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August 13, 2012

New book: A Small Town Near Auschwitz

Filed under: Holocaust — Tags: , , — furtherglory @ 1:05 pm

I’m sitting here waiting for UPS to deliver a book that I ordered last week, searching the Internet for something of interest to read. I came across a blog post on the Oxford University Press blog here which tells about a new book, written by Mary Fulbrook, entitled A Small Town Near Auschwitz, Ordinary Nazis and the Holocaust.

The blog of Oxford University Press has an article written by the author Mary Fulbrook, which I am quoting:

How should we remember these events of seventy years ago?  Should there be a plaque at the Bedzin bus terminus, or the railway station, to the deportation of tens of thousands of victims of Nazism or should today’s inhabitants be able to live undisturbed by the ghettos of the past, untroubled by the murder of half of the former residents of their town?

This quote is also from the article written by Mary Fulbrook:

One of those at the Hakoach sportsground [in Bedzin] was a teenager by the name of Rutka Laskier. She recalled the selection of August 1942 just a few months later, in a diary entry written in the ghetto. After describing her own experiences, she added:

“Oh, I forgot the most important thing. I saw how a soldier tore a baby, who was only a few months old, out of a mother’s hands and bashed his head against an electric pylon. The baby’s brain splashed on the wood. The mother went crazy. I am writing this as if nothing has happened. But I’m young, I’m 14, and I haven’t seen much in my life, and I’m already so indifferent. Now I am terrified when I see ‘uniforms’. I’m turning into an animal waiting to die. One can lose one’s mind thinking about this.”

Rutka died in Auschwitz just a few months later.

I had to look up the term “electric pylon.”  I learned that it is a transmission tower.  If that tower is still there, the memorial to the Jews who were sent from Bedzin to Auschwitz should be put up at the tower.  It should be a statue of a German soldier bashing a baby’s brains out.  The bashing of babies’ heads was so common during the Holocaust that virtually every survivor has included a story about it in his or her memoir.  Yet, as far as I know, there is no memorial in honor of all those babies.

I previously blogged about the bashing of babies here and here.  I wrote about a story told by Holocaust survivor Philip Riteman, regarding the bashing of a baby, near the end of this page of my website.

The book by Mary Fulbrook is about Udo Klausa, the man who was in charge of deporting the Jews from Bedzin and another small town nearby.  This quote is from the description of the book:

But the book is much more than a portrayal of an individual man. Udo Klausa’s case is so important because it is in many ways so typical. Behind Klausa’s story is the larger story of how countless local functionaries across the Third Reich facilitated the murderous plans of a relatively small number among the Nazi elite – and of how those plans could never have been realized, on the same scale, without the diligent cooperation of these generally very ordinary administrators. As Fulbrook shows, men like Klausa ‘knew’ and yet mostly suppressed this knowledge, performing their day jobs without apparent recognition of their own role in the system, or any sense of personal wrongdoing or remorse – either before or after 1945.

This account is no ordinary historical reconstruction. For Fulbrook did not discover Udo Klausa amongst the archives. She has known the Klausa family all her life. She had no inkling of her subject’s true role in the Third Reich until a few years ago, a discovery that led directly to this inescapably personal professional history.

This makes me wonder about the minor officials in America who rounded up the German-Americans and sent them to internment camps for the duration of the war and for two years after the war.  Has anyone ever done a book on them?