Friday, May 20, 2011

Jan Malinowski: Early Escapee from Auschwitz

Source: The Miami News - October 25, 1942 - North American Newspaper Alliance

Comment: Jan Malinowski escaped in June 1942, but was not aware of gas chambers and has only a garbled account of what might be phenol lethal injections.

[Editor's Note: This is the story of a Polish physician, who since March, 1940, edited an underground newspaper in Warsaw and was arrested in December, 1941 and has just succeeded in escaping to England.  Dr. Malinowski was deported to the ill-famed concentration camp in Oswiecim, southern Poland.  Last June he and a companion made a break for freedom.  His friend was caught and shot, but the doctor managed to reach the Hungarin border, and with the help of the Polish underground, arrived in the Middle East and now London.]

By Dr. Jan Malinowski
(North American Newspaper Alliance)
LONDON, Oct. 24 - (By Cable)
I was removed to Oswiecim together with a large group of prisoners.  We traveled in several freight cars filled to capacity.  They were filthy and oily, without any seating accommodations and were sealed during the entire journey.  The only food was bread doled out on leaving the Pawiak prison in Warsaw.
Near Skierniewice the train made a long stop and three prisoners who tried to escape were shot in the fields.  At Oswiecim the train stopped some miles before the station, against a high bank a few yards long.  When the doors were opened, we were ordered to get out, with the help of kicks to make us move fast.
One end of the ramp sloped sharply downward, and in the winter time was very slippery, covered with ice and frozen snow.  Dazzling arc lamps were switched on.  Blinded, numbed with cold, hungry, and dizzy with the sudden fresh air, we were unable to step out immediately.  The older men fell and slid down.
Having been assembled at the foot of the high bank we were made to form in threes and were marched to the camp more than two miles away.  On our arrival we were forced to take shower baths, where the icy water (without soap) was to cleanse us for our future stay in the camp.  The number of lice in the camp was appalling.  After the showers we were given thin drill suits to put on our wet bodies, for of course there were no towels.
Live in Barracks
The prisoners live in barracks - eighty to one hundred in each - under the supervision of German criminals who have been appointed prison wardens.  The barracks are unheated, and there are innumerable chinks in the walls.
The area covered by the camp was considerable and surrounded by seven barbed wire fences.  Between the third and fifth fences wer electrified wires.  In addition to this the camp was encircled by machine gun posts.  Escape seemed impossible and yet, from time to time, prisoners did succeed in getting out.

The degree of brutality shown by the "kapos" - as the Germans call these wardens - cannot be described in words.  Floggins, torture, bestial ill-treatment are part of their duty, from whcih they obviously derive pleasure.  A favorite form of torture in Osweicim is to seize the victim by the arms and legs and swing him against a post until his back is broken.  But the "scientific" method of killing off prisoners is by injections which work slowly on the internal organs, especially the heart.  It is universally believed that the prisoners are used for large scale experiments in testing out new drugs which the Germans are preparing for unknown ends.

Throat Trouble
There was the case of a young and healthy man who was arrested and brought to our camp.  After a couple of months his physical condition suddenly became so bad that we all knew his days were numbered.  One night the dying man managed to tell a fellow prisoner that a band of material had been sewn into his clothing around the neck, which he was not allowed to remove.  After wearing  the band  for some days his neck had become red and inflamed.  This soon passed off, but troat trouble developed and quickly progressed (the informant called it "throat consumption").  He died a few days later.  Afterwards, I learned of many similar cases, all ending in death.

The food is totally inadequate.  Hunger forces prisoners to eat raw turnip peelings, which they sometimes find near the kitchens.  This leads to a particular kind of stomach trouble.  Those suffering from it cannot retain any food for more than 15 minutes.  The prisoners' clothing consists of a jacket and trousers of thin drill.  While I was there, boots were not used.  Apart from economy motives, this was made to serve as a means of torture the ground in the camp being strewn with sharp flinty gravel causing painful injuries to the feet.
One of the tasks assigned, as part of the heaviest work intended to finish people off, is to pull and push heavy iron rollers to fhe type used for roads, over this gravel to level it.  Priests are usually made to do this work.  The fresh gravel is generally very sharp so that after even one day's work the prisoner's feet are one great wound.

Kicked to Death
I witnessed the death of Capt. Stanislaw Goysztor, superintendent of the Warsaw fire brigade.  This fine big man was worn to a shadow by starvation and over-exertion.  He collapsed during the prolonged gymnastic exercises which are used as one of the worst forms of torture.  Lying on the ground, he was kicked to death by the wardens.  Freedom usually comes only with death.

Every night the conditions of existence cause the death of several prisoners in each barrack.  Every monring the first question of the "kapos" to the room overseer is, "How many dead?"  In my barracks seldom a night went by without at least eight deaths.

Besides the "normal" contingent of bodies, a great number of deaths take place during the penal roll call.  While an ordinary roll call usually lasts about one hour, a penal roll call may go on for eight hours.  When the roll call continues for some hours men begin to collapse and next day many of them die.  On one occasion out of 86 who collapsed, 46 died before the roll call the next day.

Source: The Calgary Herald.  Oct. 24 1942 [As above with a few extra paragraphs]
At one time a man was hanged over the door of one of the barracks, and his body was left hanging for some time.  He was one of a group who planned to organize a hunger strike in proteest against prisoners being driven out to work dressed only in wet overalls during frosts.
One of the tasks assinged, as  part of the heaviest work intended to finish people off, is to pull and push heavy iron rollers of the type used for roads, over this gravel to level it.  Priests are usually made to do this work.  The fresh gravel is generally sharp, so that after even one day's work the prisoners' feet are one great wound.  After a few days, pieces of flesh hang loose and prisoners die like flies from blood posioning, from gangrene or from complete exhaustion.  In this way Kather [sic] Morawski, a Jesuit from Cracow, died.  To the last he set an example of heroism bearing his sufferings.

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