1 Execution site(s)
Krzysztof K., born in 1932: “Many Jews livied in Skarżysko-Kamienna, even a few streets from my family house (Wiśniowa Street). My mother had a Jewish friend. There was a synagogue located on Fabryczna Street, but it was demolished during the occupation. When the German occupation began, the ghetto was established on Staszica Street, as well as three labor camps on the factory site. Germans started building a barrage on the lake next to my current house and used Jewish labor. There was a narrow track made out of clay. A German wearing brown boots followed two Jews pushing a special trolley and would beat them with a stick. It was as a very scary memory. Jews worked every day for a few months until the barrage was finished. The construction group of 20-30 people worked in shifts. Later, all the Jews were deported somewhere, I don’t really know what exactly happened to them, but no one came back to the town after the war (…)” (Witness N°1040P, interviewed in Skarżysko-Kamienna, on June 1, 2019)
“35,000 Romanians, Italians, Hungarians, Russians, Danes, French, Dutch and Germans killed (shot, asphyxiated, burned on an electric plate, etc.) in 1943 and 1944 on the grounds of the "Elaboracja" munitions factory, after the liquidation of the Treblinka and Majdanek camps. Partially burned bodies on an electric plate, the rest buried in Polish trenches from 1939. No exhumation as bodies were completely decomposed.”[Court Inquiries about executions and mass graves in districts, provinces, camps and ghettos-Ankieta Sadow Grodzkich;RG-15.019 Reel #2 part 1]
Skarżysko-Kamienna is a city in the north of the Świętokrzyskie Voivodeship in south-central Poland, located along the Kamienna river. It belongs to the historic Polish province of Lesser Poland and lies 120 km (75mi) southwest of Lublin. The first Jews settled on the Kamienna River, in the area of the present city of Skarżysko-Kamienna, in the 18th century. In 1891, the first synagogue, mikvah and cheder were built, and at the turn of the 20th century a Jewish cemetery was established. In 1915, the Jews living in the settlement built a synagogue of brick and stone. In addition to a large prayer hall, it housed a vestibule with a usable attic. During the era of the Second Polish Republic, the demographic makeup of cities exhibited distinct patterns. Within the Kielce province, urban areas frequently saw a significant presence of Jews. However, the situation in Skarżysko-Kamienna diverged from this trend. According to the 1921 census, individuals adhering to Judaism constituted 20% of the overall population (1,590 out of 8,163 individuals), yet only 12% (946 individuals) identified themselves as ethnically Jewish. By 1937, the number of individuals practicing Judaism had risen to 2,800, accounting for 14% of the city’s population, which stood at 19,700 during that period. Many small factories were established by Jewish residents. Jews ran mills, sawmills, iron foundries, file, nail, whetstone, tile, and paint factories, among others. Jewish traders were exclusively in charge of gallantry. Jews also dominated the crafts, owning shoemaking, hosiery and tailoring factories. According to Yahad witness Marian A., born in 1926, a Jew named Briks sold food and the witness’ mother would go there to supply her store. There was also a synagogue. Catholic and Jewish children would go to the same school. There isn’t any exact information about how many Jews lived in Skarżysko-Kamienna on the eve of the war.
After the outbreak of war, German soldiers arrived and immediately started to persecute the Jewish community. They beat up the Jews, shaved off the beards and side curls of religious Jewish men, and sexually assaulted Jewish women. The Jewish Council (Judenrat) was created, and it became the go-between for the Jewish commity and the German occupiers. The Germans forced the Jewish people in Skarżysko into hard labor without pay. At first, they had to shovel the rubble from the fighting and bombing, repair damaged roads, and dispose of unexploded bombs. In the winter of 1940, groups of Jews were forced to shovel the snow from the road between Radom and Kielce. In the spring of 1940, about 10,000 Jews from the Radom area were taken by the Germans to camps in Lublin, and some of them were from Skarżysko-Kamienna. They were made to work on road constructions and other tough jobs near Annopol. In August 1940, the Jewish community reported that 90% of the male Jews had been drafted for the forced labor. In May 1941 a ghetto was established in Skarżysko-Kamienna which was officially called a “Jewish residential area” and included 3 Maja, Limanowskiego, Podjazdowa, Fabryczna and Wspólna streets. It was not fenced-in, but its inmates were subjected to certain restrictions: entering and leaving the ghetto area was only allowed for those with a special permit issued by the Stadtkommissar. Furthermore, the Jews could not enter several of the main streets of the town. A Jewish Police unit (Jüdischer Ordungsdienst) was organized to control the ghetto’s interior borders. At the beginning of October 1942, at the time of its liquidation, there were circa. 3,000 people living there. In June 1940, Hugo Schneider AG (HASAG) became a sole trustee of the Skarżysko-Kamienna munitions plant, mainly thanks to its general manager Paul Budin, a trusted Nazi. HASAG now ran the Skarżysko-Kamienna plant as a subcontractor of the Wehrmacht’s Army High Command, a situation that subsequently had important consequences for the Jews in the ghetto of Skarżysko-Kamienna and its surrounding area. Between August 1942 and summer of 1943, Jews from the Radom area were brought into the Skarżysko-Kamienna factory and its three camps (A; B and C), in total 58 transports with 17,210 people. 6,408 of these prisoners managed to survive. The camp known as Werk C was the most horrible sub-camp of "HASAG", where the Jews worked filling shells and mines with chemical materials, including TNT and picric acid. Assignment here usually meant a death sentence: the workers worked in inhumane conditions, and the lack of protective clothing meant that their life expectancy in the camp was around 2-3 months. Near Werk C there was a so-called "frying pan" - a place where prisoners’ corpses were burned. The corpses of Jews who died in the camp of exhaustion and disease were delivered to the Skarżysko-Kamienna ghetto, where the burial was arranged. On October 3, 1942, the company selected about 1,000 workers, who were considered unfit to work. About 500 of them were shot in the nearby forest. The others were taken to Skarżysko-Kamienna ghetto, which was submitted to a deportation Aktion. More than 3,000 Jews were gathered at a central square in the ghetto, 500 of them were chosen by HASAG managers for work in the factory camp, and the others, including those returned from the HASAG camp, were put in cars and sent to the Treblinka extermination camp. In 1943, prisoners began to be brought in from the Majdanek camp and the Plaszow camp in Krakow. During its existence, the camp claimed the lives of about 35,000 people. At the end of July 1944, the campaign to liquidate the camp began, which for the imprisoned Jews meant certain death. The first to die were the incapacitated - shot at the factory shooting range. In addition to HASAG workers, the Germans also murdered prisoners of war of various nationalities on the factory grounds. Along with the executions, the Germans set about destroying evidence of the crime. Mass graves were dug up, and the corpses of the murdered were burned in a makeshift crematorium known as a "frying pan."
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