Scrapbookpages Blog

June 18, 2016

the Umschlagplatz, the place from which the Jews of Warsaw were sent to camps

Filed under: Holocaust — Tags: , , , — furtherglory @ 12:29 pm

On my first trip to Poland, in 1998, the first place that my tour guide took me was to “the Umschlagplatz”.  I had never heard of this place; that’s why I had hired a guide to show me the important places related to the Holocaust. I never would have found this by myself.

Monument at the place where the Jews were sent to Treblinka

Monument at the place from where the Jews were sent to Treblinka

Pictured above is a memorial in Warsaw, which has been built on the street named ul. Stawki, at the spot where the Umschlagplatz once stood, on the northern boundary of the Warsaw Ghetto. The Umschlagplatz was where the Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto had to assemble to board the trains which transported them to the Treblinka camp, beginning in July 1942.

View of the inside of the Monument

View of the inside of the Monument

I went inside the Monument to take the photo above. When I got back into the car, driven by my guide, a young Jewish man went inside the monument to see if I had defaced the monument or done some other damage.

The Jewish Ghettos, which the Nazis had established in all the major Jewish population centers of Poland, were part of the systematic plan to get rid of all the Jews in Europe; the ghettos were intended as a transitional measure. The next stage of the plan was the liquidation of the Ghettos and “transportation to the East.”

On July 22, 1942 the Warsaw Ghetto was surrounded by Ukrainian and Latvian soldiers in German SS uniforms, as the liquidation of the Ghetto began in response to an order given by Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler that “the resettlement of the entire Jewish population of the General Government be carried out and completed by December 31.”

The General Government was the central portion of the former country of Poland that was occupied by the Germans between the years 1939 and 1944.

Two days before, on July 20ieth, the Judenrat (Jewish leaders) had been ordered to prepare for the resettlement (Aussiedlung) of the “non-productive elements” to the East.

Old photo of the place where the Jews gathered to be sent to death camp

Old photo of the place where the Jews gathered to be sent to a death camp

The Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto were ordered to report voluntarily to the Umschlagplatz (collection point) at the corner of Stawki and Dzika streets, near a railroad siding for the Ostbahn (Eastern Railroad), on which they would be “transported to the East” on crowded freight cars. The old photo above shows the gathering place.

The old photograph above shows the location of the Umschlagplatz. A monument has been erected on this spot, as shown in the photo at the top of this page.

According to Raul Hilberg in his book, The Destruction of the European Jews, “As soon as the order was posted, a mad rush started for working cards. Many forgings took place and in the ghetto, everyone from top to bottom was frantic.” A similar scene is depicted in the movie, Schindler’s List, when a Jewish professor in Krakow suddenly becomes an experienced metal worker with forged papers, aged by tea stains.

The chairman of the Warsaw Jewish Council, Adam Czerniakow, was ordered by the Nazis to deliver 6,000 Jews per day, seven days a week, to the Umschlagplatz for deportation to Treblinka on the Bug river near the eastern border of German occupied Poland. A day later, the number was increased to 7,000 per day. Rather than cooperate with the Nazis, Czerniakow committed suicide on July 23rd, the first day that Jews were assembled ready for deportation.

After Poland was conquered, following the joint invasion by the Germans and the Soviet Union in September 1939, the Polish Army escaped to Romania and the Polish leaders set up a government in exile in London. The Polish soldiers continued to fight underground as partisans in the Polish Home Army.

Raul Hilberg wrote the following in his book, The Destruction of the European Jews:
Begin quote

The Polish underground thereupon contacted the Ghetto. The answer of the Jewish leaders was that perhaps 60,000 Jews would be deported, but that it was “inconceivable that the Germans would destroy the lot.” The Jews had one request, which the Polish Home Army was glad to fulfill. They handed to the Poles an “appeal addressed to the world and to the Allied nations in particular.” The Jewish leadership demanded that the German people be threatened with reprisals. The appeal was immediately transmitted to London, but the BBC maintained complete radio silence. As we shall have occasion to find out later, the Jews did not have many friends in London, or for that matter, in Washington.
End quote

UmschlagplatzSideView

My photo above shows a side view of the memorial at the Umschlagplatz. According to my tour guide, the design is supposed to represent a freight car with the door open. This memorial is located right on the sidewalk of a very busy street; notice the trolley car tracks on the street just a few feet in front of it, which you can see in the photo at the top of this page.

The photo below shows the interior of the memorial with a single bouquet of flowers left by a visitor. The inside is the same rectangular shape as a railroad freight car, although much bigger. The 7,000 Jews who assembled here daily were crowded into 60 freight cars for the train trip to the Treblinka extermination center. The daily deportations continued until Sept. 12, 1942.

When I was there in 1998, guards are posted near the memorial, but even so, the inside walls of this memorial had been defaced with a Nazi swastika when I visited it in October 1998. I was afraid that I might be accused of painting the swastika there, so I wanted to get out of there in a hurry. My tour guide took forever to turn the car around, so that we could escape as soon as possible.

April 30, 2016

The significance of the Bug river

Filed under: Germany, Holocaust, World War II — Tags: , , , — furtherglory @ 11:52 am

If you don’t know the significance of the Bug river, you know nothing.

The following quote is from Wikipedia:

Begin quote

A tributary of the Narew River, the Bug forms part of the border between Ukraine and Poland for 185 kilometres (115 mi),[2] and between Belarus and Poland for 178 kilometres (111 mi),[2][3] and is the fourth longest Polish river.

[…]

Traditionally the Bug River was also often considered the ethnographical border between the Orthodox and Catholic Polish peoples. The Bug was the dividing line between German Wehrmacht and Russian Red Army forces following the 1939 invasion of Poland in the Second World War.

End quote

The Bug river forms the border between Poland and three other countries. So what? you say. Does it seem strange to you that the Nazis put their “death camps” right on their border with these other countries?

The Bug river forms the border between Poland and xxx

My 1998 photo of the entrance into the Treblinka camp

My 1998 photo of the road into Treblinka camp

Take a look at my 1998 photos of the bridge over the Bug river.

My 1998 photo of the bridge over the Bug river

My 1998 photo of the wooden bridge over the Bug river

My 1998 photo of the middle of the bridge

My 1998 photo of the middle of the bridge

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; then Germany invaded the Soviet Union in June 1941 and conquered the strip of eastern Poland that was being occupied by the Russians. Treblinka is located in the former General Government.

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.” Three extermination camps, called the Operation Reinhard Camps were planned at this conference.

Treblinka was the last of the Operation Reinhard camps to be set up; the other two were Sobibor and Belzec. All three of the Operation Reinhard camps were located on the western side of the Bug river. There is a bend in the river near Treblinka, which required a bridge over the river in order to get to the village of Treblinka, although the village is located on the western side of the border between the former General Government and the Russian zone of occupation.

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.

I wrote about the significance of Treblinka on this page of my webite: http://www.scrapbookpages.com/Poland/Treblinka/introduction.html

The following quote is from my web page, cited above:

Treblinka was second only to Auschwitz in the number of Jews who were killed by the Nazis: between 700,000 and 900,000, compared to an estimated 1.1 million to 1.5 million at Auschwitz.

The Treblinka death camp was located 100 km (62 miles) northeast of Warsaw, near the railroad junction at the village of Malkinia Górna, which is 2.5 km (1.5 miles) from the train station in the tiny village of Treblinka.

Raul Hilberg stated in his three-volume book, “The Destruction of the European Jews,” that there were six Nazi extermination centers, including Treblinka. The other extermination camps were at Belzec, Sobibor, Chelmno, Majdanek and Auschwitz-Birkenau, all of which are located in what is now Poland. The last two also functioned as forced labor camps (Zwangsarbeitslager), and were still operational shortly before being liberated by the Soviet Union towards the end of the war in 1944 and early 1945.

The camps at Treblinka, Belzec, Sobibor and Chelmno had already been liquidated by the Germans before the Soviet soldiers arrived, and there was no remaining evidence of the extermination of millions of Jews. The combined total of the deaths at Treblinka, Belzec and Sobibor was 1.5 million, according to Raul Hilberg.

End quote

 

April 2, 2015

The gas chambers at Sobibór, according to Wikipedia

Filed under: Holocaust — Tags: , , , — furtherglory @ 8:32 am

A reader of my blog made a comment in which a link to this page on Wikipedia was included.

This quote is from Wikipedia:

Jews from Poland, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Czechoslovakia and the Soviet Union, as well as the Soviet prisoners of war, were transported to Sobibór by rail and suffocated in gas chambers fed by the exhaust of large petrol engines. Up to 200,000 people were murdered at Sobibór,[3] and possibly more.

The source [3] for this information is Raul Hilberg, who  spent one whole afternoon at the main Auschwitz camp before writing his famous  book. He couldn’t be bothered with going to see Sobibór, which is way out in the boondocks in Poland.

Few people ever go to Sobibór, and why should they, when they can  just read Wikipedia.

I’ve never been to Sobibór myself, but I did do some research on it a few years ago. I wrote about Sobibór on this page of my scrapbookpages.com website: http://www.scrapbookpages.com/Poland/Sobibor/Tour01.html

Begin quote:

The Sobibór camp was on the eastern edge of German-occupied Poland, five kilometers west of the Bug river. The Bug river was as far as trains from western Europe could go without changing the wheels to fit the train tracks in the Soviet Union, which were a different gauge. On the other side of the Bug river from Sobibór was Ukraine, which had belonged to the Soviet Union until it was taken by the Germans shortly after their invasion of the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941. The unsuspecting victims who arrived at Sobibór were told that they would be sent to work camps in Ukraine after they had taken a shower, but instead, the Jews were immediately killed in gas chambers disguised as shower rooms.

Sobibór was one of the three Aktion Reinhard camps which were set up following the Wannsee Conference on January 20, 1942 when “The Final Solution to the Jewish Question in Europe” was planned. The head of Aktion Reinhard (Operation Reinhard) was SS-Brigadeführer Odilio Globocnik, who had previously been the Gauleiter of Vienna, Austria. Globocnik and Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler both committed suicide after being captured by the British.

The other two Aktion Reinhard camps were Belzec and Treblinka. The first Commandant at Belzec was Christian Wirth, who was also the Inspector of the Aktion Reinhard camps. Belzec and Treblinka were also very near the Bug river which formed the eastern border between German-occupied Poland and the Soviet Union. Across the Bug river from Treblinka was Belorussia (White Russia) which is now called Belarus.

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 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 Ukraine, an area of the Soviet Union which Germany controlled at that time.

The Nazis claimed that the Aktion Reinhard camps were transit camps for the “evacuation of the Jews to the East,” a euphemism for the genocide of the Jews. Unlike the death camps at Auschwitz and Majdanek, the three Aktion Reinhard camps did not have ovens to cremate the bodies. The Jews were not registered upon arrival at the Aktion Reinhard camps and no death records were kept.

End quote

Does it seem suspicious to you that the Germans went to all this trouble to transport Jews to Sobibór to be gassed when there were no real gas chambers there?  I’m talking about the type of gas chambers that used Zyklon-B. At the time that I wrote about Sobibór on my website, It was believed that the Jews had been gassed in gas chambers that used Zyklon-B.

Recently, the location of more gas chambers at Sobibór has been found. I blogged about this in this previous blog post: https://furtherglory.wordpress.com/2014/09/19/new-evidence-of-gas-chambers-found-at-the-sobibor-camp-in-poland/

Why not just send all the Jews to Auschwitz, which was the largest railroad hub in Europe? Trains could go from anywhere in Europe to Auschwitz without changing  trains.

There were at least 5 gas chambers at Auschwitz-Birkenau.

It’s  all about the Bug river, folks. I wrote about it on this previous blog post: https://furtherglory.wordpress.com/2011/10/07/malkinia-junction-where-the-trains-to-treblinka-stopped/#more-15471