Pages from Witold’s report of 1943

Witold Pilecki

Polish History Museum

Polish History Museum
Warszawa, Poland

In 1942, mass transports of European Jews started to come to KL Auschwitz II – Birkenau, which was the way of implementing the plan of total extermination of the Jewish population. Then, the Germans started to erect a complex of four huge crematoria, which were completed between March and June of 1943 – that terrifying and most tragic machine of the Holocaust. Before his escape, Witold Pilecki had seen the beginnings of the murderous practices and wrote about them in his reports, also in the report of 1943. The information reached the Allied countries via the Polish Government in London.


  • Title: Pages from Witold’s report of 1943
  • Creator: Witold Pilecki
  • Date: 1943
  • Location: Warsaw
  • Transcript:
    Similar to Katyn, initially, the bodies of the killed /gassed/ people were buried in Brzezinka near Rajsk in huge ditches, which were being operated by a special “Komando” consisting entirely of Jews who lived only for two weeks and then were gassed. Then, it turned out that it was a bad solution since water in the vicinity started to stink and … there were traces left. So, they started to dig out the bodies and burn them on heaps. First, the work was performed manually but then, cranes were used. It was not possible to burn bodies in crematoria since the crematoria could not keep up. Two new crematoria were designed with eight body chambers each and with a process of burning the bodies electrically within three minutes. It was estimated that working in two shifts and burning two corpses on one burner, both crematoria were capable of burning, more or less, five million corpses annually. The project was hurriedly accepted in Berlin and the construction of the crematoria began. They were to be ready by 1 February 1943, but then the deadline was – out of necessity – prolonged, and in April of 1943 they were ready.
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  • Contributor: The Central Archives of Modern Records
  • Original Source: The Central Archives of Modern Records
  • Credit: The Central Archives of Modern Records | signature 202/XVIII/1
  • Collection: Witold Pilecki

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