Scrapbookpages Blog

December 11, 2015

Throwing ashes of Jews into rivers — fact or fiction?

TheresienstadtGate

The gate into the Theresienstadst ghetto is shown in my photo above, taken several years ago. This place is now known as Terezín [rhymes with kerosine and gasoline].

The subject of throwing ashes into rivers came up in this recent news article:  http://m.taggmanager.cz/en/1075

Newbies, who want to know more about throwing ashes into rivers, can read about Theresienstadt on this kosher website:  http://www.outsideprague.com/terezin/terezin.html

This quote is from the kosher website cited in the link above:

The other statistics for Terezín [Theresienstadt] are equally as difficult to comprehend. Within three years 87,000 people were sent from Terezín to the concentration camps in Poland. Less than 4000 survived. The ashes of 22,000 people were thrown into the Ohře River at the end of the war, in an attempt by the SS to disguise their activities. At the beginning of the war, Terezín was a town of 7,000 inhabitants, including soldiers stationed there. By the end its population had swelled to almost 58,000. 9,000 people are buried in graves around the fortress and around 35,000 people in total perished in Terezín during the war.

My photo of one of the buildings at Theresienstadt

My photo of a building at Theresienstadt

One of the regular readers of my blog is Wolf Murmelstein, who is a survivor of Terezín,  the place formerly known as Theresienstadt.

My photo of the wall around the Theresienstadt ghetto

My photo of the wall around the Theresienstadt ghetto

As a child, Wolf was confined in the Theresienstadt ghetto where his father, Benjamin Murmelstein, was the last Jewish elder of the ghetto.

The building where Benjamin Murmelstein worked at Theresienstadt

The building where Benjamin Murmelstein worked at Theresienstadt

Wolf recently wrote this in a comment, which I have edited because English is not his first language:

On October 31, 1944, the Nazis took all the boxes containing the ashes of persons dead at Theresienstadt out of the COLOMBARIUM.

All the boxes were brought to the nearby Eger river, where a group of twenty prisoners had to empty the boxes, and throw the ashes into the river. Needless to say, those prisoners had been shot just after having done that work.

Throwing the ashes of murdered victims in the water of a river is a very old pagan rite and perfectly consistent with the Nazi doctrine of the extirpation of Jews.

Clearly the tragic story of the SONDERKOMANDO members is no way suitable for a Hollywood film [such as Son of Saul].

I have visited Theresienstadt twice, after which I wrote about it on my this section of my website: http://www.scrapbookpages.com/CzechRepublic/Theresienstadt/TheresienstadtGhetto/History/index.html

I wrote about the ashes of the Jews on this page of my website: http://www.scrapbookpages.com/CzechRepublic/Theresienstadt/TheresienstadtGhetto/History/RedCrossVisit.html
The following quote is from my website:

On the outskirts of the town [Theresienstadt], the Sokol building, formerly used to house Jews who were suffering from encephalitis, was changed into a social club for cultural events with a library for the use of the Jews and a Synagogue.

A Columbarium to hold the ashes of the Jews who died in the camp was built near the crematorium and tombstones were placed on the graves in the cemetery.

The beautiful 18th century barracks buildings were refurbished and improved inside and out.

With Theresienstadt now beautified, the next step was to relieve the overcrowding in the ghetto so that the IRC [International Red Cross] would not realize the actual inhuman living conditions there.

In September 1943, December 1943 and May 1944, just before the scheduled visit, there was a total of seven transports on which 17,517 Jews were sent to the death camp at Auschwitz.

The Czech Jews from these transports were placed in a “family camp” at the Auschwitz II camp known as Birkenau. The men, women and children were allowed to stay together in contrast to the other prisoners at Auschwitz-Birkenau who had to live in separate fenced-off sections where the men and women were segregated from each other.

The Czech Jews were allowed to wear civilian clothes instead of the blue and gray striped prison uniforms that the other inmates had to wear. Most importantly, they were allowed to send letters back to Theresienstadt to tell the others about how well they were being treated in the camp.

Six months after it was opened, the “family camp” was closed and only 1,168 of the Theresienstadt prisoners survived. The rest are presumed to have perished in the gas chamber.

End quote

“That’s all she wrote, and she rubbed that out.”  [old saying]

November 14, 2015

The plan to gas the prisoners at Theresienstadt near the end of World War II

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — furtherglory @ 8:27 am
My photo of a woman shopper in the town formerly known as Theresienstadt

My photo of a woman shopper in the town formerly known as Theresienstadt

My photo of the Gate into Theresienstadt

My photo of the Gate into Theresienstadt

Today, I am answering a comment made on my blog at 2 o’clock in the morning [California time] by Wolf Murmelstein, who was a prisoner at Theresienstadt when he was a child.

In my humble opinion, I believe that Wolf was too young to understand what was going on at Theresienstadt, where his father, Benjamin Murmelstein, was the last Jewish Elder.

The Bauhof building at Theresienstadt

The Bauhof building at Theresienstadt was near the alleged gas chamber

According to the Theresienstadt Ghetto Museum, in 1945, a homicidal gas chamber was built in a corridor of the town’s fortifications wall near the Litomerice gate, which is right by the Bauhof building, shown in the photograph above. (Click here to see a map of the ghetto. The Bauhof building is number 14 on the map.) According to Holocaust historian Martin Gilbert, this gas chamber was never “activated.”

Here is the comment, made by Wolf Murmelstein, with some corrections in English grammar, made by me:

Begin quote:

Commenting on the [Holocaust denial] case of the old German woman [Ursula Haverbeck] convicted for neo-nazi propaganda, I  have simply remembered how the aged Jews of Vienna had been driven to deportation in September 1942 and visitors present that Saturday afternoon had been selected to be deported too.

At Theresienstadt, the aged persons dwelled in the Kavalier barrack and also in many other buildings. Many passed away because of the bad conditions and also because of their advanced age.

However, in January 1945, Eichmann and his staff could see that the death rate had not been high enough, and in order to hasten the destruction of the Jewish inmates, they ordered to adapt, inside the wall around the camp, a room inside the wall,  in a strange way without written design – only oral instructions — a room inside the wall.

My photo below shows the double wall around the camp.

Double walls around Theresienstadt

My phjoto of the double walls around Theresienstadt

Wall around Theresienstadt

The outside of the double wall around Theresienstadt

Just as at the arrival, in December 1944, of a group from Slovakia, the first alarming news arrived, that the purpose of that room inside the [double] wall seemed to be for a dangerous purpose.

At a certain moment, the Elder Benjamin Murmelstein – after having left instructions for the inmates, in the case of his arrest – faced the German Commandant of the camp, Karl Rahm, who spoke vaguely about a bomb safe warehouse, but then left for Prague.

Commandant Rahm returned after three days with the order to stop the work which only SS General Karl Hermann Frank had the authority to give. The Commandant [Karl Rahm] had tried to reach a personal deal with the Allies and wanted to use Theresienstadt in his negotiations.

From a statement, made by SS Captain Heinrich Joeke in the People’s Court, the gas chamber at Theresienstadt had been built to exterminate the political prisoners in the camp.

It is noteworthy that Commander Karl Rahm, at his trial, did not mention his trip to Prague where he obtained the order of SS General Frank to stop work on the gas chamber, although the key witness Benjamin Murmelstein mentioned this.

I believe that he feared revenge on his family at Vienna when speaking about the responsibility of [Adolf] Eichmann and staff members who managed to escape at war’s end. So he spoke always about the phantom bomb safe warehouse.

It is noteworthy that not even Rahm spoke about delousing and similar nonsense. Indeed the Nazis considered the lice as a useful instrument for provoking mortal diseases, [such as typhus] among the inmates.

That old German Neo-nazi woman [Ursula Haverbeck]  will certainly live better during her last years than the aged Jews who were deported to Theresienstadt.

Today, events in Paris [attacks by ISIS] show that laws, against Holocaust denial and other racist hatred spraying, ought to be harder. . .

September 15, 2015

Hannah Arendt and her opinion about the role of the Jewish leaders in the Holocaust

The name Hannah Arendt came up in a comment today, so I am expanding on this subject on my blog.

Hannah Arendt

Hannah Arendt

The name Hannah Arendt used to be a household word, but today’s young people might not be familiar with her name, nor her writing. It used to be that, if you did not know who Hannah Arendt was, you were obviously not a college graduate. Her reporting on the trial of Adolf Eichmann in Jerusalem was, at one time, world famous; her words were studied in colleges throughout America.

Wolf Murmelstein, who is a regular reader of my blog, mentioned Arendt in a comment.  He thinks that she got the story of Theresienstadt completely wrong.  Wolf was a child at Theresienstadt; he is the son of Benjamin Murmelstein, the last Jewish Elder of the camp.

My photo of an old building at Theresienstadt

My photo of an old building at Theresienstadt

My photo of an old building at Theresienstadt which has the date 1941 on it

My photo of an old building at Theresienstadt which has the date 1941 on it

This quote from Wikipedia tells who Hannah Arendt was:

JohannaHannahArendt[3] (/ˈɛərənt/ or /ˈɑrənt/; German: [ˈaːʀənt];[4] 14 October 1906 – 4 December 1975) was a German-born political theorist. Though often described as a philosopher, she rejected that label on the grounds that philosophy is concerned with “man in the singular” and instead described herself as a political theorist because her work centers on the fact that “men, not Man, live on the earth and inhabit the world.”[5] An assimilated Jew, she escaped Europe during the Holocaust and became an American citizen. Her works deal with the nature of power, and the subjects of politics, direct democracy, authority, and totalitarianism. The Hannah Arendt Prize is named in her honor.

=======

A few years ago, Dr. Murmelstein sent me a series of essays, including an essay in which he included information about Hannah Arendt.

The following quote is from his essay, which you can read in full on my website at http://www.scrapbookpages.com/Contributions/Murmelstein/JudenratQuestion.html

Begin quote:
The opinion of Hanna Arendt that the Jewish Leaders, by their “participation,” had helped the Nazis to hasten the deportations, hardly meets any test of consistency:

Hanna Arendt, in 1940, was able to go to New York and stay safe there, because there had been Jewish Leaders and volunteers who “participated” in order to help fellow Jews to leave Nazi-Fascist ruled Europe.

Jewish Leaders certainly were not stronger than the various army commanders and statesmen who surrendered to Nazi Germany. Jewish communities in those times of darkness stood in an often hostile or, at least, indifferent environment.

As a disciple of the Nazi Philosopher Heidegger, Hanna Arendt is hardly entitled to pass judgment on Jewish Leaders, who were almost all Martyrs. On the other hand, it should be discussed whether, or how, Hanna Arendt’s opinions had been influenced by Heidegger’s theories.

When reporting on the Eichmann trial, Hanna Arendt failed to note that Attorney General Hausner had not called a witness like Benjamin Murmelstein to give evidence.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read more at http://www.scrapbookpages.com/Contributions/Murmelstein/JudenratQuestion.html

September 6, 2015

A letter from Holocaust survivor Wolf Murmelstein

Filed under: Germany, Holocaust, World War II — Tags: , , — furtherglory @ 9:17 am

I have received the following letter from Wolf Murmelstein, one of the regular readers of my blog. Wolf was a child during World War II, and his memories of that time still haunt him. He was confined to the Theresienstadt ghetto, where his father Benjamin Murmelstein was the last Jewish elder. His father was accused of co-operating with the Nazis, which is considered to be a terrible shame for the Murmelstein family.

Magdeburg barracks at Theresienstadt

Magdeburg barracks at Theresienstadt

It is very upsetting to Wolf that most of the people who comment on my blog are revisionists and they do not think that his war-time experience was as bad as he describes it. I can relate, because I am as old as dirt and I was also a child during World War II. To me, the war time years were an unhappy time.

Read the letter from Wolf Murmelstein below:

Dear Furtherglory!

I take it that you were being ironical when you stated that I could make a lot of money talking and writing about my sad life experience as a Holocaust survivor.

I am commenting here on what suddenly has been written on your blog.

1. In 1961, my Father [Benjamin Murmelstein] wrote a book in Italian about Theresienstadt, entitled “The SHOW GHETTO of Eichmann”.

Author fees hardly covered his expenses of typing and other things connected with book publishing. The Italian Publishing House at the Frankfurt Book Show could not find any English or German Publishing House interested in publishing it.

2. In 2013, the book was published again in Italian; fees are at a very low level. Thanks to my personal connections, a Vienna based Publishing House published the German version last year; I still have not seen the sales record.

3. I have relatives and friends who really (!) survived Auschwitz and the Death Marches but avoided recalling their experience as this was painful. I listened only to what they were willing to say and avoided asking any questions.

4. I did not get any money when I was interviewed by the SPIELBERG FOUNDATION, Yale University FORTUNATE ARCHIVE and researchers.

5. In 2011, I was interviewed for the film entitled WOLF, which in 2013 got praise at a Film Festival. I declined any financial reward, so I was free to answer questions in my manner, stating my version of the facts. Furthermore, I could also decline to meet persons with whom I had been in conflict.

6. Instead of lamenting about things which I passed through, I prefer to study the historical background of events which occurred, and to reach conclusions which are not considered to be politically correct in all the various branches of Shoah Business. My studies certainly will not be sponsored by any side of the discussions; see also my comments to the blog posts.

You will be surprised but many Shoah survivors did not achieve success after WWII and, while still alive, are needy.

8. So the deportations, as the lasting defamation of my family after Liberation, had not been helpful for my career, nor for my health.

9. As with many other survivors, I too am told by doctors to avoid taking part in public debates at various meetings, and I myself – as a special survivor – am allowed only to write articles and essays.

When paying for attending a meeting where Mister so and so recalls his so called experience, then the money is wasted. Indeed the interviewers ask suggestive questions which compel the answer which many attendees are ready to accept; this in my opinion.

As you can see, freedom of mind has a heavy cost.

I feel that, in the USA, historical studies are at a poor level, not just in schools and Universities, so that is why I am explaining things on many comments on this blog.

Best Regards.
Wolf Murmelstein.

October 23, 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Old-New Synagogue in Prague is still being used

Old-New Synagogue in Prague is still being used

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

Tourists line up to enter the Pinkas Synagogue in Prague

Tourists line up to enter the Pinkas Synagogue in Prague

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[…]

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

[…]

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

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

October 14, 2013

Carla Cohn wrote “My Nine Lives” after surviving Theresienstadt, Auschwitz and Mauthausen

Filed under: Holocaust, World War II — Tags: , , , , — furtherglory @ 8:45 am

Carla Cohn was a small child, living in Berlin, with her prominent Jewish family, when she was sent, along with her sister and her parents to the Theresienstadt Ghetto, the best of all places, to which the Jews were sent, during the Holocaust.

Building L410 for young girls at Theresienstadt

Building L410 for young girls, ages 8 to 16, at Theresienstadt

I have blogged several times about Dr. Benjamin Murmelstein, who is the subject of a new film by Claude Lanzman, the man who made the 9 and 1/2 hour film entitled Shoah. Lanzman interviewed Dr. Mermelstein at great length at the time that he was recording testimony from many Holocaust survivors for Shoah, but the interview ended up on the cutting room floor. Lanzman’s new film features the interview with Dr. Benjamin Murmelstein.

Dr. Benjamin Murmelstein was at Theresienstadt from Sept. 27, 1944 until May 5, 1945, so Carla Cohn was not at Theresienstadt during the time that he was there.  In spite of this, Ms. Cohn calls him Murmelschwein in her book. (In German, the word Schwein means pig; this is the worst insult possible in German, sometimes the insult is given as Schweinehund.)

My previous blog posts, about Dr. Benjamin Murmelstein, which you can read here and here have generated a lot of comments, including this comment made by Herbert Stolpmann, who has his own blog at http://dachaukz.blogspot.com/2011_01_01_archive.html

This quote is from a comment made by Herbert Stolpmann:

… Carla Cohn has [this] to say of Dr. Wolf Murmelstein’s late father in her book ‘MY NINE LIVES’:

…The next Judenrat (Jewish Administration Advisor) was a Rabi, Benjamin Murmelstein, generally referred to as ‘Murmelschwein’ (pig). He was generally disliked and distrusted. Rumour had it, that being in charge of the deportation lists, he would substitute a name on the list for a price.

This ancient rumour has been confirmed to me rather poignantly when the past came to haunt me here in Rome a few years ago. I received a phone call by a man I did not know who insisted to come and see me regarding an important Terezin [Theresienstadt,sic] matter. He would not give his name over the phone. I was unable to refuse since it had to do with Terezin. I found myself face to face with an obviously very distressed man who introduced himself as Rabbi Murmelstein’s son!

His father has died recently but the Chief Rabbi of Rome, Toaff, would not permit a Jewish burial for his father. The son was contacting all surviving Terezin ghetto inmates to ask them to give positive testimony for his father, so that he could be buried as a Jew in honour…

I did a search on My Nine Lives and found that parts of the book can be read online. Ms. Cohn wrote her book in the German language, but I decided to read the English translation.  From my limited understanding of the German language, I was able to deduce that her writing style is very good, but I elected to read the English version, so that I would not misunderstand the meaning of her words.

These quotes are from pages 68 and 69 of her book:

From page 68:

The delousing drill was often repeated.  We never knew whether the shower was intended for the purpose of delousing and a “wash,” or whether it was to prepare our bodies for the gas chamber.  Zyklon B gas works more efficiently when the body is wet. […]

A real shower room, not a gas chamber, at Auschwitz-Birkenau

A real shower room, not a gas chamber, at Auschwitz-Birkenau

From page 69:

During the last “selection” by Dr. Mengele, the “Angel of Death,” I was found to be “unfit” and ordered “left” with the sick and aged.  I did not fully register what that meant at that moment.  I did notice that the scramble for the “shower” was even more frantic, though seemingly taking longer than in other times.  I was nude, in the corridor waiting my turn into the “shower.”

An SS man appeared, grabbed me and shoved me back out while whispering, “I have pulled you out once before, what are you doing in here again”!  I have never seen this SS before or afterwards.  My life was saved by “blind” luck in the guise of a case of mistaken identity!

Another push sent me outside, nude.  I found myself among a group of younger women, out in the icy cold. Someone threw some clothes at me, among them a long, black heavy man’s coat of which I grabbed and frantically  put on while hiding between women.

I read much more of her book, starting with her account of her stay at Theresienstadt, followed by her description of her days spent at Auschwitz-Birkenau.  She wrote about how she was eventually sent, in 1944, to the Mauthausen camp in Austria, where she was put to work, with a group of other women, digging a tunnel.  After World War II ended, there were accusations that Ernst Kaltenbrunner had given the order for all the prisoners at Mauthausen to be taken into the tunnel which was to be blown up in order to kill all the prisoners.

Carla Cohn apparently believed, after the war, that the purpose of the tunnel that she had been digging was to kill all the prisoners before the American liberators arrived.

Long story, short: Carla Cohn’s book is a composite of all the Holocaust claims, from the gassing of prisoners in the showers, to blowing up the prisoners in tunnels.  Her claims about Dr. Benjamin Murmelstein should be evaluated in that context.  In other words, I wouldn’t believe anything that she writes.

May 6, 2013

New film by Claude Lanzmann, soon to be released, will feature Benjamin Murmelstein, the last head of the Jewish council at Theresienstadt

Filed under: Holocaust — Tags: , , , — furtherglory @ 9:42 am

Claude Lanzmann is the 87-year-old director of the famous 9 and 1/2 hour Holocaust documentary entitled Shoah, which features testimony from Holocaust survivors and Holocaust perpetrators.  The testimony, given by Dr. Benjamin Murmelstein, for that film, ended up on the cutting room floor.  I previously blogged about Lanzmann’s new film here.

So why is Lanzmann doing a new film, featuring the testimony of Dr. Murmelstein, who is now dead?  I think it is because Dr. Murmelstein revealed, in his testimony, that there was a homicidal gas chamber at Theresienstadt where the Nazis were planning to finish off the genocide of the Jews.

This quote from the news article explains it:

…. What angers [Lanzmann] is not that anyone would be making money off of images of genocide, but rather, that anyone would dare suggest that any such images [of gas chambers] exist.

“They [gas chamber images] don’t [exist],” he says categorically. “The core of the story is the gas chambers, and there is no footage from inside the gas chambers. All other sorts of footage are side things.”

Gas chamber at Theresienstadt was located in one of these buildings

Gas chamber at Theresienstadt was near this location

According to the Ghetto Museum at Theresienstadt, a homicidal gas chamber at Theresienstadt was built by the Nazis in the Spring of 1945 in a corridor of the town’s fortifications wall near the Litomerice gate, (shown in the photo above) which is right by the Bauhof building, shown in the photograph below. Click here to see a map of the Theresienstadt ghetto. The Bauhof building is number 14 on the map.

Bauhof building at Theresienstadt houses a gas chamber

Bauhof gas chamber building is on the left and the Litomerice gate is on the right

The alleged Theresienstadt homicidal gas chamber was directly across from the Jäger (Hunter) barracks, an identical building on the opposite side of the town, which was used as a disinfection station where the prisoners and their clothing were deloused.

The prisoners were disinfected by being completely submerged in a tub containing a chemical which would kill the lice on their bodies. At the same time, their clothing was disinfected by hot steam; they would have to put their clothes back on while they were still wet and then return to their barracks.

The ghetto inmates became aware of the alleged Theresienstadt homicidal gas chamber in the Bauhof building and were planning to blow it up, but the war ended just in time to save the Theresienstadt Jews from being gassed with Zyklon-B.

You can read about Lanzmann’s new film in this quote from a news article which you can read in full here:

The very first interview Claude Lanzmann recorded for his groundbreaking nine-and-a-half hour documentary “Shoah” ended up on the cutting-room floor. It was an interview he conducted almost 40 years ago in Rome with Benjamin Murmelstein, a Viennese rabbi and intellectual who served as the last head of the Jewish Council in Theresienstadt. Although the question-and-answer session went on for an entire week, generating hours upon hours of tape, Lanzmann never found an appropriate place for it.

Until now.

These outtakes from “Shoah” form the basis of Lanzmann’s soon-to-be-released film, “The Last of the Unjust” (a play on the title of Andre Schwarz-Bart’s classic French novel), a three-and-a-half hour documentary that reveals, in his words, “the height of Nazi cruelty and perversity.” Lanzmann promises that the testimony featured in his latest cinematic work is the ultimate rebuttal to the “so-called banality of evil” theory popularized by Hannah Arendt – whom he disparagingly refers to as “Frau Arendt” – by demonstrating just how corrupt and conniving a man was Holocaust mastermind Adolf Eichmann.

Several years ago, Dr. Wolf Murmelstein, the son of Dr. Benjamin Murmelstein, sent me 6 essays that he had written in defense of his father.   You can access all of the essays written by Dr. Wolf Murmelstein on my website  here.  I also blogged about Dr.Benjamin Mermelstein and Adolf Eichmann’s plan to continue the gassing of the Jews at Theresienstadt here.

This quote from the news article about the new Lanzmann film explains why a new film, featuring the testimony of Benjamin Murmelstein is needed:

When “Shoah” was broadcast in weekly TV segments in Iran two years ago, Lanzmann took the opportunity to write an open letter to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the world’s most notorious Holocaust denier, reassuring the national leader he had nothing to fear.

“I said ‘If you want to find proof in ‘Shoah’ that the Shoah really happened, you will not find this proof. Why? Because there is not one single corpse in ‘Shoah’. And that’s because there were no corpses. People who arrived in Auschwitz were gassed within the first two hours. Their bodies were turned to ashes, and these ashes were dumped in sacks in the river or allowed to blow away in the wind.”

Dr. Benjamin Murmelstein probably mentioned the gas chamber at Theresienstadt in his testimony for the Shoah documentary, which was not used in the film.

Was there really a gas chamber at Theresienstadt?  There was a typhus epidemic at Theresienstadt in the last days of the camp and thousands of prisoners were dying.  I have no doubt that a Gaskammer was set up, to stop the epidemic, and Zyklon-B was used to disinfect the clothing of the prisoners.  It must have alarmed the prisoners when they learned that a Gaskammer was being used in the Bauhof building near the Litomerice gate into the camp.

Theresienstadt was one of the last camps to be liberated.  Prisoners from other camps were sent there to prevent them from being released for fear that they would attack the civilian German population during the last days of World War II.

Some of the survivors of the trains, that were sent to Theresienstadt in the last days of the war, believed that they were being sent there to be killed.

In a recent talk which she gave to college students, Ela Weissberger mentioned a gas chamber at Theresienstadt.  This quote is from the news story about her talk:

Weissberger, now in her eighties, spoke about her three and a half years at Terezin and in spite of its emphasis on art, Terezin was still a site of despair and death. Weissberger told of a shooting gallery that still bears the blood of innocent victims and a brewery converted into a gas chamber under the guise of showers. All the while Terezin was hailed as a model concentration camp, covered by an elaborate veneer of propaganda as the world averted their eyes.

The photo below shows the old brewery building at Theresienstadt.

Old brewery at Theresienstadt was converted into a Gaskammer

Old brewery at Theresienstadt was converted into a Gaskammer for disinfecting prisoner clothing

I have a section about Theresienstadt on my website, which you can read here.

May 24, 2012

New film by Claude Lanzmann will feature Dr. Benjamin Murmelstein, the last Jewish Elder at Theresienstadt

Filed under: Holocaust, movies — Tags: , , , — furtherglory @ 11:39 am

On May 20, 2012, I blogged about Dr. Benjamin Murmelstein, whose son, Dr. Wolf Murmelstein, wrote an essay about his father, entitled “The Last Unrighteous” — The Witness never heard.  A new movie about Dr. Benjamin Murmelstein by Claude Lanzmann, which will be released soon, will be entitled Last of the Unjust.

This quote is from an article about the film in today’s news:

Elsa Keslassy reports in Variety that Claude Lanzmann’s new film has a title—“Last of the Unjust”—and a lead producer, the new French company Synecdoche. The film, as I mentioned in my review of Lanzmann’s extraordinary autobiography, “The Patagonian Hare,” will be about Theresienstadt. According to Keslassy, it will “put a spotlight on Benjamin Murmelstein, an Austrian Jew who was appointed by Adolf Eichmann as head of the Jewish Council of Elders and rule over Theresienstadt.” Lanzmann will be filming, she says, in Israel, Austria, Poland, Czech Republic, and Italy.

Claude Lanzmann is the film maker who created Shoah, a film which features the testimony of numerous Holocaust survivors.  According to the news article, Lanzmann interviewed Dr. Benjamin Murmelstein in 1975, over the course of several days.  These were the most extensive interviews that Lanzmann did, but none of them were included in the completed film.  Why not?  I don’t know, but possibly, it is because Dr. Murmelstein was accused, but not convicted, of collaborating with the Nazis.

This part of the news article, which you can read in full here, caught my attention:

Among the heroes of “Shoah” (and “heroes” is just the right word; the movie has villains, too) are Filip Müller, who, as part of a Sonderkommando at Auschwitz, took part in getting people into gas chambers and getting corpses out of them; and Abraham Bomba, one of the barbers in Treblinka, who cut the hair of Jews who were about to be murdered in gas chambers.

Filip Müller — a hero of the Holocaust?  I don’t think so.  I was very critical of Filip Müller in a blog post which you can read here.  I quoted the testimony of Abraham Bomba on my web site here.  Both Müller and Bomba are favorite targets of Holocaust revisionists because their outrageous claims tend to disprove the Holocaust.

In my humble opinion, I believe that the testimony of Dr. Murmelstein also tends to disprove the Holocaust.  I think that is why his original testimony for Shoah in 1975 ended up on the cutting room floor.

You can read an essay about Theresienstadt, written by Dr. Wolf Murmelstein, on my website here.  You can read the testimony by a child survivor of Theresienstadt here.