Scrapbookpages Blog

February 10, 2013

youngest survivor on Schindler’s List has died at the age of 83

Filed under: Holocaust, movies — Tags: , , , , , — furtherglory @ 1:38 pm

Leon Leyson, who was 13 years old, when his name was put on Schindler’s List, has died in Los Angeles, CA at the age of 83.  You can read the news of his death here.

This quote is from the news article about his death:

Because of Schindler’s interventions and after being ultimately placed on his list of workers which meant they were save from the death camps, Leon survived alongside his parents and an older brother and sister.

His other two brothers were killed.

“Five of us survived the war, this is the bottom line, out of everyone who was related to me in Poland. And we survived because we were on Schindler’s list,” Leon said during an interview in 2008 on NBC4.

On June 1, 2010, I blogged about Leon Leyson and Schindler’s List here.

I am re-posting part of my original blog post from 2010:

Scene from the movie Shindler's List

Scene from the movie Shindler’s List

Schindler did not personally make up the “List of Jews” for his factory, as it was portrayed in the movie. David Crowe wrote a book entitled Oskar Schindler, in which he revealed that the movie scene, shown in the photo above, is pure fiction.

According to Crowe, Oskar Schindler had no role in preparing the famous list, other than giving SS-Hauptscharführer Franz Josef Müller some general guidelines for the type of workers he wanted on the list.

Amon Göth, the Commandant of the Plaszow camp, who shot prisoners from his balacony in the movie, had been arrested by the SS on September 13, 1944 and was in prison in Breslau when the list was prepared, but this is not mentioned in the movie.  Göth just disappears in the movie and no one notices that he is gone.

David Crowe wrote that the person responsible for the preparation of Schindler’s List was Marcel Goldberg, a corrupt Jewish prisoner at the Plaszow camp, who was a member of the Ordnungdienst, the camp’s Jewish police force. Goldberg was the assistant of SS-Hauptscharführer Franz Josef Müller, the SS man responsible for the transport lists. Only about one third of the Jews on the list had previously worked in Schindler’s factory in Krakow.

The novel, Schindler’s Ark tells about how Goldberg accepted bribes from the prisoners who wanted to get on the list.

In his book Oskar Schindler, David Crowe wrote:

“… watch how Steven Spielberg traces the story of Marcel Goldberg, the real author of Schindler’s List, in his film. He begins in the early part of the film with Goldberg sitting near Leopold “Poldek” Page and other Jewish black marketeers in Krakow’s Marjacki Bazylika (church) as Oskar Schindler tries to interest them in doing business with a German. What follows throughout the rest of the film is the subtle tale of Goldberg’s gradual moral degeneration. Schindler, for example, gives Itzhak Stern first a lighter, then a cigarette case, and finally a watch to bribe Goldberg to send more Jews to his factory from Plaszow.”

Here is the true story of what actually happened:

After Germany conquered Poland in 1939,  Oskar Schindler purchased a factory in the city of Krakow, where he employed Jews from the Krakow ghetto.  When the Krakow ghetto was closed, all the Jews were sent to the nearby Plaszow labor camp which was just outside the city of Krakow.

Schindler got permission to turn his factory into a sub-camp of the Plaszow camp, so that he could continue to employ Jews, instead of Polish workers.

He built barracks at his factory for Jewish prisoners, who were then transferred from the Plaszow camp to his sub-camp. After the Plaszow labor camp became a concentration camp, Schindler’s  factory sub-camp was then put under the authority of the WVHA, the economic office of the Nazi concentration camp system.

Oskar Schindler was making a fortune during the occupation of Poland during World War II.  Schindler was hiring Jews in his factory and paying lower wages than what he would have had to pay Polish workers.

By 1944, the Nazis were only allowing munitions factories to become sub-camps in their concentration camp system. 

Schindler’s factory in Krakow had two parts; one part of his factory made enamel pots and pans for the German army, but he was also producing munitions for the German military.  The Nazis did not want to open a munitions factory that would be a sub-camp of Gross Rosen, so Schindler had to bribe them to allow him to open a munitions factory near his home town of Brünnlitz, in what is now the Czech Republic.

When the Plaszow camp was closed in 1944, all the men in the camp were sent to the Gross Rosen concentration camp, including the Jews on Schindler’s List.

All the women in the Plaszow camp had to go to Auschwitz temporarily until barracks could be built for them at Gross Rosen, which was a men’s camp.

After barracks, for both men and women, were built at Schindler’s new sub-camp, the Jews on his List were sent there, including his female workers, who were temporarily staying at Auschwitz.

In real life, Schindler sent his secretary to Auschwitz to make sure that his Jewish workers got on the right train, but he didn’t go himself.

What if Schindler had just closed his munitions factory in Krakow and not bribed the Nazis to allow him to move it to Brunnlitz?  What would have happened to the prisoners on his famous list?  Would they have been sent immediately to the gas chambers?  No.  The men would have been sent to the Gross Rosen concentration camp which did not have gas chambers.  The women and children would have been sent, temporarily, to Auschwitz which was only 37 miles from Krakow, but they would not necessarily have been gassed.  There were numerous survivors of Auschwitz, including old women and little children.

The food for the prisoners in Oskar Schindler’s sub-camp was provided by the Nazis, but Schindler spent his own money to buy extra food and medicine for them.  His workers had a better chance of survival than they would have had in any other camp, but even then, some of his workers died of disease.  The Plaszow prisoners, who did not get on Schindler’s List, were not condemned to “certain death.” 

This quote is from the news article about Leyson’s death:

When the Nazis ordered the remaining Jews of Krakow to be sent to Auschwitz., Schindler acted again paying huge bribes and using all of his influence to ensure as many as possible were relocated to outside [his] home town and thus away from the Final Solution.

Schindler also dramatically intervened when Leyson’s mother and sister were among 300 Schindler women accidentally re-routed to Auschwitz when they were meant to be led to safety.

They knew the gas chambers awaited them until they heard Schindler’s voice.

The information in the above quote is based on the story that is told in the movie Schindler’s List.  It is true that Schindler had to bribe the Nazis to allow him to set up a factory outside his home town in what is now the Czech Republic, but the reason that Schindler had to bribe the Nazis was not because the workers in his factory had been ordered to be sent to Auschwitz to be killed.  No, the prisoners in Schindler’s factory in Krakow had been scheduled to go to Gross Rosen, a concentration camp which did not have a gas chamber.  Schindler’s Jews had not been scheduled to be killed.

The female prisoners on Schindler’s List had to go to Auschwitz-Birkenau to wait until barracks at Schindler’s new factory could be built for them.  In the movie Schindler’s list, the women are shown in the shower room at Auschwitz and they are over-joyed to see water come out of the faucets, not gas.

January 8, 2013

Grandson of Dachau survivors takes a tour of the former camp

Filed under: Dachau, Germany, Holocaust — Tags: , , , — furtherglory @ 11:07 am

There has been some recent discussion in the comments on my blog about the Dachau gas chamber and what visitors are currently being told by their tour guides.  I decided to do a search to learn what other bloggers are saying about their recent visits to Dachau.  I found this blog post which you can read in full here.

This quote is from the blog cited above:

Then we came to the spot I had been dreading. The showers. I had heard the stories before. In college, I took a Holocaust history class, where everything was explained in graphic detail. Prisoners were told to take off their clothes and enter the showers to clean themselves off.

The next part refers to what he was taught in “Holocaust history class” as it does not describe the gas chamber at Dachau:

Once they got inside, the doors were slammed shut, and a gas bomb was slid though a sliding door. When people realized what was going on, they would claw and fight there way to the top, gasping for air. Eventually, they would lose control of their bowels, before they would finally succumb.

To get back to the beginning, this quote is from the start of the blog post:

On a recent trip to Germany, I met my in-laws and discovered the rustic beauty of Bavaria. […]  …hidden just miles from these beautiful sites, is a place that holds a much darker story — a history that many people would like to forget.

This is Dachau…The first Nazi Concentration Camp. And, a place both of my grandparents barely escaped with their lives. This is not another lesson in the horrors of the Holocaust. There are plenty of those. This is just my personal story…The story of a descendent of Jewish survivors…The story of my first experience visiting the site where they were robbed of their childhoods.

In the above quote, the writer reveals that he is Jewish; both of his grandparents were survivors of Dachau.  His grandparents were robbed of their childhoods, which means that they were young children when they were in Dachau. Or were they?  It sounds suspicious to me.

There were a few young boys in the Dachau camp when it was liberated, but I have never seen any photos of young girls in the camp.

Young boys at the Dachau camp when it was liberated

Young boys at the Dachau camp when it was liberated

Women at Dachau when he camp was liberated

Women at Dachau when the camp was liberated

Dachau was mainly a camp for adult men, but there were a few children there according to Paul Berben who was a member of the International Committee at Dachau, which controlled the camp near the end. He wrote the following in his book entitled Dachau: 1933 – 1945: The Official History:

As has already been mentioned, there were times when even children were imprisoned in Dachau. The International Committee saw to it that they were not abandoned. A school was organized for Russian children under a Yugoslavian teacher, and the older ones were placed in Kommandos [subsidiary work camps of Dachau] where they were looked after by prisoners who tried not only to keep them in good health but to teach them the rudiments of a trade as well.

This quote continues the story of the blogger’s visit to Dachau:

As we walked, arm and arm, down the long winding path to the camp, my wife and I were very nervous. She had been here many times in the past. But this time was different. There is a sense of guilt felt by many Germans that anyone else simply cannot understand. Her family had no involvement with the Nazi party. And, even though her parents were babies when my grandparents were here, they still apologized to me. My father-in-law told me he was embarrassed to be a German.   […]

I tried to fit everything nicely into the puzzle in my head. “Oh, there’s a barrick!, and there’s a guard tower” I nudged my wife. “This is the big open square where they marched everybody out to sounds of classical music.” She nodded. I got upset. “No, no. Don’t you understand how important this is? My grandparents stood here. This is where people were lined up, and murdered.”

Prisoners at Dachau, on their way to work, are marching to music

Prisoners at Dachau, on their way to work, are marching to music

I felt myself trying to convince her of the gravity of it all. We entered a barrick (sic) and overheard an English tour. “After the war, the rest of the barricks were burned down to kill the rampant disease. This is the only one that still stands. It was a model unit used by the SS to give visitors a false impression that inmates were treated humanely.”

“The real units had no toilets. Inmates would urinate and defecate on the ground.” “Did you hear that,” I elbowed my wife. “Yes,” she looked at me somewhat annoyed. […]

Wait a minute!  The barracks were “burned down”?  Where did the German “war criminals” live when the camp was turned into a prison for Germans after the war?  You can read about War Crimes Enclosure No. 1 on my website here.

After the American Military Tribunal trials were completed, the barracks at Dachau were used, for 17 years, to house the German expellees who had been evicted from their homes in the former Czechoslovakia and from their homes in Poland and other countries.  You can read about the ethnic Germans who were expelled here.

The expellees were kicked out of the barracks at Dachau when it was decided to make the former camp into a Memorial site in 1960.  It was at that time that the barracks were torn down.

The barracks that visitors now see at Dachau are reconstructions, built when the camp was turned into a Memorial Site.  The SS did NOT build a “model unit” to show to visitors.  When visitors came to tour the camp, while it was a concentration camp, they were shown the barracks of the Jehovah’s Witness prisoners because these prisoners kept their barracks very clean.  The original barracks had toilets, unlike the barracks in the internment camps in America, which had toilets in a separate building.

The prisoners were originally housed in old factory buildings; the grounds of the Dachau camp originally housed a munitions factory during World War I.  The factory had to be abandoned because the Germans were not allowed to have weapons, according to the Treaty of Versailles, which was imposed on the Germans at the end of World War I.

In 1938, new barracks buildings were built at Dachau.  The photo below shows the barracks that were used for the Dachau prisoners from 1938 to 1945.

barrack1

The description of Dachau from the blog post continues:

We walked up to a rather strange structure. It looked like a jumble of metal with no real purpose. We both commented on how ugly it was. Then we overheard some passersby discussing the site.

It had actually been created by an artist to depict a common occurrence at the camp. Prisoners who had given up on survival, starved and depressed, would simply walk into the electrified fence. If the voltage didn’t kill them, shots from the guard tower would. […]

My 2007 photo of the International Monument at Dachau

My 2007 photo of the International Monument at Dachau

You can read about the International Monument and see more photos of it on my website here.

The blogger who visited Dachau continues with this quote:

We stood inside the gas chamber and I felt sick. I thought I was going to throw up. I didn’t think about what happened there. I couldn’t. I just felt the raw emotions.

Looking at the way the building was set up, you could see how systematic and well organized everything was. There were two separate entrances. The prisoners would enter a waiting room with instructions and benches to hold their clothes.

Blueprint of Baracke X building at Dachau

Blueprint of Baracke X building at Dachau

The building might have been set up to be systematic and well organized, but was it originally set up as a gas chamber? The photo above shows a blueprint of the Baracke X building where the gas chamber (or shower room) is located in the space that is numbered 5.  This space was called the Brausebad (shower) on the original blueprint.

The blogger didn’t mention how the gas entered the room. However, he did take a photo inside the gas chamber — an artistic photo of someone’s legs and feet, beside one of the drain holes.

Wait a minute! Why was there a drain hole in a gas chamber?  Wouldn’t the gas have gone down the drain and poisoned everyone in the whole camp?  Of course, the six drain holes are now closed up, but if the Germans were going to close the drain holes, why put them there in the first place?  The drain holes indicate that the gas chamber was originally a shower room, which was modified to make it into a gas chamber.  I previously blogged about the floor drains in the gas chamber here.

One of six drain holes in the Dachau gas chamber

One of six drain holes in the Dachau gas chamber

This quote is from the blogger’s description of the gas chamber:

On the other side of the “shower” room was the crematorium, with a separate entrance for the SS. The bodies were literally taken out of the gas chamber and shoveled right into the ovens to be cremated.

Not quite.  The bodies were first put into the morgue room, which was right next to the gas chamber room. From there the bodies were carried to the ovens, a few at a time.  There was, in fact, an outside entrance into the oven room, as well as an entrance from the morgue room.

Why would there be a shower room in a crematorium.  I previously blogged about this here.

This is the second blog post that I have read, which was written by a blogger, who did not do any research before visiting Dachau.  Visitors should find out the facts before they go to Dachau, so they can be prepared to challenge tour guides who tell them that the barracks at Dachau had no toilets, and other lies about the former camp.

January 4, 2013

the location of “the little red house,” the first gas chamber at Auschwitz-Birkenau

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

Someone who is writing a book emailed me, looking for information about “the little red house,” which was the first building used as a gas chamber at Auschwitz-Birkenau. I don’t know the location of this alleged gas chamber, but there are many well-informed people following my blog, who might know.

When I visited Auschwitz-Birkenau for the first time in 1998, I was told by my tour-guide that the locations of “the little white house” and “the little red house” were unknown.  When I returned to Auschwitz in 2005, the location of “the little white house” had been found, and the ruins had been reconstructed.  My 2005 photo of the ruins of “the little white house” is shown below.

Ruins of Bunker #2, the little white house

Ruins of Bunker #2, the little white house

In trying to find the location of “the little red house,” the logical place to start would be the website of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Museum.  According to information, given by the Museum in 1999, a “farm house” now stands in the location of the “little red house” which was apparently torn down. (The “farm house” built on the location has now also been torn down.)  You can see a photo of the alleged location of “the little red house” on the website of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Museum website here.

According to this website:  ” A blueprint of the prisoner-of-war camp [at Birkenau] shows that Kammler decided to locate the new crematorium in the north-western corner of Birkenau, adjacent to an abandoned cottage that had belonged to a Polish peasant named Wiechuja. The interior of this cottage, known as “the little red house,” was converted into two gas chambers within a few weeks…

On my trip to Auschwitz in 2005, I went to the “north-western corner of Birkenau” where “the new crematorium,” that was mentioned in the quote above, was located.  My 2005 photo of Krema V in the “north-western corner of Birkenau” is shown below.

The ruins of Krema V at Birkenau

The ruins of Krema V at Birkenau

The alleged location of “the little red house” and the mass graves of the victims who died during the typhus epidemic in 1942 is shown on the right side of the photo in the area now covered with trees.

Former SS headquarters at Birkenau is now a Catholic church

Former SS headquarters at Birkenau is now a Catholic church

The photo above shows the SS headquarters, built in 1944 at Birkenau, which has been converted into a Catholic church and a school.  This building is located about a quarter of a mile north of the red brick gatehouse, which is the entrance into the Birkenau camp; the gatehouse is on this same road, but on the opposite side. The road that goes past this building is used by the residents of the village of Birkenau.

In the photo above, the road in the foreground is inside the former Birkenau camp. A barrier gate prevents cars from driving into the former camp. The road in the foreground leads to the ruins of the gas chambers in Krema IV and Krema V, which are on each side of this road. Before these gas chambers were put into operation in the summer of 1943, trucks brought the Jews from the Judenrampe down this road to the “little red house” where the first gassings allegedly took place. Krema V was built on the north side of the Birkenau camp, on the right side of the road that begins at the SS administration building, which is now a Catholic Church. On the left side of this road is Krema IV.
The road that ends at Krema IV and Krema V is parallel to the main camp road, which ends at Krema II and Krema III on the south side of the camp. “The little red house,” called Bunker 1, was used as a gas chamber before Krema IV and Krema V were built.  The bodies of the gassed prisoners were allegedly burned in ditches nearby.  Both times, when I visited Auschwitz-Birkenau, I observed that this area is extremely wet.  I remarked to my tour guide, that this whole area is like a bog garden, a place where only plants that love water will grow.  This would be the last place to try to burn bodies in a ditch.

According to Holocaust historians, gassing in Krema V did not begin until the summer of 1943. The crematory ovens in Krema IV and Krema V broke down almost immediately and the bodies had to be burned in pits, located north of the Krema V building.

The gas chamber in Krema V was disguised as a shower room, as was the gas chamber in Krema IV. There was only one real shower room for the prisoners in this section of the Birkenau camp; the shower room was in the Central Sauna building, which is across the road from Krema IV. A display board near the water treatment plant, close to Krema III, says that there were 90,000 prisoners at Birkenau. With so few shower rooms for 90,000 people, the prisoners would have had to wait for weeks for a shower.

Some readers of my blog might be thinking, by now, that there were no little houses, of any color, that were used for gassing prisoners at Birkenau.  If the Germans had started gassing prisoners at Birkeanu in 1942, would they have converted two old farm houses into gas chambers?  I don’t think so.  They would have brought in some of the best German engineers and built the world’s best gas chambers.  They would not have thrown gas pellets through the windows of some old farm house.

Strangely, the two old farmhouses were allegedly located on either side of one of the two major roads into the Birkenau camp; this was the road that was used to bring trucks, loaded with Jews, from the Judenrampe into the camp, before the railroad line was extended into the camp.  Many survivors tell stories of how they escaped the gas chambers by jumping off the truck.

What do the Holocaust revisionists say about the two old farmhouses that were allegedly used as gas chambers?  One of the foremost revisionists is Carlo Mattogno who has written a book entitled The Bunkers of Auschwtiz,  Black propaganda versus History.

This quote is a description from the book by Carlo Mattogno:

The so-called “Bunkers” at Auschwitz-Birkenau are claimed to have been the first homicidal gas chambers at Auschwitz specifically erected for this purpose in early 1942. ….. Carlo Mattogno has combed tens of thousands of documents from the Auschwitz construction office — to conclude that these “Bunkers” never existed.

You can read an article on the Internet, written by Carlo Mattogno, here.

David Irving, who has written many books about World War II, went to Auschwitz and tried to find the location of “the little red house.”  He was doing research for a book about Heinrich Himmler.  There is a YouTube video of Irving at the alleged location of  “the little red house.”  The alleged location of “the little red house” seems to be far from Krema V.  You can hear Irving say: “I am so skeptical about this.” The video shows what appears to be markers where “the little red house” was located and a sign board that tells the story.

December 23, 2012

Holocaust survivor who volunteered for the gas chamber, but a Nazi doctor intervened

Filed under: Holocaust — Tags: , , — furtherglory @ 7:50 am

Holocaust survivor Rose Sherman Williams told her story recently to students in San Antonio, Texas.  Her emphasis was on the consequences of bullying.  The Nazis were the greatest bullies of all time, and God forbid that today’s American children should grow up to be Nazis.

Rose is now speaking out after years of silence. The most remarkable detail in her story is that she was in such misery at the Auschwitz death camp that she VOLUNTEERED to go to the gas chamber so that she could end it all.  But a Nazi doctor stopped her.

In her speech to the school children, Rose said that when “Nazi Germany troops” invaded her home town in Poland, she was about the same age as the middle school students, who were visiting the Jewish Community Center that day to hear her speech.

Rose told the students that, instead of water, gas would come out of the shower heads in the camp where she was taken.

Rose was eventually sent to Auschwitz.

This quote is from the news article about her speech, which you can read in full here:

“They gave us a number which I still carry on my hand, tattooed: “A15049,” Williams said while holding up her arm so students could see the tattoo. “That was the name I had to answer to and God forbid if I didn’t hear my name called. You cannot imagine the beating I would get.”

So much suffering, and Rose said she wanted to die: she volunteered to go to the concentration camp’s gas chamber.

But a Nazi doctor intervened. For years, Williams wondered why.

For years, Rose wondered why a Nazi doctor would not let her volunteer for the gas chamber at Auschwitz?  (By the way, who was this Nazi doctor?  Was this the famous Dr. Mengele, who appears in every Holocaust survivor story?)

Rose was not allowed to volunteer for the gas chamber because she had already been tattooed. She had already been registered in the camp and there was an IBM Hollerith punch card for her in the camp administration records. I previously blogged about the Hollerith punch cards on this blog post.

If her card had been found after Auschwitz was abandoned, this would have been proof that someone had been gassed at Auschwitz after they had been registered.   Of course, the Nazis were not going to let that happen.  The Jews who were gassed were sent immediately to the gas chamber without being registered and tattooed.  The names of the Jews who were gassed are unknown.

Nice try, but no cigar!  Sorry, Rose.

December 10, 2012

British students “walk into Crematorium II” at Auschwitz-Birkenau

Filed under: Holocaust — Tags: , , — furtherglory @ 1:02 pm

On Thursday [Nov. 22, 2012] 200 students from north London schools visited Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp as part of the Holocaust Educational Trust’s Lessons From Auschwitz.  This was reported by the Islington Tribune newspaper in an article written by Pavan Amara.

This quote is from what Pavan Amara wrote in the Islington Tribune:

With that, we enter the death camp Birkenau.  […]

As we walk into Crematorium II, Liza Pacarda of Parliament Hill School notes the average everything, apart from the ovens next door used to dispose of the bodies.

She says:  They [the prisoners] would have seen these pipes at the top, really would have thought they were taking a shower.  I can’t get over the lies, they were numbing my mind.  They were told to remember their clothes pegs before they went in there… why?  When the officers knew they were going to die?  It’s beyond words.  I couldn’t describe it in one word, I couldn’t describe it in 10 words.  This isn’t [a human experience], but what is it? I can’t decide.  We hear the Nazis were monsters, they were so average, but if you believe that, it’s frightening because if they weren’t monsters, they were humans, which means what?

I was amazed to read this description of the underground ruins of Crematorium II at Birkenau.  Did the students actually walk into the ruins of the Crematorium II gas chamber at Birkenau?  It is clear that the gas chamber being described is not Krema I in the main camp, which is at ground level.  There are no pipes on the ceiling of Krema I, which is shown in my 2005 photo below.

Reconstructed gas chamber in Krema I in the Auschwitz main camp

Reconstructed gas chamber in Krema I in the Auschwitz main camp

The ruins of Krema II at Birkenau

The collapsed roof of Crematorium II at Birkenau.  The gas chamber is 5 feet underground

I know that it is possible to enter the ruins of Crematorium II, by crawling through a hole in the collapsed roof.  Fred Leuchter and Germar Rudolf (two famous revisionists) climbed down into the ruins many years ago, but I had no idea that it is now possible for British students to “walk into” Krema II, the “Holy of Holies,” where 500,000 Jews were gassed.

Ruins of Krema II at Birkeanau

Ruins of Krema II at Birkeanau —the gas chamber was 5 feet underground

It has been 7 years since I photographed the ruins of Krema II, but apparently, there is now a hole cut into the roof of the ruins, so that British students can walk down a ramp into the underground space.

The British student described the ovens next to the gas chamber.  The photos below show the ruins of the room where the ovens were located.  The ovens were removed by the Nazis before the building was blown up.

Ruins of the oven room at Krema II in Birkenau

Ruins of the oven room at Krema II in Birkenau have been propped up because they are collapsing

Another view of the oven room which was above ground

Another view of the oven room which was above ground

Ruins of the undressing room of Krema II which was 5 feet underground

Ruins of the undressing room of Krema II which was 5 feet underground

Ruins of Krema II at Birkeanu

Ruins of Krema II at Birkeanu

December 5, 2012

Yanina Cywinska gets a standing ovation after she tells how she survived the gas chamber at Auschwitz

Filed under: Holocaust, World War II — Tags: , , , — furtherglory @ 8:18 am

As everyone knows, the lethal gas that was used in the gas chambers of Auschwitz was Zyklon-B, the same gas that was used to disinfect the clothing of the prisoners. But according to Holocaust survivor, Yanina Cywinski, carbon monoxide was originally used at Auschwitz.  Yanina Cywinska was inside the Auschwitz gas chamber, where she watched her father die, before she passed out, but was secretly resuscitated by another prisoner.

If someone survived the gas chamber, it was the policy of the Nazis to allow them to live, never sending them to the gas chamber again.  Thanks to this policy, Yanina is still alive today; she recently gave a talk to students on the Pleasant Valley High School campus in Chico, CA.

Yanina Cywinska, a non-Jew, was sent to Auschwitz, after her family was arrested as Polish Resistance fighters early in World War II.

According to the talk that Yanina gave to students at Pleasant Valley High in November, she was put to work, at the age of 10, dragging bodies out of the gas chamber at Auschwitz. One day, she realized, to her horror, that she was pulling her mother’s body out of the gas chamber.  The Sonderkommandos who dragged the bodies out of the gas chambers were all men, except for Yanina and Greta, another female Sonderkommando who yelled at Yanina to stop whining, which prompted her to continue her grim duties, after the horror of finding her mother’s dead body.

The Sonderkommandos, who worked in the gas chambers, were killed every three months, and replaced by new prisoners.  Strangely, Yanina was not killed along with the others.

This quote is from an article in the online Chico News and Review, which you can read in full here:

Cywinska’s 20-minute speech was the most powerful of the performances. She recounted two harrowing escapes from Nazi execution. Her Polish, non-Jewish family was captured by the Nazis for stockpiling weapons and literally going underground, living in sewers as part of the Polish resistance. Cywinska was separated from her family and forced with other prisoners over five days without food or water to dig an enormous ditch that was to serve as their own mass grave.

She recalled that, while lined up along the ditch, she stepped behind a mother and baby to support them as they stumbled. Her maneuver shielded her from the firing squad’s bullets, allowing her to fall unharmed into the grave. She escaped only to be recaptured and sent to Auschwitz with her family. In the gas chamber she held her father’s hand as he died with the others. She passed out but somehow survived the gas—it was carbon monoxide, not the Zyklon B ordinarily used—and was secretly resuscitated by an inmate.

Her spirit, she said, triumphed after the war, when she went on to fulfill her dreams of becoming an actress and ballerina.

Cywinska’s talk elicited several standing ovations. “I’ve been crying for about an hour now,” exclaimed one woman.

I previously blogged about Yanina Cywinska here.

December 4, 2012

8th grade student and 82-year-old Holocaust survivor share stories in Toronto

Filed under: Holocaust — Tags: , , , — furtherglory @ 9:40 am
Mother and bay were directed to Krema II on the left side of the train

Mother and baby are directed to Krema II gas chamber on the other side of an incoming train at Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp

Sally Rosen is an 82-year-old survivor of Auschwitz-Birkenau and Joshua is a student in a middle school in Toronto. They shared Holocaust survival stories when Ms. Rosen recently gave a talk at Joshua’s school.

According to her story, Ms. Rosen was 14 when she arrived at Auschwitz-Birkenau on a train in 1944. It is well known that everyone under the age of 15 was destined for the gas chamber, but Ms. Rosen was saved when Dr. Josef Mengele looked away for a moment, and she was able to join the saved line and also shove her mother into the saved line.

How did Ms. Rosen know about the two lines at Birkenau?  Note the prisoner, wearing striped “pajamas,” on the left side of the photo above.  The Nazis had the courtesy to post prisoners, who were Kapos, at the selections; the Kapos informed the incoming prisoners on methods of survival.

In the photo below, new arrivals at Auschwitz-Birkenau are shown in two lines, one line for men and another line for women and children.  Dr. Mengele is shown at the head of the line of men, holding a cigarette at chest height, totally unconcerned that some of the Jews might try to sneak into a different line.

Dr. Mengele turns his back on two columns at Birkenau

Dr. Mengele turns his back on two columns of prisoners at Auschwitz-Birkenau

This quote is from an article, about the talk that Ms. Rosen gave to middle school students in Toronto, which you can read in full in the Canadian National Post here:

New arrivals were broken into four lines and inspected by Josef Mengele, the notorious Nazi doctor. They were divided into two groups. One lived. One died.

“Mengele looked at me and I looked down,” Ms. Rosen says. “You couldn’t look him in the eye. And then God said — ‘I shall make you a miracle’ — and Mengele, in that moment, he looked away, and so I pushed my mother into the [group that lived].”

Note that Ms. Rosen did not refer to Dr. Mengele as Doctor, although he had two degrees:  A Doctor of Medicine and a PhD in Anthropology.  Most Holocaust survivors are alive today because Dr. Mengele made some kind of mistake. Yet, he gets no respect.

Where are the photos of the alleged four lines and two groups, one group that was intended to live and one group was intended to die?  Of course, the Nazis didn’t photograph that.  The photo below shows a line of men and a line of women; two women have just been sent to the left of the incoming train.  This road led to Krema III, Krema IV and Krema V, but it also led to the Sauna where incoming prisoners took a shower.  (Part of this road is now covered by the International Monument.)

Two women are sent to the left at Auschwitz-Birkenau

Two women at Auschwitz-Birkenau are sent to the SS man’s left

As you are facing the end of the tracks into the Birkenau camp, with your back to the “Gate of Death,” Krema II is on the left, as shown in the photo below.  Krema III, Krema IV, Krema V and the Sauna are on the other side of the tracks.

Krema II is on the left side of an incoming train at Auschwitz-Birkenau

Krema II is on the left side of an incoming train at Birkenau

This quote is from the article about Ms. Rosen’s talk to the students:

She [Rosen] remembers the sign on the camp gates: “Work will set you free.” She remembers a terrible stench. Death. It is a smell that has followed her through the years, a sensory memory she can’t shake.

The photo below accompanies the article about Ms. Rosen’s talk to the students.

Gate into the Auschwitz main camp.

Gate into the Auschwitz main camp; Sally Rosen was sent to the Auschwitz II camp, aka Birkenau

Photo Credit:  REUTERS /Kacper Pempel

How could Sally Rosen have seen the Arbeit Macht Frei gate at the Auschwitz I camp, as she told the students?  Did the train from the Lodz ghetto arrive first at the main camp, where she was marched though the gate under the iconic sign? No, the train tracks didn’t go to the main camp.

I previously blogged about the meaning of the Arbeit Macht Frei sign here.

In her talk, Ms. Rosen made a big fuss about Holocaust deniers telling lies.  The quote below is from the article:

Ms. Rosen grew tired of people forgetting about a decade ago, tired of people telling lies. She couldn’t stand the stories she would see bubble up in the media about an Ernst Zundel, the German-Canadian hate-monger, or a David Irving, the so-called British historian, or a Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the erratic Iranian president, spouting off about the Holocaust.

So Ms. Rosen decided to tell a few lies herself?

What about Joshua, the 8th grade student, who wanted to tell his story to her?  This quote is from the article:

Joshua’s Zadie, or was it his Bubby, [grandfather or grandmother] survived the Holocaust, just like Ms. Rosen did. On the way to Auschwitz they fell deathly ill and were thrown off the train so that the other unwitting concentration-camp-bound passengers wouldn’t contract whatever it was they had. They were left for dead. And yet, somehow, they lived.

Who threw grandpa (or was it grandma) off the train?  The Nazis or the other passengers?  The Nazis would not have cared if all the passengers on a train to a death camp contracted a disease and died.  This would have saved them the cost of the Zyklon-B gas pellets needed to gas the sick prisoners when the train arrived.  The passengers could not have unlocked the doors on the train, because if this had been possible, they would all have jumped off the train.

Prisoners in the Lodz ghetto were among the last of the Jews to be sent to Auschwitz.  This quote is from this website:

On June 10, 1944, Heinrich Himmler ordered the liquidation of the Lodz ghetto. The Nazis told Rumkowski who then told the residents that workers were needed in Germany to repair damage caused by Allied air raids. The first transport left on June 23, with many others following until July 15. On July 15, 1944 the transports halted. The decision had been made to liquidate Chelmno because Soviet troops were getting close. Unfortunately, this only created a two week hiatus, for the remaining transports would be sent to Auschwitz.

On August 4, 1944, a final liquidation transport of 74,000 Jews from Lodz was sent out from the ghetto on its way to the gas chambers at Auschwitz. Though a few remaining workers were retained by the Nazis to finish confiscating materials and valuables out of the ghetto, everyone else living in the ghetto had been deported. Even Rumkowski and his family were included in these last transports to Auschwitz.

Five months later, on January 19, 1945, the Soviets liberated the Lodz ghetto.

November 25, 2012

“stuck in the door of the gas chamber” How Irene Zisblatt survived Auschwitz-Birkenau

Filed under: Holocaust — Tags: , , , — furtherglory @ 9:50 am

Irene Zisblatt was 13 years old, 4 feet tall and weighed 60 pounds when she got stuck in the door of the Krema III gas chamber at Auschwitz-Birkenau.

During a routine roll call, Irene was confronted by Dr. Josef Mengele who asked her:  “Was machst du da?”  She should have been sent to the gas chamber long ago because she was only 13 and everyone under the age of 15 was gassed immediately.

A photo of the Krema III gas chamber building at Auschwitz-Birkenau is shown below.  Note the 10 ft. high barbed wire fence around the building.  Right next to the fence is a convenient railroad track where a gondola railroad car was parked on the day that Irene was sent to the gas chamber by that evil monster Dr. Josef Mengele.

Irene was all alone, and the gas chamber was already full.  She tried to squeeze into the gas chamber, but she got stuck in the door.  But not to worry.  An SS man pulled her out of the doorway.  Then a young Sonderkommando came to save her; he wrapped her up in a blanket and tossed her over the 10 ft. high fence, into a gondola car that was parked outside the gas chamber building. (The Sonderkommandos were Jews who helped the Nazis, by carrying the victims out of the morgues gas chambers after they were gassed.)

Krema III building surrounded by 10 ft. high fence

According to this quote from another blog which you can read here:

…the young man must have been an athletics champion, as the distance between the railroad tracks and the fence around crematorium III was over 100 ft., the fence had a height of about 10 ft., and Chana weighed about sixty pounds.[71] Fifth, if there had been a train with open cars[72] waiting with prisoners near the crematoria, it would have been guarded by SS personnel who doubtlessly would have noticed the unconventional arrival of Chana by “air lift.” And last not least, she would have been noticed at the latest at roll call on arrival, because her name would not have appeared in the transport list.

Gondola cars on the “death train” at Dachau

A gondola car is a railroad car that is open on top; it is used primarily to haul coal or similar items, not passengers.  The photo below shows a railroad car of the type that was used to transport passengers to Auschwitz.

Railroad car on display at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

Irene Zisblatt recorded her story of how she escaped from the gas chamber and you can hear her tell it on a YouTube video.  Don’t try to deny her story or you might wind up in prison for 5 years in 17 different countries.

November 18, 2012

the infamous Natzweiler-Struthof concentration camp

Filed under: Holocaust, World War II — Tags: , , — furtherglory @ 3:04 pm

With nothing better to do, I did some searching on the Internet today, and came across two blogs which feature photos of the Natzweiler-Struthof concentration camp.

I visited the Natzweiler-Struthof Memorial Site in the Fall of 2004 and took some photos, including the photo below, which shows a wooden bench, used for whipping prisoners.

Whipping block on display at Natzweiler Memorial Site

This blog shows a photo of the same bench with this caption:

Implements of torture, before waterboarding was in vogue. They just strapped you to this and removed body parts.

Not quite. The photo on the blog shows a bench used for whipping prisoners, not a bench for removing body parts.

Punishment of prisoners at Natzweiler and all the other concentration camps had to be approved by the WVHA economic office in Oranienburg, where Rudolf Hoess was a member of the staff after he was removed as the Commandant of Auschwitz in December 1943.

At the Nuremberg IMT, on April 15, 1946, Hoess testified that punishment on the whipping block was seldom used and that this punishment was discontinued in 1942 because Reichsführer Heinrich Himmler gave a new order that the SS men were forbidden to strike the prisoners.

On my trip to Natzweiler-Struthof in 2004, I took a photo of the exterior wall of a shower room, which is shown below.  The photo clearly shows water pipes entering the shower room.  In the lower right hand corner of the photo, you can see the rear of the cremation oven.

Water pipes on the outside wall of a shower room in Natzweiler

This blog shows a similar photo, which the blogger claims to be a photo of the interior of the gas chamber at Natzweiler.

This quote is from the blog, cited above:

In August 1943 a gas chamber was constructed in Natzweiler, in one of the buildings that had formed part of the hotel compound. The contractors for the project, Waffen –SS Natzweiler left behind a rare document in which, contrary to the coded terminology generally employed by the Nazis, specific mention was made of “the construction of a gas chamber at Struthof.”

This appeared in an invoice that the SS sent to the Strasbourg University Institute of Anatomy, charging it 236.08 Reichsmarks for the job. It was for the skeleton collection of the director of that institute, Professor August Hirt, that at least one hundred and thirty prisoners were transferred from Auschwitz to be killed in the Natzweiler gas chamber. Most of these prisoners were Jews.

Another member of the Strasbourg University faculty, Professor Otto Bickenbach, also availed himself of the Natzweiler gas chamber, to conduct experiments on prisoners with antidotes of phosgene, a poisonous gas.

The victims were Gypsies who had been transferred from Auschwitz, the previous year to serve as human guinea pigs for SS doctors experimenting with anti-typhus injections.

After my trip to Natzweiler-Struthof, I did a lot of research and wrote about the alleged gas chambers there on this page of my website.

October 27, 2012

The ruins at Auschwitz-Birkenau in 1979, compared to today

Filed under: Holocaust — Tags: , , , — furtherglory @ 1:28 am

An article in the online Telegraph, which you can read here, includes a photo that allegedly shows the ruins of one of the gas chambers at Auschwitz II, aka Birkenau.  It is an old black and white photo, taken in 1979.  I enhanced the photo, using Photoshop and reproduced it below.

Here is the caption on the photo, copied from the Telegraph:

FILE – In this undated file photo from 1979, a former inmate of the Nazi concentration camp at Auschwitz-Birkenau, Poland sometime in 1979, gazes down at ruins of gas chambers where hundreds of people were exterminated during World War II. The oldest known survivor of the Auschwitz concentration camp, a teacher who gave lessons in defiance of his native Poland’s Nazi occupiers has died at the age of 108, an official said Monday, Oct. 22, 2012. Antoni Dobrowolski died Sunday in the northwestern Polish town of Debno, according to Jaroslaw Mensfelt, a spokesman at the Auschwitz-Birkenau state museum.

1979 photo of an Auschwitz survivor viewing the ruins at Auschwitz-Birkenau

My 2005 photo of the ruins of the undressing room in Krema II

In the color photo above, note the steps of the International Monument on the right hand side. Note the guard tower in the background on the right.  My 2005 photo matches the 1979 black and white photo above, indicating that the man is not looking at the ruins of a gas chamber, but at the ruins of the undressing room of Krema II.

Another 2005 photo of the undressing room of Krema II

Again, note the guard tower and the steps of the International Monument on the right in the photo above. In the foreground, you can some of the ruins of the oven room, which was at ground level.  The undressing room was 5 feet underground.

The ruins of the Krema II gas chamber

My 2005 photo of the ruins of the Krema II gas chamber shows the International Monument in the background, slightly to the left.

Now look at the old black and white photo again.  It appears that some reconstruction of the ruins was done between 1979 and 2005.  Also, look at the background of the photo.  It looks like wide open countryside, with no trees hiding the view of the Jews walking into the undressing room.  Shouldn’t there have been a fence or a row of trees to hide the “mass murder” that was going on in the camp?

My 2005 photo of the ruins of the undressing room in Krema II

My 2005 photo above shows that the undressing room has been reconstructed, and a row of trees has been planted to hide the prisoners entering the undressing room from onlookers outside the camp.  The path, that the prisoners walked, up to the undressing room entrance should also have been reconstructed.

I am not convinced that there was an entrance to the undressing room in this location. A model of Krema II and the blueprint for the Krema II building are shown below.

Model of Krema II gas chamber building

In the photo above, notice that there is a door into the gas chamber building shown on the wall of the building on the left side. There was an exterior entrance with a staircase on the north side of the Krema II building, which led to the Vorraum of Krema II so that the SS men could enter Leichenkeller 1, the gas chamber, without going through Leichenkeller 2, which was the undressing room. In case of emergency, the gas chamber could be used as a bomb shelter for the SS men working in the area, since it had a gas-tight air raid shelter door.

Blueprint of the Krema II building

On the blueprint shown in the photo above, the undressing room is on the right hand side. To the left of the undressing room is the above-ground oven room with the ovens designated by 5 squares. There were 5 ovens with 3 openings in each oven. The gas chamber was perpendicular to the undressing room. On the blueprint, the gas chamber is labeled L-keller which is an abbreviation for Leichenkeller, which means corpse cellar in English. The undressing room was also called a Leichenkeller on the blueprint. Note that the length of the undressing room is two or three times as long as the length of the gas chamber.

Now that we see that there was a way to get into the undressing room without going around the building to enter from the end of the room, why didn’t the prisoners enter the undressing room through the door into the Vorraum?

Was the undressing room reconstructed to show an entrance down some steps that weren’t actually there before the reconstruction?

Update, 5:22 p.m.

A reader has alerted me to the website of The Daily Mail which shows a photo of Wilhelm Brasse standing beside the ruins of the undressing room in Krema II at Auschwitz in 1979.  In The Daily Mail photo, it looks like there are steps at the far end of the undressing room.  However, when I converted the photo to 300 dpi, from the 63 dpi in the original, it looks more like a brick wall.  I did not enhance the photo in any way.

High resolution photo of the ruins of the undressing room (Click on the photo to enlarge)

The photographer who took this photo in 1979 focused on Brasse in the foreground of the picture. The background, which shows the end of the undressing room, is not in sharp focus, so it is hard to tell if there are really steps in the photo.

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