Scrapbookpages Blog

February 1, 2014

“to the victor belongs the spoils” even if you have to steal gold from an ally that helped to win the war

Filed under: Germany, movies, World War II — Tags: , , , , , — furtherglory @ 9:58 am

In doing some research about The Monuments Men, in preparation for seeing a new movie by the same name, I learned that the art treasures and the gold bullion, stored in the Merkers salt mine in Germany, was supposed to go to the Soviet Union, because it was located in the occupation zone that had been promised to the Russians.

German  gold was hidden in the  Merkers salt mine

German gold and art treasures were hidden in the Merkers salt mine

When General Patton heard about the gold in the Merkers mine, he claimed it for the USA and then notified General (“God, I hate the Germans”) Eisenhower.

The following quote, about the gold, is from this website: http://www.archives.gov/publications/prologue/1999/spring/nazi-gold-merkers-mine-treasure.html

Nazi Gold: The Merkers Mine Treasure

By Greg Bradsher

Late on the evening of March 22, 1945, elements of Lt. Gen. George Patton’s Third Army crossed the Rhine, and soon thereafter his whole army crossed the river and drove into the heart of Germany. Advancing northeast from Frankfurt, elements of the Third Army cut into the future Soviet Zone and advanced on Gotha. Just before noon on April 4, the village of Merkers fell to the Third Battalion of the 358th Infantry Regiment, Ninetieth Infantry Division, Third Army. During that day and the next the Ninetieth Infantry Division, with its command post at Keiselbach, consolidated its holdings in the Merkers area.(1)

During April 4 and 5 [1945], displaced persons in the vicinity interrogated by the Counter Intelligence Corps (CIC) personnel of the Ninetieth Infantry Division mentioned a recent movement of German Reichsbank gold from Berlin to the Wintershal AG’s Kaiseroda potassium mine at Merkers. In all of these instances they quoted rumors, but none stated their own knowledge that gold was present in the mine. But just before noon on April 5, a member of Military Intelligence Team 404-G, attached to the 358th Infantry Regiment, who was in Bad Salzungen, about six miles from Merkers, interviewed French displaced persons who had worked in the mine at Merkers. They told him they had heard that gold had been stored in the mine. The information was passed on to the G-2 (intelligence section) of the Ninetieth Infantry Division, and orders were issued prohibiting all civilians from circulating in the area of the mine.(2)

You can read about Gotha on my website at http://www.scrapbookpages.com/EasternGermany/Gotha/

Note the date [April 4, 1945] that the Merkers mine was discovered by the Americans, after “displaced persons” told them about the gold.

"displaced persons" who have come back to the Ohrdruf camp

“displaced persons” who came back to the Ohrdruf camp after the Americans arrived

What is a “displaced person”?  This term refers to a former prisoner in a concentration camp, or a Nazi labor camp, who must find his way home because the Nazis have abandoned the camp where he was a prisoner.  The Nazis had abandoned the Ohrdruf  sub-camp of Buchenwald on April 4, 1945, and had marched most the prisoners to the Buchenwald camp, except for a few who were too sick to walk, or a few who had escaped from the march.

How does one justify stealing “the spoils of war” from an ally [the Soviet Union], who has helped to defeat your enemy?  I know — let’s go to visit Ohrdruf, and make a big deal out of the bodies of prisoners who had died of typhus. Let’s “build another page of the necessary evidence as to the brutality of the Germans” as General Patton wrote to General Eisenhower. Let’s take a photo of the dead bodies that were burned at Ohrdruf, and claim that the Germans had burned prisoners alive. Let’s build a museum in Washington, DC  and hang a photo of the burned bodies in front of the museum door.

Eisenhower views burned bodies at Ohrdruf

Eisenhower views burned bodies at Ohrdruf

This quote is also from the article written by Greg Bradsher:

[Col. Bernard D.] Bernstein, that evening, drove to Patton’s headquarters. Patton told Bernstein that he was very glad Eisenhower was taking responsibility for the gold. Bernstein told him that he wanted to move the Merkers treasure to Frankfurt as quickly as possible and that under the Big Three arrangements at Yalta, the Merkers part of Germany would be taken over by the Russians after the war and that they certainly needed to get the treasure out of the area before the Russians got there. Astounded at what Bernstein told him, not knowing about the postwar arrangements, Patton said he would do everything possible to facilitate Bernstein’s mission.(39)

On April 11 Bernstein returned to Merkers, and that morning, after arranging with Mason for setting up a command post at the mine building for the G-5 officers, he and Rave made an inspection of the art treasures. Later that day Lt. George Stout [one of the Monuments Men], USNR, MFAA Officer, G-5, Twelfth Army Group, and the SHAEF MFAA chief, British Lt. Col. Geoffrey Webb, reported for duty, with the expectation that they would handle the art matters. After Posey’s earlier visit to Merkers, he had notified Webb of the treasure and recommended Stout, former chief of conservation at Harvard’s Fogg Museum and considered America’s greatest expert on the techniques of packing and transporting, be sent to the mine to provide technical guidance. Webb and Stout arrived at Merkers only to find that they needed Bernstein’s permission to see the art. Bernstein showed them his letter from Gay authorizing him to decide who went into the mine and the need for Eddy’s permission for Allied personnel to inspect the mine. Bernstein agreed to let Stout view the works of art, but he denied Webb access.(40)  [George Stout is played by George Clooney in the movie The Monuments Men.]

[…]
Bernstein and Bartlett arrived at the 357th Infantry Regiment Command Post in Merkers at 5 p.m. on April 10. Accompanied by Mason, they went on a tour of the mine to see the vault containing the gold, currency, and art treasure. That evening Bernstein interviewed Veick and Reimer about the gold, currency, and other valuables, as well as any records relating to the gold. Veick provided detailed information about the transportation of the Reichsbank treasure to Merkers and the currency transactions during March and the first days of April. He said he did not know that much about the gold, but Thoms did; “He knows all,” Veick said. Reimer told Bernstein that “the records of the sale of the gold are with Thoms.”(38)

Bernstein, that evening, drove to Patton’s headquarters. Patton told Bernstein that he was very glad Eisenhower was taking responsibility for the gold. Bernstein told him that he wanted to move the Merkers treasure to Frankfurt as quickly as possible and that under the Big Three arrangements at Yalta, the Merkers part of Germany would be taken over by the Russians after the war and that they certainly needed to get the treasure out of the area before the Russians got there. Astounded at what Bernstein told him, not knowing about the postwar arrangements, Patton said he would do everything possible to facilitate Bernstein’s mission.(39)

January 29, 2014

New movie The Monuments Men opening Feb. 7, 2014

I have been reading the book entitled The Rape of Europa by Ms. Lynn H. Nicholas, in order to prepare for the new movie The Monuments Men which will open in theaters on  Feb. 7, 2014.  You can see a trailer for the movie below.

The trailer for the movie tells us that “the Nazis have been stealing art” and that there are “5 million pieces of stolen art” that the Monuments Men must find and preserve because “Hitler wants to destroy everything.”  Basically, “the Nazis are on the run and they have taken everything with them” according to the movie trailer.  The Monuments Men must find the art and save the culture of the world from the Nazis.  Sounds good to me.

The evil Nazis have stolen all the art in Europe and The Monuments Men have been “tasked” to find it.

What?  The Germans didn’t have any art of their own? They had stolen the art from Warsaw and other places with the intent of destroying it, according to the trailer for the movie.

At one point in the movie, the fictional character, played by George Clooney, explains the importance of the mission of The Monuments  Men:  “If you destroy an entire generation of people’s culture, it’s as if they never existed,” he says. “That’s what Hitler wants and it’s the one thing we can’t allow.”

So the theme of the movie seems to be that a group of American art experts are going to prevent Hitler from destroying an entire generation of culture.  Hitler was an artist himself and he was planning an art museum in his home town of Linz, Austria, after the war.

According to the book entitled The Rape of Europa, the Nazis had stashed the art in a salt mine at Alt Aussee.  You can read what Wikipedia says about Altaussee at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Altaussee#Nazi_Stolen_Art_Repository

Note the difference in the spelling of Altaussee.

August Eigruber was put on trial by the American Military Tribunal

August Eigruber was put on trial by the American Military Tribunal

This quote is from page 316 of The Rape of Europa:

The basic legend tells us that [August] Eigruber put bombs in the mines [at Altaussee] with the intention of blowing up everything, and that heroic Austrian Resistance workers removed them and thereby saved the priceless works for humanity. […]

…Hitler had ordered [Alt Aussee] and other repositories sealed and the works of art preserved at all  costs.

[The] next ploy was to try to persuade [August] Eigruber that the bombs would not destroy everything inside unless the mine entrances were sealed.  This would make the bombs inaccessible but the engineers convinced [Eigruber] that [the bombs] could be detonated by a long fuse to the exterior.  […]

Eigruber’s opponents turned to the highest [Nazi] Party authority still available [after Hitler’s suicide] — SS Intelligence Chief Ernst Kaltenbrunner, who was well known in Alt Aussee, where he kept a mistress.

Kaltenbrunner authorized the immediate removal of the bombs and promised to so inform Eigruber. […] On May 5 [1945]  the mine entrances were blasted shut.  Inside, the scattered masterpieces rested safely in the darkness.

This quote is also from the book entitled The Rape of Europa by  Ms. Lynn H. Nicholas:

By the summer of 1943 an Austrian official, Dr. Herbert Seiberl, had completed an investigation of the labyrinthine network of salt  mines in the Salzkammergut, a chic summer resort area high in the mountains of Salzberg. [..] The most suitable was at Alt Aussee where the main chambers lay more than a mile inside the mountain, reachable only by tiny special trains. Seiberl’s belief that the conditions would be ideal was supported by his discovery of a little chapel inside the mine in which oil paintings had been hanging since 1933 without ill effect. [..]

Seiberl was thinking of this place not for the Linz holdings [of Hitler], but for the Austrian collections, now for the first time within range of Allied bombers coming from Italy. […this mine] was immediately claimed for the exclusive use of the Führer. […] The arrangement met with Hitler’s approval. […]

In quite another mood, in August 1944 Hitler had ordered  all military installations, utilities, communications, archives, monuments, food stores, and transportation facilities destroyed as the German armies retreated so that only a wasteland would await the Allies. […] Albert Speer, who had proposed a more realistic program, was removed from office for a time, but eventually managed to compromise with the Führer and change the order for destruction to “disabling” all the while working under Hitler’s orders.

In addition to the scorched-earth order, on every front soldiers and Gauleiters were commanded to fight to the last or face execution, Hitler’s theory being, as Wolff had found out in Italy, that if they held out long enough, the Western Allies would join Germany to defeat Bolshevism. In this scenario Germany would remain intact, and the purloined treasures would be used. They must, therefore, be kept from the enemy as long as possible.  Indeed, in his will, written the day before his suicide, Hitler stipulated that his collections should be given to the [German] nation.  […]

Gauleiter Eigruber of Oberdonau had taken Hitler’s scorched earth decrees deeply to heart and was persuaded that the works of art at Alt Aussee should not fall into the hands of the Bolshevists [Communists] or “International Jewry.”   […]

The story of Eigruber’s fanatic desire for destruction, and the efforts to stop him, has become the legend of Alt Aussee.  […]

Strangely, Eigruber’s plot to blow up the art in the salt mine was not mentioned in his trial as a war criminal by the American Military Tribunal, which I wrote about on my website at http://www.scrapbookpages.com/DachauScrapbook/DachauTrials/Mauthausen02.html

This quote, about August Eigruber, is from Wikipedia:

Right after Germany’s unconditional surrender in May 1945, Eigruber was arrested in the Salzkammergut by the United States Army, and he was questioned as a witness at the Nuremberg Trials. In the Mauthausen-Gusen camp trials, Eigruber was sentenced in March 1946 by the Dachau International Military Tribunal to death by hanging for his responsibility for crimes at Mauthausen concentration camp. The sentence was carried out in the prison yard at Landsberg Prison, Landsberg am Lech on May 28, 1947.

 

January 25, 2014

After 4 years of blogging and 1107 blog posts, the winner is “the surgeon of Birkenau”

Filed under: Holocaust, movies — Tags: , , — furtherglory @ 9:37 am

I started my blog on February 5, 2010 with my very first blog post, which was about Tadeusz Borowski, a non-Jewish political prisoner at Auschwitz-Birkenau, who wrote a book about the camp, in which he famously told about the soccer games played by the prisoners, as the Jews were marching to their deaths in the Krema III gas chamber.

Since then, I have written a total of 1107 blog posts, and the post that has gotten the most hits is the one about the “surgeon of Birkenau” which you can read at https://furtherglory.wordpress.com/2011/09/01/was-the-surgeon-of-birkenau-really-a-surgeon/

Why is this blog post so popular?  It must be because it is about the movie entitled The Debt, which seems to be based on the story of Dr. Josef Mengele, the Nazi that everyone loves to hate.

Left to right: Dr. Josef Mengele, Rudold Hoess, and Josef Kramer

Left to right: Dr. Josef Mengele, Rudold Hoess, and Josef Kramer

You can read about Dr. Josef Mengele on my website at http://www.scrapbookpages.com/AuschwitzScrapbook/History/Articles/Selection.html

and on this page of my website at http://www.scrapbookpages.com/AuschwitzScrapbook/History/Articles/Selection2.html

Dr. Mengele made an unforgetable impression on the prisoners at Auchwitz-Birkenau because he was handsome and charming, and he whistled tunes from German opera, as he waved the Jews to the right or to the left, to live or to die.

There are numerous Holocaust survivors, who are still alive today, because Dr. Mengele was too distracted by his whistling to pay attention to the ages of the children that he was waving to the right to live.

October 23, 2013

New Lanzmann film “The Last of the Unjust” will be in theaters November 2013

Claude Lanzmann has a new film, entitled The Last of the Unjust, which was shown at the New York Film Festival in September 2013. You can read a review of the film here.  I previously blogged about Lanzmann’s new film here.

The film is based on interviews, which Lanzmann did, in 1975, with Benjamin Murmelstein, the last Jewish Elder in the Theresienstadt ghetto.  Benjamin Murmelstein died in 1989, but his son Wolf Murmelstein is still vigorously defending his father’s reputation.

When Lanzmann’s new film is shown in theaters in November, I believe that many viewers will have some difficulty in understanding it.  To prepare for seeing this film, anyone who wants to understand it should read an essay, written by Wolf Murmelstein here.

The title of the film comes from a play on words, taken from André Schwarz-Bart’s novel, entitled The Last of the Just.  Benjamin Murmelstein was being sarcastic when he called himself “The Last of the Unjust.” His reputation had been ruined because of the accusations against him after he survived the Theresienstadt ghetto.  Murmelstein was acquitted of the charge of collaborating with the Nazis, but getting his reputation back was more difficult.

This quote is from the article in the New York Times:

But the first on-camera remarks of Murmelstein’s that Lanzmann includes in “The Last of the Unjust” refer to the rabbi’s own state of exile in Rome and the lessons of Rome for modernity. Just as the city of Rome endures long after the end of Roman civilization, so, Murmelstein explains, all of Europe is enduring the absence of another vanished civilization—that of Judaism. “Judaism is missing,” Murmelstein says. “It is lacking from the world that was destroyed.”

In “The Last of the Unjust,” Lanzmann attempts to put back some of the Judaism. He films a cantor chanting Kol Nidre (from the service of Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement) and the Kaddish, the prayer for the dead, in the last surviving synagogue in Vienna. He films the Old-New Synagogue in Prague—and there finds stelae inscribed with the names of Czech victims of the Holocaust, a litany of names that ring to the eye with a music of their own. There’s a defiant, in-your-face aspect to the filming of the liturgy—the destruction of the Jewry of Europe also meant an attempt to destroy Judaism, but Jewish religious observance has survived.

In the year 2000, I visited the Old-New Synagogue on Siroka street in Josefov in Prague, but I did not see the names of the Czech victims of the Holocaust.

Old-New Synagogue in Prague is still being used

Old-New Synagogue in Prague is still being used

I also visited the Pinkas Synagogue in the old Jewish quarter in Prague. Every inch of the stone walls in the interior of the Pinkas Synagogue was inscribed with the names of the 77,297 Jews from Bohemia and Moravia (now the Czech Republic) who died in the Holocaust.

Tourists line up to enter the Pinkas Synagogue in Prague

Tourists line up to enter the Pinkas Synagogue in Prague

According to information given at the Pinkas Synagogue, most of these Jews were sent first to the ghetto set up by the Nazis in the old military garrison in Theresienstadt, which is now the town of Terezin, and were then transported to the death camp at Auschwitz in Poland where they were murdered in the gas chambers.

For his film, Lanzmann also visited the train station where Jews got off the train for the Theresienstadt camp.  I blogged about the train station here.

The article in the New York Times continues with this quote:

Hanukkah means “dedication,” and the holiday celebrates a miracle by which the Second Temple, defiled by marauders, was rededicated, resanctified. “The Last of the Unjust” is itself a sort of rededication, an attempt by Lanzmann to restore something central to the Jewish world of Europe. And he achieves this through the words and the story of Murmelstein, a rabbi who took on an unbearable burden and came through it a pariah. Murmelstein’s efforts to save Jews are revealed to be inseparable from his work, under Nazi authority, to preserve the sham of Theresienstadt—he thinks of himself as a sort of Scheherazade who rescued Jews, and who rescued himself, by helping the Germans tell a propagandistic story. That astonishingly daring and dangerous moral calculus has a Biblical grandeur, horror, and authority.

The essay by Wolf Murmelstein is quite long, so I am quoting some of the most important text here:

During the Holocaust period, the Ghettos were not Jewish Communities but FORCED COMMUNITIES since the Nazis classified persons as Jewish on racial, not religious, criteria. So in the Ghettos, together with believing Jews, there were those converted to other faiths, and the agnostics, Zionists, Czech, German, and Austrian nationalists, persons having some Jewish ancestors, etc. etc. So persons, who did not share the same Faith and had not always been aware that they would share the same fate, now had to live and work together.

In the “TRIUMVIRATE” set up on the orders of [Adolf] Eichmann, Murmelstein had to work, in the capacity of “Second Deputy Elder,” along side the ”Elder” Eppstein, and the “First Deputy Elder” Edelstein and, by the subdivision of tasks, he had to supervise the “HEALTH AND WELFARE” and “TECHNICAL SERVICES” Departments.

In his tasks, Benjamin Murmelstein had to master the problem of different backgrounds and ideas:

Jacob Edelstein, in 1941, was hoping that Terezin would be a good training camp (HAKSCHARAH) for the Youth in preparation for a future life in Palestine. As a Zionist official, he felt bound to party-loyalty.

Paul Eppstein, a young promising sociologist, in 1933 joined the staff of the REICHSVERTRETUNG (after 1939 REICHSVEREINIGUNG) where he worked in the emigration sector and in 1940 he had to replace Leo Baeck as Chief Executive. Until his Martyrdom, he had difficulty in realizing that in the Reich, which was ruled by a criminal gang – internationally acknowledged as a government, assurances or other statements of a “state official” were only tricky ones.

But I am putting the cart before the horse. Benjamin Murmelstein had been in charge of deporting the Jews from Austria, starting in 1938.  After the war, he became famous as the last Jewish Elder at Theresienstadt.

This quote from Wolf Murmelstein’s essay explains why the Theresienstadt ghetto was set up:

But at a certain moment, the Nazis realized that the tale of “resettlement of Jews for work” could hardly justify deportation of aged or sick persons, war officers holding medals for merit, etc.

Furthermore, as explained by Heinrich Himmler: “Germans all agree on the idea of getting rid of the Jews. But then every German has his own Jews, stating that this is a righteous Jew; send away the others but let him stay here.” What Himmler did not explain was that some Germans could not be ignored at all. Besides, there were among the Jews highly qualified persons well known abroad, who could not simply disappear in the East.

The solution was THERESIENSTADT, a little town in Bohemia surrounded by walls and with many barracks, just on the Reich border, now better known under the Czech name TEREZIN. There Eichmann had the opportunity to set up a Ghetto under his own authority and to show the real meaning of his “great ideas.” Many Germans could then “be at peace with their conscience” having obtained for their “righteous Jew” – a relative, a divorced wife, etc. – a place in the “Model Ghetto.” Qualified Jews, known abroad, could for a while, send postcards.

From October 1941 until September 1942, Benjamin Murmelstein had to watch the deportations. At Yom Kippur 1942, he had a nervous crisis of desperation about things that happened in that year. He was in doubt about being ritually qualified to lead the prayer service for the very few believing Jews still in Vienna.

From the beginning to the end of the deportation waves, almost all Jews had been deported from Vienna. Besides the very few believing Jews – community staff members – there were many persons in mixed marriage and descendants of Jewish parents or grand-parents. In that year Benjamin Murmelstein had to face the Vienna Branch of the CENTRAL OFFICE FOR JEWISH EMIGRATION where the rule was “promises are valid only when served.” Amid harsh orders, he tried to save what was possible.

The number of the few believing Jews for the community staff had been the result of a difficult “bargaining” (requests had to be submitted in a suitable form) with SS Ltd Alois (Anton) Brunner. At end of August 1942, Benjamin Murmelstein, with his family, was about to be sent to Terezin. But Eichmann decided to delay the “re-organization” of Terezin “Jewish Self-Government.”

[…]

The delay of the Murmelstein Family deportation lasted only to the end of Jannuary 1943 because Eichmann wanted to report on JANUARY 30 – the anniversary of Hitler’s rise to power – the deportation of Jewish Leadership of Berlin, Vienna and Prague. So Murmelstein and some other Community Staff member with families had to go to THERESIENSTADT (TEREZIN).

[…]

The first Elder of Terezin, Jacob Edelstein, was suspected for some months of having contacts with the so-called Czech Resistance. Eichmann thought it right to follow a “cautious proceeding.” On January 31, 1943, Paul Eppstein became the new Elder of Terezin; he had just arrived from Berlin. Jacob Edelstein was downgraded to First Deputy Elder and Benjamin Murmelstein was named the Second Deputy Elder. All the three of them had been busy managing, in their communities, the emigration of fellow Jews to safe havens, and had failed to find safe havens for themselves and their families; now they shared the responsibility for the “Model” Ghetto.

Theresienstadt became famous as a “model ghetto” because of the two Red Cross visits.  You can read about how the ghetto was cleaned up, in order to fool the Red Cross about the real conditions in the camp here.

October 15, 2013

New documentary film about Klara Wizel, a Holocaust survivor who escaped from Auschwitz-Birkenau

Filed under: Holocaust, movies — Tags: , , , — furtherglory @ 1:02 pm

You can read all about Klara Wizel’s new book at http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/362363#longdescr

You can hear Danny Naten, the man who made a documentary film of Klara’s story, speak at http://www.streamica.com/#v/O46IwX2_w9I

This quote is from the smashwords.com website, which gives a synopsis of the Klara’s book:

As the Russian front approaches, Mengele and the Nazi’s selection process speed up. Klara finds herself sick, weak, tired and not able to eat. Naked, she is brought before Mengele, a tall Rock Hudson-handsome man who ideally would have been asking for her hand instead of deciding her fate. Klara was wowed by his presence and hardly realized that Mengele had deemed her unfit and sentenced her to die [in] the gas chamber. As Klara is taken away with approximately seventy other women her sisters Hedy and Rose scream and cry as she is dragged off, for they know this is her death.
Yet, somehow sick and dying on a snowy night, now 17 year old Klara Wizel not only escaped the gas chamber, but she also smuggles herself out of Auschwitz. She’s the only Holocaust survivor of record to ever escape Dr. Josef Mengele’s selection process. Her escape and journey through war torn Europe to get back home to her small home town of Sighet is one of the most inspiring stories of that time.

Whoa! Did you catch that?  Klara is from Sighet, a town in Transylvania (Romania), which is also the home town of Elie Wiesel.  She pronounces her name Vee-Zell, the same as Elie Wiesel.  What a coincidence!

This quote is from Wikipedia:

According to the 1910 census, the city [Sighet] had 21,370 inhabitants; these consisted of 17,542 (82.1%) Hungarian speakers, 2,002 (9.4%) Romanian, 1,257 (5.9%) German, and 32 Ruthenian speakers.

Klara is now 84 years old, and she is just now telling her story to a documentary film maker, and writing a book.  Eli Wiesel does not speak Hungarian, and Klara Wizel probably doesn’t speak Hungarian either.

According to Klara’s story, she arrived at Auschwitz-Birkenau at night and went through a selection by Dr. Mengele immediately.  She describes Dr. Mengele as being Rock Hudson-handsome, tall and thin.

Wait a minute!  Dr. Mengele was TALL? Not compared to most German men, and not compared to Rock Hudson.

The photo below shows Dr. Mengele standing alongside other SS men at Auschwitz-Birkenau.  He is the shortest one of the bunch.

Dr. Mengele is the man on the far right, holding a cigarette at chest height

Dr. Mengele is the man on the far right, holding a cigarette at chest height

The gas chamber in the Auschwitz main camp

The gas chamber in the Auschwitz main camp has a glass window in the door

An old black and white photo of the Auschwitz gas chamber, to which Dr. Mengele allegedly sent Klara, is shown in a preview of the documentary. My color photo above, taken in 1998, shows the same view of the gas chamber, which is in the main Auschwitz camp, not the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp.  Did Dr. Mengele send her to the main camp to be gassed?  Or did Klara get mixed up in her story?

Did Klara escape the gas chamber by breaking the glass in the door and opening the door?  You will have to buy the book to find out.

To get back to the beginning of Klara’s story, this quote is from the start of the description of her book:

At the tender age of 16, Klara Wizel had a picturesque life with a loving and supportive family. There was no way to know that the Holocaust was creeping toward her and that soon this young Hungarian Jew would be fighting for her life due to the most notorious doctor of the 20th century, Dr. Josef Mengele.
Swept up in a week long deportation process along with fifteen thousand other Hungarian Jews, Klara and her family arrive on cold night at the infamous Auschwitz/Berkenau concentration camp after a three day journey with no food or water. There she and her family would first meet Josef Mengele who would later become known as the Great Selector.
That night Mengele selected Klara’s mother Frida, father Icik her older sister Ancy and younger brother Mortho to die in the gas chamber sending the adolescent Klara and two of her sisters Hedy and Rose to be housed like animals in the women’s barracks of Auschwitz. Dr. Mengele, who was in charge of the women’s barracks, would become the chief provider for the gas chambers and order gruesome experiments on children that often maimed or killed his Jewish subjects. Like a blood hound, Mengele, also known as the murderer in white, searched out those who were too old or too sick to survive his cruel science and those who served no purpose to the Nazi regime. As Klara Wizel would later say, “Day or night you never knew when he would show, the ovens were always burning around the clock.”

Note that Klara called Dr. Mengele the “Great Selector” and the “chief provider.”  There were 30 doctors who did the selections at Auschwitz-Birkenau, but Dr. Mengele is the most famous of the 30 doctors.

In her book entitled Five Chimneys, Lengyel wrote that Dr. Fritz Klein was the “Chief Selector.” But what does she know? Dr. Klein was also known for having “nice manners,” so Dr. Mengele and Dr. Klein might have been mixed up by the prisoners.

Dr. Fritz Klein was put on trial by the British for his crime of selecting prisoners for the gas chamber at Auschwitz

Dr. Fritz Klein was put on trial by the British for his crime of selecting prisoners for the gas chamber at Auschwitz

I wonder if Klara has a tattoo?  Like Eli, another survivor with a last name that is pronounced Vee-Zell, maybe she somehow got by without being tattooed.

Klara’s description of Dr. Mengele does not ring true. He was not as handsome as Rock Hudson.  He was more “handsome is as handsome does,” meaning that he was very charming.  All of the survivors described him as a man who had “nice manners,” and as a caring person, who was particularly nice to the children, bringing them chocolates and hair ribbons.

You can read more about Dr. Josef Mengele at http://www.scrapbookpages.com/AuschwitzScrapbook/History/Articles/Selection2.html

The Klara Wizel Story has a facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Klara-Wizel-Story/377813045628791

Famous Holocaust survivor Irene Zisblatt also has a facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/events/362767803779819/permalink/362902747099658/

October 1, 2013

New book tells about Nazi women who joined the men “on shooting parties in the snow, hunting and killing Jews for sport”

Filed under: Germany, Holocaust, movies — Tags: , , , — furtherglory @ 11:01 am
Irme Grese and Kramer are guarded by a British soldier at the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp

Irma Grese and Josef Kramer are guarded by a British soldier at the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp

A regular reader of my blog provided a link to a news article which you can read in full here. The photo shown above was included in the article.  It shows a British soldier guarding Irma Grese, one of the female guards at the Bergen-Belsen camp; standing next to her is Josef Kramer, the last Commandant of Bergen-Belsen.

New book about female perpetrators in the Holocaust

New book about female perpetrators in the Holocaust

The article, in the British newspaper Mail Online, is about a new book entitled Hitler’s Furies: German Women in the Nazi Killing Fields, written by Professor Wendy Lower, who currently lives and teaches in Munich, Germany

This quote is from the news article cited above:

Even more caught up in the criminal madness were administrators such as Liselotte Meier, who worked so closely with her strutting boss, an SS officer, that they were almost indistinguishable. She joined him on shooting parties in the snow, hunting and killing Jews for sport. […]

In support of the men, women even manned refreshment tables during executions so the killers could take a break. […]

Another SS wife, Lisel Willhaus, wife of a camp commandant, used to sit on the balcony of their house and take pot shots at Jewish prisoners with her rifle.

Also in Poland was Vera Wohlauf, whose husband Julius commanded a police battalion ordered in 1942 to round up 11,000 Jewish inhabitants of a small town for transportation to Treblinka for liquidation.

She sat by her husband in the front seat of the lorry that led a convoy of killers to the town, and stood in the market square brandishing a whip as nearly a thousand who resisted the round-up or collapsed in the summer heat were beaten to death or shot.

She was pregnant at the time, a further incongruity.

In the Ukraine, 22-year-old secretary Johanna Altvater played an even more prominent role in a massacre while working for regional commissar Wilhelm Westerheide.

During the liquidation of a Jewish ghetto, Fräulein Hanna, as she was known, was seen in her riding breeches prodding men, women and children into a truck ‘like a cattle herder’.

The news article includes two versions of the same photo of Irma Grese, which is shown at the top of my blog post.  However, the book does not include the story of Irma Grese. It is about 11 young women who served as secretaries, nurses, or in other functions on the Eastern Front.

The brief mention of Irma Grese, in the news article, is quoted here:

The few women ever called to account were notorious concentration camp guards — the likes of Irma Grese and Ilse Koch — whose evil was so extreme they could be explained away as freaks and beasts, not really ‘women’ at all.

The caption on the photo, shown at the top of my blog post, is this:

Guilty: Irma Grese, nicknamed ‘The Beautiful Beast’ pictured with Joseph Kramer who was commandant of Auschwitz and later Belsen concentration camps. She was hanged aged 22 in 1945 and him in 1946

What heinous crimes had Irma Grese and Josef Kramer committed?

The news article doesn’t tell us, so I will have to tell you: The two of them were guilty of gross stupidity.

When the Bergen-Belsen camp was VOLUNTARILY turned over to the British, these two were standing at the gate into the camp, offering their help in taking care of the prisoners; there was a typhus epidemic in the camp that was out of control.

Sign on the gate at Bergen-Belsen warns that there is a typhus epidemic

Sign on the gate at Bergen-Belsen warns that there is a typhus epidemic

To add to the misery of the prisoners, the Belsen camp had been bombed by the British and the water pump had been hit, so there was no fresh water available.

Yet, instead of escaping from the camp, these two vicious war criminals, Josef Kramer and Irma Grese, were standing at the gate, ready to greet the British and offer their help.

STUPID, STUPID, STUPID!  They should have escaped to South America, as did Dr. Josef Mengele and Adolf Eichmann.  What were they thinking?

According to Michael Berenbaum, in his book The World Must Know, Commandant Josef Kramer greeted British officer Derrick Sington at the entrance to the Belsen camp, wearing a fresh uniform.

Berenbaum wrote that Kramer expressed his desire for an orderly transition and his hopes of collaborating with the British. According to Berenbaum, Kramer dealt with them as equals, one officer to another, even offering advice as to how to deal with the “unpleasant situation.”

That same day, Commandant Kramer was arrested by the British; five months later he and Irma Grese were  brought before a British Military Tribunal and both were convicted as war criminals.

Josef Krama was arrested by the British on the same day that he offered to help with the typhus epidemic in the camp

Josef Kramer was arrested by the British on the same day that he offered to help with the typhus epidemic that was out of control in the Belsen camp

At the British Military Tribunal after World War II, the Germans, who had been associated with the Belsen camp, were put on trial. Survivors of  the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp testified that Grese had habitually worn jack boots, and that she carried a plaited cellophane whip and a pistol.

Grese was also accused of being always accompanied by a vicious dog. The prisoners claimed that Irma was sadistic and that she derived sexual pleasure from beating the women prisoners with her cellophane riding crop. Witnesses claimed that Irma Grese had beaten women prisoners to death at Auschwitz and had shot others in cold blood.

The accusations of murder, against Irma Grese, were made in affidavits, and none of the accusations were corroborated. Survivors of Auschwitz-Birkenau even claimed that there were lamp shades, made out of the skins of three women prisoners, found in Grese’s room at Birkenau. Of course, no evidence of this was introduced at her trial. The most serious charge against Irma Grese, by the British Military Tribunal, was that she had been present when inmates at Birkenau were selected for the gas chamber and that she had participated, in the selections, by forcing the women to line up for inspection by Dr. Mengele.

At her trial, Grese denied having a dog, beating prisoners to death or shooting anyone, although she did admit to hitting prisoners with her cellophane whip even though it was forbidden for the Overseers to beat the prisoners. She stated that she continued to use her whip even after being ordered not to by Commandant Kramer.

At her trial before the British Military Tribunal at Lüneburg, Germany in 1945, the following testimony was given by Ilona Stein in a Deposition:

“Whilst at Birkenau I have seen Grese making selections with Dr. Mengele of people to be sent to the gas chamber. On these parades Grese herself chose the people to be killed in this way. In one selection about August, 1944, there were between 2000 and 3000 selected. At this selection, Grese and Mengele were responsible for selecting those for the gas chamber. People chosen would sometimes sneak away from the line and hide themselves under their beds. Grese would go and find them, beat them until they collapsed and then drag them back into line again. I have seen everything I describe. It was general knowledge in this camp that persons selected in this way went to the gas chamber.”

The testimony against Irma Grese, which is quoted above was given in a Deposition.  (A deposition is a legal document, which is given by a witness who does not take the witness stand in court.)  At her trial, Irma Grese admitted to being aware that prisoners were gassed at Birkenau; she stated that this was common knowledge in the camp and that she had been told by the prisoners about the gassing. She admitted that she was present when selections were made and that she had helped to line up the prisoners, but she denied making the selections herself. Irma Grese was hanged for her crime of helping with the selection of prisoners for the gas chamber and for her crime of using a cellophane whip, although she had been ordered not to use a whip by Josef Kramer.

September 29, 2013

Granddaughter of Amon Goeth, the Schindler’s List balcony sniper, publishes her memoir

Nigerian-German author Jennifer Teege poses for a photo with her book "Amon, My grandfather would have shot me" about concentration camp commander Amon Goeth on September 26, 2013, Hamburg

Nigerian-German author Jennifer Teege poses for a photo with her book “Amon, My grandfather would have shot me” about concentration camp commander Amon Goeth on September 26, 2013

The photo above was copied from a news article which you can read in full here.

Another news article starts off with this quote:

A steel-eyed Nazi killer picks off Jewish prisoners with a rifle from a balcony in a concentration camp in 1944.

More than six decades later, a Nigerian-German woman who has studied in Israel thumbs through a book about the sniper and is shocked to learn the man is her own grandfather.

In a memoir published this month with the chilling title “Amon: My Grandfather Would Have Shot Me”, Jennifer Teege recounts her dark family secret and the extraordinary story of how her own life became enmeshed with one of history’s grimmest chapters.

Teege is the child of a Nigerian student and [Monika Goeth] the German daughter of Amon Goeth, the commandant of the Plaszow concentration camp outside Krakow in today’s Poland who featured in Steven Spielberg’s 1993 Holocaust drama “Schindler’s List”.

Scene from the movie Shindler's List show Amon Goeth shooting prisoners from a balcony

Scene from Shindler’s List shows Amon Goeth shooting prisoners from a balcony

The photo above is a still shot from the movie Schindler’s List. It shows Amon Goeth shooting prisoners in a fictional scene from the movie. This fictional scene was concocted by Steven Spielberg after he saw a photo of Amon Goeth standing on the patio of his home which did NOT overlook the Plaszow camp.

Amon Goeth standing on the patio of his house, holding a rifle

Amon Goeth standing on the patio of his house, holding a rifle

When the granddaughter of Amon Goeth learned who her grandfather was, dollar signs must have flashed before her eyes.  This was her chance to gain fame and fortune.  She could write a memoir and make some money off the Holocaust Industry.  Is there any Nazi more famous than Amon Goeth, the commandant who shot prisoners from his balcony?

The movie Schindler’s List is based on a novel entitled Schindler’s Ark.  If the fictional book had not been made into a fictional movie by Steven Spielberg, the name Amon Goeth would be unknown today.  Amon Goeth was a minor criminal, whose crime was that he stole goods from the Plaszow camp. After the war, he was put on trial in a Polish court and convicted of being a member of the Nazi party and a member of the Waffen-SS, both crimes that were made up by the Allies.  He was also convicted of being responsible, under the “common plan” law made up by the Allies, for all the deaths that occurred at the Plaszow camp.  He was not charged with shooting prisoners from his balcony.

In 1943, SS Judge Georg Konrad Morgen of the Haupt Amt Gericht (SS-HAG) was given an assignment to investigate and prosecute corruption and unauthorized murder at the Buchenwald concentration camp. He stayed at the Buchenwald camp for 8 months, investigating the Commandant, Karl Koch, before charging him with murder. Koch was executed for killing a couple of prisoners in the Buchenwald camp.

Dr. Morgen’s next assignment was to investigate the Plaszow camp. As a result of his investigation, which involved interviewing several of the prisoners, Amon Goeth was arrested by the Central Office of the SS Judiciary and imprisoned. Goeth was charged with stealing from the warehouses and factories at Plaszow, but not with shooting prisoners from the balcony of his home.  Oskar Schindler was also arrested, at the same time, for the crime of helping Goeth to store the stolen goods, but Schindler was released before being put on trial.  Goeth was not put on trial by the Germans because he was sick with diabetes; he was sent to a hospital instead.

Strangely, none of the Plaszow prisoners told Dr. Morgen about Amon Goeth shooting prisoners from his balcony.  It was Steven Spielberg who made up this crime when he saw a photo of Goeth standing on his patio.  In Spielberg’s defense, the photo did look like someone standing on a balcony, not a patio.

Amon Goeth standing on the patio of his home, near the Plaszow camp

Amon Goeth standing on the patio of his home, near the Plaszow camp; this photo inspired the balcony sniper story

Ruth Irene Kalder, the mother of Monkia Goeth, standing on the balcony of Amon Goeth's home

Ruth Irene Kalder, the mother of Monkia Goeth, standing on the patio of Amon Goeth’s home

The photo above shows that Jennifer Teege has some resemblance to her grandmother, Ruth Irene Kalder, who was the mistress of Amon Goeth.

Did Ruth Irene Kalder also shoot prisoners from the patio of Goeth’s home?  Not that I know of, but she might have set her dog on the prisoners, who were way off in a concentration camp, that was behind a hill, and not visible from Goeth’s home.

Ruth always spoke highly of Amon Goeth, but what did she know?  She only lived with the man.  While she was out walking her dog, Amon might have been out  on the patio, shooting prisoners with a special rifle that could shoot over a hill.

Memorial Stone at the site of the former Plaszow camp

Memorial Stone at the site of the former Plaszow camp

One of the news articles about Jennifer Teege shows the Memorial Stone at the Plaszow camp.  I took the photo of the Memorial Stone above, when I visited the site of the former camp in 1998.

My Polish tour guide translated the words inscribed on the stone, which were written in Polish. She told me that the words say something to the effect that we don’t know their names, so we call them by one name: Jews. We can’t describe how terrible and barbaric the Nazis were, so we call them by one name: Hitlerists.

There was one word that the guide didn’t know how to translate into English; it was the one word in the Polish language that I knew, the word pogrom. (Po-GROM means “like thunder.”  This word was used to describe the act of non-Jews chasing Jews out by the use of violence.)

My tour guide pointed out that the term Hitlerites or Hitlerists or Nazis should always be used when referring to the enemy in World War II, rather than Germans. There were many countries that supported or collaborated with the Nazis, and many soldiers from Allied or neutral countries that fought in the Waffen-SS, the volunteer army of Nazi Germany. The photograph above shows the front of the memorial stone with the inscription in Polish, which uses the name Hitlerists for the perpetrators.

September 21, 2013

Amon Goeth in the news: Was he actually hanged?

Filed under: Germany, Holocaust, movies — Tags: — furtherglory @ 10:16 am
Mugshot of Amon Goeth after he was arrested for stealing from the Plaszow camp

Mugshot of Amon Goeth after he was arrested for stealing from the Plaszow camp

There has been an inordinate amount of interest in a blog post which I put up over three years ago, on June 2, 2010. Way back then, I wrote about Amon Goeth, the man who was made famous by the film Schindler’s List.  Oskar Schindler was the opposite of Amon Goeth; he was the hero of Schindler’s List, while Amon Goeth was the villain. The day before, on June 1, 2010, I blogged about Schindler here.

Amon Goeth after he was arrested for stealing from the camp where he was the Commandant

Amon Goeth after he was arrested by the Gestapo for stealing from the camp

You can read my old post at https://furtherglory.wordpress.com/2010/06/02/did-amon-goeth-save-more-jews-than-oskar-schindler/

When this old blog post started getting many hits recently, I set out to find out why. I did a search on Amon Goeth and found a video of the hanging of Amon Goeth, which you can see below. (The hanging begins at 3:17 minutes in the video.)

As I watched the film of the hanging of Amon Goeth, it didn’t look right to me.  As Dr. Henry Lee famously said, “Something Wrong!”  The man in the video did not look like Amon Goeth. Also, the man in the film remained calm throughout two botched attempts.

I was going to blog about the botched hanging of Amon Goeth, but something stayed my hand.  Something Wrong!

Would Amon Goeth, the famous killer who shot prisoners from his balcony, have remained calm?  No, the Amon Goeth, who is depicted in Schindlder’s List, would have thrown a fit if he had been subjected to this gross incompetence.

The hanging film also showed Goeth allegedly standing on his balcony, holding a rifle, but I recognized the “balcony” as being the patio on the ground floor of Amon’s house, which is shown in the second photo below.

Amon Goeth allegedly standing on his balcony

Amon Goeth allegedly standing on his balcony

Goeth standing on the patio on the ground floor of his house

Goeth standing on the patio on the ground floor of his house

Amon Goeth in his SS uniform

Amon Goeth in his SS uniform

Then I did some more searching and found a news article about Goeth here.  It seems that others have also questioned the film which shows the hanging of Goeth.

This quote is from the news article:

Did ‘executed’ Nazi criminal in Schindler’s List escape justice? Historians claim video of camp commander being hanged is NOT him

Amon Goeth killed thousands of people as concentration camp commander
For decades video of a Nazi execution was believed to show his death
But new documentary says film shows execution of Dr Ludwig Fischer
Goeth was chillingly played by Ralph Fiennes in the Spielberg masterpiece
His death is a complete mystery and it is not known where he was buried

By Becky Evans

PUBLISHED: 09:05 EST, 21 March 2013 | UPDATED: 11:47 EST, 21 March 2013

Sadistic Amon Goeth

Sadistic Amon Goeth was believed to have been executed in a filmed hanging but now historians say it was a different Nazi butcher.

Revelations about the execution of a notorious Nazi war criminal, immortalised (sic) in Schindler’s List, have raised questions about how the mass murderer died and whether he was even hanged at all.

For decades Amon Goeth, who was responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of Jews and Poles during World War Two, was believed to have been filmed being executed in 1946.

A black and white video shows executioners twice botching a hanging before he was eventually killed.

But historians claim in a new National Geographic documentary called Bloody Tales that the video was from 1947 and shows Dr Ludwig Fischer being hanged.

Worryingly, there is almost no detail about the sadistic mass murderer’s death in official records and no one knows what happened to his body.

Historian Dr Suzannah Lipscomb and presenter Joe Crowley do not believe he escaped Europe like other high profile Nazis such as Adolf Eichmann and Joseph Mengele, and say he was killed.

However the revelations surrounding Goeth, who was known to carry out his own killings rather than order them, mean his death is now a complete mystery with records containing just two words: ‘He died.’

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2296911/Amon-Goeth-Did-executed-Nazi-murderer-Schindlers-List-escape-justice.html#ixzz2fXsOpzjK

At Goeth’s trial in Poland, after the end of World War II, the Nazi party was said to be “an organization which, under the leadership of Adolf Hitler, through aggressive wars, violence and other crimes, aimed at world domination and establishment of the National-Socialist regime.”

At his trial, Amon Goeth was accused of personally issuing orders to deprive people of freedom, to ill-treat and exterminate individuals and whole groups of people. His crimes, including the newly created crime of genocide, came under a new law of the Allies, called Crimes against Humanity.

The charges against Amon Goeth were as follows:

(1) The accused as commandant of the forced labour camp at Plaszow (Cracow) from 11th February, 1943, till 13th September, 1944, caused the death of about 8,000 inmates by ordering a large number of them to be exterminated.

(2) As a SS-Sturmführer the accused carried out on behalf of SS-Sturmbannführer Willi Haase the final closing down of the Cracow ghetto. This liquidation action which began on 13th March, 1943, deprived of freedom about 10,000 people who had been interned in the camp of Plaszow, and caused the death of about 2,000.

(3) As a SS-Hauptsturmführer the accused carried out on 3rd September, 1943, the closing down of the Tarnow ghetto. As a result of this action an unknown number of people perished, having been killed on the spot in Tarnow; others died through asphyxiation during transport by rail or were exterminated in other camps, in particular at Auschwitz.

(4) Between September, 1943, and 3rd February, 1944, the accused closed down the forced labour camp at Szebnie near Jaslo by ordering the inmates to be murdered on the spot or deported to other camps, thus causing the death of several thousand persons.

(5) Simultaneously with the activities described under (1) to (4) the accused deprived the inmates of valuables, gold and money deposited by them, and appropriated those things. He also stole clothing, furniture and other movable property belonging to displaced or interned people, and sent them to Germany. The value of stolen goods and in particular of valuables reached many million zlotys at the rate of exchange in force at the time.

Amon Goeth was escorted from the courtroom after the was sentenced to death

Amon Goeth was escorted from the courtroom after he was sentenced to death

At his trial, the last charge, as stated in number (5) above, was the crime for which he had been arrested by the Gestapo on September 13, 1944, after an investigation by Waffen-SS officer Dr. Georg Konrad Morgen.

Dr. Morgen had done a lengthy investigation of the activities of Amon Goeth, but did not arrest him for killing anyone.

At his trial, Goeth’s defense was that he was a Waffen-SS soldier who had to follow the orders of his superiors. He denied killing anyone except when ordered to carry out an execution.

Amon Goeth was found guilty on all counts in the Polish court. He was sentenced to death and was allegedly hanged in Krakow on September 13, 1946, exactly two years to the day that he left the Plaszow camp after being arrested.

August 9, 2013

the misaprehension that homosexual men were murdered by the Nazis for being gay

It has come to my attention, from reading comments made on my blog, that there is a belief that homosexual men were arrested, in Nazi Germany, simply because of their sexual orientation, and that hundreds of thousands of them were murdered in concentrations camps, sometimes in the gas chamber.

How many homosexual men were actually “murdered” by the Nazis?  None.  A total of around 10,000 homosexual men were sent to Dachau and other camps, but no one knows how many died of disease or other causes while they were in a camp.

When I visited the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in the year 2000, there was a small section of exhibits entitled “Enemies of the State.” This section was devoted to the non-Jewish people who were persecuted by the Nazis; there were separate displays about the homosexuals and the Gypsies.  I vaguely recall that there were pictures of homosexual men, who had been sent to concentration camps, but I didn’t photograph this display.

“Communists, Social Democrats, trade unionists, liberals, pacifists, dissenting clergy, and Jehovah’s Witnesses” were listed in the reading material, in the exhibit, as “Enemies of the State,” but no details were given and there were no pictures of them.

There was a significant number of Communists incarcerated as political prisoners in the major German concentration camps at Dachau, Buchenwald and Sachsenhausen, but you would never know it from seeing the USHMM exhibits.

Not mentioned in the USHMM exhibits were the asocials, the work-shy or the criminals (including homosexual men) who had been sent to a concentration camp after they finished their prison time for their second offense. In the year 2000 when I was there, the USHMM did not mention that homosexuals were sent to a concentration camp, ONLY if and when they had served two terms in prison from breaking the law known as Paragraph 175.

This quote is from a recent comment on my blog:  “There are several ‘homo ‘ monuments in Holland to the Gay men murdered by the Nazis . However when the event was actually academically investigated it was found to be the reverse.”

The photos below show one of the “homo” monuments in Amsterdam.

A pink triangle monument in front of a church in Amsterdam

A pink triangle monument in front of a church in Amsterdam

A pink triangle at ground level in front of the same church in Amsterdam

A pink triangle at ground level in front of the same church in Amsterdam

I didn’t take a photo of the third triangle which completes this huge sculpture in front of a church, which is within shouting distance of the Anne Frank house in Amsterdam.  Not to worry, churches are not used any more for religious services in Amsterdam, so it’s O.K. to have a monument in front of a church.

A link to this website was provided by the reader who made the comment:  http://balder.org/judea/Nazi-Extermination-Of-Homosexuals-A-Myth.php

This quote is from the website cited above:

On December 2, 1979, the Broadway Play Bent opened at the New Apollo Theater in New York City. The starring role was played by Richard Gere.

Bent is the tale of a German homosexual named Max who is arrested and sent to Dachau. To avoid the stigma of wearing the pink triangle, Max denies his homosexuality and opts instead to claim he is Jewish. (According to the logic of Bent, the status of homosexuals in the concentration camps was even worse than that of Jews.) Max falls in love with another homosexual inmate and the play depicts their trials and tribulations. At the end, Max reclaims his inverted status as a homosexual and commits suicide by falling on an electrified fence.

“…a German homosexual…is arrested and sent to Dachau”?

That could not have happened.  Homosexuals were not sent to Dachau, nor anywhere else, solely because they were homosexual.  Germany had a law, called Paragraph 175, which made it a crime to have homosexual sex in public or for male prostitutes to solicit men for gay sex.  Men who had been arrested twice, for breaking a law that had been on the books in Germany since 1871, and had been sent to prison twice, were then sent to Dachau for a minimum of 6 months for rehabilitation, after they were released from prison.

In the 1930s and 40s, every country in the world had a law against homosexual acts.  Germany was not enforcing its law (Paragraph 175) and, as a result, Berlin became a mecca for homosexual men.  At that time, the word “gay” did not mean homosexual.

This quote is also from the website, cited above:

In 1981, the myth was given another major boost in Frank Rector’s widely distributed book The Nazi Extermination of Homosexuals (3). Rector wrote:

“It seems reasonable to conclude that at least 500,000 gays died in the Holocaust because of anti-homosexual prejudice…” Actually 500,000 may be too conservative a figure.”
It is significant that Rector included homosexuals as official victims in that amorphous event known as the “Holocaust”. He even claimed that homosexuals were sent to the gas chambers. Among the illustrations in The Nazi Extermination of Homosexuals is a frequently reproduced photo of a US soldier in front of a ten cubic meter disinfestations chamber at Dachau (claimed to be a homicidal gas chamber). Rector’s caption reads:

“The final solution to the homosexual problem lay behind that door for homosexuals not exterminated in many other ways. This chamber at Dachau. The screaming, the weeping, the futile gasping for breath, the agony that room held in a air-tight horror, was, in its hideous way, a blessing for many gays. It reduced their suffering to about fifteen minutes.”

Also in 1981, an article entitled “Some Jews and the Gays” by the homosexual novelist Gore Vidal appeared in The Nation (4). Vidal was responding to an essay in Commentary by the “neo-conservative “ Jewish author Midge Decter (5). Decter had been ruthlessly critical of the homosexual lifestyle, so Vidal told her that “like it or not, Jews and homosexuals are in the same fragile boat”. He then proceeded to lecture her that in some future “holocaust”, neo-conservative Jews were “going to be in the same gas chambers as the blacks and the faggots”.

Vidal backed up his account of homosexual victimization with a claim that fellow homosexual writer Christopher Isherwood once told him “Hitler killed 600,000 homosexuals”.

Disinfection chamber at Dachau which was believed to be a homicidal gas chamber

Disinfection chamber at Dachau which was believed to be a homicidal gas chamber

The photo above shows the famous “gas chamber” at Dachau, which was believed, as late as 1981, to have been the gas chamber where homosexual men were murdered.

As the closest concentration camp to Berlin, the Sachsenhausen concentration camp had more homosexual prisoners than any of the other camps. According to a pamphlet, which I purchased at the Sachsenhausen Memorial Site in 2001, “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 in 1931, just before the Nazis came to power. The movie was based on a book entitled Goodbye to Berlin by Christopher Isherwood, who lived an openly gay lifestyle in Berlin, the capital city of Germany.

Only male homosexuals who broke the German law (Paragraph 175) by flaunting their lifestyle in public were arrested. After their second arrest and prison term, these men were sent to one of the concentration camps in Germany. No lesbians were ever sent to a concentration camp, solely for being lesbians.

According to the pamphlet that I obtained at Sachsenhausen, some of the young men, who were sent to Sachsenhausen after they had been imprisoned twice for public homosexual activity, were actually Strichjunge, or male prostitutes, from Berlin.

According to the memoirs of Rudolf Höss:

The strict camp life and the hard work quickly reeducated this type. 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.

I saw the movie entitled Bent, soon after I started studying the Holocaust, and specifically the Dachau concentration camp.  I had a hard time understanding the movie.  It was Greek to me.

Here is the plot of Bent, from an entry in Wikipedia:

Max (Clive Owen) is a promiscuous gay man living in 1930s Berlin. He is at odds with his wealthy family because of his homosexuality. One evening, much to the resentment of his boyfriend, Rudy (Brian Webber II), Max brings home a handsome SA man (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau). Unfortunately, he does so on the Night of the Long Knives, when Hitler ordered the assassination of upper echelon SA corps. The Sturmabteilung man is discovered and killed by SS men in Max and Rudy’s apartment, and the two have to flee Berlin.

Max’s Uncle Freddie (Ian McKellen) has organised new papers for Max, but Max refuses to leave his boyfriend behind. As a result, Max and Rudy are found and arrested by the Gestapo and put on a train headed for Dachau. On the train, Rudy is brutally beaten to death by the guards. As Rudy calls out to Max when he is taken away, Max lies to the guards, denying he is gay. In the camp, Max falls in love with Horst (Lothaire Bluteau), who shows him the dignity that lies in acknowledging one’s beliefs.

This movie is pure fiction, but it has influenced many people to have unreasonable beliefs about the treatment of Homosexuals in Nazi Germany.

Hitler was planning a world exhibition in 1950, at which time the city of Berlin would be renamed Germania. By that time, Hitler had envisioned that all the Volkdeutsch (ethnic Germans) would be living together in one united country, which would dominate the world as the only super power. Authority for this building project came from the “Legislation for the reconstruction of German cities,” which dated from October 4, 1937. Albert Speer, Hitler’s official architect since 1933, was given the job of planning the construction project for Berlin.

To provide building materials for this project, beginning in the summer of 1938, the prisoners at the Sachsenhausen concentration camp were used as forced labor in the construction of the world’s largest brickworks just outside the camp, near the Lehnitz lock on the Hohenzollern canal.

The proposed design for Berlin included the building of a magnificent avenue, 7 kilometers long, which would run north and south, and would intersect with the broad Unter den Linden street at the famous Brandenburg gate. The street was to end at the Grand Hall, planned to be the largest building in the world. It was to be 290 meters high and 315 meters long with a seating capacity of 150,000 to 180,000 people. Hitler designed this building himself with a little help from Albert Speer. All the buildings in this project were planned to be classic buildings along the lines of those in ancient Greece and Rome.

Prisoners working at Sachsenhausen sub-camp

Prisoners working at Sachsenhausen brick works

To provide building materials for this project, beginning in the summer of 1938, the prisoners at the Sachsenhausen concentration camp were used as forced labor in the construction of the world’s largest brickworks just outside the camp, near the Lehnitz lock on the Hohenzollern canal. When World War II started in 1939, Hitler’s building plans had to be put on hold, but after the victory over France in 1940, the plans resumed.

The group of Sachsenhausen prisoners, who were assigned to the brickworks (Klinkerwerk), was called the “punishment commando.” The workers had to march to and from the camp to the brickworks each day.

In 1941 the Klinker punishment commando was given the status of a satellite camp or sub-camp of the Sachsenhausen concentration camp. Barracks were built on the southeast side of the plant to house the workers.

According to an Information Leaflet about the Klinkerwerk, which I purchased at the Sachsenhausen Memorial Site, the satellite camp was used for the deliberate annihilation of certain prisoners groups. From July to September 1942, the systematically planned murders of some 180 to 200 homosexual prisoners were carried out in the Klinker satellite camp, according to the Information Leaflet.

August 2, 2013

Holocaust survivor stories must fit the basic premise of the Holocaust — the genocide of the Jews

Filed under: Holocaust, movies — Tags: , , , — furtherglory @ 8:00 am

When I visited the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in the year 2000, I wanted to buy Claude Lanzmann’s nine-and-a-half hour documentary film, entitled Shoah.  I went to the book store at the Museum, with my credit card ready, but I balked when I learned that the price was $900.  Now Lanzmann has a new documentary out, and his original masterpiece is available at Amazon.com at a fraction of the original price.

There is an article about Lanzmann’s documentaries, which you can read in full here.  This quote is from the article:

Director Claude Lanzmann’s choice to focus only on those witnesses who were regularly in contact with the process of extermination forces the viewer to be reminded that the ultimate goal of the Holocaust wasn’t to harass the Jewish people or move them or make them uncomfortable. The purpose of the Holocaust—to obliterate the Jewish people entirely—is reflected in the empty landscape of Chelmno, where only the foundation stones of the killing area still remain.

The Chelmno camp was located in the small Polish village of Chelmno nad Neren (Chelmno on the river Ner), 60 kilometers northwest of Lodz, a major city in what is now western Poland. The camp, which was opened by the Germans some time in October or November 1941, was in the Warthegau, a district in the part of Poland that had been annexed into the Greater German Reich after the joint conquest of Poland by Germany and the Soviet Union in 1939.

Monument at the location of the Chelmno camp

Monument near the Chelmno camp, overlooking the Ner river Photo Credit: Alan Collins

The “purpose” of the Holocaust was genocide.  Lanzmann’s original documentary is a collection of the stories of the survivors. Every survivor has his or her unique story, but every story is about how the survivor escaped death in the gas chamber.

The article about Lanzmann begins with this quote:

Only the Stories Still Exist

A lone man rows himself down [the river Ner] in a boat, singing a Polish folk song. His voice slips across the banks of the river, into the forests beyond, and disappears. No echo returns to indicate that the man, Simon Srebnik, is drawing closer and closer to the forest clearing in Chelmno, Poland, where poison gas was first used by Nazi forces to murder Jews. One of the first Jews to be brought to the Chelmno killing center, Srebnik speaks with teary eyes about moving the bodies of the dead at the command of German soldiers and Polish special police.

A young man when the Holocaust began, Srebnik enchanted his captors with his beautiful singing voice. Strains of his song were heard by the non-Jews in Chelmno, several of whom still vividly remember the mixture of beauty and desperation they sensed in the boy’s voice. Srebnik himself calls singing for the soldiers while they were killing his people “true German irony”.

Like all of the witnesses who speak about the Holocaust in Shoah, Srebnik was intimately close to the process of Jewish extermination. As the film unfolds, more and more survivors tell stories about working in crematoriums and surviving the death camps. Filmed in their homes, at the camps or on stages designed to illicit their testimony, Shoah visually and figuratively approaches the Holocaust from multiple angles without losing its sense of purpose.

Simon Srebnik was a Sonderkommando, one of the Jewish helpers who assisted the Nazis in burning the bodies of the dead.  The Nazis kept no records of the Jews who were killed.  The proof of the Holocaust depends on the testimony of the Sonderkommando Jews and the numerous survivors who witnessed the “extermination” of the Jews, but somehow managed to escape.

Each of these survivor stories must fit the basic premise that the Nazis had a plan, called “The Final Solution,” which was the plan to genocide the Jews.  This plan was discussed at the Wannsee Conference on January 20, 1942.  Yet, the gassing of the Jews began at Chelmno on December 7, 1941, before the conference was held.  Fortunately, the Nazis left witnesses alive to tell about it.

Jewish workers lived in the granary, the building in the background

Jewish workers lived in the granary, the building in the background  Photo Credit: Alan Collins

The Jewish workers, called the JudenKommando, who did the work of burning the corpses at Chelmno, were housed in the granary during the second phase of the killing at Chelmno. The granary is shown in the background of the photo above.

On the night of January 17 and 18, 1945, the SS men began taking the 47 Jewish workers out of the granary building and shooting them in groups of five, according to the two survivors, Shimon Srebnik and Mordechai Zurawski. The Jews defended themselves and two of the SS men were killed. According to the two survivors, the SS men then set fire to the granary.

The price of Lanzmann’s documentary, with the testimony of numerous survivors, has now dwindled down to less than $40.00 but I have lost interest, and probably won’t buy it.  I’ve got better things to do.

P.S.  If you like fairy tales and such, read this blog post by Carolyn Yeager:  http://www.eliewieseltattoo.com/elies-adventures-in-buchenland/

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