Scrapbookpages Blog

January 13, 2016

If you ever go to see Auschwitz-Birkenau…

Filed under: Germany, Holocaust — Tags: — furtherglory @ 12:49 pm

I have deduced from some of the comments on my blog that many of my readers have never visited Auschwitz-Birkenau.

I have lots of photos, which I took on my four visits to the camp in 1998, 2005, 2007 and 2008.  You can see my photos on my website at http://www.scrapbookpages.com/AuschwitzScrapbook/index.html

If any of these readers ever do go to visit Auschwitz-Birkenau, this is what the experience will be like:

The first thing that most people do, when they visit Auschwitz-Birkenau, is to climb up into the tower at the top of the gatehouse.  Unless you arrive there very early in the morning, you will have to stand in line and wait your turn to climb to the top.

From the tower, as you look out over the remains of the 425 acre camp, you will not be able to see all the way to the end where the International Monument is located.

After you climb down from the tower, your next stop will a row of barrack buildings, near the gate, which have been preserved.  These building were in the “quarantine camp” when the camp was in use, but you will not be told this because Auschwitz-Birkenau was a “death camp,” so who cares if the prisoners die of disease.  Dying of disease would have saved money on buying Zyklon-B gas to kill the prisoners.

After seeing the quarantine buildings, you will walk more than a mile to the end of the camp, where you will place the flowers, that you have purchased in the main camp flower shop, on the steps of the International Monument.

At the International Monument, your tour guide will direct you to the locations of the Krema II and Krema III gas chambers which are on either side of the monument.

You will not be told the following important information by your tour guide:

When the Auschwitaz-Birkeanau camp was in operation, the road through the camp continued on, into the farms and fields outside the camp.  The local people in the vicinity of the camp walked through the camp on a regular basis.  When the camp was turned into a Memorial Site, the International Monument was built on top of this road. The first thing that the local people had seen, as they walked on this road through the camp, were the gas chambers on either side of the road.  Shouldn’t the gas chambers have been hidden from the locals.?

There was also another road that went through the camp on the other side.  Local people used this road as a shortcut to get to the Catholic Church which was a stone’s throw from the camp.  What was WRONG with these Nazis!  Were they trying to get caught gassing Jews?  Fortunately, the local people never squealed on them, or maybe they never found out about the gas chambers, which were in plain sight.

You can see lots of photos, which I took at Auschwitz in 2005, on this page of my website:  http://www.scrapbookpages.com/AuschwitzScrapbook/Photos/index.html

Famous Jazz musician Coco Schumann is back in the news at age 91

Filed under: Germany, Holocaust — Tags: , , — furtherglory @ 6:34 am

I previously blogged about Coco Schumann, the famous jazz musician, known as the “Ghetto swinger”, who played in the Theresienstadt ghetto and later in the Auschwitz “death camp.”

Coco Schumann

Coco Schumann

This quote is from a news article about him:

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Known as Germany’s most famous swing guitarist, the now 91 year old Coco Schumann has played with jazz greats like Marlene Dietrich, Ella Fitzgerald, Dizzy Gillespie, and Louis Armstrong. Yet until the 1980s none of his colleagues knew of his experience in the Holocaust. Coco didn’t speak about “it.” Not even his closest friends knew what had happened to him except for the barest of facts Coco volunteered.

“I was in Theresienstadt and Auschwitz,” he would say and leave it at that.

[…]

In 1943, at 19 years old, Coco was turned in by a snitch for being Jewish and playing “forbidden” jazz in underground swing clubs in Berlin. The Nazis deported him to Theresienstadt. In its earlier years, Theresienstadt was not yet a death camp. “It was the flagship-ghetto the Nazis showed the world,” says Coco. Much to his astonishment, Coco discovered a coffeehouse shortly after his arrival.

“A coffee house! In the ghetto! I couldn’t believe my eyes.”

There, Coco found the legendary Ghetto Swingers playing the music of Count Basie and Duke Ellington that the Nazis had long outlawed in the rest of Germany — a surreal background tune to the cataclysm of the war. Because the Ghetto Swingers’ drummer had been deported to Auschwitz a few days before, Coco took his place. They played every day.

“We feigned a normal life. We tried to forget that there was an impenetrable fence all around.”

[…]
A well-known German newspaper once printed a headline above a profile of him: “Coco Schumann — the horrible life of a jazz legend.”

Coco has a different perspective. “But that’s not true. No, my dear, I tell myself, looking at this bright planet, it was a wild and colorful ride, at times too long, but always too short, life has shown me its unbelievably mean and terribly beautiful face. But one thing it was and is certainly not: horrible.

Read Coco Schumann`s incredible life story in the forthcoming book The Ghetto Swinger: A Berlin Jazz-Legend Remembers (DoppelHouse Presse, January 2016) and Bouncing Forward: Transforming Bad Breaks into Breakthroughs (Atria/Enliven, October 2015).

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