The book entitled The 186 Steps, written by Christian Bernadac begins with a description of the Stairs of Death at the former Mauthausen concentration camp which is now a Memorial Site, visited mostly by teen-aged students.
July 16, 2011
July 15, 2011
The Simon Wiesenthal Center has an online list of questions about the Holocaust; you can read the answers to the questions here.
Here is the answer to Question #12, quoted from the website:
Did the Nazis plan to murder the Jews from the beginning of their regime?
Answer: This question is one of the most difficult to answer. While Hitler made several references to killing Jews, both in his early writings (Mein Kampf) and in various speeches during the 1930s, it is fairly certain that the Nazis had no operative plan for the systematic annihilation of the Jews before 1941. The decision on the systematic murder of the Jews was apparently made in the late winter or the early spring of 1941 in conjunction with the decision to invade the Soviet Union.
The decision “was apparently made?” How do we know that the decision was made at all? Apparently, the decision was not put on paper. Note that the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s answer to this question does not explicitly say that Hitler made this decision nor that Hitler was the one who gave the order. Apparently someone read Hitler’s mind and no order was even necessary. (more…)
July 13, 2011
Just after I had recovered from the shock of learning that Christian Bernadac was not a prisoner at Mauthausen, I received another e-mail which alerted me to a new photo of Elie Wiesel that has gone up on a web site that is devoted to proving that Elie was not a prisoner at Auschwitz and Buchenwald. This new photo shows 5 of the Buchenwald orphans, known as “the boys of Buchenwald,” after they were taken to France, following the liberation of the Buchenwald concentration camp. (more…)
Thanks to a French-speaking e-mail correspondent, who wishes to remain anonymous, I have learned that French author Christian Bernadac “was able to reconstruct the life of an inmate, that he is a famous journalist investigator, on various subjects and wars…” This description of Bernadac’s book “The 186 Steps” comes from a web site that is written in French. I bought Bernadac’s book from an online used book seller in 2003. I don’t read French so it was not possible for me to read an online description of Bernadac’s book before I purchased it. I assumed that Bernadac’s book was the true story of his time in the Mauthausen concentration camp.
In my defense, I would like to point out that nowhere in Bernadac’s book does it state that the book is a reconstruction of the life of an inmate. The entire book is written in the first person. Chapter One is entitled “The Scene is Set.” The Scene in the title refers to the author’s detailed description of how the prisoners were forced to carry heavy granite boulders up the 186 steps from the Mauthausen quarry.
This quote is from the second page in the first chapter of “The 186 Steps”:
For two months and six days I performed the acrobatics required to keep from plunging into either of these pitfalls. I was lucky to be young.
How was I supposed to know that this first person account of the life of a Mauthausen prisoner was a “reconstruction of the life of an inmate”? How was I supposed to know that he was only 7 years old when Mauthausen was liberated in May 1945? In his book, Bernadac wrote that he was 30 years old when he was sent to Mauthausen after he was captured as a French Resistance fighter. (more…)
July 12, 2011
Bishop Richard Williamson is planning another appeal of his 2009 Holocaust denial conviction in a German court. On July 11, 2011, an appellate court in Regensburg, Germany upheld Williamson’s 2009 conviction on a charge of Volksverhetzung, the German law against “incitement of the people” which is commonly known as the law against Holocaust denial. Although Williamson lost his case on appeal, his fine was reduced from 10,000 euros to 6,500 euros or $9,230. His fine was reduced after new information about Williamson’s income was learned. The prosecution had also filed an appeal, asking for a larger fine. His original fine was 12,000 euros.
Germany has streamlined its prosecution of Holocaust denial cases since the § 130 Public Incitement law was first passed in 1985. Now when a British citizen like Bishop Williamson foolishly makes a Holocaust denial statement in private, to a Swedish journalist while he is being videotaped in Germany, that person receives a fine in the mail when the journalist makes the video public against the wishes of the Holocaust denier.
Williamson refused to pay his fine in 2009 and instead filed an appeal. If he loses his next appeal, he will finally have to pay the equivalent of $9,230. Who gets this money? What does the German government do with the money that is paid by Holocaust deniers? Does the money go to offset the money that Germany still pays in reparations to the Holocaust survivors and their children? Or is the money used for Germany’s contributions to Israel? Will the Swedish Journalist get a cut of the money for his role in prompting the Bishop to break the law? (more…)
July 11, 2011
Today in Germany, the Regensburg appeals court upheld the 2010 conviction of Bishop Richard Williamson on a charge of inciting hatred, although his fine was lowered from €10,000 to €6,500 ($9,136) according to DAPD news agency. (more…)
July 9, 2011
According to a recent news article, which you can read here, the Mauthausen concentration camp, which is now a Memorial Site, is to be restored and revamped; the initial phase, which will cost $2.4 million, will be finished in 2013.
I think this is a great idea; the Mauthausen camp should be restored to the way it looked when it was liberated by American troops in May 1945. Especially, the gas chamber, which should be reconstructed to show how the gas was put into the room. As it looks now, the Mauthausen gas chamber appears to be a harmless shower room. Visitors need to see the ingenious method of gassing that was used at Mauthausen. (more…)
A follower of this blog e-mailed me a link to a web site about the book “Spectator in Hell” by Colin Rushton. The sub-title of the book is “A British soldier’s story of imprisonment in Auschwitz.” The book is about Arthur Dodd, who was a prisoner in the E715 POW camp that was just outside the huge factory complex near the village of Monowitz; the British POWs worked in the Monowitz factory complex, alongside Jewish prisoners and German civilians. The POW camp was very close to the Auschwitz III prison camp, aka Monowitz, where the Jewish prisoners who worked at Monowitz lived. The POW camp was seven miles from the Auschwitz II camp, aka Birkenau.
This quote is from the web site about “Spectator in Hell”:
Life in the camps for the Brits, at first, was bearable. Daily life began at five, with the macabre sounds of a Jewish orchestra playing as the trains disgorged their latest human cargo – some to the gas chambers, others to work details. Escape was near-impossible: there were triple rows of electrified fencing, together with machine-gun towers and sentries.
The follower of my blog questioned whether the British prisoners at E715 could have heard “a Jewish orchestra playing as the trains disgorged their human cargo.” (more…)
July 8, 2011
This morning I was browsing the blogs and came across this blog post by the Black Rabbit which tells about the unique method used to gas prisoners at Mauthausen. (I wrote about the gassing of prisoners at Mauthausen on my web site here.) A photo at the top of the Black Rabbit blog shows the gate house at Mauthausen.
In the photo, there is a monument in front of the gate house which obstructs the view. This photo upset me because I disapprove of a monument being placed in front of this beautiful gate. I’m glad that I got to see Mauthausen before this memorial was added to the thousands of memorials which clutter up the site of the former Mauthausen camp and distract visitors who want to see what the camp looked like when it was in operation. Enough already!
The prisoners referred to this entrance, pictured above, as the Mongol gate or the Mongolian gate. Note the two guard towers on the top which look like Chinese architecture. On the right is the former Jourhaus which has been converted into a bookstore. (more…)
July 7, 2011
Christian Bernadac is the author of “The 186 Steps,” a book about the Mauthausen concentration camp, which was published in 1974. According to a French Wikipedia page about Bernadac, he was born in August 1937 and died in 2003. He was only 7 years old in the last year that Mauthausen was open, which means that he was probably not a prisoner at Mauthausen, which was mainly a camp for adult men. So how did he gain first-hand knowledge about the camp? Is this book a fake, like so many other books about the Holocaust?
Before I visited the Mauthausen memorial site several years ago, I bought Bernadac’s book “The 186 Steps” and read it very thoroughly. I had to buy a used copy through Amazon.com and pay a high price for it because the book was no longer in print at that time. Based on what I read in his book, and my personal observations at the memorial site, I did a section on my web site about Mauthausen, which you can read here. I mentioned several times that Bernadac had been a prisoner at Mauthausen.