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Nazi concentration camps in occupied Poland (marked with black squares)
Płaszów concentration camp

The Płaszów (Polish pronunciation: [ˈpwaʂuf]) or Kraków-Płaszów concentration camp was a Nazi German labour and concentration camp built by the Nazis in Płaszów, a southern suburb of Kraków (now part of Podgórze district), soon after the German invasion of Poland and the creation of the General Government.[1][2]

The Płaszów camp, originally intended as a forced labour camp, was constructed on the grounds of two former Jewish cemeteries in the summer of 1942 during Nazi German occupation of Poland.[3] In 1943 the camp was extended and subsequently became a concentration camp with deportations of the Jews from the Kraków Ghetto beginning October 28, 1942. Commanding the camp was Amon Göth, an SS commandant from Vienna who was known for being uncommonly sadistic in his treatment and killings of prisoners.[2] On March 13, 1943, Göth personally oversaw the liquidation of the Kraków Ghetto, forcing its Jewish inhabitants deemed capable of work into the camp. Those who were declared unfit for work were killed. Under him were his staff of Ukrainian SS personnel, followed by 600 Germans of the SS-Totenkopfverbände (1943-1944),[4] and a few SS women, including Gertrud Heise, Luise Danz, Alice Orlowski and Anna Gerwing.

The sign at the entrance to the Płaszów camp memorial area.

The camp was a slave Arbeitslager (English: Work Camp), supplying manpower to several armament factories and a stone quarry. The death rate in the camp was very high. Many prisoners, including many children and women, died of typhus, starvation and executions. Płaszów camp became particularly infamous for both individual and mass shootings carried out there.

All documents pertaining to the mass killings and executions were entrusted by commandant Göth to the high ranking SS woman, Kommandoführerin Alice Orlowski. She held these documents in her possession until the end of the war, then allegedly destroyed them. Alice Orlowski, a picture-perfect SS-woman, was known for her whippings especially of young women across their eyes. At roll call she would walk through the lines of women, and personally whip them.[5]

Amon Göth's house in Płaszów - 2008
Płaszów Memorial

In January 1945, the last of the remaining inmates and camp staff left the camp on a death march to Auschwitz, including several female SS guards. Many of those who survived the march were killed upon arrival. When the Nazis realized that the Russians were already approaching Kraków, they completely dismantled the camp, leaving an empty field in its place. The bodies that were buried there in mass graves were exhumed and burned on site. On January 20, 1945 the Red Army reached the already empty land.

The area which held the camp now consists of sparsely wooded hills and fields with one large memorial marking where the camp once stood, with an additional small plaque located near the opposite end of the site. The camp is featured in the movie Schindler's List about the life of Oskar Schindler.

See also

Notes and references

  1. ^ "Death camps: Plaszow Forced Labour Camp" at www.deathcamps.org/occupation/plaszow.html
  2. ^ a b The Plaszow Camp at www.holocaustresearchproject.net
  3. ^ Plaszow concentration Camp at www.krakow-poland.com
  4. ^ Plaszow, 20th Century History, Prof. Leopold Pfefferberg-Page Collection
  5. ^ Daniel Patrick Brown, THE CAMP WOMEN - The Female Auxiliaries Who Assisted the SS in Running the Nazi Concentration Camp System p. 185. ISBN 0764314440. The facts pertaining to Orlowski's crimes: Simon Wiesenthal, Justice Not Vengeance. The facts about her behavior on the death march came from Malvina Graf's book, I survived the Krakow Ghetto and Plaszow Camp

Coordinates: 50°01′51″N 19°58′3″E / 50.03083°N 19.9675°E / 50.03083; 19.9675

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