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Gerstein’s Report in the Netherlands

Last Update 23 August 2006

Kurt Gerstein
Apart from the Swedish authorities, the Allies and the Vatican, Kurt Gerstein also tried to send a message about what he had seen in the death camps via the Netherlands. For this purpose he contacted his friend J.H. Ubbink from Doesburg, whom he knew from the Protestant youth movement.
In February 1943 in Berlin, Ubbink received specific details from Gerstein about the gas chambers. At first Ubbink did not believe these stories; nevertheless he passed them through to a relation in the Dutch underground movement, Cornelis van der Hooft, a member of the Landelijke Organisatie voor Hulp aan Onderduikers (“Dutch Organisation for Helping People in Hiding”) and a worker for the illegal newspaper Trouw ("Fidelity").
On 25 March 1943 in Varsseveld, Van der Hooftw wrote a report based on Gerstein’s observations. However, Van der Hooft also did not trust what he was told. After consulting colleagues at Trouw, he decided not to send the report to the editor. Thus another Gerstein attempt to let the world know what he had seen, failed.

The report written by Van der Hooft was saved. The manuscript can be found on the Internet.
ARC publishes the report - with remarkable differences to the German report - in a modern orthography:

Tötungsanstalten in Polen.

The report that follows here, in all its awesomeness, fantastic crudity and cruelty, has reached us from Poland, with the urgent plea to inform humanity about it. The truth is guaranteed by a highly ranked German SS officer, who under oath and with the request to publish it, has told us the following:

In conversations I had with German officers, who served in Poland and Russia, I heard the most fantastic horror stories, and when afterwards the message arrived of the sudden death of my mentally ill sister-in-law, I decided not to rest before I could find out the truth about the horror stories concerning the killing of psychiatric patients. I did all I could to get in touch with prominent people in the SS and to gain their absolute confidence. After several months I succeeded in getting permission to visit two so-called Tötungsanstalten. The first one I visited is in Belsjek [Belzec, ARC], on the Lemberg-Lublin road; the second one in Treblinka some 80 kms north of Warsaw. There are two more of these camps in Poland, but I did not yet succeed in getting admission to those. The two Anstalten mentioned are in deserted forest and moor land. Seen from the outside they don’t differ from ordinary concentration camps. A wooden gate, with some inscription ending on “Heim” (home), does not arouse the suspicions of a murderous place. Trains bringing victims arrive from all occupied areas in Europe. These trains consist of cattle cars, the windows enclosed with barbed wire; in every wagon there are 120 persons. In normal weather about 90% arrive alive, although it has happened once, last summer, that because of a lack of drinking water, 50% had died. When the wagons have arrive inside the camp, the people are whipped out, driven into the surrounding barracks and locked up in there. The next day, or several days later, depending on the supply of victims, 700 - 800 people are driven together in a courtyard. Orders are given to undress completely, clothing to be piled tidily, pairs of shoes alongside one another. Completely naked men, women and children are driven through a long passageway, which is surrounded by barbed wire. Ukrainian criminals start cutting and shaving the hair of women and men; the hair is carefully gathered and will later serve for “Dichtungen” of U-boats. For many hours the unfortunates have to stay standing like that in the most bitter cold or the burning sun. When some of them fall on the ground, exhausted by the extreme cold or the singeing heat, the torturers whip the bodies of these poor creatures. The sorrow and misery that occurs in these passageways can hardly be described. Mothers try to warm their naked sucklings on their naked bodies. Hardly a word is spoken; only the eyes of the pitiful speak of nameless sorrow and dull resignation. The passage way leads to an iron door in a stone building. The door is being opened and the 700 - 800 doomed to death are whipped in until they are packed like sardines and can no longer move any longer. A three year-old boy, who who tried to escape outside, is stopped by whip lashes and driven back in. Then the doors are sealed hermetically. Outside the building a great tractor is started, from which the exhaust is connected to the building. Through a little glass window I was allowed to watch the effects on the victims inside. Packed together the poor creatures stood awaiting their last moments, without panic, without screaming. Just a weak murmuring could be heard outside, as if a common prayer went up to heaven. Within the hour all were dead. Sash-windows were opened from the outside so that the carbon monoxide could escape. After half an hour a number of Jews came – who owe their lives to the grim work that started now - they opened the back door, and had to take out the corpses of the gassed people. Before taking them to the prepared lime pits they have to remove rings from the victim’s fingers and break out gold teeth from the corpses mouths. In every Anstalt the number of Tötungen is registered for statistical purposes. Per day, this means per 24 hours, 3 to 4 Tötungen are being committed. For the 4 Anstalten together this means 8 - 9000 dead each day. In total 6 ½ million people have already been murdered in this way, of which 4 million are Jews and 2 ½ million mentally ill and so-called Deutschfeindlichen (those hostile to Germany). The programme embraces 16 ½ million people; that is all Jews in the occupied territories and all Polish and Czech intellectuals. From higher circles there is a pressure to speed up the operation and to develop methods of killing with a higher efficiency. Cyanic gas has been suggested, but has not been used until now it seems, so that the killings are still exercised in the described, cynical way.

25 March 1943

L. de Jong, Het Koninkrijk der Nederlanden in de Tweede Wereldoorlog, Deel 7, mei ’43 – juni ’44, eerste helft, Staatsuitgeverij ’s-Gravenhage 1976.

© ARC 2006