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‘Slime and abominable crime’ at Zutphen concentration camp

The Story

Pausing before a brick wall splattered with blood and brains, the CBC's Matthew Halton tells Canadians back home about the atrocities committed by the Nazis. A day after Canadian troops capture a Nazi camp near Zutphen, Netherlands, Halton visits the site. He describes a trail of "slime and abominable crime," reporting that the worst thing you've ever read in any account of Nazi atrocities was there: "I saw and I was sick."

Medium: Radio
Program: CBC War Recordings
Broadcast Date: April 7, 1945
Reporter: Matthew Halton
Duration: 4:43

Did You know?

• The Nazis used camps like the one described by Matthew Halton as internment and transit camps for Jews, Gypsies and political prisoners en route to concentration camps including Auschwitz.

• Auschwitz had been liberated by the Red Army about five weeks earlier, on Jan. 27, 1945. However, little news about the atrocities discovered there had leaked to the outside world. It wasn't until Canadian, American and British troops liberated other camps in subsequent months that the enormity of the Holocaust became clear.

• Auschwitz is located near Oswiecim, Poland, about 60 kilometres west of Krakow. It is one of six Nazi concentration camps that was also a death camp, meaning there were special facilities for mass murder. The other death camps -- Belzec, Chelmno, Majdanek, Sobibor and Treblinka -- were also in Poland.

• Heinrich Himmler, head of the German police and the feared SS, ordered the establishment of Auschwitz on April 27, 1940. Inmates, mostly Polish political prisoners, started arriving in June of that year. Later, when most of the prisoners were Jews, the Nazis made the gas chambers disguised as showers their main killing centre.

• The inscription from a memorial at Auschwitz erected in January 1995 to mark the 50th anniversary of the camp's liberation reads: "Let this place remain for eternity as a cry of despair and a warning to humanity. About one and a half million men, women, children and infants, mainly Jews from different countries of Europe, were murdered here. The world was silent."

• According to the Auschwitz State Museum, the Jewish victims included:
- 438,000 from Hungary
- 300,000 from Poland
- 69,000 from France
- 60,000 from the Netherlands
- 55,000 from Greece
- 46,000 from Czechoslovakia.

• The remaining victims included roughly 75,000 Poles, more than 20,000 Gypsies, 15,000 Soviet prisoners of war and 25,000 people of other nationalities. As well as Jews, the Nazis targeted Gypsies, also called Roma, and the mentally and physically disabled for extermination. Others, including homosexuals and priests, were singled out for abuse and murder.

• The Auschwitz complex consisted of:
- Auschwitz I camp
- Auschwitz II-Birkenau camp
- Auschwitz III-Monowitz camp
- over 40 sub-camps.

• The first and oldest main camp known was Auschwitz I. It housed as many as 20,000 prisoners at a time.


• In March 1941 Heinrich Himmler ordered the establishment of a second camp known as Auschwitz II-Birkenau. It became the Nazis' main death complex. The gas chambers and crematoria operated in Birkenau.


• The third main camp, established a year after Birkenau, was called Auschwitz III-Monowitz. It consisted of mostly forced labour camps.

• Sir Philip Sydney (1554-1586), mentioned in Matthew Halton's report, was a distinguished Elizabethan poet and courtier who died a hero in the Battle of Zutphen.



Life after Auschwitz more