Mieczysław Żurawski was one of only three former inmates of the Chełmno Camp who testified after the war about the alleged events unfolding there. His statement of 31 July 1945 does not contain quite as much information as those of the other two testifying inmates (Szymon Srebrnik and Michał Podchlebnik).
Żurawski also testified during the 1961 Eichmann Trial and the 1963 Chełmno Trial in West Germany. He claimed to have been deported from the Lodz Ghetto to Chełmno in 1944, together with some 7,000 to 10,000 other Jews. His testimony is the mainstay upon which the orthodoxy’s claim rests that the Chełmno Camp had a second phase of extermination activities in 1944, after its buildings had been demolished in 1943.
Existing documents show that some 7,000 Jews fit for work were indeed evacuated from the Lodz Ghetto in July 1944, including a certain “Mordka Zorawski.” However, there is no documentary proof that these evacuation transports went to Chełmno. All extant documentary evidence suggests that these skilled and experienced workers from the Lodz Ghetto were transferred to other worksites in Germany. This served to remove them from the advancing Red Army. (See the entry on the Lodz Ghetto.)
Żurawski described the two gas vans allegedly used to murder inmates at the Chełmno Camp in generic terms, but did not know any details, such as the van’s make or how exactly the “gas” was turned on. He claimed an impossibly short execution time (four minutes), and asserted that the victims located near the entry of the exhaust gasses were burned with their skin peeling off, although second- or third-degree burns due to hot gases do not result in the skin peeling off from the underlying tissue.
Żurawski’s credibility sinks even lower due to his claim that the field furnace presumably used at Chełmno to cremate corpses took only 15 minutes to burn all the corpses piled up in it, although in reality this would have taken many hours.
Żurawski admitted to knowing only from hearsay about the story of someone throwing his own sister into the flames while still alive. This tall tale was told by Srebrnik about his own sister, and shows the cross-pollination among these witnesses, thus creating a fraudulent “convergence of evidence.” Not satisfied with this story, Żurawski topped this off by inventing a whole string of similar alleged events of people thrown alive into the furnace.
Żurawski’s story of his escape is another false tale, which even the interrogating judge Bednarz realized: Żurawski claimed that he fought his German captors with a knife and managed to run away. However, he had earlier claimed that all inmates’ ankles had been shackled with a short steel chain at all times, disabling them from walking fast, let alone running. When asked by the judge how he managed to get rid of that chain, Żurawski simply claimed that he cut a link of his steel chain with a “large tailor’s scissors.” Unlikely, to say the least.
When Judge Bednarz showed Żurawski a photo of a dilapidated truck on the Ostrowski factory grounds in the Polish town of Koło – which was (mis)identified by the other witnesses as “the” gas van – Żurawski refused to go along with that story and stated instead that this was a disinfestation van. That wasn’t true either, as it was a simple moving van, as Bednarz himself concluded in a report written after investigating the truck.
Żurawski also testified during the Jerusalem Eichmann Trial, where his Polish testimony was used as a pattern to mold the “new” testimony, while leaving out the evident nonsense. However, Żurawski added another absurd claim to his roster of nonsense by insisting that the Germans at Chełmno had a target-practice game with their rifles consisting of lining up inmates, putting bottles on their heads, then either hitting the bottle or… the head.
In Jerusalem, Żurawski tried to remedy his faux pas on the mis-identification of the gas van at Koło by insisting that, when the Chełmno Camp was dissolved, the gas vans were taken to Koło (meaning the Ostrowski factory grounds). How he could have known that remains a mystery, since he claimed to have run away before the camp’s dissolution.