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June 1, 2011

Holocaust survivor who was tattooed with a “B for Birkenau”

Filed under: Holocaust — Tags: , , — furtherglory @ 10:22 am

When 82-year-old Holocaust survivor Ben Midler recently gave a talk to a sixth grade class in Del Mar Heights, CA,  the students asked to see his tattoo. According to a news article in the Del Mar Times, which you can read here,

“Without hesitating, Midler showed them his left forearm bearing the number “B-2433” — “B” for Birkenau.”

Numbers starting with the letter B were first used at Birkenau in May 1944 when the Hungarian Jews were transported to the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp.  The first tattoo numbers used for the Hungarian Jews started with the letter A, but when the numbers reached A-20,000, a new series of numbers, beginning with the letter B, was started, but only for male prisoners.  According to the USHMM, “some 15,000 men received B series tattoos.”  The women continued to receive numbers starting with the letter A, up to 30,000.  

According to the article in the Del Mar Times, Ben Midler was a Polish Jew who was born in 1929 and grew up in the city of Bialystok in northeastern Poland.  I previously blogged about Bialystok here because it was one of the few cities where Jews were transported WEST to Treblinka.  All together, Midler was sent to six different camps and Treblinka was the SECOND camp where he was sent.  He was the only one in his family, out of 70 people on both sides of his family, who survived the Holocaust.

If Midler’s whole family was murdered, was he one of the Bialystok orphans who were first sent to Theresienstadt and then transported to Birkenau in October 1943?  I previously blogged about the Bialystok orphans here.  But Midler could not have been sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau in 1943 because the tattoos starting with the letter B were not used until 1944.

This quote is from the article in the Del Mar Times:

He (Midler) was later moved to the infamous Treblinka concentration camp, where he said the chimneys were “working full-time 24 hours a day” to burn bodies.

This is the first time I’ve ever hear of chimneys at Treblinka; this indicates that there were cremation ovens there.  When I visited the Treblinka Memorial Site in 1998, there was a memorial to the prisoners whose bodies were burned on the ground, but there was no mention of ovens or chimneys.

Memorial stones recreate pits where bodies were burned

The photo above represents the cremation pit at Treblinka where, according to a pamphlet about the camp, bodies were burned on “grates.” This picture, which I took in 1998, shows what the pamphlet calls “melted basalt” set on a “concrete fundamental plate.”

Ben Midler was 10 years old when World War II started with the invasion of Poland; he was first sent to the Bialystok ghetto where he remained for two years before being sent to any camp.  He somehow survived the Treblinka death camp and was later sent to the Birkeanau death camp sometime after May 1944, according to his tattoo number.

At Birkenau, he encountered Dr. Josef Mengele, the infamous “angel of death” who was one of 36 SS officers who made the selections for the gas chamber.  In 1944, Ben Midler was 15 years old.  The official story of Birkenau is that anyone over 15 and under 45 was not sent to the gas chamber; many of the survivors alive today lied about their age in order to escape the gas chamber.  But Ben Midler has a different story.

This quote is from the article in the Del Mar Times:

Mengele had a marker for children to measure height, Midler said. If children were tall enough, they might live. If they didn’t measure up, they were killed.

There are photos which show the Jews arriving at Birkenau in 1944, but strangely, none of the photos show a marker for measuring height.  In many of the survivor stories that I’ve read, children of 11 and 12 were able to fool Dr. Mengele into believing that they were 15 or older.  There are stories of a marker being used for later selections, but not at the ramp when the transports arrived.

I will end this with a final quote from the Del Mar Times:

After two years in the ghetto, Midler was taken in a railroad car to the first of six concentration camps where he said most of the Jewish prisoners were led to the “showers,” gassed and then burned in crematoria.

Strangely, the Nazis didn’t realize that some day, Jewish survivors of the Holocaust would be speaking to six-graders in American schools. They left behind eye-witnesses to their crimes in the camps, including the death camps. How stupid was that?


  1. Dear American children.(and teachers)
    I think it will be fair to provide you with more materials to fill you compulsory holo-education.

    HOLOCAUST – Hiding Diamonds was a Bummer! (Irene Weisberg Zisblatt

    HOLOCAUST – “I was sent to the Gas Chamber but it was full!” (Irene Weisberg Zisblatt)


    Jerzy Ulicki-Rek

    Comment by Jerzy Ulicki-Rek — February 19, 2012 @ 7:19 pm

  2. It’s a testament to what our schools are like that they invite ignorant frauds like this man to speak to and TEACH the children.

    It shows how ignorant the teachers and principals are that they believe what men and women like this nut say without question.

    Of course, maybe it’s mostly the fault of the state legislators (politicians) who pass laws requiring “holocaust” education, thus the teachers and principals have to carry out the order as best they can. So many days have to spent on holo education and they have to fill them up in some way.

    Comment by Sceptic — June 1, 2011 @ 9:19 pm

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