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October 15, 2013

New documentary film about Klara Wizel, a Holocaust survivor who escaped from Auschwitz-Birkenau

Filed under: Holocaust, movies — Tags: , , , — furtherglory @ 1:02 pm

You can read all about Klara Wizel’s new book at

You can hear Danny Naten, the man who made a documentary film of Klara’s story, speak at

This quote is from the website, which gives a synopsis of the Klara’s book:

As the Russian front approaches, Mengele and the Nazi’s selection process speed up. Klara finds herself sick, weak, tired and not able to eat. Naked, she is brought before Mengele, a tall Rock Hudson-handsome man who ideally would have been asking for her hand instead of deciding her fate. Klara was wowed by his presence and hardly realized that Mengele had deemed her unfit and sentenced her to die [in] the gas chamber. As Klara is taken away with approximately seventy other women her sisters Hedy and Rose scream and cry as she is dragged off, for they know this is her death.
Yet, somehow sick and dying on a snowy night, now 17 year old Klara Wizel not only escaped the gas chamber, but she also smuggles herself out of Auschwitz. She’s the only Holocaust survivor of record to ever escape Dr. Josef Mengele’s selection process. Her escape and journey through war torn Europe to get back home to her small home town of Sighet is one of the most inspiring stories of that time.

Whoa! Did you catch that?  Klara is from Sighet, a town in Transylvania (Romania), which is also the home town of Elie Wiesel.  She pronounces her name Vee-Zell, the same as Elie Wiesel.  What a coincidence!

This quote is from Wikipedia:

According to the 1910 census, the city [Sighet] had 21,370 inhabitants; these consisted of 17,542 (82.1%) Hungarian speakers, 2,002 (9.4%) Romanian, 1,257 (5.9%) German, and 32 Ruthenian speakers.

Klara is now 84 years old, and she is just now telling her story to a documentary film maker, and writing a book.  Eli Wiesel does not speak Hungarian, and Klara Wizel probably doesn’t speak Hungarian either.

According to Klara’s story, she arrived at Auschwitz-Birkenau at night and went through a selection by Dr. Mengele immediately.  She describes Dr. Mengele as being Rock Hudson-handsome, tall and thin.

Wait a minute!  Dr. Mengele was TALL? Not compared to most German men, and not compared to Rock Hudson.

The photo below shows Dr. Mengele standing alongside other SS men at Auschwitz-Birkenau.  He is the shortest one of the bunch.

Dr. Mengele is the man on the far right, holding a cigarette at chest height

Dr. Mengele is the man on the far right, holding a cigarette at chest height

The gas chamber in the Auschwitz main camp

The gas chamber in the Auschwitz main camp has a glass window in the door

An old black and white photo of the Auschwitz gas chamber, to which Dr. Mengele allegedly sent Klara, is shown in a preview of the documentary. My color photo above, taken in 1998, shows the same view of the gas chamber, which is in the main Auschwitz camp, not the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp.  Did Dr. Mengele send her to the main camp to be gassed?  Or did Klara get mixed up in her story?

Did Klara escape the gas chamber by breaking the glass in the door and opening the door?  You will have to buy the book to find out.

To get back to the beginning of Klara’s story, this quote is from the start of the description of her book:

At the tender age of 16, Klara Wizel had a picturesque life with a loving and supportive family. There was no way to know that the Holocaust was creeping toward her and that soon this young Hungarian Jew would be fighting for her life due to the most notorious doctor of the 20th century, Dr. Josef Mengele.
Swept up in a week long deportation process along with fifteen thousand other Hungarian Jews, Klara and her family arrive on cold night at the infamous Auschwitz/Berkenau concentration camp after a three day journey with no food or water. There she and her family would first meet Josef Mengele who would later become known as the Great Selector.
That night Mengele selected Klara’s mother Frida, father Icik her older sister Ancy and younger brother Mortho to die in the gas chamber sending the adolescent Klara and two of her sisters Hedy and Rose to be housed like animals in the women’s barracks of Auschwitz. Dr. Mengele, who was in charge of the women’s barracks, would become the chief provider for the gas chambers and order gruesome experiments on children that often maimed or killed his Jewish subjects. Like a blood hound, Mengele, also known as the murderer in white, searched out those who were too old or too sick to survive his cruel science and those who served no purpose to the Nazi regime. As Klara Wizel would later say, “Day or night you never knew when he would show, the ovens were always burning around the clock.”

Note that Klara called Dr. Mengele the “Great Selector” and the “chief provider.”  There were 30 doctors who did the selections at Auschwitz-Birkenau, but Dr. Mengele is the most famous of the 30 doctors.

In her book entitled Five Chimneys, Lengyel wrote that Dr. Fritz Klein was the “Chief Selector.” But what does she know? Dr. Klein was also known for having “nice manners,” so Dr. Mengele and Dr. Klein might have been mixed up by the prisoners.

Dr. Fritz Klein was put on trial by the British for his crime of selecting prisoners for the gas chamber at Auschwitz

Dr. Fritz Klein was put on trial by the British for his crime of selecting prisoners for the gas chamber at Auschwitz

I wonder if Klara has a tattoo?  Like Eli, another survivor with a last name that is pronounced Vee-Zell, maybe she somehow got by without being tattooed.

Klara’s description of Dr. Mengele does not ring true. He was not as handsome as Rock Hudson.  He was more “handsome is as handsome does,” meaning that he was very charming.  All of the survivors described him as a man who had “nice manners,” and as a caring person, who was particularly nice to the children, bringing them chocolates and hair ribbons.

You can read more about Dr. Josef Mengele at

The Klara Wizel Story has a facebook page at

Famous Holocaust survivor Irene Zisblatt also has a facebook page at

October 1, 2013

New book tells about Nazi women who joined the men “on shooting parties in the snow, hunting and killing Jews for sport”

Filed under: Germany, Holocaust, movies — Tags: , , , — furtherglory @ 11:01 am
Irme Grese and Kramer are guarded by a British soldier at the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp

Irma Grese and Josef Kramer are guarded by a British soldier at the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp

A regular reader of my blog provided a link to a news article which you can read in full here. The photo shown above was included in the article.  It shows a British soldier guarding Irma Grese, one of the female guards at the Bergen-Belsen camp; standing next to her is Josef Kramer, the last Commandant of Bergen-Belsen.

New book about female perpetrators in the Holocaust

New book about female perpetrators in the Holocaust

The article, in the British newspaper Mail Online, is about a new book entitled Hitler’s Furies: German Women in the Nazi Killing Fields, written by Professor Wendy Lower, who currently lives and teaches in Munich, Germany

This quote is from the news article cited above:

Even more caught up in the criminal madness were administrators such as Liselotte Meier, who worked so closely with her strutting boss, an SS officer, that they were almost indistinguishable. She joined him on shooting parties in the snow, hunting and killing Jews for sport. [...]

In support of the men, women even manned refreshment tables during executions so the killers could take a break. [...]

Another SS wife, Lisel Willhaus, wife of a camp commandant, used to sit on the balcony of their house and take pot shots at Jewish prisoners with her rifle.

Also in Poland was Vera Wohlauf, whose husband Julius commanded a police battalion ordered in 1942 to round up 11,000 Jewish inhabitants of a small town for transportation to Treblinka for liquidation.

She sat by her husband in the front seat of the lorry that led a convoy of killers to the town, and stood in the market square brandishing a whip as nearly a thousand who resisted the round-up or collapsed in the summer heat were beaten to death or shot.

She was pregnant at the time, a further incongruity.

In the Ukraine, 22-year-old secretary Johanna Altvater played an even more prominent role in a massacre while working for regional commissar Wilhelm Westerheide.

During the liquidation of a Jewish ghetto, Fräulein Hanna, as she was known, was seen in her riding breeches prodding men, women and children into a truck ‘like a cattle herder’.

The news article includes two versions of the same photo of Irma Grese, which is shown at the top of my blog post.  However, the book does not include the story of Irma Grese. It is about 11 young women who served as secretaries, nurses, or in other functions on the Eastern Front.

The brief mention of Irma Grese, in the news article, is quoted here:

The few women ever called to account were notorious concentration camp guards — the likes of Irma Grese and Ilse Koch — whose evil was so extreme they could be explained away as freaks and beasts, not really ‘women’ at all.

The caption on the photo, shown at the top of my blog post, is this:

Guilty: Irma Grese, nicknamed ‘The Beautiful Beast’ pictured with Joseph Kramer who was commandant of Auschwitz and later Belsen concentration camps. She was hanged aged 22 in 1945 and him in 1946

What heinous crimes had Irma Grese and Josef Kramer committed?

The news article doesn’t tell us, so I will have to tell you: The two of them were guilty of gross stupidity.

When the Bergen-Belsen camp was VOLUNTARILY turned over to the British, these two were standing at the gate into the camp, offering their help in taking care of the prisoners; there was a typhus epidemic in the camp that was out of control.

Sign on the gate at Bergen-Belsen warns that there is a typhus epidemic

Sign on the gate at Bergen-Belsen warns that there is a typhus epidemic

To add to the misery of the prisoners, the Belsen camp had been bombed by the British and the water pump had been hit, so there was no fresh water available.

Yet, instead of escaping from the camp, these two vicious war criminals, Josef Kramer and Irma Grese, were standing at the gate, ready to greet the British and offer their help.

STUPID, STUPID, STUPID!  They should have escaped to South America, as did Dr. Josef Mengele and Adolf Eichmann.  What were they thinking?

According to Michael Berenbaum, in his book The World Must Know, Commandant Josef Kramer greeted British officer Derrick Sington at the entrance to the Belsen camp, wearing a fresh uniform.

Berenbaum wrote that Kramer expressed his desire for an orderly transition and his hopes of collaborating with the British. According to Berenbaum, Kramer dealt with them as equals, one officer to another, even offering advice as to how to deal with the “unpleasant situation.”

That same day, Commandant Kramer was arrested by the British; five months later he and Irma Grese were  brought before a British Military Tribunal and both were convicted as war criminals.

Josef Krama was arrested by the British on the same day that he offered to help with the typhus epidemic in the camp

Josef Kramer was arrested by the British on the same day that he offered to help with the typhus epidemic that was out of control in the Belsen camp

At the British Military Tribunal after World War II, the Germans, who had been associated with the Belsen camp, were put on trial. Survivors of  the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp testified that Grese had habitually worn jack boots, and that she carried a plaited cellophane whip and a pistol.

Grese was also accused of being always accompanied by a vicious dog. The prisoners claimed that Irma was sadistic and that she derived sexual pleasure from beating the women prisoners with her cellophane riding crop. Witnesses claimed that Irma Grese had beaten women prisoners to death at Auschwitz and had shot others in cold blood.

The accusations of murder, against Irma Grese, were made in affidavits, and none of the accusations were corroborated. Survivors of Auschwitz-Birkenau even claimed that there were lamp shades, made out of the skins of three women prisoners, found in Grese’s room at Birkenau. Of course, no evidence of this was introduced at her trial. The most serious charge against Irma Grese, by the British Military Tribunal, was that she had been present when inmates at Birkenau were selected for the gas chamber and that she had participated, in the selections, by forcing the women to line up for inspection by Dr. Mengele.

At her trial, Grese denied having a dog, beating prisoners to death or shooting anyone, although she did admit to hitting prisoners with her cellophane whip even though it was forbidden for the Overseers to beat the prisoners. She stated that she continued to use her whip even after being ordered not to by Commandant Kramer.

At her trial before the British Military Tribunal at Lüneburg, Germany in 1945, the following testimony was given by Ilona Stein in a Deposition:

“Whilst at Birkenau I have seen Grese making selections with Dr. Mengele of people to be sent to the gas chamber. On these parades Grese herself chose the people to be killed in this way. In one selection about August, 1944, there were between 2000 and 3000 selected. At this selection, Grese and Mengele were responsible for selecting those for the gas chamber. People chosen would sometimes sneak away from the line and hide themselves under their beds. Grese would go and find them, beat them until they collapsed and then drag them back into line again. I have seen everything I describe. It was general knowledge in this camp that persons selected in this way went to the gas chamber.”

The testimony against Irma Grese, which is quoted above was given in a Deposition.  (A deposition is a legal document, which is given by a witness who does not take the witness stand in court.)  At her trial, Irma Grese admitted to being aware that prisoners were gassed at Birkenau; she stated that this was common knowledge in the camp and that she had been told by the prisoners about the gassing. She admitted that she was present when selections were made and that she had helped to line up the prisoners, but she denied making the selections herself. Irma Grese was hanged for her crime of helping with the selection of prisoners for the gas chamber and for her crime of using a cellophane whip, although she had been ordered not to use a whip by Josef Kramer.

September 29, 2013

Granddaughter of Amon Goeth, the Schindler’s List balcony sniper, publishes her memoir

Nigerian-German author Jennifer Teege poses for a photo with her book "Amon, My grandfather would have shot me" about concentration camp commander Amon Goeth on September 26, 2013, Hamburg

Nigerian-German author Jennifer Teege poses for a photo with her book “Amon, My grandfather would have shot me” about concentration camp commander Amon Goeth on September 26, 2013

The photo above was copied from a news article which you can read in full here.

Another news article starts off with this quote:

A steel-eyed Nazi killer picks off Jewish prisoners with a rifle from a balcony in a concentration camp in 1944.

More than six decades later, a Nigerian-German woman who has studied in Israel thumbs through a book about the sniper and is shocked to learn the man is her own grandfather.

In a memoir published this month with the chilling title “Amon: My Grandfather Would Have Shot Me”, Jennifer Teege recounts her dark family secret and the extraordinary story of how her own life became enmeshed with one of history’s grimmest chapters.

Teege is the child of a Nigerian student and [Monika Goeth] the German daughter of Amon Goeth, the commandant of the Plaszow concentration camp outside Krakow in today’s Poland who featured in Steven Spielberg’s 1993 Holocaust drama “Schindler’s List”.

Scene from the movie Shindler's List show Amon Goeth shooting prisoners from a balcony

Scene from Shindler’s List shows Amon Goeth shooting prisoners from a balcony

The photo above is a still shot from the movie Schindler’s List. It shows Amon Goeth shooting prisoners in a fictional scene from the movie. This fictional scene was concocted by Steven Spielberg after he saw a photo of Amon Goeth standing on the patio of his home which did NOT overlook the Plaszow camp.

Amon Goeth standing on the patio of his house, holding a rifle

Amon Goeth standing on the patio of his house, holding a rifle

When the granddaughter of Amon Goeth learned who her grandfather was, dollar signs must have flashed before her eyes.  This was her chance to gain fame and fortune.  She could write a memoir and make some money off the Holocaust Industry.  Is there any Nazi more famous than Amon Goeth, the commandant who shot prisoners from his balcony?

The movie Schindler’s List is based on a novel entitled Schindler’s Ark.  If the fictional book had not been made into a fictional movie by Steven Spielberg, the name Amon Goeth would be unknown today.  Amon Goeth was a minor criminal, whose crime was that he stole goods from the Plaszow camp. After the war, he was put on trial in a Polish court and convicted of being a member of the Nazi party and a member of the Waffen-SS, both crimes that were made up by the Allies.  He was also convicted of being responsible, under the “common plan” law made up by the Allies, for all the deaths that occurred at the Plaszow camp.  He was not charged with shooting prisoners from his balcony.

In 1943, SS Judge Georg Konrad Morgen of the Haupt Amt Gericht (SS-HAG) was given an assignment to investigate and prosecute corruption and unauthorized murder at the Buchenwald concentration camp. He stayed at the Buchenwald camp for 8 months, investigating the Commandant, Karl Koch, before charging him with murder. Koch was executed for killing a couple of prisoners in the Buchenwald camp.

Dr. Morgen’s next assignment was to investigate the Plaszow camp. As a result of his investigation, which involved interviewing several of the prisoners, Amon Goeth was arrested by the Central Office of the SS Judiciary and imprisoned. Goeth was charged with stealing from the warehouses and factories at Plaszow, but not with shooting prisoners from the balcony of his home.  Oskar Schindler was also arrested, at the same time, for the crime of helping Goeth to store the stolen goods, but Schindler was released before being put on trial.  Goeth was not put on trial by the Germans because he was sick with diabetes; he was sent to a hospital instead.

Strangely, none of the Plaszow prisoners told Dr. Morgen about Amon Goeth shooting prisoners from his balcony.  It was Steven Spielberg who made up this crime when he saw a photo of Goeth standing on his patio.  In Spielberg’s defense, the photo did look like someone standing on a balcony, not a patio.

Amon Goeth standing on the patio of his home, near the Plaszow camp

Amon Goeth standing on the patio of his home, near the Plaszow camp; this photo inspired the balcony sniper story

Ruth Irene Kalder, the mother of Monkia Goeth, standing on the balcony of Amon Goeth's home

Ruth Irene Kalder, the mother of Monkia Goeth, standing on the patio of Amon Goeth’s home

The photo above shows that Jennifer Teege has some resemblance to her grandmother, Ruth Irene Kalder, who was the mistress of Amon Goeth.

Did Ruth Irene Kalder also shoot prisoners from the patio of Goeth’s home?  Not that I know of, but she might have set her dog on the prisoners, who were way off in a concentration camp, that was behind a hill, and not visible from Goeth’s home.

Ruth always spoke highly of Amon Goeth, but what did she know?  She only lived with the man.  While she was out walking her dog, Amon might have been out  on the patio, shooting prisoners with a special rifle that could shoot over a hill.

Memorial Stone at the site of the former Plaszow camp

Memorial Stone at the site of the former Plaszow camp

One of the news articles about Jennifer Teege shows the Memorial Stone at the Plaszow camp.  I took the photo of the Memorial Stone above, when I visited the site of the former camp in 1998.

My Polish tour guide translated the words inscribed on the stone, which were written in Polish. She told me that the words say something to the effect that we don’t know their names, so we call them by one name: Jews. We can’t describe how terrible and barbaric the Nazis were, so we call them by one name: Hitlerists.

There was one word that the guide didn’t know how to translate into English; it was the one word in the Polish language that I knew, the word pogrom. (Po-GROM means “like thunder.”  This word was used to describe the act of non-Jews chasing Jews out by the use of violence.)

My tour guide pointed out that the term Hitlerites or Hitlerists or Nazis should always be used when referring to the enemy in World War II, rather than Germans. There were many countries that supported or collaborated with the Nazis, and many soldiers from Allied or neutral countries that fought in the Waffen-SS, the volunteer army of Nazi Germany. The photograph above shows the front of the memorial stone with the inscription in Polish, which uses the name Hitlerists for the perpetrators.

September 21, 2013

Amon Goeth in the news: Was he actually hanged?

Filed under: Germany, Holocaust, movies — Tags: — furtherglory @ 10:16 am
Mugshot of Amon Goeth after he was arrested for stealing from the Plaszow camp

Mugshot of Amon Goeth after he was arrested for stealing from the Plaszow camp

There has been an inordinate amount of interest in a blog post which I put up over three years ago, on June 2, 2010. Way back then, I wrote about Amon Goeth, the man who was made famous by the film Schindler’s List.  Oskar Schindler was the opposite of Amon Goeth; he was the hero of Schindler’s List, while Amon Goeth was the villain. The day before, on June 1, 2010, I blogged about Schindler here.

Amon Goeth after he was arrested for stealing from the camp where he was the Commandant

Amon Goeth after he was arrested by the Gestapo for stealing from the camp

You can read my old post at

When this old blog post started getting many hits recently, I set out to find out why. I did a search on Amon Goeth and found a video of the hanging of Amon Goeth, which you can see below. (The hanging begins at 3:17 minutes in the video.)

As I watched the film of the hanging of Amon Goeth, it didn’t look right to me.  As Dr. Henry Lee famously said, “Something Wrong!”  The man in the video did not look like Amon Goeth. Also, the man in the film remained calm throughout two botched attempts.

I was going to blog about the botched hanging of Amon Goeth, but something stayed my hand.  Something Wrong!

Would Amon Goeth, the famous killer who shot prisoners from his balcony, have remained calm?  No, the Amon Goeth, who is depicted in Schindlder’s List, would have thrown a fit if he had been subjected to this gross incompetence.

The hanging film also showed Goeth allegedly standing on his balcony, holding a rifle, but I recognized the “balcony” as being the patio on the ground floor of Amon’s house, which is shown in the second photo below.

Amon Goeth allegedly standing on his balcony

Amon Goeth allegedly standing on his balcony

Goeth standing on the patio on the ground floor of his house

Goeth standing on the patio on the ground floor of his house

Amon Goeth in his SS uniform

Amon Goeth in his SS uniform

Then I did some more searching and found a news article about Goeth here.  It seems that others have also questioned the film which shows the hanging of Goeth.

This quote is from the news article:

Did ‘executed’ Nazi criminal in Schindler’s List escape justice? Historians claim video of camp commander being hanged is NOT him

Amon Goeth killed thousands of people as concentration camp commander
For decades video of a Nazi execution was believed to show his death
But new documentary says film shows execution of Dr Ludwig Fischer
Goeth was chillingly played by Ralph Fiennes in the Spielberg masterpiece
His death is a complete mystery and it is not known where he was buried

By Becky Evans

PUBLISHED: 09:05 EST, 21 March 2013 | UPDATED: 11:47 EST, 21 March 2013

Sadistic Amon Goeth

Sadistic Amon Goeth was believed to have been executed in a filmed hanging but now historians say it was a different Nazi butcher.

Revelations about the execution of a notorious Nazi war criminal, immortalised (sic) in Schindler’s List, have raised questions about how the mass murderer died and whether he was even hanged at all.

For decades Amon Goeth, who was responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of Jews and Poles during World War Two, was believed to have been filmed being executed in 1946.

A black and white video shows executioners twice botching a hanging before he was eventually killed.

But historians claim in a new National Geographic documentary called Bloody Tales that the video was from 1947 and shows Dr Ludwig Fischer being hanged.

Worryingly, there is almost no detail about the sadistic mass murderer’s death in official records and no one knows what happened to his body.

Historian Dr Suzannah Lipscomb and presenter Joe Crowley do not believe he escaped Europe like other high profile Nazis such as Adolf Eichmann and Joseph Mengele, and say he was killed.

However the revelations surrounding Goeth, who was known to carry out his own killings rather than order them, mean his death is now a complete mystery with records containing just two words: ‘He died.’

Read more:

At Goeth’s trial in Poland, after the end of World War II, the Nazi party was said to be “an organization which, under the leadership of Adolf Hitler, through aggressive wars, violence and other crimes, aimed at world domination and establishment of the National-Socialist regime.”

At his trial, Amon Goeth was accused of personally issuing orders to deprive people of freedom, to ill-treat and exterminate individuals and whole groups of people. His crimes, including the newly created crime of genocide, came under a new law of the Allies, called Crimes against Humanity.

The charges against Amon Goeth were as follows:

(1) The accused as commandant of the forced labour camp at Plaszow (Cracow) from 11th February, 1943, till 13th September, 1944, caused the death of about 8,000 inmates by ordering a large number of them to be exterminated.

(2) As a SS-Sturmführer the accused carried out on behalf of SS-Sturmbannführer Willi Haase the final closing down of the Cracow ghetto. This liquidation action which began on 13th March, 1943, deprived of freedom about 10,000 people who had been interned in the camp of Plaszow, and caused the death of about 2,000.

(3) As a SS-Hauptsturmführer the accused carried out on 3rd September, 1943, the closing down of the Tarnow ghetto. As a result of this action an unknown number of people perished, having been killed on the spot in Tarnow; others died through asphyxiation during transport by rail or were exterminated in other camps, in particular at Auschwitz.

(4) Between September, 1943, and 3rd February, 1944, the accused closed down the forced labour camp at Szebnie near Jaslo by ordering the inmates to be murdered on the spot or deported to other camps, thus causing the death of several thousand persons.

(5) Simultaneously with the activities described under (1) to (4) the accused deprived the inmates of valuables, gold and money deposited by them, and appropriated those things. He also stole clothing, furniture and other movable property belonging to displaced or interned people, and sent them to Germany. The value of stolen goods and in particular of valuables reached many million zlotys at the rate of exchange in force at the time.

Amon Goeth was escorted from the courtroom after the was sentenced to death

Amon Goeth was escorted from the courtroom after he was sentenced to death

At his trial, the last charge, as stated in number (5) above, was the crime for which he had been arrested by the Gestapo on September 13, 1944, after an investigation by Waffen-SS officer Dr. Georg Konrad Morgen.

Dr. Morgen had done a lengthy investigation of the activities of Amon Goeth, but did not arrest him for killing anyone.

At his trial, Goeth’s defense was that he was a Waffen-SS soldier who had to follow the orders of his superiors. He denied killing anyone except when ordered to carry out an execution.

Amon Goeth was found guilty on all counts in the Polish court. He was sentenced to death and was allegedly hanged in Krakow on September 13, 1946, exactly two years to the day that he left the Plaszow camp after being arrested.

August 9, 2013

the misaprehension that homosexual men were murdered by the Nazis for being gay

It has come to my attention, from reading comments made on my blog, that there is a belief that homosexual men were arrested, in Nazi Germany, simply because of their sexual orientation, and that hundreds of thousands of them were murdered in concentrations camps, sometimes in the gas chamber.

How many homosexual men were actually “murdered” by the Nazis?  None.  A total of around 10,000 homosexual men were sent to Dachau and other camps, but no one knows how many died of disease or other causes while they were in a camp.

When I visited the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in the year 2000, there was a small section of exhibits entitled “Enemies of the State.” This section was devoted to the non-Jewish people who were persecuted by the Nazis; there were separate displays about the homosexuals and the Gypsies.  I vaguely recall that there were pictures of homosexual men, who had been sent to concentration camps, but I didn’t photograph this display.

“Communists, Social Democrats, trade unionists, liberals, pacifists, dissenting clergy, and Jehovah’s Witnesses” were listed in the reading material, in the exhibit, as “Enemies of the State,” but no details were given and there were no pictures of them.

There was a significant number of Communists incarcerated as political prisoners in the major German concentration camps at Dachau, Buchenwald and Sachsenhausen, but you would never know it from seeing the USHMM exhibits.

Not mentioned in the USHMM exhibits were the asocials, the work-shy or the criminals (including homosexual men) who had been sent to a concentration camp after they finished their prison time for their second offense. In the year 2000 when I was there, the USHMM did not mention that homosexuals were sent to a concentration camp, ONLY if and when they had served two terms in prison from breaking the law known as Paragraph 175.

This quote is from a recent comment on my blog:  “There are several ‘homo ‘ monuments in Holland to the Gay men murdered by the Nazis . However when the event was actually academically investigated it was found to be the reverse.”

The photos below show one of the “homo” monuments in Amsterdam.

A pink triangle monument in front of a church in Amsterdam

A pink triangle monument in front of a church in Amsterdam

A pink triangle at ground level in front of the same church in Amsterdam

A pink triangle at ground level in front of the same church in Amsterdam

I didn’t take a photo of the third triangle which completes this huge sculpture in front of a church, which is within shouting distance of the Anne Frank house in Amsterdam.  Not to worry, churches are not used any more for religious services in Amsterdam, so it’s O.K. to have a monument in front of a church.

A link to this website was provided by the reader who made the comment:

This quote is from the website cited above:

On December 2, 1979, the Broadway Play Bent opened at the New Apollo Theater in New York City. The starring role was played by Richard Gere.

Bent is the tale of a German homosexual named Max who is arrested and sent to Dachau. To avoid the stigma of wearing the pink triangle, Max denies his homosexuality and opts instead to claim he is Jewish. (According to the logic of Bent, the status of homosexuals in the concentration camps was even worse than that of Jews.) Max falls in love with another homosexual inmate and the play depicts their trials and tribulations. At the end, Max reclaims his inverted status as a homosexual and commits suicide by falling on an electrified fence.

“…a German homosexual…is arrested and sent to Dachau”?

That could not have happened.  Homosexuals were not sent to Dachau, nor anywhere else, solely because they were homosexual.  Germany had a law, called Paragraph 175, which made it a crime to have homosexual sex in public or for male prostitutes to solicit men for gay sex.  Men who had been arrested twice, for breaking a law that had been on the books in Germany since 1871, and had been sent to prison twice, were then sent to Dachau for a minimum of 6 months for rehabilitation, after they were released from prison.

In the 1930s and 40s, every country in the world had a law against homosexual acts.  Germany was not enforcing its law (Paragraph 175) and, as a result, Berlin became a mecca for homosexual men.  At that time, the word “gay” did not mean homosexual.

This quote is also from the website, cited above:

In 1981, the myth was given another major boost in Frank Rector’s widely distributed book The Nazi Extermination of Homosexuals (3). Rector wrote:

“It seems reasonable to conclude that at least 500,000 gays died in the Holocaust because of anti-homosexual prejudice…” Actually 500,000 may be too conservative a figure.”
It is significant that Rector included homosexuals as official victims in that amorphous event known as the “Holocaust”. He even claimed that homosexuals were sent to the gas chambers. Among the illustrations in The Nazi Extermination of Homosexuals is a frequently reproduced photo of a US soldier in front of a ten cubic meter disinfestations chamber at Dachau (claimed to be a homicidal gas chamber). Rector’s caption reads:

“The final solution to the homosexual problem lay behind that door for homosexuals not exterminated in many other ways. This chamber at Dachau. The screaming, the weeping, the futile gasping for breath, the agony that room held in a air-tight horror, was, in its hideous way, a blessing for many gays. It reduced their suffering to about fifteen minutes.”

Also in 1981, an article entitled “Some Jews and the Gays” by the homosexual novelist Gore Vidal appeared in The Nation (4). Vidal was responding to an essay in Commentary by the “neo-conservative “ Jewish author Midge Decter (5). Decter had been ruthlessly critical of the homosexual lifestyle, so Vidal told her that “like it or not, Jews and homosexuals are in the same fragile boat”. He then proceeded to lecture her that in some future “holocaust”, neo-conservative Jews were “going to be in the same gas chambers as the blacks and the faggots”.

Vidal backed up his account of homosexual victimization with a claim that fellow homosexual writer Christopher Isherwood once told him “Hitler killed 600,000 homosexuals”.

Disinfection chamber at Dachau which was believed to be a homicidal gas chamber

Disinfection chamber at Dachau which was believed to be a homicidal gas chamber

The photo above shows the famous “gas chamber” at Dachau, which was believed, as late as 1981, to have been the gas chamber where homosexual men were murdered.

As the closest concentration camp to Berlin, the Sachsenhausen concentration camp had more homosexual prisoners than any of the other camps. According to a pamphlet, which I purchased at the Sachsenhausen Memorial Site in 2001, “a total of approximately 10,000 homosexuals were sent to all the Nazi concentration camps combined during the 12 years of the Third Reich.”

In an era when homosexuals were still in the closet in all the countries of the world, Berlin was a mecca for gays. The movie Cabaret depicts the gay scene in Berlin in 1931, just before the Nazis came to power. The movie was based on a book entitled Goodbye to Berlin by Christopher Isherwood, who lived an openly gay lifestyle in Berlin, the capital city of Germany.

Only male homosexuals who broke the German law (Paragraph 175) by flaunting their lifestyle in public were arrested. After their second arrest and prison term, these men were sent to one of the concentration camps in Germany. No lesbians were ever sent to a concentration camp, solely for being lesbians.

According to the pamphlet that I obtained at Sachsenhausen, some of the young men, who were sent to Sachsenhausen after they had been imprisoned twice for public homosexual activity, were actually Strichjunge, or male prostitutes, from Berlin.

According to the memoirs of Rudolf Höss:

The strict camp life and the hard work quickly reeducated this type. Most of them worked very hard and took great care not to get into trouble so that they could be released as soon as possible. They also avoided associating with those afflicted with this depravity and wanted to make it known that they had nothing to do with homosexuals. In this way countless rehabilitated young men could be released without having a relapse.

I saw the movie entitled Bent, soon after I started studying the Holocaust, and specifically the Dachau concentration camp.  I had a hard time understanding the movie.  It was Greek to me.

Here is the plot of Bent, from an entry in Wikipedia:

Max (Clive Owen) is a promiscuous gay man living in 1930s Berlin. He is at odds with his wealthy family because of his homosexuality. One evening, much to the resentment of his boyfriend, Rudy (Brian Webber II), Max brings home a handsome SA man (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau). Unfortunately, he does so on the Night of the Long Knives, when Hitler ordered the assassination of upper echelon SA corps. The Sturmabteilung man is discovered and killed by SS men in Max and Rudy’s apartment, and the two have to flee Berlin.

Max’s Uncle Freddie (Ian McKellen) has organised new papers for Max, but Max refuses to leave his boyfriend behind. As a result, Max and Rudy are found and arrested by the Gestapo and put on a train headed for Dachau. On the train, Rudy is brutally beaten to death by the guards. As Rudy calls out to Max when he is taken away, Max lies to the guards, denying he is gay. In the camp, Max falls in love with Horst (Lothaire Bluteau), who shows him the dignity that lies in acknowledging one’s beliefs.

This movie is pure fiction, but it has influenced many people to have unreasonable beliefs about the treatment of Homosexuals in Nazi Germany.

Hitler was planning a world exhibition in 1950, at which time the city of Berlin would be renamed Germania. By that time, Hitler had envisioned that all the Volkdeutsch (ethnic Germans) would be living together in one united country, which would dominate the world as the only super power. Authority for this building project came from the “Legislation for the reconstruction of German cities,” which dated from October 4, 1937. Albert Speer, Hitler’s official architect since 1933, was given the job of planning the construction project for Berlin.

To provide building materials for this project, beginning in the summer of 1938, the prisoners at the Sachsenhausen concentration camp were used as forced labor in the construction of the world’s largest brickworks just outside the camp, near the Lehnitz lock on the Hohenzollern canal.

The proposed design for Berlin included the building of a magnificent avenue, 7 kilometers long, which would run north and south, and would intersect with the broad Unter den Linden street at the famous Brandenburg gate. The street was to end at the Grand Hall, planned to be the largest building in the world. It was to be 290 meters high and 315 meters long with a seating capacity of 150,000 to 180,000 people. Hitler designed this building himself with a little help from Albert Speer. All the buildings in this project were planned to be classic buildings along the lines of those in ancient Greece and Rome.

Prisoners working at Sachsenhausen sub-camp

Prisoners working at Sachsenhausen brick works

To provide building materials for this project, beginning in the summer of 1938, the prisoners at the Sachsenhausen concentration camp were used as forced labor in the construction of the world’s largest brickworks just outside the camp, near the Lehnitz lock on the Hohenzollern canal. When World War II started in 1939, Hitler’s building plans had to be put on hold, but after the victory over France in 1940, the plans resumed.

The group of Sachsenhausen prisoners, who were assigned to the brickworks (Klinkerwerk), was called the “punishment commando.” The workers had to march to and from the camp to the brickworks each day.

In 1941 the Klinker punishment commando was given the status of a satellite camp or sub-camp of the Sachsenhausen concentration camp. Barracks were built on the southeast side of the plant to house the workers.

According to an Information Leaflet about the Klinkerwerk, which I purchased at the Sachsenhausen Memorial Site, the satellite camp was used for the deliberate annihilation of certain prisoners groups. From July to September 1942, the systematically planned murders of some 180 to 200 homosexual prisoners were carried out in the Klinker satellite camp, according to the Information Leaflet.

August 2, 2013

Holocaust survivor stories must fit the basic premise of the Holocaust — the genocide of the Jews

Filed under: Holocaust, movies — Tags: , , , — furtherglory @ 8:00 am

When I visited the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in the year 2000, I wanted to buy Claude Lanzmann’s nine-and-a-half hour documentary film, entitled Shoah.  I went to the book store at the Museum, with my credit card ready, but I balked when I learned that the price was $900.  Now Lanzmann has a new documentary out, and his original masterpiece is available at at a fraction of the original price.

There is an article about Lanzmann’s documentaries, which you can read in full here.  This quote is from the article:

Director Claude Lanzmann’s choice to focus only on those witnesses who were regularly in contact with the process of extermination forces the viewer to be reminded that the ultimate goal of the Holocaust wasn’t to harass the Jewish people or move them or make them uncomfortable. The purpose of the Holocaust—to obliterate the Jewish people entirely—is reflected in the empty landscape of Chelmno, where only the foundation stones of the killing area still remain.

The Chelmno camp was located in the small Polish village of Chelmno nad Neren (Chelmno on the river Ner), 60 kilometers northwest of Lodz, a major city in what is now western Poland. The camp, which was opened by the Germans some time in October or November 1941, was in the Warthegau, a district in the part of Poland that had been annexed into the Greater German Reich after the joint conquest of Poland by Germany and the Soviet Union in 1939.

Monument at the location of the Chelmno camp

Monument near the Chelmno camp, overlooking the Ner river Photo Credit: Alan Collins

The “purpose” of the Holocaust was genocide.  Lanzmann’s original documentary is a collection of the stories of the survivors. Every survivor has his or her unique story, but every story is about how the survivor escaped death in the gas chamber.

The article about Lanzmann begins with this quote:

Only the Stories Still Exist

A lone man rows himself down [the river Ner] in a boat, singing a Polish folk song. His voice slips across the banks of the river, into the forests beyond, and disappears. No echo returns to indicate that the man, Simon Srebnik, is drawing closer and closer to the forest clearing in Chelmno, Poland, where poison gas was first used by Nazi forces to murder Jews. One of the first Jews to be brought to the Chelmno killing center, Srebnik speaks with teary eyes about moving the bodies of the dead at the command of German soldiers and Polish special police.

A young man when the Holocaust began, Srebnik enchanted his captors with his beautiful singing voice. Strains of his song were heard by the non-Jews in Chelmno, several of whom still vividly remember the mixture of beauty and desperation they sensed in the boy’s voice. Srebnik himself calls singing for the soldiers while they were killing his people “true German irony”.

Like all of the witnesses who speak about the Holocaust in Shoah, Srebnik was intimately close to the process of Jewish extermination. As the film unfolds, more and more survivors tell stories about working in crematoriums and surviving the death camps. Filmed in their homes, at the camps or on stages designed to illicit their testimony, Shoah visually and figuratively approaches the Holocaust from multiple angles without losing its sense of purpose.

Simon Srebnik was a Sonderkommando, one of the Jewish helpers who assisted the Nazis in burning the bodies of the dead.  The Nazis kept no records of the Jews who were killed.  The proof of the Holocaust depends on the testimony of the Sonderkommando Jews and the numerous survivors who witnessed the “extermination” of the Jews, but somehow managed to escape.

Each of these survivor stories must fit the basic premise that the Nazis had a plan, called “The Final Solution,” which was the plan to genocide the Jews.  This plan was discussed at the Wannsee Conference on January 20, 1942.  Yet, the gassing of the Jews began at Chelmno on December 7, 1941, before the conference was held.  Fortunately, the Nazis left witnesses alive to tell about it.

Jewish workers lived in the granary, the building in the background

Jewish workers lived in the granary, the building in the background  Photo Credit: Alan Collins

The Jewish workers, called the JudenKommando, who did the work of burning the corpses at Chelmno, were housed in the granary during the second phase of the killing at Chelmno. The granary is shown in the background of the photo above.

On the night of January 17 and 18, 1945, the SS men began taking the 47 Jewish workers out of the granary building and shooting them in groups of five, according to the two survivors, Shimon Srebnik and Mordechai Zurawski. The Jews defended themselves and two of the SS men were killed. According to the two survivors, the SS men then set fire to the granary.

The price of Lanzmann’s documentary, with the testimony of numerous survivors, has now dwindled down to less than $40.00 but I have lost interest, and probably won’t buy it.  I’ve got better things to do.

P.S.  If you like fairy tales and such, read this blog post by Carolyn Yeager:

March 6, 2013

What is the meaning of the girl in the Red Coat in Schindler’s List?

The girl in the red coat in the movie Schindler's List

The girl in the red coat in the movie Schindler’s List

Schindler’s List is now out on Blu-Ray and there is renewed interest in this fictional movie.  The photo above shows one of the scenes from the movie, which is loosely based on history.

In March 1941, the Jews in the area of Krakow, Poland had been put into a walled ghetto in Podgorze, a district of Krakow. This ghetto is depicted in the movie, Schindler’s List, but the actual scenes were filmed nearby in the old Jewish quarter called Kazimierz because there are modern buildings in Podgorze now, while Kazimierz was still in its original state in 1993.

Jews are being forced to move into the Podgorze ghetto

Jews are being forced to move into the Podgorze ghetto

On March 13, 1943, a Saturday, the Podgorze ghetto in Krakow, Poland was officially closed and around 6,000 Jews who were able to work were sent to the Plaszow forced labor camp, while around 2,000 children and old people were sent to other camps, including Auschwitz II, also known as Birkenau, which was both a labor camp and a death camp.

The next stage of the Final Solution for the Krakow Jews was the liquidation of the Podgorze ghetto and the transportation of the remaining Jews to the forced labor camp at Plaszow on March 13 and 14, 1943. Before the liquidation of the ghetto, there were 2,000 prisoners at the Plaszow camp, all of them Jews. Afterwards, the camp population rose to 8,000. At this point, Plaszow was still not a concentration camp, but a penal labor camp under the jurisdiction of local SS men in the General Government, as the central section of occupied Poland was called by the Nazis. According to the novel Schindler’s Ark, it was because Plaszow was a labor camp, under local authority, that the random killing of prisoners by Amon Goeth did not command much attention among the top brass. The novel Schindler’s Ark explains that executions and floggings at all of the concentration camps had to be approved by the central administrative office in Berlin, but not at the labor camps.

Until the middle of 1943, all the prisoners at the Plaszow forced labor camp were Jews. In July 1943, a separate section was fenced off for Polish prisoners who were sent to the camp for breaking the laws of the German occupational government. Polish prisoners served their sentences and were then released from the prison. The Jews remained in the camp indefinitely. Many Jews were sent on to the Auschwitz concentration camp, only 60 kilometers southwest of Krakow.

The Schindler Jews at first lived in the Plaszow camp and walked 2.5 kilometers to and from Schindler’s enamelware factory each day. The factory was in an ordinary-looking, modern, but dreary building in Krakow. Then Schindler bribed Plaszow Commandant Amon Goeth to let his workers move into barracks which he built in the courtyard of the factory. Schindler himself lived in a nondescript gray apartment building close to his factory. When I visited Krakow in 1998, Schindler’s factory building was being used by an electronics factory called Toplar. It is now a Museum for tourists.

There were many small sub-camps, such as the Schindler factory, in the Nazi labor camp system, but none where the prisoners were so well treated. The Nazis provided food for the Schindler Jews, but Schindler spent the equivalent of $360,000 to provide extra food, which he bought on the black market, for his prisoners.

One day, Oskar Schindler was out riding his horse, along a bridal path on a hill overlooking the Podgorze ghetto, when he saw the girl in the red coat among the Jews being marched out of the ghetto, walking on their way to the Plaszow camp.

View of the ghetto from the hill where Oskar Schindler saw the girl in the red coat

View of the ghetto from the hill where Oskar Schindler saw the girl in the red coat

In the photo above, you can see a red car, driving on Krakusa Street, where Oskar Schindler saw the girl in the red coat.

The photo below shows the bridal path along the edge of the hill overlooking Krakusa Street. This is where Schindler looked down from his horse and saw 7,000 Jews being marched out of the Podgorze ghetto, according to the novel, Schindler’s Ark. The bridal path was overgrown with trees when I took this photo in 1998.

The bridal path where Oskar Schindler was riding when he saw the girl in the red coat

The bridal path where Oskar Schindler was riding when he saw the girl in the red coat

The only non-Jewish inhabitant of the Podgorze ghetto was a master pharmacist named Tadeusz Pankiewicz. His Eagle Pharmacy was located at #18 on the cobble-stoned Plac Zgody which was the main square where selections took place and from where transports of Jews were sent to the Belzec death camp. I previously blogged here about how Amon Goeth took bribes from the Jews in exchange for not sending them to Belzec.

In 1993, the same year that the movie Schindler’s List was filmed, the Eagle Pharmacy building was turned into a National Memorial Museum. I visited the museum in 1998 and saw  displays which showed pictures of the roundup and deportation of the Jews of Krakow. There was also a photo of Amon Goeth on display.

In 1947, Tadeusz Pankiewicz published his memoirs called The Pharmacy in the Krakow Ghetto. It is an account of how his pharmacy became a meeting place for the Jews in the ghetto where they could get information from the underground press. Letters were sent from and received at the pharmacy. It was also a hiding place for Jews whom the Nazis were trying to arrest for violations of their laws. According to the novel Schindler’s Ark, the pharmacy was where messages were passed between the Jewish Combat Organization (ZOB) and the partisans of the Polish People’s Army, the two main groups which fought the Nazis in guerrilla warfare during World War II. In the movie, Schindler’s List, there is no mention of how Jewish partisans resisted the Nazis and helped to defeat the Germans in World War II.

So what does all this have to do with the girl in the red coat?  In the novel, Schindler’s Ark, Oskar Schindler sees the body of the little girl in the red coat and at that point, he realizes that he should do something to save the Jews.  Prior to this, Schindler had only been concerned with making lots of money by using the labor of Jews from the Podgorze ghetto. Using the labor of non-Jewish workers in his factory would have been at a much higher cost.

Did all this really happen?  No, the girl in the red coat is symbolic, although she is based on a real girl in the ghetto, who was not killed.

The following quote is from an article in the Huffington Post about the movie Schindler’s List, which you can read in full here:

The name Oliwia Dabrowska holds little meaning to film buffs, but the 23-year-old’s first movie role was quite significant. Dabrowska played “Red Genia” or the “girl in the red coat” in Steven Spielberg’s “Schindler’s List.” [...]

Dabrowska’s “red coat girl” has been the subject of much discussion and interpretation since “Schindler’s List” was released in 1993. The character bore surface similarities to Holocaust survivor Roma Ligocka, who was known for her red coat in the Krakow Ghetto, and wrote a memoir about her experiences. (Unlike Ligocka, Dabrowska’s “red coat girl” died in “Schindler’s List.”) Spielberg himself has said the significance of the red coat, the only splash of color in the black-and-white film, has more to do with reminding viewers of the way citizens of the world allowed the Holocaust to happen:

[ Spielberg said this] “America and Russia and England all knew about the Holocaust when it was happening, and yet we did nothing about it. We didn’t assign any of our forces to stopping the march toward death, the inexorable march toward death. It was a large bloodstain, primary red color on everyone’s radar, but no one did anything about it. And that’s why I wanted to bring the color red in.”

This quote from Wikipedia also gives the same words spoken by Steven Spielberg:

While the film is shot primarily in black-and-white, red is used to distinguish a little girl in a coat (portrayed by Oliwia Dabrowska). Later in the film, the girl appears to be one of the dead Jewish people, recognizable only by the red coat she is still wearing. Although it was unintentional, this character is coincidentally very similar to Roma Ligocka, who was known in the Kraków Ghetto for her red coat. Ligocka, unlike her fictional counterpart, survived the Holocaust. After the film was released, she wrote and published her own story, The Girl in the Red Coat: A Memoir (2002, in translation).[18] The scene, however, was constructed on the memories of Zelig Burkhut, survivor of Plaszow (and other work camps). When interviewed by Spielberg before the film was made, Burkhut told of a young girl wearing a pink coat, no older than four, who was shot by a Nazi officer right before his eyes. When being interviewed by The Courier-Mail, he said “it is something that stays with you forever.”

According to Andy Patrizio of IGN, the girl in the red coat is used to indicate that Schindler has changed: “Spielberg put a twist on her [Ligocka's] story, turning her into one more pile on the cart of corpses to be incinerated. The look on Schindler’s face is unmistakable. Minutes earlier, he saw the ash and soot of burning corpses piling up on his car as just an annoyance.”[19] Andre Caron wondered whether it was done “to symbolize innocence, hope or the red blood of the Jewish people being sacrificed in the horror of the Holocaust?”[20] Spielberg himself has explained that he only followed the novel, and his interpretation was that

“America and Russia and England all knew about the Holocaust when it was happening, and yet we did nothing about it. We didn’t assign any of our forces to stopping the march toward death, the inexorable march toward death. It was a large bloodstain, primary red color on everyone’s radar, but no one did anything about it. And that’s why I wanted to bring the color red in.”[21]

This quote, about the girl in the red coat, is also from Wikipedia:

Schindler prepares to leave Kraków with his fortune. He finds himself unable to do so, however, and prevails upon Goeth to allow him to keep his workers so he can move them to a factory in his old home of Zwittau-Brinnlitz, away from the Final Solution. Goeth charges a massive bribe for each worker. Schindler and Stern assemble a list of workers to be kept off the trains to Auschwitz.

[...]   The train carrying the women is accidentally redirected to Auschwitz. Schindler bribes the camp commander, Rudolf Höß, with a cache of diamonds in exchange for releasing the women to Brinnlitz.

Contrary to what Wikipedia says, Schindler did NOT “prevail upon Goeth to allow him to keep his workers.”  By that point in the movie, Goeth had been arrested by the Nazis and he was awaiting trial in Dr. Georg Konrad Morgen’s court.  Goeth had disappeared from the movie and nothing more was said about him.

Schindler and Stern did NOT assemble a list of workers to be kept off the trains to Auschwitz.  Schindler’s famous list was a list of workers to be sent to the Gross Rosen concentration camp because Schindler was setting up a sub-camp of Gross Rosen near his old home town.

Rudolf Höß was NOT the “camp commander” at the time that Schindler bribed someone to release the women to Brinnlitz.

Rudolf Hoess is shown on the right

Rudolf Hoess is shown on the right in this photo from the Auschwitz Album

Dr. Josef Mengele, the man who selected Jews for the gas chamber at the Birkenau death camp, is shown in the center of the photo above. On his left is Richard Baer, the last commandant of the Auschwitz main camp and on his right is Rudolf Höß (aka Rudolf Hoess), who had been the first Commandant of the whole Auschwitz complex; he was given this assignment on May 1, 1940. Höß was relieved of his duties as the Commandant of the Auschwitz complex at the end of November 1943 and promoted to a position in the Economic Administration Head Office (WHVA) in Oranienburg.

On May 8, 1944, Höß was brought back to Auschwitz to be the Commander of the SS men at Auschwitz and to supervise the gassing of the Hungarian Jews. (According to Laurence Rees, in his book Auschwitz, a New History, Hoess was also given authority over the Commandants of the Auschwitz II and Auschwitz III camps when he came back in May 1944.)  Auschwitz II was Auschwitz-Birkenau, the death camp.

I believe that Spielberg is completely wrong in his claim that “America and Russia and England all knew about the Holocaust when it was happening, and yet we did nothing about it.”  What is today known as “the Holocaust” was mostly unknown until many years after World War II.

What was the real reason that Oskar Schindler made up a list of Jews to be saved from certain death.

Oskar Schindler’s real motive, in making a list of 1200 Jews to be saved, was to save his own skin, NOT to save these 1200 Jews.

Schindler knew that he would be put on trial as a war criminal, after the war, because he was the commander of a sub-camp of the Plaszow camp. He knew that the Allies had made up ex-post-facto war crimes, under which the Germans would be prosecuted as war criminals after the war.

Schindler knew that the Allies had already made up new laws, such as the “common plan” principle, under which the war criminals would be prosecuted.  Under the “common plan” concept, anyone who had any connection to a concentration camp, in any capacity whatsoever, would be automatically guilty of a war crime.

By saving 1200 Jews in a new sub-camp of the Gross Rosen concentration camp, he would have a defense to the “common plan” principle. He would have 1200 Jews to put in a good word for him and save him.

That is exactly what happened: Schindler was not put on trial after the war, and the Jews that he had saved took care of him for the rest of his life.

February 16, 2013

Holocaust survivor was one of the few Jews to leave Auschwitz alive, thanks to Oskar Schindler

Filed under: Holocaust, movies — Tags: , — furtherglory @ 12:18 pm

Niusia Horowitz was a prisoner at the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp when she was a young girl. She was “hand-picked” for the gas chamber twice, but thanks to Oskar Schindler, she was saved because she had small fingers, perfect for polishing the inside of munition shells.  You can read her full story in The Sun online newspaper here.

This quote is from the article in The Sun:

As a 12-year-old, caged in the Nazis’ Auschwitz death camp, she was twice hand-picked for the gas chamber.

Incredibly, both times she cheated death at the last minute after guards were bribed to spare her.

And Niusia became one of the few Jews ever to leave Auschwitz alive — thanks to heroic German industrialist Oskar Schindler.

The factory boss — whose selfless mission to save Jews inspired Steven Spielberg’s 1993 film Schindler’s List — gave her a job at his fake munitions factory.

He then lied to convince Nazi bosses she was a key worker, despite her age, protecting her until the end of the war. Niusia, now 80, recalls: “An officer questioned whether I was really essential to the war effort. The answer was yes, because my hands were really small and I could polish inside munition shells where adult hands couldn’t reach.”

If you have seen the movie Schindler’s List, you may remember how Oskar Schindler went to Auschwitz and saved two young girls by telling the SS men that he needed someone to work in his factory who had small hands.  Niusia Horowitz was one of those young girls.

This quote is from the news article in The Sun:

Her story is so incredible that Spielberg wrote her character into his film and even let her appear in the final scene as herself.


Niusia’s hellish ordeal deepened in autumn 1944 when Schindler bribed German officials to let him move his operation to safer Brinnlitz, [ Brünnlitz] near Zwittau, his home town.

Each Jew was placed on “Schindler’s List” and transported by train to the town, where he had set up a bogus munitions factory.

All the male workers arrived safely, but a mix-up meant [train] carriages carrying young Niusia and around 300 other female Schindler Jews went to Auschwitz instead.

The movie Schindler’s List is based on a novel, entitled Schindler’s Ark, written by Thomas Keneally and first published in 1982.  The reason that the book is classified as a novel is because the book is LOOSELY BASED ON THE TRUTH; it is not purported  to be the Gospel truth. It is not true that the women on Schindler’s List had been sent to Auschwitz because of a “mix-up.” 

The real-life story is that the men on Schidler’s List were sent to the Gross Rosen concentration camp because Schindler’s new factory, a hundred miles from Gross Rosen, was being set up as a sub-camp of Gross Rosen.  On page 276 of Schindler’s Ark, the author wrote that “All Plaszow men would be sent to Gross Rosen.”  The Gross Rosen camp was a men’s camp.  There were no barracks for women at Gross Rosen, so all the Plaszow women had to be sent some place else.

The women on Schindler’s List had to be sent to some other camp until barracks for them could be built at Schindler’s new sub-camp.  The women were NOT sent to Auschwitz because of a mix-up; they were sent to Auschwitz to wait until barracks for them could be built at Schindler’s new sub camp of Gross Rosen.

The Horowitz family is mentioned in the book Schindler’s Ark on page 200 in this quote:

Among prisoners who knew, there was already competition to get into Emalia [Schindler's factory in Krakow]. Prisoner Dolek Horowitz, a purchasing officer inside the Plaszow camp, [located 10 miles from Krakow] knew that he would not be allowed to go to Schindler’s place himself. But he had a wife and two children. [...]

It was not only, and perhaps not mainly, Richard [his son] whom Dolek wanted to get into Schindler’s compound. [...] It was his ten-year-old daughter, Niusia, [....]

On page 291 of the book Schindler’s Ark, it is mentioned that the list was being made up by “the personnel clerk, Marcel Goldberg.”

From page 293 of Schindler’s Ark, we learn that Marcel Goldberg was taking bribes from prisoners who wanted on Schindler’s list of prisoners to be taken to his new factory in Brinnlitz  [Brünnlitz], Czechoslovakia.

This quote is from page 293 of Schindler’s Ark:

“For this list,” said Goldberg, a man of prodigious and accidental power, “it takes diamonds.”  [...] Dolek Horowitz also, who had earlier got his wife and children out to Emalia, now persuaded Goldberg to include him, his wife, his son, his young daughter [Niusia]. Horowitz had always worked in the central warehouse at Plaszow and had managed to put some small treasure way. Now it was paid to Marcel Goldberg [to get his family on Schindler's List].

In other words, Dolek Horowitz was stealing diamonds from the warehouse at the Plaszow camp. Amon Goeth, the Commandant of Plaszow had already been arrested for stealing from the Plaszow warehouse.  The arrest of Amon Goeth is not mentioned at all in the movie Schindler’s List.

This quote is from page 284 of Schindler’s Ark:

Amon was on leave in Vienna, staying with his father, the publisher, when the SS arrested him.

Oskar Schindler was also arrested by the German Gestapo, which is mentioned on page 312 of Schindler’s Ark.  Then on page 314 of the book, we find this quote:

The next day he [Schindler] was interrogated by a panel of SS investigators, one a judge of the SS court.

The unnamed judge of the SS court was Dr. Georg Konrad Morgen, who had already put SS men in the Buchenwald camp on trial; you can read about Dr. Morgen on my website here.

Now for the most important quote, which is from page 318 of Schindler’s Ark:

What is certain is that Oskar now sent a young woman with a suitcase full of liquor, ham, and diamonds to make a deal with these functionaries [Rudolf Höss, Fritz Hartjenstein, and Franz Hössler, the man in charge of the women's camp].


Others claim that Oskar stayed away from Auschwitz himself as a matter of strategy and went to Oranienburg instead, and to the Armaments Inspectorate in Berlin, to put pressure on Hoess and his associates from that end.

The story as Stern would tell it years later in a public speech in Tel Aviv is as follows. After Oskar’s release from prison, Stern approached Schindler and —”under the pressure of some of my comrades”— begged Oskar to do something decisive about the women ensnared in Auschwitz. [...]

According to Stern, the secretary went [to Auschwitz]. When she did not return within two days, Schindler himself —in the company of the obscure Peltze— went to settle the matter.

The book Schindler’s Ark, which is a novel, goes on and on about what girl went to the camp to get the Schindler’s List women out of Auschwitz, and whom she slept with or didn’t sleep with, whether she volunteered to go or not, etc. etc.  Anything but the truth.  The truth is that Oskar Schindler’s secretary went to Auschwitz to make sure that Schindler’s women got on the right train out of the camp.

Regarding the scene where Oskar Schindler tells the SS at Auschwitz that he needs workers with small fingers, this quote begins on page 319:

…. Oskar pursued his usual line. There are irreplaceable skilled munitions workers [among the women on Schinlder's List]. I have trained them myself over a period of years. They represent skills that I cannot quickly replace.  The names I know, that is, are the names I know.

A moment said his tempter.  [...] I see an 11-year-old daughter of Regina Horowitz [listed].  Are you telling me that [...] an 11-year-old [is] a skilled munitions worker?  They polish the forty-five millimeter shells said Oskar.  They were selected for their long fingers, which can reach the interior of the shell in a way that is beyond most adults.

Such conversation took place in support of the girl who was a friend of the family took place, conducted by Oskar either in person, or by telephone.

According to the novel Schindler’s Ark, Schindler had previously claimed in 1943 that another girl, Anita Lampel, whose hands he had never seen, was needed in his factory in Krakow because she had long fingers. This quote is from Schindler’s Ark:

Anita Lampel was herself in Auschwitz now, but was grown tall and no longer needed the long-fingered ploy. So it was transferred to the benefit of the daughters of Mrs. Horowitz [Niusia] and Mrs. Rath.  [the daughter of Mrs. Rath was nine years old]

I could not find any mention in the book Schindler’s Ark about Niusia Horowitz being selected twice for the gas chamber at Auschwitz, and being saved twice by Oskar Schindler.

This quote is also from the article in The Sun:

Crucially, the Horowitzes secured Niusia a menial job in Schindler’s enamel factory, where word had spread that he protected Jews.

His wining and dining of Third Reich leaders meant they let him use captive Jews as cheap labour, sparing them from the killings and torture rife in the ghetto.

And Schindler — called Herr Direktor by his grateful Jewish workers — quickly took a shine to his youngest girl worker.

But that affection nearly cost him his life, as powerfully illustrated in Spielberg’s film.

Niusia was nominated by the factory Jews to present him with a birthday cake made by pressing together their bread rations as a token of gratitude.

 She recalls: “I remember him bending down and kissing me on the forehead. I had no idea it would get him into trouble. I was only young and didn’t understand.”

Schindler was arrested for kissing a Jew before being spared because of his high-ranking Nazi contacts. In March 1943, Niusia’s family were forced into the Plaszow concentration camp. Their factory jobs kept them safe — but Niusia witnessed executions that disturb her to this day.

However, the book Schindler’s Ark mentions on page 109 that Schindler “heartily kissed a girl named Kucharska.”  For this, he was arrested for breaking the provisions of the Race and Resettlement Act because Kucharska was Jewish.

There is no mention in the novel Schindler’s Ark that Schindler ever kissed Niusia.

I previously blogged about the movie Schindler’s List here and here.

February 10, 2013

youngest survivor on Schindler’s List has died at the age of 83

Filed under: Holocaust, movies — Tags: , , , , , — furtherglory @ 1:38 pm

Leon Leyson, who was 13 years old, when his name was put on Schindler’s List, has died in Los Angeles, CA at the age of 83.  You can read the news of his death here.

This quote is from the news article about his death:

Because of Schindler’s interventions and after being ultimately placed on his list of workers which meant they were save from the death camps, Leon survived alongside his parents and an older brother and sister.

His other two brothers were killed.

“Five of us survived the war, this is the bottom line, out of everyone who was related to me in Poland. And we survived because we were on Schindler’s list,” Leon said during an interview in 2008 on NBC4.

On June 1, 2010, I blogged about Leon Leyson and Schindler’s List here.

I am re-posting part of my original blog post from 2010:

Scene from the movie Shindler's List

Scene from the movie Shindler’s List

Schindler did not personally make up the “List of Jews” for his factory, as it was portrayed in the movie. David Crowe wrote a book entitled Oskar Schindler, in which he revealed that the movie scene, shown in the photo above, is pure fiction.

According to Crowe, Oskar Schindler had no role in preparing the famous list, other than giving SS-Hauptscharführer Franz Josef Müller some general guidelines for the type of workers he wanted on the list.

Amon Göth, the Commandant of the Plaszow camp, who shot prisoners from his balacony in the movie, had been arrested by the SS on September 13, 1944 and was in prison in Breslau when the list was prepared, but this is not mentioned in the movie.  Göth just disappears in the movie and no one notices that he is gone.

David Crowe wrote that the person responsible for the preparation of Schindler’s List was Marcel Goldberg, a corrupt Jewish prisoner at the Plaszow camp, who was a member of the Ordnungdienst, the camp’s Jewish police force. Goldberg was the assistant of SS-Hauptscharführer Franz Josef Müller, the SS man responsible for the transport lists. Only about one third of the Jews on the list had previously worked in Schindler’s factory in Krakow.

The novel, Schindler’s Ark tells about how Goldberg accepted bribes from the prisoners who wanted to get on the list.

In his book Oskar Schindler, David Crowe wrote:

“… watch how Steven Spielberg traces the story of Marcel Goldberg, the real author of Schindler’s List, in his film. He begins in the early part of the film with Goldberg sitting near Leopold “Poldek” Page and other Jewish black marketeers in Krakow’s Marjacki Bazylika (church) as Oskar Schindler tries to interest them in doing business with a German. What follows throughout the rest of the film is the subtle tale of Goldberg’s gradual moral degeneration. Schindler, for example, gives Itzhak Stern first a lighter, then a cigarette case, and finally a watch to bribe Goldberg to send more Jews to his factory from Plaszow.”

Here is the true story of what actually happened:

After Germany conquered Poland in 1939,  Oskar Schindler purchased a factory in the city of Krakow, where he employed Jews from the Krakow ghetto.  When the Krakow ghetto was closed, all the Jews were sent to the nearby Plaszow labor camp which was just outside the city of Krakow.

Schindler got permission to turn his factory into a sub-camp of the Plaszow camp, so that he could continue to employ Jews, instead of Polish workers.

He built barracks at his factory for Jewish prisoners, who were then transferred from the Plaszow camp to his sub-camp. After the Plaszow labor camp became a concentration camp, Schindler’s  factory sub-camp was then put under the authority of the WVHA, the economic office of the Nazi concentration camp system.

Oskar Schindler was making a fortune during the occupation of Poland during World War II.  Schindler was hiring Jews in his factory and paying lower wages than what he would have had to pay Polish workers.

By 1944, the Nazis were only allowing munitions factories to become sub-camps in their concentration camp system. 

Schindler’s factory in Krakow had two parts; one part of his factory made enamel pots and pans for the German army, but he was also producing munitions for the German military.  The Nazis did not want to open a munitions factory that would be a sub-camp of Gross Rosen, so Schindler had to bribe them to allow him to open a munitions factory near his home town of Brünnlitz, in what is now the Czech Republic.

When the Plaszow camp was closed in 1944, all the men in the camp were sent to the Gross Rosen concentration camp, including the Jews on Schindler’s List.

All the women in the Plaszow camp had to go to Auschwitz temporarily until barracks could be built for them at Gross Rosen, which was a men’s camp.

After barracks, for both men and women, were built at Schindler’s new sub-camp, the Jews on his List were sent there, including his female workers, who were temporarily staying at Auschwitz.

In real life, Schindler sent his secretary to Auschwitz to make sure that his Jewish workers got on the right train, but he didn’t go himself.

What if Schindler had just closed his munitions factory in Krakow and not bribed the Nazis to allow him to move it to Brunnlitz?  What would have happened to the prisoners on his famous list?  Would they have been sent immediately to the gas chambers?  No.  The men would have been sent to the Gross Rosen concentration camp which did not have gas chambers.  The women and children would have been sent, temporarily, to Auschwitz which was only 37 miles from Krakow, but they would not necessarily have been gassed.  There were numerous survivors of Auschwitz, including old women and little children.

The food for the prisoners in Oskar Schindler’s sub-camp was provided by the Nazis, but Schindler spent his own money to buy extra food and medicine for them.  His workers had a better chance of survival than they would have had in any other camp, but even then, some of his workers died of disease.  The Plaszow prisoners, who did not get on Schindler’s List, were not condemned to “certain death.” 

This quote is from the news article about Leyson’s death:

When the Nazis ordered the remaining Jews of Krakow to be sent to Auschwitz., Schindler acted again paying huge bribes and using all of his influence to ensure as many as possible were relocated to outside [his] home town and thus away from the Final Solution.

Schindler also dramatically intervened when Leyson’s mother and sister were among 300 Schindler women accidentally re-routed to Auschwitz when they were meant to be led to safety.

They knew the gas chambers awaited them until they heard Schindler’s voice.

The information in the above quote is based on the story that is told in the movie Schindler’s List.  It is true that Schindler had to bribe the Nazis to allow him to set up a factory outside his home town in what is now the Czech Republic, but the reason that Schindler had to bribe the Nazis was not because the workers in his factory had been ordered to be sent to Auschwitz to be killed.  No, the prisoners in Schindler’s factory in Krakow had been scheduled to go to Gross Rosen, a concentration camp which did not have a gas chamber.  Schindler’s Jews had not been scheduled to be killed.

The female prisoners on Schindler’s List had to go to Auschwitz-Birkenau to wait until barracks at Schindler’s new factory could be built for them.  In the movie Schindler’s list, the women are shown in the shower room at Auschwitz and they are over-joyed to see water come out of the faucets, not gas.

January 6, 2013

People in 213 countries read my blog in 2012

Filed under: Holocaust, movies — Tags: , , — furtherglory @ 7:52 am

WordPress has given me an annual report for 2012. My blog had 1,385,396 views in 2012, and 5,954 comments in 2012. Most of the readers of my blog were located in the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada, with Germany coming in fourth.  I wrote on several different subjects in 2012, but the most interest was in my blog posts about the Holocaust. This subject has world-wide interest, as indicated by the fact that people in 213 countries read my blog in 2012.

My most popular blog post, out of 849 posts that I have written since I started on February 5, 2010, is the one with the title Did Amon Goeth save more Jews than Oscar Schindler?.  WordPress made a suggestion that I should write more on this subject.

As a matter of fact, I have written more on the subject of Amon Goeth here and here.  Another blog post that has been read many times is the one with the title Inheritance,” a documentary about Monika Hertwig, the daughter of Amon Goeth which you can read here. My blog post about the documentary Inheritance is in the top five of my most read posts.

The subject of Amon Goeth has generated the most interest because every student in America has seen the movie Schindler’s List in the classroom. In the movie, Amon Goeth is demonized as the world’s most evil person, the monster who shot innocent Jewish prisoners from his balcony.  There are more people in the world, who believe this deception, than there are people who believe in God. There is nothing that can convince most people that this didn’t happen.  The belief in Amon Goeth as the devil is a basic tenet of the Holocaust religion.

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