Scrapbookpages Blog

January 20, 2018

President Donald Trump has way surpassed Richard Nixon in evil deeds, and in the danger he presents to democracy….

Filed under: Trump — furtherglory @ 2:45 pm

The title of my blog post today is a quote from this news article:

The news article starts off with this quote:

Begin quote

Donald Trump has been a nightmare, and as the Robert Mueller investigation moves forward, the nation is endangered by the unpredictability of the 45th President, and the refusal of his party to face its responsibility to the nation at large.

We are in a constitutional and foreign policy crisis far greater than even Richard Nixon presented us 45 years ago. The most unpopular President in his first year in office since public opinion polls began 80 years ago, Donald Trump, the popular vote loser by a massive margin of nearly 3 million votes, governs outside of the party structure much of the time, and displays clear authoritarian leanings that endanger all Americans and their basic freedoms and national security. That includes the one third of the nation which adores him.

To try to summarize the damage Donald Trump has done cannot easily be accomplished in one essay, but as best as this author can do, here is an attempt, with the understanding that so much that is detrimental has occurred that even seasoned journalists have trouble keeping up with it all.

Donald Trump has undermined the judicial branch with his attacks on federal judges and his selection of incompetent and unqualified nominees for lifetime positions on the district and circuit courts.


Donald Trump has assaulted the Bill of Rights and is a threat to the civil liberties and civil rights of African Americans, Latino Americans, Native Americans, women, gay and transgender Americans, and to members of the news media who dare to investigate and question his white supremacist, nativist, racist, and misogynistic utterances and policies.

Calling the free press “the enemy of the American people” puts him in league with dictators and authoritarians in nations like Russia, China, Turkey, Egypt, and the Philippines and in the tradition of such past regimes as Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, and the Soviet Union.

End quote

Is Trump having an affair in the White House?

Filed under: Trump — furtherglory @ 11:33 am

This news article claims that Trump might be having an affair in the White House.

Trump and his wife do not share a bedroom. She has her own apartment in the White House, where she lives with her son.

The following quote is from the news article:

Begin quote

Michael Wolff, author of the book “Fire and Fury,” dropped a bombshell claim on Friday that President Trump may be having an extramarital affair in the White House.

Wolff appeared on HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher on Friday night and said, “There is something in the book that I was absolutely sure of but it was so incendiary that I just didn’t have the ultimate proof.”

When Maher asked whether it was “a woman thing,” Wolff responded, “Well, I didn’t have the blue dress,” in a reference to the key evidence of Bill Clinton’s relationship with Monica Lewinsky.

End quote


January 19, 2018

Teaching the Holocaust in American schools

Filed under: Germany, Holocaust — furtherglory @ 3:05 pm

I wrote about this subject in this previous blog post:

I am putting this up again because I don’t think that the Holocaust should be taught in American schools.

A Holocaust museum in Brooklyn

Filed under: Germany, Holocaust — furtherglory @ 12:49 pm

This news article tells about the Jews during the Holocaust:

Begin quote from news article:

A group of teenage girls from a private Jewish school clustered around the vitrines during a recent visit and learned about the Walkin family, who fled Lithuania on the Trans-Siberian Railway in 1941, landing first in Kobe, Japan, and then in Shanghai. Program coordinator Miryam Gordon pointed out sabbath candlesticks adorned with Chinese characters.

“Daily life continued,” she said. “Children were born. People got married.”

Reidel’s own grandfather, Mike Tress, is featured in Amud Aish’s collection for his work trying to secure passage for European Jews to the United States or another safe haven.

Faith and survival, not the machinery of death, are the central themes at an atypical Holocaust museum in Brooklyn.

The 3-year-old Amud Aish Memorial Museum, located far from the tourist crowds at near the very edge of the borough, focuses on the experiences of Orthodox Jews during and after the Holocaust.

Its collection includes letters, diaries, photos and religious items, like a frayed prayer shawl worn secretly by a prisoner at Auschwitz.

Many were donated by Orthodox and ultra-Orthodox Jews who had stashed the artifacts in basements and attics would not have given them to another museum, Amud Aish staffers said.

“Part of that is because their culture is different and they don’t patronize museums for the most part,” said Shoshana Greenwald, director of collections. “But here they felt this was a museum that would tell their story and understand where they are coming from.”

The collection includes the Warsaw Ghetto diary of Hillel Seidman, who wrote about Jews’ daily struggle to survive and to practice their religion in the face of horrific persecution.

“It’s a well-known diary,” said Dovid Reidel, the museum’s director of research. “This is the original.”

The family of Seidman, who survived the Holocaust and died in 1995, gave the diary to Amud Aish because they “felt other museums will just focus on his general story,” Reidel said. “They felt he wouldn’t be appreciated from his religious dimension as well.”

Currently housed in a temporary space downstairs from a home health care company, far from city subway lines, the Amud Aish Memorial Museum has long planned on moving to a more prominent location. When it opened in the remote Mill Basin neighborhood, there were plans to build an $11 million permanent museum in the borough’s Borough Park section, home to a huge and growing population of Orthodox Jews. Sholom Friedmann, the museum’s director and CEO, said there’s now no fixed date for a move.

An exhibit that officially opens at the museum later this month tells the little-known story of thousands of Jews who found refuge in Japanese-occupied Shanghai, China.

A group of teenage girls from a private Jewish school clustered around the vitrines during a recent visit and learned about the Walkin family, who fled Lithuania on the Trans-Siberian Railway in 1941, landing first in Kobe, Japan, and then in Shanghai. Program coordinator Miryam Gordon pointed out sabbath candlesticks adorned with Chinese characters.

“Daily life continued,” she said. “Children were born. People got married.”

Reidel’s own grandfather, Mike Tress, is featured in Amud Aish’s collection for his work trying to secure passage for European Jews to the United States or another safe haven.

End quote from news article

“Death at Nuremberg” is in the news

Filed under: Germany — furtherglory @ 9:39 am

You can read about “Death at Nuremberg” in this news article:

Begin quote from news article:

“Death at Nuremberg” by W.E.B. Griffin and William E. Butterworth IV is more than a thriller. These authors have a knack for telling a riveting story that is intertwined with historical facts. It is a reminder of past history and the plot supports how history in many ways is repeating itself. Some of the facts are so incredibly gripping they can make a thriller in and of themselves.

This plot covers the time period when the Nuremberg war trials began, with covert intelligence agent Capt. James Cronley Jr. having to handle many fronts: the Russians, Nazis and a bureaucracy. He has been reassigned from the chief, DCI-Europe to protecting the Nuremberg U.S. Chief Prosecutor Robert Jackson and the American Judge Francis Biddle from a possible Soviet NKGB kidnapping. In addition to that, he is still hunting down and dismantling Odessa, an organization dedicated to helping Nazi war criminals escape to South America.

End quote from news article

You can also read about Nuremberg on my website. The following is a quote from my website:

Nürnberg castle after it was restored

The city of Nürnberg, in the German state of Bavaria, is famous for its medieval walls and ancient castle, gingerbread cookies, toy manufacturing, Gothic churches, Nürnberger bratwurst and the Christmas market.

The city dates back to the year 1050 and for around 500 years, it was the unofficial capital of the Holy Roman Empire, sometimes referred to by historians as the First Reich or first German empire.

The National Socialists made Nürnberg the unofficial capital of their empire, which became known as the Third Reich. The Second Reich was the unification of the German states in 1871.

In January 1945, 90% of the old city of Nürnberg was destroyed when it was bombed by the Allies because of its historic importance to Hitler and the Nazis.

The famous Nürnberg Castle and the city wall were damaged in the bombing raid, but have been restored. Much of Nürnberg was rebuilt to look like the original, but there are also modern buildings, as shown in the photo below.

Modern buildings in Nuremberg

Church in the heart of Nürnberg

On April 20, 1945 (Hitler’s 56th birthday), the city was captured by three divisions of the American Seventh Army, after a fierce battle that had lasted for several days.

It was at the Zeppelin Field, just outside the city of Nürnberg, that the National Socialists staged huge annual party rallies in the 1930ies. The rally would be preceded by a performance of the Wagnerian opera, “Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg,” the story of Hans Sachs, which was Hitler’s favorite.

Because of its close association with the Nazi party, the city of Nürnberg was chosen as the site of the International Military Tribunal, the war crimes trial, which started in November 1945 at the Justizgebäude (Palace of Justice).

After the war, Nuremberg was in the American zone of occupation and American troops were stationed in the city until 1992.

Building in the city of Nuremberg

Nürnberg is also famous for the 1935 Nuremberg Laws, which defined who was a Jew, based on heredity, and allowed German citizenship only to ethnic Germans. The Nuremberg Laws denied the Jews the right to fly the Nazi flag, but at the same time, protected the right of the Zionists to fly their own flag, which is now the flag of Israel.

The Nuremberg Laws formed the basis for the plans that were made on January 20, 1942 for the “Final Solution of the Jewish Question,” since this law was used to determine who would be transported, from Germany and the Nazi occupied countries, to the concentration camps in the East.

Street scene in the city of Nürnberg

Tower at one of the old gates into the city

Hotel Deutscher Kaiser with tower in the background

Photos of a house in the former village of Altenfurt, which has been incorporated into the city of Nürnberg are shown on this page.

Bomb Damage

Bombed Churches


Hans Sachs

Zeppelin Field

Palace of Justice




January 17, 2018

Sobibor “death camp” is back in the news

Filed under: Germany, Holocaust — furtherglory @ 11:03 am

Sobibor Death Camp Memorial Site

Railroad Station at Sobibor, former camp location on the left — Photo Credit: Alan Collins

Sobibor was a death camp, built by the Nazis in March 1942 for the sole purpose of killing European Jews in gas chambers. An estimated 250,000 Jews were murdered at Sobibor during a period of only 18 months, according to the US Holocaust Memorial Museum.

The old train station at the village of Sobibor is shown on the right side of the photograph above; train service to Sobibor was discontinued in 1999. Also on the right side of the photo is the house where the Commandant of the camp formerly lived.

Franz Stangl was the first Commandant of the camp. Stangl had previously headed the euthanasia center at Hartheim Castle in Austria where physically and mentally disabled Germans were killed with carbon monoxide in a gas chamber. After six months at Sobibor, Stangl was transferred to the Treblinka death camp where he served as the Commandant.

A list of all the SS men who worked at Sobibor can be found on this web site.

The train tracks are barely visible on the left side of the photo above. A railroad spur line was built at Sobibor in order to take the train cars inside the camp. The location of the former camp is to the left, across from the station, in the photo above.

Entrance to the Memorial Site with the Museum in the background — Photo Credit: Alan Collins

The plaques on the wall at the entrance have the same message in different languages. The English version reads:

At this site, between the years 1942 and 1943, there existed a Nazi death camp where 250,000 Jews and approximately 1,000 Poles were murdered. On October 14, 1943, during the revolt by the Jewish prisoners the Nazis were overpowered and several hundred prisoners escaped to freedom. Following the revolt the death camp ceased to function. “Earth conceal not my blood” (Job)

Museum at the Memorial Site, built in 1993

Photo Credit: Alan Collins

Alan Collins, the photographer who took all of these photos, wrote the following about Sobibor:

This is one of the lesser known camps though there was a Hollywood film regarding the mass escape from it. It was a bit of a disappointment with 2 monuments next to each other and a third close by. The museum was small with not much of an exhibition. Whilst I was there a coach party arrived. It took them 5 minutes to walk to the monuments, 10 minutes to walk around them and take photographs, and 5 minutes to walk back to their coach. It took me just 10 minutes to walk slowly around the museum. Though the area is well tended I feel more of an effort could have been made considering tens of thousands of people were murdered there. The camp is open daily from 1st May to 14th October between 0900-1400.

The Sobibor camp was on the eastern edge of German-occupied Poland, five kilometers west of the Bug river. The Bug river was as far as trains from western Europe could go without changing the wheels to fit the train tracks in the Soviet Union, which were a different gauge. On the other side of the Bug river from Sobibor was Ukraine, which had belonged to the Soviet Union until it was taken by the Germans shortly after their invasion of the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941. The unsuspecting victims who arrived at Sobibor were told that they would be sent to work camps in Ukraine after they had taken a shower, but instead, the Jews were immediately killed in gas chambers disguised as shower rooms.

Sobibor was one of the three Aktion Reinhard camps which were set up following the Wannsee Conference on January 20, 1942 when “The Final Solution to the Jewish Question in Europe” was planned. The head of Aktion Reinhard (Operation Reinhard) was SS-Brigadeführer Odilio Globocnik, who had previously been the Gauleiter of Vienna, Austria. Globocnik and Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler both committed suicide after being captured by the British.

The other two Aktion Reinhard camps were Belzec and Treblinka. The first Commandant at Belzec was Christian Wirth, who was also the Inspector of the Aktion Reinhard camps. Belzec and Treblinka were also very near the Bug river which formed the eastern border between German-occupied Poland and the Soviet Union. Across the Bug river from Treblinka was Belorussia (White Russia) which is now called Belarus.

According to the figures given by the Nazis at the Wannsee Conference, there were approximately 5 million Jews in the Soviet Union in January 1942, including 2,994,684 in Ukraine and 446,484 in Belorussia. There were another 2,284,000 Jews in the area of German-occupied Poland known as the General Government. At the Conference, the Nazis claimed that they were planning to resettle some of the Jews who were living in the General Government into Ukraine, an area of the Soviet Union which Germany controlled at that time.

The Nazis claimed that the Aktion Reinhard camps were transit camps for the “evacuation of the Jews to the East,” a euphemism for the genocide of the Jews. Unlike the death camps at Auschwitz and Majdanek, the three Aktion Reinhard camps did not have ovens to cremate the bodies. The Jews were not registered upon arrival at the Aktion Reinhard camps and no death records were kept.

At the Nuremberg International Military Tribunal in 1946, documents were introduced which showed an exchange of letters in 1943 between Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler, the head of all the concentration camps, and Richard Glücks, the Inspector of the Concentration Camps, in which Glücks suggested that Sobibor be converted into a concentration camp. In a letter dated 5 July 1943, Himmler rejected this idea. This indicates that Sobibor was not a concentration camp, but rather a place that was not part of the Nazi concentration camp system.

The three Aktion Reinhard camps were all in remote locations, but “each site was on a railroad line linking it with hundreds of towns and villages whose Jewish communities were now trapped and starving” in the spring of 1942, according to Martin Gilbert’s book entitled “The Holocaust.” Sobibor was linked by rail with many large Jewish communities, including Lublin, Wlodawa and Chelm. Jews were also brought from the Theresienstadt ghetto, located in what is now the Czech Republic, and from the Netherlands, to be gassed at Sobibor.

The city of Lublin in eastern Poland was the headquarters of Aktion Reinhard. The clothing taken from the victims at the three Aktion Reinhard camps was sent to the Majdanek camp in Lublin to be disinfected with Zyklon-B before being shipped to Germany. There were no disinfection chambers for delousing the clothing at Sobibor.

Deportations to Sobibor began in mid April 1942 with transports from the town of Zamosc in Poland, according to Holocaust historian Martin Gilbert. The Jews from the Lublin ghetto were also sent to Sobibor to be gassed, although there were several gas chambers at Majdanek just outside the city of Lublin. During the first phase of the extermination of the Jews at Sobibor, which lasted until July 1942, around 100,000 Jews were gassed to death. Their bodies were buried in mass graves, then dug up later and burned on pyres. During the next phase, the bodies were burned immediately, according to Toivi Blatt, one of the few survivors of Sobibor. At the age of 15, Blatt had been selected to work in sorting the clothing in the camp.

Photo Credit: Jen Rosenberg and

Sobibor was initially divided into three camps (Lager 1, Lager II and Lager III) but a fourth camp was added later to store munitions captured from the Soviet Army. Lager I was where the Jewish workers in the camp lived. A moat on one side of this camp prevented their escape. Lager II was where the victims undressed; Jewish workers sorted the clothing in this camp. The barracks for the German SS administrators of the camp were located in the Vorlager.

From Lager II, an SS man escorted the victims through a path lined with tree branches to the gas chambers in Lager III. Only the Ukrainian SS guards and the German SS officers were allowed in Lager III.

The Sobibor camp was 400 meters wide and 600 meters long; the entire area was enclosed by a barbed wire fence that was three meters high. On three sides of the camp was a mine field, intended to keep anyone from approaching the camp. The watch towers were manned by Ukrainian SS guards who had been conscripted from captured soldiers in the Soviet Army to assist the 30 German SS men who were the administrators of the camp. In 1965, a German court put 11 of the German SS guards on trial; 6 of them were sentenced to prison, and one committed suicide during the trial; the others were acquitted.

The victims arrived on trains which stopped at the ramp across from the Sobibor station, or in trucks from nearby Polish villages. Most of the Jews were transported in cattle cars, but the 34,000 Dutch Jews who were sent to Sobibor arrived in passenger trains, according to Toivi Blatt. The luggage of the Dutch Jews was transported in separate cars and the victims were given tags which they were told would be used to reclaim their bags. All of the belongings of the Jews were confiscated upon arrival.

At the entrance to the camp, the victims were instructed to deposit their hand baggage and purses before proceeding along the path, called the “Himmelfahrtstrasse” (Street to heaven), which led to the spot where the hair was cut from the heads of the women, and then on to the gas chambers disguised as showers.

According to Toivi Blatt, all documents, photos and personal items were removed from the confiscated baggage and anything that could not be recycled to send to Germany was burned in open fires that lit up the night sky.

The photo below shows the spot in Camp III where a brick building with gas chambers allegedly once stood. A large block of stone represents the gas chambers in two buildings at Sobibor, which were torn down long ago. Survivors of Sobibor do not agree on the number or size of the gas chambers. The victims were killed with carbon monoxide from the exhaust of engines taken from captured Soviet tanks, which were stored in Camp IV. There is also disagreement on whether these were diesel engines or gasoline engines.

Two Monuments at the entrance, erected in 1965

Photo Credit: Alan Collins

Monument at the Entrance to former camp

Photo Credit: Alan Collins

The red stone sculpture shown in the photos above represents a woman, looking up at the sky, holding a small child in her arms. In the background can be seen the huge mound of ashes that is located in the former Camp III. These are the ashes of the Jews who were allegedly gassed and burned at Sobibor.

Sobibor Monument — Photo Credit: Alan Collins

The photo above shows a huge mound of ashes and bone fragments surrounded by a stone wall. In front of the wall is a glass display case which contains a small amount of ashes and bone. There is also a display of ashes and bone fragments in the Museum at Sobibor.

The same procedure of first burying the bodies and then exhuming them for burning was also followed at the Belzec, Treblinka and Chelmno extermination camps. In an attempt to destroy all the evidence, the ashes of the victims at Chelmno were hauled away secretly during the night by the SS men and taken to another town where they were dumped into a river. The ashes at Treblinka and Belzec were buried to destroy the evidence.

Only at Sobibor and Majdanek were the ashes of the victims left as incriminating evidence. There is a similar mound of ashes at the Memorial Site of the Majdanek death camp where, according to the most recent information given at the Museum, 78,000 people died including 59,000 Jews. Majdanek was both a death camp and a work camp.

Majdanek Mausoleum contains the ashes of victims beneath the dome — Photo Credit: Simon Robertson

During World War II, and for years afterward, the Sobibor camp was virtually unknown. William Shirer did not even mention it in his monumental 1147-page book entitled “The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich.”

It was not until the release of a 1987 TV movie, “Escape from Sobibor,” based on a book with the same name, that the public knew of this remote spot where thousands of Jews lost their lives. The movie tells the story of the revolt during which around 300 prisoners escaped; no more than 50 of them survived to the end of the war.

According to an article in the Liverpool Daily Post, a prisoner named Leon Feldhendler had been formulating plans for an escape for many months but it wasn’t until the arrival in Sobibor of a transport of Soviet prisoners of war, among them Red Army Officer Alexander ‘Sasha’ Pechersky, that the plan of action really began to take shape.

Initially Feldhendler and his conspirators had thought of poisoning the camp guards and making their escape but the guards discovered the poison and shot 5 prisoners in reprisal.

Another idea, to set fire to the camp and escape in the confusion, had to be abandoned when the Germans planted mines around the camp perimeter.

Feldhendler met with Pechersky and with the aid of another man, Solomon Leitman, who acted as the interpreter, became Pechersky’s main collaborator in the plot. With his military experience, the former Red Army Lieutenant quickly assumed the leadership of the escape plan.

The following quote about the Sobibor uprising on October 14, 1943 is from the Liver Pool Daily Post:

Pechersky successfully escaped into the woods, but about 80 prisoners were killed during the escape. 130 of the 550 prisoners at Sobibor at the time chose not to take part in the uprising remaining in the camp.11 SS Officers, and an unknown number of Camp Guards had been killed.

Of the escapees, 170 were later rounded up and executed, along with those that had remained in the camp and took no part in the uprising.

By this stage of the war the Allies still didn’t have the full picture of what Hitler’s concentration camps were about. Fearing the escapees would tell the story to the World, and as anxious to save his own neck as ever he was, within days of the escape Heinrich Himmler ordered the camp closed down, dismantled, and planted with trees to hide the evidence.

Pechersky survived the war, the undoubted ringleader and hero of the uprising was Portrayed by Rutger Hauer in the dramatised TV film version of the story ‘ Escape From Sobibor ‘ in 1987. He died in 1990.

Leon Feldhendler was shot and killed through the closed door of his flat in 1945.

53 Sobibor escapees survived the war.

One of the survivors of the escape from Sobibor was Esther Terner Raab, who made her home in New Jersey in the USA after the war. A theatrical production called “Dear Esther” is based on letters written to her by students who heard her speak at schools and colleges.

In a TV documentary, Esther told about a party that the SS had before the escape. The SS men told Esther that they were celebrating the fact that one million Jews had been killed at Sobibor.

Unlike the other Nazi death camps, the SS barracks were located inside the Sobibor camp. According to Toivi Blatt, the Jewish workers in the camp socialized with each other and sometimes with the SS guards.

Another Sobibor survivor, Moshe Bahir, testified in 1965, at the trial of several of the Sobibor perpetrators in Hagen, Germany, that he was a witness to a celebration by the Germans in February 1943 after one million Jews had been killed at Sobibor.

However, Raul Hilberg wrote in his book entitled “The Destruction of the European Jews” that the number of Jews killed at Sobibor was estimated to be 200,000.

The exact number of Jews who were murdered at Sobibor is unknown since the bodies were burned on pyres and the train records were destroyed. Estimates range from 170,000 to 250,000 deaths in the short time that Sobibor was in operation.

According to Dutch historian Johannes Houwink ten Cate, the transportation list of the Jews sent on 19 trains to Sobibor from the transit camp at Westerbork in the Netherlands contains the names and place of birth of the 34,000 Dutch Jews, but the names of the Jews sent from other countries to Sobibor are unknown.

Approximately 33,000 Dutch Jews were allegedly killed in the gas chambers at Sobibor and 1,000 were chosen as workers at Sobibor, or to be sent to a nearby labor camp. Only 19 Dutch Jews survived.

In 1999, Jules Schelvis, the sole survivor of a transport of Dutch Jews from Westerbork on June 1, 1943, founded Stichting Sobibor. The foundation’s goal is to keep the memory of the Sobibor camp alive.

As of August 2008, Philip Bialowitz was one of the few survivors of the revolt at Sobibor in October 1943 who was still alive. By the time of his escape, an estimated 250,000 Jews, including most of Bialowitz’s family, had been murdered at Sobibor. After the revolt, the killing stopped at Sobibor, according to Bialowitz, who emigrated to America after the war.

In his book entitled “The Holocaust,” Martin Gilbert wrote about another survivor of Sobibor, Dov Freiberg, who was a 15-year-old boy on a transport of 2,750 Jews from the town of Torobin in Poland on May 12, 1942. The Jews were assembled in the town square and told that they were going to be “resettled in the Ukraine,” according to Freiberg. They were then taken to the nearest railroad station at Krasnowka, where they were joined by Jews from other nearby towns and villages. When their train arrived at the camp, the story of resettlement seemed to be coming true: a sign at the entrance to the camp said “SS Sonderkommando Umsiedlungslager.” which means “SS special unit resettlement camp” in English.

According to Freiberg, there was a band playing at the entrance. The women and children “went straight to the gas chambers,” but since the gas chamber “didn’t really operate in the night,” the men “stayed there on the spot during the night.” Freiberg was one of 150 Jews from this transport who “were sent to work” in the camp itself, sorting the belongings of the victims.

Martin Gilbert wrote that in the month of May 1942, there was a total of 36,000 Jews, from 19 communities between the Vistula river and the Bug river, who were transported to Sobibor and immediately killed in the gas chamber. This was the largest number of Jews gassed that month in any one camp, surpassing Auschwitz, Belzec and Chelmno. The Treblinka camp was not yet open at that time.

At the age of 15, Yaakov Biskowitz was sent on a transport of 3,400 Jews to Sobibor from the town of Hrubieszow in Poland on June 1, 1942. According to his testimony at the trial of Adolf Eichmann in Israel, Yaakov and his father were among 12 Jews who were selected to work in the Sobibor camp. As told by Martin Gilbert in his book entitled “The Holocaust,” Biskowitz recalled how those who were too sick or too old to walk the length of the path to the gas chamber were taken to the so-called Lazarett (hospital) on a small rail spur used to carry coal. Men who could not run fast enough, and small children, would be thrown into the coal wagons and sent to the hospital where they would be shot by the Ukrainian guards.

According to Yaakov Biskowitz, as reported by Martin Gilbert, there were 8 Jews who were forced to work in Camp 3, burning the bodies of the victims who had been gassed. These 8 Jews also sorted the belongings and burned all damaged clothing, personal documents and photographs. Biskowitz testified at the Eichmann trial that his father was shot at the Lazarett (hospital) because he came down with typhoid. (The German word for typhoid is “spotted fever,” the same as the word for typhus; it is more likely that Biskowitz had typhus, which was a problem in the camps in Poland.)

On November 30, 2009, John Demjanjuk, an 89-year-old alleged Ukrainian SS guard at Sobibor, was put on trial in a German court. Demjanjuk was convicted of the crime of being an accessory to the murder of around 27,900 Jews, based on 23 eye-witness accounts that he was one of the men who led the victims to the gas chambers at Sobibor. The eye-witnesses gave their testimony to interrogators of the Soviet Union many years ago and were all dead at the time of the trial.

Demjanjuk had been previously tried and convicted 20 years ago in an Israeli court after he was identified by eye witnesses as a Ukrainian guard nicknamed “Ivan the Terrible” at Treblinka. He spent 7 years in prison in Israel before he won the case on appeal.


January 16, 2018

Where did Anne Frank die? At Auschwitz? Or Bergen-Belsen?

Filed under: Germany, Holocaust — furtherglory @ 5:43 pm

The reason that I am asking the question in the title of my blog post is that I recently read that Anne Frank died in the Nazi prison camp at Auschwitz.

No, no! That is wrong!

Anne Frank died at Bergen-Belsen:

Here is the full story:

In February 1942, the Nazis began rounding up all the Jews in Germany and the occupied countries for evacuation to the East in what the Nazis called “The Final Solution to the Jewish Question.”

13-year-old Anne Frank

Knowing that his family would soon be deported, Otto Frank began preparing a hiding place in the annex of the building where they lived, with a two-year supply of food and other essentials.

Five months later, Anne and her family suddenly disappeared, leaving behind notes saying that they had gone to Switzerland, which was a neutral country during World War II.

Otto Frank’s brother actually did escape from occupied France, going to Switzerland, but Otto Frank wanted to remain in Amsterdam because he had a thriving business there.

Many other Jewish families in Amsterdam also went into hiding, trusting that their Dutch neighbors and business associates would not betray their hiding places to the police. Approximately 25,000 Dutch Jews hid during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands which began after the Germans defeated the Dutch in May 1940 in the early part of World War II.

Those unfortunate Dutch Jews who did not go into hiding were sent to the transit camp at Westerbork, from where they were then transported by train to Auschwitz, the infamous killing center, located in what is now Poland, where millions of Jews perished in the alleged gas chambers.

Many of the 160,000 Jews in the Netherlands were refugees, like the Franks and their friends in the annex, who had escaped from Germany after Hitler and the Nazis came to power in 1933.

Westerbork was originally a refugee camp for German Jews who were regarded as illegal immigrants in the Netherlands after they escaped over the border from Nazi Germany before the war.

The Franks went into hiding on July 6, 1942 shortly after Anne’s 13th birthday on June 12th.

One week later, they were joined by Hermann and Auguste van Pels, their 15-year-old son Peter and Peter’s cat. Dr. Pfeffer, a dentist, joined them on November 16, 1942, bringing along his dentist’s drill.

On August 4th, 1944, the police raided their hiding place in the annex and they were taken to the Westerbork transit camp on a passenger train, after a short stay at the Amsterdam headquarters of the Security Police.

On September 3, 1944, all 8 were loaded onto a freight train and taken on the last transport of Dutch Jews to Auschwitz, where they arrived on the night of September 5th and 6th.

Otto Frank was the only one of the 8 who survived. He died on August 19, 1980 in Switzerland.

Hermann van Pels was allegedly murdered in the gas chamber at Auschwitz in either September or October 1944, according to the information presented at the Anne Frank House.

Anne’s mother died of tuberculosis in January 1945 at Auschwitz.

Anne and her sister died of typhus at Bergen-Belsen; the others all died from disease in various Nazi concentration camps to which they were transferred from Auschwitz.

Anne and her sister, Margot, were sent from Auschwitz on October 28, 1944 to the Bergen-Belsen exchange camp on a transport which, according to the International Red Cross, consisted of sick women who were expected to recover from their illness.

Later, Anne and Margot both became ill with typhus and died in March 1945 during the horrendous epidemic in Bergen-Belsen. Both were buried in one of the unmarked mass graves there.


A sign near the Anne Frank house warns tourists to watch out for pickpockets who might steal your purse or wallet. These signs were prevalent throughout the city of Amsterdam when I was there several years ago.

Otto Frank’s former factory and the annex remained empty until the late 1950ies when a group of prominent non-Jewish citizens of Amsterdam established the Anne Frank Foundation for the purpose of preserving the building, which had been slated for demolition.

In 1957, the owners of the building donated it to the Foundation. By that time Otto Frank had published Anne’s diary, in June 1947, and the name Anne Frank had become a household word in America after a play based on her diary opened on Broadway in 1955.

The house at 265 Prinsengracht, shown above, is part of the Ann Frank Museum

In 1960, the house and the annex were opened to the public as a museum. On September 28, 1999, the house next door at 265 Prinsengracht was added to the museum to provide more space for exhibits. The photo above shows house #265, but there is no entry to the Museum from the outside door of this building.

Beginning in 1995, a restoration project was begun to put the front building back into its original condition so that visitors today can see what it looked like when Otto Frank operated his businesses there.

The annex where Anne and her family hid from the Nazis is open to the public on every day of the year, except on Yom Kippur, a Jewish holiday which falls on a different date each year. Visiting hours are 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. between April and August. From September to March, the house is open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.

The entrance to the house is through a new modern building at 267 Prinsengracht, two doors up the street. In this building is a bookshop and a cafeteria that tourists can visit at the end of their tour of the exhibits.

The Anne Frank house is located only a few yards from the Westerkerk, a Protestant church with a clock tower which Anne mentioned in the following entry in her diary:

Father, Mother and Margot still can’t get used to the chiming of the Westertoren clock, which tells us the time every quarter of an hour. Not me, I liked it from the start; it sounds so reassuring, especially at night.

The photograph below shows the famous church tower. On the left is the modern building at 267 Prinsengracht; the windows of the cafeteria on the first floor overlook the church. The low building between the church and the cafeteria is, believe or not, a bar. That’s right, a bar adjoins the most famous church in Amsterdam.

The photo below shows the other side of the church where there is a booth for Pink Point of Presence, an organization which provides information for gays and lesbians. Amsterdam has a reputation for being the most tolerant and the most diverse city in the world.

Gay and lesbian information booth next to the Westerkerk church

In front of the Westerkerk church is the Homomonument by Karin Daan. This is a memorial to approximately 10,000 homosexuals who were sent to the Nazi concentration camps; it consists of three triangles which define a larger triangle. One triangle is raised up from the ground, as shown in the photo below.

One of three pink marble triangles in front of the Westerkerk

A second triangle is level with the ground, as shown in the photo below. A third triangle is at a lower level jutting out into the adjacent canal.

Homosexual prisoners were identified by a pink triangle which they had to wear on their uniform. Communists and other political prisoners had to wear a red triangle and German criminals in the concentration camps were distinguished by a green triangle.

One of three pink marble triangles in front of the Westerkerk

The words around the edge of the triangle in the photo above are from a poem by Jacob Israel de Haan: “NAAR VRIENDSCHAP ZULK EEN MATELOOS VERLANGEN.” (Such a boundless longing for friendship.)

Visitors to the Anne Frank house must first purchase a ticket from the booth just inside the entrance to 267 Prinsengracht, which is shown in the photograph below. A free brochure about the exhibits inside is available at the ticket booth.

Signs warn that photography is not permitted in the building, but cameras and backpacks did not have to be checked at the door when I was there. No X-ray machines at the entrance and purses and backpacks were not searched.

Sign at entrance to the Anne Frank house at 267 Prinsengracht The entry tickets are not timed and there is no guide; visitors are allowed to stay as long as they like and view the exhibits for as long as they wish. However, the tour moves in only one direction and visitors may not go back through the exhibit rooms.

There are emergency exits throughout the building which lead to stairs in the building at 265 Prinsengracht. The exhibits are not wheel-chair accessible, and there is no elevator in the Anne Frank house.

Important visitors can obtain permission to enter the Museum through the building at 265 Prinsengracht, which has an elevator.

According to the brochure handed out at the entrance:

Eight hundred school groups attend one of the educational programs at the Anne Frank House each year. There are changing exhibitions mounted focusing on current issues. There is educational material compiled about Anne Frank and World War Two, but also about right-wing extremism, prejudice, discrimination, and ethnic and cultural diversity. The organization tracks political extremism at home and abroad.

A small book entitled “A History for Today, Anne Frank” which I purchased in the bookstore at the Anne Frank House explains the mission of the Anne Frank Foundation.

The following is a quote from the preface of this book, written by Hans Westra, Director of the Anne Frank House:

The goal of the Anne Frank House is to keep alive the memory of Anne Frank and the period when National Socialism was in power. This is not only a matter of human and historical interest; it also has significance for us today. For the Anne Frank House, the memory of Anne Frank is directly related to a concern for preserving freedom and maintaining human rights and a pluralistic and democratic society.


Information for students who are studying the book named “Night” written by Elie Wiesel

Filed under: Auschwitz, Germany, Holocaust — furtherglory @ 11:30 am

I know that American students are frequently assigned to read Elie Wiesel’s book, entitled “Night”, and then write a paper on it.

Below are some Notes for “Night,” the book written by Elie Wiesel.

Night Chapter Summaries

Chapter 1: Wiesel grew up in Sighet, a small town in Translyvania. He is a strict Orthodox Jew who is tutored by Moshe the Beadle. When all foreign Jews are expelled, Moshe is deported. He returns to Sighet with horrific tales. Nobody believes him.

Fascists gain control in Hungary and allow the Nazis to come. The Jews of Sighet remain in denial that anything bad will happen to them. Days later, the town is ordered to evacuate. Eliezer’s family is part of the last group. Their former Gentile servant, Martha, warns them of impending danger and offers them a place of refuge. They refuse.

Chapter 2: Eliezer and his townsmen are packed into cattle cars and suffer terribly. One woman, Madame Schacter, continually screams of a fire. She is silenced by her fellow prisoners. As the train arrives at Birkenau, they see smoke rising from chimneys and are inundated with the horrific smell of burning flesh.

Chapter 3: The first selection occurs. Eliezer and his father lie about their age and avoid the crematorium. As they walk to Auschwitz they pass a pit of burning babies. When they arrive in their barracks they are disinfected with gasoline, receive a tattoo, and are dressed in prison clothes. Eliezer’s father asks to go to the bathroom and is clobbered by a kapo. The prisoners are then escorted to Buna, a work camp four hours away.

Analysis: Wiesel emphasizes the human failure to comprehend just how evil humans can be. He and his family are warned several times to flee, yet they and the town find the truth impossible. Wiesel’s primary goal in publishing Night is to prevent another Holocaust from happening. He emphasizes the need to be aware of evil in the world and to believe first hand accounts of it.

His recounting of the miserable conditions on the cattle cars and the horrific events he witnesses at Birkenau are examples of first hand accounts that must be taken seriously in order to prevent something as horrible from happening again.

Chapter 4: At Buna Eliezer is summoned by the dentist to have his gold crown removed. He feigns illness. The dentist, he discovers, is hanged. Eliezer’s only focus is to eat and stay alive. He is savagely beaten by the kapo, Idek and is consoled by a French worker, whom he meets years after the war. The prison foreman, Franek, notices Eliezer’s gold crown and demands it. He refuses. Franek beats Eliezer’s father and he gives up the crown.

Eliezer catches Idek having sex with a female French worker. Idek whips him mercilessly and warns him that one word of what he saw will result in more severe punishment. During an air raid two cauldrons of soup are left unattended. A prisoner crawls to them and is shot right before eating some. The Nazis erect a gallows at camp and hang three prisoners, the last one, a boy loved by all, causes even the most jaded of prisoners to weep.

Chapter 5: It is late summer 1944 and another selection occurs. This time Eliezer’s father is on the wrong side. He gives his spoon and knife to his son. Eliezer rejoices as he returns and discovers there was another selection and his father still lives. Eliezer hurts his foot and is sent to the infirmary. He hears rumors of Russians approaching. The Nazis evacuate the camp. Eliezer assumes infirmary patients will be killed so he leaves. He discovers later that the patients were liberated the next day.

Chapter 6: The prisoners are forced to run 42 miles in one night during a blizzard. Those unable to keep up are shot. The refugees stop in a small village where Eliezer and his father keep each other awake to avoid freezing to death. Rabbi Eliahu enters a small shack occupied by Eliezer, looking for his son. Eliezer recalls–after Eliahu’s departure–seeing his son desert his father, something he prays for strength never to do. Another selection occurs. Eliezer’s father is sent to the death side. A diversion is created and his father switches lines.

Chapter 7: The survivors are packed into cattle cars and sent to Germany. The train stops frequently to remove dead bodies. Eliezer recounts how German workers throw bread into the cattle cars to witness the prisoners kill each other. Eliezer is nearly killed.

Analysis: Wiesel attributes his survival to luck and coincidence, two ideas that play a prominent role in the novel. Each selection is a matter of luck and coincidence; being assigned to easier jobs is a matter of luck and coincidence; leaving the infirmary is a matter of luck and coincidence. Wiesel honestly portrays his feelings toward his father. He recognizes that his father gives him strength to continue; he acknowledges also that his father at times becomes a burden.

Chapter 8: Upon their arrival at Buchenwald, Eliezer’s father is unable to move. Eliezer brings him soup and coffee, against the advice of other prisoners who counsel him to keep it for himself. Eliezer’s father, suffering from dysentery, begs for water. An SS guard becomes annoyed and knocks him in the head. Eliezer wakes up the next morning and discovers his father’s empty bed. He is more relieved than sad.

Chapter 9: Eliezer is only concerned with food during his remaining months at Buchenwald. On April 5, the evacuation of Buchenwald is ordered. Nazis murder thousands daily. On April 10, Eliezer’s block is ordered to evacuate, but it is cut short by air raid sirens. The next day the camp is liberated. Wiesel nearly dies from food poisoning. He recovers, looks in a mirror, and is shocked by his appearance.

Analysis: Eliezer’s reflection that he resembled a corpse ends the novel with a sense of hopelessness. Despite this hopelessness Wiesel dedicates his life to human rights.

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Characters in Night by Elie Wiesel

When reviewing characters in Night by Elie Wiesel, keep in mind that these Night characters are actual human beings and that Night is a memoir of Wiesel’s actual experience in a concentration camp.

Eliezer – Wiesel gives a first person psychological account of life in a concentration camp. It is important not to confuse the narrator with the author, even though they are the same person. Eliezer’s experiences cause him to question his faith and the existence of a loving, merciful God. Eliezer’s (the narrator’s) account leaves the reader with a sense of hopelessness, that humanity is irredeemable, that God has abandoned his creation.

Eliezer’s assertions are not that of the author. Elie Wiesel, the older version of Eliezer, the death camp survivor, has dedicated his life to serving mankind and to prevent human rights atrocities, showing that something wonderful can result from incomprehensible suffering. For more on Wiesel’s life after his liberation, check out his website.

Chlomo – Eliezer’s father is the only other character who appears consistently. He is a respected member in Sighet before being deported. Eliezer and Chlomo remain together throughout the ordeal. The narrator is honest and frank in his assessment of his father. He needs his father to keep going, but resents having to take care of him at times. He acknowledges a sense of relief when Chlomo finally dies. One of the more powerful scenes occur towards the end of the novel when Rabbi Eliahou searches for his son during the forced evacuation of Buna. Eliezer recalls seeing Eliahou’s son, recalling that he had abandoned his father. Eliezer then utters a prayer, asking for the strength never to do such a thing to his own father.

Moshe the Beadle – Moshe is Eliezer’s teacher who is deported along with other foreign Jews in Hungary. He escapes, returns, and warns the town about atrocities he witnessed. Nobody believes him.

Madame Shachter – She is deported in the same cattle car as Eliezer. She screams of fires the entire time. The passengers mistake her for a mad woman only to discover she is a prophetess as they see the furnaces of Birkenau and the pit of burning babies.

Juliek – Eliezer first meets Juliek, a young musician, at Auschwitz. He hears him play his violin at Gleiwitz toward the end of the narrative.

Idek – Idek is a kapo at the electrical parts plant at Buna where Eliezer works. Eliezer catches him having intercourse with a French woman. Idek whips Eliezer as punishment.

Franek – Eliezer’s foreman at Buna who steels Eliezer’s gold crown with the help of a dentist and a rusty spoon.

Dr. Josef Mengele – Eliezer encounters Mengele after his arrival at Auschwitz. Known as the angel of death, Mengele sentenced thousands of Jews to their death. He also oversaw cruel experiments on prisoners.

Hilda, Bea, Tziporah – Eliezer’s mother and sisters, whom he never sees after entering Auschwitz.


Here are some important Quotes from Night:

Use these Night quotes as a reminder to thwart prejudice, racism, hatred, and discrimination, for they are the seeds of human rights violations. These important quotes from Night will help you remember.

Quote: Never shall I forget that night, the first night in camp, which has turned my life into one long night, seven times cursed and seven times sealed. Never shall I forget that smoke. Never shall I forget the little faces of the children, whose bodies I saw turned into wreaths of smoke beneath a silent blue sky.

Analysis: As Eliezer arrives at Auschwitz he is greeted by his first selection. He and his father follow the line that passes a pit of burning babies. It is difficult for even the most hardened reader not to wince at this passage; it stands out as the most horrible atrocity in a chronicle of horrible atrocities.

Wiesel writes three times in this passage “Never shall I forget.” He uses anaphora, a poetic device that involves the repetition of a word or phrase at the beginning of clauses, to highlight the novel’s major theme–to never forget.

Quote: Never shall I forget those flames which consumed my faith forever. Never shall I forget that nocturnal silence which deprived me, for all eternity, of the desire to live. Never shall I forget those moments which murdered my God and my soul and turned my dreams to dust. Never shall I forget these things, even if I am condemned to live as long as God Himself. Never.

Analysis: A continuation of the first quote in this section, the phrase “Never shall I forget” is repeated four more times. This section of the passage highlights another major theme of the novel–the struggle to maintain faith in a world full of evil.

Some Important Quotes from Night by Elie Wiesel

Use these Night quotes as a reminder to thwart prejudice, racism, hatred, and discrimination, for they are the seeds of human rights violations.

These important quotes from Night will help you remember.

Quote: One day I was able to get up, after gathering all my strength. I wanted to see myself in the mirror hanging on the opposite wall. I had not seen myself since the ghetto. From the depths of the mirror, a corpse gazed back at me. The look in his eyes, as they stared into mine, has never left me.

Analysis: The narrative’s last lines leaves the reader with a sense of hopelessness. Eliezer views himself as dead; innocence is dead; humanity is dead; God is dead. It is important not to confuse the narrator with the author. Elie Wiesel, the older version of Eliezer, the death camp survivor, has dedicated his life to serving mankind and to prevent human rights atrocities, showing the world that humankind is capable of goodness, notwithstanding its inherent evil. For more on Wiesel’s life after his liberation, check out his website.

Quote: The night was gone. The morning star was shining in the sky. I too had become a completely different person. The student of the Talmud, the child that I was, had been consumed in the flames… A dark flame had entered my soul and devoured it.

Analysis: Wiesel uses parallel structure–the like grammatical structure of adjacent phrases or clauses that signify equality of importance–to draw attention to the two things which died: his faith and his childhood.

Quote: Yet another last night. The last night at home, the last night in the ghetto, the last night in the train, the last night in Buna.

Analysis: The repetition of “the last night” emphasizes death, not just the death of his fellow prisoners, but the death of humanity.

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Themes in Night by Elie Wiesel

Night themes include the dangers of silence and the importance of remembering. Putting into practice these themes from Night by Elie Wiesel can help prevent human rights atrocities. Night themes include the inhumanity of humans toward others and the struggle to have faith in a benevolent God during suffering.

Silence – As Eliezer and his family exit the train at Auschwitz, they are shocked at its existence, causing one of the prisoners to insult them, in disbelief that it was 1944 and they had never heard of Auschwitz. They weren’t alone.

How many otherwise good humans were aware of the existence of concentration camps but chose to remain silent? It is silence which allows the Nazi takeover in Europe. Another silence Wiesel emphasizes is the silence of God to allow such atrocities to occur. Wiesel counsels his readers to not be silent witnesses to hate.

The Importance of Remembering – One of Wiesel’s main objectives in writing Night is to remind his audience that the Holocaust occurred, in hopes that it will never repeat itself. Wiesel has maintained his vigilance against hatred and inhumanity through the Elie Wiesel foundation for humanity.

The Existence of Evil – Philosophers and religious scholars have theorized on the existence of evil for centuries, asking the question “How or why does God allow evil to exist if he is, in fact, all powerful and good. Throughout the narrative, Eliezer answers the question by asserting his God is dead. Despite his avowal that his faith is dead, he maintains scraps of it, praying, for example, that he will never betray his father as Rabbi Eliahou’s son does. He also recognizes that those prisoners who completely lose their faith soon die.

Inhumanity – Eliezer is shocked that human beings can be so cruel. The first section of the narrative portrays the entire city of Sighet in denial. When foreign Jews are deported, the town insists all is well. When Moshe the Beadle returns and reports Nazi atrocities, the town insists all is well. When the Fascists take over in Hungary, the town insists all is well. When the SS begin patrolling the streets, the town insists all is well. When Eliezer suggests they move to Palestine, his father refuses. When Martha the former servant offers them refuge, even after most of the town had been expelled, they remain. Those in Sighet cannot comprehend that other human beings can be so evil.

The Animalization of Humans – Eliezer comments on how prisoners themselves become inhuman in concentration camps. In addition to the kapos who treat regular prisoners almost as cruelly as the SS, Eliezer witnesses three instances of sons turning against their fathers: (1) He witnesses a son abusing his father; (2) He witnesses Rabbi Eliahou’s son abandon him during the forced evacuation from Buna; (3) He witnesses a son beat his own father over a piece of bread on the train to Buchenwald. Eliezer feels guilt over the manner in which he treats his father, feeling him a burden at times.

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Symbolism in Night by Elie Wiesel

Understanding Night symbolism brings greater appreciation for Wiesel’s memoirs.

1. Night – The title of the novel symbolizes death, the death of innocence, childhood, faith, and millions of people. The narrative contains many last nights, the last night in Sighet, the last night in Buna, the last night with his father, the last night of innocence, etc. Night also symbolizes a world without God. The worst suffering occurs at night. Wiesel contends that God does not live in the concentration camps and God’s people have no recourse.

2. Fire – Fire represents hell. Eliezer’s hellish experience is foreshadowed by Madame Shachter’s insane screaming on the train to Auschwitz. The pit of burning babies scars Wiesel for life. The specter of the furnace haunts Wiesel and his fellow prisoners throughout. The symbol of fire in Night, however, is ironic. No longer is fire a tool of the righteous to punish the wicked. It has become a tool of the wicked to punish the righteous. It emphasizes Wiesel’s belief that God has abandoned his people.

3. Silence – Silence symbolizes fear, apathy, and inability. Wiesel cannot comprehend that the world can remain silent as the Nazis commit atrocities. It also represents the silence of the oppressed. Eliezer, for example, remains silent when his father is beaten, unable to help him. The entire town of Sighet remains silent to the pleas of Moshe the Beadle, who warns the town of what is coming. Silence also represents the absence of God. Note the camp’s reaction to the young boy’s hanging–silence. A common theme in the narrative is God’s silence as his people suffer.

4. Corpses – Corpses symbolize the living dead. Prisoners are often referred to as corpses, corpses whose spirits have been crushed by suffering. Eliezer looks in the mirror as the narrative ends and sees a corpse, symbolizing the death of innocence and childhood.

Read more:

Books by Elie Wiesel

There are many people, including me, who believe that Elie Wiesel was never in any camp. He made it all up, and he made many mistakes. Yet, his stories continue to be told to school children.

January 15, 2018

Westerbork, the camp were Anne Frank was sent, is in today’s news

Filed under: Auschwitz, Germany, Holocaust — furtherglory @ 1:40 pm

You can read about the Nazi transit camp at Westerbork in this recent news article:

Westerbork was the camp where Anne Frank was sent first, after she was captured when her hiding place in an attic in Amsterdam was discovered.

Knowing that his Jewish family might be deported, Otto Frank had prepared a hiding place in Amsterdam with a two-year supply of food and other essentials. Five months later, Anne and her family suddenly disappeared, leaving behind notes saying that they had gone to Switzerland, which was a neutral country during World War II.

Otto Frank’s brother actually did escape from occupied France to Switzerland, but Otto Frank had wanted to remain in Amsterdam because he was conducting a thriving business there.

Many other Jewish families in Amsterdam also went into hiding, trusting that their Dutch neighbors and business associates would not betray their hiding places to the police.

Approximately 25,000 Dutch Jews hid during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands which began after the Germans defeated the Dutch in May 1940 in the early part of World War II.

Those unfortunate Dutch Jews who did not go into hiding were taken to a transit camp at Westerbork, from where they were then transported by train to Auschwitz, the infamous killing center, located in what is now Poland. It was there that millions of Jews allegedly perished in gas chambers.

Today, Holocaust deniers claim that there were no homicidal gas chambers at Auschwitz, but what do they know!

Many of the 160,000 Jews in the Netherlands were refugees, like the Franks and their friends in the annex, who had escaped from Germany after Hitler and the Nazis came to power in 1933.

Westerbork was originally a refugee camp for German Jews who were regarded as illegal immigrants in the Netherlands after they escaped over the border from Nazi Germany before the war.

The Franks went into hiding on July 6, 1942 shortly after Anne’s 13th birthday on June 12th. One week later they were joined by Hermann and Auguste van Pels, their 15-year-old son Peter and Peter’s cat. Dr. Pfeffer joined them on November 16, 1942, bringing along his dentist’s drill.

On August 4th, 1944, the police raided their hiding place in the annex and they were taken to the Westerbork transit camp on a passenger train, after a short stay at the Amsterdam headquarters of the Security Police.

On September 3, 1944, all 8 were loaded onto a freight train and taken on the last transport of Dutch Jews to Auschwitz, where they arrived on the night of September 5th and 6th.

Otto Frank was the only one of the 8 who survived. He died on August 19, 1980 in Switzerland.

Hermann van Pels was allegedly murdered in a gas chamber at Auschwitz in either September or October 1944, according to information presented at the Anne Frank House. Anne’s mother died of tuberculosis in January 1945 at Auschwitz. Anne and her sister died of typhus at Bergen-Belsen; the others all died from disease in various Nazi concentration camps to which they were transferred from Auschwitz.

Anne and her sister, Margot, were sent from Auschwitz on October 28, 1944 to the Bergen-Belsen exchange camp on a transport which, according to the International Red Cross, consisted of sick women who were expected to recover from their illness.

Later, Anne and Margot both became ill with typhus and both died in March 1945 during a horrendous epidemic in Bergen-Belsen. Both were buried in one of the unmarked mass graves there.

January 13, 2018

The “Berlin Trial,” or how the Holocaust really happened…

Filed under: Germany, Holocaust — furtherglory @ 2:37 pm

The Berlin Trial was the trial of 16 staff members at Sachsenhausen

Commandant Anton Kaindl is shown in the photo above as he testifies at the Soviet Military Tribunal

The Soviet Union Military Tribunal proceedings against Commandant Anton Kaindl and 15 others associated with the Sachsenhausen concentration camp began on October 23, 1947 in the Berlin Pankow city hall.

This was the first time that the Soviets had allowed the press and the public to attend one of their Military Tribunal proceedings and this event soon became known in the press as “the Berlin trial.”

Previously, the first concentration camp war criminals to be brought to justice were members of the camp staff of Bergen-Belsen who were prosecuted by a British Military Tribunal in November 1945. America soon followed with proceedings against the camp staff at Dachau in an American Military Tribunal held inside the Dachau camp complex, which began a few days later.

On August 8, 1945, three months after the surrender of Nazi Germany to the victorious Allies, the London Charter of the four occupying powers (Great Britain, France, the Soviet Union and the USA) established statutes and procedures for conducting an International Military Tribunal against the major German war criminals at Nuremberg.

The London Charter defined War crimes, Crimes against Peace and Crimes against Humanity. A fourth war crime was membership in the SS and/or the Nazi Party. These were war crimes that, up to that time, had not been against any existing International Law.

On December 20, 1945, the Allied Control Council for Germany passed Law No. 10 which contained a catalog of offenses that could be prosecuted as war crimes by the Allies. Each of the four occupying powers was permitted to hold its own individual Military Tribunals to try German war criminals who had committed crimes in their zone of occupation. The charges included only crimes committed against Allied nationals. Crimes against German nationals were prosecuted by German Courts.

The sixteen accused men in “the Berlin trial” were as follows:

Anton Kaindl, the last Commandant of Sachsenhausen

August Höhn and Michael Körner, camp leaders at Sachsenhausen

Kurt Eccarius, the director of the prison block inside the Sachsenhausen camp

Heinz Baumkötter, the first camp doctor at Sachsenhausen

Ludwig Rehn, the work mobilization leader at Sachsenhausen

Gustave Sorge, the record keeper at Sachsenhausen

Heinrich Fresemann, the director of the Klinkerwerk (brick factory), which later became a satellite camp of Sachsenhausen

Wilhelm Schubert, Martin Knittler, Fritz Ficker, Menne Saathoff, and Horst Hempel, the block leaders at Sachsenhausen

Paul Sakowski, a former prisoner who was the foreman of the crematorium and camp hangman from 1941 to 1943.

Karl Zander, a former prisoner who had worked in the crematorium at Sachsenhausen

Ernst Brennscheidt, a civilian who was the director of the shoe testing track at Sachsenhausen

All of the accused were charged with participating in the murder of Soviet Prisoners of War.

Sachsenhausen was the main camp where Russian POWs, who were believed to be Communist Commissars, were brought for execution by firing squad, on the orders of Adolf Hitler himself. As in the British and American Military Tribunals, all of the defendants were charged with co-responsibility for everything that had happened in the Sachsenhausen concentration camp or in other words, with participation in a “common plan” to commit war crimes.

When the charges were read, each of the accused confessed to the war crimes charged against them.

Following this, testimony was given by witnesses for the prosecution, including former Soviet, Polish, and Czech prisoners, as well as German Jehovah’s Witnesses and Communists.

Twenty witnesses had been summoned to appear in the courtroom, but only 17 of them were heard. The testimony of the scheduled witnesses was interrupted after one witness, Rudolf Wunderlich, deviated from the formal charges against the defendants in his remarks.

Neutral observers were permitted to witness the proceedings of the Soviet Military Tribunal in Berlin, the first time that the Soviets had allowed this.

The following quote is from Information Leaflet No. 24, handed out at the Sachsenhausen Memorial Site:

Begin quote:

The observers were particularly impressed by how meticulously the military tribunal followed correct formal trial procedure and honored the rights of the defendants and their five Soviet defense counselors. The attorney from Moscow, S.K. Kasnatschejew, appeared as the defense lawyer for the main defendants Kaindl and Höhn. He had previously served as defense counsel in the second “Moscow trial” of 1937. He characterized his clients as mere executors of orders and accused the capitalistic industrialists, whose unimpaired power in the western zones was once again threatening world peace, of having given the orders. The accused expressed similar sentiments in their concluding words which were read out loud. Each confessed his guilt and deep remorse, accused the “Hitler system” and the “big business leaders” of being guilty and thanked the Soviet occupying powers for their “humane treatment” and “fair” trial.

End quote

On the second day of the proceedings, a film made in 1946 by the Soviets, entitled “Sachsenhausen Death Camp,” was shown in the courtroom.

Similar to the film made by the Americans at Dachau, the Sachsenhausen movie showed how poison gas was introduced into the gas chamber through large pipes with control wheels. The Sachsenhausen gas chamber was disguised as a shower room, just like the gas chamber at Dachau, and the pipes resembled water pipes going into a real shower room. Paul Sakowski was shown in the film, as he explained how the gas flowed through the pipes.

In the photo above, Paul Sakowski explains how gas entered the gas chamber through a pipe.

Sakowski was a prisoner whose job was foreman of the crematorium at Sachsenhausen until 1943, when the gas chamber was built.

The defendants were not charged with murdering Jews in the Sachsenhausen gas chamber, but rather with the gassing of Soviet Prisoners of War, since the Jews at Sachsenhausen had been transported to Poland, beginning in February 1942, before the gas chamber was built.

During the proceedings, the Soviet prosecutors charged that the defendants had been co-responsible for 100,000 deaths at Sachsenhausen, or half of the approximately 200,000 prisoners that the Soviets claimed had been incarcerated in the Sachsenhausen camp at some time during the years between 1936 and 1945.

This estimate of 100,000 deaths was based on the discovery of six suitcases filled with dentures at Sachsenhausen by the Soviet liberators. The filled suitcases were shown in the film “Sachsenhausen Death Camp” which was presented as evidence at the military tribunal.

Six suitcases filled with false teeth were found at Sachsenhausen

The Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles, California has estimated that the number of deaths at Sachsenhausen was approximately 30,000. This estimate is in line with the known number of inmate deaths at Dachau and Buchenwald. The camp records at Dachau and Buchenwald were made public by the American liberators, but no records from Sachsenhausen were ever presented by the Soviet Union, which was the liberator of Sachsenhausen.

The US Holocaust Memorial Museum estimates that there were approximately 140,000 prisoners registered at Sachsenhausen. This did not include approximately 12,000 Soviet Prisoners of War who were brought there for execution.

According to Information Leaflet Number 7, which I obtained from the Memorial Site, there were 58,000 prisoners in the main Sachsenhausen camp in Oranienburg in January 1945, but by April 21st, when the camp was evacuated, there were only 33,000 prisoners left.

The pamphlet does not explain what happened to the other 25,000 but other Nazi concentration camps in Germany, such as Bergen-Belsen and Dachau, were experiencing a typhus epidemic during the early months of 1945 which accounted for a very high death rate among the prisoners.

In the photograph below, the prisoners do not look as though they are starving. The X on the back of the coats of two of the prisoners was intended to mark them as prisoners in case they escaped. These were political prisoners who were allowed to wear civilian clothes, instead of striped uniforms.

Sachsenhausen prisoners eating in the mess hall.

Prisoners marching past gate house in Sachsenhausen camp in 1938

Much of the information about the Sachsenhausen camp, that is written in the history books, comes from the proceedings of the Soviet Military Tribunal. For example, Commandant Anton Kaindl confessed, on the witness stand, that when the Germans evacuated the Sachsenhausen camp on April 21, 1945, the plan for the prisoners was to drive them onto barges out to sea and let the barges sink.

Information Leaflet Number 7, which is available from the Memorial Site, casts doubt on Kaindl’s confession because on April 19, 1945, the SS notified the Red Cross that the Sachsenhausen camp would be evacuated and requested food supplies for the march out of the camp.

The following is an extract from the testimony of Anton Kaindl at the Military Tribunal:

Public Prosecutor: What kind of exterminations were committed in your camp?

Kaindl: Until mid 1943, prisoners were killed by shooting or hanging. For the mass exterminations, we used a special room in the infirmary. There was a height gauge and a table with an eye scope. There were also some SS wearing doctor uniforms. There was a hole at the back of the height gauge. While an SS was measuring the height of a prisoner, another one placed his gun in the hole and killed him by shooting in his neck. Behind the height gauge there was another room where we played music in order to cover the noise of the shooting.

Public Prosecutor: Do you know if there was already an extermination procedure in Sachsenhausen when you became commandant of the camp?

Kaindl: Yes, there were several procedures. With the special room in the infirmary, there was also an execution place where prisoners were killed by shooting, a mobile gallows and a mechanical gallows which was used for hanging three or four prisoners at the same time.

Public Prosecutor: Did you change anything in these extermination procedures?

Kaindl: In March 1943, I introduced gas chambers for the mass exterminations.

Public Prosecutor: Was it your own decision?

Kaindl: Partially yes. Because the existing installations were too small and not sufficient for the exterminations, I decided to have a meeting with some SS officers, including the SS Chief Doctor Baumkötter. During this meeting, he told me that poisoning of prisoners by prussic acid in special chambers would cause an immediate death. After this meeting, I decided to install gas chambers in the camp for mass extermination because it was a more efficient and more humane way to exterminate prisoners.

Public Prosecutor: Who was responsible for the extermination?

Kaindl: The commandant of the camp.

Public Prosecutor: So, it was you?

Kaindl: Yes.

Public Prosecutor: How many prisoners were exterminated in Sachsenhausen while you were commandant of the camp?

Kaindl: More than 42,000 prisoners were exterminated under my command; this number included 18,000 killed in the camp itself.

The extermination site, where the alleged gas chamber was located, known as Station Z, was in the Industry Yard outside the camp, while the infirmary barracks, where Soviet Prisoners of War were shot in the neck, was located inside the camp itself.

The following information is from the trial of Kaindl:

Public Prosecutor: And how many prisoners died by starvation during this same period?

Kaindl: I think 8,000 prisoners died by starvation during this period.

Public Prosecutor: Accused Kaindl, did you receive the order to destroy any evidence of the murders committed in the camp?

Kaindl: Yes. On February 1st, 1945, I had a conversation with the chief of the Gestapo, Müller. He ordered me to destroy the camp with artillery bombing, aerial bombing or by spraying gas. But due to technical problems, this order coming directly from Himmler was impossible to fulfill.

Public Prosecutor: Suppose that there was no technical problem, would you have carried out this order?

Kaindl: Of course. But it was impossible. An artillery or an aerial bombing was impossible to hide from the local population. And spraying gas was too dangerous for the local population and the SS.

Public Prosecutor: What did you do then?

Kaindl: I had a meeting with Höhn and some other SS and I ordered them to exterminate all the ill prisoners, those who were unable to work and, the most important, all the political prisoners.

Public Prosecutor: Was this order fulfilled?

Kaindl: Yes, partially. During the night of February 2nd, the first prisoners were killed. There were plus or minus 150 prisoners. Until end of March 1945, we succeeded in killing more than 5,000 prisoners.

Public Prosecutor: Who was in charge of this operation?

Kaindl: Accused Höhn was in charge of this operation.

Public Prosecutor: How many prisoners were in the camp at this time?

Kaindl: Approximately 45,000. On April 18th I was ordered to embark all the prisoners on barges and to conduct the barge on the Baltic sea where I had to sink it. But we had not enough time to find enough barges for so many prisoners because the Red Army was advancing too fast.

Public Prosecutor: What happened then?

Kaindl: I ordered the evacuation of all the prisoners able to walk, first in the direction of Wittstock, then to Lubeck where they had to embark on ships and sink.

Public Prosecutor: Did the prisoners received any care during this evacuation?

Kaindl: No. 7,000 prisoners received nothing because we had nothing to give them.

Public Prosecutor: Did these prisoners died by starvation during this Death March?

Kaindl: Yes.

End of trial testimony

From the very beginning, all the concentration camps in the Nazi system, were controlled by a central office in Berlin. The first Concentration Camp Inspector was Theodor Eicke, who had formerly been the Commandant at Dachau before he was promoted.

In 1938, this office moved to a new building in Oranienburg called the “T-building,” which has been preserved and now serves as the administrative office of the Brandenburg Memorials Foundation, the organization which owns the Sachsenhausen Memorial Site.

The commandants of the individual concentration camps, such as Sachsenhausen, did not have the authority to build gas chambers on their own, nor to exterminate 42,000 prisoners without permission from the central office in Oranienburg.

Commandant Kaindl would have needed authorization from the Oranienburg office just to punish a prisoner in the camp, but according to his testimony, it was his decision to build a gas chamber at Sachsenhausen, after all the Jews had been transported to camps in the East by October 1942.

Information Leaflet Number 7, which I purchased at the former camp, gives some details about the events of February 1st, 1945. The following quote is from the Information Leaflet:

Begin quote

When the Red Army reached the Oder River, the camp commandant ordered on February 1, 1945, that preparations be made for the evacuation. In response, the prisoners who were considered to be particularly dangerous – mostly British and Soviet officers – and the prisoners who were selected as unfit to march, were murdered in the industry yard of the camp.

End quote

Information Leaflet Number 7 also tells about the events that happened on February 2nd, 1945. According to the pamphlet, on this date Jewish prisoners were murdered. The following quote is from the leaflet:

Begin quote

The SS used the evacuation of the Lieberose satellite camp as an opportunity for the mass murder of Jewish prisoners from Hungary and Poland. On February 2, 1945, they drove about 1,500 prisoners from Lieberose through Zossen, Potsdam and Falkensee, towards Oranienburg. Having already shot at least 36 prisoners during the march, the SS murdered a larger group of prisoners immediately following their arrival in the main camp. At the same time, during a three-day shooting action, the SS guards in Lieberose camp murdered about 1,000 sick and weak prisoners who had remained back at the camp.

End quote

After only 8 days of proceedings, late in the evening of October 31, 1947, the verdicts were announced. The former Commandant of the camp, Anton Kaindl, and the 12 members of his staff were all sentenced to life in prison. (The penal laws of the Soviet Union had eliminated the death penalty on May 26, 1947, but it was introduced again on January 12, 1950.)

The Nazi concentration camp system had been designated, by the Allies, as a criminal enterprise, which meant that every person connected to a concentration camp, including civilians and prisoners who helped control the prisoners, was a war criminal.

In all the Military Tribunals conducted by the Allies, someone who represented each job category in the camps was included in order to show that there was a common design to commit war crimes in the camps.

Paul Sakowski, the former camp inmate who was the foreman of the crematorium and operator of the alleged gas chamber, was one of the 12 men that were sentenced to life in prison.

Ernst Brennscheidt, a civilian who had nothing to do with the camp administration, was sentenced to 15 years in prison.

Karl Zander, a former camp inmate who had been assigned to work in the crematorium, was also sentenced to 15 years in prison.

The convicted men were sent to the NKVD prison in Schönhausen, where they were imprisoned for four weeks following the verdict. They were then taken to the Workuta camp complex on the Polar Sea where they were forced to work in the coal mines. Within five short months, by the Spring of 1948, Anton Kaindl and 5 of the 12 staff members were dead.

On January 14, 1956, the surviving SS men who had been convicted and sentenced to life in prison, were released and they returned to West Germany, then officially known as the Federal Republic of Germany.

Paul Sakowski, who was not a member of the SS, stayed in East Germany where he served the remainder of his sentence which had been reduced to 15-years, in the Brandenburg Penitentiary, finally being released in 1972.

After their return to West Germany, most of the convicted war criminals from “the Berlin trial” were put on trial again in German courts for crimes against German nationals.

In two of the most important German trials, Gustav Sorge, the record keeper, and Wilhelm Schubert, a block leader who was in charge of one of the barracks at Sachsenhausen, were put on trial on October 18, 1958 in a regional court at Bonn, a city in West Germany. On February 6, 1959, both were found guilty of murder, attempted murder, and complicity of murder and manslaughter.

August Höhn, Horst Hempel, Dr. Heinz Baumkötter and Kurt Eccarius were also put on trial again in West German courts and all were convicted again. Their sentences were reduced because of time already served, and some of the men were not sent to prison at all because, after their ordeal in the Soviet prison camp, they were not considered to be fit to withstand imprisonment again.

Photo of Dr. Heinz Baumkötter hangs in autopsy room in Pathology Dept.

On November 2, 1947, two days after the end of “the Berlin trial,” an event was organized by the “Main Committee for Victims of Fascism” at which former inmates of Sachsenhausen and their families expressed their thanks to the Soviet occupation for liberating them from the Nazis and for bringing the Sachsenhausen staff to justice.

Based on testimony at “the Berlin trial,” the Memorial Site Museum claims that 100,000 prisoners were murdered at Sachsenhausen including some who were murdered in the alleged gas chamber there.


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