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November 22, 2014

New show about women’s resistance in the Holocaust

Filed under: Holocaust — Tags: , , , , — furtherglory @ 9:24 am

This morning I read a news article in the online Haaretz newspaper which has the headline: The sexual violence which spurred women’s resistance in the Holocaust.

The reconstructed ruins of Krema IV at Auschwitz-Birkenau

The reconstructed ruins of Krema IV (note that the building was very small)

The news article is about a new show which features the four women who supplied the explosives to blow up Krema IV at Auschwitz-Birkenau shortly before the camp was abandoned by the Nazis on January 18, 1945.

Krema IV at Auschwitz-Birkenau

Krema IV at Auschwitz-Birkenau was blown up on Oct. 7, 1944

This quote is from the article:

NEW YORK – On October 7, 1944, Jewish prisoners in Auschwitz blew up a crematorium [Krema IV] in an attempted revolt that, while ultimately futile, has become a powerful rebuttal to the claim that Jews succumbed to the Nazis without a fight. Many know this story but few know the names Roza Robota, Estera Wajcblum, Regina Szafirsztajn and Ala Gertner, four women who smuggled gunpowder under their fingernails and stitched it into the seams of their clothes to make the uprising possible.

Their role has been diminished in historical accounts of the event, if mentioned at all, but a new exhibition by the American Jewish Historical Society in Manhattan, called “October 7, 1944,” seeks to reinsert them into the narrative. The exhibition, which opened last month on the 70th anniversary of the revolt and runs through December 30, makes its case in a most unorthodox way: It merges contemporary dance and archival material.

Excuse me, but I don’t think that this is an appropriate way to honor these four brave women, who literally gave their lives to blow up a building that was believed, by the Jews, to contain a gas chamber.

A few years ago, there was a video game, about the Krema IV explosion, that was set to be released, but it was withdrawn because it was too controversial. I blogged about the video game at https://furtherglory.wordpress.com/2010/12/12/sonderkommando-revolt-holocaust-revenge-video-game/

The location of Krema IV has been reconstructed at Auschwitz-Birkenau

The location of Krema IV has been reconstructed at Auschwitz-Birkenau

Krema IV was located just north of the clothing warehouses, which were in a section that the prisoners called Kanada. Across the road from Kanada was the Central Sauna which had a shower room and disinfection chambers where the prisoners’ clothing was deloused. Krema IV had a shower room which was allegedly a gas chamber, according to survivors of the Holocaust.

According to Michael J. Neufeld and Michael Berenbaum, in their book entitled The Bombing of Auschwitz: Should the Allies Have Attempted It?, the Krema IV and Krema V buildings, which were identical, were 220 feet long by 42 feet wide.

The Krema IV building was completely demolished, blown up with explosives which four women prisoners stole from the factory where they were working. All the bricks in the ruins of the building were removed by Polish civilians after the war; the ruins that visitors see today are a reconstruction, according to the Auschwitz Museum.

The place, in the Auschwitz main camp, where the four women were executed

The place, in the Auschwitz main camp, where the four women were executed

When I visited Auschwitz in 1998, I was told by my tour guide that the four women, who supplied the explosives to blow up Krema IV, were executed in the location shown in the photo above. This spot is just outside the entrance into the main camp.

The prisoners who worked in the crematory buildings at Auschwitz, removing the bodies of the victims who had allegedly been gassed, were members of a special group called the Sonderkommando.

According to Dr. Miklos Nyiszli, a prisoner who did autopsies at Birkenau, each Sonderkommando group was killed after a few months and replaced by a new crew. According to Dr. Nyiszli, these prisoners knew that they were soon going to be killed, and that is why the members of the next-to-last Sonderkommando revolted and blew up the Krema IV building.

A sign at the reconstructed ruins of Krema IV says that there were 450 prisoners who were killed by the SS during the revolt or afterwards in retaliation.

Strangely, the men in the last Sonderkommando at Auschwitz-Birkenau were not exterminated. Around 100 of them were marched out of the camp when it was abandoned by the Nazis on January 18, 1945. Several members of the Sonderkommando survived and three of them gave eye-witness testimony at the 1947 trial of Auschwitz Commandant Rudolf Hoess, about how the prisoners were gassed at Birkenau.

As far as I know, there was very little sexual violence against women in the concentration camps.  There was a heavy penalty for any SS men who were sexually violent.  That’s why there was a brothel at Auschwitz.  I wrote about the brothel in this previous blog post:  https://furtherglory.wordpress.com/2011/02/13/block-24-at-auschwitz-the-brothel/

13 Comments »

  1. Thanks for this post. Very informative….

    Comment by greg — November 22, 2014 @ 10:30 pm

  2. It’s demonstrable this deals with the Holocaust here,but when you gonna come down on the “reds”. How many people actually know about their Lil stunt they pulled when they took Berlin ? The Krauts are savages ? History labels what those commie bastards did as the ,”the largest mass rape in history”. Takes a “real man” to rape a woman. Damn reds ain’t nothing but chickenshit little boys. Like the old adage goes ,”better dead than red”. How come they were never put on trial? They were supposed to ,” side with us” in this war. If that’s the case,why did they take one of Dolittle’s bomber crews POW when they landed in Russia after bombing the Nips? Come on. There’s enough guilt to go around for everybody. Put these other “criminals ” on trial.

    Comment by Tim — November 22, 2014 @ 7:59 pm

  3. Were the Birkenau revolt and the demolition of Krema IV documented by the Germans, or are the only sources for those things mere Jewish words as usually? Is there solid evidence, not only Alien abduction-type testimonies, about the demolition of Krema IV? Is there a good reason to think that Krema IV wasn’t simply dismantled by the Germans in late 1944 like the other Krema buildings?

    Comment by hermie — November 22, 2014 @ 7:36 pm

    • Mattogno reproduces the worksheets for prisoner labour allocated to the crematoriums in Auschwitz: Open Air Incinerations ; which essentially read as follows:

      Crema IV, October 1944:

      ..2nd………84……….85
      ..3rd……….84……….85
      ..4th……….84……….85
      ..5th……….84……….85
      ..6th……….84……….85
      ..7th……….84……….85
      ..8th……….84……….85
      ..9th……….27……….26
      10th…………0…………0
      11th…………0…………0
      12th…………0…………0
      13th…………0…………0
      14th…………0…………0
      15th…………0…………0
      16th…………0…………0
      17th…………0…………0
      18th…………0…………0
      19th…………0…………0

      etc., meaning: no prisoners were ever again assigned to work on Crema IV after October 9, 1944, and on the 9th the number assigned was far less than it usually was.

      p. 89: http://holocausthandbooks.com/dl/17-aoai.pdf

      A few pages earlier (p.73) he writes:

      “The revolt of the “Sonderkommando” on October 7, 1944, is not mentioned
      in any document. The only document which is cited in this context is the gar
      rison order no. 26/44 of October 12, 1944, which states:
      “On active service in the fight against the enemy and true to their oath
      on the Führer lost their lives on October 7, 1944.”

      This is followed by the names of three SS-Unterscharführer, Rudolf Erler,
      Willi Freese, and Josef Purke. The circumstances of the deaths of these three
      non-coms are not known.

      But he quotes the same document in Case for Sanity (p.417):

      “While doing their duty as they had sworn in their oath on the
      Führer… died in the face of the enemy on Saturday, October 1,
      1944.”

      Either the 7th or the 1st then! Probably a typo; the actual date can probably be confirmed in his original Italian text. There another glaring typo on p.73 of Auschwitz: Open Air Incinerations, where the translator/editor jumbles up his ‘V’ with ‘IV’.

      Comment by The Black Rabbit of Inlé — November 23, 2014 @ 7:57 pm

      • Thanks for the info, Black Rabbit.

        So there was apparently a riot at Auschwitz-Birkenau on that day. Did I get it right?

        Comment by hermie — November 24, 2014 @ 4:49 pm

        • Well, something happened on the 7th (I checked Mattogno’s source, it states “Sonnabend, dem 07.10.44”) during which three guards were killed, and Krema IV was out of action for good soon after it.

          Comment by The Black Rabbit of Inlé — November 25, 2014 @ 2:01 pm

      • The most important of the Jewish uprising was undoubtedly that of the ‘Sonderkommandos’ in the crematoria of Auschwitz-Birkenau. After members of the Sonderkommando had urged the camp resistance for the rapid onset of an uprising, this was postponed again and again, thus it was an isolated action of them, whose members faced mortal dangers as they were direct witnesses of the destruction process and disposal of the dead. They assumed with rumours floating with advance of the Red Army, there was no time to lose. On 7 October 1944, the Sonderkommando received a report of the Battle Group Auschwitz, from which emerged that 300 prisoners employed in the Sonderkommando would be executed. This was the trigger for the same day held revolt. Prisoners put the crematorium IV on fire, killing and wounding several SS men. Some managed to escape temporarily, but all were captured and shot. In the crematorium II prisoners killed, known for its cruelty, a German Kapo and two SS men. [The German Reich Kapo was pushed alive into a crematorium oven after being stabbed by a member of the Sonderkommando.]Before the prisoners fled from the crematorium II, they cut the barbed wire of the women’s camp to allow prisoners there to escape as well. The refugees barricaded themselves in a barn in Rajsko, which was lit by the SS, while all the prisoners were burnt alive or killed while trying to escape the inferno. A total of 250 Jews, including the organizers Joseph Zahmen Gradowaki and Deresinski died during the uprising. In retaliation, the SS shot another 200 prisoners from the Sonderkommando and Jewish women who had used their work in German armaments factories to supply the Sonderkommando with explosives. Three SS men were killed and twelve wounded. The gas chamber in Crematorium IV could not be used again until the war ended.

        Comment by Herbert Stolpmann — December 15, 2014 @ 10:46 pm

  4. Whatever happened on Oct 7, and whatever caused it, it seems the Germans didn’t skip a beat: per ‘This Day in History’, 800 gypsy children were gassed at Auschwitz on Oct 10.

    Comment by eah — November 22, 2014 @ 1:25 pm

    • On 1 August 1944 a final selection took place. The ‘able working age’ men should report for work. 1,408 prisoners arrived after this call, 2,897 were left behind. On the following day the SS imposed after the evening roll a camp lock-out (Lagersperre) all over Birkenau and block lock on the Gypsy-lager. The barracks were surrounded and prisoners compelled to leave by force if needed. Again this time, the Sinti and Roma tried to defend themselves “They were in an uproar and shouted with all their might. But the SS-men brought them out individually from the individual blocks’. Who resisted were met with kicks or beaten. All persons found were murdered on the night of the 2nd and 3rd August 1944 in the crematoria II and V. The next morning the vacated Gypsy-lager was again examined for survivors those found were killed (getötet) as before. More than 23.000 from at least eleven countries, including Germany and Austria, had been from February 26, 1943 and 1 August 1944 deported into the Gypsy-Camp at Auschwitz-Birkenau. Only a fraction survived. Approximately 5,600 were gassed and more than 13,600 died from the poor living conditions in the camp.

      Comment by Herbert Stolpmann — December 16, 2014 @ 3:55 pm

  5. The Auschwitz museum maintains that there were THREE separate homicidal gas chambers inside Crematorium IV; Henryk Tauber claimed Cremas IV & V had four gas chambers each (three gassing rooms plus one gassing corridor), whilst Jean-Claude Pressac agrees Crema V had four, he believe Crema IV had just the three (i.e. no gassing corridor).

    Tauber on 4 GCs in Cremas IV & V: http://www.holocaust-history.org/auschwitz/pressac/technique-and-operation/pressac0498.shtml
    Pressac on 3 GCs in Crema IV and 4 in V: http://www.holocaust-history.org/auschwitz/pressac/technique-and-operation/pressac0448.shtml

    Comment by The Black Rabbit of Inlé — November 22, 2014 @ 12:37 pm

    • As I pointed out in my blog post, Krema IV was a rather small building. The claim, that there were three or four gas chambers in this small building, makes me think that these were gas chambers for delousing the clothing of the prisoners.

      Remember the gas chamber that was found by the American liberators at Dachau? The first news that went out was that this was a homicidal gas chamber. It was actually one of the four disinfection chambers at Dachau; these chambers were in the same building as the shower room, which was also claimed to be a gas chamber.

      It would make sense to have disinfection chambers in Krema IV and Krema V, which also had shower rooms.

      Comment by furtherglory — November 22, 2014 @ 12:59 pm

      • Maybe there was an accidental explosion from one of the chambers which was used to delouse clothes or even from the crematory itself. Such an event would have killed or badly injured a few workers ….and hey presto with the propaganda department we have the workers dynamiting the crematory !
        The propaganda has to be continued even in 2014…here is a little gem from the BBC …can you spot hoe the big H is really the story here
        http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-30160663

        Comment by peter — November 23, 2014 @ 10:50 am


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