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“They Will Drive Us Out and Kill Us”.

The Fate of the Children of Zamojszczyzna on the 80th Anniversary of Aktion Zamość.

For a peaceful death...


"Once a sick five-year-old boy was brought to the hospital. His mother was by his side. He was already in agony. The mother, I noticed, was very anxious, but was embarrassed to say that the child had not been baptized. I looked at the child, he was dying, but he couldn't pass away. I took some water, baptized him, and the child peacefully passed away.”


Text source:

Account of Sister Stefania Fedorchuk. Dziecko w historii.Sytuacja dziecka w odrodzonym państwie polskim, ed. E. J. Kryńska, A. Suplicka, Ł. Kalisz, Białystok 2020, p. 113.


Photo source:

Jan Tchórz, a 2-year-old transport survivor (Institute of National Remembrance).

Aktion Zamość.



80,000 women and men

30,000 children


Aktion Zamość was part of the Generalplan Ost (General Plan East). From November 27/28, 1942 to August 1943, the Germans expelled the Polish population from the villages and towns of Zamojszczyzna. This is how the first settlement area in the General Government, the so-called bastion of Germanhood, was created.Polish families were replaced by German settlers. The operation covered 43%of the villages of the Zamość region. One-third of the Poles (110,000)were expelled. It was planned to settle 98,000 Germans in their place.”         



Photo source:

Ceremonial welcoming of German settlers (National Archives in Zamość).


Special SS Laboratory – Sonderlaboratorium SS.


10,000 children were murdered

4454 children were Germanized


"The enraged German began to say something and suddenly there was a group of Germans around us and we were taken to the school. We were afraid and couldn't move; our legs trembled. They brought us into the school, where the room was full of Germans. We were terrible afraid, and we were not allowed to go anywhere. (...) We were herded behind the wires and treated like animals. In Zamość, behind the wires, children were taken from their parents and placed in separate barracks. Older women were assigned to (watch over) the children. Each woman was responsible for ten children. It became a hell; children, infants cried inhumanly. The elderly women were helpless. What could be expected of them when they themselves needed care?”.


Source of quote:

"Source of the quote: Testimony of Lucyna Targońska, née Niściór (Niścior), b. 1926, Zamojszczyzna - Sonderlaboratorium SS.Zbiór dokumentów polskich i niemieckich z okresu okupacji hitlerowskiej, ed. Cz. Madajczyk, Warsaw 1979, vol. II, p. 368.


Photo source:

General Governor Hans Frank visiting Zwierzyniec (National Archives in Zamość).

Excerpt from a list of displaced children from the Zamość region (National Archives in Zamość).

Rescued children in an orphanage in Łaskarzew (Institute of National Remembrance).

The Executioners of the Zamość region.


"In this struggle, the troops have the right and are obliged to use all measures in an unrestricted manner, including against women and children, if they lead to success."


During the displacement, selection was carried out according to racial criteria, dividing the population into four groups. People from the first two groups were subject to Germanization. Their route to the Reich was via a racial camp in Łódź. Category III consisted of forced laborers deported to the West or left behind in the Lublin District. Those destined for concentration camps were assigned to the last category. This was the fate of one in five displaced inhabitants of the Zamość region. A separate independent category was made up of people unfit for work, the elderly and children under 14 years of age from groups III and IV. In the winter of 1942/1943, they were transported in cattle wagons to the Warsaw district.


Source of quote:

Decree of the Chief of the Supreme Command of the Wehrmacht, Wilhelm Keitel, regarding the exemption of soldiers from responsibility. Okupacja i ruch oporu w dziennikach Hansa Franka 1939-1945, edited by Z. Polubiec, vol. I, Warsaw 1972, pp. 599-600.


Photo source:

Heinrich Himmler, chief of the SS and police in the Third Reich, and Odilo Globocnik, commander of the SS and police in the Lublin district, photo by Bruno Wiśniewski (National Digital Archives).

German soldiers during the resettlement operation (National Archives in Zamość).”


The beginning of a child's displacement. Resettlement camp in Zamość.


“And it could not die, I remember this child, as it was dying. Oh, it was terrible. (...) She lay in rags on the bunks, dying in the barracks. She was born in Skierbieszewo, and the parents were taken away with this little child and there they separated them, and left the child with someone. And there were many such children. And then she carried them out under the barracks somewhere and laid them down. They were taken out under the barracks and there was already someone older lying there. There they piled the dead and took them to the cemetery in Zamość".


Source of quote:

Account of Wacława Wójcik (Węcławik) about Martusia Szewerowa, a several-month-old girl displaced from Skierbieszów, who died at the turn of November/December 1942 in the camp in Zamość due to exhaustion and starvation. Byliśmy w transportach dzieci z Zamojszczyzny,introduction and elaboration by B. Kozaczyńska, Warsaw 2017, pp. 56-58.


Photo source:

Resettlement camp in Budzyń-Kraśnik (Institute of National Remembrance).

Resettlement camp in Zamość (Institute of National Remembrance).


He didn't sleep if he hadn't killed.


"Schütz is becoming more vile with each passing day.A sadist. He laughed while his victim was dying. The sight of the SS man's muscular figure and his enormous dog spread terror throughout the camp. They said he didn't fall asleep unless he had killed or beaten someone. He wandered around the camp day and night. He was looking for a victim.”


"Everyone knew what it meant when"Ne"was wearing black gloves. One blow with the mysterious glove crushed the face and knocked down the strongest person. Many died this way."


"A boy died in the pool. He tried to go to No. 10. He was running to his mother. "Ne" - Schütz caught him by the hole."


The merciless torturer of the camp in Zamość was its SS-Scharführer commander, a boxer born in Łódź – SS-Scharfűhrer Artur Schütz, known as "Ne". Prisoners described him as a sadist who cruelly tormented his victims. According to witnesses, he would knock down prisoners with a single blow.


Source of quote:

An account by Zygmunt Węcławik, a prisoner of the camp in Zamość. Zamojszczyzna – Sonderlaboratorium SS..., vol. II, Warsaw 1979, pp. 363-365.


Photo source:

Officers of the Resettlement Headquarters in Łódź responsible for crimes in the Zamość region (Institute of National Remembrance).


Behind the barbed wires of Auschwitz-Birkenau.


"Families and individuals classified in Group IV due to their racial value will be transferred to Birkenau as a workforce.”


The displaced from the transit camp in Zamość were transported in cattle wagons to Auschwitz-Birkenau in three transports: December 13 and 16, 1942, and February 5, 1943. Among them were children, the youngest being 8 years old. Of the 1,301 registered displaced persons, 82% died. The children died of exhaustion, in gas chambers, or were killed with injections of phenol into their hearts. Newborns born in the camp were also murdered in this way.


Source of quote:

Guidelines of SS-Obersturmbannführer H. Krumey regarding the classification of displaced persons in the Zamość camp on November 21, 1942, Zamojszczyzna – Sonderlaboratorium SS..., vol. II, pp. 175, 177.


Photo source:

Auschwitz-Birkenau, photo by L. Zielaskowski (National Digital Archives).

Children from the Zamość region in Auschwitz-Birkenau.


Lucyna Białek

Kamila Borys

Salomea Kostrubała

Czesława Krajewska

Maria Krajewska

Czesława Kwoka

Maria Lis

Emilia Lis

Marianna Ostasz

Michalina Pietrynko (Petrynko)

Anna Węcławik

Salomea Węcławik

Zofia Wróbel


Photo source:

Few surviving photographs of children from the Zamość region in Auschwitz-Birkenau (Archives of the National Auschwitz-Birkenau Museum).


Transports of horror.


"During the transport, we were saved from freezing by our oldest sister. We were huddled together in a tight group. Marysia covered us with pieces of clothing on us, no longer needed by those frozen. At the station in Siedlce, we were a pile of stench. They pulled us out from under those rags. Fecal matter was flowing down the sides of the wagons, children in heavy winter clothes, infested with insects.”


In the cold winter of 1942/1943, the Germans transported children up to the age of 14 from the camp in Zamość to the Warsaw district in cattle wagons. They found shelter in Polish homes and orphanage preschools prepared by the Main Welfare Council. This was the fate of 5321 children and elderly people. For some, it was their last journey.


Source of quote:

Account of Janina Zielińska (née Malec), born in 1938. Nie było kiedy płakać. Losy rodzin polskich wysiedlonych z Zamojszczyzny, introduction and elaboration by B. Kozaczyńska, Siedlce 2014, pp. 57-58.


Photo source:

Similar wagons were used to transport children from the Zamość region. Transport of displaced persons in the Warsaw district, 1944 (public domain).

Siedlce against German bestiality.


"The funeral of the 20 deceased turned into demonstrations by Poles against the German orders.The day before the funeral, the coffins were displayed in the parish church in Siedlce. The church was overcrowded many hours before the funeral. Crowds gathered in front of the church. About 3 to 4 thousand people were present. The funeral ceremonies were performed by the bishop, who conducted them briefly as ordered. The coffins were carried throughout the city by young Poles, and the crowd remained relatively calm. The church ceremony was attended by school children. Almost the entire Polish intelligentsia of the city was represented. Among them were also Polish officials in German service."


Source of quote:

An account of the funeral (actually 23 victims, including 12 children). Zamojszczyzna – Sonderlaboratorium SS..., vol. I, pp. 381-382, 384.


Photo source:

Funeral of victims from the Zamość region in Siedlce, February 3, 1943 (Institute of National Remembrance).


In the barracks of Zwierzyniec.


20,000 people were imprisoned, including 7,000 children.

Nearly 200 of the youngest prisoners perished.

"Displaced persons from the Bilgoraj poviat were driven to a camp near Zamość, and then, due to the overcrowding of the Zamość camp, to Zwierzyniec. The camp in Zwierzyniec is a square fenced with barbed wire, without any buildings. The conditions in the camps are terrible, the mortality rate (especially of children and the elderly) is immense."


Source of quote:

Information on repression operations. Zamojszczyzna – Sonderlaboratorium SS..., vol. II, p. 128.


Photo source:

People displaced from the Biłgoraj poviat (National Archives in Zamość).


The Zamoyskis come to the rescue of dying children.


"But the most profound impression that I can't shake off was made on me by the children in the estate hospital. There were about forty of them here today, aged up to five. The are mostly suffering from typhus and measles. In small, hastily put together wooden beds, they lie in pairs, emaciated, resembling corpses rather than living beings."


Heir Jan Zamoyski rushed to the rescue of the dying children from the Zwierzyniec camp. As a result of negotiations with the SS and police commander for the Lublin district, Odilo Globocnik, more than 480 children were freed from the camp. These found care in an orphanage preschool run by the Heir's wife, Róża Zamoyska, née Żółtowska, known as the angel of kindness.


Source of quote:

Memories from Zamojszczyzna. Z. Klukowski, Zamojszczyzna 1918-1943, vol. I, Warsaw 2007, pp. 369-370.


Photo source:

Children from an orphanage in Zwierzyniec with their caregiver Wanda Cebrykow, spring 1944 (National Archives in Zamość).

Letter to the Zamoyski family expressing gratitude for taking care of the children (National Archives in Zamość).

Jan and Róża Zamoyski with the children (Zamoyski Family Archive).


“Get up, Kasia, why aren’t you getting up, get up, Kasia – you're lying dead!" Repression of villages.


Sochy – 185 murdered (45 children)

Kitów – 164 murdered (28 children)

Bialowola – 51 Murdered (17 children)


“The Germans rushed into apartments, killed people and set buildings on fire. Houses were occupied one after another, terrified people fled, and then without exception and without mercy, men, women, and children were killed. Pregnant women, babies at their mothers' breasts, and children running with their parents were killed. Some of them knelt begging to be spared their lives, but this did not move the savage tormentors. People were thrown alive into the fire, the wounded were beaten. And there were some among the Germans who did this with sadistic delight and laughing devilishly."


Source of quote:

Account of Wanda Cebrykow and Kazimiera Świtajowa. Zamojszczyzna – Sonderlaboratorium SS..., vol. II, p. 397, 429.


Photo source:

Victims of repression of the village of Białowola (National Archives in Zamość).

German repression units used Red Cross ambulances in displacement operations (Museum of the Biłgoraj region in Biłgoraj).


They were dying, even though no one was shooting at them – KL Lublin.


"One day I sat down near a block of flats and from my pocket I took out dust, crumbs from the bread I ate yesterday, and ate them like chocolate."


Fields III, IV and V in KL Lublin were allocated by the Germans for the population displaced during Aktion Zamość in the summer. Some of them lived in the open air. Lack of access to drinking water and dramatic sanitary and hygienic conditions led to a high incidence of disease. The longer their stay in the camp, the higher the likelihood of death. In August 1944, the Germans sent those capable of work for forced labor to the Third Reich and villages in the Lublin district. The sick were sent, among other places, to St. John's Hospital in Lublin, where out of 299 patients sent there, 155 died, most of them under 12 years old.


Source of quote:

Account of Janina Buczek-Różańska, a prisoner of KL Lublin. Przemoc, poniżenie, poniewierka.Wspomnienia z przymusowych robót rolnych 1939-1945,selected, compiled and with an introduction by L. Staszyński,Warsaw 1967, p. 24.


Photo source:

Anna Rempa (age 6) displaced from the poviat of Biłgoray, prisoner of KL Lublin. Within a month of being released from the camp, she died at St. John's Hospital in Lublin (Institute of National Remembrance).



"It was decided to gas the children from the repressed areas of Hrubieszów and the Zamość region and send the mothers to work in Germany. Previously, false rumors were spread that the children would be put under the care of the Red Cross, to nurseries and the Jordanowski gardens. When persuasion failed, they started forcibly taking them away (...). On the field, there was crying and sobbing. Mothers, mad with despair, fled with their children. The SS and capos caught them. I saw Hoffman in an SS uniform struggling with a peasant woman who held her baby tightly, refusing to give it away (...). I saw how at one point Hoffman snatched the child and threw the bloody, presumably already lifeless body into the car."


"If a child is taken from a mother, she desires with all her strength to die because the pain is unbearable, but at the same moment, she desires to live with all her strength to save it. Such a paradox crushes the soul. The baby is an anatomical part of the mother, so it's like an amputation without anesthesia."


Source of quotes:

Testimony of Kazimierz Wdzięczny, witness to the separation of children from their mothers in July 1943 at KL Lublin. AIPN, BU 2535/45, k. 4;

A. Janko, Mała zagłada,Krakow 2015, p. 174.


Photo source:

The seizure of Polish children in the Zamość region (public domain).


"We are in the camps of Berlin.” Letters from the displaced.


"My beloved Parents,

May God bless you. The Lord has punished us severely, but perhaps over time, He will reunite us. We are in the camps near Berlin. For now, I am well, and I wish you the same. The train journey was miserable, with only water and bread for 5 days..."


Text source:

Letter from Jan Charczuk to his parents. AIPN, GK 69/174, p. 3.


Photo source:

Letter from Jan Charczuk to his parents (Institute of National Remembrance).

Letter from Stefania Frankowicz (Institute of National Remembrance).

Letter from Bronisława Chomacka (Institute of National Remembrance).


Children of the Zamość region in the camp on Przemysłowa Street in Łódź.


“The transport that took place in June 1944 is particularly etched in my memory.It was on 6th June 1944 when a transport of 10 trucks arrived in the camp with children from the Zamość region. I saw one of the guards kill a little boy. He pulled his victim, who was about 10 years old, out of the wagon by his hair and banged his head against the edge of the sidewalk (…). I know that this transport stayed in the camp for only a few hours. The next day there was no trace of these people”.


Source of quote:

Minutes of the hearing of witness Czesława Werner. AIPN, GK 503/106, vol. 14, p. 23-23v.


Photo source:

Transport of children to the camp on Przemysłowa Street (Institute of National Remembrance).

The first assembly of children after their arrival at the camp on Przemysłowa Street (Institute of National Remembrance).

We must learn to live.


"When his birth mother embraced him and started kissing him, he brutally pushed her away and began scratching away every kiss. Tchórzyn's mother experienced this terribly. After all, not only Janek was taken away from her. Her two daughters were being kept in Germany in terrible conditions."


The release of children from the hands of the occupiers and their placement in hospitals, orphanage preschools, and foster families initiated the process of adapting them to the post-war reality. The Main Welfare Council and its regional counterparts were responsible for coordinating the aid efforts, providing food, medicine, and clothing. All of this was done to restore health and smiles to the children's faces.


Source of quote: Jan Tchórz's account (then 2 years old) of meeting his biological mother.M. K. Piekarska, M. Piekarski, Syn dwóch matek,Warsaw 2016, p. 105.


Photo source:

Little "Niunia” identified as Janina Kuziak, taken care of by the Zdzioch family, 1945 (National Archives in Zamość).


Difficult returns – unaccounted for crimes.


“For all these events – the children of the Zamość region accuse the Nazi Germans. I would add a few more words to this, namely: the children of the Zamość region accuse and warn today all those who want war, who pursue it."


Of the several thousand youngest displaced destined for Germanization, most did not return to their homeland. The adult "Children of the Zamość region," filled with fear, the trauma of war experiences, often did not find the strength to come to terms with the past. The main organizers of Aktion Zamość, such as Heinrich Himmler, Fridrich Wilhelm Krüger, and Odilo Globocnik, committed suicide after being captured by the Allies. Herman Krumey was not tried until the 1960s. Many of the direct perpetrators of the crimes escaped punishment.


Source of quote:

Account of Maria Wilgia, victim of displacement. Zamojszczyzna – Sonderlaboratorium SS..., vol. II, p. 428.

Photo source:

Children released from KL Lublin at St. John's Hospital (Institute of National Remembrance).