« Previous Page Table of Contents Next Page »

Chapter Eleven

“The Mad Dog of Lublin”

 

Goeth on horse
SS-Hauptsturmführer Amon Leopold Goeth

 

Amon Leopold Goeth was born on December 11, 1908, in Vienna. He was married and divorced twice – in 1934 and 1944—and had two children. He studied agriculture in Vienna until 1928. From 1928 until 1939 he was employed by Verlag fur Militar und Fachliteratur, a company in Vienna. In 1930 Goeth joined the NSDAP, and from 1932 he was a member of the SS. On March 5, 1940, he was called up by the Wehrmacht with the rank of Unterfeldwebel. He was promoted in succession to SS-Obersturmfuhrer (1940), Untersturmfuhrer with the letter 'F' [professional officer in war time], (1941), and Hauptsturmfuhrer (1944) and was the holder of the Cross of Merit with swords.

Goeth joined the staff of SS General Odilo Globocnik as an inspector of concentrations camps. He saw service in Cieszyn, Katowic,e and Lublin. In February 1943 he left Lublin after conflict with SS Major Hermann Höfle and was transferred to Krakow with the rank of SS-Unterscharfuhrer, as the Commandant of Plaszow labor camp. Goeth's duty in Krakow was February 11, 1943 until September 13, 1944. It was clear that Goeth had come with a brief to destroy the remaining Jews of Krakow. In order to wipe out the Jews of Krakow, the Nazis chose a most symbolic site - the new Jewish cemetery on the outskirts of the city, in the suburbs of Plaszow. Huts were constructed there in desecration of the freshly-dug graves and a fraudulent sign was hung up, reading Arbeitslager (Labor Camp).

When the Jews from all the ghettos within the area fell into the grasp of the SS, the true nature of the sign was revealed: Concentration Camp. In the beginning, the sparsely wooded camp did not awaken any special misgivings. The first residential huts, the kitchen, bakery, latrines. and workshops geared to local needs did not give rise to any great panic. Fears, however, very quickly returned. It was actually a prototype of a concentration camp, with all the infamous facilities meeting the exact requirements necessary for the mass extermination of the enslaved population. The camp led off from the cemetery, where the road was paved with the tombstones from the desecrated graves. A special detachment of prisoners ground the magnificent tombstones into pebbles and gravel, and a second group of prisoners pressed the pieces into the earth of the cemetery with the aid of sledge hammers and hand rollers.

 

Paving slabs
Paving slabs
Josef Bau

 

Slowly, and in stages, the camp began to occupy more and more space; it expanded, swallowing up huge chunks of land, homes, and plots until finally its perimeter stretched for about two kilometrs. The camp was built to hold about 10,000 Jews who were destined to be the raw material for the new factories at nearby Auschwitz. Towards the end of 1943, the number of prisoners in Plaszow grew to more than 25,000.

SS-Hauptsturmfuhrer Amon Goeth, is described here by Joseph Bau (69084):

“A hideous and terrible monster who reached the height of more than two meters. He set the fear of death in people, terrified masses and accounted for much chattering of teeth. He ran the camp through extremes of cruelty that are beyond the comprehension of a compassionate mind, employing tortures which dispatched his victims to hell.

For even the slightest infraction of the “rules” he would rain blow after blow upon the face of the helpless offender, and would observe, with satisfaction born of sadism, how the cheek of his victim would swell and turn blue, how the teeth would fall out and the eyes would fill with tears.

Anyone who was being whipped by him was forced to count in a loud voice, each stroke of the whip and if he made a mistake was forced to start counting over again. During interrogations, which were conducted in his office, he would set the dog on the accused, who was strung by his legs from a specially placed hook in the ceiling. In the event of an escape from the camp, he would order the entire group from which the escapee had come to form a row, would give the order to count ten, and would, himself, kill every tenth person. At one morning parade, in the presence of all the prisoners he shot a Jew because, as he complained, the man was too tall. Then, as the man lay dying, he urinated on him. Once he caught a boy who was sick with diarrhoea and was unable to restrain himself. Goeth forced him to eat all the excrement and then shot him.”[1]

Women prisoners were not exempted, as Gena Turgel describes:[2]

“My sister Hela was in a group of women sitting, breaking tombstones into tiny pieces for building roads. Another older woman was working with Hela, when Goeth appeared and told the older woman she was not doing it right. Goeth showed her how to do it. When the older woman returned to her work, Goeth shot her.

The first thing in the morning was that Goeth would walk over to the men's side. It was so quiet; you could have heard a fly buzzing. The atmosphere was tense and full of fear. I could hear the echo of Goeth's shouting, and the growling of dogs. Goeth would appear with his body-guard. Goeth walked slowly staring at each man in turn. He would say, “You haven't shaved today” and shoot the man down. Or to another, “you look too clever” and shoot him down.”

To emphasise the brutality of Goeth many of the incidents that formed the basis of the indictments against him when he was finally arraigned before the military court in Krakow shortly after the war are outlined below. The record also shows his complicity within the corruption of Plaszow Camp. The archive material on Goeth is substantial, and the selection is based on record cards which contain factual accounts of incidents relating to Goeth while he was Commandant of the Plaszow Concentration Camp. All the incidents are supported by evidence obtained during the course of Goeth's interrogation—first, by the SS during the war, and second, by post-war investigations into his conduct. This evidence formed the basis of the indictments against Goeth in the Polish Courts after the war:

  1. In February 1943 he shot four Jews in KL Plaszow. (1/106)

  2. He shot the Jew Szab in the camp. (1/219)

  3. Goeth did not obtain a receipt from the Jewish grave-digger, Ladner, for gold found on the corpses, which was contrary to regulations.(39/298) [Ladner was on special duty for the commandant. Jew or not, he handed property to Goeth, who should have signed for it. The SS accountants were ruthless about non-compliance.   Goeth just pocketed the goods. In Nazi Germany you could kill Jews, but stealing their property, which was the property of the Reich, meant a death sentence. Many SS Oficers were shot, not for abusing or killing Jews, but for stealing their property, an offense against the Party.]

  4. On March 14,1942 he was present at the execution of 300 Jews in KL Plaszow. (774/84)

  5. On March 13, 1943 he supervised the extermination of the Krakow Ghetto, and to acknowledge his contribution he was promoted two Ranks (from SS-Untersturmfuhrer to SS-Hauptsturmfuhrer).
    Goeth claimed that he was not present in the ghetto on the March 13,1943.
    (2586/52)

  6. Goeth organized in the camp a range of workshops to use prisoners as slave laborers. He started full-blood horse-breeding and a stock-farm. He gave pompous parties for high ranking SS-officials. He organized a brothel for the camp guards and personally selected good-looking Polish girls from the assembly-ground. (968/3). He organized a brothel in the SS barrack 173. (843/248). He claimed that the camp in Plaszow was self-sufficient, had its own farm with vegetables, cows, and pigs. (2586/50)

  7. In the summer of 1944, in his presence 70 parachutists and nine Jewesses were shot. (774/156)

  8. On September 3, 1943 he took small children with mothers on a transport from Plaszow to Tarnow Ghetto and shot them. (774/)

  9. In February 1943, he shot Sonnenschein, Spielmann, and Schwed in Plaszow camp. (954/1)

  10. In February 1943 he shot four people from the Balsam family in Plaszow, he shot Dr Stremer and 3 people from the Bachner family. (967/6)

  11. Goeth shot all the sick, the doctors, and the workers from the Jewish hospital, he shot Schoenfelde, Fleiss, Sonenscheinand Ferber.[3] (971/1).

    Viktor Dortheimer observes:

    “It was May 1943; there were about 50 of us in the painters' barracks in Plaszow. Goeth arrived and asked how many prisoners were present. Ferber replied 50 or 51. Goeth shouted, 'Are there 50 or 51?' Kapo Ferber said that maybe one had gone to the toilet. Goeth pulled his pistol and shot Ferber in front of me, he was dead before he hit the ground.”
    Viktor Dortheimer 1945

     

    Viktor Dortheimer and Josef Bau
    Viktor Dortheimer (left) and Josef Bau
    Israel, 1995

     

  12. Goeth personally chose dates of selections and supervised them. (774/162)

  13. Without authorization, he extended imprisonment of prisoners in the camp. (774/125)

  14. In September 1943 he shot Inberg for slow progress of building work supervised by him. (774/109) Inberg (proxy of Bonarek's brick-yard) was hot for errors during allocation of labou to workers. (2586/30)

  15. From September 1943 to February 1944 he supervised the liquidation of the Szebnie camp.

  16. On September 2.1943 he personally selected people in the Tarnow Ghetto for transport. (774/134)

  17. On September 13, 1943 he supervised the liquidation of the Tarnow Ghetto. He misappropriated property of the Tarnow Jews.

  18. On September 13, 1944 he was arrested by SS and Polizigericht V1 in Krakow,for large-scale fraud. (2586/32 -980/3)

  19. Goeth was also interrogated by the Sichercheitspolizei for giving information to the engineer Grunberg about the liquidation of the Krakow Ghetto. (2586/119) (Grunberg, a German Aryan, was sympathetic to the Jews and was closely associated with Stern, Pemper, and Schindler. He passed the information on to Schindler who, in turn, warned the ghetto leaders.

  20. Goeth arranged the escape of the collaborating Jews Chilowicz and his wife. He informed Koppe about a planned riot in the camp and received approval for the liquidation of Chilowicz and his wife as leaders of the planned riot.
    (They knew too much about Goeth) (2586/32)

  21. He beat the prisoner Olmer with a riding-whip and then shot him.

  22. During the liquidation of the Krakow Ghetto he shot about 50 children.

  23. He shot his Jewish maid-servant in order to destroy evidence of “racial disgrace.”

  24. He shot his orderly because he gave him the wrong horse to ride.

  25. On March 14,1942 he was a participant in the execution of 300 people in the camp's limestone quarry. (774/84)

  26. On August 3, 1943 on his order, a 16 year-old boy named Haubenstock was hung for singing a Russian song.

  27. The engineer Krautwirth was hung for making comments about camp guards. (2586/33) According to Goeth, both Haubenstock and Krautwirth were hung because they incited mutiny amongt the Ukrainian guards.[4] (2586/53)

  28. On March 29, 1943 Goeth interrogated and tortured Frankl and Lieberman after their attempt to meet their families in Julag 1. (774/158)
    There was a similar incident with a German Jew. (1044/4)

  29. In 1942, Goeth was a participant in the extermination of the Rzeszow Ghetto. (972/6)

  30. During the liquidation of the Tarnow Ghetto, he shot a girl who asked him for a transfer to a different working group to be together with her fiancé. (774/134)

  31. In March 1943 Goeth murdered Kapo Hirschberg. In November 1943, he murdered Kapos Penner and Scheinfeld. He also ordered the killing of Odeman Bloch and 10 prisoners.

  32. In May 1943, he ordered the killing of Kapo Beim

  33. In the summer of the same year, he ordered the killing of 16 people working in the firm Kabel. (2586/33)

  34. He prepared, under the leadership of Haase, the plans for the extermination of ghettos in Tarnow, Bochnia, Rzeszow, and Przemysl. (2586/29)

  35. On September 3, 1943, during the liquidation of the Tarnow Ghetto, he shot the wife of Chaski Klappholz and a number of other people including all the children. (2586/35)[5]

  36. On September 13, 1944, after his arrest by the SS, he was accused of allowing prisoners of Jewish nationality (Mietek Pemper) to inspect personal records of camp officers. (2586/71)[6]

    At the rear of the women's barracks was the death pit – a vast open grave measuring 20 meters long, six meters wide, and three meters deep. All those executed by the SS or who died by other means were dumped unceremoniously into the pit and left to rot. Those prisoners brought to the pit by the SS for execution were shot at the edge of the pit and, with the momentum of a bullet in the nape of the neck, would tumble in, to be covered by a shovel full of lime.

Schindler and Goeth

Schindler met Amon Goeth at the newly constructed Commandant's villa, Rotes Haus (the Red Villa), occupied by Goeth and his mistress, Ruth Kalder. This informal dinner party was attended by all the bosses from the establishment, the armaments and supply factories, security and police chiefs - the establishment of the New Order. Schindler was there because of his persona and reputation for giving charitable gifts. He was also there doing his duty for Canaris.[7]

Emilie Schindler remembers meeting Goeth for the first time:-

“He was the most despicable person I ever met, a schizophrenic: one side was that of a refined Viennese gentleman, and the other was dedicated to terrorizing the Jews under his jurisdiction. He was two meters tall, with feminine hips, dark hair, and fleshy lips. I remember him as being thin, not overweight as in the film. Whilst we ate, Goeth drank incessantly and Oskar began to follow the rhythm. Before knowing the Nazi society, he hardly drank (contrary to all the evidence), but now I was afraid he would become an alcoholic. During the day he [Goeth] would kill for the sake of killing. In the evening he could criticize the pitch of any one note in a piece of classical music.”[8]

In early January 1943, Schindler astutely read the situation that the Jews were destined for disaster. Many of his workers had been taken to Plaszow labor camp, which entailed a daily march from the camp to the Emalia works, escorted by the Ukrainian guards. Schindler bought a plot of land adjacent to his factory from a young Polish couple. Through his contacts with the Armaments Inspectorate, he acquired the necessary permission to build barracks within the Emalia complex. He then applied to the SS offices at 2, Pomorska Street, Krakow for planning permission to construct the barracks, in accordance with the known regulations. Site meetings were called and final approval came from the SS bureaucracy and from Amon Goeth for the release of the Plaszow prisoners to the Schindler factory barracks. A distinct advantage to the SS was that they would no longer have to supply daily escorts for the prisoners who were travelling some three kilometers daily from Plaszow camp. Instead, the Jewish labor force would be within 50 meters of Schindler's armament production factory. Goeth supported Schindler's plans and facilitated the project by supplying experts from Plaszow camp to work on the construction of the barracks. Adam Guard (69515), a young engineer, was transferred by Goeth from Plaszow to the new building project at the Schindler works.[9] In the new Schindler barracks kitchens, a laundry and even showers were installed. These new facilities were questioned by the SS, but Schindler just mentioned the control of typhus and lice to end any argument.

It cannot be repeated too often that his factory became a haven for Jews, in which Schindler sheltered many who were old and weak, and therefore inefficient workers. It is important to keep this fact in mind when one hears the charge that Schindler's self-interest was most important when he built his sub-camp. Without doubt there is some truth in this. By saving his workers from daily harassment and torture, he increased their efficiency and thereby the output of his factory and profits. But it is equally evident that his compassion often outweighed his profit motive. Schindler took advantage of the rivalries between the Armaments Inspectorate, the Gestapo, and the SS, since he knew the Armaments Inspectorate was likely to support any scheme that would add to the difficulties of the SS. It is not difficult to imagine the pleasure and sense of power he got from playing various Nazi institutions and officials against each other. Schindler made good use of his contacts within the Armaments Inspectorate throughout the war, thereby acquiring the reputation of an industrialist interested in producing weapons required by the army. The result of this reputation was that he was able to increase the leeway he needed to pursue other purposes, and the more invaluable his reputation made him, the more help and protection he could offer his workers and other Jews outside the camp as well.

This episode did not come cheaply to Schindler. Emilie Schindler recalled:

“My husband built the barracks under SS supervision. Goeth, of course, arranged the transfer of labor from Plaszow, but it was all based on my husband paying him. That was done with diamonds, presents, and other things, as money had no value”[10]

From a report Schindler wrote in July 1945, to Dr Ball-Kaduri, we are able to grasp the turmoil confronting him:

“Because of the persecution of the Jews in the whole of Poland, the elimination of their earning capacity, the liquidation of the ghettos, and the opening of concentration camps in 1942, I had to make a decision. Either do without my Jewish workforce or leave them to their fate, as did 99 per cent of Krakow businesses who employed Jews, or to build a private, respectable company facility and encamp all my Jewish workers there. My attitude towards the Jewish workforce helped me to overcome the threatening difficulties that confronted me. In only a few days we were able to erect and build our new camp. This saved hundreds of Jews from deportation. I, myself, resided near the camp. Jews came from neighbouring camps, i.e. NKF, a cooling and air parts factory called Hodermann, the Krakow Crate company Renst Kuhnpast, and the barracks of the Army garrison administration, Krakow, also the Engineering works, Chmielvski. Thus, I saved another 450 Jews from deportation. I am proud to say, that it was through my initiative that these Jews remained in my work camp. With no fear on my behalf, I conducted all the negotiations regarding the Jews directly with the governing body of the SS. The establishment of my work camp had to be financed entirely out of my own funds. It was enough for the SS if their safety regulations were adhered to.”[11]

At one time I was dubious about the credibility of his statements. I am becoming persuaded that they must receive due credit as the Schindler story has now unfolded. Corroboration of his activities are coming from independent sources, by Estera Pincas (76399) and Leopold Dagen (69434), whose accounts on the new barracks were reported to the French Military Police on their flight after the war to the Allies. Affidavits from these two witnesses plus a number of others are in the archives at Yad Vashem. Estera Pincas (the wife of Richard Rechin) was interviewed in Haifa in 1995. The Dagen affidavit not only corroborates Pincas but refers to Schindler offering the same protection to his 600 free Polish workers who were in constant danger of labor transports. Dagen refers to Schindler having to go to the SS to rescue his Polish workers who had been seized off the streets. This is significant when assessing the motives of Schindler.

 

Footnotes
  1. Joseph Bau (69084) interviewed by the author over several weeks in 1993-6. Recollections of Bau come from a detailed diary of events immediately after the war.
  2. Return
  3. Interviewed by the author
  4. Return
  5. The Ferber shooting was witnessed by Victor Dortheimer (69124) Interviewed by the author in London 1995.
  6. Return
  7. This hanging was witnessed by the entire camp. Moshe Bejski (69387) related the facts to the author in 1995.
  8. Return
  9. Julius Madritsch and Raymond Titsch witnessed the aftermath of the liquidation. The only Jews to survive from Tarnow were the Jews employed in the Madritsch factory, who were transferred to the Madritsch factory in Plaszow. Madritsch paid well for this concession.
  10. Return
  11. Mieczyslaw Pemper (69514) was employed by Goeth as a secretary. Some of the most secret information was obtained by Pemper, including details of the transport of the Hungarian Jews in 1944. I will be referring to Pemper's activities later. Interviewed by the author in Augsburg, Germany, 1995.
  12. Return
  13. I am still strongly of the opinion that the Canaris/Schindler connection was standing firm.
  14. Return
  15. Mrs. Schindler's memoir. (My observation)
  16. Return
  17. Adam Guard (69515) interviewed by the author in Jerusalem, who confirmed this transfer.
  18. Return
  19. Blair interview with Mrs Schindler 1982.
  20. Return
  21. Ball-Kaduri Documentation. See also Benjamin B Ferencz, Less Than Slaves, Harvard 1979, 191-192. 'Even Jews who worked nearby for Siemans-Bauunion at Krakow/Plaszow described how they could sometimes warm their hands by the fire in the Schindler work hall, where they dared to cook a potato that they had managed to hide or steal.'
  22. Return

« Previous Page Table of Contents Next Page »


This material is made available by JewishGen, Inc. and the Yizkor Book Project for the purpose of
fulfilling our mission of disseminating information about the Holocaust and destroyed Jewish communities.
This material may not be copied, sold or bartered without JewishGen, Inc.'s permission. Rights may be reserved by the copyright holder.


JewishGen, Inc. makes no representations regarding the accuracy of the translation. The reader may wish to refer to the original material for verification.
JewishGen is not responsible for inaccuracies or omissions in the original work and cannot rewrite or edit the text to correct inaccuracies and/or omissions.
Our mission is to produce a translation of the original work and we cannot verify the accuracy of statements or alter facts cited.

  Schindler - Stepping-stone to Life     Yizkor Book Project     JewishGen Home Page


Yizkor Book Project Manager, Lance Ackerfeld
This web page created by Lance Ackerfeld

Copyright ©1999-2014 by JewishGen, Inc.
Updated 15 Aug 2007 by LA