Holocaust Testimonies

There are millions of Holocaust stories I could write, but none will be as powerful as the testimonies of those who survived the darkest era.

Following are some of those testimonies.

Written by Zdeněk and Jiří Steiner, born 20. 5. 1929 in Prague, residents of Prague, former prisoners in the concentration camps of Theresienstadt and Auschwitz, residing in Prague XI., Vratislavova 13, Czech nationality.

“We left Prague bound for Theresienstadt on 22. 12. 1942 together with our parents and a great number of relatives. We spent 8½ months Theresienstadt, where things had been so-so for us. We left Theresienstadt on September 6th, 1943, and, after a miserable two-day journey, we finally arrived at the Neu-Berun train station. From there, they took us to the concentration camp in Birkenau. We were told that it was only a quarantine. After the usual procedures, such as a bath and a getting a tattoo (we were given the numbers 147742 and 147743), we were clothed in old rags (children in adult clothing) and housed in camp B II b, where we spent 6 whole months. We experienced so much in this place. Through the efforts of Fredy Hirsch, a children’s home was established. We children were better off than the adults because we didn’t have to work, our food was a little bit better, and, later, our clothes were better as well. Such was our life in the Birkenau children’s camp under extremely harsh conditions. A doctor arrived in December (each camp had a building for the sick and a single German doctor, who generally didn’t know how to do much else besides sending as many people as possible to their graves, served several of these buildings). With a wave of his fingers, Dr. Mengele decided who lived and who died, just like Nero did in ancient times. This renowned doctor was very interested in us twins, which was actually what saved us despite the fact that we came down with so many illnesses. Once, Dr. Mengele took a closer look at us, but then he contracted spotted typhus. In addition to him, we were tortured by the SS man Buntrock, who had a preference for beating children.

Another SS man, probably a Russian spy, who helped one of our people escape, was shot by other SS officers after he returned.

In the meantime, the fateful month of March began. This month took away our parents and all of our closest friends — the only thing that we still had in our lives. At the start of the month, it was rumored that the entire transport that had arrived in September 1943 would be taken to the labor camp in Heidebreck. And that’s exactly what happened. On March 5th, postcards on which we were supposed to write to our relatives that we were healthy and doing fine were handed out. These cards were sent dated March 25th-27th. We weren’t allowed to write about our departure. On the morning of March 6th, as usual: Blockälteste antreten — an order for the entire transport to go to the lower section of the camp immediately. From there they took us to camp B II a. There were so many rumors going about, for example that it wasn’t a labor transport, but a chimney. We didn’t believe it because we thought it was impossible. We waited all day, and in the evening we were told that the transport couldn’t depart because 100 persons were to be reclaimed. This news greatly disturbed us. A terrible sleepless night wreaked havoc with our nerves. The people, who were now extremely distraught, didn’t pay attention to anything; everyone just wished for this uncertainty to end. Midday, on March 7th, a call: Ordnung am Block, Raportführer Buntrok geht. And he really came, read the names of several doctors, and then we heard our names. We became very frightened, because father’s name wasn’t read, and mother wasn’t present on the block. Buntrok assured father that we would see one another in the evening, and we were taken to the Krankenbau of camp B II b. There, we found out what it was really all about. There were 32 of us in total, twins and doctors combined. Mengele reclaimed us twins because he was interested in us, as we’ve already mentioned. He came to see us the next day. When we told him that our parents had left on the transport, he said: Schade. In the meantime, we found out that the cars had driven off during the night ¨

“In the direction of the crematorium. The camp was empty; flames shot up from the crematorium. We will never forget this scene. But we didn’t believe that our parents were dead. However, we soon found out the truth from a doctor who was a member of the Sonderkommando, who was forced to do this work. Mengele arrived the following day, and took us by car to the Roma camp, which was where his station was. There, he precisely measured and weighed us, measured the length and width of our fingers and nails, the length and width of our noses, and anything else that could be measured and weighed. He also took down the color of our hair and skin. He carefully inspected us. He took fingerprints of our hands and feet. He worked alone; he never entrusted anyone else with the tasks he was performing. Then they brought us to the Krankenbau and life went on. We received 2 liters of soup per day, otherwise the food was the same as before. We were also photographed and x-rayed. Jewish doctors, who guaranteed the correctness of the examinations with their lives, had to examine our nerves, eyes, teeth, and ears.
The first labor transport from camp B II b left on 1. 7. In the meantime, another transport from Theresienstadt with 7½ thousand people arrived in May. This brought the number of people in the camp to 12,500, 3,000 of whom left to work. The rest were incinerated within 2 nights. We were taken to B II f. In this new camp, they drew our blood, which made our weakened bodies feel even worse. There is one horrible experience that we will never forget: one of our torturers, the camp doctor Thilo, was making a selection, i.e. choosing the people who would be sent to the crematorium, and he took our names down. What we felt when he did this cannot be described. Fortunately, Mengele heard this and saved us because he still needed us.

The front was approaching and the mood in the camp lifted. During this time, I became a Pipel in the Krankenbau, i.e. a runner, and so I was slightly better off. But then came winter and a new year, which was happier because we could hear the thunder of cannons. A rumor went around that the camp was going to be liquidated, but nothing happened. Finally, on January 16th, they led the first transport on foot out of Birkenau. The following days were extremely vexing, because one transport after another departed. Everyone left voluntarily and we children were the last to leave, partly because we didn’t want to go. People had to walk 60 km in the cold and frost, poorly clothed and hungry. We expected to be told that trains would come pick us up. We finally got what we wanted on January 20th, the day the last SSman left the camp. This was a wonderful time for us. We went wherever we wanted, ate whatever we wanted, did whatever we felt like doing. We roamed around the SS camp. In short, we were having a great time. We went without supervision for 5 days. Then, a group of SDmen arrived. They wanted to do us in, but didn’t get the chance. They, too, fled, and so we stayed until January 27th, when the victorious Red Army took over.

On March 27th, the Czech Svoboda’s Army took charge of us and brought us to Prague. Out of our family of 18, only 3 of us survived.”

Letter from Gerta Sachsová addressed to family friends. Gerta was deported with her husband from Prague to the Theresienstadt Ghetto in July 1943, from where she was sent to Auschwitz in autumn 1944. Her parents and husband were murdered . Gerta describes their fate and her difficult postwar adaptation..

“My Dears,

We are overjoyed that we are finally in written touch with you and that we can write to you in our mother tongue. We have so much to tell you that there isn’t enough paper in the world that could contain it all. Unfortunately, it’s mostly all bad news. So little of it is good. As you have perhaps already learned from Maruška, out of our whole family only Hanka and I returned, but we are happy that at least the two of us were reunited. I must tell you all about our departure from Prague. As you know, Kurt and I were transported to Theresienstadt in July 1943 to be with our parents and Hanka. We were together there for 1 ¼ years. We were doing rather well, all told. Kurt and my parents worked in the office, Hanka in the bakery, and I mostly did nothing because I was sick. Then, in the fall of 1944, we were gradually transported — father left separately, mother with Hanka, and I with Kurt. All of the transports went to Auschwitz. You cannot imagine what we suffered through. I don’t want to describe our experiences and so it’s perhaps a little cruel of me to write and tell you so directly that our dear mother died there. Father, who successfully made it past the selection process, was shot on the Czech border on May 3rd, 1945, just 5 days before the end of the war, during the evacuation of the labor camp where he was sent. Kurt was separated from me in Theresienstadt near the train and it was only when I returned to Prague that I learned that he was held for about 3 weeks in the Small Fortress and was supposedly shot there. We are positive regarding father since he was with Hanka’s young man, who returned. Jirka also returned and we’re living together with him now. I ran into Hanka by happy chance in Prague. She had come back one month earlier than I and she no longer believed that I would return. I’m sure you can imagine what our life is like now. Our financial situation is miserable; we don’t have enough clothes to wear.

I’ll likely find an office job. Hanka is graduating in September and then she’ll probably make her living as an illustrator. In short, this is all that we wanted to tell you about what we went through. We don’t know what the future holds. We are in touch with Maruška. Her little Jana is so adorable. We have visited them several times. Please write us soon and let us know if you are coming. We would love to see you, we have so much to tell. You can’t imagine how we are faring. But at least we are happy that you will come and see us.

sources

https://candlesholocaustmuseum.org/learn/mengele-twin-stories.html?page=3

https://early-testimony.ehri-project.eu/

Donation

I am passionate about my site and I know you all like reading my blogs. I have been doing this at no cost and will continue to do so. All I ask is for a voluntary donation of $2 ,however if you are not in a position to do so I can fully understand, maybe next time then. Thanks To donate click on the credit/debit card icon of the card you will use. If you want to donate more then $2 just add a higher number in the box left from the paypal link. Many thanks

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The Angel Louis Turksma

History of Sorts

Louis

Dear Louis, I have to believe you are an Angel Because if I don’t I get engulfed with hate for those who killed you. But your beautiful face only radiates love.

You are an Angel, you already look up to your new home in Heaven. You were 4 when you were murdered by those who thought you were only vermin. You re not, you never were and never will be. Your murderers are the vermin.

How can anyone look in those eyes and feel they have  a justified reason for closing them for ever?

You are an Angel like so many others who died in Auschwitz.

There is a hypothetical question that asks ” Who would you like to meet first when you pass the pearly gates?”

Louis if my time has come, I hope it is you I see first. But til then be my Angel as I will…

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Veit Harlan-Messenger of Evil.

Although many German film makers left Germany in the 1930s, because of the rise of the Nazism, propaganda minister Göbbels still had quite a pool of film makers to help him produce a great number of propaganda movies.

The most famous and probably prolific was Leni Riefenstahl. But a close second was Veit Harlan.

After Adolf Hitler came to power, Harlan -unlike many German film directors – decided to remain in Germany. He embraced the new Nazi regime with both arms and directed several pro-Nazi propaganda films for the new Nazi regime , with his 3rd wife Kristina Söderbaum in the main parts. Considered to be the worst of these was the universally reviled Jud Süß (1940), a virulent anti-Semitic propaganda piece masquerading as a period piece melodrama. After the war, he was charged with crimes against humanity because of this film, but in 1950, after several court trials, he was acquitted twice and released. Both acquittals remain controversial to this day since the ruling judge had previously worked as a judge for the Nazi regime and since Harlan’s works had been proven to have contributed hugely to spreading the antisemitism in Germany, which enabled the Holocaust.

His first wife Dora Gerson was one of the victims of the Nazi regime, she was murdered in Auschwitz-Birkenau on February 14, 1943.

There are some fascinating connections to Veit Harlan. His son, from his second marriage to Hilde Körber, Thomas Harlan was an author and film director who created a semi-documentary film in 1984, “Wundkanal” (“Wound Passage”), in which his father, played by a convicted mass murderer, is forced to undergo a series of brutal interrogations into his war crimes. Thomas Harlan’s final publication, issued posthumously, entitled Veit, was a memoir in the form of a letter to his father, continuing the investigation into his father’s actions during the Nazi regime.

The mass murderer(turned actor) in the film Wundkanal was SS Lieutenant Colonel Alfred Filbert, responsible as the first head of SS-Einsatzkommando 9, a mobile killing squad, for the murder of more than 18,000 Soviet Jews – men, women and children. Filbert was sentenced to life imprisonment but was released in 1975.

Susanne Körber, one of his daughters from his second wife Hilde Körber, converted to Judaism and married the son of Holocaust victims. She committed suicide in 1989.

Veit Harlan’s niece, Christiane Susanne Harlan, German born actress, dancer, painter, and singer took the name of her second husband, the legendary Jewish director Stanley Kubrick. Her married name was and still is Christiane Kubrick.

Christiane did act in a few movies like in ‘the Path to Glory’ She said she was ashamed to come from a “family of murderers” but was happy that Kubrick’s Jewish family accepted her despite her ties to Harlan. They remained married until Stanley Kubrick’s death in 1999.

She painted for her husband’s films; the paintings seen in the Harford’s apartment in Eyes Wide Shut (1999) are hers, as is the large painting of seed boxes in the writer’s home in A Clockwork Orange (1971).

sources

https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0473583/bio?ref_=nm_ov_bio_sm

https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0363234/?ref_=nmbio_bio_nm

Donation

I am passionate about my site and I know you all like reading my blogs. I have been doing this at no cost and will continue to do so. All I ask is for a voluntary donation of $2 ,however if you are not in a position to do so I can fully understand, maybe next time then. Thanks To donate click on the credit/debit card icon of the card you will use. If you want to donate more then $2 just add a higher number in the box left from the paypal link. Many thanks

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Blaming Irish Peasants for the Great Famine.

History of Sorts

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The above image is from the 10 October 1846 issue of the Pictorial Times. It has the title  “Cahirciveen, the retreat of the Liberator.”  It accompanies an article discussing the plight of the Irish people who are suffering from hunger after the failure of their potato crops.

Words of the time—written by a British, not an Irish author—help us to understand what the Irish people were enduring when they needed help the most. Keep in mind that it was only the potato crop which had failed (not all other crops).

Since only the potato crop had failed, how was it that people were starving, leading to food riots? Was there no other food in Ireland? If not, why not?

If there was other food available, to feed the starving Irish people, why does this author seem to blame the Irish peasants for their desperate condition? If the potato crop failed…

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Anne Frank

History of Sorts

Anne-Frank

Anne Frank would have turned 88 today so on her birthday what better time to reflect on her life.

I will focus more on her younger years prior to her diary. So much has already been written about Anne, I doubt there will be anything new in this blog, it is nevertheless important to remember Anne and through her all those who perished.

Annelies Marie “Anne” Frank  born 12 June 1929.

2017-06-12

(Anne Frank’s birthplace, the Maingau Red Cross Clinic)

Frankfurt,_Klinik_Maingau,_Ärztehaus

Born in Frankfurt, Germany, she lived most of her life in or near Amsterdam, Netherlands, having moved there with her family at the age of four-and-a-half when the Nazis gained control over Germany.

The roots of the family of Anne Frank can be traced back to the Judengasse (Jews’ lane) in Frankfurt am Main. From 1462, this was the ghetto of the city. All 110 Jews who had previously lived in the…

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Edith Frank- the sacrifice of a mother

History of Sorts

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We all know the story of Anne Frank and there is no denying that her diary was very important to get an insight to how life was for those who had to hide for the evil Nazi regime. However people do sometimes forget about the other women and men who hid in the annex  in Amsterdam.

Edith was the youngest of four children, having been born into a German Jewish family in Aachen, Germany. Her father, Abraham Holländer (1860–1928) was a successful businessman in industrial equipment and was prominent in the Aachen Jewish community as was her mother, Rosa Stern (1866–1942). Her occupation is unknown. Edith had two older brothers, Julius and Walter, and an older sister, Bettina.

edith-betti

Bettina died at the age of 16 due to appendicitis when Edith was just 14.

She met Otto Frank in 1924 and they married on his 36th birthday, May 12, 1925, at…

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33) The (now not)ongoing Marvel movies league table.

Anna's Meanderings

“I’m not looking for somebody with some superhuman gifts”. Something Just Like This – Coldplay

EDIT, 2nd May 2021. No more, no more. There is only so much of these I can take. Squeaky voices, physics denying plots.. I’ll leave this here but the negatives far outweigh the positives when watching these.

Hi there girls and boys, I hope you’re well.

This post isn’t meant to be me flying the flag for Marvel over DC, I couldn’t care less, (the correct term as opposed to “could care less”) which particular set of comics you align with. It was suggested I take a look, as I’m not one for superheroes. The idea that one person can solve the earth’s problems, a la Superman, had never appealed. Screams from the DC people as I cross the comic streams.. shhhh. What happens to the thousands of incidents he ignores in order to save…

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Freedom at last-Liberation Day-May 5,1945

The Netherlands had been occupied by the Nazis between May 15th 1940,after the Dutch forces surrendered, and May 1945. Although many parts had already been liberated by autumn 1944.

The official liberation day was set on May 5,1945. The Netherlands had a population at the time of about 8.8 million. During the 5 years of occupation approximately 210,000 Dutch men and women had died of war-related causes. Of that number , 6,700 were military casualties. One number that stands out though is that of the Jews, who were either Dutch or were refugees. It is estimated that between 104,000 and 107,000 of the 140,000 Jews in the Netherlands were murdered during the Holocaust, which makes it about 75% of the Jewish population. It is the highest number per capita in Europe. This is one of the most shameful part of Dutch history. Many Dutch and especially the Dutch civil service and the administrative infrastructure, aided the Nazi occupiers. Eichmann was once quoted as saying “The transports run so smoothly that it is a pleasure to see.”

About 18,000 Dutch citizens died during the famine of 1944/45, caused by the hunger winter. Additionally to the deaths in the Netherlands there were another 30,000 deaths in the Dutch East Indies, now called Indonesia, either while fighting the Japanese or in camps as Japanese POWs. Dutch civilians were also held in these camps.

The Netherlands had the highest per capita death rate of all Nazi-occupied countries in Western Europe (2.36%).

At least 2 of my family died. My uncle, my mother’s brother, Johannes Jager died on December 6,1944. He did see the liberation of my hometown Geleen on September 18,1994, but the strain of the war and his ill health proved too much. My Father’s dad ,Jan de Klein died on May 12 1942, he was 47 at the time. He had been in the Dutch Army when the Nazis invaded, he was executed but the reasons why are still unknown to me. I have resigned myself to the fact that I probably will never find out.

The Netheralnds was liberated by Canadian forces, British infantry divisions, the British I Corps, the 1st Polish Armoured Division, American, Belgian, Dutch and Czechoslovak troops. Parts of the country, in particular the south-east, were liberated by the British Second Army which also included American and Polish airborne forces . On 5 May 1945, at Hotel de Wereld in Wageningen, Canadian Corps commander Lieutenant-General Charles Foulkes and Oberbefehlshaber Niederlande commander-in-chief General oberst Johannes Blaskowitz reached an agreement on the capitulation of all German forces in the Netherlands.

The capitulation document was signed the next day (no typewriter had been available the previous day ) in the auditorium of Wageningen Agricultural University, located next door to the Hotel.

Initially liberation day was celebrated on August 31,1945 to coincide with Queen Wilhelmina’s birthday ,However in 1946 the Dutch government decided to celebrate the liberation on the 5th of May.

Initially Liberation Day was celebrated every five years. In 1990 the day was declared a national holiday when liberation would be remembered and celebrated every year. Festivals are held in most places in the Netherlands with parades of veterans and musical festivals throughout the whole country.

A friend of mine once said “Freedom isn’t free” not only did many Dutch pay the price for this freedom. There were many others who paid an equally high price. Many men and women who fought to liberate the country. They fought although they were strangers, they recognized that evil should never be tolerated.

Sources

https://web.archive.org/web/20100915150604/http://www.wageningen1940-1945.nl/Capitulatie/Wageningen%205%20mei%201945.htm

Donation

I am passionate about my site and I know you all like reading my blogs. I have been doing this at no cost and will continue to do so. All I ask is for a voluntary donation of $2 ,however if you are not in a position to do so I can fully understand, maybe next time then. Thanks To donate click on the credit/debit card icon of the card you will use. If you want to donate more then $2 just add a higher number in the box left from the paypal link. Many thanks

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Nazi Transit Camp: Drancy

History of Sorts

Drancy

The camp of Drancy was a transit camp located not far from Paris. Like many other detention centres throughout France, Drancy was created by the Vichy government of Philippe Pétain in 1941 and was under the control of the French police until July 3, 1943 when Nazi Germany took day-to-day control as part of the major stepping up at all facilities for the mass exterminations. The camp was opened after a roundup of in Paris Jews in August, 1941, in which over 4,000 Jews were arrested. The French police carried out additional roundups of Jews throughout the war. The conditions of life were extremely difficult, due to neglect of personal, ordinary human needs, adequate food, unsanitary conditions, and over-crowding.

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On 20 August 1941, French police conducted raids throughout the 11th arrondissement of Paris and arrested more than 4,000 Jews, mainly foreign or stateless Jews. French authorities interned these Jews in Drancy, marking its official opening. French police enclosed the barracks…

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The language of Music

John Miles once sang “Music was my first love and it will be my last”. The beauty with music is that you don’t need words to understand what it says. It evokes emotions so strong that you cannot really describe the effects they have on you.

Music has its own language, it is universal and it is understood by everyone, regardless with language they speak.

I could choose so many beautiful instrumental pieces because there are millions of them, but I will only be posting a few of my favourites.

Sit back, relax and enjoy.