Friday, July 13, 2012


After the transports into the death camp had subsided and after the murder waves through the cross sections of the counties, as well as against the non-Jews who had worked at the large ghetto of Litzmannstadt was almost completed, the official duty of the Sonderkommando was to focus  on the burning of bodies and  grinding the remains to ashes. In March 1943 it was clear that the camp would be closed. Arthur Greiser thanked the members of the Sonderkommando with a gift of money and set up on March 5, 1943 for 92[the Sonderkommando consisted of 85 the others were guests.sic] men a farewell party at the restaurant "Riga" in Warthbrücken,  in which he himself took part. The cost for this entertainment was paid for, from the funds out of the Sonderkonto.
Theodor Malzmüller one of the members of the Chelmno Sonderkommando, recalled a visit to the death camp by Arthur Greiser:
"Shortly before the dismantling of the Chelmno death camp in March 1943 Gauleiter Greiser suddenly appeared at the camp, together with his staff – consisting of fifteen high-ranking SS officers. All members of the SS-Sonderkommando and the Wachkommando had to assemble in the courtyard of the castle where they were addressed by Greiser. In the presence of his staff he explained that Chelmno extermination camp would shortly be dismantled and he wanted to thank us on behalf of the Führer for the work we had done in Chelmno. He then went on to say that everybody would be given four weeks’ special leave and that we were welcome to spend it free of charge on one of his estates. He then invited all those present to a farewell party at the Riga Hotel in Warthbrücken. The farewell party was held in a big room at the Riga hotel. After a short while everyone was drunk and fell asleep at the table. The party ended at about one or two in the morning.
The Wartebrücken Gaststätte "Riga"
[The bill of the restaurant over drinks and dinner for 92 people on 5 March 1943 was honoured by check on 18 June 1943, .sic] In a letter to Heinrich Himmler the governor(Gauleiter Greiser) praises the remaining 85 policemen who had donated during the evening camaraderie over 15 000 RM to the benefit of children of murdered ethnic Germans(Volksdeutsche), he wrote to RFSS Heinrich Himmler on 19 March 1943 about Chelmno, the letter reads as follows:
A few days ago I visited Lange’s former Sonderkommando, which today is under the command of SS-Hauptsturmfuhrer Kriminalkommissar Bothmann and stationed in Kulmhof, Kreis Warthbrücken, until the end of the month. During my visit I was so struck by the conduct of the men of the Sonderkommando that I would not like to fail to bring it to your attention. The men have not only fulfilled the difficult task that has been set for them loyally, bravely and in all respects appropriately, but also their soldierly conduct is exemplary. For example during a social evening to which I had invited them they gave me a contribution of 15,150 RM in cash which they had that day collected spontaneously. That means that each of these eighty-five men in the Sonderkommando had contributed about 180 RM.
I have given instructions for the money to be put in the fund set up for the children of murdered ethnic Germans, unless you, Reichsfuhrer, wish it to be put to another or better use.
The men further expressed the wish that all of them, if possible, be put under the command of their Haupsturmfuhrer Bothmann when they are transferred to their new assignment. I promised the men that I would communicate this wish to you, Reichsfuhrer. I should be grateful if you would give me permission to invite some of these men to be my guests on my country estate during their leave and to give them a generous allowance to make their leave more enjoyable.
Heil Hitler
(signed) Greiser

Himmler fulfilled this wish and let the men join the SS Volunteer Division "Prinz Eugen", and had them sent to Serbia where they were used in fighting Partisans. Although the men of the Sonderkommando were due for home leave, they blew up first the main domain and removed all traces of possible evidence in the use of murder. The ruined castle grounds and the woods were then handed over to the Police Station Eichstädt(Dabie) as part of their responsibility.
The manner in which the higher command acted that swiftly in the demolition of the camp left one to conclude that Kulmhof as an extermination facility would never again be used. But the Reichsgau Wartheland was not judenfrei ("free of Jews"), as it was called in the jargon of the authorities. In many labour camps, as yet thousands of Jews were employed there on different projects, and in the Litzmannstadt ghetto exhausted people a total of 85 884 worked for the German war economy. Bearing in mind that Hitler had probably given the Gauleiter on the 9th November 1942 again free hand to "solve the Jewish question", and taking into account that Greiser had ordered the city government of Litzmannschaft in December,  that all administrative decisions regarding the major ghetto were made only from the perspective of its early closure, the order of the special command to destroy Kulmhof appears therefore somewhat puzzling. It is obvious, that Greiser and Himmler had agreed that those Jews at Chelmno(Kulmhof) are no longer needed, but should be used, exploited and killed at a different location. Whether this was due to the publicity the camp had received abroad as far back as 1942, there is no clear evidence. 

Earth Crematorium
While the gradual closure of labour camps (Zwangsarbeitslager) for Jews and their deportation within the Gaugebiet since August 1943 mostly went to Auschwitz-Birkenau and could be carried out without major problems, this was not the case with the Litzmannstadt Ghetto
Even before the closure of the ghetto boundaries, on 1 April 1940,  Greiser and Regierungspräsident(Govt.President)Uebelhoer had refused during a meeting with the Ministry of the Interior to accept financial responsibility for the food and sustenance of some 160 000 Jews imprisoned there. At that time it was decided that the ghetto should be administrated against the background of its closure in the near future through deportations by the General Government in line with a Reich-Order  issued to the City Council of Litzmannstadt (Lodz). This provision barring Greiser later on in having a direct influence over the ghetto. His attempts to do so were thwarted by  the leadership of the Regional Council and the Mayor's intervention. Meanwhile, the ghetto was to become a centre of arms production, especially in textiles, so with a closure, this would have created a plethora of problems. Especially troublesome to the outside authorities was the Ghetto Administration's method of acquisition in obtaining contracts. Hans Bieblow as head of the City Council began considering the impending closure and loss of his authority with hectic applications for contracts at the Reichszeugmeisterei (Army Quartermaster) and various other departments of the Wehrmacht. Only when the leadership of the regional council were replaced and the mayor after angry protests from the Reich Interior Ministry was dismissed, and Himmler himself had been appointed Minister of the Interior, could the Reichsstatthalter (Reich Governor) decisively intervene in the history of the ghetto. It was only a question of whether Greiser and Himmler would pursue the same strategy.

Just at that this point they did not agree. Himmler initially favoured the relocation of labour ghettos into the district of Lublin, and Police Leader Globocnik who was stationed there suggested that the labour camp for Jews be opened in Ponitowa, not without complaining about Biebow's recent successes in obtaining military contracts for the Ghetto factories in Litzmannstadt. In the fall of 1943 Himmler examined the question of whether it would be worthwhile to convert the Litzmannstadt ghetto into a concentration camp. This strategy would face both Greiser and the city administration still with the problem that the General Government would not be judenfrei ("free of Jews") and the municipality still faced all transport and infrastructure problems with an existence of a KZ.  At years end the ghetto had been subjected by an economic and financial structural assessment by experts of the SS Economic and Administrative Main Office, and seemed to have finally found a way out. When Himmler was staying on the 12 and 13 February 1944 in Posen, he had to take note that neither Greiser nor his own experts were exited to convert the Ghetto into a concentration camp. What he read in the memorandum in parts was: "The ghetto enterprises are inefficient, the average output per work day and work force is minimal and the accruing profits only translucent gains(Scheingewinne). [...] the acquisition and continuation of the ghetto factories by means of the SS Economic Main Office (Osti) could be justified only in view of the tense situation in our war economy.  With personal commitments on all levels,  management and officers, the acquisition of the ghetto factories is still a considerable financial risk. "
Inside the Gas Van
Greiser and Himmler agreed quickly now. The surviving Jews were to be gradually returned to the death camp at Chelmno after their work assignments expired. In early April men of a new established Sonderkommando came back into the village. The domain house had been blasted, was a ruin and no longer of any use, the fence around the castle building had not been rebuilt. Shortly after, the first officers of the Polizeibattalion  met from Litzmannstadft as guards, and three members of the "exhumation command" from the Gestapo headquarters in Hohensalza who had emptied in the meantime within the administrative districts the execution pits had also been seconded to Chelmno. As the previously routine running of the estate functions were no longer feasible, it was decided with the help of Polish prisoners to build two wooden barracks in the adjoining woods, one of which replicated the function of the basement floor at the farmhouse. In one of the barracks, the men undressed and were then hurried up the aisle on a ramp. Then the gas vans drove them a short distance on a rough road between cut and uprooted trees to the pits, where there were still two masonry earth ovens. The charred bones were not crushed any more, but broken up with flails on a concrete foundation. The remains and ashes were dumped at night into the river Ner.

These are the last Jews who worked for the Gestapo in Chelmno, which is situated between Dabie and Kolo. These are the last days of our lives so we give a signal maybe there still will be relatives or acquaintances of these persons. So you shall know all Jews who were sent away from Litzmannstadt (Lodz) were killed in a very cruel manner. They were tortured and burnt goodbye if you survive you must take revenge.
The usable clothes were returned to the village. On the farm-yard a large tent had been erected, in which a Jewish work commando examined the clothing for valuables. Then they were [the clothing sic], as before sent to the Litzmannstadt Ghetto Administration, after they had been disinfected at the farm in a van. Non-reusable textiles were pulled through a mechanical shredder and packed in bags, which were later also utilised by the Ghetto Administration. The Jewish work detail was locked up after a days work into the still intact storehouse on the court yard premises.  As the water mill in Schöntal (Zawadki) was also demolished, the last assembly point for the victims was the Catholic Church at Kulmhof.  Some of the Jews were directly sent from the Litzmannstadt (Lodz) ghetto to the forest. A total of ten transports between  23 June to 14 July 1944 with 7176 Jews from Lodz had been sent there for extermination. Some victims at the forest camp, were induced to write postcards to their relatives in the ghetto, telling them where they were, they had already arrived in a city in the Reich area, and  doing well. Then they were shot at the ovens. After the 14th of July, the deportations to Chelmno ceased all together.

On 22 July, the Lodz Gestapo office announced in a meeting with the representatives of Göring's intelligence agency (Forschungsstelle), that a decision had been taken during a discussion a few days prior to immediately disband the Ghetto, because the Jews  "in their larger number in case of unrest would pose too great a risk to the German population in Litzmannstadt ". It was clear that the slow extermination of the last major ghetto like lodz, by Gas Vans in Chelmno was no longer feasible. Obviously, this order had been issued directly by Himmler. [An employee of the ghetto administration said in a telephone conversation on July 29, there was a new situation, because a direct order from the Reich leadership of the SS has now changed everything. sic] In military terms this scenario was not out of thin air, because since the 14th July, the Red Army not only conducted successful battles in Lithuania and Latvia, the attack against the German Army Group North Ukraine was victorious, so that the Vistula River was crossed in several places. On top of that the Security Police in the General Government was made aware immediately when it happened of the popular uprising in Warsaw. In Lodz, the German people found themselves in trouble(Unruhe). On the day of the beginning of the uprising in Warsaw on 1 August in 1944, the Jewish elders were instructed to start again with the transport lists of Jews to be "re-settled". Between 3 and 29 August 1944 about 67 000 people were deported to Auschwitz.
While the last deportation to Auschwitz were done in a great hurry and to a lesser extent into a makeshift camp at Königs-Wusterhausen near Berlin, there was no bustling activity at Kulmhof for the apparent closure of the camp. The demolition of the extermination camp was conducted without any haste. In the six months until the final evacuation of Kulmhof, massgraves were were still opened and the remains burned, the Jewish labour detachment were subsequently killed, so that to the very last about 40 Jews were still alive, who had to search through the belongings of the dead. One of the two furnaces was removed in the course of September, the second field crematorium and the barracks were demolished at the end of 1944. The gas vans were brought to Warthbrücken and then loaded onto the railway. Finally, the tent and shredder were sent to some other location to be used.

Memorial stones to the last victims killed at the Chelmno death camp stand now on an empty field 
 Not until the night of 17 to 18 January 1945, when the Red Army was already on the outskirts Litzmannstadts, it became hectic.  Commander Bothmann ordered his staff to be awaken, as the military situation became precarious with fighting about 60 kilometers from Litzmannstadt. It was decided to liquidate the camp and go to Posen. Before that, however, those Jews living in the brick storage building should be shot. As one member of the Sonderkommando knocked at the door of the brick barn, the Jews were asked to come out in groups of five people at  a time. This worked only for those who were imprisoned on the ground floor. The 20 to 25 Jews on the first floor, refused to leave the building, and as police chief Lenz came up, he was overpowered and dragged their cell. Another policeman was shot dead immediately after he came up with the service weapon of Lenz. Almost at the same time the first floor and the attic began to burn, probably because Bothmann gave orders to use tracer bullets to shoot through the windows, but none of the Jews left the building. The bodies of the two policeman were taken into the hallway of the burning house and left there. After that Bothmann and his staff drove to Posen. [The fate of the remaining Jews is not recorded,  the Soviet Red Army entered the city on 18 January 1945. According to Marshal Katukov, whose forces participated in the operation, the Germans retreated so suddenly that they had no time to evacuate or destroy the Łódź (Litzmannstadt) factories, as they did in other cities. In time, Łódź became part of the People's Republic of Poland.sic]
Mordechai Zurawski testified:
“On the night of 17 January 1945 , the doors to the room in the Granary where about 20 Jews slept were opened; the rest slept upstairs above this room. Two SS –men entered, Lenz and Haase, shining their electric flashlights, and they ordered us to leave in fives. After the first five went out, we heard five shots, we were sure they were killed and so when another five were called, nobody wanted to go. So the SS-men forced them out, and again we heard five shots. I was supposed to go with the third group of five, that’s when I grabbed a knife that I had hidden and I knocked the flashlight out of Lenz’s hand. I started running away waving the knife to the right to the left. The closest SS-man hit me on my left leg with the butt of a gun, but I kept on running. They started shooting at me from all sides, I was shot in the right leg, but finally managed to get away. After I ran for about three kilometers, I noticed the building we lived in was on fire. Apparently the SS-men set it on fire. I also heard single shots – they shot at those jumping out of the flames, which I learnt about later”.
Walter Piller testified:
“So the prison remained in the palace courtyard in Chelmno with 40-45 Jewish workers. First the lower cell was opened to shoot those 20-25 Jews in front of the prison building. Every few minutes Lenz led five Jews outside at a time – then Bothmann, Lenz and I killed them with a shot to the back of the head. -While the third group was coming out of the prison, one of the Jews escaped – he was a cook and all I know is that his first name is Maks (Mordechai Maks Zurawski).Despite the chase taken up by Bothmann, an SS-member and four officers of the reserve forces, Maks managed to escape. In the guardhouse I informed all the gendarmerie posts, via telephone about the search, but he was not caught.  Before Bothmann and the five other men started the chase, he ordered me to take care of the rest of the labour unit with a shot to the back of the head. Lenz brought out the remaining five from the lower cell. They were killed by Lenz and myself. But there were still the 20 craftsmen left in the upper cell. Without my order, Lenz took a certain Wachtmeister Schupo to the upper cell so that five Jews could be removed and shot in the same way as with the lower cell.As soon as Lenz opened the cell door, four Jews threw themselves at him and pulled him into the cell. Then they took his pistol away and opened fire at two Wachtmeisters standing by the door. The door on the ground floor was locked only after Bothmann had returned from the unsuccessful search for the escapee and had given the order to do so.
After Bothmann, Hafele and I called out several times for them to release Lenz and leave the cell in groups of five, the answer was the firing of the pistol taken away from Lenz. Then one of the Jews called out that Lenz had hung himself. We could not check it out because the prisoners set fire to the prison and the flames were coming out of the roof. The fire spread twice as fast, because above the upper cell, wood was being dried to run the cars.
Bothmann decided to let the prison burn down completely, despite the fact that Lenz was still inside. Judging by the fire, Lenz was no longer alive. The killed Jews lying in front of the prison were also carried into the burning building and abandoned to the flames”. 

When in a small village of fewer than 300 inhabitants suddenly 120-130 uniformed men appeared to kill "on duty" during a period of 28 months over 150 000 people, this had a major impact on its residents. It began with the billeting of the officers in the various houses and it continued with the search for Polish kitchen staff and maids, and all at once they learned of the murderous service life of these men. The security police officers spoke openly of mass murder, which they guarded, and their slogan: "One day-one thousand victims" was well known. The eight working Poles from the Poznań (Posen) prison, who according to the official sequence, were on the third level in the hierarchy after Gestapo officers  involved in the disposal of the dead, were well known among the employed women in the kitchens by name. With them they were talking in their own language and learned numerous details, such as the accident on the ramp, where one of their own had fallen into the gas vehicle with  the Jews and suffocated. [ The Escapee Szlamek gives a different version of events: 
["Between the victims of this day, Jews from Izbica, was also a German civilian, one of the cooks at the Schloss. He had tried to catch a Jew who had managed to steal something from the kitchen. Following the thief, he had entered the van. At the very moment the doors had clanged shut. His shouting and knocking had been ignored. Some of us thought he had been deliberately poisoned so that no witness of this killing should remain alive".sic]
  The Polish women received occasional gifts from them, such as fabrics and hosiery. [The responsible investigative judge of the District Court of Lodz, Waldyslav Bednarz questioned on site in June 1945 Polish and German inhabitants that still lived there. These results were not only used in the cases against those in Poland accused before the court related parties, such as Arthur Greiser, Hermann Gielow, Walter Piller, and others, they were also evidence in the process and preparations against Wilhelm Koppe, as well as against eleven other defendants in the Federal Republic of Germany. The coroner released a year later, his findings: "The Extermination Camp at Chelmno on the Ner". In: Warszawa  1946 ZStL. 203 AR-Z 69/59, BArch Ludwigsburg.sic] 

Chelmno 1941
The Polish men, such as the mill owners Zawadki, or the former estate steward of Powiercie, the former Rangers and small farmers were constantly dealing with the perpetrators . Their living environment was now to encounter screaming policemen with a columns of Jews who were on their way to the mill. The gas vans that drove  through the village they called  "hell vehicles" (Höllenautos) which went in the same direction for months. The transport trucks arriving with the Jews were visible from the entrance of the farm-yard, they tried to avoid contact, but had to repeatedly perform services for the offenders. They had to fill sacks of straw, collect twigs and coarse wood, to grow and sell vegetables, which was picked up by the Jews, who could not do any major steps with their leg irons. Almost all villagers remembered that the commando members tried to stop any type of daily activity by 1400 hours. Some of them had then the day off. Their leisure time of these well-salaried men were often spent with ethnic German women who lived in the area. They drove together to the cinema at Warthbrücken or walked on the banks of the river Ner. Occasionally they went to the Lodz Ghetto Administration for essential shopping. The commandant, SS Captain Hans Bothmann, who replaced the founder of the camp, Herbert Lange, in April 1942, was  not a very strict superior. Unlike Lange, who would always control everyone and everything,  Bothmann in his leadership role would delegate and gladly relied on the reliability of his men. He and the canteen manager Erwin Schmidt were repeatedly received after hours as welcome guests by the German administrator of the estate Powiercie, Otto Heckner, his wife and his sister, and small objects of value were left behind for the hospitality received, the manager received bed sheets and blankets for distribution to ethnic German living in the district.  When the former Polish estate steward asked Bothmann, why there was such an awful smell from the direction of the wood,  out of precaution he lied and told him  that he suspected a soap factory was being built there. The German forester Heinrich May not only learned of the crime scene but was familiar with the men of the commando and their boasting. He was called in the spring of 1942 to the Reich Government in Poznan(Posen), where he was engaged in talks with Herbert Mehlhorn to maintain a fastidious cover of the woodlands. In view of the corpses, Mehlhorn said that it was necessary if need be to point out that were "murdered Ethnic German People(Volksdeutsche) by the Poles", when the mass murder could no longer be concealed.

SS and Polish Workers in the Palace Courtyard
The activities at Chelmno was not only known throughout the county, with the publication by the underground Polish Resistance Press foreign countries had been asked to take actions. On January 19, 1942 the prisoner Szlamek Bejler working with the Waldkommando took advantage of an absent-minded guard and successfully escaped apparently from a bus that took them to the pits, while on the run he first went to a village. He was taken to be an Ethnic German because he didn’t wear a star. He looked rough, having had no opportunity in Chelmno to wash and shave. He went to a rabbi, [Jakub Szulman,sic] and informed the rabbi in the settlement of Grabow of the mass murder. He then fled further to the Warsaw Ghetto, where he gave an associate of the underground archives, Hersz Wasser, a detailed report on his work. The Jewish and Polish underground press reported repeatedly since then the events in western Poland, plus the reports of a Jewish Gestapo informant about the mood in the ghetto that the Jews were deported from Lodz(Litzmannstadt) and killed  by poison gas. The Wehrmacht officer Wilm Hosenfeld confided these events also in his diary and in letters.
Maybe "Szlamek" whose true identity is not clearly established and did not survive the Holocaust, but was the man who did his share in spreading the news about mass murder in the small village of Chelmno.  Hersz Wasser wrote a little later in the press of the Polish underground about the murder in gas vans. The material was used on 30 April 1942 in the conspiracy newspaper Biultyn Informcyjny.
This was the basis for the article in the New York Times on July 2, 1942
Sources: a) Reports of a "Jewish Informer" in the Warsaw ghetto at Yad Vashem Studies, pages 217-293
                b) Wilm Hosenfeld, "I'm trying to save everybody." The life of a German officer in letters and diaries. Published by Thomas Vogel, Munich 2004, Page 626
                c) The article (Jews) published by Andrzej Kunert, Warzawa 2006, pages 200-204

Postcard informing of the death of Szlamek, send by his relatives in Zamosc, April 24, 1942   

Postcard informing of the death of Szlamek, sent by his relatives in Zamosc, April 24, 1942 reverse side 
The Polish Supreme People's Court opened on 21 June 1946 the proceedings against Arthur Greiser in Poznan(Posen). The trial lasted 14 days, Greiser was condemned because of his direct responsibility for the extermination camp at Chelmno and sentenced to death on July 9th.  He was hanged in public on July 21st 1946.
 On a sunny Sunday morning in July 1946, the public hanging of Arthur Greiser took place. From dawn onwards, 15 000 Poles streamed towards the grounds of the citadel, a fortress reduced to rubble in recent German-Russian fighting for the city. Shortly before 7 a.m. a small covered truck threaded rather quickly its way through the throng. A tall man dressed in a suit emerged. Escorted by two guards, he mounted the gallows that had been specially erected for the execution. On the scaffold, hands tied behind his back and blindfolded, he mumbled prayers, but otherwise showed no emotion. In his last moments, he offered no defiant slogans, no pleas for forgiveness, and no words of justification. Right on schedule, the executioner, clad in black save for white gloves, set about his grim task. Quickly and efficiently, he slung the noose around the condemned man's neck. He then sprang the wooden trap beneath the man's feet. The man dangled in the air, his head dropped onto his chest, and he was soon dead. All the while the crowd watched in intent silence. At 7.20, the corpse was taken down and placed in a coffin. The hangman took off his white gloves and tossed them away in a grand gesture of disgust. 
View video:   [This was the last public hanging that took place in Poland, as Church  and Public Leaders strongly objected to the circus like atmosphere that usually prevailed during this type of hanging, which was  the so called short drop, by means of slow strangulation rather then the breaking of the neck, which occurs during the long drop. Hanging with little or no drop may cause death by strangulation (asphyxia) due to the weight of the person's body on the noose, causing it to tighten, so constricting the trachea (air passage). In this case the condemned typically exhibit signs of physical struggling for some time after suspension, 1-3 minutes being normal. An intended show for the assembled crowd. There is then often a quiescent phase before what can be described as the convulsive phase which is thought occurs after consciousness has been lost.  This does not necessarily indicate consciousness in the second phase. The video is censored, the last camera shot is focused on a still photograph and not during the execution. It is obvious at the beginning of the tape, from Greiser's bandaged head that he had been tortured during interrogation or beaten sic]    

                                                                                                                                    THE END
Der Ort des Terrors, Vol.:8 by C.H. Beck, München 2008
Author German Text: Peter Klein, page 299
Translated from German by:Herbert Stolpmann von Waldeck                                                          

Saturday, July 7, 2012


After the murder of the Jews of the counties Warthbrücken and Turek,  almost at the same time during the year arrived those Gypsies who had come in November of the previous  year as part of the resettlement  (Verschleppung) of 20 000 Jews and 5,000 Gypsies into the Lodz(Litzmannstadt) ghetto. Since the beginning of December there was a raging typhus epidemic in the large hermetically sealed ghetto of the gypsy camp, so the rapid killing of infected individuals served as an alternative, a proven solution for their deaths. They were taken by truck directly to Chelmno. 4300-4400 people fell victim to this mass murder.
Between 16 January and 2 April 1942 over 44 000 Polish Jews were deported from the ghetto who had been forcibly picked by the Jewish self-government (Judenrat) at random. Then another 11 000 left in the period between May 4th to 15th who were predominantly German, Austrian, Czech and Luxembourgian Jews of the ghetto in the direction of Chelmno. This was more than half of the 20 000 people deported in fall of 1941. They were moved by a rail-way-spur system within the ghetto towards Warthbrücken, from there they went by a narrow gauge railway (Kleinbahn) to the terminus at Arnsdorf (Powiercie). The Jews then walked about half a mile away to an abandoned water mill of the hamlet Schöntal (Zawaki), where they spent in most cases  one night. The next morning they were picked up by trucks of the Sonderkommando, and counted in a way that the "human cargo"  fitted exactly into a gas-van.

Announcement from Chaim Rumkowski, the "Jewish Elder", on the imminent deportation of Jews to the West from the Litzmannstadt ghetto, 29 April 1942
Rumkowski, the head of the Lodz (Litzmannstadt) Judenrat, was an insurance agent and was not part of the leading circles of the Jewish community.  He cooperated fully with the Germans and ran the ghetto in a dictatorial manner.  He has attracted more attention than any other Judenrat leader. In view of some historians, he was a traitor and collaborator. Others believe that his policies helped extend the life span of the Ghetto, which remained in existence when all other ghettos in Poland had been liquidated. Those who hold the latter opinion point out that the 5,000 to 7,000 survivors of the Lodz ghetto constituted, in relative terms, the largest among all the groups of Holocaust survivors in Poland.  Fate was not kind to Rumkowski. When the last of the Jews were to be deported from Lodz, he was the victim of a cruel hoax by his German friends. He was told by Hans Biebow, the head of the German administration in Lodz, that he would have to go to a labour camp, but that he would continue to be the head of the Jews, and Biebow gave him a letter to present to the labour camp authorities. Biebow sent him to Auschwitz in a private railroad car with great pomp and circumstance, while the other Jews were crowded into cattle cars. When he got to Auschwitz, he and his family went to the selection point with everyone else. He presented his letter to the Germans, and they made him stand at the side, and he was later driven away in a car straight to the crematorium, rather than going through the gas chambers.  [You can see him in the following video  LITZMANNSTADT,  the language is Polish.sic]

After working as a coffee importer in his hometown of Bremen, Biebow became the overseer of the Lódz (Litzmannstadt) Ghetto. He realised that the Lodz Ghetto could make a profit for the Germans if it were converted into essentially a slave labour complex.
Under his administration, the 164,000 Jews of Poland's second largest city were crammed into a small area of the city. Communication between the Ghetto inhabitants and the outside world was completely cut off and the supply of food was severely limited, ensuring that many of the inhabitants of the Ghetto would slowly starve. Over the course of its existence, the population of the Ghetto swelled to 204,000 with more Jews from Central Europe being sent there. The Ghetto Administration remained in operation from April 1940 until the summer of 1944, but there were transports out of the Ghetto to extermination camps (primarily Auschwitz and Chelmno) beginning at the end of 1941.
Biebow was a ruthless administrator, concerned with the ghetto's productivity and his own personal gain. He was directly responsible for starving the ghetto's population beyond limits of endurance, and he assisted the Gestapo in rounding up Jews during deportations. In the days just before the liberation of Lodz by the Red Army, Biebow ordered large burial pits to be dug in the local cemetery, intending that the Gestapo execute the remaining 877 Jews who served as a clean-up crew in the ghetto. This might have been an attempt by Biebow to eliminate witnesses to his role in the workings of the Ghetto.
Biebow exercised his control in partly through a Jewish administration headed by Mordechai Chaim Rumkowski. Rumkowski believed that the Jews could survive if they produced cheap, essential goods for the Nazis. Biebow profited substantially from the sale of the products of Jewish labour as well as from the seized properties of Jews. He is also said to have provided less food to Ghetto inhabitants than was paid for, pocketing the difference. The Ghetto factories produced products such as boots for German Army and were profitable for the Germans because the Jews, cut off from all resources, worked for wages that consisted only of bread, soup, and other essentials. The German profits from the Jewish factories have been estimated at $14,000,000 and the productivity of the Ghetto was a factor in its comparatively long survival. The inhabitants endured four years of starvation, illness and overcrowding before being sent to the extermination camps of Chelmno and Auschwitz. Of the 204,000 inhabitants, approximately 10,000 survived.
Among the Nazi hierarchy, Biebow was an early exponent of using the Jews as cheap labour rather than killing them, but he readily adapted to the extermination policy. Survivors report his encouraging the last surviving Jews of the Ghetto in the summer of 1944 to board the trains to Auschwitz with a speech that began "My Jews...” and promised them work in the West.
Biebow was able to escape into hiding in Germany in 1945 after the unconditional surrender, but was recognised by a survivor of the ghetto and subsequently arrested in Bremen. After he was extradited by the Allies to Lódz, he stood trial from April 23 to April 30, 1947. He was found guilty on all counts and executed by hanging.

Around the same time in the spring of 1942, the so-called most open areas in the Jewish Regional Council Hohensalza were cleared. This required that the on-site mobile command was sent from Kulmdorf as reinforcement for the officers of the local police station. But only with the arrival of the clean-up squad of the urban ghetto of Lodz the necessary administrative personnel was at full strength. They worked quickly and systematicly: The Jews were forced to congregate in a central square, mainly at the Catholic Church. Subsequently the Ghetto Administration together with the Sonderkommando selected all persons who were classified as fit for work and  then transported them to Lodz. All people assessed as disabled or unfit for work were taken by truck or rail transport via Warthbrücken and deported to Chelmno. Afterwards, the Lodz Ghetto Administration took care of the removal of all recyclable and usable materials and entered debtors or creditors of the dissolved ghettos over to themselves as its Legal Successor. The entire household goods of the Jews that was still usable and auctioned off under the supervision of the local commissioners and mayors office. Any amounts of profit received was transferred to the Ghetto Administration of Lodz. How many people from the rural ghettos of the Government Praesidium Hohensalza were murdered, is difficult to determine. On that date and time, many Jews worked outside the ghetto in labour camps in various private and municipal facilities, such as country estates, water works operated by authorities or companies that were involved in the construction of the autobahn. According to statistical data, however, the Department of Jewish Self-Government in the Lodz ghetto, shows in April 1942, only eight Jewish people came from the Warthegau into the ghetto.
Immediately after the conclusion of transports of non-Polish Jews from Lodz to Chelmno,  began the deportations from the ghettos of the same county  administrative district. Government Statistics from President Frederick Uebelhoer show at the cut-off date May 1st 1942, altogether 36 211 Jews lived outside the greater ghetto Lodz, these were districts of Lask, Lentschütz, Schieratz and Welungen and the city of Kalisch (Kalsz). Between May and August 1942 all the ghettos of these counties were forcibly closed, although statistical figures were maintained, only 105 487 Jews are mentioned on the 1st September living in the metropolitan Ghetto. Between May and August 1942, there arrived 14 441 selected Jews  in the Lodz ghetto. Whether 21 770 Jewish people were murdered in Chelmno, is in question as well as those  in the case of Hohensalza, because here again was an unknown number of Jewish workers already confined in labour camps and living in barracks outside civil jurisdiction and not included in the count.

SS men stand over murdered Jews in Chelmno
Even if it is difficult to reconstruct the partially estimated, in part, highly detailed information, of the total of victims that perished in the extermination camp of Chelmno,  a very plausible number of murders can be almost accurately be established: On 28 April 1943 namely from the statistician Richard Korher who delivered to Himmler a 16-page report titled "the Final Solution of the Jewish question in Europe" . This indicated there was in total 1,274,166 Jews murdered in camps of "Aktion Reinhardt" within the General Government, which has been verified in the meantime, as well as the number of Jews residing in the Lodz Ghetto as at January 15, 1943, which also coincides exactly with other statical data , it shows clearly that this report can be considered as a valid source as to the murders in Chelmno. In this report, 145 301 Jews were counted that had been "sifted through the camps Warthehau". However, since Russian POWs, Polish nuns and probably the children of the Bohemian village of Lidice had also been murdered there, plus non-Jewish murder victim of an unknown number should be taken into account.
Gauleiter Arthur Greiser made an approach to Himmler after the announcement of an imminent arrival of 20 000 Jews and 5000 Sinti and Roma from Burgenland[Austria,sic] that two of his senior officials in the Reich Government should be appointed and made responsible to organise all that was necessary prior to the onset of mass murder.  Although Wilhelm Koppe of the HSSPF still had personal jurisdiction over the Police of Kulmhof for safety and order, but the overall financial and organisational aspects of the regional "Final Solution" was held under the direction and conducted by SS-Oberführer Herbert Mehlhorn in Division I within the Reich Government. This is particularly evident on the basis of a memo, written by the local head of Göring's eavesdropping organisation, on 9 December 1941. He[Göring,sic] learned from a conversation that took place a few days earlier, between the Government President Uebelhoer and the Litzmannstadt Gestapo Leader Schefe, that the sick of the ghetto would be removed on the orders of the Gauleiter only, which is and was a civil administration.  As Schefe inquired whether Berlin knew about it, 'they answered evasively'. This discussion on December 5, 1941, shows that the Gestapo can not be considered to act as the dominant player in the planning of mass murder. Thus, these remarkable findings deepened with the restructuring of financial responsibility. An essential prerequisite for the permanent use of the death camp was the practice of mass murder by car/truck exhaust fumes and the development of a division of a labour force, the financing of property and recompense personnel costs.  This was no longer in the hands of HSSPF or the Security Police, but was solely controlled by Mehlhorn's Division I.
 The Head of Unit I/13 Budget and Accounting, was a quiet and efficient official of the Reich District of Sudetenland named Frederick Häusler, together with a colleague on February 5, 1942 they appeared at the office of the Litzmannstadt Ghetto Administration: "Both men appeared on behalf of Oberführer(Full Colonel) Mehlhorn to get an overview of the financial situation of the ghetto. They tried to lead negotiations on the establishment of a special central bank account, which should meet all levels of costs concerning the Evacuation Measures taking place in the Warthegau".

Arthur Greiser
Fort Winiary where Greiser was executed
Greiser publicly hanged
On 28 February 1942 a Special Account No.: 12300 was set up at the Litzmannstadt City Savings Bank. The first recorded entry is made at that date. There is no balance shown, yet the first transaction was a cash payment to SS Sergeant Behm of the Sonderkommando,  and two days later an amount of RM(Reichsmark) 139,351.50 was deposited in cash. Between the first and last account entry of 15 February 1944, before being treated as re-opening of the extermination camp, consisted of 486 Bank Statements on which 1791 transaction are recorded. All these entries, including interest rate and reinvestment credits resulted from the "Final Solution of the Jewish Problem" by means of extermination and forced labour outside the ghetto boundaries of Litzmannstadt.
Following examples are intended to illustrate the typical operating method of financial accountability: All security and regularity police officers of the Sonderkommando received in addition to their normal pay on a daily basis a wage  envelope to the amount of 12 to 20 Reichsmark. There were other expenses for meals for the men, so that at the Kulmhof Administration always larger sums of cash adjustments were made. This money was picked up repeatedly by individual members of the Sonderkommando from the Litzmannstadt Ghetto Administration. They obtained either mostly cash amounting to 50 000 RM or received a cashier's check, which was immediately drawn at the local town bank. In the course of 1942 the Ghetto Administration had paid out a total of 680 000 RM. Fourteen times appeared the names Behm, Bürstinger, Neumann, Otto and Plate in the accounting for amounts of RM 30 000, on one occasion to pick up 100 000 RM. The members of the Municipal Evacuation Staff were also paid in cash as an extra allowance in addition to their salary.
Also, all non-personnel costs for the operation of the extermination camp were financed from this Special Account. Cement, chloride of lime, disinfectant, or waste oil were repeatedly ordered on demand by Kulmhof from the Ghetto Administration and picked up by the Sonderkommando. Ultimately it also included the constant supply of liquor and cigarettes for the  murderers as a running cost.[It is not clear if inmates assisting in the disposal of the dead received alcohol and cigarettes,sic]
Cash deposits came of course directly from Chelmno, where the Jewish castle commando had to search through the clothes and bags of the victims. Between February 28 and 31 December 1942, a total of 21 entries totalling  1.9 million Reichsmarks were made, also deliveries of foreign exchange and gold currencies were made and then sent by the Ghetto Administration to the Reichsbank in Berlin. A little later the Reichsmark-Credit-System came into use for the special account.
Jews forced to sort confiscated goods
In view of ghetto closures, homes of the Jews were searched, ovens were taken apart and floorboards ripped out. Not that it made any difference to the Jews at assembly points shortly before their selection, they too were "relieved" of their money and valuables. In this way until the end of 1942 almost 460 000 RM were stolen, and from the Jews at Lask the amount of 71 748 RM was so high that it was mentioned in the monthly report of the Lodz(Litzmannstadt) Gestapo office. Individual receipts from the ravaged land of 19 village ghettos also show that some weeks and  months after the deportation of the Jews, money and jewellery was still found. The cash amounts were immediately credited to the Special Account, the jewellery went to the Litzmannstadt Ghetto Administration and sold on the open market.
The lack of storage capacity on the castle grounds for luggage and textiles required in the spring of 1942, the first funded investment through the special account. Because they feared the self-ignition of clothing, the ghetto administration purchased a disused factory in the village of  Pabinice outside the city limits of  Litzmannstadt, as a branch warehouse. Here, the researching and recovery of garments were outsourced from the courtyard. The location was chosen because of its proximity to the large ghetto, where reusable material was transferred to. In addition, there was a greater disinfection plant used by Volksdeutsche(ethnic Germans) who would in turn send wearable clothing and bedding material to the appropriate NS-Wohlfat [a Nazi Welfare Organisation.sic]
The scope of this vast accumulation of "wealth" from deported and murdered Jews, with the amount of inventory work involved, can be seen from a letter written by a staff member of the Country's Economy Office in Poznań (Posen) barely two weeks after the opening of the camp on 18 May 1942. The Department was advised to expect 900 truckloads from Camp Chelmno (Kulmhof), which would require a higher allocation of diesel fuel. The financial transactions of reclaimed and found material from the victims at the camp, which an accounting staff member of the Ghetto Administration once dubbed and entered it mischievously  as "Factory-Kulmhof--Pabianice" was also huge. Between 22 May 1942 and February 1943, they made 67 entries for a total of 1,076,689.44 Reichsmark and 11,719.00 U.S. dollars into the accounts of the Ghetto Administration. The uncounted coins were sent in 93 bags in the summer of 1942.  Again,  gold currencies had been found: 4480 Rubles, 1525 Goldmark, 1451 Gold Dollars, which were handed over to the Reichsbank.
 It is clear that the control over such an important account, the responsibility of the regional planning for the Holocaust lies with the highest level of the NS-Leadership . Häusler and his superior Mehlhorn received duplicates of the bank statements, which was sent to them in Posen, so they were always informed about the current account balances. While the staff of the Reich Government could direct the Accounting Department of the Ghetto Administration to spend certain amounts, this was not possible for the staff of the Security Police. Some examples show very well that even the HSSPF Wilhelm Koppe could suggest payouts to the benefit of the Gestapo, but this was not automatic and he did not have direct excess. His requests to that effect had to be approved by Greiser.  When in the course of 1942,  the Inland Revenue Department came to the Litzmannstadt Gestapo office, because there was a Jewish person deported as a debtor, the clerk had to present management of the Ghetto Administration the complaint and then ordered the payment of the outstanding amount. Gauleiter Greise personally put his hand into the till. He requested on 17 February 1943 an amount of 4 million Reichsmarks[a considerable sum at that time.sic] to fund one of his reptile projects. With this transaction, (concealed) in favour of Greiser, the account balance temporarily had dwindled to RM 8000. But the special account was always replenished with the proceeds from the auctions of the Jewish households and the wage share of those Jews who were being exploited in the labour camps(Arbeitslager). In this way it retained even after the closure of Kulmhof a high positive balance.
SS-Obergruppenführer(SS-General) Wilhelm Koppe salutes SS and German police troops 
He also held the position of state secretary on the issues of security (Staatssekretär für das Sicherheitswesen) in the General Government, and was involved in the operations of Chelmno extermination camp and Warsaw concentration camp as well as operations against the Polish resistance. He organised the execution of more than 30,000 Polish patients suffering from tuberculosis, and ordered that all male relatives of identified resistance fighters should be executed, and the rest of their family sent to concentration camps.
The Polish Secret State ordered his death, but an assassination attempt failed. He was wounded by the Kedyw unit - Batalion Parasol in "Operation Koppe" (Akcja Koppe) part of "Operation Heads" on 11 July 1944 in Kraków(Krakau).
With the Eastern Front approaching Poland, Koppe ordered all prisoners to be executed rather than freed by the Soviets.
In 1945 Koppe went underground and assumed an alias (Lohmann, his wife's surname) and became a director of a chocolate factory in Bonn, Germany. In 1960 he was arrested but released on bail on 19 April 1962. His trial opened in 1964 in Bonn. He was accused of being accessory to the mass murder of 145,000 people. The trial was adjourned due to Koppe's ill health and in 1966 the Bonn court decided not to prosecute and Koppe was released for medical reasons. The German government refused a Polish request for extradition. Koppe died in 1975 in Bonn.

Continued under part 3