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Ochota Massacre (in Polish: Rzeź Ochoty - "Ochota slaughter") - a wave of mass murders, robbery, looting, arson, and rape, which swept across the Warsaw district Ochota during August 4–25, 1944. The gravest crimes were committed in Ochota hospitals, in the Radium Institute, Kolonia Staszica and the concentration camp called "Zieleniak". In all, about 10,000 residents of Ochota were killed, their property robbed and the district systematically burnt down by German forces.

The perpetrators were mainly members of one of the regiments of the collaborationist Kaminski Brigade of Waffen-SS, which also called itself the "Russian National Liberation Army" (Template:Lang-ru, RONA). The RONA leader, Bronislav Kaminski, was later executed after sentencing by court martial for theft of the looted property for himself and for other crimes against Germany (like the alleged rape and murder of two German women by his men).[citation needed]

Arrival of RONA in Warsaw

On the day of the outbreak of the Warsaw Uprising on August 1, 1944, SS-Reichsführer Heinrich Himmler ordered the destruction of the city and the extermination of its civilian population.[1][2]

On August 4, 1944, at 10 a.m. units of SS RONA commanded by Bronislav Kaminski entered Ochota. The staff of RONA having in its command 1,700 soldiers in total, stationed itself in the building of the "Polish Free University" (Pol.: Wolna Wszechnica Polska) in Opaczewska 2a Street (today Banacha 2 Street), while one of RONA's battalions stationed itself in the building of the 21st Hugo Kołłątaj Secondary School (Pol.: XXI Liceum Ogólnokształcące im. Hugona Kołłątaja) in Grójecka 93 street, with the task of fighting the insurgent post "Kalisz Redoubt" (Pol.: Reduta Kaliska). On the same day, the RONA units launched the first in a series of rapes, robberies and murders, targeting the civilian population of Opaczewska street. Detached groups of RONA men rushed into flats, expelled their residents, shooting at old persons and at those reluctant to leave the rooms.[3] Murders of civilians were accompanied by robbery of property, destruction and arson.[3] Most buildings in Opaczewska street were burnt on that day. On August 4–5, 1944, people were also murdered in nearby garden allotments, while hand-grenades were thrown into cellars where people were hiding;[3] among others, residents of the building in Gójecka 104 street were killed in this way. In the first hours of the massacre, RONA collaborators entered the institute for terminal cancer victims, where they brutally killed the patients, many of whom were first gang raped,[4] a pattern which was repeated elsewhere.

The "Zieleniak" camp

On August 5, due to the ever-growing number of people expelled from their flats, the decision was made to erect a transitional camp (which was a stage on the way to the next transitional camp in Pruszków), located in the area of a former vegetable market, so-called "Zieleniak" (nowadays the area of Hale Banacha). Until the evening of that day, anywhere from 10,000 to 20,000 people were rounded up there, eventually culminating in several tens of thousands inhabitants of Ochota district and its neighbouring areas.[5]

The brick wall enclosing the camp rendered any type of escape impossible: the staff of the camp took quarters in the building of the former administration of the marketplace, while caretaker boxes were turned into guard posts. From its inception, the "Zieleniak" camp became a place of mass crimes: Ochota area residents were first robbed, then forcibly uprooted from their homes (which were then set on fire), and herded to the camp.[3] On the way they were beaten and shot at, with drunk RONA soldiers pulling women out of columns of civilians and raping them in neighbouring buildings, afterwards usually murdering them.[3] In the gate of the "Zieleniak" camp, the victims were again searched for jewels and money, then relocated to the cobbled area of the marketplace. From the moment of their arrival in the camp, they were endangered by death: RONA soldiers sometimes shot for fun at the imprisoned people; there were no sanitary facilities and no water in the area of the camp (the only water source was emptied very quickly), no food (only some portions of mouldy bread were sometimes given out), no medicines and no medical aid. Nevertheless the German armed forces commander assigned to fight the uprising, Erich von dem Bach, who inspected the camp on the same day, stated that "there was nothing wrong there, everything was in order."[3]

By August 7, 1944, the camp was jammed with civilians. The number of dead was growing, and they were laid in piles along the camp wall or buried in a makeshift manner. On the same day, several hundred persons of non-Polish descent were escorted away to a similar camp in Okęcie. On August 9, the first batch of prisoners were escorted from the "Zieleniak" camp into the larger transitional camp in Pruszków. Because of the fall of subsequent points of defence of the Warsaw Uprising, the camp was again filled with people, from the Lubecki Housing Estate (Pol.: Kolonia Lubeckiego) and blocks of the Social Insurance Office (ZUS) in Filtrowa street. The fall of the "Wawel Redoubt" (Pol.: Reduta Wawelska) on August 11, 1944, was followed by the next wave of people expelled from their flats. Bodies of murdered and deceased prisoners were burned in the gymnasium of the neighbouring Hugo Kołłątaj Secondary School.[6] The corpses were transported by forceably requisitioned civilians, then laid in piles, doused with spirit by RONA soldiers and set on fire.[3] On August 12, a German officer shot dead three captured boyscouts of the Gustaw Battalion, shooting at the back of their heads at the very moment they were lowering corpses from the area of the camp into an excavated pit. On August 13, the final evacuation of civilians into the transitional camp in Pruszków began, with arriving groups of Ochota residents staying in the "Zieleniak" camp for a brief spell, shortly thereafter being transported away. Selected men where forcibly assigned to units in charge of burning corpses of murdered Warsaw inhabitants (Template:Lang-de).

The camp was in operation until August 19, when a mass murder was committed on 50 patients of the Radium Institute. The RONA SS units withdrew from Ochota on August 22–25, 1944. During the two-weeks of "Zieleniak" camp's operation, some 1,000 of its prisoners died of hunger, thirst, extreme exhaustion, or were shot to death by RONA soldiers.[5]

The Radium Institute

File:Warszawa-Instytut Radowy tablica.jpg

Plaque to commemorate those murdered in the Radium Institute

On August 5–6, the RONA units broke into the Radium Institute (Pol.: Instytut Radowy, founded by Maria Skłodowska-Curie) on Wawelska 15 street, first looting the hospital and robbing the staff and patients, then destroying the hospital (library set on fire; food stock, pharmacy & hospital equipment destroyed). The 90 patients of the Institute and the 80 members of its staff (including family members) were to be immediately executed, but after a half hour debate, it was decided that the patients and 8 staff members would be left, while the rest were marched off to the "Zieleniak" transitional camp. On the night of August 5, rapes began on the remaining hospital staff. On August 6, the building was set on fire, with some patients burning alive.[6] The remaining 60 people managed to avoid death by seeking shelter in the building's cellar and chimneys.

On August 9–10, the survivors were discovered, and RONA set the building on fire again. On August 19, RONA troops pulled all people still alive out of the building and killed the critically ill patients on the spot. Some 50 surviving patients of the Radium Institute were sent to the "Zieleniak" transitional camp and on August 19 they, too, were executed (according to evidence of eyewitnesses, by a shot in the back of the head) and then burned in a pile in the gymnasium.[6] Prior to the execution, one female patient (of Ukrainian descent) scheduled for execution, was released. In total, about 170 people (patients and staff) were murdered.

Other atrocities

The first crimes committed by RONA in the area of the Staszic Housing Estate (Pol.: Kolonia Staszica), the Lubecki Housing Estate, as well as neighbouring streets: Białobrzeska, Kopińska and Szczęśliwicka, occurred on August 6, while their culmination took place after August 11, when the last large point of resistance in Ochota, the "Wawel Redoubt" (Pol.: Reduta Wawelska) fell. Rapes, robberies, setting buildings on fire, executions and murders on civilian population hidden in cellars, usually by throwing hand-grenades into buildings, were widespread. In the area of the Lubecki Housing Estate, Mianowskiego and Mochnackiego Streets, as well as the southern side of the Filtrowa street and a housing block on Pługa 1/3 street were devastated by RONA; on Filtrowa 83 street the 82-year old painter Wiktor Mazurowski and his wife were murdered. Starting on August 6, RONA systematically plundered the Staszic Housing Estate, torching houses and searched them for alcohol and jewelry.

The next crime RONA committed was in the insurgent field hospital grenaded in Langiewicza 11/13 street. Afterwards RONA continued their campaign of pillage, killing a well-known dramatic actor Mariusz Maszyński and his family, as well as the architect Stefan Tomorowicz and his wife in Pole Mokotowskie. On August 25, patients and personnel of the evacuated Infant Jesus Hospital (Pol.: Szpital Dzieciątka Jezus) in Lindleya 4 street were beaten and murdered.

Victims

The number of death victims of the Ochota massacre amounts to some 10,000 people,[5] including 1,000 people who died in the "Zieleniak" camp.

There are tens of places of collective executions in Ochota district, marked with plaques to commemorate deaths of several dozens up to several hundreds of victims. Places of smaller murders are mostly unknown, but it's safe to assume that nearly every yard of that district was the site of an execution. Most crimes in Ochota district ended with the fall of the last insurgent redoubt in the building of the Military Geographic Institute (Pol.: Wojskowy Instytut Geograficzny) on August 13, 1944.

Systematic looting and destruction of Ochota district

From mid-August till the beginning of October 1944, looting of property continued in the forcibly abandoned area of Ochota. The German occupational administration organized a systematic campaign of pillaging: booty was loaded by Germans into goods trains in the Warszawa Zachodnia railway station and forwarded to Germany. Additionally, convoys of trucks loaded with stolen property would set off on the road to Piotrków Trybunalski. In the end, German destruction units (Germ.: Vernichtungskommando) began their systematic activity of setting street by street on fire, thus effecting the final destruction of the city district.

See also

Bibliography

References

  1. Madajczyk, Czesław (1972). Polityka III Rzeszy w okupowanej Polsce. Warszawa: Państwowe Wydawnictwo Naukowe. pp. 390. "(...) Führer is not interested in the further existence of Warsaw (...) the whole population shall be executed and all buildings blown up."
  2. Wroniszewski, Józef (1970). Ochota 1944. Warszawa: Wydawnictwo Ministerstwa Obrony Narodowej. pp. 128, 129. "According to evidence given by Erich von dem Bach to theNürnberg, Himmler's order (issued on the strength of an order from Adolf Hitler), read as follows: 1. Captured insurgents shall be killed whether or not they fight in accordance with the Hague Convention. 2. The non-fighting part of the population, women, children, shall also be killed. 3. The whole city shall be razed to the ground, i.e. its buildings, streets, facilities, and everything within its borders."
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 Ujazdowska, Lidia (2005). Zagłada Ochoty. Warszawa: Wydawnictwo Fronda. pp. 111, 112, 113. ISBN 83-922344-1-3.
  4. ATROCITY AT THE MARIE CURIE INSTITUTE
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Kazimierski, Józef; Kołodziejczyk, Ryszard (1973). Dzieje Ochoty. Warszawa: Państwowe Wydawnictwo Naukowe. pp. s. 325.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Datner, Szymon; Leszczyński, Kazimierz (1962). Zbrodnie okupanta w czasie powstania warszawskiego (w dokumentach). Warszawa: Wydawnictwo MON. pp. s. 92, 101.

External links

Template:Massacres of Poles

Template:Coord missing

pl:Rzeź Ochoty

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