Scrapbookpages Blog

October 28, 2013

Holocaust survivor Hilda Mantelmacher was “marched” from Auschwitz to Bergen-Belsen

Filed under: Germany, Holocaust — Tags: , — furtherglory @ 11:37 am

This morning, I read a news article here, which mentioned that Holocaust survivor Hilda Mantelmacher spoke at a special diversity presentation held recently on the campus of Central Penn College.

This quote is from the news article:

[Mantelmacher] was invited to speak on Oct. 22 by part-time general education professor Darrel Showers who teaches a history course titled “Remember: A Retrospective of the Holocaust.” At first, the plan was to have her talk in front of the class as a guest lecturer, but the decision was made to share her message with the broader campus community, said Sarah Douglass, college spokesperson.

For years, Hilda had kept silent about her ordeal in the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp, until one day when she saw two Holocaust deniers speak on a TV show.  This was probably the Phil Donahue show, several years ago, where Bradley Smith and David Cole debated the Holocaust with Holocaust Believers.  That’s when Hilda started speaking on the lecture circuit.

You can listen to her talk at Central Penn College on YouTube:

At 18:53 minutes in the video, Hilda says that the Nazis put a Christian girl in the gas chamber.

At 19:44 minutes in the video, Hilda says that she does not have a tattoo.  She explains this by saying that the Nazis didn’t tattoo people who were selected for the gas chamber.  Hilda was very young when she was sent to Auschwitz, although she doesn’t give her exact age in the video. In another news story, which you can read here, Hilda said that she does not know the day nor the year that she was born.

Apparently, Hilda was selected for the gas chamber, but the Nazis never got around to gassing her.  It is well known that Dr. Josef Mengele could not determine age to within 5 years, so many young children were saved from the gas chamber, by lying about their age.

At 27:15 minutes in the YouTube video, Hilda says that she was MARCHED to Bergen-Belsen.  Up to this point, Hilda had been describing her stay at Auschwitz-Birkenau, which was in what is now Poland, a long way from Bergen-Belsen which was in northwest Germany.

Bergen-Belsen was the camp, to which Anne Frank was transferred, from Auschwitz-Birkenau.  The news article about Hilda’s diversity talk says that Hilda was TRANSFERRED to Bergen-Belsen, thereby covering a huge mistake made by Hilda in her talk. Or maybe, young girls were MARCHED all the way from Poland to Bergen-Belsen.

I rushed to the Bergen-Belsen page on Wikipedia to find out if women marched all the way from Poland to Germany in the last days of the war.  I found the following information on Wikipedia:

In January 1945, the SS took over the POW hospital and increased the size of Bergen-Belsen. As eastern concentration camps were evacuated before the advance of the Red Army, at least 85,000 people were transported in cattle cars or marched to Bergen-Belsen.[12]

I checked the source for this statement and found that this website is the source.  This quote from the website gives the information about the marches:

In the summer of 1944, the SS began to evacuate the camps near the front lines and transport tens of thousands of prisoners to more centrally located camps under catastrophic conditions. At least 85,000 men, women and children were taken to Bergen-Belsen on over 100 transports and death marches starting in December 1944. The train journeys in overcrowded cattle cars and the death marches sometimes lasted for several weeks.

Note that prisoners were MARCHED to Bergen-Belsen, but there is no claim that prisoners were MARCHED FROM POLAND to Bergen-Belsen.  They were marched from other camps in GERMANY to Bergen-Belsen which was WEST of the other camps.

Jewish prisoners dragging a dead body at Bergen-Belsen

Jewish prisoners dragging a dead body at Bergen-Belsen

At 27:53 minutes in the video, Hilda says that the girls at Bergen-Belsen had nothing to do but take away the dead.  The photo above proves that she was right about that.  But then she says that when the British came closer, the Nazis went to hide all the corpses.

There were thousands of dead bodies in the Bergen-Belsen camp because there was a typhus epidemic in progress.  That is why the camp was VOLUNTARILY turned over to the British, after a week of negotiations.  The Nazis did not try to hide the bodies from the British. The British knew that the camp was being turned over to them BECAUSE of the typhus epidemic, which could potentially spread to the German soldiers and the British soldiers who were fighting in this area.

In her talk, Hilda Mantelmacher said all the right things about the gas chamber.  At 13:03 minutes in the video, she says that the prisoners were forced to enter the shower, but it was really a gas chamber.  She mentions that the prisoners were given soap and towels to take with them into the showers, which were really gas chambers.  She also mentions that the prisoners were told to tie their shoes together before leaving them in the undressing room.  Hilda has the official gas chamber story down pat, even though she was never sent to the gas chamber herself.  Instead, she was sent to Bergen-Belsen, a camp that is known to everyone because that is where Anne Frank died, after she was sent there on a TRAIN.

In my humble opinion, Hilda should have done a little more research before telling her fake story about the Holocaust.  For one thing, Hilda said this:  “Dr. Josef Mengele greeted the new arrivals with a cruel face, vicious dogs and a whip held firmly in one hand.”  Every other survivor of Auschwitz has described Dr. Mengele as being very charming, NOT as having “a cruel face.”  The photo below shows Dr. Mengele in the center.  Does this look like “a cruel face:?

Richard Baer, Josef Mengele and Rudolf Hoess

Richard Baer, Josef Mengele and Rudolf Hoess

Most of the survivors of Auschwitz-Birkenau describe Dr. Mengele as being impeccably dressed, and whistling as the prisoners passed by him during the selection process.

This quote is from the news article about Hilda’s talk to the students:

“From the start, it was clear that Nazi Germany was bent on the destruction of European Jews and made it a major goal of World War II. Mantelmacher remembers how her father had set aside a secret place for the family.”

So her family had a hiding place?  Could it be that Hilda hid in the “secret place” throughout the war, and was never sent to a camp?

I believe that Hilda Mantelmacher is contributing to the Holocaust denier side of the story, more than proving the Holocaust.

October 1, 2013

New book tells about Nazi women who joined the men “on shooting parties in the snow, hunting and killing Jews for sport”

Filed under: Germany, Holocaust, movies — Tags: , , , — furtherglory @ 11:01 am
Irme Grese and Kramer are guarded by a British soldier at the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp

Irma Grese and Josef Kramer are guarded by a British soldier at the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp

A regular reader of my blog provided a link to a news article which you can read in full here. The photo shown above was included in the article.  It shows a British soldier guarding Irma Grese, one of the female guards at the Bergen-Belsen camp; standing next to her is Josef Kramer, the last Commandant of Bergen-Belsen.

New book about female perpetrators in the Holocaust

New book about female perpetrators in the Holocaust

The article, in the British newspaper Mail Online, is about a new book entitled Hitler’s Furies: German Women in the Nazi Killing Fields, written by Professor Wendy Lower, who currently lives and teaches in Munich, Germany

This quote is from the news article cited above:

Even more caught up in the criminal madness were administrators such as Liselotte Meier, who worked so closely with her strutting boss, an SS officer, that they were almost indistinguishable. She joined him on shooting parties in the snow, hunting and killing Jews for sport. […]

In support of the men, women even manned refreshment tables during executions so the killers could take a break. […]

Another SS wife, Lisel Willhaus, wife of a camp commandant, used to sit on the balcony of their house and take pot shots at Jewish prisoners with her rifle.

Also in Poland was Vera Wohlauf, whose husband Julius commanded a police battalion ordered in 1942 to round up 11,000 Jewish inhabitants of a small town for transportation to Treblinka for liquidation.

She sat by her husband in the front seat of the lorry that led a convoy of killers to the town, and stood in the market square brandishing a whip as nearly a thousand who resisted the round-up or collapsed in the summer heat were beaten to death or shot.

She was pregnant at the time, a further incongruity.

In the Ukraine, 22-year-old secretary Johanna Altvater played an even more prominent role in a massacre while working for regional commissar Wilhelm Westerheide.

During the liquidation of a Jewish ghetto, Fräulein Hanna, as she was known, was seen in her riding breeches prodding men, women and children into a truck ‘like a cattle herder’.

The news article includes two versions of the same photo of Irma Grese, which is shown at the top of my blog post.  However, the book does not include the story of Irma Grese. It is about 11 young women who served as secretaries, nurses, or in other functions on the Eastern Front.

The brief mention of Irma Grese, in the news article, is quoted here:

The few women ever called to account were notorious concentration camp guards — the likes of Irma Grese and Ilse Koch — whose evil was so extreme they could be explained away as freaks and beasts, not really ‘women’ at all.

The caption on the photo, shown at the top of my blog post, is this:

Guilty: Irma Grese, nicknamed ‘The Beautiful Beast’ pictured with Joseph Kramer who was commandant of Auschwitz and later Belsen concentration camps. She was hanged aged 22 in 1945 and him in 1946

What heinous crimes had Irma Grese and Josef Kramer committed?

The news article doesn’t tell us, so I will have to tell you: The two of them were guilty of gross stupidity.

When the Bergen-Belsen camp was VOLUNTARILY turned over to the British, these two were standing at the gate into the camp, offering their help in taking care of the prisoners; there was a typhus epidemic in the camp that was out of control.

Sign on the gate at Bergen-Belsen warns that there is a typhus epidemic

Sign on the gate at Bergen-Belsen warns that there is a typhus epidemic

To add to the misery of the prisoners, the Belsen camp had been bombed by the British and the water pump had been hit, so there was no fresh water available.

Yet, instead of escaping from the camp, these two vicious war criminals, Josef Kramer and Irma Grese, were standing at the gate, ready to greet the British and offer their help.

STUPID, STUPID, STUPID!  They should have escaped to South America, as did Dr. Josef Mengele and Adolf Eichmann.  What were they thinking?

According to Michael Berenbaum, in his book The World Must Know, Commandant Josef Kramer greeted British officer Derrick Sington at the entrance to the Belsen camp, wearing a fresh uniform.

Berenbaum wrote that Kramer expressed his desire for an orderly transition and his hopes of collaborating with the British. According to Berenbaum, Kramer dealt with them as equals, one officer to another, even offering advice as to how to deal with the “unpleasant situation.”

That same day, Commandant Kramer was arrested by the British; five months later he and Irma Grese were  brought before a British Military Tribunal and both were convicted as war criminals.

Josef Krama was arrested by the British on the same day that he offered to help with the typhus epidemic in the camp

Josef Kramer was arrested by the British on the same day that he offered to help with the typhus epidemic that was out of control in the Belsen camp

At the British Military Tribunal after World War II, the Germans, who had been associated with the Belsen camp, were put on trial. Survivors of  the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp testified that Grese had habitually worn jack boots, and that she carried a plaited cellophane whip and a pistol.

Grese was also accused of being always accompanied by a vicious dog. The prisoners claimed that Irma was sadistic and that she derived sexual pleasure from beating the women prisoners with her cellophane riding crop. Witnesses claimed that Irma Grese had beaten women prisoners to death at Auschwitz and had shot others in cold blood.

The accusations of murder, against Irma Grese, were made in affidavits, and none of the accusations were corroborated. Survivors of Auschwitz-Birkenau even claimed that there were lamp shades, made out of the skins of three women prisoners, found in Grese’s room at Birkenau. Of course, no evidence of this was introduced at her trial. The most serious charge against Irma Grese, by the British Military Tribunal, was that she had been present when inmates at Birkenau were selected for the gas chamber and that she had participated, in the selections, by forcing the women to line up for inspection by Dr. Mengele.

At her trial, Grese denied having a dog, beating prisoners to death or shooting anyone, although she did admit to hitting prisoners with her cellophane whip even though it was forbidden for the Overseers to beat the prisoners. She stated that she continued to use her whip even after being ordered not to by Commandant Kramer.

At her trial before the British Military Tribunal at Lüneburg, Germany in 1945, the following testimony was given by Ilona Stein in a Deposition:

“Whilst at Birkenau I have seen Grese making selections with Dr. Mengele of people to be sent to the gas chamber. On these parades Grese herself chose the people to be killed in this way. In one selection about August, 1944, there were between 2000 and 3000 selected. At this selection, Grese and Mengele were responsible for selecting those for the gas chamber. People chosen would sometimes sneak away from the line and hide themselves under their beds. Grese would go and find them, beat them until they collapsed and then drag them back into line again. I have seen everything I describe. It was general knowledge in this camp that persons selected in this way went to the gas chamber.”

The testimony against Irma Grese, which is quoted above was given in a Deposition.  (A deposition is a legal document, which is given by a witness who does not take the witness stand in court.)  At her trial, Irma Grese admitted to being aware that prisoners were gassed at Birkenau; she stated that this was common knowledge in the camp and that she had been told by the prisoners about the gassing. She admitted that she was present when selections were made and that she had helped to line up the prisoners, but she denied making the selections herself. Irma Grese was hanged for her crime of helping with the selection of prisoners for the gas chamber and for her crime of using a cellophane whip, although she had been ordered not to use a whip by Josef Kramer.

July 6, 2013

Herta Bothe, the “sadist of Bergen-Belsen,” remained defiant to the end

Herta Bothe is the woman on the right

Herta Bothe is the woman on the right; the woman in the center is Irene Haschke

Today, Herta Bothe is famous for her defiant attitude and her show of anger when the women guards at Bergen-Belsen were ordered by the British to carry decomposed corpses to mass graves with their bare hands. You can read about the history of Bergen-Belsen here.

In interviews years later, Bothe described how she was terrified of contracting typhus because the guards were not allowed to wear gloves or masks. She described how the arms and legs of the decomposed bodies came off in her hands when she tried to pick them up, and how lifting the emaciated bodies caused her back pain. Although the British brought in bulldozers and shoved some of the bodies into the mass graves, they forced the former guards to do most of the work manually as their just punishment for the horrible conditions found in the camp, after Heinrich Himmler had voluntarily turned the camp over to them on April 15, 1945.

Herta Bothe was sentenced to ten years in prison after being convicted by a British Military Tribunal in 1945. She was released on December 22, 1951.

Several years ago, I was alerted, by a reader of my website, to the fact that I had mis-identified Herta Bothe, a guard at the Bergen-Belsen camp, in a photo.  I did considerable research to confirm that I had made a mistake, and then made a correction.  The photo above shows Herta Bothe on the right; the woman in the middle is Irene Haschke, another woman guard at Bergen Belsen.

Mugshot of Herta Bothe

Mugshot of Herta Bothe

In the photo above, taken by the British at an Allied prison in the nearby town of Celle, Bothe looks haggard and has dark circles under her eyes after working for weeks in the camp to bury around 17,000 corpses including the bodies of 13,000 prisoners who died after the British took over.

Herta Bothe and Irene Haschke had both stayed behind when the Bergen-Belsen camp was voluntarily turned over to the British on April 15, 1945 because there was a typhus epidemic in the camp. They wanted to help take care of the sick prisoners, but both were immediately arrested and charged with being war criminals. Both were put on trial, charged with Count One, the mistreatment of prisoners at Bergen-Belsen.  Count Two was the charge of mistreatment of the prisoners at Auschwitz, where many of these guards, including Bothe and Haschke, had previously worked.

In doing my research to confirm the identification of the two women in the photo above, I came across this website, which has an article written by a student in a class taught by Professor Harold Marcuse at the University of California at Santa Barbara:

From other accounts, Bothe was infamous for her brutality. She was known as a sadist, often beating prisoners without mercy. In trial, Sala Schiferman served as a witness against Bothe, testifying that she saw Bothe beat an 18-year-old girl for eating peelings in the kitchen. When prisoners protested, Bothe said, “I will beat her to death.” The girl was later declared to be dead by camp doctors. Another witness, Luba Triszinska, accused Bothe of frequently beating internees with wooden sticks and causing their deaths. Bothe was known for shooting at weak women as they were carrying the heavy containers of food. One man, Wilhelm Grunwald, testified that he saw Bothe do this sometime between April 1st-15th, 1945. Bothe claimed that she never used anything but her hands to beat the women under her command and that she never carried a pistol.

According to the information given by this student in an essay for a college class, Herta Bothe had been accused of beating a prisoner who ate “peelings.”

Prisoners at Bergen-Belsen peeling potatoes inside a barrack building

Prisoners at Bergen-Belsen peeling potatoes inside a barrack building

The following quote from Wikipedia tells about the war crimes that Herta allegedly committed at Bergen-Belsen.  Herta had been a guard at Auschwitz, but she was not charged with any crimes committed there; on March 1, 1945, Herta had been transferred to Bergen-Belsen.  At the Belsen trial, Herta Bothe was sentenced to 10 years in prison for her crime of “using a pistol on prisoners” at Bergen-Belsen; she had not been charged with using a pistol at Auschwitz.

Quoted from Wikipedia:

Once in the [Bergen-Belsen] camp Bothe supervised a female wood brigade of 60 women prisoners.[citation needed] The camp was liberated on April 15, 1945.[citation needed]

She is said to have been the tallest woman arrested. Bothe also stood out from other Aufseherinnen because, while most of the SS women wore black jackboots, she was in ordinary civilian shoes. The Allied soldiers forced her to place corpses of dead prisoners into mass graves adjacent to the main camp. She later recalled in an interview some 60 years later that, while carrying the corpses they were not allowed to wear gloves, and she was terrified of contracting typhus. She said the dead bodies were so rotten that the arms and legs tore away from the rest of the body when they were moved. She also recalled the emaciated bodies were still heavy enough to cause her considerable back pain. Bothe was arrested and taken to a jail at Celle.[citation needed]

At the Belsen Trial she was characterized as a “ruthless overseer” and sentenced to ten years in prison for using a pistol on prisoners. She was released early from prison on December 22, 1951 as an act of leniency by the British government.[citation needed]

Note that Wikipedia has no “citation” for the statement that Bergen-Belsen was “liberated on April 15, 1945.”  There is no citation available because Bergen-Belsen was not “liberated.”  It was voluntarily turned over to the British by Heinrich Himmler; you can read about the so-called “liberation of Bergen-Belsen” here.

British soldiers shoved dead bodies into mass graves with a bulldozer at Bergen-Belsen

British soldiers shoved dead bodies into mass graves with a bulldozer at Bergen-Belsen

The defendants in the Belsen Trial

The defendants in the Belsen Trial conducted by the British

According to Robert E. Conot, author of Justice at Nuremberg, the idea of bringing the Nazi war criminals to justice was first voiced by President Franklin D. Roosevelt on October 7, 1942, when he declared: “It is our intention that just and sure punishment shall be meted out to the ringleaders responsible for the organized murder of thousands of innocent persons in the commission of atrocities which have violated every tenet of the Christian faith.”

On October 26, 1943, the United Nations War Crimes Commission, composed of 15 Allied nations, met in London to discuss the trials of the German war criminals which were inevitable. That same year, Roosevelt, Churchill and Stalin issued a joint statement, called the Moscow Declaration, in which they agreed to bring the German war criminals to justice.

The charges brought by the British against the defendants at “The Belsen Trial” differed from the charges brought by the American Military Tribunal at Dachau, against the camp personnel of Dachau, Buchenwald and other camps. In the BelsenTrial, the defendants were charged with murdering specific individuals who were listed by name in the charge sheet. At the Nuremberg International Military Tribunal and at the American Military Tribunal at Dachau, the war criminals were charged with participating in a “common plan” and there were also specific charges; none of the defendants in the IMT and the AMT were charged with the murder of a specific individual. The British accused the defendants in The Belsen Trial of being “together concerned as parties to” specific crimes, but they also brought specific charges for the murder of inmates who were named, as well as others who were unnamed.

The charges at The Belsen Trial were as follows:

Count One:

At Bergen-Belsen, Germany, between 1 October 1942 and 30 April 1945, when members of the staff of Bergen-Belsen Concentration Camp responsible for the well-being of the persons interned there, in violation of the law and usages of war, were together concerned as parties to the ill-treatment of certain of such persons, causing the deaths of Keith Meyer (a British national), Anna Kis, Sara Kohn (both Hungarian nationals), Heinrich Glinovjechy and Maria Konatkevicz (both Polish nationals) and Marcel Freson de Montigny (a French national), Maurice Van Eijnsbergen (a Dutch national), Maurice Van Mevlenaar (a Belgian national), Jan Markowski and Georgej Ferenz (both Polish nationals), Salvatore Verdura (an Italian national) and Therese Klee (a British national of Honduras), Allied nationals, and other Allied nationals whose names are unknown, and physical suffering of other persons interned there, Allied nationals, and particularly to Harold Osmund le Druillenec (a British national), Benec Zuchermann, a female internee named Korperova, a female internee named Hoffmann, Luba Rormann, Isa Frydmann (all Polish nationals) and Alexandra Siwdowa, a Russian national and other Allied nationals whose names are unknown.

The British military tribunal at Belsen took only 53 days to hear both the prosecution and the defense cases and then to make a decision on all 44 cases.

Each defendant at The Belsen Trial wore a number in the court room for easy identification in such a whirlwind trial.

Josef Kramer was Defendant No. 1 and Dr. Fritz Klein was No. 2. On the 54th day of the proceedings, which was November 17, 1945, the sentences were handed down. The sentences were then reviewed by Field-Marshall Montgomery, the commanding officer of the British Occupation, and clemency was denied to all those who had been found guilty. There was no appeal process.

Herta Bothe and Irene Haschke were later granted clemency:  both were released after serving only 6 years of their 10 year sentence.

I previously blogged about The Belsen Trial here.