Plaszow Concentration Camp in Krakow

Plaszow Concentration Camp in Krakow

Plaszow Concentration Camp was built on the grounds of two former Jewish cemeteries shortly after the German occupation of Poland. It was originally intended as a forced labour camp, but when the Nazi´s began to empty the Krakow Ghetto in 1943, Plaszow became a death camp.

Under the command of the scrupulous SS officer Amon Goeth, Plazow became one of the harshest death camps built by the Nazi´s in World War 2. Goeth had a fearful reputation and was renowned for his sadistic treatment of prisoners. Witnesses say he would start the day by shooting a prisoner before his breakfast. Goeth was also the commanding officer who oversaw the emptying of the Krakow Ghetto. Anybody deemed unfit for work was either sent to Auschwitz of shot in the street.

The prisoners here supplied manpower to several ammunitions factories and a stone quarry. The death rate was very high. Many prisoners died of typhus and starvation. Many more were executed on Hujowa Gorka, a large hill close to the camp. It is thought that something like 8000 killings took place on the hill. Three or four lorry loads were driven there each week and made to dig a trench. They were then lined up and shot. As the Russians advanced on Krakow, the dead bodies were exhumed and burned to hide the evidence.

German soldiers also dismantled Plaszow and left an empty field. Today, the only memory of the atrocities that took place here is a large memorial and several smaller ones dedicated to Jews from Poland and Hungary and a third in memory of the first non-Jewish prisoners executed here in 1939. Plaszow is a short distance from the centre of Krakow.