Scrapbookpages Blog

June 22, 2017

Why are the Jews always persecuted and when did it start?

Filed under: Germany, Holocaust, Uncategorized — furtherglory @ 11:44 am

The Jews have been persecuted, in every country in the world, from the beginning of time and they will continue to be persecuted until the end of time.  But why are the Jews persecuted? What’s not to like?

Let’s go to Rothenburg, one of the oldest German cities:

The first Jewish quarter in Rothenburg was located in the heart of the city in what is now the Kapellenplatz (Chapel Square). The first synagogue was located on the Kapellenplatz in a spot that is now a parking place.

In 1286, the Holy Roman Emperor Rudolph I took away the political freedom of the Jews in all the German states, and imposed special taxes on them. Rabbi Meir Ben Baruch attempted to lead a group of Jews to Palestine but he was arrested and held as a prisoner in a fortress in Alsace, which was a German state at that time.

The story is that he was arrested because his attempted exodus from the Holy Roman Empire would have deprived the Emperor of income from the special taxes. He refused to be freed for ransom for fear that this would lead to the kidnapping of other rabbis for ransom. He died in prison on May 2, 1293. In 1307, a ransom was paid for his body so that he could be buried in Worms, the city where he was born around 1215.

In 1298, the Jews were driven out of Rothenburg by the Christians; on the 700th anniversary of this pogrom in 1998, a Memorial to the murdered Jews of Rothenburg was placed in the Castle garden.

In 1390, the first Synagogue in Rothenburg was converted into a Catholic Church called the Marienkapelle (Chapel of St. Mary) when the Jews were banished from the city. It was torn down in 1804. The second synagogue in Rothenburg was located on the Shrannen Platz where there is now a parking lot.

 

 

 

June 21, 2017

Greek Jews are back in the news

Filed under: Holocaust, Uncategorized, World War II — furtherglory @ 11:02 am

A woman places flowers inside a train wagon that was used by the Nazis to carry Jews from Thessaloniki to Auschwitz during WWII, in the Greek northern town of Thessaloniki, on Sunday, March 15, 2015. Residents of this northern Greek city on Sunday marked the 72nd anniversary of the roundup and deportation of its Jews to Nazi extermination camps during World War II. (AP Photo/Giannis Papaniko

You can read a recent news article about the Greek Jews at https://www.algemeiner.com/2017/06/21/memory-of-greek-jewish-metropolis-endures-at-new-holocaust-museum/

Previously, I wrote about the Greek Jews on this page of my blog:

https://furtherglory.wordpress.com/tag/greek-jews/

The following quote is from the news article:

Begin quote

 Last week’s visit by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife, Sara, to Thessaloniki, Greece, marked the construction of a new Holocaust museum there — and a new chapter for the city’s once thriving Jewish community.

Thessaloniki was nearly wiped out during the Holocaust. It was formerly home to Greece’s largest Jewish community — and one of the most prominent centers for Sephardic Jewry for more than 450 years.

Thessaloniki, also once known as Salonica, was so synonymous with its flourishing Jewish community that 16th century Jewish Portuguese author Samuel Usques, deemed it “the metropolis of Israel, the city of Justice, the mother of Israel same as Jerusalem itself.”

Back then, the Jewish community’s influence in the city was so significant that all trade and businesses — Jewish and non-Jewish alike — were shut on the Sabbath, and during Jewish holidays. The city became a hub and refuge for Jews after the Jewish people’s expulsion from Spain.

At its peak during the Ottoman Empire, approximately 90,000 Jews lived in Thessaloniki, but by the beginning of the 20th century, only around 56,000 Jews remained.

End quote

Read more at https://www.algemeiner.com/2017/06/21/memory-of-greek-jewish-metropolis-endures-at-new-holocaust-museum/

 

June 20, 2017

Famous photo of Holocaust child survivors leads to reunion

Filed under: Germany, Holocaust, Uncategorized — Tags: , — furtherglory @ 10:23 am

Famous photo taken at Auschwitz when the camp was liberated

During World War II, German soldiers were allowed, and even encouraged, to carry cameras. American soldiers were not allowed to carry cameras, but many of them took the cameras from the cold dead hands of German soldiers, and used them to take photos of the concentration camps.

Soviet soldiers were lucky to have a rifle, and most of them had probably never even seen a camera.

Auschwitz was “liberated” by Soviet soldiers on January 27, 1945, but it was not until February 1945 that the Soviets finally got around to filming the Auschwitz survivors. Because of this, the only images of the Auschwitz survivors, that can be seen today, are still shots from the Soviet film. Unfortunately, these still shots show the Auschwitz inmates as being in good health.

For example, the photo above shows the child survivors of Auschwitz as being in good health.

Now there is a news story, which shows the photo above. You can read the story at http://www.mycentraljersey.com/story/news/local/outreach/caring-communities/2017/06/20/photo-holocaust-survivors-leads-reunion-72-years-later/399694001/

The news article shows this photo:

Photo of Auschwitz children was included in news article cited above

As shown in the news article, the photo above makes the children look as bad as possible, not as healthy children.

Many years ago, I worked as a photographer on a small town newspaper. I knew how to make photos look worse in order to get across a lie about the subject.

There is an old saying that “photos don’t lie.” Sometimes, a photo can be changed in the darkroom so that it tells a lie.

 

June 19, 2017

Jan Grabowski, the son of a Holocaust survivor, is in the news

Filed under: Germany, Holocaust, Uncategorized, World War II — furtherglory @ 3:05 pm

Mauthausen47.jpg

Photo of dead prisoners taken by Jan Grabowski at the Mauthausen camp

You can read about Jan Grabowski in this recent news article:

http://www.jta.org/2017/06/12/news-opinion/world/historians-defend-professor-who-wrote-of-poles-complicity-in-holocaust

The following quote is from the news article:

Begin quote

Historians from the Polish Center for Holocaust Research have criticized the Polish League Against Defamation for publishing a letter signed by 134 scientists and others condemning Jan Grabowski’s works describing the participation of Poles in the crimes committed by the Germans during World War II.

Grabowski, the son of a Holocaust survivor, is a professor of history of the Holocaust at the University of Ottawa and the co-founder of the Polish Center for Holocaust Research.

Polish nationalists have been increasingly assertive in recent years in condemning suggestions that Poland was a perpetrator nation instead of a victim of Nazi occupation.

In a statement, the Polish League Against Defamation called it “disturbing” that Grabowski’s book “Hunt for the Jews: Betrayal and Murder in German-Occupied Poland” was honored in 2014 with an award from Yad Vashem, “with which the author remains in close contact.”

The book, published by the Indiana University Press, documents the involvement of Poles in finding and killing Jews during the Holocaust. It draws on materials from Polish, Jewish and German sources, and focuses on accounts of the fates of individual Jews.

End quote

I wrote about Grabowski on my website:  http://www.scrapbookpages.com/Mauthausen/KZMauthausen/History/SpanishRepublicans.html

Begin quote from my website

British Author David Wingeate Pike published a book entitled “Spaniards in the Holocaust: Mauthausen, the Horror on the Danube” in 2000, in which he told the story of the Spanish Republicans in Mauthausen. He got much of his information from Juan de Diego, who was a Kapo in the Mauthausen camp. Diego was one of the privileged block leaders in Mauthausen; in this capacity, he had the opportunity to hide some of the incriminating evidence of atrocities from being destroyed by the German guards before they left the camp in the last week of the war.

According to Pike, 90% of the Spanish Republicans, who had previously been interned in France, were sent to Mauthausen in 1940 and 1941. Records saved by the Spanish survivors show that 23,400 Spanish prisoners were registered at Mauthausen and its subcamps and that 16,310 of them died, leaving around 9,200 survivors.

The majority of the Spanish prisoners at Mauthausen worked in the quarries, but some had administrative jobs. Among the later group were Antonio Garcia Alonso and Francesco Boix Campo, according to Pike, who wrote that Boix was sent to Mauthausen on January 27, 1941. Because of his facility with German, Boix initially worked as a translator in the camp. Garcia arrived in Mauthausen on April 7, 1941. Because he was a trained photographer, Garcia was assigned to work in the camp’s photo lab, Erkennungsdienst.

The SS photographer Kornacz was the only one who took photographs, but he employed inmates to handle the developing, printing and filing of the photo archive. Kornacz was assigned to take mug shots of arriving prisoners and to photograph official visits to the camp as well as the bodies of prisoners who died. He instructed his assistants to print five copies of each photograph: one for the camp archive and one each to be sent to Berlin, Oranienburg, Vienna and Linz.

End quote

 

June 18, 2017

A Holocaust survivor who was saved 16 times by Irma Grese

Filed under: Germany, Holocaust, Uncategorized — furtherglory @ 11:18 am

Irma Grese

The following quote is from a news article, which you can read in full at http://theislandnow.com/new_hyde_park-108/holocaust-survivors-share-stories-strength-remembrance-forum/

Begin quote

[Alice] Tenenbaum was a young teenager when she was forced into a ghetto before being taken to Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp where an estimated 1.1 million people were killed before the Soviet Union liberated the prisoners in January 1945.

Dr. Josef Mengele, known as the Angel of Death for his role in sending prisoners to gas chambers and performing inhumane experiments on people, frequented the camp and tried his hardest to execute 14-year-old Tenenbaum, but an unlikely savior appeared.

“Irma Grese, this horrible creature they called the beautiful beast, she somehow — to this day, I don’t know why — she saved me 16 times when Dr. (Josef) Mangele sent me to the gas chamber. She would come and take me out (of the chamber),” Tenenbaum said. “People I spoke to who knew her said she had a sister around my age and I looked a little bit like her. The reason she saved me so many times was because I looked like her sister. That’s how I survived Auschwitz.”

Grese was among the 45 people accused of war crimes at the Bergen Trial in 1945 and was executed for her actions later that year.

End quote

You can read all about Irma Grese on my scrapbookpages.com website. The following quote is from my website:

Begin quote

The Belsen trial was eagerly followed by the press and the defendant who attracted the most attention was the notorious 21-year-old Irma Grese, who was accused of participating in selections for the gas chamber at Birkenau, the Auschwitz II death camp. Despite her young age, Irma had achieved the rank of Oberaufseherin or Senior SS Overseer by the fall of 1943. In this role, she was in charge of supervising around 30,000 women prisoners, mostly Polish and Hungarian Jews, at Birkenau. She was transferred to Bergen-Belsen in March 1945, only a month before the liberation, yet she was also charged with beating prisoners in that camp. Some of the inmates at Bergen-Belsen had been transferred from Auschwitz-Birkenau, so they were able testify against the defendants with regard to both Counts One and Two. Grese was the highest ranking woman among the defendants at The Belsen Trial, but also the youngest, and she was, by far, the most hated by the former prisoners who testified against her.

Quoted below is Irma Grese’s testimony, under direct examination, about her background:

Begin quote from testimony by Irma Grese:

I was born on 7th October, 1923. In 1938 I left the elementary school and worked for six months on agricultural jobs at a farm, after which I worked in a shop in Luchen for six months. When I was 15 I went to a hospital in Hohenluchen, where I stayed for two years. I tried to become a nurse but the Labour Exchange would not allow that and sent me to work in a dairy in Fürstenburg. In July, 1942, I tried again to become a nurse, but the Labour Exchange sent me to Ravensbrück Concentration Camp, although I protested against it. I stayed there until March, 1943, when I went to Birkenau Camp in Auschwitz. I remained in Auschwitz until January, 1945.

Irma Grese at Bergen-Belsen 17 April 1945

The Auschwitz-Birkenau survivors testified that Grese habitually wore jack boots, carried a plaited cellophane whip and a pistol and that she was always accompanied by a vicious dog. The prisoners claimed that Irma was sadistic and that she derived sexual pleasure from beating the women prisoners with her cellophane riding crop. Witnesses claimed that she had beaten women prisoners to death and shot others in cold blood. The accusations of murder were made in affidavits, and none of them was corroborated. It was even claimed that there were lamp shades, made out of the skins of three women prisoners, found in her room at Birkenau. The most serious charge against her was that she had been present when inmates at Birkenau were selected for the gas chamber and that she had participated by forcing the women to line up for inspection by Dr. Mengele.

Grese denied having a dog, beating prisoners to death or shooting anyone, although she did admit to hitting prisoners with her cellophane whip even though it was forbidden for the Overseers to beat the prisoners. She stated that she continued to use her whip even after being ordered not to by Commandant Kramer. She also admitted to being aware that prisoners were gassed at Birkenau; she stated that this was common knowledge in the camp and that she had been told by the prisoners about the gassing. She admitted that she was present when selections were made and that she had helped to line up the prisoners, but she denied making the selections herself.

Quoted below is her testimony regarding the gas chamber selections, under direct examination, by her defense lawyer, Major Cranfield (page. 249 in the trial transcript):

Cranfield: Where did the order come from for what we call “selection parades”?
Grese: That came by telephone from a RapportFührerin or from Oberaufseherin Dreschel.
Cranfield: When the order came were you told what the parade was for?
Grese: No.
Cranfield: What were the prisoners supposed to do when the whistle went?
Grese: Fall in fives, and it was my duty to see that they did so. Dr. Mengele then came and made the selection. As I was responsible for the camp my duties were to know how many people were leaving and I had to count them, and I kept the figures in a strength book. After the selection took place they were sent into “B” Camp, and Dreschel telephoned and told me that they had gone to another camp in Germany for working purposes or for special treatment, which I thought was the gas chamber. I then put in my strength book either so many for transfer to Germany to another camp, or so many for S.B. (Sonder Behandlung). It was well known to the whole camp that S. B. meant the gas chamber.
Cranfield: Were you told anything about the gas chamber by your senior officers?
Grese: No, the prisoners told me about it.
Cranfield: You have been accused of choosing prisoners on these parades and sending them to the gas chamber. Have you done that?
Grese: No; I knew that prisoners were gassed.
Cranfield: Was it not quite simple to know whether or not the selection was for the gas chamber, because only Jews had to attend such selections?

Grese: I myself had only Jews in Camp “C.”
Cranfield: Then they would all have to attend the selection for the gas chamber, would they not?
Grese: Yes.
Cranfield: As you were told to wait for the doctors you would know perfectly well what it was for?
Grese: No.
Cranfield: When these people were parading they were very often paraded naked and inspected like cattle to see whether they were fit to work or fit to die, were they not?
Grese: Not like cattle.
Cranfield: You were there keeping order, were you not, and if one ran away you brought her back and gave her a beating?
Grese: Yes.

The following was excerpted and edited from the documentation of The Belsen Trial regarding the closing argument of Major Cranfield on behalf of Irma Grese and others:

Major Cranfield’s Closing Address on Behalf of Klippel, Grese, Lohbauer and Lothe

Directing the Court’s attention to the parts of the Charge Sheet which alleged the killing of Allied Nationals, Major Cranfield asked why there were included in this charge the names of specific Allied Nationals, and why it was not sufficient to charge the accused with causing the death of Allied Nationals whose names were unknown. He suggested that the answer was that, unless the killing of a specifically named person was included, the charge would be a bad one on grounds of vagueness and generality. Counsel proceeded to examine the names of the persons alleged in the Belsen charge to have died in that camp, reminding the Court that his accused were charged with being together concerned in causing their deaths.

He submitted that the evidence proved that Meyer was shot by a man not before the Court. The evidence proved that Anna Kis was killed deliberately by a man not before the Court. She was a Hungarian and, in his submission, if she was a Hungarian she could not be an Allied National. It was a matter of which the Court must take judicial notice that a state of war existed between the United Kingdom and Hungary, which had not been terminated by a peace treaty. Some reference had been made to an armistice. Counsel argued however that there was an armistice with Italy, but it could not be suggested that an Italian was an Allied National. It was, he thought, agreed that the names of Kohn, Glinovjechy and Konatkevicz had been wrongly included in the Belsen charge.

Referring to the death certificates relating to the remaining seven victims Counsel said that in each case the cause of death was stated to be death from natural causes. The dates of death were given, and the dates when these persons were alleged to have died were in a number of cases dates before his accused came to Belsen. One of the seven, Klee, was said by the Prosecution to be a British subject from Honduras, but Counsel for the Defense called for further proof of her nationality since the death certificate stated that she was born at Schwerin in Germany. The evidence that these seven persons were ever in Bergen-Belsen concentration camp was extremely flimsy. It seemed that he had now struck out of the Belsen charge all the specific persons whose deaths his accused were alleged to have caused, and the charge now read: “Allied Nationals unknown,” which was, as he had already submitted, insufficient.

The affidavit of Anna Jakubowice said of Klippel: “I have seen him frequently beat women”. She arrived at Belsen on the 1st January, and the British arrived on the 15th April. Counsel’s submission was that the allegation of frequent beating must relate to the whole period from 1st January to the 15th April. Again, the alleged shootings were said to have taken place during March, 1945. A number of witnesses supported Klippel when he said that from the 1st January to the 5th April, so far from being at Bergen-Belsen, he was over one hundred miles away in Mittelbau. Counsel denied that Klippel was part of Hoessler’s unit, or of Kramer’s staff.

The evidence of Diament against Grese regarding the latter’s responsibility for selecting victims for the gas chamber was vague. Regarding Lobowitz’s allegation against Grese, Counsel asked whether, however conscientious the accused was, it was not absolute nonsense to suggest that roll-calls went on from six to eight hours each day? He also threw doubt on the credibility of Neiger’s words.

Apart from the question of the truth of Trieger’s evidence Counsel pointed out that the victim of the alleged shooting by Grese was a Hungarian and not an Allied National.

As against Triszinska’s allegation concerning Grese’s dog, the Court had heard the accused deny that she ever had a dog, and that has been corroborated by others of the accused and by other witnesses from Auschwitz.

Regarding Kopper’s story of the punishment Kommando, Counsel referred to Grese’s evidence that she was in charge of the punishment Kommando for two days only, and in charge of the Strassenbaukommando, which was a type of punishment Kommando, for two weeks. The allegation of Kopper in her affidavit was that she was in charge of the punishment Kommando in Auschwitz from 1942 to 1944, but in the box she said that the accused was in charge of the punishment company working outside the camp for seven months. In the box she failed to reconcile those two statements. Was it probable that Grese would be in charge, the only Overseer, of a Kommando 800 strong, with an S.S. man, Herschel, to assist her? If 30 prisoners were killed each day, should there not have been some corroboration of this story?

Counsel asked the Court to disbelieve Szafran’s story about the shooting of the two girls, in view of Hoessler’s statement that the windows of the block in question were fixed windows. The story was told neither in Szafran’s affidavit nor even during her examination; she produced it on re-examination.

Commenting on the allegation of Ilona Stein, Counsel asked whether the Court believed, in view of the evidence, that an Overseer had any power to give an order to an S.S. guard? He pointed out that the witness, in her affidavit, said: “I did not hear the order”. He doubted also whether Grese could have beaten anyone with a belt as flimsy as that worn by an Overseer at Auschwitz, one of which was produced as an exhibit.

Eleven witnesses had recognized Grese in Court. Of these eleven five made no allegation of any kind against her. This fact threw doubt on the evidence of those witnesses who said that she was notorious, a ferocious savage and the worst S.S. woman.

Even though Major Cranfield did a good job of defending Grese, she was nevertheless convicted under both Counts One and Two and was sentenced to death by hanging. After the trial, the 11 who had been sentenced to death, 8 men and 3 women, were taken to Hamelin jail in Wesfalia to await execution. (Hamelin is the town famous for the story of the Pied Piper.) An execution chamber was constructed right in the prison by the Royal Engineers of the British Army. It was located at the end of the corridor where the condemned prisoners were being held in a row of tiny cells. Since the prisoners could hear the sound of the trap falling as each of the condemned was hanged, it was decided that Irma Grese, as the youngest, should go first to spare her the trauma of hearing the others being executed. The three women were hanged separately, first Grese, then Volkenrath, then Bormann. The 8 men were hanged in pairs to save time. The hanging was all finished just in time for the mid-day meal.

In recent years, Irma Grese has become a cult figure among the neo-Nazis. She is considered by them to be a heroine because of her stoicism at her trial and the perception that she showed great courage in going bravely to her death. She is regarded by the neo-Nazis as a martyr, who died for her country, since they don’t believe that she was the sadistic, sexually-depraved killer that she was portrayed to be by her accusers.

Albert Pierrepoint, an experienced professional hangman, was flown over from Great Britain to hang the 11 condemned prisoners. On December 12, 1945, the condemned were weighed and measured so that the hangman could calculate how to adjust the gallows for each one. Pierrepoint wrote an autobiography in which he described the circumstances surrounding the execution of Irma Grese.

Two paragraphs from Pierrepoint’s autobiography are quoted below:

“At last we finished noting the details of the men, and RSM O’Neil ordered ‘bring out Irma Grese. She walked out of her cell and came towards us laughing. She seemed as bonny a girl as one could ever wish to meet. She answered O’Neil’s questions, but when he asked her age she paused and smiled. I found that we were both smiling with her, as if we realised the conventional embarrassment of a woman revealing her age. Eventually she said ‘twenty-one,’ which we knew to be correct. O’Neil asked her to step on to the scales. ‘Schnell!’ she said – the German for quick.”

“The following morning we climbed the stairs to the cells where the condemned were waiting. A German officer at the door leading to the corridor flung open the door and we filed past the row of faces and into the execution chamber. The officers stood at attention. Brigadier Paton-Walsh stood with his wrist-watch raised. He gave me the signal, and a sigh of released breath was audible in the chamber. I walked into the corridor. ‘Irma Grese,’ I called. The German guards quickly closed all grills on twelve of the inspection holes and opened one door. Irma Grese stepped out. The cell was far too small for me to go inside, and I had to pinion her in the corridor. ‘Follow me,’ I said in English, and O’Neil repeated the order in German. At 9.34 a.m. she walked into the execution chamber, gazed for a moment at the officials standing round it, then walked on to the centre of the trap, where I had made a chalk mark. She stood on this mark very firmly, and as I placed the white cap over her hand she said in her languid voice ‘Schnell’. The drop crashed down, and the doctor followed me into the pit and pronounced her dead. After twenty minutes the body was taken down and placed in a coffin ready for burial.”

26-year old Elizabeth Volkenrath was hanged

According to the trial transcripts, Elizabeth Volkenrath testified under direct examination that she arrived at Auschwitz No. 1 in March, 1942, and was transferred to Birkenau in December, 1942 where she worked in the parcel office and bread store till September 1944. From then until the 18th of January, she was in charge of a working party in Auschwitz No. 1.

Gertrude Diament, a Jewess from Czechoslovakia, testified that during 1942 she had seen Volkenrath make selections. She would give orders that prisoners be loaded onto lorries and transported to the gas chamber

In her testimony, Volkenrath denied having herself made gas chamber selections. She said she attended selections during August 1942 because she had to be present as she was in charge of the women’s camp, but she had merely to see that the prisoners kept quiet and orderly. Volkenrath said she had seen lorries on the road, but whether they went to the gas chamber she did not know. Her answer to the allegations of beatings made against her was that she only slapped faces.

On direct examination by her attorney, Volkenrath testified that she arrived at Belsen on the 5th February, 1945. She had only been there a few days when she had to go to the hospital, returning to work on the 23rd of March 1945. At Belsen she was an Oberaufseherin and had to detail the Overseers to their various duties. She testified that at Belsen, she never did more than slap prisoners’ faces. Her explanation of the events referred to by the witness, Hammermasch, was that a prisoner was brought back from an attempt to escape and was beaten by Kramer. She was present but did not beat the girl.

Volkenrath was found guilty of war crimes in both camps, Auschwitz-Birkenau and Bergen-Belsen. She was the second person to be hanged on 13 December 1945, following the execution of Irma Grese.

42-year-old Juana Bormann was hanged

In her testimony at the trial, Juana Bormann denied that she was ever present at any gas chamber selections. She admitted that she had a dog at Auschwitz, but she said that she never made this dog attack anyone. She claimed that she might have been mistaken for another Overseer named Kuck who also had a dog. She said that she would have been severely punished if she had set her dog on the prisoners and that the beating of prisoners by an Overseer was strictly forbidden.

After working at Birkenau from 15 May 1943 to the end of December 1943, Bormann testified that she came to Belsen in the middle of February 1945, and was engaged in looking after a pigsty. At Belsen she did not come in contact with prisoners beyond her own party of prisoners. When prisoners disobeyed orders she boxed their ears or slapped their faces but never violently, she claimed.

On December 12, 1945 when the hangman made his calculations, Bormann was measured at 5 feet tall and she weighed in at 101 pounds. She was acquitted on the charges of beating prisoners at Bergen-Belsen but was convicted of war crimes at Auschwitz-Birkenau and was the last of the women to be hanged, right after the execution of Elisabeth Volkenrath.

Field-Marshall Montgomery denied clemency to the guilty prisoners.

 

June 17, 2017

The liberation of the Mauthausen camp is in the news

Filed under: Germany, Holocaust, Uncategorized, World War II — Tags: , , — furtherglory @ 12:07 pm

This photo shows prisoners who were liberated at Auschwitz, not at Mauthausen

The photo above was used to illustrate this news article: http://www.thedailybeast.com/the-holocaust-didnt-end-with-the-liberation-of-auschwitz-and-the-nazi-death-camps

The following quote is from the news article:

Begin quote

For more than 70 years, Marsha Kreuzman has believed that she would be better off dead.

Death first promised salvation during her years of physical and psychological torture at the Mauthausen concentration camp as the Second World War devastated Europe.

When the Nazi encampment was liberated in May 1945, an American soldier tried to help her to her feet. Kreuzman recalls: “He said, ‘You have to walk.’ I said, ‘I don’t want to walk, I want to die.’”

Kreuzman, who now lives in Livingston, New Jersey, is sorry that she was not more joyful when the moment of liberation arrived; she is painfully aware that so many of her friends, her compatriots, her family were unable to escape the horror of one of history’s darkest chapters.

End quote

The liberation of Mauthausen

I have a whole section on my website about the liberation of Mauthausen: http://www.scrapbookpages.com/Mauthausen/KZMauthausen/Liberation/index.html

The photograph shown above was taken on May 6, 1945, the day after the official liberation of the Mauthausen main camp. It shows prisoners surrounding an M8 Greyhound armored car.

According to Pierre Serge Choumoff, the liberation of Mauthausen, as shown in the photo above, was reenacted for photographers at the request of General Dwight D. Eisenhower. The Nazi eagle over the gate had already been removed by the prisoners and a banner, written in Spanish, had been put up by the Spanish political prisoners. The English translation reads “The Spanish Anti-Fascists Salute the Liberating Forces.”

These prisoners were Spanish Republicans who had fought against General Francisco Franco’s Fascist forces in the Spanish Civil War and had escaped to France when the Republicans lost the war.

The Spanish Republicans were interned by the French and later, when the Germans defeated France in 1940, they were incarcerated as political prisoners because they were opposed to the Nazis. Germany had fought on the side of Franco in the Spanish Civil War, which was a war between the Fascists and the Communists. For the anti-Fascist Spanish Republicans, Mauthausen has the same significance as Auschwitz does for the Jews.

On May 5, 1945, the date usually given for the official liberation of the Mauthausen main concentration camp, a platoon of 23 men from the 11th Armored Division of the US Third Army, led by Staff Sgt. Albert J. Kosiek, arrived at the main camp near the town of Mauthausen. They were guided there by Louis Haefliger, a Red Cross representative in the camp, and two German soldiers, after first liberating the Gusen sub-camp, 6 kilometers to the west.

End quote

June 16, 2017

The story of the Bergen-Belsen camp

Filed under: Germany, Holocaust, Uncategorized — Tags: , — furtherglory @ 3:21 pm

Dead prisoners at the Bergen-Belsen camp

The prison camp that first became known as Bergen-Belsen in 1943 was located about a mile from the tiny village of Belsen and a few more miles from the village of Bergen, a town with a population of 13,000. Today, there is no such place as Bergen-Belsen. The former camp is now a Memorial Site, but if you ask one of the locals how to get to Bergen-Belsen, they will ask you, “Which one? Bergen or Belsen?”

The scenery in this area is very beautiful; it looks much like England with mostly brick houses and charming old brick barns with green-painted doors.

The Bergen-Belsen camp was in an area adjacent to an Army training camp for the Wehrmacht, as the regular German Army was called. Between the end of the war and 1950, this Army base was turned into the largest Displaced Persons camp for the Jews who did not want to return to their native countries.

Bergen-Belsen later became a British Army base, and visitors to the Memorial Site on the grounds of the former camp could get an idea of what it must have been like in April 1945, with a war going on right outside the camp, as they listen to the sounds of gunfire coming from the Army training grounds next door to the former camp.

Because of the Army base which was located there, the area near the village of Belsen was first used for a Prisoner of War camp for 600 French and Belgian soldiers, who were housed in the existing Army barracks, beginning in 1940. In May 1941, the POW camp became known as Stalag 311. After the German invasion of the Soviet Union, 20,000 captured Russian POWs were brought to Stalag 311 in July 1941; at first they were held in barbed-wire enclosures in the open air. Most of them died because the Soviet Union had not signed the Geneva Convention and, because of this, the Germans were not required by international law to treat them humanely.

According to the Memorial Site, “Huts to accommodate the prisoners of war were only provided over a period of time, and in most cases the prisoners themselves had to construct them.”

In contrast, the Germans treated their American POWs very well and 99% of them survived. America and Germany had both signed the Geneva Convention and both countries followed the rules for POWs, but the Soviet Union did not.

According to the Memorial Site, 18,000 of the Russian POWs had died by February 1942. There were only 2097 survivors of Stalag 311. Some of the prisoners died of dysentery, but most of them perished in an epidemic of spotted fever (typhus) which broke out in mid November 1941.

Before the German invasion of the Soviet Union on July 22, 1941, Hitler had given the order that Communist Commissars within the ranks of the Soviet Army should be taken to the nearest concentration camp and executed. Consequently, Communist party officials were selected from the prisoners of war at Stalag 311 and taken to the Sachsenhausen concentration camp where they were executed at a special shooting range in the Autumn of 1941.

The first Commandant in Bergen-Belsen was SS Captain Adolf Haas. Previously he had been in charge of the concentration camp called Niederhagen near the Wewelsburg Castle.

When it was decided to make Bergen-Belsen into a concentration camp in December 1944, Haas was replaced by SS Captain Josef Kramer. Kramer was born November 10, 1906 in Munich; he joined the NSDAP (Nazi party) in 1931 and became a member of the SS in 1932.

After the Nazis took over all important administrative positions in the state of Bavaria on March 9, 1933, in accordance with a new law passed by the Nazi-controlled Congress, Kramer was appointed to a clerical position in Augsberg. In 1934 he became an SS guard at Dachau and received instruction at the SS Training Camp at Dachau under Commandant Theodor Eicke, who is called “the father of the concentration camp system.”

Kramer served in many of the large concentration camps during his 11 years of service in the system. In 1940, he was an adjutant to Auschwitz Commandant Rudolf Höss for several months before he was transferred to Natzweiler to become the Commandant there.

After the war, Kramer testified at the British Military Tribunal that he had murdered 80 prisoners, who were brought from Auschwitz, in a gas chamber in Natzweiler, so that their bodies could be used for research by Dr. August Hirtz at the University of Strasbourg.

In May 1944, Kramer was transferred to Auschwitz-Birkenau, where he took over as the leader of the Birkenau camp just at the time that thousands of Jews from Hungary were being brought there to be gassed.

In December 1944, when the Auschwitz Camp had to be evacuated because the Russian troops were advancing, Kramer was ordered to go to Bergen-Belsen. Many of the women on his staff at Auschwitz were transferred along with him, including the notorious Irma Grese (pronounced GRAY-suh).

On December 2, 1944, Kramer became the Commandant of Bergen-Belsen which was now officially designated a concentration camp (Koncentrationslager). On that date, there were 15,257 prisoners in the camp, of which 6,000 were exchange prisoners who were being held for possible trade for Germans detained by the Allies. Kramer’s first step in making Bergen-Belsen into a real concentration camp was to deny the exchange prisoners the special privileges that they had been accustomed to.

Prior to Kramer taking over as Commandant, the Star Camp had been self-administered with Jews being in charge of the day to day supervision of the camp. This was abolished and Kapos from the Prison Camp were put in charge of the work details in the camp. The Kapos were inmates who assisted the guards; they reported to Chief Senior Prisoner Walter Hanke.

Fortunately, America has never witnessed a tragedy on the scale of the disaster at Bergen-Belsen. The closest would be the infamous Prisoner of War camp at Andersonville, Georgia where 12,912 Union soldiers succumbed to dysentery and malnutrition in only 14 months time during the American Civil war. The reason was that 32,000 prisoners were crowded into a camp that was meant for only 10,000. It was the worldwide outrage at this disaster that finally led to the Geneva Convention where rules for the treatment of POWs were made a part of international law.

At Bergen-Belsen, 60,000 civilian prisoners were eventually confined in a camp that was in no way designed to handle this number of people. Around 35,000 of the prisoners at Bergen-Belsen died from hunger and disease in just the three months prior to the camp being voluntarily turned over to the British on April 15, 1945.

The booklet published by the Memorial site calls the conditions at Bergen-Belsen “Hell.” Here is a quote from the booklet:

Begin quote

The more evacuation transports arrived in Bergen-Belsen the more catastrophic the situation became there. The over-crowded huts, often without any heating lacked all equipment or furnishings and people had to lie on the bare floors. The camp authorities deliberately refrained from easing the situation and made no attempt to draw on the reserves of food, clothing and medical supplies which were stored at the nearby military training grounds.

The lack of water was so severe that prisoners in Bergen-Belsen died of thirst. Others went mad with hunger and thirst and turned to cannibalism in their despair.

End quote

According to the Memorial Site at Bergen-Belsen, the camp population on December 1, 1944 was 15,257. By February 1, 1945, there were 22,000 prisoners in the camp, and by March 1, 1945, the number of inmates had swelled to 41,520.

On April 15, 1945, there were an estimated 60,000 prisoners in the camp. A total of 50,000 prisoners died during the two years the camp was in operation, including 13,000 who died of weakness and disease after the camp was liberated. By far the biggest killer in the camp was typhus, a deadly disease that is transmitted by body lice.

The story of Bergen-Belsen can be summed up by a chart that hangs on the wall of the Museum there. It shows that there were 350 deaths in the camp in December 1944 before the typhus epidemic started. In January 1945, after a typhoid epidemic started, there were between 800 and 1000 deaths; in February 1945, after the typhus epidemic broke out, there were 6,000 to 7,000 deaths.

In March 1945, the number of deaths had escalated to an incredible 18,168 in only one month. In April 1945, the deaths were 18,355 in only one month, with half of these deaths occurring after the British took over. Unlike the death camps in Poland, the Bergen-Belsen camp was not equipped to handle this kind of death rate; there was only one crematory oven in the camp.

When the British arrived on April 15, 1945, there were 10,000 bodies that were still unburied, and more were dying every day because the Germans could not control the epidemics. By the end of April, in only two weeks time, 9000 more had died. Another 4,000 died before the end of May.

To fight typhus epidemics during World War II, the Germans used an insecticide, called Zyklon B, to kill the lice which were common in the overcrowded Nazi concentration camps. Zyklon B was also allegedly used as a poison gas to kill the Jews in the gas chambers, although most historians say that there was no gas chamber at Bergen-Belsen. Initially, the Jews at Bergen-Belsen were well-treated because the Nazis were hoping to use them for exchange for German prisoners.

Normally, all new arrivals in the concentration camps were given a hot shower, all their body hair was shaved, and their clothes were then disinfected with Zyklon B. As a further precaution in the larger camps such as Auschwitz-Birkenau, newcomers were sometimes put into Quarantine barracks for a period of several weeks before being allowed into the main camp. Other prisoners arriving at Auschwitz-Birkenau were allegedly “selected” to be gassed in fake shower rooms with Zyklon B.

In February 1945, a transport of Hungarian Jews arrived at Bergen-Belsen at a time when the disinfection chambers were temporarily not in use, and as a result, lice got into the camp, causing a typhus epidemic to break out. Heinrich Himmler, who was in charge of all the concentration camps, ordered that “all medical means necessary to combat the epidemic should be employed” but in spite of this, the epidemic quickly spread beyond control.

There were also epidemics of typhoid and dysentery at Bergen-Belsen, as well as a shortage of food and water after the camp became part of the war zone in Germany in the final days of World War II.

Anita Lasker-Walfisch, a survivor of Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen, explained how important personal hygiene was for preventing disease during a British radio broadcast on August 9, 1999:

Begin quote

“Washing in Belsen was a big problem. Because the washing possibilities were outside. You can imagine what it was like in the winter. You were already hungry. You were half-dead. But we knew that, the moment you didn’t wash every day, it was the beginning of the end. So we used to wash each other and bully each other: “Come on”. We saw so many dead people that we didn’t even notice them, especially in Belsen. Heaps and heaps of corpses stacked up. There was no way of burying them, getting rid of them. People died so fast and in such enormous quantities, we didn’t even notice it. I think a way of survival is also just to let the shutters down and not see things. I mean, lots of people went mad, you know. How can you possibly survive this? You must be terribly tough or insensitive to actually survive.”

End quote

In December 1944, Bergen-Belsen had been designated a concentration camp (Koncentrationslager) and the Commandant of Auschwitz, SS Captain Josef Kramer, was transferred there as the new commandant.

By March 1, 1945 conditions in the Bergen-Belsen camp had reached the point of a major catastrophe and Camp Commandant Josef Kramer appealed for help in a letter to Gruppenführer Richard Glücks, who was the head of the SS camp administration.

Excerpts from Kramer’s letter are quoted below:

If I had sufficient sleeping accommodation at my disposal, then the accommodation of the detainees who have already arrived and of those still to come would appear more possible. In addition to this question a spotted fever and typhus epidemic has now begun, which increases in extent every day. The daily mortality rate, which was still in the region of 60-70 at the beginning of February, has in the meantime attained a daily average of 250-300 and will increase still further in view of the conditions which at present prevail.

Supply. When I took over the camp, winter supplies for 1500 internees had been indented for; some had been received, but the greater part had not been delivered. This failure was due not only to difficulties of transport, but also to the fact that practically nothing is available in this area and all must be brought from outside the area […]

For the last four days there has been no delivery [of food] from Hannover owing to interrupted communications, and I shall be compelled, if this state of affairs prevails till the end of the week, to fetch bread also by means of truck from Hannover. The trucks allotted to the local unit are in no way adequate for this work, and I am compelled to ask for at least three to four trucks and five to six trailers. When I once have here a means of towing then I can send out the trailers into the surrounding area […] The supply question must, without fail, be cleared up in the next few days. I ask you, Gruppenführer, for an allocation of transport […]

State of Health. The incidence of disease is very high here in proportion to the number of detainees. When you interviewed me on Dec. 1, 1944, at Oranienburg, you told me that Bergen-Belsen was to serve as a sick camp for all concentration camps in northern Germany. The number of sick has greatly increased, particularly on account of the transports of detainees that have arrived from the East in recent times — these transports have sometimes spent eight or fourteen days in open trucks […]

The fight against spotted fever is made extremely difficult by the lack of means of disinfection. Due to constant use, the hot-air delousing machine is now in bad working order and sometimes fails for several days […]

A catastrophe is taking place for which no one wishes to assume responsibility […] Gruppenführer, I can assure you that from this end everything will be done to overcome the present crisis […]

I am now asking you for your assistance as it lies in your power. In addition to the above-mentioned points, I need here, before everything, accommodation facilities, beds, blankets, eating utensils — all for about 20,000 internees […] I implore your help in overcoming this situation.

End quote

Kramer also appealed to the German Army officers at the nearby Army base for additional food after a trainload of food and the camp water pump were destroyed by Allied planes. Colonel Hans Schmidt arranged for the local volunteer fire department to provide water and for food supplies to be brought to the camp from abandoned railroad cars. Schmidt testified later that Kramer “did not at all impress one as a criminal type. He acted like an upright and rather honorable man. Neither did he strike me as someone with a guilty conscience. He worked with great dedication to improve conditions in the camp. For example, he rounded up horse drawn vehicles to bring food to the camp from rail cars that had been shot up.”

Joseph P. Farrell, who wrote a book entitled “The SS Brotherhood of the Bell,” has a different explanation for how the water pump at Bergen-Belsen was destroyed. Farrell claims that a small number of SS guards remained at the camp after the others had fled and as a final act of defiance, the retreating SS guards sabotaged the water supply to the barracks, making it hard for the British troops to treat the sick prisoners. There is another claim that “On the 13th day after liberation, the Luftwaffe bombed one of the hospitals in the DP camp, injuring and killing several patients and Red Cross workers.” The DP camp was the former SS training camp, next door to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, which the SS had turned over to the British liberators.

Since Bergen-Belsen was in western Germany, it became the destination for thousands of prisoners who were evacuated from the concentration camps in the east, as the Russian Army advanced. In spite of the typhus epidemic in the camp, Bergen-Belsen had been kept open to receive prisoners evacuated from other camps, such as Buchenwald in eastern Germany, right up to the time it was turned over to the British on April 15, 1945.

Commandant Kramer described the situation at Bergen-Belsen after the evacuated prisoners were brought there from Auschwitz:

Begin quote

The camp was not really inefficient before you (the Allies) crossed the Rhine. There was running water, regular meals of a kind — I had to accept what food I was given for the camp and distribute it the best way I could. But then they suddenly began to send me trainloads of new prisoners from all over Germany. It was impossible to cope with them. I appealed for more staff, more food. I was told that this was impossible. I had to carry on with what I had.

Then as a last straw the Allies bombed the electric plant that pumped our water. Loads of food were unable to reach the camp because of the Allied fighters. Then things really got out of hand. During the last six weeks I have been helpless. I did not even have sufficient staff to bury the dead, let alone segregate the sick [… ]

I tried to get medicines and food for the prisoners and I failed. I was swamped. I may have been hated, but I was doing my duty.

End quote

One of the survivors of Bergen-Belsen was 24-year-old Freddie Knoller, a Jew who was a member of the French resistance. Originally from Vienna, he had been deported from Austria in 1938 and had gone to Paris. In an interview with the BBC News Online in July 2004, he said that he was captured by the Nazis after an angry girl friend denounced him to the Gestapo. He was eventually sent to Auschwitz where he was tattooed with the number 157103 on his arm. He was among the 60,000 survivors of Auschwitz who were death marched out of the camp just before Russian troops arrived on January 27, 1945. Out of 1,000 Jews on his train transport to Bergen-Belsen, he was one of only 13 survivors.

Classic Bergen Belsen Dozer footage

Filed under: Germany, Holocaust, Uncategorized, World War II — Tags: , — furtherglory @ 1:40 pm

I believe that this is a classic clip from the film on the liberation of Bergen Belsen, showing Jews who died of typhus being placed into mass graves by a British soldier using a bulldozer.  The clip caption falsely claims it is a Nazi bulldozer.

Bergen Belsen is back in the News

Filed under: Germany, Holocaust, Uncategorized — Tags: , — furtherglory @ 1:01 pm

The famous photo below is from news reel footage that was shown in American theaters. It shows a British soldier shoving Jewish bodies into a mass grave at Bergen-Belsen.

Bulldozer.jpeg

The Bergen Belsen concentration camp is the place where Anne Frank died. Remember that as you read this news article: http://theislandnow.com/new_hyde_park-108/holocaust-survivors-share-stories-strength-remembrance-forum/

The following quote is from the news article:

Begin quote

Memories of the Holocaust are as fresh as they were decades ago for the women who were forced into World War II concentration camps as children and miraculously lived to tell the tale as adults.

“When you look at these survivors, know you’re looking at miracles,” Holocaust Memorial and Tolerance Center of Nassau County Senior Director of Education Beth Lilach said. “For any child to have survived the Holocaust is nothing less than a miracle because it was a very intentional plan by the Nazis to destroy every single Jewish child, so these people represent the tiny percent of Jewish children that survived.”

Parker Jewish Institute hosted “Stories of Strength: a Holocaust Remembrance” Thursday afternoon to document the stories of three survivors.

Chana Pfeifen, Alice Tenenbaum and Mia Feuer, wife of survivor Samuel Feuer, shared memories with a heartbroken audience as they recounted tales of gas chambers, death marches and the traumatic loss of their parents at the hands of the guards and doctors who imprisoned them.

Lilach opened the forum with a presentation focused around what can be learned from the Holocaust and how many times history could have gone differently with earlier help from countries around the world.

“By looking at the evolution of Nazism, you see so many red flags when the Holocaust could have been stopped,” Lilach said. “We need to look to see if our country is experiencing any of these red flags, and we need to act on it. We can’t be silent — that was an incredibly destructive force during the Holocaust, and we need to speak up.”

End quote

I wrote at length about Bergen Belsen on my website, starting at http://www.scrapbookpages.com/BergenBelsen/Introduction.html

The following quote is from my website:

Begin quote

Bergen-Belsen was the name of an infamous Nazi camp which has become a symbol of the Holocaust that claimed the lives of 6 million Jews in Europe more than sixty years ago. 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. In December 1944, Bergen-Belsen became a concentration camp under the command of Josef Kramer, the former Commandant of the Auschwitz II camp, also known as Birkenau.

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

Jewish survivor of Mauthausen camp reveals that he wore a bracelet with his prison number

Filed under: Germany, Holocaust, Uncategorized — furtherglory @ 10:20 am

Holocaust survivors usually show their prison number tattooed on their arm, but not this survivor.

You can read about the Holocaust survivor Ed Mosberg who was not tattooed, but instead wore a bracelet on his arm which was engraved with his prison number: http://www.newstatesman.com/culture/2017/06/every-day-holocaust-day-me-concentration-camp-survivor-ed-mosberg-reliving-trauma

The following quote is from the news article:

Begin quote

A 92-year-old man is sitting at a café terrace on London’s Southbank, munching resolutely on sugar lumps. Bright morning sunshine bounces off the dome of St Paul’s Cathedral, whose bells you can hear across the river where he sits.

As he sips black coffee, his checked blazer sleeve rides up to reveal a bracelet bearing the number 85454. It is the original prison number plate, about the size of a razor blade, he was forced to wear on a wire around his wrist by the Nazis at Mauthausen concentration camp.

“That was my name,” he says, when he catches me looking. He had it fixed to a gold chain, so that whenever someone asks him what it is, he can tell his story.

End quote

I have a whole section on my website about the Mauthausen camp: http://www.scrapbookpages.com/Mauthausen/KZMauthausen/index.html

I wrote about the victims at Mauthausen on this page of my website: http://www.scrapbookpages.com/Mauthausen/KZMauthausen/Victims/index.html

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