Scrapbookpages Blog

July 5, 2015

The “Ballerina of Auschwitz” is still alive and still kicking

Filed under: Germany, Holocaust — Tags: , , , — furtherglory @ 9:41 am

I previously blogged about Edith Eger, the “Ballerina of Auschwitz” in this blog post: https://furtherglory.wordpress.com/2014/07/28/holocaust-survivor-edith-eger-was-pulled-from-a-pile-of-corpses-by-an-american-g-i/

Today, I read in this news article that Edith is still alive and still kicking — literally.

Edith Eva Eger

Edith Eva Eger at age 16, doing a split in a bathing suit

This quote is from the news article, cited above:

Meet Edith Eva Eger, the “Ballerina of Auschwitz,” and hear her inspirational story firsthand at a July 14 event to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp during World War II.

A black-and-white photo shows the 16-year-old ballerina at her prime, mere months before her world would be destroyed.

She is dressed in a bathing suit, smiling while performing a gymnastic split. Eger says the portrait was taken by her first teenage crush: a Jewish boy named Imre. He, like so many others, would not survive the Holocaust.

“I had my 17th birthday in Auschwitz,” Eger said.

I also wrote about Edith in this previous blog post: https://furtherglory.wordpress.com/2010/02/13/holocaust-survivor-turned-cartwheels-at-auschwitz/

 

October 9, 2014

Documentary, about a child suvivor of 5 Nazi camps, nominated for an Emmy

Filed under: Germany, Holocaust, movies, World War II — Tags: , , , , — furtherglory @ 11:27 am

This news article tells about a Jewish child who survived 5 concentration camps during the course of nearly 3 years while World War II, and the Holocaust, were going on.

This quote is from the news article, cited above:

“Misa’s Fugue,” the documentary based on the true story of Frank “Misa” Grunwald’s almost three years in Nazi concentration camps as a child, has exceeded [Jennifer] Goss’ expectations in pretty much every way.

So when Goss, along with her husband, and Grunwald, the film’s director, Sean Gaston, and other important players in the making of the documentary found themselves at the Mid-Atlantic Emmy Awards in Philadelphia on September 20, they knew all the late nights, and trips were worth it.

I know what you are going to say: How could a child survive FIVE concentration camps, during the genocide of the Jews, aka the Holocaust, when everyone knows that children under the age of 15 were immediately gassed.

Note that the article calls Terezin a “death camp.”  Why send children from one death camp to another, and then let them survive? Was it because the Nazis wanted survivors to tell the story in documentaries 70 years later?

According to the article:

[Framk ”Misa”] Grunwald was born in Czechoslovakia in September of 1932. Four months later, Adolf Hitler became Chancellor of Germany. “Misa’s Fugue” centers around Grunwald’s journey through Terezin [Theresienstadt], Auschwitz, Mauthausen, Melk and Gunskirchen concentration camps.

Nearly 1.5 million children were murdered during the Holocaust between 1933 and 1945. Grunwald, now 82, was one of the less than 300 children who survived the Nazi death-camp at Terezin in the Czech Republic. For the next two years Grunwald found himself in various camps, in various countries, often getting there by death marches.

So Frank Grunwald spent a year, as a little boy, at Theresienstadt (now called Terezin) before he was hauled off to Auschwitz.  According to the article, Terezin was a “death-camp.”

Grunwald was probably taken to the Auschwitz II camp, aka Auschwitz-Birkenau, where children under the age of 15 were immediately gassed.

Yet somehow, Grunwald was not gassed at Auschwitz, but instead, he was transferred to Mauthausen, a Class III camp for convicted criminals and “Return Unwanted” prisoners, where he was again not killed in the gas chamber, but was transferred to the Melk sub-camp and then to the Gunskirchen subcamp of Mauthausen. Records show that Gunskirchen had only 450 prisoners.

Why did the stupid Nazis keep moving Grunwald around like that?  Did they want a child to survive to the age of 82, so that he could tell his “Holocaust survivor” story in a documentary?

I suspect that Frank “Misa” Grunwald was on the “death march” out of Auschwitz when the camp had to be abandoned because the Soviet liberators were on their way.

According to some Holocaust experts, the purpose of a “death march” was to kill the prisoners before the Soviets could save them.  Some of the survivors of these death marches were sent to Mauthausen in Austria because this was as far away as they could get from the liberators who were coming to save the children.

Melk and Gunskirchen were both sub-camps of Mauthausen where prisoners were working in underground factories which were building Messerschmidtt airplanes.

The Gunskirchen camp was not set up until very late in the war, so there is not much information about it on the Internet.

Ebensee is much better known than Gunskirchen, and I have a page about it on my scrapbookpages website.

The photo below is an old photo which was taken at Ebensee. This photo proves that there were very young children taken to Austria near the end of the war.

Young children at the Ebensee camp in Austria

Young children at the Ebensee camp in Austria

Notice that one of the young children has no shoes, although the older boy has a nice pair of boots.

You can see some old photos of Gunskirchen, taken by the American liberators of the camp, on this website: http://www.remember.org/mooney/images/thumbnails/index.html

The photo below shows the Melk sub-camp, which was in the same area of Austria as Gunskirchen.

Melk, a sub-camp of Mauthausen where Jews worked in factories

Melk, a sub-camp of Mauthausen where Jews worked in factories

Survivors of Ebensee sub-camp of Mauthausen greet their liberators

Survivors of Ebensee sub-camp of Mauthausen greet their liberators

Ebensee sub-camp of Mauthausen

Ebensee sub-camp of Mauthausen

The prisoners at Ebensee, shown in the photo above, worked in underground factories which manufactured Messerschmitt airplanes. German engineers and civilians also worked in these factories. The site was chosen because there were natural caves which could be enlarged into tunnels so that the munitions factories could be protected from Allied bombing raids.

Of course, some of the prisoners in these camps died, in spite of the fact that the Nazis tried to keep them alive so that they could work as slave laborers in the factories.

The photo below shows dead bodies at the Gusen sub-camp of Mauthausen.

Dead bodies found in the Gusen sub-camp of Mauthausen

Dead bodies found in the Gusen sub-camp of Mauthausen

After World War II ended, the Allies accused the Nazis of taking prisoners to Mauthausen to kill them in the tunnels of the sub-camps.  I wrote about Ernst Kaltenbrunner’s defense to this charge at the Nuremberg IMT, on this blog post: https://furtherglory.wordpress.com/2012/08/11/the-testimony-of-dr-ernst-kaltenbrunner-at-the-nuremberg-imt/

On my website, I wrote about the alleged order given by Ernst Kaltenbrunner to kill all the prisoners at Mauthausen and its sub-camps: http://www.scrapbookpages.com/Mauthausen/KZMauthausen/ZiereisDeath.html

 

July 28, 2014

Holocaust survivor Edith Eger was pulled from a pile of corpses by an American G.I.

Filed under: Holocaust — Tags: , , , — furtherglory @ 8:33 am

This quote is from the website of Dr. Edith Eger, Ph.D. at http://www.heroicjourney.com/pages/about/edieeger.htm

Almost a year to the day from when she arrived in Auschwitz, [Edith Eger] was pulled from the pile of corpses in the woods by an American GI who was there with the 71st Infantry to liberate the Gunskirchen Larger camp. He saw her hand move. She weighed 60 pounds and had a broken back, but she was alive!

On January 18, 1945, Jewish prisoners were marched out of Auschwitz and taken to various camps, including Mauthausen where a tent camp was set up for the Hungarian Jews. Gunskirchen was a sub-camp of the Mauthausen Class III camp in Austria, where prisoners were sent to work in factories.

Entrance into Ebensee, a camp similar to Gunskirchen

Entrance into Ebensee, a camp similar to Gunskirchen in Austria

You can read about the liberation of Gunskirchen, and see many photos of the dead and dying prisoners, on this website:

http://www.remember.org/mooney/full_version.html

On the website, cited above, there are many photos of corpses lying on the ground when the Americans arrived.

This quote is from the website of Edie Eger:

Edie’s story began in Kassa, Hungary where she grew up with her parents and older sisters, Magda and Klara. In May of 1944 at the age of 16 her life changed forever. Edie was sent by the Germans to Auschwitz concentration camp along with her parents and sister Magda. […]

…the guards [at Auschwitz] found out from other inmates that Edie had been a ballerina in Hungry. They told Dr. Mengele, who liked to be entertained by the inmates. He sent for Edie to dance for him. As Edie was onstage dancing for Dr. Mengele, she saw the black smoke from the gas chamber, which likely contained the ashes of her mother, drift upward toward heaven.

How terribly insensitive of Dr. Mengele!  He had 16-year-old Edie dancing on a stage that was outside where she could see the black smoke coming from the gas chamber building, which likely contained the ashes of her mother.  Edie was 16 years old, so she had not been selected for the gas chamber, which was the fate of the prisoners under the age of 15 or over the age of 45.

But it gets worse!

This quote is from Edie’s website:

Edie said as she continued to dance, “Dr. Mengele discussed with the guards who should die next. I prayed. Not for myself, but for Dr. Mengele, so he would not have to kill me. It was then that I began to pity the Nazis; they were more imprisoned than I. Somehow I would survive, but they would always have to live with what they had done.”

Edie and her sister Magda were close to death many times. Whenever they showered, they never knew if they would receive water or gas. They had to carry ammunitions for the Nazis on the infamous “death march.” They were used as human shields on top of a train full of ammunitions. The Nazis thought that the allies would not drop bombs on a train carrying prisoners, but they were wrong. The bombs killed others around them, but Edie and her sister survived.

From June 1944 to May 1945 Edie and Magda were moved from camp to camp, eventually ending up in Gunskirchen Larger camp. They were becoming exhausted and emaciated with hunger. Edie became so weak that she went in and out of consciousness. Even her sister’s vigilance as a caretaker couldn’t revive Edie. She was unconscious when guards thought she was dead and they tossed her in a mass grave in the woods behind the camp.

According to Holocaust historian Martin Gilbert, in his book entitled Holocaust, the last death marches of the war began on May 1, 1945 as the American Army approached; prisoners from the main camp at Mauthausen and the sub-camps at Gusen and St. Valentin were marched to Gunskirchen and Ebensee. Hundreds of them died from exhaustion, or were shot because they couldn’t keep up, or as they attempted to escape. When American troops in the 80th Infantry Division arrived on May 4, 1945, there were around 60,000 prisoners from 25 different countries at Ebensee.

I don’t have much information about Gunskirchen, but you can read about Ebensee, a similar sub-camp of Mauthausen, on my website at http://www.scrapbookpages.com/Mauthausen/KZMauthausen/Subcamps/Ebensee01.html

I previously blogged about Dr. Edith Eger here. She first told the story that she was saved from the gas chamber by turning cartwheels to distract the guards.

You can read more about Dr. Eger’s ordeal in The Budapest Times newspaper here.

This quote is from The Budapest Times:

Many in the audience suppressed tears as Eger told the story of her survival. She was the youngest daughter of a Jewish tailor in Budapest, and she was transported to Auschwitz just as she turned 16. Her sister, a talented violinist, managed to hide and avoid deportation.
Their father, a stubborn man, was shot upon arrival at the concentration camp because he refused to shave his head. The remaining two children were ripped from their mother’s arms still on the ramp leading off the train, and she continued her way to the gas chamber.
Edith and her sister Magda were saved only by luck and instinct. The talented Edith entertained Dr. Josef Mengele, the “Angel of Death”, with private ballet presentations, and in return she got a piece of bread and more time to live.
“I did what the victims of violence often do: I dissociated,” Eger said of her encounter with Mengele. “I imagined that the music is from Tchaikovsky and I am dancing on the stage of the Budapest Opera in the role of Julia.”.

What? Edie’s father “refused to shave his head”?  I didn’t know that the Jews had to shave their own heads at Auschwitz.  The hair was shaved from the heads of the prisoners in order to control the lice that spreads typhus.

Hungarian women walking toward the women's camp at Auschwitz-Birkenau after their heads were shaved

Hungarian women walking toward the women’s camp at Auschwitz-Birkenau after they were given a shower and their heads were shaved

The photo above shows Hungarian women walking into the women’s section on the south side of the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp after they have had a shower and a change of clothes. Behind them is a transport train and in the background on the left is one of the camp guards. The woman with dark hair in the center of the photo is Ella Hart Gutmann who is in the outside row facing inward. Next to her is Lida Hausler Leibovics; both women were from Uzhgorod. Their heads have been shaved in an attempt to control the lice that spreads typhus.

What is the point of all this?  When life gives you lemons, you make lemonade — or you write books — or you turn your ordeal into a lucrative career in Psychology — and laugh all the way to the bank.  Along the way, you sprinkle in a few lies, such as the one about Dr. Mengele discussing which prisoners he was going to kill next. This happened while you were dancing and watching the smoke come out of the chimney while your mother’s body was burning. Oh, the humanity!