The parallel universe in Auschwitz.

Villa

I was struggling with the title but to be honest I can’t think there is another way of describing it.

An estimated 1.5 to 2 million children were killed during the Holocaust. How many were killed in Auschwitz is not clear but if you consider that for example on October 10,1944 800 gypsy children were gassed, it will give you some indication of how many children were killed in the 5 years the camp was in operation.

auschwitz

Yet some children had a great time in Auschwitz. They lived a very idyllic live, without a care in the world. They had nice clothes,plenty of food,toys and were able to play outside and even go for a swim. These 5 children lived in a parallel universe compared to those children who lived only a few yards away from them.

They were the children of Rudolf Höss, the longest-serving commandant of Auschwitz.

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After ordering to kill children in the camp Rudolf Höss, would go home and play with his own children, Their villa was adjacent to the camp and the gate of the garden would actually come out in the camp.

The villa was so close you could see the prisoner blocks and old crematorium from the upstairs window.The family decorated their home with furniture and art taken from prisoners as they were selected for the gas chambers. It was a life of luxury only a few short steps from horror and torment.

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children

 

Most of Höss’s children denied that the Holocaust ever happened. His Daughter Brigitte did not deny that atrocities took place or that Jews and others were murdered in the concentration camps, but she doubted that millions were killed.

In 1972 she moved to Washington with her Husband.Where she got a job in a Fashion salon which was owned by a Jewish couple who had fled  Nazi Germany after the Kristallnacht in 1938.

Höss’s grandson Rainer, is the only member of his family to publicly denounce his grandfather. He has been involved in several documentaries highlighting the evil acts of his grandfather.

Once he was asked what he would do to his grandfather, he answered ” I would kill him myself”.

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Sources

BBC

Daily Telegraph

Mail On line

Independent.co.uk

Jerusalem Post

 

 

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The Green Triangle -The first prisoners in Auschwitz

gREEN

Many people believe that the industrialized scale killing of Jews, Homosexuals,Roma and others in Auschwitz started immediately when the camp had opened.

But the fact is that for the first few weeks there were only 30 prisoners. On May 20,1940 the first 30 numbers were assigned to  German prisoners who had been designated as professional criminals.

They were known as “greens” after the green triangles they were required to wear on their prison clothing.

Up to the 14th of June these were the only prisoners in Auschwitz. The prisoner assigned number 31 was the first political prisoner. He was Stanisław Ryniak a Polish political prisoner who had arrived on June 14,1940 with the first mass transport to Auschwitz.

31

Stanislaw survived and died aged 88 on February 13, 2004.

The first gassings started at September 3, 1941.

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I am passionate about my site and I know a 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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Painting for Mengele.

Painting

When you look at some bizarre connections in History, you cannot escape the fact that life sometimes has a ironic way of weaving a tapestry of coincidences.

One of Hitler’s favourite movies was the Walt Disney classic “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” released in 1937.

Disney

One of the main animators of the movie was Art Babbitt. an animator who joined the Disney studio in 1932. He  was born to a Jewish family in Omaha, Nebraska.

But that’s not where this tapestry of coincidences,or even fate, stops.

Dina Gottliebová was born in Brno, Czechoslovakia on January 21, 1923 .She was raised by her Mother, Johanna Schawl, a lone parent . Her mother had left Dina’s father when she was only 4 months old.

When Snow white and the Seven dwarfs was released, Dina must have seen the movie at least 7 times.

In 1939, when the Germans invaded her homeland, Dina was living in Prague, where she had enrolled at the Academy of Fine Arts. In 1942  Dina’s mother received a summons that the Jews were being moved. Dina  left school and volunteered to be shipped out with her mother to , Theresienstadt, in Czechoslovakia.

Thersien

She was actually sent to Theresienstadt on Jan. 21, 1942, her 19th birthday. Dina and her mother stayed there until Sept. 7, 1943 when they were among 5,000 people transferred to Auschwitz-Birkenau in Poland.

In 1944, while in Auschwitz, Dina was chosen by Mengele to draw portraits of Roma Gypsy prisoners .Mengele wished to capture the Roma’s skin coloration better than he could with camera and film at that time. Dina agreed if her own mother’s life were spared as well,Mengele agreed.

One of the people she painted was called Celine. Dina says of painting her muse back in 1944.

“She was very sad and I said, ‘Are you sick?’”  “Celine  said, ‘My baby just died.’ It was a 2-month-old baby and she couldn’t get anything to feed the baby and didn’t have any milk. And Celine couldn’t eat anything. We had black bread with something in it—too much bran or something that made people sick—and I said, ‘Well, can I help with something?’ She said, ‘You can get some white bread.’”

Dina asked Mengele for some white bread. He delivered and Dina sneaked it to Celine, but unfortunately Celine did not survive the death camp. (I believe the portrait below is of Celine but I could not verify it, But it is definitely one of Dina’s paintings)

celine portarit

Both Dina and her Mother survived the Holocaust.Dina moved to the US after the war.

However this is not where this tapestry of life stops. There was to be one more twist to Dina’s life. On April 27,1949, Dina married Art Babbitt. The man who was the main animator of the movie she had watched so many times.

Their marriage didn’t last though. They got divorced in 1963. Dina died aged 86 on July 29,2009, in Santa Cruz California

Donation

I am passionate about my site and I know a 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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Sources

Goodtimes.sc

The Jewish News of Northern California

IMDb.

 

 

 

One last song

betty

I want to sing one last song , maybe “Hoedje van Papier” (hat made out of paper) my Dad sings that for me everyday and I know all the words.

I want to draw one more picture. Perhaps of a butterfly who sits still on a tulip in the garden.

I want to have one more ice cream, vanilla flavour if you don’t mind.

I want to hear my Mother read to me one more time. The Hans Christian Andersen fairy tales I like the most.

I want to feel the warmth of the sun one more time.

I want to sing one more song, but I can’t.

I am Betty Vredenburg daughter of Abracham and Rachel.

Born in Amsterdam on May 6th 1940, 4 days before the Nazis came.

I want to sing one more song, but my voice was silenced on May 22,1944 in Auschwitz. I was only 4.

Yes I was only 4.

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Thanks Melody and Sudhir for bringing Betty to my attention

All I want is to be treated as a Human being.

max

All I want is to be treated like a Human being.

I don’t want big presents or fancy food.

I don’t even want to be treated like a Prince.

All I want is to feel the sunlight touch my skin on a warm summer day.

Or to hear the crackling of the snow under my feet in the winter.

I am not complicated.

To me 1 +1 is 2

Simple as.

I do not ask for a special treatment. Just the same treatment as you would give to yout nephew ,your cousin, the son of a friend or the boy next door.

But you can’t even grant me that simple wish.

I am Max Henri van Son, born in Amsterdam killed in Auschwitz,October 1, 1942.

The most simple wish of being treated as Human being was impossible to be granted, purely because of hate. Hate for a 4 year old boy, how is that even possible?

 

Pure innocence

Zuzanna

I have literally seen thousands of graphic Holocaust pictures. At the start they really had an effect on me, physically they made me sick.

However such is the human psyche that after a while you get desensitized by them. They still upset you but not to the same extend as they did before.

But looking into the vivid eyes of pure innocent lives like the eyes of Zsuszanna Kovari have such a profound effect. Those beautiful eyes are so haunting that they leave a lasting mark.

Zsuszanna Kovari  was born 1942 in Szatmarnementi, Romania. She was murdered on May 25, 1944 at Auschwitz-Birkenau, She was only 2.

Two, the same number of words to describe her “Pure Innocence”

Pure, not tainted by the sick ideology that caused her death

Innocence, was  her only ‘crime’.

Regardless on what your policies of hate are. If you kill pure innocence like that, you are not worthy to be called a human being.

It would be relatively easy for me to find out who killed this little angel , but the sick evil individual who did does not deserve my breath nor time.

The focus is remembering a precious gift that was give to this world.

Tonight when I look up in the sky I will scan the firmament for stars and when I see a bright one, I will pretend that star is you. For somewhere up there your star is shining.

Isaäc Swart and Henderika Piller.

isaac

Isaäc Swart, what can be said about him and who is ?

Basically there is not much that can be said about him , he was just an ordinary travelling sales man.

Today would have marked his 95th birthday. He was born April 21,1914 in Amsterdam. Three days before his 26th birthday he married Henderika Piller on April 18,1940 in Amsterdam.

henderika

It was only a few weeks  before Germany would occupy the Netherlands and a Nazi regime would control the country.

The story of Isaäc and his wife Henderika is at first glance unremarkable. Just 2 young people,newlyweds who went about their daily mundane lives.

However their’ wittebroodsweken’ (this is the Dutch term for the first 6 weeks of marriage)  were disrupted in a way they did not expect.

May 15th after the bombardment of Rotterdam, the Dutch resistance was broken and the Germans invaded the Netherlands, bringing with them the most brutal regime the country had ever seen.

For most newlyweds life did not change all that much but Isaäc and Henderika were now considered enemies of the German occupiers, not because they had taken up arms to fight them but because they were Jewish, That was the only reason, A loving couple who never harmed anyone, were now considered enemies.

During the first few months there were only a few changes to their lives. But gradually their lives were made increasingly difficult. as it would be for every Jewish person in the country.

Isaäc and Henderika were arrested at their home  on  the 7th of  September 1943 , together with Isaäc’s aunt Schoontje Bont-Schenkkan. That  very same day they where deported to Auschwitz. On arrival there on the 10th September, his aunt was immediately killed.  Isaac and Henderika were selected for hard labor. Henderika  died  in Auschwitz on 30 November 1943,aged 28. Isaäc died in Auschwitz on 31 March 1944.aged 29. Only 3 weeks away from his 30th birthday.

There is one solace to be found in this. These ‘unremarkable’ people became remarkable heroes and were made heroes by the regime that saw them as subhuman. Like all the other millions who were murdered, each one of them a hero and a reminder that we are not allowed to let this happen again, for now we have the hindsight of history.

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I am passionate about my site and I know a 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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Sources

Joods Monument

The Librarian of Auschwitz

Auschwitz

I started reading ‘The Librarian of Auschwitz’ I got the book as a birthday present a few days ago. It is based on the story of Dita Kraus, it is partially fictional and historical.

However this blog will not be a book review nor will it be about Dita herself. The blog will be about Fredy Hirsch, one of the main people mentioned in the book.

I don’t think that people appreciate the remarkable bravery of this man. It is also one of the stories I really should have known but didn’t. Fredy was born in Aachen ,Germany which is a city not far away from where I was born and grew up, it was also a place which I visited several times a month.

To illustrate how close Aachen was to me hometwon of Geleen, in the Netherlands. In October 5th.1942 the RAF bombed Geleen, believing it to be Aachen.

But like so may other I had never heard of Fredy Hirsch. He was a revered, openly gay Jewish youth leader who brightened the lives of kids at Theresienstadt and Auschwitz and saved many from death.

Fredy

He was  the deputy supervisor of children at Theresienstadt and the supervisor of the children’s block known as Block 31  at the Theresienstadt family camp at Auschwitz II-Birkenau.

Due to the fact he was charismatic and German he was able to convince the SS guards to grant the children some privileges and persuaded them to allocate Block 31, for children younger than fourteen.

I will not go too much in the details of block 31 but will focus on what Fredy and others actually achieved here/ Fredy had convinced the Nazis that it would be beneficial for the children to learn German, this request was granted, But Fredy recruited others  who had been involved in education basically turned the block into a school. Knowing that education was forbidden, they also realized that it cost them their lives if it was ever discovered.

They used just the handful of books they had to educate the children. Again even the fact that they had books was punishable by death, and to make it even more dangerous for them some of the books had been from authors who were banned by the Nazi regime, Authors like H.G Wells.

Wells’s   works were banned from libraries and book stores. Wells, as president of PEN International (Poets, Essayists, Novelists), angered the Nazis by overseeing the expulsion of the German PEN club from the international body in 1934 following the German PEN’s refusal to admit non-Aryan writers to its membership. At a PEN conference in Ragusa, Wells refused to yield to Nazi sympathisers who demanded that the exiled author Ernst Toller be prevented from speaking. Even Germans caught possessing any of Well’s books could face harsh punishments.

Yet this did not deter Fredy and his fellow teachers to use Wells’s book “A Short History of the World ” as one of their educational tools.

wells

Fredy Hirsch died on March 8, 1944 and the circumstances are unclear, some say he committed suicide, others say he was poisoned. Fredy had been told that day about the preparations for the liquidation of the family camp and to urge him to lead an uprising.

But just let this sink in for a minute a Gay Jewish man educating children by using banned books in Auschwitz. The bravery of this is just beyond anything I can imagine.

stone

Donation

I am passionate about my site and I know a 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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Sources

The Librarian of Auschwitz

USHMM

 

You could have been one of my teachers

Nathan

You only lived a few miles down the road from me.

You could have been my teacher.

You could have been my Doctor

You could have been my plumber.

You could have been the father of a girl friend

You could have been the uncle of my best friend.

You could have been a scientist who discovered the cure for cancer or dementia.

You could have been a baker who bakes lovely cakes.

You could have been a waiter in a bistro.

You could have been anything

But you became an object of hate for a sick regime.

They did not see as a human being

They did not see you fit for life.

They killed you in Auschwitz when you were just 3.

You could have been my teacher, in fact you are my teacher.

You have taught me that an innocent life means nothing to those who only seek destruction.

You taught me that there could be someone writing something similar about me, because it was just an accident of being born on a certain time in history. It could have been me.

You became a soul nearly forgotten, but not by me, never by me.

You are Nathan Herman Sassen born on  August 12  1940 in Sittard.

Murdered on September 24 in Auschwitz

 

 

 

Law abiding citizen

Louis

I don’t know what it is but the last few days I have discovered several accounts of victims of the Holocaust which are very near to me. Not so much that I was related to these people or that I knew them, but I knew the locality and the addresses where they lived. In fact I passed these places by on a daily basis and in the case of Louis van Dam , sometimes even more then 10 times a day.

At the back of my secondary school there was a square . It was really a small park with a few benched and some trees, surrounded by houses. The square was known(and still is) as the Jubeleum plein (Jubilee square)

We would often use this square for physical education lessons. One of the tests we had for PE was a run around the small park, We had a certain time (I believe it was 10 minutes) to run around the park as often as we could. 10 times or more would be a pass, anything below 10 was a fail.

plein

You probably are thinking “where is he going with this” ? Well the name I mentioned earlier was Louis van Dam, Louis and his family lived in one of the houses on the square, Jubileumplein 12,Geleen from 1930 to 1939. In 1939 they moved to a village a few miles south, Doenrade. The reason why they moved was because of health reasons. Louis’s wife  Sophie Silbernberg-van Dam, had asthma and the pollution caused by the nearby coal mine was bad for her health. However Louis also want to live in a remote spot near the German border so he could help Jewish refugees. who crossed the border.

In that same year Louis became a bit of a ‘celebrity’ but not in a beneficial way, He had overheard a smuggling scheme in a local pub. Some smugglers had been smuggling Dutch army uniforms to Germany(the uniforms were to be used by the German army for the invasion of the Netherlands). As a law abiding citizen Louis reported this to the Police. Two men were arrested as a result.A newspaper article was published about the incident.

Artikel

Despite the fact that Louis van Dam’s name only appeared in an abbreviated from in the newspaper, it was still known that he had reported the smugglers. Louis and his family received death threats afterwards because of this they moved again, this time to Amsterdam.

A few months after they moved, the German army invaded the Netherlands. Louis’s son Guus got involved in a students resistance group and was arrested at the end of 1941 or start of 1942.

Guus

Although the intended target for the arrest was Louis himself, some neighboyrs had betrayed him for listening to an English radio station, which was forbidden by the Nazi authorities. But Louis was ill and Guus was arrested instead.

Guus was sent to Auschwitz on November 10th,1942 via Scheveningen, Amersfoort and  Westerbork. It is not known where he died , his formal death certificate states date of death March 31,1944 in middle Europe, aged 22.

Louis, his wife and 2 daughters, Roos en Mimi, went into hiding.

van dam

Louis van Dam had gone into hiding using the alias Christiaan Willem Zijlstra. He died while in hiding and was buried under his alias at the Algemeene Begraafplaats Crooswijk in Rotterdam on 23 April 1945.

After the war  his remains were exhumed and  reburied at the Jewish cemetery Toepad in Rotterdam. Louis van Dam’s wife and daughter survived the war.

It just goes to show you can be passing by a house every day without being aware of the historical significance of it.

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Donation

I am passionate about my site and I know a 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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Sources

Stichting Stolpersteine Sittard-Geleen

Joods Monument

Google Streetview