Przyszowice massacre

1024px-przyszowice_-_tablica_na_zbiorowej_mogile_pomordowanych_przez_zolnierzy_sowieckich_4_nemo5576

The Przyszowice massacre  was a massacre perpetrated by the Red Army against civilian inhabitants of the Polish village of Przyszowice in Upper Silesia during the period January 26 to January 28, 1945. Sources vary on the number of victims, which range from 54to over 60and possibly as many as 69.Polish Institute of National Remembrance, which carried out research into these events, has declared that the Przyszowice massacre was a crime against humanity.

After the start of the Soviet January offensive in early 1945, the Red Army broke through from the line of the Vistula River well into German-held territory in occupied Poland.

361397a7a3cdb6d763a291848ae839c1

By late January, the scattered forces of the Wehrmacht were withdrawn to the line of the Oder River, which was on the pre-war territory of the Third Reich. However, several German units were ordered to prepare tactical counter-attacks, notably in the region of Upper Silesia, on the Polish-German borderland. On January 23, Soviet forces seized the town of Gleiwitz (Gliwice), one of the major industrial centres of the area. On the following day, the Germans counter-attacked, precipitating a three-day-long battle for the area. Eventually victorious, on January 26 the Russians entered the village of Przyszowice, the last Polish village before the Polish-German border.

During the following two days, a massacre of local inhabitants ensued. The Soviet soldiers set several dozen houses on fire and began shooting at the civilians trying to extinguish the flames. It is believed that over 60 civilians lost their lives, Polish newspapers gave the high-end number of 69.Men, women and children aged between 10 days and 78 years were killed, although most of the victims were adult males.Among the victims were four former prisoners of the Auschwitz concentration camp who had escaped from a death march the previous day.

women-marching-out-of-birkenau

Except for two of the escapees who were Italian and Hungarian, the rest of the victims were Polish civilians – including two former soldiers of the Polish Army, who had recently been freed by the Soviets from a prisoner of war camp.According to Polish media, in addition to the mass murder of civilians, the Soviet forces looted the village and raped an unknown number of women.

The reason for the massacre remains unknown. Some authors believe that the Soviet soldiers wanted to take revenge for the losses suffered by the Red Army during the recent skirmishes with the Wehrmacht in the area.During the fighting for Przyszowice, the Soviets suffered 101 casualties and lost roughly 40 tanks.It is also likely that the Soviet soldiers did not know they were still on Polish soil and instead believed they had finally entered the territories of Nazi Germany; Przyszowice was one of the western-most villages of the Second Polish Republic, on the pre-war border between Poland and Germany.

Following the massacre, the victims were buried in a mass grave in a local cemetery.Polish newspapers also note that two more civilians were killed in the summer of that year, after the end of the war, when Red Army troops were returning from Germany. A man was strafed by a Soviet plane in June, and a woman killed in July by a group of Soviet soldiers stealing a cow. During the years of Communist rule in Poland (which lasted until 1989), factual knowledge of these events was censored by the communist government, and the mass grave was kept anonymous. It was not until the 60th anniversary of the event in 2005 that a memorial stone was erected at the cemetery.The commemorative ceremony was performed by the bishop of Legnica, Stefan Cichy, who was personally an eye-witness to the events, as well as a relative of one of the victims.

20090820124418cichy_stefan

Advertisements

Janowska concentration camp and Lvov

78710

Awful atrocities were carried out at the Janowska concentration camp and surrounding Lvov(aka Lwow and Lviv) by the Nazis, Soviet troops and Ukrainian nationalists. To an extend it reminds me of the current situation in Aleppo where the population is being subjected by violence from all sides.

In September 1941, the Germans set up a factory on Janowska Street in the northwestern suburbs of Lvov, in southeastern Poland(today Lviv in Ukraine). This factory became part of a network of factories, the German Armament Works, owned and operated by the SS. Jews were used as forced laborers, mainly in carpentry and metalwork. In October 1941, the Germans established a camp housing the forced laborers next to the factory.

After the Nazi-Soviet invasion of Poland at the beginning of World War II, the city of Lwów in the Second Polish Republic(now Lviv, Ukraine) was occupied in September 1939 by the Soviet Union under the terms of the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact.

molotov_with_ribbentrop

At that time, there were over 330,000 Jews residing in Lwów, including over 90,000 Jewish children and infants. Over 150,000 of them were refugees from the German-occupied western part of the Poland. In June 1941, the German Army took over Lvov in the course of the initially successful attack on the Soviet positions in eastern Poland, known as Operation Barbarossa. Almost no Jews of Lvov were alive at the end of the war, many being horrifically tormented and tortured before they were murdered.

The retreating Soviets killed about 7,000 Polish and Ukrainian civilians in June during the NKVD prisoner massacres in Lvov.

victims_of_soviet_nkvd_in_lvov_june_1941

The invading Germans blamed the NKVD massacre on the Soviet Jews in the NKVD ranks, and used the atrocity as propaganda tool to incite the first pogrom in which over 4,000 Polish Jews were killed between 30 June and 2 July 1941 by Ukrainian nationalists.

lviv_pogrom_june_-_july_1941

The arrival of the Nazis let loose a wave of antisemitic feelings. Encouraged by German forces, local Ukrainian nationalists murdered additional 5,500 Jews during the second Lviv pogrom in 25–27 July 1941. It was known as the “Petliura Days”, named for the nationalist leader Symon Petliura. For three straight days, Ukrainian militants went on a murderous rampage through the Jewish districts of Lwów. Groups of Jews were herded out to the Jewish cemetery and to the prison on Łąckiego street where they were killed. More than 2,000 Jews died and thousands more were injured.

In early November 1941, the Nazis closed-off northern portions of the city of Lwów thus forming a ghetto.German police shot and killed thousands of elderly and sick Jews as they crossed under the rail bridge on Pełtewna Street (which was called bridge of death by Jews), while they were on their way to the ghetto. In March 1942, the Nazis began to deport Jews from the ghetto to the Belzec extermination camp. By August 1942, more than 65,000 Jews had been deported from Lwów and killed. In early June 1943, the Germans destroyed and liquidated the ghetto

In addition to the Lwów ghetto, in September 1941, the Germans set up a D.A.W. (Deutsche Ausrüstungswerke – the German Armament Works) workshop in prewar Steinhaus’ mill machines factory on 134 Janowska Street, in northwestern suburbs of Lwów (at that time in German-occupied southeastern Poland, now in western Ukraine). This factory became a part of a network of factories, owned and operated by the SS. The commandant of the camp was SS-Haupsturmführer Fritz Gebauer. Jews who worked at this factory were used as forced laborers, mainly working in carpentry and metalwork.

In October 1941, the Nazis established a concentration camp beside the factory, which housed the forced laborers along with the rest of the prisoners. Thousands of Jews from the Lwów ghetto were forced to work as slave laborers in this camp. When the Lwów ghetto was liquidated by the Nazis, the ghetto’s inhabitants who were fit for work were sent to the Janowska camp; the rest were deported to the Belzec for extermination. The concentration camp was guarded by a Sonderdienst battalion of the SS-trained Hiwi police guards known as “Trawniki men”.

karl_streibel_kl_trawniki

In addition to being a forced-labor camp for Jews, Janowska was a transit camp during the mass deportations of Polish Jews to the killing centers in 1942. Jews underwent a selection process in Janowska camp similar to that used at Auschwitz-Birkenau and Majdanek extermination camps. Those classified as fit to work remained at Janowska for forced labor. The majority, rejected as unfit for work, were deported to Belzec and killed, or else were shot at the Piaski ravine, located just north of the camp. In the summer and fall of 1942, thousands of Jews (mainly from the Lwów ghetto) were deported to Janowska and killed in the Piaski ravine.

The Nazis occasionally allowed small groups of Jews to go to town for daylong leaves of absence. They would use this temporary freedom to dig up Torahs that had been hidden in Lwów’s Jewish cemetery.The Torahs were then cut into pieces which were hidden under their clothes and smuggled back into the camp. After the war the various pieces were assembled into a single scroll, the Yanov torah, which is currently in California.

1024px-yanovtorah

Ahead of the Soviet advance, in November 1943 the new camp commandant SS-Hauptsturmführer Friedrich Warzok was put in charge of the evacuation of the Janowska inmates to Przemyśl.

crowds-outside-the-old-synagogue-in-przemysl

The Germans attempted to destroy the traces of mass murder during Sonderaktion 1005.

members_of_a_sonderkommando_1005_unit_pose_next_to_a_bone_crushing_machine_in_the_janowska_concentration_camp

Prisoners were forced to open the mass graves in Lesienicki forest and burn the bodies. On November 19, 1943, the Sonderkommando inmates staged a revolt against the Nazis and attempted a mass escape. A few succeeded, but most were recaptured and killed. The SS and their local auxiliaries murdered at least 6,000 Jews who had survived the uprising killings at Janowska, as well as Jews in other forced labor camps in Galicia, at the time of the camps’ liquidation.

map_of_the_kingdom_of_galicia_1914

One of the inmates and a survivor of the Janowska Concentration camp was Simon Wiesenthal.

simon_wiesenthal_1982

In late 1941, Wiesenthal and his wife were transferred to Janowska concentration camp and forced to work at the Eastern Railway Repair Works. He painted swastikas and other inscriptions on captured Soviet railway engines, and Cyla was put to work polishing the brass and nickel. In exchange for providing details about the railways, Wiesenthal obtained false identity papers for his wife from a member of the Armia Krajowa, a Polish underground organisation.

She travelled to Warsaw, where she was put to work in a German radio factory. She spent time in two different labour camps as well. Conditions were harsh and her health was permanently damaged, but she survived the war. The couple was reunited in 1945, and their daughter Paulinka was born the following year.