Holocaust Education & Archive Research Team
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POLISH FORT-NIGHTLY REVIEW
A Polish Policeman’s Story & A Voice of Protest from Poland
London – Tuesday 1st December 1942 – No 57
August 11th 1942
lll A Polish Policeman’s Story
The monstrous liquidation of the Warsaw ghetto is going ahead swiftly. Of the some 400,000 Jews in the ghetto, down to August 11th inclusive some 180,000 have been carried off.
The Jewish community has given the official number of deportees as 160,000 (The usually accepted figure for the population of the ghetto, over 500,000, is fictitious, and was arrived at owing to the fact that the Jewish Community reported a larger number of Jews in the ghetto than there actually were, in order to obtain a surplus number of ration cards. There were between 100,000 and 150,000 such surplus cards in use.)
Jews employed in factories inside the ghetto, and living with their families within the walls surrounding the factory buildings or living in certain blocks of residential buildings inhabited only by workers and their families, were not to be deported.
Yet half the Jews living in one such factory ghetto were carried off. Even the administration of the Jewish Community was informed by the German authorities that it had too many employees and that half of them were to report for deportation.
The so-called little ghetto in which some 40,000 Jews were living, was completely depopulated by six p.m. on August 10th. Recently from seven to ten thousand Jews have been carried off from the ghetto every day. Even the children in orphanages and crèches are taken, frequently they cannot walk, so they are loaded into carts. The conditions are so horrible that many of them do not reach the trucks alive.
In order to speed up the liquidation of the Jews “round-ups” in the streets are being largely resorted to, Gestapo men and “White Guards” (i.e. Soviet prisoners of war who have gone over to service with the Germans) drive around the streets, often using for this purpose rickshaws drawn by Jews and fire from their “tommy” guns wherever they see people in any numbers.
Often thirty to forty Jewish bodies are left, lying in one street in the course of a day. The Jewish Community has to undertake the work of picking out Jews for deportation, but the Jewish police are responsible for seeing that the “contingents” are handed over to the Germans.
The Jewish police are supervised in their activities by Gestapo men, of whom there are only ten or so in the ghetto areas, and “white guards,” of whom there are fifty. Outside the ghetto the walls are guarded by Ukrainians, Latvians, Estonians and Lithuanians, who fire at the windows of Jewish houses if anyone shows himself.
They forbid all entry to the ghetto, under pain of death. There is also a Commissariat of Polish Police in the ghetto area, but the Polish police have nothing to do with the liquidation of the ghetto. The fact that the occupying authorities do not use these police for this activity is without doubt a proof of their lack of confidence in the Polish police, because of the attitude of the entire Polish population.
Very striking is the complete, absolutely pathological passivity of all the Jews, the absence of any desperate reaction. They have broken down psychologically so completely that although at first many Jews hid, now a large number voluntarily turn up for deportation, desiring a speedy death.
Not one of the Jews has any doubt that they are being carried off in order to be murdered. There are many cases of suicide among them. For instance in one of the “emptied” houses the door of one of the flats was found to be locked, and a strong smell of gas came from it. Inside they found the bodies of the suicides. In one room a dead Jewess was found lying on her bed, a phial of veronal beside her.
Many Jews have gone mad. For instance one Jewess is walking about the streets all day and all night, obviously without a pass (entitling her to be in the street after the curfew hour). She seeks her child, and curses the Germans aloud. The Germans magnanimously, as though in derision, would not use bullets on her.
Owing to the complete impossibility of carrying on illegal trade, there is starvation everywhere in the ghetto. A kilo of bread costs seventy zlotys, but often a watch is offered for a small loaf and a gold watch made by some world-famous firm for two loaves.
On the other hand, in the houses from which wealthier Jews have been deported butter and ham are found in the cupboards, and the drawers are filled with expensive linen and clothing, all left to the mercy of fate.
IV Voice of Protest from Poland
All the Polish groups working underground are condemning these monstrous crimes in the secret literature printed illegally. Among other leaflets now in the possession of the Polish Government is one published by the group known as the Front for the Restoration of Poland.
A translation of the text follows:
“In the Warsaw ghetto, behind the wall which cuts it off from the world, several hundred thousand condemned are awaiting death. For them there is no hope of rescue, no help is coming to them from anywhere.
The executioners speed through the streets, shooting anyone who dares to leave his house. They also shoot at anyone who appears at the window. Unburied bodies lie about the roads.
The prescribed daily number of victims is eight to ten thousand. The Jewish police are obliged to hand them over to the German executioners. If they fail to do so they themselves perish.
Children who are not strong enough to walk are loaded on to carts. The loading is done so brutally that few reach the siding alive. Mothers go mad as they watch the sight. The number who have gone mad from despair and terror equal the number who have been shot.
Railway trucks wait at the siding. The executioners thrust up to 150 condemned persons into each. A thick layer of lime and chlorine over which water has been poured, is spread over the floors. The truck doors are sealed, sometimes the train sets off immediately it is loaded, sometimes it stands in a siding for a couple of days.
That is of no matter to anyone now. Of the people packed in so tightly that the dead cannot fall and continue to stand shoulder to shoulder with the living, of the people slowly dying in the fumes of lime and chlorine, deprived of air, a drop of water or food, even so none will be left alive.
Wherever, whenever the death trains reach their destination they will contain only corpses. In face of this torture only a speedy death would be emancipation. The executioners have foreseen this. All the chemists in the ghetto have been closed, so they shall not supply poison. There are no weapons available. All that is left is to throw oneself out of the window on to the stones.
And very many of the condemned escape the executioners in this way. What is happening in the Warsaw ghetto has been happening for six months past in a hundred smaller and larger Polish towns. The total number of Jews killed already exceeds a million, and the figure is rising with every day.
Everybody is perishing, Rich and poor, old people and women, men, youngsters, infants. Catholics died with the names of Jesus and Mary on their lips, equally with the orthodox Jews. All guilty of having been born in the Jewish nation are condemned by Hitler to extermination.
We do not wish to be like Pilate. We cannot actively oppose the German murderers, we can do nothing, we can save nobody. But from the bottom of our hearts, filled with compassion, loathing and horror, we protest. That protest is demanded of us by God, by God who forbade killing. It is demanded by the Christian conscience. Every creature calling himself a man has the right to the love of his neighbour.
The blood of the helpless calls to heaven for vengeance, anyone who does not support this protest is no catholic. At the same time we protest as Poles. We do not believe that the German atrocities will turn to Poland’s benefit. By no means.
He who does not understand this, he who would dare to connect the proud and free future of Poland with a base rejoicing in the misfortunes of his fellows, is neither a Catholic nor a Pole.”
This is faithful transcript of the document.
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