Scrapbookpages Blog

June 21, 2015

Queen Elizabeth will soon visit the former Bergen-Belsen exchange camp

Filed under: Germany, Holocaust — Tags: , , , — furtherglory @ 1:21 pm

Back in the Dark Ages, when I was a student at the University of Missouri School of Journalism, we were taught that there are only 3 rules of Journalism: ACCURACY,  ACCURACY, ACCURACY.

My first Journalism assignment was a job on the copy desk of a city newspaper where I checked news stories for errors and omissions.

There was no google back then; I had to look up possible errors in an encyclopedia, or call someone to verify questionable information. The newspaper had a “morgue” which was filled with previous news stories that I could also use to verify information.

When the presses rolled, and the first newspapers of the day were being printed, it was my job to go into the press room and quickly check the front page for errors before these papers hit the streets. If there was a serious error, it was my job to yell “Stop the presses.”

Today, I read a news article, which has this headline:

Queen Elizabeth II Will Visit Bergen-Belsen, Former Concentration Camp in Germany

Stop the Presses! There is a serious error in this headline.

There was a German army camp near the town of Belsen, and because of this, a POW camp set up there in 1940. This POW camp later became an exchange camp for Jews. It was not until December 1944 that the exchange camp became a concentration camp because none of the Allied countries wanted to exchange German prisoners for Jews.

So Bergen-Belsen should not be described as a “concentration camp” without explaining that the camp was originally set up for Soviet POWs and that it later became an Exchange camp for the purpose of exchanging Jews for German prisoners in American and British internment camps.

The newspaper article mentions that the Queen will visit the memorial to Anne Frank and her sister Margot, both of whom died in the typhus epidemic at Bergen-Belsen.  Could we see a photo of the memorial please?

I took the photos below when I visited the Bergen-Belsen memorial site in 2001.

Memorial stone for Margot Frank and Anne Franck at Bergen-Belsen

Memorial stone for Margot Frank and Anne Franck at Bergen-Belsen

Mass grave behind the Anne Frank memorial stone

Mass grave behind the Anne Frank memorial stone

The thousands of prisoners who died of typhus at Bergen-Belsen are buried in mass graves, like the one shown in the background of the photo above.

Tourists leave momentos  on  the stones at the mass graves at Bergen-Belsen

Tourists leave personal items on the stones at the mass graves at Bergen-Belsen

Yes, the photos above show the mass graves, into which the British shoved the bodies of the dead Jews with bulldozers.

Anne Frank and her sister Margo were originally prisoners at Auschwitz-Birkenau, the infamous death camp, before they were sent to the sick camp at Bergen-Belsen where they both died of typhus.

According to the Memorial Site at Bergen-Belsen, the camp population on December 1, 1944 was 15,257. By February 1, 1945, there were 22,000 prisoners in the camp, and by March 1, 1945, the number of inmates had swelled to 41,520. On April 15, 1945, there were an estimated 60,000 prisoners in the camp.

A total of 50,000 prisoners died during the two years the camp was in operation, including 13,000 who died of weakness and disease AFTER the camp was liberated. By far the biggest killer in the camp was typhus, a deadly disease that is transmitted by body lice.

The story of Bergen-Belsen can be summed up by a chart that hangs on the wall of the Museum there. It shows that there were 350 deaths in the camp in December 1944 before the typhus epidemic started. In January 1945, after a typhoid epidemic started, there were between 800 and 1000 deaths; in February 1945, after the typhus epidemic broke out, there were 6,000 to 7,000 deaths.

In March 1945, the number of deaths had escalated to an incredible 18,168 in only one month. In April 1945, the deaths were 18,355 in only one month, with half of these deaths occurring after the British took over.

Unlike the death camps in Poland, the Bergen-Belsen camp was not equipped to handle this kind of death rate; there was only one crematory oven in the camp.

There was only one oven to burn the dead bodies at Bergen-Belsen

There was only one oven to burn the dead bodies at Bergen-Belsen

When the British arrived on April 15, 1945, there were 10,000 bodies that were still unburied, and more were dying every day because the Germans could not control the epidemics. By the end of April, in only two weeks time, 9000 more had died. Another 4,000 died before the end of May.

In February 1945, a transport of Hungarian Jews arrived at Bergen-Belsen at a time when the disinfection chambers were temporarily not in use, and as a result, lice got into the camp, causing a typhus epidemic to break out. Heinrich Himmler, who was in charge of all the concentration camps, ordered that “all medical means necessary to combat the epidemic should be employed” but in spite of this, the epidemic quickly spread beyond control.

There were also epidemics of typhoid and dysentery at Bergen-Belsen, as well as a shortage of food and water after the camp became part of the war zone in Germany in the final days of World War II.

A sign that was put up by the British at Bergen-Belsen

A sign that was put up by the British at Bergen-Belsen

A few of the bodies at Bergen-Belsen were buried in individual graves

A few of the bodies at Bergen-Belsen were buried in individual graves

The three old photos, shown above, were sent to me by Kerry Smith; these photos were taken in 1945 by Oswald Lewis, a British soldier who participated in the cleanup operation at Bergen-Belsen.

Memorial to Lithuanian Jews coming down

Filed under: Holocaust, World War II — Tags: , , — furtherglory @ 10:15 am
Lithuanians killing Jews as German soldiers watch

Lithuanians killing Jews as German soldiers watch

I have previously written about the killing of the Lithuanian Jews on these two blog posts:

https://furtherglory.wordpress.com/2014/01/28/us-holocaust-memorial-museum-has-a-new-exhibit-on-the-lithuanian-jews/

https://furtherglory.wordpress.com/2011/04/18/the-killing-of-the-jews-in-lithuania/

Now the subject of the Lithuanian Jews is in the news again.

Memorial to Lithuanian Jews killed in the Holocaust is  coming down

Holocaust memorial wall in Vilnius, Lithuania

The caption on the photo above reads:

Shmuel Levin, chairman of the Jewish religious Community of Vilnius and Lithuania, leans against a wall of the power substation built of tombstones from a Jewish cemetery in Vilnius. City officials want to tear the substation down and return the tombstones used to build it to Lithuania’s tiny Jewish community, which was nearly wiped out during the the Holocaust.

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

As the last generation of Holocaust survivors begin to leave us, it is more imperative than ever that, as an international community, we assure that the memory of the greatest tragedy of the 20th century does not perish with them.

As a descendent of Lithuanian Holocaust victims, I have spent the last 20 years assuring that the awareness of the Holocaust in Lithuania is not forgotten: 212,000 Lithuanian Jews perished under the hands of the Nazi and Lithuanian collaborators. Yet, the only Holocaust memorial in the country’s capital stands hidden away from public view. This monument, which I have commissioned and aptly named Flame of Hope, is a vital physical reminder of the Shoah in Lithuania, and it is my deepest hope that the newly appointed Commission on Jewish Affairs seriously considers moving the monument to a more public site in the center of Vilnius, where its message can resound within the republic and the rest of the world.

Listening to the sound of my mother’s sobbing after the loss of her father, brother, family and friends in Lithuania, as well as taunts of “Polaca cochina” (Dirty Jew) from my Costa Rican classmates motivated me to spearhead a campaign to install a Holocaust monument in Lithuania to commemorate the genocide of 96.4 percent of the Nation’s Jews during the Holocaust.

What a revolting development this is!  The poor Lithuanian Jews, who never did  anyone any harm, will now have their beautiful memorial removed.

The elusive gas chamber at Dachau

Gas chamber in the shower room at  Dachau

Gas chamber in the shower room at Dachau

I was shocked to learn, from a comment made by a reader of my blog, that Wikipedia does not mention the gas chamber at Dachau. I couldn’t believe it. I had to check it out for myself, and sure  enough, there is no mention of any gas chambers, of any kind at Dachau, on the Wikipedia page.

But don’t get the idea that you can now deny the Dachau gas chamber, just because Wikipedia doesn’t mention  it.

Door into the Dachau gas chamber, disguised as a shower  room

Door into the Dachau gas chamber, disguised as a shower room

The Dachau homicidal gas chamber (in the shower room) and the 4 disinfection gas chambers are still there; you will go to prison for 5 years if you deny this. Don’t count on using Wikipedia in your defense at your Holocaust denial trial.  There is no defense against Holocaust denial, which is now against the law in 19 countries.

When American troops liberated Dachau, they found a homicidal gas chamber, which was disguised as a shower room. I  wrote about this on my website at http://www.scrapbookpages.com/DachauScrapbook/GasChamber/history02.html

Now, after all these years, Wikipedia is denying the Dachau gas chamber.

However, I did learn this on the Dachau Wikipedia page:

On 14 April 1945, Himmler ordered the evacuation of the camp and the extermination of all inmates at Dachau, writing, “No prisoners shall be allowed to fall into the hands of the enemy alive.”[5] Approximately 10,000 of the 30,000 prisoners were sick at the time of liberation.[6] [7]

If you click on [5] on the Wikipedia page, you will see this:
Slaying of All at Dachau Was Ordered by Nazis. New York Times 7 May 1945. pg. 5

So now we are supposed to believe the New York Times article which says that Heinrich Himmler ordered all the Dachau prisoners to be killed? Sorry, but I need a better source than the New York Times, aka “the Jew York Times”.

I studied the alleged story that Himmler gave an order to kill all the Dachau prisoners extensively, and blogged about it on this blog  post: https://furtherglory.wordpress.com/2010/10/21/did-himmler-really-order-all-the-prisoners-at-dachau-to-be-killed/

I previously blogged about the lack of any mention of the Dachau gas chamber on Wikipedia at https://furtherglory.wordpress.com/2015/01/16/wikipedia-does-not-mention-the-gas-chambers-at-dachau/