Karski : this strange visit to a Belzec camp in 1939

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Reviso
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Karski : this strange visit to a Belzec camp in 1939

Postby Reviso » 4 years 8 months ago (Mon Feb 23, 2015 8:00 am)

I would make a remark, independent from what I said on the thread "Jan Karski's Visit to Belzec: a Reassessment".

F. Jansson notes that Karski already made a visit to a German camp for Jews in Belzec in 1939. Wood and Jankowski write, about this visit :
one of Marian's [Marian is the brother of Karski] subordinates on the police force, a Jew, was planning to cross to the Soviet occupied zone of Poland (...) Marian (...) decided to send Jan wih him to Lwow. (...) Departing at a village and hitching a ride from the station on a peasant cart, Jan and the policeman reached the town of Belzec (...). Walking to the ouskirts of Belzec, they located the guide whose name they had been given. (...) The Germans (...) did make efforts to keep Jews from escaping. (...) Jan, stuck in Belzec (...), saw what happened to those who were caught.
In his report to the government-in-exile early in 1940, Jan described the tableau of misery he witnessed :
"Near Belzec, the Germans have created a camp of Jews... An enormous proportion walked and slept under the open sky. Very many people were without proper clothing or other covering. (...) a heard of harassed beasts, not people."

(Wood and Jankowski, Karski..., 2014 edition, p. 36-37.)

Now, the "1942" visit. In an article "Eye-Witness Report of a Secret Courier Fresh from Poland", in Voice of the Unconquered, March 1943, Karski says :
In the uniform of a Polish policeman I visited the sorting point near Belzec. It is a huge barrack only about half of which is covered with a roof. When I was there about 5,000 men and women were in the camp. (...) (...) they are no longer in the image of men. Skeletons with eyes dead with resignation. Naked, frightened (...)

(Quoted in Mattogno, Belzec, 2004, p. 26-27.)

In the 1944 book, written by Karski and Emery Reves, there is a hay cart, but instead of a Polish uniform, Karski wears an Estonian one. And there is no Jew in the expedition, the companion of Karski is an Estonian. (Jan Karski, Story of a Secret State, Penguin Classics, 2012, p. 369 ff.)

In the winter 1978-1979, Karski has an interview with Lanzmann. The transcript of the interview is online here :
http://data.ushmm.org/intermedia/film_v ... 28385C.pdf

Karski says first (p. 31) that his companion was a Jew, but after a change of roll, he realigns himself with the 1944 book : the companion was an Estonian (p. 35).

Don't you think that the "1942" visit was constructed from the 1939 visit ?
R.

Reviso
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Re: Karski : this strange visit to a Belzec camp in 1939

Postby Reviso » 4 years 8 months ago (Wed Feb 25, 2015 3:20 am)

Another remark : after quoting the report of the 1939 visit, Wood and Jankowski make this comment :
Throughout the war years yet to come, grotesque ironies would often seem to follow Jan's life. One of many such ironies was the fact that he would one day return to the general vicinity of Belzec, there to behold events that would make him forget all about his visit.


Did he really forget the 1939 visit, or did he avoid speaking of it once he had launched the story of the 1942 visit ?
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Re: Karski : this strange visit to a Belzec camp in 1939

Postby Reviso » 4 years 3 months ago (Thu Jul 16, 2015 3:42 am)

In fact, did you ever hear that there existed a German camp for Jews at Belzec already in December 1939, and that the aim of this camp was to prevent Jews from escaping into the Soviet zone ? Were the Germans so eager to keep the Jews in the German-occupied zone of Poland at this time ? According to Boisdefeu : "in September 1939, the Germans themselves had chased away tens of thousands of Jews beyond the rivers San and Bug into the Soviet zone". ("en septembre 39, les Allemands avaient eux-mêmes chassé des dizaines de milliers de juifs au-delà des rivières San et Bug dans la zone soviétique". It is here : http://www.vho.org/aaargh/fran/livres2/bdf2.pdf )
It seems that Karski mentioned this camp in a 1940 report. It would be interesting to know whether there exist other sources about this camp.
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Re: Karski : this strange visit to a Belzec camp in 1939

Postby hermod » 4 years 3 months ago (Thu Jul 16, 2015 9:09 pm)

Reviso wrote:In fact, did you ever hear that there existed a German camp for Jews at Belzec already in December 1939, and that the aim of this camp was to prevent Jews from escaping into the Soviet zone ?


In early 1940, there was a reloading railway station (Standard gauge freight cars --> Russian gauge freight cars) at Belzec for the transportation of German industrial goods to the Soviet Union.

Image

I can't help with any camp for Jews there in late 1939. I don't know.


Were the Germans so eager to keep the Jews in the German-occupied zone of Poland at this time ? According to Boisdefeu : "in September 1939, the Germans themselves had chased away tens of thousands of Jews beyond the rivers San and Bug into the Soviet zone". ("en septembre 39, les Allemands avaient eux-mêmes chassé des dizaines de milliers de juifs au-delà des rivières San et Bug dans la zone soviétique". It is here : http://www.vho.org/aaargh/fran/livres2/bdf2.pdf )


According to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency (in October 1939), the new German-Soviet border had been closed in both directions by the Soviets, with the Germans allowing Polish Jews to leave their own area and go to Soviet-occupied Poland.

Red-nazi Border in Poland Closed

October 31, 1939

KAUNAS, Lithuania (Oct. 30)

The Soviet Government, it was learned here today, has closed its frontier with Nazi Poland both to incoming and outgoing persons. The Germans, at the same time, are not permitting Jews to enter Nazi-ruled Polish territory but are allowing them to leave after confiscating their property.

The Soviet measure is considered a severe blow to tens of thousands of Jews in the Nazi region who looked upon escape to Russia as their last hope. It hits especially hard separated families where the husbands were evacuated during the hostilities while wives and children were left behind on the German side.

It is reported here that negotiations to solve the problem will be initiated between Russia and Germany since a considerable number of non-Jews are prepared to return to their homes in Nazi Poland.

Vocational readjustment of the Jews in large Jewish communities in Soviet Poland is now an important problem. Cities such as Lwow, Przemysl, Tarnapol, Czortkow, Brody, Kilomyhia, Rovno, Luck, Duno, Kowel, Pinsk, Brestlitovsk, Baranovicz, Lida, Grodno and Bialystok all have large Jewish populations and are faced with this problem.

Pending readjustment, immediate relief is essential for Jewish merchants, small traders, craftsmen, small house and land owners, who are now without livelihoods.

Another serious problem is the huge number, estimated at 500,000 to 1,000,000, of refugees who escaped from the Nazi areas and are now crowding the larger cities. The refugees are sheltered in railway stations, schools, synagogues and public buildings. Some sleep on stairways and even in the streets. Adaptation of these refugees to new conditions will take months.

Meanwhile, thousands of homeless and destitute refugees are still wandering along the main railway lines in all directions, moving from place to place with their sole remaining property in bags carried on their shoulders. Headed for Lwow, Rowno, Brest-Litovsk, Bialystok and other large centers in Soviet Poland, they are trying to find missing relatives who vanished during the bombings and the chaos of evacuation.

It may take months and even years before the situation of the refugees in the Soviet Polish areas is regulated. In the first place, immense capital is needed for the task. Secondly, the problem is complicated by the attitude of the Soviet authorities in western White Russia and the West Ukraine, who declare that the Soviet Union is rich enough to handle the task itself and does not want foreign assistance.

http://www.jta.org/1939/10/31/archive/r ... and-closed


And in 1940, German forced marches of Polish Jews to the Soviet border were reported (mixed with atrocity stories, as always).

https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid= ... 3976&hl=fr
"But, however the world pretends to divide itself, there are ony two divisions in the world to-day - human beings and Germans. – Rudyard Kipling, The Morning Post (London), June 22, 1915

Reviso
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Re: Karski : this strange visit to a Belzec camp in 1939

Postby Reviso » 4 years 3 months ago (Fri Jul 17, 2015 1:06 am)

Thanks, hermod, very interesting. It sounds pretty different from Wood and Jankowski, Karski... 2014, p. 37 : "The Germans (...) made efforts to keep Jews from escaping." This story of a Belzec camp in 1939 seems very strange to me, but I will not make conjectures.
R.


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