Scrapbookpages Blog

April 1, 2014

Rabbi explains the meaning of the “Arbeit Macht Frei” slogan

Filed under: Dachau, Germany, Holocaust — Tags: , — furtherglory @ 11:51 am

In a letter to students at Vanderbuilt, which you can read in full here, Rabbi Schlomo Rothstein explains the meaning of the words “Arbeit Macht Frei” on the entrance gates into the Nazi camps.  A photo of the gate into the Dachau camp, which is shown below, accompanies the letter.

Entrance gate into Dachau concentration camp

Entrance gate into Dachau concentration camp

I previously blogged about the meaning of “Arbeit Macht Frei” at https://furtherglory.wordpress.com/2010/02/25/arbeit-macht-frei-what-does-it-stand-for/

Arbeit Macht Frei gate at Sachsenhausen camp

Arbeit Macht Frei gate at Sachsenhausen camp

The Arbeit Macht Frei slogan was first used at the the Sachsenhausen concentration camp near Berlin, which was a camp for political prisoners, not a camp for Jews.

According to Rudolf Höss, who was an adjutant at Sachsenhausen before he became the first Commandant of Auschwitz, the slogan “Arbeit Macht Frei” means that works liberates one in the spiritual sense. Sachsenhausen was a Class 1 camp, where prisoners who worked had a good chance of being released.

After World War II, the Sachsenhausen camp was turned into a Communist prison for German citizens. The Arbeit Macht Frei sign was removed and the prisoners did not work.

Höss was himself a prisoner at one time and he complained about having to sit all alone in a prison cell without having any work to occupy his time. When Höss was transferred from Sachsenhausen to Auschwitz, he had the “Arbeit Macht Frei” slogan put over the entrance gate into the Auschwitz main camp, which became known as Auschwitz One.

The Auschwitz II “death camp” did not have the “Arbeit Macht Frei” sign, and few prisoners were released from there.

This quote is from the Rabbi’s Letter to Vanderbilt students:

“Arbeit Macht Frei” — or “Work Makes You Free” — is not just a slogan. It represents hate at its worst. They were the words twisted in metal above a Nazi death camp in which millions of human beings, Jews and non-Jews alike, were cruelly killed. “Arbeit Macht Frei” has been purchased with blood; it belongs to the murdered.

I do not expect all people to know the words and meaning of “Arbeit Macht Frei.” What I am asking is that this phrase and all phrases from the Holocaust not be separated from their tragic history. This extends to all situations of hate and cruelty: Let us not separate the words from their context.

To separate “Arbeit Macht Frei,” or anything that means destruction, from its horrible historical sense and apply it to causes and campaigns — no matter how righteous — is a gross and dangerous mistake.

Does anyone think that the Vanderbilt students will ask the Rabbi whether the “Arbeit Macht Frei” sign was put over the entrance into the Auschwitz II “death camp”? Or the Buchenwald camp, which was a Class II camp, mainly  for captured Resistance fighters, in World War II?

How about the Majdanek “death camp” where the latest death toll is 59,000 Jewish deaths?  Does Majdanek have the Arbeit sign? No!

Does the Mauthausen Class III camp have this sign over the gate? No!

The “Arbeit Macht Frei” sign was only put over the gates into the Class I camps, like Dachau, where prisoners were sometimes released.

My 2003 photo of the gate into the Dachau camp

My 2003 photo of the gate into the Dachau camp

You can read about the sign over the Buchenwald gate on this blog post: https://furtherglory.wordpress.com/2011/04/02/buchenwald-was-a-class-ii-camp-with-jedem-das-seine-on-the-gate/

 

March 10, 2014

20 million people killed by the Nazis, according to the USHMM

A reader of my blog recently stated this in a comment:  “There were over 20 million people who were killed in total by Nazi atrocities from the 1930s until Germany’s surrender.  That does not  include casualties of the various allied and Soviet armies.”

This was news to me, but I wouldn’t put anything past those evil Nazis.

I was curious about where the figure of 20 million came from, so I did a google search and found this news article at http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/germany/9906771/Nazis-may-have-killed-up-to-20m-claims-shocking-new-Holocaust-study.html

A photo of the Arbeit Macht Frei gate at the Sachsenhausen concentration camp was included in the article.  I have copied the photo, along with the caption, which you can see below.

 Washington's Holocaust Memorial Museum found that Auschwitz and the Warsaw Ghetto were just part of a extensive network that imprisoned and obliterated millions of lives Photo: AP


Washington’s Holocaust Memorial Museum found that Auschwitz and the Warsaw Ghetto were just part of a extensive network that imprisoned and obliterated millions of lives Photo: AP

The official name of “Washington’s Holocaust Memorial Museum” is United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM).  I visited the USHMM several years ago, and wrote about it on my website at http://www.scrapbookpages.com/USHMM/

I do not consider the USHMM to be a reliable source of information, but that’s just me; others might have a different opinion.

I don’t think that a photo of the gate into the Sachsenhausen concentration camp is appropriate for an article about 20 million people being killed.  Sachsenhausen was a Class 1 camp for political prisoners, not a death camp.

You can read about the significance of the Arbeit Macht Frei gate on my website at http://www.scrapbookpages.com/Poland/Auschwitz/Auschwitz12.html

The Soviets, who liberated the Sachsenhausen camp, claimed that Sachsenhausen was a death camp and that 100,000 people had been killed there.  Now that figure has been officially reduced to 30,000 deaths.  Did the USHMM subtract those 70,000 deaths from the 20 million total?

I took the photo below, on  my visit to the Sachsenhausen camp.  It shows the gate into the camp.  That’s how I know that the photo, which was shown in the article, was taken at Sachsenhausen.  The Arbeit Macht Frei sign was only put on Class I camps, where prisoners had a good chance of being released.

My photo of the gate into the Sachsenhausen camp

My photo of the gate into the Sachsenhausen camp

This quote is from the article cited above:

The millions disappeared into a Nazi imprisonment and killing machine that covered a bloody swathe of Europe and appears to have been far more deadly than has been thought.

Up until now, the Holocaust is thought to have consumed between five and six million Jews, with an estimated further six million other people also murdered by the Nazi regime.

The new figures of 15 to 20 million, which have astonished some Holocaust historians, come after thirteen years of painstaking study at Washington’s Holocaust Memorial Museum. Historians at the museum brought together and studied the huge amount, and often disparate, files and research on the Holocaust.

The research covered some 42,400 camps and ghettos across Europe, and also included forced-labour camps and Nazi “care” centres where pregnant women were forced to have an abortion or had their child killed right after giving birth. It also drew in camps, prisons and killing grounds used by Nazi puppet regimes in countries such as France and Romania.

The number of locations is almost double previous estimates made by the same institution and, all told, they may have imprisoned and killed between 15 to 20 million people.

Note that the USHMM story is that pregnant women were forced to have an abortion or had their baby killed after giving birth.  I have blogged about babies being born in the Nazi camps several times: https://furtherglory.wordpress.com/2012/08/26/pregnant-at-auschwitz-the-story-of-miriam-rosenthal/

https://furtherglory.wordpress.com/2010/04/27/its-a-miracle-seven-babies-slipped-through-the-nazi-killing-machine-at-dachau/

https://furtherglory.wordpress.com/2012/04/20/holocaust-survivor-who-was-born-in-auschwitz/

https://furtherglory.wordpress.com/2010/05/06/holocaust-survivor-was-born-in-mauthausen-concentration-camp/

This serious mistake, by the USHMM, regarding the fate of pregnant women and babies, is enough for me to question the whole article.

The largest “death camps” in  the Holocaust were Auschwitz and Majdanek. The number of deaths at Auschwitz has been downgraded, from 4 million to 1.1 million, and  the number of deaths at Majdanek has been downgraded, from 1.5 million to 78,000.  Were these deaths subtracted from the 20 million total?

Sorry, but I don’t believe the new total of 20 million people killed by the Nazis.  False in one, false in all.  Next time, don’t tell us about mothers being forced to have an abortion in the “death camps.”