Scrapbookpages Blog

May 4, 2017

Irene Zizblatt is still telling her Holocaust survivor story to students

Filed under: Germany, Holocaust, Uncategorized, World War II — Tags: , , — furtherglory @ 3:32 pm

I have written several blog posts about Irene Zizblatt in the past: https://furtherglory.wordpress.com/tag/irene-zisblatt/

This blog post is my best one about Irene: https://furtherglory.wordpress.com/2012/11/25/stuck-in-the-door-of-the-gas-chamber-how-irene-zisblatt-survived-auschwitz-birkenau/

Irene is still out talking to students in America about how she manged to survive during the Holocaust.

The following quote is from this news article: http://cornellsun.com/2017/05/04/holocaust-survivor-irene-zisblatt-shares-experience-at-concentration-camp/

Begin quote from news article:

Irene Zisblatt, a survivor of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp and other atrocities during the Holocaust, shared her story on Wednesday.

The event, hosted by Cornell Hillel, invites a Holocaust survivor every year, “so people truly understand what happened during the Holocaust and get an account from someone who [was] there,” according to Jeremy Marchuck ’19, chair of cultural programming.

“We are the last generation who are able to do this so we want to ensure that as many people hear these stories as possible,” Marchuck said.

During the presentation, Zisblatt described how her youth and her family were destroyed by Nazi hatred.

“At the age of nine, I was thrown out of the one thing that I loved most, my school, because I was a Jew. And from that day, my world changed, and so did the world,” she said.

She then shared her experiences in a ghetto after being forced there with fellow Hungarian Jews.

“I didn’t even know what a ghetto was, but they made me feel that I had to be punished for something and leave my home,” she said. “The ghetto was a brickyard, but there were no bricks being manufactured. There were just people everywhere suffering.”

Zisblatt also discussed her experiences in Auschwitz, in a labor camp and on a death march.

“I was reduced to a number that represented a nothing. I was stripped of my identity and my dignity,” she said. “That was their first process of dehumanizing us.”

End quote

February 4, 2017

How the famous Irene Zisblatt toss was done…

Filed under: Germany, Holocaust, Uncategorized — Tags: , , — furtherglory @ 7:16 am
Irene Zisblatt shows the spot where her Auschwitz tattoo was removed

Irene Zisblatt shows where her Auschwitz tattoo was removed

Irene Zisblatt is a famous Holocaust survivor, who was saved from the gas chamber at Auschwitz-Birkenau when she was tossed over a fence and into an open railway car on a parked train.

Some Holocaust deniers don’t believe Irene’s story, but I have found some videos, which show that a toss like this could have easily been done, by a strong man.

The videos show scenes taken at Scottish games, where men would toss heavy objects over a bar.  I have been to Scottish games, held in America, on two separate occasions, so I know that tossing a heavy object over a bar can be done by a strong man.

In the above video a man throws a 56 pound weight over a 16 foot high bar, demonstrating a 56 pound throw for height.

In the above video, a man is shown throwing a 56 pound weight for distance.  Notice the difference in technique in the throw for distance.

Irene Zisblatt wrote a book, published in 2008, entitled “The Fifth Diamond”. She wrote about her  [alleged] time in the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp. The title of her book refers to a necklace with four diamonds, set into a pendant, that she wears around her neck when she speaks to American school children who are studying the Holocaust.

As a survivor, Irene is the Fifth Diamond. Gail Ann Webb, a school teacher, helped Irene write the book, which is concise and especially suitable for students who are studying the Holocaust in middle school.

For 50 years, Irene kept quiet about her ordeal in the Nazi concentration camps, but in 1994, after Steven Spielberg’s movie “Schindler’s List” came out, she decided to tell her story. In 1995, she was interviewed for 3 hours by Jennifer Resnick while her testimony was videotaped for Spielberg’s Shoah Foundation.

She was then chosen as one of five Hungarian survivors to be featured in Spielberg’s Academy Award winning documentary entitled “The Last Days,” which was released in 1998. A book, also entitled “The Last Days,” was published in 1999.

In the documentary “The Last Days,” Irene tells about how her mother gave her the diamonds before the family was sent to the Auschwitz death camp. She managed to keep them through all the time that she was in the concentrations camps, and on a death march out of a camp, by swallowing them before being searched, excreting them, cleaning them and then swallowing them again. She said that she sometimes cleaned her diamonds “in the soup we were going to get.”

In “The Last Days,” Irene said that she “was about 9 years old” when she was expelled from school in 1939. A curfew was established and “Jewish people were forbidden to leave their houses after six in the evening or before eight in the morning.”

Irene’s father lost his business when it was given to a Gentile. Hungary was allies with Germany, and according to Irene: “We didn’t see a Nazi in our home town until 1944; everything had been done by the Hungarian police and by local youths under Nazi orders.”

Irene was living with her family in the small resort town of Polena in the Carpathian mountains; at that time, Polena was in Hungary.

There were 62 Jewish families in the town; her father owned a business, but the family had no electricity in their house, according to Irene. This was not unusual in those days; many towns in Eastern Europe had no running water and no electricity.

After Germany invaded Hungary on March 19, 1944, Irene and her family were put into the Miskolc ghetto, which Irene said “consisted of a couple of streets around a brick factory.” All the houses “were already crammed full” so Irene and her family “built a little tent from our tablecloths and sheets, whatever we had in our suitcases, and we lived under that.”

In her talks to students, Irene tells that she was 13 years old when she was put on a train from the Miskolc ghetto, and sent to the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp during the deportation of the Hungarian Jews in May 1944. When she arrived at Auschwitz, she was immediately separated from her family; she says that she was the only one of her 40 family members that survived the gas chambers.

According to Irene’s story in her book entitled “The Last Days,” Irene’s father was born in 1908, so he was 36 years old in 1944, and he was young enough to be selected for work at Birkenau.

In the selections upon arrival at Birkenau, everyone older than 45 or younger than 15 was sent immediately to the gas chamber. Irene says that her entire family, except her,  was gassed in Gas Chamber #2 on the day that they arrived, including her parents who were of working age.

Irene says that the Jews in the Miskolc ghetto were tricked into getting on the train to Birkenau. “The train came in the night and it was announced that everybody who wanted to go to Tokaj to work in the vineyards should get on the train.”

In the book “The Last Days,” Irene tells how her mother gave her advice, before the train left the ghetto, that saved her from being immediately selected for the gas chamber at Birkenau.

The following quote is from the book entitled “The Last Days”:

Begin quote

And she told me to say I was twenty years old – I was only thirteen – because then I would be sent to work in a factory where I would get food and I would survive.

End quote

The following quote is from a newspaper article written by Nate Hubbard after Irene gave a talk to students in Bland County, Virginia on March 9, 2009:

Begin quote

But the most gripping part of Zisblatt’s account came when she told the students about how she had narrowly escaped the gas chamber. She said she was selected along with approximately 1,500 other women to be killed. When the prisoners were herded into the gas chamber, though, there wasn’t room for them all. Zisblatt said she wound up right in the doorway, clinging to a piece of wood as her fingernails were ripped off causing blood to gush from the tips of her fingers. When the door couldn’t be closed with Zisblatt blocking the way, she was flung out of the chamber.

With the help of another prisoner, she said she was able to escape Auschwitz by getting on a train traveling across tracks running near the No. 3 gas chamber. The train took her to the Neuengamme labor camp in Germany where shortly after she was forced to go on a “death march” as the war wound down. After marching for days upon days in hellacious conditions, Zisblatt said she and a friend realized they had a chance to escape during a dark night as they stood between two forests. […] Providence, though, finally smiled down on Zisblatt as she and her friend made a successful escape and were soon thereafter discovered by American soldiers.

Irene Zisblatt had been saved by a young Sonderkommando (Jewish crematorium worker) who rescued her after she was thrown out of the Krema III gas chamber because the room was too full. He wrapped her in a blanket and tossed her over the 10-foot-high barbed wire fence around Krema III; she landed in an open railroad car of a train that was bound for the Neuengamme concentration camp in Germany.

End quote

 

October 27, 2015

Irene Zisblatt still telling her diamond-swallowing story at age 89

Irene Zisblatt

Irene Zisblatt points to the spot where her tattoo was removed

The photo above shows Irene Zisblatt, a Hungarian Holocaust survivor who now lives in Florida, as she addressed students from Fairland High School in 2009, telling them about her experience at Auschwitz-Birkenau and other Nazi concentration camps. She is pointing to the spot under her arm where her prison number tattoo was removed in an experiment by Dr. Josef Mengele at Birkenau.

You can read the latest news about Irene Zisblatt here.

This quote is from the news story:

Holocaust survivor Irene Weisberg Zisblatt will be sharing the story of her life at a wine and cheese event taking place at the Soref Jewish Community Center in Plantation [Florida].

The 89-year-old survivor, who resides in Plantation, is most well known for her 2008 autobiography “The Fifth Diamond.” Her testimony is featured in the 1999 Academy Award winning documentary “The Last Days,” produced by Steven Spielberg for the Shoah Foundation.

I wrote about Irene in this previous blog post:  https://furtherglory.wordpress.com/2012/11/25/stuck-in-the-door-of-the-gas-chamber-how-irene-zisblatt-survived-auschwitz-birkenau/

I also wrote about Irene on my website at http://www.scrapbookpages.com/AuschwitzScrapbook/History/Articles/IreneZisblatt.html

Krema III building at Auschwitz-Birkenau

Krema III building at Auschwitz-Birkenau

The photo above shows the Krema III gas chamber building and the fence that Irene was thrown over into a boxcar on the tracks beside the building.

This quote is from my website:

Begin quote:
In the book “The Last Days,” Irene tells how her mother gave her advice, before the train left the ghetto, that saved her from being immediately selected for the gas chamber at Auschwitz-Birkenau.

The following quote is from the book entitled “The Last Days”:

And she told me to say I was twenty years old – I was only thirteen – because then I would be sent to work in a factory where I would get food and I would survive.

End quote from “The Last Days.”

The following quote is from a newspaper article written by Nate Hubbard after Zisblatt gave a talk to students in Bland County, Virginia on March 9, 2009:

But the most gripping part of Zisblatt’s account came when she told of narrowly escaping the gas chamber. She said she was selected along with approximately 1,500 other women to be killed. When the prisoners were herded into the gas chamber, though, there wasn’t room for them all. Zisblatt said she wound up right in the doorway, clinging to a piece of wood as her fingernails were ripped off causing blood to gush from the tips of her fingers. When the door couldn’t be closed with Zisblatt blocking the way, she was flung out of the chamber.

With the help of another prisoner, she said she was able to escape Auschwitz by getting on a train traveling across tracks running near the No. 3 gas chamber. The train took her to the Neuengamme labor camp in Germany where shortly after she was forced to go on a “death march” as the war wound down. After marching for days upon days in hellacious conditions, Zisblatt said she and a friend realized they had a chance to escape during a dark night as they stood between two forests. […] Providence, though, finally smiled down on Zisblatt as she and her friend made a successful escape and were soon thereafter discovered by American soldiers.

Irene Zisblatt had been saved by a young Sonderkommando (Jewish crematorium worker) who rescued her after she was thrown out of the Krema III gas chamber because the room was too full. He wrapped her in a blanket and tossed her over the 10-foot-high barbed wire fence around Krema III; she landed in an open railroad car of a train that was bound for the Neuengamme concentration camp in Germany.

End quote from newspaper.

End quote from my website

The moral of this story is that if you have a story to tell, stick to it, in spite of what anyone says, and in spite of how many people make fun of you.  Irene is still going strong at age 89.  She might go on to become the oldest Holocaust survivor in the world. She has already won the prize for the most unbelievable Holocaust survivor story.

July 14, 2013

Did incoming prisoners at Auschwitz get their own shoes back after taking their first shower?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — furtherglory @ 11:31 am

Why am I questioning the procedure at Auschwitz, with regard to the shoes that the prisoners were wearing, when they arrived on a cattle car and were waved to right for the showers, or to the left for the gas chamber?

I am questioning this because of an article that I read here about Holocaust survivor Lily Ebert, who was recently treated to tea and cake at Buckingham Palace.  The article didn’t explain how Ms. Ebert managed to survive the gas chamber at Auschwitz, so I had to do a search to find out more.  I found this article in The Telegraph, which you can read in full here.

This quote is from the article in The Telegraph:

My mother gave me a gold pendant when I was about four. It is the only thing I have from when I was a child, and against all the odds it survived with me through camp, slave labour and a death march. I wear it every day.

The pendant, which Ms. Ebert saved, is shown in the photo below.

Lily Ebert saved this pendant by hiding it in the heel of her shoe

Lily Ebert saved this pendant by hiding it in the heel of her shoe while she was a prisoner in Auschwitz

This quote is from the article in The Telegraph:

This German man was there with his shining boots and with one movement of his hand he said to go right or left. Old people, children, babies were sent to the left and young people to the right. The people sent to the left were taken straight to the crematorium. That was the last time I saw my mother, younger sister and younger brother. [Lily’s father had died in 1942.]

My other two sisters and I were taken to a big place. They cut our hair. They said, “Undress, leave everything outside, put it nicely together. When you get out from the shower you will find everything there.” When we came out from the shower all they had left us was our shoes.

Wait a minute! Were the incoming prisoners at Auschwitz given back the shoes that they were wearing when they arrived?  Not according to the stories of numerous other Auschwitz survivors.

I have read many books, written by Holocaust survivors, most of them borrowed from my local library.  Fortunately, I purchased the Holocaust survivor book: Triumph of Hope by Ruth Elias.

I got out the book, written by Holocaust survivor Ruth Elias,  and found this quote on page 108:

When we came out [of the shower] we were sopping wet. They threw some clothes at us. […]  …I was handed a flimsy dark-blue silk dress and a lightweight coat; no underwear, no stockings, just wooden clogs.  Before we were led into the shower room, we had to bundle our own clothes and shoes together and turn them in.  We never got them back.

Every Holocaust survivor book that I’ve ever read, and including the books that I haven’t read, all say that the incoming prisoners were not given back their original clothes and shoes, after they got out of the shower.

The clothes and shoes were first disinfected, and then given to the next batch of prisoners. The prisoners had to trade with each other until they found a dress and a pair of shoes that fit them.

This quote from The Telegraph continues the story of how Lily Ebert saved her precious pendant all through her time in Auschwitz:

With time, my shoe heels got worn out. So every day I put the pendant in the piece of bread we got, and like that the jewellery survived. I think it was the only gold that went into Auschwitz and came out with its original owner. If somebody there had wanted to give me a little piece of bread for it I would have been very happy to change it because bread was life. Today I would not part from this jewellery for all the money in the world.

What does this fake Holocaust survivor story remind you of?  It reminds me of the story of Irene Zisblatt who put her diamonds into a wad of bread before she swallowed them over and over while she was in Auschwitz.

The incoming prisoners at Auschwitz were sent to the “Zentrale Sauna” where they had their hair cut, and were disinfected, then given a shower.  You can read about the central Sauna on my website at http://www.scrapbookpages.com/AuschwitzScrapbook/Tour/Birkenau/ZentraleSauna.html

You can also read about Lily Ebert on this website.

Another Holocaust survivor caught in a lie.  What else is new?

May 22, 2013

Irene Zisblatt says that she was “put on” a train at Auschwitz by a “Sonderkommando boy” who wouldn’t tell her his name

Filed under: Germany, Holocaust — Tags: , , — furtherglory @ 10:54 am
Irene Zisblatt points to spot where her tatoo was removed by Dr. Mengele

Irene Zisblatt points to the spot under her arm where her tattoo was removed by Dr. Mengele

I previously blogged here about how famous Holocaust survivor Irene Zisblatt got stuck in the door of a gas chamber at Auschwitz-Birkenau, but was saved when a Sonderkommando, who was working in the crematorium, wrapped her in a blanket and threw her over a 10 foot high barbed wire fence.

It seems that Irene has modified her story a bit since I last read about her in the news.  She told a room full of Jewish students at Ohio State University in May 2011 about her famous escape from the gas chamber.

According to a newspaper article about her talk, which you can read in full here, Irene was not thrown over a 10 foot high fence into a railroad car.  No, she was “put on” a railroad car, according to the news story.  The Sonderkommando boy, who helped her, refused to tell her his name.  He had only 3 days to live, at that point, because as everyone knows, the Sonderkommando men and boys were killed every 3 months, (or was it every 6 weeks?) so that they could not bear witness in the future.  Only the last group of Sonderkommandos were saved and marched out of Auschwitz, so that they could tell the story of the gas chambers.

It could be that the reporter who wrote the newspaper article changed Irene’s description of her escape, so as not to cause people like me to make fun of her.  Maybe she was still sticking to her story about being tossed over a 10 ft. high fence when she spoke to the students.

Another thing that Irene changed in her story, as told to the Ohio State University students, is the frequency with which she swallowed her diamonds.  In her talk, she didn’t say that she swallowed the diamonds every day.

When I wrote about Irene on my website here four years ago, I was asked by a Holocaust True Believer to omit her story, but I declined.  Irene Zisblatt is an embarrassment to the Holocaust True Believer community, but apparently this doesn’t bother her.

Irene is comparable to Elie Wiesel who soldiers on in spite of the widespread belief that his Holocaust story is a complete fake.  You can read a serious article, written by Carolyn Yeager, about Irene’s fake story in a 5-part article, entitled The Fifth Diamond: A Special Jewel in the Genre of Holocaust Horror Stories.

According to the news article, cited above, Irene has told her story to 6 million people on the lecture circuit, or one person for each Jew that died in the Holocaust, and that was two years ago.

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 20 different countries.

July 18, 2012

97-year-old chief of Nazi camp has been arrested in Hungary

Filed under: Holocaust — Tags: , , , — furtherglory @ 9:52 am

You can read the full story of the arrest of Laszlo Csatary here.

According to today’s news:

The case of Laszlo Csatary was brought to the attention of Hungarian authorities last year by the Simon Wiesenthal Center, a Jewish organization active in hunting down Nazis who have yet to be brought to justice. […]

Prosecutors decided to charge Csatary with the “unlawful torture of human beings,” a war crime that carries a maximum sentence of life in prison.

This quote is from today’s news:

According to a summary of the case released by prosecutors, Csatary was picked in 1944 as chief of an internment camp at a brick factory, in what was then Hungary, from where 12,000 Jews were deported to Auschwitz and other Nazi death camps. Authorities say Csatary was present when the trains were loaded and sent on their way.

An internment camp at a brick factory?  That might be the ghetto in a brick factory in the city of Miskolc, Hungary.

There were 725,000 Jews living in Hungary in 1944, including many who were previously residents of Romania, according to Laurence Rees, who wrote Auschwitz, a New History. After Germany took over Hungary in March 1944, the Jews in the villages and small towns were immediately rounded up and concentrated in ghettos.

If Laszlo Csatary lives long enough to be put on trial, there will be numerous Holocaust survivors, who can testify against him. Most of the Holocaust survivors still alive today are Hungarian Jews, and many of them were first sent to the ghetto which was located in a brick factory in the city of Miskolc, Hungary. There were 14,000 Jews imprisoned in the Miskolc ghetto while they waited to be transported to Auschwitz-Birkeanu.

Magda Brown, who was born in Miskolc on June 11, 1927, said in a speech at a Synagogue in Morgan Hill, CA that her family was marched though the city to the Miskolc ghetto on her 17th birthday in 1944. From there, Magda was transported on a train to Auschwitz-Birkenau, where she was immediately separated from her family.

After two months at Auschwitz-Birkeanu, Magda was sent, along with 1,000 Hungarian women, to work in a munitions factory at Allendorf, a sub-camp of Buchenwald. In March 1945, the prisoners at Allendorf were evacuated and marched to the Buchenwald main camp; Magda escaped from the march and hid on a farm until she was rescued by American soldiers.

One of the most famous survivors of the Holocaust is Irene Zisblatt. After Germany invaded Hungary on March 19, 1944, Irene and her family were put into the Miskolc ghetto, which Irene said “consisted of a couple of streets around a brick factory.”

Irene Zisblatt wrote a book, published in 2008, entitled The Fifth Diamond about her time in the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp. The title refers to a necklace with four diamonds, set into a pendant, which Irene wears around her neck when she speaks to American school children who are studying the Holocaust. As a survivor, Irene is the Fifth Diamond.

In 1994, after Steven Spielberg’s movie Schindler’s List came out, Irene decided to tell her story.  She was chosen as one of five Hungarian survivors to be featured in Spielberg’s Academy Award winning documentary entitled The Last Days, which was released in 1998. A book entitled The Last Days was published in 1999.

In The Last Days, Irene said that she “was about 9 years old” when she was expelled from school in 1939. A curfew was established and “Jewish people were forbidden to leave their houses after six in the evening or before eight in the morning.” Irene’s father lost his business when it was given to a Gentile.

Irene tells students that she was 13 years old when she was put on a train from the Miskolc ghetto to the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp during the deportation of the Hungarian Jews in May 1944. She was immediately separated from her family and she was the only one of her 40 family members to survive the gas chambers.

According to Irene’s story in the book entitled The Last Days, Irene’s father was born in 1908, so he was 36 years old in 1944, young enough to be selected for work at Birkenau. In the selections upon arrival at Birkenau, everyone older than 45 or younger than 15 was sent immediately to the gas chamber. Irene says that her entire family was gassed in Gas Chamber #2 on the day that they arrived, including her parents who were of working age.

Irene says that the Jews in the Miskolc ghetto were tricked into getting on the train to Birkenau. “The train came in the night and it was announced that everybody who wanted to go to Tokaj to work in the vineyards should get on the train.”

This quote is from the news article about the arrest of Laslo Csatary:

Csatary “regularly” used a dog whip against the Jewish detainees “without any special reasons and irrespective of the assaulted people’s sex, age or health condition,” the prosecutors’ statement says.

As one train departed with some 80 Jews crammed into one railcar, Csatary refused a request by one of the Jews to cut holes in the walls of the wagon to let more air in, the statement says, according to the AP.

In the book The Last Days, Irene Zisblatt tells how her mother gave her advice, before the train left the ghetto: advice that saved her from being immediately selected for the gas chamber at Auschwitz-Birkenau.

The following quote is from the book entitled The Last Days:

And she [Irene’s mother] told me to say I was twenty years old – I was only thirteen – because then I would be sent to work in a factory where I would get food and I would survive.

Irene’s mother’s advice is an indication that the Jews in the Miskolc ghetto knew that they would be transferred from Auschwitz-Birkenau to factories in Germany if they were of working age.  In fact, that is what happened, and that is why there are still so many Hungarian Holocaust survivors alive today.

Irene Zisblatt could be a witness on behalf of Laslo if he is put on trial.  She could testify that the Jews in the Miskolc ghetto knew that being sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau was not a death sentence because Auschwitz was also a transit camp, from which Jews of working age were sent to work in factories.

August 8, 2011

the undressing rooms at Auschwitz were larger than the gas chambers

Filed under: Holocaust — Tags: , , — furtherglory @ 1:58 pm

I was re-reading a previous blog post that I wrote about the great escape from an Auschwitz gas chamber by Irene Zisblatt, one of the Holocaust survivors featured in Spielberg’s “The Last Days,” when I realized that I had made a terrible mistake. In writing my previous post, I had assumed that Irene would have gotten stuck in the undressing room door, not in the gas chamber door. Now I realize that Irene’s story makes sense. She would not have gotten stuck in the undressing room door because the undressing rooms of both Krema II and Krema III had a greater capacity than the gas chambers in these buildings.

Ruins of Krema III show the undressing room in the foreground and the ruins of the gas chamber on the right

Zisblatt’s story is that she was flung out of the gas chamber in Krema III after she got stuck in the door because the room was too full, and then she was saved when she was tossed over a 10 ft. barbed wire fence, by a Sonderkommando, into an open railroad car that was headed to the Neuengamme camp in Germany.

Old photo of Krema III surrounded by a 10 ft. fence

Note how close the railroad tracks are to the Krema III gas chamber building, shown in the photo above.  (more…)

January 14, 2011

“How I escaped from the gas chamber” and other lies told by Irene Zisblatt

Filed under: Buchenwald, Germany, Holocaust, movies — Tags: , , — furtherglory @ 10:12 am

Last night, I watched a new documentary entitled The Last Days of the Big Lie which you can see on the Internet here.  The title is a spoof of Steven Spielberg’s Academy award winning documentary entitled The Last Days.

Irene Zisblatt is prominently featured in the new documentary, as she tells the story of how she escaped from a gas chamber at Auschwitz-Birkenau.  Remarkably, Irene tells her story without showing any emotion.  If I had narrowly escaped from a gas chamber, I would not be able to tell the story without crying like John Boehner.   Irene shows no hatred of the people who persecuted her, nor does she even blame them; she exhibits no emotion at all.

For 50 years, Irene kept quiet about her time in Auschwitz-Birkenau, but in 1994, after Steven Spielberg’s movie Schindler’s List came out, she decided to tell her story. In 1995, she was interviewed for 3 hours by Jennifer Resnick while her testimony was videotaped for Spielberg’s Shoah Foundation. Part of this interview is shown in the new documentary.

As a result of her Shoah interview, Irene was chosen as one of five Hungarian survivors to be featured in Spielberg’s documentary, The Last Days, which was released in 1998. A book, also entitled The Last Days, was published in 1999.  I saw the movie and also bought the book.

Irene Zisblatt points to the spot where her tattoo was removed by Dr. Mengele

The photo above shows Irene Zisblatt in 2009, as she addresses students from Fairland High School, telling them about what happened to her at Birkenau and other Nazi camps. She is pointing to the spot under her arm where her tattoo was removed in an experiment done by Dr. Josef Mengele.

Other survivors of the Holocaust had numbers tattooed on their left forearm, but not Irene.  She was tattooed under her arm, like the SS men who were tattooed with their blood type.   Dr. Mengele himself did not have an SS blood type tattoo, so why was he concerned with ways to remove a tattoo?

Irene Zisblatt wrote a book, published in 2008, entitled The Fifth Diamond. The title refers to a necklace with four diamonds, set into a pendant, that she wears around her neck when she speaks to American school children about the Holocaust. As a survivor, Irene is the Fifth Diamond.

In the documentary The Last Days, Irene tells about how her mother gave her the diamonds before the family was sent to the Auschwitz death camp. She managed to keep them through all the time that she was in Auschwitz-Birkenau, and on a death march out of another camp, by swallowing them before being searched, excreting them, cleaning them and then swallowing them again. She said in her Shoah interview that she sometimes cleaned her diamonds “in the soup we were going to get.”

In the documentary, we hear Irene tell about why her mother gave her the diamonds.  Her mother told Irene that she might need them to bribe someone for bread so that she would not starve to death.  Apparently Irene never went hungry in the camp and she was able to keep all of her diamonds.  How were the rest of the family members planning to survive if Irene had all the diamonds?  Irene does not explain this.

Irene was from the small resort town of Polena in the Carpathian mountains; when Irene was a child, Polena was in Hungary. There were 62 Jewish families in the town; her father owned a business, but they had no electricity in their house, according to Irene. This was not unusual in those days; many towns in Eastern Europe had no running water and no electricity.  Irene now lives in a nice house in Florida, where her interview for the Shoah Foundation was filmed.

After Germany invaded Hungary on March 19, 1944, Irene and her family were put into the Miskolc ghetto. Irene was 13 years old when she was put on a train from the Miskolc ghetto to the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp during the deportation of the Hungarian Jews in May 1944. She says that she was immediately separated from her family and she was the only one of her 40 family members to survive the gas chambers.

According to her story in the book entitled The Last Days, Irene’s father was born in 1908, so he was 36 years old in 1944, young enough to be selected for work at Birkenau. In the selections upon arrival at Birkenau, everyone older than 45 or younger than 15, was sent immediately to the gas chamber. Irene says that her entire family was gassed in Gas Chamber #2 on the day that they arrived, including her parents who were of working age.

Remarkably, Irene was not gassed, along with the rest of her family members, even though she was only 13 years old at that time.

Jews getting off a train at Birkenau in 1944

The photo above is from the Auschwitz Album, a series of photographs taken by the Germans in May 1944.  In the background, one can see the chimney of Krema II on the left side.  Krema III is shown on the right side, about one inch from the edge of the photo.  Krema III is also shown in the photo below. Note the ten-foot-high fence around the building and the railroad tracks just outside the fence.  In her Shoah interview, Irene Zisblatt claimed that she was thrown over the fence around Krema III and into an open railroad car.

Crematorium III (Krema III) at Birkeanau, 1944

Fence inside Birkenau divides sections of the camp

The photo above was taken by me in 2005; it shows how the fence posts curve over and barbed wire is strung over the top of the posts.

In her story of her escape from the gas chamber, Irene says that, when she was taken to the gas chamber, the room was full and she got stuck in the door.  An SS man had to fling her out of the doorway in order to shut the door.

Irene hid in the rafters until a young boy came to rescue her.  He wrapped her in a blanket and threw her over the fence around Crematorium III, into an open railroad car that was waiting on the tracks.  The train was bound for the Neuengamme camp where prisoners were being sent to work in a factory.

There are no open railroad cars shown in the photos taken in 1944 at Birkenau, but there were open cars on the “Death Train” at Dachau, which are shown in the photo below.

Open railroad cars on the “Death Train” at Dachau

Irene says that she was around 4 feet tall and weighed 60 lbs. at the time that she was thrown over the 10 ft. fence into a railroad car.  This would have been quite a feat, but not necessarily impossible.

Could Irene’s story of her escape from the gas chamber possibly be true?  I don’t think so, and here’s why:  When prisoners were taken to the gas chamber at Birkenau, they entered through the undressing room, where they took off their clothes.  Irene says that she was naked when she got stuck in the gas chamber door, but she does not mention that she entered through the undressing room.  If there were too many prisoners taken to the gas chamber that day, Irene would have been stuck in the door into the undressing room, not in the gas chamber door.  The photo below shows a model of the gas chambers at Birkenau.

Model of Krema II at Birkenau

In the photo above, the undressing room is on the left and the gas chamber is on the right.  The photo at the bottom of the picture shows the cremation ovens that were on the ground floor. The Sonderkommando prisoners, who carried the bodies out of the gas chamber for burning, lived in the attic space above the ovens.

In her video taped Shoah interview, Zisblatt told about being selected for an inspection by Ilse Koch who was looking for “unblemished skin” in order to make leather lampshades. Ilse Koch was the infamous wife of Karl Otto Koch, the Commandant of Buchenwald. Zisblatt and several other girls were allegedly sent on a train to the Maidanek camp in Lublin where Ilse Koch was expected to arrive, but she never made it.

So what’s wrong with this story?  Ilse Koch wanted tattooed skin for her lampshades, not the unblemished skin of a teenaged girl.  There were plenty of criminals at Buchenwald who had tats, and she didn’t need to go all the way to Poland to find subjects for her lampshades.

Irene pronounced the name Koch like a native German speaker; she also referred to the Majdanek camp as Maidanek, the German name.

You can hear more of Zisblatt’s incredible lies here.

July 22, 2010

Should Holocaust lying be a crime?

Filed under: Dachau, Germany, Holocaust, TV shows, World War II — Tags: , , , — furtherglory @ 6:39 am

As most people know, Holocaust denial is a crime, punishable by 5 years in prison, but up to 20 years in prison in Austria.  Gerd Honsik was recently  sentenced to 5 years in prison in Austria for saying that there were no gas chambers in Germany, including Mauthausen and Dachau.  You can read about him here.

What about fake Holocaust survivors who tell outrageous lies in the books they write, such as the book entitled A Memoir of the Holocaust Years by Misha Defonseca who wrote a fake story about her escape, when she was four years old, from the Warsaw ghetto. Misha claimed that she was adopted by wolves, but was outed by the New York Times in an article that you can read here.

What about Herman Rosenblat who allegedly survived by eating apples thrown over the fence by a nine-year-old girl, in a sub-camp of Buchenwald; you can read about that story here.

I’m not talking about mistakes which are made about the Holocaust, like mixing up Rudolf Hoess, the Auschwitz Commandant, and Rudolf Hess, Hitler’s deputy, who flew solo to the UK to try to make peace with the  British during WW II. The biggest mistake I’ve ever heard was when Alan Colmes said on TV that “gas ovens” were used in the concentration camps to kill the Jews.

On the old Hannity and Colmes TV show on 12/13/06, Alan Colmes showed a photo  of two cremation ovens at Buchenwald with the remains of partially burned bodies visible, as he said: “A number of people at this conference and your organization have said things like ‘The gas chambers did not exist.’ I want to put up on the screen the furnaces that were used to kill Jews.”

Cremation ovens at Buchenwald were not “gas ovens” for killing Jews

I wouldn’t put Colmes in prison for 5 years for saying that the Nazis killed Jews in gas ovens and I wouldn’t put Sean Hannity in prison for confusing Hoess and Hess in one of his books.  But what about Holocaust survivor Irene Zisblatt who told a lie about swallowing diamonds at Auschwitz?  You can read about her here.

Several years ago, the book entitled Fragments: Memories of a Childhood by Binjamin Wilkomirski was exposed as a fake account of the author’s alleged stay in the Majdanek concentration camp and other camps.  After Wilkomirski admitted writing a fake memoir, the book was not withdrawn from the list of books that students in America were assigned to read; it was merely reclassified as a novel.

Another novel that is similar to Wilkomirski’s book is The Painted Bird by Jerzy Kosinski, a Polish writer whom I first learned about on my visit to Poland in 1998.  His book was published in America in 1965; it is routinely assigned to American college students to read, although the stories that he wrote were made up, according to my Polish tour guide.

If a person deliberately tells a lie for the purpose of making money off a book and public speeches, shouldn’t that be a crime?  Shouldn’t such a person be put into prison?  Maybe not for 5 years, like Holocaust deniers, but for 90 days, like Lindsay Lohan.  I would even allow a statute of limitations on Holocaust lies that would save  Elie Wiesel from 90 days in jail, although there is no statue of limitations for Nazi war crimes. You can read about Elie Wiesel here.