It’s difficult, if not impossible, to categorize any particular day as the eviliest day during World War II, but I think 20 April 1945 would be a good contender.
On that day, Allied bombers in Italy began a three-day attack on the bridges over the rivers Adige and Brenta to cut off German lines of retreat on the peninsula. Meanwhile, Adolf Hitler celebrated his 56th birthday as under a Gestapo reign of terror resulting in the hanging of 20 Russian prisoners of war and 20 Jewish children: Of these, at least nine were under the age of 12. All of the victims had been taken from Auschwitz to Neuengamme, the place of execution, for the purpose of medical experimentation.
On his 56th birthday, Adolf Hitler made his last trip to the surface, from the bunker, to award Iron Crosses to boy soldiers of the Hitler Youth. Although the below picture was taken in March 1945, and the officer awarding the Iron Cross clearly isn’t Hitler, it does indicate how young these child soldiers were. The boy is Willi Hübner, he was 16 when he received the Iron Cross, but he looks about 12.
On 20 April 1945, it must have become blatantly clear that the Nazis would lose the war within a matter of weeks. Yet children would be sacrificed and murdered.
On Hitler’s 56th (and maybe for his) birthday, the SS took 20 children, who had been victims of medical experiments at Neuengamme, to a school building in Hamburg. Situated on Bullenhuser Damm, this location was a subcamp of Neuengamme. (10 boys and 10 girls, all Jewish) to be murdered.
The Nazis also murdered four adult prisoners that day, who had been looking after the children at the camp. The adults were two French doctors, Gabriel Florence and René Quenouille, and the Dutchmen Dirk Deutekom and Anton Hölzel.
The children were told that they had to be vaccinated against typhoid fever before their return journey. Then they were injected with morphine. They were hanged from hooks on the wall, but the SS men found it difficult to kill the mutilated children. The first child to be strung up was so light – due to disease and malnutrition – that the rope wouldn’t strangle him. SS untersturmführer Frahm had to use all of his own weight to tighten the noose. Then he hanged the others, two at a time, from different hooks. ‘Just like pictures on the wall’, he would recall later. He added that none of the children had cried.
One of those children was Jacqueline Morgenstern, she was 12 when she was murdered.
Before you continue reading, I want you to look into the eyes of Jacqueline, and imagine her body hanging on a hook like a piece of meat.
These are the names of the 20 children, remember all of them, Get their names ingrained in your brain.
Alexander Hornemann, 8, the Netherlands
Eduard Hornemann, 12, the Netherlands
Marek Steinbaum, 10, Poland
Marek James, 6, Poland
W. Junglieb, 12, Yugoslavia
Roman Witonski, 7, Poland
Roman Zeller, 12, Poland
Sergio de Simone, 7, Italy
Georges Andre Kohn, 12, France
Eduard Reichenbaum, 10, Poland
Jacqueline Morgenstern, 12, France
Surcis Goldinger, 11, Poland
Lelka Birnbaum, 12, Poland
Eleonora Witonska, 5, Poland
Ruchla Zylberberg, 10, Poland
H.Wasserman, 8, Poland
Lea Klygerman, 8, Poland
Rywka Herszberg, 7, Poland
Blumel Mekler, 11, Poland
Mania Altman, 5, Poland
The murder of children is something I will never understand.