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April 22, 2013

An American public school has opened a Holocaust Museum

Filed under: Holocaust — Tags: , — furtherglory @ 1:40 pm

A U.S. High School in the Bronx has recently opened a Holocaust Museum.  You can read all about it in the online New York Daily News here.

One of the items on display is an empty Zyklon-B can.  Zyklon-B was the poison gas that was used in the homicidal gas chambers at the Nazi death camps. Zyklon-B was also used in the disinfection chambers in all the camps; the clothes of the prisoners were disinfected in order to kill the lice that spreads typhus.  A photo of the empty can, on display in the High School Museum, is shown below.

Empty Zyklon-B can on display in American public school

Empty Zyklon-B can on display in American public school

Do you notice anything about the hole in the top of the can?  This jagged hole was probably not made by a machine supplied by the Degesch company, which shipped the Zyklon-B to the camps.  This means that this can is probably not from Dachau, where the cans were opened by a machine.  It could be an empty can from Auschwitz.

Cans of Zykon-B at the Mauthausen camp

Cans of Zykon-B at the Mauthausen Memorial Site

My photo above was taken at the Mauthausen Memorial Site, which shows a shower room where prisoners were allegedly gassed with Zyklon-B, although the device that was used to put the Zyklon-B into the room was mysteriously removed, and can no longer be seen.

Notice that the can, with the pellets spilling out, has an opening that might have been made by a Degesch machine.   Degesch machines were never used in the homicidal gas chambers; the Zyklon-B pellets were just dumped onto the heads of the prisoners through holes in the roof of the gas chamber.

Degesch machine used to open a can of Zyklon-B and pour the pellets into a basket

Degesch machine used at Dachau to open a can of Zyklon-B and pour the pellets into a basket from which they could be retrieved

What are the Bronx High School students going to learn in their Holocaust Museum?  Will the teacher say:  “Gather around students and you will learn how Zykon-B was used to save lives in the Nazi concentration camps.  Zylon-B was the poison that was used to disinfect the clothing of the prisoners because typhus is spread by lice.”

This quote is from the news article in the online New York Daily News:

The museum cost $1 million to construct and was paid for by donations – many from the school’s alumni, according to principal Valerie Reidy. She said the museum would be used as part of the school’s curriculum to build students’ character and help link history to current events.

“We teach a lot of things other than content,” she said. “We want to make sure our students become leaders who stand up and say, ‘No. I’m not going to let this happen.’”

Stuart Elenko, who taught at the school from 1964 to 1993, started the collection as a way to teach students tolerance, Jill Veyler, the museum’s curator, said.

Sadly, my High School did not have a million dollar Museum with an empty Zyklon-B can on display, so I didn’t learn tolerance.

The Bullenhuser Damm School in Hamburg where the Nazis hung children, until dead, from hooks in the basement

Filed under: Buchenwald, Germany, Holocaust — Tags: , , — furtherglory @ 10:54 am
Bullenhuser Damm school in Hamburg where Jewish children were murdered

Bullenhuser Damm school in Hamburg where Jewish children were murdered

I vaguely recall reading, years ago, the story of the Jewish children who were killed by being hung from hooks in the basement of the Bullenhuser Damm school in Hamburg. The purpose of killing these children was to prevent them from giving testimony about the medical experiments that Nazi doctors were doing at the school.

One would think that the cruel Nazis would take pity on innocent children, and just give them an injection of poison to kill them … but No!  The depraved Nazis dragged the Jewish children, kicking and screaming, to the basement, where they hung them from hooks until they were dead.

Unfortunately, there is no photo, that I know of, which shows the hooks in the basement of the school.  The photo below shows the hooks in the basement of the Buchenwald crematorium, where prisoners were hung by the neck until dead … but that’s another story.

Hooks on the wall of the basement in the Buchenwald crematorium

Hooks on the wall of the basement in the Buchenwald crematorium

I was reminded of the Bullenhuser Damm story today, when I read about two young Jewish girls who survived the Holocaust because they had the good sense to refuse when Dr. Josef Mengele tried to entice them into going on a transport to the school in Hamburg.

When Dr. Josef Mengele came to the children’s barracks at the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp, and flashed his gapped-tooth grin, asking “Who wants to see their mother?” — Andra and Tatiana, two young girls from Italy, did not step forward.  They knew that this was a ruse.

Dr. Mengele was NOT your typical German, six foot four, blond and blue-eyed, sondern short, dark-haired, and brown-eyed.  But what he lacked in looks, he more than made up for with his charm.  Every Holocaust survivor has described Dr. Mengele as charming and polite, but Andra and Tatiana were not fooled by his charm.  They refused his invitation to go to the women’s barracks to see their mother, and Dr. Mengele was powerless to force them to go.

You can read the story of Andra and Tatiana Bucci in full here.  This quote is from the article about them in the online Washington Post:

Andra and Tatiana Bucci did not cry at Auschwitz.

Or if they did, they have forgotten. They do not recall suffering from hunger, although surely they did, or missing their mother, who arrived with them at the concentration camp and then one day disappeared. They do remember what she looked like the last time they saw her at Auschwitz. Bald and emaciated, she frightened them. Andra and Tatiana were only 4 and 6 years old.

[…]

…. The Nazis arrested everyone in the house — including Nonna Rosa, Mira, Andra and Tatiana, their 6-year-old cousin Sergio and his mother, Mira’s sister Gisella. […]

At the Judenrampe [at Auschwitz], the “Jewish platform” where deportees were unloaded before Nazis built the now-iconic train tracks directly into the camp, Andra looked at the frozen ground as she recalled the scene in 1944 — the soldiers barking in a language she didn’t understand and herding the masses like animals. Mira and her daughters, Gisella and Sergio were ordered in one direction, Nonna Rosa in the other. Like many elderly deportees, she immediately perished.

By surviving that first selection, Andra and Tatiana had already exceeded their life expectancy at Auschwitz. “The fact that these children survived at all is extraordinary luck,” said Patricia Heberer, a historian at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and the author of “Children During the Holocaust.”

Andra and Tatiana believe they were spared because they were mistaken for twins, who were prized by the notorious Nazi doctor Josef Mengele for medical experiments. Among the copious records kept by the Germans at Auschwitz, there is a list of twins, Tatiana and Andra have been told, on which their names appear. They do not know why their cousin Sergio went with them, and not to the gas chamber.

[…]

Mira went to the women’s quarters and to work. The girls, along with Sergio, went to the children’s barracks. […]

Andra and Tatiana have forgotten the faces of most other children in their barracks. But they remember the face of their cousin Sergio, whose story they told through tears.

One day, the girls received a visit from the blokova, a female prisoner who oversaw the children’s barracks. She favored them and had occasionally brought them extra food, once even some extra clothing. Years later, Tatiana broke down when she realized that her sweater had undoubtedly come from a murdered child.

The sisters remember that the blokova gave them a warning. A man would come to the children’s barracks and announce that whoever wanted to see his or her mother should come forward. The woman insisted: The girls must not move.

It came to pass one day exactly as the blokova had said. Andra and Tatiana, in the second great act of obedience that saved them, stood still.

“Inside, they were grown-ups, not little ones,” said Pezzetti, the Italian scholar. They knew, he said, that they could not delude themselves into thinking that their mother was waiting for them.

The girls had passed the blokova’s warning on to Sergio. But Sergio, an only child, could not resist. He went away [to Bullenhuser Damm school] with a group of 10 girls and 10 boys. Andra and Tatiana never saw him again.

Decades later, they learned that Sergio and the other children had been taken to Germany, where they were infected with tuberculosis for a Nazi medical experiment. In an effort to conceal the brutalization of 20 human guinea pigs, Nazis hanged the children in the basement of a school in Hamburg less than a month before the war ended.

[..]

…. Mira — unbeknownst to her daughters — had not died at Auschwitz. She had been transferred to another camp, survived, returned to Italy and was reunited with the girls’ father, who had been a prisoner of war in Africa. Gisella, too, had survived.

In case you don’t believe the story of the children, being hung from hooks in the basement of the Bullenhuser Damm school, you can read about it on Wikipedia.  The following quote is from Wikipedia:

In October 1944,[2] a subcamp of the Neuengamme concentration camp was established in the school to house prisoners used in clearing the rubble after air raids. The Bullenhauser Damm School was evacuated on April 11, 1945. […]

On the night of April 20, 1945, 20 Jewish children who had been used in medical experiments at Neuengamme, their four adult Jewish caretakers and six Red Army prisoners of war (POWs) were killed in the basement of the school.[3] Later that evening, 24 Soviet POWs who had also been used in the experiments were brought to the school to be murdered. The names, ages and countries of origin were recorded by Hans Meyer, one of the thousands of Scandinavian prisoners released to the custody of Sweden in the closing months of the war. Neuengamme was used as a transit camp for these prisoners.[4]

[…]

The medical experiments on tuberculosis infection were initially carried out on prisoners from the Soviet Union and other countries at the Neuengamme concentration camp. The experiments were then extended to Jews. For this he chose to use Jewish children. Twenty Jewish children (10 boys and 10 girls) from Auschwitz concentration camp were chosen by Josef Mengele and sent to Neuengamme. Mengele allegedly asked the children, “Who wants to go and see their mother?”

The children were accompanied to Neuengamme by four women prisoners. Two were Polish nurses and one was a Hungarian pharmacist, and they were killed upon arrival at Neuengamme. The fourth woman, Polish-born Jew Paula Trocki, was a doctor. She survived the war and later gave testimony in Jerusalem ….

[…]

The SS evacuated the building around April 11, 1945 leaving a skeleton crew of two SS guards: Ewald Jauch and Johann Frahm and a janitor. They were accompanied by three SS guards (Wilhelm Dreimann, Adolf Speck, and Heinrich Wiehagen), as well as the driver, Hans Friedrich Petersen, and SS physician, Alfred Trzebinski. The children as well as others were told they were being taken to Theresienstadt. Upon arriving at the school they were led into the basement. According to one of the SS men present, the children “sat down on the benches all around and were cheerful and happy that they had been for once allowed out of Neuengamme. The children were completely unsuspecting.”

They were then made to undress and were then injected with morphine by Trzebinski. They were then led into an adjacent room and hanged from hooks set into the wall. The execution was overseen by SS Obersturmführer Arnold Strippel. The first child to be hanged was so light that the noose would not tighten. Frahm grabbed him in a bearhug and used his own weight to pull down and tighten the noose. The adults were hanged from overhead pipes; they were made to stand on a box, which was pulled away from under them. That same night, about 30 additional Soviet prisoners were also brought by lorry to the school to be executed; six escaped, three were shot trying to do so, and the rest were hanged in the basement.[7]

Note that the Nazis gave the children morphine before hanging them from hooks in the basement of the school.  The children could have been given a merciful death by giving them a little more morphine, but No!  The hateful Nazis had to hang the children from hooks, even going so far as to grab a child in a bearhug and pull the child down so that the noose would tighten.  This is why the German people will be forever hated.

Richard Baer, Dr. Josef Mengele and Rudolf Hoess

Left to right: Richard Baer, Dr. Josef Mengele and Rudolf Hoess

Andra and Tatiana were initially spared, when they were not selected for the gas chamber upon arrival at Auschwtiz-Birkenau, because Dr. Mengele thought that these two children, aged 6 and 4, were twins.  Dr. Mengele is famous for not being able to tell a child’s age; hundreds of Jews survived the Holocaust because they lied about their age and said that they were older than 15, the age at which children were selected for the gas chamber.  Obviously, Dr. Mengele was able to judge that Andra and Tatiana were younger than 15, but he thought that they were twins.

Keep in mind that there is a document in the files of Auschwitz, which lists them as twins. Strangely, Andra and Tatiana were not used by Dr. Mengele in his experiments on twins, or if they were, they didn’t mention it for some reason.

With Dr. Mengele in charge of selections at Auschwitz-Birkeanau, it is a miracle that the Nazis managed to kill anyone.