Scrapbookpages Blog

September 19, 2012

By what authority does Germany have the right to try non-German citizens?

Filed under: Germany, Holocaust — Tags: , , — furtherglory @ 6:24 pm

According to a news article, which you can read here, German prosecutors are investigating an 87-year-old suspect who has been accused of “involvement” in mass murder at Auschwitz. The suspect is not German and he is not currently living in Germany.  [Update July 5, 2014: This must be Johann Breyer.]

This quote is from the news article:

[The unnamed suspect] was allegedly a camp guard in 1944, when about 344,000 Jews from Hungary were murdered in the Auschwitz-Birkenau gas chambers in occupied Poland.

Prosecutors in Weiden, Bavaria, are to decide whether to charge him and try to bring him to Germany to face trial.

The man is believed to have lived in the Weiden area before going abroad after World War II.

German officials have not named him, but the Sueddeutsche Zeitung news website says the suspect is believed to be a Slovak now living in Philadelphia, in the US.

The chief prosecutor at Germany’s office investigating Nazi war crimes, Kurt Schrimm, said details on the suspect came to light during the high-profile Demjanjuk investigation.

In March this year Ukrainian-born John Demjanjuk, found guilty for his role as a Nazi guard at the Sobibor death camp, died aged 91. He had been sentenced to five years in prison by a German court in May 2011.

In answer to my question in the title of my blog post, the Demjanjuk trial set a precedent. John Demjanjuk was sent to Germany for trial; he was convicted by a German court, under the “common design” theory of guilt. This precedent now gives German courts the right to bring suspects, living in America, to trial in a German court.

There is no defense against the “common design” charge, so anyone who is put on trial in Germany under this charge will be automatically convicted.  The “common design” theory of guilt means that a suspect is guilty if it can be proved that he was there when Jews died during the Holocaust. Just being a guard in a “death camp” is enough to be proven guilty, even though the suspect had nothing to do with the deaths of the Jews.

Why even bother to send this man to Germany for trial?  Just put him in prison in America.  Unless, of course, he is too old for prison, in which case, he can be put into a nursing home in America until he dies of old age.

BTW, the estimate of 344,000 Hungarian Jews, who died at Auschwitz, is  very low.  Since the exact number is unknown, why not go with a higher estimate?  I would not go below 400,000.  Some Holocaust experts claim that over 500,000 Hungarian Jews were killed in the Holocaust.

March 21, 2012

Can the Jews ever get enough revenge? (the John Demjanjuk story)

Filed under: Holocaust, World War II — Tags: — furtherglory @ 10:26 am

Can the Jews ever get enough revenge?

I remember very clearly the day in September 1998 when a tour guide took me to see the city of Lublin on my trip to Poland.  I was on a one-person tour of sites related to the Holocaust and a stop at a famous Yeshiva was on the agenda, before going to see the Majdanek death camp, which is now located within the city limits of Lublin.

Yeshiva Chachmei during Nazi occupation of Poland

The Yeshiva building was located at ul. Lubartoweska 85. I saw the former classrooms of the Yeshiva which were still being used by medical students. Known as “The School of the Sages of Lublin,” it was the world’s largest Talmudic school.

After seeing the classrooms, the guide took me to see a little room where there was a book to sign and add a personal comment.  I was appalled to see that the visitors, who had been there before me, had all signed the book with the words: REVENGE, REVENGE, REVENGE.

A day or two later, when another guide took me to see the Auschwitz II camp, aka Birkenau, I saw a collection of signs that had been put on sticks stuck into the ground near the ruins of the Krema II gas chamber.  The words on the signs were in Hebrew, and I asked the Jewish guide what the words meant.  She told me that all the signs said REVENGE, REVENGE, REVENGE.

All this was brought back to my mind when I read a blog post here about the death of John Demjanjuk.

The blog post, dated March 19, 2012, starts out with this quote:

As you may know, over the weekend former Nazi death camp prison guard and mass murderer John Demjanjuk a/k/a “Ivan the Terrible” died at the age of 91.  As I’ve lamented in many previous posts on this site, he lived three or four times longer than many of his tens of thousands of victims.  So, his death after a full life is little cause for celebration.  He lived more than half a century in freedom in the United States.

Seriously? Mass murderer?  When was John Demjanjuk convicted of mass murder?  I must keep up with the news.  I didn’t know that Demjanjuk was convicted of being the infamous “Ivan the Terrible.”  He had “tens of thousands of victims”?  This blogger must know something that I don’t know.

For example, I learned something new from this quote:

Demjanjuk lied on his documents to enter the United States and again to get immigration benefits and U.S. citizenship, never noting his membership in the Nazi Party or his role in murdering tens of thousands of Jews at the Treblinka death camp.

Now, I get it.  Demjanjuk was a member of the “Nazi party,” the German political party known as the NSDAP.  Who knew?

Here is another quote from the rest of the article about John Demjanjuk:

As I’ve also reported, even though Demjanjuk’s circus of a “trial” in Israel was a bust, that’s only because left-wing lawyers representing him introduced some silly claim that “Ivan the Terrible,” was only “Ivan the Not as Terrible.” And the left-dominated Israeli court bought it.  Never explained away was why Demjanjuk had a scar from the removal of his Nazi SS tattoo under his arm, a tattoo and location common to top SS guards.  The Israeli courts didn’t allow that evidence to be introduced, along with an avalanche of other proof this man was a cold-blooded killer of Jews.

So the Israeli courts would not allow evidence that Demjanjuk was a “top SS guard” with a “Nazi tattoo” under his arm? There was an “avalanche of proof” that the Israeli court would not allow to be introduced?  So that’s why Demjanjuk was not convicted in his first trial.  Who knew?

This quote is a continuation of the blog post :

As I’ve frequently noted on this site, Demjanjuk repeatedly gamed the system, with appeal after appeal.  It took well over a decade to deport him . . . for essentially the second time.  And it’s interesting that the only real jail time Demjanjuk did was his time in an Ohio ICE detention center.  That’s because one ICE deportation official, then-Michigan/Ohio ICE Field Office Director Robin F. Baker, had the guts to say no to this Nazi mass-murderer and make him serve at least a little time in 2005.  That’s little solace for the many victims of Demjanjuk, but at least this Nazi war criminal did some tiny amount of time in prison–a prison that, despite whining media reports, is paradise compared with what his Jewish victims endured.  At least his family, which refused to admit what they clearly knew to be true about their father, had to visit him behind plexiglass.

What’s amazing and sad in this country is that if you are an aging Nazi mass-murderer or a Muslim who lied on immigration forms, you can play games and stay here forever, escaping any form of justice for your fraud and your crimes.  And yet, Sean Hannity pal, neo-Nazi Pat Buchanan, was forever singing the praises of and defending this “angel of death” on earth.  So did Weekly Standard Editor Philip Terzian, who claimed Demjanjuk “was forced” to become a Nazi and that he was “only a concentration camp guard,” and therefore his murder of over 30,000 Jews is okay.  These are not leftists defending the mass-murder of the Jews.  These are conservatives.

[…]

So, as I’ve written before, John Demjanjuk had the last laugh.  He lived a full life,complete with generations of family he left, unlike most of his victims, the majority of whom perished in ovens and gas chambers but not before being subjected to his cruelty and the dogs and weapons he used against them to keep them from escaping and often to keep them from living.

March 18, 2012

Demjanjuk “died guilty” says Nazi hunter Efraim Zuroff

Filed under: Germany, Holocaust, World War II — Tags: , — furtherglory @ 10:19 am

According to an article in a German newspaper which you can read in full here, Efraim Zuroff said this about the death of John Demjanjuk: “Demjanjuk died guilty of his service in the Sobibor death camp….”

Demjanjuk was found guilty, by a German court, of serving as a guard at Sobibor, but at the time of his death, he was awaiting trial for the appeal of his conviction because Demjanjuk maintained until his dying day that he did not serve as a guard at Sobibor.

The article in the German newspaper begins with this quote:

Former Nazi death camp guard John Demjanjuk died guilty of helping to mass murder innocent Jews, the Israel director of the Nazi-hunting Simon Wiesenthal Centre said on Sunday.

In a statement issued a day after the police announced Demjanjuk’s death, the centre said it believed there was “never any doubt” that the Ukrainian-born Demjanjuk helped implemented the Nazis’ “Final Solution.”

“Demjanjuk died guilty of his service in the Sobibor death camp and that is how he should be remembered,” the centre’s Israel director Efraim Zuroff said.

“Not as a person falsely accused, but as an individual who volunteered to serve in the SS, and who at the height of his physical powers spent months helping to mass murder innocent Jews deported to that death camp.”

Demjanjuk was sentenced by a Munich court in May to five years in prison after being found guilty of more than 27,000 counts of accessory to murder from the six-month period when he was a guard in Poland at the Sobibor camp in 1943.

A judge ordered him released pending an appeal, saying Demjanjuk was no longer a threat and was unlikely to abscond, being stateless, after the United States revoked his citizenship.

I googled Efraim Zuroff and found this information here:

Efraim Zuroff’s great-uncle was kidnapped in Vilnius, Lithuania, on July 13, 1941, by a gang of Lithuanians “roaming the streets of the city looking for Jews with beards to arrest.”

“He was taken to Lukiskis Prison — to this day the main jail in the city — and was murdered shortly thereafter,” says Zuroff. So were his wife and two boys.

Born seven years later in Brooklyn, New York, Zuroff was named for his great-uncle and grew up questioning his American-born parents about the Holocaust.

So Zuroff’s great-uncle was killed by Lithuanians who hated Jews.  Demjanjuk was a Ukrainian who was captured by the Germans in World War II and was given the option to defect to the German side.  Zuroff should be concentrating on why everyone in Europe hated the Jews and wanted them out. He should be questioning why so many Soviet soldiers defected, after they were captured, and then fought for the Germans. Instead, Zuroff is consumed by hatred of the goyim and is voicing his hatred of a dead man who was persecuted for half his life.

It is important to note that Demjanjuk was not convicted of murdering anyone, nor of being an accessory to murder.  He was convicted of being a guard in a camp that may or may not have been a “death camp.”  It was assumed by the German court, without any proof being offered, that Sobibor was a “death camp” where an unknown number of Jews were allegedly killed.  Demjanjuk was found guilty by association because he was allegedly a  guard at Sobibor.

This news story written on Nov. 23, 2009, about the Demjanjuk trial tells about how the trial was based on testimony from the dead:

Munich prosecutors who built the case against former death camp guard Mr Demjanjuk, 89, put 23 witnesses on their list, some of them from Russia and Ukraine.

But all members of the list are dead. It means that Demjanjuk, charged with assisting in 27,900 murders during his time as an SS guard at the extermination camp of Sobibor in occupied Poland, will be judged on records such as his identity card and on the statements of the dead.

His lawyer Guenther Maull said the defence (sic) would contest the witness statements may have been made under pressure from Soviet KGB interrogators. “The men were questioned 30 years ago at least in part in the Soviet Union and possibly under pressure,” he said. “Whether their statements have any value as evidence is questionable.”

March 17, 2012

John Demjanjuk dies in a nursing home in Germany

Filed under: World War II — Tags: — furtherglory @ 10:30 am

You can read the obituary of John Demjanjuk in the Los Angeles Times here.  I previously blogged about John Demjanjuk and the Sobibor death camp here.   I wrote about the conviction of John Demjanjuk in a German court here.  If John Demjanuk had lived longer, he would have been put on trial again in Spain, as I wrote here on my blog. I am blinded by tears and cannot write any more.

Rest in peace, John Demjanjuk.

A few minutes ago, I heard the CNN report on the death of John Demjanjuk.  You can read the full story on the CNN website here.

The following quote is from the CNN news report:

Berlin (CNN) — Former Nazi death camp guard and onetime Ohio autoworker John Demjanjuk has died in Germany, a police spokesman said Saturday.

Demjanjuk, 91, was found guilty last May in a German court of assisting in mass murder as a guard at the Sobibor death camp in Poland and sentenced to five years in prison.

He died in a home for the elderly where he was living pending appeal, Oberbayern-Sud police spokesman Kilian Steger said. As part of standard procedure, the Traunstein state prosecutor’s office is looking into the circumstances of his death, Steger said.

The Nazis and their sympathizers killed at least 167,000 people at Sobibor in 1942 and 1943, according to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.

Munich state prosecutors charged Demjanjuk as an accessory to about 27,900 of those deaths, and the court found the killings were “motivated by racial hatred.”

Demjanjuk denied the charges, arguing that he was a prisoner of war who was forced to do what the Nazis wanted.

The killings were “motivated by racial hatred”???  Motivated by whose “racial hatred?”  The “racial hatred” of the Nazis, or the racial hatred of Demjanjuk.

Note that the number of deaths at Sobibor has been downgraded to 167,000 by the USHMM.  It was formerly 250,000 that were allegedly killed at Sobibor.

Demjanjuk was not found guilty of “assisting in mass murder.”  He was found guilty of allegedly being at Sobibor.  The court did not prove that he assisted in mass murder; nor did the court prove that anyone was killed at Sobibor.  Demjanjuk was found guilty of participating in a “common design,” a new law that was created after the war.  Read my previous blog post about Demjanjuk’s conviction here.

You can read the history of the persecution of John Demjanjuk in an article here written by Jerome A. Brentar entitled My Campaign for Justice for John Demjanjuk with an introduction by Mark Weber.

May 12, 2011

Demjanjuk convicted under the “common design” theory of guilt

Filed under: Germany, Holocaust — Tags: , , — furtherglory @ 7:12 am

I read the news of John Demjanjuk’s conviction in the New York Times here.  The most important thing about his conviction is summed up in this statement:

In the absence of specific evidence against him, the case against Mr. Demjanjuk rested on the prosecution’s charge that anyone working at the camp at the time he was there shared responsibility for its function of systematic murder.

In other words, the legal basis for charging Demjanjuk with a crime was the ex-post-facto law that was dreamed up by Lt. Col. Murray C. Bernays specifically for the Nuremberg IMT, although it was also used by the American Military Tribunal at Dachau.  This is the first time that this legal basis has been used in German courts, thus setting a precedent that can be used in future trials.

Bernays was a Lithuanian Jew who had emigrated with his family to America in 1900 when he was six years old.  Robert E. Conot wrote, in his book “Justice at Nuremberg,” that Henry Morgenthau, Jr., a Jew who was the Secretary of the Treasury and one of President Franklin Roosevelt’s top advisors, had proposed that the German war criminals should be charged and then executed without a trial. But Bernays said, “Not to try these beasts would be to miss the educational and therapeutic opportunity of our generation. They must be tried not alone for their specific aims, but for the bestiality from which these crimes sprang.”

Now 66 years after the end of World War II, Demjanjuk has been tried and convicted on the theory that he is guilty because he was allegedly THERE.  It doesn’t matter if he actually did anything wrong, he is guilty by association.   (more…)

April 14, 2011

Dutch Jew wants Demjanjuk to be sentenced to 15 years in prison

Filed under: Germany, Holocaust — Tags: , , — furtherglory @ 11:49 am

John Demjanjuk, a 90-year-old American citizen, has been on trial in Germany since November 2009 on a charge of 27,900 counts of being an accessory to murder, based on the accusation that he was a guard at the Sobibor death camp. A verdict in the trial is expected next month and in the closing arguments given by the co-plaintiffs, Manuel Bloch, an attorney from the Netherlands who lost family members in the Holocaust, urged the court to convict Demjanjuk and sentence him to the maximum 15-year prison term.

The verdict will depend upon whether or not the prosecution has proved that Demjanjuk was a guard at Sobibor.  At least 27,900 Jews were allegedly gassed during the 5 months that Demjanjuk allegedly served as a guard.  The prosecution did not have to prove that anyone was gassed at Sobibor — only that John Demjanjuk was one of the guards that herded the Jews along the path to the gas chamber that was disguised as a shower room.

Sobibor was one of the 6 death camps used in the genocide of 6 million Jews during World War II; it was built by the Nazis in March 1942, for the sole purpose of killing Jews. An estimated 250,000 Jews were murdered at Sobibor during a period of only 18 months, according to the US Holocaust Memorial Museum.

According to this news article, Manuel Blocht told the court that “the evidence against Demjanjuk is abundant” and “fits together like the pieces of a puzzle.”

This news source quotes prosecutor Hans-Joachim Lutz in his closing arguments:

“Armed with a weapon, he (Demjanjuk) transported the victims from the wagons, undressed them and led them into the gas chambers,” said prosecutor Hans-Joachim Lutz, as he began summing up in the trial, expected to be one of the last of its kind.

“He participated willingly in the murder of 27,900 Jews,” Lutz said.

Wait a minute!  The guards at Sobibor undressed the victims?  I don’t think so.  The Nazis were prudes.  They would never have allowed a young soldier like Demjanjuk to undress people.  Besides that, why couldn’t these people undress themselves?

Sobibor was one of the three “Aktion Reinhard” camps that were set up following the Wannsee Conference which was held on January 20, 1942.  The Nazis claimed that the Aktion Reinhard camps were set up as transit camps for the “evacuation of the Jews to the East,” a euphemism for the genocide of the Jews. Unlike the concentration camps, such as Auschwitz and Majdanek, the three Aktion Reinhard camps did not have ovens to cremate the bodies. The Jews were not registered upon arrival and no death records were kept at the Aktion Reinhard camps.

The three Aktion Reinhard camps were all in remote locations, but “each site was on a railroad line linking it with hundreds of towns and villages whose Jewish communities were now trapped and starving” in the spring of 1942, according to Martin Gilbert’s book entitled The Holocaust. Sobibor was linked by rail with many large Jewish communities, including Lublin, Wlodawa and Chelm. Jews were also brought from the Theresienstadt ghetto, located in what is now the Czech Republic, and from the Netherlands, to be gassed at Sobibor.

The Nazis claimed that the Aktion Reinhard camps were “transit camps,”  but there was a transit camp in the Netherlands at Westerbork.  So why were the Dutch Jews  transported all the way to the border between German-occupied Poland and the Ukraine to be gassed.  Why not just set up gas chambers at Westerbork?

There were no disinfection chambers for delousing the clothing at Sobibor. The clothing that was taken from the Jews, when they arrived at Sobibor, was sent to the Majdanek camp in the city of Lublin to be disinfected with Zyklon-B in a building that was right next to an identical building where Jews were gassed with the same Zyklon-B.  Lublin was only a few miles from Sobibor, so why not just send the Jews to Majdanek to be gassed, instead of setting up a death camp at Sobibor?  The clothing taken from the Jews could have just been sent a few feet to the disinfection chambers that were right next door to the gas chambers at Majdanek.

Toivi Blatt, one of the survivors of Sobibor, was 15 years old when he was sent to the death camp, but he was selected as one of the workers who helped the guards in sorting the clothing and possessions taken from the Jews. In a book by Holocaust historian Martin Gilbert, Toivi Blatt was quoted as saying that most of the Jews were transported to Sobibor in cattle cars, but the 34,000 Dutch Jews arrived in passenger trains. The luggage of the Dutch Jews was transported in separate cars and the victims were given tags which they were told would be used to reclaim their bags.

Passenger trains were extremely scarce in Germany during World War II.  German civilians were traveling in box cars, according to books that I’ve read.  So why were the Dutch Jews sent to Sobibor in passenger trains?

Right up to the time that the Dutch Jews entered the gas chamber disguised as a shower room, they were completely fooled by the Nazis into thinking that they were going to the “transported to the East.”  It seems to me that the Dutch Jews should show some compassion for John Demjanjuk, the same way that the Nazis showed compassion for them in allowing them an easy death.

The crimes at Sobibor took place in 1942 and 1943, sixty-eight years ago.  I think it is time for the Dutch Jews to give up their desire for revenge and allow an old man to die at home with his family.

BTW, the Nazis made a stupid mistake in selecting 15-year-old boys as helpers.  Toivi Blatt is still alive and living in Santa Barbara, CA.  They should have selected older men who would have soon died of natural causes and would not be alive today to testify in court.  The Nazis should have realized that the helpers at Sobibor might somehow survive, and 68 years later, a former Ukrainian guard might be put on trial as an accessory to murder.

Five relatives of the 250,000 Jews who were gassed at Sobibor were among the 40 co-plaintiffs in the trial of John Demjanjuk.  These 5 people are all in their 70s now; they were children when their parents and siblings were sent to Sobibor to be killed.

Sobibor and the other two Aktion Reinhard camps were set up to carry out the genocide of the Jews, so why were the children under the age of 15 left behind?  Good question.  The answer is that the Nazis tried to fool the victims into believing that they were being sent to the East in order to work.  If children under the age of 15 had been taken along, the Jews would have known that they were being sent to Sobibor to be killed.  In order to keep everyone calm and avoid panic, the children had to be spared.

Here is a quote from this website:

Another of five co-plaintiffs to deliver harrowing witness statements to the court said he did not discover what had happened to his mother, sister and brother until 10 years ago. “Part of me didn’t want to know,” said Martin Haas, 73.

Now a professor of biology and oncology in San Diego, Haas was sent to live with a foster family in the Dutch countryside when his family was rounded up. After the war when nobody came to pick him up he was sent to families around the country who were looking to adopt.

Rudolf Salomon Cortissoss, now 70 years old, was one of the five relatives of the 250,000 murdered Jews who delivered a witness statement in the trial. His mother threw a letter from the train, as she was being taken to Sobibor. The letter was dated 17 May 1943. In the letter, his mother wrote that she was being sent to the East to work.  According to the website cited above, “Four days later, according to Red Cross records, she was dead, aged 31, gassed by lorry exhaust fumes at Sobibor in Nazi-occupied eastern Poland.”

I doubt that the Nazis left records behind that showed that Jews were gassed at Sobibor.

David van Huiden, now 78, lost his stepfather, his mother and his sister at Sobibor after they were rounded up by the Gestapo. His family was murdered on 2 July, 1943. “It also happens to be my birthday,” he told the court. Many were in tears.

Mary Richheimer-Leyden van Amstel, 70, was the only survivor of her family. She was just two when strangers agreed to hide her before her parents were herded to Sobibor. “I have no memories of anyone in my family,” she told the court. “After the war nobody came to pick me up, and I just instinctively understood that my parents would not be coming back.”

Kurt Gutmann, 82, who lost his mother and brother in Sobibor, was angry at the way that Demjanjuk had turned his illness into a courtroom drama.

Only 90-year-old Jules Schelvis had any sympathy for Demjanjuk.  “Out of my respect for my humanist parents,” he said at the trial, “I ask the court to enter a finding of guilty against this aged man, who has already spent nine years in jail, but not to punish him.”

The prosecution is asking for a sentence of 6 years in prison for Demjanjuk, while some of the co-plaintiffs want Demjanjuk to spend another 15 years in prison. If the co-plaintiffs get their way, Demjanjuk will spend a total of 24 years in prison, provided that he lives to the age of 105.

In my humble opinion, the co-plaintiffs should be grateful that the Nazis allowed them to live in order to protect their story that Jews were sent to Sobibor because they were being transported to the East to work.  If children had been gassed at Sobibor, everyone would have instantly known the truth, that the purpose of Sobibor was the genocide of the Jews.


March 17, 2011

Demjanjuk is back in court — testimony from the dead will be heard

Filed under: Germany, Holocaust — Tags: , , — furtherglory @ 9:33 am

Good news!  John Demjanjuk is back in court, after two days in a hospital, and a request by his attorney to hear testimony given by Dov Frieberg has been granted.  Freiberg is now dead, but a written statement that he gave in 1976 will be read in court.  In his statement, Freiberg said that he was assigned to clean the Sobibor barracks where the Ukrainian guards were housed, but he does not remember Demjanjuk being there.

I previously wrote this about Freiberg in another blog post:

In his book entitled “The Holocaust,” Martin Gilbert wrote about another survivor of Sobibor, Dov Freiberg, who was a 15-year-old boy on a transport of 2,750 Jews from the town of Torobin in Poland on May 12, 1942. The Jews were assembled in the town square and told that they were going to be “resettled in the Ukraine,” according to Freiberg. They were then taken to the nearest railroad station at Krasnowka, where they were joined by Jews from other nearby towns and villages. When their train arrived at the camp, the story of resettlement seemed to be coming true: a sign at the entrance to the camp said “SS Sonderkommando Umsiedlungslager.” which means “SS special unit resettlement camp” in English.

According to Freiberg, there was a band playing at the entrance. The women and children “went straight to the gas chambers,” but since the gas chamber “didn’t really operate in the night,” the men “stayed there on the spot during the night.” Freiberg was one of 150 Jews from this transport who “were sent to work” in the camp itself, sorting the belongings of the victims.

It turns out that it was a big mistake for the Germans to select young Jewish boys to work in Sobibor, which was one of the 6 Nazi death camps.  Even if the Nazis expected to win the war and they thought that they would never be charged with Crimes against Humanity for the genocide of the Jews, the Nazis should have anticipated that the German people would eventually turn against them and some of the young boys would have survived to testify against them. They should have selected older men, who would soon be dead, to be the helpers in the Sobibor death camp.

The Nazis should have anticipated a possible revolt by the Jewish helpers and that some of them would survive to testify against them.  Yesterday I blogged about Philip Bialowitz who survived the revolt at Sobibor and is still alive; he is touring the USA now, telling his story of how 250,000 Jews were gassed at Sobibor. (Bialowitz was 17 when he was sent to Sobibor.)

The Germans called Sobibor a “transit camp;” their cover story was that the Jews were being “evacuated to the East.”  Treblinka and Belzec were also called transit camps by the Germans.  But why did they need transit camps in German-occupied Poland?  Why not just put the Dutch Jews on a train in Amsterdam and take them all the way into the Ukraine, instead of stopping at Sobibor for a shower?

The Bug river was very shallow and not very wide

The reason that the trains to the East had to stop at Sobibor and Belzec is because there were no train bridges across the Bug river; the train tracks were a different size in Eastern Europe.

There were more Jews killed in the three Operation Reinhard camps (Treblinka, Sobibor and Belzec) than in Auschwitz.  Why weren’t all the Jews sent to Auschwitz to be gassed?  Auschwitz was the main railroad hub in Europe.  Trains could start from almost any place in Western Europe and go all the way to Auschwitz.  Even Majdanek would have been a better choice for gassing the Jews. The Majdanek camp, with its 4 Zyklon-B gas chambers, was a few miles west of Sobibor, so why send Jews to Sobibor to be gassed with carbon monoxide from diesel engines?  That doesn’t make any sense at all.  The Majdanek camp also had ovens to burn the bodies, which Sobibor didn’t have.

The map above shows the General Government (German-occupied Poland) in dark brown and the former Soviet occupied zone in jade green.  The black line which divides these two zones is the Bug river. Note that Sobibor is very close to the Bug river, but also very close to Majdanek. Note that Auschwitz (shown in the tan section of the map) is not in the General Government, but in the Greater German Reich. Chelmno is another death camp that was also located in the Greater German Reich.

At the time that the three Operation Reinhard camps were set up in 1942, the Germans had taken the area that is shown in jade green on the map.  Why would they have killed the Jews right on the banks of the Bug river when they could have just sent them into the Ukraine and on into Russia?

I have been watching an ad on TV that asks for a donation of $25 to be sent to the starving elderly Holocaust survivors in Russia.    How did all these Holocaust survivors wind up in Russia?

March 16, 2011

Will war criminal John Demjanjuk live long enough to get his “just deserts”?

Filed under: Germany, Holocaust — Tags: , , — furtherglory @ 2:25 pm

Today I checked up on the progress of the trial of John Demjanjuk which has been ongoing since November 2009 and I learned that the trial has been delayed until May 2011 because Demjanjuk has been hospitialized.  Demjanjuk is being tried in a German court on charges of being an accessory to the murder of around 27,900 Jews, based on the testimony of two survivors that it was the Ukrainian guards who herded Jews into the gas chambers at the Sobibór death camp in German-occupied Poland.  Demjanjuk is Ukrainian but he denies that he ever worked at Sobibór.

Demjanjuk is now 90 years old and very ill; will he survive long enough to be convicted and sentenced to 15 years in prison for his alleged crime? The survivors and the children of the survivors certainly hope so.  They want Demjanjuk to live long enough to be convicted so that he can die alone in prison without the love and support of his family.

(more…)

February 25, 2011

John Demjanjuk’s alleged crimes against the Red Spaniards (Rotspanier)

Filed under: World War II — Tags: , , , — furtherglory @ 9:04 am

If John Demjanjuk survives his current trial in Germany, his next trial will be held in Spain where he has been charged with war crimes in connection with the deaths of 60 Red Spaniards at the Flossenbürg concentration camp, where he served as a guard after his service at Sobibor.

“Red Spaniards” was the name for the Spanish Republicans who fought in the Spanish Civil War against General Francisco Franco’s forces.  They were called the Red Spaniards (Rotspanier) because they were Communists and Red was the color of the Communists. After their defeat by General Franco’s Army, the Spanish Republicans escaped to France where they were put into internment camps by the French government. After Germany conquered France in 1940, around 30,000 of these prisoners were deported by the Nazis to concentration camps in Germany and Austria as political prisoners because of their anti-Fascist or Communist political affiliation.

On June 19, 2008, a criminal lawsuit was filed at the offices of the Audiencia Nacional (Madrid) on behalf of several survivors and family members of the Red Spaniards who were sent to concentration camps. (more…)

February 24, 2011

Will 90-year-old John Demjanjuk live long enough for a third trial?

John Demjanjuk, now 90-years-old, is currently on trial in Germany, charged with being an accessory to the murder of 27,900 Dutch Jews at the Sobibor death camp in 1943. Demjanjuk was previously tried and convicted over 20 years ago in an Israeli court after he was identified by eye witnesses as a Ukrainian guard nicknamed “Ivan the Terrible” at Treblinka. He spent 7 years in prison in Israel before he won the case on appeal.

John Demjanjuk as a young man and in a courtroom today

A verdict in the current case is expected in late March this year, but if 90-year-old Demjanjuk is still alive, he could be brought in on a stretcher to another courtroom in Spain for a third trial.

In January 2011, a Spanish judge indicted Demjanjuk on charges of being an accessory to genocide and Crimes against Humanity, based on the accusation that he was a guard at the Flossenbürg concentration camp in Germany. The Spanish are expected to have Demjanjuk extradited to Spain when the German trial ends.

“Crimes against Humanity” is a new crime that was made up specifically for the Germans in the Nuremberg International Military Tribunal after World War II ended. Genocide is also a concept that did not exist before the Holocaust. As far as I know, no one claims that there was a gas chamber at the Flossenbürg camp in Germany.  On the other hand, it is officially accepted that Sobibor was a “death camp,” built by the Nazis in March 1942, for the sole purpose of killing European Jews in gas chambers.

The exact number of Jews who were murdered at Sobibor is unknown; allegedly, the bodies were first buried, then dug up and burned on pyres. All the train records are missing so the number of Jews who were transported to Sobibor is unknown. Estimates range from 170,000 to 250,000 deaths in the short time that Sobibor operated as a death camp.  The US Holocaust Memorial Museum estimates that 250,000 Jews were murdered at Sobibor during a period of only 18 months.

Sobibor was one of the three Aktion Reinhard camps; the other two were Belzec and Treblinka.  Demjanjuk was first charged with being Ivan the Terrible, a guard at Treblinka.  Shouldn’t his third trial be for being a guard at Belzec, not Flossenbürg?

The three Aktion Reinhard camps were all in remote locations, but “each site was on a railroad line linking it with hundreds of towns and villages whose Jewish communities were now trapped and starving” in the spring of 1942, according to Martin Gilbert’s book entitled The Holocaust. Sobibor was linked by rail with many large Jewish communities, including Lublin, Wlodawa and Chelm.

Gilbert also wrote a book called Atlas of the Holocaust which is mainly a book of maps pertaining to the Holocaust.  On page 108 of this book, there is a large map that shows that Sobibor was in the “General Government” which was the name given to German-occupied Poland.  Sobibor was right on the border between the General Government and the Ukraine.

On January 20, 1942, a conference was held in Wannsee, a suburb of Berlin, where plans were made for the “Final Solution to the Jewish Question.” According to the figures given by the Nazis at the Wannsee Conference, there were approximately 5 million Jews in the Soviet Union in January 1942, including 2,994,684 in the Ukraine and 446,484 in Belorussia. There were another 2,284,000 Jews in the area of German-occupied Poland known as the General Government. At the Conference, the Nazis claimed that they were planning to resettle some of the Jews who were living in the General Government into the Ukraine, an area of the Soviet Union which they then controlled.

The three camps, called the Aktion Reinhard Camps, were planned at the Wannsee conference. All three of the Aktion Reinhard camps were located on the western side of the Bug river. On the eastern side of the Bug river was the Ukraine, according to the maps drawn by Martin Gilbert.

Railroad bridge over the Bug river near Treblinka

The photo above shows a one-way bridge over the Bug river that is designed for trains, cars and pedestrians.  When I visited Treblinka in 1998, my private tour guide took me over this bridge.

There must be another way to get to the Treblinka Memorial Site because this bridge would collapse if a tour bus tried to cross it.  I’m not sure if the trains to the camp went over this bridge; the bridge is a reconstruction, according to Martin Gilbert.

So why is this bridge so important?  Being a train buff, I knew that the train tracks in the Soviet Union are a different gauge than the tracks in Poland.  Trains did not cross the Bug river during World War II because the trains would not have been able to run on the tracks across the river.  There is a bend in the river near Treblinka, which required a bridge over the river in order to get to the Treblinka camp, although the camp is located on the western side of the border between the former General Government and the Ukraine.  There were no railroad bridges for trains to cross the Bug river into the Ukraine during World War II, so all train transports to the East had to stop at the Bug river.

After the joint conquest of Poland by the Germans and the Russians in September 1939, the river Bug (pronounced Boog) became the border between the German-occupied General Government of Poland and the Russian zone of occupation. When Germany invaded the Soviet Union in June 1941, the Germans quickly conquered the territory that was being occupied by the Russians.

Hardly more than a creek, the Bug is shallow enough in some places so that one can wade across it, and according to historian Martin Gilbert, some refugees, from both sides, did wade across. The movie Europa, Europa has a scene in which Jewish refugees are shown walking toward the Russian sector, trying to escape the Nazis in September 1939 by crossing the Bug river on rafts.  The river is shallow enough that trucks could drive across it, and in winter, people could walk across on the ice.

If the Nazis were really planning to “evacuate the Jews to the East” as was claimed in the minutes of the Wannsee Conference, it would make sense to establish three transit camps near the Bug river, which was on the border between two areas that had different size railroad tracks.  If the Nazis were planning to kill the Jews, the gas chambers did not need to be right on the border between German-occupied Poland and Russian-occupied territory.

Martin Gilbert wrote that Jews were brought from the Theresienstadt ghetto, located in what is now the Czech Republic, and from the Netherlands, to be gassed at Sobibor.  Wait a minute!  The Netherlands?  Why would Dutch Jews be transported all the way to Sobibor in what is now Poland to be gassed?  Why not gas the Dutch Jews in the Westerbork camp in the Netherlands and use these valuable trains for transporting goods and soldiers during World War II? Or why not gas them in Germany at the Sachsenhausen camp which was not far away?

According to Dutch historian Johannes Houwink ten Cate, the transportation list of the Jews sent on 19 trains to Sobibor from the transit camp at Westerbork in the Netherlands contains the names and place of birth of  34,000 Dutch Jews, but the names of the Jews sent from other countries to Sobibor are unknown.

This Dutch Historian claims that 33,000 Dutch Jews were killed in the gas chambers at Sobibor and 1,000 were chosen as workers at Sobibor, or to be sent to a nearby labor camp. There were 19 Dutch Jews who survived. So the Germans left 1,000 potential witnesses alive so that they could testify against them?  How stupid was that?

In his book entitled The Holocaust, Martin Gilbert wrote about a survivor of Sobibor, Dov Freiberg, who was a 15-year-old boy on a transport of 2,750 Jews from the town of Torobin in Poland on May 12, 1942. The Jews were assembled in the town square and told that they were going to be “resettled in the Ukraine,” according to Freiberg. They were then taken to the nearest railroad station at Krasnowka, where they were joined by Jews from other nearby towns and villages. When their train arrived at the camp, the story of resettlement seemed to be coming true: a sign at the entrance to the camp said “SS Sonderkommando Umsiedlungslager.” which means “SS special unit resettlement camp” in English.

According to Freiberg, there was a band playing at the entrance. The women and children “went straight to the gas chambers,” but since the gas chamber “didn’t really operate in the night,” the men “stayed there on the spot during the night.” Freiberg was one of 150 Jews from this transport who “were sent to work” in the camp itself, sorting the belongings of the victims.  Another case of the Nazis stupidly leaving witnesses behind.  Were they trying to get caught?

Martin Gilbert wrote that in the month of May 1942, there was a total of 36,000 Jews, from 19 communities between the Vistula river and the Bug river, who were transported to Sobibor and immediately killed in the gas chamber. This was the largest number of Jews gassed that month in any one camp, surpassing Auschwitz, Belzec and Chelmno. The Treblinka camp was not yet open at that time.

Gilbert also told the story of Yaakov Biskowitz, who was sent, at the age of 15, on a transport of 3,400 Jews to Sobibor from the town of Hrubieszow in Poland on June 1, 1942. According to his testimony at the trial of Adolf Eichmann in Israel, Yaakov and his father were among 12 Jews who were selected to work in the Sobibor camp.

As told by Martin Gilbert in his book entitled The Holocaust, Biskowitz recalled how those who were too sick or too old to walk the length of the path to the gas chamber were taken to the so-called Lazarett (hospital) on a small rail spur used to carry coal. Men who could not run fast enough, and small children, would be thrown into the coal wagons and sent to the hospital where they would be shot by the Ukrainian guards.

According to Yaakov Biskowitz, as reported by Martin Gilbert, there were 8 Jews who were forced to work in Camp 3, burning the bodies of the victims who had been gassed. These 8 Jews also sorted the belongings and burned all damaged clothing, personal documents and photographs.

Biskowitz testified at the Eichmann trial that his father was shot at the Lazarett (hospital) because he came down with typhoid. (The German word for typhoid is “spotted fever,” the same as the word for typhus; it is more likely that Biskowitz had typhus, which was a problem in the camps in Poland.)

During World War II, and for years afterward, the Sobibor death camp was virtually unknown. William Shirer did not even mention it in his monumental 1147-page book entitled The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich. It was not until the release of a 1987 TV movie, Escape from Sobibor, based on a book with the same name, that the public knew of this remote spot where thousands of Jews lost their lives. The movie tells the story of the revolt during which around 300 prisoners escaped; no more than 50 of them survived to the end of the war.

One of the survivors of the escape from Sobibor was Esther Terner Raab, who made her home in New Jersey after the war. In a TV documentary, Esther told about a party that the SS had before her escape. The SS men told Esther that they were celebrating the fact that one million Jews had been killed at Sobibor.

Unlike the other Nazi death camps, the SS barracks were located inside the Sobibor camp. According to Toivi Blatt, the Jewish workers in the camp socialized with each other and sometimes with the SS guards.
Another Sobibor survivor, Moshe Bahir, testified in 1965, at the trial of several of the Sobibor perpetrators in Hagen, Germany, that he was a witness to a celebration by the Germans in February 1943 after one million Jews had been killed at Sobibor. However, Raul Hilberg wrote in his book entitled The Destruction of the European Jews that the number of Jews killed at Sobibor was estimated to be 200,000.

So the SS guards at Sobibor had a party to celebrate killing one million Jews and they invited at least two of the Jewish workers at the camp?  This was the height of stupidity!  And why did they exaggerate the number of Jews that had been killed?  This doesn’t make any sense at all.

Deportations to the Sobibor death camp began in mid April 1942 with transports from the nearby town of Zamosc in Poland, according to Holocaust historian Martin Gilbert. He wrote that Jews from the Lublin ghetto were sent to Sobibor to be gassed, although there were several gas chambers at the Majdanek death camp just outside the city of Lublin.

During the first phase of the extermination of the Jews at Sobibor, which lasted until July 1942, around 100,000 Jews were gassed, according to Martin Gilbert. Their bodies were buried in mass graves, then later dug up and burned on pyres. During the next phase, the bodies were burned immediately, according to Toivi Blatt, one of the survivors of Sobibor. At the age of 15, Blatt had been selected to work in sorting the clothing taken from the Jews, which was then sent to Majdanek to be disinfected.

The survivors of Sobibor do not agree on the number or size of the gas chambers. The victims were allegedly killed with carbon monoxide from the exhaust of engines taken from captured Soviet tanks, which had been stored at Sobibor. There is also disagreement among the survivors on whether these were diesel engines or gasoline engines.

The Sobibor camp was initially divided into three camps (Lager 1, Lager II and Lager III) but a fourth camp was added later to store munitions captured from the Soviet Army. Lager I was where the Jewish workers in the camp lived. A moat on one side of this camp prevented their escape. Lager II was where the victims undressed; Jewish workers sorted the clothing in this camp.

From Lager II, an SS man escorted the victims through a path lined with tree branches to the gas chambers in Lager III. Only the Ukrainian SS guards and the German SS officers were allowed in Lager III, so the survivors could not have known what happened in Lager III.

The Sobibor camp was 400 meters wide by 600 meters long; the entire area was enclosed by a barbed wire fence that was three meters high. On three sides of the camp was a mine field. The watch towers were manned by Ukrainian SS guards who had been conscripted from captured soldiers in the Soviet Army to assist the 30 German SS men who were the administrators of the camp. In 1965, a German court put 11 of the German SS guards on trial; 6 of them were sentenced to prison, and one committed suicide during the trial; the others were acquitted.

The victims arrived on trains which stopped at the ramp across from the Sobibor train station, or in trucks from nearby Polish villages. Most of the Jews were transported in cattle cars, but the 34,000 Dutch Jews who were sent to Sobibor arrived in passenger trains, according to Toivi Blatt. The luggage of the Dutch Jews was transported in separate cars and the victims were given tags which they were told would be used to reclaim their bags. All of the belongings of the Jews were confiscated upon arrival.  According to Toivi Blatt, all documents, photos and personal items were removed from the confiscated baggage and anything that could not be recycled to send to Germany was burned in open fires that lit up the night sky.

The Jews were then forced to walk along the path, called the “Himmelfahrtstrasse” (Street to heaven), which led to the spot where the hair was cut from the heads of the women, and then on to the gas chambers disguised as showers.  Demjanjuk is accused of being one of the Ukrainian guards who herded the Jews into the gas chambers disguised as showers.

Demjanjuk’s trial is being conducted in Germany where judges takes judicial notice that Jews were killed in gas chambers by the Nazis, so no proof is required.  If his attorney were to ask for proof that there were gas chambers at Sobibor, he would promptly be arrested for being a Holocaust denier.  He would have no defense because the Holocaust is considered to be “manifestly obvious” by the German courts and does not have to be proved.

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