Header picture: Frequently asked questions about KL Plaszow

How will the area be marked?

A form of marking will be designed to clearly indicate entry in a memorial site. The boundaries of the area entered in the record of historical objects will be indicated. The form of markings has not been approved in detail to date.

Will the Memorial Site be available to inhabitants?

Admission to the post-camp area will be free and the space will be accessible to the public.

What buildings will be constructed to commemorate the camp and what functions will they serve?

A museum Memorial building with a car park will be constructed outside the post-camp area at Kamieńskiego Street. The building will host a permanent exhibition and infrastructure necessary to operate the Memorial Site (an information stand, ticket office, toilets). The relics of the post-war building at Jerozolimska Street will be adapted to establish an Educational Centre. The building is not included in the current commemoration project. The existing historical building of Grey House will be preserved and adapted for exhibition purposes.

What area will be covered by the commemoration project?

The commemoration project covers the post-camp area as entered in the record of historical objects. This is an area of about 0.37 sq. km between Jerozolimska, Lecha, Pańska and Swoszowicka Streets. The Educational Centre and Memorial will be located outside the area entered in the record of historical objects.

What will happen to nature in the area of KL Plaszow?

All actions taken in the area entered in the record of historical objects must be consulted with the Bureau of City Conservator of Historical Monuments. This also applies to green area management. Direct modifications of the post-camp area will be limited to a minimum. Only maintenance and preservation tasks are planned.

How will visitor traffic be organized?

The main entrance to the memorial site will be located at Kamieńskiego Street. Groups will visit the Memorial at Kamieńskiego Street in the first place, and individual visitors can enter the post-camp area both from Jerozolimska and Kamieńskiego Streets. It will take 1.5–2 hours to walk the route mapped out for visitors in the former camp. The route connects the most important historic sites in the KL Plaszow and is contained in the area entered in the record of historical objects.

Who is the author of the commemoration project?

The competition for a concept of development of the post-camp area announced in 2006 by the Kraków Municipality was won by Proxima Design Group (architect Borysław Czarakcziew and architect Sławomir Kogut). The architectural design of commemoration was developed in 2008. In 2018, the project proposed by GPP Group (formerly Proxima) was modified in line with a scenario for the Museum – Memorial Site developed by the Kraków Museum.

Will admission tickets be required?

Admission to the Museum – Memorial Site will be free and no tickets will be required.

Who is currently in charge of the post-camp area?

The area entered in the record of historical objects is managed by the Kraków Municipality.

How many and what monuments are erected in the area of former camp?

Seven commemoration sites are located in the camp area: a cross on the H-Hill (1947), an obelisk commemorating Jews killed in the camp (1947), the Fascism Victims Memorial (1964), an obelisk commemorating Poles killed in an execution on 10 September 1939 (1984), a board commemorating Hungarian Jewish women (2000), a symbolic matzevah of Sara Schenirer (2004 r.) and an obelisk commemorating policemen of the 2nd Polish Republic (2012).

What will happen to the monuments in the post-camp area?

The monument erected in the post-camp area represent integral parts of the commemoration project. Their nature will be preserved and they will undergo necessary conservation.

What are the consequences of entry in the list of historical objects?

Entry in the record of historical objects involves legal protection of the preserved post-camp area. All changes in protected historical areas must be consulted with competent conservation services.

For how long and why is the area of former camp recognized as a war cemetery?

Graves and resting places of victims of Soviet and German camps, including cemeteries containing their ashes, are recognized as war graves according to the amendments introduced in 2006 into the War Graves and Cemeteries Act dated 28 March 1933, hence the area of KL Plaszow is classified as a war cemetery since 2006.

What are the consequences of recognition of the KL Plaszow as a war cemetery?

Entry in the record of war cemeteries involves legal protection of the preserved post-camp area. War graves and cemeteries of all nationalities, denominations and formations deserve preservation and respect.

What will be contained in the Grey House?

The Grey House will undergo conservation and be used for museum purposes. It will host a permanent exhibition featuring the history of the camp and the fates of its prisoners. The exhibition will be arranged on the ground floor and in the basement of the building. The first floor will contain a contemplation room and stands making available the complete Digital Archive of the KL Plaszow.

What was located before 1942 in the area occupied by the camp?

Before the camp was established, there were two ramparts and magazines of the Austrian Kraków Fortress constructed in the 19th century, and two Jewish cemeteries (founded by the Podgórze community in 1887 and by the Kraków community in 1932) with funeral homes and administration buildings as well as a sanatorium for children exposed to the risk of developing tuberculosis, managed by the Jewish Society for Health Protection in Kraków. Private houses stood at present Heltmana, Jerozolimska and Wielicka Streets.

In what period did the labour camp and concentration camp function?

The forced labour camp for Kraków Jews was organized in the autumn of 1942 and was transformed into a concentration camp on 10 January 1944. The last group of prisoners (about 600 people) left the KL Plaszow on 14 January 1945.

What area was occupied by the camp and where was its fence?

The camp occupied an area of about 0.80 sq. km in mid-1944. Its boundary extended from the main gate at Jerozolimska Street, along Wielicka Street to present Kamieńskiego Street (including houses at Pańska Street). Then, the camp fence extended along Kamieńskiego Street, over the ridge of “Bonarka” quarry, along Swoszowicka Street and the present access road to the “Krzemionki” reservoir managed by the Municipal Waterworks and Sewerage Company and farther along a road extension to the municipal lime kiln.

How was the camp divided?

The camp was divided into three sectors:

– the area for prisoners: residential blocks (separate for men and women), pit latrines, hospital and utility rooms (a kitchen, foodstuff warehouses, a bakery), and a quarantine space;

– administration buildings, designed for camp staff: barracks, the commandant house, blocks, garages, a warehouse for robbed property and houses of SS officers;

– an industrial sector, consisting of workshops where prisoner were forced to work.

Where the prisoners come from and what were their nationalities?

The camp was originally organized for Jews coming from the liquidated Kraków ghetto. The largest group was formed by Jews coming from the General Government, principally from the ghettos established in Kraków and its environs. Next to Jews, also Poles were imprisoned in the camp: citizens of Kraków and neighbouring townships who were suspected of being involved in the resistance movement. Also Romani families were imprisoned here. The KL Plaszow was also used as a transit camp. It received transports from other camps in the Kraków, Lublin, Radom Districts; also Jews from Hungary were transferred here to be finally directed to the KL Auschwitz.

What was the sub-camp for Poles?

In July 1943, a separate unit was established in the Plaszow forced labour camp, known as an educational labour camp for Poles. People accused of membership in the resistance movement, of administrative and trivial offences, and victims of military actions in villages near Kraków were imprisoned there. The educational labour camp was included in the KL Plaszow in January 1944. The period of imprisonment (three to six months) was frequently extended. The number of imprisoned people was within the range of below one thousand to three thousand.

Did other people than prisoners stay in the camp?

Also people not formally classified as prisoners were put in the camp. In 1944, thousands of men were detained in the KL Plaszow, following a preventive arrest operation on 6 August in Kraków provoked by the outbreak of Warsaw Uprising (“Black Sunday”). Additionally, German police formations used the camp area to execute people put in Kraków prisons, principally the prison at Montelupich Street.

What jobs did prisoners do in and outside the camp?

Prisoners of the KL Plaszow constructed and extended the camp, demolished and levelled the Jewish cemeteries then occupied by the camp, were seconded to work in two quarries operated by the camp, erected new structures (blocks, barracks, the bakery), dug water reservoirs for firefighting. Until September 1943, prisoners also worked in enterprises and factories located outside the camp. Some of them were put in sub-camps established near those enterprises (e.g. at the Oskar Schindler’s Enamel Factory, Kraków Cable Factory). They also worked in shoemaker, knitting, metalwork, clockmaker, paper-making, brush-making and printer workshops, and in the Julius Madritsch’s clothing factory.

Were mass execution places located in the camp area?

Mass executions were carried out in three locations in the camp area: at the northern border of the old Jewish cemetery (known as “bagier”, meaning an excavator operated there) and in ramparts FS-21 (the H-Hill, where a cross is erected) and FS-22 (the C-Pit, with the Fascism Victims Memorial). The designation H-Hill, i.e. Hujowa (Prick) Hill, comes from the surname of SS member Albert Hujer who frequently carried out executions in the camp. The designation C-Pit, i.e. Cipowy (Cunt) Pit, was coined by prisoners by analogy.

Who were the victims of executions in the camp?

Prisoners of the camp and people transported by the Gestapo for execution (principally political prisoners, Jews who hid their identity under “Aryan” documents, victims of military raids in townships near Kraków) were killed in the KL Plaszow. In March 1943, also Jews from the Kraków ghetto were shot – mainly elderly people who were incapable of taking on hard work.

How many people died in the camp?

The camp archive was destroyed, and the number of people who were killed or died in the KL Plaszow can only be estimated. Based on the available historical sources, it is estimated that the camp area may contain remains of five to six thousand people killed during the war, including prisoners of the camp, victims of executions carried out by the Gestapo, and of the ghetto liquidation operation in 1943.

How many prisoners were put in the Plaszow camp?

About 30–35 thousand people were imprisoned in the camp during its operation period.

Where were prisoners transferred from the camp in the period of its operation and at its liquidation?

Prisoners from the labour camp were transferred in 1943 to camps located at large factories, e.g. in Pionki, Skarżysko-Kamienna, Częstochowa. The liquidation process of KL Plaszow began in the summer of  1944, and prisoners were transported to other concentration camps: KL Auschwitz, KL Mauthausen, KL Gross-Rosen and its sub-camp in Brünnlitz, KL Ravensbrück, KL Flossenbürg and KL Buchenwald.

Were members of camp staff judged after the war?

Two major trials took place after the war to judge officers managing the KL Plaszow: the trial of commandant Amon Göth, finalized by a death sentence (execution was carried out on 13 September 1946), and the trial of eighteen members of camp staff, finalized on 21 January 1948 by death sentences for Lorenz Landsdorfer, Ferdinand Glaser, Edmund Zdrojewski and Arnold Büscher, and long prison sentences for twelve former SS members. Some staff members were also summoned before Polish, German and Austrian courts in the following years.

Where can I find archive materials concerning the history of the camp?

Accounts and documents concerning the KL Plaszow are included principally in the collection of the Emanuel Ringelblum Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw, the Institute of National Remembrance, Yad Vashem Archive in Jerusalem, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington and USC Shoah Foundation in Los Angeles. The Kraków Museum launched in December 2019 a Digital Archive of the KL Plaszow (www.ca.muzeumkrakowa.pl) that will finally include a complete set of information about the camp.