Scrapbookpages Blog

February 17, 2016

When you google the word Holocaust, what comes up first?

Filed under: Germany, Holocaust, World War II — Tags: , — furtherglory @ 10:40 am
Entrance to USHMM in Washington, DC

Entrance to USHMM in Washington, DC

Out of curiosity, I googled the word Holocaust and the website of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum came up first in the search results.  Sorry, but I don’t think that the USHMM website is the best one to explain the True Believer side of the Holocaust story. Of course, there is nothing at all about the Holocaust denier side of the story. Whatever happened to the idea of a newspaper telling both sides of a story?

My photo of the US Holocaust Memorial Museum

My photo of the US Holocaust Memorial Museum

The following quote is from the beginning of the text on the USHMM website:

Begin quote

The Holocaust was the systematic, bureaucratic, state-sponsored persecution and murder of six million Jews by the Nazi regime and its collaborators. Holocaust is a word of Greek origin meaning “sacrifice by fire.” The Nazis, who came to power in Germany in January 1933, believed that Germans were “racially superior” and that the Jews, deemed “inferior,” were an alien threat to the so-called German racial community.

During the era of the Holocaust, German authorities also targeted other groups because of their perceived “racial inferiority”: Roma (Gypsies), the disabled, and some of the Slavic peoples (Poles, Russians, and others). Other groups were persecuted on political, ideological, and behavioral grounds, among them Communists, Socialists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and homosexuals.

End quote

I don’t believe that the “German authorities” targeted anyone because of “racial inferiority.” Jehovah’s Witnesses” were targeted because they refused to serve in the German Army.  Homosexuals were targeted because homosexuality was against the law in Germany.  The Roma were targeted because everyone in Germany had to have a permanent address. The disabled were targeted because they were walking on all fours and were unable to function as human beings.

Exterior of Holocaust Museum with Washington Monument in the background

Exterior of Holocaust Museum with Washington Monument shown in the background

The USHMM building, shown in the photo above, which incorporates symbolic design features that are intended to be evocative of the Holocaust, was done in a modern architectural style, which Hitler would have called “degenerate.”

The USHMM was not designed to be a dull, boring documentation of historical fact, but rather it is intended to be an intensely personal experience in which the building itself is part of the exhibit. Nothing is spared to convey the horror of the Nazi tyranny and the annihilation of the Jews in Europe.

For visitors who know little or nothing about the Holocaust, a trip to the Museum is a gut-wrenching experience which could cause nightmares; it is not recommended for children under 11 years of age. However, a special exhibit, called Daniel’s Story, which is based on a book of fiction, is designed to introduce children as young as 6 to the basic facts of the Holocaust.

Located at 100 Raoul Wallenberg Place, the Holocaust museum is open from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. every day except Christmas Day and Yom Kippur, a Jewish religious holiday which falls on a different day each year, usually in the month of September.

At the beginning of 1933, according to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, there were 9 million Jews in all of Europe, including 568,417 in Germany, approximately 250,000 in Austria and 3,028,837 in Poland. On January 30, 1933, after Adolf Hitler had received 38% of the popular vote in the three-way 1932 German presidential election, he was appointed Chancellor of Germany by newly-reelected President Paul von Hindenburg. Two months later, Franklin D. Roosevelt was sworn in as the president of the United States.

In 1933, both America and Germany were in the throes of the Great Depression, caused by the stock market crash in 1929, but Germany was worse off because of its defeat in the first World War and the devastating terms of the Treaty of Versailles which Germany was forced to sign. Hitler blamed the loss of the war and all of Germany’s subsequent economic, social and political problems on the Jews.

Hitler’s first priority was to unite all the ethnic Germans in Europe under one government and one leader, himself. (“Ein Folk, Ein Reich, Ein Führer”) There would be no place for Jews or Gypsies in Hitler’s new Germany; only the Volkdeutsch (ethnic Germans) would be citizens.

Hitler planned to take back German land given to Poland after World War I, as well as the provinces of Alsace and Lorraine and other territory lost as a result of Germany’s defeat in World War I.

Hitler’s new Germany would be called Gross Deutschland (Greater Germany). Historians would call Hitler’s regime “the Third Reich.” The first Reich was the Holy Roman Empire of the German nation and the second Reich was the unification of the German states in 1871.

The capital of Gross Deutschland was to be Germania, which was Hitler’s new name for the city of Berlin. Hitler and his state architect, Albert Speer, began designing magnificent new state buildings in the classic style of Greek and Roman architecture, but none of these buildings were ever built. Hitler envisioned that his nationalist empire, which he called the Thousand Year Reich, would defeat the Communists, and after the demise of the Communists, Germany would be the dominant country in a Jew-free Europe.

Twelve years later, at the end of the World War II, both Hitler and Roosevelt were dead, along with 6 million Jews, which was two-thirds of the total number of Jews in Europe in 1933.

Berlin had been reduced to a pile of rubble and Washington, DC was now the undisputed capital of the free world. Hitler’s Third Reich will be remembered for a thousand years, but as the empire which tried to destroy the Jews and failed, not as the glorious empire that Hitler had envisioned.

In the aftermath of World War II, Germany was divided into two new countries and Austria became independent again. Germany lost more territory and the ethnic Germans were scattered more than ever before. Soon after the defeat of Germany and its Fascist allies, the eastern half of Germany and all of Eastern Europe came under the control of our allies and Germany’s arch enemies, the Communists.

In order to hold back the threat of Communism to America, West Germany was made our new ally in 1948 and the Cold War against our former ally, the Communist Soviet Union, became the prime source of anxiety for Americans.

During this period, Americans were mainly concerned with building bomb shelters in their back yards, in preparation for the anticipated nuclear war; they had no interest in learning about the destruction of European Jewry in the last war. The word Holocaust was not yet in general use.

Don’t ever say or write the words “Polish death camp”

Filed under: Holocaust, World War II — furtherglory @ 6:32 am
My photo of the ruins of Krema III at Auschwitz-Birkenau

My 2007 photo of the ruins of Krema III at Auschwitz-Birkenau Nazi death camp

The Auschwitz Museum now offers an App to halt the use of the term “Polish death camps”. You can read all about it in this news article:

The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum acknowledges that only six of the Nazi camps were “death camps”: Auschwitz, Majdanek, Treblinka, Sobibor, Belzec, and Chelmno, all of which are in what is now Poland. Nevertheless, a few people still call all of the Nazi camps “death camps.” Prisoners died in all of the concentration camps.

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

Begin quote

After Poland called to punish those who use the term “Polish death camps” in reference to the wartime Nazi death camps on Polish soil, the museum at Auschwitz launched software that will help remove the term, which Poland says attributes responsibility for the Nazi crimes to the country.

On Tuesday, the website for the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial Museum unveiled the “Remember” software which helps replaces “Polish death camp” with “Nazi death camp.”

“A special application ‘Remember’ is to help avoid the use of the term ‘Polish concentration camps’ or ‘Polish death camps’ in 16 languages. The program, which can be installed on a personal computer searches for a false phrase, underlines it and suggests the appropriate wording,” the museum explained on its Facebook page.

End quote

Monument at Sobibor a famous death camp in Poland

Two monuments at Sobibor, a famous death camp in Poland

This controversy is nothing new.  The Poles have been complaining about the use of the term “Polish death camps” for years.  These were “death camps” set up by the Germans in what is now the country of Poland, but the Poles had nothing to do with the camps, which were run by the Germans. The innocent Poles do not want to be lumped in with the German murderers. Who can blame them for wanting to distance themselves from the Germans?

In June 2007, the United Nations officially changed the collective name of the three Auschwitz camps to “Auschwitz-Birkenau, German Nazi Concentration and Extermination Camp (1940-1945)” in response to complaints by the Poles that Auschwitz was being described as a “Polish death camp.”

The area of Europe that was inhabited by the German tribes in the Middle Ages became the Holy Roman Empire in the year 800 and by 1270, the Empire had expanded to include the area known as Upper Silesia, where Auschwitz was located. In 1457, Auschwitz became part of the Kingdom of Poland and it was then known by the Polish name Oswiecim.

Most of Silesia was annexed to the German state of Prussia in 1742, except for four duchies. The duchy of Auschwitz was annexed to Galicia, a province which was given to Austria when Poland lost its independence in 1772 and the country was divided between Russia, Prussia and Austria.

Western Galicia soon became known as The Corner of Three Empires: Russia, Prussia and Austria. The town known as Auschwitz, or Oswiecim or Oshpitzin, became a prime location for Jewish traders or merchants during the time that Galicia was part of the Austro-Hungarian empire.

In 1871, Prussia and the other German states, except Austria, united into the country of Germany. After the defeat of Germany and Austria in World War I, Galicia and the industrial area known as Upper Silesia were given to Poland. In 1939, after the joint conquest of Poland by Germany and the Soviet Union, Upper Silesia was annexed into the Greater German Reich, which at that time consisted of Germany, Austria and the Sudetenland in what is now the Czech Republic.

Both Buchenwald and Auschwitz were called concentration camps (Konzentrationslager) by the Nazis but both were called extermination camps (Vernichtungslager) by the Allies during the war and in the immediate aftermath of the war.

Jews were sent to both Buchenwald and Auschwitz, but both camps had non-Jewish prisoners as well. Both camps had SS soldiers as guards and administrators, and both were under the jurisdiction of the Inspectorate in Oranienburg.

Both Buchenwald and Auschwitz were within the 1939 borders of Germany, which was then known as Grossdeutschland. Auschwitz is now in Poland, but it was in Grossdeutschland when the camp was opened in June 1940.

The SS guards abandoned Auschwitz on January 18, 1945 and marched the prisoners to the German border where they were put on trains and taken to other camps. Those who chose not to join the march stayed at Auschwitz where they were free to leave, but most of the prisoners decided to wait for the Soviet Army to find the camp on January 27, 1945.

Auschwitz survivor

Auschwitz survivor

The prisoners at Buchenwald were free at 3:15 p.m. on April 11, 1945 after the Communist prisoners took control of the camp and the SS guards escaped into the woods. The first American soldiers in General Patton’s Third Army arrived at Buchenwald around two hours later that same day.

Buchenwald had a main camp and around 100 sub-camps; Auschwitz consisted of three separate camps, called Auschwitz, Birkenau and Monowitz, and 40 sub-camps.

Both Buchenwald and Auschwitz had factories where the prisoners worked and these factories were considered to be essential to the German war effort. The factories at both Buchenwald and Auschwitz were bombed by the Allies.

Both Buchenwald and Auschwitz had child survivors. There were 900 children under the age of 18 at Buchenwald and 600 child survivors in the abandoned Auschwitz camp.

According to testimony at the Nuremberg International Military Tribunal, both Buchenwald and Auschwitz had gas chambers. Both Buchenwald and Auschwitz also had typhus epidemics which accounted for the lives of thousands of the prisoners.

After Auschwitz was opened in 1940, some of the prisoners from Buchenwald were transferred there. When Auschwitz was abandoned in January 1945, some of the prisoners were transported back to Buchenwald.

Both Buchenwald and Auschwitz were in the Soviet zone after World War II ended, and Museums were set up at both camps by the Soviets.

So what’s the big difference between Buchenwald and Auschwitz?

The difference is that today the Auschwitz II camp, aka Birkenau, has been designated a “death camp” by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, while Buchenwald is now officially called a concentration camp.

Child Survivors of Auschwitz-Birkenau

Child Survivors of Auschwitz-Birkenau

When Jewish prisoners arrived at Auschwitz-Birkenau, beginning in February 1942, they went through a selection process in which those who were able to work were saved while the others were destined for the gas chamber. Today, no one claims that Buchenwald had a gas chamber, nor that there was a selection process for Jewish prisoners at Buchenwald.

The Communist survivors of Buchenwald estimated 56,000 prisoners died at Buchenwald and the latest estimate of the deaths at Auschwitz-Birkenau is 1.1 million, of whom 90% were Jews.

No Jews were sent to any Nazi camp, solely because they were Jewish, until November 10, 1938 when 10,000 Jewish men were sent to Buchenwald following the pogrom in Germany, known as Kristallnacht. An equal number of Jewish men were sent on November 10, 1938 to Dachau and Sachsenhausen, the other two main concentration camps in Germany. They were released within a few weeks if they promised to leave Germany.

It was not until February 1942 that all the Jews in Germany and Poland were rounded up and sent to concentration camps in what is now Poland. Before that, persons who were considered to be the enemies of the German Reich were sent to concentration camps, regardless of their ethnicity, race or religion, including a few Jews.

In January 1941, Buchenwald was classified as a Class II camp where prisoners were less likely to be released than at Dachau and Sachsenhausen, which were Class I camps. The main Auschwitz camp was a Class I camp, mainly for political prisoners, and 1,500 non-Jewish prisoners were released from there, according to the Auschwitz Museum.

In my humble opinion, the Poles are making too much of this.