Scrapbookpages Blog

November 5, 2016

the little known Belzec camp

Filed under: Germany, Holocaust, Uncategorized — Tags: , — furtherglory @ 9:03 am
Belzec Memorial site

 Belzec Photo Credit: Bonnie M. Harris

The location of the former Belzec camp is one of the few Holocaust cites that that I have never visited.

I am indebted to Bonnie M. Harris, who visited the site of the camp in 2006, and wrote a description of the cite, which she allowed me to  put up on my website:

The following was written by Bonnie M. Harris:

BELZEC, The Nazi Death Camp

Immediately following the decision of the Nazi authorities to implement “Aktion Reinhard,” the Germans began construction of three death camps in Poland, designed for the purpose of exterminating the Jews living in the region known as the “Generalgouvernement.”

On November 1, 1941, Belzec, the first of the three death camps, the others being Treblinka and Sobibor, was the first death camp in which the Nazis used stationary gas chambers for killing their victims. The annihilation of the Jews at Belzec lasted for only nine months, between March and December of 1942, but in that time about a million exterminations took place, mostly Polish and foreign Jews, and small groups of non-Jewish Poles and Gypsies.

Corpses were buried in about 30 mass graves located within the perimeter of the camp site, which was at most 400 meters square. It was this practice of mass burials within the camp area itself that caused the Germans to abandon the camp when the Fall and Winter weather caused the bodies of the buried to swell and literally push themselves up out of the ground. This presented great health dangers for the perpetrators.

Between December 1942 and April 1943, transports no longer arrived at the camp and during these months, Jewish prisoners had to open the mass graves and burn the bodies of the gassed victims on huge pyres of layered railroad ties. In June 1943, the camp was totally liquidated and all the buildings were destroyed. No significant physical evidence of the victims was ever to be found at the site and the transport lists were also destroyed. The victims of Belzec died in an anonymous mass and only two official survivors of the camp lived to provide post-war testimonies of life and death at Belzec.

The site of the Belzec camp is covered by rocks

Former Belzec camp is completely covered by rocks Photo credit: Bonnie M. Harris

Rocks cover the Belzec site Photo Credit: Bonnie M. Harris

Rocks cover the Belzec site Photo Credit: Bonnie M. Harris

May 21, 2016

What’s wrong with this map?

Filed under: Germany, Holocaust, World War II — Tags: , , — furtherglory @ 8:12 am
Map of Poland

Map shows 3 Nazi death camps on the border of Poland

The map, shown above, identifies the locations of three of the alleged Nazi death camps: Treblinka, Sobibor and Belzec. All 3 of these camps were very near the Bug river, which is not shown on the map.

Allegedly, the Nazis transported Jews to Treblinka, Sobibor and Belzec for no reason, other than to kill them. But why waste trains and manpower to transport Jews to these Godforsaken places when it would have been more efficient, and cheaper, to gas them in Warsaw or at Auschwitz.

Transporting Jews from Warsaw to Treblinka and Belzec, both of which are right on the border of Poland, was highly inefficient, since the Jews could have been killed in a hidden gas chamber in Warsaw, and no one would have known about it.

Note that the locations of Warsaw and Auschwitz were easier to reach, than the three locations along the river. Auschwitz was the largest central railroad hub in Europe; trains from anywhere in Europe could go to Auschwitz without changing tracks.

If you have ever been to Germany, you know that the German people are very smart and very efficient. So why did the Germans come up with this stupid plan of transporting the Jews to Treblinka, Sobibor and Belzec to be killed?  This is a trick question. The answer is that the Jews were not transported to these places to be killed; the Jews were sent, from these locations, into the eastern territories to get rid of them, but not to kill them.

So why am I writing about this now, you ask. It is because I have just read a news article about these camps:

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

Begin quote

During the Second World War, [Caroline] Sturdy Colls knew, more than 900,000 Jewish deportees had been killed at the Treblinka death camp, an unassuming site about the size of a suburban shopping mall. After closely guarded boxcars of arrivals passed through the gates of Treblinka or its sister camps, Beec [Belzec] and Sobibór, it took less than an hour for camp staff to exterminate them in engine-exhaust gas chambers.

All three of the Operation Reinhard camps were located within a few hundred miles of each other in formerly central (now eastern) Poland, and some 500 miles from the notorious Auschwitz death camp. Of the approximately 1.7 million Jewish people who arrived at the three Reinhard camps, scarcely a hundred survived the war, and they only made it because they staged desperate breakouts that succeeded against all odds.

End quote

Photo credit: Culture Club/Getty Images

Photo credit: Culture Club/Getty Images

My 1998 photo of the memorial stones at Treblinka

My 1998 photo of the memorial stones at the Treblinka camp

According to my tour guide, who accompanied me to Treblinka in 1998, the stones in the photo above cover the area where the ashes were buried after the Jews were gassed and burned at Treblinka. Each stone represents a town or a city from which the victims were taken to Treblinka to be killed. This monument prevents anyone from digging in this area to see if ashes or bodies are buried here.

August 29, 2015

Norway is obsessing over the Gypsies who were gassed in the Holcocaust

Filed under: Germany, Holocaust — Tags: , , — furtherglory @ 10:35 am

Recently, my blog has been getting an inordinate number of hits from Norway. What could be going on in Norway?  I set out to find out why hundreds of people in Norway have been reading my blog in recent days.

I did a search and found this news article:

Gypsies being marched out of Norway, to be taken to the gas chamber

Gypsies being marched out of Norway, to be taken to the gas chamber (click on photo to enlarge)

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

A couple of days ago, we commemorated the liquidation 71 years ago of the so-called “Gypsy family camp” at Auschwitz-Birkenau. On 2 August 1944, 2 897 persons were taken to the gas chambers and exterminated. Only a few months earlier, on 16 May 1944, the detainees of the “Gypsy camp” had refused to obey the orders of the SS soldiers who had come to kill them. Knowledge about both the Roma uprising and the liquidation of the “Gypsy camp” remains limited in European societies today.

Oh no!  The Gypsies had refused to obey the orders of the SS soldiers who had come to kill them!  What did the SS soldiers say to the Gypsies? Maybe they said something like “lie down and die, you thieving scum” but the Gypsies refused.  They insisted on being properly “exterminated” in a gas chamber.

A group of Gypsies waiting to be gassed at the Belzec extermination camp

A group of Gypsies waiting to be gassed at the Belzec extermination camp

For all the readers of my blog in Norway, here is what actually happened:

At Auschwitz-Birkenau, a “Gypsy family camp” was set up in wooden barracks in Section BIIe in the Birkenau camp in February 1943.

According to the US Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC, the Gypsy camp was in existence for only seventeen months and most of the Gypsies perished.

The following quote is from the web site of the USHMM:

In a decree dated December 16, 1942, Himmler ordered the deportation of Gypsies and part-Gypsies to Auschwitz-Birkenau. At least 23,000 Gypsies were brought there, the first group arriving from Germany in February 1943. Most of the Gypsies at Auschwitz-Birkenau came from Germany or territories annexed to the Reich including Bohemia and Moravia. Police also deported small numbers of Gypsies from Poland, Hungary, Yugoslavia, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Norway.

[The two states of Bohemia and Moravia, which are now in the Czech Republic, were part of a German Protectorate from 1938 to 1945; they were not annexed into the Greater German Reich.]

The following quote about the gassing of the Gypsies is from the web site of the USHMM:

They (the Gypsies) were killed by gassing or died from starvation, exhaustion from hard labor, and disease (including typhus, smallpox, and the rare, leprosy-like condition called Noma.) Others, including many children, died as the result of cruel medical experiments performed by Dr. Josef Mengele and other SS physicians. The Gypsy camp was liquidated on the night of August 2-3, 1944, when 2,897 Sinti and Roma men, women, and children were killed in the gas chamber. Some 1,400 surviving men and women were transferred to Buchenwald and Ravensbrück concentration camps for forced labor.

According to a guidebook sold by the Auschwitz Museum in 2005, there were 20,943 Roma (Gypsies) who were gassed in the Krema V gas chamber; their bodies were burned in the pits adjacent to Krema V.

Rudolf Hoess wrote in his autobiography, entitled Death Dealer, that many of the Gypsy children suffered from an illness called “Noma,” which reminded him of leprosy.

Gypsy children suffering from a disease called

Gypsy children suffering from a disease called “Noma.”

According to Rudolf Hoess, Heinrich Himmler inspected the Gypsy camp on his visit in July 1942. Hoess wrote in his autobiography entitled Death Dealer:

Himmler inspected everything thoroughly. He saw the over-crowded barracks, the inadequate hygienic conditions, the overflowing infirmaries and the sick in the isolation ward. […] Himmler saw everything in detail, as it really was. Then he ordered me to gas them. Those who were still able to work were to be selected, just as with the Jews.

In his date book, Heinrich Himmler noted that, on his visit to Auschwitz in July 1942, he inspected the main camp, the farm at Auschwitz and the Monowitz factories, where photographs were taken of him. He did not mention that he visited Birkenau.

Danuta Czech wrote in her book entitled Kalendarium that 1,408 Gypsies who were able to work were transferred to the main Auschwitz camp and housed in Blocks 10 and 11 on May 23, 1944. They were later sent to the Buchenwald concentration camp, where there is a memorial sculpture in commemoration of the Roma.

The selection of the Gypsies for the gas chamber took two years, according to Commandant Rudolf Hoess. Regarding the liquidation of the Gypsy Family Camp on August 2, 1944, Hoess wrote the following:

By August 1944 there were only about four thousand Gypsies left and these had to go into the gas chambers. Until that time they did not know what fate was in store for them. Only as they were marched barrack after barrack to Crematory I did they figure out what was going on.

When Hoess wrote that the Gypsies were marched to Crematory 1, he was undoubtedly referring to Krema II, which was a short distance from the Gypsy camp. Crematory 1, or Krema I in German, was in the main Auschwitz camp, three kilometers from Birkenau. By August 1944, Krema I was no longer in operation as a gas chamber.

Both the USHMM and the Auschwitz Museum say that the number of Gypsies gassed on August 2, 1942 was 2,897, not “four thousand” as Hoess stated. However, according to the article below, the number of 4,000 given by Hoess might actually be closer to the correct number of Gypsies who were gassed.

Regarding the gassing of the Gypsies, Dr. Miklos Nyiszli wrote the following:

Annihilation time had come for the 4,500 inhabitants of the Gypsy Camp. The measures taken were the same as those taken for the liquidation of the Czech Camp. All the barracks were quarantined. SS guards, leading their police dogs, invaded the Gypsy quarters and chased the inhabitants outside, where they were made to line up. Rations of bread and salami were distributed. The gypsies were made to believe that they were being shipped to another camp, and they swallowed the story. A very easy and efficacious way of calming their fears. No one thought of the crematoriums, for then why would rations of food have been distributed?

This strategy on the part of the SS was dictated neither by pity nor a regard for those condemned to death, but merely by their desire to expedite a large group of people, without any unnecessary incidents or delays, to the gas chambers, guarded by a relatively small patrol. The strategy worked to perfection. Everything went off as planned. Throughout the night the chimneys of number one and two crematoriums sent flames roaring skyward, so that the entire camp was lighted with a sinister glow.

If Dr. Nyiszli’s story is correct, the method of calming the fears of the Gypsies amounted to a tremendous waste of bread and salami. Or was the “salami” actually what Americans call Thuringer, a type of smoked, semi-dry German sausage similar to our summer sausage? It is doubtful that the Nazis imported salami for the Auschwitz prisoners.

Note that Dr. Nyiszli, who worked in the “crematoriums” performing autopsies for Dr. Josef Mengele, referred to “number one and two crematoriums” but he obviously meant Krema II and Krema III at Birkenau, not Krema I, which was at the main camp.

The total number of Gypsies killed in the Holocaust is unknown. Numbers vary, from 220,00 estimated by the USHMM, to an estimated 500,000.

One of the three Operation Reinhard camps, Belzec was allegedly the first camp to begin the gassing of Jews and Gypsies in March 1942.

Gypsies were forced to work in the Dachau camp

Gypsies were forced to work in the Dachau camp, but for some reason, they were not gassed at Dachau

May 2, 2014

Kurt Gerstein and Heinrich Himmler both “allegedly” committed suicide

Filed under: Germany, Holocaust — Tags: , , — furtherglory @ 10:59 am
Waffen-SS officer Kurt Gerstein

Waffen-SS officer Kurt Gerstein

According to Wikipedia, “Kurt Gerstein (11 August 1905 – 25 July 1945) was a German SS officer and member of the Institute for Hygiene of the Waffen-SS. He witnessed mass murders in the Nazi extermination camps Belzec and Treblinka. […] In 1945, following his surrender, he wrote the Gerstein Report covering his experience of the Holocaust. He died, an alleged suicide, while in French custody.”

Strangely, Heinrich Himmler also committed suicide while in Allied custody. This saved the Allies the trouble of putting these men on trial at the Nuremberg International Military Tribunal.  However, the Gerstein Report, written in French, was entered into the IMT as evidence of Nazi war crimes.

I mentioned Kurt Gerstein very briefly in a previous post about Belzec, one of the Nazi “extermination camps” where Gerstein claimed to have witnessed the gassing of the Jews.

Some Holocaust deniers claim that the Gerstein Report is a forgery. I am suspicious of his report myself.  Why did he write it in French, when his native language was German? Oh, wait a  minute — he was in French custody at the time, so of course, he wrote it in French.

Gerstein was responsible for delivering Zyklon-B to the camps because he was “a member of the Institute for Hygiene of the Waffen-SS” according to Wikipedia. Gerstein was a highly educated man — why didn’t he know that Zyklon-B was being used to disinfect clothing to prevent typhus?  Why would he think that the Jews were being sent to some God-forsaken place to be killed with lice poison?  Allegedly, the Nazis used Carbon Dioxide to kill the Jews at Belzec. He must have known that the Zyklon-B was being used for disinfection.

Entrance into the Belzec extermination camp

Entrance into the Belzec extermination camp

Today, I was browsing through the Inconvenient History website when I read the following quote about Gerstein:

Because of his position in the Hygiene Institute and his expert knowledge of decontamination techniques, Gerstein was called upon to assist in the implementation of the “Final Solution.” He was responsible for the delivery of large quantities of Zyklon B to Auschwitz and other camps. He also was invited to inspect the Aktion Reinhard killing center at Belzec, where the SS staff used carbon monoxide gas in the gas chambers to murder prisoners. On this occasion, in August 1942, he observed a mass killing of Jews at Belzec.

In his postwar confession, Gerstein recorded what he saw at Belzec in great detail. He described the process by which trainloads of Jews entered the camp; their possessions were taken and their hair shorn. They were made to undress and crowd into a chamber (designed to look like a shower-room) so tightly they could not fall as they suffocated. Gerstein took no satisfaction in this process. He later maintained to friends that this experience made him determined to inform the world of the horrors taking place in the killing centers. He also claimed to friends during the war that he had, on at least one occasion, failed to deliver a shipment of Zyklon B gas and instead disposed of it.

Among the contacts Gerstein hoped would spread word of what he had witnessed were Swedish diplomat Baron von Otter, the papal nuncio in Berlin (Father Cesare Orsenigo), numerous members of the Confessing and Lutheran churches, and opponents of the Nazi regime. As he told those who would listen, he dreamed that the Allies would drop pamphlets across Germany; the pamphlets would inform people about what was really happening and thereby prompt the public to demand that the murder cease. Despite Gerstein’s efforts, those dreams never became reality.

By April 1945, the destruction of the Third Reich was imminent. Gerstein turned himself in to French authorities in the town of Reutlingen. In his statement, he declared that he had surrendered to make available his knowledge to punish those responsible for the atrocities. Ironically, however, Gerstein became not a witness but a suspect. At the end of May 1945, he was moved from a hotel where he had been staying under semi-house arrest to the jail in Konstanz and later to Cherche-Midi Prison in Paris. In Paris, he drafted his final statement, now known as the Gerstein Report. In this report, he recounted all that he had seen during his service with the SS. It was here he described his experience at Belzec and his conversations with von Otter and other foreign officials.
In his statement, Gerstein sought to deflect suspicion from himself as a Nazi offender. Whether it was the nature of the accusations against him, the profound distress of failing to slow the implementation of the “Final Solution,” or his fear of being convicted for his SS role, Gerstein hanged himself in July 1945.

Read more about the Gerstein Report on this kosher website:

Women who were selected to work at Belzec

Women who were selected to work at Belzec

The photo above, which was taken at the Belzec extermination camp, shows women who have been selected to sort the clothing, taken from the prisoners at Belzec. The clothing was sent back to Germany, along with the lice, because the Zyklon-B that Kurt Gerstein delivered to the camp was used to murder the Jews, not to kill the lice, according to the Holocaust True Believers.

You can read about how 600,000 Jews were killed at Belzec, along with hundreds of Gypsies, on this website:

This website  claims that ONE MILLION Jews were killed in only 9 months at Belzec, which was staffed by only 12 SS men.

April 19, 2014

A new novel about the Holocaust and Operation Reinhard

Filed under: Holocaust — Tags: , , , — furtherglory @ 9:17 am
A novel about the Holocaust and the Treblinka camp

A novel about the Holocaust and Treblinka

A new novel entitled The Comandant of Lubizec is available on Amazon. This is a fictional book about real places and real events of World War II.  The title includes the name of a fictional death camp. The name seems to be a combination of Lublin, a city in Poland, which was the headquarters of Operation Reinhard, and Belzec, one of the Operation Reinhard camps. The sub-title of the book is “A novel of the Holocaust and Operation Reinhard.”

You can read the first two pages of the novel at

Near the end of page 2, you can read the following:

“Little is known about Lubizec but by talking about this one single camp perhaps a larger discussion may arise about other death camps like Bełzec, Sobibór, and Treblinka, which aren’t lodged in the public imagination as fully as they should be.”

Bełzec, Sobibór, and Treblinka were the three Operation Reinhard camps. The author of the novel has invented a fourth Operation Reinhard camp for his novel.

This quote is from Amazon’s description of the book:

After the Nazis invaded Poland in 1939, they quickly began persecuting anyone who was Jewish. Millions were shoved into ghettos and forced to live under the swastika. Death camps were built and something called “Operation Reinhard” was set into motion. Its goal? To murder all the Jews of Poland.

The Commandant of Lubizec is a harrowing account of a death camp that never actually existed but easily could have in the Nazi state. It is a sensitive, accurate retelling of a place that went about the business of genocide.
Told as a historical account in a documentary style, it explores the atmosphere of a death camp. It describes what it was like to watch the trains roll in, and it probes into the mind of its commandant, Hans-Peter Guth. How could he murder thousands of people each day and then go home to laugh with his children? This is not only an unflinching portrayal of the machinery of the gas chambers, it is also the story of how prisoners burned the camp to the ground and fled into the woods. It is a story of rebellion and survival. It is a story of life amid death.

I can’t emphasize strongly enough how much I disapprove of novels about true historical events. I don’t like to read books, that take liberties with the truth, because I don’t know which parts are really true and which parts are not.

It seems to me that the author is calling his book a novel, so that he can promote lies about the Holocaust without being called a liar.

For example, the text in the ad for the book on Amazon includes this: “How could he [the Commandant] murder thousands of people each day and then go home to laugh with his children?”

The above statement seems to be based on Rudolf Hoess, the Commandant of Auschwitz, who lived in a house just outside the main Auschwitz camp.  The two photos below show the front and the rear of the house where Rudolf Hoess lived with his wife and children.

The front of the house where Commandant Rudolf Hoess lived

The front of the house where Commandant Rudolf Hoess lived

The rear of the house where Rudolf Hoess lived was just down the street from the gas chamber

The rear of the house where Rudolf Hoess lived was just down the street from the gas chamber in the main Auschwitz camp

I used the “search inside” feature and found, on page 18 of the book, that the wife of the Commandant of the fictional Lubizec camp had “moved into a house close by.”

All of the Operation Reinhard camps were way out in the boondocks; there were no houses “close by” which would have been good enough for a Commandant’s wife.  For example, the house in the photo below is “close by” the Treblinka camp. Is this the kind of house, in which the Commandant’s wife lived?

House near the Treblinka camp

House near the Treblinka camp

This quote is also from the ad for the book on Amazon:

With a strong eye towards the history of the Holocaust, The Commandant of Lubizec compels us to look at these extermination centers anew. It disquiets us with the knowledge that similar events actually took place in camps like Bełzec, Sobibór, and Treblinka. The history of Lubizec, although a work of fiction, is a chillingly blunt distillation of real life events. It asks that we look again at “Operation Reinhard”. It brings voice to the silenced. It demands that we bear witness.

In other words, since the Holocaustians can’t prove the truth of their story of the Operation Reinhard camps, just write it up as fiction. Take that, you Holocaust deniers!

I wrote about Treblinka in a previous  blog post at

March 27, 2012

When did the Holocaust gas chambers become common knowledge?

Filed under: Holocaust — Tags: , , — furtherglory @ 11:51 am

A reader of my blog, who has his own blog here, wrote a comment which I am quoting below:

At least since the summer of 1942 the Belzec extermination camp was known in far away remote areas of the General Government (German occupied Poland). Although not all the details were reported back to the public, the majority of Poles, Jews and Germans, had been aware of the name of this camp and associated it with a place of Jewish exterminations.

Belzec was the first of the three Operation Reinhard camps which were set up to carry out the Final Solution of the Jewish Question, which was planned at the Wannsee Conference on January 20, 1942. The other two Operation Reinhard camps were Sobibor and Treblinka. The Belzec camp was located just outside the village of Belzec, on the eastern border of German-occupied Poland.

Jews from the ghettos of southern Poland were sent to Belzec where there were three gas chambers that had been put into operation on March 17, 1942.  This was the start of the gassing of the Jews.

All three of the Operation Reinhard camps were conveniently located near a major Jewish ghetto. Belzec was between the Lublin and the Lvov ghettos. Treblinka was 60 miles from the Warsaw ghetto and Sobibor was near the Lublin ghetto. All three Operation Reinhard camps were near the Bug river, which formed the eastern border of German-occupied Poland.

In other words, the Jews were first rounded up and put into ghettos; they were then transported, as far as trains could go, to the eastern border of Germany territory, where they were killed.  In spite of the secrecy involved, the people in the area knew about the gassing.

Memorial to the Jews who were gassed at Belzec Photo Credit: Bonnie M. Harris

The memorial at the site of the Belzec camp was designed by Andrzej Solyga, Zdzislaw Pidek, and Marcin Roszczyk. It was opened in a solemn ceremony on June 3, 2004 as a joint project of the American Jewish Committee and the Council for the Protection of the Memory of Combat and Martyrdom in Warsaw. The complex at the former death camp consists of a memorial to the 600,000 victims, who were murdered in the camp, and a museum with an exhibition about the history of the Belzec death camp.

The Belzec death camp was only in existence for nine months, after which it was completely dismantled to destroy the evidence of the murder of the 600,000 Jews who were killed in the gas chambers. The bodies, which had been buried, were exhumed and then burned on pyres before the camp was abandoned.

When did people in the rest of the world first know about the gassing of the Jews?  I learned about it in elementary school when I was in the seventh grade.  I was in Catholic school where we studied Catholic history, which was actually world history. We had been learning about how the Jews had been persecuted for centuries, in many different countries, so the story of how the Jews were being gassed by the Nazis fit right in with what we had been learning about past history in Europe.

The first news of the gassing of the Jews had come from the BBC in June 1942.  My family did not have a radio, but our neighbors had a radio that was capable of hearing the BBC broadcasts.  Back then, news spread by word of mouth, so it was very quickly known around the world that the Jews were being gassed.

At the time that I first heard about the gas chambers, I didn’t think that this was anything unusual.  I lived in Missouri where there was a gas chamber in Jefferson City.  I had actually gone on a class trip to see “the Big House,” as the Missouri State Penitentiary was called.  The Missouri gas chamber was a very small stone building that was outside the huge prison.  I only saw it from a distance and didn’t see the inside, which had two chairs where two criminals could be gassed at one time.  I imagined that the Jews were being gassed, two at a time.  I didn’t dwell on this at the time; it never occurred to me that this would have been a very inefficient way to kill millions of people.

The photo below shows the broken concrete which now covers the entire area of the former Belzec camp where 600,000 Jews were gassed to death in only nine months.

Close-up of  Belzec memorial shows field of broken concrete  Photo credit: Bonnie M. Harris

February 19, 2012

“In Darkness” a new Holocaust film opening soon at a theater near you

Filed under: Holocaust, movies, World War II — Tags: , , , — furtherglory @ 8:56 am

A new Holocaust film, directed by Agnieszka Holland, the woman who directed the film “Europa, Europa” back in 1990, opened in “select theaters” on Feb. 17th and will be shown in my city next week.  I am looking forward to seeing this film because I liked “Europa, Europa” so much that I saw it twice.

The new movie is about the Lvov Ghetto in what is now the city of Lviv in Ukraine. Before the joint invasion of Poland by Germany and the Soviet Union in 1939, the city of Lvov was home to 120,000 Jews.  At that time, Lvov was located in territory that had formerly belonged to Germany before World War I; the German name for the city was Lemberg.

"In Darkness" shows Jewish children hiding in sewers in Lvov ghetto in Poland

The Nazis did not occupy the city of Lvov until after the German invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941 and by that time, the number of Jews in the city had increased to 220,000, according to Wikipedia.  Between October 1939 and June 1941, Lvov had been in Soviet-occupied territory. The Lvov ghetto was set up by the Germans in November 1941 and liquidated in June 1943 when the Jews in the ghetto were sent to the Belzec death camp or the Janowska concentration camp.

One of my most popular blog posts was about how Amon Goeth saved Jews from the ghettos in the Lublin area by taking bribes from them in exchange for not sending them to Belzec.  I haven’t seen the new film about the Lvov ghetto, but I wonder if some of the Lvov Jews saved themselves by bribing the Germans who were in charge of sending them to either the Belzec extermination camp or the Janowska concentration camp.

I learned a lot from the film “Europa, Europa.”  I learned that some of the so-called rivers in Poland are so shallow that a person can easily wade across them.  Not like the real rivers in Missouri where I grew up (Missouri river and Mississippi river). I learned that many Jews escaped into the Soviet zone of Poland during the German invasion of Poland on September 1, 1939 and that they waded across the Bug river which divided the two zones.  The Soviets invaded Poland on September 17, 1939.

I will write more about the Jews in Lvov after I see the new movie.  It has been nominated for an Oscar for the best foreign film this year.

Read more here about the Lvov ghetto at the USHMM website. The photo below, from the USHMM website, shows a German soldier watching as Ukrainian civilians drag a Jew down the street in the Lvov ghetto.

Ukrainian civilians drag a Jew in Lvov ghetto as German soldier looks on

June 2, 2010

Did Amon Goeth save more Jews than Oskar Schindler?

Filed under: Holocaust, movies, World War II — Tags: , , , , — furtherglory @ 9:57 am

Amon Goeth was the Commandant of the Plaszow concentration camp; he was shown in the movie Schindler’s List as an evil monster who heartlessly shot innocent Jews from the balcony of his home.  In the movie, Goeth also beat his maid and committed many other atrocities. So why would anyone think that Amon Goeth, the epitome of evil, saved Jews during the Holocaust?

Scene from the movie Schindler’s List

After World War II ended, Amon Goeth was put on trial in Poland, but he was not charged with shooting prisoners from his balcony, nor with beating his maid.  He was charged with “liquidating” the Krakow ghetto, the Tarnow ghetto and the labor camp at  Szebnie near Jaslo.  During these liquidations, prisoners who tried to escape were shot and Amon Goeth was responsible for their deaths, although he didn’t personally shoot anyone.

When the ghettos were liquidated, some of the Jews were sent to forced labor camps, such as the Plaszow camp that is shown in Schindler’s List, but others were sent to the death camps at Belzec or Auschwitz. Amon Goeth took bribes from some of the Jews in the ghettos and then sent them to a labor camp instead of sending them to a death camp.  Goeth was arrested by the Nazis themselves on September 13, 1944 and charged by SS judge Dr. Georg Konrad Morgen with taking bribes from the Jews in exchange for not sending them to a death camp.  The movie Schindler’s List did not mention Goeth’s arrest and his absence in the camp was never explained.

How many Jews did Amon Goeth save from certain death in the death camps?  No one knows, but he was amassing a fortune from the bribes that he took, and this attracted the attention of the SS Criminal Police; he was investigated for six months before he was finally arrested.

Amon Goeth at the Plaszow camp

Goeth’s first job, after he joined the Waffen-SS, had been to liquidate several ghettos in the Lublin area. In exchange for money or other valuables such as furs and furniture, Goeth had sent Jews to labor camps instead of sending them to the death camp at Belzec.  In the eyes of the Nazis, this was a crime because all possessions taken from the Jews belonged to the Third Reich, not to SS officers like Goeth.

According to Thomas Keneally’s novel, Schindler’s Ark, Amon Goeth was “selling a percentage of the prison rations on the open market in Cracow through an agent of his, a Jewish prisoner named Wilek Chilowicz, who had contacts with factory managements, merchants and even restaurants in Cracow.”   Thomas Keneally explained that Chilowicz was allegedly killed by Goeth because he was a potential witness to Goeth’s crime of stealing the prisoner’s food. (The movie Schindler’s List was based on the novel Schindler’s Ark.)

So Amon Goeth, whose name is synonymous with evil for a whole generation of Americans, was actually working with the Jews to become rich during World War II.  However, it is doubtful that Goeth was stealing food from the Plaszow camp when there was a jewelry factory there as well as a furniture factory and a custom tailor shop.  The Jews who made it onto Schindler’s List stole diamonds from the jewelry factory and used them to bribe Marcel Goldman, the Jew who made up Schindler’s List.

After Goeth was arrested by the Nazis on September 13, 1944, Oskar Schindler was arrested a few days later and interrogated by the SS as part of the Goeth investigation, according to David Crowe’s book entitled Oskar Schindler.

David Crowe wrote that Schindler

“did move a lot of the former Plaszow commandant’s war booty to Brünnlitz. Göth, who still seemed to consider Schindler his friend, visited Brünnlitz several times during the latter months of the war while on parole.”

Goeth had been kept in prison in Breslau until he was released on parole on October 22, 1944 because he was suffering from diabetes. He was recuperating in an SS sanitarium in Bad Tölz near Munich when he was arrested by General Patton’s troops in 1945. His mistress, Ruth Irene Kalder, was with him at Bad Tölz and their daughter, Monika, was born there in November 1945.

Mietek Pemper, a prisoner at Plaszow who worked as Goeth’s stenographer and was privy to secret SS documents, was the main witness against Amon Goeth when he was put on trial in Poland after the war. Pemper told author David Crowe that:

“the basis of Chilowicz’s wealth came from the goods that Göth had collected from Krakow’s Jews after the closing of the (Podgorze) ghetto. Though Göth was supposed to send these valuables to the Reichsbank, he told Chilowicz to keep most of it for his (Göth’s) own expenses. These goods became the basis of Göth’s black market empire at Plaszow. Chilowicz, who handled Göth’s black market deals, always managed to skim something off the top for himself.”

According to David Crowe’s book, Wilek Chilowicz was the head of the OD, the Jewish police at Plaszow. He wrote that “Göth sought permission to murder Chilowicz and several other prominent OD men in the camp on false charges.” In all the Nazi concentration camps, the staff had to get permission from headquarters in Oranienburg to punish a prisoner, but punishment did not include murder.

Dr. Georg Konrad Morgen was a Waffen-SS officer and attorney whom Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler had put in charge of investigating murder, corruption and mistreatment of prisoners in all the Nazi concentration camps in 1943. Dr. Morgen’s first investigation had resulted in the arrest of Karl Otto Koch, the Commandant of Buchenwald, and his later execution by the Nazis. When Goeth realized that he was being investigated by Dr. Morgen, he sought permission from Wilhelm Koppe in the central office in Oranienburg to execute Wilek Chilowicz, who could have testified against him.

Wait a minute!  Amon Goeth, the man who shot prisoners at random from his balcony, “sought permission” to execute the Jew that he was working with to steal goods when the ghettos were liquidated?  That doesn’t make any sense at all.

According to David Crowe’s book, Goeth asked one of his SS officers, Josef Sowinski, to prepare a detailed, false report about a potential camp rebellion led by Chilowicz and other OD men. Based on this report, Koppe sent a secret letter to Goeth giving him the authority to carry out the execution of Chilowicz and several other OD men. The execution took place on August 13, 1944; Goeth was arrested exactly a month later and charged by Dr. Morgen with corruption and brutality, including the murder of Wilek Chilowicz and several others. The office in Oranienburg did not have the authority to give an execution order; an execution could only be authorized by the Gestapo in Berlin.

Oskar Schindler had a lot in common with Amon Goeth, including the fact that both were Catholic and both were arrested by the Nazis for engaging in black market activities. Both were out to get rich from the war-time economy in Poland. Both were born in the same year, 1908; both were hard drinkers and both had a “massive physique.” Goeth was Austrian, as were his fellow Nazi criminals Adolph Eichmann, Ernst Kaltenbrunner, and Adolph Hitler. Schindler was an ethnic German living in what is now the state of Moravia in the Czech Republic.

Amon Goeth  after he was arrested

After World War II ended, the American military turned Amon Goeth over to the Polish government for prosecution as a war criminal. He was brought before the Supreme National Tribunal of Poland in Krakow. His trial took place between August 27, 1946 and September 5, 1946. Goeth was charged with being a member of the Nazi party and a member of the Waffen-SS, Hitler’s elite army, both of which had been designated as criminal organizations by the Allies after the war. His crime was that he had taken part in the activities of these two criminal organizations.

Goeth was also charged with the following crime:

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

The last charge against Goeth, as stated above, was the crime for which he had been arrested on September 13, 1944, after an investigation by Waffen-SS officer Dr. Georg Konrad Morgen.

So how did Goeth manage to “deprive the inmates of valuables, gold and money” in connection with the liquidation of the ghettos, as stated in the charges against him by the Polish government?  This is probably a reference to the bribes that Amon Goeth took to save some of the Jews from being sent to the death camps when the ghettos were liquidated.

Oskar Schinlder saved 1,200 Jews by putting them on a List of prisoners to be taken to his factory in what is now the Czech Republic.  Amon Goeth was in charge of liquidating at least 6 ghettos.  If he saved as many as 200 Jews from being sent to Belzec or Auschwitz from each of these ghettos, then his total of saved Jews would be comparable to the number on Schindler’s List.

Maybe Steven Spielberg should make a sequel in which he would show Amon Goeth taking bribes and sending Jews to labor camps instead of sending them to certain death.  It could be entitled “Goeth’s List” as a reference to the list of Jews from whom Goeth accepted bribes to save their lives.