Plaszów


In the summer of 1942, the Germans established a labor camp on the southern outskirts of Krakow. Part of the camp was built in two Jewish cemeteries. The commander of the camp was SS-Hauptsturmführer Amon Göth. In February 1943, and following the imminent dismantling of the Krakow ghetto, the camp began to be expanded. Goeth also took an active part in the dismantling of the ghetto in Krakow in March 1943 and the Jews who were not murdered during the settlement or sent to Auschwitz ended up in Plaszow. Goth lived in a villa just outside the ghetto, surrounded by mistresses, rode often on his white horse in the camp, murdered arbitrarily and randomly prisoners in the camp, among other things. shooting them from his balcony. The camp’s prisoners were used as slave workers in German industries but also at a quarry next to the camp. German entrepreneur Oskar Schindler used about 900 prisoners from the camp as labor in his factory just outside the camp. Schindler protected them from being deported to Auschwitz.

The camp expanded all the time and was at its largest in the summer of 1944 when it was designated a concentration camp. The Nazis began to dismantle the camp in the summer of 1944 as the Soviet Red army approached. All buildings were demolished or dismantled and the bodies of those murdered and buried were dug up and cremated over open fires. The last prisoners were deported to Auschwitz on January 14, 1945, the following day the Red Army arrived in Plaszow. In total, about 35,000 prisoners were placed in the camp, at most about 20,000, about 8,000 were murdered and thousands were deported to other camps. Commander Amon Goth was arrested in May 1945 by American troops, handed over to Poland, tried in Krakow, sentenced to death and hanged in September 1946.

Current status: Demolished with monument (2015).

Location: 50°01'59.9"N 19°57'59.0"E

Get there: Tram.

My comment:

Plaszow became internationally known through the movie, Schindler´s List, which came out in 1993. Until then, few people knew about the camp. Of the camp, however, there is not much left, the SS administration house remains, as well as some ruins after houses that were just outside the camp but still had a connection to the camp. Across the former camp area there are several monuments and information boards that tell about the camp. The commandant Amon Goeth’s villa just outside the camp remains and is privately owned. It was characterized for many years of decay but had in 2019 received a major facelift and is now one of the street’s finest villas. Next to Plaszow is Lebanon, a long-established quarry.

Prior to filming, director Steven Spielberg had a smaller copy of the camp in the quarry, including Goth’s villa and stables/garage. After the filming it was discussed if the camp would be left but it was not so, but it was partly demolished. Over the years, the trees have grown increasingly dense and larger, but it is still possible to visit the place for those who manage to find it. Camp poles from the film shooting are still there, as well as the frame after Goth’s villa and parts of the stairs down to the camp from the villa. The garage and stables are also left and the camp street where Jewish tombstones were used as a coating. However, everything is film props and nothing that has any historical value, but it is still interesting to wander around the place and look at everything. However, there is no natural way to the quarry, but you have to find your way, but it is worth it.

Follow up in books: Kogon, Eugen: The Theory and Practice of Hell: The German Concentration Camps and the System Behind Them (2006).