In a news article, which you can read in full here, Holocaust survivor Anita Schorr told 8th grade students in the Rogers Park Middle School in Connecticut about what it was like for the Jews in her native country of Czechoslovakia (now The Czech Republic) when she was a child.
I previously blogged about another talk that Anita Schorr gave to students here. In that talk, she told the students about how the Germans had poisoned the bread at Bergen-Belsen in an attempt to kill all the prisoners before the camp was voluntarily turned over to the British on April 15, 1945. The bread for the prisoners was baked in the SS camp that was next door to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp; Ms. Schorr implied that the Germans were planning to poison everyone, including all the guards in the camp, before the British arrived to take over the camp, as planned.
This quote is from the article about Anita Schorr’s latest talk to students:
Eventually, in spring 1941, the rumors proved true. Schorr and her family were herded onto railroad cars and shipped to the Theresienstadt concentration camp in the northwest part of the country [Czechoslovakia]. The 10-year-old girl accustomed to passing her days in classrooms or on snow-covered mountains learned how oppressive and consuming hunger can be, turning humans into “food hunters.”
“Hunger took over you — suddenly you couldn’t think of anything else,” she said. “Hunger takes over your ability to function, your ability to think. It takes over your ability to be a human being.”
In the morning, prisoners at the camps received a piece of bread with a pad of margarine “the size of a postage stamp.” At lunch, the meal was soup filled with vegetables no one recognized, as they “were vegetables they fed to cattle.”
Several years ago, I visited the former Theresienstadt ghetto, now the town of Terezin, where I took the photo below. I was told that the moat around the old Theresienstadt fort was used to grow vegetables when the town was a prison for prominent Jews.
What kind of vegetables were grown in the camp? I am guessing that the vegetables were root vegetables, such as turnips, beets, parsnips and rutabagas, all of which are very good for one’s health.
Did Anita Schorr tell the students about what happened to the ethnic Germans in Czechoslovakia after World War II? Probably not, so I will have to tell you.
This quote is from an article which you can read in full here.
A Brutal Peace: On the Postwar Expulsions of Germans
It was one of many ugly episodes in 1945. On a summer day in Horni Moatenice, a small town in central Czechoslovakia, 265 people, including 120 women and seventy-four children, were dragged from a train, shot in the neck, and buried in a mass grave that had been dug beside the local railway station. It was a common enough scene in Central and Eastern Europe during World War II, when Nazi extermination policies threatened entire ethnic groups. But despite the similarity of means and ends, the massacre in Horni Moatenice was different. For one thing, it occurred on June 18, after the war in Europe had officially ended. Moreover, the perpetrators were Czechoslovak troops, and their victims were Germans who had been a presence in the region for centuries.
In her latest talk to students, Anita Schorr told the students about the fact that she was sent from Auschwitz (the death camp) to Hamburg to work, picking up the rubble after the city was bombed. Anita was under the age of 15, when she arrived at Auschwitz, but inexplicably she was not sent to the gas chamber. Probably, this was another case of Dr. Josef Mengele goofing off, and not doing his job.
This quote is from the news article about her talk:
Schorr later spent time on a work crew in Hamburg when the city was being bombed five times a day and eventually moved to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp.
Did Ms. Schorr elaborate on what the Germans endured during World War II when their cities were bombed into rubble and there was no shelter and no water or food. No, of course not. The Germans were bullies and bystanders and they deserved their fate. God forbid that American students should learn anything about the suffering of the German people during World War II.
This quote from Wikipedia tells about the bombing of Hamburg:
The attack [on Hamburg] during the last week of July 1943, Operation Gomorrah, created one of the largest firestorms raised by the Royal Air Force and United States Army Air Forces in World War II,killing 42,600 civilians and wounding 37,000 in Hamburg and practically destroying the entire city. Before the development of the firestorm in Hamburg there had been no rain for some time and everything was very dry. The unusually warm weather and good conditions meant that the bombing was highly concentrated around the intended targets and also created a vortex and whirling updraft of super-heated air which created a 1,500-foot-high tornado of fire, a totally unexpected effect.
Another source puts the number of civilians killed in the bombing of Hamburg at 44,600.
To put the bombing of civilians in Hamburg into perspective, there were around 31,000 prisoners who died, of all causes, at Dachau, another 30,000 who died at Sachsenhausen and another 30,000 who died at Buchenwald. So the Allies killed more German civilians in one bombing raid, than the Nazis killed in any of the three main camps in Germany during all the years that the camps were in existence.
But why should students in America today be told about German civilians being killed? Today, it is only the suffering of the Jews that Americans should know about, so that it will never happen again.
This final quote is from the news article about Anita Schorr’s latest talk to students:
More than 70 years later, speaking to middle-school students as she often does, Schorr reiterated the atrocities committed by the Nazis were rooted in the same type of behavior children engage in daily — bullying.
“This is the beginning of tragedy,” she said. “You can ruin a nation by bullying or you can ruin a person by bullying.”
More than anything else, her message was to take an active role against injustice, no matter how small.
“It has to be stopped, and you can stop it,” she said. “You have to commit yourself that you won’t be a bystander.”