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August 12, 2010

90-year-old Holocaust survivor was with Muslim leaders on trip to Dachau and Auschwitz

Filed under: Dachau, Germany, Holocaust — Tags: , , , — furtherglory @ 8:11 am

In today’s news in the Jewish Forward, there is the story of 8 imans who went on a 3-day trip to Dachau and Auschwitz which was “co-sponsored by a German think tank and the New Jersey-based Center for Interreligious Understanding, and strongly supported by the United States government.”

The trip, which you can read about here, was the brainchild of law professor Marshall Breger, an Orthodox Jew and former senior official in the administrations of Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.

According to a news article,  which you can read here, Breger said:

‘There is a view that there is growing anti-Semitism in the Muslim world, reinforced by people like President [Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad, that there is growing Holocaust denial in the Muslim world.  In light of that, the idea was to offer education to those who might not have the kind of knowledge that we’ve had about World War II and the Jewish community, and to do this in a public way.”

According to the Jewish Forward, the delegates’ level of knowledge about the Holocaust prior to the trip seemed to be fairly low. When they met with Max Mannheimer, a survivor of Auschwitz and Dachau, they appeared to be particularly affected by seeing the number the Nazis had tattooed on his arm, and asked many questions.  But wait a minute! Should a survivor of Auschwitz and Dachau, who has lived to the age of 90, be the one to accompany a tour to combat Holocaust denial among Muslims?  Shouldn’t they have chosen someone who is the son or daughter of a Jew who was gassed at Auschwitz or Dachau?

Gas chamber at the Dachau concentration camp

You can read all about the Dachau gas chamber here.

This quote is from the Jewish Forward news article:

Suhaib Webb, an imam from Santa Clara in the Bay Area, grew up in a white Christian household in Oklahoma  and later converted to Islam. Walking around Auschwitz with tears in his eyes, he said, “It was far worse than I imagined.”

“No Muslim in his right mind, female or male, should deny the Holocaust,” said Mohamed Magid, imam and executive director of the All Dulles Area Muslim Society. “When you walk the walk of the people who have been taken to be gassed, to be killed, how can a person deny physical evidence, something that’s beyond doubt?”

Gas chamber in the Auschwitz main camp, 2005 photo

When you “walk the walk of the people who have been taken to be gassed,” shouldn’t you be accompanied by a relative of someone who was gassed?  You can read all about the Auschwitz gas chamber here.

Max Mannheimer’s family was first persecuted by the Nazis in 1938 when his father was arrested and taken into “protective custody” at Dachau after Kristallnacht, a pogrom in Germany on the night of November 9th and 10th in 1938.  Max was 18, but his mother lied about his age, and he was not taken to Dachau at that time.  After promising to leave Germany, Max’s father was released from Dachau and the family moved out of Germany, but remained in Europe.

When the evacuation to the East of all the Jews in German-occupied territory began,  Max Mannheimer was sent to the Theresienstadt Ghetto, a concentration camp near Prague, in January 1943. His father had served in the Germany Army in World War I, so that is why the family was sent to this relatively mild camp. From Theresienstadt, Max was sent, along with his 22-year-old wife, his parents, his 15-year-old sister and two of his brothers, on a train to the  Auschwitz death camp. His older brother Erich had already been deported to Auschwitz in 1942.

After spending six weeks in the Quarantine camp at Auschwitz-Birkenau,  Max Mannheimer was tattooed with the number 99728 on his arm, and sent to the Auschwitz main camp where he was put to work. He survived three selections for the gas chamber and an operation performed in the Auschwitz hospital by a doctor who was also a prisoner at Auschwitz. In October 1943, Mannheimer and his younger brother were sent to the Warsaw Ghetto to work in clearing the rubble.

Max Mannheimer survived 3 selections for the gas chamber in the main Auschwitz camp

In 2000, at the age of 80, Mannheimer published his  controversial “later diary” about his ordeal in the Nazi concentration camps. According to the book, he and his brother were the only members of his family that survived Auschwitz.

Mannheimer wrote that he was sent from Auschwitz, in July 1944, on a death march to the Dachau concentration camp, arriving on August 6, 1944.  After spending 3 weeks in quarantine at the Dachau main camp, Max was sent to a Dachau sub-camp called Allach, where he worked in a BMW factory.

Max was later sent to another Dachau sub-camp at Mühldorf, where he worked on the construction of an underground factory where Messerschmitt ME 262 airplanes were to be made. With the approach of the US Seventh Army, he was evacuated from Mühldorf on a train. The train was overtaken by American troops and Mannheimer was liberated on April 30, 1945, one day after the liberation of the Dachau main camp.

This quote about Max Mannheimer is from Wikipedia:

[Mannheimer] became known through his lectures about his experiences in the concentration camps. For decades, he never spoke about his experiences, but had suffered nightmares and depression. On a trip to the United States in 1986, he happened to see a swastika and fell apart, suffering a nervous breakdown. Since the mid-1980s, he has been giving lectures to young people and adults in schools, universities and elsewhere as an eye witness to the horrors of Third Reich and the Nazi era. He also gives groups of school children tours of Dachau. He says that the lectures are a form of therapy for him, that he’d like to forget the past because it has given him nightmares and caused him depression, but feels a duty to those who did not survive to never forget.

Mannheimer is an honorary member of Gegen Vergessen – Für Demokratie (“Against Forgetting – For Democracy”), the chairman of which is Joachim Gauck. Mannheimer is also chairman of “Lagergemeinschaft Dachau” and vice president of Comité International de Dachau (International Dachau Committee).


  1. […] Jakov. I'm really sorry to do this (the painting) to you. Honestly. Sorry!!!!! Mannheimer has helped Muslims to overcome their holocaust denial problem! On that link you can see the same copy about his life story. He […]

    Pingback by Strange Tales of the Holocaust, II - Page 21 — November 25, 2011 @ 2:37 pm

  2. What a story. Par for the course. What struck me is “When you walk the walk of the people who have been taken to be gassed, to be killed, how can a person deny physical evidence, something that’s beyond doubt?”

    Haha, what walk? I’ve been in both places, and for anyone going there today, there is nothing to see and no “feeling” to get. It’s all very ordinary unless you really work on fevering up your imagination.

    “Physical evidence, beyond doubt?”
    I like the way you have the two pictures together of the alleged Dachau and Auschwitz gas chambers. They don’t look anything alike, one looks like a shower room and the other a cellar of old parking garage. Wouldn’t the sophisticated Germans have a consistent model of their “homicidal gas chambers”, rather than using whatever was at hand? Strange indeed.

    Comment by Skeptic — August 12, 2010 @ 8:58 am

    • The Dachau gas chamber was built by the Germans, but the Auschwitz gas chamber in the main camp was in a building that was already there before Auschwitz was turned into a concentration camp. Both the gas chamber in Dachau and in the Auschwitz I camp have many faults, which support Holocaust denial more than Holocaust belief. As for Max Mannheimer, he represents living denial since he was in both Auschwitz and Dachau and wasn’t gassed.

      Comment by furtherglory — August 12, 2010 @ 9:48 am

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