Scrapbookpages Blog

February 23, 2017

The Jews who were forced to work in Nazi death factories

Filed under: Germany, Holocaust, Uncategorized — Tags: , , — furtherglory @ 8:57 am
Survivors of Auschwitz-Birkenau with Russian liberator

Survivors of Auschwitz-Birkenau with Russian soldier who helped to liberate the camp

A photo that is very similar to the one above is shown in a news article about the Sonderkommando Jews who were forced to help the Nazis, in the killing of the Jews at Auschwitz-Birkenau.

The following quote is from the news article which you can read in full at http://www.haaretz.com/world-news/europe/.premium-1.773405

Begin quote from news article:

The members of the Sonderkommando in Auschwitz worked in the gas chambers. They were posted to the undressing rooms, where the victims had to disrobe; they were responsible for the removal of the bodies after the murder; for removing valuables from the bodies; for burning the bodies; for dealing with the body parts that did not burn completely; and finally they carried the ashes to the river and dumped them in the water.

As Shaul Chazan, one of the Sonderkommando survivors, told me: At 9:30, a transport of 3,500 people would arrive, and four hours later, not a trace of them remained – as though they had never existed. [Chazan’s testimony appears in Greif’s “We Wept Without Tears”; Yale University Press, 2005.] The Sonderkommando carried out all those tasks, but it’s important for me to emphasize that they never took part in the work of murder itself. They did not murder anyone. Only the Germans threw the deadly gas into the chambers.

End quote from news article

I wrote about the Sonderkommando Jews on my scrapbookpages.com website BEFORE I became a Holocaust denier.

Begin quote from my scrapbookpages.com website:

One of the survivors of Auschwitz was Samuel Pisar, who was first sent, at the age of 13, to the Majdanek death camp, in August 1943, when the Bialystok ghetto in Poland was liquidated. A few months later, he was transferred to Auschwitz-Birkenau where he was put to work.

In an article in the Washington Post, published on January 23, 2005, Samuel Pisar wrote the following about his experience at Birkenau:

My labor commando was assigned to remove garbage from a ramp near the Crematoria. From there I observed the peak of human extermination and heard the blood-curdling cries of innocents as they were herded into the gas chambers. Once the doors were locked, they had only three minutes to live, yet they found enough strength to dig their fingernails into the walls and scratch in the words “Never Forget.”

One of the Auschwitz-Birkenau prisoners, who loaded the corpses of the murdered Jews into the Crematoria ovens after they were killed in the gas chambers with Zyklon-B, was Schlomo Venezia who described his work in an interview with Adam L. Freeman, a reporter with the Bloomberg News, on December 17, 2007.

According to Freeman’s article, posted on the web site http://www.bloomberg.com, Schlomo worked for eight months at Birkenau in 1944, “…12 hours a day, seven days a week, cadaver after cadaver until it became a mechanical task, like feeding a heating furnace with cords of wood.”

Schlomo Venezia wrote a memoir entitled “Sonderkommando Auschwitz,” which was originally published in French; a new Italian version was published in 2007.

The following quote about Schlomo’s story is from Adam L. Freeman’s article in the Bloomberg News on December 17, 2007:

Begin quote from news article:

He [Schlomo] recalls, for example, the day he met his father’s emaciated cousin in an undressing room at the gas chambers. Venezia offered him the only solace possible, he writes — some sardines and a lie that the Zyklon B would kill him quickly.

“It was just terrible to have to lie, but there was no way around it,” Venezia explains. “I tried in some way to make the horrible situation easier.”

The Sonderkommandos, as the prisoners working at the gas chambers were known, were privy to how the Nazis went about their butchery. Determined to keep their methods secret, the Nazis killed members of these units at regular intervals, making Venezia’s memoir rare.

He was 20 years old at the time; he will turn 84 on Dec. 29. His own mother was murdered at the camp while he worked at the ovens — one of more than 1 million Jews killed there.

As we talk over a table of ties in his one-room shop near the Trevi Fountain, Venezia remains almost motionless. His Hungarian-born wife, Marika, tends to shoppers entering through the glass door. At one point, she places a box of coffee-filled chocolates between us.

The descendant of an old Jewish family from Spain and Italy, Venezia was born in the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki, where he grew up fatherless and poor, speaking Greek, Italian and Ladino, a Spanish-Jewish dialect.

Poverty sharpened his wits, he says. Working the black market in Nazi-occupied Greece, Venezia learned some German, which may have saved his life. In the camp, he escaped beatings by understanding when guards shouted out the number tattooed on his arm: 182727.

Cutting the hair off cadavers, pulling their gold teeth and dragging them to the furnaces became mechanical, Venezia says, because it was the only way to stay sane. The routine broke down only once, he recalls, when the prisoners were confronted with the lifeless body of a woman possessing “the absolute beauty of an ancient statue.”

She looked like “a woman in a painting,” Venezia says, pausing for a moment in reflection. “Like Mona Lisa.” Yet there was nothing to do but cremate her.

Another day, his unit found a live baby trying to suck its dead mother’s breast among a heap of corpses in a gas chamber. The prisoners watched without protest as a Nazi guard unloaded his pistol into the infant.

“There were so many terrible things that happened,” he says. “Every day it was something else.”

End quote

 

October 10, 2016

The Sonderkommando Jews

Filed under: Holocaust, World War II — Tags: , , , — furtherglory @ 2:33 pm
The entrance into the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp is through this building

The photo above was used at the top of a news article about the Sonderkommando Jews

The main entrance into the former Auschwitz-Birkenau camp is through the building shown in the photo above.

I took a similar photo on one of my 3 trips to the memorial site at Auschwitz-Birkenau.

gatehouseinside

You can read about the Sonderkommando Jews in this news article: http://scroll.in/article/818506/stories-from-holocaust-prisoners-forced-to-work-in-the-gas-chambers-should-not-be-silenced

The following quote is from the news article:

Sonderkommando stories

Begin quote

In some of the earliest novels in North America to address the Holocaust in the 1950s and 1960s, characters who are former members of the Sonderkommando function as archetypal survivors: psychologically damaged but also morally suspect.

Holocaust survivors in general were often greeted with unease, facing questions of what compromises they had made and at whose expense. The Sonderkommando clearly stood for this moral dilemma more than any other figure.

By the 1980s, a very different set of ways of presenting the Sonderkommando arose. Greater knowledge of the specific details of the Holocaust produced more of a sense that the Holocaust was a uniquely total attempt to exterminate a people, and a concomitant belief that it tested the capacity of art to represent it.

Claude Lanzmann placed one member of the Auschwitz Sonderkommando, Filip Müller, at the centre of Shoah (1985), his nine-and-a-half-hour documentary film about the “final solution”. For Lanzmann, Müller’s story could only be told through testing the boundaries of film making, stretching it out almost beyond the limits of an audience’s endurance. Müller’s speech rhythms were slowed to a glacial pace, the spliced-in silences resonated with the emptiness of the landscapes over which it served as a voice-over.

And Primo Levi devoted part of his essay “The Grey Zone” (1986) to the Sonderkommando. For him too, silence was the only possible response. He urged readers to dwell on rather than pass over the Sonderkommando’s situation, but argued that such meditation could only end in the impossibility of judging them.

End quote

You can read all about the gatehouse at Auschwitz-Birkenau on my website at http://www.scrapbookpages.com/AuschwitzScrapbook/Tour/Birkenau/Gatehouse.html

December 27, 2015

photos taken by Sonderkommando Jews at Auschwitz

Filed under: Holocaust, movies — Tags: , , — furtherglory @ 9:55 am

I have just read a review of the movie Son of Saul which tells about photos, taken at Auschwitz-Birkenau, by the Sonderkommando Jews; the photos show the gassing of the Jews at Auschwitz-Birkenau.

These photos are shown in the background in the movie as the main characters in the movie are shown in the foreground.

You can read about the movie at

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/arts/film/film-reviews/holocaust-drama-son-of-saul-a-story-of-remarkable-resilience/article27922380/

The following quote is from the article in the link above:

The film is based on actual accounts of the Sonderkommando’s gruesome role, its members forced to collaborate with the killing machine or be killed, and marked for extermination themselves every three months as “bearers of secrets” who could not be allowed to survive. The photographer was an actual person, identified only as Alex from Greece, who took four images that were smuggled out to the Polish underground.

You can see these photos on Wikipedia at https://en.wikipedia.or/wiki/Sonderkommando_photographs

Photo taken by Sonderkommando Jews shows prisoners being herded toward a gas chamber

Photo taken by a Sonderkommando Jew shows prisoners being herded toward a gas chamber

Photo taken from the doorway of a gas chamber at Auschwitz-Birkenau

Photo taken from the doorway of a gas chamber at Auschwitz-Birkenau shows the burning of bodies

The photos shown above were allegedly taken with a 35 millimeter Leica camera by Sonderkommando Jews.

Four of the gas chambers at Auschwitz-Birkenau were underground, but there were two gas chambers that were above ground: Krema IV and Krema V.

Krema IV at Auschwitz-Birkenau had a gas chamber that was above ground

Krema IV at Auschwitz-Birkenau had a gas chamber that was above ground

This quote is also from the news article:

Begin quote

In Laszlo Nemes’s remarkable Holocaust drama, Son of Saul, there’s a minor character who risks his life secretly taking photographs of the corpses.

[…]

Watching it [the movie] is a harrowing experience, and the first 20 minutes or so are particularly difficult. The film is shot from the narrow perspective – and the narrowness is the only thing that makes it bearable – of Saul Auslander, a Hungarian Jew who works in the Sonderkommando that herds new prisoners into the “showers,” collects the victims’ clothing, moves the bodies to the crematorium and scrubs out the gas chamber before the next transport arrives. We see the reality of this gruesome job slightly out of focus, as though in Saul’s peripheral vision, as the camera always stays tight on Saul’s face. Often the sounds around him, and our own foreknowledge of the place, are what make the half-glimpsed scenes particularly wrenching.

End quote from news article

Note that those mean ole Nazis forced the Jews to “scrub out the gas chamber” after each gassing.  I don’t think that scrubbing the gas chamber was necessary, but this just shows you how depraved the Nazis were.

The following quote is from my scrapbookpages.com website:

Krema IV was located just north of the clothing warehouses, which were in a section that the prisoners called Canada. Across the road from Canada was the Central Sauna which had a shower room and disinfection chambers where the prisoners’ clothing was deloused. Krema IV had a fake shower room which was actually a gas chamber.

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.

The prisoners who worked in the crematory buildings, removing the bodies of the victims who had been gassed, were members of a special group called the Sonderkommando. 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 Krema IV says that there were 450 prisoners who were killed by the SS during the revolt or afterwards in retaliation.

The men in the last Sonderkommando 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 the Sonderkommando 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.

 

December 18, 2015

New Holocaust movie “Son of Saul” is in theaters today

CoverPhoto

Update January 18, 2016:  This news article calls the movie Son of Saul “Jewish Propaganda.”  http://www.jewishpress.com/news/hungarians-denounce-oscar-nominated-son-of-saul-as-jewish-propaganda/2016/01/18/

I greatly admire the photo above which is shown at the top of this news article about the film entitled Son of Saul, which was directed by Laslo Nemes:  http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/15/movies/in-son-of-saul-laszlo-nemes-expands-the-language-of-holocaust-films.html?_r=0

In preparation for seeing the film, I read about it on the news article cited above.

Photo from the film Son of Saul

Photo from the film Son of Saul

The following quote is from the news article about the film:

In “Son of Saul” Laszlo Nemes Expands the Language of Holocaust Films

“Son of Saul” is filmed in long, restless takes, with no soundtrack besides the grim cacophony of a death camp — the slamming of doors, the sifting through possessions — and is set over the course of a day and a half in October 1944. It follows Saul Auslander, a Hungarian member of the Sonderkommando, the Jews forced to dispose of the human remains from the gas chambers, as he tries to rescue a dead boy’s body from meeting the fate of the ovens.

[…]

The film plays out on the face of Saul, a debut film performance by Geza Rohrig, a Hungarian poet whom Mr. Nemes met while studying at New York University’s film school. During the 28-day shoot, he had Mr. Rohrig rehearse for hours before filming takes, three to four minutes each, with a 35-millimeter camera placed about 20 inches from his face.

“I had to be superfocused, because every little bit of change” mattered, Mr. Rohrig said. “Like on the surface of water — even if you blow the water, you can immediately see, it shows everything.”

Mr. Rohrig, 48, who took a leave from his job teaching Jewish studies at a Brooklyn private school to promote the film, volunteers for a Jewish burial society. He spent months visiting Auschwitz as a student in Poland in the 1980s and wrote a book of poems about it. He said he regarded the Sonderkommando as victims, not perpetrators, adding that they were the only Jews in the camp to understand that they faced certain death and that his acting had to reflect that knowledge.

End quote

December 16, 2015

Dario Gabbai — the last living Sonderkommando Jew

Filed under: Holocaust — Tags: , — furtherglory @ 8:05 am
Dario Gabbai the last living Sonderkommando Jew

Dario Gabbai the last living Sonderkommando Jew

Today I am commenting on a news article, which you can read in full at

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/features/holocaust-survivors/why-this-matters/

DarioGabbai points to a photo of Jews getting off a train at Asuchwitz-Birkenau

Dario Gabbai points to a photo of an incoming train at Auschwitz-Birkenau

The news article tells about Dario Gabbai, who is the last living member of the Sonderkommando.  The Sonderkommando was a group of Jewish men who carried their fellow Jews out of the gas chambers after they were dead.  The Sonderkommando men were killed after serving for 3 months; they were replaced by new prisoners who carried on the work of clearing the gas chambers.

This quote from Wikipedia explains the Sonderkommando:

David Dario Gabbai (born September 2, 1922) is a Greek Sephardi Jew and Holocaust survivor, notable for his role as a member of the Sonderkommando at Auschwitz. He was deported to the camp in March 1944 and put to work in one of the crematoria at Birkenau, where he was forced to assist in the burning of the hundreds of thousands of Hungarian Jews that were deported to the camp during the spring and summer of that year.

Gabbai remained at Auschwitz until its evacuation in January 1945. He was liberated from Ebensee concentration camp in Austria by the United States Army, and has publicly spoken about what he witnessed and experienced during the Holocaust.

End quote from Wikipedia

Why was the last Sonderkommando group allowed to live?  Was it because the Nazis were proud of their work in gassing the Jews and they wanted men to live to tell the world about it?

I blogged about Dario Gabbi previously on this blog post:  https://furtherglory.wordpress.com/tag/dario-gabbai/

and about the work of the Sonderkommando men on this blog post: https://furtherglory.wordpress.com/2011/10/18/the-gas-chambers-at-auschwitz-birkenau/

 

 

December 10, 2015

Prepare yourself for a new Holocaust movie in theaters on December 18th

Filed under: Germany, Holocaust, movies — Tags: , , , , — furtherglory @ 7:59 am

You have only one week to prepare yourself for a new block-buster movie coming out in theaters on December 18, 2015. The movie is about the Sonderkommando Jews who burned the bodies of the Jews after they were gassed.

I wrote about this on this previous blog post:  https://furtherglory.wordpress.com/2011/10/18/the-gas-chambers-at-auschwitz-birkenau/

You can read about the movie at http://www.jewishlinkbwc.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=7395:riverdale-resident-shines-in-new-epic-holocaust-film&catid=156:features&Itemid=585

This quote is from the article about the movie:

The film portrays an aspect of the Holocaust that has yet to be explored.

“Two out of three Jews were murdered in the Holocaust in Europe,” explained Rohrig. “Most or all I have seen in movies are always about the lucky third one. These movies are survival tales and we wanted to make a movie not about the exception but the norm and the norm was death.”

It’s true. All we ever hear about are the Jews who survived the Holocaust, not the names of the Jews who were gassed.   The Nazis were no fools — they didn’t keep the names of the Jews who were gassed.

There are still numerous survivors, who are out on the lecture circuit telling their unique stories about how they survived and are still alive today.

The following quote is from the news article:

Begin quote

Son of Saul, being released in the United States on December 18th, is like no other Holocaust film. Winner of the Grand Prix at the Cannes Film Festival, the film continues to wow critics, as it tells the story of Saul Auslander, who has the dubious distinction of being part of the Sonderkommando at Auschwitz.

“Their lives were way more difficult than those of the prisoners,” Röhrig, who prefers to be called Rafi, told The Jewish Link. “They were recruited upon their arrival at Auschwitz. The Nazis promised them a better life, told them they would live in a heated area but they didn’t give them any advance notice or an accurate job description.”

That job was to usher unknowing victims into the gas chambers and after their deaths, readying the room for the next group to be annihilated.

“They would separate the inter-tangled bodies, search them for valuables, cut the women’s hair, burn the bodies, pulverize the bigger bones that were still somewhat intact, take the ashes and dispose of them in the river,” said Röhrig. “The crematorium did not stop. There were day shifts. There were night shifts. And then every four months, they themselves were gassed.”   End quote

Wait a minute!  The Nazis threw ashes into a river at Auschwitz?  I don’t think so!  The Nazis were all about preserving the environment, even before this became popular.

The Sola river that runs through the town of Auschwitz

The Sola river that runs through the town of Auschwitz

The SS men swam in the river that runs through the town of Auschwitz.  People in the town washed their clothes in this river.  Do you really think that Hitler would have allowed the ashes of millions of Jews to contaminate the rivers?

I previously blogged about the disposal of the ashes at Auschwitz-Birkenau at https://furtherglory.wordpress.com/2011/06/27/where-are-the-ashes-of-the-1-1-million-people-killed-at-auschwitz-birkenau/

 

March 16, 2014

11-year-old boy who was selected to be a Sonderkommando at Auschwitz

Filed under: Holocaust — Tags: , , — furtherglory @ 4:53 pm

At Auschwitz, the Sonderkommando Jews were selected to work in the crematoria, carrying bodies out of the gas chamber, and shoving them into the cremation ovens.  But first, the Sonderkommando Jews had to pull the gold teeth out of the mouths of their fellow Jews, after they had been gassed.  (Shouldn’t they have pulled the gold teeth out BEFORE the Jews were gassed, and their bodies were contaminated with poison gas?)

Bodies of dead Jews were put onto a trolley before being shoved into the ovens at Auschwitz

Bodies of dead Jews were put onto a trolley before being shoved into the ovens at Auschwitz

Holocaust survivor Martin Becker was selected to be one of the Sonderkommando Jews, at the age of 11; he worked in this job for 5 years before he was marched out of the Auschwitz camp.

Martin Becker is still alive, at the age of 87, and he is out on the lecture circuit, telling his story, which you can read in full at http://www.thewrap.com/martin-becker-holocaust-survivor-waxword-column

Look at my photo above, taken at Auschwitz in 2005.  It shows the trolley, on which the bodies were placed, before they were shoved into the ovens at Auschwitz. At the age of 11, Martin Becker had no trouble dragging a body out of the gas chamber and throwing it up onto a trolley car.

My 1998 photo of a trolley for putting bodies into the oven at Auschwitz

My 1998 photo of a trolley for putting bodies into the oven at Auschwitz

In my photo above, there are lighted candles on the trolley where the bodies would have been placed by the Sonderkommando Jews.  At the age of 11, Martin Becker was not much taller than the trolley car.  Yet, he somehow managed to do his job as a Sonderkommando, so that he would not be shoved into the oven alive.

Why did the Nazis keep Martin Becker alive for 5 long years?  Didn’t they know that he might live to the age of 87 and tell his story to the world?

This quote is from the article about Martin Becker:

Born in Karlsruhe, Germany, Martin Becker was sent to Auschwitz in 1941, as a child of 11. His parents and grandparents were marched off to the gas chambers. He was handed a pliers and ordered to pull gold from the teeth of gassed corpses, individuals — he recalled in my living room this week — who moments earlier had been alive.

Martin Becker lived and worked in this death camp [Auschwitz] for five years, forced to serve as a Sonderkommando, one of the cursed crew charged with disposing of corpses, removing valuables and putting them in the ovens.

It was terrible,” he said simply, with devastating understatement. He recalled a friend he made among the Sonderkommando, Eric, who missed some of the gold in the teeth. He was thrown in the oven by a Nazi guard, still alive. He recalled 1944, when the Hungarian Jews were shipped to their deaths in Auschwitz: “They had a lot of gold in their teeth.”  […]

The Nazis were careful to kill the Sonderkommando at regular intervals. They were witnesses to crimes, and as such, needed to be liquidated. Martin Becker said that at a key moment of liquidation, he slipped into a line of Russian children and was overlooked.  […]

How many times did Martin have to slip into a line of Russia children to escape being killed?  According to Wikipedia, the Sonderkommando Jews were killed every 4 months, and replaced by Jews who had just arrived at the camp.

This quote is from Wikipedia:

Because of their intimate knowledge of the process of Nazi mass murder, the Sonderkommando were considered Geheimnisträger — bearers of secrets — and as such, they were kept in isolation from other camp inmates, except, of course, for those about to enter the gas chambers. Since the Nazis did not want Sonderkommandos’ knowledge to reach the outside world, they followed a policy of regularly gassing almost all the Sonderkommando and replacing them with new arrivals at intervals of approximately 4 months; the first task of the new Sonderkommandos would be to dispose of their predecessors’ corpses. Therefore since the inception of the Sonderkommando through to the liquidation of the camp there existed approximately 14 generations of Sonderkommando.[1]

Was Martin Becker big for his age, when he was 11 years old? Was he a big, strapping boy, who could throw the body of a grown man onto a trolley cart?  His photo below, shows that he is shorter than the average man today, but maybe he has shrunk with age.

Martin Becker was a Sonderkommando Jew at Auschwitz

Martin Becker was a Sonderkommando Jew at Auschwitz

June 3, 2013

89-year-old Holocaust survivor has died — he was a “commando” at Auschwitz

I have just finished reading the online obituary of Benny Hochman, who was sent to Auschwitz in 1939 and later marched to Buchenwald where he was liberated by American soldiers.

According to Benny Hochman’s obituary, “One night in the winter of 1939, Nazi soldiers arrived at the family’s home to take Benny’s older brother Boleak, a Polish officer, to Auschwitz. They took 16-year-old Benny, too. He became B-3156.”

Gate into the Auschwitz main camp which was opened in 1940

Gate into the Auschwitz main camp which was opened in 1940

Several years ago, I wrote this on my website at http://www.scrapbookpages.com/AuschwitzScrapbook/Tour/Auschwitz1/Auschwitz02.html:

The decision to open a concentration camp for Polish political prisoners in the town of Auschwitz was made by Heinrich Himmler on April 27, 1940. The first prisoners, a group of 728 Poles, arrived at the Auschwitz I camp on June 14, 1940. They were political prisoners from the Gestapo prison at Tarnow, a Polish town about 40 miles east of Krakow. Tarnow was also the site of a Ghetto set up by the Nazis in 1940 where 3,000 Jews worked in a clothing factory making uniforms for the German army; over 40,000 Jews lived in the Tarnow Ghetto until it was liquidated.

I suppose that I will have to go back and correct the information on my website, since Auschwitz was opened in 1939, according to Benny Hochman.

The first prisoners, that were sent to Auschwitz, were Polish “political prisoners,” so Benny is admitting that he was sent to Auschwitz because he was fighting with the Polish Resistance.  Nowhere in his obituary does it say that Benny was Jewish, yet he had a mis-spelled German name, not a Polish name.

Benny Hochman was given the number B-3156 at Auschwitz when he arrived in 1939, at least a year before the Auschwitz camp was opened.

On their website, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum has this quote, regarding the Auschwitz tattoo numbers:

In order to avoid the assignment of excessively high numbers from the general series to the large number of Hungarian Jews arriving in 1944, the SS authorities introduced new sequences of numbers in mid-May 1944. This series, prefaced by the letter A, began with “1” and ended at “20,000.” Once the number 20,000 was reached, a new series beginning with “B” series was introduced. Some 15,000 men received “B” series tattoos. For an unknown reason, the “A” series for women did not stop at 20,000 and continued to 30,000.

The obituary in the online Journal Star starts out with this quote:

An American soldier found Benny Hochman lying near the perimeter of the Buchenwald concentration camp in central Germany.

The 21-year-old Polish man stood 6 feet tall and weighed 78 pounds.

For three years at Auschwitz, Hochman fought for scraps of food and wheeled bodies out of gas chambers. Days before the Allies arrived [at Auschwitz], the Nazis marched the prisoners to Buchenwald. He worked on Autobahn and avoided the wrath of Ilse Koch.

I thought that the Autobahn was completed before World War II started, but maybe he was working to repair sections of  the Autobahn that had been bombed.  In any case, Hochman was able to avoid Ilse Koch, the wife of the Buchenwald Commandant, who ordered lampshades to be made from the skin of Buchenwald prisoners.

Hochman survived Auschwitz because he “wheeled bodies out of gas chambers,” meaning that he was a Sonderkommando, who worked in a crematorium at Auschwitz.  The Sonderkommando workers were killed every three months, but the last group was marched out of Auschwitz because the Nazis wanted to make sure that there would be witnesses to the gas chambers.

I previously blogged about the gas chamber in the main Auschwitz camp at https://furtherglory.wordpress.com/2013/05/23/if-this-is-a-gas-chamber-im-groucho-marx/

The most interesting part of Hochman’s obituary comes at the end:

Hochman worked as a “commando.” He removed the thousands of bodies from the gas chambers, loaded them onto wagons and wheeled them to the crematoriums. When the furnaces couldn’t keep up with the number of corpses, Hochman unloaded them into open dirt pits, into open flames.  [This contradicts Elie Wiesel’s story about prisoners being thrown ALIVE into open flames.]

Hochman was given a small hammer to knock out any gold teeth in the mouths of the dead. The scraps of food he found in the pockets of the dead helped him stay alive.

Wait a minute!  Benny ate food found in the POCKETS of the dead?  No, no, no!  The Jews were marched into an UNDRESSING ROOM and told to take off all their clothes before proceeding into the gas chamber. Benny’s story indicates that he was working in the gas chamber in the main Auschwitz camp which did not have an undressing room.  Filip Mueller, one of the Commandos who worked in the main camp gas chamber, wrote that he ate some cheese that he found in the gas chamber in the main camp.

Besides that, the food in the pockets of the dead, in the gas chamber, would have been saturated with Zyklon-B gas and anyone who ate the food would have died a horrible death.

Benny Hochman’s obituary continues with this quote:

Nazis moved those left at Auschwitz to Buchenwald in 1944. About 80 percent died on the monthlong trip. Hochman worked to avoid death, but eventually the five years he’d spent fighting for his life started to take their toll.

He was lying on the ground, near death when the 926th Signal Battalion of the American Army arrived.

Benny can be excused for not knowing that the 926th Signal Battalion is not credited with being liberators of Buchenwald, since he was near death at the time.

The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum has a list of Army units which liberated the camps.  I checked on the 926th Signal Battalion to make sure and found this:  http://www.ushmm.org/shared/search/main.php?q__typ=&q=926th+Signal+Battalion&Submit=

Truck loads of American soldiers were brought to see Buchenwald after the camp was liberated

Truck loads of American soldiers were brought to see Buchenwald after the camp was liberated

After the Buchenwald camp was liberated by the prisoners themselves on April 11, 1945, the US Army brought as many soldiers as they could to see the exhibits that had been put up by the survivors.  Benny may have been lying on the ground, near death, days after the Buchenwald camp was liberated, when a soldier from the 926th Signal Battalion found him.

I also found another obituary for Benny Hochman.  It was written by Klark Byrd in the Dickinson Press; you can read it at http://www.thedickinsonpress.com/event/article/id/68954/

This quote is from the article written by Klark Byrd:

After the Nazis invaded Poland in 1939, Benny’s life was on a course for something terrible. Though he and his family weren’t Jewish, his brother was educated and a member of the Polish army. For those reasons, he was targeted by the Gestapo in 1940. When they came for his brother, they took Benny too.

Why would the Gestapo be after a member of the “Polish army”?  Could it be that his brother was in an army of partisans who were fighting illegally, not as soldiers on a battlefield?  Was his brother in the “Polish Home Army,” which fought as Resistance fighters, not as soldiers?

The quote from Klark Byrd’s article continues:

His autobiography, “From Hell to Here,” states that “On April 14, 1945, a starving emaciated Polish lad lay in the gutter near the electrically charged perimeter fence of Buchenwald Concentration Camp with guns of war sounding in the distance.”

An American soldier found him. He offered Benny a piece of hard candy. Benny was too weak to take it. The soldier scooped him up and took him to an Army hospital to recuperate.

Benny was found, lying in a gutter, on April 14, 1945 after the Buchenwald camp had been liberated on April 11, 1945.  Had he been lying there in the gutter for 3 days before he was found?

May 22, 2013

Irene Zisblatt says that she was “put on” a train at Auschwitz by a “Sonderkommando boy” who wouldn’t tell her his name

Filed under: Germany, Holocaust — Tags: , , — furtherglory @ 10:54 am
Irene Zisblatt points to spot where her tatoo was removed by Dr. Mengele

Irene Zisblatt points to the spot under her arm where her tattoo was removed by Dr. Mengele

I previously blogged here about how famous Holocaust survivor Irene Zisblatt got stuck in the door of a gas chamber at Auschwitz-Birkenau, but was saved when a Sonderkommando, who was working in the crematorium, wrapped her in a blanket and threw her over a 10 foot high barbed wire fence.

It seems that Irene has modified her story a bit since I last read about her in the news.  She told a room full of Jewish students at Ohio State University in May 2011 about her famous escape from the gas chamber.

According to a newspaper article about her talk, which you can read in full here, Irene was not thrown over a 10 foot high fence into a railroad car.  No, she was “put on” a railroad car, according to the news story.  The Sonderkommando boy, who helped her, refused to tell her his name.  He had only 3 days to live, at that point, because as everyone knows, the Sonderkommando men and boys were killed every 3 months, (or was it every 6 weeks?) so that they could not bear witness in the future.  Only the last group of Sonderkommandos were saved and marched out of Auschwitz, so that they could tell the story of the gas chambers.

It could be that the reporter who wrote the newspaper article changed Irene’s description of her escape, so as not to cause people like me to make fun of her.  Maybe she was still sticking to her story about being tossed over a 10 ft. high fence when she spoke to the students.

Another thing that Irene changed in her story, as told to the Ohio State University students, is the frequency with which she swallowed her diamonds.  In her talk, she didn’t say that she swallowed the diamonds every day.

When I wrote about Irene on my website here four years ago, I was asked by a Holocaust True Believer to omit her story, but I declined.  Irene Zisblatt is an embarrassment to the Holocaust True Believer community, but apparently this doesn’t bother her.

Irene is comparable to Elie Wiesel who soldiers on in spite of the widespread belief that his Holocaust story is a complete fake.  You can read a serious article, written by Carolyn Yeager, about Irene’s fake story in a 5-part article, entitled The Fifth Diamond: A Special Jewel in the Genre of Holocaust Horror Stories.

According to the news article, cited above, Irene has told her story to 6 million people on the lecture circuit, or one person for each Jew that died in the Holocaust, and that was two years ago.

October 3, 2012

the death of Shlomo Venezia, a former Jewish Sonderkommando at Auschwitz

Filed under: Holocaust — Tags: , , , — furtherglory @ 10:45 am

A regular reader of my blog alerted me to an article about the recent death of Shlomo Venezia which you can read in full here.

This quote is from the article about the death of Shlomo Venezia:

October 2, 2012

ROME (JTA) – Shlomo Venezia, a Holocaust survivor who wrote about his experiences in an Auschwitz Sonderkommando unit and spent years bearing personal testimony to the Shoah, has died.

Venezia, who was born in Salonika (Thessaloniki), Greece, died Sept. 30 [2012] in Rome at the age of 88.

Deported to Auschwitz [on April 11] 1944, he was one of the few survivors of the notorious Sonderkommando units – teams of prisoners forced to move and cremate the bodies of those killed in the gas chambers. His mother and two sisters were killed in Auschwitz. He wrote about his experiences in a memoir, “Sonderkommando Auschwitz,” published in 2007.

Venezia was very active speaking about the Holocaust at schools, public events and in the media, and he accompanied Italian student groups on study trips to Auschwitz.

What was not mentioned in the article about his death is that he was in the last group of Sonderkommandos who worked at Auschwitz-Birkenau, removing the bodies from the gas chambers and putting them into the crematoria where the bodies were burned.  Unlike all the previous Sonderkommando Jews, the Jews in last group were allowed to live.

The Nazis had tried to keep it a secret that the Jews were being gassed, so the previous Sonderkommando Jews, who had worked in the gas chambers, had been killed periodically and replaced by a new group of Jews that had newly arrived.  For some strange, unexplained reason, the last 100 Sonderkommando Jews were allowed to live and they joined the “death march” out of Auschwitz-Birkenau on January 18, 1945.  Some Holocaust historians believe that the purpose of the “death march” out of Auschwitz-Birkenau was to kill the Jews by marching them to death.

In one of the books that he wrote, Shlomo explained that he “managed to slip into the columns of deportees being led away to other camps…”  So that’s what happened.  Shlomo didn’t believe that the Auschwitz prisoners were being marched to death, so he sneaked into a column of marching prisoners. The fact that he believed that the purpose of the march was NOT to kill the prisoners makes him a “Holocaust denier.”

This quote is from page 187 of Inside the Gas Chambers: Eight Months in the Sonderkommando of Auschwitz, written by Shlomo Venezia:

On January 18, when the general evacuation of the Auschwitz complex took place, most of the Sonderkommando men who were still alive (including twenty-five Greeks) managed to slip into the columns of deportees being led away to the other camps within the Reich.  By do doing, they managed to avoid certain death.  Some of them, generally Polish Jews, succeeded in escaping when what was later called “the death march” set off.

In May 1945, at the end of the war, slightly more than ninety men of the Sonderkommando of Birkeanau were still alive.

Another Sonderkommando Jew, who survived Auschwitz-Birkenau, was Dario Gabbai; he is one of the Holocaust survivors who is featured in Steven Spielberg’s documentary “The Last Days.”

This quote (the words of Gabbai) is from the book entitled “The Last Days” which tells the stories of the survivors who are featured in the documentary film with the same name:

When the Red Army was approaching, the Germans marched us to Austria; of the thousands who were on the march, only a few hundred survived, including ninety-six Sonderkommando.  There was one good morning when we woke up to an unexpected silence — all the Germans had gone and the Americans came a few hours later.  That was on May 6, 1945 and I weighed just sixty-seven pounds.

According to Holocaust historians, it was the custom to kill the Jews in the Sonderkommando squads periodically and replace them with new workers. This was done so as to eliminate any witnesses to the gas chambers.  But for some unknown reason, the Nazis allowed the last 100 Sonderkommando Jews to live.  According to Gabbai, the plan of the Nazis had been to take the Auschwitz survivors to a cave in Austria and blow them up. (Ernst Kaltenbrunner denied this during his testimony at the Nuremberg IMT.)  This plan was foiled when the Americans liberated the Mauthausen camp on May 5, 1945. General Eisenhower ordered that the liberation should be re-enacted on May 6, 1945 so that photos could be taken.

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