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August 10, 2015

Oskar Groening stood on the ramp at Birkenau 3 times, but was sentenced to four years in prison

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — furtherglory @ 12:04 pm
Oskar Groening at his trial

Oskar Groening at his trial

Today, I read an old news story here about the trial of Oskar Groening, a former German SS man, who was prosecuted as a war criminal because he had formerly served as an accountant at the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp.

Oskar Groening as a young soldier

Oskar Groening as a young soldier

This quote is from the news story:

Though he [Groening] was more regularly assigned to the camp’s Auschwitz I section, he said he guarded the Birkenau ramp three times, including one busy 24-hour shift. The main gas chambers were located at Birkenau.

“The capacity of the gas chambers and the capacity of the crematoria were quite limited. Someone said that 5,000 people were processed in 24 hours but I didn’t verify this. I didn’t know,” he said. “For the sake of order we waited until train 1 was entirely processed and finished.”

Auschwitz survivors describe their arrival as chaotic, with Nazi guards yelling orders, dogs barking and families being ripped apart.

But Groening, 93, maintained the opposite, saying “it was very orderly and not as strenuous” on the ramp at Birkenau.
“The process was the same as Auschwitz I. The only difference was that there were no trucks,” he said during the second day of his trial. “They all walked – some in one direction some, in another direction … to where the crematoria and gas chambers were.”

Wait a minute! Where were the crematoria?  The gas chamber buildings at Birkenau, and in the main Auschwitz camp, did not have a crematorium.  The room, which would normally have been a crematorium, was instead an undressing room.  Everyone knows that!

Note that Groening worked at the ramp, where selections for the gas chamber were made, only 3 times. Yet he was sentenced to 4 years in prison. I don’t think that this was a fair sentence.  Groening should have been sentenced to only THREE YEARS in prison, one year for each time when he was at the ramp, collecting money from the luggage.

Groening had nothing to do with the prisoners being gassed, but he was THERE, so he is guilty of a war crime. This is according to the ex-post-facto law, known as “common plan.”

Groening committed his crime BEFORE the common plan law was created by the Allies after the war.

June 11, 2015

A reporter’s recent trip to Auschwitz

Filed under: Germany, Holocaust — Tags: , , — furtherglory @ 11:21 am
Auschwitz-Birkenau camp is now in ruins

My 2005 photo of Auschwitz-Birkenau camp shows that the camp is now in ruins

Alert: The first “hate speech” and “Holocaust denial” case is being tried in Montana now:

The following quotes are from a news article, headlined “Lessons from Auschwitz,” which you can read in full here.

Globe senior reporter Emma Rigby accompanied teachers from Wirral to the Nazi concentration camps as part of a project aimed at giving them a fresh insight into the horror that occurred there, enhancing their teaching of the Holocaust and helping to make sure it never happens again.

This quote from the news article amazed me:

As we made our way around Auschwitz I, we were taken into what remains of the crematorium. We stood where 70,000 people died.

In the quote above, the reporter was obviously referring to the morgue in the main Auschwitz camp, not to the crematorium where the bodies of the Jews were burned. In the kosher version of the Holocaust, the morgue was a gas chamber where 70,000 Jews were gassed, and there was no morgue to store the bodies until they could be burned.

I blogged about the Arbeit Macht Frei sign on this previous blog post;

This quote is also from the news article:

Walking through the iron gates of Auschwitz I, I looked up and saw the infamous phrase “Arbeit macht frei”  – “Work will set you free”.

At that point, I knew that what I was about to see would be worse than I could have ever imagined because for those who were taken Auschwitz-Birkenau – made up of three separate main camps Auschwitz I, Birkenau and Monowitz and dozens of satellite camps – work certainly did not set them free.

Here is another quote from the news article:

The Holocaust was not carried out in secret. There were those who are known as “bystanders” who did exactly that.

Sorry, but I beg to differ. I believe that the “bystanders” stood by and did nothing because they didn’t know about the Holocaust until several years after the war.

I wrote about the citizens of Dachau, who were bystanders on this blog post:

I wrote about how the citizens of Dachau were punished for being “bystanders” on this  blog post:

I also wrote about the citizens of Dachau at

This quote is also from the news article:

Homes which existed before the construction of Birkenau are visible from the guard tower. And those living within several miles would have been able to see and smell the fumes from the crematoria.

On my two trips to Auschwitz-Birkenau, I climbed  up on the tower of the gate house, and looked out over the camp. I don’t know of any other guard tower that tourists are allowed to climb at Birkenau. I could not see any homes from the guard tower. The distance from the guard tower to any homes, that might have been built recently, is over a mile.

My photo of the Mexico section of Auschwitz shows houses very nearby

My photo of the Mexico section of Auschwitz-Birkenau shows houses very nearby (click on the photo to enlarge)

When I was at Auschwitz-Birkenau in 2005, there was a sign that said that 7 small villages had been torn down to make room for the 425 acre camp. There were no houses that were visible in 2005. I believe that the houses, which this reporter saw, have been built recently.

May 31, 2011

The crematorium at Hartheim Castle

Filed under: Holocaust — Tags: , , — furtherglory @ 11:05 am

A light shines on the spot where the oven was located in the Hartheim Castle Crematorium

Hartheim Castle in Austria is now a Memorial Site in commemoration of the disabled people who were murdered in the gas chamber there during World War II.  The room shown in the photo above is sometimes mistakenly identified as the gas chamber, but it is actually the crematorium where the bodies were burned; a light shines on the exact spot where a single oven was located. (People were not killed in the cremation ovens as some people believe.) Note the vaulted ceiling which shows how the ceiling of the gas chamber looked before a passageway for a ramp was cut through the walls.     (more…)

August 13, 2010

Michael Berenbaum’s blog post about Majdanek

Filed under: Holocaust, World War II — Tags: , , — furtherglory @ 9:14 am

As most people know by now, there was  a recent fire at the former Majdanek death camp and an estimated 10,000 shoes, formerly worn by the prisoners, were burned.  Michael Berenbaum is a well known Holocaust expert who has written books and appeared in documentaries shown on the History Channel on American TV.  According to Wikipedia, Berembaum “played a major role in the creation of the USHMM and the content of its permanent exhibition. From 1997 – 1999, Berenbaum served as President and CEO of the Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation, and subsequently (and currently) as Director of the Sigi Ziering Institute: Exploring the Ethical and Religious Implications of the Holocaust, located at the American Jewish University (formerly known as the University of Judaism), in Los Angeles, CA.”

With all of these credentials, I was shocked to read this on Berenbaum’s blog post which you can read here:

A word about Majdanek: The camp is situated in a valley just outside the major town of Lublin, in proximity to Little Majdan from which it derived its name. It was in the Polish territory annexed to the Reich. During the war it was part of Germany proper.

I would interpret “Germany proper” to mean the German Reich (Deutsches Reich) which was Germany from 1918 up to 1938, but Berenbaum probably meant the Greater German Reich  (Großdeutsches Reich) which included all the territory that Germany annexed, beginning with Austria in 1938.  Lublin and Majdanek were in the General Government, which was the name for German-occupied Poland after 1939.

The General Government, which was occupied Poland, is shown in brown

The map above shows that Majdanek, as well as Treblinka, Sobibor and Belzec, were located in the General Government.  The territory in Poland that was annexed into the Greater German Reich is shown in dark orange; Chelmno was the only death camp in the annexed territory.

Berenbaum also wrote this on his blog:

Today it is on a side road, adjacent to the major road between Lublin and Zamosc, a picturesque and charming Polish city. During the war, the camp was obscured from the road – but not from the city. Farmers worked the fields adjacent to the camp.

It has been 12 years since I visited Majdanek, but at that time, and during the time that the camp was in operation, it was on a major road.  The road might have been turned into a side road and a new major road built since then.  The fact that Majdanek was on a major road when the camp was in operation is used by Holocaust deniers to prove that it was not a death camp.  When the camp was in operation, there were houses on two sides and a Catholic cemetery on one side, with the major road on the fourth side.

Here is another quote from Berenbaum’s blog:

Majdanek was captured whole in July 1944. Unlike what happened in Auschwitz, the Nazis had no time to evacuate the camp or to burn it and destroy the evidence.

Every news article about the fire at Majdanek repeats the information that the camp was captured intact because the Nazis had no time to evacuate the camp or to burn it and destroy the evidence.

Prisoners who were liberated from Majdanek by Soviet troops

In the photo above are some of the 1,500 survivors of Majdanek. The men are not cheering the liberators, as the photograph shows. Although the survivors do not look emaciated, most of the men shown in the movie taken by the Soviet liberators were on crutches or had missing feet and were walking on stumps. The movie had no explanation for this strange circumstance, but I later learned from the Museum guidebook that in early 1943, there was a hospital set up in Field II at Majdanek for wounded Russian soldiers who had been POWs, but had defected after their capture and were then wounded in fighting on the side of the Nazis against Communism.

The Museum guidebook that I purchased in 1998 also said that in anticipation of the arrival of Soviet troops, the Nazis had evacuated 15,000 prisoners in March and April 1944, transporting them westward by train to Auschwitz, Gross-Rosen, Ravensbrück, Natzweiler, Mauthausen, Lodz or Plaszow. The last 1,000 prisoners at Majdanek were marched off on foot only the day before the liberation, according to the guidebook.  The Russian defectors were left behind because they were too sick or crippled to join the death march out of the camp.

When I read the following quote on Berenbaum’s blog, I deduced that he had not visited the camp himself:

There are two gas chambers at Majdanek; the first one primitive, meant to murder a few. Simple, it has an entrance way, an undressing room, and then a small gas chamber with a motor next door and a sealed booth for the engineer who ran the diesel engine.

And then in the rear of the camp on top of the hill, the visitor sees the large gas chamber and crematoria, still intact, looking as if it is ready to go. The first gas chamber could kill a few people, one dozen or two. The second one could kill thousands and dispose of their bodies, leaving mounds of ashes.

The first gas chamber, described as primitive, was actually the largest of the two gas chambers at Majdanek; it had three or four rooms depending on whether or not you count an L shaped room as one or two rooms.  You can read all about the first gas chamber and see photos of it here.

The gas chamber “in the rear of the camp on top of the hill” is actually the smaller of the two gas chambers and it is a reconstruction done by the Soviet Union.  This gas chamber is used by Holocaust deniers to prove that Majdanek was not a death camp because this gas chamber, which was allegedly reconstructed according to the original blueprints, has the opening, where the Zyklon-B pellets were poured in, located directly above the floor drain.  If the original gas chamber had been constructed this way, the Zyklon-B pellets would have gone down the drain before the prisoners were poisoned.  Contrary to Berenbaum’s blog post, the gas chamber in the crematorium building was very small and it was certainly not big enough to kill thousands at one time.

Crematorium building at Majdanek

Reconstructed crematorium at Majdanek Photo Credit: Simon Robertson

Berenbaum included this information on his blog post:

Majdanek was captured by the Soviet Union in July 1944, captured whole before the Germans had time to destroy the camp.

The battle of Lublin between the German troops and the Soviet soldiers went on for two days.  During that time, the Germans allegedly burned down the crematorium after they allegedly brought the prisoners from the Gestapo prison in Lublin and shot them in front of the cremation ovens.  Supposedly, during the two-day battle, the Germans had no time to burn down the first gas chamber to destroy the evidence or to burn the 800,000 shoes in the camp to destroy the evidence.

Remains of the bodies of Polish politcal prisoners at Lublin

The photo above shows the bodies of prisoners from the Gestapo prison in Lublin.  The ovens were not damaged in the fire and they were put into the crematorium that was rebuilt by the Soviets.

Berenbaum wrote this on his blog:

Between October 1942 and September 1943 the SS built two and possibly three gas chambers at Majdanek. Modeled on the gas chambers that were not used at Dachau, they could operate either on Carbon Monoxide or Zyklon B which was in use elsewhere at Auschwitz.

The gas chamber at Dachau, which was not used, according to Berenbaum, did not operate on Carbon Monoxide, according to information at the Dachau Memorial Site where some of the tour guides tell tourists that the gas chamber was used.

There is a lot more in Berenbaum’s article about the number of deaths at Majdanek.  You can read all about the death statistics at Majdanek and how the numbers changed over the years here.

April 12, 2010

A World War II vet’s memories of Buchenwald

Filed under: Buchenwald, Germany, Holocaust, World War II — Tags: , , , — furtherglory @ 9:37 am

In today’s online edition of The Register Guard, there is an article by Winston Ross about Bill Sarnoff, a U.S. navy man who was sent to Buchenwald for five days to help the survivors after the camp was liberated on April 11, 1945. Now 84 years old, Sarnoff told his story yesterday to more than 100 people who attended a Holocaust Remembrance Day event. Bill Sarnoff was sent to Buchenwald because he was familiar with several European languages. His job was to help by communicating with the sick prisoners in the camp.

According to the article by Winston Ross, here’s what Sarnoff told the crowd in the Thurston High School auditorium, followed by my comments:

“One day the call came from his superiors for any sailor who could speak a European language, and before long Sarnoff found himself en route to Buchenwald, in western Germany, to help the 23,000 surviving prisoners recuperate and ultimately leave the camp.”

Most accounts of the Buchenwald liberation say that there were 21,000 survivors in the camp.

“The only healthy prisoners he met were women, fed adequately so they could be sex slaves for German soldiers, Sarnoff said. He fed prisoners in the shadow of three crematoriums, used to incinerate the dead.”

There was a brothel at Buchenwald, but it was for the prisoners.  There was only one crematorium at Buchenwald. There were 3,000 sick prisoners and 18,000 who were not sick. The photos below show healthy prisoners and the one crematorium.

Some of the 18,000 healthy prisoners at Buchenwald

The one and only crematorium at Buchenwald

Ovens in the one and only crematorium at Buchenwald

“Buchenwald starved and beat to death 238,000 prisoners, Sarnoff said. Prisoners were shipped there weekly, 300 at a time, he said. Those under 105 pounds were sent directly to Auschwitz, to be executed.”

According to a U.S. Army report dated May 25, 1945, there was a total of 238,980 prisoners sent to Buchenwald during its 8-year history from July 1937 to April 11, 1945, and 34,375 of them died in the camp. This report was based on records confiscated from the camp by the US military, after the camp was liberated.

A later U.S. Government report in June, 1945 put the total deaths at 33,462 with 20,000 of the deaths in the final months of the war.

Prisoners were not sent from Buchenwald to Auschwitz to be executed.  It was the other way around: survivors from Auschwitz, who had not been executed, were evacuated to Buchenwald.

“Children ages 6 to 15 were used for medical experiments, injected with typhoid, diphtheria, pneumonia and syphilis, he said. Sarnoff said he saw a brass blowtorch that had been used to burn many children, to see how they would recover.”

This statement by Sarnoff could easily win a prize for the biggest lie ever told.  There were 904 young boys in the camp who were protected by the Communist prisoners who ran the camp.  They ranged in age from 4 years old to 17 years old. (Some accounts say that there was a 2-year-old among the orphans.)

There were medical experiments done at Buchenwald, but these experiments were done to find a vaccine for typhus, which was the disease that devastated all the concentration camps in the last 5 months of the war. The prisoners who were used in the experiments were criminals who had been condemned to death and had been sent to Buchenwald to await their execution date.

The youngest survivors of Buchenwald

“He learned that each new prisoner was given a spoon and a bowl, provided so they could consume a meager ration of watery potato soup. If they lost the bowl, they starved. There were no weeds or grass in the camp, as all vegetation had been consumed by the prisoners.”

It is true that each prisoner had to keep his spoon and bowl in his possession, and he had to keep these items from being stolen.  If a prisoner lost his bowl, he still had a cup that he could eat soup out of, or he could steal someone else’s bowl.  A prisoner who lost all of his dishes and utensils could still eat bread, and he could share a bowl with another prisoner.

Another article published online on April 8th by Glenn Farley/King 5 News had this information about Joe Moser, a World War II fighter pilot who spent two months as a prisoner at Buchenwald:

What gets his daughter Julie Hanes, a nurse, was the torture and the medical experiments carried out on her father and the others.

“They just injected medicines. They didn’t know what they were. They used the same needle over and over and over again,” said Hanes.

According to Wikipedia, there are laws against Holocaust denial in Austria, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Hungary, Israel, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain and Switzerland.  Holocaust denial is punishable by up to 20 years in prison in Austria, and up to 5 years in most other countries.  Isn’t it time to punish Holocaust liars?

This article totaled me out for today; I can’t read any more news about the Buchenwald anniversary celebration.