15 / 05 / 2018Marina Amaral

Faces of Auschwitz | Józefa Głazowska

JÓZEFA GŁAZOWSKA was born on March 19th, 1930, in the village of Sitaniec, near Zamość. Along with her parents and a group of around 370 people, Józefa was expelled from her village on December 6th, 1942. She was deported to Auschwitz in a transport of 318 women and children, and arrived at the camp in the same transport as Czesława Kwoka. Józefa was a child victim of Aktion Zamość.

Aktion Zamość was carried out as part of a greater plan: the forcible removal of the entire Polish populations from targeted regions of occupied Poland in preparation for the state-sponsored settlement of the ethnic German Volksdeutsche. According to historical sources, during Aktion Zamość the German police and military expelled 116,000 Polish men and women in just a few months. The operation of mass expulsions from the Zamojszczyzna region around the city of Zamość (now in Lublin Voivodeship, Poland) was carried out between November 1942 and March 1943, on direct orders from Heinrich Himmler. 

On December 13th, 1942, Józefa was registered with the no. 26886 at Auschwitz. She was deported with her mother Marianna, who in February 1943, was selected within the camp and transferred to Block 25 (the block of death – the isolation station where people awaited to be killed). Marianna was murdered in a gas chamber, while Józefa’s father was also deported to Auschwitz in a different transport, ultimately leading to his death. Like many children during the Holocaust, Józefa became an orphan. 

Nazi Medical Experiments

In Auschwitz, Józefa went through pseudo-medical experiments – most likely causing her to be infected with malaria or typhus. Such experiments were conducted in many camps and on a wide scale, with prisoners being used as guinea pigs in the Nazis’ search for medical answers.

The participation of numerous German physicians in criminal medical experiments on concentration camp prisoners was a particularly drastic instance of the trampling of medical ethics. The initiators and facilitators of these experiments were Reichsführer SS Heinrich Himmler, together with SS-Obergruppenführer Ernst Grawitz, the chief physician of the SS and police, and SS-Standartenführer Wolfram Sievers, the secretary general of the Ahnenerbe (Ancestral Heritage) Association and director of the Waffen SS Military-Scientific Research Institute. The SS-WVHA (SS Main Economic and Administrative Office, in charge of concentration camps from March 1942) had administrative and financial authority. Support in the form of specialized analytical studies came from the Waffen SS Hygiene Institute, directed by SS-Oberführer Joachim Mrugowsky, an M.D. and professor of bacteriology at the University of Berlin Medical School.

Experiments were planned at the highest levels to meet the needs of the army (some were intended to improve the state of soldiers’ health) or postwar plans (including population policy), or to reinforce the bases of racial ideology (including advancing views as to the superiority of the “Nordic race”). Aside from experiments planned at the highest levels, many Nazi doctors experimented on prisoners on behalf of German pharmaceutical companies or medical institutes. Others did so in pursuit of their personal interests, or to advance their academic careers. 

A photo taken by the members of Soviet medical team documenting criminal experiments performed on prisoners in the camp. (Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum Archives)

The Nazis deliberately destroyed evidence of these horrific medical tests, the majority of proof coming from the statements made by the organizers of these experiments, as well as the testimonials given by victims and the results of their medical examinations.


During the evacuation of Auschwitz in January 1945, Józefa Głazowska along with a group of children were transferred to the camp in Potulice, where she finally found liberation. 

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Special thanks to Auschwitz Memorial and Museum for collaborating with me on this project and providing all the information above. Writer of this piece: Alexandra Cummings.

Sponsored by the Michael Frank Family Charitable Fund.