Scrapbookpages Blog

October 13, 2010

The remarkable story of Ben Helfgott, a Buchenwald survivor

I have recently become fascinated with the story of the orphan boys at the Buchenwald concentration camp. There were 904 boys under the age of 17 in the main camp; most of whom were fatherless.  However, Ben Helfgott was not one of the 904 orphan boys in the Buchenwald main camp.

The orphan boys in the main camp were protected by the Communist prisoners, who prevented the SS staff from sending them to the sub-camps to work. Helfgott was not an orphan when he arrived at Buchenwald.

According to this website:

“Shortly after arriving in Buchenwald, Ben was separated from his father and sent to a sub-camp in Schlieben where anti-tank weapons were produced. Ben would never see his father again. He later learned that his father was shot on a death march while trying to escape.”

The 904 boys, who were rescued by American soldiers on April 11, 1945, had been saved by the Communist prisoners from being sent to the sub-camps.

I first heard of Ben Helfgott in a book entitled Holocaust Journey, written by Martin Gilbert several years ago. I remembered Helfgott’s name because he said something about the German people who were burned alive, near Theresienstadt, as they tried to escape from the angry Czechs who expelled them after the war. I was impressed that he could show sympathy for the German expellees who had suffered.  (The former Dachau concentration camp became a home for German refugees from Czechoslovakia for 17 years.)

The book, Holocaust Journey, is about a trip to several concentration camps, which was led by Martin Gilbert.  One of the camps on the trip was Treblinka.   I have just learned that Helfgott narrowly escaped from being sent to Treblinka himself.

I have highlighted the important points in a quote from this website which tells Ben Helfgott’s remarkable story:

Ben was almost 10 years old when his childhood abruptly ended with the Nazi invasion of Poland. He and his family were ordered to move into the Piotrkow ghetto by the 1st November 1939. It was the first ghetto in Poland. Three years later, on October 14, 1942, deportations from his hometown started – for seven days, the Jews in the ghetto were deported to Treblinka.

Of the 25,000 Jews in the ghetto in Piotrkow at the time only 2,500 remained. Ben managed to avoid deportation because of his work in the glass factory. During the deportation, his parents and his two younger sisters were in hiding with 3 different Polish families.

Each of them, however, encountered problems with the families that hid them and each eventually made their way back to the ghetto. Ben’s father arranged forged papers that listed the family as part of the 2,500 that could remain in a much reduced area of the ghetto. Informed that if they registered they would be legalized and receive food rations, Ben’s mother took his sister, Lusia, who was 8 years old, to register. It was a deception. His mother and sister were taken with 560 others to the synagogue and held there for two weeks, before being marched to the nearby Rakow forest and murdered.

Treblinka was one of the three Operation Reinhard camps which were set up as “death camps” after the Wannsee Conference on January 20, 1942 at which the genocide of the Jews was planned.  Ben Helfgott was born in 1929 and he would have been just 13 in 1942, but he was not included in the transport to Treblinka because he was working in a glass factory.  His parents and his sisters had to go into hiding and then get forged papers so that they could remain in the ghetto.

I am puzzled by this story.  Doesn’t genocide mean that everyone in a certain ethnic group is killed for no reason at all?  If 2,500 people in the ghetto were allowed to stay behind, and were not sent to Treblinka, was this genocide? If a 13-year-old boy could get such an important job in a glass factory, why couldn’t his parents have gotten a similar job?  Did Ben have small fingers, like the children that Oscar Schindler saved, because they were needed in his factory?

In reading more about the Piotrkow ghetto on the web, I learned that there were some other famous survivors of Buchenwald, who were from Piotrkow. They also had relatives who were sent to Treblinka and gassed.

You can read the story here of Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau, who was an orphan child of 8 when he was liberated from Buchenwald.  Rabbi Lau published a book in which he wrote about how his father bribed a German officer, by giving him a gold watch, to allow his brother to stay in the ghetto, but after getting the watch, “the Nazi had turned his back on my father and laughed.”

His father knew what would happen.  Rabbi Lau wrote:

“We won’t be seeing Shmuel any more,” my father told me, with tears flowing from his eyes. Shmuel was sent to Treblinka that night.

So it seems that there was a selection in the Piotrkow ghetto in which some of the able-bodied Jews were sent to Treblinka to be gassed while children were allowed to live.  After the destruction of the Piotrkow ghetto in October 1942, Rabbi Moshe Chaim Lau, the father of  Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau, was sent to Treblinka, but two of his younger children were allowed to live.

Remarkably the child who became Rabbi Lau was selected to work in the glass factory in the ghetto, instead of being sent to Treblinka; he wrote this in his book:

In the Piotrkow ghetto, I worked in the glass factory for eight hours a day nonstop, carrying huge bottles of drinking water for the workers in the factory, where the temperature was 140 degrees. For a whole year I did this, in snow, in storms, in heat, carrying heavy bottles into that blazing hot room. And then I was only five and a half years old.

Another famous survivor of the Piotrkow ghetto was Herman Rosenblat who wrote Angel at the Fence, a book that is now being turned into a novel because the main part of the story is fiction.  Herman was sent from the Piotrkow ghetto to Buchenwald where he stayed from December 2 to December 8, 1944 before being transferred to the Schlieben sub-camp, and then to a work camp in Czechoslovakia, where he was liberated.

Although their father, mother and one of their brothers were sent to Treblinka, Naftali and Meir Lau were not sent to Treblinka. Naftali worked for two years  in the Hortensja glass factory in Piotrkow and two months in the Hasag Werke in Czestochowa. Then he and his younger brother, Meir Lau (nicknamed Lulek), the sons of Rabbi Moshe Chaim Lau, were sent to the Buchenwald main camp, arriving on January 20, 1945.   They were liberated by American troops on April 11, 1945.

October 12, 2010

Oprah’s interview with Mark Fuhrman, the detective in the O.J. Simpson case

Filed under: True Crime, TV shows — Tags: , , — furtherglory @ 9:15 am

Yesterday Oprah did one of her best interviews when she talked with Mark Fuhrman, one of the detectives in the O.J. Simpson murder case.  This was Oprah’s second interview of Fuhrman.

The most astonishing thing that Mark Fuhrman said in his interview with Oprah was that O.J. “didn’t go there to kill two people.”  He went on to explain that O.J. “had a history of stalking” Nicole and spying on her. He said that Nicole “saw him hiding in the bushes,” and this was what led to the murder of her and Ron Goldman. He said that O.J. “knew of her relationship with Ron Goldman.”

Since O.J. didn’t go to Nicole’s condo with the intent to kill her, according to Fuhrman, this means that it was not first degree murder.   (more…)

October 11, 2010

Were there two four-year-old boys at Buchenwald?

In doing research, several years ago, for my web site section about the Buchenwald concentration camp, I vaguely recall reading about two children who were four years old when the American liberators arrived to rescue them on April 11, 1945.  However, I could only find the name of one of the boys on the USHMM web site: Josef Schleifstein whose name at birth was Janek Szlajfaztajn.

Josef Schleifstein Army Signal Corp photo, 1945

Some of the 904 orphan boys at Buchenwald, April 1945

Today I received an e-mail telling me about a new book, which is the story of another small child who survived Buchenwald: Stefan Jerzy Zweig. The book is Tears alone are not enough by Zacharias Zweig (now deceased) and Stefan Jerzy Zweig, with closing words from Elfriede Jelinek. The Foreword was written by Heinz Strotzka.

To coincide with the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the Buchenwald concentration camp on April 11, 1945, the first edition of the book Tears are not enough by Zacharias Zweig (posthumously) and Stefan Jerzy Zweig was privately printed in spring 2005.

The following information is from the Forward of the book:

The immediate family, consisting of Dr. Zweig, his wife Helena, their daughter Silvia (born in 1932) and their son Stefan Jerzy (born in 1941) first had to move to the Cracow Ghetto. After spending long periods in the concentration camps of Biezanov, Skarzysko-Kamienna and Plaszow, the Zweig family was put on a transport destined for Buchenwald.

From reading the book Schindler’s Ark on which the film Schindler’s List is based, I learned that the male prisoners in the Plaszow camp were sent to the Gross Rosen concentration camp and the women were sent to Auschwitz.  Schindler’s Ark is a novel, so maybe the author left out the part about some of the Plaszow prisoners being sent to Buchenwald.

Continuing the quote from the Forward of the book:

Helena Zweig and her daughter were incarcerated in a satellite camp of Buchenwald and were subsequently deported to Auschwitz, where they were murdered in the gas chambers.

This seems strange. Why weren’t the mother and daughter sent directly, along with all the other women and girls at Plaszow, to Auschwitz and gassed immediately?  Auschwitz is only about 35 miles from the location of the former Plazow camp, but Buchenwald is much farther away.

More of the quote from the Forward of the book:

Helena’s son Jerzy was only able to survive thanks to the extraordinary protectiveness of political prisoners at Buchenwald, who saw in this protection an act of resistance and wanted thereby to set an example of humanity.

So the German staff at Buchenwald was trying to get at those children, to kill them, but they were no match for the political prisoners who saved the boys as an “act of resistance”?

Finally, this quote from the Forward of the book:

As a result of the emphatic protest raised by Stefan J. Zweig against personal insinuations and attacks by the head of the memorial site, Dr. Knigge, the director ordered the removal of a wall plaque at the memorial site which provided information on Buchenwald’s youngest prisoner.

Cover of new book about the four-year-old boy rescued from Buchenwald

The  photo of the child shown on the cover of the book has a remarkable resemblance to a photo of Josef Schleifstein, shown below.

Josef Schleifstein, circa 1946 Photo Credit: USHMM, courtesy of Aviva Kempner

According to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, the little Jewish boy in the photo above was born Janek Szlajfaztajn on March 7, 1941 in Sandomierz, Poland during the German occupation. His parents were Izrael and Esther Szlajfaztajn. The family was moved into the Sandomierz ghetto in June 1942. After the liquidation of the ghetto, the family was moved to Czestochowa, a city in Poland, where Izrael and Esther were put to work in one of the HASAG factory camps. During this period, their son was placed in hiding in the area.

The USHMM says that Izrael Szlajfaztajn was then sent to the Letzium Work Camp in the Radom District, where he worked for a firm called Ralnik from October 1942 till September 1943. He worked in Makashin, near Sandomierz, from September till December 1943 and in a HASAG ammunition factory in Kielce from December 1943 to approximately November 1944.

In January 1945, when the HASAG camps were closed and their operations transferred to Germany, the Szlajfaztajn family was deported to Germany. According to the USHMM, Esther was sent to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. Izrael and Janek were taken to Buchenwald where they arrived on January 20, 1945. Izrael had concealed little Janek in a large sack in which he carried his leather-working tools.

The child could not remain hidden for long in the camp, but his life was spared, in part because the Germans valued Izrael’s craftsmanship and in part because they took a liking to the child. The SS guards came to treat Janek as a camp mascot, and even had him appear at roll calls wearing his child-sized striped uniform.

Despite this special treatment, Janek remembered being lined-up for execution at one point and his father intervening at the last moment to save him. He also remembered being very sick during his imprisonment and living in a hospital for a time. Soon after their liberation in Buchenwald, Izrael and Janek were taken to Switzerland for medical treatment. Some months later, they were reunited with Esther in the town of Dachau, where they lived until emigrating to the U.S. in 1947.

I searched the website of the USHMM and could not find any mention of Stefan Jerzy Zweig.   The Forward of the new book mentions that Stefan Jerzy Zweig was the youngest prisoner to pass through the gates of Buchenwald and the last, together with his father, to leave after Liberation.

So were there really two four-year-old Jewish boys at Buchenwald, or was there only one boy who went by two different names?

The child in this photo was identified as Josef Schleifstein

(Click on the photo to enlarge)

The photo above is from this website.

The same photo is identified on this German website as Stefan Jerzy Zweig.

The four-year-old boy at Buchenwald was the subject of a novel by Bruno Apitz entitled Naked among Wolves, which has been made into a film.

This quote is from the Epilogue of the book about Stefan Jerzy Zweig:

The commemoration plaque with the name of the three and a half year old Jewish child has been removed from the  Buchenwald Memorial. The name has also been removed (the worst thing of all for a Jew, a renewed expunging of a life) and replaced by a more generally formulated inscription because the naming of individuals (which is to say of life itself because life always consists of individuals) was not permitted. Those born after the fact have the final word, and they have the freedom to steer things the way they were supposed to have been: Anne Frank has already raised too many hackles with her diary. In the New Germany we can’t tolerate the idea that there were red Capos (communists, socialists of all shapes and kinds, the resistance fighter Robert Siewert and the post-War union leader Willi Bleicher symbolize all of them), red Capos who saved people.

On this website, I found an article written on 07/07/09 by Kenneth Waltzer which included this quote about the orphan boys at Buchenwald: “The two youngest boys were four years old.”  Were there two four-year-old boys at Buchenwald who looked exactly alike?

October 9, 2010

Bill Maher: “Waffen SS Viking Division soldiers killed Jews in Hungary”

Filed under: World War II — Tags: , , , , , — furtherglory @ 7:47 am

Last night as I watched the HBO show “Real Time with Bill Maher,”  I heard Maher say that Waffen SS soldiers in the Viking Division had “slaughtered Jews in Hungary.”  The discussion at that point was about Rich Iott, the Republican candidate who is challenging Democrat Marcy Kaptur in Ohio’s Ninth District.  Iott is a member of a group of Ohio World War II reenactors and he has been known to dress up as an SS soldier in the 5th SS Wiking (Viking in English) Panzer Division.  Journalist Josh Green was a guest on the show and he introduced the subject.

The photo below shows Viking reenactors with an arrow pointing to Iott in an SS uniform.

Rich Iott dressed up in an SS uniform

I was amazed to hear Bill Maher say that Waffen SS soldiers had “slaughtered Jews in Hungary.”  Did he know that, right off the top of his head, or did he do some research before the show?

The Hungarian Jews were rounded up in May 1944 and sent to Auschwitz to be killed; you can read all about the Hungarian Jews and the Holocaust on my website here.

Germany and Hungary were allies in World War II, and Hungarian soldiers were fighting in Waffen SS divisions.  The Waffen SS Viking Division fought in battle on the Eastern front during World War II, so why would Viking Division soldiers have been killing Jews in Hungary?

To find the answer, I had to do some research myself, so first I got out my book about the SS divisions, entitled Hell on the Eastern Front.  I skimmed through all the pages that mentioned the Viking Division but found nothing about killing Jews in Hungary, nor even fighting in Hungary.

Then I searched the web and found this quote here:

A 90-year-old former member of an elite Waffen SS unit has been charged with killing 58 Hungarian Jews who were forced to kneel beside an open pit before being shot and tumbling into their mass grave.
The man, named in the German press as Adolf Storms, becomes the latest pensioner to be prosecuted for alleged Nazi war crimes as courts rush to secure convictions before the defendants become too infirm and the witness testimony too unreliable.
Mr Storms was found by accident last year, as part of a research project by Andreas Forster, a 28-year-old student at the University of Vienna.
The case against him was led by Ulrich Maass who is also the prosecutor in the trial of Heinrich Boere, 88, who is accused of shooting three Dutch resistance fighters.

Note that Adolf Storms was charged with killing “Hungarian Jews,” not with killing “Jews in Hungary.”

According to this website, Storms died before he could be brought to trial:

Soldiers from the Wiking division were involved in the killing of Hungarian Jews in March/April 1945. (10) On 17 November 2009 Adolf Storms was charged with the murder of 58 Hungarian Jewish forced labourers near Deutsch Schuetzen in Austria on 29 March 1945 but he died before he could be brought to trial. (11)

The Viking Division was fighting in Austria at the end of World War II, and again, it was “Hungarian Jews” who were killed, not “Jews in Hungary.”

I also found this information here:

As with his other formations, Heinrich Himmler had decreed that SS Viking should not fight in the front lines. Rather, it would be deployed against “partisans,” a code phrase widely understood to mean Jews, Party activists and other “undesirables.” The division moved out in Army Group South’s second echelon, and only saw its first action against on 29 June at Tarnopol. Ten days later, its supply column proved themselves true SS men, participating in the massacre of about 60 Jews in the Lviv ghetto.

Why only 60 Jews?  Why not kill all the Jews in the ghetto?  Could it be that the 60 who were killed were fighting as “partisans”?  If these 60 Jews were, in fact, fighting as partisans, they were “illegal combatants” under the Geneva Convention of 1929 and it was legal to “massacre” them.

Note that the quote says that “partisans” was a “code phrase” for Jews and “undesirables.”  The Germans always used code words and euphemisms in World War II, never really using any words that could be used to convict them of war crimes.  Did the Germans really anticipate that they would lose World War II and be charged with war crimes at Nuremberg, so that’s why they always used code words and euphemisms?

Still, I am impressed that Bill Maher apparently did some research so that he could bring up this incident, involving the Viking Division of the SS, in his continuing effort to discredit candidates in the coming election, just as he smeared Christine O’Donnell by dredging up an old clip of her talking on his show about being a witch.

I always liked Bill Maher before he started his campaign against conservative political candidates in the coming elections.

You can read more about this here. Note that the author has trouble distinguishing between the Nazi (National Socialist) political party and the German military.  The Huffington Post made the same mistake, which you can read here.  The SS men were not necessarily in the Nazi political party.

October 7, 2010

Josef Kleinman was gassed at Dachau…and lived to testify against Adolf Eichmann

I’ve been reading a book by Robert Fisk, entitled The Great War for Civilization, published in 2006.  On page 370, I read that “Josef Kleinman is no ordinary Jewish Holocaust survivor.”   Besides the fact that “Jewish Holocaust survivor” is redundant, the author’s observation is an understatement.

I learned on page 369 of the book by Robert Fisk that Josef had told the author that he “was freed from Landsberg on April twenty-seventh, 1945.”

(There were 11 sub-camps of Dachau located near Landsberg am Lech; the camps were all named Kaufering and numbered I through XI.)

Then I read on page 371 that Kleinman was one “Of the twenty-nine thousand Jews brought to Dachau from other camps…”

I put these two facts together and deduced that Josef Kleinman was one of the Jewish survivors of Auschwitz, who were marched out of the camp on January 18, 1945 and taken to concentration camps in Germany.   Around twenty-nine thousand of these survivors were brought to Dachau and gassed, according to the official American army report, written by the American liberators of Dachau.

After Dachau was liberated on April 29, 1945, the official report of the US Seventh Army was printed as a book entitled Dachau Liberated: The Official Report by The U.S. Seventh Army, Released Within Days of the Camp’s Liberation by Elements of the 42nd and 45th Divisions.

The Official Report was based on two days of interviewing 20 prominent political prisoners at Dachau; these prisoners told the Americans that both the shower room and the four disinfection chambers at Dachau had been used as homicidal gas chambers. In The Official  Report, it was claimed that “29,138 Jews had been brought to Dachau and murdered in five gas chambers between June 20, 1944 and November 23, 1944.”

It was later learned that these twenty-nine thousand Jews had been sent to the eleven Kaufering sub-camps of Dachau, near Landsberg am Lech, after taking a shower at the Dachau main camp. Kleinman was one of these twenty-nine thousand prisoners and he was liberated from Landsberg in 1945, so Fisk got that part right.

The Dachau camp records show that there were 28,838 Jews brought from Auschwitz to the Dachau main camp between June 18, 1944 and March 9, 1945. Before being transferred to the 11 Kaufering sub-camps near Landsberg, they were kept in quarantine, at the Dachau main camp, for two weeks in an effort to prevent the spread of disease.

All incoming prisoners at Dachau were first dipped in a tub of disinfectant, then given a shower and issued clean clothes that had been disinfected with Zyklon-B to kill the lice that spread typhus. The German word for a clothing disinfection chamber is Gaskammer, which means gas chamber in English.  It is easy to see where the political prisoners, who gave information to the American Army investigators, made their mistake.

In his book, Fisk mentions that Josef Kleinman had kept his “Blue and White” uniform from his days as a prisoner at Dachau; he points out that blue and white are the colors of the Israeli flag.   This is significant: I have never thought of the colors of the uniforms in that context.  Maybe it never occurred to me because the concentration camp uniforms were actually blue and light gray and the non-Jewish prisoners wore the same blue and gray uniforms.

Fisk wrote that Kleinman was the youngest survivor of Auschwitz and that he testified at the trial of Adolf Eichmann, head of the special “Jewish Section” of the SS, who ran the Nazi program to murder the Jews of Europe.

After reading that, I knew that the author had not done much research on the Holocaust, or he would have known that, at the age of 14, Kleinman could not have been “the youngest survivor of Auschwitz.”  The youngest survivors of Auschwitz were babies who were carried out of the camp in the arms of their mothers when the camp was liberated by Soviet soldiers on January 27, 1945.

Here is the full quote from page 370 of the book:

Mr. Kleinman is no ordinary Holocaust survivor. He was the youngest survivor of Auschwitz and he testified at the trial of Adolf Eichmann, the head of Hitler’s programme to murder the Jews of Europe. Indeed, Mr. Kleinman saw Dr. Mengele, the “Angel of Death,” who chose children, women, the old and the sick for the gas chambers. At the age of just 14, he watched one day as Mengele arrived on a bicycle and ordered a boy to hammer a plank of wood to a post. Here, for the record, is part of Kleinman’s testimony at the Eichmann trial:

“We weren’t told what was to happen. We knew. The boys who couldn’t pass under the plank would be spared. Those boys whose heads did not reach the plank would be sent to the gas chambers. We all tried to stretch ourselves upwards, to make ourselves taller. But I gave up. I saw that taller boys than me failed to touch the plank with their heads. My brother told me, ‘Do you want to live? Yes? Then do something.’ My head began to work. I saw some stones. I put them in my shoes, and this made me taller. But I couldn’t stand at attention on the stones, they were killing me.”

Mr. Kleinman’s brother, Shlomo, tore his hat in half and Josef stuffed part of it into his shoes. He was still too short. But he managed to “infiltrate” into the group who had passed the test. The remainder of the boys – a thousand in all – were gassed. Mengele, Josef Kleinman remembers, chose Jewish holidays for the mass killing of Jewish children. Mr. Kleinman’s parents, Meir and Rachel, and his sister had been sent directly to the gas chambers when the family arrived at Auschwitz from the Carpathian mountains, in what is now Ukraine. He survived, along with his brother – who today, a carpenter like Josef, lives a few hundred yards away in the same suburb of Givat Shaul/Deir Yassin.  Josef survived Dachau and the grueling labour of building a massive bunker for Hitler’s secret factory, constructed for the production of Germany’s new Messerschmitt ME262 jet fighter aircraft.

After his liberation by the Americans, Josef Kleinman made his way to Italy and then to a small boat which put him aboard a ship for Palestine, carrying illegal Jewish immigrants who were to try to enter the territory of the dying British mandate. He could carry only a few possessions. He chose to put his Dachau uniform in his bag – he would not forget what happened to him.

October 5, 2010

Identifying photos of Elie Wiesel

Filed under: Holocaust — Tags: , , — furtherglory @ 9:59 am

This morning I asked a question in a comment on my post of September 13, 2010 which you can read here.  I asked how Elie Wiesel was identified in the photo taken at the Buchenwald concentration camp on April 27, 1945, which shows a column of boys walking out of the camp.  I did a little searching on the web and now I am able to answer the question myself.

On the web site of Kenneth Waltzer (which has since been deleted) I read this on the caption of the photo of the marching boys:

Elie Wiesel is fourth on the left, in front of the tall youth with beret.
Picture courtesy of the late Jack (Yakov) Werber, Great Neck, New York.

Young boys marching out of the Buchenwald camp

Young boys marching out of the Buchenwald camp

The photo above shows a group of orphan boys who survived the Buchenwald concentration camp.  I always thought that Elie Wiesel was the tall boy wearing a beret, but not according to Jack Werber.

I googled Jack Werber and found his obituary here.

This quote is from the obituary:

A photograph, now infamous, emerged after the war, Professor Helmreich pointed out. It shows three prisoners at Buchenwald. Two are hanging by ropes tied to their hands behind their backs, suspended from a tree. A third prisoner is on the ground. It is Mr. Werber, the professor said, “an officer standing over him with stick under his arm, looking down, a foot jutting into him.”

In 1996, with William Helmreich, director of the Center for Jewish Studies at Queens College, Mr. Werber wrote “Saving Children: Diary of a Buchenwald Survivor and Rescuer” (Transaction Books). In it, he wrote, “Suffering a great personal loss drove me in my obsession to save children.”

So Jack Werber is the man on the ground in this “infamous photo” shown below?

Photo taken inside Dachau Museum in 2001

I took the photo above in the Dachau Museum in 2001.  When I returned to the Museum in 2003, this photo was no longer there. For years, Holocaust deniers had called this photo a fake.  It was finally admitted that this photograph shows a scene that was created in 1958 for an East German DEFA film.

(Source: H. Obenaus, “Das Foto vom Baumhängen: Ein Bild geht um die Welt,” in Stiftung Topographie des Terrors Berlin (ed.), Gedenkstätten-Rundbrief no. 68, Berlin, October 1995, pp. 3-8)

So Jack Werber posed for a scene in a 1958 propaganda film? If the identification of Elie Wiesel in a photo at Buchenwald was found in the book by the late Jack Werber, I wouldn’t trust the identification since Werber obviously lied to Helmreich about the fake photo above.

October 4, 2010

Priests killed in the gas chamber at Dachau

In a video entitled Time of An Ordeal: Story of Polish Clergy at the Nazi Dachau Concentration Camp the archbishop emeritus of Warsaw, Kazimierz Majdanski, tells about the Catholic priests who died in the gas chamber at Dachau, and he names names.  After he rattles off a long list of names, Majdanski says the Dachau gas chamber was “crowded with priests from Poland.”   You can see the video here.

In the narration of the video, Archbishop Majdanski said:

Some of them (the priests) could have saved themselves, but none of them lowered themselves to such pacts. In 1942 the authorities of the camp offered Polish priests the possibility of special treatment, on the condition of declaring that they belonged to the German nation.

The priests were offered the possibility of “special treatment”? Special treatment (Sonderbehandlung) was a Nazi euphemism which meant death in the gas chamber.  Did the Commandant of Dachau actually use the term Sonderbehandlung to mean a bribe for the Polish priests becoming German? For a Pole to become a German would have been a fate worse than death.  The Poles hate the Germans and the Germans hate the Poles.  Always have and always will.

Did  the German word Sonderbehandlung actually have various meanings for the Nazis, not just death in the gas chamber?  How is a person supposed to know when the Nazis were speaking in euphemisms, and when they were not?

Then Archbishop Majdanski said in the video:

When Father Dominik Jedrzejewski was offered his freedom on the condition that he give up his priestly functions, he calmly answered “no,” and died.

A Polish priest at Dachau was offered his freedom in exchange for giving up the priesthood?  This implies that Catholic priests were brought from Poland to Germany simply because they were priests and for no other reason.  If the Nazis were putting priests into concentration camps just because they were priests, why didn’t they round up all of the 20,000 priests in Germany and send them to camps?  Hitler himself was Catholic; he didn’t target priests because they were priests.

Kazimierz Majdanski had been arrested on Nov. 7, 1939 when he was a student in the seminary of Wloclawek. Wait a minute!  November 7th?  That was about six weeks after the Polish Army was defeated in the field and the Poles decided to begin fighting as illegal combatants, aka Resistance fighters. Was Majdanski sent to Germany, and first put into the Sachsenhausen concentration camp and then transferred to Dachau, because he was a priest or because he was a member of the Polish Resistance?

The video is long, but try to watch the whole thing. You will get a lesson on how to make a disingenuous propaganda film by putting together photos from other locations that are not part of your story and using photos that show something other than what you are saying.

October 1, 2010

Were concentration camp prisoners killed, near the end of WWII, in order to eliminate witnesses?

Filed under: Dachau, Germany, Holocaust, World War II — Tags: , , , — furtherglory @ 8:41 am

Shortly after I began blogging, back in February 2010, I learned from some of the comments on my posts, that many people believe that, in the last days of World War II, the Nazis increased the killing of prisoners in the concentration camps because they did not want to leave witnesses behind to testify about the atrocities in the camps.  It is a fact that the number of deaths increased dramatically in the last six months of the war.

At the Nuremberg IMT, Ernst Kaltenbrunner was accused of giving an order to kill all the prisoners before American soldiers arrived to liberate the remaining camps.  Kaltenbrunner was the Chief of RSHA (Reich Security Head Office) which was a very high position in the Nazi hierarchy. An order allegedly arrived at Dachau, just days before the camp was liberated, in which the killing of all the prisoners was commanded.

This morning I read the following quote about Dachau here:

Displays at the camp show those piles of bodies toward the end of the war as the Nazi world collapsed and it became more important to kill prisoners to eliminate witnesses.

A lot of new display signs have been put up at Dachau since my last visit.   The signs apparently tell tourists that prisoners were killed in the last days of the war “to eliminate witnesses.”

A display sign at Dachau identifies this room as the place where bodies were found on liberation day

What about the 2,226 prisoners who died in the month of May after Dachau was liberated?  Did the Nazis sneak into the camp and kill them to eliminate witnesses?

What about the 30,000 prisoners who were still alive at Dachau when the American liberators arrived?  Did the Nazis run out of time and they were not able to kill all the prisoners?

There is also a common belief that the prisoners were marched out of the camps, or put on trains and sent to another camp, so that they could be killed.  Even the VIP prisoners at Dachau were allegedly sent to the South Tyrol in order to be killed.

Russian POWs and Jewish prisoners were marched out of Dachau before the American liberators arrived

A recent comment on my blog by history professor Harold Marcuse included these quotes:

When some responsible German officials realized beyond doubt that the war was lost, they drew the “logical” conclusion and burned the marching prisoners alive, as happened at Ohrdruf, Gardelegen and numerous other places. For them apparently, dead evidence was better than alive evidence.

In any case the death marches in 1945 were a largely futile attempt to keep human evidence of and witnesses to atrocities from falling into Allied hands.

It seems that the belief, that prisoners were killed to keep them from testifying about Nazi “atrocities,” is now a part of the official history of the Holocaust, at least at the Dachau Memorial Site, and in college history classes in America.

I got into trouble with the Thought Police a couple of months ago when I wrote on my blog that prisoners were brought from the sub-camps to the main Dachau camp in order to consolidate the prisoners so that they could be liberated by the Americans.  The Holocaust True Believers say that the prisoners were brought to the main camp to be killed in accordance with the alleged order to kill all the prisoners to keep them from being witnesses.

The plan to kill all the prisoners was obviously not carried out, and there were an additional 15,000 prisoners at the main camp when the liberators arrived.  The tour guides at Dachau make a big point of telling visitors how crowded it was in the camp, but always neglect to mention that half of the prisoners who were in the camp on the day of liberation had only been there a few weeks and some had arrived on the day before.  Seven mothers with babies arrived at Dachau the day AFTER the camp was liberated, much too late to be killed under the alleged order to kill all the prisoners.

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