Scrapbookpages Blog

April 21, 2018

The Holocaust: don’t know, don’t care

Filed under: Holocaust, Germany, Auschwitz — furtherglory @ 2:35 pm

Obviously, I do care about the Holocaust: I write about it on a daily basis.  In the title of my blog post, I am quoting from a news article, which you can read at https://www.theguardian.com/global/2018/apr/21/people-dont-know-about-the-holocaust-they-dont-care

The following quote is from the news article:

Begin quote

Last week, the rather striking results of a survey were published, which found that 41% of Americans and 66% of American millennials do not know what Auschwitz is. On the day the story came out, this particular American was feeling especially au fait with the Holocaust because I was visiting Auschwitz with my father. (Should any of you be looking for an effective if intense parent-child bonding trip, allow me to recommend an excursion to Auschwitz.) My grandmother escaped to America before the war, but the rest of her family were not so lucky. Most of her cousins were killed by the Nazis and her older brother, Jacques, was murdered in the camp in 1942, three months after he arrived there by train. His younger brother, Alex, managed to escape and walked to safety by following the tracks in the opposite direction. He died in 1999.

Our trip coincided with the March of the Living, a little covered annual event in which Jews from all around the world march between Auschwitz and Birkenau as part of Holocaust Memorial Day. Our hotel was filled with Israeli teenagers and elderly Americans; there were even Israeli flags outside Auschwitz, a sight that would have made my great-uncle Alex cry: the camp that killed his brother, in the country where his family were terrorised by pogroms for decades, now covered in the insignia of the Jewish homeland, a place he dreamed of as a Polish child.

So, after such an immersive day at the camps, that survey about the widespread ignorance of the Holocaust should have felt shocking. And in some ways it did. Yes, the Holocaust happened almost 80 years ago, but the most mainstream of movies, from Indiana Jones to Inglourious Basterds, have long used Nazis as a plot device, and there is, I believe, something called the internet. So if people don’t know about the Holocaust, it’s because they don’t really care. And in this regard, the survey felt utterly unsurprising, because we swim in self-serving ignorance about antisemitism these days.

The day I landed in Poland I saw a headline on my phone: “Ken Loach says Labour MPs who joined antisemitism protest should be ‘kicked out of Labour’,” it said, referring to the recent rally in Westminster at which hundreds of Jews protested against Jeremy Corbyn’s attitude towards antisemitism. Loach later said the reported quotes “do not fairly reflect what I said”. Yet he gave a TV interview last year in which, when asked about Jewish MP Ruth Smeeth’s claim that she had “really come up against antisemitism”, Loach dismissed such allegations as merely “mischief”. “The aim is to destabilise Jeremy’s leadership,” Loach said, apparently unaware that suggesting Jews make allegations about antisemitism for their political or personal benefit is, in fact, one of the oldest antisemitic tropes there is.

End quote from news article

I have a lot of information on my web site about Auschwitz:

http://www.scrapbookpages.com/AuschwitzScrapbook/index.html

Start reading here if you want to learn about Auschwitz: http://www.scrapbookpages.com/AuschwitzScrapbook/journal.html

 

 

April 20, 2018

Remembering the Holocaust

Filed under: Germany, Holocaust — furtherglory @ 12:42 pm

Recent news reports say that today’s young people don’t know much about the Holocaust and couldn’t care less.

The Memorial for murdered Jews of Europe is shown below

View of completed Memorial in Berlin

Photo Credit: Deutsche Welle

The 19,000 square-meter Memorial for the Murdered Jews of Europe, which was opened to the public on May 12, 2005, consists of 2711 stones placed on sloping, uneven ground in an undulating wave-like pattern, giving visitors the feeling of insecurity as though the stones were on unstable ground.

Visitors can enter from all four sides, day or night, and wander on their own through the maze of stones, as though visiting a graveyard with nameless tombstones.

The columns are sunk into the ground to various depths and at some places, they are higher than the heads of the visitors. There are no set paths or sign posts to guide viewers. The memorial was designed by architect Peter Eisenman to deliberately disorient visitors by having all the stones tilted slightly and paths that are not level.

Completed Memorial site covers five and a half acres

Photo Credit: Bonnie M. Harris

On the west side, a row of 41 trees stands next to the Tiergarten park on Ebertstrasse, as shown in the photo above, which was taken by Bonnie M. Harris in 2006.

The photo below, also taken by Bonnie M. Harris, shows the Potsdamer Platz, a business district and shopping center, in the background. The second photo below shows the same view of the south end of the Memorial site when it was under construction in June 2002.

View of Memorial Site with Potsdamer Platz in background Photo Credit: Bonnie M. Harris

My photo of the construction site of Jewish Holocaust memorial in Berlin, June 2002

The site of the Jewish Holocaust Memorial in Berlin was formally dedicated on January 27, 2000 in a “symbolic event” which could not be termed a ground-breaking ceremony because the project had not yet received approval from the German parliament. The 27th of January is Europe’s international day of mourning for the Jews who were murdered by the Nazis.

The first dedication ceremony for the Memorial was held on November 15, 1993. Originally expected to be finished by January 27, 2004, the Memorial was dedicated on May 10, 2005 and opened to the public on May 12, 2005, exactly 60 years after Germany was liberated from the Nazis in World War II.

German citizens view a Sign at the corner of Ebertstrasse and Behrenstrasse, June 2002

The design for the Denkmal für die ermordeten Juden Europes was approved on 25 June 1999 by the German parliament. The vote was 314 to 209 with 14 members abstaining. The project cost the German tax-payers 35.1 million euro. The 5.5 acre site covers an area the size of three soccer fields.

Before 1945, this location was part of the Ministry Gardens; it was adjacent to the large complex of buildings which included Hitler’s Chancellery. After the war, it was part of the “death strip” along the Berlin wall. The memorial covers an area very close to the underground bunker where Adolf Hitler committed suicide on April 30, 1945. There is no access to Hitler’s bunker which still exists underground.

On the first day that the memorial was open, disrespectful teenagers used it as a playground and the site was desecrated with a swastika, which was quickly removed. The architect of the Memorial, Peter Eisenman, said that he was not worried about the threat of graffiti as he thought this might even make the Memorial more interesting.

Photo Credit: Deutsche Welle

At the opening ceremony on May 10, 2005, Paul Spiegel, the head of Germany’s Central Council of Jews, sharply criticized the new Holocaust memorial, saying that it was too abstract and that it failed to confront the issue of German guilt. In his speech, Spiegel said that the Memorial for the murdered Jews of Europe honors the victims of Nazism, but the Memorial does not refer directly to the perpetrators.

According to Spiegel, viewers are not confronted with questions of guilt and responsibility. Spiegel complained that the Memorial leaves an “incomplete message” and merely shows the Jews “as a nation of victims poured into 2,711 concrete pillars.” Spiegel said that the Monument fails to ask the question “Why?”

Personal Perspective by Bonnie M. Harris

 

April 19, 2018

Ohrdruf – a sub-camp of Buchenwald

Filed under: Germany, Holocaust, World War II — furtherglory @ 2:27 pm

Col. Hayden Sears poses with some Ohrdruf survivors, April 8, 1945

On April 4, 1945, American soldiers of the 4th Armored Division of General Patton’s US Third Army were moving through the area south of the city of Gotha in search of a secret Nazi communications center when they unexpectedly came across the ghastly scene of the abandoned Ohrdruf forced labor camp.

A few soldiers in the 354th Infantry Regiment of the 89th Infantry Division of the US Third Army reached the abandoned camp that same day, after being alerted by prisoners, who had escaped from the march out of the camp, which had started on April 2nd. Prior to that, in September 1944, US troops had witnessed their first concentration camp: the abandoned Natzweiler camp in Alsace, which was then a part of the Greater German Reich, but is now in France.

Ohrdruf, also known as Ohrdruf-Nord, was the first Nazi prison camp to be discovered while it still had inmates living inside of it, although 9,000 prisoners had already been evacuated from Ohrdruf on April 2nd and marched 32 miles to the main camp at Buchenwald.

According to the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, the camp had a population of 11,700 prisoners in late March, 1945 before the evacuation began.

The photograph at the top of this page, taken at Ohrdruf on April 8, 1945, shows survivors who had escaped during the evacuation of the camp, but came back after the American liberators arrived.

One of the American liberators who saw the Ohrdruf camp on April 4, 1945 was Bruce Nickols. He was on a patrol as a member of the I & R platoon attached to the Headquarters company of the 354th Infantry Regiment of the 89th Infantry Division, Third US Army. According to Nickols, there were survivors in the barracks who had hidden when the SS massacred 60 to 70 prisoners on the roll call square before they left the camp on April 2nd.

The body of a dead SS soldier lay at the entrance to the camp, according to Nickols.

Dead prisoners at Ohrdruf forced labor camp

In the photo above, the prisoners have been partially covered by blankets because their pants had been pulled down, an indication that these men might have been killed by their fellow prisoners after the Germans had left.

The first Americans on the scene said that the blood was still wet. The liberators all agreed that these prisoners had been shot, although some witnesses said that they had been shot in the neck, while others said that they had been mowed down by machine gun fire.

The American soldiers were told by Ohrdruf survivors that these prisoners had been shot by the SS on April 2nd because they had run out of trucks for transporting sick prisoners out of the camp, but there were sick prisoners still inside the barracks when the Americans arrived.

Among the soldiers who helped to liberate Ohrdruf was Charles T. Payne, who is Senator Barak Obama’s great uncle, the brother of his maternal grandmother. Charles T. Payne was a member of Company K, 355th Infantry Regiment, 89th Infantry Division.

According to an Associated Press story, published on June 4, 2009, Charles T. Payne’s unit arrived at the Ohrdruf camp on April 6, 1945.

The following is an excerpt from the Associated Press story:

“I remember the whole area before you got to the camp, the town and around the camp, was full of people who had been inmates,” Payne, 84, said in a telephone interview from his home in Chicago.

“The people were in terrible shape, dressed in rags, most of them emaciated, the effects of starvation. Practically skin and bones.”

When Payne’s unit arrived, the gates to the camp were open, the Nazis already gone.

“In the gate, in the very middle of the gate on the ground was a dead man whose head had been beaten in with a metal bar,” Payne recalled. The body was of a prisoner who had served as a guard under the Germans and been killed by other inmates that morning.

“A short distance inside the front gate was a place where almost a circle of people had been … killed and were lying on the ground, holding their tin cups, as if they had been expecting food and were instead killed,” he said. “You could see where the machine gun had been set up behind some bushes, but the Germans were all gone by that time.”

He said he only moved some 200-300 feet (60-100 meters) inside of the camp. But that was enough to capture images so horrible that Gen. George S. Patton Jr. ordered townspeople into Ohrdruf to see for themselves the crimes committed by their countrymen – an order that would repeated at Buchenwald, Dachau and other camps liberated by U.S. soldiers.

“In some sheds were stacks of bodies, stripped extremely – most of them looked like they had starved to death. They had sprinkled lime over them to keep the smell down and stacked them several high and the length of the room,” Payne said.

On April 11, 1945, just a week after the discovery of the Ohrdruf camp, American soldiers liberated the infamous Buchenwald main camp, which was to become synonymous with Nazi barbarity for a whole generation of Americans. Buchenwald is located 5 miles north of the city of Weimar, which is 20 miles to the east of Gotha, where General Dwight D. Eisenhower had set up his headquarters.

The Ohrdruf forced labor camp was a sub-camp of the huge Buchenwald camp. Ohrdruf had been opened in November 1944 when prisoners were brought from Buchenwald to work on the construction of a vast underground bunker to house a new Führer headquarters for Hitler and his henchmen. This location was in the vicinity of a secret Nazi communications center and it was also near an underground salt mine where the Nazis had stored their treasures.

A. C. Boyd was one of the soldiers in the 89th Infantry Division who witnessed the Ohrdruf “death camp.” In a recent news article, written by Jimmy Smothers, Boyd mentioned that he saw bodies of prisoners who had been gassed at Ohrdruf.

The following quote is from the news article in The Gadsden Times:

On April 7, 1945, the 89th Infantry Division received orders to move into the German town of Ohrdruf, which surrendered as the Americans arrived. A mile or so past this quaint village lay Stalag Nord Ohrdruf.

[…]

When regiments of the 89th Division got to the camp, the gates were open and the guards apparently all had gone, but the doors to the wooden barracks were closed. Lying on the ground in front were bodies of prisoners who recently had been shot.

“When I went into the camp I just happened to open the door to a small room,” recalled Boyd. “Inside, the Germans had stacked bodies very high. They had dumped some lime over them, hoping it would dissolve the bodies.

[…]

“I still have vivid memories of what I saw, but I try not to dwell on it,” Boyd continued. “We had been warned about what we might find, but actually seeing it was horrible. There were so many dead, and some so starved all they could do was gape open their mouths, feebly move their arms and murmur.

“There were ditches dug out in the compound and we could see torsos, lots of arms, severed legs, etc., sticking out. Many had been beaten to death, and bodies were still in the ‘beating shed’. Many had been led to the ‘showers,’ where they were pushed in, the doors locked and then gassed.”

One of the survivors of Ohrdruf was Rabbi Murray Kohn, who was then 16 years old. He was marched from Ohrdruf on April 2nd to the main camp at Buchenwald and then evacuated by train to Theresienstadt in what is now the Czech Republic.

The following quote is from a speech that Rabbi Kohn made on April 23, 1995 at Wichita, Kansas, at a gathering of the soldiers of the 89th Division for the 50ieth anniversary of the liberation of the camps:

It has been recorded that in Ohrdruf itself the last days were a slaughterhouse. We were shot at, beaten and molested. At every turn went on the destruction of the remaining inmates. Indiscriminant criminal behavior (like the murderers of Oklahoma City some days ago). Some days before the first Americans appeared at the gates of Ohrdruf, the last retreating Nazi guards managed to execute with hand pistols, literally emptying their last bullets on whomever they encountered leaving them bleeding to death as testified by an American of the 37th Tank Battalion Medical section, 10 a.m. April 4, 1945.

Today I’m privileged thanks to God and you gallant fighting men. I’m here to reminisce, and reflect, and experience instant recollections of those moments. Those horrible scenes and that special instance when an Allied soldier outstretched his arm to help me up became my re-entrance, my being re-invited into humanity and restoring my inalienable right to a dignified existence as a human being and as a Jew. Something, which was denied me from September 1939 to the day of liberation in 1945. I had no right to live and survived, out of 80 members of my family, the infernal ordeal of Auschwitz, Buchenwald, Ohrdruf, and its satellite camp Crawinkel and finally Theresienstadt Ghetto-Concentration Camp.

I must tell you something about Crawinkel, just outside Ohrdruf. It was recently discovered after the reunification of east and West Germany that in nearby Crawinkel, the Nazis were preparing the Führerbunker, the final headquarters of Hitler from where he planned to strike a deal with the Americans to join in fighting the Red Army. We worked around the clock, the project was known as the Olga Project. We were excavating inside the hills a bunker. Ten thousand people died there and it was completed with rivers of blood right down to the cutlery to embellish Hitler’s table.

When in Auschwitz my eyes witnessed the gassed transports of Jews at the Birkenau Crematories. My own eyes have witnessed Buchenwald terror and planned starvation. My body was decimated, starved and thrashed to the point of no return in Ohrdruf for stealing a piece of a potato, and my flickering life was daily, and hourly on the brink of being snuffed out from starvation or being clubbed for no reason or literally being pushed off a steep cliff over a yawning ravine at Crawinkel.

[….]

The war was intrinsically a war against the shallowness of a civilization which had evidently so little moral depth, a nation which can acquiesce in such a short time to the demagoguery of a “corporal” and accept the manifesto of racial superiority, entitled to destroy their supposed inferior enemies, as a moral right. World War II was by far not a testing ground of arms or strategic skills and sophistication, but A MORAL WAR, which declared that human rights, freedom and the equality of all men and women are the highest divine commandment, the supreme commandment to deny the Nazi racists and their cohorts any victory. My friends, many of your comrades (a half million Americans lost their lives to declare eternal war against inhumanity). Six million innocent Jews, five million Christians and some 27 million plus, lost their lives to secure finally that humanity is never to rest until crimes against humans have been eradicated.

The American military knew about the Nazi forced labor camps and concentration camps because Allied planes had done aerial photographs of numerous factories near the camps in both Germany and Poland, and many of these camps, including Buchenwald, had been bombed, killing thousands of innocent prisoners. In fact, General George S. Patton bragged in his autobiography about the precision bombing of a munitions factory near the Buchenwald concentration camp on August 24, 1944 which he erroneously claimed had not damaged the nearby camp. Not only was the camp hit by the bombs, there were 400 prisoners who were killed, along with 350 Germans.

On Easter weekend in April 1945, the 90th Infantry Division overran the little town of Merkers, which was near the Ohrdruf camp, and captured the Kaiseroda salt mine.

Hidden deep inside the salt mine was virtually the entire gold and currency reserves of the German Reichsbank, together with all of the priceless art treasures which had been removed from Berlin’s museums for protection against Allied bombing raids and possible capture by the Allied armies.

According to the US Holocaust Memorial Museum web site, the soldiers also found important documents that were introduced at the Nuremberg IMT as evidence of the Holocaust.

All of America’s top military leaders in Europe, including Generals Eisenhower, Bradley and Patton, visited the mine and viewed the treasure.

The photo below shows General Dwight D. Eisenhower as he examines some paintings stored inside the Kaiseroda salt mine, which he visited on April 12, 1945, along with General Omar Bradley, General George S. Patton, and other high-ranking American Army officers before going to see the Ohrdruf camp. The Nazis had hidden valuable paintings and 250 million dollars worth of gold bars inside the salt mine.

General Eisenhower on visit to salt mine near Ohrdruf

 

Dwight D. Eisenhower examines treasure in salt mine

The soldier on the far left is Benjamin B. Ferencz. In the center is General Eisenhower and behind him, wearing a helmet with four stars is General Omar Bradley.

In 1945, Ferencz was transferred from General Patton’s army to the newly created War Crimes Branch of the U.S. Army, where his job was to gather evidence for future trials of German war criminals. A Jew from Transylvania, Ferencz had moved with his family to America at the age of 10 months.

General Patton, left, and General Bradley, center, 12 April 1945

On the same day that the Generals visited the salt mine, they made a side trip to the Ohrdruf forced labor camp after lunch. The photo above was taken at Ohrdruf. Except for General Patton, who visited Buchenwald on April 15, 1945, none of the top American Army Generals ever visited another forced labor camp, nor any of the concentration camps.

One of the first Americans to see Ohrdruf, a few days before the Generals arrived, was Captain Alois Liethen from Appleton, WI.

Liethen was an interpreter and an interrogator in the XX Corp, G-2 Section of the US Third Army. On 13 April 1945, he wrote a letter home to his family about this important discovery at Ohrdruf.

Although Buchenwald was more important and had more evidence of Nazi atrocities, it was due to the information uncovered by Captain Liethen that the generals visited Ohrdruf instead.

The following is a quote from his letter, in which Captain Alois Liethen explains how the visit by the generals, shown in the photo above, came about:

Several days ago I heard about the American forces taking a real honest to goodness concentration camp and I made it a point to get there and see the thing first hand as well as to investigate the thing and get the real story just as I did in the case of the Prisoner of War camp which I described in my last letter. This camp was near the little city of OHRDRUF not far from GOTHA, and tho it was just a small place — about 7 to 10000 inmates it was considered as one of the better types of such camps. After looking the place over for nearly a whole day I came back and made an oral report to my commanding general — rather I was ordered to do so by my boss, the Col. in my section. Then after I had told him all about the place he got in touch with the High Command and told them about it and the following tale bears out what they did about it.

The photograph below was contributed by Mary Liethen Meier, the niece of Captain Liethen. The man standing next to General Eisenhower, and pointing to the prisoner demonstrating how the inmates were punished at Ohrdruf, is Alois Liethen, her uncle. Left to right, the men in the front row are Lt. General George S. Patton, Third U.S. Army Commander; General Omar N. Bradley, Twelfth Army group commander; and General Dwight D. Eisenhower, Supreme Allied Commander.

The photo below was published in an American newspaper above a headline which read: U.S. GENERALS SEE A “TORTURE” DEMONSTRATION

Generals watch a demonstration of the whipping block

In the photo above, an ordinary wooden table is being used to demonstrate punishment on a whipping block. By order of Reichsführer Heinrich Himmler, whipping prisoners on a wooden block was discontinued in 1942, so no whipping block was found at Ohrdruf.

The first photo below shows another demonstration at Ohrdruf on a reconstructed wooden whipping block. The second photo below shows the whipping block that was found at Natzweiler by Americans in September 1944.

Ohrdruf survivors demonstrate the whipping block

Whipping block used at Natzweiler

All punishments in the concentration camps had to be approved by the head office in Oranienburg.

Rudolf Hoess became a member of the staff after he was removed as the Commandant of Auschwitz at the end of December 1943.

According to the testimony of Rudolf Hoess on April 15, 1946 at the Nuremberg International Military Tribunal, this punishment was rarely used and it was discontinued in 1942 because Heinrich Himmler, the head of the concentration camp system, had forbidden the SS guards to strike the prisoners.

Some of the prisoners at Ohrdruf, who had previously been at the Buchenwald main camp for a number of years, were familiar with this punishment device and were able to reconstruct it.

Captain Liethen’s letter, dated 13 April 1945, continues as follows:

Yesterday I had the honor of being the interpreter for such honorable gentlemen as Gen EISENHOWER, Gen BRADLEY, Gen PATTON and several lesser general officers, all in all there were 21 stars present, Eisenhower with 5, Bradley with 4, Patton 3, my own commanding general with 2 and there were several others of this grade as well as several one star generals. Since I had made the investigation with some of the men who had escaped from the place the day that we captured it I was more or less the conductor of the tour for this famous party. There were batteries of cameras that took pictures of us as we went about the whole place and as I made several demonstrations for them — hell I felt like Garbo getting of (sic) a train in Chicago.

Now about this concentration camp. It was evacuated by the germans when things got too hot for them, this was on the night of April 2. All the healthy ones were marched away in the night, and those who were sick were loaded into trucks and wagons, and then when there was no more transportation available the remainder — about 35 were shot as they lay here waiting for something to come to take them away. Too, in another building there were about 40 dead ones which they did not have the time to bury in their hasty departure.

One of the survivors of Ohrdruf was Andrew Rosner, a Jewish prisoner who had escaped from the march out of the camp and was rescued by soldiers of the 89th Division in the town of Ohrdruf.

The following is a quote from Andrew Rosner on the occasion of a 50ieth anniversary celebration of the liberation of the camp, held on 23 April 1995 at Wichita, Kansas:

At the age of 23, I was barely alive as we began the death march eastward. All around me, I heard the sound of thunder – really the sound of heavy artillery and machinery. I looked for any opportunity to drop out of the march. But, any man who fell behind or to the side was shot instantly by the Nazis. So, I marched on in my delirium and as night fell, I threw myself off into the side of the road and into a clump of trees. I lay there — waiting — and waiting — and suddenly nothing! No more Nazis shouting orders. No more marching feet. No more people. Alone. All alone and alive — although barely.

I moved farther into the woods when I realized I was not really left behind. I slept for awhile as the darkness of night shielded me from the eyes of men. But, as the light of dawn broke, I heard shooting all around me. I played dead as men ran over me, stumbling over me as they went. I lay there as bullets passed by me and Nazis fell all around me. Then all was quiet. The battle was over. I waited for hours before I dared to move. I got up and saw dead German soldiers laying everywhere. I made my way back toward the road and started walking in the direction of a small village, which I could see in the distance. As I approached the village two Germans appeared. One raised his gun toward me and asked what I was doing there. I told him I was lost from the evacuation march. He told me that I must have escaped and I knew he was about to shoot me when the other German told him to let me be. It would not serve them well to harm me now. They allowed me to walk away and as I did, I said a final prayer knowing that a bullet in the back would now find me for sure. It never did!

In the small village I was told to go farther down the road to the town of Ohrdruf from where I had come three days before. There, I would find the Americans. And so I did.

As I entered the outskirts of the town of Ohrdruf two American soldiers met me and escorted me into town. I was immediately surrounded by Americans and as their officers questioned where I had been and what had happened to me, GIs were showering me with food and chocolate and other treats that I had not known for almost five years.

You were all so kind and so compassionate. But, my years in the camps, my weakened state of health, the forced death march, and my escape to freedom was more than a human body could bear any longer and I collapsed into the arms of you, my rescuing angels.

End quote

When the generals and their entourage toured the Ohrdruf-Nord camp on April 12th, the dead bodies on the roll-call square had been left outside to decompose in the sun and the rain for more than a week. The stench of the rotting corpses had now reached the point that General Patton, a battle-hardened veteran of 40 years of warfare, the leader of the American Third Army which had won the bloody Battle of the Bulge, and an experienced soldier who had seen the atrocities of two World Wars, threw up his lunch behind one of the barracks.

The photo below shows the naked bodies of prisoners in a shed at Ohrdruf where their bodies had been layered with lime to keep down the smell.

Corpses sprinkled with lime in shed at Ohrdruf-Nord


General Eisenhower was not as easily sickened by the smell of the dead bodies. Although he didn’t mention the name Ohrdruf in his book entitled “Crusade in Europe,” Eisenhower wrote the following about the Ohrdruf camp:

I visited every nook and cranny of the camp because I felt it my duty to be in a position from then on to testify at first hand about these things in case there ever grew up at home the belief or assumption that ‘the stories of Nazi brutality were just propaganda.’ Some members of the visiting party were unable to go through with the ordeal. I not only did so but as soon as I returned to Patton’s headquarters that evening I sent communications to both Washington and London, urging the two governments to send instantly to Germany a random group of newspaper editors and representative groups from the national legislatures. I felt that the evidence should be immediately placed before the American and British publics in a fashion that would leave no room for cynical doubt.

General Patton wrote in his memoirs that he learned from the surviving inmates that 3,000 prisoners had died in the camp since January 1, 1945. A few dozen bodies on a pyre, constructed out of railroad tracks, had recently been burned and their gruesome remains were still on display.

End quote

According to General Patton, the bodies had been buried, but were later dug up and burned because “the Germans thought it expedient to remove the evidence of their crimes.” But after all that effort to cover up their crimes, the SS guards had allegedly shot sick prisoners when they ran short of transportation to move them out of the camp, and had left the bodies as evidence.

The first news reel film about alleged German war-time atrocities, that was shown in American movie theaters, referred to the Ohrdruf labor camp as a “murder mill.” Burned corpses were shown as the narrator of the film asked rhetorically “How many were burned alive?” The narrator described “the murder shed” at Ohrdruf where prisoners were “slain in cold blood.” Lest anyone should be inclined to assume that this news reel was sheer propaganda, the narrator prophetically intoned: “For the first time, America can believe what they thought was impossible propaganda. This is documentary evidence of sheer mass murder – murder that will blacken the name of Germany for the rest of recorded history.”

The documentary film about all the camps, directed by famed Hollywood director George Stevens, which was shown on November 29, 1945 at the Nuremberg International Military Tribunal, claimed that the Germans “starved, clubbed, and burned to death more than 4,000 political prisoners over a period of 8 months” at Ohrdruf-Nord. These atrocities allegedly took place while the Nazis were desperately trying to finish building a secret underground hideout for Hitler who was holed up in Berlin.

Ohrdruf-Nord survivor shows shallow grave to the Generals

In the photo above, the soldier on the far right, holding a notepad in his hand, is Benjamin B. Ferencz, who was at Ohrdruf to gather evidence of Nazi atrocities for future war crimes trials.

Five years after seeing the Ohrdruf camp, General Bradley recalled that “The smell of death overwhelmed us even before we passed through the stockade. More than 3,200 naked, emaciated bodies had been flung into shallow graves. Others lay in the streets where they had fallen. Lice crawled over the yellowed skin of their sharp, bony frames.” The presence of lice in the camp indicates that there was probably an epidemic of typhus, which is spread by lice.

In his letter to his family, written 13 April 1945, Alois Liethen wrote the following regarding the burial pit:

Then, about 2 kilometers from the enclosure was the ‘pit’ where the germans had buried 3200 since December when this camp opened. About 3 weeks ago the commandant of the camp was ordered to destroy all of the evidence of the mass killings in this place and he sent several hundred of these inmates out on the detail to exhume these bodies and have them burned. However, there wasn’t time enough to burn all of the 3200 and only 1606 were actually burned and the balance were still buried under a light film of dirt. I know that all of this may seem gruesome to you, it was to me too, and some of you may think that I may have become warped of mind in hatred, well, every single thing that I stated here and to the generals yesterday are carefully recorded in 16 pictures which I took with my camera at the place itself.

Both General George S. Patton and General Dwight D. Eisenhower referred to the Ohrdruf-Nord camp as a “horror camp” in their wartime memoirs.

Eisenhower wrote the following in his book, “Crusade in Europe” about April 12, 1945, the day he visited the salt mines that held the Nazi treasures:

The same day, I saw my first horror camp. It was near the town of Gotha. I have never felt able to describe my emotional reactions when I first came face to face with indisputable evidence of Nazi brutality and ruthless disregard of every shred of decency. Up to that time I had known about it only generally or through secondary sources. I am certain, however that I have never at any other time experienced an equal sense of shock.

Eisenhower did not take the time to visit the main camp at Buchenwald, which was in the immediate area and had been discovered by the American army just the day before.

The Ohrdruf camp did not have a crematorium to burn the bodies. Instead, the bodies were at first taken to Buchenwald for burning, but as the death rate climbed, the bodies were buried about a mile from the camp. During the last days before the camp was liberated, bodies were being burned on a pyre made from railroad tracks. The rails were readily available because the underground bunker that was being built by the Ohrdruf prisoners featured a railroad where a whole train could be hidden underground.

In the photo below, the man on the far right wearing a dark jacket is a Dutch survivor of the camp who served as a guide for the American generals on their visit.

The second man from the right, in the photo below, is Captain Alois Liethen, who is interpreting for General Bradley to his left and General Eisenhower in the center of the photo. The man to the left of General Eisenhower is Benjamin B. Ferencz, who is taking notes. On the far left is one of the survivors of Ohrdruf.

Gen. Eisenhower views burned bodies, April 12, 1945

On the same day that the Generals visited Ohrdruf, a group of citizens from the town of Ohrdruf and a captured German Army officer were being forced to take the tour. Colonel Charles Codman, an aide to General Patton, wrote to his wife about an incident that happened that day. A young soldier had accidentally bumped into the captured German officer and had laughed nervously.

“General Eisenhower fixed him with a cold eye,” Codman wrote “and when he spoke, each word was like the drop off an icicle. ‘Still having trouble hating them?’ he said.” General Eisenhower had no trouble hating the Germans, as he would demonstrate when he set up a POW camp in Gotha a few weeks later.

After his visit to the salt mines and the Ohrdruf camp on April 12, 1945, General Eisenhower wrote the following in a cable on April 15th to General George C. Marshall, the head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in Washington, DC; this quote is prominently displayed by the U.S. Holocaust Museum:

. . .the most interesting–although horrible–sight that I encountered during the trip was a visit to a German internment camp near Gotha. The things I saw beggar description. While I was touring the camp I encountered three men who had been inmates and by one ruse or another had made their escape. I interviewed them through an interpreter. The visual evidence and the verbal testimony of starvation, cruelty and bestiality were so overpowering as to leave me a bit sick. In one room, where they were piled up twenty or thirty naked men, killed by starvation, George Patton would not even enter. He said that he would get sick if he did so. I made the visit deliberately, in order to be in a position to give first-hand evidence of these things if ever, in the future, there develops a tendency to charge these allegations merely to “propaganda.”

Ironically, General Eisenhower’s words about “propaganda,” turned out to be prophetic: only a few years later, Paul Rassinier, who was a French resistance fighter imprisoned at the Buchenwald main camp, wrote the first Holocaust denial book, entitled Debunking the Genocide Myth, in which he refuted the claim by the French government at the 1946 Nuremberg trial that there were gas chambers in Buchenwald.

Note that General Eisenhower referred to Ohrdruf as an “internment camp,” which was what Americans called the camps where Japanese-Americans, German-Americans and Italian-Americans were held without charges during World War II. Ohrdruf was undoubtedly the first, and only, “internment camp” that General Eisenhower ever saw.

Why was Captain Alois Liethen investigating this small, obscure forced labor camp long before he arrived in Germany? Why did all the US Army generals visit this small camp and no other? Could it be because there was something else of great interest in the Ohrdruf area besides the Führer bunker and the salt mine where Nazi treasures were stored?

The Buchenwald camp had been liberated the day before the visit to the Ohrdruf camp. At Buchenwald, there were shrunken heads, human skin lampshades and ashtrays made from human bones. At Ohrdruf, there was nothing to see except a shed filled with 40 bodies. So why did Captain Alois Liethen take the four generals to Ohrdruf instead of Buchenwald?

What was Captain Liethen referring to when he wrote these words in a letter to his family?

After looking the place over for nearly a whole day I came back and made an oral report to my commanding general — rather I was ordered to do so by my boss, the Col. in my section. Then after I had told him all about the place he got in touch with the High Command and told them about it and the following tale bears out what they did about it.

There has been some speculation that the Germans might have tested an atomic bomb near Ohrdruf. In his book entitled “The SS Brotherhood of the Bell,” author James P. Farrell wrote about “the alleged German test of a small critical mass, high yield atom bomb at or near the Ohrdruf troop parade ground on March 4, 1945.” The “troop parade ground” was at the German Army Base right next to the Ohrdruf labor camp.

Why did General Eisenhower immediately order a propaganda campaign about Nazi atrocities? Was it to distract the media from discovering a far more important story? The first news reel about the Nazi camps called Ohrdruf a “murder mill.”

News reel film calls Ohrdruf a “murder mill”

Ohrdruf, Continued

Buchenwald main camp

 

It all started with the Warsaw Ghetto upsising

Filed under: Germany, Holocaust — furtherglory @ 11:53 am

I have been reading in the news recently that young people today don’t know anything about the Holocaust.

Where to start? In my opinion, young people should start their Holocaust education by studying the story of the Warsaw ghetto.

I have a section about this on my website at http://www.scrapbookpages.com/Poland/WarsawGhetto/index.html

You can read about the Warsaw ghetto heroes on my website at http://www.scrapbookpages.com/Poland/WarsawGhetto/WarsawGhetto02.html

 

April 17, 2018

Holocaust Knowledge and Awaremess Study

Filed under: Germany, Holocaust — furtherglory @ 3:28 pm

I am writing about a new study entitled

2018 Holocaust Knowledge and Awareness Study

The following quote is from the article above:

Begin quote

Last week, we observed Yom HaShoah, or Holocaust Remembrance Day, to commemorate the approximately six million Jews who lost their lives in The Holocaust.

End quote

I thought that the latest number of Jews who lost their lives is 1.1 million. Since when have we gone back to the six million figure?

The article ends with the following quote:

Begin quote

Broadly, Holocaust awareness in the United States is high. According to our findings, nearly 9 in 10 US adults, or 89 percent, know what The Holocaust is.

End quote

Goody, goody — 9 out of 10 adults in America know what the Holocaust is!

What about the other 10 percent? Are they mentally ill or retarded or what?

The article continues with this quote:

Begin quote

As time passes and The Holocaust becomes a more distant point in history, it is vital that we remain not just aware of The Holocaust, but also ensure that future generations are educated about the important details of one of the most horrific mass genocides in world history.

While prior research exists on baseline Holocaust awareness and denial in the United States, there had been no published study to date that assessed what attitudes that Americans have towards the current state of Holocaust education in the United States, or what detailed knowledge American adults have about The Holocaust.

To better understand the state of Holocaust education and knowledge in the United States, the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, a group that negotiates for grants from the German government to protect survivors and support Holocaust education, commissioned my firm, Schoen Consulting, to conduct the first comprehensive study of Holocaust awareness, knowledge, and education in the United States.

End quote

It’s about time that someone is looking after the Holocaust story. I am doing my part — how about you, dear reader?

April 16, 2018

Whatever happened to the Nazi gas chambers?

Filed under: Auschwitz, Germany, Holocaust — furtherglory @ 2:38 pm

A new generation of young people is now studying the Holocaust. Many people in this generation do not know, nor care, about Auschwitz, which is the main place where the Holocaust happened.

You can see photos of the Auschwitz gas chambers on the Internet.  The following quote is from another website:

http://www.deathcamps.org/gas_chambers/gas_chambers_auschwitz.html

Begin quote

Already mentioned, Bunker 2 was reactivated for the “Hungarian Jews Action”, and finally demolished.
Crematory IV was set on fire by its Sonderkommando during the uprising on 7 October 1944, and thereafter was no longer use able. Crematories II and III were blown up by the SS on 20 January 1945.
Crematory V was blown up as the last one 26 January 1945, just before the liberation of Auschwitz.

End quote

You can see my photos of the Auschwitz gas chamber at http://www.scrapbookpages.com/AuschwitzScrapbook/Tour/Auschwitz1/Auschwitz08.html

 

 

April 13, 2018

The gassing of the Hungarian Jews…

Filed under: Auschwitz, Germany, Holocaust — furtherglory @ 12:15 pm

This blog post is about the deportation and gassing of Hungarian Jews.

Hungarian Jews arrived at Auschwitz May 26,1944

It was not until May 1944, when the Hungarian Jews were deported, that the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp became the site of the largest mass murder in modern history and the epicenter of the Final Solution.

In 1942, there were 2.7 million Jews murdered by the Nazis, including 1.6 million at the Operation Reinhard camps, but only 200,000 Jews were gassed at Auschwitz that year in two old converted farm houses. This information is from the book “Auschwitz, a New History” by Laurence Rees, published in 2005.

Almost one half of all the Jews that were killed at Auschwitz were Hungarian Jews who were gassed within a period of 10 weeks in 1944. Up until the Spring of 1944, it had been the three Operation Reinhard camps at Treblinka, Belzec and Sobibor, that were the main Nazi killing centers for the Jews, not Auschwitz.

The order to round up the Hungarian Jews and confine them in ghettos was signed by Lazlo Baky of the Royal Hungarian government on April 7, 1944. Jews in Hungary had been persecuted since 1092 when Jews were forbidden to marry Christians.

The deportation of the Hungarian Jews began on April 29, 1944 when a train load of Jews were sent to Auschwitz- Birkenau on the orders of Adolf Eichmann, according to the book by Laurence Rees.

According to The Holocaust Chronicle, a huge book published in 2002 by Louis Weber, the CEO of Publications International, Ltd., another train filled with Hungarian Jews left for Birkeanu on April 30, 1944; the two trains with a total of 3,800 Jews reached Birkenau on May 2, 1944. There were 486 men and 616 women selected to work; the remaining 2,698 Jews were allegedly gassed upon arrival.

On May 8, 1944, former Commandant Rudolf Höss (Hoess) was brought back to Auschwitz-Birkenau to supervise the further deportation of the Hungarian Jews. The next day, Höss ordered the train tracks to be extended inside the Birkenau camp so that the Hungarian Jews could be brought as close as possible to the gas chambers.

According to Laurence Rees, in his book “Auschwitz, a New History,” the first mass transport of Hungarian Jews left on May 15, 1944 and arrived at Birkenau on May 16, 1944. The mass transports consisted of 3,000 or more prisoners on each train.

In October 1940, Hungary had become allies with the Axis powers by joining the Tripartite Pact. Part of the deal was that Hungary would be allowed to take back northern Transylvania, a province that had been given to Romania after World War I. Hungarian soldiers participated in the German invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941.

On April 17, 1943, after Bulgaria, another ally of Germany, had refused to permit their Jews to be deported, Hitler met with Admiral Miklos Horthy, the Hungarian leader, in Salzburg and tried to persuade him to allow the Hungarian Jews to be “resettled” in Poland, according to Martin Gilbert in his book entitled “Never Again.” Admiral Horthy rejected Hitler’s plea and refused to deport the Hungarian Jews.

From the beginning of the persecution of the Jews by the Nazis in 1933, until March 1944, Hungary was a relatively safe haven for the Jews and many Jews from Germany, Austria, Slovakia and Poland sought refuge within its borders. However, in 1938, Hungary had enacted laws similar to the laws in Nazi Germany, which discriminated against the Jews.

On September 3, 1943, Italy signed an armistice with the Allies and turned against Germany, their former ally. Horthy hoped to negotiate a similar deal with the Western allies to stop a Soviet invasion of Hungary.

“Sonderkommando Eichmann,” a special group of SS soldiers under the command of Adolf Eichmann, was activated on March 10, 1944 for the purpose of deporting the Hungarian Jews to Auschwitz; the personnel in this Special Action Commando was assembled at the Mauthausen concentration camp in Austria and then sent to Hungary on March 19, 1944 during the celebration of Purim, a Jewish holiday.

 

Hungarian Jews walking to the gas chamber

On March 18, 1944, Hitler had a second meeting with Horthy at Schloss Klessheim, a castle near Salzburg in Austria. An agreement was reached in which Horthy promised to allow 100,000 Jews to be sent to the Greater German Reich to construct underground factories for the manufacture of fighter aircraft. These factories were to be located at Mauthausen, and at the eleven Kaufering sub camps of Dachau. The Jews were to be sent to Auschwitz, and then transferred to the camps in Germany and Austria.

When Horthy returned to Hungary, he found that Edmund Veesenmayer, an SS Brigadeführer, had been installed as the effective ruler of Hungary, responsible directly to the German Foreign Office and Hitler.

On March 19, 1944, the same day that Eichmann’s Sonderkommando arrived, German troops occupied Hungary. The invasion of Hungary by the Soviet Union was imminent and Hitler suspected that Horthy was planning to change sides. As it became more and more likely that Germany would lose the war, its allies began to defect to the winning side. Romania switched to the Allied side on August 23, 1944.

After the formation of the Reich Central Security Office (RSHA) in 1939, Adolf Eichmann had been put in charge of section IV B4, the RSHA department that handled the deportation of the Jews. One of his first assignments was to work on the Nazi plan to send the European Jews to the island of Madagascar off the coast of Africa. This plan was abandoned in 1940.

According to Rudolf Höss, the Commandant of Auschwitz, “Eichmann had concerned himself with the Jewish question since his youth and had an extensive knowledge of the literature on the subject. He lived for a long time in Palestine in order to learn more about the Zionists and the growing Jewish state.”

In 1937, Eichmann had gone to the Middle East to research the possibility of mass Jewish emigration to Palestine. He had met with Feival Polkes, an agent of the Haganah, with whom he discussed the Zionist plan to create a Jewish state. According to testimony at his trial in 1961 in Jerusalem, Eichmann was denied entry into Palestine by the British, who were opposed to a Jewish state in Palestine, so the idea of deporting all the European Jews to Palestine was abandoned.

At the Wannsee Conference on January 20, 1942, at which the Final Solution to the Jewish Question was planned, Eichmann had been assigned to organize the “transportation to the East” which was a euphemism for sending the European Jews to be killed at Treblinka, Sobibor, Belzec, Majdanek and Auschwitz-Birkenau.

Jewish children walk to gas chambers at Auschwitz Birkenau

The next day after German forces took over Hungary, Adolf Eichmann arrived to oversee the process of deporting the Hungarian Jews. There were 725,000 Jews living in Hungary in 1944, including many who were previously residents of Romania, according to Laurence Rees, who wrote a book entitled “Auschwitz, a New History.”

The Jews in the villages and small towns were immediately rounded up and concentrated in ghettos. One of the ghettos was located in a brick factory in the city of Miskolc, Hungary, where 14,000 Jews were imprisoned while they waited to be transported to Auschwitz-Birkeanu.

Magda Brown, who was born in Miskolc on June 11, 1927, said in a speech at a Synagogue in Morgan Hill, CA that her family was marched though the city to the Miskolc ghetto on her 17th birthday in 1944. From there, Magda was transported on a train to Birkenau, where she was immediately separated from her family.

After two months at Birkeanu, Magda was sent, along with 1,000 Hungrian women, to work in a munitions factory at Allendorf, a sub-camp of Buchenwald. In March 1945, the prisoners at Allendorf were evacuated and marched to the Buchenwald main camp; Magda escaped from the march and hid on a farm until she was rescued by American soldiers.

Vera Frank Federman is another Hungarian survivor who was sent to Auschwitz and then transferred a few weeks later to the Allendorf sub-camp of Buchenwald.

The following quote is from an article published on April 29, 2003 in The Daily, the newspaper of the University of Washington. Vera Frank is a graduate of UW.

Begin quote

On Federman’s 20th birthday, June 27, 1944, she and her parents were herded onto one of the transports and spent the next three days traveling to Auschwitz.

“We arrived [at] Auschwitz, and they separated the men from the women, and my father went with the men, and my mother and I arrived in front of an S.S. officer,” Federman said.

The officer ordered Federman and her mother in different directions, despite Federman’s claim that she was only 13 years old. She never saw either of her parents again.

Federman stayed in Auschwitz for six or seven weeks, and saw her health and that of others rapidly deteriorate.

“Girls came down with scarlet fever, and my cousin, with whom I came, became ill with scarlet fever, but she was so lucky, because up to that time, [the Nazis] took [sick people] immediately, and took them to the gas chamber,” she said.

After several weeks, Federman and her two friends, Vera and Zsuzsi, were marched in front of Dr. Josef Mengele, the camp’s human-genetics researcher, so he could decide which women would be sent to other labor camps, and which would be killed. Federman and Vera were rejected, while Zsuzsi was chosen to go to a labor camp.

Zsuzsi insisted that her sister come with her, and after some questioning by Mengele about whether they were twins, he approved Vera. Federman tried to convince Mengele to approve her as well, but he rejected her again.

“I said, ‘Oh, but I am very strong, I can work.’ And a German officer standing next to him whispered, kind of a loud whisper, ‘Lassen sie das kleine gehen’ – ‘Let the little one go,’ and he let me go,” she said.

End quote

The photo below shows Hungarian women who have been selected to work.

Hungarian women who have just arrived

According to a book which she wrote, Holocaust survivor Eva Fahidi was 18 years old when, together with her family in the town of Debrecen, Hungary, she was herded into a cattle car headed to the Birkenau death camp.

Her Mother and 11-year-old sister, Gilike, were instantly murdered. Her father bore the hard labour for a few weeks only.

Eva spent six weeks in Auschwitz-Birkenau. Then she was shipped with one thousand other women to Allendorf, a slave-labour sub-camp of Buchenwald. Here, the women had to work with harmful chemical agents, “without protective gloves or masks; we inhaled all the dangerous vapor and walked in saltpeter up to our knees,” twelve hours a day, incredibly hard work, “but in comparison with a death camp it was a better option.” Here, being able “to maintain a reasonable hygienic standard; in times of great need being able to help each other,” dignified their lives and contributed to survival.

Hungarian women who have been selected to work

The photo above shows Hungarian women walking into the women’s section on the south side of the Birkenau camp after they have had a shower and a change of clothes. Behind them is a transport train and in the background on the left is one of the camp guards.

The woman with dark hair in the center of the photo is Ella Hart Gutmann who is in the outside row facing inward. Next to her is Lida Hausler Leibovics; both women were from Uzhgorod. Their heads have been shaved in an attempt to control the lice that spreads typhus.

One of the Hungarian Jews who survived was Alice Lok Cahana, whose story was recounted by Laurence Rees in his book entitled “Auschwitz, a New History.” Alice was 15 when she was registered in the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp, but months later she was sent to the gas chamber in Krema V and told that she would be given new clothes after taking a shower. The purpose of the red brick Krema V building was deceptively disguised by red geraniums in window boxes, according to Alice. She was inside the gas chamber in Krema V when the revolt by the Sonderkommando unit in Krema IV began on October 7, 1944. This was the occasion when the Sonderkommando blew up the Krema IV gas chamber building with dynamite that had been sneaked into Birkenau by some of the women prisoners who worked in factories outside the camp.

Laurence Rees wrote:

But the revolt did save some lives. It must have been because of the chaos caused by the Sonderkommando in crematorium 4 that the SS guards emptied the gas chamber of crematorium 5 next door without killing Alice Lok Cahana and her group.

Eva Olsson is a Hungarian Jew who arrived at Birkenau on May 19, 1944; she was 18 years old. In a speech at St. Patrick’s High School and St. Christopher Secondary School, as reported by Tara Hagan in The Observer, a Canadian newspaper, Olsson told about a Nazi official who came to her neighborhood in Hungary and began rounding up the Jews, telling them that they were going to be sent to Germany to work in a brick factory. Instead, they were sent to Birkenau. Out of 89 members of her family, Eva and her sister Fredel were the only survivors.

Olsson has spoken to over a million people since she started giving lectures about the Holocaust in 1995. In her talks, she tells about the gas chamber at Bergen-Belsen and about children being burned alive, five at a time, in the crematory ovens at Bergen-Belsen.

According to the article by Tara Hagan, Eva Olsson told the students that when the Jews arrived at Birkenau “People who didn’t do what they were told were shot on the spot. If a mother was holding a baby, they shot the baby and the bullet would go through to the mother. You save a bullet that way.”

Tara Hagan also wrote that, at the Birkenau camp, Olssen “recalled living on bread and black, watery soup that had tufts of human hair in it, bones and mice.”

Eventually, Olsson was sent to work in a factory in Essen, Germany, then to the Bergen Belsen concentration camp. At Bergen-Belsen, Olsson was starving, covered in lice and sores and had a fever. She told the students that she “dampened a cloth with her own urine” in order to cool down. Others, she recalled, drank their urine.

Iby Knill was 18 and working as a resistance fighter in Hungary when she was arrested and eventually transported to the Birkenau death camp in June 1944, according to this news article by Virginia Mason, published on January 26, 2010.

Iby’s story begins when she was a young girl growing up in her native Czechoslovakia; when the Germans invaded Czechoslovakia in 1938, she escaped over the border into Hungary but was arrested as an illegal immigrant.

“There were five of us, all girls and we made a pact to stay together as we walked through those gates and were greeted by the man we later learned was Dr Josef Mengele,” she says of her arrival at Birkenau. “From that day on it became a test of survival.” Miraculously, she adds, all five of them lived to witness the liberation from the Nazis in 1945.

By 2010, Iby had started writing her story and was seeking a publisher for her manuscript, which is chillingly brutal in its frankness, according to Virginia Mason’s article.

According to Iby Knill, “The shower unit and the gas chamber looked the same. They had been built that way, so we never knew if we were to be gassed or just showered.”

In her lectures on the Holocaust, Iby describes the infamous Dr Mengele, whose experiments in the name of medical science earned him the nick name, Angel of Death. “We lined up and he would walk in front of us, picking out the weakest. Their fate was the gas chambers.”

She talks of the cramped, inhuman conditions at Birkenau, the incredible hunger and thirst, and worst of all, the scraps of gray, latherless soap made from human ashes, and the constant fear of extermination in the gas chamber.

According to her story, Iby was able to leave the Birkenau death camp only by volunteering to go to the Lippstadt labour camp, a sub-camp of the Buchenwald concentration camp, where she worked in the hospital unit. On Easter Sunday, 1945, while on a death march to the main Buchenwald camp, she was freed by Allied Forces.

The following information about Holocaust survivor Lily Ebert is from an article by Ross Lydall in the London Evening Standard on January 26, 2010:

Begin quote

At the age of 14, Lily Ebert was taken from the Hungarian town of Bonybad to Birkenau in a packed cattle car, along with her mother, brother and three sisters. Lily was registered upon arrival in July 1944 and tattooed with the number A-10572, even though she was below the age of 15 and could have been sent directly to the gas chamber.

End quote

After about four months at Birkenau, Lily and her three sisters were transferred to an ammunition factory near Leipzig, Germany, which was a sub-camp of the Buchenwald concentration camp.

April 11, 2018

On this day, April 11th, Buchenwald was liberated

Filed under: Buchenwald, Germany — furtherglory @ 5:19 pm

You can read about the liberation of Buchenwald on this day, April 11th in 1945:  https://heavy.com/news/2018/04/buchenwald-concentration-camp-liberated-nazi-wwii/

The following quote is from the news article:

Begin quote

On April 11, 1945, American troops, led by General Dwight D. Eisenhower, liberated the Buchenwald concentration camp located near Weimar, Germany. Upon encountering the various atrocities committed by the Nazis at Buchenwald, Eisenhower would later write that “nothing has ever shocked me as much as that sight.”

Buchenwald was home to some of the most notorious and brutal Nazi criminals of World War II. Karl Otto Koch served as the camp commandant, accompanied by his wife, Ilse Koch, who earned the nickname “The Beast of Buchenwald” or “The Bitch of Buchenwald” due to her cruelty toward the prisoners and general inhumanity.

End quote

I have a whole section, on my website, about Buchenwald, which you can read at

http://www.scrapbookpages.com/Buchenwald/index.html

The Sobibor camp is in today’s news

Filed under: Germany, Holocaust — furtherglory @ 1:49 pm

The Sobibor camp is mentioned in this news article:

https://www.timesofisrael.com/in-sobibor-where-a-soviet-jew-led-the-escape-russia-is-shut-out-of-new-museum/

The following quote is from the news article:

Begin quote

The Polish government is building a museum on the grounds of the former Sobibor death camp, home to one of the most daring escapes of the Holocaust. But despite the fact that the uprising was organized by a Soviet prisoner of war, the Russian government has been excluded from participating in the design of the new museum.

The rebellion began on October 14, 1943, when a group of Jewish inmates lured about a dozen Nazi guards into sheds and murdered them one by one with axes and knives. The group then cut the telephone lines and the electricity, collected the dead Nazis’ weapons, and took aim at the guard towers as 300 prisoners escaped over the barbed wire fence and ran through the surrounding minefield towards safety.

End quote

I have a section on my website about Sobibor:

http://www.scrapbookpages.com/Poland/Sobibor/index.html

 

April 9, 2018

The Holocaust started at Treblinka camp in Poland

Filed under: Germany, Holocaust — furtherglory @ 3:30 pm

Houses along the blacktop road through Poniatowo, near the Treblinka camp

From Warsaw, the route to Treblinka starts with the crossing of the river Vistula, then a turn onto Highway 18 northeast towards Bialystok, the only large town in the Bialystok province, which is located in the most remote northeast corner of Poland. It is in the Bialystok province that bison still roam, and one can see the last remaining primeval forest and wetlands on the European continent. This area could truly be called the “Wild East” of Poland.

As you can see in the photograph above, taken by me, in October 1998, the road as it nears the camp becomes a one-lane blacktop, badly in need of repair. This photo was taken in a small hamlet which my tour guide identified as Poniatowo.

Treblinka is two kilometers from the Bug River which, during World War II, formed the border between the Nazi occupied General Government of Poland and the zone occupied by the Soviet Union from September 1939 until the German invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941. Two other Action Reinhard death camps, Sobibor and Belzec, were also located very close to the Bug river which was the border between the General Government and the Soviet zone of Poland.

The Soviet zone was the territory that had formerly belonged to Russia between 1772 and 1918. Known as the “Pale of Settlement” between 1835 and 1917, this was the area where all Russian Jews were forced to live until after they were liberated by the Communist Revolution in 1917.

Treblinka was located on the railroad line running from Ostrów Mazowiecki to Siedlce; at Malkinia junction, this line intersected the major railway line which ran from Warsaw to Bialystok.

Highway 18 is a two-lane concrete road with pedestrian paths on each side. There is heavy traffic of trucks from Belarus (Byelorussia or White Russia) and Estonia traveling west into Poland; traffic is slowed down by local Polish farmers driving wagons pulled by tractors or by a lone horse. The terrain is completely flat with farm land on each side of the road but not a fence in sight. Then the road goes through mile after mile of dense forest. During World War II, these woods were full of Polish and Jewish partisans, who hid there along with escaped Russian Prisoners of War, and fought the Nazis by blowing up bridges and train tracks or placing land mines to kill columns of German soldiers. If captured, these partisans were sent to Dachau or Buchenwald or the main camp at Auschwitz.

At a point 22 kilometers from Treblinka, the route turns southeast off of Highway 18. This new road is a one-lane blacktop with no space on the sides for pedestrians. The road gets progressively worse until the final leg of the journey is pockmarked with pot holes. This road is shown in the photo at the top of this page.

The Treblinka camp got its name from the tiny village of Treblinka, which is around 4 kilometers from the death camp. In 1998 when I visited, the village of Treblinka was almost deserted and the buildings were far more dilapidated than in the other nearby villages.

Cottage in Poniatowo, along the road on the way to Treblinka

I was told by my tour guide in 1998 that the closest houses to the camp were in the tiny hamlet of Poniatowo. The photo immediately above shows a house which is built of wood with painted shutters on one window; it is at the edge of the road with a fence enclosing a small patch of flowers.

Some of these rural dwellings are so humble that you would not suspect that people still live there if it were not for the lace curtains which are always hung in the windows of these cottages. Note the cobblestones along the edge of the road, which you can see clearly in the photograph above.

Houses on the way to the Treblinka camp

Bridge over Bug River

 

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