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To Victims of the KL Warschau Concentration Camp

The Konzentrationslager Warschau (KL Warschau) was set up in the heart of the Polish capital at the time of the bloody German occupation during the 2nd World War. The victims of the KL Warschau included both Jewish prisoners transported from the KL Auschwitz-Birkenau and Poles – mostly citizens of Warsaw – who were killed in the mass executions in 1943–1944. The camp extended over a large area in the city centre, colloquially referred to as “Gęsiówka”. The term derived from the oldest part of the camp located in the former military barracks in Gęsia Street in Warsaw, to be renamed in the post-war period as Mordechaja Anielewicza Street after one of the leaders of the Jewish uprising in the Warsaw Ghetto in 1943. The corpses of the murdered prisoners were incinerated in the crematorium and in the courtyards of the KL Warschau (Gęsiówka). The timespan of the camp’s existence is marked by two Warsaw uprisings. The history of the KL Warschau began in July 1943, after the defeat of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. It ended with the outbreak of the Warsaw Uprising, when Home Army soldiers carried out a victorious raid on the fortified camp, and liberated it on 5 August 1944.

The primary goal of the concentration camp set up by the Nazis was the pillage of the property left behind and the remnants of the municipal buildings of the former Warsaw Ghetto. Then appeared the next goal: the extermination of the inhabitants of Warsaw. The corpses of the people shot down in the streets were therefore collected and transported to Gęsiówka. For this purpose the Nazis used the “Sonderkommandos” – special units made up of Jewish prisoners of the camp. The area of Gęsiówka itself also served as the place of executions of the political prisoners from Pawiak – the neighbouring Gestapo prison. The number of the victims of the KL Warschau and the street executions in Warsaw in 1943–1944 is estimated at roughly 20,000. These human losses are mostly anonymous.

Bogusław Kopka