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November 1, 2012

Maryland students hear a talk by a survivor of the Bergen-Belsen exchange camp

Filed under: Holocaust — Tags: , — furtherglory @ 11:16 am

There are hundreds of Holocaust survivors who are giving talks to American students about the horrors of the concentration camps and the “death camps” which they survived.  From an article in the Washington Post, I learned about Emanuel “Manny” Mandel, a survivor of the Bergen-Belsen exchange camp, who spoke to students in Maryland.

This quote is from the Washington Post:

Mandel was the youngest survivor to address the students Tuesday.

He was raised in Budapest and was 8 when he was sent to Bergen-Belsen with his mother in 1944.

Nothing more was said in the article in the Washington Post, but I immediately recognized that Manny might have been one of the prisoners at Bergen Belsen, who were exchanged for prisoners being held by the Allies.  So I did a search and found another article here which explains how Manny survived six months in the Bergen-Belsen exchange camp before it was turned into a concentration camp in December 1944.

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

Manny Mandel was only 7 years old when the Germans occupied Budapest in March 1944.


Mandel and his family were among a group of Jews that were going to be traded in exchange for materials and goods from the Allied powers, a deal which was being negotiated by Nazi commander Adolf Eichmann. About 1,600 to 1,700 Hungarian Jews left Hungary and were promised they would be transported safely to Switzerland, he said. When the negotiations fell through, they were taken on a train to the Bergen-Belsen camp.

While his father was off performing hard labor for the government, Manny and his mother were taken to Bergen-Belsen in July 1944. He said they stayed in barracks 11 and 12. Each barrack held about 100 people with triple bunk beds.

Manny and his mother were taken out of the camp in December 1944. They were taken by Nazi transport to Switzerland, first to a Red Cross hotel in Caux, the French part of Switzerland, near Montreux, and later to a children’s home in Heiden.

Nineteen other children went with them. Manny said his mother was allowed to go because she was a former schoolteacher and was fluent in German, French and Hungarian, and would be able to translate lessons.

After the war ended, Manny and Ella traveled by ship to Palestine. They learned his father had survived and was in Hungary. Manny’s father had boarded a ship in La Spezia, Italy, along with 100 other people who were trying to get into Israel illegally, but the ship was stopped by British destroyers.

“As part of an agreement, the British would not allow any more Jews into Israel and had closed the borders,” Mandel said. Mandel said his father and the 100 other people went on a hunger strike for several days until the British finally decided to let them go.

Did Manny tell the Maryland students the truth about Bergen-Belsen being an exchange camp and the truth about the British trying to keep Jews out of Palestine while Hitler was sneaking Jews into Palestine via “The Transfer Agreement”?

I did learn something new from the article:

“There was not a stick left from 65 years ago,” Mandel said. “The Germans burned down almost everything before the British came and destroyed most of the records.”

When British forces liberated the camp on April 15, 1945, they discovered about 60,000 prisoners and thousands of unburied corpses on the camp grounds. After evacuating Bergen-Belsen, British forces burned down what was left of the camp to prevent the spread of typhus.

Why would the Germans have destroyed “most of the records” from an EXCHANGE camp?  Did they want to prevent future historians from knowing that Hitler had a plan to exchange 30,000 Jews for 30,000 prisoners in Allied camps?  You can read about the Bergen-Belsen exchange camp on my website here.  I previously blogged about the records in the Bergen-Belsen camp here.

As for Manny Mandel’s statement that the Germans burned down “almost everything” at Bergen-Belsen, where did the prisoners live until the British arrived?

After the British burned down the barracks at Bergen-Belsen, the prisoners were moved to the SS barracks that were adjacent to the camp.

This quote is from the article in the Washington Post:

They came as part of a program aimed at connecting curriculum with real life. The students are reading Anne Frank’s diary.

If this program in a Maryland school was aimed at connecting the curriculum with real life, I wonder if Manny Mandel pointed out that, unlike Anne Frank, who was sent from Auschwitz to Bergen-Belsen, he was in “the Hungarian camp” where prisoners were treated very well as they waited to be exchanged?

I previously blogged here about how Anne Frank would have fared if her family had not gone into hiding.

This quote is from this page of my website about the 8 separate camps at Bergen-Belsen:

4. Hungarian Camp (Ungarnlager)

This camp was established on July 8, 1944 for 1683 Jews from Hungary. According to the Memorial Site, they were treated even better than the inmates in the Star camp. They were allowed to wear civilian clothes, with a Star of David sewn on. They did not have to work, nor were they forced to attend the endless roll calls. They were given better food and the sick were properly cared for. They were known as Vorzugsjuden or Preferential Jews. Like the Star Camp, this camp had a Jewish self-administration.

5. Star Camp (Sternlager)

Approximately 4,000 Jewish prisoners, mostly from the Netherlands, lived in the Star camp, where conditions were somewhat better than in other parts of Bergen-Belsen. In the Star camp, the prisoners wore a yellow Star of David on their own clothes instead of the usual blue and gray striped prison uniform, but they did have to work, even the old people, according to the Memorial Site.

In spite of the fact that Manny Mandel was in the very best section of the Bergen-Belsen exchange camp, he had to tell something about the horror of the camp.  This quote is from this article:

Manny said he had symptoms of what was pneumonia. Since antibiotics were not available, he and his mother wrapped burlap sacks covered with muster plaster around his body to treat the infection in his lungs.

Mandel said the prisoners knew full well that the Nazi officers would remove the sick people from the camp and take them to the dispensary, where they were never seen again.

Were the sick prisoners “never seen again” because they were put into a hospital in the camp or because they were killed, as Manny implied?

How did his mother manage to have “muster plaster” in a Nazi camp?  Oh, that’s right, Manny was in the best section of the camp, as he waited to be exchanged.  The truth is, that the “muster plaster” was probably supplied by the German doctors in the camp, who did not want to put little Manny in the hospital where he might have caught other diseases.

I had never heard of “muster plaster” so I had to look it up on Wikipedia, where I found this quote about MUSTARD PLASTER.

A mustard plaster is a poultice of mustard seed powder spread inside a protective dressing and applied to the chest or abdomen to stimulate healing. In times past and present, the mixture was spread onto a cloth and applied to the chest or back. The mustard paste itself should never make contact with the skin. Applied externally, black mustard is used in the treatment of bronchial pneumonia and pleurisy.

Fortunately Manny’s mother just happened to have some black mustard seed among her possessions in the Bergen-Belsen Hungarian camp, so Manny didn’t have to go to the camp hospital and he was saved from certain death.

I continued to search for other stories of Bergen-Belsen survivors who are speaking to American students and I came across an article here about Marion Blumenthal Lazan who has been speaking to students for 27 years.

Marion’s father was sent to a camp “for 10 days after Kristallnacht, and when he was released [the family] went to Holland.”  According to the article, “They were in Holland, waiting in the Westerbork detention camp to leave for the United States in December 1939 when Germany invaded.”  (Germany invaded Holland in 1939?)

It is my understanding that the “Westerbork detention camp” was originally set up for Jews who were in Holland illegally; it was later turned into a transit camp for Jews who were sent to concentration camps. I previously blogged about Westerbork here.

In January 1944, the Blumenthal family was sent to Bergen-Belsen.  The photo below shows Marion holding up a Gold Star which she and her family had to wear in Bergen-Belsen. This means that she was in “the Star camp,” where prisoners at Bergen-Belsen were treated well.

Marion Blumenthal-Lazan gave a stirring talk on her surviving the holocaust and the horrendous living conditions in the concentration camps during W.W. II. She holds up the yellow Star of David she was given to wear in the interment camp in Holland and had to continue to wear it while she was a prisoner in German concentration camp. Photo by JohnStrickler/The Mercury

Marion has written a book that is in its 23rd printing and has been translated into German, Dutch and Japanese, as well as being the inspiration for an hour-long documentary titled “Marion’s Triumph — Surviving History’s Nightmare.”

With her book and the documentary, combined with speaking to students for 27 years, how much money has Marion made off her four months of imprisonment in the Star Camp of Bergen-Belsen?


  1. This video is from city of Lwow (Lemberg in German), Western Ukraine. Soviet NKVD killed over 4,000 prisoners including those of underage.

    Comment by Gasan — November 3, 2012 @ 4:07 pm

  2. Like Auschwitz, Bergen-Belsen had a swimming pool, but, unlike at Auschwitz, the pool was purely for the SS.

    Comment by The Black Rabbit of Inlé — November 3, 2012 @ 4:30 am

    • There must be snaps taken of the Auschwitz pool during the war , as so many personnel during the war did have small cameras . Probably lying around in an attic somewhere are the snaps. As evidence of the number of troops having cameras have a look at 1 min 10 of this Wochenschau.

      Comment by Pete — November 3, 2012 @ 6:17 am

  3. It’s grusome to learn what happened to the Jewish people, even years after the holocaust of Hitler – I personally feel the Jewish people could have been deported back to Israel if the German people felt that the Jewish folks were such an inormous threat, but, I believe that Hitler was so consumed by the dark forces that deportation was not an option. He had to be an evil entity himself! Personally, I have nothing against the Jewish people, never had and never will. As for the German people, the generation of Germans today can’t help what Hitler had done, they had no control over his actions. It remains tragic alltogether. I have learned about the revolt that took place in Sobibor (Thomas Toivi Blatt) amazing defiance against satanic tyronny.

    Comment by Karel Senekal — November 2, 2012 @ 12:02 am

    • You wrote: “I personally feel the Jewish people could have been deported back to Israel…” When Hitler was appointed the Chancellor of Germany in January 1933, the country of Israel did not exist. The area which is now Israel was then Palestine, which was a British mandate. In other words, Palestine was controlled by the British and very few Jews were allowed to emigrate from Europe to Palestine. Only young Jews with manual labor and farming skills were allowed into Palestine. Hitler immediately sneaked older, richer Jews into Palestine via the Transfer agreement which you read about at

      Besides that, Hitler set up schools where young Jews could learn skills, which would qualify them for entry into Palestine. Hitler also set up farms where young Jews could learn farming. While all this was going on, the British were trying their best to limit the number of Jews going to Palestine.

      You wrote: “I believe that Hitler was so consumed by the dark forces that deportation was not an option.” Not only did Hitler try to get Jews into Palestine, from the very start, but he also considered the option of sending the Jews to the island of Madagascar. Poland had been working on the Madagascar plan for years, and when Poland surrendered to Germany, at the start of World War II, Hitler took over this plan as an option. Madagascar was owned by France, and the French would not allow the Jews to go there. When France surrendered to Germany, the British (who controlled the seas) would not allow the Madagascar plan.

      So “the dark forces” took over and Hitler ordered the genocide of the Jews. But even then, in the middle of the genocide, Hitler set up the Bergen-Belsen exchange camp where Jews who wanted to go to Palestine were sent. The plan was to exchange the Jews for non-Jewish civilians who were being held in ordinary prisons in England, and in “internment” camps in America. The genocide of the Jews failed, and today there are numerous survivors who are telling their stories about how they beat the odds and were saved from the gas chambers.

      I wrote about Sobibor (and mentioned Toivi Blatt) in this blog post:

      I wrote in that blog post that the lies told about Sobibor take the prize. Note that in the middle of their “satantic tyronny” the Nazis were socializing with the Jews at Sobibor and including them in their celebrations of killing a million Jews.

      Comment by furtherglory — November 2, 2012 @ 9:07 am

  4. Marion Blumenthal Lazan who has been speaking to students for 27 years.

    Actually, for 33 years.

    She has told her story all over the country and the world since 1979.

    Comment by Eager For Answers — November 1, 2012 @ 5:34 pm

  5. People were starved to death in Bergen belsen camp. Those that did actually survive to tell their story did so were lucky to survive, as many died inside the many Nazi concentration camps than came out alive. It’s historic fact; hence the holocaust is discussed as the most horrific of mass organised conveyor belt murder by the so called master race. Those that managed to live and tell their part of what happened in the camps should be commended rather than ridiculed as telling lies. Each survivor survived differently and have similar horrific memories as well as differences in how they survived. I’m sure he could have given you the answers to your questions had you been their to question him; however, you weren’t there when he was being interviewed.

    Comment by mogseyward — November 1, 2012 @ 4:51 pm

    • Bergen-Belsen was an EXCHANGE CAMP. It was set up to exchange Jews for the German civilians who were being held prisoner by the Allies. The man who gave a talk to the students was actually one of the prisoners who was successfully exchanged. There was no “mass organised conveyor belt murder” at Bergen-Belsen. Prisoners were NOT “starved to death in Bergen-Belsen.”

      In the last few days before Bergen-Belsen was voluntarily turned over to the British, there were 30,000 prisoners brought to the camp when they were evacuated from a war zone. The Germans were following the rules of the Geneva Convention when they evacuated the prisoners from a war zone. These 30,000 prisoners ate all the food in the camp and it was a few days before the British brought in more food. Prisoners died at Bergen-Belsen in a typhus epidemic; they were not killed.

      Comment by furtherglory — November 1, 2012 @ 8:56 pm

      • Here we see what the Soviets did to their prisoners when they came into the war zone instead of evacuating them . at 4 mins in.

        Comment by Pete — November 2, 2012 @ 4:23 am

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