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The page was created thanks to the assistance of the Council for the Protection of Memory of Combat and Martyrdom in Warsaw.

Museum of the former Extermination Camp in Chełmno-on-Ner

Address:
62-663 Chełmno
Phone 0,6906 14710 /the Rzuchów forest/
Phone (063) 271 - 94 -47 (the grounds of the former palace)

The museum has two departments:
1. The Rzuchów forest - the cemetery grounds, the monument, the Remembrance Wall,     commemorative plaques, the lapidarium, the museum pavilion
2. The ruins of the palace and the area of archeological research in Chełmno.

Staff:
Manager - Ludomir Żądło, MA
Documentalist and museum guide - Zdzisław Lorek

Exposition conservators:
- Stanisław Budziński
- Wanda Piaseczna
- Kazimierz Piaseczny

The pavilion opening hours:
1. From 1st April to 30th September - every day from 10.00 am to 6.00 pm
2. From 1st October to 31st March - only weekdays from 8.00 am to 2.00 pm
3. The area of archeological research and the ruins of the palace can be visited while the research is     being conducted from June to September - weekdays from 8.00 am to 6.00 pm. Tours out of     excavation season, during weekends and holidays shall be arranged in advance with the Museum in     Konin or the museum pavilion.

 

plan 1#            plan 2#


The history of the camp.

September 1st 1939 Nazi aggression against Poland was followed by extermination of the country's population.
In the occupied Polish territories about 6,000 camps and prisons of various kind as well as ghettos for Polish Jews, were created. In 1941 Nazi plans of "the Final Solution of the Jewish Question".
The death camp in Chełmno-on-Ner was the first German center of mass extermination of Jews in the Nazi-created administrative unit called the "Wartheland". It was launched already in December 1941. As it is commonly believed today, the decision to establish the center was significantly influenced by local authorities of the Nazi Wartheland, mainly the plans of "the Final Solution of the Jewish Question" included in the official letter of April 16th 1941 from Heinz Rolf Höppner to Adolf Eichmann in Berlin.
The location selected for the extermination center in Wielkopolska Province was a small village, Chełmno-on-Ner, near the town of Koło, having convenient connection with Łódź, the largest Jewish population in the Wartheland. In November 1941 the palace and the park were seized, the premises surrounded with a fence, the locals deported, and the best buildings taken over by Sonderkommando. The camp operated during two periods.

Period I lasted from December 8th when the first transport arrived in Chełmno, through April 7th 1943 when the palace was blown up and the crematories destroyed.
The extermination was carried out in mobile gas chambers with the use of combustion gas. Jews transported to Chełmno entered the palace, allegedly in order to take a bath. Next, they were herded into a gas truck. Its fumes were directed into the loading body killing those inside, which took place while the trucks were parked next to the palace or in the cemetery. The corpses of the victims were driven away to the Rzuchów forest, 4 km further, where a picked out group of prisoners was separated from the transport to bury the corpses in mass graves over 100 m in length.
Jews from local ghettos, i.e. Koło, Dąbie, Kowale Pańskie, Kłodawa, and Izbica Kujawska, were murdered in the first turn.
January 1942 began transportations of Gypsies from Łódź from a camp (Zigeunerlager) created in autumn 1941 and then of Jews from the Łódź ghetto as well as those from outside Poland (Germany, Czechoslovakia, Austria), who in autumn 1941 were made to settle temporarily in Łódź.
On January 19, 1942, on the way to the cemetery in the Rzuchó w forest, two involuntary gravediggers, Szlamek (known as Jakub Grojnowski or Szlojme Fajner) and Michał Podchlebnik. Szlamek managed to reach the Warsaw ghetto where his account about the extermination camp in Chełmno was written down. The account was preserved in an underground archive called the Ringelblum's Archive. The underground passed Szlamek's account on to the Delegation of Polish Government in Great Britain. Szlamek died after being driven away from the ghetto in Zamość to the camp in Bełżec. Podchlebnik survived the war; when it ended he testified about the Chełmno camp.
Most likely, on February 21, 1942, Stanisław Kaszyński, secretary of the commune offices in Chełmno, and his wife Karolina were arrested for passing information about crimes taking place in Chełmno. Kaszyński was murdered in a ravine next to the church on February 28, 1942.
In May 1942 German air force took photographs of the camp grounds, probably in order to determine whether it is sufficiently camouflaged.
In the summer of 1942, due to the decomposing of the bodies in the mass graves and a threat of epidemics, the transports were withheld. With the hands of Jewish prisoners unburying of the corpses from the mass graves and burning them in field crematoria especially built for this purpose began.
In March 1943 a decision to liquidate the camp was made. On 8th March 1943 in the "Riga" restaurant in Koło, in the presence of the governor of the occupied Wartheland, Arthur Greiser and several officers of the SS, the camp crew "celebrated" the end of their activity. They received prizes and special vacations in the governor's estate.
On 7th April 1943 the palace in the village of Chełmno and the crematoria in the cemetery grounds in the Rzuchów forest were blown up.

Period II of the center's activity lasted from spring-summer 1944 till 18th January 1945. In the spring of 1944 the Sonderkommando staff came back to Chełmno; the unit had earlier been sent to Yugoslavia as part of the Prinz Eugen division in order to pacify the territories where guerilla fighters were active.
Extermination was carried out within the Rzuchów forest where barracks were built and the area was adjusted to receive further groups of victims. Methods of extermination remained the same as in the first period of the camp's operation.
Between 23rd June and 14th July 1944 ten transports of Jewish people came from Łódź. The total number of those murdered at that time was 7,196 residents of the Łódź ghetto. After that, extermination in the center was stopped. The center in Chełmno was already not efficient enough. The final liquidation of the Łódź ghetto was carried out mainly in the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp.
In the village part of the Sonderkommando unit and a group of last, probably 47 Jewish
prisoners, remained. They were kept in a granary situated next to the destroyed palace.
In the night between 17th and 18th January, during an evacuation of the Germans in the face of the approaching Soviet army, the SS-men carried out the final execution. From the granary they led out the prisoners in groups of five and murdered them by shots in the back of the head. Desperate prisoners who still remained inside the granary started a riot killing two of the murderers: one was shot dead and the other hanged. Apart from Mordechaj (Mieczysław) Żurawski, a butcher from Włocławek, a then fifteen-year-old Szymon Srebrnik from Łódź managed to save his life, though he was injured in the head. After the war, they became the only eye-witnesses of the crime, just like Michał Podchlebnik from Koło, who managed to escape from the camp in January 1942, became an immunity witness in many trials.
A postwar investigation conducted by a Polish judge, Władysław Bednarz, from the District Court in Łódź, disclosed many details concerning the history of the camp. First of all, a technique of killing in the mobile gas chambers was determined. Also, the construction of the trucks (Spezialwagen) was revealed as well as the appearance, construction, and functioning of the field crematoria.
The camp staff was made up of several SS-men and a few dozens of military policemen. It was divided into work squads: "Hauskommando" active in the village and "Waldkommando" active in the Rzuchów forest. The first commandant of the camp was SS-Hauptsturmführer Herbert Lange and from March 1942 until the liquidation of the camp - SS-Hauptsturmführer Hans Johann Bothmann.
Various were the ways of deporting Jews to Chełmno. Initially, when the nearest ghettos were being liquidated, victims were transported to the village by trucks. From Łódź they were first transported to Koło by rail and then by narrow-gauge railway to Chełmno. During a peak of transports, a synagogue in Koło and a windmill in Zawadka near Powiercie were used as temporary accommodation. During the second period of the camp's operation, in 1944, Jews were often transported to the church in Chełmno from where they were directed to the Rzuchów forest, having spent the night in the church.
After the war, two members of the "Kulmhof" Sonderkommando (Kulmhof is the German name for Chełmno) were sentenced to death; their names were: Walter Piller and Hermann Gielow.
In the years 1962-1965 in the Federal Germany Republic a trial of eleven Chełmno criminals was pending. The court sentenced the following persons: Gustaw Laabs, Walter Burmeistr, and Alois Häfele for 13 years in prison; Kurt Möbius for 8 years; Karl Heinl for 7 years. Three others, namely Friedrich Maderholz, Wilhelm Heukelbach and Wilhelm Schulte for 13 months and two weeks in prison. As far as the remaining three prisoners are concerned, that is Heinrich Bock, Anton Mehring and Aleksander Steinke, the court decided to let them go unpunished. Anther trial sentenced Gustaw Fiedler to 13 months and 2 weeks in prison.
A relatively narrow though recently continually extending historiography of the Chełmno death camp shows the greatest controversy around one of the most significant issues, i.e. the number of victims of the camp's activity between 1941-1945. The highest estimation was made in 1945 by judge Bednarz: around 350,000 victims. The lowest, described as "acceptable", estimation was made during a trial in Bonn in the 1960s: over 152,000.
At present, we can already provide an approximate range of victims: 160,000-170,000 of mainly Jewish people from the occupied territories of Poland, Łódź, and other ghettos of the Nazi Wartheland, including Jews from abroad, displaced and deported to Łódź in 1941.
The assessment includes an additional number of about 4,300 Gypsies, groups of Poles and of Russian prisoners of war, as well as a few dozens (82?) of children from the village of Lidice, though there is some uncertainty about the last number.

The History of Chełmno Commemoration.
The first initiative of tiding up and commemorating the cemetery in the Rzuchów forest was spontaneously originated in Koło, almost immediately after the war ended. At that time, the collection of funds for this aim began.
An investigation carried out by judge W. Bednarz, search for the traces of the crimes, exhumations of Polish hostages, all this resulted in an increased interest in Chełmno. Even before 1950-1956 large-scale attempts to tidy up the forest clearings and graves situated on them, the local community had been taking care of the graves and the traces of the crimes. All their efforts, however, were only short-term actions. Organized undertakings were needed.
As a result of numerous interventions concerning the negligence of the former camp's grounds, the Department of Culture of the Province Offices in Poznań and the then Council for the Protection of Monuments of Combat and Martyrdom (a Polish governmental organization) launched necessary actions to change the current state of affairs.
An urban development plan of the whole grounds was designed, including the so-called "architectural details". In 1961 it was decided that the grounds of the former extermination camp in Chełmno will be in the custody of the forestry department.
Tenders were invited for the design of a monument which was to be erected near the road leading from Koło to Dąbie and Łódź. Among 38 works sent, a project by a visual artist Józef Stasiński and an architect Jerzy Buszkiewicz, MSc. won the second prize and was qualified for construction. The unveiling of the monument was accompanied by the publication of the study entitled "The Extermination Camp in Chełmno-on-Ner" by E. Serwański, a poster, an album, and an occasional stamping machine.The unveiling of the monument took place on September 27, 1964, as the culmination of the celebrations of the 25th anniversary of the outbreak of the Second World War. The ceremony was attended by about 10,000 people, including residents from the nearby towns of Koło and Konin, guests from Lidice and Zamość, members of Jewish organizations and representatives of the towns whose residents were killed in Chełmno.
At that time, the understanding of the scope of the camp in Chełmno was basically limited to the Rzuchów Forest and the graves situated there.
It was often forgotten, however, that the tragedy had its beginnings on the edge of the village, near the church, in a palace that was blown up by the Germans on April 7, 1943. The site was commemorated in 1957 by the Jewish communities of Łódź and Włocławek. At that time, near the destroyed palace, a modest obelisk was erected with the following inscriptions in Polish and Yiddish: "This site has been sanctified with the blood of thousands of victims of the Nazi genocide. Honor their memory." The inscriptions are not very explanatory, and the obelisk itself was placed at the very edge of the overlook where the palace once stood. Apart from the overlook, the adjacent grounds were developed in the 1950s. The granary that was burnt down on the night of January 17, 1945 was reconstructed. New warehouses and barracks were also built. An agricultural cooperative was established. The new life at the site obscured the remnants of the tragedy. Commemorative projects and investments in the 1960s focused on the part of the camp located in the Rzuchów Forest, neglecting the grounds around the palace.
The erection of the monument, along with the maintenance of the graves and the forest clearings did not fully resolve the issue of memorializing Chełmno. Missing was a museum and an institution that would manage conservation efforts, preserve the relics of the genocide committed there, carry out academic research, organize educational programs, exhibitions and publications.
In 1987, the Governor of the then-Konin Province established the Museum of the Extermination Camp in Chełmno-on-Ner under the auspices of the District Museum in Konin.
The Museum authorities started out by inventorying all structures found on the grounds of the camp, assessing their condition and any preservation needs, and then preparing a spatial plan based on sound scientific research. The latter turned out to be one of the most important endeavors to be undertaken given that the earlier efforts to organize the area in the years 1961-1964 were focused on implementing an architectural vision and not on preserving the evidence of the tragedy that took place around the entire area. Many mistakes were made at that time concerning to the location of various structures at the site. In addition, the only remaining gas-van was not saved despite the fact that at one time a project to include it in an exhibit had been considered.The research done -the interpretation of aerial photos- involved the identification of the location of the graves, the remains of the crematoria, the barracks and other structures connected to the camp's operations. The second stage consisted of archeological work, carried out to confirm the findings of the interpretation of aerial photographs. During the excavation work, the remains of the foundations of a field crematorium were uncovered. The foundation was secured and left exposed at ground level. A careful observer can notice metal fragments of baby-carriages used to reinforce the concrete blocks.111
The third involved historical research. First archival materials were collected, and then interviews with local inhabitants were conducted.
The construction of a museum began in 1988 and was completed two years later. The opening of the museum took place on June 17, 1990. It was accompanied by a two-day academic conference devoted to the former extermination camp in Chełmno-on-Ner.
Together with the opening of the museum, a "Remembrance Wall", located on the south-western edge of the former camp, was unveiled, as well as a commemoration plaque placed on the preserved remains of the crematorium.
The Remembrance Wall is a simple, concrete structure with a symbolic gate with the following Hebrew inscription:
"The Gate Through Which The Just Will Pass." The following Polish inscription is visible on the concrete wall: "In Memory Of The Jews Murdered In Chełmno 1941-1945." The planners' intent was to exhibit the actual site of the tragedy near the largest of the crematorium, as well as create a site where various forms of commemoration, both mass and individual, could be displayed. For large-form memorials (obelisks, monuments, stones, etc) additional area stretching along the way from three graves to the gate in the Remembrance Wall. During archeological research conducted in this site between 1986-87 no human ashes were found. However, pits were discovered, probably dating back to the second period of the camp's operation, in which the victims' clothes were incinerated. In 1991, the first individual memorials appeared on the Remembrance Wall. The Organization of Jews from Pabianice placed a plaque on the wall to commemorate the residents of their town murdered in Chełmno.
On August 7, 1991 more than eight thousand pilgrims participated in ceremonies on the grounds of the camp. On that occasion, an obelisk was unveiled to honor Stanisław Kaszyński, the Secretary of the Chełmno Commune, the person who could not accept the savagery of the Germans. His attempt to inform the West of the ongoing genocide cost him and his wife their lives.
On August 24, 1993, next to the Remembrance Wall, an obelisk dedicated to 4,953 Jews from Bełchatów was unveiled. The ceremonies were attended by roughly two thousand guests from Poland and more than two hundred guests from abroad, mainly from Israel, the United States, Germany, and Canada.
In 1993, plaques commemorating 3,517 Jews from Łask and about eight thousand Jews from Zduńska Wola were placed on the Remembrance Wall.
In 1994, along the road leading from the main monument in the clearing where the graves are located, the museum placed memorial tablets commemorating sites of Jewish martyrdom in the Konin Province.
On April 24, 1995, at the end of the academic conference entitled The Extermination Center in Chełmno-on-Ner and its Role in Hitler's Extermination Policy, the participants, along with the residents of the neighboring towns and villages paid tribute to the victims of the Nazi genocide. The Jewish Theatre from Warsaw held a performance based on "The Testament of the Last Prisoners of the Chełmno Death Camp". The text was found by staff of the Yad Vashem Institute in one of the Russian archives and was made available to the Museum in its entirety by Dr. Shmuel Krakowski. An amazingly warm welcome of the spectacle by gathered participants of the meeting, moving information from several families about finding the last traces of their relatives thanks to revealing the texts to the public, all this led to the publication of "The Testament of the Last Prisoners of the Chełmno" in "Chełmno Witnesses Speak". This endeavor was supported by the Council for the Protection of Memory of Combat and Martyrdom.
Initiatives to commemorate those murdered in Chełmno have intensified in the recent years. The president of the German-Jewish Association from Hamburg, W.Mosel, came up with an idea to commemorate the "Road of Death" leading from the Koło railroad station to the palace in Chełmno, passing first through the village of Powiercie and the Rzuchów forest.
In 1996, the society of the former residents of the village of Brzeziny in Israel prepared another commemoration ceremony honoring the three thousand fellow citizens murdered by the Nazis.
The establishment of the museum resolved many of the problems concerning the maintenance and care of the camp grounds. However, new problems appeared, the most significant centering around the need for educational programs and, on the other hand, preserving the remnants of the crimes committed, which had already largely been obliterated by time.
The growing number of visitors, now exceeding 50,000 a year, serves as the best testimony to the correctness of the decision to establish a museum in Chełmno.



Memorials

Polish hostages
After the war, near the grave of Polish hostages, a large birch cross and two smaller ones were erected. In the 1960s the large cross was replaced with a metal cross and a concrete slab bearing the victims' names was placed on the grave. When the District Museum was taking over the grounds, the slob was already in a very bad condition. A new granite slob was placed on that old one, bearing the same inscription"
"Polish hostages murdered by the Nazis in autumn 1939."
Eugeniusz Bralicki, Henryk Orywoll, Jan Kędzierski, Wacław Łaszkiewicz, Tadeusz Łaszkiewicz, Zdzisław Łaszkiewicz, Bronisław Karniewski, Józef Kona, Aleksander Trzaskalski, Piotr Duda, Czesław Zapędowski, Feliks Misiak, Stanisław Lidwiński, Zygmunt Gogela, Józef Bystrzycki, Jan Lewiński, Antoni Lewandowski, Stanisław Tatarczan, Jan Tomczak, and a few dozens of victims of unidentified names. May their names live on."
Every August, groups of pilgrims heading to the town of Częstochowa stop in the grounds of the camp. Masses said near the hostages' graves have become tradition. For this purpose, an altar has been built, which together with the cross have become an integral part of the memorial. On August 7th, 1991, in the presence of over 8,000 pilgrims, it was consecrated along with an obelisk in commemoration of Stanisław Kaszyński. Both these memorials were designed by a visaual artist, Jan Rassumowski.

An obelisk in commemoration of Kaszyński

"In memory of Stanisław Kaszyński, the secretary of Chełmno-on-Ner Commune, born on November 16th, 1903, murdered by the Nazis on February 28th, 1942 in Chełmno, in the vicinity of the church, as punishment for attempts to inform the world opinion about crimes against Gypsy people."
Information boards - sites of martyrdom of Jews in the Konin County
Boards in the Polish language are placed along the concrete road stretching from the monument to the clearing with the graves:
1. Niesłusz-Rudzica forests (Konin), the "Długa Łąka" walk. In the autumn of 1941 about 1,600 Jews     from the former Konin County, concentrated in the collective ghettos in Grodziec and Rzgów were     murdered.
2. Forests near Kazimierz Biskupi and Kleczew. The "Krążel" forest - the walk of "Wygoda" forester's     lodge - in the autumn of 1941 about 3,000 Jews from the former Konin County, concentrated in     the collective ghetto in Zagórów. Probably, in the following years (1943-44), mass executions of     Jews were carried out there.
3. A labor camp in Czarków (Konin). Established at the end of 1942 and the beginning of 1943.     Liquidated in November 1944. Concentrated there were 1,100 people from outside the Konin     County. The prisoners worked mainly at the extension of a railroad track and a sewage system.     Exceptional repressions, maltreating, and systematic killing of prisoners on daily basis, deem Czarków     as camp having characteristics of an extermination center. A few dozens of the dead and     murdered were buried at the Catholic cemetery in Konin at Kolska Street. The final phase of the     camp operation witnessed a riot started by the prisoners. During the liquidation of the camp, a     group of a few hundreds were murdered probably in the forests near Kazimierz Biskupi. The     remaining prisoners were probably deported in the direction of Ślesin.
4. The "Czachulec" village ghetto (presently Kawęczyn Commune). Located within the territory of     several villages of the Kowale Pańskie administrative unit with the ghetto authorities' headquarters     in Czachulec Nowy. From the autumn of 1941 until July 1942, 4,000-6,000 Jews went through the     ghetto, mainly from the former Turek County. The ghetto residents mainly worked in craftsmen's     workshops an in the field. High mortality rate among prisoners, exceptional repressions resulted in     the creation of a ritual cemetery within the ghetto. The liquidation of the "Czachulec" collective     ghetto was carried out in two stages. Jews were deported to the Chełmno-on-Ner extermination     camp in December 1941 and July 1942. Around 190 people were transported to the Łódź ghetto.


Bełchatów
On August 24th, 1993 a memorial devoted to 4,953 Jews from Bełchatów murdered in Chełmno was unveiled. It was founded by Association of Bełchatów Residents', managed by Menachem Sharon, who significantly contributed to its creation in the form designed by the visual artist, Jan Rassumowski. The memorial is made up of an obelisk into which sunk are fragments of tombstones from a destroyed cemetery in Bełchatów. It bears commemorative plaques with the following text in Polish, Hebrew, and English: "In memory of 4,953 Jews from Bełchatów, murdered by the Nazi occupants in August 1942." Adjacent to it are horizontal slabs, arranged to form an open book; on them there are letters with names of the Bełchatów residents murdered in Chełmno.

Brzeziny
A memorial in the form of a 2-meter rock with stone plaques bearing the following text in Polish, Hebrew, and Enlish: "In memory of 3,000 men, women, and children, Jews from Brzeziny, murdered by the Nazi perpetrators of genocide in the days of the Brzeziny ghetto liquidation in May 1942. The monument was erected on the initiative of the writer Sara Zyskind by Committee of Brzeziny Residents in Israel."
At the bottom of the rock, slabs with the victims' names were placed. The memorial was founded by Association of Former Brzeziny Residents in Israel. A significant contribution to its creation was made by Eliezer Zyskind. It was unveiled during a ceremony on October 1st, 1997. The ceremony was attended by Brzeziny residents scattered around the world, invited guests from Poland, and representatives of local authorities of Konin and Brzeziny.

Turek
On August 22nd, 1994, official celebration to mark the 50th Anniversary of the Łódź Ghetto Liquidation were held. Honored by the presence of the Head Rabbi of Israel and the Israeli Ambassador to Poland, the celebrations were attended by over 2,000 people from Poland and abroad. The program of the event included the unveiling of commemorative plaques in commemoration of Turek residents murdered in Chełmno.
Turek Compatriots' Association from Israel, cooperating with the Museum for many years, honored the memory of their compatriots in a special way: they founded a lapidarium consisting of tombstones from the cemetery in Turek, preserved by the Museum. The lapidarium was located outside the camp grounds; headstones found in sidewalks in various spots of Turek were placed there. Mr. Jehuda Widawski from Israel, whose family came from Turek, showed particular commitment to the creation of the lapidarium. Since the early 1990s, that is since first headstones from Turek were preserved, he has been helping the Museum in their conservation. Among other things, he financed expensive conservation works of the headstone of a rabbi of Węgrów.
Lapidarium is a symbolic link between the history of Polish Jews and the tragedy of Extermination. It is here that museum lessons on the subject of the history of Polish Jews are organized, here children and the youth learn respect for the culture and religion of the nation which mutually shaped our common history and culture for hundreds of years.
3 plaques in Polish, English, and Hebrew bearing the following text:
"To mark the 50th anniversary of extermination. In memory of our ancestors, who lived on this land and our brothers and sisters brutally murdered in Chełmno by the German Nazis. The lapidarium of tombstones from the destroyed Jewish cemetery in Turek was constructed by Compatriots' Association of Turek Residents in Israel."
In the cemetery, the alley of memorials has got two new elements: an obelisk in memory of residents of Gąbin murdered in Chełmno and a monument devoted to the residents of the Łódź ghetto.

Gąbin.The obelisk was designed by the visual artist, Jan Rassumowski, and completed by a sculptor, Stanisław Mystek. It was located in a line of collective memorials near the path leading to the Remembrance Wall.
It was created on the initiative of Gąbin Jewish Historical and Genealogical Association in the United States. Four plaques with inscriptions in Polish, English, Hebrew, and Yiddish as well as the fifth plaque with an image of a synagogue in Gąbin were placed on the obelisk. The whole structure is crowned with candelabra and a Star of David. The unveiling took place on August 15th, 1999 in the presence of a few dozens of former Gąbin residents, their ancestors, victims' relatives from Israel, the USA, England, and representatives of Wielkopolska Province authorities, the Mayor of Konin, Mayors of Koło, Dąbie, and Gąbin.




Łódź.
On May 14th, 2001, in the presence of the Ambassador of Israel, Prof. Szewah Weiss, the Secretary of the Council for the Protection of Memory of Combat and Martyrdom, Andrzej Przewoźnik, the initiator of the construction of the memorial, Earl A. Lachman, a representative of Holocaust Memorial Foundation of Illinois, and numerous guests from Poland and abroad, a solemn unveiling of the monument by the sculpture Stanisław Mystek took place. The monument is made up of three joined headstones.

Individual commemorations
In the prepared commemorations location plan there was also room for individual commemorations, placed outside the Remembrance Wall. They were located opposite the mass commemorations. So far one has been created, dedicated to the Kujawski family.

Commemorations on the Remembrance Wall
On the Wall there are small aluminum plaques, spontaneously hung by the victims' descendants coming to Chełmno from Israel, the USA, and Germany.
In the period between 1995-2004 the following appeared:
a plaque commemorating the murdered Dąbie residents (August 22, 1997), five plaques in Polish and Hebrew with the names of the places from which Jews were deported to Chełmno (14 October, 1997), a plaque commemorating 4,000 murdered Jews from Sieradz (May 20, 1998), and another in memory of the Koło residents (July 28, 1998).
During the ceremonies related to the unveiling of the Gąbin residents' monument, the descendants of the town's residents murdered in Chełmno hung small plaques with inscriptions in Hebrew commemorating the following families: Król, Kriger, Zielonek, Zamość, Morgenstern, Gostyński, Zielonek, Fridman, Pióro, Holcman, Krumhorn, Ber, Kriger.
In 2001 the plaques commemorating the families of Wolfowicz, Majer, Glas, Joskowicz, Lipszyc, and Krumhorn as well as the residents of Ozorków appeared on the wall.
In 2003 the death of 10-year-old Adela Rubinstein, taken away from the Łódź Ghetto during the so-called "szpera" (a round-up) in 1942, was commemorated.
In the summer of 2003 inscriptions commemorating the families murdered in Chełmno made on sheets of paper appeared for the first time.
In 2004, next to the cement blocks taken out of the crematoria foundation, someone placed a flat stone brought from Israel with a Hebrew inscription and date.

In spite of the long distance from Chełmno, it is necessary to mention two sites within the territory of the former Konin Province linked to Chełmno through the unit of the same oppressors, namely the Lange SS-Sonderkommando.
At the end of September and the beginning of October 1941, in the Niesłusz-Rudzica forest, the unit murdered about 1,500 Jews, residents of the ghettos in Grodziec and Rzgów. The site had never been properly commemorated. In 1998, thanks to the Council for the Protection of Memory of Combat and Martyrdom in Warsaw, archival and archeological research was carried out resulting in the discovery of traces of the graves as well as the clearing where the corpses had been burnt. An obelisk was raised, based on the project by Jan Rassumowski, with plaques in Polish and English describing the events that had taken place there.
Between the end of October and the middle of November 1941, in the forests near Kazimierz Biskupi (the so-called "Krążel" forest in the Wygoda forestry walk) about 3,000 Jews from the Zagórów Ghetto were put to death. Part of the victims was murdered in a particularly cruel manner, by being herded into a pit filled with unslaked lime and then water. The site of this tragedy was not properly commemorated either. After the war, two concrete tombstones were erected there; later a commemoration was built, which did not say anything about the victims or the tragic events that had taken place there. In August 2002, thanks to the Council for the Protection of Memory of Combat and Martyrdom in Warsaw, a monument by the sculptor Stanisław Mystek with tables describing the events in Polish and English was erected.

Individual commemorations
In the prepared commemorations location plan there was also room for individual commemorations, placed outside the Remembrance Wall. They were located opposite the mass commemorations. So far one has been created; the rock bears a stone plaque with the following inscription:"The Kujawski family from Brzeziny, murdered in Chełmno in 1942. The Father Nachman, the Mother Dwojra, the Sister Sura, the Brothers: Ruven, Michał, Anszel, Icie, the Sister, and the rest of the family. Gift from the surviving Hanoch Kujawski - a brother living in Israel. August 1995."

Commemorations on the Remembrance Wall
On the Wall there are small aluminum plaques, spontaneously hung by the victims' descendants coming to Chełmno from Israel, the USA, and Germany.

1. As evidence of memory of Jews from the town of Łask brutally murdered by the Nazi     murderers.
    The families of Gelbart, Kochman, and Lisner
    July 7th, 1991
    A plaque is in Polish and Hebrew.

2. In commemoration of 3,517 Jews from Łask murdered by the Nazis occupants in August     1942.
    May 28th, 1993
    Two plaques in Polish, Hebrew, and English.

3. In commemoration of 8,000 Jews from Zduńska Wola murdered by the Nazis occupants     in August 1942.
    A plaque is in Polish, Hebrew, and English
    18th June, 1993

4. In memory of Jews from the town of Dąbie, who were murdered by the Nazi beasts     1939-1945.
    1997-08-22

5. Five plaques in Polish and Hebrew with the names of places from which Jews were     deported to Chełmno.
    October 14th, 1997
    1997-10-14

6. In commemoration of 4,000 Jews from Sieradz murdered by the Nazis occupants in     August 1942.
    20.05.1998

7. I remember!!! Your agony. You were burnt here in Chełmno and buried alive! Children,     the elderly, and families from Koło-on-Warta. Tola Moskal-Shulz-Kopytno Fulek Izralewicz. We     shall never forget you." The text in Polish and Hebrew.
    July 28th, 1998

8. Plaques with inscriptions in Hebrew, English, and Polish, commemorating the families of Król,     Zamość, Morgenstern, Gostyński, Zielonek, Fridman, Pióro, Holcman, Krumhorn, Ber.

9. A stone plaque placed on July 7th, 1991 near the southern face of the Wall. The following text in     Polish and Hebrew:"In commemoration of murdered Jews from the town of Pabianice."

                 Their corpses were buried in a mass grave in May 1942 in Chełmno.
                                                  May their names live on.



Archeological Research
Archeological research in the grounds of the Chełmno-on-Ner extermination center, initiated by the District Museum in Konin in 1986, was carried out along with historical and environmental research in the form of interviews with elder residents of Chełmno as well as nearby towns and villages. Due to being underestimated and a resulting lack of financial means, the archeological excavations were held off for 10 years. During the hold-off the Museum continued to carry out archival research and the interviews. The scope of the archival studies related to the Chełmno extermination center was widened to include the link between the Jewish community extermination in autumn 1941 in the Niesłusz-Rudzica forest (the section of Długa Łąka) as well as in the forests near Kazimierz Biskupi (the "Krążel" forest in the Wygoda forester's section) and the establishment of the Chełmno center.
The gathered materials and people feeling the necessity of renewing studies on the history of the center greatly facilitated launching archeological work in 1997. Acquainted with our problems and long-lasting efforts to launch research in the grounds of the former estate - the site of the palace and the first stage of the extermination process, the then rector of the Chełmno parish, Priest Idzi Piasecki, proposed to begin the excavations at the church apse, where during routine tidying the victims' belongings were found. The proposal had a great significance, as the church was an integral part of the center. During the first phase of the center's existence, the church was used for storing the victims' belongings. In 1944, the Jews spent there their last night before death. Mr. Andrzej Przewoźnik, Secretary of the Council for the Protection of Memory of Combat and Martyrdom in Warsaw, to whom we turned for necessary means to carry out the research, showed great kindness and understanding towards the importance of the studies on the history of the center by helping us immediately. The research has been carried out for 8 seasons, all the time financed by the Council, which has also granted significant factual support.
The archeological research carried out so far can be divided into 3 periods determined not only by time, but also a research program.
1.Research between 1986-87, its main task was to work out the methods of carrying out the research, as well as make reconnaissance in the cemetery grounds, where traces of the camp operation were significantly obliterated between 1960 - 1964 and sometimes even totally destroyed at the occasion of commemorative and tidying works carried out at that time.
Preparations started when two aerial photographs of the cemetery grounds (taken in 1958 and 1979) were acquired and then photointerpreted. The Museum of the Holocaust, established at that time, gave us the aerial photos of the Rzuchów Forest made by Luftwaffe in May 1942, which proved to be extremely important for further research. The photos indicate, among other things, that graves were camouflaged, which could not be seen in later photographs from the year 1944.
The photointerpretation of the 1958 photo suggested the existence of traces of, most likely, two barracks with wind shelters placed in rows (8x14 m), as well as a few square and rectangular facilities measuring from 4x4 m to 13x14 m.
During the two following research seasons in 1986 and 1987, the data gathered from the photointerpretation, as well as information from inhabitants of Chełmno and its vicinity were being checked.
In the course of the research, the archeologists have partly located a grave situated in section II, parallel to the forest track, which until that time had been known only from the German district forester H. May's account. Apart from the aerial photo, very helpful in locating the grave were the accounts of people employed at tidying works between 1962-64. According to H. May, the grave was about 50 m long. During the research two of its points were discovered, but its dimensions remained unknown. In section IV on the basis of the photointerpretation results one of the field crematoria was discovered, most likely square in shape and 10x10m in size. At that time its function was mistakenly interpreted as the place for burning useless clothes of the victims. The hollow-crematorium had walls narrowing obliquely towards the inside. In the southern corner a fragment of concrete pipe blackened inside, 0.3m in diameter, was discovered. Most likely it supplied air into the furnace. The depth of the hollow-crematorium was about 3 m. Inside a significant amount of the victims' personal belongings was found, such as: clasps of different kind, e.g. of handbags, suitcases; strap buckles, keys, fragments of artificial teeth, rifle and pistol shells, and, what is very important, a button of a Russian uniform. The number of Russian officers murdered in Chełmno or the date of the executions has not been fully explained yet.
The fact of finding the button of a Red Army military uniform inside the crematorium dates back this facility indirectly; most likely burned there were the victims murdered in February 1942. This may indicate that this facility is one of the oldest.
The most important discovery of the research carried out at that time was discovering the relics of the blown-up crematorium. Most likely it was rectangular in shape; the measurable size was 17x17m. The walls were obliquely narrowing towards the inside; in the corners of the southern wall concrete pipes supplying air to the hearth were found. The crematorium was about 4.5 m deep. The last layer, about 1m thick, contained brick and concrete debris. From the crematorium foundations a few fragments of concrete blocks were extracted. A closer look at the fragments of the concrete walls reveals that Germans used elements of baby carriages to reinforce the concrete construction. The crematoria dating back to the first phase of the camp operations were blown up; those of the second phase, on the other hand, were dismantled. According to the account of the prisoners, witnesses, and observers, in the first phase of the camp operation there were two furnaces with chimneys. There are repetitive accounts about burning corpses in bonfires, which took place in the initial phase of opening the mass graves and was aimed at quick liquidation of the decomposing bodies.
2.Archeological work carried out between 1997-2002 aimed at uncovering the relics of the palace blown up on April 7, 1943, as well as preserved traces of the camp operation. The camp covered the area of over 3 hectares of the former park and gardens. Before proceeding to discuss the results of the research, it is worth presenting the history of this place in a few sentences.
Before World War I, the estate in the grounds of which the extermination center in Chełmno was located, had been the property of the Bistram family and had been a gift donated in 1837 to General-Lieutenant Karol Bistram for his war merits, including the suppression of the November Uprising. After Poland regained independence, the estate became a property of the State Treasury. This state did not change until the outbreak of World War II. The estate was made up of an untended park, gardens, a collapsing court annex, a palace and a few maintenance buildings. Before the outbreak of World War II, some of the farm workers who lived in the palace basement (on the side of the Ner River) due to the partition received a piece of land each and left the palace. On the second floor of the palace there lived the estate administrator and a local teacher. The legal situation of the estate, its convenient location as regards transportation, could not have been without significance when Germans were selecting this spot as the site for the future center. After the palace had been blown up on April 7, 1943, and the camp left by the staff on April 11, 1943, according to the accounts by the Chełmno residents, what remained in the place where the palace used to stand was a pile of debris and wood. During a year interval in the operation of the camp, the terrain was not particularly protected. The locals took a shortcut through the park. The palace ruins were partly tidied and dismantled as part of the process of obliterating the traces in the second phase of the camp operation.
After the war, the grounds of the palace and park were neglected for a long time. The place where the palace used to stand, the burned granary where the last prisoners died, and the park, only fragmentally preserved, which covered the area of about 3 hectares, between 1960s and 1970s were transformed into a Agricultural Cooperative headquarters. A complex of primitive barracks-warehouses was created, the granary covered with a new roof, and its interior developed. The passage of time covered the palace ruins with garbage and self-sown acacia. After the bankruptcy of the Agricultural Cooperative in 1993, the grounds and the buildings were leased to an official receiver. Trade business continued. They were purchasing cattle, trading in construction materials and fuels. Until the District Museum in Konin showed its concern about the site the only trace of the tragedy which had taken place there was a small obelisk with the inscription in Polish and Jewish: "The site is hallowed by the blood of thousands of victims of the Nazi perpetrators of genocide. May the names of the victims live on." It was raised in 1957 by the Jewish communities from Łódź and Włocławek, most likely in the place where the last victims of January 1945 had been buried.
Thanks to the efforts of the Museum, under a decision of the Province Conservator of Historical Monuments and Buildings, the whole terrain of the former estate was recorded in a register of historical monuments and buildings (reg. no. 509/250 of August 8, 1994). It should be mentioned that the southern part of the grounds where the palace had been situated in the 1970s was sold to one of the local farmers, who wanted to build a house there.
In 1997 the Council for the Protection of Memory of Combat and Martyrdom and the District Museum in Konin established a research program focused on the estate grounds that would continue for several years. Simultaneously, the Council started making efforts aiming at transferring the whole terrain along with the plot being in private hands to the Museum.
The field research had been preceded by interviews with those Chełmno residents who remembered the palace and its surroundings very well. The Museum received from them a gift of a few photographs belonging to the victims, found after the war in the park grounds. Furthermore, thanks to them photographs taken most likely by Germans in autumn 1941, before the center was launched, were found. All these photographs, taken from the other bank of the Ner River, although badly preserved, show the palace and the granary.
Of particular value were the pieces of information from the former palace residents, as they helped to reconstruct the interior layout of the building. Sources related to the palace are scarce; no plans or photographs have been preserved. Those already found show only its fragments. The Museum managed, however, to find two plans of the estate, which are of great significance for our further research - one of 1933, the other of 1940.
In December 1998, thanks to the efforts made by the Council for the Protection of Memory of Combat and Martyrdom, the legal status of the grounds of the former estate was established. It was purchased as a whole and transferred to the District Museum in Konin, becoming its property. Moreover, thanks to the financial means received, part of the barracks and a cattle-purchase point were dismantled, the terrain was tidied, and the large amount of garbage accumulated during the years of the Agricultural Cooperative's activity removed. The whole terrain was electrified and illuminated. The granary roof was secured and the 1970s extensions distorting the building's image dismantled. A scales facility was adapted to serve as an exhibition room and a doorkeeper's lodge.
From that moment on, the archeological research could be freely carried out in the grounds which previously had been occupied by other users. The whole site was covered with an are net, enclosing even the terrain outside the former estate, with the view to future research in the spot where the victims had been unloaded off the railroad cars, as well as further research near the church and in the village.

 

 

 

 

 

 







a. Research near the church in Chełmno
. In 1997, thanks to the Chełmno parish priest's kindness, it became feasible to carry out research near the presbytery of the local church, which played a vital role in both phases of the camp activity. In the first phase it served as a clothes warehouse. In the second, this was where the victims spent the night before their death. Elder Chełmno residents, who remember the events taking place at that site, stated that behind the church, in May 1942, some bonfires were being lit. According to one of the accounts, one of the bonfires was so huge that it spread on to some buildings in the village. Prisoners employed at the bonfire were severely punished.
Due to the lack of space between the presbytery and the church fence, only three narrow probes were set up. The longest one, located on the side of the presbytery, was parallel to the church fence, the second running ran crosswise, and the third, the smallest one, was close to the presbytery. During the research we managed to localize the traces of the hearth, about 1.3m in diameter. The hearth was located in a small hollow. Only about 60cm of its contents were explored, because further underneath there was a layer of melted mass, mainly glass, extremely hard to be removed. All the objects were transformed into homogeneous glass mass. Most of the artifacts were at the edges of the hearth. Most likely, this is where part of the clothes that had not been driven away or thrown out of the church during the tiding up was burned. Within the whole site under research, under the layer of turf, in an approximately 60cm layer of brown earth with additives of burn waste, clay, mortar, and crushed glass, we found hundreds of objects belonging to the victims of the Chełmno camp. Part of them is completely burned.
Among these objects there are: tools, objects of everyday use, such as dishes, flatware, pots, medicament bottles (including one with preserved contents, probably aspirin), fragments of preserved jewelry, made of gold, silver, and metal, buttons, cuff links, brooches, coins, shoes, soap bars, shavers, small bottles with nail polish. Objects relating to the cult represent a separate issue. Among them there are: tiny pieces of parchment, probably from the Torah, cups with the inscription "Pesah", occasional badges, silver cups, candlesticks, a metal Star of David, a Saturday jackknife for cutting bread with the Yiddish inscription "Holy Sabbath".Among the objects found, there were work tools of tailors, shoemakers, embroiderers, poignant objects certifying the victims' faith in return to their homes, keys to their houses, and an inconspicuous plate with the inscription "Barber". Among the find there were two brass pistons, similar in shape, triangular headed with a plant-like ornament. Most likely they had been used in bookbinding.The research in front of the church entrance was not carried out due to the lack of space and inconvenience in transportation, which could have resulted from launching such research.
The research at the church presbytery was completed in 1998.
b. Uncovering the palace relics and research in the grounds of the former park and gardens.  

                 
plan 1#                       the castle cellar

The Palace.
During the first phase of the research, the most important issue was localizing the palace relics. Good preparations for the research allowed to achieve a success already in the first excavating season: we managed to uncover a corridor running centrally through the palace basement (32.80m). On the basis of the accounts by Chełmno runaways, as well as those by other prisoners and murderers, it can be stated that the victims' 'last walk' led through this corridor to a gas vehicle.
The palace had been built on the NW-SE axis; their dimensions have been established: length 41.65m, width 13.68m. All along the basement corridor (1.20m wide) fragments of architectonic details were being found. The escarpment-location of the palace imposed a disparate character of the basements in the southern part. On the side of the Ner River, the basements had windows, were elevated and well-illuminated. On the other hand, the row of basements on the side of the courtyard had either only small windows or none. Before the war the basements used to be maintenance rooms in which vegetables and fuel were stored. During the center operation this was where the workers-gravediggers slept. Their belongings were found there. These were: flatware, painted mugs, small medicine bottles, candle-ends. In the northern-edge basement, fragments of the so-called "balloons", large glass bottles made of brown glass most likely used to keep chemical substances, were found. In the basement at the southern end worked prisoners-craftsmen - tailors and shoemakers. On the basis of a quality and quantity analysis of the findings discovered in this part of the basement, it may be assumed that there used to be three tailor's and two shoemaker's workshops. Among others, the following were found: thimbles, fragments of a measuring tape, shoemaker's tools, and pieces of leather. Special attention should be paid to a set of artifacts in one of the basements where the shoemakers worked; apart from a set of tools, we found there a crushed gold man's wedding ring with a woman's signet ring inside (put between the bricks of a partition), a fragment of a denture with a carved Hebrew date:




                               5701 (1941) the second month after 28 Rosh-Hashana
From the southern side the palace could be entered through a high terrace with a platform placed above the level of the basement windows.
In the excavation near the palace terrace there was a significant amount of beer bottles mainly from Trieste, which is most likely the trace indicating that the commando officers used to relax at the terrace.
A very important issue concerning the palace operation as a crucial part of the tragic machine of death was communication routes and entrances. On the courtyard's side there were two entrances, of which the eastern one had undergone several alterations; most likely it was the most important one as it ensured access to every part of the palace, that is to the basements and the maintenance section, which was situated in the eastern wing of the palace. The eastern entrance during the times of the palace's magnificence ensured access to the representative section of the building. In the western gable wall there was an entrance linking the basement corridor with the eastern entrance on the courtyard side, as well as indirectly with the western one. This communication route was the most important aspect in the murderers' premeditated plan of extermination. It marked their last walk, from the hall where they undressed, on the first floor near the staircase, to the narrow basement corridor and through a ramp placed near the western basement exit to the gas vehicles.
Along with the eastern entrance (on the courtyard side) a fragment of a staircase (1 meter wide) leading to the basement through seven concrete steps has been discovered. The stairs were slightly turning left into a narrow 1.5 m corridor, which led to the entrance hall, 3 meters wide and 6 meters long; at half of its length on the right side there was a narrow cellar (1.5x5.6m), on the left there was a square cellar (4.65x4.70m) with a concrete floor, from where one could go to the communication section, most likely linked with the maintenance section of the palace. This is indicated not only by the accounts of people remembering the palace but also by a primitive clay floor, as well as an unplastered descent through brick stairs about 90 cm wide leading to the lower level of the basement-ice house in the southern part of the palace. This section of the palace could be reached through a separate entrance in the eastern gable wall; on its left side there was a tiny cell. While the cell was being uncovered, an infant's skeleton was found, whose age was determined at 0-3 months. Next to the fragments of the baby's body there were a plated spoon and a Saturday jackknife from Carlsbad in mother-of-pearl setting with the inscription in Hebrew "Cherish Sabbath". It can be only presumed that someone had been trying to save the child.
The preserved fragments of walls in the western part of the basement bear traces of an explosive material used in mining. In one case a piece of a fuse has been preserved.
In front of the palace relics, from the south, in the place where the victims' clothes were being thrown out through the windows, many small objects that fell out of the pockets have been found. The most precious findings include: half of a bent prisoner's of war tag with number 1876 Stalag II A on it (it was a camp for privates and non-commissioned officers in New Brandenburg),belonging to Dawid Anszulowski before September 1, 1939 domiciled in Nieszawa. On March 1, 1940, Dawid Anszulowski was transferred to Stalag II D Stargard. Among many other findings, the following deserve special attention: a badge of the Viennese sports club "HAKOAH" (STRENGHT), an ebonite container with a glass insert for iodine from a military medical kit, a silver thimble with an ornament, a lipstick produced by J.Szach company from Warsaw, a rose-shaped ivory brooch, a fragment of a memento mirror from Krynica, a woman's purse with food stamps cut out and glued together (not from the ghetto), with a legible stamp for 10 grams of bread (valid from October 20 to November 16, 1941) and a red ebonite heart with a miniature horseshoe.












Discovering human remains

The research season in 1998 finished in October with a shocking discovery of reburied human remains. They were uncovered during excavations carried out north of the southeastern corner of the palace. In one place the remains of two men were buried, in another a fragment of a man's skeleton without a head and thighbones. Close to this burial site, during the research carried out in 2001, a whole dog tag from a prisoner-of-war camp was found. It had belonged to Henryk Pfeffer, the son of Moszek and Maria nee Kupfer, born in Łódź on September 23, 1914, before the war domiciled in Łódź at 10 Smugowa Street. In the army he had the rank of a 'shooter'. He served in the 10th infantry regiment. In Góra Kalwarii on September 9, 1939 he got into captivity. In the census of the Łódź Ghetto residents he is mentioned under the name of Hersz, a typesetter by profession. In the ghetto he moved house several times; initially he lived at 14 Koszykowa Street, then he moved to apartment number 14 at 33 Aleksandrowska Street (June 21, 1941), from October 27, 1941 he lived at 37 Aleksandrowska Street. The Museum does not have further information concerning his fate, we do not know when and by which transport he got to Chełmno. Every single object found in Chełmno represents a human being, their tragedy. Yet only few of these objects can identify the victims so precisely.
The human remains had been buried in shallow pits and covered with a layer of earth and debris. Furthermore, the pits contained fragments of objects related to the center operation. In a probing survey localized behind the southern gable wall of the granary, a fragment of a human thighbone was found.The findings provide evidence for the tragic events of blowing up the palace with the prisoners inside. Among the locals stories were circulating that a number of people had been brought to the palace the day before the explosion, but the car going to the forest had not been noticed. Szymon Srebrnik, one of the few Chełmno witnesses, who managed to survive the second phase of the camp operation, also mentioned the fact of burying human remains in the palace grounds.
The uncovered remains, including those of the infant, were solemnly buried under the Wall of Memory in the cemetery grounds on November 18, 1998.

c.Research in the palace and park grounds.   
Waste pits.
The postwar research carried out by Judge Władysław Bednarz, the accounts of the Chełmno residents, and the testimony by Bruno Israel showed that the traces of the center operation were not restricted only to the palace and the granary; they can be found in the whole terrain of the former park and gardens. Some of the objects (documents, photographs, worthless objects) were burned in larger pits, mostly in pit (no. 4) located west of the granary. The Museum considered which research method should be applied to explore the surface of the park and gardens covering 3 hectares.
The terrain was rough, overgrown at its edges, partly covered with concrete slabs and barracks. For fear of overlooking tiny traces illegible in small-drill cross-sections, the Museum gave up the idea of applying drillings and chose the method of putting up probing nets in a checked pattern all over the terrain. Additionally, before the probes were set up, all the data gathered from the testimonies by the witnesses and the accounts by the elder Chełmno residents and its vicinity had been analyzed.
This resulted in discovering 10 waste pits. The pits, in which objects that were useless for the murderers were buried both in the first and second phase of the center operation, constitute an important and characteristic element of its history. During the exploration of the pits, the Museum gathered significant amounts of historical material; unfortunately, the pits themselves - such significant evidence in situ - were lost irretrievably. The Museum decided to consider the possibility of leaving one of them untouched, as an element of a natural exposition. For this reason the pit was only partly explored so that the visitor can notice its shape, depth, and contents.
The contents of the pits provided incredibly rich exploration material, which allows to identify the victims more precisely. On its basis the Museum can, among others, link them to specific transports and periods of the center operation. Some of them can be linked to the craftsmen working in the granary during the second phase of the center operation. The pits were mostly localized in the second research season in 1998 when the whole territory of the former estate was cut up by probing excavations.
The earth from all the pits was washed and sifted, which allowed to retrieve even very small objects. Some of them are burned.

Pit no. 1

The pit was situated at the border of the property, in its northwestern part, in the gardens of the former estate. It was rectangular in shape; its dimensions in the upper part were about 2.5x3.8 m, while at the bottom 2x4 m. The pit was quite shallow: its depth did not exceed 1 m; it was filled with gray humus. At the bottom we discovered what most likely was sacks full of lumped lime. This pit, as well as those situated nearby, was related to the second phase of the center operation. Among other things we found there 2 stone figures of "silent" monkeys, a bronze Star of David, a quadrilateral lead toy top for playing drejdl (with Hebrew letters: nun, gimel, he, szin), as well as human teeth with traces of removed gold caps.

Pit no. 2

The pit was situated next to pit no. 1. Its upper part was thickly overgrown with bushes, and thus it was difficult to determine the shape and dimensions of the upper layer. Most likely the pit was rectangular in shape, 3.80x4.20 m, while 3x3.50 m at the bottom. Its total depth can be about 1.30 m at the top. It was filled with dark brown humus. We found there significant quantities of the victims' belongings and human teeth with traces of removed tooth caps. The most valuable objects retrieved from the pit are: a (cut off) fragment of a cigarette-case lid - 1st prize awarded to Józef Jakubowki in a motorcycle gymkhana at a "Sokół 600"motorcycle, from F.R. Klinger on August 30, 1936, an eagle of the Women's Military Training, a silver badge on a pin with the Star of David and the inscription "Ghetto 1943", a promotional mirror by Hückel company from Łódź, 10 Piotrowska St., a fragment of a side plate, a fragment of a Hanukkah lamp, significant quantities of small medicine bottles and jars (including a few with preserved contents), cosmetics boxes, etc.






Pit no. 3
Pit number 3 was located between the palace and the granary. The ceiling was a 4x4.5-meter irregular rectangle. The upper part was covered with a layer of lime and stones. The floor was a 3.5x4-meter rectangle. It was filled with dark brown humus mixed with inclusions of subsoil clay. The pit's depth was 2 m. Most likely it had been penetrated in its upper parts during the research carried out by Judge Włodzimierz Bednarz in 1945. From the pit we obtained a significant number of objects, as well as human teeth with traces of removed caps. Other findings that deserve attention are: a silver Kiddush cup, a small brass cross with the image of Christ, a fragment of a marble stamp pendant, most likely bearing the Starykoń coat of arms, fragments of cigarette cases and powder compacts, partly preserved heart-shaped child's earrings, a worn-out girl's sandal, and a purse. We also found typical ornaments made in the ghetto: monograms "P" and "R" cut out of brass sheet, a miniature silver Star of David with the inscription "Ghetto 1940".Apart from this, among the significant number of the artifacts the following should be mentioned: a button of a Polish uniform, shreds of a medical book, small medicine bottles, cosmetics boxes, a vial with aspirin tablets, handgun and rifle cartridge cases, 2 silver cups, a badge with a Hebrew inscription, most likely of an association assisting travelers, tools, a folded yad, injection needles, a large amount of metal jewelry, small toys for children, including a hexagonal brass top with squares marked with Latin letters (the following squares were legible: HB, ZB, JB, RB, GB), a Star of David with number 183 in the center, shreds of the traditional Jewish outfit - gabardine, and many others.

Pit no. 4
Localized about 15.5 m from the western granary wall, pit no. 4 contained layers of brown humus mixed with inclusions of clay. The profile showed legibly the backfilling layers. The structure of the layers revealed that the pit was filled in alternately from west and east. Most likely some of the objects were burned, which is supported by blackened marks on the pit walls as well as partly burned waste. The accounts of the elder Chełmno residents confirm this assumption. The pit was rectangular in shape, about 8.0 m long, 3.6 m wide, and 2.5 m deep. Its cross-section was trapezoidal in shape. On the basis of stratigraphy it may be concluded that it had been used for a long time. The earth inside the pit was very compact; many small objects were stuck in the burned lumps. For this reason all the excavated earth was washed and sifted several times. After the war, its upper part was explored by Judge W. Bednarz. Later, during the Agricultural Cooperative's operation in the grounds,the pit was filled with 'contemporary' waste. We retrieved incredibly rich and valuable historical material in the form of the victims' belongings, on the basis of which it is possible to link the pit to the first phase of the camp operation. Among others, human teeth and gold and metal tooth caps were found. The most precious object was an oval, silver-made badge, 2.3 cm in diameter. On the obverse on the right, there is the image of a disabled person, facing the tablet bearing the inscription "WOHNGEBIET DER JUDEN",supporting himself on a crutch, with a prosthesis instead of the right leg, wearing a uniform, a four-cornered hat worn by Polish soldiers, and a Star of David on his right shoulder. At the top there is a curve-shaped inscription saying "INWALIDA WOJENNY" ("WAR-DISABLED PERSON"). At the bottom, in three lines, there is the inscription "Litzmanstadt Getto 1940". The reverse bears a trace of a pin or screw thread, at the lower part it has the number "20". Moreover, we found an anniversary badge of the BUND with the name in Hebrew letters and the date "1897" on the obverse, as well as a badge awarded by the Minister of Industry, Craft and Trade for prominent achievements. Among rare findings there are a round silver badge of the Religious-Scout Youth Organization "Bnej Akiwa" (presenting the tables of the Decalogue, a crossed hammer and rake, and the Hebrew inscription "BNEJ AKIWA" ("the sons of Akiwa"). Of all the ornaments, special attention should be paid to: a silver cufflink made in the filigree technique, silver broochess:with roses motif, in the shape of a lizard, as well as a significant amount of the ghetto ornaments, such as: a brooch with the name "MADZIA" bent from copper wire, ornamental hangers representing a woman dancer and a Chinese man, cut out of thin brass sheet, as well as Stars of David of various kind, cut out or embossed. Among the latter ones, a significant group is represented by initials; some of them had been made amateurishly, mostly of brass or copper sheet Still some had been made of silver by engravers and jewelers. Small, at times undervalued objects after a closer analysis can tell us something about the person they belonged to. Thus an ornamental, small, silver monogram from some woman's clutch bag or purse with the letters "dr RB", most likely belonged to Dr. Rojza Basior. A special group of exhibits is represented by objects related to cult; these are: a fragment of a setting of a Saturday knife with the Hebrew inscription "HOLY SABBATH", glass cups - vodka glasses with the inscription "PESACH", a heavily burned enameled pendant with the number "13", a silver ornamental hanger in the shape of the tables of the Decalogue, oval enameled pendants with the image of Moses on the obverse and the Hebrew prayer "Listen Israel". We also found a silver, openwork hanger with the tables of the Decalogue, which might have been a memento of bat micwa, and Christian crosses. The confirmation of the fact that Jews who had become Polish soldiers also died in Chełmno were the following objects found in this pit: shreds of a soldier's uniform, buttons with the Polish Eagle (the Polish national emblem), and a silver badge with the inscription "Dowódca 14 p.p." ("Commander of the 14th infantry regiment"). Moreover, we found buttons of a firefighter's uniform (made in Łódź in the Bronisław Grabski's plant), as well as of scout and school uniforms. Of other interesting exhibits, we should mention a brass badge with the initials "LG", another brass badge with Hebrew inscriptions and the name "L. Auerbach", as well as a ceramic figurine of a lying lion, a metal figurine of a dog, and stone figurines of a "silent" monkey. A few objects may be linked to the German and Austrian Jews; these are: 2 iron crosses from the period of WW I, a brass 6-square top for playing "drejdl" with the inscriptions in Yiddish (Arab letters), a silver thimble with the German inscription "D.H. Aus Freundschaft", three glass medallions made in a mold - a blue one with the image of Schiller, yellow and white with Frederick the Great, a badge with the inscription "Berlin", a badge of the Nurses Association from Wiesbaden (Jewish nurses; in the center of the badge there is the Star of David), and a glass vial after a medicine against insect bites and frostbite manufactured by Aachen. Among numerous findings from the pit, we should also pay special attention to medicine boxes, fragments of syringes and needles, a fragment of a probably promotional mirror from Vienna, a fragment of a faience dish with the sign of C. Freudenreich's factory in Koło, the German name of the town - "Wartbrücken" - and the data "1942", small toys for children in the shape of animal figurines. The tools found included: textile magnifying glasses, jeweler's, shoemaker's, and tailor's tools.

Pit no. 5

Situated west of pit no. 4, on the other side of the interior road, which during the period of the Agricultural Cooperative's activity was paved with concrete paving The pit was not explored because of mass contents of metal dishes. Its fundamental part is situated under the mentioned road. In the future the Museum expects to secure the profile uncovered in the probing survey for expositional purposes.

Pit no. 6
Located between pits no. 5 and 7. It is filled with black "greasy" soil of intensive smell. Inside there were scraps of leather and fragments of shoes. Most likely, decomposing fragments of shoes caused undefined chemical reactions resulting in the intensive smell and a hardly visible cloud rising over the pit after removing the humus. For these reasons the pit has not been explored.

Pit no. 7
Situated in the gardens of the former estate. Presently, its location corresponds with the frontal area of the NW storage barrack of the former Agricultural Cooperative. It was uncovered during a probing excavation. It did not bear any signs of repenetration (disturbances in the soil). Its shape was close to a square; it had the following dimensions: 5x5 m, 2.2 m deep; filled with brown humus mixed with inclusions of subsoil clay. The ceiling of the pit was covered with stones and brick debris. Cohesion of the layers allowed to leave a 0.8 meter-wide witness dividing the pit into two parts. Significant amounts of objects have been found in it. Some of them had probably belonged to German Jews, which fact is indicated by the nature of the finds: an iron cross for participation in World War I, a commemorative badge in the shape of a tombstone from Wrocław, with an inscription in German localizing the Wrocław cemetery and a grave of a person buried on March 27, 1906 on one side, and an inscription in Yiddish referring to a dead mother, Masza Grosberg, on the other. Other interesting objects worth mentioning are: a silver heart-shaped badge with the image of Moses made in enamel on one side and a fragment of the most important Jewish prayer "Listen Israel…" on the other. Apart from the mentioned objects we also retrieved cosmetics and medications boxes with inscriptions in German, fragments of jewelry made of metal, silver, and gold, a comb manufactured in Hamburg, etc.
Jews from Western Europe in the period from May 4 to 15, 1942, were brought to Chełmno in 12 transports (10,498 people), another group (about 1,400 people) got to Chełmno in the period from September 3 to 12, 1942. In the pit we also discovered significant amounts of medicine boxes, boxes for doctor's stamps, which may support the hypothesis linking the contents of the pit to the Jews from the West, as there were over 60 physicians, pharmacists, and dentists among them.


Pit no. 8
The pit was situated on the verge of a rise south of pit no. 4 and the granary.
Basically, we came across the western edge of the pit. The soil was disturbed, probably in the process of digging a septic tank by the Agricultural Cooperative. We found there, among other things, a silver flag of hadas besamim.

Pit no. 9
Situated on the northwestern edge of the gardens, about 15 m from the property fence. It had been partly damaged by the Agricultural Cooperative burying boxes of used-up crop protection products, poisons, etc. The pit was rectangular in shape. Its exact dimensions could be determined only at the subsoil upper layer; they were: 3.7x2 m, while the preserved depth was 1 m. The contents included significant amounts of fragments of shoes, scraps of leather and rubber, crescent-shaped metal tips for shoes, belt buckles, a shoemaker's awl, fragments of a tailor's measuring tape, thimbles, scraps of fabrics and zippers, press-stud fasteners, buttons, and a quite well preserved fan made of a material imitating ivory.The most important finds from the pit are: a copper lighter with a partly legible inscription "wier..ge..od Leona L.- G. 20.VI.44" and a needle-case cover (?) with the view of the church and the bridge over Zgierska Street (the Łódź Ghetto). At the side of the cover, primitively engraved is the date "1944".The pits of the first phase of the center operation are clustered around the palace and the granary, that is the sites where the belongings were segregated and repaired. The objects from the second phase can mostly be found on the western verge of the property. It may partly be linked to the fact that the central part of the palace courtyard was occupied by a circus tent, which, according to the testimony by Walter Piller, second in command of the Sonderkommando unit, was about 80 m long, 15 m wide, and about 8 m high. In the tent the victims' clothes were sorted and searched through; worse pieces were shredded into fibers with the use of a shredding machine. Shoe heels were torn apart in search for valuables.
As a result of the research we have gathered a huge amount of personal belongings of the people murdered in Chełmno, people of different ages, different professions, different interests. These objects, to which in normal circumstances we do not pay attention, here in Chełmno have become significant traces of the tragedy of particular individuals as well as the whole nation. Children's toys: a metal top for playing drejdl, miniature animals, a clay dwarf, tools used by craftsmen and physicians, cosmetics for women, medicine boxes, jewelry; all this speaks about the victims, about their hope for survival.
As far as the palace grounds are concerned, a few issues have not been yet explained. The most important of them is examining a well in which 2 Jews were drowned during the second phase of the center operation. The well is partly inaccessible because on its verge there stands a barrack built by the Agricultural Cooperative. When the building is dismantled, further attempts to clarify this issue will be made.

3. Archeological work carried out in 2003-2004.
The cemetery in the Rzuchów Forest.
Between 1960 and 1964 a great and difficult task of tidying up and commemorating the great cemetery in the Rzuchów Forest was undertaken. Unfortunately, these actions often caused irreversible damage, obliterating the traces of the barbarian acts committed here. The need to carry out archival and field research was neglected; an important element - the Chełmno residents' memory - was not made use of. Many of the residents knew the postwar layout of the clearings, as well as the post-crematorium and post-grave sites from their personal observation. A few decades after the war, the accounts collected by the Museum were very helpful at carrying out the excavations.
The basic aim of starting the archeological work in the cemetery was to verify whether the boundaries of mass graves marked with stone walls between 1962-1964 were correct.
The data acquired from two photointerpretations of the aerial photographs of 1986 and 2002 needed to be verified and the remaining crematoria found. Furthermore, within the scope of capabilities, the location of the trenches for burying human ashes described by Bednarz and linked to the first phase of the center operation needed to be verified.
The research in the cemetery was carried out with the application of methods which did not disturb the layers and places where human remains were expected to be found. We adopted the method of intersecting objects on the photointerpretations with 1-meter long probes, thus obtaining a legible horizontal stratigraphy, that is a photograph of sod and a humus layer, only sporadically reaching deeper, when stratigraphy was disturbed. Due to the large extend of the research, it was decided to make boreholes in the places where clarifications were needed.
The cemetery grounds were divided into plots; the terminology was adapted from the terminology of forest land maps.

Plot II
The first grave.
During the first research in the cemetery in 1986, we came across a trace of, most likely, one of the two first graves, described by District Forester Heinz May in his account. The 2003 research examined the extent of the grave. It is situated parallel to an old forest track (about 18 m towards the West) running through the clearing marked as plot II along the NW-SE line. The grave has an irregular shape; the width of the northern part can be established at 8 m and narrows by 3 meters towards the south. Its length equals 62 m. More or less in the middle, it is cut by a concrete road of the period between 1962 and 1964. Its irregular shape and relatively insignificant length in comparison with the other graves indicate that the grave was dug by hand. Under the humus, on the top of the ash layer, we found several unburned objects belonging to the victims. These are: flatware, a mirror with the image of a young woman on the back, a bottle, a toothbrush, a full box of the Nicea cream (with the inscription "Posen"). Finding small objects belonging to the victims may confirm the assumption that the grave comes from the initial period of the center operation, when, most likely, a certain number of people were buried with their clothes (January 1942). While uncovering the grave we noticed that the earth must have contained some active substances: protective rubber gloves became destroyed.
Collected earth samples were examined by the Karol Marcinkowski University of Medical Sciences in Poznań, Department of Forensic Medicine. Caustic substances in the grave may provide evidence for experiments connected with liquidation of corpses. The special unit (Sonderkommando) under the command of SS Hauptsturmführer Herbert Lange, which in autumn 1941 in the Kazimierz Forest near Konin killed an undetermined group of victims by boiling them alive in pits filled with quicklime, was later transferred to the center in Chełmno at that time being established. It seems very likely that the attempts to liquidate the corpses with the use of lime were shifted to Chełmno. This method apparently did not prove successful with a significant number of bodies. In the cemetery thus far we have not come across another such place where the earth would contain active chemical substances.

Plot III
It is marked by a rectangular clearing running along the forest track. The main objective of the research carried out at this plot was to check the route of the grave situated in it. In the years 1962-1964 mass graves in the cemetery were marked with stone walls. The analysis of the aerial photos raised considerable doubts as to the correctness of establishing their location. Furthermore, the scope of the research program was widened trough the issue of explaining the existence of a "furnace" situated on the opposite side of the old forest track, at the south-western entrance to the clearing, marked on the 1951 plan by geodesists. A probing survey excluded the existence of a crematorium or any other construction at the site. In the place of an "interval" in the forested area, opposite the alleged furnace, during a probing survey we found traces of strengthening the track with demolition debris (not from chamotte brick) and traces of posts (strengthened inside the pits with broken limestone), possibly linked to the fence whose construction is mentioned by H. May. Probably in this place there was the entrance to the clearing, which is why it was necessary to strengthen the junction and the forest track.
Difficult to be unambiguously explained is the fact of finding lumps of coke.

The second grave, so-called "włocławska"
Situated about 20 m east of the old forest track, the grave runs parallel to it. Its current length is marked with a stone wall and equals 185 m. In order to establish its actual run, transverse probes were put up, while in inaccessible places drills were made.
On the basis of the drills made, it was possible to state that the clearing where the grave is situated was originally longer: it stretched over 45 m further south. The grave had an irregular width, ranging from about 7 m in the southeastern part, through about 10 m in the middle part, to only 4 m in the northeastern edge. While the new layout was being uncovered, the existence of burned-out objects and ashes as well as crushed human bones both burned and unburned was stated. Moreover, a number of unburned objects belonging to the victims were found, e.g. metal pots, a fragment of a pipe, a fragment of a photo of a man on a porcelain plaque. Further part of the grave contains burned-out objects mixed with inclusions of ash and bonemeal as well as lumps of burn waste and coke. Striking is also the absence of objects belonging to the victims. The total length of the grave equals 254 m. Its southeastern edge was established on the basis of drills. The depth established on the basis of drills equals 3 m. The aerial photograph of May 1942, very important for the cemetery research, shows both clearings; the graves were probably masked. However, the photograph of October 1944 clearly shows the clearings with the graves and the place where the burned-out forest used to grow. The burnt-out forest is the evidence of involving burning corpses with Thermite bombs during the first phase of the center operation. The dimensions and size of the two observed grave segments seem to indicate that it was formed during a longer period of time. The northern segment was probably dug by hand. The dimensions and the straight line of the grave's southern segment's edge suggest that it was probably made with the use of mechanical equipment. The character of the contents of both segments also suggests the existence of two phases of the grave formation. The northern segment contains a number of unburned objects belonging to the victims, which may suggest burying corpses with their clothes. Absence of objects in the southern segment may indicate burying the victims naked. The emptying of the graves probably was also done at other times. The northern segment of the grave may probably be linked to different attempts to remove the corpses, burn them inside the graves or in primitive furnaces-hearths as well as to the process of crushing bones. In the other segment, bones ground into bonemeal can already be found. During one of the traverse probing surveys we found a fragment of a smoked concrete pipe. This may suggest that in some part of the grave, perhaps in the initial phase, corpses were burned. South of the grave a round aluminum badge with no. 1280 and a hole for hanging the badge was found. According to the accounts of the employed workers, in the period between 1962-1964 when the cemetery was being tidied, 6 similar badges were found near the "włocławska" grave. They were later handed over to the Town Council in Dąbie, which further handed them over to a newly-established Museum in Chełmno. Interesting is the fact that the badges have the same diameter, while the numbers on most of them form a sequence: 3276, 3277, 3378, 3280, 3281, 2521. In the Chełmno estate grounds, near the granary, a smaller badge with number 1104 was found. It is unknown which group of prisoners had to wear such badges. Significantly greater quantities (over 300) of such numbered badges made of concrete were found during archeological research in Bełżec; their function, however, has not been explained there either. Perhaps an answer to this question lies in the organization of labor camps for Jews.

Plot IV

It is represented by the largest of the clearings, with the shape of an irregular quadrilateral. Objects described as graves are located in the eastern part of the clearing. Objects interpreted as furnaces for burning corpses are situated in the western part of the clearing. The aim of the research was to determine the actual layout of the graves as well as recognize the objects known from the photointerpretations of the aerial photographs in its eastern part. Taken in 1998, the aerial photos of the cemetery grounds suggested the existence of unexplained parallel lines between the forest wall and the third grave, which may have indicated the existence of one more mass grave. In order to explain this issue, traverse probes were set up and several drills made. It was stated that these were the traces of deep plowing, done with forest plows.
On account of the character of the objects located in the clearing, the method of surface uncovering of the objects' outlines was adopted within the whole terrain, and, in case of doubts, drilling was to be made.

The third grave.
Located parallel to the forest wall. On the basis of probing surveys and drills, it was stated that it reaches the forest from the south (SE), insignificantly entering its area. It passes under the forest track, which during the war most likely in this part of the clearing ran along the then forest wall, situated further on than the present one. A stone wall (about 135 meters long), which was to determine the stretch of the grave, is narrower by 2 m than the actual width of the grave. Its total length equals 174 m, width about 8 m. The contents of the grave includes sandy soil with gravel, burn waste, ash, and crushed human bones.

The fourth grave.
It is represented by a 140-metre-long wall. Located between the third and the fifth graves; its presumed location does not correspond with the actual location. The fundamental fourth grave is located between the wall of the fourth non-existent grave and covers the whole fifth grave. Its actual width equals 10 m, while its length is 182 m. It is filled with gray sandy soil mixed with inclusions of burn waste, ash and crushed bones.

The fifth grave
The last grave, or rather a line of pits filled with ashes, was not commemorated with any walls; in the 1960s it was already not discernible on the surface. On the basis of the description by Judge W. Bednarz it appears that in 1945 the pits were examined by him.
The total length of these pits equals 161 m. The stretch is made up of 11 pits, each located about 2-3 m from another. The dimensions of the pits vary from 9x7.5 m to 15.50x8.50 m. They are filled with gray soil with a significant mixture of burn waste and crushed human bones. In the southern (SE) part of the grave the bones found in the pits used to be ground; those in further parts - crushed. According to W. Bednarz, the depth of the pits was about 4 m, and the width 8-10 m. Even now the flora on the pits is more luxuriant, making this stretch more visible on the surface.

Field crematoria and pits for burning corpses.
Crematoria and pits for burning corpses are located in the western part of the clearing, referred to as Plot IV, while mass graves are in its eastern part. The large amounts of decomposing corpses in the mass graves constituted a threat of epidemic as well as the hazard of being discovered by the Allies intelligence and air force. The problem of liquidating corpses concerned not only Chełmno. Chełmno became an experimental ground not only in the annihilation of thousands of victims but also in the liquidation of their corpses. Some 'experiments' from the slaughter carried out in the forests near Kazimierz Biskupi were also applied in Chełmno. These experiments were attempts to get rid of corpses in quicklime. Other attempts included the application of explosive materials and burning in temporary field furnaces. Such furnaces have been discovered in the clearing; apart from the one partly uncovered in 1986, another 6 facilities have been discovered. All this indicates that these are furnaces of the first phase, when the nearby graves were being opened and the corpses burned in several spots simultaneously. After the contents of the mass graves had been removed, solid crematoria were created for systematic liquidation; in the first phase their chimneys could be seen over the forest wall. Most likely one of such crematoria was discovered in 1986.
It may be puzzling that the descriptions of the field crematoria, one by H. May and the other by SS Untersturmführer Walter Dejaco, mention round pits.
May saw a pit walled off with stones, about 4 m in diameter and 3 m deep, while Dejaco described and sketched a pit which was 4-6 m in diameter with a safety barrier - an earth embankment around the pit. By contrast the outline of such temporary furnaces for burning corpses uncovered by the Museum are square or rectangular.

Field crematoria
Object 2/03

It was uncovered fragmentarily during the first excavations carried out by the Museum in the years 1986-87. It was then misinterpreted as a pit for burning useless belongings of the victims. Square on the surface (8x8 m), it narrows towards the bottom with the depth slightly exceeding 5 m. The corners reveal slanting furrows, about 1-meter wide, containing traces of preserved concrete pipes, whose tasks was probably to supply air to the furnace interior. It was filled with sandy humus mixed with inclusions of burn waste, ashes, and pieces of burned bones. A few artifacts have been acquired, the most precious of which is a button from a Soviet uniform (the first one comes from the 1986-87 research). Furthermore, pieces of chamotte brick were found. Most likely the furnace had been dismantled.

Object 3/03
It has the shape of an 8x9 m rectangle. Its contents consist of gray soil mixed with inclusions of burn waste, ash, and small fragments of burned bones. In the process of uncovering the object, lumps of concrete as well as pieces of chamotte brick and concrete pipes were found. Several objects belonging to the victims were acquired; these are, among others: belt buckles, crescent-shaped metal tips of shoes, and flatware. Most likely it had been dismantled.

Object 4/03
The horizontal projection has the shape of a rectangle with the dimensions 7x8 m. It is filled with gray, very sandy humus mixed with inclusions of burn waste, ash, and crushed burned bones. In the process of uncovering the object, lumps of concrete, blackened chamotte bricks, and fragments of burned concrete pipes were found. Few burned objects left after the victims were acquired, including flatware and fragments of metal pots. What was also found was the so-called 'dog tag' of a Polish prisoner of war with the following inscription: "STALAG XXI C/H Nr 6815" and the traces of exposure to high temperature.

Object 20/03
The outline of the object was determined through a cross excavation. The horizontal projection is an 8x8 m square. It is filled with gray, very sandy humus, similar to that in other objects of this type, mixed with inclusions of burn waste, ash, and crushed, burned bones. The inventory is typical: lumps of concrete and blackened chamotte bricks. Because of the observations presented above, the object should be interpreted as the remains of another field furnace for burning corpses.

Object 21/03

Uncovered during the exploration of the grounds with the use of drills, thanks to which its location and depth could be established. The depth equals over 6.30 m in the northern part. The object is being uncovered in the 2004 archeological season. Presumably, it has the shape of a 25x9 rectangle. So far traces of 2 pipes supplying air to the inside of the furnace have been found, as well as a shaft, used for removing ash from the ash pit. The width of the shaft equals about 4 m (direction: S). About 2 m NE of the furnace, traces of fence posts were uncovered. The object is filled with gray, very sandy humus, mixed with inclusions of burn waste, ash, and crushed burned bones. In the drills, fragments of concrete were found. The depth, presence of concrete, and traces of a fence may indicate that these are the relics of a crematorium. After a thorough uncovering of the objects and verifying its length, it will be possible to link it to a particular period of the center operation.

Object 5/03
The rectangular outline of the object was established on the basis of two probing excavations. The dimensions were determined to be 3.50x4 m. Exploration was not carried out. Most likely it is also a pit-furnace for burning corpses.
The described results of the archeological research do not address all questions and doubts, especially the issue of the crematoria remains much unclear. We have uncovered at least 5 temporary field furnaces, which were most likely built in order to liquidate quickly the decomposing corpses from the mass graves. Large amounts of ashes as well as ground or crushed human bones were partly thrown into the emptied graves, partly into the 11 trenches dug up in one row, parallel to the mass graves in the clearing. What amount was scattered over forests, what part was sent to Poznań to Fort VII, how much was sent to German settlers as a fertilizer - this we shall never find out. In the second phase of the center operation the ash problem was solved 'simpler' - the ashes were just thrown into the Ner River. After the destruction of the corpses from the mass graves, two solid furnaces with chimneys were built. So far we know only one, discovered in 1986-1987. Despite blowing up the furnace, blocks of concrete in the foundations have survived - too strong a construction made it impossible to obliterate the traces. Where are the relics of the second furnace? It seems that they should be looked for nearby; probably the two objects located next to each other, described above under the numbers 10/03 and 21/03 are the traces of furnaces used for liquidating corpses during the systematic center operation. We may get the answer after uncovering them at the whole surface. In both phases of the center operation the furnaces were built by the same man Hauptscharführer SS Johannes R u n g e. This allows to believe that in both phases they were built close to each other. Finding the traces of all four objects of this type will conclude the research in the cemetery.
To sum up, the greatest achievements of the research in the grounds of the center operation was working out a method linking the results gathered thanks to the archeological excavations with the accounts by the witnesses, both those interrogated right after the war and in the later years as well as those still alive. Additionally, historical and comparative materials from other centers and camps were searched for. An important element was applying methods adopted in other fields, such as: photointerpretation of aerial photos, geophysical, chemical, and anthropological research.
Thanks to this, we gathered significant knowledge about the events which took place in the cemetery, uncovered the actual layout of the mass graves and field crematoria. We also learnt the development of the drama connected with the blowing up of the palace, uncovered the waste pits, which due to their contents have become a treasury of information about the people who died in Chełmno.

Łucja Pawlicka Nowak
Translated from Polish by Arkadiusz Kamiński

 

Enquiries
So far in the course of archeological research only few objects related to a particular human have been found. We have not managed to get any information about Józef Jakubowicz. A fragment of his silver cigarette case has been found. The following text can be read on it:
For Mr. Józef Jakubowski for placing first in a motorcycle gymkhana on Sokół 600 motorcycle "Gordon - Bennet" from f. R. Klinger, August 30th 36'
We ask your help in gathering information about Józef Jakubowski.

 

 

Bibliography:
1. W. Bednarz, "Obóz straceń w Chełmnie nad Nerem", Warszawa 1946
2. E.Serwański, "Obóz zagłady w Chełmnie nad Nerem 1941-1945", Poznań 1964
3. J. Gulczyński, "Obóz śmierci w Chełmnie nad Nerem", Konin 1991
4. "Ośrodek zagłady w Chełmnie nad Nerem i jego rola w hitlerowskiej polityce eksterminacyjnej",     Materiały z sesji naukowek, Konin 1995
5. Mówią świadkowie Chełmna, Konin-Łódź 1996
6. S.Krakowski, I.Altman, The Testament of the Last Prisoners of the Chełmno Death Camp" - Yad     Vashem Studies, XXI: Jerusalem 1991, p. 105-124
7. Mówią świadkowie Chełmna, Konin-Łódź 2004
8. Ośrodek zagłady Żydów w Chełmnie nad Nerem w świetle najnowszych badań - Materiały z sesji     naukowej, Konin-Łódź 2004.
9. "Chełmno Witnesses Speak", Konin-Łódź, 2004
10."The Extermination Center for Jews in Chełmno-on-Ner in the Light of the Latest Research", Konin,      2004.


The District Museum in Konin - an Institution of the Wielkopolska Province Self-Government
ul. Muzealna 6, 62-505 Konin/Gosławice
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