76 years ago, the Germans sentenced over 100 Poles to death in Auschwitz

76 years ago, the Germans sentenced over 100 Poles to death in Auschwitz

More than one hundred death sentences were issued against Poles by the summary police court of the Katowice Gestapo, which on January 5, 1945 gathered in the Auschwitz camp for the last session. The convicts were shot a day later at the crematorium in Auschwitz II-Birkenau.

The summary court was chaired by the head of the Katowice Gestapo, Johannes Thuemmler.

The exact number of those shot on January 6, 1945 is not known. Most likely it was 116 women and men. At the behest of Thuemmler, the court's documentation was almost entirely destroyed. The inscriptions in the cells remain the only traces of the victims who were imprisoned in block 11 of the Auschwitz camp before the meeting. The last ones are dated January 5, 1945.

Among the shot were courier of the Home Army Antoni Szlachcic, Władysław Jasiówka and Kazimierz Matjasiński from Sosnowiec, Stanisław Kobyłka from Rusiec, Józef Łuczak from Wieluń, Jan Strychowski from Myślachowice and Adam Tondos from Jęzor.

Among them was also less than 22-year-old Zbigniew Kunz from Orłowa in Zaolzie, a member of the Home Army, known as "Adler". He was arrested on April 6, 1943, and imprisoned in Cieszyn, and then in Mysłowice. On February 17, 1944, he was transferred to Auschwitz. His mother, Gabriela Kunzowa, while saving her son, bribed a Gestapo officer from Katowice named Hess. Before the next court sessions, the German put Zbigniew's files aside, extending his life. In the last days of December 1944, however, he went on vacation.

The summary court sentenced a total of approx. 3,000 Poles. Almost all of them were shot. The executions were carried out at the Death Wall in the courtyard of Block 11, and from March 1944 on the grounds of Auschwitz II-Birkenau, incl. in crematorium V. Historians have set dates for 36 sessions.

From June 1942, Rudolf Mildner was the head of the Gestapo in Katowice. He then presided over the court. In September 1943 he was replaced by Thuemmler. They both thought the so-called police prisoners who were at the disposal of the Katowice Gestapo. From 1943, they waited for a court hearing on the ground floor of the prison in Auschwitz. It was located in block 11. They were almost exclusively Poles. They were not under the jurisdiction of the camp command. Court meetings were held every few weeks.

Mildner later became the head of the SD and Security Police in occupied Denmark, from where - at the end of the war - he returned to work at the Reich Security Main Office. After the war, he was captured by the Americans. He left the POW camp in 1949. He escaped to Argentina, where he died in the 1960s.

After the war, Thuemmler was interned by the American authorities, which, however, rejected the Polish extradition request. In 1949 he was released. 30 years later, the Stuttgart prosecutor's office suspended the case against him. German judges did not find any evidence that he violated the law or that he acted out of low motives. In 2002, the case was discontinued. The German died in April 2002 at the age of 95.

The Germans established the Auschwitz camp in 1940 to imprison Poles there. Auschwitz II-Birkenau was established two years later. It became the site of the extermination of Jews. There was a network of sub-camps in the camp complex. In Auschwitz, the Germans killed at least 1.1 million people, mostly Jews. About 70,000 died in the camp. Poles. Roma, Soviet prisoners of war and people of other nationalities also died. (PAP)