Dr. Otto Wachter - Poem by adam lizakowski
Dr. Otto Wachter
The Krakow “Jewish residence district” came into by the force of decree of Dr. Otto Wachter, the governor of the Krakow district since 3rd March,1941. It took up a few streets in the Podgórze district. Surrounded by a wall and carefully guarded by the police, it existed for two years. It was eliminated on 13th and 14th March,1943.
In accordance with Himmler’s secret orders of 9th October,1942, which stated that all working Jews are to be put up in the camps, in the middle of November the Krakow ghetto was divided into two parts. In Part A, there were to be those who had work permits. In Part B, there were to be those who did not work. The boundary was marked off by a barbed wire fence.
On 13 March,1943, in the morning the ghetto
Was surrounded by Sonderdienst units.
SS units went into the center.
They set up machine guns in the square.
At eleven o’clock Gutter, the ghetto commissioner, received the order
From SS and police director J. Schener:
The transplanting of the Jews is necessary
Due to the lack of residence in Krakow.
“The mood is horrible. Outrageously mad, the movement on the streets is indescribable. There’s the shouting of people, the bustle of their loading their belongings, and their searching for their places and for those closest to them. In the ghetto there are between ten and twenty Germans with Anom Goethe at the head, who with an automatic in his hands chases about the streets. He and his entourage of loyal dogs Ralf and Rolf heighten the sense of madness
II: The Evacuation of the Hospital
Doctor Julian Aleksandrowicz informed the patients. In the hospital he directs on Józenfiń ska Street of the situation.
“In the room their began a fantastic tumult. The sick quickly dressed, and the sisters bustled amidst them, helping them with all their strength. After a while there was a silence. The hopsital quickly emptied. Only the tossed about bedsheets, the discarded pillows, boxes, and papers told that there had come through here a wind that heralded a storm. On the beds there remain four completely helpless people.” Doctor Aleksandrowicz decided that he should give them a deadly dosage of poison. “Now it is certain. It’s a necessity of conscience. I won’t allow the powerless bodies of the sick with a flickering remainder of life and consciousness left in them to be thrown onto trucks and later taken to a mass grave and slaughter.
Along with the hitting and shouts of the SS men, around 6,000 Jews
Marched on Limanowskiego Street and Wielicką Street
To the camp in Pł aszów.
In the afternoon Ghetto A became empty.
On the unpeopled streets there was discarded bagage left behind.
Police patrols searched houses from basement to attic.
Every person remaining without permission after 17: 00 hours
In Ghetto A was immediately killed.
IV: Ghetto B
On the morning of 14th March the residence of Ghetto B were to come to the Zgody
“There crept out characters with miserable faces,
Unshaven, unwashed, and with a depraved look.
Women came out with children in their arms or in strollers.
The elderly came ouot, carrying in their arms velvet bundles
With holy books and ritual garments within.
Children walked alone, holding each other’s hands.
It was a beautiful, warm, and sunny day.”
Into the ghetto came SS and Sonderdienst units in full armory.
There drove in in cars various German dignitaries. The Germans
Searched through every home, pulling people out from basements and attics. Most
Were killed on the spot. They beat those in the Zgody Square, and shot at them
Bersharfuehrer Albert Hujar himself murdered
Each patient from the hospital on Józefiń skiej Street.
Against the wall of a house right before the windows
Of the 'Under the Eagle“ pharmacy, the elderly and crippled were shot.
On Wita Stwosza Street, a group of old women was shot.
The kinderheim on Józefiń skiej was evacuated.
The youngest children were thrown in bunches into baskets
That landed on vehicles.
The older ones were taken into the courtyard
On the corner of Nadwiś lań skiej and Solnej, where they were murdered.
Shipping cars rode up to the gate of the ghetto.
Those gathered in the Square were to leave all their belongings
And enter into the cars.
They squeezed people through the open gateway,
Beating and kicking all the way to the exit.
Children in strollers were left to face fate.
The shots didn’t pause for even a moment.
Always another group of Germans took children to the courtyard
Not far from the pharmacy, and a series of shots left no doubt
As to what was happening there. The people were hurrying to leave the ghetto.
They had to jump into the waiting cars quickly.
For the SS men standing by beat them horrendously.
The cars escorted by SS men on motorcycles
Drove to Auschwitz.
The whole transport was taken immediately to the gas chambers.
Only one group of passengers were saved, riding on a truck
That broke down along the way and made it to the camp after the gassing.
Some people from that group survived the War.
There lied about abandoned packages, suticases and bundles.
In the ghetto there still remained but a few children.
The SS men took their hands and brought them to the nightmarish courtyard
Of the house on the cornner of Nadwiś lań skiej.
There they were placed in a row and killed with one bullet.
At long last the last German units left the ghetto.
The saved Jews had to strip
All of the murdered.
Their clothes, washed and mended,
Were sent later to bombed German cities.
The naked bodies were stacked unpleasingly by the gates of houses.
Later they were loaded onto platforms,
Covered in blankets and taken to Pł aszów
To be burried in mass graves.
Amongst the bodies lied the kadabers of people much wounded,
But for them there was no help.
From the homes of murdered Jews
The remainding belongings were taken
And stored in warehouses.
Every item was recorded in special indexes.
In the search for hidden money and valuables,
Brick stoves were broken, desk legs wear torn away,
And embrasures were destroyed.
Separate groups of prisoners searched
For paintings in apartments.
All paintings of Jewish artists —
As with Polish paintings —
That showed a Jewish theme
Were burnt in the courtyard of the house at 16 Józejiń skiej.
SS and SD officers often came to the warehouses
To take things of value.
How do you feel reading these 65 years later
On the other side on an ocean in a safe place?
Remember that you are not safe, that you are guilty
Of the deaths of these people, for they suffered because of you.
You weren’t there; we none of us were there
To shout, “Stop! Control yourselves!
What are you doing? Does God not exist for you?
Is there no human law over you? ”
And yet you are a witness of this event.
“I wasn’t on the Earth yet, ” you’ll say,
“I wasn’t even born yet.”
Yes, it’s you’re fault. We all of us are human.
We all of us must feal guilt for the death of the innocent.
Neither time, nor distance from the crime, nor history
Allows for you to feel justified.
“A reality so unrealistic, ” you’ll say.
Yet it exists, and therein lies the strength of the murdered.
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