Documents From the Auschwitz Chronicle

About this Text: Introduction

Solomon Radasky's memory of his selection for Auschwitz comports with German documents published in one volume in 1989 as the "Auschwitz Chronicle". The Chronicle is a compilation of documents from various sources arranged in the order of day by day.

The story Mr. Radasky tells is that a soldier comes to Majdanek camp to select 3 groups of 750 people. He was in the 2nd group. The soldier arrives just in time to save Mr. Radasky's life. A rope has been hung around his neck and he is about to be hung by the Lagerfurher of Majdanek as a punishment.

The soldier argues with the Lagerfurher to stop the hanging. Mr. Radasky cannot be hung because he has already been selected to be sent to Auschwitz. So Mr. Radasky is saved. He is transported to Auschwitz and put to work in the Buna camp laying railroad tracks.

The "Auschwitz Chronicle" is a day by day compilation of records which survived the attempt to destroy incriminating evidence in the summer of 1944 and in January 1945. The entries from June 24, 1943 through July 8, 1943 tell the story of Sell and Kitt who go to Majdanek concentration camp (also called Lublin) to select slave laborers needed at the Buna plant at Auschwitz for extremely hard labor. Sell and Kitt select 2000 prisoners but reject the rest because of their poor physical condition.

SS Lieutenant Colonel Maurer (who as head of WVHA Office D-II was the person in charge of the deployment and the productivity of prisoner labor and who was tried and executed in Krakow in 1951) disputes Sell and Kitt's evaluation of the prisoners' condition. Maurer personally goes to Majdanek camp and finds 3000 more prisoners suitable for hard labor. Majdanek is running short of space and Auschwitz needs the labor. A medical examination is conducted to determine why Sell and Kitt rejected them in the first place.

The record for July 8, 1943 concerns the transfer of a group of 750 prisoners that include Mr. Radasky as his camp number (No. 128232) falls among that group. These were prisoners originally rejected by Sell and Kitt and personally selected and ordered transferred by Lieutenant Colonel Maurer.

A word about the slave labor system as practiced in Nazi Germany. Slave laborers worked in the armaments industry, in building the camps themselves and doing heavy work like road building or quarrying stone. In the most extreme conditions, and at the Buna camp in Auschwitz these conditions prevailed, slave laborers were worked to death at short intervals. The demand for slave labor was insatiable and it was conducted as a kind of torture despite the fact that if the prisoners had been treated more humanely they could have done more work. Under a death threat from brutal guards starved and poorly clad prisoners were worked long hours out in the open in unsafe conditions. The argument between Sell and Kitt and Maurer takes on an ironic quality given these circumstances.

Excerpts from the "Auschwitz Chronicle" follow. The complete entry is given for each relevant day:

June 24, 1943

SS Second Lieutenant Max Sell, Deputy Director of Labor Deployment, and the Camp Doctor, Bruno Kitt, arrive in the Lublin (Majdanek) C.C. to evaluate prisoners selected by the Lublin Camp Doctor for deployment in the Buna plants or Jaworzno. They find out after their arrival that of the 5,500, male and female prisoners made available by the WVHA, 1,700 have already been earmarked for the labor camp in Radom. Only 3,800 prisoners remain for Auschwitz. In addition, they confirm that only 30 percent of the 1,000 prisoners selected are suitable for the work in the Buna factories or Jaworzno.

Nos. 125386-125418 are given to 33 male prisoners and Nos. 46419-46424 to six female prisoners who have been sent from Kattowitz. Among them is a prisoner from Leipzig, given No. 125400.

Documents and Materials, pp. 138ff

June 25, 1943

In the Lublin (Majdanek) C.C., SS Second Lieutenant Sell and SS First Lieutenant Dr. Kitt select 2,000 prisoners who are suited for the hardest labor. They find the others unfit for the work in the Buna plants or Jaworzno and reject them.

Documents and Materials, pp. 138ff

With the results of the inspection conducted in the Lublin concentration camp by Sell and Kitt in hand, Labor Deployment Director Schwarz asks Office D-II of the WVHA whether it might not be possible to obtain an additional 1,000 prisoners from the Lublin C.C., for masons, carpenters, and plumbers are urgently needed in the Buna plants. SS Second Lieutenant Sell, who is still at the Lublin camp, could make the selection of the suitable prisoners.

APMO, D-Aul-3a/334, Labor Deployment.

June 26, 1943

1,052 male and female Jews who SS Second Lieutenant Sell and SS Camp Doctor Kitt considered fit for extremely hard labor are sent from the Lublin (Majdanek) C.C. The 426 men are given Nos. 126377-126802 and 626 women are given Nos. 46797-47422.

July 1, 1943

Commander Hoss informs the SS members of the garrison that the fence of Section II in Birkenau, in Camps B-IId, B-IIe, and B-IIf, is connected to the mains and carries a high-voltage charge.

APMO, D-Aul-1, Garrison Order 25/43.

805 Jews selected by SS Second Lieutenant Sell and SS Camp Doctor Kitt are transferred from the Lublin (Majdanek) C.C. Among these are 222 men, given Nos. 127157-127378, and 583 women, given Nos. 46732-48214. Lejbko Ponzek, born on February 1, 1914, flees during the transport.

APMO, D-Aul-1/1, p. 182, Telegrams; 1Z-8/Gestapo Lodz/3/a/88/466.

July 3, 1943

The Commandant's Office receives word from the Head of Office D-11 of the WVHA, SS Lieutenant Colonel Maurer, that he personally carried out an inspection of the prisoners destined for Auschwitz in the Lublin (Majdanek) C.C. and determined that these prisoners are able-bodied, which is why he does not understand their rejection by SS Second Lieutenant Sell and Camp Doctor Kitt. For this reason, he is ordering the transfer of the other 3,000 prisoners, men and women, to Auschwitz, particularly as 1,500 men in any case will be useful in the Buna plants, and in New-Dachs, whereas in Lublin space for new prisoners must be created.

Three prisoners sent from Kattowitz receive Nos. 127471-127473.

APMO, D-Aul-3a/344, Labor Deployment.

July 8, 1943

The 75 male Jews transferred from the Majdanek camp by order of Head of Office D-II Maurer are given Nos. 127913-128662 [Note: Radasky's No. is 128232] and the 750 female Jews get Nos. 48349-49098. In order to determine why Sell and Kitt rejected them, medical examinations are conducted that show that 49 male prisoners must be assigned to the prisoners' infirmary or the convalescent block because of significant exhaustion, sever skin and connective tissue inflammations, and hernias; 277 male prisoners must remain in the Auschwitz camp because of slight physical exhaustion; 424 male prisoners can be transferred to the Buna plants after a four-week quarantine; five female prisoners have died after arrival; two female prisoners show traces of gunshot wounds; 80 female prisoners, including 28 between the ages of 15 and 17, are unable to work; two female prisoners have pulmonary emphysema; 44 female prisoners show traces of slight and severe wounds on their arms and legs; five female prisoners have gangrenous legs; one female prisoners has in inflammation of connective tissue, and the other female prisoners are plagued by scabies. It is further established that the general condition of the transferred prisoners does not permit their labor to be fully exploited in Auschwitz Concentration Camp.

D-Aul-3a/348, Labor Deployment; Documents and Materials, Documents on pp. 140ff.

Copyright: Henry Holt and Co., 1989

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