Tadeusz Paczuła, 1920–2000, physician, soldier in the Polish Army, Auschwitz-Birkenau survivor (prisoner No. 7725). Fought as an infantry soldier in the Second World War, first in the 1939 defensive war, and then in the operations of Polish II Corps (Polish: Drugi Korpus Wojska Polskiego). Testified as a witness in several trials of Nazi German war criminals and published a number of studies related to the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp.
The Schreibstube (main administrative office) of the Häftlingskrankenbau or HKB (prisoners’ hospital) in Auschwitz I was located in Block 21; initially in one room and later in two, opposite the office of the SS camp doctor (Lagerarzt).This office, which in 1942 grew into a huge administrative machine, had one of the two telephone lines in the camp (the other was in the Kommandanturarrest, the camp prison in Block 11). The telephone of the prisoners’ hospital was connected with the SS hospital and the office of the SS Standortarzt, that is the SS garrison doctor. In 1942, the prisoners’ hospital was equipped with seven typewriters, large office filing cabinets, tables for the clerks, and shelves, as well as tables holding the files with the records of all the male prisoners: political (Schutzhäftlinge),1 labour re-education (Erziehungshäftlinge2), R oloma (Zigeuner-Häftlinge3) and Soviet POWs (Russische Kriegsgefangene).
|series A||approx. 20,000 political|
|series B||approx. 20,000 political|
|approx. 10,000 re-education|
|approx. 10,000 Roma|
|approx. 13,600 Soviet POWs|
All of the numbered prisoners had their file cards stored in the prisoners’ hospital. Their records included personal data and their Einlieferungsbefund, that is their state of health upon arrival in Auschwitz. In the first years of the camp’s existence, each prisoner had a four-page Fragebogen (questionnaire) with his detailed personal data and criminal record, especially convictions.
With time, questionnaires were filled up only for “Aryan” inmates, and later these documents were withdrawn altogether.The file cards and questionnaires were the basis for the issue of all further records made for particular prisoners. The information on them would be supplemented with appropriate entries or stamps to document everything that happened to a particular prisoner.
The Kartothek or prisoners’ card record was arranged in numerical order, which was the only way the records for all of the prisoners in camp could be managed. Alphabetical file cards were full of erroneous data, and the clerks who kept them had trouble with identifying a prisoner, especially after his death.
For example, the surname “Frydman” might have been registered as “Fridman” or “Friedmann” with one or two n’s, so the different spelling could have led to chaos, and in fact that’s what happened in the camp’s other units, which kept an alphabetical card record.
A prisoner’s camp number stuck to him like a galley slave’s stigma: it was his main and only identification mark. His personal data were merely of secondary importance, referred to only to remove any doubts as to the prisoner’s identity or in the camp authorities’ external correspondence.
Artwork by Marian Kołodziej. Photo by Piotr Markowski. Click to enlarge.
Moreover, the prisoners’ hospital issued death records for all the numbered male prisoners and POWs in Auschwitz, including those in all of its sub-camps.
Prisoners’ death records were drawn up according to the following flowchart:
1. If the SS doctor selected a prisoner for death by phenol jab or in the gas chamber, that prisoner was as good as dead already. A prisoner could die while working in his commando, which was considered a “death of natural causes,” or suddenly as a result of an “accident,” or he could be shot in an attempt to escape. Sometimes this last category of death could be involuntary on the prisoner’s part, since SS men were given leave for shooting a prisoner during an escape. So they were out for victims: first they forced inmates to cross the line of sentries and then shot them.
A prisoner could die in his barrack or in the roll call square, or in the bunker of Block 11; he could die of natural causes or he could be executed, hanged or shot. Or he could be killed by a disease in the hospital, or by phenol injection into the heart, or he could be sent to the gas chamber. Practically every kind of death was to be classified as “death of natural causes.” There were just two exceptions: a) suicide, and b) being shot during an attempt to escape. Yet, even the records of “unnatural” demise could be faked: many prisoners were forced to commit suicide, and many of those “shot during an escape attempt” were in fact the quarry hunted down by SS men who wanted to have an extra holiday.
2. A prisoner’s death was reported by the issue of a Totenmeldung (death record). This surrogate death certificate was drawn up by the clerk of the barrack where a given prisoner lived and signed by the prisoner’s block elder (Blockältester) and Blockführer, i.e. an SS functionary.4 Death records drawn up in the hospital were signed by the SS orderly (SDG, (Sanitäts-Dienst-Grad). A Totenmeldung had to be issued for every death in an accident. However, death certificates were not issued for those who were selected for the gas chambers, or those who were killed during mass exterminations and executions; these deaths were only registered on collective lists.
3. On receiving a Todesmeldung,5 the clerk of the prisoner’s hospital had to take out the prisoner’s card and questionnaire and put the following stamp on it: “Verstorben am … um … Uhr … Todesursache: …” (Died on … at …. hour … Cause of death:…) and enter the date, hour and cause of death. Deaths were entered in the Totenbuch (register of deaths). There were separate registers for Soviet POWs and for other inmates. I was in charge of the registers for two years and made 130,000 entries for the deaths of numbered male prisoners. The Totenmeldung and the prisoner’s file cards were stapled together and passed on to a typist, who issued the prisoner’s death records.
4. Death records consisted of the following documents:
a) Eight copies of the Todesmeldung were made and sent to the Rapportführer (report leader), Arbeitseinsatz (labour assignment), Politische Abteilung (the political department), Kommandantur (the commandant’s office), the Effektenkammer (prisoners’ personal property store), the Bekleidungskammer (clothes storage facility), the Postzensurstelle (postal censor’s office), and the eighth copy was put in the hospital records.
b) A Kommandanturbericht (commandant’s report) with all the deceased’s personal data was made in three or four copies.
c) A medical report (Ärztlicher Bericht) was made in three or four copies, with a detailed description of the prisoner’s disease, its duration, treatment, as well as the cause and circumstances of his death. All the data in the medical reports was fabricated from start to finish, and the hospital clerks on the Totenbuch were so well-trained that they knew it off by heart and “ordered” medical histories for similar causes of death by the batch from their colleagues, the clerks who issued the medical reports. In order to facilitate their work, one clerk would ask for 50 cardiac causes of death, another for 50 kidney diseasese, a third for 50 pulmonary diseases, and a fourth for “diarrhoeal” cases, depending on how well they had mastered particular causes of death.6 Consequently, the causes of death entered on the file cards were entirely fabricated. Additionally, often the date and hour of death was phoney, especially when a huge number of inmates died almost at the same time, and it took several days to issue their death records.
d) A medical certificate (Ärztliche Bescheinigung) made in three or four copies, containing the prisoner’s personal data but without his camp number and cause of death.
e) A death certificate for the Civil Registrar (Todesbescheinigung für das Standesamt) a document containing the inmate’s civilian data without his prison number; as its contents indicated, it was not issued by the camp authorities, but by the civil registry office. It was a ready-made questionnaire filled in with the prisoner’s typewritten personal data. The camp’s Political Department7 performed the duties of a civil registry office.
For sudden deaths by causes not classified as natural, i.e. suicide or during an escape attempt, additional documents had to be issued:
f) A Leichenschau, i.e. a medical certificate following a doctor’s examination of the body, made in six copies.
g) A Sektionsbericht (a post-mortem report) made in six copies; this was a completely fabricated document, because no post-mortems were ever done on the bodies of prisoners who had been shot or hanged.
Each document was signed by a Lagerarzt. Imagine a day with, for example, 600 deaths and the need to issue documents for them, which was still within the office’s capacity. I can remember days on which we managed to issue documents for up to 1,100 deaths. For each and every inmate who died of “natural causes” we were obliged to produce documents with 21 signatures, and with 33 signatures for those who died “unnaturally.” So the total number of signatures per Lagerarzt went into the thousands, and you could hardly see the SS doctors from behind the piles of paper stacked on the desks in their office.
Obviously, the segregation of the documents which had been signed and their despatch were extremely burdensome, let alone their issue. There was a time when our office had nine typewriters, and the clerks were forced to work day and night shifts. Despite their extensive routine and developed descriptive patterns, they could not keep abreast with the work to issue all those death records.
True enough, in 1944 there were days when only two of the numbered prisoners died and mortality was very low, but 1942 and 1943 things were so hectic that the office worked like mad. We filled up dozens of death registers. If these books had been preserved, they would have offered invaluable material for the determination of who died when, and by what kind of death. For the deaths “of natural causes,” I added extra little marks which I think would have allowed a future reader to define whether a given prisoner was shot, gassed or “jabbed.” Unfortunately, these death registries have still not been found: they could have been burnt by the camp authorities before Auschwitz was closed down.8
If a prisoner was transferred to another camp or released, his file card was provided with an appropriate stamp, indicating that on such and such a day he was released or transferred to another camp or prison.
The production of the standard death records for prisoners who were gassed, “jabbed” or shot but regiastered as having died of natural causes proceeded in breach of the law and produced bogus documents. The first executions were classified as executions, and no further death records were made, except for a certificate issued by the Political Department or the Schutzhaftlagerführung (Preventive Detention Department) and an appropriate stamp being put on the executed prisoner’s file card on these grounds. We were to write Tod durch Exekution (Death by execution) as the cause of death. However, this procedure was abandoned when the number of executions escalated. After an execution by firing squad, the Rapportführers (report leaders) or the SS-men from the Political Department who had performed it would come to the office with the numbers of those executed, ordering us to put vom Krankenbau abgesetzt (discharged from hospital) in their files, which implied that the executed inmates had been admitted to the camp hospital and had died there, so we had to issue death records9 for them.
Naturally, vom HKB absetzen applied to all those who had been selected for the gas chambers and to be killed by phenol injection, and was irrefutable evidence of violence and fabrication. Forged documents were not the result of an agreement between the camp doctor and the camp’s executive management. It had been arranged at a much higher level, as I learnt. After having consulted Jan Pilecki, (camp No. 808) the prisoner who was the clerk of Block 11, I drew the attention of Dr Entress,10 who was an SS camp doctor at the time, to the fact that he had been signing fabricated documents. Entress looked surprised at my remark, pretending not to understand what I was talking about. But I explained that the Rapportführer and officers from the Political Department often brought in numbers of prisoners in the political category, and sometimes there were Reichsdeutsche among those who had been shot in Block 11 and we were ordered to write vom HKB abgesetzt for them. If these German prisoners happened to have life insurance policies, the whole business could come to light. Entress thought for a while and ordered us to stop issuing such fabricated papers. Asked what should be done with new cases, he told us to keep them on the list of hospital patients. For a few days there were no further instructions. Finally, he ordered us to carry on and keep writing that the “doubtful cases” (die fraglichen) had been discharged from the hospital, explaining that it was an order from above (Befehl von oben11). I don’t suppose the Political Department could have invented this procedure, but it was a useful smokescreen for the camp executive management, which could eliminate anyone at any time, proving to the world at large that it was a death of natural causes.
Apart from its Todesfälle-abteilung (deaths department), the HKB office also ran an admissions department (Aufnahme), where a group of clerks registered each transport of prisoners, issuing file cards and filling in questionnaires. They also made sure that all the file cards of the new arrivals were issued correctly and contained all the necessary data. This duty had to be done precisely and with no errors.
Further, the office also issued Entlassungen, discharge certificates for inmates discharged from the hospital and sent back to their barracks.
It also dealt with correspondence on a running basis and wrote up hospital reports under the auspices of the camp doctor. Prisoners compiled this documentation, including monthly, quarterly and annual reports as well as statistical studies with diagrams and charts, and it was treated as part of the SS garrison doctor’s12 correspondence.
The HKB office also drew up the Stärkemeldung, a daily report giving the number of patients in the hospital. Although this was a fairly easy task, it carried a liability, because a clerk who submitted a false report could be sent to the bunker in Block 11, which in most cases meant his death.
The final report was drawn up by the HKB Rapportschreiber (hospital report clerk) on the basis of the reports sent in from the five hospital blocks. He needed to check these reports very carefully, and if he found errors in the block clerks’ reports he was expected to correct them and present a verified final report.
This report had four entries concerning the number of inmates:
(should be ……… are …..)
kommandiert ……. arrest …
(number ordered to work ….. number in the bunker …)
The top row was the sum of the other three. The third row was for prisoners who were outside the camp (in the SS-hospital) during the roll call. The report was signed by the prisoner who was the report clerk (this job was done by [Jan] Szary, No. 364;13 [Stanisław] Frolik, No. 384; [Tadeusz] Paczuła, No. 7725;14 Dr [Adam] Zacharski, No. 18239;15 [Janusz] Burakiewicz, No. 25392; and [Paweł] Reinke, No. 23478); and the SDG orderly handed it in to the Rapportführer during the roll call.
HKB never submitted a false Stärkemeldung. The roll call and a prisoner’s camp number were “sacrosanct” and unshakeable. That is why after returning from their work commando all prisoners, including those who had been beaten and maltreated, those who were on the verge of death or seriously sick, had to attend, standing or lying down, even if they died during the roll call, and while it went on they could not be provided with any help.
As Polish prisoners began to be appointed to higher-ranking jobs, it became easier to deal with problems that seemed insoluble and had always plagued the camp.
At one point in my “career” as HKB Rapportschreiber, I made an arrangement with a fellow prisoner, Erwin Olszówka (No. 1141), Hermann Diestel’s successor to the post of chief clerk for the whole camp, and Władek Mucha, the clerk of the outpatient clinic in Block 28, that all the inmates who had been assaulted or were sick on their return to the camp from work would immediately be admitted to the hospital, and that we would keep them in the outpatients’ unit for the whole of the roll call, and issue a separate, additional (blue) report showing a supernumerary count of patients in the HKB, while the block leaders would report the missing prisoners on the same type of blue reports. It was troublesome for the hospital runners, the clerks of the prisoner’s barracks and the main reporting clerk Erwin Olszówka, who had to wait patiently for the final report, but this procedure saved many lives. Our innovative idea deserves a mention, especially as it was introduced in the face of tremendous opposition on the part of the SS authorities.
Block 28: Schreibstube-Ambulanz (the office of the outpatient unit)
The administrative office catering for the needs of the entire Block 28, which was an admissions and outpatient unit, kept a register of all the prisoners who wanted to be admitted to the camp’s hospital, and made a record of the resources provided for them, as well as of those who were admitted to the hospital.This office was run by Władysław Mucha, and his assistants, prisoners Rybka, Stańko, Kowalczyk and ślęzak.16 It was also the pre-registration (Arztvormelder) place, where those who wanted to be admitted were given a medical examination and also where selections for a phenol injection were conducted. Located in the outpatient unit, it was separated off by a partition wall. Prisoners were coming and going all the time, so only an efficiently organised medical and administrative service could cope with the masses of inmates quickly and, as far as possible, professionally. The administrative section of the outpatient unit made Aufnahme (admissions) reports, issued Ambulanz reports for roll calls (i.e. records for patients brought to the hospital before or during a roll call), and reported the number of prisoners in Block 28. The clerks in the rest of the hospital blocks drew up reports for their blocks.
The administrative office of the outpatient clinic in Block 28 had an area called Stube 7, where prisoners waited to be presented to the SS Arztvormelder17 doctor for an examination. It was also the collection point for sick prisoners selected for a phenol injection.
Throughout the whole period of the camp’s existence, the outpatient unit in Block 28 served as a dispensary for sick prisoners from the entire camp. It had a small pharmacy with rudimentary medications for outpatients as well as tables with various ointments, dressings and tools for minor treatments. Due to the huge volume of sick inmates, the office had to be within easy reach, and hence it was not moved from its location opposite the outpatient unit until 1945.
The network of professionals working in the HKB and the hierarchy of its units
I did not see the establishment of the camp and its hospital units, but I don’t think I’d be wrong to say that the first prisoner-doctor was Dr Stefan Pizło, who was allowed to work during the “quarantine”18 period.
At first, the HKB did not want to employ physicians, although transports of prisoners to Auschwitz, especially those from Warsaw, included doctors and medical students. The second full-time HKB physician was Dr Leon Głogowski (No. 128119); next there were five doctors from a Warsaw transport, including [Marian] Dupont (No. 2186), [Władysław] Dering (No. 172320), [Tadeusz] Gąsiorowski (No. 139621) and [Stanisław] Suliborski (No. 2876), who became Pflegers (prisoner medical orderlies).
Only an influx of professionals could ensure the camp’s sanitary service of the right organisation required for it to run properly. The potential for treatment was still very poor. By the end of 1940, the prisoners’ hospital was more or less organised. There was Block 20 (later known as Block 28), a multi-purpose unit for outpatients, infectious diseases, internal medicine; and there was Block 16 (later known as Block 21), the surgical ward. The arrival of more prisoners, including medical professionals, the hospital doctors’ self-sacrificing work and the right kind of human resources management implemented in the midst of enormous difficulties helped the hospital facilities to evolve, turning the prisoners’ hospital almost into a professional polyclinic with excellent staff. Don’t forget that all the time Auschwitz I was a death camp, and healthy inmates were sent to the gas chambers or shot—in stark contrast with the magnificent surgical and internal medicine results achieved in the nearby hospital facilities. Don’t forget that the hospital’s patients were extremely emaciated, and its medical resources were extremely primitive. The hospital’s growth (1943-1944) came when it was under a management of Polish prisoner-doctors who equipped it quite well and trained their medical assistants. However, they could neither stop the extermination of prisoners nor improve their working conditions and the quality of the food. Finally, they were not able to obtain all the medications their patients needed, though sometimes they worked miracles even in this area.
The HKB had the following diagnostic and therapeutic facilities:
1. The X-ray station in Block 28.22 The following staff worked here: Dr [Czesław] Gawarecki, a first-rate diagnostician and a good doctor, executed in Block 11; Dr [Samson] Fodor, a Slovak Jew who had to diagnose all the TB cases and report them to the SS doctor, he was killed with a jab on the order of the SS doctor when he contracted typhus; Dr Jan Suchomel from Lwów, a respected X-ray specialist and a great colleague, who had a prompt and sensitive intuition that let him instantly sniff out danger. Stanisław Zelle, No. 1611, was another prisoner employed in the station; he was an X-ray lab technician and knew all the unit’s secrets and its history. Working in the X-ray station was not only difficult due to the harmful effects of radiation, but also because of the radiologists’ enormous responsibility: on the one hand, they had to serve the truth and diagnose disease, but on the other hand, they had to conceal their diagnosis if its disclosure could lead to a prisoner’s death.
2. The analytical laboratory was located in Block 28. It was run by lab technicians whom we called the Gonococci. The older technician,Witold Kosztowny (No. 672),23 also had to work for the SS hospital.The Gonococci performed blood and urine tests as well as smears and bacteriological examinations. In a word, considering the camp conditions, working in the lab was like being promoted and the unit was treated as one of the hospital’s biggest assets.
3. Internal medicine: internal diseases were basically treated in Block 28, but also in the outpatient unit and other hospital blocks.
Besides the internists I named in the introduction, the following physicians worked in the unit: Dr Rudolf Diem (No. 10022), who worked both in the outpatient unit and the internal medicine ward for a long time and was the head of the internists; Dr Franciszek Gralla (No. 21938), a Pole from the Opole part of Silesia, who died in the Cap Arcona disaster;24 Drs [Czesław] Gaca; [Edward] Nowak;25 [Stefan] Stolarzewic; [Jan] Zielina; Julian Kozieł, who was shot in Block 11); [Jan] Rogacki, who committed suicide on the day before his execution; Dr Brzeski; Dr [Czesław] Kozłowski; and others.26
Initially the internists worked in miserable conditions, operating without the proper instruments, with no syringes or injections, nor even the most rudimentary medications. At the same time they had to clear the obstacles put in their way by the SDG and SS authorities. In the winter of 1940-41, the death toll in the ward was very high. Prisoners suffering from pleurisy or pneumonia had practically no chances of survival. Those with acute diarrhoea could recover at the cost of terrible hunger. There were no antibiotics, and even the most basic medications were unavailable. When sulphonamides (Uliron, Eleudron, and later Eubasin, Pronotosil and Albucid27) became available, they felt they could do miracles and save every life. Although the quantity of these promising medicaments was insufficient, these prisoner-doctors managed to save thousands of lives.
4. Surgery: the aseptic operating room was located in Block 21. In addition, there were several rooms or surgical work areas almost meeting the requirements of an operating theatre, for minor surgical procedures such as opening abscesses and phlegmons, performing punctures, setting fractures and dislocations, etc.
These minor premises for surgery were basically treatment and dressing rooms, although highly qualified surgeons worked there. All the hospital blocks had such treatment rooms; Block 28 had a small operating theatre, which was also used for major surgeries.
The aseptic operating room in Block 21 consisted of two halls. In the first there were sterilisation devices (an autoclave), sterilisers, a washroom for the surgical team and cabinets with surgical instruments. In the other, there was an operating table with a shadowless lamp. The SS doctors who used to operate there were [Friedrich] Entress, [Horst] Fischer, [Kurt] Uhlenbrock and Werner Rohde.28 The operating staff also included the following prisoner-doctors: Aleksander Górecki (No. 18406), [Henryk] Sieniawski (No. 191), Zenon ławski [No. 6561], and Józef Panasiewicz [No. 17453]. Most of the doctors who operated in Block 21 were prisoners. The SS doctors performed fewer operations than the Polish prisoner-doctors, who tried to prevent the SS from conducting surgical experiments on patients in a serious condition. The prisoner-surgeons were Dr Władysław Dering (No. 1723), Dr Józef Grabczyński, Dr Wilhelm Türschmid (No. 1146129), Dr Tadeusz Orzeszko, Dr Zbigniew Sobieszczański, and Dr Stefan żabicki.30 These prisoner-doctors could boast of a surgical success rate many a time better than for operations performed in hospitals in the free world, considering that their patients were generally in a pitiable condition.
Surgeries in Block 21 comprised all the laparotomies, from appendicitis, gastric resection, gallbladder surgery through bowel obstruction and intestinal twists, to gynaecological operations, which were performed on female prisoners and even on civilians brought in by the SS doctors. The doctors in Block 21 also performed trepanations, strumectomies, major post-traumatic procedures, especially treating gunshot wounds, etc. In practice, the surgeons performed all the different kinds of surgical procedures.
The surgical ward was the apple in the eye of every Lagerarzt and Standortarzt. The surgical skills of the prisoner-doctors earned their enemies’ respect. On the ground floor of Block 21 there were post-op rooms. Considering the conditions in the camp, the doctors had an excellent set of instruments at their disposal, and actually the SS doctors saw to keeping the surgical facilities well supplied, with good anaesthetics and sedatives: ethyl chloride, ether and Evipan and Novocaine. But the availability of these drugs was not so good in the outpatient units, where there were numerous cases of abscesses and phlegmons but a negligible amount of anaesthetics. So many incisions were made with no anaesthetic or with the patient in a state of slight intoxication, as the doctors had to make sparing use of the “treasures” they were allocated.
5. Infectious diseases. The establishment of an infectious diseases ward was not taken into consideration until an epidemic of typhus broke out.
In 1940 and the first half of 1941, all the infectious cases were sent to Block 28. Not until the second half of 1941 was an infectious diseases ward set up in the block formerly numbered 15, and by that time renumbered 20, which housed several infectious diseases units. Soon the block was chock-full, and could no longer take in the surge of admissions in 1942. So a wooden barrack was set up for typhus patients adjoining Block 20. In August 1942, this barrack was closed down during the “typhus eradication project,” when almost all the patients with infectious diseases were sent to the gas chambers. The infectious diseases ward treated cases of epidemic typhus, typhoid, and paratyphoid, as well as dysentery, malaria, tuberculosis, erysipelas, etc. [Jan] Pakowski, Władysław Fejkiel, Władysław Tondos, Stanisław Kłodziński, [Józef] Mężyk, [Tomir] Gajewski, and [Janusz] Młynarski were the Polish prisoner-doctors working in this ward. They faced enormous difficulties, as there were frequent selections of prisoners from the infectious diseases ward, and in many ways the diagnostic and therapeutic work had to be carried out practically as an undercover operation for the benefit of patients. On the other hand, the block used its “infectivity” to cover up the activities of the headquarters of the prisoners’ underground movement, which took place there.
The infectious diseases ward also housed the so-called Behandlungszimmer, where prisoners were jabbed off with phenol.
6. Laryngology was in Block 23, run by Dr Leon Wasilewski (No. 13503). He performed laryngological operations in the small operating theatre in Block 28. He also had a surgery in Block 23. Moreover, the laryngological ward provided treatment for outpatients.
7. Dermatology. In fact, there was no one to treat dermatological diseases. But when Dr Stanisław Kapuściński arrived, patients suffering from dermatological and sexually transmitted diseases were entrusted to his care. Dr Kapuściński treated patients in Block 28. When the camp authorities opened a brothel in Block 24, Dr Kapuściński was ordered to provide medical services for that institution as well.
8. Dentistry. There was a room in Block 21 where prisoners could have their teeth extracted. Over time, this ward grew into a completely efficient and highly professional unit performing practically all the different kinds of dental treatment. It employed the following prisoner-dentists: Dr [Janusz] Kuczbara, who escaped from Auschwitz and was killed;31 Drs Janusz Krzywicki and Roman Szuszkiewicz, who were the organisers of the dental station; and Drs Czesław Duzel and [Antoni] Jabłonowski.32
There was another dental office in the SS hospital, which treated SS-men but employed prisoners. It housed a dental laboratory for both stations.33
9. Blocks 19 and 9. These HKB blocks were the last to be established. They provided medical care for inmates suffering from diarrhoea, purulent infections, internal diseases, and convalescents from other hospital blocks. Block 9 catered for the mentally ill.
The prisoners’ hospital also comprised the following units:
1. The pharmacy. The first pharmacy was located in the outpatient unit of Block 28. It was run by Marian Toliński (No. 49), who supplied outpatients with a modest range of pharmaceuticals assigned to the hospital. The pharmacy also distributed medications to the hospital blocks. In 1941, Dr Nicet Włodarski (No. 1982), who was in charge of the surgery room on the first floor of Block 21, “discovered” a professional pharmacist, Jan Sikorski (No. 19086), among his sick prisoners and kept him in the block. Sikorski earned a reputation as a herbal specialist. Dr Włodarski was good at “organising” supplies of herbs from which Sikorski made infusa, species and tincturae (infusions, mixtures and tinctures). When Prof. Jan Olbrycht arrived in the camp, he was entrusted with the pharmacy in Block 28. So Toliński still ran the outpatient pharmacy, and Prof. J. Olbrycht, head of the hospital pharmacy, did his best to get all the medications he could from the warehouse34 with the things left by prisoners gassed immediately on arrival. In fact, the supplies improved so much that Prof. Olbrycht could send medications to the Birkenau hospitals, quite apart from the allocations that came from the SS-hospital. Of course, he could not meet the needs of all the sick prisoners, but by this time prisoner-doctors had a better potential to treat them, which was a milestone compared to the scarcity of medications in 1940-41.
2. The warehouse. One of the rooms in the attic of Block 23 accommodated a warehouse supplying the hospital with hygienic and sanitary products, blankets, bedding, underwear, etc. It was run by Czesław Sowul (No. 167), and “got off the ground” when the large transports for the gas chambers started, and the HKB started to “organise” things from the “Canada” block, anything that could be of any use in the hospital.
3. The dietary kitchen was located in Block 28, too. It had a modest potential.
It cooked two kinds of soup: Schleimkost and Salzlosekost, i.e. gruel and salt-free soup for patients suffering from diarrhoea and other gastrointestinal diseases as well as for those with kidney disorders. Moreover, the kitchen distributed food to the whole hospital. The prisoners employed there included Alfred Szymankiewicz (No. 7730), Marian Mikołajczyk (No. 3725), Julian Kiwała (No. 9143) and Feliks Włodarski [No. 5869].
4. The Leichenkeller (mortuary) was located in the basement of Block 23 and consisted of two rooms: a hall for the Leichenträger, i.e. corpse-carriers, and a room for corpses. The corpse-carriers used two kinds of stretchers: metal-coated ones which could be washed to remove blood and excrement, and ones mounted on wheelbarrows that were taken outside the camp to collect bodies; they also used several dozen coffins—these were wooden troughs coated with metal—and Rollwagen, heavy platform trailers used to transport bodies to the crematorium. When mortality rose, prisoners’ corpses were transported to the crematorium on trucks. Sometimes SDGs administered phenol jabs in the entrance to the mortuary. Usually the inmates selected for a jab were from the Birkenau Sonderkommando, which operated the gas chambers and crematoria. They went to their deaths as if they coundn’t care less, even though they knew very well what was in store for them. The mortuary basement was not big enough to accommodate all the bodies of those killed in mass murders. The corpses of those jabbed with phenol in Block 20 and those executed by firing squad in Block 11 were loaded onto trucks straight from the place of death, and not taken to the mortuary. The corpses of those killed in sporadic executions and civilians murdered during interrogations in the Political Department were brought to the mortuary. I remember the body of a girl of about 15, brought in from the Political Department. Her ribs and limbs were broken in several places, and her body was covered in bruises from head to toe, and showed signs of having been finished off with a bullet shot from a revolver straight into the heart. All the corpses delivered from the Political Department were extremely battered. Loading up the Rollwagen with corpses was a dreadful and inhuman procedure which could not be done respectfully. The dead were simply thrown onto the wagon. Exceptions were made for the corpses of inmates who had earned our respect, and in such cases, they were loaded on the wagon slowly, majestically and delicately. This is how the Leichenträger of Auschwitz paid the last respects to the heroes and close friends. In 1942-1943, when there were many cases of prisoners shot during work in the labour commandos, the Leichenträger recruited helpers from new arrivals who had just been given their striped prison gear. These people reacted in various ways when they saw the bodies of murdered prisoners: some shouted like madmen, some fainted, others vomited, etc. Such sights were truly appalling and shocked newcomers to the camp. You couldn’t just stand and calmly watch the Leichenträger loading bodies onto the platform trailers. Usually four men grabbed the body by the limbs, gave it a swing and tossed it onto the truck. The corpses soared through the air and fell onto the truck. During such “gymnastics” the corpses of executed inmates or of those who died suddenly emitted noises through the throat or rectum. These noises were ghastly, not like human sounds at all. The disposal of the corpses usually occurred in the evening and was indeed a macabre and shocking thing to observe. The corpses of those killed with phenol injections had characteristic changes: their skin was a livid pinkish-blue and their faces were purple, and all of them had lockjaw. The history of the Leichenträger Kommando is very extensive and its activities would need a broader description. Unfortunately, there is not enough room for that in this paper.
The head of the corpse-carriers kept a mortuary register and made a record of the prison numbers of the bodies in the mortuary. Before the roll call, these records were compared with the main Totenbuch, i.e. the death register from the hospital administrative office.
The first corpse-carriers were Gienek [Eugeniusz] Obojski and Teofil Banasiuk.35 Obojski was shot dead, while Banasiuk died of typhus fever. Other corpse-carries I remember were Stanisław Ryszler, who was the head of the mortuary after Banasiuk’s death, Stanisław Ratajczak, Czesław Głowacki, Ignacy Molka, Bronisław Malina, and two men called Gajda, probably a father and son. They saw a lot, they witnessed executions and phenol jabs which they had to attend to dispose of the bodies to make room for the next ones.
Finally, I must mention two other commandos located in the hospital and associated with the camp’s sanitary services.
1. The SS-Revier (SS hospital), which had prisoners working as dentists, dental technicians, pharmacists, clerks in the garrison doctor’s office, etc.
2. Hig.-bakt. Untersuchungsstelle der Waffen SS (the SS Hygiene and Bacteriological Experimental Station). This commando had doctors, bacteriologists and an auxiliary service36 on its staff.
Prisoners worked in the Raisko laboratory under the supervision of the SS sanitary service.This institute was set up at Auschwitz in 1943.
A brief mention should be made of the so-called Behandlungszimmer in Block 20. This “treatment room” had nothing to do with the block it was located in: it was a place where sick, and sometimes even quite healthy inmates were murdered with phenol jabs. The room was next to the main entrance to the block and opposite the so-called Waschraum (washhouse), which in fact served as a mortuary for the Behandlungszimmer. These two premises were connected by a corridor and separated off from the rest of the block with a thick green curtain hung across the corridor, so that those in Block 29 could not see what was goin on behind the curtain. Prisoners waiting for the jab queued in the corridor and on passing the curtain they entered the realm of phenol and death. They were brought into the “treatment room,” sat waiting for their turn, and an SDG killed them with an intracardiac injection of phenol. Unconscious and still in their death-throes, which came on straightaway, after the jab they were carried out across the corridor to the Waschraum and thrown onto a pile of corpses. In the evening, the bodies were loaded onto trucks and sent to the crematorium. Those who did the jabbing were the SS-men Josef Klehr,37 Herbert Scherpe,38 Hans Nierzwicki39 and others. There were also a few inmates ready to help them, who also administered phenol injections: 1) Mieczysław Pańszczyk (No. 667), who boasted of “jabbing 13,000 inmates”; he used to say that he was available only to camp doctor Obersturmführer Entress, 2) Alfred Stössel (No. 435), who murdered far fewer prisoners than Pańszczyk, but enjoyed it, 3) Mieczysław Szymkowiak (nicknamed “Perełka” [Little Pearl]), a cold-blooded, vicious sadist, who stepped into Pańszczyk’s shoes after the latter’s death, 4) Feliks Walentynowicz (No. 46), the first Polish prisoner who agreed to murder his fellow inmates and administered jabs, though not as many as the other jabbers.
SS doctors Schwella and von Bodmann, tried to recruit Polish prisoner-doctors to do the injections, but none of them agreed to perform this shameful procedure. Pańszczyk was killed by prisoners as he was setting off for another camp. Stössel was executed in Block 11 after a long, intense investigation conducted by Lachmann. Szymkowiak died in unknown circumstances, but his death was not of natural causes, either. Walentynowicz has died as well.
Completing my overview of the structure of the prisoners’ hospital, only some parts of which are thorough while other parts are quite cursory, I hope that my colleagues, the prisoner-doctors who knew the particular hospital wards better than I did, will be willing to describe their histories and structures. Each unit of this hospital is a story in itself, full of facts, names and dates, information which is becoming more and more blurred in the survivors’ memories although these stories and data are waiting to be discovered by Polish society and by the world at large.
Translated from original article: Paczuła, Tadeusz, “Organizacja i administracja szpitala obozowego K. L. Auschwitz 1,” Przegląd Lekarski – Oświęcim, 1962.
The above text is Paczuła’s first study on the subject and has retained a high academic value up to this day. Another of Paczuła’s statements on the administrative office of the prisoners’ hospital was published in German in Sterbebücher von Auschwitz-Birkenau, 1995, vol. I, pp. 27-66, and remains one of the key sources for the contemporary academic discussion on the institutional aspects of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp.a
- Political prisoners, marked with red triangles, were imprisoned on the basis of a “protective custody order” issued by a state police post. Most of the political prisoners in Auschwitz were Poles.b
- A decree issued by Heinrich Himmler in May 1941 set up “reeducation labour camps” for workers who “refused to work or were lazy individuals” whose behaviour was “equivalent to the sabotaging of work.” In these camps, “intensive labour” would “reeducate them in the spirit of organised labour and set an intimidating example as a warning to others.” The first reeducation prisoners were sent to Auschwitz I in July 1941. Instead of triangles, they had letters “E” sewn on their prison gear. See http://70.auschwitz.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=244&Itemid=179&lang=enb
- In 1942, Heinrich Himmler ordered the deportation of all Roma to Auschwitz. As a result of this ruling, the Roma family camp known as the Zigeunerlager which existed for 17 months, was set up in Auschwitz-Birkenau sector BIIe and existed for 17 months.
About 23,000 men, women, and children are estimated to have been imprisoned there. About 21,000 died or were murdered in the gas chambers.
Since they were treated as asocial prisoners, they were marked with black triangles. A series of camp numbers, prefaced with the letter Z, was given to them and tattooed on their left forearm.
The Roma Camp was closed down on the night of 2 August 1944. That night at least 4,000 men, women and children were killed in the gas chambers. See http://auschwitz.org/en/history/categories-of-prisoners/sinti-and-roma-gypsies-in-auschwitz/b
- A block elder (also translated as “block senior” or “senior block inmate”) was an SS-appointed functionary prisoner who served as the prisoner responsible for the barrack or block, with disciplinary powers over other prisoners, typically reporting to the block leader, an SS member subordinate to the Rapportführer (report leader) responsible for everyday operations of a designated section of a concentration camp, such as holding roll calls, dividing prisoners into work groups and overseeing the labour perfomed by the Arbeitskommandos.b
- Paczuła uses two alternative , synonymous terms, Totenmeldung and Todesmeldung, for the same document type, i.e. a death report.c
Dr Zacharski gave the following description of this procedure: “In the hospital administrative office, there was a group of prisoners . . . whose job was to fabricate fatal diseases for prisoners who had died or who were murdered on a given day. When I started working inat the hospital administrative office, all these prisoners were already equipped with notebooks with blueprint medical histories for various types of diseases. Each notebook was something like a separate volume of a general catalogue for specific types of diseases. Since the Political Department, which received a duplicate of such medical historiesy, was complaining that the causes of death were too monotonous and lacked variety, the catalogue expanded during the time I was working in the administrative office. [My fellow inmates] compiled new blueprint medical histories to put into the catalogue. They usedng Domarus’s textbook on internal medicine. The new item was discussed with an SS doctor, usually Entress. Once approved, it was added to the catalogue. These prisoners used the blueprints to write up the medical history and cause of death of every deceased prisoner. They made a random choice which blueprint to use for which of the deceased. This, along with negligence, sometimes resulted in cases where a young prisoner had allegedly died due to a condition typical for the elderly.”
- The Political Department (Politische Abteilung), also called “the camp Gestapo,” was one of the five departments in the camp:
Abteilung IM: Command headquarters
Abteilung II: Political department
Abteilung III: Preventive detention
Abteilung IV: General administration
Abteilung V: The Auschwitz medical unit.
At Auschwitz, the Politische Abteilung was made up of the units:
- Identity records
- Camp registrary (sometimes in conjunction with supervision of the crematorium).
The camp registrary handled the registration of prisoners when they were admitted and when they left, whether by release, transfer, escape or death. It made inmate files, took portrait photos, wrote physical descriptions and brief details about the prisoner’s life and took filed his fingerprints.b
- Some of these registers have survived and have been used for statistical research on the death rate in Auschwitz. See Piotr Setkiewicz, “Selections in the Auschwitz Hospital,” Medical Review Auschwitz: Medicine behind the Barbed Wire. Conference Proceedings 2018. Kraków: Medycyna Praktyczna, Polski Instytut Evidence Based Medicine, 2019, pp. 21-41. Available online in open access format under the linkc
- The camp doctors had to conduct verschleierten Exekutionen (“covert executions”) of healthy prisoners who had been sentenced to death for political reasons. The camp Gestapo wanted the executions to be kept secret, hence the doctors certified the cause of death as “natural.” They were required to attend “judicial” executions was required to certify death.b
- Friedrich Entress (1914–1947), German war criminal. Served as a camp doctor in various concentration and extermination camps; in Auschwitz from 11 December 1941 to 21 October 1943. Conducted pseudo-medical experiments and was paid by the Bayer pharmaceutical subsidiary of IG Farben to test experimental drugs against typhus and tuberculosis. Pioneer of the phenol jab straight into the heart. This method enabled him to have up to 100 prisoners killed each day. Captured by the Allies in 1945, convicted and sentenced to death in the Mauthausen-Gusen camp trials, and executed in 1947. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Friedrich_Entressb
- This incident was also described by Dr Zacharski, see www.zapisyterroru.pl.b
- The Standortarzt (garrison doctor), the chief camp physician, was the supervisor of all the medical staff in the camp.b
- Jan Szary and Stanisław Frolik were on the first transport of Polish political prisoners, sent to Auschwitz from Tarnów prison on 14 June 1940. See http://lekcja.auschwitz.org/en_17_deportacje/download/Transport%20of%20Polish%20political%20prisoners%20transfered%20to%20Auschwitz%20from%20Tarnow_eng.pdfb
- Dr Tadeusz Paczuła, a Polish surgeon, arrived in Auschwitz as a political prisoner in December 1940. Appointed chief clerk of the HKB in September 1944. Received lists of prisoners executed at Death Wall or put into the “corpse cellar” in Block 28. He saw the bodies of the executed and thus witnessed the results of the most heinous crimes committed by Klehr, the olderly in charge of injecting prisoners with phenol. More information under the linkb
- Dr Adam Zacharski was detained in Auschwitz from 18 July 1941 to 27 October 1944. Appointed clerical assistant in the hospital administrative office in the autumn of 1941. Cf. wwww.zapisyterroru.pl.b
- These people are named in Paczuła’s testimony published in Sterbebücher von Auschwitz-Birkenau, p. 56, the details are provided only for Zbigniew Rybka, camp. No. 605. Rybka is also on the list of Polish political prisoners sent to Auschwitz from Tarnów prison on 14 June 1940.b
- “In the morning an SS physician would visit the outpatients’ room. The SS doctor conducting the procedure was called the Arztvormelder. The inmates who reported to the room had to strip and present to the SS physician. The gesture the SS physician made with his fingers told us what to do. There were only three options: “SB” (Sonderbehandlug), which meant a lethal injection; admission to the camp hospital; or outpatient care, which meant that the patient was sent back to the camp and could turn up only to collect his medicines or to have his bandage changed,” Paczuła’s recollections are available at auschwitz.org.b
- Dr Pizło’s biography was originally published in Przegląd Lekarski – Oświęcim, 1970: 258260. For the English version, see https://www.mp.pl/auschwitz/journal/english/248980,dr-stefan-pizlo.b
- Dr Głogowski’s biography was originally published in Przegląd Lekarski – Oświęcim. 1971: 162–164. For the English version, see https://www.mp.pl/auschwitz/journal/english/251071,dr-leon-glogowski.b
- Dr Władysław Dering (1903–1965), Auschwitz prisoner doctor and survivor, on orders of the camp’s authorities castrated male prisoners and sterilised women prisoners. For more details, see Maria Ciesielska, “„Operacje eksperymentalne były przyczyną mojego smutku i wstrętu…” Losy Władysława Deringa w świetle zachowanych dokumentów.” Ciemności kryją ziemię. Wybrane aspekty badań i nauczania o Holokauście. Martyna Grądzka-Rejak and Piotr Trojański (eds.), Dęblin: Lotnicza Akademia Wojskowa, 2019, p. 189-212, and Maria Ciesielska, “Władysław Dering i Jan Grabczyński – lekarze więźniowie w Auschwitz,” Nowa Medycyna 2019 (26: 2), p. 70-76.d
- Dr Gąsiorowski worked in the camp hospital's X-ray station. See http://auschwitz.org/en/museum/about-the-available-data/medical-documentation/roentgen.b
- Initially the X ray station was located in a small room on the ground floor of Block 28, between the kitchen and the lab. Later, it was in front of the dispensary. The first prisoners who worked in the station were Stanislaw Zelle (No. 1611), Leon Głogowski (No. 1281) and Tadeusz Gąsiorowski (No. 1396). The well-known radiologist Dr Czeslaw Gawarecki (No. 14852) arrived in June 1941 and was later replaced by the Slovak Jew Samson Fodor; Jan Suchomel (No. 62158), a specialist in radiology; and Alfred Boris in the autumn of 1944. See http://auschwitz.org/en/museum/about-the-available-data/medical-documentation/roentgen/.b
- Witold Kosztowny was a Polish biologist who arrived in the camp in June 1940 and subsequently worked in the prisoners’ hospital. He was a ZOW member. The SS ordered him to set up a laboratory to breed typhus-infected lice for vaccine production. In 1944 he was moved to Sachsenhausen and survived the war. Kosztowski is mentioned in Witold’s Report from Auschwitz. English PDF online at http://rtmpilecki.eu/raport-3.b
- On 3 May 1945 the Cap Arcona and three other German ships carrying concentration camp survivors were accidentally bombed and sunk by the Royal Air Force in the belief that fleeing Nazis were on board. See https://theconversation.com/why-the-raf-destroyed-a-ship-with-4-500-concentration-camp-prisoners-on-board-75903.c
- Edward Michał Nowak (No. 447); physician and Polish Army officer. Arrived in Auschwitz on 14 August 1940, on the first transport from Kraków; a ZOW member. Transferred in 1942 to Majdanek, where he died in December 1943. See http://auschwitz.org/en/museum/about-the-available-data/medical-documentation/haeftlings-krankenbau-auschwitz-i-block-28/.b
- For more information see Konrad Szweda, “The first period in the work of the Infectious Diseases Ward at Auschwitz,” available online on this website under the link.b
- Uliron—sulphonamide drug for the treatment of pemphigus, manufactured by Bayer. Prontosil—sulphonamide drug manufactured by Bayer for the treatment of fungal skin infections. Albucid (eye drops), Eubasin, and Eleudron were other sulphonamides produced by Bayer for the treatment of diverse conditions. Rudolf Franck, Moderne Therapie in innerer Medizin und Allgemeinpraxis. Handbuch . . .. Berlin: Springer Verlag, 1941 (12th edition).c
- For the list of Nazi doctors see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Nazi_doctors#K.b
- Dr Wilhelm Türschmid (1887–1942), Polish surgeon, member of the AK (Home Army) military resistance movement. Sent to Auschwitz, tortured by the Gestapo, and shot at the Death Wall. For more on him, see his biography on this website at https://www.mp.pl/auschwitz/journal/english/249184,wilhelm-turschmid.b
- The records in the register of the surgical ward show that the prisoner-doctors who operated most often were Zbigniew Sobieszczański (No. 77022), Jan Grabczyński (No. 83864), Władysław Dering (No. 1723), Tadeusz Orzeszko (No. 131527), Jerzy Klebanowski (No. 115790), Szczepan Kruczek (No. 73504), Józef Mężyk (No. 18858), and Czesław Kozłowski (No. 8096). The entries show that prisoners were also operated by unqualified SS physicians like SS-Hauptsturmführer Siegfried Schwela, SS-Obersturmführer Friedrich Entress, SS-Sturmbannführer Horst Fischer and SS-Obersturmführer Büning. Drs Władysław Dering, Jan Grabczyński, Wilhelm Türschmid (No. 11461), Janusz Okła (No. 41698), Zbigniew Sobieszczański, Przemysław Duś (No. 80078), Johann Weber (No. 173961), Karl Gallmetzer (No. 158648), Stanisław Kościelny (No. 166420), Stanisław Przewdziecki (No. 7779) and Jakub Wollman (No. 33611) acted as surgeon’s assistants. Stefan żabicki (No. 11016), Zenon ławski (No. 6561), Tadeusz Stańko (No. 3502), Wilhelm Freisinger (No. 69095), Przemysław Duś, Józef Panasewicz (No. 17453), and others, acted as surgical anaesthetists. Source: auschwitz.org.b
- His escape on 29 December 1942 is described at http://auschwitz.org/en/history/resistance/escapes-and-reports/.b
- The following prisoners worked as dentists: Roman Szuszkiewicz (No. 25122), Janusz Krzywicki (No. 74593), Jerzy Budny (No. 76897) and Johann Bosch (No. 200197); the following worked as dental technicians: Czesław Duzel (No. 3702), Karl Risch (No. 92499), Dawid Stern (No. A-4651), Peter Goldstein (No. A-12518), Aleksander Elefant (No. B-14499). The following were dental clerks: Antoni Jabłoński (No. 146200), Zygmunt Pociecha (No. 1016), Tadeusz Hołuj (No. 62937), Bolesław Głębowicz (No. 57317) and Hans Richter (No. 92497). See http://auschwitz.org/muzeum/o-dostepnych-danych/dokumenty-medyczne/zahnstation. Paczuła misspells the name “Jabłoński” as “Jabłonowski.”b
- See also Katarzyna Okoniewska, Zbrodniczy medycy lekarze z Auschwitz, published in 2017, who lists all the SS dentists in Auschwitz: SS Sturmbannführer Dr Raimond Ehrenberger, SS Sturmbannführer Dr Karl Teuber, SS Hauptsturmführer Dr Willy Frank, SS Hauptsturmführer Dr Alfred Meimeth, SS Hauptsturmführer Dr Elimer Precht, SS Hauptsturmführer Dr Wilhelm Schulte, SS Obersturmführer Dr Andreas Rett, SS Obersturmführer Dr Willi Schatz and SS Untersturmführer Josef Simon. https://www.archaegraph.pl/lib/l231bv/Auschwitz-Ebook1-k06q6soq.pdf.b
- This storage facility was known as “Canada”. On arrival at the ramp, Jewish prisoners had to strip and leave their clothes and belongings behind before being killed in the gas chamber. Later their belongings were searched by a commando of prisoners who had to look for gold and other valuables concealed in the discarded items. The valuables were then stored in the Kanada warehouses, while the discarded items were incinerated in a special facility. The SS guards shot any prisoner caught stealing anything from the piles of discarded clothing. For more information and a bibliography, see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kanada_warehouses,_Auschwitzc
- For more information see Konrad Szweda, “The first period in the work of the Infectious Diseases Ward at Auschwitz” on this website (follow the link to read the article).b
- Raisko was an Auschwitz sub-camp two miles south of Auschwitz I; with the Hygiene-Bakteriologischen Untersuchungsstelle der Waffen-SS Südost on the site. It operated as part of a separate command established for horticultural experiments; initially staffed with prison bacteriologists, biologists and botanists doing genuine research at a plant nursery, notably on the species Taraxacum kok-saghyz [Russian dandelion] used to extract an emergency source of rubber and other materials after other sources had become inaccessible, the site was ater used for pseudo-medical experiments on prisoners). See http://itsrequest.ushmm.org/its/Glossary.pdf.b
- Josef Klehr (1904–1988), SS-Unterscharführer, was transferred to Auschwitz in 1941 and worked there as a medical orderly in the prisoners’ hospital. He was renowned for killing prisoners with a phenol injection into the heart. He devised ways to optimise the speed of the killing process, such as experimenting with the positioning of prisoners before their injection. He was famed for his sadistic cruelty. As told by Witold Pilecki, who had first-hand knowledge of Klehr’s operations in Auschwitz, “Klehr used to murder with his needle with great zeal, mad eyes and a sadistic smile, he put a stroke on the wall after the killing of each victim. In my times, he brought the list of those killed by him up to fourteen thousand and he boasted every day with great delight, like a hunter who told of the trophies of the chase.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Josef_Klehr.b
- Herbert Scherpe (1907–1997), SS-Oberscharführer, Nazi war criminal, SS paramedic in the Auschwitz-Birkenau. See https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herbert_Scherpe.b
- Hans Nierzwicki (1905–1967), SS-Unterscharführer, Nazi German war criminal. Initially worked in the Auschwitz SS hospital, and later in the prisoners’ hospital of Auschwitz I and in the Birkenau women’s camp. See https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hans_Nierzwicki.b
a—introductory comment by Teresa Wontor-Cichy, Expert Consultant for the Medical Review Auschwitz project, and Maria Kantor, the translator of the text; b—notes by Maria Kantor, the translator of the text; c—notes by Teresa Bałuk-Ulewiczowa, Head Translator for the Medical Review Auschwitz project; d—note by Maria Ciesielska, Expert Consultant for the Medical Review Auschwitz project.
A publication funded in 2020–2021 within the DIALOG Program of the Ministry of Education and Science in Poland.