Home Contact Us
Index Purchase Info
About Site About Us
Appendices Credits
Further Reading Links
Special Features
By Keyword:

Page Number:
Click on an image to see a larger, more detailed picture.
1943: Death and Resistance
 pg. 465 
The notorious Amon Goeth, SS captain and commandant of the Plaszów, Poland, work camp, waits on his villa balcony for an opportunity to shoot a Jewish prisoner--any prisoner. Such "sport" was unique among camp commanders and ultimately cost Goeth his life, for he was tried by the Poles after the war and executed in Kraków. The commandant's passion for his demonic pastime was portrayed in the film Schindler's List.
Photo: Leopold Page Photographic Collection / United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Photo Archive
By the time Treblinka was shut down in July 1943, its gas chambers had taken the lives of at least 750,000 people, mostly Jews from Poland. Following Heinrich Himmler's visit to the camp in March 1943, the Nazis exhumed hundreds of thousands of bodies that had been buried. Huge pyres were built, and the bodies were burned to obliterate the evidence of the mass murder that had occurred. These bones bear silent testimony to the Nazis' failure to achieve their goal.
Photo: Main Commission for the Investigation of Nazi War Crimes / United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Photo Archive
Aktion 1005

In 1942, when the Allies caught wind of the Nazis' mass murders--and when hundreds of thousands of hastily buried bodies posed a serious health hazard--the Nazis planned their most gruesome operation of all: Revisit the mass graves, dig up the corpses, and burn them.

This Aktion 1005 was headed by Paul Blobel, the mastermind of the Babi Yar massacre. Each Sonderkommando 1005 was supervised by members of the Security Service, Security Police, and regular German police. Nazi prisoners, mostly Jews, did the dirty work. Beginning in June 1942, the Sonderkommandos burned the corpses that had been dumped at the Nazi death camps. Starting in June 1943, they ventured to the mass graves of Poland and the Occupied Soviet Union.

The prisoners were divided into three groups. The first opened the graves and exhumed the bodies. The second group arranged the corpses on pyres for burning. The bodies were alternated with wood logs, doused with fuel, and lit. The third group sifted and scattered the ashes and crushed the bones.

The Nazis covered up many, though not all, of their mass burials. As for the Sonderkommando 1005 prisoners, most were killed after they completed their work. Dozens of others survived after revolting and running away.
Photo: Yad Vashem

 July 16, 1943: Theophil Wurm, bishop of the Evangelical Church in Württemberg, Germany, sends a letter to Berlin in which he asks that the persecution of "members of other nations and races" be halted immediately.
 July 17, 1943: Partisan leader Yitzhak Wittenberg surrenders to the Gestapo to prevent the razing of the Vilna (Lithuania) Ghetto.
 July 18, 1943: Two hundred slave laborers are murdered at Miedzyrzec, Poland.
 July 18, 1943: One thousand Jews are deported to Auschwitz from Paris.
 July 19, 1943: Germans use 3500 Jewish slave laborers to undertake a massive search for valuables in the remains of the Warsaw Ghetto.
 July 20, 1943: Five hundred slave laborers are murdered at Czestochowa, Poland.
 July 20, 1943: 2209 Jews are deported from Holland to Sobibór.
 July 20, 1943: Two Jews escape from Sobibór.
1943: Death and Resistance
 pg. 465 
The Holocaust Chronicle
© 2009 Publications International, Ltd.