Scrapbookpages Blog

June 26, 2015

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

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

My 2001 photo of the entrance stone at Bergen-Belsen

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

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

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

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

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

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

Queen meets with Bergen Belsen survivors

Queen meets with Bergen Belsen survivors

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

This quote is from the news article:

Begin quote:

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

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

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

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

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

End quote

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

House of Silence at Bergen-Belsen

My photo of the House of Silence at Bergen-Belsen

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

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

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

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

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

Monument to Chaim Hertzog at Bergen-Belsen

Monument to Chaim Hertzog at Bergen-Belsen

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Queen Elizabeth lays wreath at the obelisk

Queen Elizabeth lays wreath at the obelis

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

February 7, 2015

CNN show “Voices of Auschwitz” hosted by Wolf Blitzer

Last night, I watched the CNN special, entitled Voices of Auschwitz.  The show featured a select group of survivors of Auschwitz, who triumphed over the evil Nazis, by going on to become rich and famous. One of the survivors who was featured, very prominently, in the show was 81-year-old Eva Moses Kor, the twin sister of Miriam Moses, who died at an early age after she was liberated from Auschwitz, 70 years ago, on January 27, 1945. When the CNN show starts, we see a recent color close-up photo of the face of Eva Moses Kor.

I previously blogged about the killing of the Hungarian Jews on this blog post: https://furtherglory.wordpress.com/2014/11/17/update-on-oskar-groening-the-ss-guard-at-auschwitz-who-didt-kill-with-his-hands-but-was-part-of-that-killing-machinery/

Very early in my blogging career, five years ago, I blogged about how some of the incoming Jews were marched to the gas chambers at Auschwitz-Birkenau, while others were marched to the showers: https://furtherglory.wordpress.com/2010/12/07/the-people-who-walked-on-at-auschwitz-birkenau/

Arbeit Macht Frei sign over the main Auschwitz camp

Arbeit Macht Frei sign over the main Auschwitz camp

Then we see a photo of the famous sign that says “Arbeit Macht Frei” which is now the slogan of the Jews when they complain about the evil perpetrated by the Nazis in the Holocaust. I blogged about the meaning of this sign at https://furtherglory.wordpress.com/2011/01/01/arbeit-macht-frei-slogan-hi-jacked-by-holocaust-historians/ The  Arbeit Macht Frei sign is over the gate into the Auschwitz main camp, which was a Class I camp for resistance fighters or illegal combatants. The famous “death camp” where Jews were gassed was Auschwitz-Birkeanau, which did not have this sign.

The “Arbeit Macht Frei” sign was used only at Class I camps, so it was not over the gate into the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp, where Eva Moses Kor was a prisoner. However, she claims, in the Voices of Auschwitz show, that she was taken to Block 10 in the main camp, where Dr. Mengele did experiments on her and her twin sister.

Block 10 at Auschwitz main camp where Dr. Mengele did experiments on twins

Block 10 at Auschwitz main camp where Dr. Mengele did experiments on twins

Block 10, where Dr. Mengele allegedly did his experiments, has been off limits to tourists for many years, and the windows are blocked out.  During last night’s show on CNN, Eva Moses Kor took Wolf Blitzer into an empty room in a  building, which might have been a room inside Block 10.

Very early in the show, Eva Moses Kor takes Wolf Blitzer to the place where she says that she got off a cattle car when she arrived at Auschwitz. She shows him the very cattle car on which she arrived.  I have a photo of this same cattle car on my website at http://www.scrapbookpages.com/AuschwitzScrapbook/Tour/Birkenau/Judenrampe.html

Original train car that brought prisoners to Auschwitz

My 2005 photo of an original train car that brought prisoners to Auschwitz at the Judenrampe

Wolf Blitzer is apparently not an expert on the Holocaust, or he would have known that when the Hungarian Jews, including Eva Moses, were brought to Auschwitz-Birkeanu, starting in May 1944, the train tracks had been extended INSIDE the Birkeanau camp and the Judenrampe was no longer being used.

My 2005 photo of the train tracks entering the Birkenau camp

My 2005 photo of the train tracks entering the Birkenau camp

Very early in the show, last night, Wolf Blitzer says that the Nazis “had a plan to wipe out the Jews.”  Then why were the Jews, who are featured in this show, allowed to survive Hitler’s evil plan?  Why didn’t Hitler carry out his plan? The answer might lie in the story of Anita Lasker Waldfisch, who played violin in the orchestra at the main Auschwitz camp; she was later sent to Bergen-Belsen, where she also survived.

Hitler loved music and there were several orchestras at Auschwitz, including an orchestra which played near the Krema III gas chamber at Auschwitz-Birkenau, as the prisoners were marching inside to be gassed.

I blogged about this at https://furtherglory.wordpress.com/2011/07/09/the-orchestra-that-played-at-birkenau-as-the-jews-marched-to-the-gas-chamber/ I previously blogged about Anita Lasker Walffisch at https://furtherglory.wordpress.com/tag/orchestra-at-auschwitz/

Orchestra at main Auschwitz camp, in which Jewish prisoners played

Orchestra at main Auschwitz camp, in which Jewish prisoners played

Early in the show, Eva Moses Kor tells Wolf Blitzer that she “was crawling and couldn’t walk” on the day that she was liberated by Soviet soldiers on January 27, 1945. By February 1945, she had recovered to the point that she was leading the liberated prisoners out of the camp, along with her twin sister.

Eva Moses Kor and her twin sister Miriam lead the prisoners as they are marched out of Auschwitz-Birkenau

Eva Moses Kor and her twin sister Miriam lead the prisoners as they are marched out of Auschwitz-Birkenau in 1945  (click on photo to enlarge)

Eva Moses Kor as she looks today and as she points to herself in an old photo taken in February 1945 marching out of Auschwitz-Bkirenau

Eva Moses Kor as she looks today and as she points to herself in an old photo taken in February 1945 marching out of Auschwitz-Bkirenau

One thing that was brought out in the CNN film is that the Jews had had a “wonderful life” before Hitler came along. We see photos of the Jews before the Holocaust, as the Jews explain that they had a “happy childhood” and “beautiful homes.”

Life was good for the Jews in Germany until 1938 when we see a photo of a store window that had the word “Juden” painted on the window.  This was a photo taken at the event known as “Krisstallnacht” when the Germans boycotted Jewish stores in Germany.  This was the beginning of the end for the Jews in Germany. Soon life was over for the Jews: Eva Moses Kor summed it up, on the show, when she said: “In 1944, [the Nazis] came on horses to get the Jews [in Hungary where she lived].”

I wrote about the Hungarian Jews on this page of my website: http://www.scrapbookpages.com/AuschwitzScrapbook/History/Articles/HungarianJews.html

Eva Moses Kor was saved only because she was a twin. She explained to Wolf Blitzer that, when she got off the train at Auschwitz, Dr. Mengele asked her mother if her two girls were twins. Her mother then asked Dr. Mengele if being twins were a good thing, and he said “Yes”.

The mother was sent straight to the gas chamber, but Eva and Miriam were saved, because Dr. Mengele wanted to do evil experiments on twins.

At this point in the show, we hear the story of Renee Firestone. I wrote about Renee Firestone in this previous blog post: https://furtherglory.wordpress.com/2014/04/06/renee-firestones-shoah-testimony/

On the CNN show, Renee says that she was sent, by Dr. Mengele (who else) to the right, and her mother to the left “and straight to the gas chamber.” At this point, we see young girls frolicking in bathing suits. What does this have to do with anything? My interpretation of the scene was that these were Jewish girls living the good life before the Nazis came along and sent them to concentration camps.

Just after the bathing suits scene, we see photos of the tracks going into Aushwitz-Birkenau with scenes of ominous looking railroad switches.  Jews are getting off the trains with lots of suitcases.

My interpretation of these scenes is that the Jews were rich and living the good life — until the evil Nazis interrupted their lives and sent them to Auschwitz for no reason at all. The Jews had everything, before the Holocaust, except their own country.  Now they have a country, but they are flocking back to Germany.  I wrote about this on this blog post: https://furtherglory.wordpress.com/2014/10/13/jews-flocking-back-to-germany/

At this point in the CNN documentary, we see a photo of the Brausebad sign at Dachau.  Wait a minute! Were the Jews, who were sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau, taken to Dachau to be gassed in the shower room there? As far as I know, the gas chambers at Auschwitz did not have a sign that said Brausebad.

Sign over the door into the shower room at Dachau

Sign over the door into the shower room at Dachau

Just after the Brausebad sign at Dachau was shown in the CNN show, we see a photo of Hungarian women, wearing dresses, marching toward the women’s camp at Auschwitz-Birkenau.

Hungarian women march toward the women's camp at Birkeanu after having a shower

Hungarian women march toward the women’s camp at Birkeanu after having a shower

At this point in the CNN show, it should have been explained that these women had been given a shower, in a shower room at Auschwitz-Birkenau, and their heads had been shaved to get rid of any possible lice that spreads typhus. Instead, we are led to believe that the Nazis humiliated these women by forcing them to wear plain dresses, not even letting them wear blue and white striped clothing.

Finally, we get to the segment about Rene Firestone.  It turns out that Rene was a talented dress designer before she was sent to Auschwitz. We see some of her sketches of women’s dresses. The black and white photo, shown above, was in this segment of the show. The photo shows how the women at Auschwitz-Birkeanu were humiliated by being forced to wear plain dresses.  Would it have killed the Germans to have provided stylish dresses for the women at Auschwitz?

After she was liberated from Auschwitz, Renee went to Budapest where she became a dress designer.

The next part of the show is about Martin Greenfield. We see the Arbeit Macht Frei sign again as the narrator explains that Greenfield was sent to the main camp to work as a tailor for the Nazis. He was just 15 years old.

Martin’s first job at Auschwitz was washing the shirts of the SS men. He ripped a shirt while he was scrubbing the shirt with a brush. He thought that he would be killed because of this, but the Nazis let him live. We see a scene taken at Dachau, when former prisoners walked out of the camp, followed by a scene which showed Martin’s tailor’s shop in America with his name on the top of the building.

Martin Greenfield wrote a book, entitled Measure of a Man, in which he told about his success in dressing several Presidents in hand-sown suits.

Finally, we get to the story of Anita Lasker Wafisch; we see a recent photo of her walking out of her nice home. Then we see the famous Arbeit Macht Frei sign in the main Auschwitz camp. Anita was sent to the main camp, where she played in the orchestra there.  We see the photo of the orchestra at the main Auschwitz camp, which I included in the first part of this blog post. We hear the band playing march music.

Then we see a photo of the Sauna at Auschwitz-Birkenau, where incoming prisoners had to take a shower. Anita explained that the prisoners had to stay in the “quarantine camp” near the entrance to the Birkenau camp. Previously, in  the CNN show, we had seen Eva Moses Kor showing the barracks in the quarantine camp, while she claimed that these were the barracks where she had to live.  Is Eva Kor losing her memory? The photo below shows the barracks in the quarantine camp which are open to visitors.  Eva Kor did not live in  the quarantine barracks, shown in my 2005 photo below.

Quarantine barracks near the entance to Aschwitz Birkeanau camp

Quarantine barracks near the entrance to the Aschwitz Birkeanau camp

Steven Spielberg was shown in the CNN show, as he says: “Auschwitz was an efficient killing machine.” This show was about SURVIVORS of Auschwitz, who went on to fame and fortune, not about prisoners who were killed.

We see Spielberg as he walks under the Arbeit Macht Frei sign; he puts his hand in some mud, and then says that he has the “remains of mass murder on his hand.”

Then we hear Renee Firestone say that Auschwitz was the “worst atrocity in human history.”  There have been numerous atrocities in human history, and this CNN show is one of them.

November 10, 2013

Playing in the women’s orchestra at Auschwitz, the ticket to survival

Filed under: Holocaust — Tags: , — furtherglory @ 9:18 am
Anita Lasker Wallfisch is the woman on the right

Anita Lasker Wallfisch is the woman on the right

Caption on the photo above: Trudy Gold, executive director of education and Holocaust studies at the London Jewish Cultural Centre, with Maya Jacobs-Wallfisch and Anita Lasker Wallfisch. Picture: Polly Hancock

I read in the news today that Anita Lasker Wallfisch, a former Jewish prisoner at Auschwitz, is still alive, at the age of 88, and speaking to students about her Holocaust ordeal.

This quote is from the news article:

A surviving member of the Women’s Orchestra in Auschwitz shared her experience in the concentration camp as a gifted cellist.

Imprisoned with her sister in the camp in 1943, Anita Lasker-Wallfisch told an audience at the London Jewish Cultural Centre (LJCC) of her time in the 40-piece orchestra that played marches as other prisoners left the camp every day to carry out forced labour.

During her time in the camp she had to use her musical talent in private concerts for SS officers, an ordeal that is thought to have saved her from being one of the 1.1million murdered there.

The orchestra was created under the instruction of the SS.

During the final stages of the Holocaust the group had to play while Jewish prisoners were sent to the gas chambers to put their minds at rest.

Anita, 88, discussed her traumatic experiences and the effect it has had on her relationships alongside her daughter, Maya Jacobs-Wallfisch, at the LJCC in North End Road, Golders Green, last Thursday.

Maya, a psychotherapist, specialises in helping those affected by the Holocaust and spoke of its importance and the impact it has had on their lives.

Audience members found it an intimate and personal evening that was said to have “brought mother and daughter even closer together”.

This news article resonated with me because, years ago, I wrote about Anita Lasker Wallfisch on my website.  This quote is from my scrapbookpages.com website:

Another orchestra, consisting of 54 female prisoners, played at Birkenau for a year and a half; this was the only female orchestra commissioned by the SS during World War II. After the orchestra leader, Alma Rosé, died in October 1944, the other 53 women were sent to Bergen-Belsen where all of them survived.

Anita Lasker Wallfisch played the cello in the women’s orchestra. In an interview in 2008, Wallfisch told a reporter that she survived Auschwitz because she was in the orchestra: “As long as they wanted an orchestra, they couldn’t put us in the gas chamber. That stupid they wouldn’t be, because we are not really replaceable. Somebody who carries stones is replaceable.”

What kind of a genocide is it when you gas people who can only carry stones, but save the musicians to live another day?

I don’t know how Anita was selected for the orchestra, but I imagine that she was going through the selection line at Auschwitz, and Dr. Josef Mengele was whistling classical music, as usual.  She might have commented on his whistling and she might have identified the music, to prove to him that she was a musician.  That could be how she was saved from the gas chamber.

Men's orchestra playing for a Sunday concert at Auschwitz in 1941

Men’s orchestra playing for a Sunday concert at Auschwitz in 1941

Ruins of the undressing room for gas chamber #2 at Auschwitz-Birkenau

Ruins of the undressing room for gas chamber #2 at Auschwitz-Birkenau

The photo above shows the undressing room for the gas chamber in Krema II, which was called Leichenkeller 2 (Corpse Cellar #2) on the blueprint of the building. The victims entered the undressing room by descending the stairs shown in the background in the photo above. To the left in the photo are the steps of the International Monument which is between Krema II and Krema III gas chambers at the western end of the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp.

The victims walked down the steps into the undressing room while an orchestra played classical music. The location of the orchestra was southeast of Krema III, outside the barbed wire enclosure and right next to the soccer field. This was the location where concerts were held for the prisoners while the gassing operation was in progress. The victims were told that they were going to take a shower, after which they would have a nice, hot meal.

The ruins of the undressing room for gas chamber #3 at Auschwitz-Birkenau

The ruins of the undressing room for gas chamber #3 at Auschwitz-Birkenau

In the background of the photo above is the green grass of the soccer field.  The orchestra was located near the soccer field.  Did the members of the orchestra know that the prisoners marching into the undressing room were going to their death?  If they did know, how could they live with themselves?

My very first blog post was about an Auschwitz prisoner, Tadeusz Borowski, who stuck his head in an oven and killed himself after the war, because he couldn’t live with himself.  He had been playing soccer while the Jews were marching to their death, as an orchestra was playing.  How could Anita Lasker Wallfisch live with herself?