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February 19, 2012

“In Darkness” a new Holocaust film opening soon at a theater near you

Filed under: Holocaust, movies, World War II — Tags: , , , — furtherglory @ 8:56 am

A new Holocaust film, directed by Agnieszka Holland, the woman who directed the film “Europa, Europa” back in 1990, opened in “select theaters” on Feb. 17th and will be shown in my city next week.  I am looking forward to seeing this film because I liked “Europa, Europa” so much that I saw it twice.

The new movie is about the Lvov Ghetto in what is now the city of Lviv in Ukraine. Before the joint invasion of Poland by Germany and the Soviet Union in 1939, the city of Lvov was home to 120,000 Jews.  At that time, Lvov was located in territory that had formerly belonged to Germany before World War I; the German name for the city was Lemberg.

"In Darkness" shows Jewish children hiding in sewers in Lvov ghetto in Poland

The Nazis did not occupy the city of Lvov until after the German invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941 and by that time, the number of Jews in the city had increased to 220,000, according to Wikipedia.  Between October 1939 and June 1941, Lvov had been in Soviet-occupied territory. The Lvov ghetto was set up by the Germans in November 1941 and liquidated in June 1943 when the Jews in the ghetto were sent to the Belzec death camp or the Janowska concentration camp.

One of my most popular blog posts was about how Amon Goeth saved Jews from the ghettos in the Lublin area by taking bribes from them in exchange for not sending them to Belzec.  I haven’t seen the new film about the Lvov ghetto, but I wonder if some of the Lvov Jews saved themselves by bribing the Germans who were in charge of sending them to either the Belzec extermination camp or the Janowska concentration camp.

I learned a lot from the film “Europa, Europa.”  I learned that some of the so-called rivers in Poland are so shallow that a person can easily wade across them.  Not like the real rivers in Missouri where I grew up (Missouri river and Mississippi river). I learned that many Jews escaped into the Soviet zone of Poland during the German invasion of Poland on September 1, 1939 and that they waded across the Bug river which divided the two zones.  The Soviets invaded Poland on September 17, 1939.

I will write more about the Jews in Lvov after I see the new movie.  It has been nominated for an Oscar for the best foreign film this year.

Read more here about the Lvov ghetto at the USHMM website. The photo below, from the USHMM website, shows a German soldier watching as Ukrainian civilians drag a Jew down the street in the Lvov ghetto.

Ukrainian civilians drag a Jew in Lvov ghetto as German soldier looks on

February 17, 2012

How Adolf Eichmann saved the Danish Jews

Filed under: Holocaust — Tags: , , — furtherglory @ 3:38 pm

Yesterday, I blogged about a 5th grade class that learned about the fate of the Danish Jews in World War II from a Holocaust survivor. I blogged about this because I was very surprised that a 5th grade teacher would introduce this subject to a class of 10-year-olds.

The  true story of what happened to the Danish Jews disagrees with the official history of the Holocaust:  In order not to be branded a Holocaust denier, one must believe that “The Final Solution to the Jewish Question in Europe” was the systematic plan to kill all the Jews in Europe, which later became known as the “genocide” of the Jews.

How can it be genocide when the Jews in one country in Europe were not killed?  That must be why these unsuspecting 10-year-old children were told, by an eyewitness Holocaust survivor, that a Danish Jew was gassed at Auschwitz.

The real story is that none of the Jews in Denmark were deliberately killed and none were sent to Auschwitz to be exterminated. The most amazing thing about the Danish Jews is that Adolf Eichmann, the so-called “mastermind” of the Holocaust, was involved in saving them from the gas chambers!  Did Eichmann get any thanks for this?  No, after he was tried and convicted, by an Israeli court, of  Crimes against Humanity, Eichmann was hanged.

A few years ago, I purchased a book entitled The Miracle in Denmark, The Rescue of the Jews by Christian Ejlers.  On page 46 of the book is a photo of Adolf Eichmann in his SS uniform.  The caption reads:  “SS-Obersturmführer Adolf Eichmann (1906 – 1962) was the man behind the German genocide of six million Jews, the Roma people, and homosexuals in Europe.”

This quote is from page 47 of the book The Miracle in Denmark:

Adolf Eichmann arrived in Copenhagen (Denmark) on November 2, 1943.  Like (Werner) Best, he was an SS officer. He was head of the department of the Reichsichershauptamt (RSHA) that was entrusted with carrying out Hitler’s policies against Jews: having as many of them as possible annihilated.

[Werner Best was the German Reich Commissioner in occupied Denmark; he was the top civil authority in Denmark from 1942 to May 5, 1945.]

We do not know for certain the real reason why this mass murderer came to Copenhagen.  Some believe that his job was to try to find out why the action against the Jews had been a fiasco — seen from the Germans’ point of view.  Who was responsible?  Others believe that he came to support (Werner) Best in the internal power struggle that had begun among the SS, the German foreign Ministry, and the Wehrmacht.  [...]  No matter what the explanation, Best and Eichmann made an agreement at Hotel D’Angleterre on November 2, 1943.  This agreement was sent as a telegram to Berlin on November 3, 1943.  Its contents were as follows:

1.  Jews over 60 will no longer be arrested and deported.
2.  The deported half-Jews and Jews married to non-Jews will be released and sent back to Denmark.
3. All Jews who had been deported from Denmark will remain in Theresienstadt and within a reasonable length of time will be visited by representatives of the Danish authorities and the Danish Red Cross.   [...]
The last point in the telegram meant that no Jews from Denmark — including those who were not Danish citizens — were sent to Auschwitz or other extermination camps.

Chapter 4 in the book The Miracle in Denmark is entitled “Deportation.”  This quote is at the beginning of the chapter:  “Why did Adolf Eichmann and Werner Best ensure that 481 Jews in Theresienstadt were not sent to the extermination camps.” 

According to the book, tour guides at Theresienstadt tell visitors that “the Danish Jews were saved because they were protected by the Danish king.”  However, the author of the book explains that it was not King Christian X who saved the Danish Jews. The Danish Jews were sent to Theresienstadt in October 1943; the Danish government had resigned on August 29, 1943, so the Danish king did not have the authority to save the Jews.   No, it was Werner Best and Adolf Eichmann, both German SS officers, who decided that the Danish Jews would be sent to Theresienstadt and that they would not be transported to Auschwitz.

February 16, 2012

5th grade class learns about a Danish Jew who was gassed at Auschwitz

Filed under: Holocaust — Tags: , , — furtherglory @ 12:37 pm

I read this quote in the news today on this website in a story about Holocaust survivor Danny Goldsmith speaking to a 5th grade class:

Goldsmith recounted his childhood experience for the audience, explaining that his run from the Nazis began when his father was called to “work” for the Third Reich when he was about 10 years old. At that time, it was not known to Goldsmith that his father was actually being sent to Auschwitz, a concentration camp, where he was put to death in the gas chambers. Once the Nazis took his father away, Goldsmith’s mother joined the resistance, and sent Goldsmith and his sister into hiding.  [...]

Goodsmith’s speech marked the culmination of the novel, “Number the Stars” by Lois Lowry, which taught students about the Holocaust and the tragedies that occurred during the Nazi occupation of Europe.

So Goldsmith didn’t know, at the time that this happened, that his father had been put to death in the gas chambers of Auschwitz? How did he find out about it?  When did it become known that Jews from Denmark were sent to Auschwitz and gassed?  I didn’t know about the gassing of the Danish Jews, so I had to look it up.  I went to the Holocaust History Project where I read this:

It had been decided early in September that the Danish Jews should go to Theresienstadt not Auschwitz. About 360 were sent via the port of Swinemunde, and of these twenty died on the journey and fifty in the camp.

I went to the website of the USHMM here where I read this:

In the end, the Germans succeeded in arresting about 500 Jews [in Denmark] and deporting them to Theresienstadt, a ghetto and concentration camp in Czechoslovakia. Even then, the Danish people sent parcels of food and provisions to their Jewish countrymen. This intense public focus quite possibly saved the Danish Jews in Theresienstadt from being transferred to Auschwitz and their imminent deaths.

The story of the Danish people uniting in peaceful resistance against the Nazis is a unique chapter in the history of the Holocaust. Today, the permanent exhibitions at Yad Vashem in Israel and at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum both include an original Danish fishing vessel that once ferried Jews to safety.

In another section of the USHMM website, I read this:

Between December 1941 and July 1942, the SS and police officials established five killing centers in German-occupied Poland: Chelmno, Belzec, Sobibor, Treblinka 2 (Treblinka 1 was a forced-labor camp for Jews), and Auschwitz-Birkenau, also known as Auschwitz II. SS and police authorities in the Lublin District of the Generalgouvernement (that part of German-occupied Poland not directly annexed to Germany, attached to German East Prussia, or incorporated into the German-occupied Soviet Union) managed and coordinated the deportations to Belzec, Sobibor, and Treblinka within the framework of “Operation Reinhard.”  [...]

In 1943 and 1944, the Auschwitz-Birkenau killing center played a significant role in the German plan to kill the European Jews. Beginning in late winter 1943, trains arrived at Auschwitz-Birkenau on a regular basis carrying Jews from virtually every German-occupied country of Europe — from as far north as Norway to the Greek island of Rhodes off the coast of Turkey in the south, from the French slopes of the Pyrenees in the west to the easternmost reaches of German-occupied Poland and the Baltic states. Another concentration camp, located near Lublin and known as Majdanek, served as a site for murdering targeted groups of Jewish and non-Jewish prisoners by gas and other means.

The Germans killed nearly three million Jews in the five killing centers.

The official story of the Holocaust, which is protected by law in 16 countries, keeps changing and I can’t keep up with it.  Note that the USHMM has down-graded Majdanek to “a site for murdering targeted groups of Jewish and non-Jewish prisoners by gas and other means.”  In 1946, testimony was given by the Soviet Union at Nuremberg that 1.5 million people had been killed at Majdanek.

Do you think that any of these 10-year-old fifth grade students will bother to look up the facts on the website of the USHMM?  Or will they just believe what they are told by a guest speaker?  There oughta be a law against Holocaust survivors speaking to gullible fifth graders!

February 15, 2012

Elie Wiesel rejects Mormon heaven; tells Mitt Romney not to baptize dead Jews

Filed under: Holocaust — Tags: , — furtherglory @ 10:17 am

According to USA Today, “Holocaust survivor and Nobel Prize winner Elie Wiesel on Tuesday called on Mitt Romney to tell the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon church) to stop doing proxy baptisms in the names of dead Jews, including Holocaust victims such as Wiesel’s parents.”

Romney has already admitted that, when he was a Mormon bishop in Boston, he participated in the practice of baptizing the dead.

I am a baptized Catholic, but I am currently a “fallen-away Catholic.”  When I die, I want to go to Catholic heaven because I was told in Catholic school that Catholic heaven will be just the way I want it to be.  I do not want to go to Mormon heaven, and I have requested that my family members, who are Mormons, not baptize me after I am dead.   The problem with this is that the Mormon Church does not recognize that there is any other heaven except Mormon heaven.  And the only way to get into Mormon heaven is to be baptized as a Mormon.  When non-Mormons die, they go to a spiritual prison where they remain for all eternity, until they are baptized in the Mormon religion.  However, non-Mormons who are baptized after they die do not have to accept this baptism — the spirit of a non-Mormon can reject Mormon heaven.

There are three levels of Mormon heaven; the highest level of heaven is only for Mormons who have been married in the Mormon temple.  To even enter a Mormon temple, one must be “temple worthy” and to be worthy, a Mormon must give 10% of his or her income to the Mormon church.

When a dead person is baptized in the Mormon church, a living Mormon, who is temple worthy, stands in for the dead spirit and is physically baptized in a Mormon temple on behalf of the dead person. Any temple worthy Mormon can be baptized multiple times on behalf of many non-Mormons.

The Mormon church has a huge geneology database, from which they select names of dead people to baptize.  Jewish people are not normally included in the geneology database.  So if Jews don’t want to wind up in Mormon heaven, all they have to do is to request that their family tree not be recorded in the database.  The problem is that some Jews have requested that their family names not be put into the Mormon database, but they have somehow gotten into the database in spite of this.  That is because anyone, including non-Mormons, can submit their family records to the Mormon database.

Elie Wiesel has no cause to worry.  After he dies, his spirit can reject Mormon heaven.  Elie Wiesel can go to hell if he so desires.

February 14, 2012

Holocaust survivor admits to “killing Nazis” at Dachau

Filed under: Dachau, Germany, Holocaust, World War II — Tags: , , — furtherglory @ 9:24 am

I was planning to take a day off from posting on my blog today, maybe going to the movies, taking a drive into the foothills, or going to the railroad museum.  But then I read in the news that Albert Rosa, a Greek Holocaust Survivor, will be speaking on Thursday to college students at Cal Poly, telling them about how he was the only one of his 70 family members to survive Auschwitz and a “death march” to Dachau where he was liberated by American troops in the last days of World War II.

This quote from the online San Luis Obispo Tribune made me very angry:

The Soviet Army moved into Poland. The retreating Germans forced the survivors at Auschwitz on a “death march” to Dachau in Bavaria. When Dachau was liberated by the Americans, Rosa joined them in “killing Nazis.” By then, he weighed only 80 pounds.

According to the article in the Tribune, Rosa kept silent for 55 years before he started to speak on the lecture circuit and brag about killing the German soldiers who were sent to Dachau to keep order while the camp was surrendered to the Americans.   (more…)

February 13, 2012

The museum in the Wannsee house where “The Final Solution” was planned

Filed under: Germany, Holocaust, World War II — Tags: , , — furtherglory @ 9:59 am

1916 photo of the mansion where the Wannsee Conference was held in Jan. 1942

A question, about an exhibit in the Museum at the Wannsee mansion where the “The Final Solution to the Jewish Question in Europe” was planned on January 20, 1942, was asked in a comment on my blog by a reader named “skeptic” who is skeptical about the official story of the Holocaust. “Skeptic” questions whether a telex (on display at Wannsee) that was allegedly sent by Reinhard Heydrich to the 4 Einsatzgruppen leaders in 1941, is genuine. The Wannsee Museum shows this telex in one of their displays, which I saw in October 1999.

The telex message ordered the Einsatzgruppen leaders to allow the locals on the eastern front to kill the Jews without interference during World War II, and even to encourage them to kill the Jews.  Did Reinhard Heydrich really write this telex message?  I have no way of knowing if this telex was actually sent by Reinhard Heydrich or anyone else.

I can only judge the Wannsee Museum exhibit by the information given on subjects that I know something about. Based on the my limited knowledge, I have to say that the Wannsee Museum is disingenuous. For example, an excerpt from Heinrich Himmler’s famous speech at Posen on October 4, 1943 is quoted in the museum display:

…”The Jewish people are being exterminated.” every party member says. “Of course, it’s in our program, elimination of the Jews, extermination, we’ll do it all right.” Among all those who talk like this, no one has witnessed it, no one has seen it through. Most of you will know, however, what it means to see 100 corpses lying together, or 500, or 1,000. To have stuck it out and at the same time to have remained decent – aside from a few exceptions succumbing to human weakness – that has made us tough. This is a page of glory in our history, unwritten and never to be written…

As quoted by the Wannsee Museum, Himmler’s speech is cut off in mid sentence. According to Holocaust historian Martin Gilbert, the full sentence from Himmler’s speech is as follows:

This is an unwritten and never-to-be-written page of glory in our history, for we know how difficult it would be for us if today under bombing raids and the hardships and deprivations of war – if we were still to have the Jews in every city as secret saboteurs, agitators, and inciters. If the Jews were still lodged in the body of the German nation, we would probably by now have reached the stage of 1917-18.”

The last part of the sentence is a reference to 1917-18 during World War I when the Jewish labor leaders called a strike of ammunition workers in 1917 and the Jewish Social Democrats overthrew the established government and declared a Republic in Germany in 1918. The Nazis believed that the Jews were responsible for their defeat in World War I because Jewish Social Democrats had signed the Armistice and the Treaty of Versailles. The part of the sentence, that the museum display cut out, explains why the Nazis made the decision to “transport the Jews to the east” six months after they invaded the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941.

1922 photo of dining room where Wannsee Conference was held

The museum is on the ground floor of the mansion in the Wannsee suburb of Berlin where the Conference was held. The photo above shows the dining room where the conference was held.  In the background, you can see the opening into the “Wintergarten” which is a glassed-in room overlooking a rose garden. This is where seminars on the Holocaust are now held.   (more…)

February 12, 2012

70 years after the Wannsee Conference, “Holocaust Obfuscation” threatens to replace Holocaust denial

Filed under: Holocaust, World War II — Tags: , — furtherglory @ 10:38 am

A group of political leaders in Europe have signed a Seventy Years Declaration in an attempt to defend the official history of World War II and to combat a new form of Holocaust denial, known as Holocaust Obfuscation.

Holocaust Obfuscation was defined by Dovid Katz in this quote from an article which he wrote:

… the term Holocaust Obfuscation is proposed as a cover term for a newly energized European movement to confuse, recombine or equalize phenomena that are empirically and conceptually unequal, in service of the effort to obscure, relativize, minimize or delete “the Holocaust as such” from European history and consciousness.

As defined in an article about the Seventy Years Declaration, Holocaust Obfuscation means to

Deflate Nazi crimes; inflate Soviet crimes; make their “equality” into a new sacrosanct principle for naive Westerners who like the sound of  “equality”;  redefine “genocide” by law to include just about any Soviet crime….

In other words, Holocaust Obfuscation is a new form of Holocaust denial: equating the Holocaust with crimes committed by the Soviet Union during World War II.  I previously blogged about the killing of the Jews in Lithuania here.  The photo below shows a Lithuanian man standing over the bodies of Jews that have just been killed.

Lithuanian man stands over the bodies of Jews who have been killed

As everyone knows, the Holocaust was planned at the Wannsee Conference, which was held on January 20, 1942.  The problem is that the photo above was taken in Lithuania 6 months before the Holocaust was planned.  Under Holocaust Obfuscation, this man is now considered a war criminal, on par with the Nazi criminals.

This quote is from the article on Holocaust Obfuscation, which you can read here:

Seventy is the biblical lifespan for latterday humans. And the number of years since Hitler’s Wannsee Conference made the Final Solution for European Jewry in January of 1942.  During the preceding six months, starting with the June 22nd 1941 Nazi attack on the Soviet Union, the Nazis saw how easy it was to find enthusiastic local killers in the Baltic and Ukraine regions among others.  Around a million Jews perished by bullets in that half-year in Eastern Europe, many voluntarily discharged by patriots from the local populations against their own neighbors of many centuries.

So the problem with the claim that the Holocaust was planned at the Wannsee Conference is that around a million Jews had already been shot on the Eastern front by the locals.  Now some Europeans want to obfuscate by pointing out that the Nazis weren’t the only ones who killed Jews during World War II.

After the Wannsee Conference, the Nazis set up three camps that were called the Aktion Reinhard camps: Treblinka, Belzec, and Sobibor.  Holocaust Believers say that these camps were pure extermination camps where Jews were gassed upon arrival; Holocaust deniers say that these camps were transit camps where the Jews took a shower before being sent into the territory that had been taken by the Germans from the Soviet Union in the previous six months.

Now we have to deal with Holocaust Obfuscation in which a new breed of Holocaust deniers say that the crimes, committed before the Aktion Reinhard camps were set up, are equal to the crimes committed by the Nazis.

February 11, 2012

Raoul Wallenberg honored in Hungary (Iranian ambassador attends ceremony)

Filed under: Holocaust, World War II — Tags: , — furtherglory @ 7:34 am

The big news today, according to The Jerusalem Post, is that the Iranian ambassador to Hungary attended a ceremony in Budapest to honor Raoul Wallenberg, the Swedish dipolomat who saved more than 20,000 Hungarian Jews from certain death by providing them with “Swedish diplomatic papers.”

This quote from The Jerusalem Post explains the significance of this news:

While the officials downplayed the overall significance of the Iranian ambassador’s presence, noting the entire diplomatic corps stationed in Budapest was invited to the event, official Iranian participation in an event marking the Holocaust is unusual given Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s history of Holocaust denial.

In my humble opinion, the story of Raoul Wallenberg, saving Hungarian Jews by issuing false diplomatic papers, supports Holocaust denial more than it does the official Holocaust story.  If all it took to prevent the Nazis from killing the Jews was false papers, issued by a Swedish diplomat, what kind of genocide was that?

You can read the full article in the Jerusalem Post here.

Here is the back story on Raoul Wallenberg and how he saved the Hungarian Jews:

On July 9th, the same day that the last mass transport of Hungarian Jews arrived at Auschwitz, a Swedish diplomat named Raoul Wallenberg was assigned to the Swedish legation in Budapest. He was actually working as an agent for the American War Refugee Board which President Franklin D. Roosevelt had established in January 1944 at the request of Henry Morgenthau, Jr., the Secretary of the Treasury.

Wallenberg saved thousands of Hungarian Jews by providing them with an illegal protective passport (Schutz-Pass) which identified them as Swedish subjects living in Hungary. Wallenberg set up safe houses for Jewish refugees in Budapest which were paid for by the Swedish embassy. Some of the Jewish refugees were housed in the Swedish legation in Budapest. As a result of Wallenberg’s efforts, more than 20,000 Hungarian Jews were saved, including Tom Lantos, who emigrated to America after the war and subsequently became a US Congressman.

When Hungary was liberated by the Soviet Union, Wallenberg was last seen on January 17, 1945. Ten years later, the Soviet Union released the information that he had been arrested as a spy and imprisoned in a Soviet gulag; he allegedly died in captivity. As a young man, Wallenberg had studied in the United States and had received a degree in architecture from the University of Michigan in 1935. He also spoke Russian.   (more…)

February 10, 2012

The American liberator who literally blew the lock off the Buchenwald gate

Today, I read the heart-warming story of the meeting of Irving Roth, a Buchenwald survivor, and Frederick (Rick) Goss Carrier, an American liberator who literally blew the lock off the gate into the Buchenwald camp in April 1945.  The two of them participated in the annual March of the Living at Auschwitz this year.

You can read about the liberation of Buchenwald on my website here.

Old photo of Buchenwald gate taken shortly after the camp was liberated by American soldiers

The quote below is from the Jewish Tribune, a newspaper in Canada:

Carrier was an assault reconnaissance combat engineer attached to General Patton’s Third Army during World War II. He was following the advancing American infantry in the German city of Weimar on April 10, 1945, tasked with finding and securing engineering equipment, vehicles such as trucks and cement mixers, and road- and bridge-building supplies left behind by the Nazis. He had to find the materials, map them and get the information to his superiors.

Churches were always a good place to go for information, Carrier had learned, so when he spotted the spire of a cathedral, he “drove over the rubble to find that church,” he told the Tribune. People at the church told him about a stone quarry and lumber mill at the site of a prison camp nearby and offered to take him there.

One of them told Carrier that Russian prisoners had overpowered camp guards following the evacuation, just a few weeks earlier, of thousands of Jewish prisoners who were taken on a forced death march to Auschwitz.

It seems that the “people at the church” in Weimar were misinformed about the Buchenwald camp which was 5 miles from the city.  Why would “thousands of Jewish prisoners” have been taken on a forced death march to Auschwitz in April 1945?  The Auschwitz camp had been abandoned by the Germans on January 18, 1945 and 60,000 prisoners had been taken on “a forced forced death march” to Buchenwald and other camps in Germany.  (more…)

February 9, 2012

Hungarian political leader questions the murder of 400,000 Hungarian Jews in the Holocaust

Filed under: Holocaust, World War II — Tags: , — furtherglory @ 12:03 pm

In a recent interview with Britain’s Jewish Chronicle, Marton Gyongyosi, the deputy leader and foreign affairs spokesman for Hungary’s third largest political party, questioned whether 400,000 Jews were actually deported from Hungary and murdered during World War II.  You can read this news here.

Why would anyone question whether 400,000 Jews were deported from Hungary and killed at Auschwitz-Birkenau?  The SS staff at Birkenau took numerous photos of the Hungarian Jews as they arrived on trains in cattle cars filled with 100 Jews on each car.

Hungarian Jews arriving at Birkenau, May 26, 1944

Notice the man wearing a striped suit and striped hat on the right hand side of the photo.  He was a Kapo, or a prisoner who helped the Nazis in the camps.  Some of the Kapos survived and provided testimony at the war crimes trials after the war.  Most of the Holocaust survivors still alive today were Hungarian Jews who lied about their age to save themselves from the gas chamber.  They are writing books and speaking to school children today, telling them about their family members who were gassed within hours of their arrival at Auschwitz-Birkenau.  How could anyone doubt this?  For one thing, it’s against the law to deny that at least 400,000 Hungarian Jews were murdered at Auschwitz-Birkenau.

Hungarian children walking to the gas chamber at Birkenau

“Sonderkommando Eichmann,” a special group of SS soldiers under the command of Adolf Eichmann, was activated on March 10, 1944 for the purpose of deporting the Hungarian Jews to Auschwitz; the personnel in this Special Action Commando was assembled at the Mauthausen concentration camp in Austria and then sent to Hungary on March 19, 1944 during the celebration of Purim, a Jewish holiday.

The deportation of the Hungarian Jews began on April 29, 1944 when a train load of Jews were sent to Birkenau on the orders of Adolf Eichmann, according to the book Auschwitz, a New History by Laurence Rees, which was published in 2005.

According to The Holocaust Chronicle, a huge book published in 2002 by Louis Weber, the CEO of Publications International, Ltd., another train filled with Hungarian Jews left for Birkenau on April 30, 1944; the two trains with a total of 3,800 Jews reached Birkenau on May 2, 1944. There were 486 men and 616 women selected to work; the remaining 2698 Jews were gassed upon arrival.

On May 8, 1944, former Commandant Rudolf Höss (Hoess) was brought back to Auschwitz-Birkenau to supervise the further deportation of the Hungarian Jews. The next day, Höss ordered the train tracks to be extended inside the Birkenau camp so that the Hungarian Jews could be brought as close as possible to the gas chambers.

Train tracks at Birkenau brought Jews to Krema II and Krema III gas chambers

According to Laurence Rees, in his book Auschwitz, a New History, the first mass transport of Hungarian Jews left on May 15, 1944 and arrived at Birkenau on May 16, 1944. The mass transports consisted of 3,000 or more prisoners on each train.

SS men doing a selection of Hungarian Jews for the gas chamber at Birkeanu

In October 1940, Hungary had become allies with the Axis powers by joining the Tripartite Pact. Part of the deal was that Hungary would be allowed to take back northern Transylvania, a province that had been given to Romania after World War I. Hungarian soldiers participated in the German invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941.

On April 17, 1943, after Bulgaria, another ally of Germany, had refused to permit their Jews to be deported, Hitler met with Admiral Miklos Horthy, the Hungarian leader, in Salzburg and tried to persuade him to allow the Hungarian Jews to be “resettled” in Poland, according to Martin Gilbert in his book entitled Never Again. Admiral Horthy rejected Hitler’s plea and refused to deport the Hungarian Jews.

From the beginning of the persecution of the Jews by the Nazis in 1933, until March 1944, Hungary was a relatively safe haven for the Jews and many Jews from Germany, Austria, Slovakia and Poland sought refuge within its borders. However, in 1938, Hungary had enacted laws similar to the laws in Nazi Germany, which discriminated against the Jews.

On September 3, 1943, Italy signed an armistice with the Allies and turned against Germany, their former ally. Horthy hoped to negotiate a similar deal with the Western allies to stop a Soviet invasion of Hungary.

On March 18, 1944, Hitler had a second meeting with Horthy at Schloss Klessheim, a castle near Salzburg in Austria. An agreement was reached in which Horthy promised to allow 100,000 Jews to be sent to the Greater German Reich to construct underground factories for the manufacture of fighter aircraft. These factories were to be located at Mauthausen, and at the eleven Kaufering subcamps of Dachau. The Jews were to be sent to Auschwitz, and then transferred to the camps in Germany and Austria.

When Horthy returned to Hungary, he found that Edmund Veesenmayer, an SS Brigadeführer, had been installed as the effective ruler of Hungary, responsible directly to the German Foreign Office and Hitler.

On March 19, 1944, the same day that Eichmann’s Sonderkommando arrived, German troops occupied Hungary. The invasion of Hungary by the Soviet Union was imminent and Hitler suspected that Horthy was planning to change sides. As it became more and more likely that Germany would lose the war, its allies began to defect to the winning side. Romania switched to the Allied side on August 23, 1944.

The next day after German forces took over Hungary, Adolf Eichmann arrived to oversee the process of deporting the Hungarian Jews. There were 725,000 Jews living in Hungary in 1944, including many who were previously residents of Romania, according to Laurence Rees, who wrote Auschwitz, a New History.

The Jews in the villages and small towns were immediately rounded up and concentrated in ghettos. One of the ghettos was located in a brick factory in the city of Miskolc, Hungary, where 14,000 Jews were imprisoned while they waited to be transported to Birkenau.

Elderly Jews wait for the truck which will take them to the gas chamber at Auschwitz-Birkenau

In June 1944, Adolf Eichmann deported 20,000 Hungarian Jews to Auschwitz and then transferred them to the Strasshof labor camp near Vienna. This was an attempt to extort money from the Jewish community in Hungary, according to Laurence Rees who wrote in his book Auschwitz, a New History, that Eichmann convinced the Jewish leaders that he was going against orders in making an exception for these Jews and then demanded money for food and medical care because he had saved 20,000 Jews from the gas chambers at Auschwitz. David Cesarani wrote in The Last Days, that Jewish leader Rudolf Kastner was able to prod Eichmann into sending these Jews to Austria where three quarters of them survived the war.

Hungarian men arriving at Auschwitz-Birkenau

Hungarian men after they were selected for work at Birkenau

The last mass transport of 14,491 Hungarian Jews to Auschwitz arrived on July 9, 1944, according to a book entitled Die Zahl der Opfer von Auschwitz, by Franciszek Piper, the former director of the Auschwitz Museum. After this mass transport of Jews left Hungary on July 8, 1944, Horthy ordered the deportation of the Hungarian Jews to stop.

By that time, a minimum of 435,000 Hungarian Jews, mostly those living in the villages and small towns, had been transported to Auschwitz, according to evidence given at the trial of Adolf Eichmann in Jerusalem in 1961 in which transportation lists compiled by Laszlo Ferenczy, the chief of police in Hungary, were introduced.

On July 14, 1944, Adolf Eichmann attempted to deport another 1,500 Jews, but Horthy ordered the train to turn around before it could make it past the Hungarian border. On July 19th, Eichmann ordered the 1,500 Jews to be loaded onto the train again and rushed out of the country.

On August 13, 1944, a small transport of 131 Jews arrived from Hungary at Auschwitz and on August 18, 1944, the last transport of 152 Jews arrived.

Women holding babies were directed to the gas chamber at Auschwitz-Birkenau

In a telegram sent to the Foreign Office in Berlin on July 11, 1944 by Edmund Veesenmayer, it was reported that 55,741 Jews had been deported from Zone V by July 9th, as planned, and that the total number of Jews deported from Zones I through V in Hungary was 437,402

In a book entitled The World Must Know, which is the official book for the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, Michael Birnbaum wrote:

Between May 14 and July 8, 1944, 437,402 Jews from fifty-five Hungarian localities were deported to Auschwitz in 147 trains. Most were gassed at Birkenau soon after they arrived. The railroad system was stretched to its limits to keep up with the demand of the camp, where as many as 12,000 people a day were being gassed.

Robert E. Conot wrote in his book Justice at Nuremberg that 330,000 of the Hungarian Jews were sent directly to the gas chambers at Auschwitz. The Encyclopedia of the Holocaust puts the total number of Hungarian Jews who died at Auschwitz-Birkenau between May and July 1944 at approximately 550,000, the majority of whom were gassed. Raul Hilberg stated in his book entitled The Destruction of the European Jews that over 180,000 Hungarian Jews died at Auschwitz-Birkenau.

According to Francizek Piper, the majority of the Hungarian Jews, who were sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau, were gassed immediately. A booklet purchased from the Auschwitz Museum stated that 434,351 of the Hungarian Jews were gassed upon arrival. If these figures are correct, only 3,051 Hungarian Jews, out of the 437,402 who were sent to Auschwitz, were registered in the camp. However, Francizek Piper wrote that 28,000 Hungarian Jews were registered.

The web site of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum confirms that over 100,000 Hungarian Jews were used for labor, as agreed upon by Hitler and Horthy on March 18, 1944, and that some of them were transferred to other camps within weeks of their arrival.

The following quote is from the USHMM web site:

Between late April and early July 1944, approximately 440,000 Hungarian Jews were deported, around 426,000 of them to Auschwitz. The SS sent approximately 320,000 of them directly to the gas chambers in Auschwitz-Birkenau and deployed approximately 110,000 at forced labor in the Auschwitz concentration camp complex. The SS authorities transferred many of these Hungarian Jewish forced laborers within weeks of their arrival in Auschwitz to other concentration camps in Germany and Austria.

If only 28,000 Hungarian Jews were registered at Auschwitz-Birkenau, as stated by Franciszek Piper, the director of the Auschwitz Museum, this means that thousands were transferred from Auschwitz to labor camps without being registered.

According to records kept by the Germans at the Dachau concentration camp, between June 18, 1944 and March 9, 1945, a total of 28,838 Hungarian Jews were sent from Auschwitz-Birkenau to Dachau and then transferred to Landsberg am Lech to work on construction of underground factories in the eleven Kaufering sub-camps of Dachau.

Nerin E. Gun was a Turkish journalist who was imprisoned at Dachau in 1944; his job was to take down the names and vital information from Hungarian Jewish women who were on their way to be gassed in the fake shower room in the Dachau crematorium.

In his book entitled The Day of the Americans, published in 1966, Gun wrote the following regarding his work at Dachau:

I belonged to the team of prisoners in charge of sorting the pitiful herds of Hungarian Jewesses who were being directed to the gas chambers. My role was an insignificant one: I asked questions in Hungarian and entered the answers in German in a huge ledger. The administration of the camp was meticulous. It wanted a record of the name, address, weight, age, profession, school certificates, and so on, of all these women who in a few minutes were to be turned into corpses. I was not allowed in the crematorium, but I knew from the others what went on in there.

Some of the Jews who were selected for slave labor were sent to the Mauthausen concentration camp in Austria and its sub-camps where they worked in German aircraft factories.

Others were sent to the Stutthof camp near Danzig, according to Martin Gilbert, who wrote the following in his book entitled Holocaust:

On June 17 Veesenmayer telegraphed to Berlin that 340,142 Hungarian Jews had now been deported. A few were relatively fortunate to be selected for the barracks, or even moved out altogether to factories and camps in Germany. On June 19 some 500 Jews, and on June 22 a thousand, were sent to work in factories in the Munich area. [...] Ten days later, the first Jews, 2500 women, were deported from Birkenau to Stutthof concentration camp. From Stutthof, they were sent to several hundred factories in the Baltic region. But most Jews sent to Birkenau continued to be gassed.

According to the Museum at the former Theresienstadt ghetto in what is now the Czech Republic, there were 1,150 Hungarian Jews sent to Theresienstadt and 1,138 of them were still there on May 9, 1945. Other prominent Jews that were sent to Theresienstadt were transferred to Auschwitz in October 1944, including the famous psychiatrist Victor Frankl from Austria, who was not registered in Auschwitz, but was transferred again, after three days in the Birkenau camp, to Dachau and then sent to the Kaufering III sub-camp.

The Jews who were neither gassed nor registered at Auschwitz upon arrival, but instead were transferred to a labor camp, were called Durchgangsjuden because they were held in a transit camp in the Mexico section of the Birkenau camp for a short time.

Hungarian Jews who were sent to Bergen-Belsen

On April 7, 1944, two Jews, Rudolf Vrba and Alfred Wetzler, managed to escape from the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp. They made their way back to Slovakia and wrote a report which soon reached the hands of the Pope, the King of Sweden, and even President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The neutral nations such as Sweden and Switzerland began to issue passports that saved the lives of thousands of Hungarian Jews, including Tom Lantos, who subsequently emigrated to America and became a member of the U.S. House of Representatives.

U. S. Secretary of the Treasury Henry Morgenthau, Jr. and Judge Samuel I. Rosenman, a Jewish advisor to President Roosevelt, urged him to intervene, according to Robert E. Conot who wrote Justice at Nuremberg. Roosevelt threatened that “Hungary’s fate will not be like any other civilized nation’s…unless the deportations are stopped.” On July 2, American planes bombed Budapest and its railroad facilities, according to Conot.

The Hungarian government and Admiral Horthy were informed that Vrba and Wetzler had proof that the Jews were being gassed at Auschwitz. Vrba, who worked at the train platform, had counted the number of Jews who arrived at Birkenau and were then never seen again. Vrba’s estimate was that 1,765,000 Jews had been gassed at Auschwitz-Birkenau by March 1944, just before he made his escape. (The 1.7 million Jews who had already been gassed by March 1944 were not Hungarian Jews.)

After a meeting on June 26, 1944, the Hungarian Council of Ministers decided to permit the emigration of 7,800 Jews, most of whom had immigration papers for Palestine. Others had protection documents issued by the Swedish government. At this point, Horthy ordered the deportation of the Hungarian Jews to stop and on July 17, 1944, the Hungarian government announced that all Jews who had immigration papers for Palestine would be given exit visas and allowed to leave.

After Hitler himself put pressure on Horthy to deport the Budapest Jews to Auschwitz, the Hungarian government decided to begin transporting the Budapest Jews on August 25, 1944. According to Yehuda Bauer, the plan was to transport the Jews on 6 trains with 20,000 Jews on each train; the first train was scheduled to leave for Auschwitz on August 27, 1944. However, the deportation plans were stopped when the Hungarian government received a telegram from Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler on August 24th; Himmler ordered the preparations for the deportation of the Budapest Jews to stop.

Himmler had already opened a special section at the Bergen-Belsen exchange camp on July 8, 1944, where 1,683 Hungarian Jews from Budapest were brought. The Jews in the Hungarian section were treated better than all the others at Bergen-Belsen. They received better food and medical care and were not required to work. They wore their own clothes, but were required to wear a yellow Star of David on their clothes.

The Bergen-Belsen camp had different categories of prisoners, and the Hungarian Jews were in the category of Preferential Jews (Vorzugsjuden) because they were considered desirable for exchange purposes.

The first transport of 318 “exchange Jews” left the Bergen-Belsen Hungarian camp on August 18, 1944, bound for Switzerland. On August 20th, the trainload of Hungarian Jews arrived in Bregenz and then went on to St. Gallen the next day.

Himmler, who was beginning to think of himself as Hitler’s successor, had begun working behind Hitler’s back in negotiating with the Jews. On August 21, 1944, three SS officers (Kurt Becher, Max Grüson and Hermann Krumey) who were representing Himmler, and a representative of the Budapest Jews, Rudolf Kastner, met with Saly Mayer, a leading member of the Jewish Community in Switzerland.

The meeting took place in the middle of a bridge at St. Margarethen, on the border between Germany and Switzerland, because Mayer refused to enter Germany and he also did not want the SS men to enter Switzerland, according to Yehuda Bauer.

Becher asked for farm machinery and 10,000 trucks, and in return, he promised to free 318 Hungarian Jews from Bergen-Belsen. In a show of good faith, the train with the 318 Jews was already waiting at the Swiss border. Mayer offered minerals and industry goods instead of the trucks.

According to Yehuda Bauer, Becher later claimed that he had persuaded Himmler not to deport the Budapest Jews, and that was why Himmler issued an order to stop the deportation three days later.

A second group of 1,368 Hungarian Jews left the Bergen-Belsen detention camp on December 4, 1944 and entered Switzerland just after midnight on December 7th, according to Yehuda Bauer. One of the Hungarian Jews in this group was 11-year-old Adam Heller, who survived and is now a Professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering at the University of Texas in Austin, TX.

Altogether, there was a total of 2,896 Jews released for ransom, including a transport of 1,210 Jews from the Theresienstadt Ghetto who entered Switzerland on February 7, 1945.

After the departure of the second Hungarian transport to Switzerland in December, more transports from Budapest continued to arrive at Bergen-Belsen and the Hungarian section remained in existence there until April 1945.

According to Eberhard Kolb, who wrote Bergen-Belsen 1943 – 1945, it was a transport of Hungarian Jews in February 1945 that bought in the lice that started a typhus epidemic in the camp. The delousing facilities in the camp had been temporarily out of order at that time.

When Hitler learned that Himmler was negotiating to ransom the Hungarian Jews, he was so enraged that he later expelled Himmler from the Nazi party. However, Hitler had already given his permission in December 1942 to release Jews for ransom, so Himmler was not going against established Nazi policy.

After the Hungarian Jews had entered Switzerland, there were false reports by the Swiss press, that the Jews were being ransomed in exchange for asylum for 200 SS officers who were planning to defect. When Hitler heard this, from Ernst Kaltenbrunner who was no friend of Himmler, he ordered all further releases of Jews for ransom to stop. Nevertheless, Himmler continued to release Jews from the concentration camps, as he continued to negotiate with the Allies. For example, he allowed a transport of prisoners to leave the Ravensbrück women’s camp in the last days of the war.

Between April 6 and April 11, the Hungarian Jews were evacuated from Bergen-Belsen on the orders of Himmler who was planning to use them as bargaining chips in his negotiations with the Allies. The Jews in the Star Camp and also in the Neutrals Camp were also evacuated, along with the Hungarians, in three trains which held altogether about 7,000 Jews who were considered “exchange Jews.”

One of these trains arrived with 1,712 people on April 21, 1945 in the Theresienstadt ghetto in Czechoslovakia. Two weeks later, the Theresienstadt Ghetto was turned over to the Red Cross, just before Russian troops arrived. The other two trains never made it to Theresienstadt because they had to keep making detours due to frequent Allied air attacks, according to Eberhard Kolb (Bergen-Belsen from 1943 to 1945).

One of the trains finally stopped on April 14 near Magdeburg in northern Germany; the guards ran away and the Jews on the train were liberated by American troops. The third train halted on April 23, 1945 near the village of Tröbitz in the Niederlausitz region; they were liberated by Russian troops after the guards had escaped.

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