Remembrance, not vengence
Today, January 27, 2020 is International Holocaust Remembrance Day. It is a day designated by the United Nations General Assembly to mark the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp, to honor those that died there and to recognize others who were victims of Nazism.
Auschwitz was the death place for millions of people of all nationalities. There was hardly a country in Europe that did not see its people imprisoned there by the Germans during World War II. According to the Auschwitz Birkenau web site, the greatest numbers that died there were Jews and Poles, murdered in cold-blooded, inhumane ways utilizing gas chambers, execution and injections. Among them were the non-Jewish Polish men, women and children of the Zamość region in southeast Poland. In her book, The Extermination at KL Auschwitz of Poles Evicted from the Zamość Region in the years 1942-1943, published by the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum, author Helen Kubica offers readers official documents, camp photographs, and transport lists carefully researched at the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum about the Poles from this region that perished in Auschwitz.
The tragedy inflicted upon the Zamość region of Poland during the German occupation was tied to the Third Reich’s policy of Germanization of the eastern territories of Poland. In order to free the region of all Poles and bring in German settlers, entire villages were emptied, sent to temporary transit camps where they were segregated according to their usefulness to the Reich: forced labor, Germanization, or sent to the concentration camps of Majdanek and Auschwitz.
The first transport of Polish evictees from the Zamość camp was sent to KL Auschwitz on December 10, 1942. A brief excerpt regarding the fate of pregnant women and their infants: Those women from the Zamość transport who were visibly pregnant or who gave birth shortly after arriving at the camp, were killed together with their children by a nurse who gave them phenol injections…Maria Marciniewicz of Zamość(Prisoner No.26978)…gave birth to a daughter in Auschwitz. Both she and her daughter were killed on the 7th of January 1943. In the hospital barrack at Auschwitz, Zofia Węcławik of (the village of)Skierbieszów(Prisoner No.27089) and her fellow prisoners witnessed a visiting SS doctor take her newly born child and throw it into a burning stove. She, too, was dead soon afterwards.”
The second transport from the Zamość camp at Auschwitz on December 16th, 1942:…. of the 48 women and girls, 30 died in the camp by April 1943
The third transport: …. of the 301 women and girls in the third transport, at least 231 died at Auschwitz… as for the fate of the 282 men and boys from this transport, only the fate of 146 has been determined and 124 of those are known to have died at Auschwitz.
The author offered an excerpt from a poem by Polish poet Franciszek Fenikowski titled Żałoba (Requiem) as the motto for her book:
Z pokolenia niech głos nasz idzie w pokolenie:
O pamięć, nie o zemstę proszą nasze cienie!
Los nasz dla Was przestrogą ma być - nie legendą.
Jeśli ludzie zamilkną – głazy wołać będą!
Let our voice sound from generation to generation:
For remembrance, not vengeance, our shadows plea
Let our fate caution you- and not a legend be
And if people fall silent - the boulders will call out!
Let our voice sound in their memory.
Cześć ich pamięci.
The book is an English translation of the original Zaglada s KL Auschwitz Polakow Wysiedlonych z Zamojszczyzny w Latach 1942-1943. Panstwowe Museum Auschwitz-Birkenau (2004)
One of the biggest moments in my life was being able to sign for my very own library card. When I'm not reading, researching and writing I'm riding my bike, sewing or gardening. I love flea markets, folk art, and traveling to Poland.