Krychow is a village in the administrative district of Hansk, within Wlodawa County, Lublin Voivodeship, in eastern Poland. |
Beginning in 1940, the Nazis had established sixteen labor camps in the Lublin region near the village of Sobibor, under the direction of the Lublin Water Conservation authorities. Jews sent to these Sobibor sub-camps worked as agricultural laborers under German colonial overseers. Over 95,000 Jews expelled from Warsaw and Vienna were shipped in for this task.
The largest among the Sobibor sub-camps was established at Krychow, Poland and Adolf Loffler (also recorded as Johann Loeffler) became the S.S. commandant of the camp. Jewish slave laborers at Krychow worked on the regulation of rivers, drained moors, and constructed canals.
According to Nazi Franz Stangl,
"The first camp I saw was about half-way between Chelm and Sobibor, a farm called Krychow (Kirchof in German). It employed two to three hundred Jewish women, mostly German or at least German speaking. I went in there to look around. There was nothing sinister about it -- they were quite free. If you like it was just a farm where the women worked under the supervision of Jewish guards. Well, I suppose you could call them Jewish police. As I say I looked around and the women seemed quite cheerful -- they seemed healthy. They were just working. The guards were armed with weissen Schlagmitteln, 'white implements for beating' the prisoners."
This testimony contrasts sharply with the testimony of an unidentified Jewish prisoner of Krychow from Slovakia, who wrote to his local Judenrat via the Polish Underground about his experience at the camp:
"The living conditions were indescribable; there were neither straw nor covers or rugs of any kind, no washing accommodation, only incredible filth and vermin. We were literally covered with lice, and there was nothing we could do about it. Our diet consisted of 150 grains of bread, soup of cabbage leaves without fat or salt and black coffee. We knew from experience that such a diet leads to death from malnutrition within six weeks.
After a short time most of us had swollen faces and feet, and either typhoid fever or dysentery or both. We had at least a dozen deaths every day. Of the group of 155 with which I had come, I witnessed sixty deaths. The work was not particularly strenuous, but it was too hard for us in our exhausted state.
Treatment in the hospital consisted of dumping people there -- no medicine or special food was given to them, and survival was purely dependent upon strength of constitution, and money to some extent, because at high prices medicines were obtainable. Most of us did not have money.
On October 16 we were told that a certain proportion of workers was to be sent to the 'Jewish city' of Wlodawa on the Bug, 25 km from Krychow. For this deportation, elderly and weak persons, not well fitted for work, and children were chosen. The hospital was cleared too, and the inmates sent to Wlodawa. These people were sent without baggage and bare-footed because the rubber boots used for the draining ditch work belonged to the camp -- and they were not allowed to fetch their own shoes.
Four days after they arrived at Wlodawa, the entire Jewish population there was deported to Sobibor (annihilation camp). Some time after this, the inmates of the camps of Ujazdow and Hansk were brought to us for the winter. This influx made living conditions quite unbearable. Then, on December 9 we were suddenly told that a general deportation was imminent.
One hundred persons were selected, and later an additional 10 were allowed to stay on. All of the others were carried away. At Hansk remained 100 to 110 women and five men. Among those remaining at Krychow were some Jewish women and girls from Germany and Czechoslovakia as well as the following from Nitra, Slovakia and thereabouts:
- Piroska Taussig
- Edith Gartner
- Marian Gartner
- Jessa Furst
- Eva Furst
- Hanka Wertheimer
And the following men from Bohemia:
- Malvin Steiner and his son
- Fritz Singer from Prague
- Kurt Rhein from Teplice, Schonau, Prague
And some Polish Jews. The remaining group owed much to Briska Taussig from Nitra, who had succeeded in establishing herself in a privileged position with the administration, and used it to give as much help as she could. It was due to her that so many girls could be retained in the camp.
Early in 1943, there was a new influx of Polish Jews into the camp. In June 1943 the camps of Osowa, Sawin, Sajczyce and Luta were liquidated, and the survivors came to us, swelling our numbers. Among those who came to Krychow from Sawin were:
- Two sisters called Mari and Rossi, family name unknown
- Mrs. Maca (about 30 years of age)
- Nelly, family name unknown, dressmaker from Nitra
- Mrs. Fried, former owner of a ladies’ outfitters shop at Plestany
- Mrs. Dukes from Plestany - Nitra
- Mrs. Sinal and Mrs. Stropkov
- Dym, civil servant from Vel. Kapusany
- Bruder from Saina
- Dr. Szilard, from Stropkov
- Mrs. Edith Raichwerger Sp. Nova - Vea
- Mrs. Nowak with her daughters Ruth
- Mimi Brand from Prague
- Vera Roubitschek from Prague
- Hanka Kaffkova from Pilsen
- A relative of Dr. Julius Basler from Sabinov
Starting in 1943, conditions at Krychow improved considerably. After December 9, 1942, we got a bread ration of 400 to 500 grams per day and a thick potato soup at noon. We were given good iron bedsteads, and washing accommodation. With the improvement of sanitary conditions the state of health much improved, and only three of the 110 people who had originally remained died since then, as a result of the prevailing conditions. Buchler, from Bratislava-Nitra, former owner of a Vienna cafe, related to Attorney Fodor of Nitra, who died of cancer, Donath Prievidza, 55 years of age. Mrs. Hand from Vienna (who had a daughter of 18 at Krychow).
Three other sick people were shot by the deputy camp commander when the commander was on leave. They were: Hopkovitz from Stropkov, a former clerk in the firm of Kulik, and two Polish Jews.
After the enlargement of the camp in March, food conditions became worse again, the bread ration was lowered to 150 grams per day and a fat less vegetable soup was given for lunch. In April 1943, we heard rumours about Dutch and Belgian Jews coming to us, which were confirmed by the camp authorities. They did not come, but I heard the following about their fate:
The transports from Belgium and Holland arrived in very good condition, as they travelled in 2nd class carriages (unlike us) and at the bigger stations received food and white bread. Some older and weaker persons were sent back to Holland and Belgium under the pretext that they were unfit for the work which was the official justification given to the horrified Dutch and Belgian public for the deportations.
At first, there were reports that some proportion was actually detached for work, as had been done in other countries, but in reality, the SD (Sicherheitsdienst -- Security Service of the Gestapo) released no one, and all were destroyed at Sobibor. In the neighbourhood of Sobibor the sky is always lit up at night by reflected fire, and there is an all-pervading stench of burnt hair. The population asserts, and various signs confirm that the corpses of Jews formerly slaughtered by electricity or poison gas, and buried, are now disinterred and burned, in order to baffle any attempt at tracing the murders.
In 1942 escapes from camps were punished by brutal reprisals levelled against the remaining inmates. The fugitives were mostly Polish Jews who were acquainted with local conditions. They fled to the forests and formed bands which lived by robbery. Of late, punishment for desertion has fallen only upon the deserter himself, if he was caught.
Then the camp of Sawin still existed and Dr. Sobel from Pecovska, and Peinere, tried to escape. Both were caught, Dr. Sobel was executed, Peinere was brought back to camp, but succeeded in escaping once more, and he has not been heard of since. Similarly, Mr. Lajos Klein escaped from Michalowce, his later history is unknown."
Simcha Dobner, a Holocaust survivor from Rejowiec, testifies about the conditions at Krychow as follows:
"When we arrived at Krychow Labor Camp [on Passover, 1940], we were welcomed by Germans barking commands at us. Men and women were assigned to separate barracks. We had had no food for three days, so our first meal of potato soup was really appreciated. At six a.m. each day we gathered for a head count, followed by a little black coffee. Thereafter, armed with a variety of digging tools, we were marched to dig up the endless swamps for irrigation. Our feet were terribly swollen. The worst thing was the unsanitary conditions and the terrible epidemic of lice. A few weeks after we arrived, all those who had worked in Zawadowka -- myself among them -- were sent back there."
An estimated 3,000 to 4,000 prisoners were at the Krychow camp, including Jews, non-Jews, and gypsies. In 1940, Hansk local administration received an order from the German civil administration to prepare buildings at Krychow for Roma (gypsy) deportees. The Roma group has been estimated at between 1,000 and 1,500 people. According to the statements by Polish witnesses from Hansk, these individuals were not guarded and not forced to work in Krychow. Most of them could not speak Polish. They exchanged their clothes for food and begged for money. During the winter, many Roma died of cold, malnutrition, or untreated illnesses. In 1941, gypsy survivors were sent to the Siedlce ghetto.
When Sobibor Death Camp was nearing completion in mid-April 1942, 250 Jews -- almost exclusively women -- were brought from the Krychow Labor Camp and murdered in the Sobibor gas chambers. This "trial run" was attended by the entire Sobibor camp command.
Transports to Krychow Labor Camp included the following:
-- Unknown number of Jews from Germany who had been sent to Belzec in July 1940;
-- More than 1,000 gypsies from Belzec in 1940;
-- Unknown number of Jews from Warsaw in 1940;
-- Unknown number of Jews from Siedliszcze in ~1941;
-- ~550 Jews from Warsaw in 1941;
-- Unknown number of Polish farmers detained for tax evasion;
-- 400 mixed Jewish-Christian persons from Czechoslovakia;
-- 155 Jews from Slovakia;
-- 300 Jews from Rejowiec on May 2, 1942;
-- Unknown number of Jews from Poland in 1943;
-- Unknown number of survivors from Luta, Osowa, Sawin, Sajczyce -- liquidated labor camps near to Krychow in June 1943
Gypsies (Roma) at Krychow.
There was a revolt in the camp on August 16, 1943. Additionally, Jewish inmates at the camp were murdered when Adolf Loffler discovered that they had made contact with local Poles. Polish farmers accused of selling food to the prisoners were punished by beating.
Finally, in the summer and autumn of 1943, an unknown number of inmates at Krychow were taken on horse-drawn wagons to Sobibor Death Camp, where they were gassed upon arrival. In November 1943, 1,500 prisoners of Krychow were deported to Belzec Death Camp, where they were also gassed upon arrival.
Out of 14,000 Czech Jews deported to forgotten places such as Sawin, Luta, Krychow or Zamosc in the Lublin district of Poland, only 50 survived the war.
- Simon Dobner
- Isak Rais
- Joseph Schnitzer
- Anna Unknown
- Gottfried Weiss