Poznawaj Polska Tożsamosc: Fundacja Kultury Chrzescijańskiej Znak Zwiedzaj Polske : w Poznaniu (noclegi i atrakcje) - onet.pl w Rewalu (noclegi i atrakcje) - interia.pl


IntroductionSite mapSummaryWhat next...?
Karol KrupnikKatarzyna ŁodejAnna PrzybyszMagdalena GalantMarcin MalinowskiAleksandra Dominik
    i Małgorzata WantkeMaria PuszczewiczNatalia Bojarska
    i Agata DachowskaAgata SitkoKatarzyna PolańskaKrzysztof DrzymalskiRafał Czaja
Anna Fiutek

Mail us  

tipDo you know?

Kolyma, Auschwitz, Balkan conflict.

Józef Szajna, Ant-hill

The Kolyma River region

Gold mines established in the Kolyma River region. Commencement of regular mining operations

Establishment of Dalstroy [General Industrial and Highway Construction Company] in the Upper Kolyma region, domiciled in the town of Magadan, with a view to mining the regionally available mineral resources and providing the industrial infrastructure to the extreme far east part of the country.

Feb. 4, 1932
P.E. Bierzin, a well seasoned, high ranking NKVD official, appointed the Manager of Dalstroy, arrives on board a ship with the first 10 prisoners.

April 1, 1932
Establishment of the new labour camps complex [Sevvoslag - the North-East Corrective Labour Camps] to provide labourers for work in Dalstroy.

October 1932
In pursuance of the resolution adopted by the Soviet Communist Party, the Dalstroy region of operations is designated an autonomous territory.

Out of 11.100 inmates of the Kolyma camps (headcount current for December 1932) only 25% managed to survive the harsh winter

Bierzin issues a special ordinance on "standardising the labour output of camp prisoners", thus effectively relaxing the camp regime and enhancing the overall organisation of work, principally with a view to reducing the death rate amongst the inmates.

Jan. 1, 1934
As the new shipments of political and criminal convicts arrive in the Sevvoslag camps, the headcount increases to 30.000 inmates.

Bierzin openly condemns brutal treatment of prisoners, dire living conditions in the camps, unjustified extension of their conviction terms and other irregularities as "directly jeopardising the implementation of the production output and political objectives" of Dalstroy.

The territorial scope of Dalstroy operations extended to 700.000 square kilometres.

The number of inmates increases from 36.000 back in 1935 to over 70.000; 51.500 kg of gold mined, in comparison to 14.500 kg back in 1935.

March 1937
Bierzin reports on the hunger strike and "conspiracy" entailing some 200 inmates believed to be "Trostsky’s followers", subsequently sentenced to death and shot.

June 1937
At the plenary session of the Soviet Communist Party Stalin reprimands the commandants of the Kolyma camps for their relaxed policies and undue leniency towards toward the inmates.

December 1937
Bierzin is summoned back to Moscow along with his deputies, where he is arrested, charged with espionage and subsequently shot in August of 1938..

Jan. 17, 1938
Accusations made by the editors of the communist party newspaper Sovetskaya Kolyma with respect to the newly appointed commandant of the Kolyma camps, one K.A. Pavlov, against the introduction of a totalitarian regime within the camps and the mass executions of the inmates ordered by S. N. Garanin, Chief NKVD Officer for the Sevvostlag region, branded by Stalin as "demagogical and totally unwarranted".

March 4, 1938
In pursuance of the resolution adopted by the Soviet [Council] of People’s Commissars, USSR, Dalstroy, formerly remaining within the organisational fold of the Council of Labour and Defence, is put under the jurisdiction of NKVD, USSR.

December 1938
Osip Mandelstam, an eminent Russian poet, dies in Magadan en route to the Kolyma camps.

According to the unconfirmed estimates supplied by the former Kolyma camps inmates, some 40.000 people perished throughout the winter. As all losses were routinely offset by the steady influx of new arrivals, the overall headcount increased from 90.700 in Jan. 1938 to 138.200 in Jan. 1939.

October 11, 1939
Owing to the override on the "admissible mortality rate" amongst the camp inmates in conjunction with the failure to meet the mining output quotas for gold and other mineral resources, Pavlov and Garanin were sacked from their posts; Garanin was also charged with espionage and subsequently shot.

Estimated 7.600 - 10.000 Polish nationals find their way to the Kolyma camps. They are effectively separated from the "old" camp inmates by being moved to the far flung mines located in the western part of the Dalstroy area, notorious for particular hardship and hazardous working conditions.

March 19, 1941
The territorial scope of Dalstroy operations extended to 2.266.000 square kilometres (i.e. 10% of the territory occupied by the USSR at the time). The overall headcount of camp inmates reaches 190.000, while approximately 3.700 engineers, geological surveyors and technicians also remain in the employ of Dalstroy as contract workers.

Due to problems with transport services, insufficient human resources and the substantial numbers of camp inmates having been ordered to the front lines to aid the war effort, the overall headcount dropped down to 84.700 in Jan. 1944. Inadequate number of labourers was compensated for through long working hours - up to ever 12 hours daily, which, given the brutality of camp regime (despite the earlier sacking of Pavlov) soon resulted in the increased mortality rate amongst the inmates.

October 1945
A special camp for the Japanese prisoners of war is established in Magadan, to provide extra labour resources to Dalstroy; still holding some 3.500 inmates upon its closure in September of 1949.

Feb. 28, 1948
A special Camp No 5, of a particularly harsh regime, is set up in the central part of the Dalstroy territory of operations, yet despite remaining within the organisational structure of Dalstroy throughout, it has never augmented its overall production capacity.

Sept. 20, 1949
In order to enhance the overall organisation and production output of the camp inmates the Soviet Ministry of the Interior appointed the General Board of Dalstroy Labour Camps, to hold jurisdiction over the Commandanturas of 26 camp units, still remaining within the organisational framework of 11 regional Boards of Industry and Mining, whose managers were to double as commandants of the respective labour camp units. The restructuring was very slow indeed in its progress, much contested by the old NKVD guard throughout.

The restructuring was accompanied by the increased headcount of inmates: from 108.700 in Jan. 1949 up to almost 200.000 (199.726 exactly) on Jan. 1, 1952 - the highest ever in the history of the Kolyma camps and Dalstroy. The living conditions within the camps improve only marginally in comparison to the war time, though.

May 1952
Restructuring of the Kolyma camps, commenced back in 1949, finally completed. "Sevvoslag is dissolved, while Dalstroy is presently transformed into the General Board of Labour Camps", as I.W. Mitrakov, its commandant, reports.

March 15, 1953
The new leadership of the USSR and the Soviet Communist Party is elected in the wake of Stalin’s death.

March 18, 1953
In pursuance of the resolution adopted by the Soviet Council of Ministers, Dalstroy is now transferred into the fold of the Ministry of Metallurgy, while all its camp units into GULAG, remaining now within the jurisdiction of the Soviet Ministry of Justice.

September 1953
All Dalstroy camp units are taken over by the newly established Management Board of the North - Eastern Corrective Labour Camps, while the harsh camp regime is gradually relaxed.

Mass releases of the camp inmates commence and the Kolyma camps are gradually closed down.

It is estimated that approximately 20.000.000 people perished in the Soviet GULAG, mainly Soviet nationals; while over 1.000.000 inmates perished in the Kolyma camps alone in the years 1932 - 1954.     

Józef Szajna, Numbers


April 27, 1940
Heinrich Himmler orders the establishment of a concentraction camp in the former army barracks in the town of Oświęcim (Auschwitz).

May 4, 1940
SS-Hauptsturmfuehrer Rudolf Höss is formally appointed the Commandant of Konzentrationslager Auschwitz.

May 20, 1940
Gerhard Palitzsch, an SS non-com arrives at the camp with 30 German criminal convicts - to be prospectively employed as the camp functionaries. .

June 14, 1940
The first convoy of Polish political prisoners - 728 men - arrives at the camp.

August 1940
A Penal Unit is established, comprising all Jewish inmates and clergymen of all creeds.

Sept. 27, 1940
A large convoy (1.705 men) of Warsaw residents arrives at the camp, comprising key representatives of Polish intellectual elite. A "voluntary prisoner" - lieutenant Witold Pilecki - also finds his way in, although with the clandestine aim of establishing the first resistance unit within KL Auschwitz.

Nov. 22, 1940
The first execution of 40 Polish nationals, ostensibly in reprisal for assaults on German policemen carried out in the Upper Silesia region, as reported by the Gestapo.

January 1941
German chemical concern IG Farben locates a synthetic latex manufacturing plant in Dwory n/Oświęcim.

July 16, 1941
The first convoy of Soviet prisoners of war arrives in the camp, to be exterminated in its entirety while performing hard labour tasks.

July 29, 1941
Father Maksymilian Kolbe, a Polish inmate, volunteers to stand in for one of the already selected inmates and suffer death of starvation in a specially designed, solitary confinement cell.

September 1941
First successful attempts at mass extermination, carried out on Polish and Russian inmates in the camp gas chambers, with the aid of Zyklon - B cyanide gas.

Jan. 19, 1942
The overall headcount of camp inmates is 11.700, most of them Polish nationals.

Feb. 15, 1942
The first convoy of Jews (from the town of Bytom in the Upper Silesia region) arrives at the camp, to be exterminated straight away in the gas chambers located in the main camp.

March 1, 1942
All inmates of a separate camp holding Soviet prisoners of war only, are exterminated. The remaining inmates, inclusive of a group of Polish nationals, are transferred to the adjacent camp in Brzezinka (Birkenau), still under construction.

March 20, 1942
Gas chambers in the Birkenau camp, located in the specially converted building, are finally commissioned. They are operated by the so called Sonderkommando, entrusted with the task of removing the corpses from the chambers and burying them in the nearby pits, specially dug out for the purpose.

March 26, 1942
A convoy of 999 Jewish women from Slovakia initiates regular convoys of Jews from all over Nazi occupied Europe. The traffic of convoys is personally co-ordinated and supervised by Adolf Eichmann (Dept. IVB4, State Security of the Third Reich - RSHA). Usually people coming in such convoys are exterminated in the camp’s gas chambers on arrival.

March 30, 1942
The first convoy of French Jews arrives at the camp.

April 27, 1942
The first convoy of Polish female political prisoners arrives at the camp.

May 30, 1942
Prof. Clauberg formally approaches Himmler with the request to authorise medical experiments with the sterilisation of women, to be carried out on the female inmates of KL Auschwitz.

July 4, 1942
The first segregation procedure carried out on a convoy of Jews arriving in KL Auschwitz. Some of the men are pronounced as fit for work and admitted into the camp, while those unfit are directed straight into the gas chambers.

July 17, 1942
The first convoy of Dutch Jews arrives at the camp.

Aug. 2, 1942
The first sub-camp in KL Auschwitz is established, in the proximity of the Goleszow cement plant. In the course of time 40 more are to be established in the proximity of various industrial facilities throughout the Upper Silesia region.

Aug. 8, 1942
A Carmelite nun, Edith Stein, arrives in a successive convoy from the Netherlands, to be promptly sent down to a gas chamber.

Oct. 28, 1942
The first convoy of some 2.000 Jews from the Bohemian and Moravian Protectorate, former residents of the Terezin ghetto, arrives at the camp. Ninety percent of all arrivals are directed straight into the gas chambers.

Oct. 30, 1942
A separate camp is established in Monowice to accommodate 800 inmates, to provide slave labour for the adjacent IG Farben plant; the headcount is to increase to several thousand by 1944.

Dec. 3, 1942
The first convoy of 90 Gypsies arrives at the camp, to be directed in its entirety to the gas chambers.

Dec. 13, 1942
The first convoy of Polish nationals, forcibly removed from their homes in the Zamość region, marked out by Himmler for German colonisation, arrives at the camp.

Feb. 23, 1943
Mandatory tattooing of ID numbers with respect to all camp inmates is introduced by the camp’s Commandant. As of 1942 only the Jews were supposed to have such ID tattoos.

March 26, 1943
All Gypsies are ordered by Himmler to be deported into KL Auschwitz from the Third Reich territor, as well as from some occupied countries (Order No RSHA of Jan. 29). They are accommodated in the Birkenau camp in the section designated as "BIIe" (Zigeunerfamilienlager), although a group of 1.700 Gypsies arriving on March 23 is directed straight away into the gas chambers, without any recording procedures whatsoever.

April 3, 1943
The SS Construction Dept. in KL Auschwitz commissions two crematoria (No IV and V) with the adjacent gas chambers.

May 30, 1943
The post of a Chief Medical Officer in the Gigpsy section of KL Auschwitz is taken over by the SS officer, Dr Mengele, who promptly commences hideous medical experiments on Jewish and Gypsy children.

July - August 1943
In the expanding Birkenau camp (otherwise known as Auschwitz II) a number of sub-camps are set up: quarantine, sanitary, and for the working inmates.

Nov. 1, 1943
The overall headcount of inmates is 87.600, out of which 17% is unfit for work, due to sickness.

April 1944
In view of the approaching Soviet offensive, on April 9 a convoy of 2000 inmates of the KL Majdanek (in Lublin) arrives in KL Auschwitz. At the same time successive convoys of KL Auschwitz inmates fit for work are sent over into the camps located throughout the generically German territories.

April 14, 1944
The allied air force reconaissance unit takes the first ever photographs of KL Auschwitz and the nearby IG Farben plant. At the same time the first reports on the holocaust of Jews are finding their way to England and the USA, passed on by the members of Polish resistance units, camp resistance cells, Slovak Jewish escapees - Wentzler and Vrba, and earlier on (July 1942) by a German industrialist and Nazi opponent - Schulte.

May 2, 1944
The first two convoys of Hungarian Jews, 2.800 people in total, arrive at the camp, out of which 2.700 (70%) are directed straight into the gas chambers.

July 11, 1944
Deportations of Hungarian Jews are completed; out of 437.400 deportees, some 300.000 perished in KL Auschwitz.

Aug. 2, 1944
Out of over 20.000 original inmates of the Gypsy camp only 4.300 managed to survive, despite the inhuman living conditions, diseases and extermination actions; 1327 pronounced as fit to work are selected for convoys into the Reich, while the remaining 3.000 (mainly the elderly, women and children) are gassed overnight.

Aug. 12, 1944
Some 5.800 civilian residents from Warsaw, initially rounded up in the Pruszkow camp, following the Warsaw Uprising, arrive at the camp.

Aug. 15, 1944
A convoy of Jews from the closed down Łódź ghetto arrives at the camp; most of them end up in the gas chambers on arrival.

Sept. 13, 1944
The Allied forces launch an air raid on the IG Farben plant near Oświęcim; apart from the SS guard regiment some 40 camp inmates also perish in the attack. No attempt is made, however, to bomb out the gas chambers and the adjacent crematoria in the Birkenau camp.

Oct. 7, 1944
Members of the several hundred strong Sonderkommando (gas chambers and crematoria crew), faced with an imminent threat of extermination, turn against the SS guards; 250 die in the ensuing struggle, while the surviving 200 are subsequently shot.

November 1944
Extermination with the aid of Zyklon - B cyanide gas is relinquished, while the gas chambers and the adjacent crematoria are being successively demolished. The last facility is blown up on Jan. 26, 1945.

Jan. 15, 1945
The overall headcount of KL Auschwitz inmates is 66.800, out of which half is accommodated in Monowice and other sub-camps.

Jan. 18, 1945
The last routinely registered inmate, Marketsch, a German national, is allocated No 202499 as his ID.

Jan. 19 - 21, 1945
The last columns of inmates, some several hundred strong, leave the main camp, Birkenau and the sub-camps, en route to Wodzisław Śląski, a staging post for a rail trip to KL Mauthausen; a heavy loss of life is reported along the way.

Jan. 27, 1945
The Soviet troops liberate the sub-camp in Monowice, having lost 231 soldiers during the actual assault, and then enter the main camp and the Birkenau camp, whereupon they start organising medical aid for the remaining inmates.

Some 1.500.000 people perished in KL Auschwitz, out of which 1.000.000 Jews, 140.000 Polish nationals, 20.000 Gypsies, 10.000 Soviet prisoners and several thousand inmates of other nationalities.     

Compiled by Wacław Długoborski      

Józef Szajna, Tomb of Militarism

The Balkan conflict

After the mass demonstrations of the Kosovo Albanians have been brutally quelled by the Yugoslav police, Kosovo loses the status of an autonomous province and comes under the direct rule of Belgrade.

June 1991
Croatia and Slovenia declare independence and leave the Yugoslav Federation. In result the Yugoslav army moves into Slovenia, but pulls out after a 10-day long campaign.

July 1991
Armed clashes between Croats and the Serbs backed by the regular Yugoslav army turn into an all-out war.

February 1992
Bosnia and Herzegovina declares independence. In reply the Bosnian Serbs secede and establish their own state; armed clashes commence throughout the area.

April 1992
The Bosnian Serbs begin the siege of Sarajevo, the capital city of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

May 1992
United Nations impose sanctions upon Serbia and Montenegro, still remaining within the Yugoslav Federation, for sparking off the armed conflicts in Croatia and Bosnia.

January 1993
International mediators - Cyrus Vance and Lord David Owen - put forward the plan for dividing Bosnia and Herzegovina into 10 provinces; the plan is principally based on the existing ethnic make-up of the area. The Bosnian government fully endorses the proposed measure, while the Bosnian Serbs reject it in its entirety.

March 1993
Armed clashes between the Muslims and Croats begin in the Bosnian part of Herzegovina. The Bosnian Croats also contemplate carving out a state of their own, the so called Herzeg - Bosnia.

April 1993
The UN Security Council declares six "safe havens" for Bosnian Muslim population: Sarajevo, Tuzla, Zepa, Gorażde, Bihač and Srebrenica.

July 1993
Initial accord has been successfully negotiated in Geneva with respect to the prospective establishment of the three ethnic states on the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina: Serb, Croatian and Muslim. The peace talks break down after the Bosnian Serbs have violated the terms of cease-fire.

February 1994
Over 60 people die and around 200 are left seriously wounded in a mortar attack on an open air market in the centre of Sarajevo. Several days later NATO forces order the Serbs to pull out all heavy artillery pieces from the high ground surrounding Sarajevo, threatening air strikes as an enforcement measure.

March 1994
The Bosnian government and the representatives of the Bosnian Croats endorse the peace agreement negotiated by the Americans, thus bringing the armed struggle between the Croats and Bosnian Muslims finally to an end..

May 1994
The successive international peace plan is announced, envisaging a prospective territorial division of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Bosnian government duly endorses it, yet the plan gets decisively rejected by the Bosnian Serbs

May 1995
NATO commences air strikes on the Bosnian Serb military installations within Bosnia, as the Bosnian Serbs fail to take heed of the NATO’s ultimatum ordering them to pull out all heavy artillery pieces from the high ground surrounding Sarajevo. The Serbs commence bombardment of the "UN safe havens"; over 70 people die in a single mortar attack in Tuzla.

June 1995
Bosnian Serbs launch an attack on Srebrenica, one of such "safe havens", and override the town.

July 1995
Bosnian Serbs overrun the successive "safe haven" - the town of Żepa, while thousands of its residents escape in a panic.

August 1995
The Croat army launches a lightning offensive and takes Krajina and part of Slavonia, until now in the hands of Serbs. Thousands of Serbs run away to Serbia. American diplomacy starts developing a new peace plan for Bosnia and Herzegovina. NATO launches air strikes on the Serb military targets within Bosnia.

September 1995
The international negotiators come up with an agreement dividing Bosnia and Herzegovina into the Croat- Muslim part and the Serbian part, though constituting a single state. The combined Croat and Muslim troops carry out an offensive in the northern and western part of the country, effectively retaking substantial parts of the territory formerly occupied by the Serbs. NATO ceases air strikes on the Serb positions after all heavy artillery has been pulled out from around Sarajevo.

November 1995
A peace accord is successfully negotiated in a US military base in Dayton, Ohio (the peace talks personally attended by the presidents of Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina), envisaging the establishment of a Croat-Muslim Federation and the Serb Republic on the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as having incorporated into Croatia part of Slavonia, presently remaining under Serb control. The International Tribunal of Justice in the Hague indicts the Bosnian Serb leaders - Radovan Karadzič and general Ratko Mladič - with genocide.

Autumn 1997
In Pristina, a capital of Kosovo, Albanian students take to the streets demanding that Albanian educational system be promptly reinstated in the province, while the Serb police forces brutally disperse the demonstrators. The concept of pursuing peaceful resistance, with a view to establishing an independent underground state, until now advocated by the spiritual leader of Albanians, Ibrahim Rugova, is becoming perceptibly less and less popular, while the Kosovo Liberation Army (UCK), strong in its nationalist rhetoric, gains ground and popular backing.

UCK commences military operations against the Serbian population in Kosovo and soon establishes a "liberated territory" in the enclave of Drenica. The Yugoslav army and police forces launch an offensive against UCK, bombarding and setting fire to villages. Armed skirmishes take place along the Albanian - Serb border. UCK announces national emergency and declares the area a "war zone"; thousands of refugees seek shelter in the thickly forested areas.

March 24, 1999
After the peace talks held in the Rambouillet castle, France, between the Serbs and the leaders of the Kosovo Albanians, originally initiated by the EU politicians, eventually fail, NATO commences air strikes against strategic targets within Yugoslavia. Russian Federation breaks off its co-operation with NATO. United Nations duly endorse NATO’s military intervention as fully warranted in the circumstances.

June 3, 1999
Yugoslavia accepts the peace plan put forward by the international community, envisaging that: the international peace keeping forces under the UN auspices be stationed in Kosovo, all violence be ceased within the area, the Yugoslav army be withdrawn from Kosovo altogether, UCK be disarmed, safe return of all refugees facilitated, provisional administration of the province be established in compliance with the pertinent UN resolution, and the autonomous status be granted to the province of Kosovo, while "retaining the territorial integrity of Yugoslavia".

June 10, 1999
Yugoslav army commences its withdrawal from Kosovo, while NATO ceases all air strikes. The first ever war over human rights within Europe comes to an end.

Over 200.000 lives perished in the Balkan conflict. Several thousand of women were brutally raped, while their husbands and sons were beaten up and tortured. Within 50 years of the Second World War - new concentration camps come into being on the European soil - in the former Yugoslavia. As a result of ethnic cleansing over 2.000.000 people were displaced, becoming refugees.    

The last armed conflict in Kosovo made 800.000 ethnic Albanians and over 160.000 Kosovo Serbs abandon their homes. As a result of the military operations pursued in the area, also some 500 - 2.000 civilians are estimated to have perished.    

Compiled by Jan Piekło