in Vienna Amon Goeth joined a Nazi youth group at seventeen, moved to a
nationalist paramilitary group at nineteen, and, in 1930, when he was twenty-two,
joined the then outlawed Austrian Nazi Party. He was designated No. 510,964, and
in the same year he joined the S.S.
Amon Goeth fled to Germany when he was pursued by Austrian authorities for crimes
involving explosives. His superior officers admired his devotion, gave him
glowing personal evaluations and transferred him to the S.S. A son was born in
1939 and died of unexplained causes less than a year later. Amon Goeth was a
model officer, and his reward was a posting, in August, 1942, with Aktion
Reinhard, the S.S. operation to liquidate more than two million Polish Jews.
His posting as commandant at Plaszow was his career zenith ...
conditions of life at Plaszow were made dreadful by Amon Goeth. A prisoner in
Plaszow was lucky if he survived more than four weeks. Collective punishment
became frequent, torture and death were daily events. Groups passing one another
on different work shifts reported the daily number killed.
In 1943 on Yom Kippur, an important holiday of the Jewish year, Goeth and his
SS-men took 50 Jews from the barracks and shot them. Often prisoners were
publicly hung, with more than 15,000 inmates lined up on the ground. Moshe
Beijski - a Schindler Jew who later became a High Court Judge in Israel - gave
this testimony at the trial of the war criminal Adolf Eichmann:
those people stood on the ground, and the two persons were brought to the
gallows: a lad of 15, Haubenstock, and the engineer Krautwirt, and an order was
given to hang them. It was said in the camp that young Haubenstock had sung a
Russian tune. The boy was hanged and something happened which occurs once in
many thousands of cases - the rope broke. The boy stood there, he was again
lifted on to a high chair which was placed under the rope, and he began to beg
for mercy. An order was given to hang him a second time. And then he was raised
a second time to the gallows, and hanged, and thereafter that same Amon Goeth,
with his own hands, also fired a shot.
The engineer Krautwirt, throughout that time, stood on the second chair, and
here the perfidy went even further. SS men, with their guns, and machine guns,
passed through the ranks, and gave orders to all those standing on the ground to
watch. Engineer Krautwirt cut the veins of his hands with a razor blade, and in
this condition went up to the gallows. And in this way he was hanged."
the same trial Moshe Beijski told more about Amon Goeth and the other methods of
punishment used by the Camp Commandant:
case of Olmer, whose daughter lives in Jerusalem, and I know her .. He was
summoned by the Camp Commandant Amon Goeth. The Camp Commandant had two dogs,
Ralf and Rolf, and he set the dogs on him. The dogs ate him up alive. Possibly a
little breath still remained in him. He shot him and he was killed ..
A group that appeared with food in its possession .. a particular group of the
Abladekommando, a unit which was in charge of the offloading of goods from the
railway station - they found food in its possession. Then the camp commander,
Untersturmfuehrer Amon Goeth, came up and asked whose food it was. When no one
answered, he took a young man whose name was Nachmansohn .. and shot him. On the
same occasion he shot another man, Disler. And then someone had a brilliant idea
and said that they had brought the food .. Then everyone received one hundred
One of the men - named Mandel - remained lying there until the group was taken
to the parade ground, and there everyone received his deserts. He himself had to
count the blows, and if he made an error in the counting, he had to go back to
the beginning .. There was an instance with that group where one of the older
men was beaten and cried out a great deal, and after that had to go to Goeth and
to inform him that he had received his punishment, and he thanked him for it.
When he turned around, he shot him, and he, too, was killed."
brother of Moshe Beijski, Dov Beijski, survived Plaszow, too. He later recalled:
"Early in May 1944 we were all paraded and ordered to strip naked. All
inmates were run before him and he sent them right or left, to which side the
old, weak and defective or juvenile were sent. Two days later they were
separated, placed on good wagons and were joined by the 250 children in the
camp. The outcry was stifled by SS guns pointed at us all, and loudspeakers
played lullabies. More than 1200 adults and 250 children were taken to Auschwitz
and the death chambers. One boy of 12 or 13 named Jerzy Spiro managed to escape
and hid all day in the cesspit at the latrine, with only his head uncovered. I
do not know whether he survived the war .."
At Plaszow Amon Goeth passed his mornings by using his high-powered, scoped
rifle to shoot at children playing in the camp. Rena Finder, one of Schindler's
Jews then 14 years old, later remembered Goeth as " .... the most vicious
and sadistic man ...". Another Schindler-Jew, Poldek Pfefferberg, recalled
Goeth this way: "When you saw Goeth, you saw death."
A survivor, Arthur Kuhnreich, later told about Amon Goeth in his Holocaust
Memories: "I saw Goeth set his dog on a Jewish prisoner. The dog tore
the victim apart. When he did not move anymore, Goeth shot him."
Amon Goeth after WW2
Amon Goeth was arrested in the autumn of 1944 in connection with an
investigation of corruption and black market activities in the camps, the same
investigation that brought about the execution of Karl Koch and Hermann
Florstedt. Goeth was also suspected of embezzlement, but before he could be put
on trial the war ended.
He was recuperating in an SS-sanitarium in Bad Tolz when he was arrested by
Patton's troops in February 1945. The Americans turned him over to the Poles.
In his memoirs Death Dealer the SS Commandant at Auschwitz, Rudolph Hoess -
history's greatest mass murderer - later recalled: 'During that time a crowd had
gathered and angrily cursed at us. Major Goeth was recognized immediately. If
the car had not arrived when it did, we would have been bombarded with stones
At the trial at the Supreme National Tribunal of Poland, Cracow, 27th -
31st August and 2nd - 5th September, 1946, Goeth was found guilty and convicted
of the murders of tens of thousands of people.
Amon Goeth as commandant of the forced labour camp at Plaszow (Cracow) from 11th
February, 1943, till 13th September, 1944, caused the death of about 8,000
inmates by ordering a large number of them to be exterminated.
(2) As a SS-Sturmführer Amon Goeth carried out the final closing down of the
Cracow ghetto. This liquidation action which began on 13th March, 1943, deprived
of freedom about 10,000 people who had been interned in the camp of Plaszow, and
caused the death of about 2,000.
(3) As a SS-Hauptsturmführer Amon Goeth carried out on 3rd September, 1943, the
closing down of the Tarnow ghetto. As a result of this action an unknown number
of people perished, having been killed on the spot in Tarnow. Others died
through asphyxiation during transport by rail or were exterminated in other
camps, in particular at Auschwitz.
(4) Between September, 1943, and 3rd February, 1944, Amon Goeth closed down the
forced labour camp at Szebnie near Jaslo by ordering the inmates to be murdered
on the spot or deported to other camps, thus causing the death of several
his trial Goeth displayed provocative indifference. He accepted responsibility
for what happened at Plaszow. He had been given authority and permission to do
everything he had done, he said, and was only carrying out orders and
instructions received from his superiors. He also contended that the
penalties he was inflicting upon the inmates including putting them to death,
were within his disciplinary jurisdiction as commandant of the camp, and were in
accordance with the German regulations in force.
Goeth appealed for mercy to the President of the State National Council. After
the President had decided not to avail himself of his prerogative of pardon, the
sentence was carried out.
Amon Goeth was hanged for his crimes on September 13, 1946, not far from his
camp. And even though he is being hanged, Amon Goeth still salutes his Fuhrer in
one final act of defiance ...