Chelmno Death Camp

Jewish Memorial stones for Chelmno victims

Forest Camp Memorial for Jews who were murdered at Chelmno

Photo Credit: Alan Collins

The Chelmno death camp has historical significance because it is the first place where the Jews were gassed in the genocide known as the Holocaust, which took the lives of six million Jews. According to Holocaust historian Martin Gilbert, the "Final Solution" began when 700 Jews from the Polish village of Kolo arrived at Chelmno on the evening of December 7, 1941 and on the following day, all of them were killed with carbon monoxide in gas vans. The victims were taken on 8 or 9 separate journeys in the gas vans to a clearing in the Rzuchowski woods near Chelmno.

In his book entitled "Holocaust," Gilbert wrote the following:

On 7 December 1941, as the first seven hundred Jews were being deported to the death camp at Chelmno, Japanese aircraft attacked the United States Fleet at Pearl Harbor. Unknown at that time either to the Allies or the Jews of Europe, Roosevelt's day that would "live in infamy" was also the first day of the "final solution."

Memorial at Rzuchwoski forest for 70,000 murdered Jews from Lodz ghetto

Photo Credit: Alan Collins

Memorial Stone says 350,000 Jews were murdered at Chelmno

Photo Credit: Alan Collins

The text on the Memorial stone in the photo above says that about 350,000 Jews - Men, women and children - were murdered at Chelmno. Martin Gilbert wrote in his book, entitled "Holocaust," that 360,000 Jews were killed at Chelmno just in the first phase of the killing, between December 7, 1941 and March 1943. The US Holocaust Memorial Museum says that "at least 152,000" Jews were killed at Chelmno. The Museum at the villa in Wannsee, near Berlin, says that "152,000 Jews and 5,000 Gypsies" were killed at Chelmno.

Jewish Memorial Stone near the entrance to the Castle Camp

Photo Credit: Alan Collins