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November 30, 2012

How much did each Holocaust survivor weigh at the time of liberation?

Filed under: Dachau, World War II — Tags: , , — furtherglory @ 9:04 am

Every Holocaust survivor seems to know exactly how much he or she weighed when they were liberated.  I got to thinking about this today when I read about yet another Auschwitz survivor who mentioned how much he weighed when he was liberated.  (Average weight for the survivors was around 60 pounds.)

Did the liberators bring scales with them, so that each person could weigh himself?  No, but they did bring cameras with them and the liberation photos show that many of the prisoners were in good health; for example, the women in the photo below, taken at Auschwitz-Birkenau.  (Why wasn’t the old woman sent to the gas chamber immediately upon arrival?)  Notice the nice clothes worn by the young girl in the photo.

Survivors of Auschwitz-Birkenau

Survivors of Auschwitz-Birkenau

Photos taken on the day of liberation, at all the camps, show that not all prisoners in the concentration camps were skin and bones, even after many years in the camp.

The photo below was taken on the day that one of the sub-camps of Dachau was liberated by soldiers in the 45th Division of the American Army.

Russian POWs in a Dachau sub-camp

Russian POWs in a Dachau sub-camp

Notice that the American Army officer on the left looks slimmer than the Russian POWs.

There are many photos of skinny Russian POWs who were allegedly starved at Mauthausen, as shown in the photo below.

Russian POWs at Mauthausen

Russian POWs at Mauthausen

When I visited the Mauthausen Memorial Site, I saw a scale model of the quarry there, which is shown in the photo below.

Scale model of Mauthausen quarry

Scale model of Mauthausen quarry

On the right, at the top of the photo above, you can see the barracks for the sick inmates at Mauthausen, also known as the “Russian camp” because this section of the camp was first used to house  Soviet POWs. This area is now a graveyard for the sick prisoners who died after the camp was liberated.

Were the men, in the old black and white photo, actually prisoners in the Mauthusen “sick camp”? Were they skin and bones because they were ill?  Or were they “Russian POWs” who had been deliberately starved?

It would be natural to assume that the Russian POWs were treated the worst in the Nazi camps because the Russians were treating German POWs very badly.  But the old photo taken in a Dachau sub-camp shows that at least some of the Russian POWs were treated very well.

November 29, 2012

Noor Inayat Khan was brought “in chains” to Dachau where she was executed in “late Summer 1944”

Filed under: Dachau, World War II — Tags: , , — furtherglory @ 11:03 am

A bronze statue, sculpted by London-based artist Karen Newman, was unveiled by Britain’s Princess Anne on November 8, 2012.  You can see a photo of the unveiling below.  Personally, I don’t care for this sculpture.  I think that Noor should not be shown with her head bowed.  She should have her head lifted with a defiant expression on her face, as she shouts Liberté, her last dying word, before she was shot in the head at Dachau, as witnessed by a prisoner who came forward years later.  (Lies about Noor Inayat Khan have been told so often that they are now true lies.)

A reader of my blog make a comment on a previous post that I wrote about Noor Inayat Khan, the famous “Spy Princess” in the British SOE. He mentioned that there was a witness to the arrival of Noor at Dachau.  I found this hard to believe until I saw a YouTube video in which someone said that Noor had arrived at Dachau “in chains.”  That would have been quite a sight; every prisoner in the camp would have pushed forward to see this spectacale.

Many survivors of Dachau are still alive, and I am not surprised that someone has finally come forward to tell about witnessing the arrival of Noor at Dachau.  The words “in chains” are at 2:10 in the YouTube video which has been copyrighted, and cannot be shown here.

My photo below shows the gatehouse at Dachau, as it looked in 2007

Gatehouse entrance to Dachau concentration camp

As my photos of the Dachau gatehouse show, everyone inside the camp would have been able to see Noor hobbling through the gate with her feet in chains.  With so many prisoners to witness the coming and going of people into the camp, there was no need for the men in the gatehouse to keep records of arrivals and departures.  A bar over the pedestrian door on the gate could be removed to allow entry into the camp without opening the entire gate which was operated by remote control in the gatehouse.  So it would have been easy to sneak Noor Inayat Khan into Dachau with no one in the gatehouse knowing about it.  (There are no records of her entry into Dachau.)

Gatehouse and Arbeit Macht Frei gate at Dachau

Unfortunately, I have been unable to find any information on the name of the witness who saw Noor arrive in chains.  I have also not been able to find any photos of prisoners arriving at Dachau in chains.  The old photo below, which is on my own website, shows German war criminals marching out of  Dachau.

The photo above shows German “war criminals” leaving Dachau, which had been converted into War Crimes Enclosure No. 1 after the Dachau concentration camp was liberated and Germany surrendered to the Allies.  Note that they are not “in chains.”

November 27, 2012

the Nazis “had more people than they could kill” at Auschwitz-Birkenau

Filed under: Holocaust — Tags: , — furtherglory @ 7:54 am

The title of my blog post today comes from a quote by a British student who recently visited Auschwitz-Birkenau on a “Lessons From Auschwitz” trip organized by the Holocaust Educational Trust.

“The scale of the killings [at Auschwitz-Birkenau] was enormous.

“What shocked me was that they actually had more people here than they could kill. Thank God people survived and there was evidence so people could be brought to justice and tell the story, so something like this will never happen again.”

This student got it right:  Thank God that there were too many to kill, so there were people who survived and could “tell the story.”

One would think that gas chambers would be an efficient way to kill millions of people.  But no! In the inefficient killing system at Auschwitz-Birkenau, the undressing rooms were larger than the gas chamber rooms; it should have been the other way around.  Not all of the naked people in the undressing room could get into the gas chamber.  Yesterday, I blogged about Irene Zisblatt who got stuck in the door of the gas chamber because there were too many people in the undressing room, so that not everyone could get into the gas chamber.  With the best engineers in the world, the Germans could not figure this out in advance!

Blueprint of Krema II, one of the four gas chamber buildings at Birkenau

On the blueprint shown above, the undressing room is on the right. The gas chamber is perpendicular to the undressing room. Notice that the undressing room is three times the size of the gas chamber.  There is an exterior entrance on the north side of the building which opens into a Vorraum (vestibule) so that the SS men could enter the gas chamber, without going through the undressing room. In case of emergency, the gas chamber could be used as a bomb shelter for the SS men working in the area, since it had a gas-tight air raid shelter door.

But there were other ways to kill the Jews at Auschwitz, besides the gas chamber. Why didn’t the Nazis just start shooting the Jews at the end, when they finally realized that they were not going to be able to finish the job?  But no!  The stupid Nazis marched the survivors out of the camp before the Soviet liberators arrived.  Their plan was to march the Jews to death, but it didn’t work.  There were survivors of the “death march” who lived to tell their stories, even to this day.

After fooling the prisoners into thinking that they were going to be saved by marching out of the camp, the Jews were put on a train as soon as they got to the German border.  They could have killed them all by continuing the “death march” until everyone had died.

This quote is also from the article which you can read in full here:

Visiting the main camp, one is struck by the systemic nature of this genocide and the efficiency with which the Nazis carried out their “project”. Not only did they ruthlessly exploit the labour of those they did not kill immediately, but also they looted the belongings the prisoners brought with them, ripped out gold teeth from victims of the gas chamber and shaved off their hair for textile production. A huge pile of this hair is on display in the camp, a sight that brings some pupils to tears.

Wrong, wrong, wrong!  The Nazis were most certainly NOT efficient in their “project.”  Having a labor camp and an extermination camp in the same location was not efficient.  The three Operation Reinhard camps (Treblinka, Belzec, and Sobibor) were efficient; you don’t hear many survivors of these camps out on the lecture circuit telling about how they survived.

Ripping gold teeth out of the mouths of the corpses was NOT efficient.  They should have removed the gold teeth before sending the Jews to the gas chamber.  The hair should have been shaved BEFORE sending the Jews to the gas chamber, so that it would not have had to be cleaned.  Just think of the mess that was created by people dying while crammed together in a gas chamber that was too small.

This quote is from the article about the student trip:

Our final destination before flying back to London is Auschwitz II, also known as Birkenau, located just two miles away from the main camp. Birkenau was designated by SS leader Heinrich Himmler as the place of the “final solution of the Jewish question in Europe” – the main site where trains delivered people to the gas chambers from all over German occupied Europe between 1942 and 1944.

Do you see the problem here?  The Nazis waited until 1942 to begin a genocide!  And they stopped in November 1944 when the ovens were removed from the crematoria at Birkenau.

So now you know why there are so many Holocaust survivors.  They simply “had more people than they could kill” at Auschwitz-Birkenau. It would have been more efficient to have had many small gas chambers at many small camps where the Jews could have been killed locally, instead of having a 425 acre site at Auschwitz-Birkenau, where Jews could get lost in the 300 barrack buildings, never be seen again by their family members.

November 25, 2012

“stuck in the door of the gas chamber” How Irene Zisblatt survived Auschwitz-Birkenau

Filed under: Holocaust — Tags: , , , — furtherglory @ 9:50 am

Irene Zisblatt was 13 years old, 4 feet tall and weighed 60 pounds when she got stuck in the door of the Krema III gas chamber at Auschwitz-Birkenau.

During a routine roll call, Irene was confronted by Dr. Josef Mengele who asked her:  “Was machst du da?”  She should have been sent to the gas chamber long ago because she was only 13 and everyone under the age of 15 was gassed immediately.

A photo of the Krema III gas chamber building at Auschwitz-Birkenau is shown below.  Note the 10 ft. high barbed wire fence around the building.  Right next to the fence is a convenient railroad track where a gondola railroad car was parked on the day that Irene was sent to the gas chamber by that evil monster Dr. Josef Mengele.

Irene was all alone, and the gas chamber was already full.  She tried to squeeze into the gas chamber, but she got stuck in the door.  But not to worry.  An SS man pulled her out of the doorway.  Then a young Sonderkommando came to save her; he wrapped her up in a blanket and tossed her over the 10 ft. high fence, into a gondola car that was parked outside the gas chamber building. (The Sonderkommandos were Jews who helped the Nazis, by carrying the victims out of the morgues gas chambers after they were gassed.)

Krema III building surrounded by 10 ft. high fence

According to this quote from another blog which you can read here:

…the young man must have been an athletics champion, as the distance between the railroad tracks and the fence around crematorium III was over 100 ft., the fence had a height of about 10 ft., and Chana weighed about sixty pounds.[71] Fifth, if there had been a train with open cars[72] waiting with prisoners near the crematoria, it would have been guarded by SS personnel who doubtlessly would have noticed the unconventional arrival of Chana by “air lift.” And last not least, she would have been noticed at the latest at roll call on arrival, because her name would not have appeared in the transport list.

Gondola cars on the “death train” at Dachau

A gondola car is a railroad car that is open on top; it is used primarily to haul coal or similar items, not passengers.  The photo below shows a railroad car of the type that was used to transport passengers to Auschwitz.

Railroad car on display at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

Irene Zisblatt recorded her story of how she escaped from the gas chamber and you can hear her tell it on a YouTube video.  Don’t try to deny her story or you might wind up in prison for 5 years in 20 different countries.

November 20, 2012

on the road from Krakow to Auschwitz

Filed under: Uncategorized — furtherglory @ 12:56 pm

Most blog posts about a trip to Auschwitz-Birkeau mention a guided tour, which starts with a one-and-a-half-hour bus ride from Krakow to the main camp in the town formerly known as Auschwitz.  On the bus, the tour guide gives a monologue, using a microphone and a loud speaker, to acquaint the tourists with the history of the Auschwitz camps.

This blog has a description of a trip to Auschwitz which is particularly well written.  According to this blogger: “Yet everything on the road to Auschwitz is suddenly deeply banal.”  For me, it was just the opposite.  I enjoyed the trip from Krakow to Auschwitz immensely.

In 1998, I was fortunate enough to take a one-person tour with a private tour guide and a driver who drove us there in a car.  Along the way, the driver stopped every time I spotted something that I wanted to photograph.

Shown below are some of the photographs that I took in 1998.

Log house on the road from Krakow to Auschwitz

Before my trip to Poland in 1998, I had read about the old log houses and wooden churches, and I was eager to see them. Thinking that log houses would be rare, I told the driver to alert me if we passed a log house, as we drove west from Krakow to Auschwitz along Road 780, because I didn’t want to miss seeing it. Jokingly, he said “Don’t worry. If we don’t see a log house, we’ll build one for you.”

I needn’t have worried about missing the log houses on the road, as there are hundreds of them, especially just outside of Krakow, a beautiful old city which dates back to the 10th century. There are no real highways in Poland, no freeways as in America. All the roads go through the little villages and the houses are set very near the road.

House on the road from Krakow to Auschwitz

The log houses in Poland are painted or stained to preserve the wood, since some of them were built in the 18th century, and maybe even in the 17th century. The caulking between the logs is frequently painted blue, as shown in the photo above. Some of the houses have had extra rooms, made of brick or stucco, added onto an original log house. I was told that many of the cottages that are white stucco are really log houses that have been covered over.

House on the road to Auschwitz has a cottage garden in front

House that resembles a barn on the road to Auschwitz

Notice how close the houses are to the road.  A bit of the road is shown in the lower right hand corner of the photo above.

Driving through the Polish countryside, one cannot fail to notice the numerous statues of the Virgin Mary or Catholic saints placed close to the road. Many of them are decorated with streamers of ribbons and usually there are fresh flowers left there. I learned from my tour guide, on my trip to Poland in October 1998, that they are called “little chapels” and the custom of putting statues for protection along the road dates back to the pagan days before Poland was converted to Catholicism about 1,000 years ago.

My photos of three “little chapels” are shown below.

A “little chapel” on the road to Auschwitz

The “little chapels” are located at a crossroads or any place on the road that might be dangerous. In Poland, that means almost anywhere, since the roads in this area are all two lanes with opposing traffic. When one driver from each opposing lane of traffic decides to attempt to pass, both cars are driving down the center of the road, ready for a head-on collision. Adding to the danger on Polish roads are the many horse-drawn wagons carrying loads of coal, traveling in the same lanes as the cars and trucks. Then there are the pedestrians, all dressed up, who seem to be walking to work along the highway. It was only by the grace of God, and the protection of the Virgin Mary along way, that I made it safely from Krakow to Auschwitz and back.

A “little chapel” guards an intersection on the road from Krakow to Auschwitz

A very old “little chapel” on the road to Auschwitz

Baroque church on the road from Krakow to Auschwitz

Just outside the town of Auschwitz, there is a beautiful Baroque Catholic Church which I stopped to photograph on the way back to Krakow when I visited Auschwitz in 1998. This church dates back to the 17th century and is perfectly preserved. The Baroque style of architecture was introduced by the Italians living in Poland and is very prevalent. Most of the Polish churches and monuments seem to be the work of Italian architects and artists.

November 19, 2012

British HET tours start in Oswiecim …. then it’s on to Auschwitz

Filed under: Germany, Holocaust — Tags: , , — furtherglory @ 9:35 am

This quote is from an article in the Guardian online newspaper:

Last month Nicholas Rogers from St Andrew’s School in Leatherhead accompanied Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, and 200 other students on a visit to Auschwitz.

It was the 100th trip organised by the Holocaust Education Trust, whose Lessons From Auschwitz programme aims to take two students from every 6th form and college in Britain to the notorious camp in Poland so they can spread the word about what they experience there.

This quote is from the words of Nicholas Rogers, one of the British students on the HET tour, which were published in the Guardian; you can read the story in full here:

On my [HET] trip, we didn’t go straight to the two camps, but actually to Oswiecim, which was the town inside the Auschwitz area.  Before the Second World War, 58 per cent of the population had been Jewish, with a vibrant Jewish community.  Today not a single Jew remains.

The thing that really hammered home the meaning of this was that we were told this information standing in a grassy field. As it turned out, we were standing where the Great Synagogue had once stood. It had been completely destroyed, along with its Jewish population. This really helped me to understand that the Jewish victims were just ordinary people. This in turn changed my understanding of the 6 million murdered Jews from a statistic into a rehumanised group of real people who had been lost.

The first time that I visited the Auschwitz camps in 1998, I had a private tour guide; a Polish taxi driver drove us there. I asked the driver to first take us to the town of Auschwitz.  This was apparently an unusual request; the driver told me that I was the first tourist to ever ask to see the town.

I wanted to see the town of Auschwitz because I had read in a book that it had been established by Germans in the year 1270.  I was expecting to see an ancient German town with typical German architecture.  I was disappointed to see that the town square had been modified by the Communists who took over Poland after World War II.

The photo below shows a store that was built by the Communists right in the middle of the town square.

Modern building in the middle of the market square in the town of Auschwitz

You can see more photos of the Auschwitz town square on my website here.

Almost every article about Auschwitz that you will ever see, and some that you won’t see, mention that the name of the town was changed from Oswiecim to Auschwitz by the Nazis. No, it was the other way around.  The original name of the town was Auschwitz.

In recent years, there has been a big effort to educate tourists that the name of the town, in a suburb of which the Nazis set up the Auschwitz main camp in 1941, is Oswiecim.  At the time that the Nazis set up the main camp, Silesia (where Auschwitz is located) had been annexed into the Greater German Reich, so Auschwitz was in Germany and it was called Auschwitz.

Today, the Polish people are affronted when anyone calls Auschwitz a “Polish death camp.”  Auschwitz is properly called a “death camp” in what is now Poland.

The photo below shows the only remaining Synagogue in Oswiecim, aka Auschwitz.

The restored Chevra Lomdei Mishnayot Synagogue
Photo Credit: Auschwitz Jewish Center Foundation

Why does all this concern me?

I think that these students are too young and immature to understand what they are being told.  They are being brain-washed with propaganda.  By starting the tour in the town, now called Oswiecim, the students are being told that this was a Jewish town, which the Nazis destroyed, implying that all the Jews in the town were killed by the Nazis.

Are the students told why there were so many Jews in the town of Auschwitz, which did not even have running water, before the Nazis took it over?  The next largest ethnic group in the town of Auschwitz was Gypsies.

The one remaining synagogue has a large Jewish Center attached to it.  When I visited Auschwitz, I saw a movie that was shown on a TV screen in a small room in the Jewish Center. In the movie, several survivors, who were children in 1939, tell about what it was like in the town before the German invasion of Poland. There was a “large Jewish presence in Auschwitz,” according to one survivor. All of the survivors said that they now live in Israel or the United States, but none of them mentioned anything about how they managed to survive the Holocaust.

One woman survivor said that the Jewish children in Auschwitz were all “organized.” There were many organizations for Jewish children, and she had joined the Zionist movement as a child. Another survivor said that she had a home tutor so that she could learn German. Her father told her that she would be able to go any place in Europe if she could speak German.

One survivor said that the Jewish houses in Auschwitz had no running water, no electricity, no central heating nor air conditioning, and no inside toilets, but the Jews had “culture.” Another said that the Jews were not rich, but they had a “rich Jewish life.” One survivor described the life in Auschwitz before the war as “a life of dignity.” All that is now gone; the Nazis not only killed the Jews, they destroyed their rich, dignified way of life in Europe.

So why did so many Jews live in a town that had no running water, no electricity, and no inside toilets?  Location, location, location. It was because of the location, the same reason that the Nazis established a camp there.  Auschwitz was the largest railroad hub in Europe.  Trains from every part of Europe could take passengers and goods to and from Auschwitz, without changing trains.

The photo below shows an old castle that was built by the Germans who established the town of Auschwitz in 1270.

Bridge over Sola River with Castle in background
Photo Credit: Tomasz Cebulski – http://www.republika.pl/polin_travel

Are the British students taken to see the old Castle in Oswiecim?  I doubt it.  The purpose of their trip is to indoctrinate them in Jewish lore, not to educate them in the history of Germany or Poland.

This quote is from the article written by the British student who took the HET tour:

The second, simply awful part of the experience at Auschwitz I was the completely intact gas chamber and crematorium which I walked through. Although extremely hard to explain emotionally, physically the entire room was so cold, in all senses. I agreed with others in my group that the room had even smelled cold, it was that overwhelming.

Did it occur to any of these students that the gas chamber was cold because it was a morgue?  Did it occur to any of them that it was stupid to put a gas chamber in a morgue because the Zyklon-B pellets had to be heated in order to release the gas?

Did any of the students say to the tour guide:  “Excuse me, how were the Zyklon-B pellets heated to release the poison gas?”

View of the gas chamber in the main Auschwitz camp, as seen by tourists today

You can see more photos of the Auschwitz gas chamber on my website here.

The whole purpose of the HET tours is to indoctrinate young people who are too immature to question the propaganda that they are being force fed.

November 18, 2012

the infamous Natzweiler-Struthof concentration camp

Filed under: Holocaust, World War II — Tags: , , — furtherglory @ 3:04 pm

With nothing better to do, I did some searching on the Internet today, and came across two blogs which feature photos of the Natzweiler-Struthof concentration camp.

I visited the Natzweiler-Struthof Memorial Site in the Fall of 2004 and took some photos, including the photo below, which shows a wooden bench, used for whipping prisoners.

Whipping block on display at Natzweiler Memorial Site

This blog shows a photo of the same bench with this caption:

Implements of torture, before waterboarding was in vogue. They just strapped you to this and removed body parts.

Not quite. The photo on the blog shows a bench used for whipping prisoners, not a bench for removing body parts.

Punishment of prisoners at Natzweiler and all the other concentration camps had to be approved by the WVHA economic office in Oranienburg, where Rudolf Hoess was a member of the staff after he was removed as the Commandant of Auschwitz in December 1943.

At the Nuremberg IMT, on April 15, 1946, Hoess testified that punishment on the whipping block was seldom used and that this punishment was discontinued in 1942 because Reichsführer Heinrich Himmler gave a new order that the SS men were forbidden to strike the prisoners.

On my trip to Natzweiler-Struthof in 2004, I took a photo of the exterior wall of a shower room, which is shown below.  The photo clearly shows water pipes entering the shower room.  In the lower right hand corner of the photo, you can see the rear of the cremation oven.

Water pipes on the outside wall of a shower room in Natzweiler

This blog shows a similar photo, which the blogger claims to be a photo of the interior of the gas chamber at Natzweiler.

This quote is from the blog, cited above:

In August 1943 a gas chamber was constructed in Natzweiler, in one of the buildings that had formed part of the hotel compound. The contractors for the project, Waffen –SS Natzweiler left behind a rare document in which, contrary to the coded terminology generally employed by the Nazis, specific mention was made of “the construction of a gas chamber at Struthof.”

This appeared in an invoice that the SS sent to the Strasbourg University Institute of Anatomy, charging it 236.08 Reichsmarks for the job. It was for the skeleton collection of the director of that institute, Professor August Hirt, that at least one hundred and thirty prisoners were transferred from Auschwitz to be killed in the Natzweiler gas chamber. Most of these prisoners were Jews.

Another member of the Strasbourg University faculty, Professor Otto Bickenbach, also availed himself of the Natzweiler gas chamber, to conduct experiments on prisoners with antidotes of phosgene, a poisonous gas.

The victims were Gypsies who had been transferred from Auschwitz, the previous year to serve as human guinea pigs for SS doctors experimenting with anti-typhus injections.

After my trip to Natzweiler-Struthof, I did a lot of research and wrote about the alleged gas chambers there on this page of my website.

November 17, 2012

The claim that German soldiers were crushed to death in a wine press in a French village

Filed under: World War II — Tags: , — furtherglory @ 8:06 am

After a reader of my blog made a comment in which a reference was made to a book which claims that German soldiers were crushed to death in a wine press in the French village of Oradour, I ordered the book so that I could read this for myself.

The book is Gold in the Furnace by Savitri Devi.  This quote is from page 110 of the book:

…. not a word must ever be said or written — and not a word is ever said, if they can help it — about their atrocities; not a word about what went on in the torture chambers of Ham Common, a few miles from London, during the war, and in similar ones in other places, in all Democratic countries as well as in Soviet Russia; not a word either, about the manifold horrors perpetrated on Germans, also during the war, by that scum of the earth which composed, by the many honest Frenchmen themselves, the bulk of the French “resistance”; not a word for instance, about the rascals who, having caught hold of twelve German officers and tied them up, slowly pressed them to death between the iron teeth of an enormous winepress in a village in the centre of France named Oradour;

There are two villages in France with the name Oradour: Oradour-sur-Glane and Oradour-sur-Vayres. A map on the Wikipedia website shows the location of Oradour-sur-Glane. I previously blogged about Oradour-sur-Glane here.

According to Sarah Farmer, the author of a book about Oradour-sur-Glane entitled Martyred Village, the name Oradour comes from the Latin word oratorium which means “place of prayer.” Oradours were “rudimentary square chapels at the intersection of important roads.”

The Official Publication of the Oradour-sur-Glane survivors says that the Lantern for the Dead in the cemetery there dates back to Roman times when it was the custom to bury people at an intersection. The church in Oradour-sur-Glane was originally built in the 12th century according to Sarah Farmer’s book.

The ruins of the church in Oradour-sur-Glane

The photo below shows the Oradour-sur-Glane cemetery; in the foreground is an ancient Lantern for the Dead which probably dates back at least to the 12th century. It is the tall stone column on the left. In the background on the right is the Ossuary which contains the ashes of the victims of the massacre in Oradur-sur-Glane on 10 June 1944. On the side of the Lantern you can see an opening which looks like a place for something to be burned.

Lantern for the Dead in Oradour-sur-Glane

This quote from Wikipedia explains that Oradour-sur-Glane was selected for a reprisal by the SS because of a mistake:

Early on the morning of 10 June 1944, Diekmann informed Weidinger at regimental headquarters that he had been approached by two members of the Milice, the French secret police that collaborated with the German Gestapo, who claimed that a Waffen SS officer was being held by the Resistance in Oradour-sur-Vayres, a nearby village. The captured German was alleged to be Sturmbannführer Helmut Kämpfe, commander of the 2nd SS Panzer Reconnaissance Battalion (another unit of the “Das Reich” division), who may have been captured by the Maquis the day before.

On 10 June, Diekmann’s battalion sealed off Oradour-sur-Glane, having confused it with nearby Oradour-sur-Vayres, and ordered all the townspeople – and anyone who happened to be in or near the town – to assemble in the village square, ostensibly, to have their identity papers examined. In addition to the residents of the village, the SS also apprehended six people who did not live there but had the misfortune to be riding their bikes through the village when the Germans arrived.

All the women and children were locked in the church while the village was looted. Meanwhile, the men were led to six barns and sheds where machine-gun nests were already in place.

One of the the “six barns and sheds” mentioned on the Wikipedia page was the Denis Wine and Storage “shed” which is shown in the two photos below.

On the left is the ruins of a wine storage place in Oradour-sur-Glane

The photo above shows the intersection of the St. Junien road and Rue de Emile Desourteaux; the Denis Wine and Spirits storehouse is on the left. Notice the pile of metal bands for wine barrels. This view is looking north toward the upper town with the tram station in the far background. A white sign on the corner of the building in the center of the photo tells visitors that the St. Junien road is the only exit from the village.

The photo below shows the interior of the ruins of the storehouse. The bodies of a few women were found in this barn, along with the men that were killed here.

Wine storage place with iron bands for wine barrels

The fact that there was a wine storage building in Oradour-sur-Glane indicates that wine might have been made there and that there might have been a wine press in the village.

But what about Oradour-sur-Vayres?  Was there any wine making done there?  I checked Wikipedia and found a map which shows the two villages named Oradour were in almost the exact same location, a mere 15 miles apart.

This quote is from the Wikipedia page on Oradour-sur-Vayres:

The massacre at Oradour-sur-Glane was supposed to take place there as some Germans had been killed by the Maquis there. Source: Time magazine World Battlefronts: Murder at Oradour Monday, Jul. 24, 1944

So now we know that, only six weeks after the reprisal, Time Magazine was reporting the story of the mistake that the SS had made in executing the innocent people of Oradour-sur-Glane when it was really the village of Oradour-sur Vayres that had killed German soldiers.  Is this the village of Oradour to which Savitri Devi was referring when she mentioned the German soldiers who were crushed to death in a wine press?

Oradour-sur-Glane is now a popular tourist attraction.  Entrance to the ruined village is through the Museum which is shown in the photo below.  The ruined village is on the other side of the road, opposite the Museum.

The red building is the Museum at Oradour-sur-Glane

Photo show two large posters in the Oradour-sur-Glane Museum

The top photo above shows Area 1 of the exhibits, which is about the rise of Nazism in Germany. The bottom photo shows Area 2 which is about the Terror in the East, Terror in the Limousin and Preparing to “make an example” out of Oradour-sur-Glane. The exhibits explain the story only from the French point of view. From the German point of view, the civilian partisans were the “terrorists” who were fighting illegally in violation of the rules of the Geneva Convention of 1929.

Entrance to the ruins is free, but there is a charge for the exhibits in the Museum. The two photos above were scanned from a book entitled Centre of Remembrance for Oradour, Permanent Exhibition, which I purchased from the book store in the Center of Memory. The exhibit begins with the story of the Nazis and then continues on with the history of Oradour-sur-Glane.

I visited the ruins of Oradour-sur-Glane several years ago.  Upon entering the ruins, one of the first sights that I saw was “The Tragic Well” where bodies were found.  Allegedly, these were the bodies of villagers that had been thrown into the well.  But could “The Tragic Well” have held the bodies of German soldiers who had been killed by the villagers?  Since I have read about the soldiers who were killed in a wine press, I am re-thinking “The Tragic Well,” which is shown in the photo below.

The Tragic Well is marked by a cross on the right side of the photo

The following quote from the Museum book about the exhibits explains why the innocent village of Oradour-sur-Glane was chosen to be made into an example:

On 9 June the Waffen-SS ‘Der Führer,’ one of two amoured infantry units in the ‘Das Reich’ regiment took over Limoges and its surrounds. The general staff of the four companies commandeered accommodation in Limoges while the 1st battalion with staff and four companies settled themselves to the west in Rochechouart and Saint-Junien.

From archival material we know about meetings that were held. On Friday 9 June, the Milice met in Limoges. On the morning of Saturday 10 June first in Limoges, then in Saint-Junien, Waffen SS officers and SS police posted to Limoges met. The Milice would follow their operations. Several days earlier, on 5 June, a memo from the SS General commanding the division mentioned “making an example” and this was confirmed in another memo sent this same Saturday 10 June saying it would be put into action.

Troops were billeted in the evening of 10 June in Nieul. Oradour lies between Saint-Junien and Nieul.

I previously blogged about Oradour-sur-Glane here.

November 15, 2012

Germany has paid $89 billion in reparations to the Jews … and there is more to come

Filed under: Germany, Holocaust, World War II — Tags: , , — furtherglory @ 9:55 am

An article in The Detroit News, which you can read in full here states that, since 1952, Germany has paid $89 billion in reparations, and the Germans are increasing their payments this year.

This quote is from the article in The Detroit News:

Germany has paid — primarily to Jewish survivors — some $89 billion in compensation overall for Nazi crimes since the agreement was signed in 1952.

In one change to the treaty that Germany agreed to earlier this year, the country will provide compensation payments to a new category of Nazi victims — some 80,000 Jews who fled ahead of the advancing German army and mobile killing squads and eventually resettled in the former Soviet Union.

So that’s how Holocaust survivors got to the Soviet Union.  At this time of the year, there will be TV ads, asking for contributions to feed the starving survivors in the former Soviet Union.

This quote is also from the article in The Detroit News:

Germany already increased payments this year for home care for Holocaust survivors by 15 percent over 2011, and has pledged to raise that further in 2013 and 2014.

Compensation has been ever evolving since the 1952 agreement, with annual negotiations between the Claims Conference and the German government on who should receive funds and how much will be paid.

Still, even 67 years after the end of World War II, there is much to set right, said Stuart Eizenstat, the former U.S. ambassador to the European Union [an American citizen] who serves as the Claims Conference’s special negotiator.

“One of the things that drives me is that with all of that, the best surveys out there are there are probably 500,000 survivors alive today worldwide and half of them are in poverty or very close to the poverty line,” he told the AP. “This is an ongoing responsibility — this is not the end of the road.”

Half of the Holocaust survivors are close to the poverty line?  What?  They didn’t get a book deal for their sad story?

Note that Germany first started paying the Jews in 1952 for the Holocaust.  Germany was still a pile of rubble at that time and there were millions of “expellees,” the term for ethnic Germans who had been evacuated to Germany after the war.  What about them?  Did they ever get any reparations?

The expellees from the Czech Republic were still living in the barracks at Dachau in 1960 before they were thrown out, so that a Memorial could be constructed at Dachau.

How long will Germany have to pay reparations for the Holocaust?  Probably until there are no more ethnic Germans left in Germany, which will be in the year 2050, according to Germar Rudolf.

November 14, 2012

The day that Holocaust Survivor Stephan Ross was liberated from Dachau

Filed under: Dachau, Germany, World War II — Tags: , , — furtherglory @ 8:49 am

Famous photo, taken on the day that Dachau was liberated, shows Stephan Ross on the far left

The photo above was taken at the barbed fire fence on the West side of the Dachau concentration camp on April 29, 1945, the day that the camp was liberated by American troops.  Stephan Ross, on the far left, had been a prisoner in 10 different concentration camps.

Stephan Ross is one of the most well known survivors of the Holocaust.  I have a whole page on my website here, devoted to his story.  The following quote is from my website:

The following information about Stephen Ross is from The New England Holocaust Memorial:

The effort to build the New England Holocaust Memorial began with a Holocaust survivor, Stephen Ross (Szmulek Rozental), who was imprisoned at the age of 9 and whose parents, one brother and 5 sisters were murdered by the Nazi’s. Between 1940 and 1945, he survived 10 different concentration camps.

Like so many others Stephen Ross suffered terribly. “His back was broken by a guard who caught him stealing a raw potato. Tuberculosis wracked his body. He once hid in an outhouse, submerged to his neck in human waste, to save himself from being shot. At one time he was hung [by his arms] for eating a raw potato.” At age fourteen he was liberated from the infamous torture camp Dachau by American troops. Stephen will never forget the soldiers who found him, emaciated and nearly dead. They liberated him from a certain death.”

When Stephen and his older brother, Harry, the only other surviving family member, were released from the Dachau Camp to seek medical attention, they came upon a U.S. Tank Unit. One of the soldiers jumped off his tank, gave Stephen and Harry his rations to eat and put his arms around Stephen. Stephen fell to his knees, kissed the G.I.’s boots and began to cry for the first time in five years.

The soldier took out of his pocket a piece of cloth and gave it to Stephen to wipe his tears. Stephen later found out that it was a small American Flag with 48 stars. This small flag is a treasured item and it will be kept by Stephen and his children as a symbol of freedom, life, compassion and love of the American soldiers.

On Veteran’s Day this year, there were several stories in the news about Stephan Ross, who finally met the family of Steven Sattler, the American soldier who had given Ross a small American flag to dry his tears of joy, 67 years ago.

One of these stories, from the Mail Online, is quoted below:

Stephan Ross, now 81, was ten years old when U.S. serviceman Steve Sattler came across him, emaciated and terrified at Dachau concentration camp in Germany.

After handing over his rations to the boy during the 1945 liberation, Sattler then gave the ten-year-old his handkerchief decorated with the Stars and Stripes. […]

Mr Ross, who now lives in Newton, Massachusetts, had spent the War in ten different concentration camps.  […]

Sattler was a member of the 191st Tank Battalion who were part of the troops who liberated Dachau, about ten miles northwest of Munich in southern Germany.

Ross was actually 14 years old when he was liberated from Dachau.  He had been imprisoned since the age of 9, and during those five years, he had been in 10 different camps.

The following quote is from the story in the Boston Globe:

Some 67 years ago, a broken, emaciated boy looked up and saw an American soldier sitting astride a tank outside the gates of Dachau, the 10th concentration camp the boy had endured during the long war.

The hazel-eyed soldier hopped down and handed the boy rations he was eating. The boy ate with his fingers before dropping to his knees and kissing the soldier’s boots. A radio crackled with orders for the soldier to move on as part of the liberation effort. But first, the soldier hoisted the boy up and handed him a handkerchief decorated with a 48-star American flag.

Yesterday, clutching that flag in a velvet pouch, the boy, now an 81-year-old man of Newton, thanked the family of the soldier in person for the first time.

Was a tank from the 191st Tank Battalion really parked outside the Dachau gate?
This quote is from a letter written by Lt. Col. Felix Sparks of the 45th Division, one of the two divisions that are credited with liberating Dachau:

A day or so after the fall of Nurnberg, I was designated as a task force commander, with the mission of moving with all possible speed towards Munich, Germany. At that time, I was a lieutenant colonel commanding the Third Battalion, 157th Infantry Regiment, 45th Infantry Division, Seventh United States Army. Attached to my battalion for this mission were the entire 191st Tank Battalion,, Battery C of the 158th Field Artillery, and supporting engineers from the 120th Engineer Battalion […]

At 0730 on the morning of April 29, the task force had resumed the attack with companies L and K and the tank battalion as the assault force.

According to Lt. Col. Sparks, the 191st Tank Battalion was involved in the liberation of Dachau, although the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum gives credit only to the 45th Division, the 42nd Division and the 20th Armored Division as liberators of Dachau.

You can read the full story of the liberation of Dachau on my website here.

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