Scrapbookpages Blog

February 3, 2016

What British students learn from the HET tours to Auschwitz

Filed under: Holocaust — Tags: , , , — furtherglory @ 8:59 am
Arbeit macht Frei gate at Auschwitz main camp REUTERS

Arbeit macht Frei gate at Auschwitz main camp
Photo credit: REUTERS

You can read about the latest British HET tour of Auschwitz in this news article:  http://www.eastlothiancourier.com/news/14248333.The_horrors_of_Auschwitz_recounted_by_North_Berwick_High_School_pupil_whose_great__great_gran_died_there/

I have written about the HET tours several times in the past.  I am very critical of this student program because I think that it gives the students the wrong impression of Auschwitz and the Holocaust.

The following quote is from the news article, cited above:

Begin quote

The coldness of the gas chambers, the vast scale of [Auschwitz] Birkenau, the hallway lined with faces of prisoners who died and mounds of hair, shoes and glasses – these are the images which will have a lasting impression upon me.

[…]

One week prior to the visit, we attended the orientation seminar. This was useful as it not only allowed us to get to know the other young people who would be going through the same experience but it addressed our expectations of the camp.

[…]

At the seminar, we were incredibly privileged to have heard from survivor Ziggi Shipper. Ziggi’s story of being separated from his grandparents and imprisoned in Auschwitz to later finding his mother again after the war is truly remarkable.

End quote

I first learned about Ziggi and the hair exhibits at Auschwitz when someone made a comment on one of my very first blog posts:  https://furtherglory.wordpress.com/2012/03/15/hair-today-gone-tommorrow-the-exhibits-at-auschwitz/

The news article about the HET tour ends with this quote:

Begin quote

I now feel ready to do this as part of the Next Steps programme, though, and hope to achieve this through various channels such as assemblies we will be presenting during Holocaust Memorial Week.

‘Arbeit Macht Frei’ – these are the hollow words which confront you as you enter Auschwitz.

‘Work sets you free’ – these are the words which met millions of prisoners, some of whom made this sign, who would never experience freedom again.

End quote

I wrote about the meaning of the Arbeit macht Frei sign on my website at http://www.scrapbookpages.com/DachauScrapbook/KZDachau/Gatehouse.html

“Arbeit macht Frei” does NOT mean “kill the Jews” as some people might think, after reading this news article.

19 Comments »

  1. The news article states;- “the hallway lined with faces of prisoners who died and mounds of hair, shoes and glasses.” Yes, I’ve seen those photos in Auschwitz myself. They were probably taken soon after arrival for I.D. purposes, so they were bound to be quite fit and healthy, but what surprised me was how relaxed, unconcerned and up-beat they all were. Some were even smiling – there was no sense of fore-boding etched into their faces. It was as if they knew they were in a labour camp and being treated accordingly. But the official story tells us that all these people have just travelled in cramped, inhuman conditions inside cattle cars all the way across Europe. Upon arrival, they were greeted by shrieking armed-guards and ferocious dogs who had separated them into those who lived and those who mysteriously disappeared.

    And by the time these photos were taken, these people would have smelt the terrible “stench of death” which we’ve been told hovered permanently over the camp, and seen the smoke and flames belching from the crematorium chimneys that so many witnesses have claimed. In addition, they would be familiar with the supposed harsh living conditions, and the alleged brutality of the guards and kapos. But all this is nowhere to be see on these faces, and thus we can reasonably assume that much of the official storey is complete baloney!

    The mounds of hair, shoes and glasses etc are what I call “mounds of crap”. We don’t know where all this stuff comes from. If the Soviets and Poles were prepared to construct a fake gas chamber at Auschwitz, and pretend that quite ordinary crematoria and incinerators were diabolical “extermination facilities”, then it’s more than likely that they shipped-in all these shoes and glasses from somewhere else. The hair may even have been cut from German POW’s and civilians held in prisons after the Red Army had arrived in Auschwitz, and the spectacles, shoes, and artificial limbs brought in from some of the sub-camps, where the Germans were recycling disused material – but who really knows today!.

    Comment by Talbot — February 3, 2016 @ 2:10 pm

    • “then it’s more than likely that they shipped-in all these shoes and glasses from somewhere else. The hair may even have been cut from German POW’s and civilians held in prisons after the Red Army had arrived in Auschwitz, and the spectacles, shoes, and artificial limbs brought in from some of the sub-camps, where the Germans were recycling disused material – but who really knows today!.”
      These Poles and Communists possessed God-like powers to cut that much hair, collect all of those shoes, glasses and artificial limbs in the time it took to build the display. That is really something!!!!!!!

      Of course, the problem with that is the Soviets and Poles were busy trying to put their countries back together after the German invasion and occupation. They were dealing with displaced persons, trying to feed them and find them shelter. Not to mention dealing with severe food shortages and even famine in the Soviet Union.

      But, they dropped all of that to shave the hair off Germans and collect the items in the display.

      Yes, that makes a great deal of sense.

      Comment by Jeff K. — February 3, 2016 @ 3:20 pm

      • Yes, Jeff, but the faking of Auschwitz was a very important part of “trying to put their countries back together after the German invasion and occupation”. The necessity of making the Germans look like the cruellest, and most wicked barbarians in the history of modern Europe was an essential ingredient in their nation-building enterprises. Don’t forget, that the Soviet Union swallowed up huge territories formerly belonging to Poland, while Poland itself grabbed two entire provinces of historic Germany, plus Danzig and 50% of East Prussia. The German populations of these territories were largely expelled, often under brutal conditions.

        So, from both Soviet and Polish perspectives ( who themselves had not acted cleanly during this terrible war ) it was very advantageous for them to come out of the conflict smelling of roses, and I’m quite certain they would have been prepared to put lot of time and effort into creating a theatrical – but non-historic – piece of fakery at Auschwitz!

        Comment by Talbot — February 3, 2016 @ 5:42 pm

        • From what I have been told, these “mounds of crap” are not really mounds at all, because the floors inside the glass display cabinets rise up at an acute angle to create this effect. Therefore, visitors to Auschwitz are presented with piece of pure hokum to goggle at – thinking that these piles of hair, shoes etc. are much larger than they really are.

          Comment by Talbot — February 3, 2016 @ 6:02 pm

        • The necessity of making the Germans look like the cruellest, and most wicked barbarians in the history of modern Europe was an essential ingredient in their nation-building enterprises. Don’t forget, that the Soviet Union swallowed up huge territories formerly belonging to Poland, while Poland itself grabbed two entire provinces of historic Germany, plus Danzig and 50% of East Prussia. The German populations of these territories were largely expelled, often under brutal conditions.
          They didn’t have to make the Germans look like barbarians, Talbot. The Germans behaved like barbarians, confiscating enormous amounts of food, raw materials, industrial buildings, important cultural items, etc.
          The Germans forced millions of Poles out of their homes to make way for ethnic Germans, forced millions more Slavs to work for German industry and agriculture and murdered hundreds of thousands of Polish and Soviet elite.
          The German MILITARY, not the SS, allowed millions of Soviet POW’s to die of starvation and disease in wretched conditions. They turned over thousands more POW’s to the SS to exploitation and murder.
          It’s estimated that up to 27 million Soviet citizens died during the war to both direct and indirect German action. This includes military deaths.
          So, it’s really no wonder why the Poles and Soviets didn’t particularly like Germans, Talbot. It doesn’t excuse their behavior, especially the mass rapes and forced deportations, but it does make it understandable.
          Jeff

          Comment by Jeff K. — February 4, 2016 @ 7:18 am

  2. ‘‘Work sets you free’ – these are the words which met millions of prisoners, some of whom made this sign, who would never experience freedom again.’ Really? Millions??? I don’t think so. There were no millions and given how many ‘survivors’ there were and still seem to be we can be sure that most of them did in fact see freedom.

    Comment by Mr B — February 3, 2016 @ 9:05 am

    • The official number of deaths at Auschwitz-Birkenau is now down to 1.1 million, down from the 4 million deaths that were claimed in the past. However, that does not mean that 3 million deaths have been subtracted from the famous 6 million deaths, that are still claimed.

      Comment by furtherglory — February 3, 2016 @ 9:10 am

      • The official number of deaths at Auschwitz-Birkenau is now down to 1.1 million, down from the 4 million deaths that were claimed in the past. However, that does not mean that 3 million deaths have been subtracted from the famous 6 million deaths, that are still claimed.

        That’s because, as I’ve said several times, the 4 million never said Jews. It said 4 million people.
        This person is making the same mistake:

        http://message.snopes.com/showthread.php?t=63371

        Now, in spite of what most of the posters on this blog say, Jews are, in fact, people.
        But, not all people are Jews.
        Now, the Soviets and Polish Communists did exaggerate the number of dead, saying that 4 million people died at Auschwitz. That is wrong. But, they never said Jews. You’ll also notice that the plaque also never said “gassed.” It says “murdered.”
        This public service announcement has been brought to you by someone who took the time to read the plaque.
        Jeff

        Comment by Jeff K. — February 3, 2016 @ 9:58 am

        • Thanks ever so much for your public service announcement, Jeff. You say that “the Soviets and Polish Communists did exaggerate the number of dead..” This is a very interesting revelation for the whole world to know. But surely this means that all the holocaust totals that have ever been issued by the Communist authorities from behind the Iron Curtain must be looked at again, and dare I say it – revised?

          If the Communists were prepared to exaggerate numbers on this enormous scale, then the entire holocaust is on very tottery foundations indeed.

          Comment by Talbot — February 3, 2016 @ 10:33 am

          • Thanks ever so much for your public service announcement, Jeff. You say that “the Soviets and Polish Communists did exaggerate the number of dead..” This is a very interesting revelation for the whole world to know. But surely this means that all the holocaust totals that have ever been issued by the Communist authorities from behind the Iron Curtain must be looked at again, and dare I say it – revised?

            That depends on what you mean.
            The Holocaust is generally only thought of in terms of Jewish dead but in fact the total number of Holocaust victims is thought to be around 11 million with around 6 million Jewish dead.
            If you want to speak only in terms of Jewish dead a better term to use is “Shoah.”
            The Holocaust includes the Soviet POW’s who were deliberately starved to death, died of maltreatment, disease or shot. This number includes Poles who died for ideological reasons, the disabled, the Sinti/Roma and other minorities who died for ideological reasons.
            You can read more about this here:
            http://www.ukemonde.com/holocaust/victims.html
            So, yes, the numbers were exaggerated but research gives us fairly solid numbers on non-Jewish victims.
            Jeff

            Comment by Jeff K. — February 3, 2016 @ 10:53 am

        • Where did I say “4 million Jews” instead of 4 million people? I wrote about the plaques being changed on this blog post: https://furtherglory.wordpress.com/2010/12/20/why-do-the-numbers-for-auschwitz-birkenau-keep-changing/

          Comment by furtherglory — February 3, 2016 @ 10:47 am

          • However, that does not mean that 3 million deaths have been subtracted from the famous 6 million deaths, that are still claimed.
            If I misunderstood you I apologize but to me your meaning is very clear.
            6 million in the context you provide always means “Jews.”
            Jeff

            Comment by Jeff K. — February 3, 2016 @ 10:57 am

            • I think that everyone thinks of the 6 million as Jews. Allegedly, there were also Gypsies, handicapped people and homosexuals also killed. However, no one cares about them. The term “Holocaust” means Jews were killed.

              Comment by furtherglory — February 3, 2016 @ 11:10 am

              • The other victims do matter. I have brought them up in the past.
                Jeff

                Comment by Jeff K. — February 3, 2016 @ 12:23 pm

      • Claimed by whom?

        Comment by Anonymous — February 3, 2016 @ 4:01 pm


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