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October 31, 2014

British exhibition displays a replica of the Buchenwald gate

Update Nov. 1, 2014:  One of the regular readers of my blog wrote, in a comment, that the original “Jeden das Seine” gate into the former Buchenwald concentration camp is being “restored” and a temporary gate is currently in it’s place.

In my humble opinion, the original gate should not be “restored.”  Why should the gate look like new? I think that visitors to the Buchenwald Memorial Site want to see a weathered gate, that looks like the original gate into the camp.

The Buchenwald gate is historic because it was designed by Franz Ehrich, who studied at the Bauhaus School of modern art in Weimar.  When Hitler came to power, he closed down this school, because he was in favor of classical art, not modern art, which he called “degenerate.”

I think that the history of Buchenwald should be preserved, including the gate, which should be kept in its original condition.

If a picture of an iron gate has to be shown, what about the iron gate at the exit of Goethe’s garden in Frankfurt, which is shown in the photo below.

Iron gate at the exit from Goethe's garden in Frankfurt

Iron gate at the exit from Goethe’s garden in Frankfurt

Any story about Germany should mention Goethe’s oak tree, the stump of which is located at the Buchenwald Memorial site.  Goethe used to take walks in the area where the Buchenwald camp is located; he would stop and rest under an oak tree.  Germany’s greatest hero was Goethe, which should have been mentioned in the story about the British exhibit, instead of the gate into the Buchenwald camp.

The stump of the oak tree, under which Goethe rested

The stump of the oak tree, under which Goethe rested

Continue reading my original post:

I always check my blog stats every morning to see which of my blog posts are getting the most hits. This morning, I was surprised to see that an old blog post, about the “Jedem das Seine” sign on the Buchenwald concentration camp gate, has been getting a lot of hits.  I set out to find out why.

Jedem das Seine on Buchenwald gate

Jedem das Seine on Buchenwald gate

I found out that it is probably because people are reading this news about a British exhibit and then searching the Internet to find out more.  I also wrote another blog post about the Jedem das Seine slogan here:

This quote is from the news story:

From a copy of the mediaeval (sic) Gutenberg bibl (sic) to Karl Marx’s Capital, an exhibition opening at the British Museum in London explores 600 years of German history frequently overshadowed by Nazi horrors.

The exhibition confronts that period head on, displaying a replica of the sign outside the Buchenwald concentration camp with the chilling slogan “Jedem das Seine” (To Each His Own).

Old photo of the Jedem das Seine gate at Buchenwald

Old photo of the Jedem das Seine gate at Buchenwald

The photo below, which I copied from the news article, shows the replica that is being displayed by the British.

Replica of the Jedem das Seine gate at Buchenwald

Replica of the Jedem das Seine gate at Buchenwald

As shown in the old photos, the gate into the Buchenwald was black, not silver as shown in the photo.  The sign faced the prisoners inside the camp, so that the prisoners could read it.

The Buchenwald gate, with its famous sign “Jedem das Seine,” was designed by Franz Ehrlich, a prisoner who had studied with Moholy-Nagy, Klee, Kandinsky and Josef Albers at the Bauhaus in Weimar.

Ehrlich had been arrested as a Communist resistance fighter in 1935. He was sent to Buchenwald two years later. In 1937, the Buchenwald camp was still new and had few buildings. Ehrlich, who had worked with architect Walter Gropius in his Bauhaus Berlin office, volunteered to work in the joinery workshop at Buchenwald; he was assigned to design and build the entrance gate.

The sans-serif lettering of the words “Jedem das Seine” show Ehrlich’s training under Bauhaus typographer Joost Schmidt. After he was released from Buchenwald in 1939, Ehrlich stayed on and worked as a paid architect at the SS training camp and munitions factories at Buchenwald.

Buchenwald was a Class II camp for hard-core political prisoners, mainly Communists, who were considered to be harder to “rehabilitate.” Consequently, conditions in the Buchenwald camp were more severe than at Dachau and Sachsenhausen, which were Class I camps, where many prisoners were released after being brain-washed into accepting such Nazi principles as obedience and hard work. The sign over the iron gates at both Dachau and Sachsenhausen read “Arbeit Macht Frei” or Work Brings Freedom.


October 15, 2012

Do the Jews now own the phrase Jedem das Seine?

Filed under: Buchenwald, Holocaust, World War II — Tags: , — furtherglory @ 10:38 am

Jedem das Seine on Buchenwald camp gate

I read in the news here that the neighbors of a Dutch businessman were threatening to sue him if he erected a gate on his property with the phrase “Jedem das Seine” on it.

Jack Bakker, a Dutch businessman and art collector, had made plans to erect a gate in the municipality of Zandvoort. But last year the municipality said it would prevent the construction of an early design of the gate following protests by CIDI, the Dutch watchdog on anti-Semitism. The municipality said it would not authorize construction because it violated building regulations.

The phrase “Jedem das Seine,” which is on the gate into the former Buchenwald concentration camp, means “to each his own,” but it has the connotation of “everyone gets what he deserves.”  Buchenwald was the only concentration camp to have this sign on the gate into the camp, AFAIK.

Buchenwald was a Class II camp, which meant that prisoners in the camp had a slim chance of being released.  Dachau, Sachsenhausen, Gross Rosen, Flossenbürg, and the Auschwitz I camp were Class I camps, which had the slogan “Arbeit macht Frei” on the gate, meaning that the prisoners had a good chance of being released.  Mauthausen was the only Class III camp, which had no sign on the gate; prisoners at Mauthausen were classified “Return unwanted” meaning that they had no chance of being released.

The phrase “Arbeit macht Frei” has now been claimed by the Jews as an icon of the Holocaust.  The claim is made that this slogan was used on the Class I camps to taunt the Jews because they had no chance of being released, even if they worked hard.  The Class I camps which had this sign were mostly populated by political prisoners who were non-Jews.  The “death camps” for the Jews, such as  Majdanek and Auschwitz II,  did not have an “Arbeit macht Frei” sign.

Sign on gate into Gross Rosen concentration camp

Gross Rosen was the camp to which the Jews, who didn’t get on Schindler’s List, were sent.  It was a Class I camp, not a “death camp.”

This quote is from the news article, cited above:

The early design by the Belgian designer Job Smeets featured two smoking chimneys that function as pillars and barbed wire — an apparent reference to Nazi crematoria — and included a translation of the German writing on the gates of Buchenwald: Jedem das Seine (“to each his own”).

“We thought that, fortunately, it was over but now it again seems like this gate is being built,” Wim Post, a neighbor of Bakker, told the RTV crew. “In a museum, people chose whether to see it, but we are confronted with it and we don’t want it.”

Eefje van Bommel, Bakker’s lawyer, told the Dutch daily that the Buchenwald text never made into the final design.

“The gate is being branded for no reasons,” she said, adding that the municipality’s decision not to authorize the gate violated her client’s rights.

Bakker told the Dutch paper Haarlems Dagblad this month through his lawyer of his plans to build the gate, the Dutch daily reported.

His original  plans became known last year when he hired Smeets to work on the gate.

So now we find out that using the phrase Jedem das Seine is anti-Semitic?

Buchenwald was not specifically a camp for Jews; the Jews were “transported to the East,” and political prisoners were sent to Buchenwald.  Near the end of World War II, the survivors of the three Auschwitz camps were sent to Germany; some of the Jews were sent to the Buchenwald camp.

July 22, 2011

What did Buchenwald look like when Elie Wiesel was a prisoner there?

Filed under: Buchenwald, Germany, Holocaust — Tags: , , — furtherglory @ 10:52 am

Elie Wiesel’s book Night has very few details about what the Buchenwald concentration camp actually looked like when he was a prisoner there for several months just before the camp was liberated on April 11, 1945.  There is an article here on the Elie Wiesel Cons The World web site about the curious lack of a detailed description of Buchenwald in Elie’s most famous book.

The Buchenwald camp was mainly a concentration camp for political prisoners; as a Jewish prisoner, Elie Wiesel would not have been allowed to walk around the whole camp, so he may not have seen everything. One thing that he would have seen is the gatehouse into the camp, which is shown in the photo below.  All incoming prisoners entered through this gatehouse.

Gatehouse at the entrance to Buchenwald

Note the clock on top which is permanently stopped at 3:15 p.m., the exact time, on April 11, 1945, when the Communist prisoners took over the camp and the SS men fled into the woods.  This view of the gatehouse is what Elie Wiesel would have seen as he marched up to the camp.

 Jedem Das Seine on Buchenwald gate

Jedem das Seine is usually translated into English as “To each his own,” but the phrase has the connotation of “Everyone gets what he deserves.”  Buchenwald was a Class II concentration camp for dangerous political prisoners and hardened criminals, who had little chance of being released, so the Buchenwald camp did not have the “Arbeit Macht Frei” sign that was used on Class I camps.  Note that the photo above was taken from inside the camp, looking out; the sign faces the inside of the camp.

Entrance to Buchenwald with zoo and gatehouse

Buchenwald had the usual barbed wire fence around it; in this old photo, the gatehouse is shown on the extreme right.  On the left side can be seen the Zoo.  Yes, those mean ole Nazis had a zoo for bears and other animals, but only the SS men, who guarded the camp, were allowed to visit it.

Bear pit in Buchenwald zoo

Sign points to zoo at Buchenwald

The Buchenwald camp was built on the northern slope of a gentle hill, so that all the prisoners in the main part of the camp had a view of the gatehouse from their barrack windows. In the foreground of the photo below you can see the doors into the root cellar where potatoes, carrots, turnips and rutabagas were kept for the prisoners’ food. The camp diet consisted mainly of whole grain bread and vegetable soup. Each prisoner carried his soup spoon in his pocket; the enamelware soup bowls on display in the Buchenwald museum are the size of an American serving bowl.

Root cellar in the foreground with the Buchenwald gate house in the background

View of Buchenwald from the gatehouse tower

In the photo above, taken from the gatehouse tower, the large two-story building on the far right is the camp storehouse, which is still standing today.

The photo below shows the same storehouse building on the left; the one-story building on the right was where the prisoners had to go through disinfection before entering the barracks. In the foreground is the stump of Goethe’s oak.  Buchenwald is in the middle of a woods where Goethe used to sit under his favorite oak tree.

Storehouse and disinfection building

The one-story building to the right in the photo above is the disinfection building which is connected to the storehouse by an underground tunnel. Incoming prisoners were first brought to the disinfection building where their heads and entire bodies were shaved. Then they were completely submerged into a large tub of creosote to kill lice and bacteria. Then they had to go into the showers, after which they were sprayed with a liquid disinfectant. All this was done in the effort to stop epidemics in the camp.

After that, the prisoners were driven naked through the tunnel to the storehouse where they were given a blue and gray striped uniform and a pair of shoes with wooden soles. Only then were they allowed to enter their assigned barrack building in the “Small Camp.”

Location of the former “Small Camp”

At the end of 1942, a quarantine camp was set up in the northwest section of the camp, far down the slope from the gatehouse. The prisoners called this the “Small Camp.” The photo above shows a stone path at the former location of the “Small Camp,” which was torn down long ago. Note how close the “Small Camp” was to the the storehouse and disinfection building. The prisoners didn’t have far to walk after their disinfection and shower.

The quarantine camp was called Camp II by the SS.  At first Camp II consisted of 12 army horse stables of the kind used for barracks at Birkenau, the notorious death camp in Poland. These buildings had only very small windows underneath the roof, not like the other barracks in Buchenwald which had lots of windows at eye level.

In 1945, Camp II, aka the “Small Camp,” had become increasingly overcrowded as Jewish prisoners were brought from the abandoned camps in Poland. During this period, between 1,200 and 1,700 people were packed into each horse-barn barrack which measured 40 meters long by 9.5 meters wide. When the barracks were full, some of the prisoners were put into tents. Thousands of prisoners died of disease in the “Small Camp” which eventually became a camp where sick and dying prisoners were isolated from the rest of the prisoners.

The interior of one of the regular Buchenwald barracks is shown in the old photo below.

Interior of a barracks at Buchenwald

The photo below shows a barracks building for Jewish prisoners.  Note the star of David inside a circle at the top of the building.  This photo was taken immediately after the camp was liberated; it shows dead bodies in front of the building.

Barracks for Jewish prisoners had Star of David

The “Small Camp” was a quarantine camp

All incoming prisoners in all the concentration camps had to stay in the quarantine barracks for several weeks in case they had some disease that was contagious.  At Buchenwald, the “Small Camp” was the quarantine camp.  The photo above shows the “Small Camp” which was sectioned off from the main part of the camp by a barbed wire fence.  The death rate for Jews was higher because they were living among prisoners who were possible disease carriers.

Wooden barrack building at Buchenwald

Most of the Buchenwald prisoners lived in long, low wooden buildings like the one shown in the photo above. There were more than 30 of these wooden barrack buildings, each of them accommodating between 180 and 250 prisoners. These buildings, which were called “blocks,” measured 53 meters long by 8 meters wide. There were also 15 two-story brick barrack buildings in the main part of the camp, which was for the Communists and other political prisoners.

The photo below shows a reconstructed barrack near the spot where the “Small Camp” used to be.

Reconstructed barrack at Buchenwald

Buchenwald became the third major camp in the German concentration camp system on June 3, 1936, when the Inspector of the Concentration Camps, SS General Theodor Eicke, proposed to transfer the concentration camp of Lichtenburg near Berlin to Thuringia, a state in central Germany where Buchenwald was to be located. The wooded hill called the Ettersberg was officially chosen as the site of the camp on May 5, 1937 and on July 16, 1937, the first 300 prisoners arrived in the camp.

Initially the name of the camp was Konzentrationslager Ettersberg but on August 6, 1937, the name was changed to Konzentrationslager Buchenwald. (Buchenwald means Beech Tree Forest.)

Like all of the major concentration camps in Germany, there was an SS garrison right next to the Buchenwald camp.  The photo below shows some of the SS barracks buildings that are still standing; Elie Wiesel would not have seen these barracks buildings.

Former SS barrack buildings at Buchenwald

In 1940, a railroad line was extended to the Buchenwald camp.  The old photo below shows the Buchenwald gatehouse on the right hand side.

Workers building railroad line to Buchenwald in 1940

After arriving at the railroad station inside the Buchenwald camp, the prisoners marched into the camp on a road that led from the railroad station to the gatehouse.  There were a few “Red Spaniards,” or Communists that had fought the Fascists in the Spanish Civil War, who were imprisoned at Buchenwald.  These Spanish prisoners named the road into the camp Carachoweg (Caracho Way). The Spanish word caracho was prison slang for double time.

The Communist political prisoners, who lived in the barracks near the gatehouse, discriminated against the Jewish prisoners and would not allow them into their nicer section unless they received a bribe. After the camp was liberated, the Jews were not even allowed to attend the celebration ceremony which was conducted by the Communist prisoners near the gatehouse.

Monument erected at Buchenwald by Communist prisoners

The monument shown in the photo above is the memorial that was erected by the Communist prisoners at Buchenwald on April 19, 1945 in honor of the political prisoners in the camp. The Jewish survivors were not allowed to attend the ceremonies when the monument was dedicated.  The camp had actually been liberated by the Communist prisoners before the American soldiers arrived at around 5 or 6 o’clock in the evening on April 11, 1945.

This stone monument was moved in 1961 to a spot called Frederic-Manhes-Platz, which is the place where the road to the camp branches off from the main road up the hill called the Ettersberg. The place where it now stands was named after a French Resistance fighter named Col. Henri Frederic Manhes. Buchenwald was one of the camps to which many of the captured partisans in the French Resistance were deported.

Buchenwald was surrounded by an electrified fence

April 2, 2011

Buchenwald was a Class II camp with “Jedem das Seine” on the gate

Filed under: Buchenwald, Germany — Tags: , , , — furtherglory @ 10:43 am

I am currently reading the new book by Flink Whitlock, which is entitled The Beasts of Buchenwald.  The Beasts in the title are Ilse Koch and her husband, Karl Otto Koch, who was the Commandant of the camp.  I am not quite to the end yet, but so far, I have not seen any mention that Buchenwald was a Class II camp.  In January 1941, Heinrich Himmler had designated Buchenwald as the only Class II camp and Mauthausen and Gusen as the only Class III camps.

What did these classifications mean and why is this so important?  Well, to give you an idea of the importance, the main Auschwitz camp was a Class I camp.  Class I camps had a sign on the gatehouse that read “Arbeit Macht Frei” and non-Jewish political prisoners had a chance of being released.  According to the Auschwitz Museum, 1,500 non-Jewish prisoners were released from the Auschwitz main camp.   Buchenwald had a sign on the gate that read “Jedem das Seine” and the prisoners had almost no chance of being released.

Jedem das Seine on Buchenwald gate

The “Jedem das Seine” sign on the gate faced the inside of the camp, so that it could be easily read by the prisoners.  This sign can be translated as “To Each his Own” or as “Everyone gets what he deserves.”  The class III Mauthausen camp, which had been designated as “Rückkehr unerwünscht” (Return undesirable) had no sign on the gate and prisoners had no chance of being released.

On March 9, 1937, Heinrich Himmler had made a new rule that criminals who had committed two crimes, but were now free, could be arrested and taken into protective custody for “rehabilitation.” This new rule included gay men who had been arrested and convicted twice for violating Paragraph 175, a German law that had been on the books since 1871.

Criminals who had already served their time in prison were sent to concentration camps, beginning in 1937, because workers were needed for Hitler’s new projects.  The Class III prisoners at Mauthausen and Gusen were men who, according to the Nazis, were “guilty of really serious charges, incorrigible and previously criminally convicted and asocials, that is people in protective custody who are unlikely to be educable.”

As a Class II camp, Buchenwald was a camp for criminals who were considered harder to rehabilitate than the criminals at the Class I Dachau or Sachsenhausen camps, but not as bad as the prisoners in the Class III Mauthausen camp.

As a young man, Hitler had had dreams of becoming an architect, but he failed the entrance exam to be admitted to architectural school. Years later, as the German Führer he had grandiose plans for uniting all the ethnic Germans in Europe and rebuilding Berlin as Germania, the capital of Greater Germany. He was also planning to rebuild Linz, Austria, the place where he intended to retire.

Rathaus in Linz, Hitler proclaimed the Greater German Reich (Großdeutsches Reich) after the Anschluss with Austria on May 12, 1938.

Hitler proclaimed the Greater German Reich (Großdeutsches Reich) from the balcony of the Rathaus in Linz, Austriaafter in 1938.

Hitler’s grandiose plans required plenty of granite and brick, as well as manual labor, so after 1937, most of the new Nazi concentration camps were located near quarries so that prison labor could be used for the production of building materials for Hitler’s projects. Besides Buchenwald and Mauthausen, other camps that were established near quarries included Flossenbürg, Gross Rosen, and Natzweiler.

The quarry at Mauthausen concentration camp

The quarry at Mauthausen concentration camp

When Germany began losing the war, Hitler’s projects were abandoned and munitions factories were built in the camps. Mauthausen became a camp where prisoners worked on building Me262 airplanes.

The prisoners, in most of the camps, now worked in building jet airplanes and V-2 rockets for the Germans, but there was a problem with workers doing sabotage in the camps.  Buchenwald was the main camp where French Resistance fighters were sent.  As could be expected, the French Resistance fighters made elaborate plans for sabotage.

To discourage sabotage, camps like Buchenwald had to resort to extreme punishments, such as the punishment called “hanging from the tree.”   Martin Sommer, the man in charge of the Bunker (the prison within the camp), originated this punishment, which is illustrated by the photo below, copied from Wikipedia; the photo has this caption:  Martin Sommer “Hangman of Buchenwald” hanging prisoners at the “singing forest” in Buchenwald

Photo of “hanging from the tree” on Wikipedia

Stay with me, dear readers, for I am about to get to the point of my post.  It is my personal opinion that the Class II and Class III prisoners told Class II and Class III lies.  In other words, Buchenwald and Mauthausen had the worst prisoners which resulted in the worst lies coming out of these camps.

I took the photo below in the Dachau Museum in 2001; it shows the famous photo that is on the Wikipedia site. This photo was hanging at Dachau until 2003 when it was taken down after it was revealed that the photo is a fake.

The picture in the photo above is a still shot from an East German DEFA film, made in 1958, which is why the photo is no longer shown in the Dachau Museum. Source: H. Obenaus, “Das Foto vom Baumhängen: Ein Bild geht um die Welt,” in Stiftung Topographie des Terrors Berlin (ed.), Gedenkstätten-Rundbrief no. 68, Berlin, October 1995, pp. 3-8.

I’m not at all sure that the “hanging from the tree” actually took place at Buchenwald.  This could be in the category of the shrunken heads and the lampshades made from human skin, which are also famous stories told by the Buchenwald prisoners.  Or should I say Class II lies told by the prisoners?

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