Scrapbookpages Blog

March 20, 2016

Holocaust survivor says she “was taken to the extermination camp Bergen-Belsen”

Filed under: Germany, Holocaust — Tags: , , — furtherglory @ 9:11 am

Today, I read a news article about Holocaust survivor Magda Hertzberger, who says that she is “A survivor of three death camps.”  She has written a book, entitled “Survivor” and is now out on the lecture circuit, telling her story.

One of the three camps, which Magda survived, was the Bergen-Belsen exchange camp.

British soldier driving the bulldozer that shoved bodies into graves at Bergen-Belse

Famous photo of British soldier driving a bulldozer to shove bodies into graves at Bergen-Belsen

In today’s world, Bergen-Belsen has become a symbol of the Holocaust that claimed the lives of 6 million Jews in Europe more than sixty years ago. The photo above was shown in newsreels in theaters around the world. I remember seeing this in a theater, and being horrified.

In 1943, Bergen-Belsen was initially set up as a detention camp (Aufenthaltslager) for prisoners who held foreign passports and were thus eligible to be traded for German citizens being held in Allied internment camps. Sadly, no other country want to exchange prisoners, so in December 1944, Bergen-Belsen was converted into a concentration camp under the command of Josef Kramer, the former Commandant of the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp.

A section for sick prisoners, who could no longer work in the Nazi forced labor camps, had been set aside at Bergen-Belsen in March 1944. Anne Frank was one of the sick prisoners at Auschwitz-Birkeanau who was transferred to Bergen-Belsen, where she died.

Fake grave of Anne Frank at Bergen-Belsen

My photo of the fake grave of Anne Frank and her sister Margo at Bergen-Belsen

In 1945, when World War II was drawing to a close, civilian prisoners were evacuated from other concentration camps as Soviet troops advanced westward; thousands of these prisoners were brought to the Bergen-Belsen camp which was not equipped to handle such a large number of people.

Finally, the Bergen-Belsen camp was right in the middle of the war zone where bombs were falling and Allied planes were strafing the Autobahn and the railroads.

British and Germans troops were doing battle on the Lüneberg heath right outside the Bergen-Belsen camp.

In February 1945, the situation at Bergen-Belsen became catastrophic when a typhus epidemic broke out in the crowded camp. It was at this time that Anne Frank died in the camp.

Magda Hertzberger’s story is told in the following quote from a news story, which you can read in full at :  http://dcourier.com/news/2016/mar/20/holocaust-remembrance-day-marked-survivors-story/

Begin quote from Magda’s account of her ordeal:

Selection [at Auschwitz-Birkenau] was at the end of each week and [Dr.] Mengele took pleasure in selecting people for the gas chambers, humming his favorite opera arias while selecting, Herzberger said. Those selected were those not considered useful, such as children up to age 14, the old, the sick, pregnant women, invalids and mentally disturbed, she said.

End quote

Several years ago, I visited the site of the former Bergen-Belsen exchange camp which is now a Memorial Site. I was the only English-speaking person there. How do I know this? When a movie about the camp was shown, it was in German, but as the only English speaker there, I was allowed to see the movie on a TV set in a private room.

After my visit to the Memorial site,  I added a section about the camp to my website, which you can read at http://www.scrapbookpages.com/BergenBelsen/index.html

Start with this section, which is about the history of the camp: http://www.scrapbookpages.com/BergenBelsen/Introduction.html

The following quote is from the Bergen-Belsen history section on my website:

A section for sick prisoners, who could no longer work in the Nazi forced labor camps, was set aside at Bergen-Belsen in March 1944. In 1945, when World War II was drawing to a close, civilian prisoners were evacuated from other concentration camps as Soviet troops advanced westward; thousands of these prisoners were brought to the Bergen-Belsen camp which was not equipped to handle such a large number of people.

Finally, Bergen-Belsen itself was right in the middle of the war zone where bombs were falling and Allied planes were strafing the Autobahn and the railroads. British and Germans troops were doing battle on the Lüneberg heath right outside the camp. In February 1945, the situation at Bergen-Belsen became catastrophic when a typhus epidemic broke out in the crowded camp.

End quote

Magna Herzberger’s story starts with this quote from the news article:

Herzberger was born and raised in Transylvania, which was a part of Romania when she was born and became a part of Hungary by 1940, she said.

Even at a young age, Herzberger was a fighter, working hard and fighting for her education as well as becoming a junior fencing champion at age 15 following instruction in the sport from her uncle.

The Germans occupied Herzberger’s city in March 1944 and forced Jewish people to wear the yellow Star of David, Herzberger said. In May of the same year, they were forced into the ghetto and at the end of May, were taken to Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration Camp, she said. After arrival, they were forced to undergo selection headed by Josef Mengele, who Herzberger said she saw every single day.

“At the selection platform, my father and uncle were at my side. Both of them wanted to give me some guidelines of principles and behaviors should we be separated. My father reminded me to follow the path of love, forgiveness and tolerance,” Herzberger said. “My uncle advised me to try and maintain my emotional and my physical strength, even if he wasn’t around. Pain increases our endurance and we have to tolerate pain in order to survive and not fall apart under any adverse situation which we may encounter in our lives. I have lived my life living up to that promise.”

Selection was at the end of each week and Mengele took pleasure in selecting people for the gas chambers, humming his favorite opera arias while selecting, Herzberger said. Those selected were those not considered useful, such as children up to age 14, the old, the sick, pregnant women, invalids and mentally disturbed, she said.

What Herzberger was selected for while in Auschwitz was corpse gatherer, hauling bodies to the pits they dug and incinerating them. The gas chambers were working full time and the crematory ovens could not keep up, she said.

After seven weeks, Herzberger was selected for her second camp in the city of Bremen. She and 500 other women were taken for slave labor in order to clear the city and people who were hit by the bombs. By the end of 1945, Herzberger had lost a great deal of weight due to the hard work, lack of food and harsh winter.

End quote

14 Comments »

  1. In lasr months Bergen Belses actually turned to be an extermiation camp due to the conditions there and so the Nazis did not need a Gas Chamber to exterminate as many prisioniers as possible,

    Comment by Wuolf Murmelsteine — March 20, 2016 @ 2:31 pm

    • due to the conditions there

      You are right to make this observation Wolf — the conditions were absolutely horrible, and caused the death of thousands, if not tens of thousands — but to me “extermination” means intent — I do not think the Nazis meant to ‘exterminate’ people when they were sent to B-B — eg the Frank sisters — there was no intent to kill — I have mixed feelings: on the one hand, I feel the Germans needed to be held responsible for cruelly imprisoning these people, and thereby exposing them to the horrible conditions existing at B-B at the end of the war; on the other hand, it was unfair to blame the Germans who happened to be in charge of the camp when it was overrun by the British — these people, some of whom were tried and executed, were not personally responsible for the horrible conditions — and like I said re B-B generally, there was no intent to kill.

      Comment by eah — March 20, 2016 @ 2:46 pm

      • eah: Already in the first German Romanticism a writer wrote about extermination of Jews by forced labor. Extermination by setting unhealthy conditions leading to starvarion or deseases had been another way already before the Nazi time.

        Comment by Wuolf Murmelsteine — March 21, 2016 @ 12:01 am

        • Why are you writing under the name “Wuolf Murmelsteine” instead of Wolf Murmelstein? You may have noticed that your comments, made under the name “Wuolf Murmelsteine” are not posted immediately. That is because, under this name, your comments go into the spam folder. I have to check the spam comments and drag the comments, that are not spam, out of the folder. There are numerous spam posts, and this takes a long time.

          Comment by furtherglory — March 21, 2016 @ 7:42 am

      • You wrote: “it was unfair to blame the Germans who happened to be in charge of the camp when it was overrun by the British”

        There is an old saying that “if you tell a lie often enough, it becomes the truth.” That is what has happened with the Bergen-Belsen story.

        The Bergen-Belsen camp was voluntarily turned over to the British. I wrote the story of how the camp was surrendered voluntarily on this blog post: https://furtherglory.wordpress.com/2014/12/31/unsuspecting-british-troops-found-bergen-belsen-in-the-spring-of-1945/

        Comment by furtherglory — March 21, 2016 @ 7:08 am

        • voluntarily turned over to the British

          Yes, I know — but it was just a formal gesture by the Germans — it would have been overrun, ie captured, by the British in a very short time anyway — and this gesture by the Germans did them no good — the ones who remained were blamed for the conditions, and some later executed.

          Comment by eah — March 21, 2016 @ 8:13 am

      • You wrote: “I have mixed feelings: on the one hand, I feel the Germans needed to be held responsible for cruelly imprisoning these people, and thereby exposing them to the horrible conditions existing at B-B at the end of the war; on the other hand, it was unfair to blame the Germans who happened to be in charge of the camp when it was overrun by the British — these people, some of whom were tried and executed, were not personally responsible for the horrible conditions — and like I said re B-B generally, there was no intent to kill.”

        The British have managed to make the story of Bergen-Belsen the most egregious lie told about World War II. I wrote the story of Bergen-Belsen on my website at
        http://www.scrapbookpages.com/BergenBelsen/BergenBelsen05.html

        Comment by furtherglory — March 21, 2016 @ 7:31 am

        • Were the British at all criticized for the way they bulldozed the corpses into mass graves? — that seems very disrespectful to the dead — I do not recall ever hearing them criticized for that — yet at some of the ‘death camps’, Jews resist forensic investigation, even use of ground radar, saying it is disrespectful to the dead.

          Comment by eah — March 21, 2016 @ 8:16 am

          • The photo of a British soldier, bulldozing the bodies of Jews into graves, is usually identified as a German man.

            Comment by furtherglory — March 21, 2016 @ 8:34 am

    • Of all the Holohoax lies, the most popular one is the British version of what happened at Bergen-Belsen, which was an EXCHANGE CAMP.

      I wrote about this on these two blog posts: https://furtherglory.wordpress.com/2014/12/31/unsuspecting-british-troops-found-bergen-belsen-in-the-spring-of-1945/

      https://furtherglory.wordpress.com/2015/06/27/the-british-version-of-what-happened-at-bergen-belsen/

      Comment by furtherglory — March 21, 2016 @ 7:16 am

  2. The water level at Birkenau was between one foot and four feet below the ground. Any dug holes would fill up with water pretty quickly and she should have known that if you want to burn bodies you will need Oxygen…ie what you don’t do is dig a hole and put the body in to be burned. As Donald Trump would say ” Not believable…not believable “

    Comment by peter — March 20, 2016 @ 10:48 am

    • You are not taking into account that the Germans set up drainage systems to drain off water. Also, depending on the time of the year the water level would not be so high.
      Among other purposes, Himmler also wanted to use Auschwitz as an agricultural research station. This required setting up ways to drain excess water. Because no one is repairing these drainage systems the water level has naturally risen over the decades.

      Jeff

      Comment by Jeff K. — March 21, 2016 @ 11:19 am

      • You do write absolute rubbish Jeff but then as a true believer I suppose you need to . There was a drainage system in place and as i stated the water level varied from one to four feet below the surface. By the way have you ever tried to burn organic material in a ditch ? Do you think that is sensible or even possible ? Please no straw man answers again your speciality .

        Comment by peter — March 21, 2016 @ 12:43 pm


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