London, United Kingdom, Tue, Jan 25, 2005

A Ukrainian soldier in the Soviet ranks recalls liberating Auschwitz, "When we entered the camp, we gasped: barbed wire everywhere, everyone in striped clothes and caps. The prisoners could barely walk: they looked like shadows or ghosts, they were so skinny. Some could not even move, others were supported by friends. They tried to talk to us, but we could not understand them: there were people from different countries, including many Jews from France, Poland and even Palestine. At the time of our assault there were 7-10,000 people in the camp - I learned after the war that the Germans had earlier shipped hundreds of thousands of prisoners to Germany and continued to use them for forced labour. But those left behind were barely alive.

At first, when they saw us, they could not believe they were free. But when they understood, some began to laugh, others broke down crying. Many tried to kiss us, but they looked so horrible that we kept away so as not to catch some bug. Many asked for food, but we didn't have any. Our support units arrived the next day and got busy with the prisoners, feeding and washing them. But we only stayed for a couple of hours. It was a horrible scene. We went into a filthy women's barrack, with bunks in tiers and bloodstains on some of them.

The Germans had not expected everything would move so fast: we carried out the operation very quickly. They hadn't had time to blow up anything or plant mines. There was a huge construction site next to the camp: prisoners were building a chemicals plant. There were not just camp inmates working there, but also tens of thousands of civilians shipped from the USSR.

The grim barracks stood in rows and, from a distance, looked like a factory - and it was a real factory of death. I saw a great deal in the war, but nothing so horrible or awesome as that camp. The experience gave us a new energy and determination to put an end to the abomination of nazism. Our men did not spare their lives - we knew our cause was just. In a few days we moved on to the west, and I was again gravely wounded, now on German territory, at a place called Lonau.


http://en.auschwitz.org/m/

http://www.wollheim-memorial.de/en/auschwitz_ii_birkenau_2

http://www.wollheim-memorial.de/en/archive_links

Gates to Hell: http://www.deathcamps.info/

    Nadia, a Ukrainian, writes about her experiences in a slave labor camp

    "We had to stand in line to get our daily bread along with our coffee. The bread was around 200 grams and black...We were given a small aluminum bowl where they poured our coffee into and a large spoon to drink the coffee with. Along with our bread, they gave us a small cube of margarine. The bowl and spoon were our one and only worldly possessions...We had to take our eating utensils with us because we needed them at lunchtime when it was served at the work site. The soup they served us was utterly digusting. It was a cabbage soup and floating on top were worms. We had a difficult time eating it and one of the girls stood up to protest...She held up the worm and said,

    "You expect us to eat this slop with worms in it?"

    "You should be so grateful," he says, "when I was in the Russian prisons in the first World War, I had it worse than you. I didn't even have a worm to eat. At least you've got a worm not to mention soup." ...[When assigned to peel vegetables,] we craved to have some of these vegetables but weren't allowed. I'd be wearing my big jacket as it was already cold outside....I'd look around and thought to myself is it worth the risk getting caught taking a vegetable. [The penalty was being moved to Buchenwald concentration camp.] I kept a watchful eye on the guard. When she wasn't looking, I quickly grabbed a carrot and put it in my pocket...I managed to swipe some turnips along the way to the fields as we walked through."

    For more, read "A Life of Hope, Memoirs of Nadia the Survivor" by Peter Anton, ISBN 0-9736966-0-5


    Video: Auschwitz 70: Drone shows Nazi concentration camp (LONG VERSION)
    BBC News https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V76jjzo-U4E

     

 

 
 

Continue to slave camps pages A

European Archives: http://councilforeuropeanstudies.org/resources/libraries-archives?gclid=COawguPSm8ICFVCCMgodPToARw



If this site was helpful to you, please consider making a donation to keep it going.