Holocaust Education & Archive Research Team


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The Dorohucza Station

The SS- Abrbeitslager Dorohucza was situated about 5 kilometres North East of Trawniki on the River Wieprz. The camp consisted of three almost equally large barracks, placed in a “U” around the roll-call square, the so-called Appellplatz. On the fourth side was a barrack for the SS-personnel.

On the left side of this barrack was another structure where the Ukrainian guards lived, on its right the camp kitchen. These three buildings which were constructed later were situated outside the fence. Inside the prisoners compound was a watch tower, situated next to the river, the peat fields which the prisoners worked were on the other side of the river.

Out of over 34,000 Dutch Jews deported from Westerbork to Sobibor, an estimated 1,000 were sent to the forced labour camps in the Lublin and Trawniki areas.


Location of Dorohucza

(note proximity of Trawniki)

One of those camps was the peat digging camp of Dorohucza. Sixteen of these Dutch Jews survived the war, 13 women and 3 men. Because in Sobibor there were no registration taken of those who arrived at and those who left from Sobibor, we do not know exactly which of the deportees from Westerbork were sent to the Sobibor labour camps.

The camp became operational in early March 1943. Its capacity was approximately 500 Jews. Almost 50% were Dutch, the others came from Poland. Their ages varied from 16 to 50. The first Dutch group arrived on 13 March 1943. They were normally brought in groups of 8

Passengers at the Station

On 4 June the group consisted of 81 persons; the 81st was Jules Schelvis, who, together with his wife Rachel and her famil

y, had been deported from Westerbork on 1 June 1943. Schelvis survived Sobibor and the war, his wife and her family were gassed on 4 June 1943.

The working and living conditions in the labour camp were extremely bad. The SS labour camps were usually worse than the labour camps exploited by private enterprises. That is the reason why most of the prisoners did not survive longer than a couple of weeks, some a few months at most.


The circumstances were as largely described by Jules Schelvis in his books “Inside the Gates”, and “Extermination Camp Sobibor”

Ernst Zierke

"In Dorohucza there were hardly any provisions at all. The 500 prisoners had to sleep in dilapidated barracks. There were huge holes in the roofs, so lying on the bare floor one had an almost clear sight of the stars.

There was always a penetrating stench of stained clothes and unwashed bodies. There was no drinking water. The water we received to drink was in a black substance, provided twice daily, which they called coffee, and in the soup, which consisted of half a litre of water containing some pieces of Sauerkraut and an almost transparent slice of dog’s meat.


Jules Schelvis

One could not drink from the water in the river that ran alongside the camp. It was severely polluted because the river was also used as a bath by the prisoners, who after work tried in vain to get rid of lice. Whoever drank from the river would get typhoid right away. Dorohucza was so unreal to the Dutch, one wondered in what absurd theatrical play one found himself lost.”

The commander of the camp was SS-Hauptscharführer Gottfried Schwarz, promoted on 21 June 1943 to SS-Untersturmführer because of his exemplary service in connection with Aktion Reinhard.


Right in front of his office he had a machine gun placed with which could be fired at the prisoner’s camp at any time. Before coming to Dorohucza, Schwarz had driven hundreds of thousands of Jews to their deaths in Belzec. The last camp commandant, according to accounts by SS men Jührs and Zierke, was Fritz Tauscher.

Fritz Tauscher

The guarding of the camp and the peat fields was the responsibility of the Ukrainian guards, led from 7 May 1943 by Omsk born Karl Diner. In the camp were several Polish and Dutch Kapos. One of them was Nathan Peperwortel, who on 20 April 1943 was deported from Westerbork to Sobibor as a “Strafhäftling”.

From Dorohucza a total of 171 written messages (postcards) were received at the Judenrat in Amsterdam. The senders of 160 of these cards could be identified, together with the dates of their deportation. They were on 8 different transports.


Ruined structures at Dorohucza

With these 8 transports, plus the first deportation of 10 - 13 March 1943, from which there were no survivors, the number of Dutch Jews put to work at Dorohucza, can be calculated as at least (9 x 80 + 1 =) 721.

The Joodse Raad in Amsterdam attached great importance to these postcards. They were seen as evidence that the people deported to Poland indeed ended up in labour camps, where life was hard but at least bearable.

Three Dutch Jews were allowed to leave Dorohucza on 13 June 1943. Joop Wins (who had arrived on 14 May), Leo de Vries, and Jules Schelvis (both arrived on 4 June). Sent via Lublin, where they worked at the DAW on the Old Airfield Camp, they were employed as typographers in Radom.

During the night of 3 November 1943 almost all Jews in the labour camps in the Lublin district (40 - 50,000) were shot. This massacre was conducted under the code name of Aktion Erntefest (Operation Harvest Festival). In this operation the Jewish slave labourers in Dorohucza and Trawniki were murdered.


It also meant the liquidation of the work camps. In the digital ‘In Memoriam-Lezecher’ book are the names of 144 Dutch Jews who were murdered during Aktion Erntefest in Dorohucza, for administrative reasons the 30 November 1943 is given as their date of death for administrative reasons.

Gottfried Schwarz, born 1913 in Fürth, was a member of the euthanasia organization T4. He began his career burning corpses at Grafeneck, Brandenburg, and Bernburg. Schwarz was deputy commander and head of the gassing squad in Belzec from March 1942. Himmler praised him as one of the most meritorious men of Aktion Reinhard.

After the conclusion of Aktion Erntefest he was sent to Trieste in Italy, where he died on 19 June 1944 in San Pietro. Fritz Tauscher committed suicide in prison in 1965. Ernst Zierke from Belzec death camp also served at Dorohucza.
























Vernichtungslager Sobibor, by Jules Schelvis, published by Metropol Verlag, Berlin, 1998
Binnen de poorten, 7e druk, by Jules Schelvis, published by De Bataafsche Leeuw, Amsterdam, 2003
Das Personenlexikon zum Dritten Reich, by Ernst Klee, published by S. Fischer Verlag, Frankfurt am Main, 2003
Reiseführer durch Polen, by Adam Bajcar, published by Verlag Interpress, Warschau, 1977
Digital In Memoriam-Lezecher book: http://www.snunit.k12.il/sachlav/dutch/maineng/search.html




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