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December 23, 2011

“ordinary people can do monstrous things” — the story of Sidney Finkel, a Holocaust survivor

Filed under: Buchenwald, Germany, Holocaust — Tags: , — furtherglory @ 11:10 am

Sidney (Sevek) Finkel was born in Poland in December 1931. When he was 7 years old, Germany invaded Poland and his family was forced to live in a ghetto where 20,000 Jews were crowded into only 182 buildings.  You can read Sevek’s full story in an article in a Chicago newspaper here.  Finkel is now 80 years old and for more than 15 years, he has been educating 8th graders in America on the Holocaust.

The title of my blog post today comes from a line in the Chicago newspaper article in which Sevek tells the story of his sister Ronia and her new-born baby.  An ordinary German soldier threw the baby out of a second-story window and then shot Ronia.

How does Sidney Finkel explain this monstrous behavior of the German people?  This quote is from the newspaper article:

“People want to believe the Germans were monsters,” he said. “They think they had horns growing out their heads.

“But they were ordinary people. I would not be surprised if, after tossing my niece out that window and murdering my sister, he went home and read bedtime stories to his own children as he tucked them in.

“That’s the lesson to be learned. That ordinary people can do monstrous things.”

Virtually every Holocaust survivor has a similar story to tell.  Babies were thrown up into the air and shot like clay pigeons.  Babies were grabbed out of their mother’s arms and their heads were smashed against a tree or a wall. Babies were torn in half like a phone book, as witnessed by Rutka Laskier. Live babies were thrown into a burning pit, as witnessed by Elie Weisel on his first night in Auschwitz-Birkenau.  I previously blogged here about Sidney Glucksman who saw babies stuffed into bags and soldiers swinging the bags against concrete walls, killing the babies.

I once attended a Holocaust art show in which there was a painting that showed babies being thrown out of a window. This story is so universal that I would be suspicious of any Holocaust Survivor who did not include, in his or her story, some mention of babies being killed in some monstrous way by ordinary German soldiers.  

Here is a quote from the Chicago newspaper article which tells the details of Sidney Finkel’s story about his sister Ronia and her baby:

He calmly told me the story of his favorite oldest sister, Ronia, a beautiful woman with blond hair and blue eyes who had married before the war.

She became pregnant but was smuggled into a Catholic hospital outside the ghetto walls by a kindly village resident. Shortly after giving birth, an informer betrayed her to the Gestapo.

“A Nazi soldier came into the hospital and threw her baby out the second-story window,” Sidney recalled. “And then he took my sister outside and shot her.”

Sidney Finkel has written a book: Sevek And the Holocaust: The Boy Who Refused to Die.  The cover of his book shows a photo of 13-year-old Sidney standing in the door of a British bomber that brought him to England.

At 13, Sidney would have been a “Buchenwald orphan,” as this quote from the news article reveals:

Finkel would later be sent to a slave labor camp with his father and brother. His mother and a sister were sent to the Treblinka concentration camp, where they died.

And eventually Finkel would be separated from his father and brother and forced to shift for himself in the Buchenwald concentration camp.

Finkel’s story is unusual in that his family members were separated; his father and brother were sent to a labor camp, while his mother and his other sister were sent to the Treblinka death camp to be killed.  In a YouTube video, Finkel said that he was in Buchenald when he was 11 years old.  He said that he walked “ten miles” to the railroad station in Weimar when he left Buchenwald. (Finkel was among the group of Buchenwald prisoners who were marched out of Buchenwald on April 10, 1945, one day before Buchenald was liberated, and taken to Theresienstadt.)

It may have seemed like ten miles to a 13-year-old boy, but I’ve been to Weimar and the railroad station is only five miles from the camp, unless the station was moved after the war.

As with most Holocaust survivors, Finkel did not tell his story until 50 years after the fact.


  1. Reblogged this on Xao Thao and commented:
    What is a monster? Who is a monster? Ordinary people can do monstrous things. Does that mean we are monsters? We are all capable of great evil. How do we justify someone else as evil when we can do exactly the same in their shoes? Human monsters are ordinary people just like us. By no means should we ever forget that because we can be just like them.

    Comment by xaothao — June 23, 2014 @ 8:33 pm

  2. I’ve got 16 separate stories of Jews smothering a baby to stop its cries alerting the evil Germans to their hidey hole:

    – In the shed
    – In the attic
    – In a “chicken coop”
    – Upstairs in their house
    – In the sewer
    – Under the haystack
    – In a bunker built “in their new home”
    – In a forest “Many of the other children, however, were smothered”
    – In a barn
    – In the ghetto (“And his mama cries” – Elvis)

    Comment by Black Rabbit — December 24, 2011 @ 5:46 pm

  3. Mr. Finkel wrote a book but somehow didn’t find the time to fill out a form to Yad Vashem.

    However a family member, Tzvi Iablonski, did.

    Thus we have:

    – mother Faiga, born in 1904, died in 1942.
    – sister Frania, died in 1942, age 15.
    – sister Ronia, died in 1942, age 29.

    No mention is made of Ronia’s baby, much less thrown through the window – an all-time favorite – although Mr. Iablonski took the pain to fill no less than 77 forms.

    Did Faiga give birth to Ronia when she was all of 9 years old, as well?

    Comment by Eager for Answers — December 24, 2011 @ 1:36 am

  4. Sidney Finkel survived because the Nazis N-E-V-E=R tried to kill him in the first place. If they had wanted to kill him, they could have arranged that easily enough–and that should be perfectly obvious to anyone who still has a functioning brain. But more than that, the Nazis actually kept Finkel alive and countless other Jews by providing them food, and shelter, clothing, medical care and security under extremely difficult circumstances–like World War 2. If the Nazis had withheld any of those basic things like food or shelter, Finkel would have died quickly enough without any need for gas chambers or mass shootings.

    Finkel is strong living evidence for the simple fact that the “holocaust” is a monstrous and thoroughly stupid hoax–made possible, however, by the enormous political power and wealth of Jews in America.

    Let’s have a public debate, Mr. Finkel. You against me. I dare you to face someone who actually knows something about World War 2. Stand up like a man to an adult and not just to helpless, little children.

    Friedrich Paul Berg

    Comment by Friedrich Paul Berg — December 23, 2011 @ 7:24 pm

    • Friedrich I usually keep my motions in check but you are a CRETIN or retarded

      Comment by toby — January 13, 2017 @ 2:02 pm

      • You wrote: “I usually keep my motions in check”

        Do you mean that you usually keep your EMOTIONS in check?

        Comment by furtherglory — January 13, 2017 @ 2:20 pm

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