Scrapbookpages Blog

March 31, 2016

Crushing the bones of the Holocaust victims

Filed under: Germany, Holocaust, World War II — Tags: , — furtherglory @ 9:54 am

One of the readers of my blog wrote the following in a comment:

“Yes, there were machines to crush bones [in the concentration camps]. The prisoners also manually crushed any remaining bones.”

Bone Crusher used in World War II

Bone Crusher used in World War II

I wrote about bone crushing in the camps on my website.

Begin quote from my website:
Another member of the Sonderkommando who survived was Henryk Mandelbaum who arrived at Auschwitz-Birkenau in April 1944.

The following quote is from The Toronto Star on June 21, 2008:

Begin quote

Soon after a 21-year-old Henryk Mandelbaum arrived at Auschwitz-Birkenau in April 1944, he was taken to a gas chamber filled with the lifeless bodies of fellow Jews.

He would become accustomed to the sight. During more than nine months as a member of the Sonderkommando, the group of prisoners the Nazis forced to assist in the disposal of the gassed, Mandelbaum “saw everything from beginning to end,” said Auschwitz-Birkenau museum historian Igor Bartosik ­ “people going into the changing rooms, he saw people changing, he saw the moment of the gassing, the throwing of the Zyklon into the gas chambers, he heard the screams.”

Mandelbaum’s daily routine: help remove hair, gold teeth and hidden jewelry from the dead; carry them to the crematoria; load them into the ovens.

“I thought,” he said in 2006, “I was in hell. Fire and smoke were everywhere. I had to clean the gas chambers and put the bodies in the crematoria, or burn them outside when the extermination was in full swing and the crematoria were not enough … we then had to crush the bones into powder and throw it in the river.”

Sonderkommando members were habitually executed. Fewer than 150 of more than 2,000 who served in the group at Auschwitz-Birkenau survived. But Mandelbaum escaped during a January 1945 “death march,” then spent decades speaking about his experience and leading group tours of the camp.

End quote


September 18, 2015

Movie entitled “Son of Saul” in theaters Dec. 18, 2015

Filed under: Holocaust, movies — Tags: , , , , — furtherglory @ 10:55 am
Photo from Wikipedia shows Sonderkommando Jews with a bone grinder

Photo from Wikipedia shows Sonderkommando Jews with a bone grinder.

According to Wikipedia:

Sonderkommandos were work units made up of German Nazi death camp prisoners. They were composed almost entirely of Jews who were forced, on threat of their own deaths, to aid with the disposal of gas chamber victims during the Holocaust.

The following Sonderkommandos survived the Holocaust:  Zalman Gradowski, Filip Müller, Henryk Tauber, Leib Langfus, Morris Venezia, Henryk Mandelbaum [Saul Ausländer is a fictional character]

Photo of Dachau Sonderkommando shoving a body into an oven at Dachau

Photo of Sonderkommando shoving a body into an oven at Dachau is an re-enactment, done after Dachau was libertated

A photo similar to the one above is included in the news story and it is purported to be a real photo of a Sonderkommando Jew shoving a body into an oven.

The following information, about the movie entitled Son of Saul, is from the movie review website known as “Rotten Tomatoes”.

October 1944, Auschwitz-Birkenau. Saul Ausländer is a Hungarian member of the Sonderkommando, the group of Jewish prisoners isolated from the camp and forced to assist the Nazis in the machinery of large-scale extermination. While working in one of the crematoriums, Saul discovers the corpse of a boy he takes for his son. As the Sonderkomando plans a rebellion, Saul decides to carry out an impossible task: save the child’s body from the flames, find a rabbi to recite the mourner’s Kaddish and …
Rating: R (for disturbing violent content, and some graphic nudity)
Genre: Drama
In Theaters: Dec 18, 2015 Limited
Runtime: 1 hr. 47 min.
Sony Pictures Classics

You can read the following review of the movie on this website:

Son of Saul

Based on the experience of a Hungarian Jew held in a concentration camp during the Second World War, Son of Saul follows a man who has the harrowing job of leading prisoners into the showers where they will be executed and cleaning up afterwards by shovelling their remains into the river.

Shaken by the death of one young boy, he is driven to give him a proper Jewish burial. Featuring superb acting on all levels, director Laszlo Nemes takes us right into the camp through a unique use of surround sound and filming in 35mm. 5 out of 5 stars. – Sian Jones, producer.

Among the horrors of the Holocaust, the Nazis assigned so-called Sondercommandos a peculiarly dehumanizing job: to herd fellow inmates into gas chambers and dispose of their bodies. Saul is one such man, his face an effigy of pain. When he believes he’s found his own son among the dead, his humanity is restored as he attempts to give the boy a proper burial.

Much of the film lingers on Saul’s face, leaving the most lurid shots out of focus: an interesting directorial choice that avoids a fetishistic lingering on the bodies of victims that still allows viewers to feel the full oppressiveness of his situation. A powerful, devastating film. 5 out of 5 stars. – Deana Sumanac-Johnson, reporter.


I am looking forward to seeing this movie in December.  I will write a review of the movie after I see it. You can be sure that I will have a lot of criticism of this movie.