Scrapbookpages Blog

May 22, 2018

The Auschwitz Album shows photos of the Jews who were gassed by the Nazis

Filed under: Auschwitz, Holocaust — furtherglory @ 9:50 am

You can see the Auschwitz Album photos at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kOIHRQlQqwU

You can see a video of the liberators saving the Jews below:

May 21, 2018

The story of the Gypsies in the Holocaust

Filed under: Holocaust — furtherglory @ 5:20 pm

You can read about the Gypsies in the Holocaust at https://www.thoughtco.com/gypsies-and-the-holocaust-1779660

Photo of a  Gypsy wagon

A Short History of the Gypsies

Approximately a thousand years ago, several groups of people migrated from northern India, dispersing throughout Europe over the next several centuries.

Though these people were part of several tribes (the largest of which are the Sinti and Roma), the settled peoples called them by a collective name, “Gypsies” — which stems from the one-time belief that they had come from Egypt.

Nomadic, dark-skinned, non-Christian, speaking a foreign language (Romani), not tied to the land – the Gypsies were very different from the settled peoples of Europe. Misunderstandings of Gypsy culture created suspicions and fears, which in turn led to rampant speculations, stereotypes, and biased stories. Unfortunately, too many of these stereotypes and stories are still readily believed today.

Throughout the following centuries, non-Gypsies (Gaje) continually tried to either assimilate the Gypsies or kill them. Attempts to assimilate the Gypsies involved stealing their children and placing them with other families; giving them cattle and feed, expecting them to become farmers; outlawing their customs, language, and clothing as well as forcing them to attend school and church.

Decrees, laws, and mandates often allowed the killing of Gypsies. For instance, in 1725 King Frederick William I of Prussia ordered all Gypsies over 18 years of age to be hanged. A practice of “Gypsy hunting” was quite common – a game hunt very similar to fox hunting. Even as late as 1835, there was a Gypsy hunt in Jutland (Denmark) that “brought in a bag of over 260 men, women, and children.”1

Though the Gypsies had undergone centuries of such persecution, it remained relatively random and sporadic until the twentieth century when the negative stereotypes became intrinsically molded into a racial identity, and the Gypsies were systematically slaughtered.

The Gypsies Under the Third Reich

The persecution of Gypsies began in the very beginning of the Third Reich – Gypsies were arrested and interned in concentration camps as well as sterilized under the July 1933 Law for the Prevention of Hereditarily Diseased Offspring. In the beginning, Gypsies were not specifically named as a group that threatened the Aryan, German people. This was because, under Nazi racial ideology, Gypsies were Aryans.

Thus, the Nazis had a problem: how could they persecute a group enveloped in negative stereotypes but supposedly part of the Aryan, super race?

After much thinking, Nazi racial researchers found a “scientific” reason to persecute at least most of the Gypsies. They found their answer in Professor Hans F. K. Günther’s book Rassenkunde Europas (“Anthropology of Europe”) where he wrote:

The Gypsies have indeed retained some elements from their Nordic home, but they are descended from the lowest classes of the population in that region. In the course of their migrations, they have absorbed the blood of the surrounding peoples, and have thus become an Oriental, western-Asiatic racial mixture, with an addition of Indian, mid-Asiatic, and European strains. Their nomadic mode of living is a result of this mixture. The Gypsies will generally affect Europe as aliens. 2

With this belief, the Nazis needed to determine who was “pure” Gypsy and who was “mixed.” Thus, in 1936, the Nazis established the Racial Hygiene and Population Biology Research Unit, with Dr. Robert Ritter at its head, to study the Gypsy problem and to make recommendations for Nazi policy.

As with the Jews, the Nazis needed to determine who was to be considered a “Gypsy.” Dr. Ritter decided that someone could be considered a Gypsy if they had “one or two Gypsies among his grandparents” or if “two or more of his grandparents are part-Gypsies.”3 Kenrick and Puxon personally blame Dr. Ritter for the additional 18,000 German Gypsies that were killed because of this more inclusive designation, rather than if the same rules had been followed as were applied to Jews.4

To study Gypsies, Dr. Ritter, his assistant Eva Justin, and his research team visited the Gypsy concentration camps (Zigeunerlagers) and examined thousands of Gypsies – documenting, registering, interviewing, photographing, and finally categorizing them.

It was from this research that Dr. Ritter formulated that 90% of Gypsies were of mixed blood, thus dangerous.

Having established a “scientific” reason to persecute 90% of the Gypsies, the Nazis needed to decide what to do with the other 10% – the ones that were nomadic and appeared to have the least number of “Aryan” qualities. At times Himmler discussed letting the “pure” Gypsies roam relatively freely and also suggested a special reservation for them. Assumably as part of one of these possibilities, nine Gypsy representatives were selected in October 1942 and told to create lists of Sinti and Lalleri to be saved.

There must have been confusion within the Nazi leadership, for it seems that many wanted all Gypsies killed, with no exceptions, even if they were categorized as Aryan. On December 3, 1942, Martin Bormann wrote in a letter to Himmler:

. . . special treatment would mean a fundamental deviation from the simultaneous measures for fighting the Gypsy menace and would not be understood at all by the population and lower leaders of the party. Also the Führer would not agree to giving one section of the Gypsies their old freedom.5

Though the Nazis did not discover a “scientific” reason to kill the ten percent of Gypsies categorized as “pure,” there were no distinctions made when Gypsies were ordered to Auschwitz or deported to the other death camps.

By the end of the war, it is estimated that 250,000 to 500,000 Gypsies were murdered in the Porajmos – killing approximately three-fourths of the German Gypsies and half of the Austrian Gypsies.

So much happened to the Gypsies during the Third Reich, I created a timeline to help outline the process from “Aryan” to annihilation.

End of article.

Gypsies are shown in the photo below.

  • A Gypsy couple sitting in Belzec.

May 18, 2018

The Gypsies who were murdered in the Holocaust

Filed under: Germany, Holocaust — furtherglory @ 2:23 pm

You can read about the fate of the Gypsies in the Holocaust here: https://www.thoughtco.com/gypsies-and-the-holocaust-1779660

The following quote is from the article above:

Begin quote

The Gypsies of Europe were registered, sterilized, ghettoized, and then deported to concentration and death camps by the Nazis. Approximately 250,000 to 500,000 Gypsies were murdered during the Holocaust – an event they call the Porajmos (the “Devouring”).

A Short History

Approximately a thousand years ago, several groups of people migrated from northern India, dispersing throughout Europe over the next several centuries.

Though these people were part of several tribes (the largest of which are the Sinti and Roma), the settled peoples called them by a collective name, “Gypsies” — which stems from the one-time belief that they had come from Egypt.

Nomadic, dark-skinned, non-Christian, speaking a foreign language (Romani), not tied to the land – the Gypsies were very different from the settled peoples of Europe. Misunderstandings of Gypsy culture created suspicions and fears, which in turn led to rampant speculations, stereotypes, and biased stories. Unfortunately, too many of these stereotypes and stories are still readily believed today.

Throughout the following centuries, non-Gypsies (Gaje) continually tried to either assimilate the Gypsies or kill them. Attempts to assimilate the Gypsies involved stealing their children and placing them with other families; giving them cattle and feed, expecting them to become farmers; outlawing their customs, language, and clothing as well as forcing them to attend school and church.

End quote

What was “The Holocaust?”

Filed under: Holocaust — furtherglory @ 2:07 pm

Beginners, who know nothing, can start with this website: http://www.projetaladin.org/holocaust/en/40-questions-40-answers/basic-questions-about-the-holocaust.html

The following quote is from the website cited above:

Begin quote

What does the term “Holocaust” mean?

The Holocaust was the systematic persecution and murder of approximately six million Jews by the Nazi regime and its collaborators between 1933 and 1945. The Nazis, who came to power in Germany in January 1933, believed that Germans were “racially superior” and that the Jews, deemed “inferior,” were an alien threat to the so-called German racial community. Gypsies, people with mental and physical disabilities, and Poles were also targeted for destruction or decimation for racial, ethnic, or national reasons.

What does “Final Solution” refer to?

The term “Final Solution” refers to Germany’s plan to murder all the Jews of Europe. The term was used at the Wannsee Conference, which took place in Berlin on January 20, 1942, where German officials discussed its implementation. The Nazis used the term “Final Solution” to conceal the plan that, in its entirety, called for the murder of all European Jews by shooting, gassing and other means. Approximately six million Jewish men, women, and children (1.5 million children) were killed during the Holocaust — two-thirds of the Jews living in Europe before World War II.

How many Jews were killed in the Holocaust?

Between five and six million Jews – out of a Jewish population of nine million living in Europe – were killed during the Holocaust. It is impossible to know exactly how many people died as the deaths were comprised of thousands of different events over a period of more than four years. About half of the Jewish victims died in concentration camps or death camps such as Auschwitz. The other half died when Nazi soldiers marched into many large and small towns in Germany, Poland, the Soviet Union and other areas and murdered people by the dozens or by the hundreds.

End quote

You can read the official, kosher, version of the Holocaust on my website at http://www.scrapbookpages.com/USHMM/Intro.html

You can also read about the Holocaust at https://www.thoughtco.com/holocaust-facts-1779663

May 16, 2018

“evil stands at the door and knocks”

Filed under: Auschwitz, Germany, Holocaust — furtherglory @ 1:55 pm

The words in the title of my blog post today are the last words in this news article: http://chimes.biola.edu/story/2018/apr/25/holocaust-fades-americas-memory/

The article includes a photo of the Arbeit macht Frei gate — this is my photo of that gate

It is hard to get a photo of the gate into  the Auschwitz camp because when the gate opens, there is an endless march of tourists through the gate. I took the photo above just before the gate opened, but note that there are tourists who have entered before the gate officially opened. After I took the photo above, I also entered the camp before it was officially open. I wanted to take a few photos before thousands of people entered.

The following quote is from the news article:

Begin quote

Auschwitz-Birkenau Extermination Camp

Auschwitz was a network of concentration camps built and operated by Nazi Germany. However, Auschwitz-Birkenau, in particular, went on to become an extermination camp and a major site of the Nazis’ final solution to the Jewish question. Between early 1942 and late 1944, an estimated 1.3 million Jews were sent by transport trains and entered the gates of Auschwitz-Birkenau. Written over the gate were the words “Arbeit macht frei,” or “work sets you free.” But those who entered would not be working long—1.1 million would leave through the chimney tops, gassed with hydrogen cyanide.

To put these numbers into perspective, Biola’s total Fall 2017 student enrollment was 6,172 students. Auschwitz-Birkenau gassed men, women and children at the rate of the entire Biola student population every four days for two years. Or, considering Anaheim, Calif.’s population of 336,265, it would be equivalent to erasing the population of Anaheim every eight months for two years.

When we reflect on the Holocaust, it is not enough to reflect on it as an episode in the remote past in remote lands. The Holocaust tore the heart of Western Civilization: it inspired a generation of soldiers to “pursue the ranks of the guilty to the uttermost ends of the earth,” and it eviscerated a Jewish generation. The Holocaust reminds us that no matter how far we have progressed or how much we have been blessed, evil stands at the door and knocks.

End quote

May 14, 2018

Everything you ever wanted to know about Sobibor

Filed under: Germany, Holocaust — furtherglory @ 4:36 pm

Sobibor is back in the news: https://www.haaretz.com/world-news/europe/why-a-gory-holocaust-film-is-a-blockbuster-in-russia-1.6091467

The Sobibor Death Camp Memorial Site

Railroad Station at Sobibor, former camp location on the left

Photo Credit: Alan Collins

Sobibor was a death camp, built by the Nazis in March 1942 for the sole purpose of killing European Jews in gas chambers. An estimated 250,000 Jews were murdered at Sobibor during a period of only 18 months, according to the US Holocaust Memorial Museum.

The old train station at the village of Sobibor is shown on the right side of the photograph above; train service to Sobibor was discontinued in 1999. Also on the right side of the photo is the house where the Commandant of the camp formerly lived.

Franz Stangl was the first Commandant of the camp. Stangl had previously headed the euthanasia center at Hartheim Castle in Austria where physically and mentally disabled Germans were killed with carbon monoxide in a gas chamber. After six months at Sobibor, Stangl was transferred to the Treblinka death camp where he served as the Commandant.

A list of all the SS men who worked at Sobibor can be found on this web site.

The train tracks are barely visible on the left side of the photo above. A railroad spur line was built at Sobibor in order to take the train cars inside the camp. The location of the former camp is to the left, across from the station, in the photo above.

Entrance to the Memorial Site with the Museum in the background Photo Credit: Alan Collins

The plaques on the wall at the entrance have the same message in several different languages. The English version reads:

At this site, between the years 1942 and 1943, there existed a Nazi death camp where 250,000 Jews and approximately 1,000 Poles were murdered. On October 14, 1943, during the revolt by the Jewish prisoners the Nazis were overpowered and several hundred prisoners escaped to freedom. Following the revolt the death camp ceased to function. “Earth conceal not my blood” (Job)

Museum at the Memorial Site, built in 1993

Photo Credit: Alan Collins

Alan Collins, the photographer who took all of these photos, wrote the following about Sobibor:

This is one of the lesser known camps though there was a Hollywood film regarding the mass escape from it. It was a bit of a disappointment with 2 monuments next to each other and a third close by. The museum was small with not much of an exhibition. Whilst I was there a coach party arrived. It took them 5 minutes to walk to the monuments, 10 minutes to walk around them and take photographs, and 5 minutes to walk back to their coach. It took me just 10 minutes to walk slowly around the museum. Though the area is well tended I feel more of an effort could have been made considering tens of thousands of people were murdered there. The camp is open daily from 1st May to 14th October between 0900-1400.

The Sobibor camp was on the eastern edge of German-occupied Poland, five kilometers west of the Bug river. The Bug river was as far as trains from western Europe could go without changing the wheels to fit the train tracks in the Soviet Union, which were a different gauge.

On the other side of the Bug river from Sobibor was Ukraine, which had belonged to the Soviet Union until it was taken by the Germans shortly after their invasion of the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941.

The unsuspecting victims who arrived at Sobibor were told that they would be sent to work camps in Ukraine after they had taken a shower, but instead, the Jews were immediately killed in gas chambers disguised as shower rooms.

Sobibor was one of the three Aktion Reinhard camps which were set up following the Wannsee Conference on January 20, 1942 when “The Final Solution to the Jewish Question in Europe” was planned. The head of Aktion Reinhard (Operation Reinhard) was SS-Brigadeführer Odilio Globocnik, who had previously been the Gauleiter of Vienna, Austria.

Globocnik and Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler both committed suicide after being captured by the British. [Or were they murdered by the British?]

The other two Aktion Reinhard camps were Belzec and Treblinka.

The first Commandant at Belzec was Christian Wirth, who was also the Inspector of the Aktion Reinhard camps. Belzec and Treblinka were also very near the Bug river which formed the eastern border between German-occupied Poland and the Soviet Union. Across the Bug river from Treblinka was Belorussia (White Russia) which is now called Belarus.

According to the figures given by the Nazis at the Wannsee Conference, there were approximately 5 million Jews in the Soviet Union in January 1942, including 2,994,684 in Ukraine and 446,484 in Belorussia. There were another 2,284,000 Jews in the area of German-occupied Poland known as the General Government. At the Conference, the Nazis claimed that they were planning to resettle some of the Jews who were living in the General Government into Ukraine, an area of the Soviet Union which Germany controlled at that time.

The Nazis claimed that the Aktion Reinhard camps were transit camps for the “evacuation of the Jews to the East,” a euphemism for the genocide of the Jews. Unlike the death camps at Auschwitz and Majdanek, the three Aktion Reinhard camps did not have ovens to cremate the bodies. The Jews were not registered upon arrival at the Aktion Reinhard camps and no death records were kept.

At the Nuremberg International Military Tribunal in 1946, documents were introduced which showed an exchange of letters in 1943 between Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler, the head of all the concentration camps, and Richard Glücks, the Inspector of the Concentration Camps. In this letter, Glücks suggested that Sobibor  should be converted into a concentration camp.

In a letter dated 5 July 1943, Himmler rejected this idea. This indicates that Sobibor was not a concentration camp, but rather a place that was not part of the Nazi concentration camp system.

The three Aktion Reinhard camps were all in remote locations, but “each site was on a railroad line linking it with hundreds of towns and villages whose Jewish communities were now trapped and starving” in the spring of 1942, according to Martin Gilbert’s book entitled “The Holocaust.”

Sobibor was linked by rail with many large Jewish communities, including Lublin, Wlodawa and Chelm. Jews were also brought from the Theresienstadt ghetto, located in what is now the Czech Republic, and from the Netherlands, to [allegedly] be gassed at Sobibor.

The city of Lublin in eastern Poland was the headquarters of Aktion Reinhard. The clothing taken from the victims at the three Aktion Reinhard camps was sent to the Majdanek camp in Lublin to be disinfected with Zyklon-B before being shipped to Germany. There were no disinfection chambers for delousing the clothing at Sobibor.

Deportations to Sobibor began in mid April 1942 with transports from the town of Zamosc in Poland, according to Holocaust historian Martin Gilbert. The Jews from the Lublin ghetto were also sent to Sobibor to be gassed, although there were several gas chambers at Majdanek just outside the city of Lublin.

During the first phase of the extermination of the Jews at Sobibor, which lasted until July 1942, around 100,000 Jews were allegedly gassed to death. Their bodies were buried in mass graves, then dug up later and burned on pyres.

During the next phase, the bodies were burned immediately, according to Toivi Blatt, one of the few survivors of Sobibor. At the age of 15, Blatt had been selected to work in sorting the clothing in the camp.


Sobibor was initially divided into three camps (Lager 1, Lager II and Lager III) but a fourth camp was added later to store munitions captured from the Soviet Army.

Lager I was where the Jewish workers in the camp lived. A moat on one side of this camp prevented their escape. Lager II was where the victims undressed; Jewish workers sorted the clothing in this camp. The barracks for the German SS administrators of the camp were located in the Vorlager.

From Lager II, an SS man escorted the victims through a path lined with tree branches to the gas chambers in Lager III. Only the Ukrainian SS guards and the German SS officers were allowed in Lager III.

The Sobibor camp was 400 meters wide and 600 meters long; the entire area was enclosed by a barbed wire fence that was three meters high. On three sides of the camp was a mine field, intended to keep anyone from approaching the camp. The watch towers were manned by Ukrainian SS guards who had been conscripted from captured soldiers in the Soviet Army to assist the 30 German SS men who were the administrators of the camp.

In 1965, a German court put 11 of the German SS guards on trial; 6 of them were sentenced to prison, and one committed suicide during the trial; the others were acquitted.

The victims arrived on trains which stopped at the ramp across from the Sobibor station, or in trucks from nearby Polish villages. Most of the Jews were transported in cattle cars, but the 34,000 Dutch Jews who were sent to Sobibor arrived in passenger trains, according to Toivi Blatt. The luggage of the Dutch Jews was transported in separate cars and the victims were given tags which they were told would be used to reclaim their bags. All of the belongings of the Jews were confiscated upon arrival.

At the entrance to the camp, the victims were instructed to deposit their hand baggage and purses before proceeding along the path, called the “Himmelfahrtstrasse” (Street to heaven), which led to the spot where the hair was cut from the heads of the women, and then on to the gas chambers disguised as showers.

According to Toivi Blatt, all documents, photos and personal items were removed from the confiscated baggage and anything that could not be recycled to send to Germany was burned in open fires that lit up the night sky.

The photo below shows the spot in Camp III where a brick building with gas chambers once stood. A large block of stone represents the gas chambers in two buildings at Sobibor, which were torn down long ago. Survivors of Sobibor do not agree on the number or size of the gas chambers. The victims were killed with carbon monoxide from the exhaust of engines taken from captured Soviet tanks, which were stored in Camp IV. There is also disagreement on whether these were diesel engines or gasoline engines.

Two Monuments at the entrance, erected in 1965

Monument at the Entrance to former camp

Photo Credit: Alan Collins

The red stone sculpture shown in the photos above represents a woman, looking up at the sky, holding a small child in her arms. In the background can be seen the huge mound of ashes that is located in the former Camp III. These are the ashes of the Jews who were gassed and burned at Sobibor.

Sobibor Monument Photo Credit: Alan Collins

The photo above shows a huge mound of ashes and bone fragments surrounded by a stone wall. In front of the wall is a glass display case which contains a small amount of ashes and bone. There is also a display of ashes and bone fragments in the Museum at Sobibor.

The same procedure of first burying the bodies and then exhuming them for burning was also followed at the Belzec, Treblinka and Chelmno extermination camps.

In an attempt to destroy all the evidence, the ashes of the victims at Chelmno were hauled away secretly during the night by the SS men and taken to another town where they were dumped into a river. The ashes at Treblinka and Belzec were buried to destroy the evidence.

Only at Sobibor and Majdanek were the ashes of the victims left as incriminating evidence. There is a similar mound of ashes at the Memorial Site of the Majdanek death camp where, according to the most recent information given at the Museum, 78,000 people died including 59,000 Jews. Majdanek was both a death camp and a work camp.

Majdanek Mausoleum contains the ashes of victims beneath the dome Photo Credit: Simon Robertson

During World War II, and for years afterward, the Sobibor camp was virtually unknown. William Shirer did not even mention it in his monumental 1147-page book entitled “The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich.”

It was not until the release of a 1987 TV movie, “Escape from Sobibor,” based on a book with the same name, that the public knew of this remote spot where thousands of Jews lost their lives. The movie tells the story of the revolt during which around 300 prisoners escaped; no more than 50 of them survived to the end of the war.

According to an article in the Liverpool Daily Post, a prisoner named Leon Feldhendler had been formulating plans for an escape for many months but it wasn’t until the arrival in Sobibor of a transport of Soviet prisoners of war, among them Red Army Officer Alexander ‘Sasha’ Pechersky, that the plan of action really began to take shape.

Initially Feldhendler and his conspirators had thought of poisoning the camp guards and making their escape but the guards discovered the poison and shot 5 prisoners in reprisal. Another idea, to set fire to the camp and escape in the confusion, had to be abandoned when the Germans planted mines around the camp perimeter.

Feldhendler met with Pechersky and with the aid of another man, Solomon Leitman, who acted as the interpreter, became Pechersky’s main collaborator in the plot. With his military experience, the former Red Army Lieutenant quickly assumed the leadership of the escape plan.

The following quote about the Sobibor uprising on October 14, 1943 is from the Liver Pool Daily Post:

Pechersky successfully escaped into the woods, but about 80 prisoners were killed during the escape. 130 of the 550 prisoners at Sobibor at the time chose not to take part in the uprising remaining in the camp.11 SS Officers, and an unknown number of Camp Guards had been killed.

Of the escapees, 170 were later rounded up and executed, along with those that had remained in the camp and took no part in the uprising.

By this stage of the war the Allies still didn’t have the full picture of what Hitler’s concentration camps were about. Fearing the escapees would tell the story to the World, and as anxious to save his own neck as ever he was, within days of the escape Heinrich Himmler ordered the camp closed down, dismantled, and planted with trees to hide the evidence.

Pechersky survived the war, the undoubted ringleader and hero of the uprising was Portrayed by Rutger Hauer in the dramatised TV film version of the story ‘ Escape From Sobibor ‘ in 1987. He died in 1990.

Leon Feldhendler was shot and killed through the closed door of his flat in 1945.

53 Sobibor escapees survived the war.

End quote

One of the survivors of the escape from Sobibor was Esther Terner Raab, who made her home in New Jersey in the USA after the war. A theatrical production called “Dear Esther” is based on letters written to her by students who heard her speak at schools and colleges.

In a TV documentary, Esther told about a party that the SS had before the escape. The SS men told Esther that they were celebrating the fact that one million Jews had been killed at Sobibor. Unlike the other Nazi death camps, the SS barracks were located inside the Sobibor camp. According to Toivi Blatt, the Jewish workers in the camp socialized with each other and sometimes with the SS guards.

Another Sobibor survivor, Moshe Bahir, testified in 1965, at the trial of several of the Sobibor perpetrators in Hagen, Germany, that he was a witness to a celebration by the Germans in February 1943 after one million Jews had been killed at Sobibor. However, Raul Hilberg wrote in his book entitled “The Destruction of the European Jews” that the number of Jews killed at Sobibor was estimated to be 200,000.

The exact number of Jews who were murdered at Sobibor is unknown since the bodies were burned on pyres and the train records were destroyed. Estimates range from 170,000 to 250,000 deaths in the short time that Sobibor was in operation.

According to Dutch historian Johannes Houwink ten Cate, the transportation list of the Jews sent on 19 trains to Sobibor from the transit camp at Westerbork in the Netherlands contains the names and place of birth of the 34,000 Dutch Jews, but the names of the Jews sent from other countries to Sobibor are unknown. Approximately 33,000 Dutch Jews were killed in the gas chambers at Sobibor and 1,000 were chosen as workers at Sobibor, or to be sent to a nearby labor camp. Only 19 Dutch Jews survived.

In 1999, Jules Schelvis, the sole survivor of a transport of Dutch Jews from Westerbork on June 1, 1943, founded Stichting Sobibor. The foundation’s goal is to keep the memory of the Sobibor camp alive.

As of August 2008, Philip Bialowitz was one of the few survivors of the revolt at Sobibor in October 1943 who was still alive. By the time of his escape, an estimated 250,000 Jews, including most of Bialowitz’s family, had been murdered at Sobibor. After the revolt, the killing stopped at Sobibor, according to Bialowitz, who emigrated to America after the war.

In his book entitled “The Holocaust,” Martin Gilbert wrote about another survivor of Sobibor, Dov Freiberg, who was a 15-year-old boy on a transport of 2,750 Jews from the town of Torobin in Poland on May 12, 1942. The Jews were assembled in the town square and told that they were going to be “resettled in the Ukraine,” according to Freiberg. They were then taken to the nearest railroad station at Krasnowka, where they were joined by Jews from other nearby towns and villages. When their train arrived at the camp, the story of resettlement seemed to be coming true: a sign at the entrance to the camp said “SS Sonderkommando Umsiedlungslager.” which means “SS special unit resettlement camp” in English.

According to Freiberg, there was a band playing at the entrance. The women and children “went straight to the gas chambers,” but since the gas chamber “didn’t really operate in the night,” the men “stayed there on the spot during the night.” Freiberg was one of 150 Jews from this transport who “were sent to work” in the camp itself, sorting the belongings of the victims.

Martin Gilbert wrote that in the month of May 1942, there was a total of 36,000 Jews, from 19 communities between the Vistula river and the Bug river, who were transported to Sobibor and immediately killed in the gas chamber. This was the largest number of Jews gassed that month in any one camp, surpassing Auschwitz, Belzec and Chelmno. The Treblinka camp was not yet open at that time.

At the age of 15, Yaakov Biskowitz was sent on a transport of 3,400 Jews to Sobibor from the town of Hrubieszow in Poland on June 1, 1942. According to his testimony at the trial of Adolf Eichmann in Israel, Yaakov and his father were among 12 Jews who were selected to work in the Sobibor camp.

As told by Martin Gilbert in his book entitled “The Holocaust,” Biskowitz recalled how those who were too sick or too old to walk the length of the path to the gas chamber were taken to the so-called Lazarett (hospital) on a small rail spur used to carry coal. Men who could not run fast enough, and small children, would be thrown into the coal wagons and sent to the hospital where they would be shot by the Ukrainian guards.

According to Yaakov Biskowitz, as reported by Martin Gilbert, there were 8 Jews who were forced to work in Camp 3, burning the bodies of the victims who had been gassed. These 8 Jews also sorted the belongings and burned all damaged clothing, personal documents and photographs. Biskowitz testified at the Eichmann trial that his father was shot at the Lazarett (hospital) because he came down with typhoid. (The German word for typhoid is “spotted fever,” the same as the word for typhus; it is more likely that Biskowitz had typhus, which was a problem in the camps in Poland.)

On November 30, 2009, John Demjanjuk, an 89-year-old alleged Ukrainian SS guard at Sobibor, was put on trial in a German court. Demjanjuk was convicted of the crime of being an accessory to the murder of around 27,900 Jews, based on 23 eye-witness accounts that he was one of the men who led the victims to the gas chambers at Sobibor. The eye-witnesses had given their testimony to interrogators of the Soviet Union many years ago and were all dead at the time of the trial.

Demjanjuk had been previously tried and convicted 20 years ago in an Israeli court after he was identified by eye witnesses as a Ukrainian guard nicknamed “Ivan the Terrible” at Treblinka. He spent 7 years in prison in Israel before he won the case on appeal.

Young girl leaped from a moving train on her way to the gas chamber

Filed under: Germany, Holocaust — furtherglory @ 9:51 am

On my blog post today, I am commenting on this news article: http://www.kansascity.com/news/local/article210286509.html

The following quote is from the news article:

Begin quote

Rachel Black almost always writes [music] in a plaintive minor key, but the Lawrence singer knew that this personal piece — the true tale of the moment her great-grandmother forced her daughter to leap from a moving cattle car on the way to the gas chambers of the Holocaust — cried out to be written in a major key. To Black, 33, that’s the sound of bravery, hope and a mother’s sacrificial love.

“This song is very much about the strength of mothers,” Black said recently. She sat in the living room of the Americana Music Academy, 1419 Massachusetts St., where she is executive director. Her voice is clear, her long, straight hair the color of her name. “I’m here because of their strength.”

End quote

This reminds me of the old expression: “Throw mama from the train a kiss”. [It should be “Throw a kiss to mama from the train.”

Did the Nazis really tell the Jews that they were on a train that was headed to a gas chamber? I don’t think so.

Many years ago,I lived in Germany for 22 months while my husband was in the American Army there, and I talked with a lot of German people. My impression was that the German people were very, very intelligent and they were always careful not to make mistakes.

Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/news/local/article210286509.html#storylink=cpy

May 12, 2018

20,000 New York City area Holocaust survivors living in poverty

Filed under: Auschwitz, Food, Germany, Holocaust — furtherglory @ 2:39 pm

The following quote is from this news article: http://newyork.cbslocal.com/2018/05/09/holocaust-survivors-in-poverty/

Begin quote

Holocaust survivor Vera Liapina joined several other survivors in front of City Hall on Wednesday afternoon to show support for the Elie Wiesel Holocaust Survivors Initiative. [On the show, Elie Wiesel’s name is pronounced “Elly Vee-ZELL”]

“When we first started this initiative we pushed for $1.5 million. Within months, we were able to secure that funding,” City Councilman Rafael Espinal said.

Espinal said the money is to make sure holocaust survivors can happily and healthily live out their golden years in New York City.

“The needs are enormous,” said Eric Goldstein of the UJA Federation. “The monies we’ve raised so far and that they are allocating are simply not enough to address the need.”

At the City Hall event, the people there were imploring the City Council to earmark $4 million in the budget for 2019. It would mean more funding for organizations like Self Help.

End quote

This is what happens when you don’t get a book deal. No one gets to hear your sad story of how you survived the Holocaust. The Nazis were trying to kill you, feeding you potatoes, not realizing that potatoes are good for your health.

When I was a child, my family was very poor, but we had a large garden, which had a very large section where we grew potatoes. That is how I survived.

Maybe I should write a book about eating potatoes to survive. Oh, wait a minute! I am not Jewish. No one cares about my sad story.

Did non Jews butcher their Jewish neighbors in Poland?

Filed under: Germany, Holocaust — furtherglory @ 1:43 pm

Say that it isn’t so. Non Jews butchering their Jewish neighbors? Why? Did these Jews “lie, steal and cheat”, as some people believe?

This news article tells about the fate of the Jews: http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/245846

The following quote is from the news article:

Begin quote

Arriving amid a polarizing debate in Poland over a law that limits rhetoric on Polish complicity in the Holocaust, the study suggests Poles are responsible for hundreds of thousands of deaths by Jews in the Holocaust — a figure that is significantly higher than previous estimates.

The findings of the research, which were published earlier this year in a Polish-language book titled “The Fate of the Jews in Selected Regions of Occupied Poland,” pertain to the fate of more than a million Jews who went underground to avoid being killed in Operation Reinhard — Nazi Germany’s campaign of annihilation of 3.3 million Jews in occupied Poland.

According to Polish Chief Rabbi Michael Schudrich, no more than 2,500 Jews died at the hands of Poles during the Holocaust or immediately after it. Efraim Zuroff, Eastern Europe director for the Simon Wiesenthal has disputed Schudrich’s estimate: He believes the correct figure is “many thousands” of people, including in at least 15 towns and cities in eastern Poland, where non-Jews butchered their Jewish neighbors.

But if the new study in Poland is correct, then those estimates are just a fraction of a tally of well over half a million Jewish Holocaust victims who died as a result of the actions of non-Jewish Poles.

The issue of Polish complicity in the Holocaust is highly controversial in Poland, where the Nazis killed three million non-Jews in addition to about four million Jews. In January, the right-wing government passed a law criminalizing blaming Poland for Nazi crimes. Protests by Israel, the United States and Jewish groups over this law prompted what observers say is a wave of anti-Semitic hatred with unprecedented intensity since the fall of communism in Poland.

End quote

The Dachau concentration camp

Filed under: Dachau, Germany, Holocaust — furtherglory @ 12:57 pm

The History of Dachau

“During the Holocaust, Germans extinguished the lives of six million Jews and, had Germany not been defeated, would have annihilated millions more. The Holocaust was also the defining feature of German politics and political culture during the Nazi period, the most shocking event of the twentieth century, and the most difficult to understand in all of German history. The Germans’ persecution of the Jews culminating in the Holocaust is thus the central feature of Germany during the Nazi period. It is so not because we are retrospectively shocked by the most shocking event of the century, but because of what it meant to Germans at the time and why so many of them contributed to it.”

Daniel Jonah Goldhagen, Hitler’s Willing Executioners, Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust

Gate into Dachau concentration camp, 1945

Dachau is a name that will be forever associated with Nazi atrocities and the Holocaust. Opened on March 22, 1933 in a former World War I gunpowder factory, just outside the 1200-year-old Bavarian town of Dachau, the Dachau concentration camp was one of the first installations in the Third Reich’s vast network of concentration camps and forced labor camps throughout Germany and the Nazi-occupied countries.

Although there were other spontaneous camps (wild camps) set up in Nazi Germany around the same time, Dachau was the first of these camps to be called a “concentration camp” and it was the first to use SS soldiers as the guards. The other camps used SA soldiers (Storm Troopers) as guards.

Throughout its history, Dachau was primarily a camp for men; it was used to incarcerate Communists, Social Democrats, trade union leaders, religious dissidents, common criminals, Gypsy men, homosexuals, asocials, spies, resistance fighters, and others who were considered “enemies of the state.” It was not a death camp for the genocide of the Jews, although there were Jewish prisoners at Dachau.

During its 12-year history, Dachau had 206,206 registered arrivals and there were 31,951 certified deaths. Many of the Dachau prisoners, including Jews, were released after serving an indeterminate sentence. The Jews were always kept isolated from the other prisoners and were treated far worse than the others.

Dachau was the place where many famous, high-level political opponents of the Nazi government were held near the end of the war. Just before the camp was liberated, there were 137 VIP prisoners at Dachau, including the former Chancellor of Austria, Kurt von Schuschnigg, and the former Jewish premier of France, Leon Blum. They were evacuated to the South Tyrol in April 1945 on three separate trips, shortly before soldiers of the American Seventh Army arrived to liberate the camp.

Although Dachau was in existence for 12 years, most people know only the horror described by the soldiers in the 42nd Rainbow Infantry Division and the 45th Thunderbird Infantry Division after they had liberated the camp on April 29, 1945. Three weeks before, on April 9, 1945, a bomb had hit the camp, knocking out a water main and the source of electricity. There was no running water in the camp and drinking water had to be brought in by trucks. There was no water for the showers, nor any water to flush the toilets. There was however, one last vestige of what the camp had been like before Germany was bombed back to the Stone age: fresh flowers in a vase in the undressing room for the gas chamber.

The prisoners were not starving because there were 5 truck loads of food, which had been brought in by the Red Cross, although it had to be cooked over wood-burning stoves. Just before the guards and SS officers left the camp on April 28th, they turned the food warehouses in the SS garrison over to the prisoners.

The evacuation of prisoners from the sub-camps to the main Dachau camp had begun in March 1945, in preparation for surrendering the prisoners to the Allies. The evacuated prisoners had to walk for several days to the main camp because Allied bombs were destroying the railroad tracks as fast as the Germans could repair them. The few trains that did bring prisoners to Dachau, including a train load of women and children, were bombed or strafed by American planes, killing many of the prisoners.

The first thing that the American liberators saw at Dachau was the “death train” filled with the dead bodies of prisoners who had been evacuated three weeks before from Buchenwald; the train had been strafed by American planes, but the soldiers assumed that these prisoners had been machine-gunned to death by the guards after the train arrived. After the war, Hans Merbach, the German soldier who was in charge of this train was put on trial by an American Military Tribunal at Dachau.

Most of the prisoners in the sub-camps of Dachau were Jews who had survived Auschwitz and had been brought on trains to Germany in January 1945 after a 50-kilometer death march out of the camp. By the time that the survivors staggered into the Dachau main camp in the last weeks of April, they were emaciated, sick and exhausted. Other Jews at Dachau in 1945 had been brought from the three Lithuanian ghettos in the Summer of 1944 to work in the Dachau sub-camps. The American liberators got most of their information about the Dachau camp from these Jews who had only recently arrived and were eager to tell their stories about abuse at the hands of the Nazis.

Since March 1945, around 15,000 new prisoners had been accommodated in a camp that was originally designed for 5,000 men. By the time the liberators arrived, there were over 30,000 prisoners in the camp. There was a typhus epidemic in the camp but the Germans had no DDT, nor typhus vaccine, available to stop it. Up to 400 prisoners per day were dying of typhus by the time that the Americans arrived. There was no coal to burn the bodies in the ovens and the staff could not keep up with burying the bodies in mass graves on a hill several miles from the camp.

At the Bergen-Belsen camp, a sign had been put up outside the gate to warn the British liberators that there was typhus in the camp, but there was no sign at Dachau since there was no danger to the Americans who had all been vaccinated against typhus and other diseases before going overseas. The American liberators assumed that the emaciated bodies that they found piled up in the camp were the bodies of prisoners who had been deliberately starved to death.

The name Dachau became a household word for Americans following World War II. This was because it was the only major Nazi concentration camp in the American occupation zone in western Germany. Bergen-Belsen was in the British zone of occupation and Natzweiler was in the French zone. Buchenwald and Sachsenhausen were in the Soviet zone of occupation in eastern Germany and Mauthausen was in the Soviet zone of Austria.

All the major death camps were behind the “Iron Curtain” and few Americans had even heard of them before the fall of Communism; the six death camps, Auschwitz, Majdanek, Treblinka, Sobibor, Belzec and Chelmno were all located in what is now Poland, and they were controlled by the Communists. For many years in America, Dachau was the name most associated with the Holocaust, not Auschwitz.

The excuse for setting up concentration camps, including the Dachau camp, was the hysteria following the burning of the Reichstag, which was the Congressional building in Berlin, on the night of February 27, 1933, only four weeks after Adolf Hitler was sworn in as Chancellor of Germany. Hermann Goering accused the Communists of starting the fire in protest of the appointment of Hitler as the Chancellor and the scheduled Congressional election to confirm his appointment, but the Communists claimed that the Nazis had set the fire themselves in order to begin a reign of terror. The arrests of Communists and Social Democrats began even before the fire was put out.

After President Paul von Hindenburg was asked by the Nazi-controlled German Cabinet that night to use his emergency powers under Article 48 of the German Constitution to suspend certain civil rights, 2,000 leading Communists throughout Germany were imprisoned without formal charges being brought against them and without a trial. They were held in abandoned buildings such as the camp in an old brewery in Oranienburg; this camp was rebuilt in 1936 as the Sachsenhausen concentration camp. On March 21, 1933, Communists in the town of Dachau were imprisoned in the building which now houses the New Gallery for modern art. Other Communists were sent to prisons such as the federal prison at Landsberg am Lech, where Hitler himself had formerly been a prisoner after his failed Putsch in 1923.

The first prisoners brought to the old gunpowder factory at Dachau on March 22, 1933 were 200 Communists, including some of the members of the Reichstag, who had been taken into “protective custody” and had, at first, been sent to the Landsberg am Lech prison near Munich.

After the Reichstag fire, the Congressional election took place on March 5, 1933 as scheduled. The Nazis won the most seats and they were able to put together a coalition government to form a majority, which confirmed Hitler as the new Chancellor.

On March 7, 1933, an important law was passed by the newly-elected German Congress, which called for all high-level government officials in the German states to be appointed by the Nazis and for all state government positions to be supervised by the Nazis in the event of an emergency. Germany was already in an emergency situation and Article 48 of the German Constitution had already been invoked. Under this new law, Heinrich Himmler was appointed the acting Chief of Police in Munich, although his real job was Reichsführer-SS, the leader of Hitler’s elite private Army.

As the acting Police Chief, Himmler announced the opening of a Konzentrationslager (concentration camp) at Dachau in a news conference on March 20, 1933.

The concept of a concentration camp was not originated by the Nazis. The following quote is from Wikipedia:

Although the first modern concentration camps used to systematically dissuade rebels from fighting are usually attributed to the British during the Boer War, in the Spanish-American War, forts and camps were used by the Spanish in Cuba to separate rebels from their agricultural support bases.

Theodore Eicke, who became the second Commandant of Dachau in June 1933, is called the “father of the Nazi concentration camp system” because all subsequent camps used the rules and regulations which he wrote for the Dachau camp.

The first commander of Dachau, Hilmar Wäckerle, was dismissed from his position by Heinrich Himmler after charges of murder were brought against him by a Munich court for the deaths of several prisoners who had died after being severely punished. Another Dachau Commandant, Alex Piorkowski, was also dismissed by Himmler and was expelled from the Nazi party for breaking the strict rules set by Eicke.

An office was set up at Dachau in 1934 to administer all the camps; this office, called the WVHA, was later moved to Oranienburg near Berlin. All punishments of prisoners in all the Nazi camps had to approved by the WVHA. All punishments for women prisoners had to be approved by Heinrich Himmler himself.

On March 23, 1933, the German Congress passed another important law, called the Enabling Act, which gave Hitler the power to rule by decree in case of an emergency. On that day, Germany still had a President and as Chancellor, Hitler was not yet the undisputed leader of Germany. The next day, on March 24, 1933, front page headlines in The Daily Express of London read “Judea Declares War on Germany – Jews of All the World Unite – Boycott of German Goods – Mass Demonstrations.” The newspaper article mentioned that the boycott of German goods had already started.

The following is a quote from the Daily Express of London on March 24, 1933:

The whole of Israel throughout the world is uniting to declare an economic and financial war on Germany. The appearance of the Swastika as the symbol of the new Germany has revived the old war symbol of Judas to new life. Fourteen million Jews scattered over the entire world are tight to each other as if one man, in order to declare war against the German persecutors of their fellow believers. The Jewish wholesaler will quit his house, the banker his stock exchange, the merchant his business, and the beggar his humble hut, in order to join the holy war against Hitler’s people.

In America, the boycott of German goods was announced on March 23, 1933 as 20,000 Jews protested against Hitler’s government at the City Hall in New York City. On March 27, 1933, a mass rally, that had already been planned on March 12th, was held in Madison Square Garden; there were 40,000 Jewish protesters, according to the New York Daily News. The next day, on March 28, 1933 Hitler made a speech in which he deplored the stories of Nazi atrocities that were being published in the American press and announced a one-day boycott of Jewish stores in Germany on April 1, 1933 in retaliation.

The following is a quote from Hitler’s speech on March 28, 1933:

Lies and slander of positively hair-raising perversity are being launched about Germany. Horror stories of dismembered Jewish corpses, gouged out eyes and hacked off hands are circulating for the purpose of defaming the German Volk in the world for the second time, just as they had succeeded in doing once before in 1914.

In spite of the Jewish “holy war” against the Nazis, there were no Jews sent to a concentration camp solely because they were Jewish during the first five and a half years that the Nazi concentration camps were in existence. Jews were sent to Dachau from day one, but it was because they were Communists or trade union leaders, not because they were Jewish. The first Jews to be taken into “protective custody,” simply because they were Jews, were arrested during the pogrom on the night of November 9th & 10th in 1938, which the Nazis named Kristallnacht (Night of Broken Glass).

Kristallnacht was the night that German citizens smashed windows in Jewish shops and set fire to over 200 Jewish Synagogues throughout Germany, Austria and the Sudetenland in what is now the Czech Republic. Ninety-one people were killed during this uncontrolled riot which the police did not try to stop. That night, Hitler and his henchmen were gathered at the Bürgerbräukeller, a beer hall in Munich, celebrating the anniversary of Hitler’s attempt to take over the German government by force in 1923; Hitler’s failed Putsch had been organized at the Bürgerbräukeller.

Joseph Goebbels made a speech at the beer hall in which he said that he would not be surprised if the German people were so outraged by the assassination of German diplomat Ernst vom Rath by a Polish Jew named Herschel Grynszpan that they would take the law into their own lands and attack Jewish businesses and Synagogues. Goebbels is generally credited with being the instigator of the pogrom. (Pogrom is a Polish word which means an event in which ordinary citizens use violence to drive the Jews out.)

Approximately 30,00 Jewish men were arrested during the pogrom, allegedly for their own protection, and taken to the 3 major concentration camps in Germany, including 10,911 who were brought to Dachau and held as prisoners while they were pressured to sign over their property and leave the country. The majority of these Jews were released within a few weeks, after they promised to leave Germany within six months; most of them wound up in Shanghai, the only place that did not require a visa, because other countries, except Great Britain, refused to take them.

In anticipation of such violence against the Jews by the Nazis, President Franklin D. Roosevelt had invited 32 countries to a Conference in Evian, France in July 1938 to discuss the problem of Jewish refugees. The only country which agreed to allow Jewish refugees as immigrants was the Dominican Republic; 5,000 German Jews emigrated to the Dominican Republic before the start of World War II. The American Congress refused to change the US immigration laws, passed in 1920 and 1921, to allow a higher quota of Jewish refugees from Germany to enter, although America did start filling the quota under the existing laws for the first time.

After the joint conquest of Poland, by Germany and the Soviet Union, in September 1939, numerous Polish resistance fighters were imprisoned, including 1,780 Catholic priests. When the Catholic Church complained about the harsh treatment the priests received in the concentration camps, all the priests were moved to Dachau because it was the mildest camp of all. Dachau was designated as the main camp for Catholic priests who had been arrested on various charges, including child molestation, and a total of 2,720 from 19 different nations were sent there. The priests did not have to work in the factories and were given special privileges.

The most famous priest at Dachau was Leonard Roth who was a prisoner there from 1943 to 1945.

Regarding Father Roth, the following was written by Harold Marcuse, the author of “Legacies of Dachau”:

The camp administration gave him the “black triangle” badge of the “asocials” because he was accused of homosexual conduct as well as anti-Nazi activity. He was one of the few priests imprisoned in the Dachau KZ to survive the work caring for inmates dying of highly infectious typhus at the end of the war. Roth remained in Dachau as a priest for the SS men interned there by the US Army after July 1945. When that internment camp was dissolved and the Bavarian government converted the camp to housing for German refugees from Czechoslovakia in 1948, Roth remained as their “curate” (he had been demoted from priest status). A stern but well-liked pastor, he worked tirelessly to better the living conditions of the refugees. Around 1957 he joined the Dachau camp survivors’ organization as a representative of the priests who had been imprisoned in the camp. By 1960 he was in heated conflict with the Catholic hierarchy in Bavaria. Relieved of his post in the refugee settlement, he took his own life.

Also among the Dachau inmates were 109 anti-Nazi Protestant clergymen, including the Reverend Martin Niemöller, one of the founders of the Protestant Confessional Church. Niemöller had been tried in a German court and convicted of treason; after being sentenced to time served, he was first sent to the Sachsenhausen concentration camp near Berlin, then later to Buchnwald and finally to Dachau. After the war, he continued to preach against the Nazi regime, including making a speech before the American Congress.

Niemöller is famous for the following words which he spoke many times:

Als die Nazis die Kommunisten holten, habe ich geschwiegen; ich war ja kein Kommunist.
Als sie die Sozialdemokraten einsperrten, habe ich geschwiegen; ich war ja kein Sozialdemokrat.
Als sie die Gewerkschafter holten, habe ich geschwiegen; ich war ja kein Gewerkschafter.
Als sie die Juden holten, habe ich geschwiegen; ich war ja kein Jude.
Als sie mich holten, gab es keinen mehr, der protestieren konnte.

Following the German invasion of the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941, Russian Prisoners of War were sent to Dachau. On Hitler’s orders, Russian POWs who were determined to be Communist Commissars were executed at Dachau and other major concentration camps in Germany. The Communist Soviet Union had both political Commissars and military Commissars whose job it was to keep their citizens or soldiers in line. The military Commissars were stationed behind the front lines in order to urge reluctant Soviet soldiers forward since only one out of every 5 men had been furnished with a rifle. The Soviet soldiers were expected to pick up a rifle after another soldier had been shot; those who tried to retreat were shot by the Commissars. If captured, the Commissars were under orders to organize an escape or otherwise create havoc in the POW camp.

Throughout its 12-year history, Dachau was predominantly a camp for non-Jewish adult males. At first, the few women who were sent to Dachau lived with German families in the town of Dachau and worked as servants. In 1944, Jewish women were brought to Dachau from Hungary, but most of them were then transferred to some of the 123 Dachau sub-camps to work in German factories. Other women at Dachau were non-Jewish prostitutes who worked in a camp brothel for the inmates, which was set up in 1943. There were 11 prostitutes at the camp when it was liberated.

Resistance fighters and high-ranking Communists from France, Belgium, Albania, Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia and many other countries were also brought to Dachau. Several captured British SOE agents, and even one American in the OSS, a secret agent who was working with the French Resistance, were imprisoned at Dachau during the war.

According to Nerin E. Gun, a Turkish journalist who was a prisoner at Dachau, there were 11 Americans at Dachau at some time during its 12-year history.

Frank Cappabianca e-mailed us the information that his grandfather Frank Machnig spent some time as a POW at Dachau after he was captured by the Germans following the D-Day invasion.

Prisoners at Dachau and the other Nazi concentration camps wore badges which indicated their classification. Most of the prisoners at Dachau wore a red triangle to indicate that they were political prisoners. German criminals in the camp wore a green triangle.

The political prisoners at Dachau were the Resistance fighters from many countries which Germany had conquered, but there were also German Resistance fighters, according to a book entitled “That was Dachau” by former Dachau inmate Stanislav Zámecník

The following quote is from “That was Dachau” by Stanislav Zámecník

The anti-Hitler movement inside Germany, which included German communists and Jehovah’s Witnesses, was the largest indigenous resistance movement of any country during the whole war. Only in Germany was an attempt made to assassinate their leader. Around 800,000 were sent to prison at one time or another for active resistance to the regime. While the western allies did all in their power to help other resistance movements, ie in France and the Netherlands, they did nothing to help or encourage the movement in Germany which in all probability could have ended the war sooner. But the Allies were intent on unconditional surrender and refused to make any deals at all with Germans. Accordingly the Allies viewed all Germans as bad, not only Nazis.

Dachau was never a camp that was specifically intended for murdering the Jews; the Nazi plan was to consolidate all the Jews into ghettos, from which they were later sent to the death camps. German Jews were sent to the Lodz ghetto in what is now Poland where they worked in factories until 1944; those who could no longer work were sent to the Chelmno death camp. In 1942, the Jews who were still living in Germany were sent to the Theresienstadt ghetto in what is now the Czech Republic and from there to the gas chambers in Auschwitz-Birkenau.

In January 1941, Dachau was designated a Class I camp and Buchenwald became a Class II camp; Mauthausen and Gusen in Austria were the only Class III camps in the Nazi system. The Class I designation meant that treatment of the inmates was less harsh and that prisoners had a better chance of being released. Dachau was the best of the Nazis camps, as far as the treatment of the prisoners was concerned.

According to testimony given at the Nuremberg IMT, approximately 150 Dachau inmates were forced to participate in medical experiments conducted by Dr. Sigmund Rascher for the German Air Force, and about half of them died as a result. The subjects for these experiments were allegedly German “professional criminals” and Soviet POWs who were Communist Commissars, sentenced to be executed on the orders of Adolf Hitler. One Jew, who had been condemned to death for breaking the law against race mixing, was used in these experiments.

Prof. Dr. Klaus Schilling, a renowned expert on malaria, was persuaded to come out of retirement in order to conduct medical experiments on approximately 1,200 Dachau prisoners in an attempt to find a cure for malaria after German troops began fighting the Allies in North Africa. Hundreds died as a result of Dr. Schilling’s experiments, including a few who died from malaria and others who died from other diseases after being weakened by malaria. The subjects for the malaria experiments were the Catholic priests in the camp because they were not required to work, and would not be missed in the labor force if they died.

In February 1942, the Nazis began systematically rounding up all the Jews in Germany and the Nazi-occupied countries, and transporting them to what is now Poland or the area that is now Belarus, in a program of extermination, which had been planned at the Wannsee conference on January 20, 1942. The title of the conference was “The Final Solution to the Jewish Question.”

After the evacuation process began in February 1942, there were only a few Jews left in any of the camps in Germany, including Dachau. On April 29, 1945 when Dachau was liberated, there were 2,539 Jews in the main camp, including 225 women, according to the US Army census. Most of them had arrived only weeks or even days before, after they were evacuated from the Dachau sub-camps, mainly the Kaufering camps near Landsberg am Lech, where they had been forced to work in building underground factories for the manufacture of Messerschmitt airplanes.

In April 1942, at the same time that the Jews were being sent to the death camps in the East, a new brick building called Baracke X was planned for the Dachau camp. It was designed to house a homicidal gas chamber, disguised as a shower room, and four cremation ovens. The new Baracke X also has four disinfection gas chambers, designed to kill lice in clothing with the use of Zyklon-B, the same poison gas that was used to kill the Jews in the homicidal gas chambers at Majdanek and Auschwitz. The clothing was disinfected in all the Nazi camps in an attempt to prevent typhus which is spread by lice.

Construction on Baracke X began in July 1942, using the labor of the Catholic priests who were the only prisoners not forced to work in the factories at Dachau. The building was finished in 1943, but a sign that was put in the gas chamber in 1965 inexplicably informed tourists that this room was never used for gassing people. By May 2003, the sign was gone and a poster on the wall of the undressing room next to the gas chamber said that the gas chamber “could have been used” to kill prisoners.

The Dachau museum mentions in one of its displays that 3,166 “terminally ill” prisoners were transported from Dachau to Hartheim Castle near Linz, Austria where they were murdered in a gas chamber there, beginning in February 1942.

A letter from Dr. Sigmund Rascher to Heinrich Himmler, the head of all the concentration camps, which makes a reference to a facility like the one at Hartheim which the Nazis were planning to build at Dachau, is the best proof that the fake shower room in Baracke X was actually a gas chamber. A copy of this letter was displayed in the gas chamber building in May 2001, but it was later moved to the Dachau Museum.

When the death camps in what is now Poland had to be abandoned, as the Soviet troops advanced westward, the Jewish survivors were brought back to Germany and crowded into camps such as Bergen-Belsen and Dachau, which did not have enough room to accommodate them properly.

Typhus, transmitted by body lice, which had been prevalent in the ghettos and death camps in occupied Poland throughout the war, now spread to the concentration camps in Germany. After January 1945, conditions in all of Germany and Austria, including the concentration camps, became intolerable due to the chaos caused by the intensive Allied bombing of civilian areas in all the major cities.

Just west of the concentration camp at Dachau, a large SS army garrison was set up in 1936 on the grounds of the former gunpowder factory. This facility, which was four or five times the size of the Dachau prison camp, included an officers’ training school where German SS soldiers were educated to be administrators. Some of the famous graduates of this school were Adolf Eichmann, who became the head of Hitler’s Race and Resettlement office, and Rudolf Hoess, the infamous Commandant of Auschwitz, who confessed that 2.5 million Jews had been gassed while he was in charge there, from May 1940 through November 1943.

Beginning in 1936, most of the old gunpowder factory buildings were torn down and the prisoners were forced to build a new camp with 34 barrack buildings, a gate house and a large service building. Two rows of poplar trees were planted along a main camp road; the service building and all the barrack buildings had flower beds in front of them.

Also in 1936, a new camp called Sachsenhausen was built to replace the former “wild camp” that had been set up in an abandoned brewery in Oranienburg in 1933. The camp in the old brewery was the place where the famous “Arbeit Macht Frei” sign was first erected. When the new Dachau gate house was finished in June 1936, this slogan was put on the iron gate. The words mean “work will set you free.” According to Rudolf Hoess, who was on the Dachau staff in 1936, the slogan meant that work sets one free in the spiritual sense, not literally.

The existence of the Dachau concentration camp was far from a secret; visitors were frequently brought to the camp and given a tour in the years before World War II started, including some American prison officials. Heinrich Himmler even brought his small daughter, Gudrun, to visit the Dachau camp.

Himmler had a college degree in Agriculture and was interested in the health movement which began in Germany. He established a large farm just outside the Dachau camp where some of the prisoners worked. According to this news story, experiments were done on the farm to find out why potatoes had become so vulnerable to pests and early decay. Herbs were grown for use as medicine and vitamins were extracted from plants.

Fermented blackberry and raspberry leaves from the Dachau farm were used to create German tea, reducing dependency on imports. Work was done on growing German pepper and gladioli flowers were grown in great quantities for their vitamin C. The gladioli leaves were dried and pulverized, then combined with a mixture of spices, beef fat and cooking salt to make a food supplement for SS soldiers.

Himmler was way ahead of his time in his knowledge of plants that could be used as medicine; he planted fields of primroses in a first attempt to extract evening primrose oil for use as medication.

On the Dachau farm, there were herds of cows in 1,850 acres of pastures, tended by up to 800 inmates, whose task was to gather the dung for testing in the camp gardens. A special compost was devised to speed the growth of healing herbs, and there were also experiments using worms to improve the soil.

Beginning in 1943, a series of 123 sub-camps were set up near the Dachau main camp. The worst of these sub-camps were the 11 camps near Landsberg am Lech, which were named Kaufering I – XI; Kaufering was the name of the railroad station where the prisoners arrived by train. Beginning on June 18, 1944, Hungarian Jews from the death camp at Auschwitz-Birkenau were brought to the Kaufering camps to work on construction of underground factories where airplanes were to be built.

By March 9, 1945, a total of 28,838 prisoners had been brought to Dachau and then transferred to the 11 Landsberg sub-camps. Approximately 14,500 prisoners died in these camps. In April 1945, the Kaufering camps were evacuated, except for the Kaufering IV camp where sick prisoners were left behind. Kaufering IV was liberated by American soldiers two days before the main camp was liberated.

According to a book published by the US Seventh Army immediately after the war, entitled “Dachau Liberated, The Official Report by The U.S. Seventh Army,” there was a total of 29,138 Jews brought to Dachau from other camps between June 20, 1944 and November 23, 1944. This report says the Jews were brought to Dachau to be executed and that they were gassed in the gas chamber disguised as a shower room and also in the four smaller gas chambers, which were designed to be disinfection chambers. The report also says that 16,717 non-Jewish, German prisoners were executed at Dachau between October 1940 and March 1945.

On April 26, 1945, three days before the camp was liberated, there were 30,442 prisoners counted during roll call. On that same day, 1,759 Jews were put onto a train and evacuated, on the orders of Heinrich Himmler. Then 6,887 other Dachau prisoners, half of them Jews and half of them Russian POWs, were marched in the direction of the South Tyrol.

There were an additional 37,223 prisoners counted in the sub-camps near Dachau on April 26, 1945, the date of the last roll call. According to the US Army Report, there were approximately 7,000 prisoners who arrived at Dachau after April 26, 1945 who were not registered in the camp. They were prisoners from the sub-camps who had been evacuated to the main camp. One group of prisoners from a subcamp arrived on April 28th, escorted by Otto Moll, a notorious SS man who had formerly worked in the Auschwitz death camp.

Due to horrific overcrowding and the spread of contagious diseases brought from what is now Poland by new arrivals who had been evacuated from the death camps, the number of recorded deaths at Dachau in the last four chaotic months of the war jumped to 13,158. After the camp was liberated by the US Seventh Army on April 29, 1945, an additional 2,226 prisoners died from disease in the month of May and 196 more died in June.

The total number of deaths in the first five months of 1945 was almost half the total deaths in the 12-year history of the camp. The death rate in the other Nazi concentration camps also rose dramatically in the last months of the war, as the typhus epidemic spread throughout Germany. American POWs in German camps were saved from the epidemic by booster shots of typhus vaccine sent to them from America by the International Red Cross. The Germans were conducting experiments at the Buchenwald camp in an effort to develop a vaccine for typhus, but had not been successful. After the war, the doctors who had attempted to develop a typhus vaccine at Buchenwald were put on trial as war criminals at Nuremberg in the Doctor’s Trial conducted by Americans.

By October 1944, there was a shortage of coal in all of Germany and the dead could no longer be cremated. A new cemetery was opened on a hill north of the camp, called Leitenberg, where the last Dachau victims were buried in unmarked mass graves. Ashes of earlier unknown victims are buried in the area north of the new crematorium. Markers were placed on the sites of the mass graves of ashes between 1950 and 1964.

On April 28, 1945, the day before the liberation of the camp, Dachau citizens joined with escaped prisoners from the camp in an uprising led by Georg Scherer, a former prisoner who had been released, but was still working in a factory at the Dachau complex. Their attempt to take control of the town of Dachau failed; 3 of the prisoners and 4 of the locals were killed in a battle that took place in front of the Dachau town hall. Georg Scherer survived and later became the mayor of Dachau.

On April 29, 1945, Dachau became the second major Nazi concentration camp to be liberated by American troops, after Buchenwald was liberated on April 11, 1945 by the 6th Armored Division of General George S. Patton’s Third Army.

The last Commandant of the Dachau Concentration Camp was Wilhelm Eduard Weiter, who replaced Martin Gottfried Weiss on November 1, 1943; Weiss was transferred to the Majdanek death camp in Poland.

Eduard Weiter left the Dachau camp on April 26, 1945 with a prisoner transport to the Schloss Itter, a subcamp of Dachau in Austria. Weiter shot himself at Schloss Itter on May 6, 1945, according to Johannes Tuchel who wrote about The Commandants of the Dachau Concentration Camp in his book: Dachau and the Nazi Terror II, 1933-1945.

In May 1944, Martin Gottfried Weiss was appointed the department head of the Office Group D in the SS Main Office of Economic Administration (WVHA) at Oranienburg. That same year, Weiss became the commander of the five sub-camps of Dachau at Mühldorf; when the Mühldorf prisoners were evacuated and brought to the main camp in the Spring of 1945, Weiss returned to Dachau. Fourteen members of the staff at Mühldorf were put on trial at Dachau from April 1 through May 13, 1947 in the case of US vs. Franz Auer et al.

On April 28, 1945, Martin Gottfried Weiss escaped from the Dachau camp along with most of the regular guards; he had been the highest ranking SS officer and the acting Commandant for two days before the camp was liberated by the US Seventh Army on April 29, 1945.

Weiss had previously been the Commandant of the Neuengamme concentration camp from 1940 to 1942. From September 1942 until the end of October 1943, Weiss was the Commandant of Dachau. During his time as the Commandant of Dachau, some of the worst atrocities had occurred, including the building of the gas chamber and the medical experiments conducted for the German air force. In spite of this, several former prisoners testified in his defense when he was put on trial at Dachau in the first American Military Tribunal in November 1945.

Martin Gottfried Weiss should not be confused with another man named Martin Weiss, who was named by one of the prosecution witnesses at the Nuremberg International Military Tribunal as the man that he saw killing Jews in Vilna, Lithuania in 1941. Martin Gottfried Weiss was the Commandant at Neuengamme during that time.

On April 29, 1945, SS 2nd Lt. Heinrich Wicker surrendered the camp to the 42nd Rainbow Division of the US Seventh Army, which had found the camp on its way to take the city of Munich, 18 kilometers to the south. Accompanied by Red Cross representative Victor Maurer, 2nd Lt. Wicker surrendered the Dachau concentration camp to Brigadier General Henning Linden, commander of the 42nd Rainbow Division, under a white flag of truce. The 45th Thunderbird Division of the US Seventh Army also participated in the liberation of Dachau, arriving at the nearby SS garrison before the 42nd Division approached the installations’s main entrance on the south side of the Dachau complex where 2nd Lt. Wicker was waiting to surrender the camp.

Before reaching the concentration camp, the 45th Thunderbird Division had discovered an abandoned train, with no engine, on a branch railroad line which at that time ran from the Dachau station along Freisinger Street in the direction of the camp. Inside the 39 train cars were the corpses of prisoners who had been evacuated from Buchenwald on April 7, 1945 and, because of heavy bombing and strafing by Allied planes in the last days of the war, had not reached Dachau until three weeks later, two days before the American soldiers arrived.

Most of the regular SS guards and the administrative staff had fled from the camp the next day and there was no one left to oversee the burial of the bodies. No precise figures are available, but the train had started out with approximately 4,500 to 6,000 prisoners on board and between 1,300 and 2,600 had made it to Dachau still alive. Some of the dead had been buried along the way, or left in rows alongside the tracks. The gruesome sight of the death train, with some of the corpses in the open cars riddled by bullets, so affected the young soldiers of the 45th Thunderbird Division that they executed Waffen-SS soldiers stationed at the Dachau garrison after they had surrendered.

SS soldiers in guard tower B on the west side of the concentration camp were ordered to come down and were then shot by the American liberators, even though the tower was flying the white flag of surrender and the guards in Tower A had already surrendered without incident.

After the regular guards had escaped from the camp on the day before the liberation, 128 SS soldiers who had been imprisoned in a special wing of the Dachau bunker were released and ordered to serve as guards until the Americans arrived to take over the camp. 2nd Lt. Wicker had stayed behind when the other guards escaped because his mother was staying at the Dachau garrison, visiting him. Wicker’s mother reported him missing after the war, and it is presumed that he was killed after he surrendered the camp to the Americans.

Prisoners in the camp were given guns by some of the liberators and were allowed to shoot or beat to death 40 of the German guards while American soldiers looked on. The German Sheppard guard dogs were shot in their kennels. The bodies of some the dead SS soldiers were later buried in unmarked graves inside the garrison, after their dog tags had been removed; their families were not notified of their deaths. Some of the bodies of the executed SS soldiers were burned in the ovens in the crematorium at Dachau.

Upon entering the camp after the surrender, the American liberators, and the news reporters accompanying them, were horrified to discover over 900 dying prisoners in the infirmary barracks. According to the court testimony of the camp doctor, as many as 400 prisoners were dying of disease each day in the final days before the liberation.

Accompanied by Communist political prisoners, who served as guides, the Americans toured the prison camp and were shown the building, just outside the barbed wire enclosure, which housed the homicidal gas chamber disguised as a shower room. The Americans heard eye-witness accounts from Dachau survivors who said that prisoners had been gassed to death in the fake shower room; they also heard stories of how prisoners had been shoved into the crematory ovens while still alive. Bodies of fully-clothed dead inmates were found piled inside the new crematorium building and many more naked corpses were piled up outside. Outside the disinfection chambers, there was a huge pile of clothing waiting to be fumigated with Zyklon-B gas pellets.

There were no charges of killing prisoners in a gas chamber brought against the accused in the proceedings against the staff members of the Dachau camp, which were conducted by an American Military Tribunal at Dachau in November 1945, although a film of the gas chamber was shown at the Nuremberg International Military Tribunal on November 29, 1945, while the Dachau tribunal was in progress. This documentary film was taken by the Allies, under the direction of famed Hollywood director George Stevens; it showed the pipes through which the gas flowed into the gas chamber and the control wheels which regulated the flow of gas that came out of the shower heads.

The top Nazis on trial at Nuremberg were stunned and claimed that they were hearing about the Dachau gas chamber for the first time. Some of the footage from this film is currently being shown at the Dachau Museum, although in May 2003, the staff at the Memorial Site was telling visitors that the Dachau gas chamber had actually been designed so that the introduction of poison gas was done by pouring Zyklon-B pellets onto the floor of the gas chamber through two chutes on the outside wall of the building.

Several of the “special prisoners” in the bunker were shot just before the camp was liberated, including Dr. Sigmund Rascher, who had formerly conducted experiments on condemned prisoners in the camp for the German Air Force. Dr. Rascher had been arrested and imprisoned in Munich after it was learned that he had illegally adopted two children and told everyone that these were his own children.

Georg Elser, who was imprisoned at Dachau as a suspect in the attempted assassination of Hitler on November 8, 1939, was allegedly shot around the time that an Allied bomb hit the camp on April 9, 1945 and his death was blamed on the bombing. General Charles Delestraint, a Dachau prisoner who had been the leader of the French Secret Army in the Resistance, was allegedly executed at Dachau on April 19, 1945, although no execution order from Berlin was ever found. Four female British SOE agents were also allegedly executed Dachau, although the execution order was never found.

After the German surrender on May 7, 1945, the American Army took over the barracks of the SS garrison and set up a command post called Eastman which they occupied until 1973. On the orders of General Dwight D. Eisenhower, all available American soldiers were brought to Dachau so that they could be eye-witnesses to the existence of the homicidal gas chamber, disguised as a shower room.

Many of the naked corpses found in the camp were left out until May 13, two weeks after the liberation, so that American Congressmen, newspaper reporters and as many American soldiers as possible could view the horror. Thirty male citizens from the town of Dachau were brought to the camp and forced to view the rotting corpses, even though the typhus epidemic was still raging in the camp, and the Germans had not been vaccinated.

Young boys of the Hitler Youth were brought to see the dead bodies on the train. Mutilated corpses of SS guards, who had been killed by the Americans after discovering the train, were lying nearby. Before the corpses in the camp were finally given a decent burial, the stench could be smelled up to a mile away, according to the American liberators. When the bodies of the typhus victims were finally taken to the cemetery on a hill called Leitenberg for burial by the citizens of Dachau, the horse-drawn wagons had to be driven slowly though the town, on the orders of the American military, so that the town’s people would be forced to confront the horror of what the Nazis had done.

Rabbi Eli Bohnen was the Jewish Chaplain of the 42nd Rainbow Division; he arrived at Dachau on April 30, 1945 along with Rabbi David Max Eichhorn of the US Army XV Corps, who conducted the first Shabbat at Dachau on May 5, 1945.

After the liberation of Dachau, the commanding officer of the Rainbow division, Major General Harry J. Collins, made sure that the Jewish survivors were taken care of properly. Some of the Jewish survivors were given private housing in homes in the town of Dachau after their owners had been evicted. In some cases, the home owners were allowed to live in the attic of their homes, but they were forbidden to remove any of the linens, china or silverware, which had to be left for the use of the new occupants. A few of the Jewish survivors settled in Dachau permanently after the war.

In the first few days after the liberation, the town’s people were forced to scrounge for food and deliver it to the camp inmates. The two bakeries in Dachau had to deliver wagon loads of bread for the starving inmates. Major General Collins, with the help of Rabbi Bohnen, made sure that the former Jewish inmates of Dachau received the best rations, including kosher foods.

All of the food in the army warehouse of the SS garrison was given to the inmates, although there was a food shortage also in the town of Dachau. There were 1,268 prisoners, who died after the liberation, that were buried in individual graves by the Dachau residents at Waldfriedhof, the town cemetery, on the orders of the US Army.

The liberated inmates had to be kept in the camp until the typhus epidemic could be brought under control. The Americans used DDT, a new insecticide not being used in Germany, to kill the lice in the camp. When the epidemic ended, the concentration camp was immediately turned into War Crimes Enclosure No. 1 for 30,000 Germans who had been arrested as war criminals and were awaiting trial by an American Military Tribunal. Most of them were released by 1948 for lack of evidence, although some were transferred to France for trial.

Former concentration camp inmates of Dachau and Displaced Persons from other camps were housed at the Dachau army garrison, next door to the concentration camp; they were fed by the American Army. Former inmates were paid to be prosecution witnesses in a series of American Military Tribunals that were held on the grounds of the Dachau complex, beginning in November 1945.

In the first proceeding of the American Military Tribunal at Dachau in November 1945, 36 of the 40 accused staff members at Dachau were sentenced to death by hanging. Only 28 of the 36 condemned men were actually hanged.

The American Military Tribunal proceeding against the Waffen-SS soldiers who were accused of shooting American POWs at Malmédy was also held at Dachau, as were the proceedings against the accused guards and staff at the Buchenwald, Mauthausen, Flossenbürg and Nordhausen concentration camps. The proceedings against the infamous Ilse Koch, dubbed the “Bitch of Buchenwald” by the press, also took place in Dachau. As the wife of the Commandant at Buchenwald, she was accused of selecting tattooed prisoners to be killed by her alleged lover, Dr. Waldemar Hoven, so that their skin could be made into human lamp shades to decorate her home.

All of the Dachau proceedings were conducted by US Army Military Tribunals in which the accused were presumed to be guilty; most of the interrogators, prosecutors and judges were Jews, many of whom were foreign-born American citizens. After the Jewish interrogators in the Malmédy trial were accused of torturing the Waffen-SS soldiers into confessing, a Congressional investigation was conducted, and by December 1957, all of the convicted men in this case had been released.

Another Congressional investigation was conducted after General Lucius D. Clay commuted the sentence of Ilse Koch to time served. Gen. Clay claimed that the lamp shades, allegedly made from human skin, were actually made from goat skin.

Immediately after the war, Erich Preuss, a former Dachau prisoner, set up an exhibit in the crematory building, located just outside the barbed wire enclosure of the concentration camp. American soldiers stationed in Germany were brought to Dachau to see the gas chamber, which they were told had been used to murder innocent inmates of the concentration camp. Mannequins were used in a display that was set up to illustrate how the Dachau prisoners were punished on the whipping block. During this time, the former concentration camp itself was off limits to visitors because it was filled with accused German war criminals awaiting the proceedings of the American Military Tribunals at Dachau, and later by homeless German refugees.

The prisoner barracks at Dachau were renovated in 1948 and 5,000 refugees from Czechoslovakia, who were among the 12 to 18 million ethnic Germans that were expelled from their homes after the war, lived in the Dachau camp until 1964 when an organization of Communist camp survivors began demanding that they be removed so that a Memorial could be built in honor of the former concentration camp political prisoners.

A symbolic cornerstone for the International Memorial at Dachau had already been dedicated in 1956 by the International Committee of Dachau. The remaining 2,000 German refugees were moved in 1964 to Dachau East, a new suburb which was created for them.

The first Dachau Memorial building was erected in 1960; it is a Catholic chapel in honor of the priests who were imprisoned at Dachau, including Dr. Johannes Neuhäusler, a Bishop from Munich, who was arrested for objecting to the policies of the Nazi government. With Neuhäusler’s help, a Carmelite convent was opened in 1964 on the site of the gravel pit just outside the north wall of the camp; the convent has an entrance through one of the guard towers. In the same year, the dilapidated barracks buildings, by now vacated by the refugees, were torn down.

A Protestant Church and a Jewish Memorial were dedicated in 1967. The International Memorial with its poignant sculpture, designed by Yugoslavian artist Nandor Glid, was dedicated on September 8, 1968.

A Museum was opened in the Administration building on May 9, 1965, after the original museum was closed in 1953 due to protests by the Bavarian government.

New Museum exhibits were under construction for two years, starting in 2001, and the special section on “The Final Solution” was not open from 2001 to 2003; the Museum was expanded to include the West wing of the administration building. The Museum now tells the complete story of Dachau and there is no section on Auschwitz or other death camps.

An exhibit in the former camp prison, called the bunker, was formally dedicated on January 27, 2000.

In 1973, the American Army left the Dachau complex for good and the former SS garrison area was turned over to the Bavarian government. Most of the beautiful stone SS barracks buildings, which had been used by the U.S. Army for 28 years, have been torn down, and the site of the former SS installation is now being used by the Bavarian Police.

Eicke Plaza, which was a formal garden in front of the main entrance to the Dachau complex, is now a soccer field. New homes and apartments have been built directly behind the south wall of the former concentration camp. There are some nice new homes also built on the street that borders the former SS garrison.

The Memorial Site is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. except Mondays and admission is free. It is located east of the town of Dachau, which can be reached from the main train station in Munich in 20 minutes via S-Bahn train number 2 going towards Petershausen.

Until 2005, the entrance to the former camp was located at Alte Römerstrasse 75, a few yards north of where Alte Römerstrasse intersects Sudetenlandstrasse. In May 2005, the entrance was changed so that visitors now enter the camp through the original gate with the “Arbeit Macht Frei” sign, on the west side of the camp, opposite the old entrance.

The first thing that visitors are told by their tour guides at Dachau is that the “Arbeit Macht Frei” sign was put up to taunt the prisoners who had no chance of being set free because the policy of the Dachau camp was extermination through work. Actually, the Arbeit Macht Frei sign was only put on Class 1 camps where prisoners had a good chance of being released. Buchenwald was a Class II camp where the sign on the gate said “Jedem das Seine,” which means “To each his own.” Mauthausen was a Class III camp where the prisoners were designated “Return unwanted” and there was no sign at all.

Bus number 726 runs from the train station in Dachau directly to the Memorial Site, following the route along Freisinger Street, the same street on which prisoners, arriving on transports, were forced to walk 3 kilometers to the concentration camp.

One of the alleged survivors of Dachau is Martin Zaidenstadt, a Polish Jew born in 1911, who settled in the town of Dachau after the war and married a German woman. He lives in a very nice house in the heart of Old Town Dachau, and up until May 2003 he would come to the Memorial Site every day to talk with the tourists. As many American tourists learned, he expected a donation and would get angry if he was handed less than $20. Although Martin told the tourists that he was a prisoner at Dachau for 3 years before the camp was liberated, the staff at the Museum claims that there is no record of him being incarcerated there.

German students over the age of 12 are required to tour a concentration camp as part of the on-going education of the present generation of German citizens in the evil perpetrated by the Nazi regime over 60 years ago. German soldiers are also required to tour the former concentration camps. Most visitors associate Dachau with the death of 6 million Jews in the Holocaust, although the majority of the inmates at Dachau were Catholics.

Few visitors to the camp bother to visit the town of Dachau which has grown from 13,000 residents in 1945 to 50,000 residents. Dachau is now multicultural and has a diverse population which includes many people who are not ethnic German. Older residents of Dachau are quick to point out that the majority of the people in the town did not vote for Hitler when he ran for President of Germany in 1932.

Dachauers have accepted the fact that their town will always be reviled as the home of the best-known Nazi concentration camp, but they are sometimes resentful that the town of Dachau is always associated with Nazi atrocities. They refer to the town itself as “the other Dachau.” They have pretty much given up trying to persuade tourists to visit the town, since the Holocaust is the only thing that attracts visitors to Dachau today.

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