I have ordered a copy of the new book, written by Sarah Helm, which is available from amazon.com. The book is about the women’s concentration camp at Ravensbrück.
You can see photos of the alleged Ravensbrück gas chamber on this blog: http://roadstakenfromtravelerdrive.wordpress.com/tag/ravensbruck-concentration-camp/
I wrote about the Ravensbrück concentration camp for women in this previous blog post:
and in this previous blog post:
Sarah Helm has written extensively about the British SOE women, who were allegedly killed by the Germans in World War II. I used information from her books on my website at http://www.scrapbookpages.com/DachauScrapbook/BritishSOEagents.html
Now Sarah Helm has written a new book about the women prisoners at the Ravensbrück camp; her book will be out on January 15 this year.
You can read more about the gas chamber at Ravensbrück on this website: http://www.deathcamps.org/gas_chambers/gas_chambers_ravensbrueck.html
[The following information was] Extracted from [Sarah Helm’s new book entitled] If This Is A Woman: Inside Ravensbruck, Hitler’s Concentration Camp For Women by Sarah Helm, to be published on January 15, price £25.
The title of Sarah Helm’s book is similar to the title of a famous poem entitled “If this is a Man,” written by Primo Levi. I blogged about him at https://furtherglory.wordpress.com/2011/01/10/primo-levi-the-story-of-ten-days-jan-18th-to-jan-27th-1945/
This quote is from the news article in the Daily Mail newspaper:
The air was thick with smoke from the crematorium [at Ravensbruck]. Its three furnaces could barely keep pace.
The gassing at Ravensbruck went on almost right to the end, even during air raids and when Russian guns could be heard in the distance. Over one weekend alone, 2,500 women were gassed.
The aim was to destroy evidence of what had happened there before the Allies arrived.
But there were still thousands left on site on April 30, 1945, when the surviving women awoke to the roar of Russian artillery, the gunfire so close that the sky above the perimeter wall lit up.
The SS guards had fled, and the women prepared a red banner to hang across the camp gates.
But their Red Army ‘liberators’ brought a fresh horror — rape.
Ever since it had crossed the German border, the advancing Red Army had engaged in sexual rampage and now it even raped these starved concentration camp women — many of them fellow Russians.
On entering the gates, these new arrivals would stare in horror and disbelief at the corpse carts, the emaciated forms squatting around the kitchen block and the crematorium furnaces billowing smoke.
The conditions took a terrifying toll. Broken by slave labour, weakened by disease and starvation, beaten to a pulp for no reason, the women succumbed in droves — as was intended.
Ravensbruck had been built as nothing short of an enormous death machine where everything was designed to kill.Those who became too ill or exhausted to work were ‘selected’ for extermination.
Volleys of gunshots from the woods behind the camp signified a new round of killings. Trucks regularly arrived — known as Himmelfahrt (‘heaven-bound’) or black transports — to take away batches of women for unknown destinations from which they would never return.
Later these turned out to be the gas chambers of secret Nazi killing centres in Germany or Austria or — more often — the death camps of Auschwitz or Belsen.
The inspiration behind this facsimile of hell was Heinrich Himmler, the head of the SS, who supervised the network of concentration camps. He was a frequent visitor.
To aid the wholesale slaughter, Himmler now decreed that Ravensbruck should have its own gas chamber, which was built in January 1945. The camp had become overcrowded to breaking point and he needed to make space for even more prisoners, especially with the camps in the East forced to close.
Shooting and poisoning took too long. Gassing was quicker. It would double the numbers killed. A temporary gas chamber was fashioned out of an old tool shed close to the crematorium, just outside the camp wall.
Measuring 12ft by 18ft, it resembled a car garage. Gaps and holes in the walls were covered with mastic and a special airtight cover fixed over the roof with a small hatch.
The women were pushed inside, 150 at a time, and the door shut. Then a canister of gas was thrown in from the roof. According to a witness, there was moaning and crying for two to three minutes, then silence.
Prisoners in the closest blocks would hear the lorries pull up and wondered why the engines were left running for so long. Then someone said it was to cover the screams from the gas chamber.
In my humble opinion, I believe that Sarah Helm’s reputation as a writer will be harmed by this book. The so-called “gas chamber” at Ravensbruck was probably a disinfection chamber for killing the lice in the clothing of the prisoners during the typhus epidemic in the camp in the last days of World War II. Why wait until January 1945 to set up a homicidal gas chamber?