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Amon Göth

Last Update 14 July 2005

Amon Göth
Amon Göth was born on 11 December 1908 in Vienna. He worked as an author and was divorced with two children. Göth joined the NSDAP in 1932 (NSDAP number 510764). In 1940 he became an SS-man (SS number 43673). His final rank was SS-Hauptsturmführer.

Following the outbreak of WW2 Göth served in Cieszyn, Kattowice and Lublin. He was assigned to the SS- und Polizeiführer Lublin, as part of Aktion Reinhard. During 1942 he directed brutal clearances of small ghettos in the Lublin district, for example during the deportations from the Belzyce ghetto 700 Jews were deported to the Belzec death camp. He organised the selections in this ghetto and around 500 people who bribed him, were selected for work in the Budzyn labour camp, near Krasnik. Göth was responsible for the construction works in Budzyn. Because of his corruption, he was in a personal conflict with SS-Sturmbannführer Hermann Höfle, the chief staff officer of Aktion Reinhard. So Göth was ordered from Lublin to Krakow in February 1943 where he was nominated by SS- und Polizeiführer Scherner to command the Krakow-Plaszow forced labour camp. There he was promoted to SS-Oberscharführer in July 1943.

Mieczyslaw Pemper, who worked in the Plaszow camp office, testified during Göth’s trial that he had managed to look at Göth’s personal files and had found a letter from SS-Gruppenführer Globocnik, commander of the Lublin region, addressed to the commanders of Belzec, Sobibor and Treblinka. The letter authorised Göth to have access to all areas of those extermination camps, for administration or possibly construction inspections. Under the direction of SS-Sturmbannführer Willi Haase, Göth conducted the final liquidation of the Krakow ghetto, which began on 13 March 1943. SS officers Kunde and Neumann also assisted with the ghetto clearance, during which mass murders were committed. On the orders of Haase, 75 persons were killed in one place.

Göth’s reign of terror at Plaszow lasted from February 1943 to September 1944, when he was arrested by the SS for misappropriation of funds. Göth governed the camp in a calculatedly brutal manner. For the slightest offence he fired at prisoners or ordered others to do, and public hangings were frequent. Göth had two dogs called Ralf and Rolf, both trained to attack and savage prisoners. Many people lost their lives after being attacked by these dogs.
When children were being removed from Plaszow, Göth ordered the camp orchestra to play nursery songs such as "Mami kauf mir ein Pferdchen" (Mum, buy me a little horse), while their mothers were forced to stand on the parade ground and witness their children being transported to their deaths.

Goeth, Camp in the Background
Göth, Camp in the Background
Goeth's Villa
Göth's House *
Former prisoner Henryk Bloch testified at Göth’s trial in 1946:
"Göth ordered his deputy to start beating us. He went away to have his lunch. We were then taken to the back, next to the house he lived in. Two tables were brought, also buckets of water, and they started beating us directly on naked flesh. Göth ordered that everyone should receive 100 times each, but everyone received more than 200 and even 300. Every prisoner had to count every strike loudly, if a mistake was made in the count by him, the beating started afresh from number one. We were not beaten by one person, they were taking turns, as one man would tire very quickly, having to hit someone 100 times
Living Room, in 2004
Living Room, in 2004
with full strength. The whip would be passed to another SS man there. It was impossible, being hit so many times, to count properly, people were making mistakes, and the beatings were starting afresh. And so the beatings went on and on, the tables were covered in blood, as every hit meant a fresh cut in someone’s flesh. As anyone went off the table, he was virtually one bloody mass of cut flesh.
Everyone getting off the table was ordered to report standing to attention, I report humbly that I have received my sentence. In the course of all this, one man screamed terribly. Göth shouted at him to calm down, to count. The man did not calm down... Göth approached him, picked up half a brick off the ground, went to the table on which the man was being beaten, and from a very close distance struck him on the head with the brick, splitting his head. The beating of that man continued uninterrupted, then pouring of water and beating again. Covered in blood, with a split head, he went off the table, approaching Göth, he reported he had received his penalty. He was ordered to go away, and as the man turned, he pulled out his revolver, firing into the back of the man’s head.
This man’s name was Mr Meitlis (testimony from Henryk Mandel).
"When all were beaten, which took from 12 until 3 p.m., we were all taken to the police station, and there Göth ordered doctors from the camp hospital to come to us. He did not allow anyone to be taken to the hospital. Practically all of this group died in Plaszow, the wounds would not heal, the flesh was continually infected, it was rotting on us whilst we were still alive."

Following two actions in Tarnow, 6,000 Jews were deported to Belzec death camp in June 1942. In September 1942 a second resettlement action took place. During the first days of September 1943, Goeth was in charge of the final liquidation of the ghetto, with a force of 200 SS-men. He personally killed dozens of people, with shots from his revolver.

Leon Leser, a mechanic, testified at Göth’s trial:
Goeth, on his Balcony
Göth, at his House
Ruth Halber,
Ruth Irene Kalder, "Majola"
"There was "Ghetto A" for those working, and "Ghetto B" for those that were unemployed. Göth ordered everyone employed from "Ghetto A" to go to "Ghetto B", and assemble there in groups, according to their employer. Every group had a board indicating the name of the employer. Then Göth selected a group of 300 persons as a Säuberungskolonne (clearing column). The Jews assembled once again separately. At that point a fiancée of one of the Jewish men approached Göth, her name was Batista, begging him to allow her to stay with her fiancée, who was remaining. He refused, she begged him once again, he ordered her to turn around and fired into her head. She fell dead, and after that he separated all the people again, he took out those that should go to Plaszow, and those that were left behind remained on the Magdeburger Square."

The total number killed during the clearance was 4,000, including many women and children. Around 10,000 people were taken to Plaszow. During the Aktion Göth completely liquidated "Ghetto B". For a whole day after the Aktion lorries collected the remains of those killed in the streets and buildings and took them to Plaszow for burial in a mass grave.

From September 1943 to February 1944 Göth conducted the progressive liquidation of the forced labour camp in Szebnie near Jaslo. The liquidation began on 21 September 1943 with the killing of 700 Jewish prisoners who were driven in lorries to a forest in Tarnowiec, 3 km from the camp, where they were shot. This "action" was carried out by SS-Haupscharführer Grzymek and supervised by the commander Kellermann, acting on orders from Göth.

Göth on his Way to the Courthouse
Göth on his Way
to the Courthouse
During these ghetto liquidations Göth took every opportunity to enrich himself with furniture, furs, clothing, jewellery, tobacco and alcohol. The Gestapo found the stored goods in Brünnlitz (Czechoslovakia), together with Göth's mistress Ruth Irene Kalder ("Majola").
Göth was accused of larceny of Jewish property (which of course was regarded as property of the German Reich), and arrested on 13 September 1944. That was the end of his career.

After the war he was extradited to Poland at the request of the Polish authorities and tried before the Polish Supreme Court on charges of committing mass murder during the liquidations of the ghettos at Tarnow and Krakow, the camp at Szebnie and the Plaszow camp. He was sentenced to death in Krakow on 5 September 1946 and hung there on 13 September 1946, defiantly saluting to Hitler. Göth's body was cremated and his ashes scattered into the river.

Robin O'Neil Collection

The trial of Goeth - From the Robin O’Neil Collection
The Encyclopaedia of The Holocaust
The Final Solution - G. Reitlinger

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