Scrapbookpages Blog

May 8, 2016

New Holocaust movie coming soon to a theater near you

Filed under: Germany, Holocaust, movies — Tags: , , — furtherglory @ 7:38 am
 Actors in new Holocaust movie

Actors in new Holocaust movie

Just what we need: another Holocaust movie!

You can read about the latest Holocaust movie at http://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/movies/remember-review-memorys-no-help-in-christopher-plummers-hunt-for-a-nazi-20160502-gok8zv.html

The following quote is from the article, cited above:

Begin quote

The octogenarian [Max, played by Christopher Plummer] has dementia, but that doesn’t stop his wheelchair-bound fellow resident Max Rosenbaum (Martin Landau) pressing on him written instructions and a reminder of a pledge to carry out their shared plan now he’s a widower. Like a hypnotist instructing a subject, Max grimly sets Zev in motion.

Their scheme, which has Zev unsteadily travelling across American and Canada, is a revenge quest to find the Nazi officer who ushered the pair’s families into the gas chambers at the Auschwitz concentration camp 70 years ago: Max has a name – Rudy Kurlander – and four possible candidates. Zev means wolf in Hebrew, Max reminds him, but with his shaky hands and easy confusion, the ageing Holocaust survivor is an unlikely weapon.

End quote

Excuse me for living, but in my humble opinion, the basic premise of this movie is wrong.  A “Nazi officer” would not have escorted Jews into a gas chamber. That was a job for a Sonderkommando, a Jewish helper who assisted the Nazi officers in the gassing of the Jews. Nazi officers were strutting around in their nice clean uniforms; they did not dirty their hands by shoving Jews into the gas chambers.

This movie will open in a theater near you on May 12, 2016.

 

 

 

December 31, 2015

“the Ungraspable Horrors of Auschwitz”

Filed under: Germany, Holocaust, movies — Tags: , , , — furtherglory @ 1:53 pm

“Son of Saul” and the Ungraspable Horrors of Auschwitz

The words above are in the headline of a news article which you can read at http://www.newyorker.com/culture/richard-brody/son-of-saul-and-the-ungraspable-horrors-of-auschwitz

Is ungraspable even a word?

I wrote about the Sonderkommando revolt in this previous blog post:  https://furtherglory.wordpress.com/2010/12/12/sonderkommando-revolt-holocaust-revenge-video-game/

Brody-Son-of-Saul-1200

Quote from the news article about the film:

In the realm of Holocaust dramas, László Nemes’s first feature, “Son of Saul,” is ambitious and provocative but nearly superfluous. Credit Photograph by Sony Pictures Classics / Courtesy Everett

The title of my blog post comes from the news article which has this quote:

While emptying the gas chamber of bodies, Saul sees a boy who is still breathing; the boy dies moments thereafter, but his body is taken by a camp doctor for autopsy—and Saul, visiting the doctor (who turns out also to be a prisoner), tells him that the boy is his son and that he wants to spend a few minutes with the body. What Saul actually wants is something more drastic and seemingly impossible: he wants to take the body and give it a proper burial. Moreover, for that burial he needs a rabbi, and, making use of his position as a Sonderkommando (which allows him to move not quite freely but at least widely throughout the concentration camp), Saul obsessively searches among Jewish deportees to find one.

But, early in his quest, he happens upon other Sonderkommando members who are organizing an armed uprising to destroy the gas chambers, and they recruit him to that cause. Though Saul never makes his reasoning clear (once, he explains, “I have to eat”), he seems to join the uprising neither from commitment nor to save himself but to win his colleagues’ aid in his efforts to bury his son, and to gain the measure of mobility, as a part of their plot, that will help him to do so.

I wrote about the Sonderkommando revolt on my website at http://www.scrapbookpages.com/AuschwitzScrapbook/Tour/Birkenau/RuinsIV.html

The revolt was the occasion when the Sonderkommando Jews blew up the Krema IV gas chamber at Auschwitz-Birkenau.

The ruins of Krema IV are a reconstruction

The ruins of Krema IV are a reconstruction

According to Michael J. Neufeld and Michael Berenbaum, in their book entitled The Bombing of Auschwitz: Should the Allies Have Attempted It? the Krema IV and Krema V buildings were 220 feet long by 42 feet wide.

The Krema IV building was completely demolished, blown up with dynamite which several women prisoners stole from the factory where they were working. All the bricks were removed by Polish civilians after the war, and the ruins that visitors see today are a reconstruction, according to the Auschwitz Museum.

According to Dr. Miklos Nyiszli, a prisoner who did autopsies at Birkenau, each Sonderkommando group was killed after a few months and replaced by a new crew. Knowing that they were soon going to be killed, the members of the next-to-last Sonderkommando revolted and blew up the Krema IV building.

A sign at the site of Krema IV says that there were 450 prisoners who were killed by the SS during the revolt or afterwards in retaliation.

For some unknown reason, the Jews in the last Sonderkommando group were not exterminated.

Around 100 of them were marched out of the camp when it was abandoned by the Nazis on January 18, 1945. Several members of this Sonderkommando group survived and three of them gave eye-witness testimony at the 1947 trial of Auschwitz Commandant Rudolf Hoess, about how the prisoners were gassed at Birkenau.

This is my last blog post of 2015.  Happy New Year, everyone.

September 18, 2015

Movie entitled “Son of Saul” in theaters Dec. 18, 2015

Filed under: Holocaust, movies — Tags: , , , , — furtherglory @ 10:55 am
Photo from Wikipedia shows Sonderkommando Jews with a bone grinder

Photo from Wikipedia shows Sonderkommando Jews with a bone grinder.

According to Wikipedia:

Sonderkommandos were work units made up of German Nazi death camp prisoners. They were composed almost entirely of Jews who were forced, on threat of their own deaths, to aid with the disposal of gas chamber victims during the Holocaust.

The following Sonderkommandos survived the Holocaust:  Zalman Gradowski, Filip Müller, Henryk Tauber, Leib Langfus, Morris Venezia, Henryk Mandelbaum [Saul Ausländer is a fictional character]

Photo of Dachau Sonderkommando shoving a body into an oven at Dachau

Photo of Sonderkommando shoving a body into an oven at Dachau is an re-enactment, done after Dachau was libertated

A photo similar to the one above is included in the news story and it is purported to be a real photo of a Sonderkommando Jew shoving a body into an oven.

The following information, about the movie entitled Son of Saul, is from the movie review website known as “Rotten Tomatoes”.

October 1944, Auschwitz-Birkenau. Saul Ausländer is a Hungarian member of the Sonderkommando, the group of Jewish prisoners isolated from the camp and forced to assist the Nazis in the machinery of large-scale extermination. While working in one of the crematoriums, Saul discovers the corpse of a boy he takes for his son. As the Sonderkomando plans a rebellion, Saul decides to carry out an impossible task: save the child’s body from the flames, find a rabbi to recite the mourner’s Kaddish and …
Rating: R (for disturbing violent content, and some graphic nudity)
Genre: Drama
In Theaters: Dec 18, 2015 Limited
Runtime: 1 hr. 47 min.
Sony Pictures Classics

You can read the following review of the movie on this website:

Son of Saul

Based on the experience of a Hungarian Jew held in a concentration camp during the Second World War, Son of Saul follows a man who has the harrowing job of leading prisoners into the showers where they will be executed and cleaning up afterwards by shovelling their remains into the river.

Shaken by the death of one young boy, he is driven to give him a proper Jewish burial. Featuring superb acting on all levels, director Laszlo Nemes takes us right into the camp through a unique use of surround sound and filming in 35mm. 5 out of 5 stars. – Sian Jones, producer.

Among the horrors of the Holocaust, the Nazis assigned so-called Sondercommandos a peculiarly dehumanizing job: to herd fellow inmates into gas chambers and dispose of their bodies. Saul is one such man, his face an effigy of pain. When he believes he’s found his own son among the dead, his humanity is restored as he attempts to give the boy a proper burial.

Much of the film lingers on Saul’s face, leaving the most lurid shots out of focus: an interesting directorial choice that avoids a fetishistic lingering on the bodies of victims that still allows viewers to feel the full oppressiveness of his situation. A powerful, devastating film. 5 out of 5 stars. – Deana Sumanac-Johnson, reporter.

======

I am looking forward to seeing this movie in December.  I will write a review of the movie after I see it. You can be sure that I will have a lot of criticism of this movie.

July 10, 2014

Samuel Willenberg, 91, the last living survivor of the Treblinka extermination camp

Samuel Willenberg poses with Andrew Denton on a trip to Treblinka

Samuel Willenberg poses with Andrew Denton on a trip to Treblinka

Samuel Willenberg, the man on the left in the photo above, is the last surviving Sonderkommando Jew who worked in the Treblinka death camp.  Sitting next to him is Andrew Denton, who made a trip recently to the Treblinka Memoiral Site, to see where some of his relatives were murdered. You can read about his trip to the Memorial Site here.

Sculpture at Treblinka resembles the railroad tracks into the camp

My 1998 photo of the sculpture at Treblinka, which resembles the railroad tracks into the camp

Treblinka was one of the three Operation Reinhard [Reinhardt] camps, where Jews were transported to be killed during the Holocaust; the other two camps were Sobibor and Belzec.

According to the news article, cited above, “Of the estimated six million Jews killed in Europe during World War II, more than 800,000 perished at Treblinka – in just 16 months. It is one of the most murderous places on earth.”

Historian Jerzy Halbersztadt explained to Denton “that there is little record of those who perished here at Treblinka because the killing was on such an industrial scale it was impossible to keep track of them.”

According to the news article, Denton asked Jerzy how he could be sure that his relatives (the Ditkofskys) were among the victims.

Jerzy Halbersztadt then described “a meticulous collection of German transport records showing train movements, dates and times, the number of people transported, all cross-checked against eyewitness accounts and court records. He then shows [Denton] a table with the numbers and dates of the people deported to Treblinka from the Bialystok region, where Suchowola [the city where Denton’s relatives lived] is located. The dates and numbers square with the accounts from those Poles left behind,” according to the article.

Wait a minute! Bialystok?  I previously wrote about Bialystok on this blog post: https://furtherglory.wordpress.com/2011/03/26/the-fate-of-the-bialystok-ghetto-children-who-were-sent-to-theresienstadt/

The Nazis claimed that they were transporting the Jews to the East, but the Jews from Bialystok were transported WEST to Treblinaka; I blogged about this at https://furtherglory.wordpress.com/2011/03/25/the-trains-that-traveled-west-to-treblinka/

Original sigh that hung at the fake train station at Treblinka  Photo Credit: Yad Vashem

Original sigh that hung at the fake train station Photo Credit: Yad Vashem

Sculpture represents the train platform at Treblinka

My 1998 photo of the sculpture which represents the train platform at Treblinka

This quote is from the same article, which you can read in full here:

Once off the train, [Willenberg] continues, [the Jews] would have been first whipped and beaten, then driven through a gate into sheds and made to undress. The women’s heads would be shaved. They would then be commanded to run, naked, into the gas chambers, to be asphyxiated by carbon monoxide from a diesel engine.

In August 1943, the Sonderkommando of Treblinka staged a revolt, unheard of in the German camps, and 300 prisoners escaped. Three hundred out of the more than 800,000 sent to Treblinka. And of that 300, [Denton] was told, only one remained alive: 91-year-old Samuel Willenberg. “He lives in Israel,” said Jerzy, “and he will be here to talk to you this afternoon.”

Map of the Treblinka Camp

Map of the Treblinka Camp

The map above shows the layout of the Treblinka camp as seen by visitors today who enter the area of the former camp along the route of the train tracks, shown at the bottom of the map. The gas chambers are shown in red; the large red rectangle is where 10 new gas chambers were constructed near the one original gas chamber. The pyres where the bodies were burned are indicated by the lines just above the red rectangle that denotes the gas chamber. Today, a large monument is located in the spot where the original gas chamber once stood.

The sculpture, which represents the tracks, leads visitors to the spot where the Jews go off the train.  The fake train station where the clothing was stored is shown in blue near the bottom of the map;  the undressing rooms for the Jews are also shown in blue.

Shown in gray, on the left side, near the bottom of the map, is where the SS staff members and the Ukrainian guards lived.

Around 1,000 Jewish Sonderkommando Jews lived in the barracks that are shown in black.

On the right side of the map, the burial sites, for the Jews who died on the train, are shown in brown.   The area where the barracks once stood is now covered with trees; the area at the top of the map on the right is where the symbolic cemetery is now located.

Stone Monument stands in the spot where the first gas chamber at Treblinka was located

My 1998 photo of the stone Monument which stands in the spot where the gas chambers at Treblinka were located

The photograph above shows the 26-foot granite memorial stone, which was designed to resemble a tombstone. It is located approximately on the spot where the gas chambers once stood, according to my tour guide in 1998. This view was taken from the front side of the memorial stone, and you can see some of the stones of the symbolic cemetery behind it. The large crack down the middle of the stone is part of the design.

I know that some of my readers will say that carbon monoxide from diesel engines will not kill people.  But before you bring that up, just remember Pat Buchanan, whose career was ruined when he disputed the claim that 800,000 Jews were killed, using carbon monoxide: http://codoh.com/library/document/963/

Read more about Aktion Reinhardt at http://codoh.com/library/document/3052/

December 5, 2013

Bradley Smith’s nightmare — he dreamt that he was gassed in a Nazi gas chamber

Filed under: Germany, Holocaust — Tags: , , , — furtherglory @ 8:17 am
Gas chamber in main Auschwitz camp

Gas chamber in main Auschwitz camp, looking toward the back door into the room, 2005 photo

In Chapter 18 of his book entitled Break His Bones, The Private Life of a Holocaust Revisionist, Bradley Smith wrote that he dreamed about what it must have been like for the Jews who were gassed in the Nazi gas chambers.  Bradley Smith is more than a “revisionist;” he is a great writer.  Writing is an art for him.  In my opinion, Bradley is a great artist.

The quote below is from the beginning of Chapter 18 in his book, which was published many years ago, but it is still relevant today. According to an e-mail message that I got from Bradley, he is sending this “breeze from the past” to some 1,400 individuals and student groups at USC, including the folk who maintain Steven Spielberg’s Shoah foundation.

Quote from Chapter 18 of Break His Bones:

One night in late December I dream that I’ve been gassed at Auschwitz. In the dream, as I become aware of myself inside the gas chamber, the gassing itself is already over. I see myself sitting naked in the center of the floor; the room around me choked with naked cadavers heaped to the ceiling. The dead are filthy with feces, urine, vomit and menstrual blood. The scene is faintly illuminated in an ugly green light. […]

I know in my heart, without reservation, that those men [the Sonderkommando Jews] would not have done what it is claimed they did. I’ve worked and lived among such men [Jews] and their children for twenty-five years. They would not have done it.

Once maybe. Twice. A handful of them. But not all of them. Not day after day, week after week, month after month. They would not have done it. The gas chamber story is a lie. […]

…… I had read the Robert Faurisson’s article about the “problem” of the gas chambers at Auschwitz, I had felt in my bones that something was badly wrong. Faurisson claimed that the gas chamber stories and the genocide of the Jews are one and the same historic lie. I had felt an immediate and deep anxiety that he might be right. The news didn’t make me happy, it made me fearful. It made my hands sweat.

Faurisson’s paper turned on a statement made by Rudolf Hoess, the SS colonel who claimed to have dreamed up the Auschwitz gas chambers, overseen their construction and murdered millions of victims in them, mostly Jews. In his confession Hoess wrote that after the gassings took place the work-Jews would enter the gas chambers “immediately” to drag out the dead. They would do this while “eating and smoking.” If they were eating and smoking, Faurisson wrote, it was unlikely they were wearing gas masks. But if they were going to enter the gas chamber immediately after a mass gassing Faurisson believed they would have had to use gas masks with special filters or be “gassed” themselves. This alone suggested to Faurisson that Hoess didn’t know diddly about mass gassings with Zyklon B, his poison gas of choice, and that his famous gas-chamber confession was the invention of a tortured mind. We hadn’t yet learned that Hoess, after his capture by British military intelligence, had in fact been tortured to obtain his confession.

The point, that Bradley Smith is making in his book, is that no one would have done the horrendous task of dragging filthy bodies, covered with feces, vomit and blood, out of the gas chambers — just to live for three months longer.  They would have said, “Just shoot me now.”

What allegedly happened is that the Sonderkommando Jews, who carried the gassed bodies to the ovens, were killed after three months.  We know this because the last group of Sonderkommando Jews were allowed to live to tell the story of what happened to the Sonderkommandos.  I previously blogged here about two Sonderkommando Jews who survived.

It was hard for me to enter the so-called gas chamber in the Auschswitz main camp, 60 years after it had been used.  The room is cold, dark and creepy, with a faint smell of dead bodies, as you would expect in a morgue. The Auschwitz gas chamber is right next to the cremation ovens, where a morgue should have been.  There were 900 Jews gassed at the same time in the Auschwitz gas chamber in the main camp. Their bodies had to be dragged, a few at a time, into the oven room, next door to the gas chamber.

Hot crematory oven right next to the door into the Auschwitz gas chamber

Hot crematory oven right next to the door into the Auschwitz gas chamber

The Sonderkommando Jews would have said: “Get me out of here quick; this place could explode any minute!” (The people in the gas chamber, in my 1998 photo, are tourists, but the Jews who were gassed here had their clothes on, just like the tourists.)

Zyklon-B gas should not be used near hot ovens, according to Fred Leuchter, the world’s leading gas chamber expert, who designed the gas chamber in Missouri.

You can read Bradley’s full excerpt about  the Sonderkommando Jews at http://codohfounder.com/books/chapter-eighteen/

This quote is from near the end of Chapter 18 of Bradley Smith’s book:

One of the things I do as a writer is to use my art to stand witness to the intellectual and moral corruption of the society in which I live. I do no more or less than artists of every discipline have always done. It’s what is expected of us, and it’s especially what we expect of ourselves. But am I not being insensitive to the feelings of Jews, I am asked? I respond that Jewish feelings are no particular concern for me. I’m an artist. My responsibility is to human feeling, human sensibilities. The German bleeds from the thrust of a lie just as the Jew does.