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|Catalog No.||3298||Similar Items|
|Brief Description||Symcha Turkeltaub - Turkelbaum: testimony on the Lublin ghetto, Majdanek camp, and Lipowa camp in Lublin||Similar Items|
|Registry No.||00402r"m||Similar Items|
|Period||During World War II||Similar Items|
|Author||Turkeltaub Simcha||Similar Items|
|databank||Collections Section||Similar Items|
From the Adolf - Abraham Berman collection:
Testimonies delivered after the war by Symcha Turkeltaub of Lublin, an inmate of the Majdanek camp, born in 1905, the son of Szajndl Kajla and Hersz, a shoemaker and leather cutter by occupation. Symcha Turkeltaub lost his wife and child in 1942.* After the war he lived in Lublin at No. 2 Browarna St. 25 pages (typewritten), in Polish and Yiddish.
Contents of the testimonies:
1) A couple named Zolkiewski (or Zoltowski) from Lublin.** Two pages, in Polish.
2) The crimes of the sadist Hoffman in the Majdanek camp. One page, in Polish.
3) The Lublin ghetto and Majdanek camp. One page, in Polish.
4) The crimes of Bernard Lell, of the Gestapo in Majdanek. Four pages, in Polish.
5) The Majdanek camp. Twelve pages, in Yiddish.
6) The Lublin ghetto; the labor camp at No. 7 Lipowa Street; the Belzec camp. Five pages, in Polish.
* An additional document by Turkeltaub, an application for financial aid, is in Collections file No. 5794.
** The testimony in document No. 1 appears in two copies; in one, the pharmacist’s name is written as Zolkiewski; in the other, Zoltowski.
Document No. 1 (Two copies with differing pagination)
T.’s testimony as told to the Department of Public Security [Resort Bezpieczenstwa Publicznego] in Lublin, regarding a couple named Zolkiewski (or Zoltowski), proprietors of a pharmacy on Krakowskie Przedmiescie Street.
According to T., since his arrival in the Majdanek camp on November 9, 1942, he was sent out twice, under escort, to the pharmacy noted above in order to purchase medications for inmates in the camp. Despite the danger involved, the pharmacist would greet him courteously and gave the top exchange rate for foreign currency (from those lacking funds he entirely waived payment). The pharmacist helped a Jewish couple named Wajsman hide, and saw to all their needs, and also aided a Jewish pharmacist named Lam who came to Majdanek with an “Aryan” identity; Z. wanted to give him large sums of money to rescue him from there. The pharmacist’s wife, as opposed to him, hated Jews and threatened her husband with informing on him for helping them. She had German friends and a German lover, a Gestapo man named Kalwarin; he was a former inmate in Majdanek (in Camp [section] No. 3), who served as Lageraelteste [“Camp Elder” with authority over other inmates] and distinguished himself as a hangman up until his release and acceptance into the Gestapo’s ranks.
Document No. 2 (Two copies with differing pagination)
T.’s testimony regarding the accused Hoffman, delivered to the prosecutor Maksymilian Filinski in the Special Criminal Court (Specjalnego Sadu Karnego) in Lublin, June 7, 1945.
T. was an inmate in Majdanek from November 9, 1942 until his escape on November 2, 1943. He was in Camp [section] No. 2 and worked at, among other tasks, collecting corpses and carting them to the crematory ovens. Hoffman, a criminal prisoner, supervised the unloading of corpses at the crematorium, and would viciously beat inmates with his stick (nicknamed the “thermometer”). He explained his behavior as resulting from to the German character, the pressure applied to him, and his aspiration for release from the camp. On more than one occasion, T. saw how Hoffman murdered inmates with two blows from his stick or by treading on their necks. He frequently took part in murders as amusement; the camp’s officers would choose victims and Hoffman would hang them.
Document No. 3
T. notes that between February 24, 1940 and November 2, 1942, he worked for the regional governor Zoerner in Lublin as a leather cutter. On March 10, 1941, by order of Governor - General [Hans] Frank, Jews were deported [or banished] to outlying towns from Lubartowska Street and the surrounding streets. During the four days of the Aktion, between 80 and 90 people were killed. T. went many times to the manager of the Labor Bureau [Arbeitsamt] and to the legal adviser, Ramm, a native of Hamburg, who had told him of the plans regarding the Jews. In 1940, Frank ordered the setting up of the Belzec camp and turned it over to the management of Sturmbannfuehrer (Major) Dolf. Working in the Majdanek camp as Kapos were several Lublin Jews: Gredel, Dr. Feigels, and Dr. Silberberg; it was they who provided T. with the information. Frank ordered the killing of 30 - 35 Jews per day. After each of his quarterly visits to Majdanek, the situation in the camp worsened. An outbreak of German measles claimed many casualties. After Zoerner was removed from his position, Frank appointed Obergruppenfuehrer (Lt. General) Wendler to replace him; Wendler had collaborated with the SS and Police Commander Globocnik.
Document No. 4:
T.’s testimony regarding Bernard Lell, delivered to the prosecuter B. Bielnik in the Lublin Criminal Court, January 19, 1946.
T. was acquainted with Lell, a Gestapo man serving in the SD, as of June 1941. In one incident, Lell arrested a Jewish young woman who was lodging illegally in a coffee house at No. 2 Kowalska Street; she never returned. He killed the Jewish proprietor of the coffee shop, aged 70, on a side street. Killing Jews became Lell’s hobby. T. relates how L. and three policemen entered a home for the elderly on Jateczna Street, had the elderly residents lie on the floor, and shot them in the head. T., as part of a group of workers [charged with sanitation tasks], witnessed several murders performed by Lell. T. saw how Lell and his assistants murdered Jewish orphans who were taken out of an orphanage on Leczynska Street in March 1942.
Document No. 5
T.’s testimony about the Majdanek camp:
T. worked in Majdan Tatarski as a leather cutter from February 1940 through November 1942. He accuses the chairman of the Judenrat, Dr. Marek Alten, with collaborating with the Gestapo. According to T., Alten opposed tax relief for the [socioeconomically] weak and make tax collecting from Jews stricter, even to the point of sending them to jail. He was eventually shot by the Gestapo in Majdan Tatarski. In Selektions carried out between April 7 and September 9, 1942, those deemed fit for work were deported to a POW camp at No. 7 Lipowa Street in Lublin, and the women, children, and elderly were sent to [the] Piaski [ghetto]. A second Selektion [series] was carried out in a similar way - many were deported to Wlodawa and from there to the Sobibor and Majadnek camps. T. came to [the] Piaski [ghetto] in order to bring back some workmates from there. There were many places of concealment there. Upon the liquidation of [the] Majdan Tatarski [ghetto] on November 9. 1942, T. was transferred to the Majdanek camp.
Theopposition of Zoerner, the governor of Lublin, to the setting up of an extermination site in his district, was rescinded following pressure from Globocnik and with the intervention of Himmler. The extermination plans of Hauptsturmfuehrer (Captain) Hanelt, one of Globocnik’s men, were accepted. T. heard this information while working for SS and policemen. T. heard Hanelt telling while in one of his drunken spells, about his extermination plans that had been approved by Himmler.
In July 1941, the plan to set up a POW camp in Majdanek was approved, along the lines of a concentration camp. As Zoerner had refused to allocate Jews to [work on] building the camp, Globocnik routed Jews from the Lipowa 7 camp (that was under his jurisdiction). These Jews built the first 10 barracks buildings there. At the start, the camp was populated by Soviet POWs. Later on, 161 Jews from Lublin were brought there to work, who within a few weeks died of starvation and tortures. Every Jew who became weakened or whose hair turned white, was hanged or killed by having his skull cracked by a large stone suspended from the ceiling. The commandant of Majdanek was Standartenfuehrer (Colonel) Koch, who previously had been commandant of the Dachau camp. His second - in - command was Hauptsturmfuehrer (Captain) Hartman, who was even crueler than the commandant: He hanged a Jew named Kohen, aged 62 from Lodz, who requested easier work, and did the same to a Jew who lost one of his wooden clogs. Afterwards, Jews from Slovakia and the Czech Protectorate were brought to work in Majdanek. The Slovak Jews, who were put in charge of receiving the transports, behaved cruelly towards their fellow Jews.
On November 9, 1942, the ghetto in Majdan Tatarski was liquidated. Over 3,000 of its Jews, T. among them, were subjected to a Selektion. T. describes the horror and notes that he himself “was in the best situation as he had lost his family six months previously.” When three women didn’t agree to be separated from their children, the SS tore the children from them, held the children by their feet and bashed them against the wall, then returned them lifeless to their mothers, saying “Here’s your child.” In another instance, they sicced a dog on a Jew till the man lost consciousness. Men who worked at leather tanning were transferred to a leather factory in camp section No. 2. In camp section No. 5, the children and elderly were sent to the gas chamber; each elderly [man] was made to carry a child. The remaining children were dragged by dogs to the gas chamber.
The inmates’ unit who transported the corpses to [Kopiec - ? a hill ?] in the forest was referred to as the “Wald Kommando” [German: forest special crew]; the unit that brought corpses to the crematory ovens were called “Himmel Kommando” [German: heaven special crew]. The women were brought to a clothing factory, the Bekleidungswerke (BKW), at a distance of 3.3 km from Majdanek. T. was in camp section No. 2 and worked at loading coal, sewage works, and plumbing.
An escape plan by one [work] group that T. was active in, failed; the Polish head of the work group was flogged to death. T. and his comrades came to the conclusion that escape was only possible from a workplace outside the camp; in order to finance this, T. requested that he [be transferred to] work in the clothing factory, where while sorting the clothing of the murdered it was possible to find money and valuables hidden in them. In clothing brought from the Trelinka camp they once found a shirt from a deportation from Warsaw, on which was written with a [chemical] marking pencil dipped in urine, “My beloved brother Chaim Elechberg [? in Yiddish], today I arrived with my father, my mother, and my two sisters, in Treblinka and we were stood in the line to the gas chambers. The first to go in were Mother and my two sisters. They are no loner alive. After another quarter of an hour Father will go in, and in another half hour it will be my turn. If you are in the camp, know [that this is] what happened to us -- if you are free, avenge our blood!”
The money and diamonds found in the clothing became means of subsistence. T. goes on to describe repeated instances in which the Nazis discovered smugglers and executed them. Eventually an SS man revealed the informer’s identity to the inmates, and they brought about his hanging.
According to T., each camp [possibly: of the five sections of Majdanek] was required to provide a daily quota of 200 dead. In addition, a camp had a quota of sending of 50 - 60 inmates per day to barracks building No. 20 of camp [section] No. 3, the “Death Block,” whose inmates were put to death by beatings or by hanging. T. tells of a Jewish jurist named Mendelewicz from Lublin who worked with him in the cesspits. Mendelewicz was beaten senseless by the work manager, fell into the pit, and was transferred to Block No. 20 as part of the “live quota.” The reason: the work manager, a Slovak Jew, wanted to get his food portion.
Three Lublin Jews were put in charge of the killings in Block 20: (1) Elia Tejtelbojm, an iron wholesaler, who hanged even his own son; (2) Engel, a student, and (3) “para nie para” [Polish: a pair, not a pair] - a nickname applied to a man of the underworld. The three were put to death.
The Jews who arrived [on transports] from Warsaw underwent a Selektion; young men and women were sent to wrok in the camps; the rest were sent to the gas chambers. T. remembers one Oberscharfuehrer (First Sgt.) Patrik, a sadistic killer, who rejected the plea of a boy waiting for the gas chamber by declaring, “The Jews have no life -- get out of here!”
T. tells of the sharing of food with inmates who arrived from Warsaw lacking everything.
He relates the hanging of a youth from Bialystok, among whose belongings 10 zloty were found. He tells of the poison -doctors [i.e. those who put inmates to death rather than healing them] and Slovak Jews who, upon finding no sick inmates (who had been hidden by T. and his comrades), took those who appeared weak. He describes the custom of the “death run” that was common in Majdanek: inmates were forced to join hands and run in fivesomes while sticks and rocks were thrown between their feet; those who fell were beaten to death. He goes on to note that twice a day there was a Selektion by means of a “death run,” and that those who fell (100 - 150 inmates) were taken to the crematory ovens. He recalls an instance when a 12 year old boy who had been sent to Majdanek from Piaski Luterskie, 24 km from Lublin, escaped, after which all his comrades in his work group were beaten and sent to the “death run.”
T. was sent to work in the “sports field” to build a stadium. On November 2, 1943, a regional official told him that a new Aktion was being planned, and he escaped. The next day, 18,000 Jews from Poland, the Netherlands, the Czech Protectorate, and other places were killed in Majdanek. According to his testimony, the bodies of the dead were counted three times because three people who had escaped were missing. Among those shot were Dr. Solowejczyk and Dr. Bartkowski from Warsaw.
Document No. 6:
During the period from February 14, 1940 through November 3, 1942, T. worked as a leather cutter in the Lublin area. He worked in the Department of Economics [Wirtschaft] and Labor [Arbeit]. Heading the Labor Department was Jache, and after him, Ramm. T. also worked in the Interior Department [Innere Werwaltung] in the subdepartment for population and welfare [Bevoelkerungswesen und Fuersorge] whose directors were Ziegenhirta, Tuerka, and Hartiga.
T. desribes the competition existing between the SS and the civil administration, between Globoczik and Zoerner. The orders relating to the Jews were devised by Globoczik with his two aides, Lerch and Cichocki. Also Hoeffler, the notorious hangman of Jewish children, was a consultant to Globoczik. To carry out these orders, Globoczik turned to the staff of the Selbstschutz [Self defense] a gang of young Volksdeutsche from the Lublin area, led by a German, Gunst. They “supervised” the Jews, carried out Aktionen, and conducted group punishments.
In the first Aktion in Lublin, that was conducted on December 4, 1939, members of the Selbstschutz from Silesia, uniformed Germans, and SS took part. Jewish males between the ages of 16 - 60 were assembled on the sports field on Szpitalna Street and sorted according to occupation. Skilled workers were sent home; the rest were escorted with blows to the POW camp on Lipowa Street. Many fell victim [to the guards’ blows].
The camp at No. 7 Lipowa Street:
In 1939/40 the Germans began to release the Jewish POWs interned in the camp in order to strip them of their rights as POWs. Those liberated were employed by the Judenrat, and the skilled workers likewise. Every Jew was required to contribute one day per week. Many acquitted this obligation by paying money. T. lists details about the Jewish labor bureau that reported to Globocnik.
At that time, a labor camp was set up in Belzec, and Dolf, who in January 1940 had already been summoned to Lublin by Globocnik to replace Gunst, was given its command. New he was put in charge of both the Lublin and Belzec camps. In Lublin he appointed two of his henchmen from the Gestapo, Seylitz and Oberscharfuehrer (First Sgt.) Bartecki.
In July 1940, the Judenrat was charged with supplying 200 people [or men?] for work in Belzec for a period of six weeks. Shortly thereater, bad news came from [there]. There were no volunteers for the second transport. The Germans conducted an Aktion, and after the Selektion sent over 2,000 men [to Belzec]. Aktionen were also carried out in the environs of Lublin, as a result of which the number of people in Belzec rose to 12,000. According to T., there was an agreement with the Germans to swap healthy people for the weaker ones. This opened the way for exchanges for a payment of money. Heading the Jewish Labor Bureau was Meininger, a German. By his instructions, Jews were abducted in the streets. A jail, whose guards were Jews, was opened beside the office of the Jewish Labor Bureau for those who shirked work. The struggle between the SS and the civil administration continued. In the summer of 1940, the director of the regional Department of Labor, Jache, was transferred to the Generalgouvernement administration, where there was much support for Governor Zoerner. Along with this, areas of responsibility were divided between the police and the civil administration.
Despite all the changes, the camp on Lipowa Street was transferred to Globocnik’s command. At this stage it had 3,000 Jewish POWs and 2,000 Jewish skilled workers from Lublin, and was turned into an armaments factory. It was headed by Ruedel. The remainder of the Jews were turned over to the auspices of the Labor Bureau.
Despite the agreements, when the SS required Jews for hard labor, they would abduct Jews. A large - scale roundup of this sort was carried out in August 1940 after the SS authorities requested that the Judenrat provide people to work at the airfield and were met with a negative response. (The Judenrat replied that following the agreements, only the Labor Bureau had the authority to approve this.) An SS unit brought from the front carried out the abduction, in the middle of the night, of 1,600 persons and brought them to the airfield. After a Selektion conducted that morning, under the command of Seylitz and Bartecki, those with jobs were released by the Germans. members of the Judenrat were released only ten days later, during which time they were put to work at unskilled labor. In charge of the Jews who were put to work at dismantling buildings and factories was Oberscharfuehrer (First Sgt.) Schooeller, a sadist. When the work was finished, they were all sent to the Belzec camp.
Globocnik wanted to set up a camp in the outskirts of Lublin, and Zoerner opposed this. The decision in Berlin was that Globocnik was authorized to establish a POW camp [in German: KGL] in Majdanek, and not a concentration camp [KL]. Globocnik remained in Lublin through the summer of 1943. Following the capitulation of Italy he was sent there, along with his group including [Gustav] Hanelt and the Italian Calverini, a former POW, to impose order.*
*[Comment in the original:] The authorization of this information comes from Himmler’s speech at an SS assembly on October 4, 1943; Himmler announced that Gruppenfuehrer (Major General) Wolf was appointed as commander in chief of the SS and Police in Occupied Italy, and Globocnik was appointed to serve under him as Higher SS and Police Leader of the Adriatic Coastal Zone of Operation. Close