Scrapbookpages Blog

November 18, 2015

Why didn’t America bomb the railroad tracks into Auschwitz?

Filed under: Holocaust — Tags: , , , — furtherglory @ 12:43 pm

As a child, living in a small town in America, my home was located right beside the railroad tracks going through the center of the state of Missouri; I would frequently look out the window and see workers repairing the railroad tracks. The tracks required frequent maintenance, which was quickly accomplished.

Today, I read a news story which seems to suggest that it would have taken a long time to repair the tracks leading to Auschwitz-Birkenau and that the Jews could have been saved if the tracks had been blown up.

The following quote is from the news article:

One less fortunate result is that the Big Questions begat by the Holocaust — How could it have happened; Where was God; Where was Roosevelt? — often result in small answers, answers that do not necessarily do the questions justice. Nonetheless, Jews are a meaning-seeking people. And so we keep trying. Jay Winik’s monumental survey of the last full year of the Second World War, “1944: FDR and the Year that Changed History” (Simon & Schuster), marks the most recent effort to answer the third question: Why didn’t America and the Allies rescue the Jews as the Final Solution unfolded? In particular, why were the tracks to Auschwitz, and Auschwitz itself, not bombed?
Railroad tracks entering the gatehouse at Auschwitz-Birkenau

Railroad tracks going through the gatehouse into the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp

The town of Auschwitz was a major railroad hub, with many train tracks coming into it, and a large marshaling yard was located near the Auschwitz station.  Standing on a railroad overpass at Auschwitz in 1941, Heinrich Himmler realized that Birkenau was an ideal location for transporting people by rail from all over Europe, although the plans for exterminating the Jews were not finalized until the Nazis were confident that they would win their war against the Soviet Union. The gate house at Birkeanu is located three kilometers, or about two miles, from the main Auschwitz camp, known as Auschwitz I.

To get to the Birkenau camp from the main Auschwitz camp, turn right after exiting from the parking lot. The road curves to the left and goes over the railroad overpass where Reichsführer Heinrich Himmler stood on March 1, 1941 when he selected the village of Birkenau to be the location of a new addition to the Auschwitz main camp. At that time, the invasion of the Soviet Union and the plan to exterminate all the Jews in Europe was only months away.

The "Gate of Death" at Auschwitz-Birkenau

My photo of the  “Gate of Death” at the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp

From the railroad overpass, the road leads directly to the Gate of Death, shown in my photo above.

The railroad spur line that goes through the gate house begins on the left side of the gate, about a quarter of a mile away, and curves around until it forms a straight line in front of the gate.

Trains coming from the west entered the Birkenau camp from tracks on the left side of the gate, as you are facing it, and did not pass the railroad station in the town of Auschwitz. Trains coming from the opposite direction passed the train station in Auschwitz and then entered the camp on the spur line. The train tracks end only a few yards from two of the gas chambers inside the Birkenau camp.

The Auschwitz-Birkenau gate house was not built until 1943, long after the Birkenau camp was first opened.

The first inmates, who were Soviet Prisoners of War, arrived at Birkenau on October 7, 1941. At first, the gate shown in my photo above was for trucks and pedestrians.

Railroad tracks were not laid through the gate until the Spring of 1944, just before the transports of Hungarian Jews began to arrive. According to the Auschwitz Museum, 434,351 of these Hungarian Jews were not registered at Birkenau; instead, they were gassed immediately upon arrival.

At the height of the deportation of the Hungarian Jews, during a 10 week period, up to 12,000 Jews were allegedly gassed and burned each day. If only the Allies had destroyed the railroad tracks into Birkenau, they could have been saved.

 

Why didn’t Germany use DDT to kill the lice that spreads typhus?

Filed under: Dachau, Germany, Health — Tags: , , , — furtherglory @ 9:04 am

There were thousands of deaths, from typhus, in the German concentration camps because the Nazis refused to use DDT to kill the lice that spread typhus.  Bad Nazis!

American soldier sprays a Dachau inmate with DDT

American soldier sprays a Dachau inmate with DDT after Dachau was liberated

Dachau was “liberated” by American troops on April 29, 1945 after the camp had been turned over to them under a white flag of truce. The man who had surrendered the camp was immediately killed, but that’s another story.

Sick prisoners in the typhus ward at Dachau

Sick prisoners in the typhus ward at Dachau

On 2 May 1945, the 116th Evacuation Hospital arrived at Dachau and set up operations. According to a report made on 20 May 1945, there were 140 prisoners dying each day in the camp; the principle causes of death were starvation, tuberculosis, typhus and dysentery. There were 4,000 prisoners in the prison hospital and an unknown number of sick prisoners in the barracks who had been receiving no medical attention.

Reporters view the bodies of Dachau prisoners who had died after the camp was liberated

Reporters view the bodies of Dachau prisoners who had died after the camp was liberated

There were 18 one-story wooden SS barrack buildings in the Dachau army garrison which were converted into hospital wards. The medical personnel were housed in the SS administration building. A Typhus Commission arrived and began vaccinating all medical personnel and the prisoners. There was a daily dusting of DDT to kill the lice which spreads typhus.

Dachau prisoners being tested for typhus before they could leave the camp

Dachau prisoners being tested for typhus before they could leave the camp

On 3 May 1945, the sick prisoners were brought to the hospital wards. They were bathed, dusted with DDT powder and given clean pajamas to wear; their old prison clothes were burned.

By July 1945, the typhus epidemic in the Dachau concentration camp had been brought under control by the US Army doctors, and all the prisoners had either been released or moved to a Displaced Persons camp at Landsberg. The photograph immediately above shows former inmates being tested for typhus before being allowed to leave.

This quote from Wikipedia explains why DDT is harmful and is no longer used.

Begin quote:

In 1962, the book Silent Spring by American biologist Rachel Carson was published. It cataloged the environmental impacts of indiscriminate DDT spraying in the United States and questioned the logic of releasing large amounts of potentially dangerous chemicals into the environment without a sufficient understanding of their effects on ecology or human health. The book claimed that DDT and other pesticides had been shown to cause cancer and that their agricultural use was a threat to wildlife, particularly birds. Its publication was a seminal event for the environmental movement and resulted in a large public outcry that eventually led, in 1972, to a ban on the agricultural use of DDT in the United States.[10] A worldwide ban on its agricultural use was later formalized under the Stockholm Convention, but its limited use in disease vector control continues to this day and remains controversial,[11][12] because of its effectiveness in reducing deaths due to malaria, which is countered by environmental and health concerns.

Along with the passage of the Endangered Species Act, the US ban on DDT is cited by scientists as a major factor in the comeback of the bald eagle (the national bird of the United States) and the peregrine falcon from near-extirpation in the contiguous United States.[13][14]

End quote