Gassed at Stutthof
Dated: October 30, 2004
Meisel, Holocaust survivor, lectures at SHU
By Neha Bawa
Judith Meisel, Holocaust survivor, lectured at Seton Hill University (SHU) on October 26, 2004.
In June 1944, her family, along with other Jews, was taken into trucks and sent to Stutthof concentration camp in Poland. Here she was separated from her brother.
“We went into Stutthof
and all I saw was [this] huge pile of shoes,” said Meisel, describing the camp. She lost her mother at Stutthof, where she was gassed to death.
Gas Chamber Allegations
An Important but Little-Known Wartime Camp
By Mark Weber
Some historians have insisted that prisoners were killed at Stutthof in a camp gas chamber. According to a 1985 statement by Munich’s Institute for Contemporary History “more than one thousand” people were killed in a Stutthof gas chamber. However, the evidence cited for homicidal gassings at Stutthof is meager and not very credible. The camp’s “gas chamber” building, which is still intact, is a small brick structure about two and a half meters high, five meters in length, three meters wide. American historian Konnilyn Feig has written that it looks “almost like a toy.” Polish officials have seriously claimed that the Germans gassed one hundred persons at a time in the chamber (that is, six or seven persons per square meter). Homicidal gassings with Zyklon were supposedly carried out intermittently between June and December 1944 in this chamber.
Polish historian Krzysztof Dunin-Wasowicz believes that this building was neither designed nor built as a homicidal gassing facility. In an essay published in a semi-official work about the alleged homicidal “gas chambers,” he writes that this building was built as a (non-homicidal) gas chamber for treating clothes. However, he goes on to claim that this it was sometimes also improvisationally used to kill people. (“Originally the gas chamber was built as a room for delousing clothing, and it continued to be used for this purpose, too, for as long as it existed.”)
Interestingly, the “gas chamber” building is not at all hidden or camouflaged, nor is it disguised as a shower. Therefore, if it had actually been used as a homicidal gassing facility, prospective victims apparently would have been under no illusion about the fate that awaited them. It is worth noting that the Germans in charge of the camp never made any effort to destroy or dismantle Stutthof’s supposed “extermination facility,” which is difficult to believe if, in fact, it had been a execution gas chamber.
A West German court that heard “eyewitness testimony” about homicidal gassings at Stutthof declared in its 1964 verdict that “with regard to the gassings a positive determination was likewise not possible.” Evidence given by several supposed witnesses of gassings was found to be dubious or not credible. Raul Hilberg makes no mention of homicidal gassings at Stutthof in his detailed three-volume Holocaust work. Two other prominent Holocaust historians, Lucy Dawidowicz and Nora Levin, likewise said nothing about the camp’s alleged extermination facility.