Scrapbookpages Blog

March 15, 2010

ALS — aka Lou Gehrig’s disease

Filed under: Health — Tags: , , , , , , — furtherglory @ 2:38 pm

The other day, I had occasion to look up whether or not a certain famous person was dead or alive.  There is a web site called Dead or Alive which gives this information.  There is also a section of the web site which lists the names of famous people who have died from various diseases, including ALS.  I have two distant family members (not related to me) who died of ALS, so I have an interest in this subject. (more…)

March 14, 2010

“bodies stacked like cordwood” How many times have you read those words?

If you want to do a google search to find the stories, told by American soldiers, about seeing the Nazi concentration camps in World War II, just search on “bodies stacked like cordwood.”  Without exception, every single soldier who saw Dachau or Buchenwald or Ohrdruf or Mauthausen reported that he saw the horror of “bodies stacked like cordwood.”

Schollmeyer wood pile — Photo by Brucellocius on Flickr

Back in those days, everyone knew what the word cordwood meant.  Cordwood is not a type of wood; it refers to a measurement. A cord of wood is a stack of four-foot logs with a specific height and width.  In the old days, a “cord of wood” was something that you purchased, if you didn’t have trees on your own property that you could cut down.  In my home town, most people had a cord of wood on their back porch, ready to be used in the wood-burning pot-belly stove in their “front room.”

So what does this have to do with anything?  To me, the use of the phrase “stacked like cordwood” is significant because it shows that the typical American soldier in World War II was from a small town or a farm, and was not overly sophisticated.  When the soldiers saw the dead bodies in the concentration camps “stacked like cordwood,” their first thought was  “how can human beings do this to other human beings?”  They just naturally assumed that the prisoners had been starved to death or killed in a gas chamber.

Bodies found in the crematorium at Dachau

Bodies stacked outside the crematorium at Buchenwald

Bodies stacked up at Mauthausen

Bodies found in a shed at Ohrdruf

The photos above show what the American soldiers saw.  After visiting the Ohrdruf sub-camp of Buchenwald on April 12, 1945,  General Dwight D. Eisenhower ordered that as many American soldiers as possible should be brought from the battlefield in trucks and shown the bodies in the nearest concentration camp.  The bodies were left out for weeks so that thousands of soldiers could have a chance to view them. As more prisoners died after the camps were liberated, their bodies were added to the piles.

What was the purpose of bringing soldiers from the battlefield to see dead bodies?  As General Eisenhower famously said: “The American soldiers didn’t know what they were fighting for, but after seeing the concentration camps, they knew what they were fighting against.”

No explanation of how these prisoners had died was given to the American soldiers.  The soldiers were 18 and 19-year-old boys from small town America.  It never occurred to them that there was a typhus epidemic going on in Germany during the last days of World War II and of course, they were not told that these prisoners had died of typhus.  The American soldiers had been vaccinated, so they didn’t have to worry about typhus.  Typhus had been completely wiped out long ago in America by the use of vaccines.

In World War I, four million people died of typhus — and that was just in Poland. During World War II, the Germans knew of the danger of a typhus epidemic and that’s why they used tons of Zyklon-B to kill the lice that spreads typhus.  But as the war progressed and Germany was losing, there was such chaos that the epidemic of typhus could not be controlled.  The American liberators finally stopped the epidemic with DDT and typhus vaccine, which the Germans didn’t have.

As far as I know, not one American soldier ever asked the liberated prisoners, “What’s  going on here?  How did these people die?”  The soldiers had been shown propaganda films before going overseas, so they knew that the German people were evil.  They had been warned not to be fooled by the friendly, fun-loving Germans in their Lederhosen and dirndls; they had been thoroughly indoctrinated in hatred for the German people.  After the war, the soldiers were ordered not to fraternize with the Germans, and most of them returned to America without ever having the opportunity to learn the truth.

Today, these World War II veterans speak to school children in the classroom, telling their stories of how they liberated Dachau or Buchenwald and saw the “bodies stacked like cordwood.”  Sometimes, they tell the children about how they saw human soap or human lampshades or gas chambers.

In my day, we didn’t have vaccine and we didn’t have autism

Filed under: Health — Tags: , , , — furtherglory @ 9:56 am

Does modern medicine cause modern diseases?  When I was a child in the 30s and 40s, autism was unknown.  It wasn’t because autism existed, but had not yet been diagnosed; it was because no one had the symptoms that are now called autism.

I had every childhood disease known to man: measles, mumps, whooping cough, rubella, chicken pox, influenza, and even scarlet fever. These diseases had no lasting effect on my health. If anything, these childhood diseases made me stronger, as in the old adage: what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

All of my classmates had the same diseases and none of them died or had any after effects.  I lived in a small town which did not even have a doctor, but we all managed to survive without any medication at all.

The only vaccine that we had back then was for smallpox, but my mother would not allow me to have the vaccine.  I was finally vaccinated for smallpox at the age of 18 because it was required for entry into college. For ten days, I was extremely sick with a mild case of smallpox, caused by the vaccine.  I lost ten pounds and looked like “death warmed over,” as people used to say back then.

My mother didn’t believe in vaccines because her mother didn’t believe in vaccines.  My children were born before the MMR (Measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine was developed, so they all had measles and chicken pox, although none of the other childhood diseases. They were not as sick as I was when I had measles, which I attribute to better nutrition.

Two of my grandchildren were born before the latest vaccines which are suspected of causing autism; they are perfectly normal, but the last two grandchildren, who had the vaccines, have mild symptoms of autism or ADD or ADHD or whatever.  It is clear to me that these new vaccines make a difference in the lives of the children who are vaccinated.

The old childhood diseases have been wiped out almost completely now, but at what cost?  Now we have an epidemic of autism. What is America going to be like when these autistic children grow up and can’t function normally? Will autism become the new norm?

Federal laws  do not mandate vaccinations; the regulation of vaccines is left to the states, and all 50 states allow exemptions. California permits exemptions based on personal beliefs; most states allow exemptions based on religious beliefs. I don’t think that most parents know of these exemptions.

A recent article in the New York Times has this headline: 3 New Rulings Find No Link to Vaccines and Autism. The article is quoted below:

In a further blow to the antivaccine movement, three judges ruled Friday in three separate cases that thimerosal, a preservative containing mercury, does not cause autism.

[…]

The antivaccine groups also lost the first three cases, which were decided in February 2009 by the same three judges, known as special masters. All three rulings were upheld on their first appeals.

Defenders of vaccines said they were pleased by Friday’s decision, while opponents were dismissive, saying they would never get a fair ruling from the omnibus arrangement.

In the three cases brought against the government, by the parents of Jordan King, Colin R. Dwyer and William Mead, all three special masters used strong language in dismissing the expert evidence from the families’ lawyers.

The master in the King ruling emphasized that it was “not a close case” and “extremely unlikely” that Jordan’s autism was connected to his vaccines. The master in the Dwyer case wrote that many parents “relied upon practitioners and researchers who peddled hope, not opinions grounded in science and medicine.”

Patricia Campbell-Smith, the master in the Mead case, also dismissed two subarguments made by a few opponents of vaccines, saying they “have not shown either that certain children are genetically hypersusceptible to mercury or that certain children are predisposed to have difficulty excreting mercury.”

She also echoed a contention by vaccine defenders that a shot is safer than a tuna sandwich. “A normal fish-eating diet by pregnant mothers” is more likely to deposit mercury in the brain than vaccines are, she wrote.

In a telephone press conference after the rulings, Dr. Paul Offit, director of the Vaccine Education Center at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and the inventor of a rotavirus vaccine from which he receives royalties, praised the decisions, saying: “This hypothesis has already had its day in scientific court, but in America we like to have our day in literal court. Fortunately, we now have these rulings.”

Fears of thimerosal emerged more than a decade ago and have cast a pall over vaccines ever since, even though it has been removed from most of them. The fear has caused some parents to avoid them and made outbreaks of diseases like measles and whooping cough more likely.

Even with this decision, Dr. Offit said, “it’s very hard to unscare people after you’ve scared them.”

The Coalition for Vaccine Safety, a group of organizations that believe vaccines cause autism, dismissed the rulings.

“The deck is stacked against families in vaccine court,” said Rebecca Estepp, of the coalition’s steering committee. “Government attorneys defend a government program using government-funded science before government judges. Where’s the justice in that?” The coalition claims to represent 75,000 families.

Amy Carson, founder of Moms Against Mercury, who has a son with brain damage, called the vaccine court arrangement “like the mice overseeing the cheese.”

The vaccine injury fund and the court overseeing it were created in 1988 after judgments in state court lawsuits over vaccines became so inconsistent and so expensive that vaccine companies started quitting the American market.

The third theory, that measles vaccine causes autism, is still to be ruled on by the special masters. But Lisa Randall, a lawyer with the Immunization Action Coalition, which defends vaccines, said she believed some of the test cases had been “abandoned” by the families that brought them after the 2009 decisions dismissed a variant of the same theory.

Another good article about autism can be found on this web site.

March 13, 2010

American Idol – dreadlocks, tattoos and piercings?

Simon Cowell is predicting Chrystal Bowersox to win American Idol this season.  Chrystal is a fantastic singer and I love her; she reminds me of Janis Joplin, my all time favorite singer. But will America vote a woman with dreadlocks and a stud in her lower lip into the number one spot?  I don’t think so.

Update, May 27, 2010: I told you so!  On Tuesday night, I thought that Chrystal might win and prove me wrong; she clearly sang better than Lee in her last performance. I was tempted to vote for her after she sang my very most favorite song in the whole world: “Me and Bobby McGee.”  She will go on to have a great career, I’m sure.  If she cuts off her dreadlocks, she will be even more successful.

Chrystal Bowersox Photo by Chris Hatcher, PR Photos

Remember Jason Castro in 2008?  He was eliminated early on, and I think it was because Middle America couldn’t relate to a white man with dreadlocks.

Carly Smithson was also eliminated early on in 2008 even though she was a good singer.  She deliberately showed off her tattooed arms and that was the end of her. I think the same thing will happen to Andy Garcia who has a very distracting tattoo on his neck. Siobhan Magnus has three tattoos and unless she keeps them covered, she will soon be eliminated from the competition.

Andrew Garcia Photo by Chris Hatcher, PR Photos

Lee De Wyze Photo by Chris Hatcher, PR Photos

I am predicting Lee De Wyze as the winner this year.  Simon says that he has the best voice of all the contestants, and I agree.  But the reason that he will win is because he is a regular guy. He is the kind of person that Middle America can relate to.  Remember last year’s winner?  Kris Allen – the kind of guy that Middle America loves.  And make no mistake about it, Middle America picks the winner.  Simon thinks that America consists of the East Coast and the Left Coast, and that the contestants won’t be judged on how they look and act.  He’s dead wrong.

I picked Lee De Wyze as the winner when I saw him pull up his pants while he was singing. If he starts singing country songs at every opportunity, he can’t miss.  Sixty percent of all records sold in America are country music.  But you can’t take a country song and murder it like Lilly Scott did with her rendition of Patsy Cline’s song “I fall to pieces.”

About her Patsy Cline song choice, Lily said:

“I picked that song because I love Patsy Cline, but then again, the “American Idol” voting demographic is mostly tweens and I’m sure they don’t know who Patsy Cline is. That probably affected me but I’m staying true to my song choice.”

It wasn’t because of her song choice that she was voted off, but because she didn’t do the song justice.  You can listen to the original version by Patsy Cline herself on YouTube.  My favorite Patsy Cline recording is “She’s Got You,” which is also on YouTube.

The most successful Idol winner of all time is Carrie Underwood, a country singer.  There are no country singers in this year’s top 12, unless Lee decides to go country, which I hope he will.

I think that Todrick Hall will go the way of Jennifer Hudson.  He’ll be on Broadway, or in the movies or on TV, or maybe all three. He is good looking and has loads of charisma.  He is sure to have a great career.

March 12, 2010

Martin Zaidenstadt, the fake Holocaust survivor who pan-handled at Dachau

In 1996, author Timothy Ryback visited the Dachau concentration camp Memorial Site and met a Polish Jew named Martin Zaidenstadt, who claimed to have been liberated from the camp on April 29, 1945, after being imprisoned there for three years. In February 2000, a book written by Ryback was published with the title The Last Surivor: In Search of Martin Zaidenstadt.

Martin Zaidenstadt, May 1997

In his book, Ryback revealed that there is no record of Martin Zaidenstadt ever being a prisoner at Dachau. Ryback also revealed the startling information that, before he retired, Martin ran “an independent finance and brokering service.”  So the old guy was apparently loaded, but in retirement he decided to become a pan-handler at the Dachau concentration camp, and beg for money from tourists.

Ryback begins his book by describing how he went to visit Zaidenstadt at his home in the town of Dachau.  Zaidenstadt pulled out a loaded gun and pointed it at Ryback.  On the very first page of text in his book Ryback wrote:

“People in Dachau had warned me about Martin Zaidenstadt.  They said he was a tortured soul, a deeply troubled man.  Some said he was obsessed, others that he was deranged.  Nobody told me that he was armed.”

In 1997, I went to the Dachau Memorial Site for the first time with a friend.  We each went our own way and later met at the crematorium.  My friend told me later that Martin Zaidenstadt had approached him outside the crematorium and told him that he was the prisoner who had posed for the statue of the Unknown Inmate that is located there.  Martin asked for money, but my friend told me that he declined to give him anything.

Statue of Unknown Inmate, May 2007

The statue known as the “Unknown Inmate,” by Fritz Koelle, was erected in 1950 in front of the old crematorium. The model for the statue was Kurt Lange, who was a homosexual imprisoned at Dachau after he was arrested twice under Paragraph 175 of the German law.

Meanwhile, I saw Martin as he was walking away from the crematorium.  He had stopped two American female tourists, but they also brushed him off and refused to hand over any money.  I felt sorry for him, so I approached him and began speaking to him in English.  He perked up right away when he learned that I was an American. He told me that he liked American, British and Canadian people, but he won’t speak to the Germans.

Martin told me that he was a prisoner at Dachau for three years (1942 to 1945), and that he had been coming to the camp every day for 50 years, which would mean that he started pan-handling at Dachau in 1947.  At that time, I didn’t yet know that Dachau had been used as a prison camp for German war criminals from 1945 to 1948.  Nor did I know then that, starting in February 1942, all Jews were sent to the death camps in what is now Poland, not to Dachau. Later, when the camps in the East were closed, the survivors were brought back to Germany, where some of them were eventually sent to Dachau just before the camp was liberated.

I asked Martin if I could take his picture and he agreed, but he wanted me to take the photo in the area of the crematorium, so I walked with him to a memorial stone where he posed.  Then Martin handed me a business card with a rainbow on it; he said that he was liberated by the 42nd Rainbow Division of the US Seventh Army.

I accepted his card and he then asked me for money.  I began to mentally calculate how many Deutschmarks I had left.  At that time, I didn’t  know that my train ticket to Munich could be used for the city bus back to the train station.  I thought that I needed to save some money for the bus for myself and my friend, so I handed him only 5 Marks, which at that time was the equivalent of $2.50 in American money.  He took the money, but grabbed the card out of my hand and walked off with an expression of anger and hatred on his face.  I suppose I should be glad that he didn’t pull a gun on me and take all my money.

In his book, The Last Survivor, Ryback wrote that Zaidenstadt was

“… an elderly man living in contented retirement in a comfortable two-story home on a peaceful tree-lined street with a bus stop (bus #726) at the end of the block.  […] Martin decided to make Dachau his home.  He found a job, married a German woman, and brought three children into this world.  Unwilling to burden his family with the horrors of his past, he discarded his Jewish identify, befriended the locals, including former SS guards who became his drinking buddies, and regularly attended the Catholic church down the street from their home. Martin says that neither his wife, nor any of his three children, two of whom are now physicians, have ever visited the barbed-wire complex on the other side of town where Martin spent the most memorable years of his life.  Until recently, Martin himself rarely stepped foot into the former concentration camp.

Baracke X, the building where the Dachau gas chamber is located

The photo above shows Baracke X, the building where the crematory ovens and the gas chamber are located at Dachau.

Ryback tells in his book about his first meeting with Martin:

I first encountered Martin at the camp on a bitter January day in 1996.  I had brought my father and several visitors to Dachau to tour the camp and afterward to stroll through the old town.  As we entered the tree-lined area that houses Baracke X, the official designation for the extermination unit, I directed my group to the far end of the building, explaining that the compound was originally entered from the west rather than the south.  Visitors, I told them, walk directly into the crematorium room rather than entering the building, as intended, through the disinfectant stalls, into the undressing and holding rooms, and finally into the gas chamber – disguised as a shower – beyond which stand the crematory ovens.

“You are right,” I heard someone say, and turned to see an elderly man standing beside us.  He was wearing a tweed hat with ear warmers, and a heavy coat. “My name is Martin Zaidenstadt.  I come here every day for fifty years.”  He went on to say that he was a Holocaust survivor and that after his liberation from the camp he remained in Dachau.  When I told him that I occasionally wrote about Dachau, he gave me his name, address, and phone number, and told me that I should call on him the next time I was in town.

When Ryback went to visit Martin in his home, he learned that Martin was trying “to break Dachau’s conspiracy of silence about the gas chamber.”

Ryback wrote:

For the last few years, Martin has verbally accosted the tour guides who have promoted the “lie” that the gas chamber was never put into operation.  […]  For his efforts he has been reprimanded by Barbara Distel, the director of the memorial site and archives.

Martin showed Ryback a letter from Max Mannheimer, who was, at that time, the head of the International Committee of Dachau, an organization of former Dachau prisoners who controlled what was said and done at the Dachau Memorial Site.

Ryback quoted from Mannheimer’s letter in his book:

“…I must urgently request that you not interfere in the tours that are being conducted at the memorial site by various professional guides.”

Apparently nothing could stop Martin Zaidenstadt from accosting tourists and tour guides at Dachau, so he was allowed to continue until 2001 when he stopped coming because of illness.  In 2003, the Dachau memorial site removed the portable sign that said in five languages that the gas chamber at Dachau was never used or never put into operation.  Now some of the tour guides tell visitors that the gas chamber was used.  So Martin finally won.

Timothy Ryback went to Poland and did some research on Martin Zaidenstadt’s  previous life, prior to his time in the town of Dachau.  He learned that Zaidenstadt was born in 1911 in the Polish town of Jedwabne.  This is the town that was the subject of a book by Jan Gross, entitled Neighbors, published by Princeton University Press. Neighbors is the story of how the Polish Gentiles killed their Jewish neighbors in Jedwabne on July 10, 1941 and blamed it on the Germans.  The violence was horrible: the head of a beautiful Jewish girl was cut off and used as a soccer ball by the Polish murderers.

After reading the book Neighbors, I can understand why Martin Zaidenstadt didn’t want to live in Poland after the war. There was a Displaced Persons camp set up at Dachau in 1945, which is probably what attracted Martin to the town.  Several other Jews, including some of the former prisoners in the camp, also settled in Dachau.

Catholic church in Dachau which Martin Zaidenstadt attended

Around a million visitors a year now tour the grounds of the former Dachau concentration camp.  During the ten years or so that Martin Zaidenstadt was begging for money at Dachau, there were at least a half a million tourists every year for a total of around 5 million people.  If only one person in 5 gave a donation of only one dollar to Zaidenstadt, that means that he raked in a million dollars during his pan-handling days.

If Martin Zaidenstadt is still alive in the year 2014, he will be 103 years old.  Strangely, Martin Zaidenstadt does not have an entry on Wikipedia. If he dies, will news of his death be published?

This blog post was last updated on February 2, 2014.

Should the Holocaust be taught in American schools?

Should the Holocaust be taught in American schools? Unequivocally, YES.  But not in English class, nor in Social Studies, nor in any class except World History. The students need a background in history before they are introduced to the Holocaust.  The Holocaust didn’t happen in a vacuum; there was a lot of history that led up to it.

To give you an idea of why Holocaust students need a background in history, Otto Ohlendorf, one of the war criminals on trial at Nuremberg, defended his actions, on the witness stand,  as historically necessary to secure “lebensraum in the German East (Poland).” Then he started talking about the Thirty Years War.  The Thirty Years war took place from 1618 to 1648.  Ohlendorf was on trial because he had led one of the Einsatzgruppen units that executed Jews in Eastern Europe during World War II. So what did the Thirty Years War have to do with anything?  That’s what the prosecutors at Nuremberg wanted to know.

How can students understand the Holocaust if they don’t know anything about the Thirty Years War which changed the course of European history? How can students understand Nazi Germany if they know nothing about World War I?  In the future, the two World Wars will probably be taught as one war that lasted from 1914 to 1945; it might even be called the Thirty-one Years War.

Unfortunately, the teaching of the Holocaust in American schools is combined with teaching about Rwanda and Darfur and taught as the history of genocide, not as European history.

When I went to school, back in the Dark Ages, we started studying World History in the 5th grade; by the time I finished the 8th grade, we had studied everything up to and including World War I.  My grandchildren didn’t study history of any kind, except the Holocaust and black history, until the 9th grade. Up until the 9th grade, they had “Social Studies” instead of history.

How can today’s students understand “the Third Reich” if they don’t know anything about the First Reich?  I can still visualize my 5th Grade World History book that had a picture of Charlemagne on the cover.  I couldn’t wait to learn about Charlemagne, but I didn’t cheat by reading ahead in the book.  Today’s 5th graders can tell you who Adolf Eichmann was, but Charlemagne — who cares about him? Every high school student in America can tell you what the Einsatzgruppen were, but the Thirty Years War, they don’t know.

Teaching the Holocaust is mandatory in American schools in 5 states.  The most important aspect of this instruction is that the Holocaust is allowed to be taught in any class, not necessarily in a history class.  It can be taught in music or art classes or in a reading class. Holocaust survivors are brought in to tell their stories to the students.  But the students have no background in history, so they can’t evaluate these stories; they just soak up everything like a sponge and don’t question anything because they don’t know what questions to ask.

It used to be that American History was a required course for college students.  Now the students can fulfill this requirement by studying Black History, or Women’s History or the Holocaust.  No one cares about American History any more, much less World History.  Now it is only the history of minorities and second class citizens, who have been victimized, that is important.

I think schools should teach the Holocaust, but in order to get into the class, the students should be required to pass a test in World History. That way, Holocaust classes would be open to 5th graders, but only if they have the background to understand it.

The film Schindler’s List, which is based on a novel, should not be shown in schools, except to students who know enough about history to understand which parts of the movie are true and which parts are fiction.

March 11, 2010

School children in the UK forced to play Holocaust game

A friend alerted me to this article, in the Mail Online newspaper in the United Kingdom, about school children in St. Hiliary’s School being forced to play a “Holocaust game.” I have quoted the full article below:

Primary schoolchildren in tears after they are told they will be removed from families as part of Holocaust “game”

By Daily Mail Reporter
Last updated at 11:10 AM on 11th March 2010

A group of stunned primary schoolchildren began crying when their teacher told them during a bizarre Holocaust game that they were to be taken away from their families.

The pupils, aged 11, became upset after a number of them were segregated and told they were being sent away or might end up in an orphanage.

The ordeal was meant to give the youngsters at the Lanarkshire school an insight into the horrors faced by Jewish children during World War II.

The exercise was intended to give the pupils at St Hilary’s Primary School an insight into the horrors faced by Jewish children during World War II.

But the exercise, which was sprung without warning on the children at St Hilary’s Primary School in East Kilbride last Thursday morning, reduced several to tears.

Deputy head teacher Elizabeth McGlynn segregated nine pupils and told them they were to be sent away. After 15 minutes they were told it was all an act but that the role play would carry on up to lunchtime.

One angry parent, who has lodged an official complaint about the exercise, told how the “barbaric” role play upset the children.

In a letter sent to council bosses, the unnamed mother said:

“Mrs McGlynn told the children they would probably have to be sent away from their families and that their parents had been informed about this and knew all about it.

“When one child asked if that meant they might have to go to an orphanage, they were told that might be a possibility.

“At that point many of the children became very distressed.

“One boy kicked his chair over, one was angry and demanded to speak to someone in charge but most were crying on a scale ranging from mildly to severely.

“Their ordeal lasted between 12 and 15 minutes before the children were informed that it was all an act but that the role play would continue until lunchtime.

“One girl said her classmates began crying when Mrs. McGlynn told them she had a letter from the Scottish Executive saying nine children had to be separated from their classmates.

“She told the shocked youngsters those who were born in January, February and March had lower IQs than other children, ‘due to lack of sunlight in their mother’s womb’, and that they had to put yellow hats on and be sent to the library.

The mother added: “When I asked why on earth they thought it was appropriate to deliver a role play situation to the children in this way, Mrs. Stewart informed me that they didn’t inform the children beforehand.

“This was because they wanted the children to experience an “accurate emotional response” to this scenario in order for it to be reflected in their story writing.

“Mrs. Stewart then invited me to come up to the school and see the excellent work that had been produced as a result of the exercise.

“I declined and my position and opinion on the method used to extract emotive story writing from the children was cruel, barbaric, traumatic and totally, totally unethical.

“My daughter and indeed no child needs to feel the terror, fear, panic, segregation and horror that a child of the Holocaust experienced during one of the worst atrocities in history to be able to empathise with them in order to produce good story writing.”

A South Lanarkshire council spokeswoman, who confirmed that a role play activity took place, said: “The council can confirm that a parent handed in a letter to Education Resources on Monday, March 8, 2010, and this will be responded to shortly.”

An estimated six million Jews died in the Holocaust. Jewish children in Nazi Europe had to wear yellow Star of David badges during World War II.

Jews also had to live apart from the rest of the population in ghettos.

Finally they were taken to concentration camps, where most were separated from their parents then killed.

When I first skimmed through this article online, I thought it was about children in an American school.  I know that American children also do Holocaust role playing in the classroom.  It is one thing to make American children feel bad about what their great-grandparents did during the Holocaust, but British kids?

The British allowed Jewish children to come to the UK on “Kinder transports” in 1939 before World War II started.  But in America, Congress refused to amend two laws, passed in 1920 and 1921, which limited the number of Jews that could come to America from Poland and Germany.

Eleanor Roosevelt, the wife of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, went before Congress and personally begged the lawmakers to allow two transports of 10,000 Jewish children to come to America.  But Congress wouldn’t budge. Thank God, the British weren’t so cruel.  They allowed Kinder transports to bring Jewish children to the UK.

The children in St. Hiliary’s school should have played a game in which they were allowed to feel good about themselves because the British did the right thing in saving Jewish children.

America had a population of 125 million in 1933 when Hitler came to power.  There were less than 16 million Jews in the entire world at that time.  America could have opened its doors and allowed every Jew in the world to come here, but our great-grandparents wouldn’t lift a finger to save the Jews.

The first law, passed by Congress in America in 1920, was in response to a campaign by American Jews to save the Jews in Poland who were homeless and starving because they were living in eastern Poland where the Russians had burned everything when they retreated from the German Army in World War I.  American Jews warned that 6 million Jews would die in a “Holocaust” unless something was done.  America didn’t want these 6 million Polish Jews and that’s why Congress passed a law that severely limited the number of people from Poland who could get a visa to come to America.  When the Polish Jews tried to go to Germany and enter America from Germany, another law was passed in 1921 to stop this.

If schools in the UK want to make the children feel guilty about what their ancestors did, let them play a game about what the British did to the Irish.  My great-grandfather was shipped to America as a 16-year-old orphan on a “coffin ship” during the so-called Irish famine, which wasn’t a famine at all because there was plenty of grain to feed the Irish when the potato crop failed, but the British wouldn’t give the grain to the Irish.

March 10, 2010

Controversial photo from the Warsaw ghetto

Filed under: Holocaust, World War II — Tags: , , , , — furtherglory @ 10:57 am

Photo Credit: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

Here is the USHMM caption of the photo above:

“Jews captured by German troops during the Warsaw Ghetto uprising in April-May 1943. This photograph appeared in the Stroop Report, an album compiled by SS Major General Juergen Stroop, commander of German forces that suppressed the Warsaw ghetto uprising. The album was introduced as evidence at the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg. In the decades since the trial this photo has become one of the iconographic images of the Holocaust.”

The following quote, from the USHMM, explains the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising:

In the summer of 1942, about 300,000 Jews were deported from Warsaw to Treblinka. When reports of mass murder in the killing center leaked back to the Warsaw ghetto, a surviving group of mostly young people formed an organization called the Z.O.B. (for the Polish name, Zydowska Organizacja Bojowa, which means Jewish Fighting Organization). The Z.O.B., led by 23-year-old Mordecai Anielewicz, issued a proclamation calling for the Jewish people to resist going to the railroad cars. In January 1943, Warsaw ghetto fighters fired upon German troops as they tried to round up another group of ghetto inhabitants for deportation. Fighters used a small supply of weapons that had been smuggled into the ghetto. After a few days, the troops retreated. This small victory inspired the ghetto fighters to prepare for future resistance.

On April 19, 1943, the Warsaw ghetto uprising began after German troops and police entered the ghetto to deport its surviving inhabitants. Seven hundred and fifty fighters fought the heavily armed and well-trained Germans. The ghetto fighters were able to hold out for nearly a month, but on May 16, 1943, the revolt ended. The Germans had slowly crushed the resistance. Of the more than 56,000 Jews captured, about 7,000 were shot, and the remainder were deported to camps.

The Stroop Report is very important because it was mentioned in the opening statement by Robert Jackson, the chief prosecutor at the Nuremberg International Military Tribunal:

I shall not dwell on this subject longer than to quote one more sickening document which evidences the planned and systematic character of the Jewish persecutions. I hold a report written with Teutonic devotion to detail, illustrated with photographs to authenticate its almost incredible text, and beautifully bound in leather with the loving care bestowed on a proud work. It is the original report of the SS Brigadier General Stroop in charge of the destruction of the Warsaw Ghetto, and its title page carries the inscription, “The Jewish ghetto in Warsaw no longer exists.” It is characteristic that one of the captions explains that the photograph concerned shows the driving out of Jewish “bandits”; those whom the photograph shows being driven out are almost entirely women and little children. It contains a day-by-day account of the killings mainly carried out by the SS organization, too long to relate, but let me quote General Stroop’s summary:

“The resistance put up by the Jews and bandits could only be suppressed by energetic actions of our troops day and night. The Reichsführer SS ordered, therefore, on 23 April 1948, the clearing out of the ghetto with utter ruthlessness and merciless tenacity. I, therefore, decided to destroy and burn down the entire ghetto without regard to the armament factories. These factories were systematically dismantled and then burned. Jews usually left their hideouts, but frequently remained in the burning buildings and jumped out of the windows only when the heat became unbearable. They then tried to crawl with broken bones across the street into buildings which were not afire. Sometimes they changed their hideouts during the night into the ruins of burned buildings. Life in the sewers was not pleasant after the first week. Many times we could hear loud voices in the sewers. SS men or policemen climbed bravely through the manholes to capture these Jews. Sometimes they stumbled over Jewish corpses; sometimes they were shot at. Tear gas bombs were thrown into the manholes and the Jews driven out of the sewers and captured. Countless numbers of Jews were liquidated in sewers and bunkers through blasting. The longer the resistance continued the tougher became the members of the Waffen SS, Police and Wehrmacht who always discharged their duties in an exemplary manner. Frequently Jews who tried to replenish their food supplies during the night or to communicate with neighboring groups were exterminated.

“This action eliminated,” says the SS commander, “a proved total of 56,065. To that, we haste to add the number killed through blasting, fire, etc., which cannot be counted.” (1061-PS)

We charge that all atrocities against Jews were the manifestation and culmination of the Nazi plan to which every defendant here was a party.

The defendants at the Nuremberg IMT were charged with participating in a “common plan” to commit war crimes, and Jackson is saying that the “Stroop Report” is evidence of that plan, which means that the photo of the little boy with his hands in the air, which is in the “Stroop Report,” is included in the evidence of a “common plan” to exterminate the Jews.

So far, so good.  So why is this photo controversial?  Well, some people think that this photo was not taken in the Warsaw Ghetto, so what is it doing in the “Stroop Report”?  Good question.

Long after the war, Tsvi Nussbaum claimed to be the 7-year-old boy in the photo above.  According to the “Stroop Report,” the photo was taken during the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising which took place between April 19, 1943 and May 16, 1943 before Tsvi was arrested. However, Nussbaum claims that the photo was taken when he was arrested on July 13, 1943 in front of the Hotel Polski on the Aryan side of the Warsaw Ghetto.

Tsvi C. Nussbaum claims that he and his aunt had been living as Gentiles in the Hotel Polski.  Since they had foreign passports, they were sent, after they were arrested, to the Bergen-Belsen detention camp as “exchange Jews.”

Tsvi was one of the survivors of Bergen-Belsen. In 1945, he went to Palestine, but in 1953 he moved to America. He became a doctor, specializing in ear, nose and throat, in Rockland County in upstate New York.

Coincidentially, another person arrested at the Hotel Polski was the  beautiful Franceska Mann, who allegedly shot  SS man Josef Schillinger in the undressing room of the gas chamber in Krema II at the Auschwitz II death camp, also known as Birkenau.  Franceska Mann was one of the Jews who had a foreign passport and was initially sent to Bergen-Belsen.  I blogged about Schillinger on February 5, 2010.

So who is right, Nussbaum or the “Stroop Report”? And why would Jürgen Stroop put a fake photo into his report?  Was he trying to impress his superior officers with the brutality of the soldiers who put down the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising?  I don’t know the answer to these questions.  You tell me.

The reason why these questions are important is this:  If the photo was taken in the Warsaw Ghetto and if Nussbaum is the boy in the photo and he wasn’t killed, then this means that the Nazis  had no “common plan” to commit the war crime of genocide of the Jews.  If Nussbaum is the boy in the photo, regardless of where it was taken, and he survived, then there was no “common plan” to kill all the Jews.  That is why so many researchers have concentrated on this photo, trying to prove something, one way or another.

March 9, 2010

The Catholic Church – it’s not what it used to be

On Sunday, I attended Mass at a Catholic Church, the first time in many years.  A family member is dating a girl who says she is “half Catholic.”  I know that the Nazis categorized some people has “half Jews,” but “half Catholic?”  Has the Catholic church changed so much that there are now “half Catholics”?

Anyway, I was happy to see that the largest and oldest Catholic Church in my city still has the original high altar.  In the old days, the priest would say Mass in Latin with his back to the people in the church.  Now the the priest says the mass in English in American churches, and he faces the audience.  Many churches have removed the high altar, since it is no longer used.

For example, the photo below shows a church in the town of Geseke in Germany, which has an empty space where the altar used to be.

Empty space where altar used to be in a Catholic Church

Two years ago, when I visited the church shown above, I was totally shocked to see that, not only had the altar been completely removed, but there were Jewish symbols displayed at a side altar.

Side altar in Catholic church has a menorah and a Star of David

There was never a large Jewish population in Geseke and as far as I know, there were no Jews from the town who died in the Holocaust.  That is what is so shocking about this display. While I was standing in front of this side altar, with my mouth hanging open in disbelief, a woman in the church came up to me and directed my attention to a  hanging sculpture, which is the only thing of beauty left in this church. The statue has two sides; in the photo, the choir loft is shown in the background.

Hanging statue inside St. Peter's Church in Geseke, Germany

St. Peter's Catholic Church in Geseke, Germany

I did a little research to find out if there are churches in America that display a menorah. I learned that there is a menorah in a Catholic Church in Boston; here is a quote from this blog:

In memory of Holocaust victims, Cardinal William Kasper, a top Vatican liaison to the Jewish people, rededicated a menorah at the Boston Archdiocese. He’s calling the menorah a reminder of “a common duty and a common responsibility” to promote peace among religions. The ceremony was held before about 200 people, including rabbis, priests, and Holocaust survivors.

The menorah was originally dedicated in 2002, but moved to a new home after the archdiocese sold its land to pay off debts. The recent dedication was on Wednesday in honor of Yom HaShoah.

I also found this quote on this web site:

More than 500 Jews and Catholics sat together in the pews of the Cathedral Santuario de Guadalupe in Dallas to share in the unveiling and lighting of a menorah donated by the Center for Interreligious Understanding (CIU) in Secaucus, N.J.

The menorah, created by Israeli sculptor Aharon Bezalel, is one of 11 being placed in Catholic centers around the United States. The four-foot 380-pound menorah, which depicts men, women and children being led by a tallis-laden rabbi, is a replica of the Yom Hashoah Menorah presented to Pope John Paul II on April 13, 1999, which is on permanent display at the Vatican’s North American College.

Does America have a new religion now, that is half Catholic and half Jewish? Can’t Catholics have their own religion, without Jewish symbols? Does everything have to be about the Holocaust?

The photo below shows the Hall of Remembrance at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC which I think is evocative of the interior of a church.

The Hall of Remembrance at the USHMM in Washington, DC

The eternal flame on a box filled with dirt from 38 camps

The 6,000 square-foot Hall of Remembrance at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC is on the second floor, at the end of the tour of the permanent exhibit. There is a black marble box, filled with dirt from 38 different concentration camps, that is like an altar. The room has 6 sides which represent the 6 million Jews who were murdered in the Holocaust, and the 6-pointed Star of David, which is the Jewish emblem. The Hall is three stories high and there is a 6-sided skylight at the top.

March 7, 2010

Genocide — What is it and what causes it?

Filed under: Holocaust — Tags: , , , , , , , — furtherglory @ 10:49 pm

I get all my news from Google News on the Internet and Fox News on TV.  I rarely watch CNN, except when Chrisiane Amanpour is on. Last night, I saw a show which she did about genocide.  I was struck by the fact that she did not give any reason for any of the well known genocides, such as the genocide in Rwanda. To hear her tell it, genocide is something that happens because the perpetrators are evil, not because the victims did anything to piss them off.

During the show on CNN, I turned to a family member in the younger generation and said: “Refresh my memory on the Rwanda genocide.  Who killed whom and why?”  To which the family member replied, “The Hutus killed the Watusis because the Watusis are tall and strong while the Hutus are short and fat, so the Hutus were jealous of the Watusis, and that’s why they killed them.”

Up to this point, I had not realized that the Tutsis were members of the Watusi tribe. Amanpour was pronouncing Tutsi like “Tootsie” as in Tootsie roll, a type of candy. Now it all made sense: the inferior people  in Rwanda killed the superior people, who were completely innocent because, after all, the superior people can’t help it that they are superior and this pisses the inferior people off.

During a commercial, my family member told me the “back story” on the Watusis.  During the colonial period in Africa, the British put the Watusi tribe in charge and the Watsuis made slaves out of the Hutus.  On the CNN show, Amanpour neglected to mention this.

This morning, I looked up genocide on google and found this quote from the writings of M. Hassan Kakar on Wikipedia:

For genocide to happen, there must be certain preconditions. Foremost among them is a national culture that does not place a high value on human life. A totalitarian society, with its assumed superior ideology, is also a precondition for genocidal acts.  In addition, members of the dominant society must perceive their potential victims as less than fully human: as “pagans,” “savages,” “uncouth barbarians,” “unbelievers,” “effete degenerates,” “ritual outlaws,” “racial inferiors,” “class antagonists,” “counterrevolutionaries,” and so on.  In themselves, these conditions are not enough for the perpetrators to commit genocide. To do that—that is, to commit genocide—the perpetrators need a strong, centralized authority and bureaucratic organization as well as pathological individuals and criminals. Also required is a campaign of vilification and dehumanization of the victims by the perpetrators, who are usually new states or new regimes attempting to impose conformity to a new ideology and its model of society.
– M. Hassan Kakar

It is obvious that Kakar is describing the Nazis and the Holocaust.  But are all genocides the same? According to Wikipedia, YES!

Here is another quote from Wikipedia about how genocide always starts:

People are divided into “us and them”.

“One group denies the humanity of the other group. Members of it are equated with animals, vermin, insects or diseases.”

“Genocide is always organized… Special army units or militias  are often trained and armed…”

“Hate groups broadcast polarizing propaganda…”

“Victims are identified and separated out because of their ethnic or religious identity…”

“It is “extermination” to the killers because they do not believe their victims to be fully human.”

“The perpetrators… deny that they committed any crimes…”

So, according to Wikipedia, Christiane Amanpour is right: the victims of a genocide are always innocent.  Their actions do not cause a genocide.  This means that genocide can never be prevented because there is nothing the victims can do to prevent it.  In fact, Amanpour mentioned the steps leading up to genocide, and her explanation was much like the Wikipedia quote.  She specifically mentioned that the Nazis called the Jews “vermin” and she used the word “extermination” in describing the Holocaust.

I am old enough to remember what Louis Farrakhan said many years ago, when he spoke at Brooklyn Public School 258:

“Nobody wants to talk about what the Jews did. They are always talking about what Hitler did to the Jews. But what did the Jews do to Hitler?”

Maybe the Tutsis did something that made the Hutus so mad that they just couldn’t take it any more, so they hacked the Tutsis to death and threw their bodies into a river.  I don’t know what the Tutsis did to provoke the Hutus because Amanpour didn’t tell us. Nor did she tell us what the Jews did to piss Hitler off.

Yesterday, I read the news on my computer, as usual, while I had my breakfast.  At the top of the page on Google News was this headline: Obama against Armenian ‘genocide’ bill.

Here is a quote from the news article:

Obama against Armenian ‘genocide’ bill
Saturday, 6 March 2010 08:25

US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton has said the Obama administration will do what it can do block further progress of a controversial bill describing as genocide the killing by Turks of Armenians during WWI.

A US congressional committee narrowly approved the resolution on Thursday, paving the way for a possible vote on Capitol Hill.

But Mrs Clinton said the administration would ‘work very hard’ to prevent this.

Turkey voiced strong protests after the vote and recalled its ambassador from Washington for consultations.

The same congressional committee passed a similar resolution in 2007 but it failed to go anywhere after then-President George W Bush weighed in strongly against it.

Muslim Turkey accepts that many Christian Armenians were killed by Ottoman Turks but denies that up to 1.5m died and that it amounted to genocide.

The committee’s resolution urges President Obama to use the term genocide when he delivers his annual message on the Armenian massacres in April.

He avoided using the term last year although as a presidential candidate he said the killings were genocide.

So America gets to vote on what is genocide and what isn’t? Now that we are allies with Germany, can we vote to call the ethnic cleansing of Germans in Czechoslovakia and Poland, after World War II, a genocide? I wrote about the German expellees on a previous post.

When the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum was first proposed in Washington, DC, the Armenians wanted to be included.  The decision was finally made that an Armenian exhibit could be included, but it had to be limited to atrocities against the Armenians during World War II and could not include the alleged genocide by the Turks during World War I.  This was done to appease the Turks who insist that the Armenians were not genocided.

In California, the Armenians are called the “Fresno Indians,” because many of them settled in the Central Valley and particularly in the city of Fresno, and they were discriminated against, much like the Native Americans were.

About fifteen years ago, there was a proposal to put up a Holocaust Museum in Sacramento, CA but the project never got off the ground because the “Fresno Indians” insisted on being included.  Whether you call them “Fresno Indians” or Armenians, these people will never be allowed to equate their alleged genocide with the Holocaust.

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