Scrapbookpages Blog

July 10, 2015

Auschwitz Survivor says that she is “unable to forgive Oskar Groening”

Oskar Groening awaits the decision in his trial

94-year-old Oskar Groening awaits the decision on his potential prison time

According to a recent news article, German national Oskar Groening, 94, stands accused of 300,000 counts of  “accessory to murder” in the cases of deported Hungarian Jews sent to the gas chambers between May and July 1944.”

Hungarian Jews arriving at Auschwitz-Birkenau in 1944

Hungarian Jews arriving at Auschwitz-Birkenau in 1944  (click to enlarge)

The photo above shows a typical scene of a train arrival at Auschwitz-Birkenau.

Jews waiting for their turn in the gas chamber at Auschwitz-Birkenau

Jews waiting for their turn in the gas chamber at Auschwitz-Birkenau

Oskar Groening worked at the train tracks at the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp, where he collected money from the luggage brought to the camp by Hungarian Jews in 1944.

Working at the train tracks makes Groening guilty as an “accessory to the fact” of the murder of 300,000 Jews, according to the prosecutor at his trial, which has just ended.  Groening has admitted his “moral guilt” in court, but he denies that he is guilty of this latest ex-post-facto law, which became a new law as a result of the John Demjanjuk trial.

The following quote is from the news article which you can read in full at http://www.businessinsider.com/afp-bookkeeper-of-auschwitz-survivor-testify-as-trial-nears-end-2015-7

As the final witness during the [Groening] trial, Irene Weiss, 84, a Czech-born Auschwitz survivor from the United States, gave searing testimony against Groening.

Dressed in a black trouser suit and speaking in an unwavering voice, Weiss described her terrifying ordeal as a 13-year-old girl.

Showing two photographs of her family as they arrived at Auschwitz that were recovered 25 years after the Holocaust, Weiss said her mother, three younger siblings, and older brother were all murdered soon after in the gas chambers.

Her father was forced to work as a Sonderkommando, removing corpses from the gas chambers and cremating them, until the SS shot him.

Weiss said she was unable to forgive Groening.

“He has said that he does not consider himself a perpetrator but merely a small cog in the machine,” she said.

“But if he were sitting here today wearing his SS uniform, I would tremble and all the horror that I experienced as a 13-year-old would return to me.

“Any person who wore that uniform in that place represented terror and the depths to which humanity can sink, regardless of what function they performed.”

You can read all about Irene Weiss on this website: http://www.ushmm.org/remember/office-of-survivor-affairs/survivor-volunteer/irene-fogel-weiss

This quote is from the USHMM article, cited above:

Over a two-month period beginning in May 1944, nearly 425,000 Jews were deported from Hungary to Auschwitz-Birkenau, including Irene and her family. Irene was 13 years old. Upon arrival at the camp, her mother, three younger siblings, and older brother were killed.

SS authorities selected Irene and her sister Serena for forced labor, while their father was forced to work as a Sonderkommando, removing corpses from the gas chambers and cremating them. The SS camp staff periodically killed the members of the Sonderkommando and replaced them with persons from newly arriving transports. While still in the camp, Irene’s aunt learned through a boy from their hometown that when Meyer could no longer perform this work, the SS shot and killed him.

Wait a minute! Irene was only 13, but she was selected to work, while her older brother was sent to the gas chamber. It was the policy of the SS, at the death camps, to kill everyone younger than 15 or older than 45 immediately upon arrival. How was 13-year-old Irene able to pass the selection while her older brother was sent to the gas chamber?

The USHMM article continues with this quote:

Irene, Serena, and two maternal aunts, Rose and Piri Mermelstein, worked in the “Canada” section of Birkenau—storage warehouses located near two crematoria—for eight months until January 1945,

Working in the “Canada” warehouse was the best job that a prisoner at Auschwitz-Birkenau could get. How was Irene so fortunate that she got one of the best jobs in the camp, at the tender age of 13? Didn’t someone notice that she should have been gassed?

Selections at Auschwitz-Birkenau

Selections for work or the gas chamber  at Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp

But wait, there’s more: “One day during morning roll call, the SS separated Serena and other prisoners from the group, deeming them too weak and emaciated to work. Irene said to a camp guard, “She is my sister,” and was then allowed to go with Serena. The sisters heard from other inmates that they would be sent back to Ravensbrück, where there were gas chambers. They were locked in a room with other prisoners to await the transport truck, but it never arrived.”

So Irene was finally selected to be sent to Ravensbrück, “where there were gas chambers”? But once again, Irene was saved because the transport truck never arrived.

Irene should be arrested as a “Holocaust denier.”  Her testimony at the trial goes against all the facts of the Holocaust.

Religious Jews who were sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau to be killed

Religious Jews who were sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau to be gassed

Meanwhile, Holocaust survivors are asking for more money: http://www.news4jax.com/news/holocaust-survivors-ask-for-financial-aide/34051298

January 11, 2015

New book, by Sarah Helm, about Ravensbrück camp for women, will be out Jan.15, 2015

Filed under: Germany, Holocaust — Tags: , , — furtherglory @ 7:29 am
Cover of new book by Sarah Helm

Cover of new book by Sarah Helm

I have ordered a copy of the new book, written by Sarah Helm, which is available from amazon.com. The book is about the women’s concentration camp at Ravensbrück.

You can see photos of the alleged Ravensbrück gas chamber on this blog: http://roadstakenfromtravelerdrive.wordpress.com/tag/ravensbruck-concentration-camp/

I wrote about the Ravensbrück concentration camp for women in this previous blog post:

https://furtherglory.wordpress.com/2010/04/29/gas-chamber-at-ravensbruck-womens-camp/

and in this previous blog post:

https://furtherglory.wordpress.com/2012/06/23/the-ravensbruck-gas-chamber-and-the-lachout-document/

Sarah Helm has written extensively about the British SOE women, who were allegedly killed by the Germans in World War II. I used information from her books on my website at http://www.scrapbookpages.com/DachauScrapbook/BritishSOEagents.html

Now Sarah Helm has written a new book about the women prisoners at the Ravensbrück camp; her book will be out on January 15 this year.

You can read more about the gas chamber at Ravensbrück on this website:  http://www.deathcamps.org/gas_chambers/gas_chambers_ravensbrueck.html

[The following information was] Extracted from [Sarah Helm’s new book entitled] If This Is A Woman: Inside Ravensbruck, Hitler’s Concentration Camp For Women by Sarah Helm, to be published on January 15, price £25.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2903887/Nazi-death-camp-WOMEN-s-shocking-medical-experiments-injected-prisoners-petrol-syphilis.html#ixzz3OSrPS5y4

The title of Sarah Helm’s book is  similar to the title of a famous poem entitled “If this is a Man,” written by Primo Levi. I blogged about him at https://furtherglory.wordpress.com/2011/01/10/primo-levi-the-story-of-ten-days-jan-18th-to-jan-27th-1945/

This quote is from the news article in the Daily Mail newspaper:

The air was thick with smoke from the crematorium [at Ravensbruck]. Its three furnaces could barely keep pace.

The gassing at Ravensbruck went on almost right to the end, even during air raids and when Russian guns could be heard in the distance. Over one weekend alone, 2,500 women were gassed.

The aim was to destroy evidence of what had happened there before the Allies arrived.

But there were still thousands left on site on April 30, 1945, when the surviving women awoke to the roar of Russian artillery, the gunfire so close that the sky above the perimeter wall lit up.

The SS guards had fled, and the women prepared a red banner to hang across the camp gates.

But their Red Army ‘liberators’ brought a fresh horror — rape.

Ever since it had crossed the German border, the advancing Red Army had engaged in sexual rampage and now it even raped these starved concentration camp women — many of them fellow Russians.

On entering the gates, these new arrivals would stare in horror and disbelief at the corpse carts, the emaciated forms squatting around the kitchen block and the crematorium furnaces billowing smoke.

The conditions took a terrifying toll. Broken by slave labour, weakened by disease and starvation, beaten to a pulp for no reason, the women succumbed in droves — as was intended.

Ravensbruck had been built as nothing short of an enormous death machine where everything was designed to kill.Those who became too ill or exhausted to work were ‘selected’ for extermination.

Volleys of gunshots from the woods behind the camp signified a new round of killings. Trucks regularly arrived — known as Himmelfahrt (‘heaven-bound’) or black transports — to take away batches of women for unknown destinations from which they would never return.

Later these turned out to be the gas chambers of secret Nazi killing centres in Germany or Austria or — more often — the death camps of Auschwitz or Belsen.

The inspiration behind this facsimile of hell was Heinrich Himmler, the head of the SS, who supervised the network of concentration camps. He was a frequent visitor.
To aid the wholesale slaughter, Himmler now decreed that Ravensbruck should have its own gas chamber, which was built in January 1945. The camp had become overcrowded to breaking point and he needed to make space for even more prisoners, especially with the camps in the East forced to close.

Shooting and poisoning took too long. Gassing was quicker. It would double the numbers killed. A temporary gas chamber was fashioned out of an old tool shed close to the crematorium, just outside the camp wall.

Measuring 12ft by 18ft, it resembled a car garage. Gaps and holes in the walls were covered with mastic and a special airtight cover fixed over the roof with a small hatch.

The women were pushed inside, 150 at a time, and the door shut. Then a canister of gas was thrown in from the roof. According to a witness, there was moaning and crying for two to three minutes, then silence.

Prisoners in the closest blocks would hear the lorries pull up and wondered why the engines were left running for so long. Then someone said it was to cover the screams from the gas chamber.

In my humble opinion, I believe that Sarah Helm’s reputation as a writer will be harmed by this book.  The so-called “gas chamber” at Ravensbruck was probably a disinfection chamber for killing the lice in the clothing of the prisoners during the typhus epidemic in the camp in the last days of World War II.  Why wait until January 1945 to set up a homicidal gas chamber?

May 7, 2010

Dutch heroine Coba Pulskens hid downed Allied flyers in World War II

Today I was searching the news on google, as I do every morning, and I came across the remarkable story of Coba Pulskens, a Dutch woman who was part of the Resistance movement in the Netherlands in World War II.  A monument to Coba Pulskens, who died in the gas chamber at Ravensbrück in February 1945, has been erected to her in Tilberg in the Netherlands.

I previously blogged about the Ravensbrück gas chamber here.

Monument to Dutch heroine Coba Pulskens in Tilberg

The photo above and the following quote is from the ww2museums.com web site which you can see here:

The monument for Coba Pulskens in Tilburg, The Netherlands, has been erected in memory of the lady in the resistance movement who perished only a few months before the liberation. Jacoba Pulskens (1884-1945) During the Second World War she offered shelter to Jews, members of the resistance movement and to stranded allied aircrew.

On Sunday 9 July, 1944, a command group of the Gestapo (German Secret State Police) raided the house of Pulskens at the Diepenstraat. Contrary to the rules of engagement, the three hidden airmen were not taken Prisoner of War, but immediately shot in the kitchen and in the backyard. Mrs. Pulskens, 60 years of age, was arrested and deported to Ravensbrück, a concentration camp for women. In February 1945, she died in the gas chamber. According to survivors she voluntarily took the place of a mother with children hoping that to save their lives.

This story got my attention because of this phrase that leaped out at me: “Contrary to the rules of engagement…”

What rules of engagement?  The Geneva Convention and the Hague Convention?  Coba Pulskens was an illegal combatant under the rules of the Geneva Convention, which states that after a country surrenders in a war, the people in that country who take up arms and continue fighting as civilians are illegal combatants who do not have the protection of the Geneva Convention.  By mentioning the “rules of engagement,” whoever wrote this is making a legal case that the killing of the Allied airmen was a war crime; it gives a signal that there might be another side to the story.

I did a little research on this story and the first thing that I learned was that the airmen were wearing civilian clothes when they were found by the German Sicherheitsdienst (Security police) from the town of Den Bosch.  The Netherlands had surrendered and was under German occupation at this point in World War II. If these airmen had turned themselves in, instead of hiding with the Dutch resistance, they would have been treated as POWs and sent to a POW camp where they would have been treated according to the rules of the Geneva Convention.

Michael Rotschopf, the man who shot the airmen at Coba Pulsken’s house on July 9, 1944, was prosecuted by a  British Military Court in Essen, Germany in June 1946, along with nine other Sicherheitsdienst men who were included under the “common design” principle used by the Allies in war crimes trials. Rotschopf, along with three others, was convicted and sentenced to be hanged.

The following quote is from the Law Reports of Trials of War Criminals. Selected and Prepared by the United Nations War Crimes Commission. Volume XI, London: HMSO, 1949:

Mr. Nico Pulskens, whose house was opposite that of Aunt Coba, stated that on the morning of 9th July, 1944, at about 11.0 to 11.15 a.m. he had called on Aunt Coba and seen three English pilots. The latter were carrying no arms and were dressed in civilians clothes. Shortly afterwards he returned to his own house and heard shots and groans from the direction of Aunt Coba’s house. Looking in that direction from his own house, he saw a man in a blue raincoat “threatening with a sten gun,” the shooting continued until the groaning of the victims ceased. He identified Rotschopf as the man who performed the shooting.

[…]

Rotschopf claimed that his orders were to arrest persons of a Resistance group but of whom he had received no description. His instructions from Hardegan at Tilburg were to pass through the house and secure the back of it. According to his evidence, while passing through the living room with his sten gun under his overcoat, he saw three persons in civilian clothes at a table. When he reached the yard behind the house, he saw three men running towards him. When they ignored his shouts of  “Halt. Hands up,” he shot at them and they fell immediately. Cremer then came over the wall from the right, Hardegan and possibly Roesener from the left.

Rotschopf admitted that, in his view, the three men died as a result of his firing. He said that he did not know that the three men were members of the Allied Forces and that “ We did not go there to murder them.” He denied backing the men into the yard and there shooting them in accordance with a concerted plan. He admitted that his gun was loaded when he entered the house but he denied that the three pilots surrendered. Rotschopf said : “ I saw no other way out, and I considered myself under pressure.” Hardegan had told him that if he was attacked he should use his gun, as the persons to be arrested might be armed. He said he did not think that if he had merely pointed the gun at the men it would have stopped them. He said that the events all happened suddenly, and his act was done in self-defence.

[…]

The Defence argued that no plan to commit murder had been proved. The Prosecution, on the other hand, maintained that “ this was a concerted action to murder three British pilots, three people who were known to be British pilots and that they, having surrendered to the accused Rotschopf, were in fact murdered in accordance with the plan.”

Much of the argument of Counsel concerned the inferences to be drawn from circumstantial evidence. Thus, the Defence pointed out that Rotschopf was a war-wounded person who was subject to fits, and who had been posted to the DienststelIe to perform office work. Schwanz also was primarily an office worker. The Defence drew the conclusion that neither could have been chosen for the task had it been intended to involve killing people. The Prosecution, on the other hand, emphasised that Rotschopf had had considerable experience of street fighting in Russia which would make him a suitable person to send on a killing mission, and that since Schwanz spoke fluent Dutch he could make enquiries without arousing suspicion. Again, the Prosecution produced evidence to show that Rotschopf’s firing had been divided into two bursts, with a short period intervening. This would tend to show that the killing was intended, but the Defence claimed that it was due to spasmodic muscular movements to which Rotschopf was alleged to be subject.

The Defence maintained that it was most unlikely that the victims would be led outside into the open air if the intention were to shoot them, and the Prosecution on their part used the fact that the victims were later cremated as a significant fact.

The complete text about the trial can be read here.

I previously wrote about Allied flyers being sent to Buchenwald which you can read here.