Scrapbookpages Blog

March 25, 2017

Auschwitz or Oswiecim? Which came first?

Filed under: Germany, Holocaust, Uncategorized — Tags: , , — furtherglory @ 8:09 am

auschwitz-e1422313322616.jpeg

The photo above shows the entrance into the Auschwitz main camp

Oświęcim, the town formerly known as Auschwitz, is in the news today; you can read the story at https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/24/world/europe/poland-auschwitz-nazi-stunt-sheep.html

Begin quote:

Malgorzata Jurecka, a spokeswoman for the district police office in Oświęcim (Auschwitz is the German spelling), said late Friday that 11 people were detained — six Poles, four Belarussians and one German. “At the moment, we are gathering and securing all the evidence connected with this case to determine the exact involvement of the individuals in this dramatic incident,” she said. “It was macabre.”

End quote

I wrote about Auschwitz on this previous blog post: https://furtherglory.wordpress.com/2016/05/31/why-auschwitz-was-picked-as-the-location-for-a-concentration-camp/

My photo of a house on the road to the town formerly known as Auschwitz

The town of Auschwitz was originally founded by German people in 1270, according to historian Robert Jan van Pelt. The town is now known by its Polish name, Oświęcim.

The original name of the town was Auschwitz and it was known by this name when the three Auschwitz camps were in operation; the Germans did not change the name of the town and they did not keep it a secret that they were turning the brick barracks, in a suburb of the town, into a concentration camp for political prisoners.

When the Auschwitz camp was set up, more than half of the inhabitants of the town were Jews and the second most prevalent population in the town was Gypsies.  There were very few Polish people in the town.

When I visited Auschwitz for the second time in 2005, I asked someone at the hotel, where I was staying, to call a taxi for me, because I wanted to go to the town. I was told that I was the first American to ever ask to see the town.

After visiting the town, I wrote the following on my website:

The actual town of Oświęcim has virtually nothing to recommend it to a typical tourist. As far as I could see, there were only four hotels in the town in October 2005, and no night life.

There is a 17th century Catholic church at the entrance to the Old Town, and the ubiquitous Duke’s castle on a bluff overlooking the Sola, a small stream that passes for a river, but nothing is left of the original castle except a small tower, now obscured by trees, which is not at all impressive. Like the church, the castle tower will never make it into most tourist guidebooks.

The town is completely devoid of charm. No famous artists come here to paint. There is no house that has been preserved as the birthplace of a famous person, nor any important historical buildings. The town square is surrounded by very ordinary looking buildings, constructed during the last 200 years, and has only one building of interest: the District Court.

An ugly looking modern store built right in the middle of the town square has totally ruined any character that Auschwitz might have had. There were no thatched-roof cottages, no log houses, nor half-timbered buildings that I saw on my trip there in October 2005. The town now has a population of 50,000 and it appears that most of the residents live in high-rise apartments built during the Communist era.

There are many ordinary towns in Poland and it is only because Auschwitz has become the most famous town in the history of the Holocaust that anyone today marvels at how ordinary it is. Yet a suburb of this ordinary town is included in every package tour of Poland or Eastern Europe: an afternoon of horror at the Auschwitz concentration camp, sandwiched in between stops to see the famous salt mine and the Black Madonna, the other main tourist attractions of Poland.

May 31, 2016

Why Auschwitz was picked as the location for a concentration camp?

Filed under: Holocaust — Tags: , — furtherglory @ 9:35 am

A few days ago, one of the regular readers of my blog asked a question regarding the following sarcastic statement that I had written:

“The truth is that, with their “utterly twisted and deformed mind[s],” the Auschwitz main camp was originally built by the Germans as a camp for migrant workers. From Auschwitz, the workers could get on a train and travel to any place in Europe. Auschwitz was literally a major “cross road” of Europe.”

The reader’s question was this: “I’m not sure, are you joking with the above statement? Auschwitz I was a concentration camp for Poles deemed by the Germans to be a threat.”

I have a section on the town of Auschwitz on my website at http://www.scrapbookpages.com/AuschwitzScrapbook/Tour/Oswiecim/index.html

Here is the real story regarding the origin of the town of Auschwitz and the beginning of the Auschwitz main camp:

The area of Europe that was inhabited by the German tribes in the Middle Ages became the Holy Roman Empire in the year 800 and by 1270, the Empire had expanded to include the area known as Upper Silesia, where Auschwitz is located. In 1457, Auschwitz became part of the Kingdom of Poland and it was then known by the Polish name Oswiecim.

Most of Silesia was annexed to the German state of Prussia in 1742, except for four duchies. The duchy of Auschwitz was annexed to Galicia, a province which was given to Austria when Poland lost its independence in 1772 and the country was divided between Russia, Prussia and Austria.

Western Galicia soon became known as The Corner of Three Empires: Russia, Prussia and Austria. The town known as Auschwitz, or Oswiecim or Oshpitzin, became a prime location for Jewish traders or merchants during the time that Galicia was part of the Austro-Hungarian empire.

When railroad lines were built in the 19th century, the little town of Auschwitz, at the junction of three empires, became the crossroads of Europe. There were 44 train lines coming into Auschwitz, making it at one time a larger railroad hub than Penn Station in New York City.

It was because Auschwitz was such an important railroad junction that a camp for migrant workers was built in a suburb of the town in 1916; seasonal farm workers from all over Europe were sent from Auschwitz to the large German estates. The migrant worker camp, with its beautiful brick barracks buildings, was the place that eventually became the Auschwitz I concentration camp.

In 1919, Poland became an independent country again and Auschwitz became a Polish town called Oswiecim. The former migrant worker camp was used as a garrison by the Polish Army.

The Auschwitz main camp originally had 20 brick barracks buildings; 14 of them were single story buildings and 6 were two stories high. When this camp was converted into the Auschwitz concentration camp, a second story was added to the 14 single story buildings and 8 new two-story buildings were added, making a total of 28 barracks buildings. Between 13,000 and 16,000 concentration camp prisoners were crowded into these 28 buildings where they slept in three-tiered bunks. At one point, in 1942, there were 20,000 prisoners at the Auschwitz main camp.

Germany invaded Poland on September 1, 1939 and the town of Oswiecim was captured on September 6th. Following the conquest of Poland, the name of the town reverted back to Auschwitz.

The city of Krakow, located 37 miles from Auschwitz, became the capital of German-occupied Poland, known as the General Government. It is important to note that, during the time that Auschwitz was allegedly a killing center, it was in the Greater German Reich, not in occupied Poland. The Polish people are incensed when Auschwitz is described as a concentration camp in Poland.

Auschwitz was located literally at the junction of the Greater German Reich and occupied Poland; it was also in the heart of “The Black Triangle,” an industrial area with large coal deposits, which is why it was such an important location for the Nazis.

My photo above shows a display in the synagogue in Auschwitz

My 2005 photo above shows a display in the Jewish center in town of Auschwitz

The photo above shows a display of objects in the Auschwitz Jewish Center, which is next door to the Synagogue in the town of Auschwitz. Prominently mentioned in this Center are the Haberfeld and Hennenberg families who were engaged in distilling and selling liquor. During prohabition in America, the Jews were engaged in bringing liquor into American through Canada.

According to a brochure which I obtained from the Jewish Center, Jews first settled in Oswiecim 500 years ago. By 1939, over half of the population of Oswiecim was Jewish.

This quote is from the brochure: “For several centuries, Jews prospered as traders, merchants, professionals and manufacturers, and were entrusted with tax collection and the administration of the lands of the Polish nobility.”

Today, there were no more Jews left in Oswiecim. The last surviving Jew, Shimshon Klueger, died in 2000. Klueger is buried in the Jewish cemetery in Osweicim.

When I visited the Jewish Center in 2005, a movie was being shown on a TV screen in a small back room. In the movie, several survivors, who were children in 1939, told about what it was like in Oswiecim before the German invasion of Poland.

There was a “large Jewish presence in Auschwitz,” according to one survivor. All of the survivors said that they now live in Israel or the United States, but none of them mentioned anything about how they managed to survive the Holocaust.

In the movie, one woman survivor said that the Jewish children in Oswiecim were all “organized.” There were many organizations for Jewish children, and she had joined the Zionist movement as a child. Another survivor said that she had a home tutor so that she could learn German. Her father had told her that she would be able to go any place in Europe if she could speak German.

One survivor said that the Jewish houses in Oswiecim had no running water, no electricity, no central heating nor air conditioning, and no inside toilets, but the Jews had “culture.”

Another survivor said that the Jews were not rich, but they had a “rich Jewish life.” One survivor described the life in Oswiecim before the war as “a life of dignity.”

The important point, made in this movie, is that the rich life of the Jews in Poland is now gone: the Nazis not only killed the Jews, they destroyed their rich, dignified way of life in Europe. But it’s all good: The Jews have their rich, dignified way of life in America, and they have made millions off their books and movies about the Holocaust.

 

 

April 8, 2016

Terezin (also known by its German name, Theresienstadt)

Filed under: Holocaust — Tags: , , , , , — furtherglory @ 9:02 am
My photo of the Gazebo at Theresienstadt

My photo of the Gazebo at Terezin, formerly known as Theresienstadt

The two photos below show the Magdeburg barracks and the inner court yard of the building. Wolf Murmelstein, a former inmate at Theresienstadt says that the Gazebo, shown above, was not accessible to the inmates.

MagdeburgRear

MagdeburgCourtyard

The title of my blog post today comes from a line in a news article which you can read it full at http://artsbeat.blogs.nytimes.com/2016/04/04/holocaust-survivor-recalls-brundibar-a-childrens-opera/?_r=0

The following quote is from the news article, cited above:

Dagmar Lieblova was 14 in 1943, when she sang in the children’s opera “Brundibar” at the Terezin [Theresienstadt] concentration camp near Prague. The performance was part of a Nazi effort to present the camp as a model ghetto rather than a transit point to Auschwitz and the gas chambers.

What am I complaining about now, you ask.

I don’t like the fact that German names for Holocaust locations are now being changed to Jewish or Polish names.  The ghetto, formerly known as Theresienstadt, is now called Terezin.  The town, formerly known as Auschwitz, is now called by the Polish name Oświęcim.

The following quote is from the news article, cited above:

The composer of “Brundibar,” Hans Krasa, died at Auschwitz, alongside most of those who performed it in Terezin (also known by its German name, Theresienstadt). Ms. Lieblova lost her parents and sister in Auschwitz, but she was spared when she was sent to Hamburg to help clear the ruins of the city.

So it seems that the Allied bombing of the city of Hamburg did save some of the Jews at Auschwitz because the Germans needed workers to clear the rubble in their cities. The Nazis allegedly stopped gassing all the prisoners at Auschwitz, saving a few, because they needed workers.

You can read more about Theresienstadt on my website here:

http://www.scrapbookpages.com/CzechRepublic/Theresienstadt/TheresienstadtGhetto/GhettoTour/index.html

The following quote is from my scrapbookpages.com website:

Every concentration camp had its orchestra, made up of inmate musicians, and concerts were staged even in the worst camp of all, the one at Birkenau, the Auschwitz II camp. Typically, the camp orchestra would play classical music as the prisoners marched off the the factories to work and even as they marched to their deaths in the gas chamber. During the week of cultural events [at Theresienstadt] in June 1944, on the occasion of the Red Cross visit, there were performances of Brundibar in the Magdeburg building.

 

 

 

January 14, 2016

Oświęcim, the town formerly known as Auschwitz

Filed under: Germany — Tags: , — furtherglory @ 8:29 am
Market Square in town of Auschwitz

My photo of the Market Square in the town formerly known as Auschwitz

According to Wikipedia, Oświęcim is a town in the Lesser Poland province of southern Poland, situated 50 kilometres west of Kraków, near the confluence of the Vistula and Soła rivers. This is the town formerly known as Auschwitz.

Auschwitz town hall

Auschwitz town hall [photo credit: Steve Wejroch]

Building on the town square

Building on town square in the town formerly known as Auschwitz

I have a whole section of photos of the town, formerly known as Auschwitz, on my website at http://scrapbookpages.com/AuschwitzScrapbook/Tour/Oswiecim/index.html

SynagogueDisplay.jpg

 

The photo above shows a display of objects in the Auschwitz Jewish Center. Notice the double-paned windows. Prominently mentioned in the Center are the Haberfeld and Hennenberg families who were engaged in distilling and selling liquor.

According to a brochure which I obtained from the Center, Jews first settled in Oswiecim 500 years ago. By 1939, over half of the population of Oswiecim was Jewish. This quote is from the brochure: “For several centuries, Jews prospered as traders, merchants, professionals and manufacturers, and were entrusted with tax collection and the administration of the lands of the Polish nobility.”

Today, there were no more Jews left in Oswiecim. Shimshon Klueger, the last surviving Jew, died in 2000. Klueger is buried in the Jewish cemetery in Osweicim.

Today, I read this news article about the town, formerly known as Auschwitz:

http://www.gazettenet.com/news/townbytown/amherst/20501871-95/a-town-called-auschwitznew-exhibit-examines-jewish-life-in-this-polish-town-before-wwii

The following quote is from the news article:

Begin quote:
From the horror of the Holocaust, a few names stand out in particular — perhaps none more so than Auschwitz. Within the sprawling network of camps that Nazi Germany constructed in Europe for slave labor and industrialized killing, the Auschwitz complex, in southwestern Poland, became a particular symbol of brutality: some 1.3 million people, most of them Jews, died there.

But long before World War II began, the town that became the setting for the Auschwitz camps — Oswiecim — had been home to a rich and diverse Jewish community that in 1939 numbered roughly 7,500 people, who lived mostly harmoniously with their Christian neighbors. The coming of the Nazis destroyed that part of Oswiecim: the last Jewish resident in the town died in 2000.

To celebrate the town’s pre-war legacy, the Yiddish Book Center in Amherst has opened a new exhibition, “A Town Known as Auschwitz: The Life and Death of a Jewish Community.” On loan from the Auschwitz Jewish Center at New York’s Museum of Jewish Heritage, the exhibit includes a wealth of photographs and other displays on Oswiecim’s history and the Jewish community, with special emphasis on the early 20th century and the prewar years.

Curator Shiri Sandler says the show, which runs through March 27, is designed to show visitors that there was a human face, so to speak, behind the Nazi camps — that places like Auschwitz didn’t just spring up out of nowhere.

“[Oswiecim] had this rich history, but the [Auschwitz] camp erases the town,” said Sandler, the U.S. director of the Auschwitz Jewish Center at New York’s Museum of Jewish Heritage, where the show was first displayed. That viewpoint tends to be true both for American Jews and non-Jews alike, she noted.

End quote

Today, the German people are rapidly being wiped out, and soon there will be a country, formerly known as Germany, populated by non-whites.  Sic transit Gloria

March 7, 2015

The Holocaust Trust version of Holocaust history

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , — furtherglory @ 3:32 pm

This quote is from an article in the Huddersfield Daily Examiner, which you can read in full here.

“For 16 years, the Holocaust Education Trust (HET) has been running trips to Auschwitz, the extermination camp where 1.2m innocent people were murdered simply because they didn’t fit narrow Nazi ideals.”

The official number of deaths at Auschwitz is now 1.1 million, down from 4 million, which was claimed for years. But it never hurts to add another 100,000 or so victims, just in  case.

The article also contains these claims:

1. Auschwitz played a leading role in the Holocaust where six million Jews and five million Slavs, Gypsies, homosexuals, disabled people and political enemies were massacred by Hitler’s genocidal regime.

https://furtherglory.wordpress.com/2011/02/20/porrajmos-the-persecution-of-the-roma-and-sinti-by-the-nazis/#more-10509

2. the Polish town of Oswiecim.

The name (pronounced ‘oshee-entsim’) was once a regular town with 8,000 Jews comprising the majority of its population.

https://furtherglory.wordpress.com/2011/08/27/whats-in-a-name-auschwitz-and-birkenau/

3. In 1939, it was occupied by the Nazis and renamed Auschwitz as part of the party’s ‘Lebensraum’ (living space) policy.

4. Oswiecim was purged of its Jewish population.

5. In a cemetery a short distance from the Oswiecim’s attractive main square we learn that Jewish gravestones were removed and used as paving stones, our HET guide Martin Winstone says. Hitler was determined to erase the Jewish race from the past as well as the present.

Jewish headstones used to pave roads

Jewish headstones used to pave roads

6. the headstones which were returned to the cemetery after the war.

Auschwitz main camp Photo Credit: José Ángel López

Auschwitz I camp in winter  Photo Credit: José Ángel López

7. Auschwitz I where the genocide began in 1940.

Arbeit Macht Frei sign on the Auschwitz I gate

Arbeit Macht Frei sign on the Auschwitz I gate

8. [the Arbeit macht Frei sign] means ‘work makes you free’ and was presumably intended as a sick joke; no prisoner was supposed to leave Auschwitz alive.

The Arbeit Macht Frei sign was only put on gates into camps that were Class I camps, where prisoners had a chance to be released.  http://www.scrapbookpages.com/Poland/Auschwitz/Auschwitz12.html

Block 11 on the right where prisoners were given a trial before being shot at the black wall shown in the center

Block 11 on the right where prisoners were given a trial before being shot at the black wall

Prisoners were taken to the Black Wall and executed after a trial. http://www.scrapbookpages.com/AuschwitzScrapbook/Tour/Auschwitz1/Auschwitz05.html

9. the jail and punishment block [Block 11] where inmates were tortured and given a kangaroo hearing before being taken out and shot at the ‘death wall’ [black wall].

Jews sent to the left to be killed

Jews sent to the left to be killed

10. Those deemed unfit, including elderly people and children, would be sent left to the gas chambers [at Auschwitz-Birkenau].

End of quotes from the news article.

Now you know the true facts of the Holocaust, dear readers.  Don’t try to deny any of this or you might go to prison for 5 years for “Holocaust denial” which is a crime in 19 countries.

 

 

March 1, 2015

Auschwitz now has online lessons for visitors

Filed under: Germany, Holocaust — Tags: , , , — furtherglory @ 1:21 pm

You can read all about the online lessons, for visitors to Auschwitz, in this news article in the Jewish World.

This quote is from the online lessons link in the news story: http://auschwitz.org/en/history/

Begin quote:

All over the world, Auschwitz has become a symbol of terror, genocide, and the Holocaust. It was established by Germans in 1940, in the suburbs of Oswiecim, a Polish city that was annexed to the Third Reich by the Nazis. Its name was changed to Auschwitz, which also became the name of Konzentrationslager Auschwitz.

The direct reason for the establishment of the camp was the fact that mass arrests of Poles were increasing beyond the capacity of existing “local” prisons. Initially, Auschwitz was to be one more concentration camp of the type that the Nazis had been setting up since the early 1930s. It functioned in this role throughout its existence, even when, beginning in 1942, it also became the largest of the death camps.

End quote

Several years ago, I did a blog post, in which I wrote that the original name of the town was Auschwitz. I suppose that I will have to take that blog post down because the official history of Auschwitz now states that the original name of the town was Oswiecim.

Curiously, the online lessons do not have any information about the gas chambers at Auschwitz.  Maybe it’s there and I couldn’t find it.  I did find a photo of the ruins of Krema II, which is very similar to a photo, shown below, that I took in 2005.

My 2005 photo of the Ruins of Krema II at Auschwitz-Birkenau

My 2005 photo of the Ruins of Krema II at Auschwitz-Birkenau

I think that the online lessons should include a photo of the gas chamber in the main Auschwitz camp, and explain how the gassing of the prisoners was accomplished. That’s the main thing that visitors want to know.

January 31, 2015

How the New York Times reported the liberation of Auschwitz in 1945

Filed under: Germany, Holocaust, Uncategorized — Tags: , , — furtherglory @ 9:24 am

Poland Auschwitz Anniversary

The New York Times news story about the liberation of Auschwitz on January 27, 1945 was reprinted this year in commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz complex. The photo above was used to illustrate the news story.

I have visited Auschwitz twice, in 1998 and again in 2005, but I did not see this sign; the photo appears to have been taken in the main Auschwitz camp. I believe that this ominous sign has been added recently for the benefit of millions of tourists who flock to see the Auschwitz “Murder Factory.”

This quote is from the original New York Times article:

Saved from “Murder Factory”

MOSCOW, Feb. 2 [1945] (U.P.) —-The Newspaper Pravda reported today that the Red Army had saved several thousand tortured, emaciated inmates of the Germans’ greatest “murder factory” at Oswiecim [Oświęcim] in southwest Poland.
Pravda’s corespondent said fragmentary reports indicated that at least 1,500,000 persons were slaughtered at Oswiecim. During 1941, 1942 and early 1943 five trains arrived daily at Oswiecim with Russians Poles, Jews, Czechs, French and Yugoslaves jammed in sealed cars.

Oświęcim  is the Polish name for Auschwitz.  In 1945, the town was still known as Auschwitz, it’s original name. I blogged about this on a previous blog post at https://furtherglory.wordpress.com/2011/08/27/whats-in-a-name-auschwitz-and-birkenau/

I took photos of the warning signs on my two visits to Auschwitz. My photos are shown below.

Warning sign at the entrance to the Auschwitz main camp

Warning sign at the entrance to the Auschwitz main camp

A faded original sign at the Auschwitz main camp

A faded original sign at the Auschwitz main camp

To get back to the original New York Times article, note that the news story says that 1,500,000 people were murdered in the camp.

At the Nuremberg International Military Tribunal, the Soviets reported that 4 million people had been killed at Auschwitz-Birkenau. Now we know that the original report claimed that 1.5 million were killed; this number is now on the stones at the International monument, but the official claim now is that only 1.1 million people were  killed at Auschwitz, most of whom were Jews.

Note that the New York Times news report says that “During 1941, 1942 and early 1943 five trains arrived daily at [Oświęcim] with Russians Poles, Jews, Czechs, French and Yugoslaves jammed in sealed cars.”

It is now known that, after 1943, it was mostly Jews who arrived on the trains to Auschwitz.

Inside the Auschwitz main camp

Inside the Auschwitz main camp

The Auschwitz Visitors Center, the first stop for tourists

The Auschwitz Visitors Center, the first stop for tourists

Artwork in the Auschwitz Museum

My 2005 photo of Artwork in the Auschwitz Museum Visitors Center

 

 

July 19, 2014

No Jews died of starvation at Auschwitz-Birkenau

Filed under: Holocaust — Tags: , , — furtherglory @ 10:29 am

I was very pleased to learn, from the website of the Auschwitz Memorial and Museum website, that all the Jews who died at Auschwitz were killed in the gas chambers.  Apparently, no one died of starvation or illness.

This quote is from the website: “Of the approximately 1.1 million Jews deported to Auschwitz, about 200 thousand were chosen in this way [for labor]. The remainder, about 900 thousand people, were killed in the gas chambers.”

What?  No Jews died of typhus at Auschwitz?  This must have been because the Nazis  forced all the Jews to take a shower immediately upon arrival, and then shaved their heads to get rid of any lice; they regularly disinfected the prisoner’s clothing with Zyklon-B gas to eliminate the lice that spreads typhus.

This quote is from the home page of the Auschwitz Memorial and Museum:

All over the world, Auschwitz has become a symbol of terror, genocide, and the Holocaust. It was established by Germans in 1940, in the suburbs of Oswiecim, a Polish city that was annexed to the Third Reich by the Nazis. [Oswiecim’s] name was changed to Auschwitz, which also became the name of Konzentrationslager Auschwitz.

The direct reason for the establishment of the camp was the fact that mass arrests of Poles were increasing beyond the capacity of existing “local” prisons. Initially, Auschwitz was to be one more concentration camp of the type that the Nazis had been setting up since the early 1930s. It functioned in this role throughout its existence, even when, beginning in 1942, it also became the largest of the death camps.

Way back in 1998, after my first visit to Auschwitz, I wrote about the town on this page of my website: http://www.scrapbookpages.com/AuschwitzScrapbook/History/Articles/AuschwitzTown.html  I updated the page, after my second visit to the town in 2005.

Catholic church in Oswiecim

Catholic church in Oswiecim

Today’s students, who are taken to see the Auschwitz camps, are first taken to the town, where they are told that the town was originally a Polish town named Oswiecim, and that the name was changed to Auschwitz by the Germans.

The town of Oswiecim in 2005

The town of Oswiecim in 2005

I blogged here about British students on the HET tours who are first taken to Oswiecim where they are told that the town was built by the Polish people.  Not true. The town dates back to the year 1270 when it was built by the Germans.

In 2005,  when I went back to visit Auschwitz again; I took photos of the town which you can see on my website at http://www.scrapbookpages.com/AuschwitzScrapbook/Tour/Oswiecim/index.html

 

November 19, 2012

British HET tours start in Oswiecim …. then it’s on to Auschwitz

Filed under: Germany, Holocaust — Tags: , , — furtherglory @ 9:35 am

This quote is from an article in the Guardian online newspaper:

Last month Nicholas Rogers from St Andrew’s School in Leatherhead accompanied Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, and 200 other students on a visit to Auschwitz.

It was the 100th trip organised by the Holocaust Education Trust, whose Lessons From Auschwitz programme aims to take two students from every 6th form and college in Britain to the notorious camp in Poland so they can spread the word about what they experience there.

This quote is from the words of Nicholas Rogers, one of the British students on the HET tour, which were published in the Guardian; you can read the story in full here:

On my [HET] trip, we didn’t go straight to the two camps, but actually to Oswiecim, which was the town inside the Auschwitz area.  Before the Second World War, 58 per cent of the population had been Jewish, with a vibrant Jewish community.  Today not a single Jew remains.

The thing that really hammered home the meaning of this was that we were told this information standing in a grassy field. As it turned out, we were standing where the Great Synagogue had once stood. It had been completely destroyed, along with its Jewish population. This really helped me to understand that the Jewish victims were just ordinary people. This in turn changed my understanding of the 6 million murdered Jews from a statistic into a rehumanised group of real people who had been lost.

The first time that I visited the Auschwitz camps in 1998, I had a private tour guide; a Polish taxi driver drove us there. I asked the driver to first take us to the town of Auschwitz.  This was apparently an unusual request; the driver told me that I was the first tourist to ever ask to see the town.

I wanted to see the town of Auschwitz because I had read in a book that it had been established by Germans in the year 1270.  I was expecting to see an ancient German town with typical German architecture.  I was disappointed to see that the town square had been modified by the Communists who took over Poland after World War II.

The photo below shows a store that was built by the Communists right in the middle of the town square.

Modern building in the middle of the market square in the town of Auschwitz

You can see more photos of the Auschwitz town square on my website here.

Almost every article about Auschwitz that you will ever see, and some that you won’t see, mention that the name of the town was changed from Oswiecim to Auschwitz by the Nazis. No, it was the other way around.  The original name of the town was Auschwitz.

In recent years, there has been a big effort to educate tourists that the name of the town, in a suburb of which the Nazis set up the Auschwitz main camp in 1941, is Oswiecim.  At the time that the Nazis set up the main camp, Silesia (where Auschwitz is located) had been annexed into the Greater German Reich, so Auschwitz was in Germany and it was called Auschwitz.

Today, the Polish people are affronted when anyone calls Auschwitz a “Polish death camp.”  Auschwitz is properly called a “death camp” in what is now Poland.

The photo below shows the only remaining Synagogue in Oswiecim, aka Auschwitz.

The restored Chevra Lomdei Mishnayot Synagogue
Photo Credit: Auschwitz Jewish Center Foundation

Why does all this concern me?

I think that these students are too young and immature to understand what they are being told.  They are being brain-washed with propaganda.  By starting the tour in the town, now called Oswiecim, the students are being told that this was a Jewish town, which the Nazis destroyed, implying that all the Jews in the town were killed by the Nazis.

Are the students told why there were so many Jews in the town of Auschwitz, which did not even have running water, before the Nazis took it over?  The next largest ethnic group in the town of Auschwitz was Gypsies.

The one remaining synagogue has a large Jewish Center attached to it.  When I visited Auschwitz, I saw a movie that was shown on a TV screen in a small room in the Jewish Center. In the movie, several survivors, who were children in 1939, tell about what it was like in the town before the German invasion of Poland. There was a “large Jewish presence in Auschwitz,” according to one survivor. All of the survivors said that they now live in Israel or the United States, but none of them mentioned anything about how they managed to survive the Holocaust.

One woman survivor said that the Jewish children in Auschwitz were all “organized.” There were many organizations for Jewish children, and she had joined the Zionist movement as a child. Another survivor said that she had a home tutor so that she could learn German. Her father told her that she would be able to go any place in Europe if she could speak German.

One survivor said that the Jewish houses in Auschwitz had no running water, no electricity, no central heating nor air conditioning, and no inside toilets, but the Jews had “culture.” Another said that the Jews were not rich, but they had a “rich Jewish life.” One survivor described the life in Auschwitz before the war as “a life of dignity.” All that is now gone; the Nazis not only killed the Jews, they destroyed their rich, dignified way of life in Europe.

So why did so many Jews live in a town that had no running water, no electricity, and no inside toilets?  Location, location, location. It was because of the location, the same reason that the Nazis established a camp there.  Auschwitz was the largest railroad hub in Europe.  Trains from every part of Europe could take passengers and goods to and from Auschwitz, without changing trains.

The photo below shows an old castle that was built by the Germans who established the town of Auschwitz in 1270.

Bridge over Sola River with Castle in background
Photo Credit: Tomasz Cebulski – http://www.republika.pl/polin_travel

Are the British students taken to see the old Castle in Oswiecim?  I doubt it.  The purpose of their trip is to indoctrinate them in Jewish lore, not to educate them in the history of Germany or Poland.

This quote is from the article written by the British student who took the HET tour:

The second, simply awful part of the experience at Auschwitz I was the completely intact gas chamber and crematorium which I walked through. Although extremely hard to explain emotionally, physically the entire room was so cold, in all senses. I agreed with others in my group that the room had even smelled cold, it was that overwhelming.

Did it occur to any of these students that the gas chamber was cold because it was a morgue?  Did it occur to any of them that it was stupid to put a gas chamber in a morgue because the Zyklon-B pellets had to be heated in order to release the gas?

Did any of the students say to the tour guide:  “Excuse me, how were the Zyklon-B pellets heated to release the poison gas?”

View of the gas chamber in the main Auschwitz camp, as seen by tourists today

You can see more photos of the Auschwitz gas chamber on my website here.

The whole purpose of the HET tours is to indoctrinate young people who are too immature to question the propaganda that they are being force fed.

August 27, 2011

What’s in a name? Auschwitz and Birkenau

Filed under: Holocaust — Tags: , , , — furtherglory @ 8:08 am

What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.

    —William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet

Today, I read this in a travel blog:

Auschwitz and Birkenau had lovey Polish names originally as they were rural villages, when the Germans came they sent most of the Polish inhabitants to work camps away from here or they interred them as they didn’t want word to leak out about what they were doing. They changed the village names to the similar sounding but German language place names of Auschwitz and Birkenau.

The town of Auschwitz, which was more than just a “rural village,” was originally founded by Germans in 1270, according to historian Robert Jan van Pelt; it is now known by its Polish name, Oswiecim. The original name of the town was Auschwitz and it was known by this name when the three Auschwitz camps were in operation; the Germans did not change the name of the town and they did not keep it a secret that they were turning the brick barracks, in a suburb of the town, into a concentration camp for political prisoners.  More than half of the inhabitants of the town of Auschwitz were Jews and the second most prevalent population in the town was the Gypsies.  The Polish inhabitants were not sent away by the Germans and they were not interred, a word which means to bury in a grave.

The town of Auschwitz in 1940

In the photo above, you can see the Duke’s castle on the left and the 17th century Catholic church on the right.  The bridge in the foreground goes over the Sola river. The town was separated from the main Auschwitz camp by this river.

When I visited the Birkenau camp in 2005, a display sign outside the gatehouse said that the villages of Brzezinka, Babice, Broszkowice, Rajsk, Plawy, Harmeze, and Brzeszcze-Budy were torn down to provide space for the Birkenau camp.  Google Translate gives the German translation of Brzezinka as Birkenau but I am not sure if these two words have the same meaning in German and English.

The Germans came up with the name Birkenau, as the name for the camp that they built on the grounds of the seven Polish villages, because of the birch trees at the western end of the camp.

Birch trees at the western end of Birkenau camp

In June 2007, the United Nations officially changed the collective name of the three Auschwitz camps to Auschwitz-Birkenau, German Nazi Concentration and Extermination Camp (1940-1945). This change was made at the request of the government of Poland so that people will know that Poland had nothing to do with setting up the camps or running them.  Now the town, formerly known as Auschwitz, is making a big push to have the town known only by its Polish name.

The Birkenau camp was opened on October 7, 1941 when the first transport of Soviet Prisoners of War, captured during the German invasion of the Soviet Union, arrived. Between October 1941 to February 1942, there were 13,775 POWs brought to Birkenau.

Beginning in February 1942, the Birkenau camp became a death camp for Jews. The camp covers 425 acres and it had 300 buildings before it was abandoned in January 1945. Today there are 45 brick buildings and 22 wooden buildings still standing at Birkenau.

A view of the vast 425-acre site of the former Birkenau camp

One might ask: ” Why so many barracks at Birkenau when it was a death camp where Jews were gassed immediately upon arrival?”  Good question!  I don’t know the answer.

A light on a fence post at the former Birkenau camp

Interior fence around the men’s camp at Birkenau

When the Birkenau camp was liberated by Soviet troops in January 1945, the camp was being expanded with a new section called “Mexico.”  The photo below shows where a building was being built in the Mexico section.

The Mexico section of Birkenau which was never completed

Strangely, the Germans were building additional barracks at Birkenau.  Shouldn’t they have been building more gas chambers?  Birkenau was a death camp, which had no factories in which the prisoners could have worked. Was there such a long wait for the gas chambers that they needed more barracks at Birkenau?