Scrapbookpages Blog

May 10, 2018

The Shack is back — in Columbia, Missouri

Filed under: Uncategorized — furtherglory @ 3:46 pm

This news article tells about “the Shack”.

https://www.columbiamissourian.com/news/local/the-shack-comes-back/article_6e41158c-7982-5f91-bf09-c61359503213.html

One of the things that I remember fondly about my college days at the University of Missouri is “The Shack” which was a hangout for students. The original Shack is long gone, but a new Shack was recently built.

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

Begin quote

COLUMBIA – A chipped and faded green door gave way to the musty, wooden smell of one of MU’s oldest hangouts. Inside The Shack, the tables and bar were adorned with initials carved into them by many generations.

The Shack was one of the lasting memories of MU alums for the better part of the 20th century, but it has been nearly 20 years since it burned to the ground in 1988.

Soon, a new generation of MU students will be able to experience this former campus landmark. A restoration of The Shack is included in the plans for the expansion of Brady Commons. But these students might not even realize The Shack dates back to before many of their grandparents were even born.

End quote

 

The story of Bergen-Belsen

Filed under: Germany, Holocaust, World War II — furtherglory @ 10:39 am

The story of Bergen-Belsen

“In our collective conscience, we have to remember the lessons to be learnt from these events: to ensure that never again should the mass murder of millions of people be possible as it occurred in Auschwitz, in Bergen-Belsen; the genocide of the Jews, the gypsies, in order to ensure that events like these can never be repeated we have to understand why they could happen. We must not forget.”

The quote above was written by Simone Veil, an inmate at Bergen-Belsen from January 1945 to April 15, 1945

Unburied corpses on the grounds of Bergen-Belsen camp

Bergen-Belsen was the name of an infamous Nazi camp which has become a symbol of the Holocaust that claimed the lives of 6 million Jews in Europe more than sixty years ago.

In 1943, Bergen-Belsen was initially set up as a detention camp (Aufenthaltslager) for prisoners who held foreign passports and were thus eligible to be traded for German citizens being held in Allied internment camps.

In December 1944, Bergen-Belsen became a concentration camp under the command of Josef Kramer, the former Commandant of the Auschwitz II camp, also known as Birkenau.

A section for sick prisoners, who could no longer work in the Nazi forced labor camps, was set aside at Bergen-Belsen in March 1944.

In 1945, when World War II was drawing to a close, civilian prisoners were evacuated from other concentration camps as Soviet troops advanced westward; thousands of these prisoners were brought to the Bergen-Belsen camp which was not equipped to handle such a large number of people.

Finally, Bergen-Belsen itself was right in the middle of the war zone where bombs were falling and Allied planes were strafing the Autobahn and the railroads.

British and Germans troops were doing battle on the Lüneberg heath right outside the camp.

In February 1945, the situation at Bergen-Belsen became catastrophic when a typhus epidemic broke out in the crowded camp.

Emaciated corpses were thrown into mass graves at Bergen-Belsen

By April 1945, the war in Europe was very definitely over. All that was needed now was a formal surrender signed by Adolf Hitler. Hitler was a broken man: his dream of uniting the German folk into a Thousand Year Reich was gone, his health was ruined by Parkinson’s disease and for the past several years, his mental capacity had been increasingly failing. He was holed up in an underground bunker beneath his Chancellery in Berlin, still moving his armies around on a map and unwilling to admit defeat.

The Nazis has gotten their start in 1919, fighting against the Communists in the streets of Berlin; it was now 26 years later and Hitler was not ready to surrender his beloved Fatherland to the Communist Soviet Union and its American and British Allies. He would rather see Germany completely annihilated, and in the last days of the war, he ordered his best friend, Albert Speer, the chief of Nazi war production, to destroy what was left of Germany after Allied bombs had reduced every major city to rubble. Speer ignored the order.

Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin determine fate of Europe at Yalta

In the last days of the war, Hitler’s second in command, Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler, had been plotting behind Hitler’s back in an attempt to negotiate a peace with America and Great Britain, with the aim of forming an alliance to fight against the Communists. He knew that half of Germany and all of Eastern Europe, with a population of 120 million people, had been promised to the Communists by American president Franklin D. Roosevelt at the Yalta Conference. As the leader who was in charge of all the concentration camps (his rank in the SS was equivalent to a 5-star General in the US Army), he planned to use the Jewish prisoners as bargaining chips in his negotiations with the non-Communist Allies.

Himmler was determined to do all he could to hamper the inevitable take-over of Europe by the Communists. To this end, beginning on April 5, 1945, he ordered the execution of Communist leaders being held at the three main concentration camps in Germany: Dachau, Sachsenhausen and Buchenwald.

Before surrendering Bergen-Belsen to the British on April 15, 1945, Himmler ordered about 7,000 people to be evacuated from the camp. The three train loads of prisoners, which left the camp between April 6 and April 11, were made up of prominent Dutch Jews, Hungarian Jews, Jewish prisoners from neutral countries and Jewish prisoners who held foreign passports. Himmler was hoping to use these prisoners to negotiate with the Allies. The rest of the prisoners at Bergen-Belsen were to be voluntarily turned over to the British.

Heinrich Himmler stands below Adolf Hitler at a parade

On April 4, 1945, American soldiers had seen their first Nazi horror camp in Germany, the abandoned forced labor camp at Ohrdruf, a sub-camp of Buchenwald. On April 11, American troops had discovered Buchenwald, which had already been taken over by the Communist political prisoners there. The next day, on April 12, 1945, Franklin D. Roosevelt died and Himmler had renewed hopes of negotiating a surrender to the Americans and the British, but not to the Communist Soviet Union. It was within this context that Himmler began negotiations to voluntarily turn the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp over to the British in early April 1945.

Two German officers were sent to a British outpost to explain that there were 9,000 sick prisoners in the camp and that there was no water after the electric pump had been hit in an Allied bombing attack. The Germans proposed that the British Army should occupy the camp immediately to keep the epidemics in the camp from spreading to the troops on both sides. In return, the Germans offered to surrender the bridges over the river Aller. At first, the British rejected the German proposals, saying it was necessary that the British should occupy an area of ten kilometers around the camp in order to be sure of keeping their troops away from the epidemic, but eventually a compromise was reached and the British agreed.

On April 15, 1945, Bergen-Belsen was surrendered to British Officer Derrick Sington, who wrote about it in a small book called “Belsen Uncovered” which was published by Duckworth, London in 1946.

Still photo from a film shows a British bulldozer shoving diseased bodies toward a mass grave

Himmler had not anticipated that the British would film the mounds of dead bodies in the camp and that the film would be shown in movie theaters around the world as proof of the Nazi Crimes against Humanity. Anyone who has ever seen the British film of the liberation of Bergen-Belsen will never forget the sight of British bulldozers shoving thousands of emaciated corpses into mass graves. Or the sight of the living dead, the emaciated prisoners whose bodies were nothing but skin and bones.

As a result of the British Army taking control, Bergen-Belsen became the first Nazi horror camp to become widely known to the American public. After the British revealed the Nazi atrocities to the world, this camp came to epitomize the brutality and depravity of the Nazis who called the German people the Master Race (Herrenvolk) and who were carrying out a systematic plan to kill the Jews and others whom they considered sub-human (Untermenschen).

Thanks to the British Army, which filmed the unbelievable sights that greeted the British when they entered the camp, the grim record of the atrocities exists to this day.

Anne Frank, the most famous victim of the Holocaust, lies in an unmarked mass grave at Bergen-Belsen; the date of her death is unknown. Both Anne and her sister Margot died in the camp during one of the world’s largest epidemics of typhus, a disease which is spread by body lice.

The Journal of the American Medical Association wrote about the epidemic in a 1945 issue:

By negotiations between British and German officers, British troops took over from the SS and the Wehrmacht the task of guarding the vast concentration camp at Belsen, a few miles northwest of Celle, which contains 60,000 prisoners, many of them political. This has been done because typhus is rampant in the camp and it is vital that no prisoners be released until the infection is checked. The advancing British agreed to refrain from bombing or shelling the area of the camp, and the Germans agreed to leave behind an armed guard which would be allowed to return to their own lines a week after the British arrival.

General Dwight D. Eisenhower anticipated that future generations might find it hard to believe the horror that they found when Nazi Germany was liberated by the Allies. He ordered that both the Ohrdruf camp and the Buchenwald camp be preserved for several weeks in the state in which they were found and German civilians in nearby towns were forced to visit the camps to view the piles of rotting bodies.

American soldiers, newspaper reporters and Congressmen were also called in as witnesses to the Nazi atrocities. But it was the British who had the biggest impact on the public conscience when they released their newsreel film of Bergen-Belsen to movie theaters around the world in the last days of the war. This was something that Himmler had not anticipated when he negotiated with the British to voluntarily turn the camp over to them. And he certainly didn’t expect that the staff members, who had voluntarily stayed behind in the camp, would be arrested, or that some of the Hungarian soldiers, who were assigned to help with the surrender of the camp, would be shot by the British.

As early as June 1942, there had been stories circulated by British radio about the Nazi death camps and Jews being killed in gas chambers, but few people in America believed it.

The death camps in Poland had been discovered by the Soviets, starting on July 23, 1944, when the Majdanek camp just outside Lublin was liberated. On January 27, 1945, a day that is now commemorated as National Remembrance Day in Europe, the largest Nazi death camp at Auschwitz-Birkenau had been discovered by the Soviet army. These stories had been reported in the press, but Americans were still unaware of just how horrifying the Nazi camps actually were.

When the film of Bergen-Belsen was shown in American theaters, it was naturally assumed that the prisoners had been deliberately starved to death or killed in a gas chamber, since the film made no mention of the typhus epidemic in the camp. Nor was it mentioned that the water pump at Bergen-Belsen had been hit by Allied bombs and fresh water had to be brought in by trucks.

When British soldiers were finally allowed, as agreed upon in the negotiations, to enter Bergen-Belsen on April 15, 1945, they at first saw nothing amiss. Smiling, healthy prisoners came out to greet them and some of the 500 children in the camp cheered and waved to them. But as they advanced further into the camp, they were stunned by the sight of over 10,000 unburied naked bodies. The horror was beyond human imagination. The sickening stench of the rotting corpses was so great that British soldiers later claimed that they could smell the camp from a distance of 10 miles.

In the last months of the war, as the Russian army advanced westward, prisoners in the camps in Poland had been evacuated and ultimately 60,000 prisoners had been crowded into the Bergen-Belsen camp which did not have enough space for them. Some of those who were still alive at Bergen-Belsen were walking skeletons. There were a variety of diseases that were rampant in the camp.

The Germans claimed that they had been unable to fix the broken water pump which had been destroyed by Allied bombs, and many inmates were dying of thirst, even though the camp was near a creek. The camp Commandant claimed that the water was not fit for drinking. The camp used cisterns for its water supply, but the water could not be accessed without the electric pump that had been hit in a bombing raid.

The British promptly fixed the broken pump and provided water from the creek for the camp which had been without water for six days. The nearby Army garrison had arranged for drinking water to be brought to the camp by truck, but it was not nearly enough.

Some of the female German guards, who had only arrived in the camp a couple of weeks before the liberation, appeared to be overweight, while many of the surviving prisoners appeared to be starving.

The German Army garrison had facilities for baking 60,000 loaves of bread daily, but they had been providing only 10,000 loaves per day to the concentration camp, while keeping the rest to feed the German soldiers.

The Camp Commandant had to scrounge for food in the countryside which was in the middle of a war zone. According to the British, the camp had been without food for six days, and there were no medical supplies at all.

Women Overseers (Aufseherin)  Bergen-Belsen April 1945

The concept of putting civilians into concentration camps in wartime was made famous by the British in the Boer War at the turn of the century, but it was the Nazis who had taken the idea to the extreme and had incarcerated millions in camps where they were allegedly starved and worked to death under inhuman conditions during World War II.

Although 20,000 women and children had died of disease and starvation in the concentration camp run by the British in South Africa, this was nothing compared to the Bergen-Belsen camp where up to 600 people were dying each day from hunger and sickness during the final chaotic days of the World War II.

The condition of the prisoners at Bergen-Belsen was so bad that many of them could not be kept alive even with the best of medical care given to them by the British Army. Approximately 13,000 of the Bergen-Belsen inmates died after the camp was liberated, in spite of the heroic efforts of the British to save them.

The typhus epidemic was raging out of control in the camp, and the British were forced to move all the inmates to the nearby German Army garrison and then burn down the wooden barracks in the camp. Because typhus is transmitted by lice, burning down the barracks was the fastest way to stop the epidemic.

SS men were forbidden to wear gloves to handle the  diseased bodies in the camp
In the days just before the British arrived to take over, the German guards had ordered 2,000 prisoners in the camp to drag the dead bodies to mass graves, using strips of leather or cloth tied to the ankles of the corpses. After the British took control, the German guards were forced to handle the diseased bodies with their bare hands, without protective gloves, and 20 of the 80 guards became sick and died as a result. In the film that was shown in American theaters, the British narrator explained that this was done as punishment for the guards.

The British soldiers would not touch the decomposing bodies; instead, they used bulldozers to shove the emaciated corpses into the mass graves. Many of the viewers who saw the British film mistakenly thought that it was heartless German soldiers who were driving the bulldozers.

Leslie Hardman, a Jewish Chaplain with the British troops, wrote a book entitled “The Survivors – the story of the Belsen remnant” (Vallentine, Mitchell & Co. Ltd). He said that he was concerned after watching the bodies being shoved into the mass graves with a bulldozer. He asked the officer in charge if the dead could be treated with more dignity, but was told that the burial was urgent. The officer promised that he would call the Chaplain back to recite prayers when the grave was ready to be filled.

After the liberation of the camp, German civilians from the nearby towns were forced to remove the bodies of the 13,000 prisoners who died afterwards, while the survivors stood by and jeered at them.

The photograph below shows a group of survivors in the background on the left, watching as German citizens are forced, at gunpoint, to handle the diseased bodies with their bare hands. German homes in the nearby towns were taken by the British military and assigned to the surviving prisoners after the barracks in the camp were burned down.

German civilians were forced to remove bodies at gunpoint

British sign warns soldiers about typhus epidemic

On May 4, 1945, part of the German Army surrendered to the British on the Lüneberg heath where the Bergen-Belsen camp is located. A few days later, on May 7th, the rest of the German Army surrendered to General Eisenhower.

Eisenhower had been so sickened by the sight of dead bodies on his personal visit to the Ohrdruf forced labor camp near his field headquarters at Gotha, that he stunned the Germans by refusing the traditional handshake after the signing of an unconditional surrender by the German Army on May 7, 1945. World War II in Europe officially ended the next day on May 8, 1945.

Thanks to the foresight of Eisenhower, who ordered that every American soldier stationed in Germany should visit the gas chamber at Dachau, today there is scarcely a person in America who has not heard the stories of the Nazi atrocities first-hand from a relative or an acquaintance. However, it was the British who, by bringing their soldiers to Bergen-Belsen to see the ultimate horror so that they could pass their eye-witness information on to future generations, insured that the world now knows the true extent of what happened at Bergen-Belsen. The film made by the British at Bergen-Belsen has been shown to students in America for over 50 years, so that the nightmare lives on. Bergen-Belsen is a name that has become synonymous with Man’s Inhumanity to Man.

Eight Separate Camps at Belsen

The liberation of the infamous Buchenwald concentration camp

Filed under: Buchenwald, Germany, World War II — furtherglory @ 9:15 am

American soldiers at Buchenwald gatehouse, April 1945

The Buchenwald concentration camp was liberated on April 11, 1945 by four soldiers in the Sixth Armored Division of the US Third Army, commanded by General George S. Patton. Just before the Americans arrived, the camp had already been taken over by the Communist prisoners who had killed some of the guards and forced the rest to flee into the nearby woods.

Pfc. James Hoyt was driving the M8 armored vehicle which brought Capt. Frederic Keffer, Tech. Sgt. Herbert Gottschalk and Sgt. Harry Ward to the Buchenwald camp that day.

The following quote is from a CNN news story on the occasion of the death of James Hoyt on August 14, 2008 at the age of 83:

Begin quote

According to military records, Keffer was the officer in command of the six-wheeled armored vehicle that day. The soldiers were part of the Army’s 6th Armored Division near the camp when about 15 SS troopers were captured. It was mid-afternoon.

“At the same time, a group of Russians just escaped from the concentration camp, burst out of the woods attempting to attack the SS men. The Russians were restrained and interrogated,” Maj. Gen. R.W. Grow, the American commander of the 6th Armored Division, wrote in a 1975 letter about the Buchenwald liberation.

Keffer was ordered to take his three comrades and two of the Russian prisoners “as guides to investigate, report and rejoin as rapidly as possible.”

“I took this side journey of about 3 km away from our main force because we kept encountering SS guards and prison inmates, and the latter told us of the large camp to the south,” Keffer wrote in a letter around the 30th anniversary of the liberation.

“We had been told by our intelligence that we might overrun a large prison camp, but we — or at least I — had no idea of either the gigantic size of the camp or of the full extent of the incredible brutality.”

Keffer and Gottschalk, who spoke German, entered the camp through a hole in an electric barbed wire fence. Hoyt and Ward initially stayed at the vehicle.

“We were tumultuously greeted by what I was told were 21,000 men, and what an incredible greeting that was,” Keffer wrote. “I was picked up by arms and legs, thrown into the air, caught, thrown again, caught, thrown, etc., until I had to stop it. I was getting dizzy.

“How the men found such a surge of strength in their emaciated condition was one of those bodily wonders in which the spirit sometimes overcomes all weaknesses of the flesh. My, but it was a great day!”

Keffer said the prisoners, through an underground system, had already taken control of the camp. The four soldiers notified division command to get medical help and food to the prisoners as soon as possible.

The 6th Armored Division newspaper “Armored Attacker” ran a headline on May 5, 1945: “Four 9th AIB Doughs Find Buchenwald.” The article described the discovery as “the worst concentration camp yet to be uncovered by west wall troops.”

Hoyt, a Bronze Star recipient and veteran of the Battle of the Bulge, was the last of the four original liberators to die.

End quote

Today visitors can relive the historic moment that the Communist Resistance fighters took over the Buchenwald concentration camp when they see the clock on top of the gatehouse, which was stopped at 3:15 p.m., the exact time that the prisoners gained control.

Gatehouse at Buchenwald, October 1999

On the morning of April 12, 1945, soldiers of the 80th Infantry Division arrived in the nearby town of Weimar and found it deserted except for some of the liberated prisoners roaming around. The townspeople were cowering in fear inside their bomb-damaged homes.

Edward R. Murrow arrived in Weimar that day and reported in his famous radio broadcast from Buchenwald that the liberated prisoners were hunting down the SS soldiers who had escaped from the camp the day before and killing them while the Americans watched.

Buchenwald’s most famous survivor, Elie Wiesel, wrote that after the liberation of the Buchenwald camp, some of the inmates drove in American jeeps to Weimar, where they looted homes, raped the women, and randomly killed German civilians.

There were approximately 21,000 prisoners at Buchenwald on the day it was liberated. This included approximately 4,000 Jewish prisoners who were survivors of the death camps in what is now Poland, and 904 children under the age of 17, many of whom were orphans.

Regarding the liberation of Buchenwald on April 11, 1945, Robert Abzug wrote the following in his book “Inside the Vicious Heart”:

Begin quote

The Americans were met by reasonably healthy looking, armed prisoners ready to help administer distribution of food, clothing, and medical care. These same prisoners, an International Committee with the Communist underground leader Hans Eiden at its head, seemed to have perfect control over their fellow inmates.

End quote

T/4 Carroll E. Peterson was an 18-year old high school student who had never been more than 100 miles from his home town of Webster, South Dakota until he was drafted into the U.S. Army and sent to Europe with the 80th Infantry Division in 1944. He reported that one of the sights that he witnessed at Buchenwald, when he visited the camp for a couple of hours on April 12th, was the autopsy table where the skin of starved-to-death prisoners had been removed to make lamp shades.

Harry Snodgrass was a 23 year-old American soldier from Tennessee who had enlisted at the age of 20. He toured the Buchenwald camp a day or two after it was liberated, escorted by a Lithuanian inmate who spoke broken English. In an interview for a documentary film, Snodgrass recalled: “It was in the commander’s office. There were lampshades made from the skin of Jews. In the crematorium they used the ashes of the inmates to fertilize the fields – the ashes of dead people. After an hour, it just became too much. I was stunned – just stunned. We don’t even treat dogs like this.”

The town of Weimar had suffered extensive damage after an Allied bombing raid on February 9, 1945. When the soldiers of the 80th Infantry Division arrived, the bodies of German civilians were still buried under the fallen buildings and the stench was unbearable. The classic building, where Germany’s Weimar Republic was born, lay in ruins; the 18th century homes of Goethe and Schiller, both of which had been preserved as national shrines, were severely damaged. All the historic buildings on the north side of the main town square had been demolished, and the rest of the buildings were damaged.

Damage from Allied bombing of Weimar on Feb. 9, 1945

The American liberators had no sympathy for the residents of Weimar, who had let unspeakable atrocities happen at the Buchenwald camp, only five miles from the town. Regarding the complacency of the townspeople, Harry Snodgrass told an interviewer: “They saw the trains going in but no one saw them leave. If they say they didn’t know what was happening, they were lying.”

The Allies used the word “extermination camp” for all the Nazi camps, assuming that the purpose of these camps was the mass murder of the Jews.

Gatehouse at Buchenwald, October 1999

On the morning of April 12, 1945, soldiers of the 80th Infantry Division arrived in the nearby town of Weimar and found it deserted except for some of the liberated prisoners roaming around. The townspeople were cowering in fear inside their bomb-damaged homes.

Edward R. Murrow arrived in Weimar that day and reported in his famous radio broadcast from Buchenwald that the liberated prisoners were hunting down the SS soldiers who had escaped from the camp the day before and killing them while the Americans watched.

Buchenwald’s most famous survivor, Elie Wiesel, wrote that after the liberation of the Buchenwald camp, some of the inmates drove in American jeeps to Weimar, where they looted homes, raped the women, and randomly killed German civilians.

There were approximately 21,000 prisoners at Buchenwald on the day it was liberated. This included approximately 4,000 Jewish prisoners who were survivors of the death camps in what is now Poland, and 904 children under the age of 17, many of whom were orphans.

Regarding the liberation of Buchenwald on April 11, 1945, Robert Abzug wrote the following in his book “Inside the Vicious Heart”:

The Americans were met by reasonably healthy looking, armed prisoners ready to help administer distribution of food, clothing, and medical care. These same prisoners, an International Committee with the Communist underground leader Hans Eiden at its head, seemed to have perfect control over their fellow inmates.

T/4 Carroll E. Peterson was an 18-year old high school student who had never been more than 100 miles from his home town of Webster, South Dakota until he was drafted into the U.S. Army and sent to Europe with the 80th Infantry Division in 1944. He reported that one of the sights that he witnessed at Buchenwald, when he visited the camp for a couple of hours on April 12th, was the autopsy table where the skin of starved-to-death prisoners had been removed to make lamp shades.

Harry Snodgrass was a 23 year-old American soldier from Tennessee who had enlisted at the age of 20. He toured the Buchenwald camp a day or two after it was liberated, escorted by a Lithuanian inmate who spoke broken English. In an interview for a documentary film, Snodgrass recalled: “It was in the commander’s office. There were lampshades made from the skin of Jews. In the crematorium they used the ashes of the inmates to fertilize the fields – the ashes of dead people. After an hour, it just became too much. I was stunned – just stunned. We don’t even treat dogs like this.”

The town of Weimar had suffered extensive damage after an Allied bombing raid on February 9, 1945. When the soldiers of the 80th Infantry Division arrived, the bodies of German civilians were still buried under the fallen buildings and the stench was unbearable. The classic building, where Germany’s Weimar Republic was born, lay in ruins; the 18th century homes of Goethe and Schiller, both of which had been preserved as national shrines, were severely damaged. All the historic buildings on the north side of the main town square had been demolished, and the rest of the buildings were damaged.

Damage from Allied bombing of Weimar on Feb. 9, 1945

The American liberators had no sympathy for the residents of Weimar, who had let unspeakable atrocities happen at the Buchenwald camp, only five miles from the town. Regarding the complacency of the townspeople, Harry Snodgrass told an interviewer: “They saw the trains going in but no one saw them leave. If they say they didn’t know what was happening, they were lying.”

The Allies used the word “extermination camp” for all the Nazi beration of the Buchenwald Concentration Camp

American soldiers at Buchenwald gatehouse, April 1945

The Buchenwald concentration camp was liberated on April 11, 1945 by four soldiers in the Sixth Armored Division of the US Third Army, commanded by General George S. Patton. Just before the Americans arrived, the camp had already been taken over by the Communist prisoners who had killed some of the guards and forced the rest to flee into the nearby woods.

Pfc. James Hoyt was driving the M8 armoured vehicle which brought Capt. Frederic Keffer, Tech. Sgt. Herbert Gottschalk and Sgt. Harry Ward to the Buchenwald camp that day.

The following quote is from a CNN news story on the occasion of the death of James Hoyt on August 14, 2008 at the age of 83:

According to military records, Keffer was the officer in command of the six-wheeled armored vehicle that day. The soldiers were part of the Army’s 6th Armored Division near the camp when about 15 SS troopers were captured. It was mid-afternoon.

“At the same time, a group of Russians just escaped from the concentration camp, burst out of the woods attempting to attack the SS men. The Russians were restrained and interrogated,” Maj. Gen. R.W. Grow, the American commander of the 6th Armored Division, wrote in a 1975 letter about the Buchenwald liberation.

Keffer was ordered to take his three comrades and two of the Russian prisoners “as guides to investigate, report and rejoin as rapidly as possible.”

“I took this side journey of about 3 km away from our main force because we kept encountering SS guards and prison inmates, and the latter told us of the large camp to the south,” Keffer wrote in a letter around the 30th anniversary of the liberation.

“We had been told by our intelligence that we might overrun a large prison camp, but we — or at least I — had no idea of either the gigantic size of the camp or of the full extent of the incredible brutality.”

Keffer and Gottschalk, who spoke German, entered the camp through a hole in an electric barbed wire fence. Hoyt and Ward initially stayed at the vehicle.

“We were tumultuously greeted by what I was told were 21,000 men, and what an incredible greeting that was,” Keffer wrote. “I was picked up by arms and legs, thrown into the air, caught, thrown again, caught, thrown, etc., until I had to stop it. I was getting dizzy.

“How the men found such a surge of strength in their emaciated condition was one of those bodily wonders in which the spirit sometimes overcomes all weaknesses of the flesh. My, but it was a great day!”

Keffer said the prisoners, through an underground system, had already taken control of the camp. The four soldiers notified division command to get medical help and food to the prisoners as soon as possible.

The 6th Armored Division newspaper “Armored Attacker” ran a headline on May 5, 1945: “Four 9th AIB Doughs Find Buchenwald.” The article described the discovery as “the worst concentration camp yet to be uncovered by west wall troops.”

Hoyt, a Bronze Star recipient and veteran of the Battle of the Bulge, was the last of the four original liberators to die.

Today visitors can relive the historic moment that the Communist Resistance fighters took over the Buchenwald concentration camp when they see the clock on top of the gatehouse stopped at 3:15 p.m., the exact time that the prisoners gained control.

Gatehouse at Buchenwald, October 1999

On the morning of April 12, 1945, soldiers of the 80th Infantry Division arrived in the nearby town of Weimar and found it deserted except for some of the liberated prisoners roaming around. The townspeople were cowering in fear inside their bomb-damaged homes.

Edward R. Murrow arrived in Weimar that day and reported in his famous radio broadcast from Buchenwald that the liberated prisoners were hunting down the SS soldiers who had escaped from the camp the day before and killing them while the Americans watched.

Buchenwald’s most famous survivor, Elie Wiesel, wrote that after the liberation of the Buchenwald camp, some of the inmates drove in American jeeps to Weimar, where they looted homes, raped the women, and randomly killed German civilians.

There were approximately 21,000 prisoners at Buchenwald on the day it was liberated. This included approximately 4,000 Jewish prisoners who were survivors of the death camps in what is now Poland, and 904 children under the age of 17, many of whom were orphans.

Regarding the liberation of Buchenwald on April 11, 1945, Robert Abzug wrote the following in his book “Inside the Vicious Heart”:

The Americans were met by reasonably healthy looking, armed prisoners ready to help administer distribution of food, clothing, and medical care. These same prisoners, an International Committee with the Communist underground leader Hans Eiden at its head, seemed to have perfect control over their fellow inmates.

T/4 Carroll E. Peterson was an 18-year old high school student who had never been more than 100 miles from his home town of Webster, South Dakota until he was drafted into the U.S. Army and sent to Europe with the 80th Infantry Division in 1944. He reported that one of the sights that he witnessed at Buchenwald, when he visited the camp for a couple of hours on April 12th, was the autopsy table where the skin of starved-to-death prisoners had been removed to make lamp shades.

Harry Snodgrass was a 23 year-old American soldier from Tennessee who had enlisted at the age of 20. He toured the Buchenwald camp a day or two after it was liberated, escorted by a Lithuanian inmate who spoke broken English. In an interview for a documentary film, Snodgrass recalled: “It was in the commander’s office. There were lampshades made from the skin of Jews. In the crematorium they used the ashes of the inmates to fertilize the fields – the ashes of dead people. After an hour, it just became too much. I was stunned – just stunned. We don’t even treat dogs like this.”

The town of Weimar had suffered extensive damage after an Allied bombing raid on February 9, 1945. When the soldiers of the 80th Infantry Division arrived, the bodies of German civilians were still buried under the fallen buildings and the stench was unbearable. The classic building, where Germany’s Weimar Republic was born, lay in ruins; the 18th century homes of Goethe and Schiller, both of which had been preserved as national shrines, were severely damaged. All the historic buildings on the north side of the main town square had been demolished, and the rest of the buildings were damaged.

Damage from Allied bombing of Weimar on Feb. 9, 1945

The American liberators had no sympathy for the residents of Weimar, who had let unspeakable atrocities happen at the Buchenwald camp, only five miles from the town. Regarding the complacency of the townspeople, Harry Snodgrass told an interviewer: “They saw the trains going in but no one saw them leave. If they say they didn’t know what was happening, they were lying.”

The Allies used the word “extermination camp” for all the Nazi camps, assuming that the purpose of these camps was the mass murder of the Jews. Buchenwald was a Class II camp, intended for the imprisonment of condemned criminals and captured anti-Fascist resistance fighters who were considered to be beyond “rehabilitation.”

General Patton urinates into the Rhine river in Germany

General Patton wrote:

I drove to the Rhine River and went across on the pontoon bridge. I stopped in the middle to take a piss and then picked up some dirt on the far side in emulation of William the Conqueror.

General George S. Patton, March 1945

After crossing the Rhine river, Germany’s ancient line of defense, on the night of March 22, 1945, the US Third Army, commanded by General George S. Patton, was advancing through the middle of Germany toward a pre-determined line where they would stop and wait for the Russian troops advancing from the east. In their path were four charming old towns laid out like a string of pearls in a straight line through the Horsel Valley on Highway F7: Eisenach, Gotha, Erfurt, and Weimar.

This was the heartland of German culture, the old stamping grounds of such German greats as Goethe, Schiller, Liszt, Herder, Nietzsche, Cranach, Luther, and Bach. Today these four cities draw millions of tourists who want to follow in the footsteps of the famous on “the Classics Road.” The area has long been known for its well preserved medieval villages and its gemütliche German people.

By April 1st, which was Easter Sunday, the American soldiers were approaching the first town, Eisenach, on the northwestern edge of the Thuringian Forest. Eisenach has been at the center of German culture since the Middle Ages; it is where Johann Sebastian Bach was born and the place where Martin Luther holed up in a castle to translate the Bible. A few miles down the road is the town of Erfurt, the place from which St. Boniface set out on his mission to convert the Germans to Christianity.

The typical American soldier in World War II was a 19-year-old youth, fresh from the farms and small towns of a country that was less than 200 years old. Most of them had never been outside their home state and the closest they had ever come to the kind of sights they were seeing in Germany was a picture in an encyclopedia. Some of the towns and villages they were marching through had been in existence for 700 years before America had even been seen by a white man. The war-time destruction of this ancient culture, which they were participating in, must have been mind-boggling. Most of these soldiers had no clear idea of why they were fighting the Germans, as General Dwight D. Eisenhower admitted.

 

 

 

May 9, 2018

The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising in 1943 is back in the news

Filed under: Germany, Holocaust — furtherglory @ 2:45 pm

You can read about the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, which happened 75 years ago today, in this recent news article: https://forward.com/culture/399002/warsaw-ghetto-uprising-75-anniversary-paul-robeson-and-molly-picon/

The event known as the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising began on April 19, 1943 and ended on May 16, 1943. A total of 56,065 Jews were captured by the Germans during the uprising, and around 6,000 were killed during the destruction of the buildings in the ghetto.

The famous photo above is from the photo album of Jürgen Stroop, the Commander of the SS troops who put down the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising in 1943.

There are 50 photos included in The Stroop Report, which documents the destruction of the Warsaw Ghetto during this action.

In spite of the fact that the photo above is included in the Stroop Report, which was compiled during April and May, 1943, it has been identified by Holocaust survivor Tsvi C. Nussbaum as a photo taken after the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising on July 13, 1943 in front of the Hotel Polski on the Aryan side of the Warsaw ghetto, where some Jews had been living as Gentiles.

Nussbaum claims that he is the seven-year-old boy in the photo and that the woman on his left is his aunt. Since Nussbaum and his aunt had foreign passports, they were sent to the Bergen-Belsen detention camp as “exchange Jews.”

The soldier, who is holding a gun on the little boy in the photo, was Josef Blösche; he was put on trial in East Germany after the war and was executed after being convicted of participating in the action to put down the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising.

The photos below were taken during the uprising.

Beginning in June 1942, the Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto had been transported to the Treblinka death camp on the Bug river, near the eastern border of German-occupied Poland, where they were allegedly killed in gas chambers.

Eventually, reports of the mass murder got back to the Warsaw Ghetto and a resistance organization called the Z.O.B. (Zydowska Organizacja Bojowa) was formed to prevent any more deportations from the ghetto. The leader of the Z.O.B. was Mordecai Anielewicz.

In January 1943, the Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto resisted the next round-up for deportation to Treblinka; the young Z.O.B fighters fired on German troops as they tried to get the Jews into railroad cars to be transported to the death camp.

The Germans retreated after four days of fighting and the Jews began to prepare to hold out against future attempts to liquidate the ghetto.

The following quote is from the opening statement by Robert Jackson at the Nuremberg International Military Tribunal in which he reads from the Summary of the Stroop Report:

It is the original report of the SS Brigadier General Stroop in charge of the destruction of the Warsaw Ghetto, and its title page carries the inscription “The Jewish ghetto in Warsaw no longer exists.” It is characteristic that one of the captions explains that the photograph (the photo shown at the top of this page) concerned shows the driving out of Jewish “bandits”; those whom the photograph shows being driven out are almost entirely women and little children. It contains a day-by-day account of the killings mainly carried out by the SS organization, too long to relate, but let me quote General Stroop’s summary:

“The resistance put up by the Jews and bandits could only be suppressed by energetic actions of our troops day and night. The Reichsfuehrer SS ordered, therefore, on 4/23/1943, the cleaning out of the ghetto with utter ruthlessness and merciless tenacity. I, therefore, decided to destroy and burn down the entire ghetto without regard to the armament factories. These factories were systematically dismantled and then burned. Jews usually left their hideouts, but frequently remained in the burning buildings and jumped out of the windows only when the heat became unbearable. They then tried to crawl with broken bones across the street into buildings which were not afire. Sometimes they changed their hideouts during the night into the ruins of burned buildings. Life in the sewers was not pleasant after the first week. Many times we could hear loud voices in the sewers. SS men or policemen climbed bravely through the manholes to capture these Jews. Sometimes they stumbled over Jewish corpses: sometimes they were shot at. Tear gas bombs were thrown into the manholes and the Jews driven out of the sewers and captured. Countless numbers of Jews were liquidated in sewers and bunkers through blasting. The longer the resistance continued the tougher became the members of the Waffen SS, Police and Wehrmacht who always discharged their duties in an exemplary manner. Frequently Jews who tied to replenish their food supplies during the night or to communicate with neighboring groups were exterminated.

“This action eliminated,” says the SS commander, “a proved total of 56,065. To that, we have to add the number killed through blasting, fire, etc., which cannot be counted.” (1061- PS)

Continue

Marek Edelmann – last survivor of the uprising

Ghetto Heroes

Mila 18

Ghetto Wall

Nozyk Synagogue

The Ghetto

Umschlagplatz

Back to Warsaw Ghetto index

89 year old “Nazi grandmother” finally goes to prison

Filed under: Germany, Holocaust — furtherglory @ 1:47 pm

Ursula Haverbeck, who is a Holocaust denier

It’s about time this criminal was taken off the streets. Imagine a Holocaust denying grandmother being on the loose! What will this vicious criminal do next!!!

The following quote is from a news article:

Begin quote

An 89-year-old woman dubbed the “Nazi grandma” for repeatedly denying the Holocaust was arrested in Germany Monday after she failed to show up to serve her prison sentence.

Ursula Haverbeck had been sentenced to two years in prison for incitement by denying the Nazis’ murder of 6 million Jews between 1941 and 1945.

End quote

Wait a minute! She denied “the murder of 6 million Jews”. The number of Jews killed in the Holocaust is now down to 1.1 million. It is no longer against the law to deny the famous 6 million.

This woman should sue for “wrongful imprisonment”.

May 8, 2018

And now it is time for some country music…

Filed under: Music — furtherglory @ 5:05 pm

Jews were allowed to write a letter to their loved ones minutes before they were gassed

Filed under: Auschwitz, Germany, Holocaust — furtherglory @ 4:38 pm

My photo of the gas chamber at Auschwitz

German people have manners and they are famous for being very considerate. I know this because I lived in Germany for 22 months while my husband was in the American Army. I was amazed that the Germans were such nice people, after everything that I had heard about the Germans gassing the Jews. Could it be that the Germans were gassing the lice in the clothing worn by the Jews?

A recent news article  confirms that the Jews were gassed: http://www.foxnews.com/science/2018/04/30/auschwitz-letter-thought-to-be-only-one-its-kind.html

The following quote is from the news article:

Begin quote

That Vilma Grunwald’s letter even exists is extraordinary.

She penned it in the minutes before she was gassed at Auschwitz, addressed it to her husband, and handed it to a Nazi guard who  did the improbable — he delivered it to the man, who was also imprisoned at the camp.

The Washington Post reports she accompanied her eldest child, a 16-year-old named John, who limped, to the gas chambers. The Indianapolis Star has the story of the July 11, 1944, letter, which has for the last four years resided at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

“I’m always reluctant to say it’s the only such document ever created,” says the museum’s chief acquisitions curator, “but to the best of our knowledge” it is the only surviving letter written at the concentration camp prior to a gassing.

End quote

I have seen a real gas chamber in Jefferson City, Missouri. A real gas chamber looks nothing like the alleged gas chamber in the photo that I took. How come nobody ever tells you that?

 

May 7, 2018

Should Holocaust education be required in American schools?

Filed under: Germany, Holocaust — furtherglory @ 4:13 pm

My photo of the holes on the roof of the Auschwitz gas chamber where the gas pellets were poured in

My answer to the question in the title of my blog post is Yes. Holocaust education should be required, but which version of the story? The Jewish version of the Holocaust or the non-Jewish version?

I believe that both versions should be taught, so the students can decide for themselves what they want to believe. By no means should only the Jewish version of history be taught, which is what is going on now.

You can read about Holocaust education here: https://www.seattletimes.com/nation-world/connecticut-lawmakers-vote-to-require-holocaust-education/

When I climbed up on the roof of the alleged gas chamber, to take the photo above, people were screaming at me: “You can’t go up here.” I said, “Yes, I can.” and up I went. They should have said “You are not allowed to climb up there.”

The Bergen-Belsen camp where prisoners died

Filed under: Germany, Holocaust — furtherglory @ 3:36 pm

The Liberation of Bergen-Belsen in 1945

Bergen-Belsen Commandant Josef Kramer was immediately arrested by the British liberators


The Bergen-Belsen concentration camp was voluntarily turned over to the Allied 21st Army Group, a combined British-Canadian unit, on April 15, 1945 by Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler, the man who was in charge of all the concentration camps.

Bergen-Belsen was in the middle of the war zone where British and German troops were fighting in the last days of World War II and there was a danger that the typhus epidemic in the camp would spread to the troops on both sides.

Before negotiations with the British began, Ernst Kaltenbrunner, the head of the Reich Security Main Office (RSHA), had sent an order on April 7, 1945, directly to the Commandant of Bergen-Belsen, Josef Kramer, that all the prisoners in the camp should be killed, rather than let them fall into the hands of the enemy, according to Gerald Fleming, author of “Hitler and the Final Solution,” who wrote that this order had come from Hitler himself. When this news reached representatives of the World Jewish Congress in Stockholm, they contacted Felix Kersten, a Swedish chiropractor who had treated Himmler.

According to Fleming, Kersten succeeded in persuading Himmler to reverse the order. When Hitler heard this, he flew into a rage, according to Fleming.

Eva Olsson was a 20-year-old Hungarian Jewess who was sent to Auschwitz in May 1944 and later transferred to Bergen-Belsen where she was liberated on April 15, 1945. After Olsson gave a talk to students at the Canadian WC Eaket Secondary School in Blind River, “The Standard” reported the following from her presentation:

“Six days before we were liberated the Gestapo (Germany’s secret police) had given orders that on April 15, at 3 o’clock in the afternoon all prisoners were to be shot.”

The shootings continued even after the camp was seized, done out of sight of Allied forces.

Olsson explains after the camp was taken a British officer made a declaration. The man said for every prisoner killed now that the camp was taken a German official or guard would be executed immediately.

Hungarian soldiers in the Germany Army, who had been sent to keep order while the camp was transferred to the British, were in fact shot by the British, according to British soldiers who participated in the liberation.

Negotiations for the transfer of the Bergen-Belsen camp to the British took several days. Then on the night of April 12, 1945, a cease-fire agreement was signed between the local German Military Commander and the British Chief of Staff, Brigadier General Taylor-Balfour, according to Eberhard Kolb in his book, “Bergen-Belsen from 1943 to 1945.”

An area of 48 square kilometers around Bergen-Belsen was declared a neutral zone. The neutral zone was 8 kilometers long and 6 kilometers wide. Until British troops could take over, the agreement specified that the camp would be guarded by a unit of Hungarian soldiers and soldiers from the German Wehrmacht (the regular army as opposed to the SS). They were assured that they would be allowed free return passage to the German lines within six days after the British arrived. The SS soldiers who made up the staff of the camp were to remain at their posts and carry on their duties until the British arrived to take over. There was no specific stipulation in the agreement about what their fate would be, according to Eberhard Kolb.

On the afternoon of Sunday, April 15th, British soldiers arrived at the German Army training garrison, next door to the concentration camp, and the transfer of the neutral territory of the Bergen-Belsen camp was made. A short time later, a group of British officers entered the concentration camp, which was right next to the garrison, although the distance by road was about 1.5 kilometers.

The first British units to enter the camp, in a van with a loudspeaker, were from the 14 Amplifier Unit, Intelligence Corps and 63rd Anti-Tank Regiment, Royal Artillery. Three of the soldiers on the tanks were Jewish. Chaim Herzog was a young Jewish officer with the Intelligence Corps; he later became Israel’s Ambassador to the UN and then President of Israel. In honor of the part he played in the liberation of Bergen-Belsen, an honorary tombstone has been placed near the Jewish Monument at the Memorial Site which is now on the grounds of the former camp.

Child survivors at Bergen-Belsen

According to Michael Berenbaum in his book “The World Must Know,” Commandant Josef Kramer greeted British officer Derrick Sington at the entrance to the camp, wearing a fresh uniform. Berenbaum wrote that Kramer expressed his desire for an orderly transition and his hopes of collaborating with British. He 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 was brought before a British Military Tribunal as a war criminal.

On April 8, 1945, around 25,000 to 30,000 prisoners had arrived at Bergen-Belsen from other concentration camps in the Neuengamme area. On that date, there were over 60,000 prisoners in the camp and some had to be housed in the barracks of the adjacent Army Training Center. The Geneva Convention specified that civilian prisoners were to be evacuated from a war zone, and up until this time, the Nazi concentration camps had been either evacuated or abandoned as the war progressed. But because of the typhus epidemic, it was impossible to evacuate all the prisoners from Bergen-Belsen. The camp could not be abandoned for fear that the epidemic would spread to the soldiers of both sides.

Between April 6 and April 11, 1945, three transports of Jews were evacuated from the Neutrals camp, the Star Camp and the Hungarian Camp on the orders of Heinrich Himmler. These were prisoners who held foreign passports and were considered “exchange Jews.”

Brigadier Llewelyn Glyn-Hughes, a medical officer, was in command of the relief operation. The British had known that there were terrible epidemics in the camp, and that this was the main reason the camp had been surrendered, but they were unprepared for the gruesome sight of the dead bodies, and it came as an enormous shock to them.

In a book entitled “The Belsen Trial” by Raymond Phillips, published in 1949, Brigadier Glyn-Hughes is quoted in this description of the terrible scene that the British found at Bergen-Belsen:

“The conditions in the camp were really indescribable; no description nor photograph could really bring home the horrors that were there outside the huts, and the frightful scenes inside were much worse. There were various sizes of piles of corpses lying all over the camp, some in between the huts. The compounds themselves had bodies lying about in them. The gutters were full and within the huts there were uncountable numbers of bodies, some even in the same bunks as the living. Near the crematorium were signs of filled-in mass graves, and outside to the left of the bottom compound was an open pit half-full of corpses. It had just begun to be filled. Some of the huts had bunks but not many, and they were filled absolutely to overflowing with prisoners in every state of emaciation and disease. There was not room for them to lie down at full length in each hut. In the most crowded there were anything from 600 to 1000 people in accommodation which should only have taken 100. […]

There were no bunks in a hut in the women’s compound which contained the typhus patients. They were lying on the floor and were so weak they could hardly move. There was practically no bedding. In some cases there was a thin mattress, but some had none. Some had draped themselves in blankets, and some had German hospital type of clothing. That was the general picture.”

Typhus barracks at Bergen-Belsen had no bunks

One of the survivors who was liberated that day was Adam Koenig, a German Jew, born in 1923. A week after the war began in 1939, Koenig was sent to Sachsenhausen, a camp near Berlin. In October 1942, he was transferred to Auschwitz. Koenig’s parents and four of the eight children in his family died in the Holocaust; his father died at Auschwitz. Koenig survived the death march out of Auschwitz in January 1945, and ended up at Bergen-Belsen where he was among those who had survived after six years of imprisonment by the Nazis. In 2005, on the 60ieth anniversary of the liberation of the camps, 82-year-old Adam Koenig and his wife Maria, also an Auschwitz survivor, were still active in giving lectures to students to keep the memory of the Holocaust alive.

Reverend Leslie H. Hardman was the 32-year-old Senior Jewish Chaplain to the British Forces, attached to 8 Corp of the British 2nd Army when Bergen-Belsen was liberated. Hardman was born in Wales; his father was from Poland and his mother was from Russia. After the war, he wrote a book entitled “The Survivors – the story of the Belsen remnant” (Vallentine, Mitchell & Co. Ltd) in which he described what he saw at Bergen-Belsen.

He wrote that when he first approached the camp, he saw posters which warned “Danger – Typhus.” Once inside the camp he was horrified at what he saw. He wrote that Belsen consisted of several wooden barracks, fifty metres long, poorly constructed and possessing window openings and doorways devoid of windows or doors so that the huts became effective wind tunnels for the freezing winter climate to do its worst. The roofs leaked so that straw scattered on the floor quickly became sodden. The beds were mere planks of wood. Each barrack housed seven thousand, according to Hardman’s account.

Chaplain Hardman wrote that illness was endemic and medical treatment was unknown. Each day the outdoor roll call in freezing conditions lasted for four hours or more and those who fell down were dead. He described the camp as so lice-ridden that the clothes appeared to move on their own. Victims scratched themselves on the struts, which held the hut together and developed open sores and boils, which became infected. And then came typhus with such ferocity that a quarter of all the men and women in the camp died.

Lt. Lawrence Aslen was one of the British soldiers who was there on the day of the liberation of the camp. According to his son, Niall Alsen, his father “arrived some hours after the first troops, but his first impression was that bodies were everywhere, certainly hundreds if not several thousands.” Lt. Alsen told his son that “the scale of the problem just overwhelmed them. There were so many more in the huts as well that it became a priority to get them disposed of to lessen the attrition from disease. Many British soldiers were not vaccinated, but the SMO (Senior medical Officer) of the field hospital ordered emergency inoculations for everybody. Even so, several British soldiers contracted typhus and a severe form of dysentery. Happily none of them died.”

In an e-mail to me, Niall Alsen wrote that as far as his father was concerned, the SS guards at Bergen-Belsen “were utterly evil and depraved murderers who should all have been hanged.” Alsen said that his father described the inmates as lethargic, listless and lost. To them, the British were just another lot of troops sent to guard them and it took several days before many of them believed they were actually free. This transition came when nurses from the field hospital began taking the sick away to a converted barracks nearby, and it was the sight of these women that told them they were liberated. When they began to feed the inmates with high calorie food, it actually killed some of them, who were so unused to real food. Alsen said that his father only really spoke to him about Bergen-Belsen a couple of times. He was too badly traumatized by the experience to talk about it.

Niall Alsen said that his father told him that the photograph of the woman guard, who looks very angry in the phtotograph below, was taken just after the guards had been paraded past the survivors and told that they were to start burying the bodies. Niall wrote in an e-mail to me:

Many of them demurred and protested; possibly this is the moment it was captured on film. A Sergeant told them in German “You bastards created this F***ing mess so you can F***ing well clear it up!”

Female guards at Bergen-Belsen

In answer to my question about whether the British liberators had killed any of the Hungarian soldiers, who were sent to the camp to help with the transition and were promised that they could return to their lines after six days, Alsen wrote the following, based on what his father Lt. Lawrence Alsen had told him:

Yes, some of them were shot out of hand for mutiny. A burial detail of Hungarians refused to handle the dead bodies. One officer refused to obey the order saying it was contrary to the Geneva Convention. The captain in charge immediately told them they were under martial law and any refusal was mutiny. The officer still refused and so did four of his men. The captain drew his revolver and cocked it, pointing it at the officer’s forehead. The officer still refused and the captain shot him dead. The other four attempted to rush the captain, a somewhat foolish attempt against 8 loaded sten guns in the hands of men itching to use them. All five ended up in one of the grave pits. The officer then reported what he had done to the Colonel who told him not to worry: “You’ve just saved the hangman a job.”

In response to my question about whether any of the SS guards had died from typhus after being forced to handle the dead bodies with their bare hands, Niall Alsen answered as follows, based on what his father Lt. Lawrence Alsen had told him:

That report is true. They were also made to live in one of the huts in the same filthy conditions as the Inmates and fed the same basic rations; that could also be the reason so many contracted Typhus. However, there are suspicions that two of the more sadistic guards were thrown into one of the huts by British troops for a lark; they were kicked and punched to death. (Death by natural causes?) My father said it was very difficult to control the men from meting out summary justice; perhaps it would have been better if that had happened.

Bergen-Belsen survivors line up for food

Sign put up by the British after Bergen-Belsen was liberated

One of the prisoners who had arrived in Bergen-Belsen in early February 1945, on a transport from Sachsenhausen, was Rudolf Küstermeier, who wrote the following, which was quoted in Derrick Singleton’s book “Belsen Uncovered,” published in 1946.

Begin quote

In the night before April 15 I lay awake and only fell asleep in the small hours. Suddenly I was woken up by one of the Russian workers in our block. “Come, come, quick! There are tanks on the street.” I heard the unmistakable clanking, rumbling noise…From far I heard the tanks pass through the camp entrance and a voice call from a loud speaker van. I knew we were free. I lay there musing. Incessantly I had to fend off fleas and bugs who did not stop torturing me for a minute. I was feverish and my head was heavy and stupefied, but I was aware of the fact that we were free. More than eleven years of imprisonment were over. I lived. I would have a chance to recover. I would be able to participate in the tasks of reconstruction. I did not think of revenge but I knew that the most devilish tyranny the modern world had seen had lost its last footing, and that there would be a chance now for new men and a new life. I was filled with a deep sense of gratitude.

End quote

Küstermeier was a Social Democrat who was arrested on November 19, 1933 on a charge of doing illegal activities against the Nazi regime. He was tried and convicted by the Volksgerichtshof (the People’s High Court) and sentenced to ten years in prison. After he had served his time, he was sent to a concentration camp to be placed under protective custody as an enemy of the state. In August 1945, he wrote a report which was included in the book, “Belsen Uncovered” by Derrick Sington.

An excerpt from his report is quoted below:

Then the last phase began. The SS provided civilian clothes and rucksacks for themselves to prepare for their disappearance. They barely entered the huts anymore, and the dreadful roll-calls stopped. Here and there in the camp small groups of prisoners assembled in order to take over the administration if necessary.

But the SS did not intend to leave without an escort. They published an appeal, especially to the Germans and Poles, to fight voluntarily on the side of the SS against the Allied forces. A few days later all the Germans, except for a few who went their own ways, were assembled in a hut, and the majority, above all most of the Block Elders and Kapos, left with the SS on April 14.

It had become known shortly beforehand that an agreement had been made between British and German officers declaring the camp neutral territory. This was not announced officially, but the changes which occurred seemed to corroborate the rumors. Most of the SS men disappeared and in their stead Hungarian troops and soldiers of the German Wehrmacht appeared. The remaining SS had the special task of repairing the camp and especially of taking the dead to the mass graves.

Bergen-Belsen inmates drag a diseased body

Thousands of bodies in various stages of decomposition were lying in heaps all over the camp. As their last task before turning the camp over to the British, the SS began repairing the camp and trying to bury the bodies in mass graves which were dug in a remote spot about one kilometer from the barracks. Between April 11 and April 14, all prisoners in the camp who were still able to work were recruited to help with burial of the corpses. While two prisoner’s orchestras played dancing music, 2000 inmates dragged the corpses using strips of cloth or leather straps tied to the wrists or ankles. This monstrous spectacle went on for four days, from six in the morning until dark. Still, there were 10,000 rotting corpses remaining in the camp.

Corpses are gathered at the site of one of the mass graves

Sick prisoners were moved to the hospital at the German Army base right next to the camp. The photo below shows prisoners who are recovering from typhus and other diseases.

Bergen-Belsen survivors in hospital at German Army base 

May 6, 2018

Coffee might be good for your health…

Filed under: Health — furtherglory @ 5:45 pm

According to this news article, coffee is good for your health, so have a cup of coffee every day.

http://www.icepop.com/science-coffee-healthy/

The following quote is from the news article in the above link:

Science Says Coffee Is Healthy, So Have Another Cup

Are you one of those people who just can’t get going in the morning without your cup of joe? Well, there’s good news! It turns out that the heavenly brew you’ve been having every morning may just be good for your health as well as your morning mood. That sounds like cause for another cup to me.

Brain Power

Studies have increasingly suggested that coffee and/or caffeine could be an effective therapy to treat Alzheimer’s disease. Studies done on mice given caffeine versus decaf coffee found that those given the caffeine were shown to get better cognitive benefits. Coffee has also been found to help protect the brain against developing Alzheimer’s in the first place.

End quote

I have drunk coffee every day since I was 4 years old. I don’t know if this has helped my brain, but it has not hurt it. I buy an 8 ounce cup of coffee at the local 7-11 store every morning. In the afternoon, I have a cup of black tea.

« Newer PostsOlder Posts »