Historical story

Victims of the criminals from Gross-Rosen

Mainly German recidivists:rapists, thieves and murderers remained Kapos and block supervisors in KL Gross-Rosen. They were the ones who tormented the imprisoned.

- I went to the revier for three weeks in '42, shortly after arriving at the camp - says Antoni Gładysz. - To the prisoners then, he was just a dying house. I had diarrhea and a very high fever. I was placed in one bed with an unconscious, delirious Dutchman who died in front of me at three in the morning. We were lying on a narrow hospital bed covered with one blanket. I had already experienced a lot then, but so far I could not imagine lying in the same bed with a corpse.

I waited for the day to come. As soon as I saw the paramedic, I asked him to collect the body. But the paramedic beat me up and said he wouldn't remove the body until the evening. I had to lie next to the corpse all day and it started to stink . It is not one of me who was told to do so. The point was, after all, that the functionary should be able to take a portion of food for the deceased. That was the only thing that mattered to the ward paramedic.

"In the morning I went to see him. All I found was the corpse ”

Diarrhea in Gross-Rosen, in German Durchfall , killed dozens of prisoners every day. Virtually everyone has struggled with it. Some got used to it quickly, others died in agony. Bloody diarrhea, long-lasting, depriving exhausted organisms of minerals and protein, was caused by poor nutrition that today no one in Europe would even feed to animals.

Former Nazi Death Camp Gross-Rosen / EAST NEWS / DARIUSZ GDESZ

Bread baked with flour mixed with sawdust. Soup made of unwashed turnips. A bit of rancid fat and spoiled marmalade. In addition, there were bacterial infections, failure to comply with basic hygiene rules and exhaustion through backbreaking work . And parasites, including lice. The sick desperately needed help, so - although they knew that people usually die in the hospital - they risked it. Because it was their last chance. Antoni Gładysz understood it quickly.

- The first time I got to the district together with my friend Dostowski and Marian Kotra. Dostowski lost his glasses while working, and no one could help him get new ones. He felt this lack the most acutely. He was like a blind man. His life became poignantly tragic. Everyone then suffered from diarrhea, but Dostowski was especially bothered by it. He was sitting on a barrel in the lavatory more than on a bunk.

We flew there together for three days, day and night, sometimes every ten minutes. We met there all the time. As long as we had the strength, we ran. Those who could no longer get down from the bunk were sentencing themselves . Such was the custom in the Gross-Rosen hospital that if a sick person could not go to the toilet, he was dragged by the legs to the floor and dragged to the so-called ripening room, or he was taken to a platform and taken straight to the crematorium. Dostowski seemed to sense the catastrophe. I went to the lavatory a few more times that night. The last time we met was around three in the morning. In the morning I went to him. All I found was the body.

"You mustn't break down"

According to prisoners, the camp authorities did nothing to prevent this epidemic. Each day, thirty or forty bodies were taken out of only one special room, in which there were about two hundred people due to diarrhea. New sick people were admitted to the places of the dead.

- I had been working in the quarries for several days now and I had no hope that I would be assigned to a lighter job - recalls Andrzej Bartoszyński. - Additionally, unexpectedly, I had a stomach upset. It seemed to me that with each passing day I was weakening and my ailments did not go away.

The text is an excerpt from the newest book by Tomasz Bonek, Demony of Death. Zbrodniarze z Gross-Rosen ", which has just been released by the Znak Horyzont publishing house.

I felt that something bad was starting to happen to me. It baffled me a bit, but persuaded myself the sacramental rule that was always repeated in the Pawiak, that in a camp you should not break down in the first place. Unfortunately, contrary to my optimism, it turned out to be a typical camp disease, Durchfall . Fortunately, I did not know then that these ailments were the cause of the mass deaths of prisoners concentration camps.


Exhausted Andrzej Bartoszyński was even glad to learn that after the evening roll call his commando was to appear before the medical commission. He thought that maybe a stay in the revier would save him from death.

- Several SS men sat in front of a table set between the blocks. We approached them one by one. They chose the weakest and the sick to send somewhere. I thought that maybe it was just fine, because I felt that in the present state in the quarries I would not take a long time. My number has also been noted. They said it was supposed to be a transport to some Revierlager , a hospital camp, where full medical care and better conditions are to be provided.

But after he had just arrived in Gross-Rosen from Warsaw in cattle cars, he was very afraid of the transport. Qualified prisoners were to leave that night.

- Guided by some strange force, I decided to do something to get out of this situation, but I didn't know how, since they had already written down my number. I didn't know anyone here and I couldn't count on any help. The journey with unknown where and under what conditions, again completely unknown, still in such poor health, seemed very risky to me. With that in mind, I walked towards the block. I was walking past District One, where admissions to the hospital were taking place. There was a packed and confused crowd of people standing there. Everyone crowded and pushed past the door. In these conditions, getting into the infirmary was almost impossible.

But he decided to try. He believed that he must succeed this time, that that time had not yet come ...

Survival after acquaintance

The nurse on duty - Pfleger - chased the sick away.

- I noticed that he had the letter "P" on his arm, so he must be Polish. With difficulty and with great effort, I slipped inch by inch in the cauldron of bodies closer and closer. It took a lot of effort and persistence to finally be completely close to the entrance. Then he saw me. I saw a look of surprise on his face, then an outstretched hand. I gripped it tightly and that was how I got to the front door.

- “What are you boy doing here? How did you get here? ”He asked. Without wasting a moment, fearing that I might be pulled back by the crowd, invoked, hoping it would help me, my father . My father worked at the Sanitary Training Center, so I asked if there were military doctors from Warsaw here who would certainly know him. After I gave my name, Pfleger pushed me further down the hall and disappeared for a while.

Former Nazi Death Camp Gross-Rosen / EAST NEWS / DARIUSZ GDESZ

He made me wait. He returned soon accompanied by a prisoner dressed in a white coat. It was a doctor, Colonel Stanisław Konopka, who knew my father well. He asked me a series of short questions. Everything was fine. After completing the required formalities, I did not return to the block, got to the district, thus avoiding transport to the alleged Revierlager . Anyway, I had a good feeling and a lot of luck. As I was explained, under the code name Revierlagru there was a shipment to the gas chambers, which here in Gross-Rosen were not there .

Vestibule to the crematorium

Then he realized that the next day he would not go to the quarries.

- I felt how weak and exhausted I was. It turned out, however, that getting a bed here is not that easy. The ward was always overloaded and I was already beginning to fear that I would be sent back to the block, but after many adventures somehow I found a vacancy.

- Some considered the ward as a temporary salvation, and others as a vestibule to the crematorium - explains priest Władysław Klinicki. - In spite of everything, there were never enough people willing, especially when the disease was taking its toll. Whoever went to the district after the evening roll call, often returned to the block mercilessly beaten by a German degenerate endowed with power. The sick feared the kapos more than any disease, even contagious.

During Gross-Rosen's operation, the situation in the camp districts changed dramatically. At first, there were no prisoners, doctors or paramedics. Later, the territories were so overcrowded that they offered much worse conditions than in blocks intended for working people. It happened only sporadically that in the districts you could experience a bit of "luxury", of course like a camp.

Peaceful death

- The meals were the same as in the camp - says Antoni Gładysz. - In the morning we got a half-liter mug of ground bone soup, for lunch a liter of turnip soup or steamed spinach leaves, and for dinner twenty decagrams of bread with a teaspoon of cottage cheese or musty marmalade.

But it was impossible to break down.

–K olega Kotra, who was lying next to me in the quarter, endured this food, it seemed, the best of all of us - reports Antoni Gładysz. - When the dying had hallucinations at night, they screamed, called for their loved ones At the time, Kotra explained to us most calmly that you should eat slowly, that it is good to have a bite of a piece of charcoal first. In short, he made an impression on me of the healthiest man in the district.

One day he got a pencil from someone and he was drawing something. I was surprised to see that these are furniture designs. He said he would buy himself one when he was free, that he would marry, that he would have two children, whom he had already named in advance . He was amazingly sure that he would survive the camp and quickly return to his family. It was reassuring for us. So it was all the more depressing when he died soon. He was dying so quietly that no one even noticed.

In the hospital, patients with diarrhea usually died peacefully.

The text is an excerpt from the newest book by Tomasz Bonek, Demony of Death. Zbrodniarze z Gross-Rosen ", which has just been released by the Znak Horyzont publishing house.


The text is an excerpt from the newest book by Tomasz Bonek, Demony of Death. Zbrodniarze z Gross-Rosen ", which has just been released by the Znak Horyzont publishing house.