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June 5, 2014

Auschwitz-Birkenau, the major site of the Nazi “Final Solution to the Jewish question”

Filed under: Germany, Holocaust — Tags: , — furtherglory @ 11:43 am

The title of my blog post today is a quote from an article, written by Warner M. Montgomery, and published  in the Columbia Star weekly newspaper.

I am writing a long comment on this article because it contains some serious errors, which might confuse readers.  Mr. Montgomery was writing about a trip that he took to Auschwitz in 1991. The title of the article mentions “The Final Solution to the Jewish Question.”  The “Jewish Question” was whether the Jews should have their own state, within the country of Germany, or whether they should have their own state some place else, e.g. Palestine.  I explained all this in a previous blog post at https://furtherglory.wordpress.com/2012/11/11/kristallnacht-marked-the-beginning-of-hitlers-war-against-the-jews/

This quote is from the article in the Columbia Star weekly newspaper:

June 1991. The sun was shining. Flowers were blooming. Birds were singing. But the air was screaming with the horror of four million people walking to their death in the gas chambers of Auschwitz.

In 1991, visitors to Auschwitz were told that 4 million people were killed at Auschwitz; this was the number given in testimony by the Soviet Union at the Nuremberg International Military Tribunal.  That number has now been downgraded to 1.1 million deaths at Auschwitz, including 900,000 Jews.

This quote is also from the article written by Warner M. Montgomery:

The trains would arrive at Birkenau where the women and children were unloaded. The men were unloaded two miles away at Auschwitz. Family members never saw each other again. The prisoners passed through the Arbeit Macht Frei gate, unsuspecting of what lay ahead.

This is confusing because Birkenau was the Auschwitz II camp, known as Auschwitz-Birkenau.  The Auschwitz I camp, which had the Arbeit macht Frei sign, was two miles from the Birkenau camp. However, the trains that brought the prisoners to Auschwitz stopped in the Auschwitz II camp, where both men and women got off.

The photo below shows both men and women getting off a train that has just arrived at the Auschwitz II camp, aka Auschwitz-Birkenau.

Men and women getting off an in-coming train at the Auschwitz II camp, aka Auschwitz-Birkenau

Men and women getting off an in-coming train at the Auschwitz II camp, aka Auschwitz-Birkenau

The photo below is shown in the Columbia Star weekly paper, along with the article.

This photo was taken in the women's barracks at Auschwitz-Birkenau

This photo was taken in the women’s barracks at Auschwitz-Birkenau

The article in the Columbia Star identifies the photo above as a photo taken in the MEN’S camp at Auschwitz-Birkenau.   It was actually taken in the WOMEN’S camp at Auschwitz-Birkenau. The women’s camp is shown in my 2005 photo below.

The Women's Camp at Auschwitz-Birkenau

The Women’s Camp at Auschwitz-Birkenau, the Auschwitz II camp

My 2005 photo of the bunks in the Women's camp

My 2005 photo of the bunks in the Women’s camp

This quote is also from the article, written by Warner M. Montgomery:

One room even contained orthopedic appliances, such as crutches, leg braces, even artificial limbs. It was obvious that nothing went unnoticed or unused by the Nazi masters.

When I visited the Auschwitz Museum in the main camp in 1998, I was told by my tour guide that these crutches and artificial limbs were taken from World War II Polish war veterans, who had been brought to the Auschwitz main camp, as prisoners, because they were fighting, as illegal combatants, with the Polish Resistance.

My photo of an exhibit in the Auschwitz Museum in the main camp

My photo of an exhibit in the Auschwitz Museum in the main camp

July 2, 2012

Photo of naked women being driven to the gas chamber at Auschwitz-Birkenau

Filed under: Holocaust — Tags: , — furtherglory @ 3:28 pm

I have just learned from a news article in the Irish times, that there is a photo on display at Auschwitz-Birkenau which shows naked women being driven toward the Krema V gas chamber.  A lot has changed at Auschwitz since I was there in 2005 and I don’t think that this photo was there in 2005.

This quote is from the article in the Irish Times:

On a day like this, the woods outside the camp look like a nice place for a picnic. That is until you remember that in the summer of 1944, the Birkenau section of the camp was gassing an average of 8,000 Jews each day. Thousands of newly arrived men, women and children would have sat around in these woods for hours, unaware of what lay ahead in the gas chambers.  […]

Even for those of us who are familiar with the pictures of Auschwitz, there are still some shocking new images. In particular, there is the blurred picture of a number of naked women being driven like sheep into a pen.

Except that the pen was a gas chamber. That picture was taken at great risk by one of the “worker” prisoners in Auschwitz and somehow smuggled out of the camp.

Krema IV at Birkenau where Jews were gassed and burned

The photo below, which I found by doing a web search, has the caption: Naked Jewish women being driven towards Gas Chamber V-Auschwitz ll Birkenau.

Naked women being driven toward the Krema V gas chamber at Auschwitz-Birkenau

There are numerous photos of prisoners waiting for their turn in the gas chambers in Krema IV and Krema V, which the SS men took themselves, and put into a photo album, called the Auschwitz Album.  The photo below, from the Auschwitz Album, shows an elderly woman who is trying to escape; the building in the background appears to be Krema IV or Krema V, which were identical in design.

Three Jewish men restrain a woman who is trying to escape

All the photos below are from the Auschwitz Album; they show Jewish prisoners at Auschwitz-Birkenau waiting for the gas chamber.

Women and children waiting for the gas chamber

Waiting for the gas chamber at Auschwitz-Birkenau

Women and children walking toward the gas chambers in Auschwitz-Birkenau

Women and children waiting outside the Krema IV gas chamber

A mixed group of men, women and children walking to the gas chamber

In the photo immediately above, you can see, in the upper right hand corner, what looks like the gate into the section where Krema IV, Krema V and the Sauna are located.  The Sauna, where incoming prisoners took a shower, was located across the road from Krema IV.

The Sauna, where incoming Jews took a shower, was across the road from Krema IV

Waiting for the gas chamber in the birch tree grove at Birkenau

The photo, that is displayed at the ruins of the Krema V gas chamber, presents a problem.  With 8,000 prisoners being gassed each day, and thousands of Jews waiting in the birch tree grove at the western end of the Birkenau camp, there would have been pandemonium if a group of naked women had been driven into Krema V, after being told that they would be given a shower.  Thousands of other prisoners would have witnessed this and there would have been chaos as they scattered in all directions, trying to escape.

What about the prisoners who had been selected for work?  They would have been marching to the Sauna, across the road from the gas chambers, and a panic would have ensued.  The plan was to have some of the prisoners take a shower before going to the barracks where they would live while they worked, while those who were too young or too old to work would be immediately killed.  The plan had to be kept secret until the very last minute to prevent a mass escape attempt.

Besides that, the naked women in the photo look like candidates for labor, not the gas chamber.  So what does this photo really show?