Scrapbookpages Blog

April 22, 2016

Holocaust survivor explains the word “ration” to 4th graders in America

Filed under: Germany, Holocaust, World War II — furtherglory @ 7:50 am

I was a fourth grade student in American during World War II, and I knew what the word “ration” meant. Americans had “ration stamps” which we had to use to buy food. This was not a hardship for my family. We were limited in the amount of money that we had to buy food, but we had plenty of ration stamps.

Memories of my pitiful life during World War II came flooding back to me when I read this recent news article:

http://www.latimes.com/socal/coastline-pilot/news/tn-cpt-me-0422-holocaust-survivor-20160421-story.html

The following quote is from the news article cited above:

Begin quote

Families torn apart, the arduous and frightening life behind barbed wire, emaciated bodies and then the death march as Russian and Allied forces moved in.

[Holocaust survivor] Sam Silberberg spoke with precision as if the events were still fresh. He paused at certain points to let his audience [elementary school children] process what he was telling them.

Silberberg, 86, had the rapt attention of fourth-and fifth-graders at Top of the World Elementary this week as he shared what life was like in two Nazi concentration camps and his subsequent escape.

It was the first time [that] Silberberg, a Laguna Woods resident, had spoken to an elementary school audience, and so he needed to tailor his content.

But in a way it was fitting that he talked to this age group, since Silberberg was 10 and living in Poland when the Germans entered the country in 1939, intent on cleansing the land of Jews.

[…]

Curious students occasionally asked Silberberg to explain certain terms, such as “ration.” Silberberg also involved students by asking them if they understood specific words.

[…]

The Nazis shipped Silberberg and his father together to a camp called Blechhammer in present-day Poland. The Germans assigned each prisoner a number, a striped uniform, a canister and sack that officers filled with each day’s food — a few slices of bread, margarine and cup of “watery” soup, according to Silberberg.

Handcuffed prisoners walked to their work assignments. Silberberg assisted a welder piecing together beams.

End quote

I am only vaguely familiar with the place called Blechhammer, so I had to look it up on the internet, where I found the following information at https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Holocaust/Blechhammer.html

Begin quote
Blechhammer was established in April 1942 near Kozle, a town 18.5 miles (30 km) west of Gliwice, Poland. Blechhammer was initally a labor camp for Jews. The original 350 prisoners built a synthetic gasoline plant for the Oberschlesische Hydriewerke (Upper Silesia Hydrogenation Works). When 120 prisoners contracted typhus, they were transferred to Auschwitz, where they were killed. That June the remaining prisoners were transferred to a new and larger camp that had been built nearby.

The camp was populated primarily by Jews from Upper Silesia, however, among the 5,500 prisoners were people from 15 different countries. They were housed in wooden barracks under appalling conditions, with no toilet or washing facilities. Some 200 female Jewish prisoners were put into a separate section of the camp. Hunger and disease were rife, especially diarrhea and tuberculosis. A crematorium was built, in which were cremated the bodies of 1,500 prisoners who had died from “natural” causes or had been killed.

End quote

Excuse me; I don’t think that 4th graders in America should be subjected to this kind of abuse. They are sitting there, looking at their iPhone, or taking selfies of themselves, thinking about the lavish dinner that they will be having tonight.  What do they care about some old man who had to eat “watery soup” seventy years ago?

If any of the students were actually listening, as this old man spoke, did any of them wonder why he had to wear handcuffs as he walked to his work assignments.  Maybe the teacher explained to the students that prisoners in America sometimes worked in a chain gang:  http://www.dictionary.com/browse/chain-gang

Did the teacher explain to the students, in advance, that the Jews were locked up because of their propensity to lie, steal and cheat? There was a war going on, and the Nazis did not want the Jews to help the enemy.

 

 

April 20, 2016

April 20: the birthday of the man everyone loves to hate

Filed under: Germany, Holocaust — furtherglory @ 7:29 am

You can read a news article about Hitler’s birthday at http://english.alarabiya.net/en/variety/2016/04/09/Austria-plans-to-seize-house-where-Hitler-was-born.html

A photo of the building, where Hitler was born on April 20, 1889, is shown at the top of the news article. My photo of this building is shown below. This is a “Gasthaus” with resident rooms upstairs.

The house where Hitler was born on April 20, 1889

The house where Hitler was born on April 20, 1889

The following quote is from the news article cited above:

Begin quote

Austria said Saturday it wants to seize Adolf Hitler’s birthplace from its private owner in a bid to end a bitter legal battle and stop the house from becoming a neo-Nazi shrine.

“We are currently examining the creation of a law, which would force a change of ownership and pass the property to the Republic of Austria,” interior ministry spokesman Karl-Heinz Grundboeck told AFP.

“We have come to the conclusion over the past few years that expropriation is the only way to avoid the building being used for the purposes of Nazi” sympathizers, he said.

The plan would involve the state making an offer of compensation to the current owner, he added.

The building in the quaint northern town of Braunau am Inn has been empty since 2011 when the government became embroiled in a dispute with owner Gerlinde Pommer, a local resident.

Her family has owned the large corner house where Hitler was born on April 20, 1889, for more than a century.

End quote

Door into the building where Hitler was born

Door into the building where Hitler was born

Hitler was born in the Gasthaus on the right hand side

Hitler was born in a Gasthaus on this street

The Holy Font which held the water with which Hitler was baptized

The Holy Font that held the water with which Hitler was baptized

The photo above shows the Baptismal font in the Catholic Church of St. Stephan, Braunau am Inn.

Adolf Hitler was baptized a Catholic with water from this holy font. As was customary in Germany and Austria, Hitler’s baptismal name was Adolfus, the Latin word for Adolf. The name Adolf means noble wolf. His mother called him Adi.

Adolf Hitler’s father, Alois, and his mother, Klara Poetzl, were married on 7 January 1885 at 6 o’clock in the morning. It was a quiet ceremony because Klara was already 4 months pregnant. She was 24 years old; he was twice her age, at 48.

The following quote is from the news article, cited above:

Begin quote

In the early 1970s, the Austrian government signed a lease with Pommer and turned the premises into a center for people with disabilities.

But the arrangement came to an abrupt end five years ago when Pommer unexpectedly refused to grant permission for much-needed renovation works.

She also rejected a purchase offer made by the increasingly exasperated interior ministry.

The issue has sparked heated debated among Braunau’s 17,000 residents. Some want it to become a refugee center, others a museum dedicated to Austria’s liberation.

There have been even been calls for its demolition — but the house is part of the city’s historic center and therefore under heritage protection.

Every year on Hitler’s birthday, anti-fascist protesters organize a rally outside the building at number 15 Salzburger Vorstadt Street, next to a memorial stone reading: “For Peace, Freedom and Democracy. Never Again Fascism, Millions of Dead Warn.”

 

A narrow house on the street where Hitler was born

A house on the street where Hitler was born

April 16, 2016

people were beheaded in the Holocaust because they were gay

Filed under: Germany, Holocaust — furtherglory @ 12:38 pm

I will bet that none of the readers of my blog know that gay men were beheaded during the Holocaust. I didn’t know it either — until I read it in a news article here.

The following quote is from the website, cited above:

Begin quote

People were killed in gas chambers, they were beheaded just because of their religion, because they were a gypsy, a political dissident or they were gay,” said WVU Hillel Director Richard Guttman. “They were just killed. Half of the people killed were Jews, but the other half were regular people, so we try to remember by reading names.”

End quote

Did you get that? Half of the people who were killed in the Holocaust were “regular people.”  Some of the victims of the Holocaust were “regular people” — as opposed to what? Exceptional people? This article seems to be saying that half of the people killed in the Holocaust were goyim, who were not even human.

Were gay people deliberately killed in the Holocaust? Not that I know of.

The German law, which made homosexuality a crime, had been on the books since 1871 when the German states were united into a country by the King of Prussia, following the victory over France in the Franco-Prussian war.

After the Nazis came to power, a new law was made, which said that men who had been arrested twice, for any crime, would be sent to a concentration camp, after they had completed their second prison sentence. They would be held, in a concentration camp, for at least six months in order to be rehabilitated.

This was the law under which homosexuals and Gypsies would up at Dachau, and later, at other camps. 

The law that was broken by the Gypsies was the new law which said that every man in Germany should have a permanent residence and a visible means of support. The Gypsies traveled around in wagons; they did not have permanent homes.

The German law, known as Paragraph 175, made it a crime to PUBLICLY engage in homosexual acts.  It was also a crime for male prostitutes to solicit men for sex.  Some of the men, who were sent to a concentration camp for soliciting men for sex, were later released after it was determined that they were not homosexual themselves.

The following quote is also from the news article:

Begin quote

What makes the Holocaust unique, though, is the fact the Nazi Party kept diligent notes on everyone they killed, and while morbid, it inadvertently made it possible for the victims to be honored in a way other genocide victims can’t.

End quote

It is my understanding that the “Nazi Party” did not keep diligent notes on anyone that they killed.  I don’t think that the “Nazi Party” admitted to killing anyone in the camps. People died in the camps, but the deaths were due to disease, particularly typhus.

As the closest concentration camp to Berlin, Sachsenhausen had more homosexual prisoners than any of the other camps. A total of approximately 10,000 homosexuals were sent to all the Nazi concentration camps combined during the 12 years of the Third Reich.

In an era when homosexuals were still in the closet in all the countries of the world, Berlin was a mecca for gays. The movie Cabaret depicts the gay scene in Berlin before the Nazis came to power. It was based on a book entitled “Goodbye to Berlin” by Christopher Isherwood, who lived an openly gay lifestyle in the capital city. Only male homosexuals who broke the German law by flaunting their lifestyle in public were arrested. After their second arrest and prison term, they were sent to the concentration camps; no lesbians were ever sent to the camps, solely for being lesbians.

Some of the young men, who were sent to Sachsenhausen after they had been imprisoned for public homosexual activity, were actually Strichjunge, or male prostitutes, from Berlin.

According to the memoirs of Rudolf Höss, the Commandant of Auschwitz:

The strict camp life and the hard work quickly reeducated this type [homosexual men]. Most of them worked very hard and took great care not to get into trouble so that they could be released as soon as possible. They also avoided associating with those afflicted with this depravity and wanted to make it known that they had nothing to do with homosexuals. In this way countless rehabilitated young men could be released without having a relapse.

“the steps leading down into those gas chambers…”

Filed under: Germany, Holocaust — Tags: , , , — furtherglory @ 8:24 am
Model of the Krema II gas chamber at Auschwitz-Birkenau

Model of the Krema II undressing room and gas chamber at Auschwitz-Birkenau

The title of my blog post today is a quote from a newspaper opinion article which you can read in full at http://www.cincinnati.com/story/opinion/contributors/2016/04/15/teacher-auschwitz-reminds-why-we-must-reject-hate/82984092/

The following quote is from the newspaper opinion piece:

Recently, Werner Coppel, a 91-year-old survivor of Auschwitz, passed away peacefully as I [an American school teacher] held his hand whispering words of gratitude and love. His death, a reminder of our ephemeral nature, has caused immense reflection.

[…]

I challenge each [presidential] candidate to listen to a Holocaust survival story as a reminder of the ideals on which this country was founded. Absorb wisdom gained from the darkness of hatred, evils of divisiveness, stripped dignity of dehumanization. Traverse the paths of Auschwitz-Birkenau, see the steps leading down into those gas chambers, …

End quote

It has been awhile since my last visit to Auschwitz-Birkenau in 2007 and I had forgotten that the alleged gas chambers at Birkenau were underground; the Holocaust victims had to walk down steps into the undressing room and then proceed into the underground gas chamber, which was at a right angle to the undressing room.

Would it have killed the Nazis to put the gas chambers above ground, so as not to frighten the victims, who had to descend down the steps? I would have died of fright, just by going down those steps. I am surprised that the victims did not revolt and refuse to descend the steps to their death. There were 2,000 Jews who were gassed, each time, so it would have been easy for them to revolt. But no! Each batch of Jews went quietly to their deaths.

The photo, at the top of my blog post, shows a model of the Krema II gas chamber at Auschwitz-Birkenau, which is an exhibit in the US Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC.

On the left, in the photo, is the underground room where the victims were forced to undress. The gas chamber is shown on the right side of the photo. A small elevator was used to lift the dead bodies up to the cremation ovens, which were on the ground floor of the building. The prisoners who worked in the crematorium lived in the attic space above the ovens.

My photo of the ruins at Auschwitz-Birkenau

My photo of the ruins at Birkenau

The photo above shows the ruins of the undressing room on the right, only a few feet from the steps of the International Monument at Birkenau. In the foreground is the floor of the oven room where the bodies were burned after the Jews were gassed. In the background is the grove of trees that marks the western boundary of the Birkenau camp, with a guard tower in the right hand corner of the photo.

After descending into the undressing room, the prisoners were instructed to take off all their clothes and hang them on hooks on the wall; they were told that they were going to take a shower. Then the naked victims, men, women and children all together, allegedly walked to the end of the undressing room where there was a door into a small vestibule, called the Vorraum.

A door on the south wall of the Vorraum led into the gas chamber, which was at right angles to the undressing room. The gas chamber was allegedly disguised as a shower room with fake shower heads, which are now gone; the hooks in the undressing room have also never been found.

The victims soon learned, to their horror, that they had been duped. The shower room was actually a gas chamber where Zyklon-B gas pellets were thrown in through four holes on the roof.

According to a book entitled, The Bombing of Auschwitz: Should the Allies Have Attempted It? by Michael J. Neufeld and Michael Berenbaum, the gas chambers in Krema II and Krema III were 99 feet long by 23 feet wide. The undressing rooms in both buildings were 162 feet long by 26 feet wide. The section of these T-shaped buildings, which was above ground, was 99 feet long by 37 feet wide, and the overall size of the long part of the buildings was 352 feet by 41 feet.

Ruins of the oven room at Birkenau with undressing room in the background

Ruins of the oven room at Birkenau and undressing room in the background

On the far right in the photo above, you can see the white steps of the International Monument, which are only three or four feet from the entrance to the undressing room of Krema II where 500,000 Jews descended to their death. In the foreground of the photo above is the remains of the ground-floor furnace room.

The Krema II gas chamber and the undressing room were both about five feet underground, but not directly underneath the brick one-story building which housed the cremation ovens.

My photo of the ruins of the steps down into the undresssing room

My photo of the ruins of the steps down into an undressing room at Birkenau

The photo above shows another view of the steps down into the undressing room, which was a bit larger than the gas chamber. Note that the undressing room does not appear deep enough to be an underground room. The concrete roof of this room was 3 feet above ground.

Note in the photo above that there is no path leading to the steps down into the undressing room. Krema II and Krema III were both enclosed by an interior barbed wire fence, which you can see in the background of the photo above.

To access the undressing rooms at Krema II and Krema III, the prisoners had to walk down the main camp road and enter the gas chamber enclosure through a gate that faced the main camp road, then walk around the building to the west side where the steps down into the undressing rooms were located. The location of the gates into the Krema II and Krema III enclosures are now covered by the International Monument.

The photo below, taken with the camera pointing north, shows the collapsed roof of the gas chamber in Krema II, which is at right angles to the undressing room; the International monument is in the background.

Ruins of Krema II with international monument in the background

Ruins of Krema II with international monument in the background

Approximately in the middle of the photo above, you can see the opening of a small hole, through which both Fred Leuchter and Germar Rudolf descended into the alleged Krema II gas chamber. They were expecting to see blue stains left by the Zyklon-B that was allegedly used in this alleged gas chamber, but neither of them saw any blue stains. What!!! Were both of them blind?

The gassing of the Jews at Birkenau stopped on the first of November 1944; the roof of the Krema II brick building was taken off and the cremation ovens were lifted out with cranes. The alleged fake shower fixtures on the ceiling of the gas chamber were removed and all traces of them are now gone. Then the alleged wire-mesh columns inside Krema II, into which the poison gas pellets had been poured, were removed.

During the David Irving libel case, Robert Jan van Pelt testified as an expert witness that the holes in the roof were closed up and cemented over so skillfully that no trace of them can be seen today. Only then were the gas chamber buildings allegedly blown up by the Germans to destroy any remaining evidence.

Yes, yes, I know! Some of my readers are going to tell me that the Soviet liberators of the camp blew up the alleged gas chambers.  But why would they do that? It was the Germans, who destroyed the evidence of gassing before they left the camp, leading the survivors to safety.

You can see more of my photos of the ruins of the Krema II gas chamber at http://www.scrapbookpages.com/AuschwitzScrapbook/Tour/Birkenau/RuinsII02.html

April 13, 2016

The misuse of Holocaust photos in today’s news articles

Filed under: Germany, Holocaust, Uncategorized, World War II — Tags: , , — furtherglory @ 7:37 am

55e7192ec84f21899b0377ff36cbc52c

The photo above was used to illustrate a news article which you can read at http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/opinion/nazism-is-an-abomination-not-a-term-of-casual-abuse/news-story/c5758e1893e03ed0d4fd0820e79d089a

Nazism is an abomination, not a term of casual abuse

The following quote is from the news article, cited above:

Begin quote

Nazis, who represent the ultimate evil and conjure horrific visions of suffering and depravity, are appearing in our culture with disturbing frequency and obscenely littering our public square. We have soup Nazis, grammar Nazis, eco-Nazis, femi-Nazis, nico-Nazis, health Nazis, jazz Nazis, ticket Nazis, lunchbox Nazis and traffic Nazis, to name but a few. The real Nazis must be delighted with these distortions.

I get why people are tempted to introduce Nazis into a discussion, why the appeal of invoking and exploiting this imagery is so powerful. The Third Reich embodies a unique historical evil and is a convenient metaphor for illustrating the concept of right versus wrong. It’s a cheap trick that packs a punch as a scare tactic, is hard to beat for shock value and is guaranteed to work as a sensational headline generator.

End quote

The photo above is a very poor choice to illustrate the Holocaust. Note the warm clothing, including warm caps and coats. Many of the women in the photo are past the age to be selected as workers.

Note that some of the women have a full head of hair, which means that they have been in the camp long enough for their hair to grow out after the hair was initially shaved to get rid of any lice.

These women appear to be in good health, not starving to death. Would it have killed the people who wrote this article, to have used a proper photograph of starving, emaciated prisoners, freezing to death without proper clothing?

 

The sad story of Dachau prisoner Theodor Haas

Filed under: Dachau, Germany, Holocaust, Uncategorized, World War II — Tags: , , , — furtherglory @ 5:13 am
My 2003 photo of the gate into the Dachau camp

My 2003 photo of gate into Dachau camp

Theodor Haas was among the Jews taken into “protective custody” on November 9, 1938. He was sent to Dachau, where he remained as a prisoner for 3 years.

Fence around Dachau camp

My photo of the fence around the Dachau concentration camp

Quoted below is an excerpt from an interview with Theodore Haas, conducted by Aaron Zelman, the founder of the organization called “Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership.” At the time of this interview, Haas was living in America and was a member of this organization.

Haas still had nightmares about the persecution that he had endured as a Jew in Nazi Germany. He survived the Holocaust only because he was released from Dachau in 1941, before plans for the “Final Solution of the Jewish Question” were made on January 20, 1942 at the Wannsee Conference.

In February 1942, deportation of all the Jews to the death camps in Poland began.

The interview of Theodore Haas is quoted below.

The interviewer, Aaron Zelman, asks the questions and Theodore Haas answers:

Q.) How did you end up at Dachau? How old were you?

A.) November 9th, 1938 was Kristallnacht — The Night of Broken Glass — The night Synagogues were ransacked and burned, Jewish owned shops destroyed; I guess you could call it the night the fires of hell engulfed the soul of humanity. I was arrested November 10th, “for my own personal security.” I was 21 years old. My parents were arrested and ultimately died in a concentration camp in France. I was released from Dachau in 1941, under the condition that I leave Germany immediately. This was common procedure before the “Final Solution.”

Q.) What did you think when you were sent to Dachau? What did you know about Dachau beforehand?

A.) My first thoughts were those of many others: “The world has gone mad.” I knew that the life expectancy at Dachau was relatively short. I knew beforehand that inmates were abused. The horror of Dachau was known throughout Germany.
People [Germans] used to frighten their children, “If you do not behave, you will surely end up at Dachau.” A famous German comedian, Weiss Ferdl, said “Regardless how many machine gun towers they have around K.Z. Dachau, if I want to get in, I shall get in.” The Nazis obliged him; he died at Dachau.

Q.) How did you accept the fears of Dachau?

A.) Due to the constant hunger and extreme cold weather, one becomes too numb to even think of fear. A prisoner under these conditions becomes obsessed with survival; nothing else matters.

Q.) What were the living conditions like in Dachau?

A.) We were issued one quarter of a loaf of bread. That was to last three days. In the morning, we picked up, at the kitchen, a cup of roasted barley drink. There was no lunch.
At dinnertime, sometimes we got a watery soup with bits of tripe or some salt herring and a boiled potato. Our prison clothes were a heavy, coarse denim. They would freeze when they got wet. We were not issued hats, gloves or underwear.
The first night, about 500 prisoners were stuffed into a room designed to hold 50 Believe me, it is possible. Later on, we were forced to sleep on straw. As time went on, the straw disintegrated and we became louse infested. The guards delighted in making weak and ill clothed prisoners march or stand at attention in rain, snow, and ice for hours. As you can imagine, death came often due to the conditions.

Q.) Do you have residual fears? How do you feel about German re-unification?

A.) I have nightmares constantly. I recently dreamed that a guard grabbed me. My wife’s arm touched my face, and I unfortunately bit her severely. German re-unification, in my opinion, will be the basis for another war. The Germans, regardless of what their present leadership says, will want their lost territories back, East Prussia, Silesia, and Danzig (Gdansk). My family history goes back over 700 years in Germany. I understand all too well what the politicians do not want the people to be thinking about.

Q.) You mentioned you were shot and stabbed several times. Were these experiments, punishment or torture?

A.) They were punishment. I very often, in a fit of temper, acted while the brain was not in gear. The sorry results were two 9 mm bullets in my knees. Fortunately, one of the prisoners had a fingernail file and was able to dig the slugs out. In another situation, I was stabbed in the washroom of room #1, Block 16. Twice in a struggle where I nearly lost my right thumb. A German prisoner Hans Wissing, who after the war became mayor of his home town, Leinsweiler, witnessed the whole situation. We stayed in touch until a few months ago, when he died.

Q.) Do you remember some of the steps taken by the Nazis to de-humanize people and to make them feel hopeless? How were people robbed of their dignity?

A.) If you had treated an animal in Germany the way we were treated, you would have been jailed. For example, a guard or a group of them would single out a prisoner and beat him with canes or a club. Sometimes to further terrorize a prisoner, the guards would form a circle around a prisoner and beat him unconscious. There were cases of a prisoner being told to report to the Revier (“Hospital”) and being forced to drink a quart of castor oil. Believe me, this is a lousy, painful, wretched way to die. You develop extreme diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, and severe dehydration. If the Nazis wanted you to live and suffer more, they would take measures to rehydrate the victim.

Q.) What was the routine like at Dachau?

A.) Three times a day, we were counted. We had to carry the dead to the square. Each time, we had to stand at attention in all kinds of weather. We stood wearing next to nothing, had weak bladders, while our tormentors had sheepskin coats and felt boots. The bastards really enjoyed watching us suffer. I remember how the guards had a good laugh when one of them “accidentally” let loose with a machine gun, killing about 30 prisoners.

Q.) What did people do to try to adjust to Dachau? Keep their spirits up?

A.) There were some actors, comedians, and musicians among us. Sometimes they would clandestinely perform. One of the musicians got hold of a violin and played for us. To this day, it remains a mystery how he got his hands on a violin. I still keep in touch with other prisoners. I am a member of the Dachau Prisoners Association. Each year I go back to Germany to visit.

Q.) Did people ever successfully escape? Do you remember acts of bravery?

A.) Nobody escaped, only in the movies does the “hero” escape. Guards received extra leave time for killing prisoners that got too close to the fence. I do, however, think all prisoners were heroes in their own way. Especially the German prisoners, for they would not acquiesce to the Nazis. They suffered greatly too.

Q.) Did the camp inmates ever bring up the topic, “If only we were armed before, we would not be here now”?

A.) Many, many times. Before Adolph Hitler came to power, there was a black market in firearms, but the German people had been so conditioned to be law abiding, that they would never consider buying an unregistered gun. The German people really believed that only hoodlums own such guns. What fools we were. It truly frightens me to see how the government, media, and some police groups in America are pushing for the same mindset. In my opinion, the people of America had better start asking and demanding answers to some hard questions about firearms ownership, especially if the government does not trust me to own firearms, why or how can the people be expected to trust the government? There is no doubt in my mind that millions of lives could have been saved if the people were not “brainwashed” about gun ownership and had been well armed. Hitler’s thugs and goons were not very brave when confronted by a gun. Gun haters always want to forget the Warsaw Ghetto uprising, which is a perfect example of how a ragtag, half starved group of Jews took up 10 handguns and made asses out of the Nazis.

End of interview

April 11, 2016

The trial of Werner Röhde and 8 others

The Trial of Werner Röhde and 8 others in a British Military Court at Wuppertal, Germany began on May 29, 1946 and ended on June 1, 1946. The nine men were charged with the murder of four British SOE agents on July 6, 1944 at the Natzweiler concentration camp in Alsace.

Werner Röhde was a medical doctor who had allegedly murdered the four SOE agents by giving them a lethal injection. It was the custom of the Allies to strip the title of Doctor from the accused in war crimes proceedings.

The 8 others in the dock were Fritz Hartjenstein, the Commandant at Natzweiler, Max Wochner and Wolfgang Zeuss from the Political Department at Natzweiler, Peter Straub who was the man in charge of executions, Franz Berg who was a prisoner in the camp, Emil Brüttel, Emil Meier and Kurt aus dem Bruch. Dr. Heinrich Plaza, who had also allegedly participated in the lethal injection of the women, was not on trial because he had not been captured.

In all of the Allied Military Tribunals, the concept of a “common plan” or co-responsibility for war crimes was used. This meant that anyone, who was present when a war crime was committed, was equally guilty because the accused should have acted to prevent the crime from taking place.

The evidence for the prosecution had been gathered by Major Bill Barkworth of the SAS War Crimes Investigation team and Vera Atkins, a Squadron Officer of the British SOE, who had interrogated the Natzweiler staff and some of the Natzweiler prisoners, who were also captured SOE agents.

The four SOE agents, who were allegedly murdered at Natzweiler, had been captured by the German Gestapo and had not returned after the war ended. The key prosecution witnesses, Albert Guérisse, Brian Stonehouse and Dr. Georges Boogaerts, who were all members of the SOE, had a motive for wanting these 4 women SOE agents to go down in history as heroines, not as missing persons.

The first witness for the prosecution was Vera Atkins, who testified on May 29, 1944 that Andrée Borrel, Vera Leigh, Diana Rowden and Noor Inayat Khan had been murdered at Natzweiler. It was not known until much later that Noor Inayat Khan was allegedly executed at Dachau and that Sonia Olschanezky was the fourth victim at Natzweiler. However, before her testimony, Vera Atkins had made sure that the Court would not allow the names of the victims to be published. Atkins herself was referred to in the press as a “WAAF officer” and her name was withheld.

According to Sarah Helm, who wrote a biography of Vera Atkins, entitled “A Life in Secrets,” Atkins did not want the SOE to be “exposed to any close scrutiny as a result of the case.” The SOE was a secret organization, also known as Churchill’s Secret Army, and it was engaged in espionage and sabotage behind enemy lines. The four women agents had been in the F section which operated as illegal insurgents in France after that country had signed an Armistice with Germany in 1940.

The attorney for the defense, Dr. Grobel, argued in court that “international law allowed for the execution of irregular combatants” and that the court should “consider this case from the point of view that it was a normal and simple execution of spies.” Vera Atkins was quoted by the press as saying that “the women were not spies.”

One thing the Allied Military Tribunals would not tolerate was any mention by the defense that the Allies had committed similar acts. During World War II, the British executed 15 German spies. The last person to be executed at the famous Tower of London was Josef Jacobs who was captured after he broke his leg during a parachute jump. He was shot on August 15, 1941.

In America, 8 captured German saboteurs were sentenced to death and 6 of them were executed in the electric chair. The other two sentences were reduced because the men had turned against their countrymen and cooperated with the Americans. Although the 8 Germans were caught before they had the opportunity to commit any acts of sabotage, 6 of them were executed because they had violated the Laws of War by going behind enemy lines to commit hostile acts without being in uniform.

According to Rita Kramer, who wrote a book entitled “Flames in the Field,” the proceedings of the British Military Court were widely publicized by the press, but the names of the women who had been allegedly executed at Natzweiler were not published until two years later, and even then it was not revealed that they had been the subject of a British Military Court where nine men had been prosecuted for their alleged execution.

In 1958, a series of articles in a British newspaper, which was a condensed version of a book entitled “Death be not Proud” by Elizabeth Nichols, accused the authorities of keeping the names of the dead women secret as a “War Office cover-up of official blunders,” according to Rita Kramer. The alleged “cover-up” was for the purpose of keeping secret the accusation that the British SOE had deliberately sent radio operators to France to be caught so that the British could transmit false information to their radios after the agents were captured by the Germans.

The senior counter intelligence officer with RSHA, the Reich Security Head Office in Berlin, was Horst Kopkow; he was responsible for all orders pertaining to the SOE agents captured in France. If any order was given for the execution of four SOE agents at Natzweiler, he would have been the man who signed it. He had not yet been captured when the trial of Dr. Röhde and 8 others began.

By the end of 1946, Kopkow was in British custody, but he denied any responsibility for the murder of any female F section SOE agents, saying that it was Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler who had personally decided their fate, according to Sarah Helm’s book “A Life in Secrets.” Himmler was the head of the SS and all the concentration camps. All punishments in all the camps had to be approved by the head office in Oranienburg and all punishments of female prisoners had to be personally approved by Himmler, including executions.

Sarah Helm wrote that Kopkow was taken to England for interrogation in 1948, but when he arrived, he was found to be running a temperature, and two days later he died from bronchial pneumonia before any information could be obtained from him. A death certificate was issued for him and information was released that he had been buried in the POW section of a Military Cemetery.

By 1948, the Allies had realized that the real enemy was the Communist Soviet Union. Kopkow had not died; he had been “released from custody to work for British and American intelligence,” according to the book “A Life in Secrets,” by Sarah Helm. Kopkow’s death had been faked so that he could help the Allies in fighting the Cold War against the Soviets.

If Kopkow had authorized the execution of the 8 women SOE agents, he would have given the order to Herman Rösner of the Karlsruhe Gestapo to carry out. Rösner would then have instructed Max Wassmer and Christian Ott to take the women to Natzweiler and Dachau. Under the “common plan” concept used by the Allies in all their war crimes trials, Rösner would have been guilty of murder, but he was never prosecuted. In the 1960ies, he was hired by the British to provide intelligence for NATO, according to Sarah Helm’s book.

The men who were brought before the Allied military tribunals were called the accused, not the defendants, because they were considered guilty until they were proven innocent. They were guilty from the moment that they had allegedly committed a war crime. As war criminals, rather than POWs, they were not entitled to the protection of the Geneva Convention. It could be argued that the execution of the British spies was not legal under international law because they had not been given a trial, as required by the Hague Convention of 1907. However, using the standards of the Allied war crimes trials, spies were not entitled to a trial because they lost their protection the moment they parachuted behind enemy lines with the intent to commit war crimes.

The procedure was to interrogate the accused before the proceedings began and to obtain depositions which the accused would then repeat before the Court. However, in the British and American proceedings, the accused were allowed to have an attorney to represent them. Their attorneys were allowed to use any means to defend them, including the accusation that their clients had been unduly persuaded to give incriminating information in their depositions which they now wanted to recant on the witness stand.

Testimony or confessions about prior bad acts could be admitted, even though it had nothing to do with the crime that was being prosecuted. For example, one of the accused, Peter Straub, who had worked for a number of years in Auschwitz before being transferred to Natzweiler, had supposedly told Walter Schultz, a prisoner at Natzweiler, that he had “put four million people up the chimney.” What kind of a person voluntarily confesses to such barbarity, knowing that he would surely be executed, and uses the terminology of Auschwitz survivors to describe his crime?

According to Rita Kramer, all of the accused would “later deny their complicity,” after giving depositions beforehand in which they stated that they had been involved in the execution of the four SOE agents at Natzweiler. The fact that all of the accused wanted to change their previous testimony, given in their depositions, indicates that they had somehow been induced to incriminate themselves before the proceedings began.

Peter Straub, the executioner at Natzweiler, denied everything, claiming that he was not present when the executions took place. Straub was the hangman; executions at Natzweiler were normally carried out by hanging and all the prisoners were required to watch.

The photo below shows the hangman’s noose at the Memorial site of the former Natzweiler camp.

Prisoners were normally executed by hanging on a gallows, as shown in the photo above.

The following quote is from “Flames in the Field,” by Rita Kramer:

During the period of their detention together at Recklinghausen awaiting trial, several of the defendants had second thoughts about the statements that they had made to Barkworth and sworn to earlier. At the trial they expressed the wish to revise some of the evidence they had given in their affidavits implicating each other. Some lost their memories, others refreshed theirs. This led to some retractions having to do with just exactly who was present in the crematorium that night. But it didn’t matter. There was ample evidence to convince the court of the guilt of those in the dock.

Ms. Kramer used the expression “ample evidence,” when what she obviously meant was “ample testimony.” There were four women SOE agents missing and presumed dead. There was no hard evidence whatsoever that these four women had been executed at Natzweiler: no death records, no execution order, no autopsy report, no bodies, not even the correct name of one of the alleged victims. Vera Atkins had to prevail upon Dr. Röhde to sign death certificates for the four women because there were no official records of their deaths.

Emil Brüttel was a medical orderly in the dispensary at Natzweiler. Under interrogation by British investigators before the trail, Brüttel said that, on the evening that the women were executed, he had received a phone call from Dr. Heinrich Plaza, who was having dinner in the officer’s mess outside the camp. Dr. Plaza inquired about how many capsules of Evipan were available, then called again and asked how much phenol was on hand. When Dr. Plaza called a third time, he instructed Brüttel and Eugen Foster to be ready for duty and to bring the phenol and a 10cc syringe and one or two larger-gauge needles. Dr. Plaza escaped justice because he was never captured after the war.

One of the accused at the proceedings of the British Military Court was Franz Berg, who was a Kapo or one of the prisoners who assisted the guards in the camp; it was his job to stoke the crematorium furnace.

During the proceedings, Berg told the incredible story that he had been ordered by Peter Straub, who was in charge of executions, to heat up the oven in the crematorium and then to disappear. At 9:30 p.m. Berg was still stoking the oven when Dr. Werner Röhde and the camp Commandant, SS-Obersturmbanführer Friedrich “Fritz” Hartjenstein, came into the crematorium. Both Dr. Röhde and Hartjenstein had previously worked at the Auschwitz II camp, also known as Birkenau, before being transferred to Natzweiler. Dr. Röhde had just arrived at Natzweiler; he was replacing Dr. Heinrich Plaza, who was already wearing civilian clothes in preparation for his departure.

Accompanying them were Obersturmführer Johannes Otto, the adjutant to the Commandant, and Wolfgang Zeuss, who worked in the Political Department. A medical orderly named Emil Brüttel and Robert Nietsch were also in the group.

Berg was ordered by Dr. Röhde to go to his quarters in a dormitory room in the crematorium. He pretended to be asleep when Commandant Hartjenstein and his adjutant, Johannes Otto, came to check on him a few minutes later. They locked the door from the outside to keep Berg from witnessing the secret execution of the four women. However, Georg Fuhrmann, a prisoner in the top bunk of the dorm room, was able to see through the transom over the door into the corridor.

The dormitory room in the crematorium is shown in the photo below.

Dormitory room in Natzweiler crematorium

Berg testified that Fuhrmann whispered to him, giving him a running commentary on what was happening in the corridor. There was the noise of bodies being dragged across the floor and the sounds of heavy breathing and low groaning combined. The fourth woman resisted and Dr. Röhde told her that she was being given an injection for typhus, according to Berg’s account.

Part of Berg’s deposition was quoted by Rita Kramer in “Flames in the Field”:

From the noise of the crematorium oven doors which I heard, I can state definitely that in each case the groaning women were placed immediately in the crematorium oven. When [the officials] had gone, we went to the crematorium oven, opened the door and saw that there were four blackened bodies within. Next morning in the course of my duties I had to clear the ashes out of the crematorium oven. I found a pink woman’s stocking garter on the floor near the oven.

Oven where bodies were burned at Natzweiler-Struthof

As the above photo of the oven at Natzweiler shows, the bodies were put inside by means of a stretcher. Berg testified that afterwards, he had seen four blackened bodies inside, apparently not completely burned. The bodies had been undressed before they were cremated, and Berg had found a tell-tale piece of feminine clothing right beside the oven.

Berg referred to the women as “Jewish” in his testimony, according to Rita Kramer, but only one of the four women, Sonia Olschanezky, was Jewish. There were 29 Jewish women who had been brought to Natzweiler from Auschwitz in the Summer of 1943 to be gassed, but their bodies had not been cremated.

There were medical experiments being done at Natzweiler, including experiments done on Gypsy women. One of the experiments was an attempt to find a vaccine for typhus, which the Germans had not yet successfully developed. The four women SOE agents were allegedly told that they were being given an injection for typhus, but were instead given phenol injections.

The following quote is from “Flames in the Field,” by Rita Kramer:

The most dramatic testimony came from Walter Schultz, who had been an interpreter in the camp’s Political Department. It was here the orders came regarding prisoners transferred to the camp by the Gestapo for ‘special treatment,’ a euphemism the meaning of which was clearly understood by all. It was not necessary for files to be made for new arrivals accompanied, like the four women, by requests for special treatment.

Hearsay testimony, which would not be allowed in a normal trial, was acceptable at the Allied Military Tribunals. Schultz claimed that Peter Straub was very drunk on the day of the secret execution of the four women and that Straub had told him all about the women being killed by phenol injection. One of the women had regained consciousness after the injection and had scratched his face, as she fought being put into the oven alive. According to Rita Kramer, the author of “Flames in the Field,” when Straub was interrogated by Vera Atkins, he still had scars on his face from the scratches inflicted by Andrée Borrel.

Dr. Heinrich Plaza was leaving the Natzweiler camp on the day of the alleged execution of the women, and there was a party for him that night. This could explain why Peter Straub was drunk, as Schultz testified at the trial. Could the four “well-dressed” women who arrived in the camp at 3 p.m. that day have been the wives of the SS men, or perhaps prostitutes, who were brought to the camp for the party? According to several witnesses who saw the women when they arrived, each of them was carrying a box or a small suitcase. Who brings a suitcase to an execution?

It was not until 1956 that the public learned the fate of the men who were brought before the British Military Court at Wuppertal on May 29, 1946. The British had kept the sentences and the execution of the accused secret.

The commandant at Natzweiler, SS-Obersturmbanführer Friedrich “Fritz” Hartjenstein, was convicted, and on June 1, 1946 he was sentenced to life in prison. He was tried again for complicity in the hanging of an RAF pilot at Natzweiler; he was convicted again, and was sentenced on June 5, 1946 to death by firing squad. Then he was extradited to France for another trial by a French Military Tribunal for the mass murder of prisoners at Natzweiler. He was convicted and sentenced to death once again, but his sentence was commuted to life in prison. He died of a heart attack in a French prison at Metz on October 20, 1954.

Dr. Werner Röhde was sentenced to death by hanging and was executed on October 11, 1946. The date of his sentence was June 5, 1946 although the proceedings in the case of the four SOE women ended on June 1, 1946. This indicates that he might have been charged with more crimes in a subsequent trial, along with Commandant Fritz Hartjenstein, who was sentenced on June 1, 1946 and then sentenced a second time on June 5, 1946.

Peter Straub, the SS officer in charge of executions, was convicted and was subsequently sentenced to 13 years in prison on June 1, 1946. This was a remarkably short sentence, considering that Straub had told a prisoner named Walter Schultz that he was responsible for killing 4 million people at Auschwitz and that he had shoved a woman into a crematory oven alive and had the scars to prove it.

Straub was tried again by another British Military Court at Wuppertal for complicity in the hanging of an RAF pilot who was a prisoner at Natzweiler in the Summer of 1944. He was convicted of this crime and on June 5, 1946 he was sentenced to death. He was hanged on October 11, 1946.

Magnus Wochner was sentenced to 10 years in prison for carrying out the alleged order from RSHA to execute the four SOE women. He was then turned over to the French for prosecution but was released.

Emil Brüttel was sentenced to prison but was released by the French after he was turned over to them.

Wolfgang Zeuss and two others were acquitted.

Johannes Otto was never prosecuted because he committed suicide after the war ended.

According to Sarah Helm’s book “A Life in Secrets,” Franz Berg was sentenced to 5 years in prison. Other sources say that Berg was sentenced to death and hanged on October 11, 1946. He may have been tried again on other charges for which he received the death penalty.

Max Wassmer and Christian Ott, the two Gestapo men from Karlsruhe, who allegedly accompanied the four women SOE agents to Natzweiler and also accompanied four other women SOE agents to Dachau, were never charged with a crime for their part in the alleged murders of the eight women. They were rewarded for giving information to their interrogators by being released from custody. Both were in their late fifties and were highly experienced in Gestapo work; they knew how to tell investigators what they wanted to hear.

April 8, 2016

Terezin (also known by its German name, Theresienstadt)

Filed under: Holocaust — Tags: , , , , , — furtherglory @ 9:02 am
My photo of the Gazebo at Theresienstadt

My photo of the Gazebo at Terezin, formerly known as Theresienstadt

The two photos below show the Magdeburg barracks and the inner court yard of the building. Wolf Murmelstein, a former inmate at Theresienstadt says that the Gazebo, shown above, was not accessible to the inmates.

MagdeburgRear

MagdeburgCourtyard

The title of my blog post today comes from a line in a news article which you can read it full at http://artsbeat.blogs.nytimes.com/2016/04/04/holocaust-survivor-recalls-brundibar-a-childrens-opera/?_r=0

The following quote is from the news article, cited above:

Dagmar Lieblova was 14 in 1943, when she sang in the children’s opera “Brundibar” at the Terezin [Theresienstadt] concentration camp near Prague. The performance was part of a Nazi effort to present the camp as a model ghetto rather than a transit point to Auschwitz and the gas chambers.

What am I complaining about now, you ask.

I don’t like the fact that German names for Holocaust locations are now being changed to Jewish or Polish names.  The ghetto, formerly known as Theresienstadt, is now called Terezin.  The town, formerly known as Auschwitz, is now called by the Polish name Oświęcim.

The following quote is from the news article, cited above:

The composer of “Brundibar,” Hans Krasa, died at Auschwitz, alongside most of those who performed it in Terezin (also known by its German name, Theresienstadt). Ms. Lieblova lost her parents and sister in Auschwitz, but she was spared when she was sent to Hamburg to help clear the ruins of the city.

So it seems that the Allied bombing of the city of Hamburg did save some of the Jews at Auschwitz because the Germans needed workers to clear the rubble in their cities. The Nazis allegedly stopped gassing all the prisoners at Auschwitz, saving a few, because they needed workers.

You can read more about Theresienstadt on my website here:

http://www.scrapbookpages.com/CzechRepublic/Theresienstadt/TheresienstadtGhetto/GhettoTour/index.html

The following quote is from my scrapbookpages.com website:

Every concentration camp had its orchestra, made up of inmate musicians, and concerts were staged even in the worst camp of all, the one at Birkenau, the Auschwitz II camp. Typically, the camp orchestra would play classical music as the prisoners marched off the the factories to work and even as they marched to their deaths in the gas chamber. During the week of cultural events [at Theresienstadt] in June 1944, on the occasion of the Red Cross visit, there were performances of Brundibar in the Magdeburg building.

 

 

 

April 5, 2016

Jules Schelvis, survivor of the Sobibor death camp and six other camps, has died at the age of 95

Filed under: Holocaust — Tags: , , , — furtherglory @ 8:50 am
Two monuments at the site of the Sobibor camp Photo credit: Alan Collins

Two monuments at the alleged Sobibor extermination camp Photo credit: Alan Collins

You can see some old black and white photos of the Sobibor camp at http://www.deathcamps.org/sobibor/photos.html

The following quote is from a news article which you can read in full here:

Begin quote

Jules Schelvis, the last Dutch survivor of the Nazi death camp at Sobibor, died on Monday at his home near Amsterdam at the age of 95, according to the BBC.

Some 250,000 people, mostly Jews, were in 1942 and 1943 murdered at Sobibor, one of three secret camps whose entire purpose was extermination that the Nazis established in occupied Poland.

Most of Schelvis’s relatives died in the Second World War, the BBC reported, and he spent time in six additional camps before he was liberated.

After the war, Schelvis began documenting what had occurred at the camp, which had far fewer surviving witnesses than concentration and labor camps.

Schelvis was also a co-plaintiff in the trial of John Demnanjuk, convicted in 2011 of 27,900 counts of acting as an accessory to murder.

End quote

Excuse me! I don’t understand this!

Sobibor was strictly an extermination camp, the purpose of which was to kill every Jew that entered the camp.  Why did those stupid Nazis save this one prisoner? Did they deliberately save one prisoner so that he could live to the age of 95 and testify many years later at the trials of aged men like John Demnanjuk?

The news story continues with this quote:

Begin quote

After the war, Schelvis began documenting what had occurred at the [Sobibor] camp, which had far fewer surviving witnesses than concentration and labor camps.

[…]

He published his first book, Inside the Gates, which described life in the camps, in 1982. He founded the Sobibor Foundation in 1999, dedicated to remembrance of the camp’s victims and survivors.

Once asked why he devoted years of his life to enshrining the memory of the Holocaust, he said: “I did it for everyone who was murdered there. First of all for my wife and the family and everyone else.”

End quote

Note that he dedicated his book to “the camp’s victims and survivors.” Survivors? Plural? What kind of “death camp” has survivors?  The purpose of the Sobibor camp was the kill the Jews, not to save Jews who would become “survivors” and testify at trials of Holocaust deniers.

Sobibor railroad station is on the right Photo credit: Alan Collins

The Sobibor railroad station is on the right                   Photo credit: Alan Collins

Many people, including me, think that the German people are very intelligent.  Not true! The stupid Nazis built a “death camp” way out in the boondocks, where they could kill Jews in secret, but then they left survivors, who would live to the age of 95, allowing them to write books about this “death camp.”  Sobibor was a “whistle stop” on a one-track railroad. Why take Jews way out in the Polish countryside to kill them when it would have been more efficient to kill them in Warsaw?

Could it be that Sobibor was a transit camp, from which the Jews were sent somewhere else, and that’s why there were survivors who lived to be 95 years old?

April 3, 2016

British students were hesitant to enter one of the gas chambers at Auschwitz…

Filed under: Germany, Holocaust — Tags: , , , — furtherglory @ 10:13 am
My photo of the gas chamber in the main Auschwitz camp

My photo of the gas chamber in Auschwitz main camp shows a door into the chamber

The victims did not enter the gas chamber through the door shown in the photo above.  This door was for the SS men to enter the room, which was used for a bomb shelter by the SS men stationed at Auschwitz.

I put this photo on my blog because it is a favorite of some of the readers of my website.

The title of my blog post today comes from a line in a news article which you can read in full here.

This quote from the news article, cited above, is about the gas chamber in the main Auschwitz camp. The following quote is the words of one of the students, who went on a trip to Auschwitz recently:

Begin quote

I could tell some students were incredibly hesitant to enter one of the gas chambers, a place where thousands of innocent people were killed.

Chillingly, it took the Germans two days to kill the first innocent group due to a lack of knowledge in knowing how much Zyklon B to add to the chamber.

From killing hundreds in days, the Germans tweaked the quantity of Zyklon B pellets used and could now kill thousands in minutes.

We entered, and you felt an incredible sense of what those entering the chamber would’ve felt – though obviously nowhere near as terrifying or shocking.

A concrete bunker it was, just a room with plain concrete walls, a plain concrete ceiling and very claustrophobic.

End quote

Krema1gaschamber

My photo above shows the opening into the gas chamber from the oven room where the bodies were burned after the gassing.  According to the Holocaust legend, 2000 Jews were gassed at one time, but this would have taken months to burn the bodies in the few cremation ovens that were in this building.

After the students had seen the gas chamber in the main camp, they toured the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp.

The following quote is from the news article:

Begin quote

[Auschwitz] Home to millions of people during World War II, we all know the outcome of the holocaust – the pain it caused, the separation of families, the killing of men, women and children of all ages.

But it’s not until you stand in the footprints of those innocent people who were killed because of their race, belief, or way of life, that you grasp maybe just one per cent of the feeling that prisoners felt when stepping off the train.

The irony of stepping off that train, onto the platform, and inhaling your first drop of fresh air in days.

End quote

Jews getting off a train at Birkenau

Jews getting off a train at Birkenau. Where is the platform?

This quote is also from the news article:

Begin quote

Standing on the platform, I look to my left and see an endless train line – running deep into the woods that helped the Germans disguise the true purpose of Auschwiz [Auschwitz].

I look to my right and see the iconic building that shadows the death camp – looking forwards and backwards just fields, fields as far as the eye can see.

It’s near impossible to describe the day, the place, the feeling of standing in a spot where millions of people were once murdered.

End quote

Railroad tracks into Auschwitz-Birkenau

End of railroad tracks into Auschwitz-Birkenau

Tracks were built inside the Birkenau camp in 1944 to bring the Jews to the gas chambers on either side of the tracks. The tracks ended at the gas chambers.

The news article continues with this quote:

Now a museum, Auschwitz I [the main camp] is something I will never, ever, forget.

Prior to arrival [at the main camp], prisoners were shown images of a ‘swimming pool’ with green grass, flowers and beautiful countryside in the background – a lie which clearly worked.

Little did they know this swimming pool’s only purpose was to extinguish any fires that broke out – and lying directly next to the ‘pool’ was endless amounts of fencing, barbed wire and lookout bases to stop any prisoners escaping.

End quote

Swimming pool in Auschwitz main camp

1996 photo of swimming pool in Auschwitz camp

When I visited Auschwitz, for the first time, back in 1998, I asked to see the swimming pool, but I was told that it was not on the tour.

My tour guide told me that there were two swimming pools at Auschwitz, one for the prisoners and one for the SS men, but she would not show me either pool.

When I returned in 2005, the swimming pool for the prisoners was still not included on the tour, but I found it myself as I wandered around on my own in the early morning.

The swimming pool is now called a water reservoir on a sign board that was erected some time after my visit to Auschwitz in October 2005. The words on the sign board are in Polish, English and Hebrew; the sign reads as follows: “Fire brigade reservoir built in the form of a swimming pool, probably in early 1944.”

Note the clever way that the Nazis disguised the Fire brigade reservoir by putting diving boards there. God forbid that today’s British students should know that Auschwitz prisoners were diving and swimming at a death camp.

 

 

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