Scrapbookpages Blog

February 1, 2016

The Theresienstadt gas chamber — the story that won’t die

Filed under: Holocaust — Tags: , , , — furtherglory @ 8:43 am
Theresienstadt ghetto were Jews were confined in World War II

An old building in the Theresienstadt ghetto where Jews were confined during World War II

I am taking a comment, made by Wolf Murmelstein, out of the comment section of my blog and making it public in my new blog post today. As I write this, I recall that I previously posted this same comment.  I am posting it again because there are many new readers of my blog, who might like to weigh in on this subject.

The alleged gas chamber at Theresienstadt was located near this spot

The alleged gas chamber at Theresienstadt was located near this gate into the camp

The following article was written in a recent comment made by Wolf Murmelstein, the son of Benjamin Murmelstein, the last Jewish Elder at Theresienstadt:

How the things went on is clearly exposed in my Father’s Book. THERESIENSTADT, EICHMANN’S MUSTERGHETTO which cannot find any USA publisher due to the interests of the Shoah Business as proved by the circulation of this tale.
At any rate, I will summarize the real story:
1. In January, an order came to start works for an adaption of a room in the fort walls and for a wall enclosing a place in the moat surrounding the town but only following oral instructions without any written design.
2. Going on with the work, the engineer alarmed the Elder [Benjamin Murmelstein] who too found it strange as, furthermore, not being called to accompany certain visitors who came to control those works.
3. A group [of prisoners], arriving from Slovakia at  the end of December 1944, had the first alarming information.
4. At a certain moment, the Elder Murmelstein, after having given instructions for the events of his arrest, faced the Commander who spoke about a bombsafe warehouse and a lake for growing ducks. But next day the Commander suddenly left for Prague and returned after three days with the order to stop those works. The only one having authority to give such an order had been SS General and Governor of the Protectorate Karl Hermann Frank.
5. Little Fortress Commander Heinrich Joecke admitted that the Gas Chamber had been aimed for the liquidation o the political prisoners, adding wrongly that Zyklon B had been available. The so called lake in the moat had been aimed as a place for a mass shooting of all Ghetto inmates.

6. Ghetto Commander Karl Rahm in his trial strangely did not show how he had obtained the order to stop the works, holding the version of the Bombsafe Warehouse and the lake for growing ducks, renouncing so as to plea for a prison sentence. One can conjecture that he had been afraid of disclosing the real envolvment of some one able to escape his former “comrades”  who would take revenge on his family at Vienna.
At any rate, things had been made certain in a proper court – Litomerice, Czech Republic – where files can be controlled.
Should such a tale have been put into circulation here in Italy, I would address the State Attorney to investigate whether there had been simple fraud – when asking to buy tickets to follow a speech – or heavy fraud – when sponsored by public pecuniary aid. And in the USA?

I have previously blogged about this in these blog posts:

https://furtherglory.wordpress.com/tag/theresienstadt-gas-chamber

https://furtherglory.wordpress.com/2013/05/18/the-plan-to-gas-all-the-jews-at-theresienstadt-or-if-that-wasnt-enough-to-drown-them

https://furtherglory.wordpress.com/2015/11/14/the-plan-to-gas-the-prisoners-at-theresienstadt-near-the-end-of-world-war-ii

 

December 11, 2015

Throwing ashes of Jews into rivers — fact or fiction?

TheresienstadtGate

The gate into the Theresienstadst ghetto is shown in my photo above, taken several years ago. This place is now known as Terezín [rhymes with kerosine and gasoline].

The subject of throwing ashes into rivers came up in this recent news article:  http://m.taggmanager.cz/en/1075

Newbies, who want to know more about throwing ashes into rivers, can read about Theresienstadt on this kosher website:  http://www.outsideprague.com/terezin/terezin.html

This quote is from the kosher website cited in the link above:

The other statistics for Terezín [Theresienstadt] are equally as difficult to comprehend. Within three years 87,000 people were sent from Terezín to the concentration camps in Poland. Less than 4000 survived. The ashes of 22,000 people were thrown into the Ohře River at the end of the war, in an attempt by the SS to disguise their activities. At the beginning of the war, Terezín was a town of 7,000 inhabitants, including soldiers stationed there. By the end its population had swelled to almost 58,000. 9,000 people are buried in graves around the fortress and around 35,000 people in total perished in Terezín during the war.

My photo of one of the buildings at Theresienstadt

My photo of a building at Theresienstadt

One of the regular readers of my blog is Wolf Murmelstein, who is a survivor of Terezín,  the place formerly known as Theresienstadt.

My photo of the wall around the Theresienstadt ghetto

My photo of the wall around the Theresienstadt ghetto

As a child, Wolf was confined in the Theresienstadt ghetto where his father, Benjamin Murmelstein, was the last Jewish elder of the ghetto.

The building where Benjamin Murmelstein worked at Theresienstadt

The building where Benjamin Murmelstein worked at Theresienstadt

Wolf recently wrote this in a comment, which I have edited because English is not his first language:

On October 31, 1944, the Nazis took all the boxes containing the ashes of persons dead at Theresienstadt out of the COLOMBARIUM.

All the boxes were brought to the nearby Eger river, where a group of twenty prisoners had to empty the boxes, and throw the ashes into the river. Needless to say, those prisoners had been shot just after having done that work.

Throwing the ashes of murdered victims in the water of a river is a very old pagan rite and perfectly consistent with the Nazi doctrine of the extirpation of Jews.

Clearly the tragic story of the SONDERKOMANDO members is no way suitable for a Hollywood film [such as Son of Saul].

I have visited Theresienstadt twice, after which I wrote about it on my this section of my website: http://www.scrapbookpages.com/CzechRepublic/Theresienstadt/TheresienstadtGhetto/History/index.html

I wrote about the ashes of the Jews on this page of my website: http://www.scrapbookpages.com/CzechRepublic/Theresienstadt/TheresienstadtGhetto/History/RedCrossVisit.html
The following quote is from my website:

On the outskirts of the town [Theresienstadt], the Sokol building, formerly used to house Jews who were suffering from encephalitis, was changed into a social club for cultural events with a library for the use of the Jews and a Synagogue.

A Columbarium to hold the ashes of the Jews who died in the camp was built near the crematorium and tombstones were placed on the graves in the cemetery.

The beautiful 18th century barracks buildings were refurbished and improved inside and out.

With Theresienstadt now beautified, the next step was to relieve the overcrowding in the ghetto so that the IRC [International Red Cross] would not realize the actual inhuman living conditions there.

In September 1943, December 1943 and May 1944, just before the scheduled visit, there was a total of seven transports on which 17,517 Jews were sent to the death camp at Auschwitz.

The Czech Jews from these transports were placed in a “family camp” at the Auschwitz II camp known as Birkenau. The men, women and children were allowed to stay together in contrast to the other prisoners at Auschwitz-Birkenau who had to live in separate fenced-off sections where the men and women were segregated from each other.

The Czech Jews were allowed to wear civilian clothes instead of the blue and gray striped prison uniforms that the other inmates had to wear. Most importantly, they were allowed to send letters back to Theresienstadt to tell the others about how well they were being treated in the camp.

Six months after it was opened, the “family camp” was closed and only 1,168 of the Theresienstadt prisoners survived. The rest are presumed to have perished in the gas chamber.

End quote

“That’s all she wrote, and she rubbed that out.”  [old saying]

December 2, 2015

A letter from Wolf Murmelstein

I have recently received the following e-mail letter from Wolf Murmelstein:

 

Dear Furtherglory!
 and Commentators!
In some posts and comments on your blog, there is a reference to an alleged order given by Heinrich Himmler – in 1942 – to avoid any physical abuse of the prisoners, or to a statement made by Ernst Kaltenbrunner at Nuremberg about punishment of SS men who were guilty of thefts.
The above seems clearly to have been mockeries in order to fool the International Red Cross Committee, who just at the beginning of 1942, had started action to help civilians, brought to the Concentration Camps, so from the Reich as from the countries under occupation.
The Nazis pretended that, in the Concentration Camps, the treatment had been STRENG ABER GERECHT –severe but just. This was one of the many lies the Nazis had circulated.
When mentioning delousing, or so, we forget that typhus or other diseases had been instrumental in the mass killing of Jews and other prisoners,  who were called, in Nazi Deutsch UNGEZIEFER, – insects – to be extirpated.
The personal safety of the mass of prisoners in a concentration camp had never been a concern of the Nazis; the death marches had been the instrument to murder the most possible prisoners who were still alive. Consider that from Buchenwald and Bergen Belsen, in April 1945, many inmates had been transported away to nowhere, except to death in the overcrowded closed box cars on the trains.
In the USA,  and in the UK and elsewhere, it is still not clear that the THIRD REICH had been run by a group of criminals, who were followers of a racist murder doctrine.  They had taken advantage of the the respect for authority, which was peculiar to the German people, and to many Jews too.
Best.
Wolf Murmelstein.

September 15, 2015

Hannah Arendt and her opinion about the role of the Jewish leaders in the Holocaust

The name Hannah Arendt came up in a comment today, so I am expanding on this subject on my blog.

Hannah Arendt

Hannah Arendt

The name Hannah Arendt used to be a household word, but today’s young people might not be familiar with her name, nor her writing. It used to be that, if you did not know who Hannah Arendt was, you were obviously not a college graduate. Her reporting on the trial of Adolf Eichmann in Jerusalem was, at one time, world famous; her words were studied in colleges throughout America.

Wolf Murmelstein, who is a regular reader of my blog, mentioned Arendt in a comment.  He thinks that she got the story of Theresienstadt completely wrong.  Wolf was a child at Theresienstadt; he is the son of Benjamin Murmelstein, the last Jewish Elder of the camp.

My photo of an old building at Theresienstadt

My photo of an old building at Theresienstadt

My photo of an old building at Theresienstadt which has the date 1941 on it

My photo of an old building at Theresienstadt which has the date 1941 on it

This quote from Wikipedia tells who Hannah Arendt was:

JohannaHannahArendt[3] (/ˈɛərənt/ or /ˈɑrənt/; German: [ˈaːʀənt];[4] 14 October 1906 – 4 December 1975) was a German-born political theorist. Though often described as a philosopher, she rejected that label on the grounds that philosophy is concerned with “man in the singular” and instead described herself as a political theorist because her work centers on the fact that “men, not Man, live on the earth and inhabit the world.”[5] An assimilated Jew, she escaped Europe during the Holocaust and became an American citizen. Her works deal with the nature of power, and the subjects of politics, direct democracy, authority, and totalitarianism. The Hannah Arendt Prize is named in her honor.

=======

A few years ago, Dr. Murmelstein sent me a series of essays, including an essay in which he included information about Hannah Arendt.

The following quote is from his essay, which you can read in full on my website at http://www.scrapbookpages.com/Contributions/Murmelstein/JudenratQuestion.html

Begin quote:
The opinion of Hanna Arendt that the Jewish Leaders, by their “participation,” had helped the Nazis to hasten the deportations, hardly meets any test of consistency:

Hanna Arendt, in 1940, was able to go to New York and stay safe there, because there had been Jewish Leaders and volunteers who “participated” in order to help fellow Jews to leave Nazi-Fascist ruled Europe.

Jewish Leaders certainly were not stronger than the various army commanders and statesmen who surrendered to Nazi Germany. Jewish communities in those times of darkness stood in an often hostile or, at least, indifferent environment.

As a disciple of the Nazi Philosopher Heidegger, Hanna Arendt is hardly entitled to pass judgment on Jewish Leaders, who were almost all Martyrs. On the other hand, it should be discussed whether, or how, Hanna Arendt’s opinions had been influenced by Heidegger’s theories.

When reporting on the Eichmann trial, Hanna Arendt failed to note that Attorney General Hausner had not called a witness like Benjamin Murmelstein to give evidence.

But at a certain moment, the Nazis realized that the tale of “resettlement of Jews for work” could hardly justify deportation of aged or sick persons, war officers holding medals for merit, etc.

Furthermore, as explained by Heinrich Himmler: “Germans all agree on the idea of getting rid of the Jews. But then every German has his own Jews, stating that this is a righteous Jew; send away the others but let him stay here.” What Himmler did not explain was that some Germans could not be ignored at all. Besides, there were among the Jews highly qualified persons well known abroad, who could not simply disappear in the East.

The solution was THERESIENSTADT, a little town in Bohemia surrounded by walls and with many barracks, just on the Reich border, now better known under the Czech name TEREZIN. There Eichmann had the opportunity to set up a Ghetto under his own authority and to show the real meaning of his “great ideas.” Many Germans could then “be at peace with their conscience” having obtained for their “righteous Jew” – a relative, a divorced wife, etc. – a place in the “Model Ghetto.” Qualified Jews, known abroad, could for a while, send postcards.

From October 1941 until September 1942, Benjamin Murmelstein had to watch the deportations. At Yom Kippur 1942, he had a nervous crisis of desperation about things that happened in that year. He was in doubt about being ritually qualified to lead the prayer service for the very few believing Jews still in Vienna.

From the beginning to the end of the deportation waves, almost all Jews had been deported from Vienna. Besides the very few believing Jews – community staff members – there were many persons in mixed marriage and descendants of Jewish parents or grand-parents. In that year Benjamin Murmelstein had to face the Vienna Branch of the CENTRAL OFFICE FOR JEWISH EMIGRATION where the rule was “promises are valid only when served.” Amid harsh orders, he tried to save what was possible.

The number of the few believing Jews for the community staff had been the result of a difficult “bargaining” (requests had to be submitted in a suitable form) with SS Ltd Alois (Anton) Brunner. At end of August 1942, Benjamin Murmelstein, with his family, was about to be sent to Terezin. But Eichmann decided to delay the “re-organization” of Terezin “Jewish Self-Government.”

Read more at http://www.scrapbookpages.com/Contributions/Murmelstein/JudenratQuestion.html

September 6, 2015

A letter from Holocaust survivor Wolf Murmelstein

Filed under: Germany, Holocaust, World War II — Tags: , , — furtherglory @ 9:17 am

I have received the following letter from Wolf Murmelstein, one of the regular readers of my blog. Wolf was a child during World War II, and his memories of that time still haunt him. He was confined to the Theresienstadt ghetto, where his father Benjamin Murmelstein was the last Jewish elder. His father was accused of co-operating with the Nazis, which is considered to be a terrible shame for the Murmelstein family.

Magdeburg barracks at Theresienstadt

Magdeburg barracks at Theresienstadt

It is very upsetting to Wolf that most of the people who comment on my blog are revisionists and they do not think that his war-time experience was as bad as he describes it. I can relate, because I am as old as dirt and I was also a child during World War II. To me, the war time years were an unhappy time.

Read the letter from Wolf Murmelstein below:

Dear Furtherglory!

I take it that you were being ironical when you stated that I could make a lot of money talking and writing about my sad life experience as a Holocaust survivor.

I am commenting here on what suddenly has been written on your blog.

1. In 1961, my Father [Benjamin Murmelstein] wrote a book in Italian about Theresienstadt, entitled “The SHOW GHETTO of Eichmann”.

Author fees hardly covered his expenses of typing and other things connected with book publishing. The Italian Publishing House at the Frankfurt Book Show could not find any English or German Publishing House interested in publishing it.

2. In 2013, the book was published again in Italian; fees are at a very low level. Thanks to my personal connections, a Vienna based Publishing House published the German version last year; I still have not seen the sales record.

3. I have relatives and friends who really (!) survived Auschwitz and the Death Marches but avoided recalling their experience as this was painful. I listened only to what they were willing to say and avoided asking any questions.

4. I did not get any money when I was interviewed by the SPIELBERG FOUNDATION, Yale University FORTUNATE ARCHIVE and researchers.

5. In 2011, I was interviewed for the film entitled WOLF, which in 2013 got praise at a Film Festival. I declined any financial reward, so I was free to answer questions in my manner, stating my version of the facts. Furthermore, I could also decline to meet persons with whom I had been in conflict.

6. Instead of lamenting about things which I passed through, I prefer to study the historical background of events which occurred, and to reach conclusions which are not considered to be politically correct in all the various branches of Shoah Business. My studies certainly will not be sponsored by any side of the discussions; see also my comments to the blog posts.

You will be surprised but many Shoah survivors did not achieve success after WWII and, while still alive, are needy.

8. So the deportations, as the lasting defamation of my family after Liberation, had not been helpful for my career, nor for my health.

9. As with many other survivors, I too am told by doctors to avoid taking part in public debates at various meetings, and I myself – as a special survivor – am allowed only to write articles and essays.

When paying for attending a meeting where Mister so and so recalls his so called experience, then the money is wasted. Indeed the interviewers ask suggestive questions which compel the answer which many attendees are ready to accept; this in my opinion.

As you can see, freedom of mind has a heavy cost.

I feel that, in the USA, historical studies are at a poor level, not just in schools and Universities, so that is why I am explaining things on many comments on this blog.

Best Regards.
Wolf Murmelstein.

August 31, 2015

Yes, the Holocaust happened; just ask Dr. Wolf Murmelstein

“Yes, the Holocaust happened.”

The title of my blog post today is a line from the letter which I received this morning from Dr. Wolf Murmelstein, the son of Dr. Benjamin Murmelstein, the last Jewish “elder” of Theresienstadt.

Yes, the Holocaust happened, and little nine-year-old Wolf was there, right in the middle of it.

This quote is from a letter written to me by Dr. Murmelstein, who is still mentally suffering from his childhood ordeal.

Begin Quote from Dr. Wolf Murmelstein’s letter to me:

Yes, the Holocaust happened. The Gas Chambers in the Death Camps were operating, the mass shootings were taking place (mainly in Russia and Ukraine), the Ghettos (including Theresienstadt) were places of starvation and disease; they were the anti-chambers to the Death Camps.

And no one who is commenting here [on this blog] — the fault-finding commentators — can answer this question: In what direction, and how did the large East, Central and South European Jewish communities disappear in the years from 1939 to 1945?

Asking your blog readers to think better about the Shoah, the Holocaust matter, I am

Sincerely yours,

Wolf Murmelstein.

Gate into the walled ghetto formerly known as Theresienstadt

Gate into the walled ghetto formerly known as Theresienstadt

Here is the full text of the letter which I received today from Dr. Wolf Murmelstein:

Begin quote:
My parents and myself survived at Theresienstadt for the simple reason that Eichmann, after the INTERNATIONAL RED CROSS visit of April 6, 1945 had no possibility, any more, of liquidating the so-called ‘Model Ghetto.”

The conclusion, that our survival proves that the Holocaust never took place, is very offensive.

Indeed, we have relatives who survived Auschwitz and the Death Marches, and relatives that we do not even know where, when and how they were murdered. We remember friends who left and never returned. Comments, that say they emigrated and changed names, are offensive and very stupid.

Mr. Berg and Mr. Leuchter simply do not acknowledge that, in USA prisons, the Gas Chambers can murder one or two victims at a single execution, but German Holocaust Technology solved the problem of mass murder in Gas Chambers by employing Zyclon B, which is lethal for lice, as well as lethal for human beings — even in rooms not sufficiently aired after “disinfection” or “murder”.

As the Nazis had been able to keep secret the details and designs of Gas Chambers employing Zyklon B, they had been kept secret; simple. Besides, Death Camps had been located far away from important cities; Auschwitz had been an exception for logistic reasons.

I started asking about what had occurred, and how it had occurred, some time after Liberation, when I was nine years old. I learned that events had to be studied while considering general historical background.

So I went on studying the Shoah – Holocaust – and history linked with the general, economic and social history of Europe.

I was 14 when I read [Eugene] Kogon about Buchenwald and 16 when I read the memories of Schacht about the German Economic problems during and after WWI and so on.

[“Der SS-Staat,” is a book written in 1946 by Eugen Kogon, an Austrian Social Democrat who was sent, as a prisoner, to Buchenwald because he was a political activist. This book is a rewrite of the Buchenwald Report, compiled by the US Army from interviews with the survivors.]

About Theresienstadt, Jewish emigration and Eichmann, I was able to speak with my Father about this for 40 years.

So I can answer many questions [about the Holocaust] on this blog according to my best knowledge.

When I am asked for forensic proof, such as autopsies of Death Camp victims, I can only say that I am fed up with all the fault finders and trouble makers, who have had their fun torturing survivors by questioning them, using well known police techniques, which often obtain confessions from persons who then turn out to be innocent; this often happens twenty years after they have been murdered in the Gas Chamber of a place of lawful executions.

Clearly, I would like to see many careless journalists, “historians”, and writers in the deepest hell, because their careless writing and talking about a tragedy is helpful … for the [Holocaust] deniers.

Political Zionism came about as the result of racism and antisemitism “fin de siecle” of the nineteenth century when Theodore Herzl reported to the Vienna NEUE FREIE PRESSE about the Dreyfus case. For European Jews it had been hard to emigrate to Palestine/Israel. But for many survivors, Israel had been the only possible solution as they could not return to Poland, Hungary, etc.

August 27, 2015

Another topic for discussion: the aftermath of World War II

Filed under: Germany, Holocaust, World War II — Tags: , , , , — furtherglory @ 12:23 pm

Wolf Murmelstein, a regular reader of this blog, has submitted a letter with some information for a new topic of discussion.

The following words were written by Wolf Murmelstein:
Dear furtherglory, Hermie and other readers of this blog!

In various comments here, the question of the post WWII and Holocaust trials has arisen; I want to reply to all of these comments.

From personal experience, and from historical research, I will admit that some of those [post-war] trials were driven by political rivalries for positions, or to prevent some really informed person from giving evidence concerning many wrong doings, which occurred during World War II: For example: denunciations by careless talk, appropriations of Jewish owned assets, etc..

Another chapter [of history] refers to the interest of  the Communist Parties in weakening the middle class in the countries where they rose to power. This was said by Clement Gottwald on April 10, 1945 in a speech to party activists at Kosice. On that day, at Theresienstadt, we were still in danger of being shot in a mass shooting.

So in the East, as well as in the West, the Communist Parties enlisted former Nazis and Fascists to testify. By this means, many of the former Nazis could avoid being put on trial for wrongdoing, as long as they obeyed [Communist] party orders.

Where there had not been any political interest, many accusations leading to judiciary investigations had been found baseless. The accusations were due to hysteria and the persecution complex of traumatized persons. By stating this, the judge could avoid the start of procedures for slander.

In many trials, the statements of the defendants would have been precious historical documents.

I am quoting from memory, but I could find many other examples besides what is quoted below:

Herr Oskar Groening had been employed in the sorting of money and jewels, taken from the victims. By doing this, he avoided being sent to the battlefront in the East.

Herr [John] Demjanuk stated in Munich Court [in Germany] that he had had only one choice: Enlisting in the SS auxiliary or starving to death.

At the Auschwitz trial, it was stated by a defendant that selection started only after the [transport] train with the police escort had left the “station”; clearly this was done for better secrecy.

At the Nuernberg [IMT] trial, Papen had been acquitted, but two years later, he was sentenced by a German court for his high responsibility for the Nazi rise to power.

This subject deserves better analysis and research.

Hope that this letter will be offered for discussion.

Sincerely yours,

Wolf Murmelstein.

August 24, 2015

A letter from Dr. Wolf Murmelstein, a survivor of Theresienstadt

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , — furtherglory @ 9:09 am
My photo of Brunnen Park in Theresienstadt

My photo of Brunnen Park in Theresienstadt

I am putting up a letter, that I received in e-mail today, from Dr. Wolf Murmelstein, who is one of the followers of my blog.

When I was first contacted by Dr. Murmelstein, several years ago, I knew virtually nothing about Theresienstadt — at least not from the Jewish point of view.  Over 5 years ago, I blogged about the gas chamber at Theresienstat.

This is the letter which I received this morning from Dr. Wolf Murmelstein:

Dear Futherglory!

I have been following this site for several years, and I am more and more angered because of the many doubts expressed, by your readers, on the facts that actually occurred.

After I survived Theresienstadt, I had to live with traumatized parents who were suffering from the “survivor syndrome,” remembering friends who had left and had never returned.

Especially my late Father, who tortured himself, wondering whether he, in many events where a sudden decision had to be taken, had acted in the right way or if he should have acted better.

My father had been heard only by a few researchers, as he had been defamed – and still is today – with absurd stories.

From 1938 until 1945, my father had had to face the SS men almost every day; each day could have been his last one.

In last months, when he was the Theresienstadt Elder, he always had a poison pill ready to be taken at a “certain moment”.

I myself had to stand in the face of the SS men about five times, which was a nightmare. One time I was about to be taken as a hostage.

As I have already written in another contribution, my father had gotten the first alarming information at the arrival of a group from Slovakia on December 31 1944. Then there had been the Nazi attempt to build a Gas Chamber at Theresienstadt; it had been very risky to go and face the Camp Commandant, to talk about possible mass panic among Ghetto inmates.

On the night of April 17, 1945, there had been the farce of a revolution – provoked by the Prague Eichmann office – in order to have a “legal reason” for a mass execution.

It had not been easy to face the Commandant and to remember what time it had been already. I remember only that, on the following morning, my father had had a nerve crisis.

And from April 21st onward, the arrivals of the survivors from other camps became terrible.

And now I am continuously reading more or less offensive statements expressing doubts, in a quite fault finding manner, about what occurred. Doubts about details are pretexts to deny the whole tragedy.

I would like to see the many doubting negationists pass a week in a camp, supervised by an SS sergeant, listening to all the hateful statements of the Nazi doctrine.

Would you offer your readers the opportunity to reply to this article?

Best Regards.

Wolf Murmelstein.

September 7, 2013

Giovanni Palatucci was named a Righteous Gentile, and is now a candidate for beatification, the first step towards sainthood

A few days ago, I received a lengthy essay, on the topic of Giovanni Palatucci, from Dr. Wolf Murmelstein, the son of Dr. Benjamin Murmelstein, who was the last Jewish Elder of the Theresienstadt Ghetto during World War II.  In the past, I have published several of the essays, written by Dr. Wolf Murmelsein, on my web site here.  I previously blogged here about an essay written by Dr. Benjamin Murmelstein in defense of his father.

Dr. Murmelstein has written a defense of Giovanni Palatucci, who is called “the Italian Schindler.”   There are others who claim that the story of Giovanni Palatucci is a myth, and that he was a Nazi collaborator. For example, this article in the New York Times.

Giovanni Palatucci

Giovanni Palatucci

According to Wikipedia, Giovanni Palatucci was arrested [by the Nazis] on September 13, 1944. He was condemned to death, but the sentence was later commuted to deportation to the Dachau concentration camp, where he died on February 10, 1945, before the camp was liberated by the Allies on April 29, 1945. Some say that he died of malnutrition and others declared that he was shot.[2]

The fact that Giovanni Palatucci was sent to Dachau indicates that he was arrested for helping Jews to escape deportation, and that he was not a Nazi collaborator.

Postage stamps in honor of Giovanni Palatucci

Postage stamps in honor of Giovanni Palatucci

Currently, Giovanni Palatucci is the subject of an ongoing debate because he is a candidate for beautification, the first step towards being canonized as a Saint in the Catholic Church.  Scroll way down to the bottom of this blog post to read the requirements for canonization.

In 1990, Palatucci was named a Righteous Gentile by Yad Vashem in Israel because he saved a Jewish woman from being killed during the Holocaust. However, there are also claims that Giovanni Palatucci sent Jews to the Auschwitz extermination camp. You can read about the “unfounded claims of heroism” here.

According to Wikipedia: Giovanni Palatucci (May 31, 1909 – February 10, 1945) was an Italian police official who between 1940 and 1944 may have saved thousands of Jews in Fiume (current Rijeka in Croatia) from being deported to Nazi extermination camps. In 2013 a research panel of historians led by the Centro Primo Levi reviewed almost 700 documents and concluded that Palatucci had actually been a willing Nazi collaborator and that of the 500 Jews living in Fiume, 412 were deported to Auschwitz, a higher percentage than in any Italian city.[1] The matter is currently the topic of scholarly debate.

I am publishing Dr. Wolf Murmelstein’s essay, which defends Giovanni Palatucci, and gives new information about what actually happened.

BEGIN READING THE WORDS WRITTEN BY DR. WOLF MURMELSTEIN:

Giovanni Palatucci – 1909/1945 – was the son of a Lawyer in the South Italian Province of Avellino; three uncles were priests.

In 1930 he had to enroll in the Italian Army for the compulsory Military Service at Moncallieri, near Turin where he, in 1932, obtained his degree in Law at the age of 23; a four year Legal Practice followed.

We may suppose that Giovanni Palatucci, at Turin, had  contacts with Jewish colleagues and clients. Noteworthy, in 1934 at Turin, members of a Jewish Group had been put on arrest for antifascist behavior.

Giovanni Palatucci, feeling unhappy about the difficulties of the legal profession, looked for a position in the governmental sector. So, in 1936, he became a Police Officer and started at the Police Headquarters in Genoa, a town where many German Jews stood coping with their emigration procedures.

It is not known whether Giovanni Palatucci had had the opportunity to meet those Jewish emigrants, learning about the first persecution in Nazi Germany; at any rate he had been blamed for “non proper contacts” and, at the end of 1937, sent to Fiume.

Fiume, now Rijeka, until 1918 had been the sole sea port of the Kingdom of Hungary. This was a matter of heavy disputes, and following  the Versailles Peace Treaty, Fiume became a Free Sea Port Town. But, from 1924 on, in force of the Italian-Yugoslavian Agreement, Fiume was one of the many Italian sea port towns. Clearly, it’s economic and social conditions worsened. Nevertheless, the Jewish Community held good positions, thanks to the lasting contacts with the communities of the former Austrian-Hungarian Empire.

In the nearby Istria and Friuli, there was an increasing fascist harassment of the Slovenian and Croatian ethnic communities, a source of bitterness and hate.  Fiume, just at the border with Yugoslavia, was the crucial point of Italian Fascist aims on the Balkan.

At Fiume Police Headquarters, Giovanni Palatucci joined the Section for Control of Foreigners; he could not know that  his historical role was starting.

In March 1938, the notorious anti-Semite Temistocle Testa, a former fascist militia colonel, had been named as Prefect of the Fiume Province and the hardliner Vincenzo Genovesi became the Police Superintendent.

These two hard fascists were supervising Giovanni Palatucci, from 1938 to 1943. So, first of all, we ought to consider which level of actual authority Giovanni Palatucci had been holding in each of these years: his official rank and advancements, the sort of authorizations he had been entitled to grant  and how he could submit proposals.

Just in March 1938, Austria had been annexed to Nazi Germany and there had been the first Jewish refugees reaching Fiume.

In October/November 1938, under the Racist Law of 1938, almost all members of Fiume Jewish Community lost the Italian citizenship that they gotten in 1924. As stateless persons, they were put under the control of the Police Section for Control of Foreigners.

In the following years, an increasing number of refugees, mainly Jews, reached Fiume, trying to escape the Nazi persecutions. So, from 1938 to 1943, Giovanni Palatucci had to deal mainly with Jews.

There were, at one site, the members of Fiume Jewish Community and on other site, the mass of Jewish refugees whose number can only be conjectured.

Therefore, the claim that there were only about 500 Jews in the Fiume zone, so that he could not have saved 5,000, turns out to be baseless; this claim is due to ignorance about the real conditions.

In 1940, Mussolini issued a decree for the expulsion of all these Jewish refugees. This decree actually meant that the Jewish refugees were taken to the border and handed over to the Nazis. Under these conditions, Giovanni Palatucci submitted the proposal to send (for “security reasons”) all these Jewish refugees to Southern Italy.

He could have managed to send them mainly to the area around Campagna – in Salerno province – where his uncle, Giuseppe Maria Palatucci, was a Bishop. His uncle could have called on his connections in the Italian Ministry of Interior to arrange for many Jews to be sent to the villages around there, which would have been obliged to take them in, as residents.

So it turns out that thousands of Jewish refugees – whose exact number can only be conjectured – were sent, from 1940 to 1943, to the Campagna Internment Camp; most of them survived.

Another uncle of Palatucci, was Alfonso, who was the Father Superior of the South Italy Franciscan Province; he advised the Priors of convents which could help.

So the further objection, based on the limited capacity of the Campagna Internment Camp, alleged to be able to handle only a few 100 refugees, turns out to be as baseless as the other claims.

In 1942, the Yugoslavian Jews, living in regions under the Italian Military Occupation, were scheduled to be handed over to the Germans for Deportation. Mussolini had signed the papers with “no objection”.

Italian Military Commanders, knowing enough about the meaning of the terms  “deportation” or “resettlement”, refused to carry out that inhuman order to bring those Jews to Fiume, where Palatucci could have granted further help.

So, Giovanni Palatucci was able to help, mainly because his two uncles were ready to help. Thanks to the actions of Palatucci, the Italian Military Commanders in Yugoslavia could have helped to avoid involvement in Nazi crimes. There were chains of helpful actions.

Leaders of the Italian Jewish Assistance Organization “Delasem” had been able to persuade other Police Officials – often of Southern Italian origin, like Palatucci  – to avoid expulsions of Jewish refugees, sending them, instead, to internment camps or to obliged residence in villages.

Besides that, Dante Almansi (a former Prefect and Chairman of Italian Jewish Communities Union) tried to call on his still remaining connections in order to ease Jewish conditions. However, Dante Almansi learned in 1940 that all Jews were supposed to leave Italy within a certain time. Indeed, it seems that there had been a project to “resettle” all Italian Jews in Ethiopian Highland.

In June 1943, when the possibility of an Allied landing in Italy had to be considered, the hardening of Jewish conditions was already being discussed in the Ministry of Interior.

In July 1943, as the result of an inspection, Palatucci had been blamed for disorder in handling the documents; he had relied on insufficient staff in his section. Had he, advancing in rank, already reached the title of section head?

Things changed in September 1943 when, after the Italian surrender to the Allied Forces, the German forces occupied most of Italy. The Friuli-Istria region had been put under direct German rule and renamed   “Adriatisches Kuestenland,” in view of becoming part of Greater Germany, according to the German Vital Space theory.

Indeed, the Governor of the Austrian region of Carintia had been placed in charge of the civil administration of the area. The local “Italian authorities” (especially the police) lost any power, and in part, were even ousted. The deportation of Jews, who were still in Fiume, was planned and carried out by the German Police.

As to Giovanni Palatucci, he had to adhere to the laws of the so-called “Italian Social Republic,” which had been set up by Mussolini in October 1943.

At the same time, Palatucci joined the Fiume Resistance Board which had the non-realistic goal of establishing Fiume again as a Free Sea Port Town.

In November 1943, Giovanni Palatucci had been the only qualified Police Official still at Fiume. Because of this, the Interior Ministry of the Italian Social Republic, a pathetic movement which was meant to assert Italian presence, named Palatucci the “Temporary Head” of Police Headquarters,  without giving him any real power.

The same Fascist Interior Ministry issued an order stating that actions against the Jews were the matter of German Authorities.  Therefore, the accusations that have arisen against Giovanni Palatucci, in which he has been accused of having been involved in the rounding up and deportation of Fiume Jews, have turned out to be baseless. These accusations are due to deep ignorance about the real power conditions.

It seems that, even in those conditions, Giovanni Palatucci had still been able to help, since survivors have released evidence considered to be trustworthy by Yad Vashem.

At any rate, Palatucci had been put under arrest in September 1944 by the German Police. He was sentenced to death and sent to Dachau where he died in February 1945.

The Fascist Interior Ministry had been informed only about “his ties with the enemy” – with British spies, Jewish refugees, others? – without stating any further detail.

After the War, many refugees remembered the help granted to them by Giovanni Palatucci, and already in 1953, he had been considered a hero. After a year-long investigation, Yad Vashem found sufficient evidence to consider him a Righteous Gentile.

In past years, a new sort of revisionism started and records of help granted in That Darkness are being demolished in a very slanderous manner.

There had been the attempt to “review” the Perlasca Myth, concerning help granted at Budapest in November December 1944 but the son, Franco Perlasca, was able to defend his father’s reputation.

Now there is a debate about the “Palatucci Myth” because no close relative is able to oppose the slander. Against the late Bishop Giuseppe Maria Palatucci, an accusation has arisen that the story was made up with the aim of obtaining financial benefit: a pension for the parents. Whoever launched this tale does not even know that the mother passed away in 1947 while the father, Felice, owned a well established legal firm.

It may be guessed that he too, like his colleagues, had to deal with claims for war pension benefits. The father, Felice, and  the uncle, Bishop Giuseppe Maria, had  certainly been aware that, according to strong Italian law, no one had been entitled to financial benefits due to the death of Giovanni Palatucci who was not married. This accusation turns out to be baseless.

As to the mass of documents “found” more than sixty years after the events, questions of authenticity arise as Fiume Police Headquarters offices had been seized by the Nazis in autumn 1943 and by the Yugoslavians in May 1945.

Furthermore, it had been said on Italian Television in September 1943 that Palatucci had destroyed many documents in his office, upon the  arrival of the German police forces. So, documents found by Croatian authorities in those archives, about seventy years after the events, are raising many questions about their authenticity, questions which ought to be carefully answered.  Besides, Croatia is not happy with the Catholic Church procedure of beatification of Giovanni Palatucci, being rather interested in the deeds of Croatian monks, who took part in Ustascia actions against the Serbs.

How many Jews were helped by Giovanni Palatucci? Their number can be only roughly conjectured. The Talmud states that who saves one life is considered as saving the entire world.

After the Holocaust we should ask:

“When that Righteous person saved the entire world, which other Righteous person helped?”.

END OF ESSAY BY WOLF MURMELSTEIN

Giovanni Palatucci, who died in February 1945 at Dachau, is most likely buried in the cemetery at Leitenberg, located a few miles from the Dachau Memorial Site.  The photo below shows the Italian Memorial chapel at Leitenberg.

Italian Memorial Chapel at Leitenberg cemetery

Italian Memorial Chapel at Leitenberg cemetery

There were 3,388 Italians counted at the Dachau concentration camp at the last roll call on April 26, 1945, three days before the camp was liberated.

The number of Italian prisoners who died at Dachau is unknown. Most of the prisoners, who died at Dachau, died in the last months of the war when there was a typhus epidemic in the camp.  They are buried in unmarked graves on the hill called Leitenberg because the camp had run out of coal to burn the bodies of prisoners dying in the typhus epidemic.

The Italian Memorial Chapel at Leitenberg, called Regina Pacis, was designed by Dr. Enea Ronca from Verona. The name means Queen of Peace. The Memorial Chapel was consecrated on July 31, 1973. It is dedicated to the memory of all the Italians who died in all of the Nazi concentration camps.

There are four steps to sainthood:  A candidate for sainthood must perform a miracle, or be declared a martyr.  In the case of Giovanni Palatucci, he has been declared a martyr.  Because of his actions in saving Italian Jews from deportation to concentration camps, Palatucci was arrested and sent to Dachau where he died, possibly by being executed.

Before a person can be considered a candidate for sainthood, he or she must have been dead for at least 5 years. (Giovanni Palatucci has been dead for more than 5 years.) Then the potential candidate must complete the four steps to becoming a saint.

Step One: When the subject arises, that a person should be considered for Sainthood, a Bishop is placed in charge of the initial investigation of the person’s life. If it is determined that the candidate is deemed worthy of further consideration, the Vatican grants a “Nihil Obstat.” This is a Latin phrase that means “nothing hinders.” Henceforth, the candidate is called a “Servant of God.”

Step Two: The Church Official, a Postulator, who coordinates the process and serves as an advocate, must prove that the candidate lived heroic virtues. This is achieved through the collection of documents and testimonies that are collected and presented to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints in Rome. When a candidate is approved, he or she earns the title of “Venerable.”

Step Three: To be beatified and recognized as a “Blessed,” one miracle acquired through the candidate’s intercession is required in addition to recognition of heroic virtue (or martyrdom in the case of a martyr).

Step Four: Canonization requires a second miracle after beatification, though a Pope may waive these requirements. (A miracle is not required prior to a martyr’s beatification, but one is required before his or her canonization.) Once this second miracle has been received through the candidate’s intercession, the Pope declares the person a “Saint.”