Traces of Them Remain...

Stories from the death cells in Block No. 11

By Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum

Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum

The “Death Block” in the Main Camp. (2010)Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum

Block No. 11

Block No. 11 is called the Death Block. In its basement, the camp prison was located. On the ground floor and the first floor there were, among others, prisoners of the penal company and the corrective company. In addition, police prisoners were also placed there, transported primarily from the prison in Mysłowice.

In special cases, police prisoners were placed in cells in the basement of Block 11. These prisoners were almost exclusively Poles.

Block no. 11 — basement by Paweł Sawicki, Auschwitz-Birkenau State MuseumAuschwitz-Birkenau State Museum

Cells in the basement of Block 11

Very frequently, the only traces of the people incarcerated in Block No. 11 and subsequently put to death are the inscriptions on the walls, doors, window sills and ceiling beams.

Camp prison in the basement of Block 11. by Paweł Sawicki, Auschwitz-Birkenau State MuseumAuschwitz-Birkenau State Museum

Camp prison in the basement of Block 11

These inscriptions, which were very often their last farewell to the world, usually evidence the exceptional courage, great fortitude and love of their motherland. They were made with various tools such as a hairpin, pencil, crayon, or even fingernail.

There are several hundred such inscriptions, the last of them dated 6 January 1945, made some three weeks before the liberation of Auschwitz.

The basement of the “Death Block.” (2010)Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum

Cells in the basement of Block 11

In some cases a precise answer can be given as to who their author was, but, regrettably, in most cases this is impossible.

The Death Wall by Paweł Sawicki, Auschwitz-Birkenau State MuseumAuschwitz-Birkenau State Museum

The yard of Block 11 

At least several thousand prisoners, mainly Poles, were shot at the Death Wall.

Room in Block 11 where sessions of the police summary court were held. Current condition by Paweł Sawicki, Auschwitz-Birkenau State MuseumAuschwitz-Birkenau State Museum

Room in
Block 11 where sessions of the police summary court were held. Current
condition

”Summary court in Block 11” – a reproduction of a painting by a former prisoner of KL Auschwitz, Władysław Siwek by Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum Collections DepartmentAuschwitz-Birkenau State Museum

”Summary court in Block 11” Władysław Siwek

A reproduction of a painting by a former prisoner of Auschwitz, Władysław Siwek

Jan Cupiał during his military service, beginning of the 1930s by Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum ArchiveAuschwitz-Birkenau State Museum

Jan Cupiał (1909–1944). Here: during his military service, early 1930s

Soon after the liberation of Auschwitz in 1945, Józef Cupiał was searching in Block 11 for traces of his murdered brother Jan. On ceiling beams, in one of the rooms on the ground floor of this block he noticed two inscriptions made in pencil by him prior to his death. 

Inscription made by Jan Cupiał in block no. 11 by Adam Cyra, Auschwitz-Birkenau State MuseumAuschwitz-Birkenau State Museum

Inscription left by Jan Cupiał in Block No. 11.

Transcription: "Cupiał Jan from Trzebinia was sentenced to death on 31 Oct 1941. Please inform family".

"Dancygierstrasse 6 Kreis Krenau"

Jan Cupiał during his military service, beginning of the 1930s by Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum ArchiveAuschwitz-Birkenau State Museum

Jan Cupiał was arrested in June 1944 by the Gestapo for conspiracy activities in the Home Army.

Jan Cupiał with daughter Krystyna by Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum ArchiveAuschwitz-Birkenau State Museum

Jan Cupiał with his daughter Krystyna

After a short stay in prison in Mysłowice, he was brought to Auschwitz and placed in Block No. 11, as a so-called Polizeihäftling - police prisoner. On 31 October 1944, the court, presided over by the head of the Katowice Gestapo Johannes Thümmler, sentenced several dozen police prisoners to death.

One of them was Jan Cupiał, who on the following day—1 November 1944—was transported to Auschwitz II–Birkenau and executed there.

Jan Cupiał’s wife—Stefania with their daughter Krystyna by Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum ArchiveAuschwitz-Birkenau State Museum

Jan Cupiał's wife—Stefania with their daughter Krystyna

Secret message from Jan Cupiał to his wife Stefania by Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum ArchiveAuschwitz-Birkenau State Museum

Secret message from Jan Cupiał to his wife Stefania

Precious Stefcia, my wife. Today already 31/Oct. I’m going innocent to my end. Always remember me my Wife, and our precious daughter, keep her on a straight path so Jesus will keep her in his care.

When you get this card show it to my Mother. Dear Mama and Brothers and Sisters you live in peace and never do harm to my little Daughter and my Wife. God be with you and pray for me. Jan Cupiał

Secret message from Jan Cupiał to his wife Stefania by Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum ArchiveAuschwitz-Birkenau State Museum

Secret message from Jan Cupiał to his wife Stefania.

Secret message from Jan Cupiał to his wife Stefania by Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum ArchiveAuschwitz-Birkenau State Museum

Secret message from Jan Cupiał to his wife Stefania.

Content of a secret message: "Address: Cupiał Stefania, Trzebinia, Dancygierstr. No. 6, please kindly deliver this card to this address. Dear Wife and my dearest daughter Krysia”.

“Your beloved father and guardian has been condemned to death on 31 Oct, and will die completely innocent. … May God be with you. My dearest wife, raise our daughter Krysia, so that the Lord does not forsake you and her”.

“Dear Mom, Brothers and Sisters, take care of my beloved daughter, and wife, and live in harmony with each other. Heaven help you, and pray for my soul. Cupiał Jan".

Death certificate of Bronisław Goliński by Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum ArchiveAuschwitz-Birkenau State Museum

Death certificate of Bronisław Goliński (1925–1944), police
prisoner, who perished in Auschwitz 
on 1 November 1944 at the age of 19

Bronisław Goliński together with a group of prisoners was sentenced to death on 31 October 1944, by the summary court. On the following day, 1 November, the convicts were executed in one of the crematoria of Birkenau. 

Inscription made by Bronisław Goliński in block no. 11 by Adam Cyra, Auschwitz-Birkenau State MuseumAuschwitz-Birkenau State Museum

Before he died, he had managed to make an inscription on the ceiling beam in the room on the ground floor in Block 11.

Transcription: “Follows his Father—Goliński Bronisław, born on 1 July 1925 Cieszyn, for Poland to the furnace on 31 Oct 1944”.

Death certificate of Bronisław Goliński by Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum ArchiveAuschwitz-Birkenau State Museum

Bronisław Goliński did not conceal his anti-Nazi views, for which in the summer of 1944 he was arrested by the Gestapo and imprisoned on 15 September of that same year in Auschwitz.

Death certificate of Bronisław Goliński

Before, his father, Józef Goliński had also been a prisoner of that camp, detained in Auschwitz for his conspiracy activities (prisoner number 1231). He perished on 8 February 1941.

Władysław Goliński (camp photograph) by Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum ArchiveAuschwitz-Birkenau State Museum

Also arrested and imprisoned with him in Auschwitz was his brother Władysław (prisoner number 1232). He was released from the camp on 21 May 1942.

Władysław Goliński, born in 1897, paternal uncle of Bronisław Goliński, released from KL Auschwitz on 21.5. May 1942

Władysław Kokot by Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum ArchiveAuschwitz-Birkenau State Museum

Władysław Kokot (1909–1944)

Władysław Kokot was arrested in August 1944 for his conspiracy activities in the Home Army. He used the pseudonyms of “Magiera” or “Magita”. He stayed in the prison in Mysłowice from where he was brought to Auschwitz and detained as a police prisoner in Block 11. 

He was put to death under a sentence of the summary court in Auschwitz II-Birkenau on 1 November 1944.

Envelope in which a secret message was sent by Józef Kokot to his wife Helena by Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum ArchiveAuschwitz-Birkenau State Museum

Secret message from Józef Kokot to his wife Helena

Secret message from Józef Kokot to his wife Helena by Auschwitz-Birkenau State MuseumAuschwitz-Birkenau State Museum

Secret message from Józef Kokot to his wife Helena

"My dearest, despair not too much, this is our fate. They proved I was in the Home Army so I’m writing you so that you know what for. I have no more words, I can’t write any more".

"It’s better it is over than I have to suffer like this and wait all the time here for this death so expected. So I say farewell to you all and forgive me all and I forgive you too".

"I say farewell to you Hela and my orphans too, God be with you and please forgive me everything. These are my last wishes to you. Your dear husband and father Magita".

"Who finds this letter, I ask you please in the name of God Almighty to send it to the address on the envelope, it is very important to me, this is all, this is my last wish".

Inscription made by Władysław Kokot in block no. 11 by Adam Cyra, Auschwitz-Birkenau State MuseumAuschwitz-Birkenau State Museum

In one of the rooms on the ground floor of Block 11, an inscription is preserved on the ceiling beam.

“Kokot Władysław /9a/ Petrowitz, Adolf Hitler Street 247”.

"Please inform my wife Helena of my execution.
For Freedom, Nations die".

Inscription made by Wiesław Lupa in block no. 11 by Adam Cyra, Auschwitz-Birkenau State MuseumAuschwitz-Birkenau State Museum

Inscription made by Wiesław Lupa (1920–1944) 

It was only in 1987 that it was possible to establish that Wiesław Lupa from Olkusz, was imprisoned in Block 11 and that on 31 October 1944 he was sentenced by the summary court to death. Lupa was executed on the following day in Auschwitz II-Birkenau. 

On a ceiling beam in one of the rooms on the ground floor of Block 11, there is an inscription which he made.

Transcription: “Wiesław Lupa Olkusz, Robert Koch Street 6, brought on 5 Oct 44, put to death on 1 Nov 44”.

Jan Strycharski with his wife Maria and son Marian by Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum ArchiveAuschwitz-Birkenau State Museum

Jan Strycharski (1905–1945) with his wife Maria and son

On 7 October 1944, Jan Strycharski went to work in the “Siersza” coal mine in Trzebinia, where he was arrested. After a few days, his wife Maria went to Trzebinia to see her husband.

She was detained at the local police station though and after several days she was transported together with her husband to the prison in Mysłowice and then transferred to Auschwitz where she perished in circumstances unknown until the present time.

On 5 January 1945, during the last session of the summary court, Jan Strycharski was sentenced to death.

On the following day, together with other convicts he was taken from Block 11 and executed in Auschwitz II-Birkenau.

Inscription made by Jan Strycharski in block no. 11 by Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum ArchiveAuschwitz-Birkenau State Museum

On the ceiling beam in one of the rooms on the ground floor in Block 11 there is an inscription: "Strycharski Jan 17 June 1905 Trzebinia Myślachowice Czyżówka No. 11. Date: 5 Jan 1945. Tell my family”.

Certificate dated 10 May 1948 confirming the death of Maria and Jan Strycharski in Auschwitz by Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum ArchiveAuschwitz-Birkenau State Museum

Certificate dated 10 May 1948 confirming the death of Maria and Jan Strycharski in Auschwitz.

Julian Schumacher by Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum ArchiveAuschwitz-Birkenau State Museum

Julian Schumacher (1914–1944)  

In the autumn of 1943, an English pilot named Alfred Walke escaped from the prisoners-of-war camp and asked for help from the Schumacher family residing in Trzebinia, with whom he continued to hide until the spring of 1944. 

Unfortunately, he was arrested again, broke down during the investigation and gave the name of Julian Schumacher and his wife as the ones who had helped him hide and provided him with false documents.

On 21 August 1944, Schumacher was arrested and after a two months’ stay in the prison in Mysłowice, transported to Block 11. By judgment of the summary court he was executed in Auschwitz II-Birkenau on 1 November 1944.

Inscription made by Julian Schumacher in block no. 11 by Adam Cyra, Auschwitz-Birkenau State MuseumAuschwitz-Birkenau State Museum

On 31 October 1944, Julian Schumacher was sentenced to death in Block 11, by the summary court and killed on the following day in Auschwitz II-Birkenau.

Shortly before his death, he managed to write on the ceiling beam in the room on the ground floor of the block where he was imprisoned.

Transcription: “Schumacher Julian from Trzebinia, 31 Oct 44 sentence announced, 1 Nov 44 still alive”.

Notification from the German authorities of the execution of Julian Schumacher on 1 Nov 1944 by Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum ArchiveAuschwitz-Birkenau State Museum

Notification from the German authorities of the execution of Julian Schumacher on 1 Nov 1944.

Mieczysław Wojciechowski and his wife Bronisława by Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum ArchiveAuschwitz-Birkenau State Museum

Mieczysław Wojciechowski (1910–1944)

with his wife Bronisława

“From my childhood the moment sticks in my mind, when my father was arrested and soon found himself in Auschwitz. It was in the autumn of 1944. Two Gestapo men with a dog came to our family house in Porąbka-Zawodzie".

"They took my father who was murdered soon afterwards. The only message which we received from him was his request to send him some warm clothes".

"Several months after his death, on 25 April 1945, my sister Maria was born”. Recollections of the daughter of Mieczysław Wojciechowski—Leokadia Krupa.

Inscription made by Mieczysław Wojciechowski in block no. 11 by Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum ArchiveAuschwitz-Birkenau State Museum

In one of the rooms on the ground floor of Block 11 he left two inscriptions.

“Wojciechowski M. from Porombka was executed on 30 Oct 44”

Secret message from Mieczysław Wojciechowski to his wife Bronisława and daughter Leokadia by Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum ArchiveAuschwitz-Birkenau State Museum

Secret message from Mieczysław Wojciechowski to his wife Bronisława and daughter Leokadia.

My Dearest Wife. This is my goodbye to you and to my treasure Lolunia and my Mother. I leave this world on the 30th/7 pm to the furnace, I am condemned to death like a bandit

Bronia, my treasure, I am sorry that I departed you, believe me that I just can’t write you any more, my hand shakes, tears flooding my eyes to know I am dying like this and not guilty, 58 of us are going and 10 women.

I kiss you countless times and Lolunia. At 7 in the night remember the 30 Oct pray, say a prayer and tell Lolunia that daddy is gone. I cant write I can’t. Goodbye to you all, God be with you. W.M.

Zofia Zdrowak by Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum ArchiveAuschwitz-Birkenau State Museum

Zofia Zdrowak (born in 1926, married name Dętkoś) 

After one of the brutal hearings, Zofia, who was imprisoned in cell No. 1 in the basement of Block No. 11 and thinking that she would be put to death, scraped, with a hair clip the following inscription in the plaster of one of the walls of the cell.

Inscription scraped on a wall by Zofia Zdrowak after she was imprisoned in cell No. 1 by Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum ArchiveAuschwitz-Birkenau State Museum

Transcription: “Zofia Zdrowak aged 16”.

During the Nazi occupation, near Zofia Zdrowak’s house, some prisoners from Auschwitz were working. On the SS orders they were performing agricultural, land betterment and measuring work.

Over time, Anna Zdrowak, Zofia’s mother made secret contact with them, and with the consent of bribed SS men providing them with food.

Anna and Jan Zdrowak (in the middle) in front of their house in Budy, and their children: Zofia (on the left) and Emilia. Photo of 1940 by Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum ArchiveAuschwitz-Birkenau State Museum

Anna and Jan Zdrowak

Anna and Jan Zdrowak (in the middle) in front of their house in Budy, and their children: Zofia (on the left) and Emilia. Photo of 1940. Zofia Zdrowak became a liaison of the “Sosienki” unit of the Home Army.

Her conspiracy responsibilities included, above all, the maintenance of further clandestine contacts with the camp in order to provide some more food to prisoners, collecting the secret messages they were writing and helping in the preparation of prisoners’ escapes.

On 3 December 1944, a group of partisans from the Home Army, the ”Sosienki” unit, comprising escapees from Auschwitz staying in the Zdrowak house in Budy, was surrounded by SS men.

During a fight, two partisans were killed. The whole Zdrowak family were arrested—Anna Zdrowak, her husband Jan and two daughters: Zofia and Emilia. They were placed in the cells of Block 11.

Zofia Zdrowak by Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum ArchiveAuschwitz-Birkenau State Museum

On the night of 16 January 1945, they were among the first columns of prisoners evacuated from the camp, rushed on foot towards Wodzisław Śląski. Anna Zdrowak escaped with her daughters from the prisoners’ column near Rybnik, and her husband Jan who was evacuated to Mauthausen died later in that camp.

Nikolaus Engel by Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum ArchiveAuschwitz-Birkenau State Museum

Nikolaus Engel (1916–1944)

Nikolaus Engel, a Slovak Jew and an officer, scraped in the basement of Block No. 11 on the inside of the door to cell No. 17, the following text:

Inscription made by Nikolaus Engel on the door of the cell no. 19 by Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum ArchiveAuschwitz-Birkenau State Museum

„Engel Mikulaš Źylina Slovensko”.

Nikolaus Engel by Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum ArchiveAuschwitz-Birkenau State Museum

In Auschwitz, Engel received prisones number 48540. He made two failed attempts to escape from the camp.

After he was caught for the second time on 18 July 1944, he was placed in the cells of the camp prison in the basement of Block 11, and then executed in Auschwitz around 10 August 1944.

Telegram about the escape from the camp of Nikolaus Engel, Franz Habetin and Josef Malina on 14 July 1944 and their capture, four days later, on 18 July 1944. by Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum ArchiveAuschwitz-Birkenau State Museum

Telegram about the escape from the camp of Nikolaus Engel, Franz Habetin and Josef Malina on 14 July 1944 and their capture, four days later, on 18 July 1944.

Edward Galiński, prisoner of Auschwitz, prisoner number 531 (1941)Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum

Edward Galiński (1923–1944)

Edek Galiński and Mala Zimetbaum met in 1943 as prisoners of Auschwitz II-Birkenau, from which they escaped on 24 June 1944. They were, however, soon caught and placed in the cells of the camp prison in the basement of Block 11.

Edward Galiński stayed subsequently in cells numbered: 17, 18, 19, 20, 21 and 23. In each of them, he left inscriptions scraped in the wall plaster or on the inside of the door.

Mala ZimetbaumAuschwitz-Birkenau State Museum

Mala Zimetbaum  (1918–1944)

Repeating several times, next to the names, the date of the last day spent in freedom after the escape from prison, he probably wanted to instill in the memories of the future generations that happy day for them. He also expressed his love to Mala drawing in cells Nos. 20 and 23 her image and linking the above inscription, in one of them, with a drawing of the heart.

Fragment of the wall from cell 20 in the basement of block 11 of the former Auschwitz I camp. (2010)Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum

In each of them, he left inscriptions scraped in the wall plaster or on the inside of the door: "Edward Galiński No. 531, Mally Zimetbaum No. 19880, 6 July 1944”.

Edward Galiński, prisoner of Auschwitz, prisoner number 531 (1941)Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum

Edward Galiński, prisoner number 531 (camp photograph).

Arrested in the spring of 1940 with a group of pupils from secondary schools in Jarosław and placed in the Gestapo prison in Tarnów. Several weeks later—on 14 June 1940—he was brought in the first transport of political prisoners from Tarnów to Auschwitz.

Interior of the camp metal workshop at Auschwitz I. (1942/1943)Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum

Edward Galiński in the metalworking workshop (first on the right)

Mala Zimetbaum by Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum Collections DepartmentAuschwitz-Birkenau State Museum

Mala Zimetbaum was arrested on 11 September 1942 during a roundup of Jews at the central station in Antwerp and placed in the transit camp at Malines, Belgium.

On 15 September 1942, she was in a transport of Jews sent to Auschwitz where she was given prisoner number 19880.

Portrait of Mala Zimetbaum made in the camp by her fellow prisoner Zofia Stępień-Bator by Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum Collections DepartmentAuschwitz-Birkenau State Museum

Portrait of Mala Zimetbaum made in the camp by her fellow prisoner Zofia Stępień-Bator.

Thanks to her charming personality and command of several foreign languages, she was employed in the women’s camp in Auschwitz II-Birkenau as a translator and a messenger.

A telegram informing about the escape of prisoner Mala Zimetbaum A telegram informing about the escape of prisoner Mala Zimetbaum (1944-06-25)Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum

Telegram of 25 June 1944 about the escape from the camp of Edward Galiński.

A telegram informing about capturing the camp prisoners who had escaped earlier: Edward Galiński and Mala Zimetbaum (1944-07-27)Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum

Telegram informing of the capture on 7 July 1944 of the escapees: Edward Galiński and Mala Zimetbaum and their being taken back to Auschwitz.

In the second half of August 1944, in the men’s camp in Auschwitz II–Birkenau, a gallows was erected for Edek Galiński on which he was executed.

This is how the execution of Mala is recollected by Sara Goldberg whose life Mala saved in the camp: “On 22 August 1944, the women prisoners from the women’s camp in Birkenau were gathered on the roll-call yard where the execution of Mala Zimetbaum was to be held...

...Mala kept going bravely until the end. When the sentence was being read out, she cut her veins with a razor blade which she had hidden in her hair before and slapped the SS man in his face with her bleeding hands”.

Telegram informing of the capture of Edward Galiński and Mala ZimetbaumAuschwitz-Birkenau State Museum

Mala Zimetbaum was taken on a wheelbarrows to the crematorium in Birkenau where she was most probably shot.

Strand of hair of Mala and Edward by Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum Collections DepartmentAuschwitz-Birkenau State Museum

Strand of hair of Mala and Edek

Inscription made by Antoni Szlachcic in block no. 11 by Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum ArchiveAuschwitz-Birkenau State Museum

Antoni Szlachcic (1919–1945)

In the basement of the Death Block, inscriptions remain which Antoni Szlachcic scraped in the plaster of cell No. 20: “Babice” (place of residence), “Maria” (mother’s name) and “Laura” (his
conspiracy pseudonym). The family of the murdered prisoner discovered their existence soon after liberation.

The next piece of information about a similar discovery was given to the relatives of Antoni Szlachcic only forty years later, when in 1986 yet another inscription made by him was noticed, this time on the wall of cell No. 19.

“Antoni Szlachcic, born on 2 March 1919, Babice, p. [powiat (county) of] Oświęcim, 18 May – 22 May 1944.”

Antoni Szlachcic by Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum ArchiveAuschwitz-Birkenau State Museum

During the occupation, the inhabitants of Babice were resettled by the Nazis. Antoni Szlachcic together with his parents went to live in Oświęcim.

He was a member of the resistance movement and belonged to the command of the Oświęcim section of the Home Army (Armia Krajowa). That particular section played a major role in bringing help to the prisoners of Auschwitz.

From the left: Antoni Szlachcic, Maria Szlachcic (mother), Helena Gniatkowska (sister), and Helena' husband Bronisław Gniatkowski by Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum ArchiveAuschwitz-Birkenau State Museum

From the left: Antoni Szlachcic, Maria Szlachcic (his mother), Helena Gniatkowska (his sister) and her husband Bronisław Gniatkowski

In the spring of 1944, he was arrested and incarcerated in the basement of Block 11. On 5 January 1945, in Block 11, during the last session of the summary court presided over by Johannes Thümmler, he was sentenced to death

He perished on the following day in Auschwitz II-Birkenau, shot along with others in Crematorium No. 5.

Julian Likus by Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum ArchiveAuschwitz-Birkenau State Museum

Julian Likus (1920–1984)  

Likus stayed in Block No. 11 for more than one and a half month. He made a calendar on the wall of cell No. 19 in which he marked the date of the hearing and the announcement of the sentence and wrote next to it: ”Likus from Chrzanów, No. 200190 was imprisoned here”.

Inscription made by Julian Likus in cell no. 19 by Adam Cyra, Auschwitz-Birkenau State MuseumAuschwitz-Birkenau State Museum

Inscription made by Julian Likus in the plaster of cell No. 19.

In 1941, as a civilian worker, he came across some prisoners of Auschwitz for the first time. He worked with them until the spring of 1944 producing prefabricated building elements.

It was then that the prisoner Jan Tomczyk requested his help and that of four other prisoners in organising an escape, which was soon effected. However, the escapees were soon caught. During the investigation they disclosed the names of the persons who had helped them.

Transport list of prisoners brought from KL Auschwitz to Buchenwald on 13.12.1944 which also includes the name of Julian Likus by Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum ArchiveAuschwitz-Birkenau State Museum

On 13 October 1944, during work at Buna Werke, Julian Likus was arrested and placed first in the camp in Monowitz, and then transported to Block 11 in Auschwitz.

For assisting in the preparation of the escape he was sentenced to stay in concentration camps for life. Before Christmas 1944, he was evacuated from Auschwitz to Buchenwald where he survived to see the liberation.

Inscription made by Konstanty Kempa on door in the cell no. 19 by Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum ArchiveAuschwitz-Birkenau State Museum

Konstanty Kempa (1916–1945)

In the basement of Block 11, inscriptions have remained which Lieutenant Konstanty Kempa, pseudonym “Tadeusz”, scraped on the wall and the door of cell No. 19: “Kempa Kostek” and ”Kempa, 2 May 44”.

Inscription made by Konstanty Kempa: ”Kempa, 2 May 44”.

Konstanty Kempa, member of the Cadet Corps in Lviv, 1931–1935 by Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum ArchiveAuschwitz-Birkenau State Museum

Lieutenant Konstanty Kempa was active in the camp resistance movement of the Home Army (Armia Krajowa) in Oświęcim. Here: Konstanty Kempa, member of the Cadet Corps in Lviv, 1931-1935

The information he collected about the crimes perpetrated by the SS in Auschwitz was clandestinely delivered to London.

Konstanty Kempa, wedding photograph taken in June 1942 by Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum ArchiveAuschwitz-Birkenau State Museum

Konstanty Kempa, wedding photograph taken in June 1942.

Konstanty Kempa by Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum ArchiveAuschwitz-Birkenau State Museum

Konstanty Kempa, photograph taken in Oświęcim in 1943/1944.

On 28 February 1944, he was arrested by the Gestapo and imprisoned in Auschwitz. He perished on 6 January 1945, shot in Crematorium No. 5 in Auschwitz II-Birkenau.

The sentence was handed down the day before, on 5 January 1945, during the last session of the summary court in Block 11.

Inscription made by Czesław Jasieczka in cell no. 20 by Adam Cyra, Auschwitz-Birkenau State MuseumAuschwitz-Birkenau State Museum

Czesław Jasieczko (1919–1944)

After the investigation in the prison in Mysłowice, he was placed in Block 11 as a police prisoner where, in cell No. 20 he left several inscriptions:

”Czesław Jasieczko, Babice”, ”Jasieczko Czesław, I bid farewell to my beloved compatriots ... in heaven, Our Lady of Częstochowa together with me and with you”,

”Jasieczko Czesław, Babice, God with us”, ”Jasieczko, God be with you dear people”.

Card sent by Czesław Jasieczko from the forced labour place in Wrocław (Breslau) by Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum ArchiveAuschwitz-Birkenau State Museum

Card sent by Czesław Jasieczko from the forced labour place in Wrocław (Breslau).

Czesław Jasieczko with his sister Felicja by Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum ArchiveAuschwitz-Birkenau State Museum

Czesław Jasieczko with his sister Felicja in front of their family home in Babice near Alwernia.

Arrested in May 1944 for escaping from forced labour in Germany, he was brought to the prison in Mysłowice and then to Auschwitz. On 14 August 1944, in a public execution in Kocierz Moszczanicki near Żywiec, fifteen Poles were hanged.

One of them was Czesław Jasieczko. Before, they had been sentenced to death by the summary court in Block 11. The execution was in retaliation for the killing of several local traitors by partisans of the Home Army in July 1944.

Door of cell No. 21 in the basement of Block 11. Drawings made by sub-lieutenant Stefan Jasieński, related to his life story by Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum ArchiveAuschwitz-Birkenau State Museum

Stefan Jasieński (1914–1945)

On the door of cell No. 21 in Block 11, Second Lieutenant Stefan Jasieński, pseudonym “Urban”, presented symbolically his life story in drawings. He made also two drawings in the plaster of the walls of cell No. 21, presenting Crucified Christ and Merciful Christ and scraped a calendar in the plaster of the cell as well.

Stefan Jasieński by Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum ArchiveAuschwitz-Birkenau State Museum

Stefan Jasieński as a first year student of architecture at the Technical University of Warsaw, 1933.

Railway station in Glamis near Forfar, Scotland, 7 March 1941. Stefan Jasieński presents the standard of the 10th Regiment of Mounted Riflemen to the English Royal Couple by Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum ArchiveAuschwitz-Birkenau State Museum

Railway station in Glamis near Forfar, Scotland, 7 March 1941. Stefan Jasieński presents the standard of the 10th Regiment of Mounted Riflemen to the English Royal Couple.

From the left, standing: General Stanisław Maczek, Queen Elisabeth and King George VI, General Władysław Sikorski.

Next: Lieutenant Kamil Czarnecki, non-commissioned officer Stefan Jasieński (standard bearer) and non-commissioned officer Andrzej Krzyczkowski.

Stefan Jasieński by Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum ArchiveAuschwitz-Birkenau State Museum

In 1939, he fought in the war defending Poland. He participated in the fighting in France in 1940 and was then evacuated to England. There he completed a course for parachute jumpers—special force paratroopers and was also trained in intelligence operations. 

Stefan Jasieński was dropped in a parachute in the vicinity of Częstochowa in March 1943 and soon started his conspiracy activities in the Home Army.

In the summer of 1944, he was in the vicinity Oświęcim where he stayed for about two months establishing conspiracy contacts with the prisoners’ resistance movement in Auschwitz. He used the pseudonym “Urban”.

The house of the Treściński family in Włosień near Osiek and Malec, the hiding place of Stefan Jasieński - 'Urban' by Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum ArchiveAuschwitz-Birkenau State Museum

The house of the Treściński family in Włosień near Osiek and Malec, the hiding place of Stefan Jasieński - 'Urban'

Calendar in the plaster of the cell, scraped by Stefan Jasieński by Adam Cyra, Auschwitz-Birkenau State MuseumAuschwitz-Birkenau State Museum

Calendar in the plaster of the cell made by Jasieński.

The secret messages sent clandestinely from the camp to “Urban” contained details of the dislocation of German forces, the rules of guarding the camp and the SS guard units, information about the nationalities and the general moral among the SS staff as well as detailed data on the numbers of prisoners in Auschwitz and its sub-camps. 

Cell No. 21 in the basement of Block 11. Christ on the Cross made in the plaster by Second Lieutenant Stefan Jasieński by Adam Cyra, Auschwitz-Birkenau State MuseumAuschwitz-Birkenau State Museum

Cell No. 21 in the basement of Block 11. Christ on the Cross made in the plaster by Second Lieutenant Stefan Jasieński.

The work undertaken by “Urban”, on the plan to liberate the prisoners imprisoned behind the wires of the Auschwitz camp, was interrupted by the tragic event on the night of 28 September 1944 when he was shot and arrested near Auschwitz.

Cell in the basement of Block 11. Merciful Christ made in the plaster by lieutenant Stefan Jasieński. by Adam Cyra, Auschwitz-Birkenau State MuseumAuschwitz-Birkenau State Museum

Cell in the basement of Block 11. Merciful Christ made in the plaster by Second Lieutenant Stefan Jasieński.

After Jasieński was brought to Auschwitz, he first stayed in the camp hospital and was then moved to cell No. 21 in the basement of Block 11. He perished there in circumstances unknown during the first week of January 1945.

Inscription made by Władysław Kuboszek on the door of the cell no. 23 by Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum ArchiveAuschwitz-Birkenau State Museum

Władysław Kuboszek (1912–1944)

Died in mid-August 1944. On the door of cell No. 24 in Block 11, he made a drawing of a cross with the inscription: ”14 Aug 44, Kuboszek 'Kuba' Władysław“. As a reserve officer, Władysław Kuboszek fought in the 1939 September campaign.

He avoided captivity and in the conspiracy he was a commander of the Inspectorate of the Home Army in Rybnik.

Władysław Kuboszek by Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum ArchiveAuschwitz-Birkenau State Museum

He was arrested on 9 February 1944 together with the priest Father Józef Kania. The arrestees were transported to Auschwitz and placed in Block 11.

The first of these two to be judged by the summary court was Father Kania.

Inscription made by Władysław Kuboszek on the door of the cell no. 23 by Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum ArchiveAuschwitz-Birkenau State Museum

Sentenced to death on 12 June 1944, he was executed on the same day in Auschwitz II-Birkenau. The date Lieutenant Kuboszek was sentenced by the summary court and the date of his death are not known precisely. Most probably he perished in Auschwitz in mid-August 1944.

Inscription made by Bernard Świerczyna on door of the cell no. 28 by Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum ArchiveAuschwitz-Birkenau State Museum

Bernard Świerczyna (1914–1944)

Before execution, he was imprisoned in the basement of Block 11 in cell No. 28. Three days before his death, he scribbled on its door:

“I only wanted to be a human and not a heartless combination of digits. To relate by existence to the future and know the secret of future history...

...I have been captured treacherously by force and locked behind bars,but my honour has not been broken and will not be broken even by the executioner”.

Bernard Świerczyna (right). The photograph was taken after he had passed his secondary school final examinations in 1935 by Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum ArchiveAuschwitz-Birkenau State Museum

Bernard Świerczyna (right). The photograph was taken after he had passed his secondary school final examinations in 1935.

Bernard Świerczyna, officer cadet school in Skierniewice 1935/1936 by Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum ArchiveAuschwitz-Birkenau State Museum

Bernard Świerczyna, officer cadet school in Skierniewice 1935/1936.

As a reserve second lieutenant, Bernard Świerczyna fought in the 1939 war defending Poland. Several months after it had ended, he left for Krakow where he was arrested in spring 1940 and brought to Auschwitz on 18 July 1940. In the camp, he was given number 1393.

He was active in the camp conspiracy, using the pseudonyms of “Max” and “Benek”. On 27 October 1944, he decided to join a daring escape by five members of the camp resistance movement organisation.

Bernard Świerczyna by Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum ArchiveAuschwitz-Birkenau State Museum

The SS driver Rottenführer Johann Roth was let into the secret of the escape plan but later proved to be a traitor though.

Instead of taking them to freedom, the vehicle he was driving, with the escapees inside, stopped in front of Block 11.

Bernard Świerczyna’s wife—Adelaida with their son Felicjan, photo taken around 1944 by Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum ArchiveAuschwitz-Birkenau State Museum

Bernard Świerczyna’s wife—Adelaida with their son Felicjan, photo taken around 1944.

The five members of the camp conspiracy, with Bernard Świerczyna and Piotr Piąty amongst them, were placed in the basement of the Death Block and were hanged after the evening roll call in the square, in front of the camp kitchen on 30 December 1944.

Inscription made by Jan Szeja in block no. 11 by Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum ArchiveAuschwitz-Birkenau State Museum

Jan Szeja (1898–1944)

In one of the rooms on the ground floor of Block 11, he left the inscription: "Szeja Jan, 13 Oct 1898, for the affairs of the homeland Poland, inform the family, Szeja, Sosnowiec, ul. Barbary 4 m. 4.

"Szeja Jan 13 Oct 1898, for the affairs of the homeland Poland, inform the family, Szeja, Sosnowiec, ul. Barbary 4 m. 4"

Jan Szeja by Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum ArchiveAuschwitz-Birkenau State Museum

Jan Szeja was arrested for conspiracy activities in Będzin in August 1944. First imprisoned in Sosnowiec, then Mysłowice and finally in  Auschwitz, where in Block 11 he was sentenced by the summary court to death. He was executed in Auschwitz II-Birkenau, as a police prisoner, most probably on 1 November 1944. 

Inscription made by Adam Tondos in block no. 11 by Adam Cyra, Auschwitz-Birkenau State MuseumAuschwitz-Birkenau State Museum

Adam Tondos

Sentenced to death by the summary court on 5 January 1945 and executed by shooting on the following day in Auschwitz II-Birkenau.

 

Inscription made by Maksymilian Rams in block no. 11 by Adam Cyra, Auschwitz-Birkenau State MuseumAuschwitz-Birkenau State Museum

Maksymilian Rams

During the Nazi occupation he was a railway worker in Gliwice. He was arrested in September 1944 because he was suspected of sabotage at his place of work. He was sentenced to death on 31 October 1944 by the summary court in Block 11 and executed in Auschwitz II-Birkenau on 1 November 1944.

Inscription made by Stanisław Kobyłka in block no. 11 by Adam Cyra, Auschwitz-Birkenau State MuseumAuschwitz-Birkenau State Museum

Stanisław Kobyłka 

Sentenced to death in Block 11 by the summary court on 5 January 1945 and executed on the following day in Auschwitz II-Birkenau.

Inscription made by Józef Łuczak in block no. 11 by Adam Cyra, Auschwitz-Birkenau State MuseumAuschwitz-Birkenau State Museum

Józef Łuczak 

Maintained contacts with partisans which was the reason for his arrest during which a weapon was found on him. Brought to Block No. 11 in Auschwitz, sentenced to death by the summary court on 5 January 1945 and executed on the following day in Auschwitz II-Birkenau.

Inscription made by Władysław Jasiówka in block no. 11 by Adam Cyra, Auschwitz-Birkenau State MuseumAuschwitz-Birkenau State Museum

Władysław Jasiówka

Sentenced to death by the summary court on 5 January 1945 and executed on the following day in Birkenau.

Inscription made by Zdzisław Hyla in block no. 11 by Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum ArchiveAuschwitz-Birkenau State Museum

Zdzisław Hyla 

Released from Auschwitz on 15 September 1944.

Inscription made by Mieczysław Głogowski in block no. 11 by Adam Cyra, Auschwitz-Birkenau State MuseumAuschwitz-Birkenau State Museum

Mieczysław Głogowski   

Inscription on a ceiling beam on the ground floor of Block 11 made by a prisoner on whom there is no information available.

Inscription made by Tadeusz Latos in block no. 11 by Adam Cyra, Auschwitz-Birkenau State MuseumAuschwitz-Birkenau State Museum

Tadeusz Latos

Inscription on a ceiling beam on the ground floor of Block 11 made by a prisoner on whom there is no information available.

Inscription made by Kazimierz Pławicz in block no. 11 by Adam Cyra, Auschwitz-Birkenau State MuseumAuschwitz-Birkenau State Museum

Kazik Pławicz

Inscription on a ceiling beam on the ground floor of Block 11 made by a prisoner on whom there is no information available.

Inscription made by Władysław Świergała in block no. 11 by Adam Cyra, Auschwitz-Birkenau State MuseumAuschwitz-Birkenau State Museum

Władysław Świergała

Inscription on a ceiling beam on the ground floor of Block 11 made by a prisoner on whom there is no information available.

Inscription made by Leon Brańczyk in block no. 11 by Adam Cyra, Auschwitz-Birkenau State MuseumAuschwitz-Birkenau State Museum

Leon
Brańczyk

Member of the Home Army, transferred from Auschwitz to Flossenbürg on 17 September 1944, his fate remains unknown. The inscription was made by him in the cell od Block 11.                          

Inscription made by Józef Niesyto in cell no. 23 by Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum ArchiveAuschwitz-Birkenau State Museum

Józef Niesyto 

Józef Niesyto, member of the Home Army, executed after a sentence was pronounced by the summary court in Block 11, in a public execution in Oldrzychowice in Zaolzie on 5 June 1944. His wife Waleria (nee Otręba) was also imprisoned in Block 11.

Inscription made by Franciszek Otręba in cell no. 20 by Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum ArchiveAuschwitz-Birkenau State Museum

Franciszek
Otręba

Member of the Home Army, sentenced to death by the summary court in Block No. 11, and executed in public probably in Dąbrowa Górnicza. Other family members held as police prisoners in Block 11 were:                              

Inscription made by Franciszek Otręba in cell no. 20 by Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum ArchiveAuschwitz-Birkenau State Museum

Agnieszka Otręba (mother), Paweł Otręba (father) and his brother Józef as well as two sisters—Łucja (marrried name Janosz) and Waleria (married name Niesyto). Here: the inscription was made by him in the cell od Block 11.

Johannes Thummler, head of the Katowice Gestapo and presiding over the summary court in Block 11 by Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum ArchiveAuschwitz-Birkenau State Museum

Johannes
Thümmler (1906–2002), head of the Gestapo in Katowice

He was born in 1906 in Chemnitz. In the 1930s, he graduated from a law school, defended his doctoral dissertation and became a member of the NSDAP and soon after also the SS. In 1941, he was appointed head of the Gestapo in Chemnitz. In September 1943, he was transferred to Katowice as the head of the Gestapo in that city.

“Execution by shooting at the Death Wall in the yard of Block 11”— a painting by a former prisoner of Auschwitz, Władysław Siwek by Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum ArchiveAuschwitz-Birkenau State Museum

“Shooting by the Death Wall in the yard of Block 11” – reproduction of a painting of a former prisoner of KL Auschwitz, Władysław Siwek

Thümmler, between October 1943 and January 1945 presided over the summary court in Auschwitz, pronouncing over 1,000 death sentences.

After the war, Thümmler was interned by the US authorities. In 1947, Poland applied for his extradition. In 1949, Thümmler took a job as a worker in Oberdorf, then as an assistant worker in the Zeiss optical systems company in Oberkochen, not far from the town of Aalen in Baden-Wurtenberg.

In the following years he was promoted and became the manager of one of the departments in the Zeiss company.

In the 1960s, the Regional Commision for Investigating Nazi Crimes in Katowice conducted an investigation against him and after its completion submitted its evidence to the German prosecutor’s office.

In 1979, the prosecutor’s office in Stuttgart suspended the case against Thümmler since—as it was stated—no evidence had been found of his violating the law or acting out of malice.

Room in Block 11 where sessions of the police summary court were held. Photo was made after the II WW by Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum ArchiveAuschwitz-Birkenau State Museum

In March 2002, the prosecutor’s office in Stuttgart discontinued the investigation against the head of the Gestapo in Katowice suspected of committing war crimes. Johannes Thümmler died two months later, in May 2002.

Here: Room in Block 11 where sessions of the police summary court were held. Photograph made after the II WW

The Death Wall by Paweł Sawicki, Auschwitz-Birkenau State MuseumAuschwitz-Birkenau State Museum

Death Wall. Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial

Credits: Story

Dr Adam Cyra, Research Center, Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum

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