I was struggling to find a title for this piece. I was thinking of using words like testimonies or confessions, but neither of those words reflect the reality in my opinion.
Testimony is too soft because it lessens the effect of the severity of the actions of the perpetrators. On the other hand. testimony in the context of the victims and survivors of the Holocaust strengthen the descriptions of the crimes.
Confession is a way of looking for forgiveness and I don’t think that is not my prerogative to forgive them, that is only for the victims and their families if they wish to do so.
Starting with the words of Oscar Gröning, as pictured above. He was known as the bookkeeper of Auschwitz.
Oscar Gröning: It was not long before I was assigned to supervise the luggage collection of an incoming transport.
When this was over, it was just like a fairground, there was lots of rubbish left and amongst this rubbish were ill people and those unable to walk. And the way these people were treated horrified me. For example, a child who was lying there naked was simply pulled by the legs and chucked into a lorry to be driven away, and when it screamed like a sick chicken, then they bashed it against the edge of the lorry, so it shut up. We were convinced by our worldview that we had been betrayed by the entire world and that there was a great conspiracy of the Jews against us.
Interviewer: But surely, when it comes to children you must realise that they could not have possibly done anything to you?
Oskar Gröning: The children, they’re not the enemy at the moment. The enemy is the blood inside them. The enemy is the growing up to be a Jew which could become dangerous, and because of that, the children were included as well.
Interviewer: But…aren’t you sorry that you made your own life more comfortable while millions actually died?
Oskar Gröning: Absolutely not. Everybody is looking out for themselves. So many people died in the war, not only Jews.
So many things happened, so many were shot, and so many snuffed it. People were burnt to death, so many were burnt, if I thought about all of that I wouldn’t be able to live one minute longer.
The special situation at Auschwitz led to friendships which I’m still saying today that I like to look back on with joy.
Heinrich Arthur Matthes was the deputy commandant of the Treblinka extermination camp, a Nazi Party concentration camp from 1942 to 1943, and was involved in giving the orders.
During the entire time I was in Treblinka, I served in the upper camp. The upper camp was that part of Treblinka with the gas chambers, where the Jews were killed and their corpses laid in large pits and later burned.
About 14 Germans carried out services in the upper camp. There were two Ukrainians permanently in the upper camp. One of them was called Nikolai, the other was a short man, I don’t remember his name… These two Ukrainians who lived in the upper camp served in the gas chambers. They also took care of the engine room when Fritz Schmidt was absent. Usually, this Schmidt was in charge of the engine room, and in my opinion, as a civilian, he was either a mechanic or a driver.
Altogether, six gas chambers were active. According to my estimate, about 300 people could enter each gas chamber. The people went into the gas chamber without resistance. Those who were there in the end, the Ukrainian guards had to push inside. Personally saw how the Ukrainians pushed the people with their rifle butts
The gas chambers were closed for about thirty minutes. Then Schmidt stopped the gassing, and the two Ukrainians who were in the engine room opened the gas chambers from the other side.”
Willi Mentz also worked at the Treblinka extermination camp during the Operation Reinhard phase of the Holocaust in Poland. Mentz was known as “Frankenstein” at the camp.
When I came to Treblinka the camp commandant was a doctor named Dr. Eberl. He was very ambitious. It was said that he ordered more transports
than could be “processed” in the camp. That meant that trains had to
wait outside the camp because the occupants of the previous transport
had not yet all been killed. At the time it was very hot and as a
result of the long wait inside the transport trains in the intense
heat, many people died. At the time whole mountains of bodies lay on
the platform. The Hauptsturmfuehrer Christian Wirth came to Treblinka
and kicked up a terrific row. And then one day Dr. Eberl was no
For about two months I worked in the upper section of the camp and
then after Eberl had gone everything in the camp was reorganized. The
two parts of the camp were separated by barbed wire fences. Pine
branches were used so that you could not see through the fences. The
same thing was done along the route from the “transfer” area to the
Finally, new and larger gas chambers were built. I think that there
were now five or six larger gas chambers. I cannot say exactly how
many people these large gas chambers held. If the small gas chambers
could hold 80-100 people, the large ones could probably hold twice
Following the arrival of a transport, six to eight cars would be
shunted into the camp, coming to a halt at the platform there. The
commandant, his deputy Franz, Kuettner, and Stadie or Maetzig would be
here waiting as the transport came in. Further, SS members were also
present to supervise the unloading: for example, Genz and Belitz had
to make sure that there was no one left in the car after the occupants had been ordered to get out.
When the Jews had got off, Stadie or Maetzig would have a short word
with them. They were told something to the effect that they were a
resettlement transport, that they would be given a bath, and that they
would receive new clothes. They were also instructed to maintain quiet
and discipline. They would continue their journey the following day.
Then the transport was taken off to the so-called “transfer” area.
The women had to undress in huts and the men out in the open. The
women were then led through a passageway, known as the “tube,” to the
gas chambers. On the way, they had to pass a hut where they had to hand
in their jewelry and valuables.”
I know there will be people who will say that these men probably had no choice. If they didn’t follow orders they were likely to be killed themselves. However, there are no records whatsoever that any member of the Wehrmacht or SS were punished for refusing to kill Jews. Those who murdered or was complicit in the murders did so of their own free will. None of these men showed remorse and they all lived a long time after the war, without any real consequences for their actions.
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