Scrapbookpages Blog

January 24, 2017

Arbeit macht Frei — what does this slogan mean?

Filed under: Germany, Holocaust, Uncategorized — furtherglory @ 8:05 am
Excellent photo of the gate into the Auschwitz I camp

Excellent photo of the gate into the Auschwitz I camp

It is hard to get a photo of this gate because there is a steady stream of tourists walking through it.  I took the photo below, by sneaking into the camp early in the morning, before it was officially open for tourists.

My photo of the Arbeit macht Frei gate

My 2005 photo of Arbeit macht Frei gate

Note that my photo above was taken in the early morning hours, before the gate was officially open to visitors. Note that two people had already gone through the gate, so I was confident that I would not be arrested.

Here is the answer to the question in the title of my blog post. “Arbeit macht Frei ” means that “work will set you free” in the spiritual sense — but not literally.

The inmates at the Auschwitz 1 camp, which is the camp that is shown in the photo, were mainly non-Jewish political prisoners. Jewish prisoners were sent to the Auschwitz II camp, also known as Birkenau. It was at Birkeanu that more than a million Jews were killed, allegedly in gas chambers, beginning in February 1942.

 Auschwitz survivors leaving Auschwitz after a visit to the camp where they were held as prisoners

Holocaust survivors leaving Auschwitz after a visit to the camp where they had been held as prisoners

In January 1941, the Auschwitz I camp had been designated a Class I camp, where prisoners had a chance to be released.

Only Class I camps had the “Arbeit Macht Frei” slogan over the gate. Other Class I camps were Dachau, Sachsenhausen, Flossenbürg and Gross-Rosen.

Buchenwald was a Class II camp and Mauthausen was a Class III camp; neither of these camps had the “Arbeit Macht Frei” sign.

The six death camps (Belzec, Sobibor, Treblinka, Chelmno, Majdanek and Auschwtiz II, also known as Birkenau) did not have the words “Arbeit Macht Frei” on the gate into the camp. Allegedly, no one in any of these camps was ever set free.

Heilig Vaterland

Filed under: Germany, Holocaust, Music, Uncategorized — Tags: , , — furtherglory @ 6:05 am

This blog post was inspired by a comment which you can read here.

You can click on this link to go to Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-3DVALp-Y-0

I have written an extensive blog post, about the lyrics to this song, and how to translate them into English, which you can read here.

One of the readers of my blog supplied these lyrics of the song:

[Herbert Stolpmann’s version of the lyrics]

Heilig Vaterland! In Gefahren
deine Söhne sich um dich scharen.
Von Gefahren umringt, heilig Vaterland
Alle stehen wir Hand in Hand

Bei den Sternen steht, was wir schwören
Der die Sterne lenkt, wird uns hören
Eh der Fremde dir deine Kronen raubt
Deutschland, fallen wir Haupt bei Haupt!

[Heilig Vaterland, heb zur Stund Kühn dein Angesicht in die Runde Sieh uns all entbrannt, Sohn bei Söhnen stehn
Du sollst bleiben, Land, wir vergehn]

Note that the last verse, shown in bold above, is omitted in this version of the lyrics.

Here is the story of this song, as told by Herbert Stolpmann:

It was around 5th Nay 1945 that an elderly colonel, (a music teacher) who had attached himself to us, a group of fifteen. This song he wanted to hear, before we continued our march westward and eventually into one of General Eisenhower’s Death Camps, while the colonel went into a grove. We heard a pistol shot and found him with a bullet shot through his mouth. He had written a letter to his wife as his last Will. I doubt she ever knew about the last hour of her husband’s life.

Maybe you would like to sing along.  I copied the text of the Youtube lyrics as follows:

Heilig Vaterland! In Gefahren
deine Söhne sich um dich scharen.
Von Gefahren umringt, heilig Vaterland
Alle stehen wir Hand in Hand

Von Gefahren umringt, heilig Vaterland
Alle stehen wir Hand in Hand

Bei den Sternen steht, was wir schwören
Der die Sterne lenkt, wird uns hören
Eh der Fremde dir deine Kronen raubt
Deutschland, fallen wir Haupt bei Haupt!

Eh der Fremde dir deine Kronen raubt
Deutschland, fallen wir Haupt bei Haupt!

End of Youtube lyrics.

Again notice that the final verse of the lyrics, as given by Mr. Stolpman, has been omitted from this version.

For an extensive discussion of these lyrics and their translation into English, click on the link below:

https://furtherglory.wordpress.com/2017/01/19/heilig-vaterland/