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February 2, 2015

18 pillars of remembrance at Auschwitz

Filed under: Holocaust — Tags: , , — furtherglory @ 10:17 am

You can read here about the history of a new feature at the Auschwitz main camp: “the 18 pillars of remembrance.”  The 18 pillars have been added since I last visited Auschwitz in 2005.

The Auschwitz main camp in winter in 2015

The Auschwitz main camp in winter in 2015

The Auschwitz main camp, which is shown in the photo above, is not deteriorating, but the 425-acre Birkenau camp is rotting away. It will cost billions of dollars to preserve what is left of it.

Steven Spielberg on his visit to Auschwitz January 27, 2015

Steven Spielberg on his visit to Auschwitz January 27, 2015

The 18 pillars, at the Auschwitz main camp, have the names of contributors to the fund for the preservation of the rotting ruins of Auschwitz-Birkenau.

You can see a short video here, which shows Spielberg visiting the site of the 18 black pillars, which are not really “pillars,” but 18 individual black signs, each with the name of a major contributor to the fund for the preservation of Auschwitz. I don’t know where these “pillars” are located, but the most likely location is in the space just outside the Visitor’s center at the Auschwitz main camp.

Administration building at the Auschwitz main camp

Administration building at the Auschwitz main camp

The photograph above shows the rear of the administration building, in the main camp, where the exit doors from the movie theater are located. The exit doors are shown on the right side of the photo; the wide doors on the left were doors into the disinfection chambers where the clothes were deloused with Zyklon-B to prevent the spread of typhus. This building was called die Aufnahmegebäude (Building to Receive Newcomers).

Near the end of the video, which shows Spielberg visiting the location of the 18 pillars, there is a building shown in the background which has windows like the windows on the roof on the right in my 1998 photo above. Visitors to the Auschwitz main camp enter this building and watch a movie about the camp, before proceeding to the Arbeit Macht Frei sign at the entrance into the main camp.

As you can see, in my photo above, this location has enough space for the 18 pillars.

 

June 10, 2013

Muslim religious leaders pray for the prisoners who were executed at the Black Wall at Auschwitz

Muslim leaders pray at the Black Wall in the Auschwitz main camp

Muslim leaders pray at the Black Wall in the Auschwitz main camp

The Wall of Death is at the end of a courtyard between Block 10 and Block 11 at Auschwitz

The Wall of Death is at the end of a courtyard between Block 10 and Block 11 at Auschwitz

Muslims bow their head to the ground in front of the Black Wall at Auschwitz

Muslims bow their heads to the ground in front of the Black Wall at Auschwitz; Block 10 is in the background

The Muslim leaders may have thought that they were praying for the Jews who were murdered, for no reason, at the black wall, but they were misguided — literally.

The men and women who were executed in front of the Black Wall were political prisoners, mostly Polish resistance fighters, who had been convicted by the Gestapo Summary Court, which was located in Block 11, the brick building on the right hand side of the courtyard.

These Polish resistance fighters, aka illegal combatants, had been brought to the Auschwitz main camp, after they were captured, but were not registered as inmates; they were housed in dormitory rooms on the first and second floors of Block 11 while they awaited trial in a courtroom set up in Block 11.

If and when they were convicted, these illegal combatants were taken to a small washroom in the Block 11 building where they were ordered to strip naked, after which they were marched to the wall in groups of three. They were then executed with one shot to the neck at close range.

Some of the prisoners, who were shot at the wall, were Czech resistance fighters from the Gestapo prison at the Small Fortress in Theresienstadt.  There were also two Jewish leaders from the Theresienstadt ghetto who were executed at the Black Wall because they had refused to obey orders. Camp inmates at Auschwitz-Birkenau were also executed at this wall for resistance activity inside the concentration camp.

But the Muslim leaders were not told any of this.  They were led to believe that they were praying for Jews who had been genocided because of intolerance on the part of the Nazis.

This quote is from a news article, about the visit of the Muslims, which you can read in full here:

Muslim religious leaders from across the globe knelt in solemn prayer for Holocaust dead at Auschwitz on May 22, before the notorious Wall of Death at the former Nazi German death camp in southern Poland.

Thousands of Auschwitz prisoners perished at the wall, grey and still riddled with bullet holes. Adorned with flowers, it is a stone’s throw from the infamous wrought iron “Arbeit macht frei” (Work makes you free) gate at the camp’s entrance.
[…]
The emotional visit was part of a Holocaust awareness and anti-genocide programme organised in part by the US State Department’s Office of International Religious Freedom. Of the six million Jews killed by the Nazis during World War II, a million were murdered at Auschwitz-Birkenau, mostly in its notorious gas chambers, along with tens of thousands of others including Poles, Roma and Soviet prisoners of war.
[…]

The total number of people executed at the black wall, according to the Nazi records, was 1,646 people, including 117 Jews, 1,485 Poles, 19 Russians, 5 Czechs and 20 Gypsies, but according to the Auschwitz Museum, there were 20,000 people murdered at the black wall.

There are no records of the 20,000 people who were allegedly executed at the black wall.  The complete records, compiled by the office of Richard Glücks for all the Nazi concentration camps in the years 1935 to 1944, are now stored on microfilm and kept in the Russian Central Archives in the Central State Archives No. 187603 on Rolls 281 through 286. Richard Glücks was the head of Amt D: Konzentrationslagerwesen of the WVHA; he was the highest-ranking “Inspector of Concentration Camps” in Nazi Germany.

Many people have noticed that there are no bullet holes in the black wall. That’s because this is not the original black wall; according to my tour guide in 1998, this is a reconstruction which is supposed to look like the original. The original black wall, made out of cork, was removed after Arthur Liebehenschel replaced Rudolf Hoess as the camp commander in November, 1943, and ordered the executions at the wall to stop.

The wall at the end of the courtyard, as it looked when Soviet troops liberated Auschwitz

The wall at the end of the courtyard in 1945 when Soviet troops liberated Auschwitz

The Auschwitz Black Wall is a recostruction

The Auschwitz Black Wall is a reconstruction

Notice the lack of bullet holes in the wall and the cork panels in front of the wall, where allegedly 20,000 Jews were shot.

May 1, 2012

The Chinese are being introduced to the Holocaust

Filed under: Holocaust — Tags: — furtherglory @ 10:54 am

I read on the Fox News website that Chinese Premier Wen Jiaboa visited Poland recently and “paid homage on Friday to the victims of the Nazi Auschwitz death camp, saying lessons drawn from it should help build a safer world.”

This quote is from Fox News:

At the memorial in southern Poland, Wen walked through the former camp’s main gate with the Nazis’ cynical slogan “Arbeit Macht Frei” — German for “Work Sets You Free” — and laid yellow and red flowers at the Death Wall where the Germans executed thousands of Polish resistance members during World War II.

This is why I depend on Fox News for the news.  Note that Fox reported that the Death Wall (aka the Black Wall) was where Polish resistance fighters were executed.  Other news stories of the Chinese Premier’s visit said that he placed flowers at this wall to pay his respects to the six million Jews who died in the Holocaust.

The famous Black Wall at the Auschwitz main camp where visitors leave flowers

A picture that hangs in the Auschwitz Museum in the main camp shows how prisoners were executed at the Black Wall.

An illustration of the execution of prisoners at the Black Wall

The wall that visitors now see is a reconstruction.  The original wall was removed by Arthur Liebehenschel, who replaced Rudolf Hoess as the camp Commandant in November, 1943, and ordered the executions at the wall to stop.

The Black Wall is at the end of a long courtyard in the main Auschwitz camp. Block 11 on the right is where the Gestapo courtroom was located

The Black Wall was the location where political prisoners, mostly Polish resistance fighters, who had been convicted by the Gestapo Summary Court, were executed. These prisoners were brought to the Auschwitz I camp, but were not registered as inmates; they were housed in dormitory rooms on the first and second floors of Block 11 (shown in the photo above) while they awaited trial in a courtroom set up in the building.

After they were convicted, the prisoners were taken to a small washroom in Block 11 where they were ordered to strip naked, after which they were marched to the wall in groups of three and were executed with one shot to the neck at close range. Some of the prisoners, who were executed here, were Czech resistance fighters from the Gestapo prison at the Small Fortress in Theresienstadt.

The view from the Black Wall, looking toward the entrance to the courtyard. Block 11 is on the left, and the medial building, where experiments were done, is on the right.

The complete records, compiled by the office of Richard Glücks for all the Nazi concentration camps in the years 1935 to 1944, are now stored on microfilm and kept in the Russian Central Archives in the Central State Archives No. 187603 on Rolls 281 through 286. Richard Glücks was the head of Amt D: Konzentrationslagerwesen of the WVHA; he was the highest-ranking “Inspector of Concentration Camps” in Nazi Germany.

According to the records kept by the Nazis, there were 117 Jews who were executed at the Black Wall.  So why is this the place where world leaders are taken to visit when they make a trip to Auschwitz?

The total number of people executed at Auschwitz-Birkenau, according to the Nazi records, was 1,646 including 117 Jews, 1,485 Poles, 19 Russians, 5 Czechs and 20 Gypsies, but according to the Auschwitz Museum, there were 20,000 people murdered at the Black Wall in the Auschwitz I camp.

The executions at the Black Wall were legal because the prisoners were given a trial before execution. Most of the people, who were executed at the wall, were Resistance fighters who were fighting as illegal combatants in World War II.  Others were executed for committing acts of sabotage in the factories at Auschwitz.

Deaths in the gas chambers were not recorded as executions; in fact death by gassing was not recorded at all by the Nazis.