Scrapbookpages Blog

December 31, 2012

The Treblinka zoo

Filed under: Buchenwald, Holocaust — Tags: , , — furtherglory @ 3:06 pm

Update: July 16, 2013   Read my later posts about the zoo here and here.

Continue reading my original post:

There is a discussion in the comments section of my blog, regarding a photo in the Yad Vashem Museum which shows bears in a zoo.  The following words are included in the museum’s caption of the photo, which is shown below:

The photograph is from the private album of Kurt Franz from the time of his service as Deputy Commandant of Treblinka. The album was presented by the prosecution at Franz’s trial in Dusseldorf during the years 1964-5.

Photo of bears, enhanced in PhotoShop

Photo of bears at Treblinka, enhanced in PhotoShop

Kurt Franz was the Commandant of the Treblinka camp when a zoo was built in the camp.  Franz was never stationed at Buchenwald, and as far as I know, he never visited Buchenwald.  If the above photo of bears in a zoo was taken at Buchenwald, why would Kurt Franz have had this photo in his private photo album? (I have since learned that Kurt Franz did serve at Buchenwald during the time that the zoo was built there.)

In my home library, I have a copy of the book entitled Treblinka, The inspiring story of the 600 Jews who revolted against their murderers and burned a Nazi death camp to the ground, written by Jean-Francois Steiner. Today, I read the entire book again, looking for any mention of the zoo at Treblinka.

This quote is from page 338 in Steiner’s book:

Halfway up the main street [in the Treblinka camp] there branched off to the left another, smaller street […] Later, in early Spring, an offshoot of this road was built to the west; it led to a zoo that was being laid out. […] In the center of the park was a hexagonal building covered with little birch logs. On each side of the building were the cages: there was a cage for the birds, a cage for the squirrels, et cetera.

There is no mention, anywhere in this 415 page book, of bears in the Treblinka zoo.  However, in the quote from the book which I wrote above, “little birch logs” are mentioned. On the left side of the photo, there are little birch logs.  There are no little birch logs in photos of the Buchenwald zoo.

On page 398 of Steiner’s book, there is this quote:

At Camp Number One [ the camp for the SS officers] an S.S. officer strolls slowly through the zoological garden.

I would not describe the Buchenwald zoo as a “garden,” whereas the photo, which I think was taken at Treblinka, could be described as a photo of bears in a “zoological garden.”

For all of these reasons, I believe that the photo above was taken at Treblinka.

December 30, 2012

British SOE agent Bruce Dowding was executed by beheading (Fallbeil) during World War II

Filed under: Dachau, Germany, World War II — Tags: , , , — furtherglory @ 10:52 am

I received the following information yesterday from Peter Dowding in e-mail:

I have an eyewitness account of the execution of my Uncle Kenneth Bruce Dowding – an Australian – at Dortmund on 30 June 1943 together with a number of others who had been arrested and treated as NN prisoners following their involvement in the “Pat Line”.  The execution was by beheading using a Fallbeil such as was used to execute Sophie Scholl in Munich as depicted in the film the White Rose. I believe that many Nacht & Nebel prisoners who were not placed in Concentration camps were similarly executed- not by hanging.

Bruce Dowding was a secret agent in the British SOE; he was a member of the “Pat Line,” named after British SOE agent Albert Guérisse, who was using the fake name Patrick O’Leary.  The “Pat Line” operated an escape line for downed fliers.

The SOE was the Special Operations Executive, a British spy organization, which was established by Winston Churchill and given the mission to “set Europe ablaze.” The SOE carried on espionage and sabotage operations during World War II, as well as operating escape lines to send downed fliers through Spain and back to England.

To the British, the SOE agents are heroes who helped to liberate Europe from Fascism by means of espionage and sabotage, but to the Germans, during World War II, the SOE agents were “terrorists,” operating illegally to help the “French resistance bandits” to destroy factories, blow up troop trains and worst of all, to delay German Panzer divisions from reaching Normandy until it was too late to stop the Allied invasion of Europe.

The SOE supplied arms, money and food for the insurgents fighting the Nazis. It was a secret organization because it was against international law to provide military aid to countries that had laid down their arms and signed an Armistice, promising to stop fighting.

The following excerpt is from an article that was written by Peter Dowding in 1998; you can read the article in full here.

The family then received letters in December 1939, in February 1940 when he [Bruce Dowding] joined the Army and June and July 1940 when he was a prisoner of War. After this Bruce wrote a post card on 19 July 1942 to say that he was “absolutely safe” but a prisoner at Stalag Vl/G ( there was no POW number on this post card). It was not until 1947 that the family learned of his fate which was detailed in a letter (27.01.47) from a Father Steinhoffer who had attended his execution and that of nine Belgian and French men on 30 June 1943. [According to some accounts he was beheaded]

He was Corporal 131722 Royal Army Service Corps, Boulogne Sub Area, BEF. Bruce was captured at Dunkirk on 22 May 1940. He was a prisoner at Stammlager 6C and Fronstalag 151 at (?) Mont Argis and on about 27 August 1940 tried to escape, according to the Red Cross, from a train taking prisoners to another Stalag. A fellow prisoner later stated that Bruce had hidden in a sewer with two others who were shot and Bruce recaptured. He was placed in a POW prison and escaped (according to the informant Julian Verlest) by leaving with a French worker dressed in the civilian clothes of another worker who remained behind.

It is clear that he made his way to Marseilles and by Christmas 1940 was associating with the members of the escape organisation [Pat O’Leary line]. On the day Pétain visited Marseilles Bruce was having coffee with Norman Hinton and Mme de Ségur. By 1941 he had a code name ‘André Mason’.

In February 1941 he was actively engaged in assisting the escape route and was a friend of Donald Caskie. He was responsible for taking prisoners towards the Spanish boarder by train, via Toulouse and Perpignan.

In November 1941 Bruce was in the flat of Dr Rodocanachi with Pat O’Leary, Mario Prassinos, Léoni Savinos, Dupré and Paul Cole, after the arrest of Ian Garrow. Bruce wanted to execute Cole as a traitor. Cole escaped [from a bathroom window while the traitor’s fate was being decided and he was being guarded by Bruce Dowding].

Bruce and O’Leary went to the [northern] headquarters of the escape organisation in Lille, in Occupied France, to warn of Cole’s treachery. There on the 8 December 1941 the Gestapo arrested members of the escape group including the Abbé Carpantier. All had been betrayed by Cole. Bruce kept warning other members of the group and on his third call on 9 or 10 December he too was arrested. The Abbé was taken to Loos Prison Lille. O’Leary later reported that Bruce had been held at St Omer (Nord ) Loos, Lille, then being deported to Bochum in Germany. Verlest later reported that Bruce was a political prisoner.

On 22 June 1942 Bruce wrote to the British High Commissioner for Australia that he was in the best of health at Stammlager Vl/C in Germany. On 19 July 1942 Bruce wrote a post card to his family but with no POW number, referring to his “absolute safety”. In September 1942 the War Office reported that he was a POW. O’Leary reported to the War Office that Bruce had been tried and on 1 March 1943 been found guilty of (?) and sentenced to death.

In 1947 the family first had it confirmed that Bruce had been executed on 30 June 1943 at Dortmund. He had been taken to Dortmund jail on 29 June 1943 for the execution. He was cremated 12 July 1943 and interred in an unmarked grave in Dortmund cemetery. Later his remains were moved to a War Cemetery at (?). On 13 September 1946 Bruce was ‘mentioned in despatches’ for ‘gallant and distinguished services in the field’. He was posthumously issued with a Certificate of Appreciation by the Bureau de Recherches sur l’Aide Apportée aux Evadés Allies.

According to Peter Dowding, his uncle, Bruce Dowding, had been put on trial and found guilty, but apparently his family never learned what crime he had been found guilty of.  Strangely, Albert Guérisse, aka Patrick O’Leary, who was in charge of the “Pat Line,” which helped downed flyers to escape, was never put on trial. Or maybe Guérisse was put on trial, but was not convicted. Maybe he was convicted, but the Germans never got around to executing him.

This website mentions that Patrick O’Leary was sentenced to death, but he was not executed, for some unknown reason.  This quote is from the website:

Facing an end in Dachau
Within three weeks London knew O’Leary had been captured. O’Leary took all the responsibility on himself, to prevent further damage. A young member of the Line, Fabien de Cortes, was helped by O’Leary to jump from the train on their way to Paris. Cortes managed to reach Geneva where he relayed what O’Leary had told him about Roger Le Neveu (alias Roger Le Légionnaire, possibly an associate of Cole). De Cortes returned to France and was soon arrested; he, Groome and Louis Nouveau all survived their concentration camps.

O’Leary was tortured to make him reveal the names, duties and whereabouts of the other members of the line. He was put in a refrigerator for several hours and then beaten continuously but did not disclose any information of use to the Germans. He was then held under the Nazis’ infamous Nacht und Nebel procedure in a series of concentration camps, beginning at Natzweiler and ending at Dachau.

Bruce Dowding was also classified as a Nacht und Nebel prisoner, according to Peter Dowding. The Nacht und Nebel classification was used for prisoners who were sent to a concentration camp, but their relatives were never told what had happened to them.  They were made to disappear into the Night and Fog. (Nacht and Nebel in German)  Nacht und Nebel prisoners were not killed, but their relatives assumed that they had been killed because they were never heard from again.

Before the Dachau camp was liberated by American troops on April 29, 1945, the acting Commandant and most of the SS guards left the camp the night before, after turning the camp over to the International Committee of Dachau, which was headed by Albert Guérisse, aka Patrick O’Leary.

The color photo below shows some of the members of the International Committee of Dachau. I believe that the second man from the left, who is wearing a cardigan sweater and an overcoat, is Albert Guérisse, a British SOE agent from Belgium. He was one of five British SOE agents at Dachau, who had survived the Nazi concentration camps at Mauthausen in Austria and Natzweiler in Alsace before being transferred to Dachau.

Prisoners at Dachau after they were liberated

Prisoners at Dachau after they were liberated

Compare the man in the photo above to a photo of Albert Guérisse, taken after the war.

Patrick O'Leary with his wife

Albert Guerisse with his wife

Bruce Dowding and Albert Guierisse were both British SOE agents and both were with “the Pat Line,” named after Patrick O’Leary.  Why was Guierisse allowed to live, and to organize an International Committee at Dachau, while Dowding was beheaded and his body cremated?

Here is what Wikipedia has to say about Fallbeil executions in Germany:

In Nazi Germany, the guillotine was reserved for criminal convicts and political crimes including treason. A famous example of the guillotine being used was on the members of the White Rose resistance movement, a group of students in Munich that included siblings Sophie and Hans Scholl. Contrary to popular myth, executions were generally not conducted face-up, and chief executioner Johann Reichhart was peculiarly insistent on maintaining “professional” protocol throughout the era, having administered the death penalty during the earlier Weimar era. Nonetheless, the Nazis’ use of the Fallbeil was chillingly routine. It is estimated that some 16,500 persons were guillotined in Germany and Austria between 1933 and 1945. This number includes resistance fighters both in Nazi Germany itself and in those countries that were occupied by them. As these resistance fighters were not part of any regular army they were considered common criminals and were in many cases taken to Germany and decapitated. Decapitation was considered a “dishonorable” death, unlike an “honorable” death: e.g., execution by firing squad.[citation needed]

The Fallbeil was used for the last time in West Germany in 1949, in East Germany in 1966.

The Japanese also did executions by beheading, as the photo below shows.

An Australian POW is beheaded by Japanese

An Australian POW is beheaded by Japanese

The photo above shows Sgt. Leonard Siffleet, an Australian POW, who was captured by the Japanese in New Guinea during World War II. He is about to be beheaded with a sword in 1943, the same year that Bruce Dowding was beheaded by the Germans.

The Buchenwald concentration camp and the Treblinka “extermination camp” both had a zoo

Filed under: Buchenwald, Germany, Holocaust — Tags: , , — furtherglory @ 6:23 am

There is an on-going discussion in the comments section of my blog about the mislabeling of photos by Holocaust Museums.  For example, the photo below, which is shown on the Yad Vashem Museum website here.

Bears in the Treblinka zoo

Photo of the Treblinka zoo on Yad Vashem website

Photo of bears, enhanced in PhotoShop

Same photo of bears, enhanced in PhotoShop

I have added an enhanced version of the photo. Notice the background, which shows a stone structure, like the one at Buchenwald zoo.

Here is the caption on the photo above, as it is written on the Yad Vashem website:

Treblinka, Poland, Bears in the menagerie belonging to the camp command.
Belongs to collection:
Yad Vashem Photo Archive
Additional Information:
The photograph is from the private album of Kurt Franz from the time of his service as Deputy Commandant of Treblinka. The album was presented by the prosecution at Franz’s trial in Dusseldorf during the years 1964-5.
Justizverwaltung des Landes Nordrhein- Westfalen
Yad Vashem
Name of submitter:
Leitender Oberstaatsanwalt-Dusseldorf

One of the regular readers of my blog believes that the photo, shown above, is mislabeled and that the photo was actually taken at Buchenwald, a concentration camp which also had a zoo.

The photos below were taken by me in 1999 when I visited the Buchenwald Memorial Site.

Bearpit in the Buchenwald zoo

Bear pit in the Buchenwald zoo

House for bears at Buchenwald

House for bears at Buchenwald

The zoo at Buchenwald was built in 1938, as soon as the camp was opened. Commandant Karl Otto Koch ordered the construction of a park area for the SS guards, just outside the camp fence. The park featured a birdhouse, a water basin, and a zoo for four bears and five monkeys. The bears were in full view of the prisoners, and there was also an elaborate falconry in another area outside the camp where the SS kept birds of prey.

Commandant Koch may have been a cruel, ostentatious embezzler, but he was soft-hearted when it came to animals. The Buchenwald camp guidebook contains the following order by Commandant Koch, concerning the animals at Buchenwald:

Commanders’s Order No. 56 dated 8th September 1938 (Extract)

1. Buchenwald zoological gardens has been created in order to provide diversion and entertainment for the men in their leisure time and to show them the beauty and peculiarities of various animals which they will hardly be able to meet and observe in the wild.

But we must also expect the visitor to be reasonable and fond of animals enough to refrain from anything that might not be good for the animals, cause harm to them or even compromise their health and habits. (…) In the meantime, I again received reports saying that SS men have tied the deer’s horns to the fence and cut them loose only after a long while. Furthermore, it has been found that deer have been lured to the fence and tinfoil put in the mouth. In the future, I will find out the perpetrators of such loutish acts and have them reported to the SS Commander in Chief in order to have them punished for cruelty to animals.

The Camp Commandant of Buchenwald Concentration Camp

signed by Koch


Note that “loutish” behavior by the SS guards was not tolerated. The German army was the best disciplined of all the armed forces fighting in World War II, and the elite SS troops were held to an even higher standard. Note that the Commandant is threatening to report them. He did not have the power to punish the guards nor the prisoners without approval from headquarters in Oranienburg.

Photo of Buchenwald taken after the liberation of the camp

Photo of Buchenwald taken after the liberation of the camp

The old photo above was taken shortly after the liberation of the Buchenwald camp. On the far left, you can see the Buchenwald zoo, which was just outside the camp. On the far right is the Buchenwald gatehouse, which is the entrance to the prison enclosure.

The camp inmates were not allowed to visit the zoo, but they could see the bears and monkeys through the fence, which is shown in the photo above.

As for Treblinka, a book by Jean Francois Steiner, entitled Treblinka, mentions that there was a zoo, which had been built at Treblinka by Commandant Franz Stangl for the amusement of the SS staff and some of the privileged prisoners, called Kapos, who assisted the Germans in the camp. Treblinka also had a camp orchestra and a brothel for the SS staff, just like the concentration camps.

Aerial photos taken by the Soviet Union while the Treblinka “death camp” was in operation show that there were Polish farms adjacent to the camp and that the whole area of the camp was devoid of trees. Today, the area of the Treblinka Memorial site is completely surrounded by a forest and the section of the camp where the guards once lived is now covered by trees.

Jean Francois Steiner wrote in his book Treblinka that the privileged prisoners in the camp had “a great life.” They were allowed to marry in the camp, and Kurt Franz conducted the wedding ceremonies. After one of the wedding celebrations, the prisoners got the idea of “a kind of cabaret,” where there was music, dancing and drinking on the Summer nights.

The book Treblinka reads like a novel and I am not sure if it is truth or fiction. The Treblinka II camp, where the zoo was located, was supposed to be an “extermination camp” where Jews were brought for the sole purpose of gassing them immediately upon arrival.

The following quote is from Steiner’s book.  It describes how the privileged prisoners (Kapos) and the SS men were having parties at the “death camp.”  The Commandant, Kurt Franz, was nicknamed “Lalka,” which means doll.  He was given this nick name by the prisoners because he was a very handsome man.

When Lalka heard about what was going on, far from forbidding it, he provided the drinks himself and encouraged the SS men to go there. The first contact lacked warmth, but the S.S. men knew how to make people forget who they were, and soon their presence was ignored. In addition to the dancing, there were night-club acts. The ice was broken between the Jews and the S.S. This did not prevent the S.S. from killing the Jews during the day, but the prospect of having to part company soon mellowed them a little.


The high point of these festivities was unquestionably Arthur Gold’s birthday. An immense buffet was laid out in the tailor shop, which the S.S. officers decorated themselves. Hand written invitations were sent to every member of the camp aristocracy. It was to be the great social event of the season and everyone was eager to wear his finest clothes. […] The women had done each other’s hair and had put on the finest dresses in the store, simple for the girls and decollete for the women. […] Arthur Gold outdid himself in the toasts that preceded the festivities. He insisted on thanking the Germans for the way they treated the Jews.


One evening a Ukrainian brought an accordion and the others began to dance. The scene attracted some Jews, who with the onset of Summer, were more and more uncomfortable in their “cabaret.” The nights were soft and starry, and if it were not for the perpetual fire which suffused the sky with its long flames, you would have thought that you were on the square of some Ukrainian village on Midsummer Eve. Everything was there: the campfire, the dancing, the multicolored skirts and the freshness of the night. Friendships sprang up. Just because men were going to kill each tomorrow was no reason to sulk.

Does the photo in the Yad Vashem museum show the Treblinka zoo or the Buchenwald zoo?  I will leave it up to the readers of my blog to decide.

December 28, 2012

Fake Holocaust photos at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (updated)

Filed under: Buchenwald, Germany, Holocaust, World War II — furtherglory @ 12:16 pm

 Today, I went to the website of the USHMM to see a photo, allegedly taken at Buchenwald, which a fellow blogger believes is a fake.  The photo is shown on this page, along with many other photos that were taken at Buchenwald after the camp was liberated on April 11, 1945.  Curiously, three of the photos on that page, which you can see below, have similar characteristics.

Photo taken at Buchenwald shows smokestack of crematorium

Photo taken at Buchenwald shows smokestack of crematorium

Four Jewish survivors of Buchenwald

Four Jewish survivors of Buchenwald

Two Buchenwald survivors "play fighting"

Two Buchenwald survivors “play fighting”

Notice that the three photos above, which were allegedly taken at Buchenwald, appear to have been printed in an American commercial photography lab, which printed the pictures in a sepia tone and put fancy borders around the photos.  This indicates that the three photos might have been taken on the same day by the same photographer, who took the film home to America to have it developed and printed.

However, there is one problem with these photos.  My 1999 photo of the chimney of the Buchenwald crematorium, which is shown below, looks nothing like the tall chimney in the first photo, which was allegedly taken at Buchenwald in 1945.  As far as I know, the crematorium at Buchenwald was not rebuilt after the camp was liberated.

My 1999 photo of the crematorium at Buchenwald

My 1999 photo of the crematorium at Buchenwald

Buchenwald crematorium

My 1999 photo of the Buchenwald crematorium

The Buchenwald crematorium was located near the gatehouse that was the entrance into the prison enclosure.  The gatehouse was to the right, but out of camera range in the photo above.

So who is right?  Were all three of the old photos above taken at Buchenwald, or not?

I was browsing through the website of Carolyn Yeager yesterday, when I came across a copy of the photo shown below.


I have this same photo on my website here.  The photo was sent to me several years ago, for my exclusive use, by the daughter of one of the men in the photo.  I was told the name of one of the men, but I had to promise his daughter that I would not reveal her father’s name.

This quote is from Ms. Yeager’s website:

A mislabeled photo – turning Germans into Jews

The picture of four men, below right,  is in the Museum’s Buchenwald photo archives labeled as “Group Portrait of Four Jewish Youth at liberation in Buchenwald,” photo #27289. It’s dated Wednesday, April 11, 1945 (Liberation Day!),  courtesy of Morris Rosen; no photographer listed. It adds this information: ” Nucher, (the donor’s friend) is pictured in the lower left. Pictured in the center is Jacob Rosenthal from Satu-Mare.”

Consider the extent of the irresponsible misinformation on the USHMM website when you learn that these are German men after being interned at the notorious Bad Nenndorf  secret prison set up in Germany by the British during their occupation of north-west Germany in 1945. I used this photo in the post for my Oct. 29 radio program The Heretics Hour. The treatment of the prisoners in this camp by the British was far worse than anything experienced by those at Buchenwald.  Below are more pictures of  documented Bad Nenndorf victims. All suffered from actual, unnecessary starvation.

Note that the man in the center is identified by the USHMM as Jacob Rosenthal from Satu-Mare.  It has been so long ago that I don’t recall the name given to me by the woman who claimed to be the daughter of the man in the center of the photo.  In an exchange of e-mails, I was given the following information which I am quoting from my website

The photo above was taken by an American Army photographer shortly after the camp was liberated. In the center of the photo is a Jewish prisoner who had gone into hiding when the Germans started to evacuate the camp, according to his daughter. He first hid in the typhus ward and later dug a hole near the infirmary barrack. He was too weak to stand when this photo was taken.

His daughter wrote in an e-mail to me that her father told her about “the American soldier who asked him to pose for a picture, because he was particularly emaciated compared to the other – political – prisoners. The photographer asked them to assume a serious expression, because he wanted to communicate what happened in the camps during the war.”

Note that the prisoner in the center of the photo is wearing thick socks. The concentration camp prisoners were not normally issued socks. These socks had formerly belonged to an SS guard in the camp.

The following is a quote from the e-mail letter sent to me by this prisoner’s daughter:

When my father arrived in Buchenwald, he was slated to work in the quarry, in effect a protracted death sentence, when a Nazi Jeep drove by seeking building engineers. My father was a textile engineer, but decided to take the chance. He was lucky; his co-worker (they were building barracks) taught him on the job.

Towards the end of the war he would hide near the Germans’ cabin and listen to the newscasts, which told of the approaching American army. This motivated him to find whatever means possible to hold out in the camp and avoid further deportation. I already wrote you how he hid: first by hiding in the typhus ward, then by digging a cave.

You can read more about this photo here.  I previously blogged about Allied camps for German soldiers here.

I feel like a fool now because I was so gullible.  When I received the photo, I did notice the thick socks and questioned that.  But I believed the woman who had sent me the photo.  I thought that the men in the photo were Jews who had been starved at Buchenwald.

I have enhanced the photo, using PhotoShop, and posted it below, in case anyone else wants to use this photo or blog about it.


December 23, 2012

Holocaust survivor who volunteered for the gas chamber, but a Nazi doctor intervened

Filed under: Holocaust — Tags: , , — furtherglory @ 7:50 am

Holocaust survivor Rose Sherman Williams told her story recently to students in San Antonio, Texas.  Her emphasis was on the consequences of bullying.  The Nazis were the greatest bullies of all time, and God forbid that today’s American children should grow up to be Nazis.

Rose is now speaking out after years of silence. The most remarkable detail in her story is that she was in such misery at the Auschwitz death camp that she VOLUNTEERED to go to the gas chamber so that she could end it all.  But a Nazi doctor stopped her.

In her speech to the school children, Rose said that when “Nazi Germany troops” invaded her home town in Poland, she was about the same age as the middle school students, who were visiting the Jewish Community Center that day to hear her speech.

Rose told the students that, instead of water, gas would come out of the shower heads in the camp where she was taken.

Rose was eventually sent to Auschwitz.

This quote is from the news article about her speech, which you can read in full here:

“They gave us a number which I still carry on my hand, tattooed: “A15049,” Williams said while holding up her arm so students could see the tattoo. “That was the name I had to answer to and God forbid if I didn’t hear my name called. You cannot imagine the beating I would get.”

So much suffering, and Rose said she wanted to die: she volunteered to go to the concentration camp’s gas chamber.

But a Nazi doctor intervened. For years, Williams wondered why.

For years, Rose wondered why a Nazi doctor would not let her volunteer for the gas chamber at Auschwitz?  (By the way, who was this Nazi doctor?  Was this the famous Dr. Mengele, who appears in every Holocaust survivor story?)

Rose was not allowed to volunteer for the gas chamber because she had already been tattooed. She had already been registered in the camp and there was an IBM Hollerith punch card for her in the camp administration records. I previously blogged about the Hollerith punch cards on this blog post.

If her card had been found after Auschwitz was abandoned, this would have been proof that someone had been gassed at Auschwitz after they had been registered.   Of course, the Nazis were not going to let that happen.  The Jews who were gassed were sent immediately to the gas chamber without being registered and tattooed.  The names of the Jews who were gassed are unknown.

Nice try, but no cigar!  Sorry, Rose.

December 13, 2012

Holocaust survivor has identified himself in a famous photo taken by Margaret Bourke-White

Filed under: Buchenwald, Holocaust — Tags: , , — furtherglory @ 12:30 pm
Famous Buchenwald photo taken by Margaret Bourke-White

Famous Buchenwald photo taken by Margaret Bourke-White

A big THANK YOU to Tal Forkos who has identified her grandfather, Herman Forkos, in the famous photo above, which was taken by Margaret Bourke-White on April 15, 1945, the day that she arrived at the Buchenwald camp, along with General Patton. Herman Forkos is the 19-year-old man on the left, wearing a short jacket, with his hand on the barbed wire fence.

Margaret Bourke-White’s famous Buchenwald photo, captioned “Survivors at the Wire,” was published in Life magazine on December 26, 1960 in a special double-issue entitled “25 Years of LIFE.”

Tal Forkos has her own blog at

On her blog, which I translated, using Google Translate, Tal mentioned that her grandfather did not know the names of the other prisoners in the photo.

I believe that the man in the center of the photo is Simon Toncman. Three men from the Netherlands are in the famous photo: Simon Toncman, Helman Leefsma, and Max Hamburger.  All three had been sent to Buchenwald after they had been captured while fighting with the French resistance. Simon Toncman is the man in the center, who has his hand on the barbed wire.

Monument honors French Resistance fighters who were prisoners at Buchenwald

Monument honors French Resistance fighters who were prisoners at Buchenwald

The photo above was taken by Tech/5 Dan Curtain, a soldier in General George S. Patton’s Third Army, who visited the Buchenwald camp several days after it was liberated on April 11, 1945.

The monument shown in the photo is a Memorial stone that was erected by the Communist prisoners at Buchenwald on 19 April 1945 in honor of the political prisoners in the camp. The Jewish Holocaust survivors at Buchenwald were not allowed to attend the ceremonies on the day that this monument was dedicated.

The Memorial stone, shown in the photo above, was moved in 1961 to a spot called Frederic-Manhes-Platz, which is the place where the road to the camp branches off from the main road up the hill called the Ettersberg. The place where it now stands was named after a French Resistance fighter named Col. Henri Frederic Manhes. Buchenwald was one of the main camps to which captured partisans in the French Resistance were deported.

Simon Toncman is also in another famous photo taken at Buchenwald, which is shown below.

Famous photo taken in Block 56 at Buchenwald

Famous photo taken in Block 56 at Buchenwald

The famous photo above was taken at the Buchenwald concentration camp, inside  Block #56, by Private H. Miller of the Civil Affairs Branch of the U. S. Army Signal Corps on April 16, 1945, five days after the camp was liberated by the Sixth Armored Division of the US Third Army on April 11, 1945. The photo was published by the New York Times on May 6, 1945 with the caption “Crowded Bunks in the Prison Camp at Buchenwald.”
Strangely, Simon Toncman never talked about being in the most famous Holocaust photo of all time?  Was he ashamed that he had posed naked with nothing but a striped shirt hiding the lower half of his body? Notice that Toncman and several men in the photo have nicely trimmed beards, but the other prisoners are clean shaven.

Now look at the man in the center of the photo at the top of my blog post.  Is this Simon Toncman posing with a group of prisoners at Buchenwald?  Compare the two photos below.

Closeup of man in photo of Barracks No. 56

Closeup of man in photo of Barracks No. 56

Closeup of man in the center of the photo at the Buchenwald fence

Closeup of man in the center of the photo at the Buchenwald fence

Simon Toncman was not Jewish.  He was a captured Resistance fighter, who was sent to Buchenwald because it was one of the main camps for Resistance fighters.  So what is he doing in two photos of Jewish Holocaust survivors?

Notice that both Simon Toncman and Herman Forkos are wearing French berets, which were worn by the Communists who ran the camp, according to General Patton.

When the Buchenwald camp was originally opened, the Nazis brought convicted criminals from the Sachsenhausen concentration camp to run the camp internally. But after the first Commandant, Karl Otto Koch, was relieved of his duties and sent to Majdanek, the new Commandant, Hermann Pister, allowed the Communist prisoners to take over the internal administration of the camp.

The following quote is from Robert Abzug in his book Inside the Vicious Heart:

Meanwhile, in all this upheaval, the new commandant Hermann Pister allowed a German Communist prisoner group, some of them original inmates of the camp, to wrest power from the ‘greens.’ (The greens were common criminals who wore green triangles.) The Communist prisoners reduced the amount of black marketeering and other common corruption, cut down the amount of wanton sadism on the part of prisoner trustees (or Kapos), and made plans for the ultimate takeover of the camp in case of Nazi defeat. But in other ways the Communists merely shifted the ground of corruption to the assignment of work details, food, medical care, and ultimately life. From their takeover until the end of the war, favored treatment was often received on the basis of political loyalties. The Nazis for their part, gained from the Communist regime a more predictable work force and a greater sense of order.

The Communists, who ran the Buchenwald camp, wore French berets to identify themselves to the other prisoners.  So why is a Jewish Holocaust survivor wearing a French beret in a famous photo taken at Buchenwald?

The Small Camp at Buchenwald

The Small Camp at Buchenwald

The Jewish prisoners were isolated at Buchenwald in a special section called the “Small Camp,” which was located at the bottom of a slope, far away from the gatehouse at the entrance to the camp. The “Small Camp” was separated from the rest of the Buchenwald camp by a barbed wire fence, which is shown in the photo above. The “Small Camp” was built where the soccer field had previously been located. It was used as a Quarantine camp for Jewish prisoners who had been evacuated from Auschwitz and other camps and brought to Buchenwald in the last months of the war.

The Communist political prisoners, who lived in the nice barracks near the gatehouse, discriminated against the Jewish prisoners and would not allow them into their nicer section unless they received a bribe. After the camp was liberated, the Jews were not even allowed to attend the celebration ceremony which was conducted by the Communist prisoners near the gatehouse.

Conditions inside the “Small Camp” were far worse than in the main part of the Buchenwald camp. The Jews were forced to live in crowded barracks and disease was rampant.

Buchenwald was primarily a camp for political prisoners. The Jewish prisoners had only arrived there after the death camps, located in what is now Poland, were closed because of the advance of the army of the Soviet Union. The Jews were immediately isolated at Buchenwald because they had to be quarantined in order to ensure that they were not carrying any diseases. In spite of this, a typhus epidemic broke out in the camp; half of all the prisoners who died at Buchenwald died during the epidemic.

December 12, 2012

the Boxcar has become an icon of the Holocaust

Filed under: Holocaust, World War II — Tags: , , — furtherglory @ 9:17 am
Boxcar on display at Auschwitz-Birkenau

Boxcar on display at Auschwitz-Birkenau

Boxcar at Judenrampe near Auschwitz-Birkenau

My 2005 photo of a Boxcar at Judenrampe near Auschwitz-Birkenau

Boxcar at Neuengamme Memorial Site Photo Credit: Bonnie M. Harris

Boxcar at Neuengamme Memorial Site   Photo Credit: Bonnie M. Harris

Jews being loaded into a boxcar to be transported to the Belzec "extermination camp."

Jews being loaded into a boxcar to be transported to the Belzec “extermination camp.”

This quote is from Rainer Froebe, University of Hannover: <Rainer.Froebe>:

The German railway box car (Gueterwagen) is widely used as an icon for the
deportation of Jews and Gypsies.  Full size box cars are on display at
memorial sites in Berlin, Neuengamme, Nordhausen (Dora-Mittelbau
concentration camp), Les Milles (France), Yad Vashem, Washington, D. C. (US
Holocaust Memorial Museum), and Dallas, Texas.
Which other museums or memorial sites (worldwide) have a similar exhibit?
The *Deutsche Technikmuseum* (German Technical Museum) in Berlin which has
been the first institution to put a box car on display in October 1988 is
preparing an iconographic survey.

The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC has a German boxcar on display; you can read about it and see a photo of the interior of the boxcar here.

German boxcar that was lifted by a crane into an American Holocaust Museum

German boxcar that was lifted by a crane into an American Holocaust Museum

The photo immediately above shows a boxcar that was recently brought from Germany and lifted by a crane into a Holocaust Museum in Farmington Hills, MA.  After the boxcar was in place, the unfinished Museum was built around it.  You can read all about it here.  This quote is from another article about the Holocaust Museum in Farmington Hills:

The morning after Henrietta and Rachel’s family had their first Passover seder in the Warsaw Ghetto, Nazi soldiers came, gathered hundreds of Jews and put them into a railroad boxcar headed for the concentration camps.

It took the sisters and their family: Sara, mother; Israel, father; and two brothers, Reuben and Herschel, one week to reach Majdanek, an extermination camp near Lublin, Poland.

When the train finally reached its destination, Nazi soldiers made their selections. The men and women were separated. They never again saw their father or brothers. Their mother was pulled out of the group of women. Rachel and Henrietta last saw her waiting in a grassy area. “Little did we know that she would be put in the gas chamber,” Rachel Schwartz said. “Never did we think we would never see her again.”

Gallery dedication

The sisters, Rachel Schwartz and Henrietta Weisberg, told their story at the Nov. 20 dedication of The Henrietta and Alvin Weisberg Gallery at the Holocaust Memorial Center in Farmington Hills.

It’s been 70 years since Henrietta and Rachel were transported to an “extermination camp.”  How old was Henrietta when her mother was sent to the gas chamber at Majdanek?

I did a search and found that Henrietta is now 83, so she was 13 at the time that she arrived at the Majdanek “extermination camp” but was not selected for the gas chamber.  How did this happen?  As everyone knows, Jews younger than 15 and older than 45 were immediately gassed, hours after their arrival at an “extermination camp.”

Dead German soldiers on a train at Dachau

Dead German soldiers on a train at Dachau

The photo above shows German soldiers who were taken to a boxcar, parked outside the Dachau concentration camp, and shot after they surrendered the camp to the American liberators of Dachau.  This boxcar had brought prisoners from the Buchenwald camp to Dachau in the last days of World War II.

During World War II, German civilians and German soldiers were routinely riding in boxcars.  During the Depression in America, hobos were “riding the rails,” going from town to town, trying to find a job.  No one makes a big deal about this.  The railroad Museum in Sacramento, CA has an American boxcar on display, which is shown in the photo below.

Boxcar on display in Sacramento railroad museum

Boxcar on display in Sacramento railroad museum

December 11, 2012

The killing of civilians by the Allies in World War II…and the case of Rudolf Merkel

Filed under: Dachau, World War II — Tags: , — furtherglory @ 9:11 am

Rudolf Merkel was a 16-year-old German boy who was put on trial by the American Military Tribunal after World War II and sentenced to life in prison for hitting a downed American flyer with a stick.  I thought about this young boy when I read a comment on my blog, written by a German-American, who is justifiably angry about the war crimes committed by the Allies in World War II, particularly the bombing of German cities and the killing of civilians, even after the war had been won.

I am quoting the comment in full because this is important information that young people today are not taught in their Holocaust education classes:

Even if the holocaust hoax were true, the war crimes and mass atrocities committed by the US and Britain were far worse and far more cowardly than anything the Nazis are even accused of committing. The US and Britain murdered as many people as they possibly could—women, children, babies included—by deliberately r-o-a-s-t-i-n-g them to death with massive incendiary air attacks and firestorms (“strategic bombing” and “area bombing”), with incendiary bombs including napalm, and even with nuclear bombs. If the numbers murdered by the US and Britain did not exceed the mythical “six million” number, it was not for any lack of trying. The Americans and Brits turned entire cities into crematory ovens—for victims who were still alive. The magnitude of those horrors grew to biblical proportions just as the end of the war grew near and the dangers to the US and Britain diminished to nothing at all. Shame on the cowardly victors! Shame on America! Shame on Britain! And, lest anyone is still totally decieved, it was the British—with encouragement from the US—who began the deliberate mass murder of civilians with their attacks on Germany in 1940 as Patrick Buchanan has explained. It was the British who bombed Berlin five times in August and September of 1940 before Hitler responded, reluctantly as he explained on radio, with the first German air attack on any British city, London, on September 7, 1940. If the Nazis had murdered people with poison gas, that would have been humane by comparison to Anglo-American firebombing.. When the victors were no longer able to simply murder Germans or “Japs” because the war had ended—they were still able to spread the most outrageous lies about the Germans, and that continues to this day. Who is left to stop them? Who dares to even try

I wrote about the case of Rudolf Merkel on my website  This information is copied from my website:

Rudolf Merkel

Sixteen-year-old Rudolf Merkel was the youngest war criminal in the Dachau trials and, at 19, the youngest inmate of Landsberg prison. He was tried before the US military tribunal at Dachau in 1947, along with 14 other German civilians, for the murder of three American flyers whose planes were shot down in August 1944 in the vicinity of Gernsbach, a German village near the French border. All of the flyers had surrendered, and according to international law, should have been treated as Prisoners of War by the civilians who were at the scene. But these German villagers were seeking vengeance because American and British planes had been bombing civilian targets and killing innocent people. The British and American policy of deliberately bombing civilians was designed to destroy the morale of the German people and force them to surrender. An estimated 600,000 German civilians were killed in the Allied bombing and virtually every city in Germany suffered bomb damage.

In three separate incidents near Gernsbach in August 1944, a group of local men brutally beat a downed American flyer, then deliberately killed him, and buried the body in the local cemetery. Merkel was a 16-year-old farm boy at the time, and like all German boys his age, a member of the Hitler Youth. He was 6 months too young to be in the German Army, and all the others in the case were too old to fight on the battlefield. One of the downed pilots had parachuted to earth and landed on a hill near Merkel’s home in the village of Weisenbach. Merkel was one of three villagers who found the wounded pilot under a bush and started to carry him down the hill. They were interrupted by another villager, Adolf Eiermann, who ordered them to beat the pilot, later identified as Sgt. Robert A. McDonough. According to testimony at the trial, Merkel was urged by one of the participants, Hermann Krieg, to strike the flyer twice with a stick after the man was most likely already dead. For their crimes, Merkel was sentenced by the American military tribunal to hard labor at Landsberg prison for life, and Krieg received the death sentence.

In his final statement to the court, before the verdict was handed down, Merkel indicated that he had not known that he was participating in a “common design” to commit war crimes, the first charge in the Charge Sheet. As quoted by Joseph Halow in “Innocent at Dachau,” his statement was as follows:

“Yes. I must tell the High Court here that I didn’t know anything about the first charge as it is in the Charge Sheet. The first charge accuses me, but I must say that at that time I was only 16 years old and I didn’t know anything about that; I didn’t know what was being done, and later on, in order to prevent anything like that from happening, I carried the flyer down there; and I must mention here I never have had any previous conviction and my parents never had any, either. And I would like to say also, that we have a small farm at home. My mother and father live there alone with two small children, the house is broken down and everything has gone to the dogs, and I beg the High Court to pass a just verdict.”

When the Gernsbach case came up for review, three of the 14 convictions were overturned, and 2 of the death sentences were reduced, including Krieg’s sentence which was reduced to 10 years. The guilty verdict for Rudolf Merkel was upheld, but his sentence was reduced to 15 years at hard labor. In the opinion of the review counsel, the evidence against Merkel was sufficient to establish that “he participated in and acted in furtherance of the common design embraced in the particulars of Charge I.” However, the review counsel also said that “Notice should be taken of this accused’s tender years at the time he committed these offenses.”

Note the use of the word “accused,” rather than the usual term “defendant.” All the German war criminals were called “the accused” because they were presumed guilty and the burden of proof was upon them. Note also the use of the plural “offenses” although Merkel had only struck one of the flyers and was not even present when the other two were killed. Under the “common design” of the charges, all the accused were guilty in all three incidents because they were carrying out a common plan to deliberately kill downed American pilots. Nevertheless, because of his young age at the time of his crime, the review board considered his life sentence at hard labor to be too harsh.

Merkel hired a German lawyer and petitioned for clemency. The man who had urged Merkel to participate in beating the downed flyer, Hermann Krieg, had been originally sentenced to death by hanging, but the review board had reduced his sentence to 10 years in prison. For some inexplicable reason, the review board had ruled that Merkel’s punishment should be more severe than Krieg’s. Because of this, Merkel’s German lawyer asked for his client’s sentence to be further reduced.

According to court reporter Joseph Halow, in his book “Innocent at Dachau,” Merkel’s petition for clemency contained an accusation against Harry Thon, a Jewish interrogator for the Dachau trials. He quotes Merkel’s statement to the court as follows:

“During the interrogation on August 1946, the interrogator, allegedly Mr. THOM (sic), who spoke German well, laid a pistol on the table and said to me I could choose now; if I told the truth they would turn me loose, otherwise there would be the pistol. I understood this to mean that he would shoot me if I did not testify how he wanted me to. I kept stating what is true.”

Rudolf Merkel was finally released from Landsberg prison on September 18, 1951 after his sentence was commuted. He was 23 years old. Krieg was released 5 months later. Four of the other accused civilians in the Gernsbach downed flyers case were executed by hanging, including Adolf Eiermann, the instigator in the beating of McDonough. All the others were released from prison within ten years.

A mound of rubble that was covered over in the city of Berlin

A mound of rubble that was covered over in the city of Berlin

Berlin, the capital city of Germany, was bombed 24 times between November 18, 1943 and March 1944, and sporadic hits continued until the city was captured by the Russian army in April, 1945. By that time, the city had been reduced to 98 million cubic yards of rubble.

Each of the bomb attacks on Berlin involved over 1,000 planes and the dropping of up to 2,000 tons of bombs. Half of the city’s bridges were destroyed and the underground railway tunnels were flooded. There was no gas, electricity or water in the central portion of the city. The pre-war population of 4.3 million had been reduced to 2.8 million, as people were forced to flee the city; some 1.5 million people became homeless when their homes were bombed.

One out of 7 of the buildings destroyed in Germany by the Allied bombing were in Berlin. Out of a total of 245,000 buildings in Berlin, 50,000 had been completely destroyed and 23,000 had been severely damaged; 80,000 residents of the city had been killed. Even the trees in the Tiergarten, a large park in the center of the city, had been killed in the Battle of Berlin. There were so many historic buildings destroyed that Berliners jokingly referred to the American and British air raids as Baedecker Bombing. Baedecker travel guide books were used by tourists to locate famous and historic buildings.

A mere 5 years earlier, after the conquest of France in 6 weeks time, Hitler had visited Paris and taken an early morning tour of the deserted streets to see the famous buildings of the capital city, which were all still intact. Hitler’s earliest ambition had been to be an architect, and he made sure that the beautiful buildings of Paris were not destroyed.

You can read more about the Dachau trials on my website at

The US Holocaust Memorial Museum has downgraded Majdanek “killing center”

Filed under: Holocaust — Tags: , , , — furtherglory @ 6:51 am

If you type into your computer, what do you get?  With a domain name like, you might expect to find a website like, but you would be disappointed.  The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum owns the domain name

If you try to access, you will be directed here, where you will find this quote about Majdanek, which is one of the “six killing centers” of the Holocaust:


Though many scholars have traditionally counted the Majdanek camp as a sixth killing center, recent research had shed more light on the functions and operations at Lublin/Majdanek. Within the framework of Operation Reinhard, Majdanek primarily served to concentrate Jews whom the Germans spared temporarily for forced labor. It occasionally functioned as a killing site to murder victims who could not be killed at the Operation Reinhard killing centers: Belzec, Sobibor, and Treblinka II. It also contained a storage depot for property and valuables taken from the Jewish victims at the killing centers.

“Majdanek occasionally functioned as a killing site to murder victims who could not be killed at Belzec, Sobibor and Treblinka II?”  What does this mean?

Were there some Jews who were so resistant to Zyklon-B that they had to be brought to a special gas chamber at Majdanek because they “could not be killed at the Operation Reinhard killing centers”?

Actually, I’ve never heard of a Holocaust survivor who claimed to have survived the Majdanek gas chamber, although there were many survivors of other Nazi gas chambers, including a young boy who survived the gas chamber at Bergen-Belsen six times.

Casting of a gas chamber door at Majdanek

Casting of a gas chamber door at Majdanek

The photo above shows a gas chamber door that is displayed in the US Holocaust Memorial Museum.  It is a casting of a gas chamber door at Majdanek.  You can read more about the Majdanek gas chamber on my website here.

Why is the USHMM downgrading Majdanek?  Could it be because the Memorial Site at Majdanek is now saying that the total number of Jews who died there, of all causes, is 59,000?

When the Majdanek camp was liberated on July 23, 1944 by soldiers in the army of the Soviet Union, it was at first announced to the world that 1.7 million people had been murdered there by the Nazis. By the time that the Nuremberg International Military Tribunal proceedings against the Nazi war criminals began in November 1945, the Soviets had revised this number down to 1.5 million.  Testimony given at the Nuremberg IMT was that 1.5 million people had died at Majdanek.

In December 2005, the Museum at the Majdanek Memorial Site announced that Lublin scholar Tomasz Kranz has established that there was a total of 78,000 deaths at the Majdanek camp, including 59,000 Jewish deaths. According to the Museum, this revised number is the culmination of years of research in which the number of deaths at Majdanek has steadily dwindled down to only a fraction of the original estimate by the Soviet liberators.

I previously blogged about the Majdanek gas chamber here.

I blogged about the glass window in the Majdanek gas chamber here.

December 10, 2012

British students “walk into Crematorium II” at Auschwitz-Birkenau

Filed under: Holocaust — Tags: , , — furtherglory @ 1:02 pm

On Thursday [Nov. 22, 2012] 200 students from north London schools visited Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp as part of the Holocaust Educational Trust’s Lessons From Auschwitz.  This was reported by the Islington Tribune newspaper in an article written by Pavan Amara.

This quote is from what Pavan Amara wrote in the Islington Tribune:

With that, we enter the death camp Birkenau.  […]

As we walk into Crematorium II, Liza Pacarda of Parliament Hill School notes the average everything, apart from the ovens next door used to dispose of the bodies.

She says:  They [the prisoners] would have seen these pipes at the top, really would have thought they were taking a shower.  I can’t get over the lies, they were numbing my mind.  They were told to remember their clothes pegs before they went in there… why?  When the officers knew they were going to die?  It’s beyond words.  I couldn’t describe it in one word, I couldn’t describe it in 10 words.  This isn’t [a human experience], but what is it? I can’t decide.  We hear the Nazis were monsters, they were so average, but if you believe that, it’s frightening because if they weren’t monsters, they were humans, which means what?

I was amazed to read this description of the underground ruins of Crematorium II at Birkenau.  Did the students actually walk into the ruins of the Crematorium II gas chamber at Birkenau?  It is clear that the gas chamber being described is not Krema I in the main camp, which is at ground level.  There are no pipes on the ceiling of Krema I, which is shown in my 2005 photo below.

Reconstructed gas chamber in Krema I in the Auschwitz main camp

Reconstructed gas chamber in Krema I in the Auschwitz main camp

The ruins of Krema II at Birkenau

The collapsed roof of Crematorium II at Birkenau.  The gas chamber is 5 feet underground

I know that it is possible to enter the ruins of Crematorium II, by crawling through a hole in the collapsed roof.  Fred Leuchter and Germar Rudolf (two famous revisionists) climbed down into the ruins many years ago, but I had no idea that it is now possible for British students to “walk into” Krema II, the “Holy of Holies,” where 500,000 Jews were gassed.

Ruins of Krema II at Birkeanau

Ruins of Krema II at Birkeanau —the gas chamber was 5 feet underground

It has been 7 years since I photographed the ruins of Krema II, but apparently, there is now a hole cut into the roof of the ruins, so that British students can walk down a ramp into the underground space.

The British student described the ovens next to the gas chamber.  The photos below show the ruins of the room where the ovens were located.  The ovens were removed by the Nazis before the building was blown up.

Ruins of the oven room at Krema II in Birkenau

Ruins of the oven room at Krema II in Birkenau have been propped up because they are collapsing

Another view of the oven room which was above ground

Another view of the oven room which was above ground

Ruins of the undressing room of Krema II which was 5 feet underground

Ruins of the undressing room of Krema II which was 5 feet underground

Ruins of Krema II at Birkeanu

Ruins of Krema II at Birkeanu

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