Testimony of a Chelmno death camp survivor!

Published on by holocaustresearchproject

Szymon Srebrnik  

 Chelmno Survivor Testimony   



Protocol of the Interrogation of the Witness


On June 29 1945 in Kolo


Examining Judge of District Court in Lodz – Wladyslaw Bednarz


Assisted by Recording Clerk


In the presence of the parties -   heard a testimony (not under oath) of the witness mentioned below. After the witness had been informed of criminal responsibility for a false testimony and acquainted with the text of article 106 of the Code of Penal Proceedings, he testified the following:




Szymon Zanger Srebrnik



Parents First Names

Laja and Dawid


Lodz, 7 Wolczanska St , apartment 28





Criminal Record

No criminal record



Up to March 1944 I had been in the Lodz ghetto, from where I was then driven off to Chelmno. In Lodz I worked in the ghetto in the so-called metal department.




Jews from the Lodz ghetto loaded onto freight trains bound for Chelmno

In March 1944 the Germans organised a round-up. They caught me while I was on a street car and led me to Balucki Square where there were some cars from Chelmno. We were loaded inside and driven off.


Besides me there were 50 other Jews on the truck. Among them were Zydenfeld, Berek, Modownik, Kalmuszewicz, Huskiel. I cannot recall any other names.


The Germans took us a granary on the grounds of the Chelmno palace. There were no other Jews. We found out that we were in the Sonderkommando camp. An hour later the prisoners were divided into two groups. The stronger and better workers were sent to the woods, they formed the so-called “Waldkommando.”


The “Waldkommando” chief was Lenz. Other Germans employed in the woods were Runge and Kretschmer. The Hauskommando chief was Hafele.


The Waldkommando consisted of about 40 Jews, the remainder was assigned to the Hauskommando. We were all shackled. The shackles prevented us from walking in a normal way. We had to take very short steps. The shackles on our ankles were also chained to our waists.


We slept in the granary on a cement floor. It was very cold. The members of the Waldkommando told us that they were building two furnaces in the wood. They did not know what purpose they would serve, but they expected the furnaces might be used to make charcoal.


The furnaces were very primitive they stood on a cement foundation and were narrow at the bottom, gradually becoming wider at the top. They were approximately three metres (10 feet) tall. The width was about the same.


The fire grate was made of narrow-gauge railroad railings. There was neither a chimney nor a special trench for better draught. Later I was in the woods a few times so I could see the furnaces.


Officers Runge and Kretschmer were responsible for the construction of the furnaces. The construction process lasted about two weeks. Jews building the furnaces were sometimes killed for entertainment


Lenz and the Sonderkommando Chief – Commissioner Bothmann showed extreme cruelty. At times out of 30 workers sent to the woods, only 14 returned. The group of workers were constantly supplied with new men brought from Lodz.




The house where the belongings of Jews killed at Chelmno were kept

Although each of eight transports brought 30 workers, it was still not enough, because so many of them were killed. When the first transport arrived, there were only 18 Jewish workers in Chelmno. The rest had been killed. The corpses were buried in a pile of sand. After the furnaces became operational, the bodies were burnt.


The workers were given 200 grams (7oz) of bread a day, some coffee in the morning, and one half litres (1 pint) of soup for dinner. Only after the first transport had arrived, did we get any blankets. We were constantly beaten during work. They hit us with their hands or spades.


Obviously blows from a spade resulted in death or mutilation, which actually equalled death, as those unable to work were finished up. The Germans killed in the following way: they called a Jew named Moniek Reich, who had to remove the shackles from those to be killed. Then they ordered them to lie on the ground and shot them in the back of the head.


The first transport came at the beginning of April from Lodz. In the morning Bothmann ordered the Hauskommando out of the granary. We were ordered to move baggage that had been unloaded near the narrow – gauge railroad track, in the place where it met the road.


Read more here: http://www.holocaustresearchproject.org/survivor/srebrnik.html

The Holocaust Education & Archive Research Team


Copyright Carmelo Lisciotto H.E.A.R.T 2010

Comment on this post

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