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August 3, 2015

The story of Holocauast survivor Albert Rosa, as told in his own words

Filed under: Buchenwald, California, Holocaust — Tags: , , , , — furtherglory @ 11:17 am

Yesterday, I had the privilege of hearing Holocaust survivor Albert Rosa speak to a crowd of people in Folsom, CA. [Yes, the town of Folsom, about which Johnny Cash sang, in his famous song Folsom Prison Blues]

In the past, I have blogged about Albert Rosa at Dachau here. In his speech at Folsom, he briefly mentioned Kaufering and Dachau, but didn’t elaborate on what he did there.

You can read about what Albert Rosa essentially said in his speech on this website:

Eventually, he was transported from Greece to Poland in a cattle truck. They were cramped in that space for 10 days and nights with no food, water or facilities. People were suffocating and starving to death. The air was hot and filled with the smell of decomposing bodies.

“The children were crying, ‘Mommy I’m hungry, I’m thirsty,’” said Rosa. “Me, I was an athlete, I used to compete in other sports, I could take the punishment.”

When they arrived at the “death camps” they had been totally dehumanized. Those who were too old or too young for slave labor were sent to the gas chambers. Rosa had never seen a crematory before that, but the horrible smoke that filled the air was impossible to ignore.

In the concentration camp, the men and women were divided. Shortly after their arrival, Rosa traded uniforms with another prisoner to see his older sister Luna. His sister, who had once been beautiful and wealthy, was now malnourished and bald, which broke Rosa’s heart.

For just a moment Rosa forgot he was in a concentration camp; he called out to his sister and a female guard noticed. He watched as they killed his sister and then took her away in small wagon “like trash.”

On the day of Albert Rosa’s speech, I arrived early and was escorted down to the 2nd row, where I was sitting only a few feet away from Rosa, who did not stand on a stage while he talked.

I was treated very well by everyone, with whom I came in contact there; I think that I was mistaken for a Jew. I had purchased a ticket online and printed it out, but the man at the door didn’t take my ticket; he just waved me on through the door, which was being manned by a guy with a beard, dressed entirely in black, including a large black hat.

Fortunately, before going to hear the speech, I had read Rosa’s story on the Internet at http://www.jewishjournal.com/survivor/article/survivor_albert_rosa_20120315

Rosa’s speech, in Folsom, covered everything that is included in the link above, and nothing more. I had brought a notepad with me and was prepared to take notes, but this was impossible because he talked a-mile-a-minute and there was not enough time for me to take even very short notes.  Besides that, he spoke with a heavy Greek accent which I could not understand. I could only catch a few words here and there.

As everyone knows, Albert Rosa is famous for the fact that he did not mention the Holocaust, nor his imprisonment, for over 50 years. This has caused many people to think that he was never in a concentration camp. Rosa explained all that in his speech.  He said that he had had “electric shock treatment” late in life and after that, he remembered everything and he began to talk.   [Electric shock treatment used to be used as a cure for mental illness, so I don’t think that he should have mentioned this.]

Strangely, Albert Rosa does not have an entry on Wikipedia.

For his Folsom speech, Rosa had brought along an 8 by 10 photo album, filled with faded and yellowed photographs, which he showed on a huge screen on the stage behind him.

Before he began his talk, there was a huge photo of prisoners at Buchenwald put up on  the screen. It was a faded and yellowed copy of the photo below.

Famous photo taken at Buchenwald allegedly shows Eli Wiesel

Famous photo taken at Buchenwald allegedly shows Eli Wiesel (Click on the photo to enlarge)

As this photo was up on the screen, no one in the audience said a word.  I suspect that few people in the audience knew that this was a photo of Buchenwald, not Auschwitz, where Rosa was allegedly a prisoner. Rosa used this photo to show what the beds were like in Auschwitz.

During his talk, Rosa said that the prisoners at Auschwitz slept on beds like the beds shown in the photo.  He should have tried to locate a photo of the bunks at Auschwitz, which were nothing like these bunk beds.

Every Holocaust survivor’s story must include some version of the claim that the survivor saw an SS man bash a baby’s head against the side of a train.  Rosa claimed to have seen this on the very day that he arrived at Auschwitz.

He claimed that he was on a train, bound for Auschwitz, for 10 days and 10 nights, without food or water. On the train, he was dressed only in his shorts [underwear] and he had no shoes. He said that he rested on a dead body on the train.

Recently, there has been a story in the news about two young Jewish boys who went out into the ocean, and their boat capsized.  The search for the boys has been called off  because allegedly, a young healthy Jewish boy cannot survive more than four days without water.  The search should continue because Albert Rosa has proved that a Jew can go without food or water for TEN days.

During his talk, Rosa mentioned a friend who was hanged at Auschwitz and his body was left hanging for days.  As he said this, a photo that was taken at Buchenwald, was shown.  Rosa claimed that this was a photo of his friend. I wonder how many people in the audience noticed that there were American soldiers in the backgrounds of the photo, so this could not have been taken at Auschwitz. [American soldiers did not liberate Auschwitz.]

Throughout his talk, the photos changed.  Strangely, all the photos were taken at Bergen-Belsen, including the photo of the Auschwitz commandant, who was sent to Bergen-Belsen when Auschwitz closed.

Josef Kramer

Josef Kramer, Auschwtiz commandant

Many photos of Bergen-Belsen were shown during his speech, but were purported to have been taken at Auschwitz.

Rosa made many mistakes in his story, as he talked about Auschwitz. For example, he said that he talked to his older sister, Luna, through a CHAIN LINK FENCE.  At this point, he should have put up an old photo of a chain link fence at Auschwitz.  I have been to Auschwitz 3 times, and all the chin link fences are now gone.

Rosa claimed that he had seen his sister killed by an SS man, who then threw her naked body onto a pile of bodies.  I find it hard to believe this story. He showed an old photo of his sister, and kept saying how beautiful she was.  He seemed to be saying that this was a more heinous crime because she was so beautiful.

Rosa also told about taking an SS ring from the dead body of an SS man, whom he had killed by using his boxing skills. He had this ring changed into a ring with a Jewish emblem and he used it later to hit an SS man, scarring his face with a Jewish emblem.  The audience loved this story.

During his speech, Rosa brought out his 5 medals, which he had earned fighting with the American Army after he escaped from a concentration camp. He also mentioned that he had fought with the Irgun. I was surprised that he told this.

I don’t know how old Albert Rosa is, but he is in very good shape for a man who allegedly survived the Holocaust.  His daughter was there, helping him with his photos.  She is very beautiful and seems to be in very good health.

Most of the people in the audience were young people; many of the girls and young women were wearing shorts, which I don’t think was appropriate for a speech about the Holocaust.  There were not enough seats in the auditorium and three rows of young people had to sit on the floor in front of the stage.

In closing, I have to say that “a good time was had by all.”

October 7, 2010

Josef Kleinman was gassed at Dachau…and lived to testify against Adolf Eichmann

I’ve been reading a book by Robert Fisk, entitled The Great War for Civilization, published in 2006.  On page 370, I read that “Josef Kleinman is no ordinary Jewish Holocaust survivor.”   Besides the fact that “Jewish Holocaust survivor” is redundant, the author’s observation is an understatement.

I learned on page 369 of the book by Robert Fisk that Josef had told the author that he “was freed from Landsberg on April twenty-seventh, 1945.”

(There were 11 sub-camps of Dachau located near Landsberg am Lech; the camps were all named Kaufering and numbered I through XI.)

Then I read on page 371 that Kleinman was one “Of the twenty-nine thousand Jews brought to Dachau from other camps…”

I put these two facts together and deduced that Josef Kleinman was one of the Jewish survivors of Auschwitz, who were marched out of the camp on January 18, 1945 and taken to concentration camps in Germany.   Around twenty-nine thousand of these survivors were brought to Dachau and gassed, according to the official American army report, written by the American liberators of Dachau.

After Dachau was liberated on April 29, 1945, the official report of the US Seventh Army was printed as a book entitled Dachau Liberated: The Official Report by The U.S. Seventh Army, Released Within Days of the Camp’s Liberation by Elements of the 42nd and 45th Divisions.

The Official Report was based on two days of interviewing 20 prominent political prisoners at Dachau; these prisoners told the Americans that both the shower room and the four disinfection chambers at Dachau had been used as homicidal gas chambers. In The Official  Report, it was claimed that “29,138 Jews had been brought to Dachau and murdered in five gas chambers between June 20, 1944 and November 23, 1944.”

It was later learned that these twenty-nine thousand Jews had been sent to the eleven Kaufering sub-camps of Dachau, near Landsberg am Lech, after taking a shower at the Dachau main camp. Kleinman was one of these twenty-nine thousand prisoners and he was liberated from Landsberg in 1945, so Fisk got that part right.

The Dachau camp records show that there were 28,838 Jews brought from Auschwitz to the Dachau main camp between June 18, 1944 and March 9, 1945. Before being transferred to the 11 Kaufering sub-camps near Landsberg, they were kept in quarantine, at the Dachau main camp, for two weeks in an effort to prevent the spread of disease.

All incoming prisoners at Dachau were first dipped in a tub of disinfectant, then given a shower and issued clean clothes that had been disinfected with Zyklon-B to kill the lice that spread typhus. The German word for a clothing disinfection chamber is Gaskammer, which means gas chamber in English.  It is easy to see where the political prisoners, who gave information to the American Army investigators, made their mistake.

In his book, Fisk mentions that Josef Kleinman had kept his “Blue and White” uniform from his days as a prisoner at Dachau; he points out that blue and white are the colors of the Israeli flag.   This is significant: I have never thought of the colors of the uniforms in that context.  Maybe it never occurred to me because the concentration camp uniforms were actually blue and light gray and the non-Jewish prisoners wore the same blue and gray uniforms.

Fisk wrote that Kleinman was the youngest survivor of Auschwitz and that he testified at the trial of Adolf Eichmann, head of the special “Jewish Section” of the SS, who ran the Nazi program to murder the Jews of Europe.

After reading that, I knew that the author had not done much research on the Holocaust, or he would have known that, at the age of 14, Kleinman could not have been “the youngest survivor of Auschwitz.”  The youngest survivors of Auschwitz were babies who were carried out of the camp in the arms of their mothers when the camp was liberated by Soviet soldiers on January 27, 1945.

Here is the full quote from page 370 of the book:

Mr. Kleinman is no ordinary Holocaust survivor. He was the youngest survivor of Auschwitz and he testified at the trial of Adolf Eichmann, the head of Hitler’s programme to murder the Jews of Europe. Indeed, Mr. Kleinman saw Dr. Mengele, the “Angel of Death,” who chose children, women, the old and the sick for the gas chambers. At the age of just 14, he watched one day as Mengele arrived on a bicycle and ordered a boy to hammer a plank of wood to a post. Here, for the record, is part of Kleinman’s testimony at the Eichmann trial:

“We weren’t told what was to happen. We knew. The boys who couldn’t pass under the plank would be spared. Those boys whose heads did not reach the plank would be sent to the gas chambers. We all tried to stretch ourselves upwards, to make ourselves taller. But I gave up. I saw that taller boys than me failed to touch the plank with their heads. My brother told me, ‘Do you want to live? Yes? Then do something.’ My head began to work. I saw some stones. I put them in my shoes, and this made me taller. But I couldn’t stand at attention on the stones, they were killing me.”

Mr. Kleinman’s brother, Shlomo, tore his hat in half and Josef stuffed part of it into his shoes. He was still too short. But he managed to “infiltrate” into the group who had passed the test. The remainder of the boys – a thousand in all – were gassed. Mengele, Josef Kleinman remembers, chose Jewish holidays for the mass killing of Jewish children. Mr. Kleinman’s parents, Meir and Rachel, and his sister had been sent directly to the gas chambers when the family arrived at Auschwitz from the Carpathian mountains, in what is now Ukraine. He survived, along with his brother – who today, a carpenter like Josef, lives a few hundred yards away in the same suburb of Givat Shaul/Deir Yassin.  Josef survived Dachau and the grueling labour of building a massive bunker for Hitler’s secret factory, constructed for the production of Germany’s new Messerschmitt ME262 jet fighter aircraft.

After his liberation by the Americans, Josef Kleinman made his way to Italy and then to a small boat which put him aboard a ship for Palestine, carrying illegal Jewish immigrants who were to try to enter the territory of the dying British mandate. He could carry only a few possessions. He chose to put his Dachau uniform in his bag – he would not forget what happened to him.