Online lesson about the deportation of Poles expelled from the Zamość region to Auschwitz
The deportation of Poles expelled from the Zamość region and deported to the German Nazi camp Auschwitz is the topic of a new Museum's online lesson. It was created by Dr. Wanda Witek-Malicka of the Memorial Research Center.
''The lesson is divided into 18 chapters. It was crucial to outline the entire historical context of those events, so the first parts introduce the German resettlement policy during World War II and the role of the Zamość region in its implementation. Both the process of expulsions and the history of the transit camp in Zamość are described," said Agnieszka Juskowiak-Sawicka, the head of E-learning at the International Center for Education about Auschwitz and the Holocaust.
''The main part of the lesson shows the details of the fate of people from the Zamość region deported to Auschwitz. It includes the story of pregnant women and newborns and victims of medical experiments at the camp. The entire lesson is available in Polish and English," added Agnieszka Juskowiak-Sawicka.
The expulsion of the population of the Zamość region was a part of a general policy of Germanisation of these lands. Its ultimate goal was to expand the so-called German living space (Lebensraum) and introduce a new ethnic order in Eastern Europe.
"The population policy of the Third Reich towards Eastern Europe was reflected in the so-called Master Plan for the East (Generalplan Ost) developed since 1940 by the Reich Commission for Development together with the Reich Commissioner for the Consolidation of German Nationhood. Within 20-30 years, the plan assumed the actual displacement and extermination of approx. 50 million Slavs (in the first place Poles, and in the long run also Russians, Belarusians, Ukrainians, Czechs, etc.), the creation of a racially homogeneous "German" society and colonization of significant areas of Central and Eastern Europe, beginning with the Polish lands," says the opening chapter.
After the beginning of the aggression of the Third Reich against the Soviet Union in June 1941, Heinrich Himmler gave the order to draw up plans for the creation of a "German settlement district" around the city of Zamość. The population living in the region was to be expelled and replaced by German settlers.
"This area was chosen because of its agricultural character. It consisted of five cities and 696 villages and covered 608,000 hectares with more than half thereof being arable land. Before the war, 80 % of the local population worked in the agriculture sector. Numerous farms along with all the farm equipment and inventory, were planned to be confiscated and handed over to German settlers,"" wrote Dr. Witek-Malicka.
From 6 to 25 November 1942, a "test trial" expulsion action was carried out in the Zamość region with a relatively small range. Of the eight villages around Zamość, almost 1200 people were displaced in several villages of the county of Hrubieszów. Their farms were handed over to peasants of German origin from the vicinity of Radom. The control of the movement, as well as building and inventory registers, were introduced to make it easier for the Germans to plan the next steps of population displacement.
The displaced population was transferred to transit camps, where they were subjected to racial screening. Those who, according to German criteria, were not "racially valuable" were mainly to be deported to concentration camps or, in the case of the elderly and children, to some specially designated "pensioner villages".
"The resettlement plans had only been implemented to a small extent. In the period from November 1942 to March 1943, approx. 41,000 inhabitants of 116 villages were affected, which is less than 30 % of the estimated 140,000 people from 696 villages originally intended to be displaced. According to the plans of the Resettlement Headquarters, 33,832 people were to be expelled only by the end of 1942. In fact, at that time, 9,771 people were affected," one reads.
Out of these, 1,301 people (including at least 162 children) were deported to Auschwitz in three transports. They arrived on December 13 and 16 and February 5. Like the other prisoners, upon arrival at the camp, the women were separated from the men, then they had to surrender all their personal belongings, were taken to cold showers, shaved, and assigned striped uniforms and camp numbers along with the letter "P." The women were additionally photographed in three positions; the men were most likely not photographed.
In the first period after arrival, male and female prisoners were taken to so-called quarantine. Like the other prisoners, they had to work. Among the women, there were also ones who were pregnant. If the pregnancy was visible, they were already separated at the time of arrival and sentenced to death in a short time. Women who gave birth to a child in the camp were murdered with the newborn by an intracardiac injection of phenol.
Although the murder of non-Jewish newborns ceased in May 1943, yet there was still very little chance for the children to survive in the camp. In turn, children considered as racially valuable by the camp authorities were taken away from their mothers and destined for Germanization. Some male and female prisoners deported from the Zamość region were also victims of the criminal medical experiments.
It is estimated that out of 1,301 people deported to Auschwitz from the Zamość region, at least 1,010 lost their lives.