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
, whom he knew from the Protestant youth movement.
In February 1943
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
On 25 March 1943
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
, ARC], on the
road; the second one in
some 80 kms north of
. There are two more of these camps in
Poland, but I did not yet succeed in getting admission to those. The two Anstalten
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
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
” 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
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
(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