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August 23, 2015

Mengele had an entourage, according to a surivor who was selected twice for the gas chamber

Filed under: Germany, Holocaust — Tags: , , , — furtherglory @ 10:07 am
Dr. Josef Mengele is the man on the far left, surrounded by his entourage

Dr. Josef Mengele is the man on the far left; his entourage is on the right

Shown in the 1944 photo above, from left to right, are Dr. Josef Mengele, Richard Baer, Karl Hoecker, and Walter Schmidetski.

Richard Baer, known as the last Commandant of Auschwitz, was the commander of the main camp; his adjutant was Karl Hoecker.

Dr. Josef Mengele was one of 30 SS officers at Auschwitz II, aka Birkenau, who decided who would live and who would die in the gas chambers.

Notice that, in the title of my blog post today, I did not use the term Dr. when writing about Mengele, although he had a medical degree and a PhD, making him a Doctor twice over.  When you send people to the gas chamber, day after day, as Mengele did, you can no longer have the title of Doctor.

Dr. Mengele with Rudolf Hoess and Josef Kramer

Dr. Mengele with Rudolf Hoess and Josef Kramer, photographed at Auschwitz-Birkenau

This morning, I read a news article here, which has this quote about Mengele:

Minia [Jay], 90, recalled how [Dr.] Mengele would be surrounded by an entourage as he picked people to be sent to the crematorium complex, where Zyklon B, a cyanide based pesticide, was used as a weapon of mass murder.

I looked up the meaning of the word entourage, just to be sure that I knew the meaning of the word, and found this definition:

a group of attendants or associates, as of a person of rank or importance:
“The opera singer traveled with an entourage of 20 people.”

The following quote is from the news article, cited above:

Minia Jay says it was a “miracle” she did not die at the hands of the evil SS officer [Mengele], notorious for carrying out deadly experiments on prisoners.

Minia, 90, recalled how Mengele would be surrounded by an entourage as he picked people to be sent to the crematorium complex, where Zyklon B, a cyanide based pesticide, was used as a weapon of mass murder.

“I was sent to the corner of this dark room by the crematorium,” recalled Minia, now a greatgrandmother.

“We were waiting to die but then no transportation arrived from the ghetto so the guards couldn’t be bothered to go through the process for just a few people and I was sent back.”

The second time, she said, “We were selected naked and I’d lost so much weight you could count my ribs. I had tuberculosis so I knew I would be picked.

“Mengele pointed at me and said, ‘You, this way’.

“At that moment I could see I was not going to leave Auschwitz alive but I was still a young girl so I decided to save myself.

“I was watching him like a hawk as he was continuing to select people. When he turned, I turned.

“I could see this woman at the door, stopping people from escaping. If she had seen me I wouldn’t be here today.“I could see that those who had not been selected had been grouped into fives.“A girl in one of the groups spotted me and put four fingers up – they were one short. I don’t know how but I managed to stand with her and then we were all sent to work in Germany.”
Minia remains close friends with the girl, Rela, now 80 and living in Israel.
After being liberated in 1945, Minia and Rela were among 729 young Jewish people offered safe haven in Britain and were sent to the Lake District in a group of 300 children who became known as the “Windermere Boys”.
Here is the full story on Dr. Josef Mengele: he had arrived at Auschwitz-Birkenau in early May 1943, just at the time that the second typhus epidemic was starting. Dr. Mengele himself contracted typhus while he was at Birkenau.
Dr. Mengele was nicknamed the “Angel of Death” by the prisoners because he had the face of an angel, yet he callously made selections for the gas chambers at Auschwitz-Birkenau.
He was nice to the children in the camp, yet he allegedly experimented on them as though they were laboratory rats.
Dr. Mengele volunteered to do the selections at Auschwitz-Birkenau, even when it wasn’t his turn, because he wanted to find subjects for his medical research on genetic conditions and hereditary diseases, which he had already begun before the war. He particularly wanted to find twins for the research that he had started before he was posted to Auschwitz-Birkenau.
Dr. Mengele was known by all the prisoners because of his good looks and charm. According to Gerald L. Posner and John Ware, the authors of Mengele, the Complete Story, many of the children in the Birkenau camp “adored Mengele” and called him “Uncle Pepi.” This information came from Vera Alexander, a survivor of Birkenau, who said that Dr. Mengele brought chocolate and the most beautiful clothes for the children, including hair ribbons for the little girls.According to the book written by Gerald L. Posner and John Ware, Dr. Josef Mengele spent 21 months at the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp, and during that time, he sent 400,000 prisoners to their deaths in the gas chambers at Birkenau.Allowing for the time that Dr. Mengele could not work when he was sick with malaria and typhus, he selected 20,000 Jews and Gypsies per month to be killed, according to Posner and Ware.
The following quote is from Mengele, the Complete Story:

The memory of this slightly built man, scarcely a hair out of place, his dark green tunic neatly pressed, his face well scrubbed, his Death’s Head SS cap tilted rakishly to one side, remains vivid for those who survived his scrutiny when they arrived at the Auschwitz railhead. Polished boots slightly apart, his thumb resting on his pistol belt, he surveyed his prey with those dead gimlet eyes, Death to the left, life to the right. Four hundred thousands souls — babies, small children, young girls, mothers, fathers, and grandparents — are said to have been casually waved to the lefthand side with a flick of the cane clasped in a gloved hand. Mengele was the chief provider for the gas chambers and their crematoria. He had a look that said ‘I am the power,’ said one survivor. At the time, Mengele was only 32 years old.

A dark green tunic, like the one that Dr. Mengele wore

A dark green tunic, like the one that Dr. Mengele wore

August 15, 2015

Holocaust survivors who were sent from Auschwitz to Theresienstadt to be gassed

Filed under: Buchenwald, Dachau, Germany, Holocaust — Tags: , , , , — furtherglory @ 12:55 pm
Holoaust survivors who were saved when they were sent to the UK

Holoaust survivors who were saved when they were sent to the UK (Click to enlarge)

This quote is from a news story, which you can read in full here. The photo above is included in the news article.

In 1945, a group of Jewish children who came to be known as the “Windermere Boys” were granted refuge at hostels in the Lake District [in the UK].

The youngsters who arrived at the scenic Calgarth Estate near Windermere were orphaned boys and girls aged four to 18 who had somehow managed to survive the unimaginable horror of the Holocaust.

Among them was Samuel Laskier, a Polish Jew who spent seven months in Auschwitz before taking the “worst journey imaginable” to Theresienstadt concentration camp in the Czech Republic, which was liberated by the Russians on May 8, the day Germany surrendered.

Why was going from Auschwitz to Theresienstadt the “worst journey imaginable”?  Auschwitz was a “death camp” where Jews were gassed; Theresienstadt did not have a reputation for gassing Jews. At least not until the very end of the war.

Gate into the Theresienstadt ghetto

Gate into the Theresienstadt ghetto (click to enlarge)

I blogged about the gas chamber at Theresienstadt in this previous blog post:

https://furtherglory.wordpress.com/2010/05/13/gas-chamber-at-theresienstadt/

Toward the end of World War II, there were rumors circulating in all of the major Nazi concentration camps, that Hitler had given the order for all the inmates to be killed before the arrival of the Soviet or American soldiers, who would liberate the camps. This was believed to be the purpose for building a gas chamber at Theresienstadt in 1945 at the tail end of the war.

At Auschwitz, the inmates were given the choice of staying in the camp, or following the Germans on a death march to other camps in the west before the Soviet army arrived. Very few prisoners stayed behind, except those who were too old or too sick to walk; the prisoners believed that they would be killed by the Soviets if they stayed at Auschwitz.

After April 20, 1945, there were 13,454 of these wretched survivors from Auschwitz and other camps who poured into Theresienstadt. Some were housed in the Hamburg barracks, right by the railroad tracks. The others were put into temporary wooden barracks outside the ghetto, which were taken down soon after the war.

Some of the people who arrived from the evacuated camps were former inmates of Theresienstadt who were now returning. Others were Jews who had been in the eastern concentration camps for years. On May 3, 1945, the Theresienstadt  ghetto was turned over to the Red Cross by Commandant Karl Rahm.

Some of the newcomers had been evacuated from Buchenwald on April 5th just before the camp was liberated by American troops on April 11, 1945. Before the Americans arrived, Hitler himself had given the order to evacuate the Jews from Buchenwald in an effort to prevent them from exacting revenge on German citizens after they were freed.

Some of the Buchenwald prisoners, who arrived at Theresienstadt, were in terrible condition after they had been traveling by train for two weeks without food.

After the liberation of Buchenwald, some of the prisoners, who had not been evacuated, commandeered American army jeeps and weapons, then drove to the nearby town of Weimar where, in an orgy of revenge, they looted German homes and shot innocent civilians at random. This was the type of thing that the Nazis were trying to prevent by evacuating the concentration camps before they were liberated.

According to Holocaust survivor Ben Helfgott, who was one of the prisoners brought to Theresienstadt in the last days of the war, the inmates of the Theresienstadt ghetto went on a rampage as soon as they were released. They looted homes, beat to death an SS guard from the ghetto, and attacked the ethnic Germans who were now homeless refugees, fleeing to Germany, after being driven out of the Czech provinces of Bohemia and Moravia.

According to Martin Gilbert in his book Holocaust Journey, Commandant Karl Rahm told the Red Cross that he had received orders from Berlin to kill all the inmates in the ghetto before the Russians arrived, but he had disobeyed the order. Because of this, Rahm was allowed to leave the Theresienstadt camp unmolested on the day before the Russians arrived on May 8, 1945. He was later captured and tried in a Special People’s Court in nearby Litomerice; he was convicted and was executed in 1947.