Scrapbookpages Blog

July 16, 2015

The Auschwitz main camp served as a warehouse for tobacco at one time

I recently ordered a copy of the book entitled The Holocaust Case, Defeat of Denial, and it was delivered today.

The first page of text in the book, which has no page number, has this sentence, which is a quote from a book entitled Dictionary of the Holocaust:

“The original and main camp, Auschwitz 1, prior to its use as a concentration camp, served as a military barracks and warehouse for tobacco.”

I didn’t know that tobacco could be grown in Europe, so I had to google it. I learned from this website  that “The EU produces some 200,000 tonnes of dried tobacco leaves a year.”

But why would tobacco, grown in Europe, have been stored in the Auschwitz 1 camp?

It is because Auschwitz was the location of the main railroad yard in Europe. Auschwitz was the European equivalent of North Platte, Nebraska, which is the largest railroad hub in America.

When railroad lines were first built in the 19th century, the little town of Auschwitz, at the junction of three empires, became the crossroads of Europe. There were 44 train lines coming into Auschwitz, making it at one time a larger railroad hub than Penn Station in New York City.

It was because Auschwitz was such an important railroad junction that a camp for migrant workers was built in a suburb of the town in 1916; seasonal farm workers from all over Europe were sent from Auschwitz to the large German estates. The migrant worker camp, with its beautiful brick barracks buildings, was the place that eventually became the Auschwitz I concentration camp.

In 1919, Poland became an independent country again and the town of Auschwitz became a Polish town called Oswiecim. The former migrant worker camp, which is now the Auschwitz 1 camp, was then used as a garrison by the Polish Army.

The quote from the book does not make it clear WHEN the tobacco was stored in what later became the Auschwitz 1 camp. What most people don’t know is that, before Auschwitz became a Polish Army garrison, it was a camp for migrant farm workers. From Auschwitz, migrant workers could travel to any place in Europe because they could get on a train and travel to the area where they would work.

What does this mean for the Holocaust story? Prisoners were brought to Auschwitz-Birkenau, where they could then be taken to the Auschwitz main camp to get on a train and go to any area in Europe where they would then work in a sub-camp of one of the main concentration camps.

Many of the prisoners, who were sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau, were separated from their loved ones, who then wound up on a train to a sub-camp of another camp. They assumed that their relatives had been sent to a gas chamber at Auschwitz-Birkenau.

The quote on the unnumbered page starts out with this:

Auschwitz […] The largest, most notorious, and murderous concentration, death and labor camp complex, located outside the city of Oswiesem in southwest Poland. It contain three major camps [Auschwitz 1, Auschwitz-Birkenau, and Monowitz]

Because of the fact that Auschwitz was a major railroad hub, the town became the location where liquor was manufactured and shipped all over the world, including to America. The photo below shows a display in the Auschwitz synagogue, which mentions that Auschwitz was a place were the Jews produced liquor.

Items on display in the Auschwitz synagogue

Items on display in the Auschwitz synagogue

July 15, 2015

94-year-old Oskar Groening sentenced to 4 years in prison for being an accessory to the murder of 300,000 Jews

Filed under: Germany, Holocaust — Tags: , , — furtherglory @ 8:57 am

According to an article in today’s news, which you can read in full here:

Seventy years after the end of World War II, [Oskar Groening] a guard who worked at the Auschwitz [Birenau] concentration camp was convicted in Germany on Wednesday [July 15] on 300,000 counts of accessory to murder and given a four-year prison sentence.

Oskar Groening was found guilty of being an accessory to the murder of 300,000 Jews. How did that happen?

It was not until May 1944, when the Hungarian Jews were deported, that Auschwitz-Birkenau became the site of the largest mass murder in modern history and the epicenter of the Final Solution to the Jewish Question. Oskar Groening had the misfortune to have been assigned to work as a bookkeeper at Auschwitz during this terrible time.

Hungarian Jews arriving at Auschwitz-Birkenau in 1944 while Oskar Groening was working there

Hungarian Jews arriving at Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp in 1944

The photo above shows Hungarian Jews arriving by train, carrying their bundles.  Oskar Groening’s job was to take their bundles and remove any money that they might have brought with them. This might not sound like a horrendous crime, but Oskar was depriving the Jews of the opportunity to bribe the guy, on the far right, to let them get by without being sent immediately to the gas chamber.  The guy in the striped pajamas is a Sonderkommando, whose job it was to help the Nazis at the ramp.

In 1942, there were 2.7 million Jews murdered by the Nazis, including 1.6 million at the three Operation Reinhard camps, but only 200,000 Jews were gassed at Auschwitz-Birkenau that year in two old farm houses that had been converted into homicidal gas chambers. [I got this information from the book entitled Auschwitz, a New History by Laurence Rees, which was published in 2005.]

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

The order to round up the Hungarian Jews and confine them in ghettos was signed by Lazlo Baky of the Royal Hungarian government on April 7, 1944. By this time, Hungary was an ally of Germany.

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

According to The Holocaust Chronicle, a huge book published in 2002 by Louis Weber, the CEO of Publications International, Ltd., another train filled with Hungarian Jews left for Auschwitz-Birkeanu on April 30, 1944. The two trains with a total of 3,800 Jews reached Birkenau on May 2, 1944. There were 486 men and 616 women selected to work; the remaining 2,698 Jews were gassed upon arrival. Oskar Groening was found guilty of being an accessory to this crime, because he was there.

The news article continues with this quote:

A judge in the northern German city of Lueneburg convicted Groening for his role at the camp following testimony that he presided over prisoners’ belongings and collected their money before they were marched to their death in gas chambers.

He did not dispute the charges and admitted “moral guilt” for the atrocities. His lawyers argued he should be acquitted because he did not actively facilitate mass murder.

Judge Franz Kompisch nevertheless concluded that Groening played at part in the camp that allowed the Nazi regime to murder hundreds of thousands of Jews.

Hungarian Jews walking to the gas chamber, carrying their bundles

Hungarian Jews walking to the gas chamber, carrying their bundles

The photo above shows Hungarian Jews walking to the gas chambers at Auschwitz-Birkenau, carrying their bundles. Was Oskar Groening remiss in his duties? I suspect that these Jews might have been carrying some money in those bundles, ready to bribe one of the guards to let them escape the gas chamber.

This final quote is from the news article:

The four-year sentence [of Oskar Groening] exceeds the three-and-a-half years sought by the prosecution.

“For us, it was not a big question of whether it is three, four, five, six years in prison — that was never a topic,” Thomas Walther, a lawyer who represents 51 co-plaintiffs, told The Associated Press on Wednesday. “It is an excellent verdict,” he said.

Ronald S. Lauder, president of the World Jewish Congress, an organization that represents Jewish interests in 100 countries, said it was the correct decision to put Groening on trial despite his old age.

“Albeit belatedly, justice has been done. Mr. Groening was only a small cog in the Nazis’ death machine, but without the actions of people like him, the mass murder of millions of Jews and others would not have been possible,” Lauder said.

“We urge authorities (in Germany) — and in other European countries — not to relent in the quest for bringing the perpetrators of the biggest crime in the history of mankind to justice,” he added.

Of the approximately six million Jewish men, women and children killed during the Holocaust, around 1.1 million people were murdered at Auschwitz in then-German-occupied Poland.

The case against Groening related to a period between May and July 1944.

Angela Orosz-Richt, 70, a Holocaust survivor born in Auschwitz who now lives in Montreal, Canada, testified at Groening’s trial last month.

“I thank Germany for eventually putting him on trial, although that should have happened decades ago, and although many other perpetrators never had to stand trial for their crimes,” she said in emailed comments to USA TODAY.

Wait a minute! Did I read Angela’s testimony correctly?  She was BORN in Auschwitz? How did that happen?

What right does she have to testify against Groening.  She was a new born baby at Auschwitz, who knew nothing about Groening standing on the ramp, taking bundles from the new arrivals, and counting their money.

Hungarian Jews waiting for the gas chamber at Auschwitz-Birkenau

Hungarian Jews waiting for the gas chamber at Auschwitz-Birkenau (Click to Enlarge)

The photo above shows Hungarian Jews who are facing the Sauna building where arriving Jewish women and children took a shower.  Behind them is the building called Canada, where the possessions of the Jews were stored, but only after Oskar Groening had removed all the money in the luggage.

July 14, 2015

the tower of faces at the USHMM brings tears to the eyes of a Jewish visitor

Filed under: Germany, Holocaust — Tags: , , , , , — furtherglory @ 9:44 am
Photo wall at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC is 3 stories high

Photo wall at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC is three stories high. It shows photos of Lithuanian Jews.

The following quote is from the website of the US Holocaust Memorial Museum:

This three-story tower [shown in the photo above] displays photographs from the Yaffa Eliach Shtetl Collection. Taken between 1890 and 1941 in Eishishok, a small town in what is now Lithuania, the photographs depict a vibrant Jewish community that existed for 900 years. In 1941, an SS mobile killing squad entered the village and within two days massacred the Jewish population.–US Holocaust Memorial Museum

The poor, unfortunate Lithanian Jews! Why was everyone so mean to them?  I wrote about the Lithuanian Jews on these blog posts:  https://furtherglory.wordpress.com/tag/lithuanian-jews/

Today I am commenting on a news article which you can read in full here.

This quote is from the news article cited above:

An otherwise emotionally reserved person, it took me only about 15 minutes before I broke into tears at the Holocaust museum in D.C., staring at the tower of faces.

I almost broke into tears myself when I saw the “tower of faces.”  These are family photos, many of them color photos, that were taken more than 75 years ago. They should not be put up three stories high, where no one can get a close look at them. The photos have nothing to do with the Holocaust. These photos of part of another story, which is about the Lithuanian Jews.

The following quote is also from the news article:

I know the scale of the mass extermination of Europe’s population of Jews, Roma, and other “asocial” groups. In classes spanning from elementary school to now my undergraduate degree I have learned the dehumanizing and horrifying acts committed by the Nazis during this time.

So those mean ole Nazis exterminated the Roma and other “asocial” groups?  The writer should have explained the term “asocial.”

The Nazis used the term asocial as a catch-all term for vagrants, bums, prostitutes, hobos, perverts, alcoholics who were living on the streets, or anyone who didn’t have a permanent address. Asocial prisoners were not sent to Auschwitz, AFAIK. Asocials were sent to Dachau or other similar camps, where they had to wear a black badge.

The “work-shy,” or those who were arrested because they refused to work, also wore a black badge.  Before 1942, Gypsy men (Roma) wore a black triangle; they were arrested and imprisoned for being asocial because they didn’t have a permanent address, or for being “work-shy” because they were not employed.

Every male citizen in Nazi Germany, who was capable of working, was required to take a job and they were not allowed to quit their job without permission. Gypsy women (Roma) were arrested under the asocial category if they were prostitutes.

This quote is also from the news article:

The gas chamber [in the main Auschwitz camp] the tour guide led us through, where two thousand people where exterminated at a time, could have been a basement, and the crematorium beside it could have been used for baking bread.

Please, please people, use your heads!  If two thousand people were “exterminated at a time,” where were the bodies kept while they were burned a few at a time in the ovens in the crematorium?

My photo of the gas chamber in the main Auschwitz camp

My photo of the gas chamber in the main Auschwitz camp (click on the photo to enlarge)

Ovens right next to the door into the gas chamber on the right

Ovens right next to the door into the gas chamber on the right

My photo above shows two of the ovens in the crematorium, right next to the gas chamber in the main Auschwitz camp. It would have taken a long time to burn 2,000 bodies in these ovens, which were small enough to bake bread.

This final quote is from the news article:

The scale and destruction of the Holocaust are the principle focus of Holocaust education and remembrance, which is important for us to understand what happened, but it also allows us to separate the perpetrators from humanity and the event itself from reality. It’s easy to see it as an event that happened in the past, outside of ourselves, in black and white.

July 12, 2015

New book is a novel about Janusz Korczak who led Warsaw orphans to Treblinka

Filed under: Germany, Holocaust — Tags: , , — furtherglory @ 12:06 pm

According to a news article, which you can read in full here, there is a new novel, just out, entitled The Book of Aron, which tells about Janusz Korczak, the real-life Jewish man who led the children of the Warsaw ghetto to their deaths at the Treblinka death camp. Don’t worry: it’s all good; Korczak [not his real name] just wanted the children to have fun.

Janusz Korczak was a pseudonym for Dr. Henryk Goldzmit, who was a teacher, a social worker and a pediatrician. He also did a weekly radio show for children, and wrote a series of children’s books in which the central character was a boy king named King Matt. In July 1942, Korczak turned down the opportunity to escape from the Warsaw Ghetto, and instead accompanied 192 orphans to Treblinka where he was murdered in the gas chamber along with them.

Readers of this blog post might want to prepare themselves, by reading about Treblinka on my website at http://www.scrapbookpages.com/Poland/Treblinka/introduction.html

Memorial stone at Treblinka in honor of Janusz Korczak

Memorial stone at Treblinka in honor of Janusz Korczak

This quote is from the news article, cited above:

Polish-Jewish doctor and educator Janusz Korczak was famous throughout Europe as director of the Warsaw Ghetto orphanage and an advocate for children’s rights. Despite offers of sanctuary, he chose to accompany his orphans to the gas chambers of Treblinka. This long-heralded hero is brought to life in Jim Shepard’s new novel, “The Book of Aron” (Alfred A. Knopf). Shepard, a National Book Award finalist, presents Korczak as an all-too-human figure who wrestled with his own demons and fought to retain his morality.

Why are so many Holocaust books written as novels? What’s wrong with writing the true story of Janusz Korczak?

The article about the new book ends with this quote:

Shepard’s children lie, cheat, steal and betray in order to stay alive. When Zofia tells her friends, “There’s not one good Jew among us,” Boris replies, “The good Jews buy what we bring in.” It’s a cynical sentiment, but cynicism can be a tool for survival as well.

Did you catch that? The Jewish children in the book “lie, cheat, steal and betray.” This sounds like something that a Nazi would say.

What is the proof that these children were gassed at Treblinka?  I wrote this previous blog post about Treblinka: https://furtherglory.wordpress.com/2012/01/12/the-year-of-janusz-korczak-a-polish-hero-who-accompanied-orphans-to-the-treblinka-death-camp/

and also this blog post about the trains that traveled West to Treblinka: https://furtherglory.wordpress.com/2011/03/25/the-trains-that-traveled-west-to-treblinka/

Bridge over the Bug river on the way to Treblinka

Bridge over the Bug river on the way to Treblinka

July 11, 2015

“The Boy in the Striped Pajamas” is back in the news today

Filed under: Germany, Holocaust, movies — Tags: , , , — furtherglory @ 10:15 am

In the news today, I read about a controversy that has been caused by Netflix recommending a comedy film for young people, that is supposedly comparable to the 2008 Holocaust film entitled The Boy in the Striped Pajamas.

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

Two outraged teenagers have condemned Netflix as “highly inappropriate” after it suggested the Inbetweeners [movie] was like the Boy in the Striped Pyjamas [movie].

Disgusted Sid Clayton and Jarvis George said they were worried comparing a comedy about schoolboys to a bleak film about a boy slaughtered in the concentration camps could offend those who lost loved ones in the Holocaust.

The two 16-year-old boys were scrolling through the film streaming site at looking for something to watch at about 8pm on Tuesday when they came across the recommendation.

Under the heading “more like the Inbetweeners” the harrowing Holocaust film was listed high school comedies like 22 Jump Street.

When I first started blogging, over 5 years ago, one of my first blog posts was a review of the movie The Boy in the Striped Pajamas. In my blog post, I did not reveal the ending, but you can probably guess what happens to the 8-year-old Jewish boy, who wears “striped pajamas” in what is supposed to be the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp.

This quote is from the end of my original blog post about the boy in the striped pajamas:

As the fable comes to an end, Bruno peeks through a transom (a glass window at the top of a door) and sees his father and other SS officers watching a movie about the concentration camps in which it is shown that they had orchestras, libraries, soccer matches and a cafe for the inmates. Actually, this movie is based on real life because the Nazis did make a film of the Theresienstadt concentration camp where the prisoners enjoyed all these things before many of them were sent to Auschwitz to be gassed.

The place, where the orchestra practiced at Birkenau, was close enough to the Crematorium III gas chamber that the prisoners could hear classical music as they descended into the undressing room. The soccer field at Birkenau was a stone’s throw from the Crematorium III gas chamber. There were large libraries for the prisoners at Dachau and Buchenwald and at the Auschwitz main camp, although not at Birkenau.

After seeing part of this movie, Bruno sneaks off to the concentration camp, taking an American style Subway sandwich with him for his friend Schmuel. (Back then, the Germans typically ate one slice of bread with a slice of sausage on top and German cookbooks had to explain how to make an American “sandwich.”)

Then we see Bruno’s father as he consults with other SS men in his office. There is an architectural drawing on the table, labeled Crematorium IV, which shows a gas chamber, disguised as a shower room.

As the music gets louder and louder, we know that the unthinkable is about to happen.

July 10, 2015

Auschwitz Survivor says that she is “unable to forgive Oskar Groening”

Oskar Groening awaits the decision in his trial

94-year-old Oskar Groening awaits the decision on his potential prison time

According to a recent news article, German national Oskar Groening, 94, stands accused of 300,000 counts of  “accessory to murder” in the cases of deported Hungarian Jews sent to the gas chambers between May and July 1944.”

Hungarian Jews arriving at Auschwitz-Birkenau in 1944

Hungarian Jews arriving at Auschwitz-Birkenau in 1944  (click to enlarge)

The photo above shows a typical scene of a train arrival at Auschwitz-Birkenau.

Jews waiting for their turn in the gas chamber at Auschwitz-Birkenau

Jews waiting for their turn in the gas chamber at Auschwitz-Birkenau

Oskar Groening worked at the train tracks at the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp, where he collected money from the luggage brought to the camp by Hungarian Jews in 1944.

Working at the train tracks makes Groening guilty as an “accessory to the fact” of the murder of 300,000 Jews, according to the prosecutor at his trial, which has just ended.  Groening has admitted his “moral guilt” in court, but he denies that he is guilty of this latest ex-post-facto law, which became a new law as a result of the John Demjanjuk trial.

The following quote is from the news article which you can read in full at http://www.businessinsider.com/afp-bookkeeper-of-auschwitz-survivor-testify-as-trial-nears-end-2015-7

As the final witness during the [Groening] trial, Irene Weiss, 84, a Czech-born Auschwitz survivor from the United States, gave searing testimony against Groening.

Dressed in a black trouser suit and speaking in an unwavering voice, Weiss described her terrifying ordeal as a 13-year-old girl.

Showing two photographs of her family as they arrived at Auschwitz that were recovered 25 years after the Holocaust, Weiss said her mother, three younger siblings, and older brother were all murdered soon after in the gas chambers.

Her father was forced to work as a Sonderkommando, removing corpses from the gas chambers and cremating them, until the SS shot him.

Weiss said she was unable to forgive Groening.

“He has said that he does not consider himself a perpetrator but merely a small cog in the machine,” she said.

“But if he were sitting here today wearing his SS uniform, I would tremble and all the horror that I experienced as a 13-year-old would return to me.

“Any person who wore that uniform in that place represented terror and the depths to which humanity can sink, regardless of what function they performed.”

You can read all about Irene Weiss on this website: http://www.ushmm.org/remember/office-of-survivor-affairs/survivor-volunteer/irene-fogel-weiss

This quote is from the USHMM article, cited above:

Over a two-month period beginning in May 1944, nearly 425,000 Jews were deported from Hungary to Auschwitz-Birkenau, including Irene and her family. Irene was 13 years old. Upon arrival at the camp, her mother, three younger siblings, and older brother were killed.

SS authorities selected Irene and her sister Serena for forced labor, while their father was forced to work as a Sonderkommando, removing corpses from the gas chambers and cremating them. The SS camp staff periodically killed the members of the Sonderkommando and replaced them with persons from newly arriving transports. While still in the camp, Irene’s aunt learned through a boy from their hometown that when Meyer could no longer perform this work, the SS shot and killed him.

Wait a minute! Irene was only 13, but she was selected to work, while her older brother was sent to the gas chamber. It was the policy of the SS, at the death camps, to kill everyone younger than 15 or older than 45 immediately upon arrival. How was 13-year-old Irene able to pass the selection while her older brother was sent to the gas chamber?

The USHMM article continues with this quote:

Irene, Serena, and two maternal aunts, Rose and Piri Mermelstein, worked in the “Canada” section of Birkenau—storage warehouses located near two crematoria—for eight months until January 1945,

Working in the “Canada” warehouse was the best job that a prisoner at Auschwitz-Birkenau could get. How was Irene so fortunate that she got one of the best jobs in the camp, at the tender age of 13? Didn’t someone notice that she should have been gassed?

Selections at Auschwitz-Birkenau

Selections for work or the gas chamber  at Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp

But wait, there’s more: “One day during morning roll call, the SS separated Serena and other prisoners from the group, deeming them too weak and emaciated to work. Irene said to a camp guard, “She is my sister,” and was then allowed to go with Serena. The sisters heard from other inmates that they would be sent back to Ravensbrück, where there were gas chambers. They were locked in a room with other prisoners to await the transport truck, but it never arrived.”

So Irene was finally selected to be sent to Ravensbrück, “where there were gas chambers”? But once again, Irene was saved because the transport truck never arrived.

Irene should be arrested as a “Holocaust denier.”  Her testimony at the trial goes against all the facts of the Holocaust.

Religious Jews who were sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau to be killed

Religious Jews who were sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau to be gassed

Meanwhile, Holocaust survivors are asking for more money: http://www.news4jax.com/news/holocaust-survivors-ask-for-financial-aide/34051298

July 8, 2015

Oh Goody! A new 865 page book about the Holocaust

Filed under: Buchenwald, Germany, Holocaust — Tags: , , , — furtherglory @ 8:34 am

The latest Holocaust book is entitled A History of the Nazi Concentration Camps

Written by Nikolaus Wachsmann

Illustrated. 865 pp. Farrar, Straus & Giroux. $40.

The New York Times article about the new book, which you can read in full here, begins and ends with Buchenwald.

A photo of Ilse Koch, “the bitch of Buchenwald,” is shown at the top of the New York Times article about the book.

Ilse Koch and her husband Karl Otto Koch

Ilse Koch and her husband Karl Otto Koch

Take a look at the photo of Ilse Koch and her husband, shown above. Note the flirtatious look and the way that Ilse pulls back her coat to show off her figure. You know she’s trouble with a capital T. You just know that she had human skin lamp shades made to decorate her home. I am sure that this will be explained in great detail in the new book.

The Buchenwald concentration camp was located near the German city of Weimar where Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Germany’s most famous writer, had lived from 1775 until his death in 1832. The area where the Buchenwald Memorial Site now stands was Goethe’s favorite forest retreat, where he had sat under his favorite oak tree.

The Buchenwald camp was built in the spot where Goethe used to sit under this oak tree

The Buchenwald camp was built in the spot where Goethe used to sit under this oak tree

When a spot in the forest on the Ettersberg was cleared for the Buchenwald camp, Goethe’s oak was left standing, and when the tree was killed in an Allied bombing raid on the camp on August 24, 1944, the Nazis cut it down but carefully preserved the stump, which is shown in my photo below.

The stump of Goethe's oak tree is located on the grounds of the former Buchenwald camp

My photo of the stump of Goethe’s oak tree on the grounds of the former Buchenwald concentration camp

The article about the new book begins and ends with Buchenwald. The photo of Ilse Koch is at the top of the article and the article ends with the story of how the Nazis saved Goethe’s oak.

In the following paragraphs, I am quoting from the New York Times article:

This explanation is given: Wachsmann focuses on one [prisoner]. His name is Moritz Choinowski, a Polish-born Jew detained by the Gestao in 1939 in the German town of Magdeburg. By the time of his liberation on April 29, 1945, Choinowski has survived Buchenwald, Auschwitz, a slowly growing German camp called Gross-Rosen and finally Dachau as well as the nightmarish forms of transportation between them. Is this possible? he sobs in the Dachau infirmary. It was, just.

Wachsmann, a history professor at London University’s Birkbeck College, has written a work of prodigious scholarship. At 865 pages, it is, in every sense, no light read. In fact it is claustrophobic in its evocation of the depths to which people can succumb. Readers may find themselves wanting out, but there is always worse to come. The book does not upend our understanding of the camp system, whose core elements are well known by now. But it imbues them with agonizing human texture and extraordinary detail. This is as relentless a chronicle of the collapse of an entire society and civilization — from its doctors drawn to every inhuman experiment to its foot soldiers looting the dead — as may be imagined.

Were the SS camps “typically German,” as some prisoners believed? Wachsmann answers that this “seems doubtful” in that “the men behind the KL system were far more invested in radical Nazi ideology than most ordinary Germans, who felt more ambivalent about the camps.”

[…]

One Olga Lengyel arrives in Auschwitz determined to protect her son from hard labor. She is asked by an SS physician (strange oxymoron), Dr. Fritz Klein, how old her son is. She says he is under 13, although he looks older. The boy is promptly sent to the gas. As Wachsmann writes, “Those under the age of 14 were almost all gassed on arrival.” After the war, Lengyel writes in despair, “How should I have known?” How indeed could anyone, so far had the Nazis gone in the application of the unthinkable.

[…]

The mystery remains. The Holocaust can never quite be digested, even when it is dissected into such minute detail. Buchenwald stood near Goethe’s hometown, Weimar. As Wachsmann writes, the connection with Goethe could not be severed: “A large oak tree, under which he had supposedly met with his muse, stood right on the new camp grounds; because it was protected, the SS had to build around it.”

They did and, step by step, Höss and his ilk found a way to usher Germany from the inspiration of its greatest writer to the inferno of mass murder.

End of quote from the New York Times.

I visited the Buchenwald Memorial Site several years ago, and wrote about it on my website at http://www.scrapbookpages.com/Buchenwald/index.html

The Buchenwald gate house with the clock stopped at 3:15 p.m.

The Buchenwald gate house with the clock stopped at 3:15 p.m., the exact time that the prisoners liberated themselves, before the Americans arrived

July 5, 2015

The “Ballerina of Auschwitz” is still alive and still kicking

Filed under: Germany, Holocaust — Tags: , , , — furtherglory @ 9:41 am

I previously blogged about Edith Eger, the “Ballerina of Auschwitz” in this blog post: https://furtherglory.wordpress.com/2014/07/28/holocaust-survivor-edith-eger-was-pulled-from-a-pile-of-corpses-by-an-american-g-i/

Today, I read in this news article that Edith is still alive and still kicking — literally.

Edith Eva Eger

Edith Eva Eger at age 16, doing a split in a bathing suit

This quote is from the news article, cited above:

Meet Edith Eva Eger, the “Ballerina of Auschwitz,” and hear her inspirational story firsthand at a July 14 event to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp during World War II.

A black-and-white photo shows the 16-year-old ballerina at her prime, mere months before her world would be destroyed.

She is dressed in a bathing suit, smiling while performing a gymnastic split. Eger says the portrait was taken by her first teenage crush: a Jewish boy named Imre. He, like so many others, would not survive the Holocaust.

“I had my 17th birthday in Auschwitz,” Eger said.

I also wrote about Edith in this previous blog post: https://furtherglory.wordpress.com/2010/02/13/holocaust-survivor-turned-cartwheels-at-auschwitz/

Edith Eger was liberated from Gunskirchen, which I wrote about in this previous blog post: https://furtherglory.wordpress.com/tag/gunskirchen/

July 4, 2015

10,000 people per day now visit Auschwitz and take photos with a selfie stick

Filed under: Germany, Holocaust — Tags: , , , — furtherglory @ 10:24 am
Ruins of a gas chamber at Auschwtiz-Birkenau (click on the photo to enlarge)

Ruins of gas chamber III at Auschwtiz-Birkenau (click on the photo to enlarge)

The first time that I visited the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp, in September 1998, I was the only person there and my Jewish tour guide would not let me get off the main road in the camp because she said that there were snakes in the grass.  She meant real snakes, not Nazis who might be lurking there, ready to throw me into a gas chamber.

Now there are 8,000 to 10,000 people per day walking through Auschwitz-Birkenau, and there might be a real danger of being trampled to death.

Today, I read a news article here which told about how tourists take selfies with a “selfie stick” at Auschwitz. Is taking a selfie with a “selfie stick” worse than taking one with just a hand held device?

I have no objection to using a “selfie stick” if one is so inclined; my concern is with the description of the “crematorium” near which these photos were being taken.

This quote is from the news article:

A couple of weeks ago, I stood before a crematorium at Auschwitz-Birkenau and listened to the tour guide talk about the sonderkommandos. The sonderkommandos, he explained quietly, were the prisoners tasked with removing dead corpses from the gas chambers – after the victims had been showered with cyanide and choked to death – and then with hurling them into ovens or onto piles of other lifeless bodies and burning them to ash. The sonderkommandos, who sometimes found their own family members in the heaps, would be killed off and then replaced to prevent their gruesome stories from circulating to others in the camp. I stood there and listened, catatonic and sick to my stomach, perturbed by the lush green fields and flowers growing along the perimeter of the gas chamber.

The description of the “lush green fields and flowers growing along the perimeter of the gas chambers” identifies this location as being in the Auschwitz II camp — Auschwitz-Birkenau. But the quote starts out by referring to a “crematorium”, not a gas chamber.

There were TWO underground rooms in each of the alleged gas chamber buildings at Birkeanau: an undressing room and a gas chamber. There was no crematorium. As far as I know, the bodies had to be stored outside in the snow, while they were being burned in the ovens a few at a time.

The quote from the news article then continues with this:

But what disturbed me just as much was the tourist I saw tiptoeing his way into the ruins of the gas chamber – which at this point looks like little more than volcanic rubble because the Nazis bombed it to erase evidence before they retreated. Selfie stick in hand, this guy was taking photos of himself in the remains of the crematorium where hundreds of thousands of people were murdered.

The “crematoria” in all the gas chamber buildings at Birkenau were underground. Several people have climbed down into one of the so-called gas chambers, which was in a separate room, but it is completely dark and there is no room for a “selfie stick.”

I think that the author of this article is confused. She obviously meant that tourists are walking down into the former undressing rooms at Birkenau and taking selfies, not into one of the gas chambers.

My photo at the top of this page shows the ruins of the gas chamber in Krema III, which was underground, but the ruins can be accessed now.

Another view of the ruins of the gas chamber in Krema III at Auschwitz-Birkenau

Another view of the ruins of the gas chamber in Krema III at Auschwitz-Birkenau

I suspect that tourists are actually climbing down into the ruins of one of the undressing rooms, not into the ruins of a gas chamber.

Ruins of undressing room in Krema III at Birkenau

Ruins of undressing room in Krema III at Birkenau

June 26, 2015

Queen Elizabeth’s visit to Bergen Belsen today, June 26, 2015

Filed under: Germany, Holocaust — Tags: , , , , — furtherglory @ 4:09 pm
My 2001 photo of the entrance stone at Bergen-Belsen

My 2001 photo of the entrance stone at Bergen-Belsen

The words on the stone at the entrance into the Bergen-Belsen Memorial Site give the dates that this area was used as a prison camp, first for Prisoners of War in 1940, then as an exchange camp in 1943, and then for sick prisoners in 1944.

It was not until December 2, 1944 that Bergen-Belsen became a concentration camp.

A news story about the Queen Elizabeth’s visit to Bergen-Belsen begins with this quote:

Bergen-Belsen was the only concentration camp to be liberated by the British, who arrived on April 15, 1945, to scenes that shocked the world thanks to the accounts of BBC war reporter Richard Dimbleby.

Oops! What the news article failed to mention is that the Germans had sent a man to contact the British, who were fighting on the battlefield nearby. The Germans came to beg the British to come to the camp because a typhus epidemic at the camp were out of control. The Germans asked the British to take over because they were losing the war and they could not handle the epidemic.

Yet, every article about Bergen-Belsen that you will ever read, and including every article that you won’t read, tells you that the British broke down the gates into the Belsen camp and saved the inmates in the nick of time before the Germans could kill them all.

Queen meets with Bergen Belsen survivors

Queen meets with Bergen Belsen survivors

The woman on the far right, in the photo above, is Anita Lasker-Wallfisch. I have written two previous blog posts about Anita Lasker-Wallfisch.  https://furtherglory.wordpress.com/tag/anita-lasker-wallfisch/

This quote is from the news article:

Begin quote:

Anita Lasker-Wallfisch a Jew born in Breslau in what is now Poland, was arrested by the Gestapo in 1942 because she was travelling with forged papers.

After spells in prison and in Auschwitz, she arrived in Belsen in October 1944.

Asked what it was like to live in Belsen, she said: “It was more like dying there, not living there.

“There was nothing, it was the end, there was no food, nothing. The only reason anyone survived was because the British came in time.

“When the British came it was a miracle, we thought we were dreaming, suddenly we heard an English voice.”

End quote

Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip pass by the memorial stone to the Jews

Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip pass by the memorial stone to the Jews at the Bergen-Belsen memorial site

The back side of the Jewish Monument has an English translation of the words on the front:

“Israel and the world shall remember thirty thousand Jews exterminated in the concentration camp of Bergen-Belsen at the hands of the murderous Nazis. EARTH CONCEAL NOT THE BLOOD SHED ON THEE! First anniversary of Liberation 15th April 1946 Central Jewish Committee Brtish Zone”

My 2001 photo of the Jewish Monument that Queen Eliza passed by

My 2001 photo of the Jewish Monument with the House of Silence in the background

My close-up photo of the monument that the Queen passed on by

My close-up photo of the monument that the Queen passed on by, disrespecting the Jews

My photo above shows the Jewish Monument, which was erected on the first anniversary of the camp liberation, 15 April 1946.

In the background is a modern building where visitors can spend time quietly reflecting on the tragedy which occurred in this spot.

House of Silence at Bergen-Belsen

My photo of the House of Silence at Bergen-Belsen

My 2001 photo of the inside of the House of Silence at Bergen-Belsen

My 2001 photo of the inside of the House of Silence at the memorial site at Bergen-Belsen

I took this photo of a note left in the House of Silence

I took this photo of a note left in the House of Silence

The words on a note left in the House of Silence say: “It was horrible what was done to the people. Remember it. Peace is the only thing what I wish.”

Monument to Chaim Hertzog at Bergen-Belsen

Monument to Chaim Hertzog at Bergen-Belsen

The photo above shows a memorial stone for Chaim Herzog, president of Israel, who died April 17, 1997.

This is an honorary stone; Herzog is not buried at Bergen-Belsen. As a young intelligence officer from Palestine, serving in the British Army, Herzog was with the British troops that took over Bergen-Belsen.

His father was the Chief Rabbi of Ireland and later became the first Ashkenazi Rabbi of Israel. Herzog was present when Heinrich Himmler allegedly committed suicide after being captured by the British.

The news article did not mention whether the Queen paid her respects to Herzog.

My photo of the obelisk at Bergen-Belsen, taken in the rain in 2001

My 2001 photo of the obelisk at Bergen-Belsen, taken in the rain. This stone honors all those who died at Belsen

The obelisk and wall in honor of the victims, shown in the photo above, was erected in 1947 on the orders of the British military occupation government. In the foreground, you can see one of the mass graves, and two more mass graves in the background.

Inscription at base of obelisk honors British victims at Bergen-Belsen

Inscription at the base of the obelisk honors the British victims at Bergen-Belsen

Queen Elizabeth paid homage to the British victims who are honored on the stone shown in the photo above.

The photo below shows her placing flowers at the British memorial at the obelisk.

Queen Elizabeth lays wreath at the obelisk

Queen Elizabeth lays wreath at the obelis

I think that the Jews might complain that the Queen did not bow low enough to them on her trip to Belsen.

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