Forgotten History-Auschwitz’s Midwife

When I first starting compiling these Forgotten WWII stories, I reckoned I would be able to do 20-25 max, since so much was already written about the era.

But how wrong I was! Every time I do one story another one pops up. As in this case I was actually doing research on the real von Trapp family(from Sound of Music fame) when as a side note I saw the name of  Stanislawa Leszczynska, it was completely unrelated to the Von Trapp story but curiosity killed the cat and I had to look into the story of Stanislawa Leszczynska and am I glad I did, since her story is much more intriguing then the von Trapps( I don’t like Sound of the Music anyway).

Stanisława Leszczyńska (May 8, 1896 – March 11, 1974) was a Polish midwife who was incarcerated at the Auschwitz concentration camp during World War II, where she delivered over 3,000 children.She is an official candidate for canonization (sainthood) by the Catholic Church.Several hospitals and organizations in Europe are named after Stanisława; the main road at Auschwitz concentration camp museum is named after her; and so is a street in the city of Łódź.

Born Stanislawa Zambrzyska in 1896, she married Bronislaw Leszczynski in 1916 and together they had two sons and a daughter. In 1922, she graduated from a school for midwives and began working in the poorest districts of Lodz. In pre-war Poland, babies were normally delivered at home. Stanislawa made herself available at any time, walking many kilometers to the homes of the women she helped. Her children recall that she often worked nights but she never slept during the day.

After the invasion of Poland by Nazi Germany at the onset of World War II, the Leszczyński family was forced to relocate to Wspólna 3 Street when the Łódź Ghetto was created for the Jews by the Nazi occupation administration. Żurawia Street, where they used to live, became part of the ghetto area. The Leszczyńskis began helping ghettoized Jews by delivering food items and false documents. However, Stanisława was caught red-handed, and brought to the Gestapo on February 18, 1943. Stanislawa was arrested in Lodz  with her daughter and two sons. The sons were sent to the labor camp at Mathausen and Gusen to work in the stone quarries. She and her daughter, Sylvia, were sent to Auschwitz where they arrived on April 17, 1943. They were given the numbers 41335 and 41336, tattooed on their forearms. They would remain as mementos of the camp. The Nazis sent the two boys as slave labour to the stone quarries of Mauthausen-Gusen concentration camp.Leszczyńska never saw her husband again; he died in the Warsaw Uprising.

Stanisława was relegated to women’s camp maternity ward along with her daughter, who had been a medical student before the war broke out.Stanisława met Dr Mengele,and was advised to euthanize the newborns she delivered.

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She did not comply. Leszczyńska did not kill a single child, and whenever possible, used to wrap them up in scraps of fabric or paper and put them under the mother’s rough blankets.

Even though Menegle was clearly opposed to Stanislawa’s saving of Jewish infants and their mothers, he did remark to the other Nazi physicians that not only was she an exceptionally skilled midwife, but that she was the personification of hope prisoners clung to that they may, eventually, escape the camp.

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Years later, she described how she put her life at risk to save newborns in a work called Raport położnej z Oświęcimia (The Report of a Midwife from Auschwitz). She described how the newborns were snatched away, taken to another room, and drowned in a barrel by Schwester Klara from Germany, who was imprisoned at Auschwitz for infanticide, and her assistant,Schwester Pfani Of the 3,000 she delivered, some 2,500 newborns perished; a few hundred others with blue eyes were sent away to be Germanized. Only about 30 infants survived in the care of their mothers.

Before she arrived at the camp in April 1943, all the newborns of prisoners in the infamous Nazi concentration camp were drowned and allowed to be ripped apart by rats before his or her mother’s eyes.

During her imprisonment, Stanislawa helped deliver over 3,000 babies. But there was something even more remarkable than her trying to cope amidst these hostile conditions. As she explained to her son, the Lagerarzt ordered her to make a report on the infections and mortality rate for mothers and infants. She replied, “I have not had a single case of death, either among the mothers or the newborns.” The Lagerarzt‘s response was a look of disbelief. “He said that even the most perfectly handled clinics of German universities cannot claim such success. In his eyes I read anger and envy.” In a self-deprecating manner, Stanislawa attributed this to fact that “the emaciated organisms were too barren a medium for bacteria.” However, her children and fellow inmates ascribe this miraculous record to causes more than natural.

 

Expectant mothers did not realize what was going to happen to their babies and many traded their meager rations for fabric to be used for diapers after the birth.Stanisława remained the camp’s midwife until it was liberated on January 26, 1945.

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When time for delivery approached, the already famished mother had to give up her bread ration for a time in order obtain a sheet which would be used to make diapers and clothing for the child. Needless to say, the Nazis did not provide such things. To make things worse, there was no running water in the barracks which made cleaning diapers a risky experience, since inmates were not permitted to move freely in the block. Any cleaning had to be done surreptitiously. Finally, there was no extra food or milk allocated for the infants. But simple neglect apparently did not satisfy the camp administrators. Thus, criminal inmates were employed to dispose of the troublesome infants.

Until May 1943, all the children born in Auschwitz were drowned in a barrel. These operations were performed by Schwester [sister] Klara, a German midwife who was imprisoned for infanticide. “As a Berufsverbrecherin (one guilty of occupational crime), and thus forbidden to practice her profession,” says Stanislawa, “she was entrusted with a function to which she was more suited.” Later, Klara was aided by a German prostitute, the redheaded Schwester Pfani. “After each delivery, the mothers were able to hear the characteristic gurgle and splashing water” as their babies were disposed of.

The situation changed somewhat in May 1943. “Aryan-looking” children, with blue eyes and fair hair, were spared Schwester Klara’s treatment and sent to a center in the town of Naklo to be “de-nationalized.” There they would end up in orphanages or were placed with German parents.

Leszczynska was able to use a secret tattoo under the newborns’ armpit to help many of the families reunite after the war.  “As long as a newborn was together with the mother, motherhood itself created a ray of hope. Separation with the newborn was overwhelming,” she said.  “The thought of a possibility of future reunion with their children helped many women go through this ordeal.”

Leszczyńska returned to Łódź, and her children also arrived there from the forced labour camps. She settled in an apartment at 99 Zgierska Street and continued working as a midwife locally. Remembering Auschwitz, she prayed over every child she delivered. On January 27, 1970 Stanisława attended an official celebration in Warsaw, where she met the women prisoners of Auschwitz and their grown-up children who had been born in the camp.She died four years later. In 1983 the School of Obstetricians in Kraków was named in her honor.

Stanislawa Leszczynska (eligelavida)

 

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Mengele -Evil personnified

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I don’t know what I find more disturbing,the evil acts he committed or the fact he got away with it, and who knows how many more experiments he conducted in Germany and South America after the war.

It was on this day 73 years ago this evil man became the medical officer in Auschwitz.

First do no harm or Primum nil nocere is an ethical term Physicians generally sign up to. Although it is officially not a part of the Hippocratic Oath it still indicates how physicians should conduct them selves. The Oath itself had been in use for centuries.

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Below is the 1964 translation of the oath but it roughly would have been the same in 1938 when Mengele earned his Doctorate in Medicines.

“I swear to fulfill, to the best of my ability and judgment, this covenant:…

I will respect the hard-won scientific gains of those physicians in whose steps I walk, and gladly share such knowledge as is mine with those who are to follow.

I will apply, for the benefit of the sick, all measures which are required, avoiding those twin traps of overtreatment and therapeutic nihilism.

I will remember that there is art to medicine as well as science, and that warmth, sympathy, and understanding may outweigh the surgeon’s knife or the chemist’s drug.

I will not be ashamed to say “I know not,” nor will I fail to call in my colleagues when the skills of another are needed for a patient’s recovery.

I will respect the privacy of my patients, for their problems are not disclosed to me that the world may know. Most especially must I tread with care in matters of life and death. Above all, I must not play at God.

I will remember that I do not treat a fever chart, a cancerous growth, but a sick human being, whose illness may affect the person’s family and economic stability. My responsibility includes these related problems, if I am to care adequately for the sick.

I will prevent disease whenever I can, for prevention is preferable to cure.

I will remember that I remain a member of society, with special obligations to all my fellow human beings, those sound of mind and body as well as the infirm.

If I do not violate this oath, may I enjoy life and art, respected while I live and remembered with affection thereafter. May I always act so as to preserve the finest traditions of my calling and may I long experience the joy of healing those who seek my help”

In Germany during the Third Reich, medical students did not take the Hippocratic Oath, although they knew the ethic of “nil nocere” – do no harm.

I have stopped analysing why Mengele did the things he did. I came to the conclusion that it is a fact some people are just born evil, as I think was the case in Dr. Mengele.

Born on March 16, 1911, in Günzburg, near Ulm, he was the eldest son of Karl Mengele, a prosperous manufacturer of farming implements. In 1935, Mengele earned a Ph.D. in physical anthropology from the University of Munich. In January 1937, at the Institute for Hereditary Biology and Racial Hygiene in Frankfurt, he became the assistant of Dr. Otmar von Verschuer, a leading scientific figure widely known for his research with twins.

In 1937 Mengele joined the Nazi Party. The following year, the same year in which he received his medical degree, he joined the SS. In June 1940, Mengele was drafted into the army, and thereafter volunteered into the medical service of the Waffen-SS (Armed SS). Although documentation is scant and often contradictory regarding Mengele’s activities between this time and early 1943, it is clear that he first functioned as a medical expert for the Race and Settlement Main Office [Rasse- und Siedlungshauptamt, or RuSHA] in summer 1940 at the Central Immigration Office [Einwandererstelle] North-East in Posen (today Poznan) and thereafter served as a medical officer with the SS Division “Wiking” (SS Pioneer Battalion V), with which he saw action on the Eastern Front.

Wounded while on campaign, Mengele returned to Germany in January 1943, and began work at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute (KWI) for Anthropology, Human Genetics, and Eugenics, directed by his former mentor von Verschuer. In April of 1943, he received a promotion to the rank of SS captain; this advancement shortly preceded Mengele’s transfer to Auschwitz, on May 30, 1943.

During his infamous tenure at the concentration camp, Josef Mengele was not the only physician at Auschwitz, nor was he, as common wisdom often maintains, the highest-ranking physician at the camp; this “distinction” belonged to SS captain Dr. Eduard Wirths, whose position as garrison physician made him responsible in all medical matters for the entire camp complex.

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Mengele began his career at Auschwitz in the spring of 1943 as the medical officer responsible for Birkenau’s “Gypsy camp”; several weeks after its liquidation, Mengele undertook a new position as Chief Camp Physician of Auschwitz II (i.e., Birkenau), in November 1943, still under Wirths’ jurisdiction.

Mengele and other SS doctors did not treat inmates, but supervised the activities of inmate doctors forced to work in the camp medical service. Mengele made weekly visits to the hospital barracks and sent to the gas chambers any prisoners who had not recovered after two weeks in bed.He was also a member of the team of doctors responsible for supervising the administration of Zyklon B, the cyanide-based pesticide that was used to kill people in the gas chambers at Birkenau. He served in this capacity at the gas chambers located in crematoria IV and V.

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When an outbreak of noma (a gangrenous bacterial disease of the mouth and face) broke out in the Romani camp in 1943, Mengele initiated a study to determine the cause of the disease and develop a treatment. He enlisted the aid of prisoner Dr. Berthold Epstein, a Jewish pediatrician and professor at Prague University. Mengele isolated the patients in a separate barrack and had several afflicted children killed so that their preserved heads and organs could be sent to the SS Medical Academy in Graz and other facilities for study. The research was still ongoing when the Romani camp was liquidated and its remaining occupants killed in 1944.

In response to a typhus epidemic in the women’s camp, Mengele cleared one block of 600 Jewish women and sent them to the gas chamber. The building was then cleaned and disinfected, and the occupants of a neighboring block were bathed, de-loused, and given new clothing before being moved into the clean block. The process was repeated until all the barracks were disinfected. Similar disinfections were used for later epidemics of scarlet fever and other diseases, but with all the sick prisoners being sent to the gas chambers. For his efforts, Mengele was awarded the War Merit Cross (Second Class with Swords) and was promoted in 1944 to First Physician of the Birkenau subcamp.

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Mengele had become interested in utilizing twins for medical research through Verschuer, famous for experimenting with identical and fraternal twins in order to trace the genetic origins of various diseases. During the 1930s, twin research was seen as an ideal tool in weighing the variant factors of human heredity and environment. Mengele, with his mentor, had performed a number of legitimate research protocols using twins as test subjects throughout the 1930s. Now, at Auschwitz, with full license to maim or kill his subjects, Mengele performed a broad range of agonizing and often lethal experiments with Jewish and Roma (“Gypsy”) twins, most of them children.

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Mengele used Auschwitz as an opportunity to continue his anthropological studies and research on heredity, using inmates for human experimentation. The experiments had no regard for the health or safety of the victims.He was particularly interested in identical twins, people with heterochromia iridum (eyes of two different colours), dwarfs, and people with physical abnormalities.A grant was provided by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, applied for by von Verschuer, who received regular reports and shipments of specimens from Mengele. The grant was used to build a pathology laboratory attached to Crematorium II at Auschwitz II-Birkenau.Dr. Miklós Nyiszli, a Hungarian Jewish pathologist who arrived in Auschwitz on 29 May 1944, performed dissections and prepared specimens for shipment in this laboratory. Mengele’s twin research was in part intended to prove the supremacy of heredity over environment and thus bolster the Nazi premise of the superiority of the Aryan race.[Nyiszli and others report that the twins studies may also have been motivated by a desire to improve the reproduction rate of the German race by improving the chances of racially desirable people having twins.

Mengele’s research subjects were better fed and housed than other prisoners and temporarily safe from the gas chambers. He established a kindergarten for children that were the subjects of experiments, along with all Romani children under the age of six. The facility provided better food and living conditions than other areas of the camp, and even included a playground.When visiting his child subjects, he introduced himself as “Uncle Mengele” and offered them sweets. But he was also personally responsible for the deaths of an unknown number of victims that he killed via lethal injection, shootings, beatings, and through selections and deadly experiments. Lifton describes Mengele as sadistic, lacking empathy, and extremely antisemitic, believing the Jews should be eliminated entirely as an inferior and dangerous race.Mengele’s son Rolf said his father later showed no remorse for his wartime activities.

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Mengele firmly endorsed the doctrine of National Socialist racial theory and engaged in a wide spectrum of experiments which aimed to illustrate the lack of resistance among Jews or Roma to various diseases. He also attempted to demonstrate the “degeneration” of Jewish and “Gypsy” blood through the documentation of physical oddities and the collection and harvesting of tissue samples and body parts. Many of his “test subjects” died as a result of the experimentation or were murdered in order to facilitate post-mortem examination.

Like most “scientists” at work in the concentration camp environment, Mengele enlisted the aid of trained medical professionals among the prisoner population to perform the more grisly, or mundane, tasks and to carry out autopsies upon his dead victims. We owe much of our early knowledge of Mengele’s activities at Auschwitz to Dr. Miklos Nyiszli, a prisoner-physician who assisted Mengele under duress, and then published his experiences, initially in his native Hungarian, in 1946. (His Auschwitz: A Doctor’s Eyewitness Account appeared in English in 1960.)

Josef Mengele had hoped to use the “research” he had garnered in Auschwitz in order to produce his Habilitation, a second, post-doctoral, dissertation required for admission to a university faculty as a professor in German-speaking lands. He never accomplished this objective. Instead, in January 1945, as the Soviet Army advanced through western Poland, Mengele fled Auschwitz. He spent the next few weeks at the Gross-Rosen concentration camp, until its evacuation, and then made his way west, to evade capture by Soviet forces.

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In the immediate postwar, Mengele found himself in US custody. Unaware that Mengele’s name already stood on a list of wanted war criminals, however, US officials quickly released him. From the summer of 1945 until spring 1949, the physician, under false papers, worked as a farmhand near Rosenheim, Bavaria. At that time, his prosperous family aided his emigration to South America. Mengele settled in Argentina.

As his crimes had been well documented before the International Military Tribunal (IMT) and other postwar courts, West German authorities issued a warrant for Mengele’s arrest in 1959, and a request for extradition in 1960. Alarmed by the capture of Adolf Eichmann in Buenos Aires in that same year, Mengele moved to Paraguay and then to Brazil, spending the last years of his life near Sao Pãolo. In declining health, Mengele suffered a stroke while swimming at a vacation resort near Bertioga, Brazil, on February 7, 1979, and drowned. He was buried in a suburb of Sao Pãolo under the fictive name “Wolfgang Gerhard.”

In 1985, German police, working on evidence they had recently confiscated from a Mengele family friend in Günzburg, located Mengele’s grave and exhumed his corpse. Brazilian forensic experts thereafter positively identified the remains as Josef Mengele. In 1992, DNA evidence confirmed this conclusion. Mengele had eluded his captors for 34 years.

In Buenos Aires, Argentina, Mengele worked as a carpenter while residing in a boarding house in the suburb of Vicente Lopez.After a few weeks he moved to the house of a Nazi sympathiser in the more affluent neighborhood of Florida, Buenos Aires. He next worked as a salesman for his family’s farm equipment company, and beginning in 1951 he made frequent trips to Paraguay as sales representative for that region.An apartment in the center of Buenos Aires became his residence in 1953, the same year he used family funds to buy a part interest in a carpentry concern. In 1954 he rented a house in the suburb of Olivos.Files released by the Argentine government in 1992 indicate that Mengele may have practiced medicine without a license, including performing abortions, while living in Buenos Aires.

After obtaining a copy of his birth certificate through the West German embassy in 1956, Mengele was issued an Argentine foreign residence permit under his real name. He used this document to obtain a West German passport, also under his real name, and embarked for a visit to Europe.He met up in Switzerland for a ski holiday with his son Rolf (who was told Mengele was his “Uncle Fritz”and his widowed sister-in-law Martha, and spent a week in his home town of Günzburg. Upon his return to Argentina in September, Mengele began living under his real name. Martha and her son Karl Heinz followed about a month later, and the three took up residence together. The couple married while on holiday in Uruguay in 1958 and bought a house in Buenos Aires.Business interests now included part ownership of Fadro Farm, a pharmaceutical company.Along with several other doctors, Mengele was questioned and released in 1958 under suspicion of practicing medicine without a license after a teenage girl died following an abortion. Worried that the publicity would lead to his Nazi background and wartime activities being discovered, he took an extended business trip to Paraguay and was granted citizenship under the name José Mengele in 1959.He returned to Buenos Aires several times to wrap up his business affairs and visit his family. Martha and Karl Heinz lived in a boarding house in the city until December 1960, when they returned to Germany.

Mengele’s name was mentioned several times during the Nuremberg trials, but Allied forces were convinced that he was dead.Irene and the family in Günzburg also said that he was dead. Working in West Germany, Nazi hunters Simon Wiesenthal and Hermann Langbein collected information from witnesses as to Mengele’s wartime activities.

In a search of the public records, Langbein found Mengele’s divorce papers listing an address in Buenos Aires. He and Wiesenthal pressured West German authorities into drawing up an arrest warrant on 5 June 1959, and starting extradition proceedings.Initially Argentina turned down the request, because the fugitive was no longer living at the address given on the documents. By the time extradition was approved on 30 June 1960, Mengele had already fled to Paraguay, where he was living on a farm near the Argentine border.

I am not someone who tends to entertain conspiracy theories but in this case it strikes me as very odd that Mengele could not be found, giving the fact he hid in plain sight, using his own name.

Then there is Candido Godoi in Brazil. a small town with an unusual high number of twins being born there. a lot of them being blonde and blue eyed.. The people of the town claim that Mengele visited to town a lot in the 1960’s and they didn’t really know what he did there. It appears he must have continued with his experiments in Brazil, and who knows where else.

There is testimony that he attended women, followed their pregnancies, treated them with new types of drugs and preparations, that he talked of artificial insemination in human beings, and that he continued working with animals, proclaiming that he was capable of getting cows to produce male twins.

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The consequences of his experiments are still being felt to date.

It is not often that someone deserved the nick name given to day, but in the case of Dr Mengele the name ‘Angel of Death’ is an appropriate one.

Mengele

 

AUSCHWITZ

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May 20,1940 marks  one of the most appalling days of modern history. That day  the first prisoners arrive at a new concentration camp called Auschwitz.

So much has already been written about Auschwitz therefore rather then writing something which won’t add any value I will post some pictures for a picture paints a thousand words. The pictures will be from the 3 main camps.

Auschwitz 1

Victims and belongings

Auschwitz Birkenau

The horrors

Auschwitz 3 Monowitz

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The victims

There are a great number of horrific pictures of the gas chambers and the victims but I think there are none as harrowing as the pictures below. Although they are not graphic, they do show how the victims suffered. They are pictures of scratch marks of inside the gas chambers.

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No comment needed

Death

LET US NEVER FORGET WHAT HUMANS ARE CAPABLE OFF

Bruno Tesch & Karl Weinbacher, merchants of Death

Today marks the 72nd anniversary of the executions of Bruno Tesch& Karl Weinbacher . I was able to find a few pictures of Bruno Tesch but none from Karl Weinbacher.

 

After the war, several employees of the companies that had supplied Zykon B to the SS in the concentration and extermination camps were brought before the court in a number of criminal trials. The first trial, of employees of the Hamburg distributorship Tesch & Stabenow (TESTA), was held before a British military court in Hamburg from March 1 to 8, 1946. The owner of the firm, Bruno Tesch, and his coworkers Joachim Hans Drosihn and Karl Weinbacher were charged with having wittingly supplied the Zyklon Bused in the German concentration camps to murder citizens of the Allied countries. The defendant Joachim Hans Drosihn was acquitted in the proceedings because he was given no insight into corporate policy. Weinbacher and Tesch, on the other hand, were found guilty of knowingly supplying Zyklon B to murder human beings and were condemned to death.

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Dr. Bruno Tesch and his business manager-proxy (“Prokurist”) Karl Weinbacher, who had never been members of the German government or the German armed forces were sentenced to death.The death sentence was carried out in the Hameln (Hamelin) penitentiary on May 16, 1946.

Bruno Emil Tesch (14 August 1890 – 16 May 1946) was a German chemist and entrepreneur. Together with Gerhard Peters and Walter Heerdt, he invented the insecticide Zyklon B, infamous for having been used by Nazi Germany to exterminate approximately a million of the victims of the Holocaust.He was the owner of Tesch & Stabenow (called Testa), a pest control company he co-founded in 1924 with Paul Stabenow in Hamburg, Germany, which was a major supplier of Zyklon B to the Nazi concentration camps.

Following the end of World War II, he was arrested by the British as a war criminal, tried, and executed.

Tesch studied mathematics and physics for one semester in 1910 at the University of Göttingen before studying chemistry at the University of Berlin, receiving his degree in 1914. He attained a position at Kaiser Wilhelm Institute

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Tesch, along with fellow chemists Gerhard Peters and Walter Heerdt, with the support of I.G. Farben, began research into the use of hydrogen cyanide as a fumigating agent. They discovered a process in which the hydrogen cyanide could be manufactured and used in a solid form.

The patent was assigned to Degesch, “Deutsche Gesellschaft für Schädlingsbekämpfung mbH” (German Limited Company for Pest Control), subsidiary of I.G. Farben, with Walter Heerdt being the only one of the inventors to receive patent rights, a portion of the proceeds from the manufacture and sale. Peters joined Degesch and would become managing director during World War II. Degesch was designated by the German government to set the safety rules and standards for the use of Zyklon B, and was given the authority to authorize shipments from the manufacturer to the customer after the strict criteria were met.

Tesch & Stabenow did not manufacture Zyklon B nor any other chemicals. It was primarily a pest control company specializing in fumigation of commercial properties such as the warehouses and freighters in the Port of Hamburg. Zyklon B was produced by Dessauer Werke and Kaliwerke.

In 1925, Tesch & Stabenow – partly due to the largesse of Paul Haber of Degesch – received the exclusive rights to distribute the insecticide Zyklon B east of the Elbe River. In 1927, Stabenow departed from the firm. Tesch held a 45% share of the company and Degesch 55%. He would assume sole ownership of the company in 1942

Tesch was first interrogated in Hamburg by British Captain and chemist Walter Freud. Freud was accompanied by Emil Sehm, a former Testa bookkeeper. Sehm claimed to have seen a memorandum concerning correspondence between Tesch and a Wehrmacht officer about the use of Zyklon B to gas humans. Tesch was arrested by the British occupation authorities on September 3, 1945, and released on October 1, 1945, only to be re-arrested a few days later on October 6.

Tesch was tried by a British military tribunal in the Curiohaus in Hamburg March 1–8, 1946, the Testa process. His two co-defendants were registered general representative Karl Weinbacher and Joachim Drosihn, the firm’s first gassing technician.

The prosecution case stated that Zyklon B was used for “systematically exterminating human beings to an estimated total of six million, of whom four and a half million were exterminated by the use of Zyklon B in one camp alone, known as Auschwitz/Birkenau”

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The charge was that Tesch, “at Hamburg, Germany, between 1st January 1941, and 31st March 1945, in violation of the laws and usages of war, did supply poison gas used for the extermination of allied nationals interned in concentration camps, well knowing that the said gas was to be so used” in violation of Article 46 of the Hague Convention of 1907.One of the witnesses called by the prosecution was SS Rottenführer Perry Broad, who had worked in the political department in Auschwitz. Tesch and Weinbacher were condemned to death; Drosihn was acquitted. Tesch was executed by hanging on May 16, 1946, by Albert Pierrepoint in Hamelin Prison.

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Karl Weinbacher (23 June 1898 in Stettin – 16 May 1946 in Hamelin) was a German manager and war criminal who was executed after conviction by a British war tribunal.

Weinbacher worked at Degesch (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Schädlingsbekämpfung, which translates as German Corporation for Pest Control) until 1924, and then at Tesch & Stabenow (Testa, for short), where he received the position of manager in 1927, and by 1943 was director and deputy executive under owner and chief executive officer Bruno Tesch. Testa manufactured and sold Zyklon B, which was used not only for pest control and disinfestation, but also in the Holocaust in the gas chambers of Auschwitz to murder people. Weinbacher was involved with a percentage of the sales proceeds of Zyklon B.

Weinbacher often acted as the CEO whenever Tesch was absent or on business travels, this sometimes could be as much as 200 days a year.In that time Weinbacher would have full authority on all business activities.

After the end of World War II, Weinbacher, Tesch and Joachim Drosihn, the firm’s first gassing technician, were arrested on 3 September 1945. They were tried by a British military tribunal in the Curiohaus Trial in Hamburg from March 1–8, 1946, also called the Testa trial or the Zyklon B trial. In the cases of Weinbacher and Tesch, the court ruled that it had been proven that both knew the purpose of Zyklon B. Tesch and Weinbacher were convicted and sentenced to death on 8 March 1946, while Drosihn was acquitted. Tesch and Weinbacher were hanged in the prison for war criminals in Hamelin on 16 May 1946.

Just because these men weren’t part of the army or any government did not absolve them from any guilt and best they were complacent and worst they were actually worse then the anyone in the army, because the SS or Wehrmacht could always say they were following orders, whereas these men solely did it for profit .

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Operation Bernhard

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This story had all the makings of a great spy movie and no wonder that in 2007 ,film director Stefan Ruzowitzky made the movie “The Counterfeiters” which won the Oscar for best movie in a foreign Language.

Operation Bernhard was the name of a secret German plan devised during World War II to destabilise the British economy by flooding the country with forged Bank of England £5, £10, £20, and £50 notes, which was named after the SS officer who ran it.

Only a fortnight after the start of World War II, at a meeting that has remained a secret for more than half a century, officials of German finance and Nazi espionage approved an audacious plot to bring down the world’s financial system. Hundreds of millions of forged British pounds were to become a weapon of war. Operation Bernhard not only became the greatest counterfeit scheme in history but the most wide-ranging and bizarre, with its own gallery of rogues.

It  was the code-name of a secret Nazi plan devised  by the RSHA (Reich Main Security Office)  and the SS to destabilize the British economy via economic warfare by flooding the global economy and the British Empire with forged Bank of England £5, £10, £20, and £50 notes.

It was the largest counterfeiting operation in the history of economic warfare, and the first that employed the full technical/scientific and management expertise of a sovereign state to produce and deploy bogus currency with the aim of destabilizing an enemy belligerent’s economic standing with its allies, as well as its acceptance by neutral powers.

Britain was especially vulnerable because its war effort was founded upon – and sustained by – its global and Imperial economy. That economy was built upon directly-ruled colonial possessions, self-governing Commonwealth Dominions and the Empire’s currency zone, the Sterling Preference Area. These worked in commerce with neutral powers to acquire the manpower and material necessary to fight a global war. Each of these trading partners accepted the British currency for the exchange of goods and services and maintained their own reserves of it for transactions with, and within the Empire. Confidence in the integrity of this (then global) currency, both in and outside of the Sterling Preference Area, was essential to sustaining the vitality of the Empire, and through it, the war effort.

Major Bernhard Krueger, a meticulously correct SS engineer, ran a production line of Jewish prisoners in Sachsenhausen concentration camp near Berlin. The millions of forged notes they printed were laundered through a Nazi confidence man with the help of Jewish agents who concealed their origins. Toward the end, one of Europe ‘s most accomplished professional forgers, the only career criminal in the operation, was brought in to counterfeit dollar bills.

In London, the arrogant grandees at the Bank of England could not believe their pound notes could be forged with such expertise and in such quantity. In one of the crowning ironies of many, after the war Golda Meir protected a millionaire Jewish money-launderer from British authorities in what was then known as Palestine.

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The plan was to destabilize the British economy during the war by dropping the notes from aircrafts, on the assumption that most Britons would collect the money and spend it, thus triggering inflation. This scheme was not put into effect: it was postulated that the Luftwaffe did not have enough aircraft to deliver the forgeries, and by that time the operation was in the hands of SS foreign intelligence. From late 1943, approximately one million notes per month were printed. Many were transferred from SS headquarters to a former hotel near Meran in South Tyrol, Northern Italy, from where they were laundered and used to pay for strategic imports and German secret agents operating in Allied countries. It has been rumoured that counterfeit currency was used to finance the rescue of Benito Mussolini in 1943.

The plot was hatched in Berlin on September 18, 1939, behind the imposing stone facade of what had once been Kaiser Wilhelm’s Finance Ministry. Walther Funk, a pudgy former financial journalist whose principal task was keeping German industry in Hitler’s camp, was the only one to register the least objection because he feared the counterfeit notes would upset his task of milking Hitler’s conquered territories. Josef Goebbels, Hitler’s propaganda minister, was not present but feared the “grotesque plan” might be turned against Germany ‘s own fragile finances by the Allies. In fact, Winston Churchill and Franklin D. Roosevelt toyed with the idea of counterfeiting enemy currency but their advisers rejected it.

Nevertheless, the second-rate minds of Nazi espionage believed they could weaken the pound as the trading standard and store of value underpinning the British Empire. Bullies and incompetents were at first put in charge of the operation. After several false starts, Krueger, a textile engineer, figured out how to match the paper, printing, and design of the impressive British notes. He found his forgers in Jewish death camps on the orders of SS Reichsführer Heinrich Himmler.

Bundesarchiv_Bild_183-S72707,_Heinrich_Himmler

Krüger set up a team of 142 counterfeiters from among inmates at Sachsenhausen concentration camp at first, and then from others, especially Auschwitz. Beginning in 1942, the work of engraving the complex printing plates, developing the appropriate rag-based paper with the correct watermarks, and breaking the code to generate valid serial numbers was extremely difficult, but by the time Sachsenhausen was evacuated in April 1945, the printing press there had produced 8,965,080 banknotes with a total value of £134,610,810. The notes are considered among the most perfect counterfeits ever produced, being extremely difficult although not impossible to distinguish from the real thing Some were plucked from Auschwitz by Krueger himself, who courteously addressed them with the formal German Sie.

The SS planned to keep the operation secret by killing them when the job was done. The prisoners worked with the knowledge that they were marked for death when they had finished their jobs. ” From the start, they wondered whether they should stretch out their work and risk execution for sabotage, or perform efficiently and thus hasten their own deaths. No one ever knew for sure where Krueger stood, but by keeping the operation going, he kept himself from being sent to the Russian front. What all these men said and thought as they lived under this sword of Damocles makes chilling, personal drama.

The pound counterfeiting operation ended in 1944. Not wanting to go to the Eastern Front, and mindful of the fate of the concentration camp prisoners in his employ if his factory were closed, Krüger succeeded in establishing a new operation to forge American dollar notes. Instructing his workers to work as slowly as possible, he managed to stall the operation until the war ended, permitting the prisoners to be liberated after they were transferred to camps in Austria in May 1945.

One of the forgers, Adolf Burger survived the war and stated that “Major Krüger was in no way like Oskar Schindler. He was a murderer just like everyone else, six weeks before the war ended he had six people shot just because they were sick. He couldn’t send them to hospital in case they said something about the operation, so he killed them.”

After the war, Major Krüger was detained by the British for two years, then turned over to the French for a year.

BernhardCaptivity

He said they asked him to forge documents but that he refused. He was released in 1948 without any charges being pressed, and returned to Germany. In the 1950s, he went before a denazification court, where inmates under his charge at Sachsenhausen provided statements that resulted in his acquittal. He eventually worked for the company that had produced the special paper for the Operation Bernhard forgeries. He died in 1989.

Following the evacuation of Sachsenhausen, the counterfeiting team was transferred to Redl-Zipf in Austria, a subsidiary camp of the Mauthausen-Gusen concentration camp. At the beginning of May 1945, the team was ordered to transfer again, this time to the Ebensee subsidiary camp where they were to be killed together. Their SS guards, however, had only one truck for their prisoners, so the transfer required three round trips. The truck broke down during the third trip, and the last batch of prisoners had to be marched to Ebensee where they arrived on May 4. The guards of the first two batches of prisoners fled when the prisoners at the Ebensee camp revolted and refused to be moved into tunnels where they would have probably been blown up. The counterfeiters then dispersed among the prisoners at Ebensee. The delayed arrival of the third batch therefore saved the lives of all. As a result of the order that all the counterfeiters be exterminated together, none were actually killed.

The Ebensee camp was liberated by US forces on May 6, 1945. One of the prisoners, the Jewish Slovak printer-turned-counterfeiter Adolf Burger, later contributed to the awareness of Operation Bernhard with several versions of his memoirs published in the languages of Central Europe and in Persian.

Adolf-Burger-Faussaires-2

It is believed that most of the notes produced ended up at the bottom of Lake Toplitz near Ebensee from where they were recovered by divers in 1959, but examples continued to turn up in circulation in Britain for many years, which caused the Bank of England to withdraw all notes larger than £5 from circulation, and not reintroduce the denominations until the early 1960s (£10), 1970 (£20), and 1980 (£50).

Toplitzsee

It is also rumoured there is quite a substantial amount of Nazi gold in the depth of Lake Toplitz. A few years ago an Austrian farmer and one of his family members played a prank on a local town councilor. He claimed that he had found a box full of gold bars which he and his friend had found whilst diving in the lake. He had actually just painted a few bricks gold and had forged a Nazi stamp.

The area still sees a lot of tourists and divers who hope that one day they will find the real’mythical gold’ which was dumped in the lake.

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4th of May-Remembering the Dead

Every May 4th at 20.00 PM 2 minutes of silence is observed in the Netherlands to remember those who died in WWII and other military conflicts.

In today’s blog I will remember those who died in the province of Limburg  in the South East of the Netherlands and its surrounding areas.Those who fought and died for my liberty and those who became victims of the Holocaust.

Rather then naming all  the thousands of soldiers and victims I will Just post a poem followed by  some of the names picked randomly ,and a brief description of who they were. Nothing fancy, no bells and whistles just a simple dignified remembrance.

sittarf begraafplaats

The Fallen Hero

Thank you soldier for setting my country free.

You did not want to die but yet you gave your life.

It was for strangers you sacrificed yourself, who weren’t even family.

Your ambitions were cut short never again did you see your wife.

 

Thank you, young man to liberate my land.

Your youth stolen from you by a violent act of hate.

A picture of a young girl you held in your hand

The blood drenched battlefield sealed both your fate

 

Thank you proud parents for sending us your son.

The pain you feel is something I will never be able to comprehend

But know this your child did not die in vain, his memory will go on

Even if everyone else forgets, I will remember until my end.

Buried in the War Cemetery in Sittard

sittard

WO Edward Victor AddisNote: 2734194. Warrant Officer Class II (C.S.M.), Welsh Guards, 1st Bn. Age 26. Son of John William and Martha Addis; husband of Selina Addis of Kenley, Surrey. L. 9.

 

Sgt Patrick Ahern Note: EX/1251. Royal Marines, No. 45 R.M. Commando. Age 31. Son of John Ahern and of Margaret Ahern (nee Fitzgerald); husband of Margaret Ahern, of Burley, Hampshire. D. 8.

Pvt Wilfred Bell.Note: 4538024. Highland Light Infantry (City of Glasgow Regiment), 6th Bn. D. 20

Guardsman Kenneth Jack Edwards:Welsh Guardsman

Private David D Hendry: Highland Light Infantry (City of Glasgow Regiment)

Corporal James J McKENZIE: Highland Light Infantry (City of Glasgow Regiment)

Private Kenneth Annan: Note: 1105515. Gunner, Royal Artillery, 107 (The South Notts. Hussars) Medium Regt. Age 33. Husband of Annie K. Annan of Rothesay, Bute. L. 14

 

Buried in War Cemetery Margraten

MARG

Private Howard Byron Wilkison: Service number:6918369,Hometown ,Gibson County,Indiana

Private 1st Class Charles ZAKRZEWSKI: Service number:13125052 ,Hometown Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania

Private Abram Roy Cohen: Service number:42112987 Hometown Bergen County, New Jersey

Private Sylvan van Aalten(born in Belgium): Service number 42070964 Hometown Queens County, New York

Private 1st Class Antonio Vasquez:Service number 38247207 Hometown Victoria County, Texas

Leonard M Weinstein: Service number 32996631 Hometown Bronx County, New York

 

The Jewish holocaust victims of Geleen.

You are not different than me.

You eat the same food.

You read the same books.

But yet you are not free.

 

You are not free because of someone’s idea of you.

You are given a yellow star

You are catalogued and numbered like cattle.

But yet you’re not an animal but a human too.

 

You are being killed in the vilest of ways.

You are a man, a woman, a child, a parent.

You are erased as if you were never here.

But yet you are remembered on many days.

 

You are not different to me but you are also not the same.

You are merely a number and a name on a list.

You are not listened to for you have no voice

But I pledge I will shout for you in loud acclaim.

  Last name First name Born Died*
1 Freimark-Adler Hermine 12-12-1876 Urspringen (D) 14-05-1943 Sobibor
2 Baum Max 04-01-1907 Bauchem (D) 31-03-1944 Auschwitz
3 Cohen-Ten Brink Esthella Carolina 05-06-1904 Ootmarsum 31-08-1942 Auschwitz
4 Meyer-Cahn Jeanette (Jetta) 18-12-1859 Leutesdorf (D) 10-05-1943 Westerbork
5 Claessens Albert 19-04-1905 Obbicht 30-04-1943 Midden-Europa
6 Cohen Frieda 11-07-1924 Vaals 31-08-1942 Auschwitz
7 Cohen Henny 30-10-1925 Vaals 26-09-1942 Auschwitz
8 Cohen Josephine 09-07-1930 Geleen 31-08-1942 Auschwitz
9 Cohen Simon 01-05-1889 Midwolda 31-08-1942 Auschwitz
10 Freimark Ernst 12-08-1936 Frankfurt (D) 31-08-1942 Auschwitz
11 Freimark Friedrich 27-10-1902 Marktheidenfeld (D) 30-04-1943 Midden-Europa
12 Freimark Kurt 21-12-1939 Heerlen 31-08-1942 Auschwitz
13 Levy-Goldschmidt Irene 15-02-1907 Rheda (D) 30-11-1943 Auschwitz
14 Goldschmidt Josef 24-10-1867 Rheda (D) 28-05-1943 Sobibor
15 Goldsteen Frederik 09-07-1918 Rheydt (D) 15-08-1942 Auschwitz
16 Levi-Harf Rosalie 27-10-1880 Mönchengladbach (D) 28-05-1943 Sobibor
17 Goldschmidt-Jacob Frieda 19-02-1869 Rheda-Wiedenbrück (D) 07-10-1943 Maastricht**
18 May-Jacobsohn Klara 14-05-1871 Neckarbischofsheim (D) 14-05-1943 Sobibor
19 Meyer-Kaufmann Berta 03-01-1912 Köln (D) 31-08-1942 Auschwitz
20 Kaufmann Margard 10-11-1928 Gronau (D) 03-09-1943 Auschwitz
21 Kaufmann Richard 30-06-1886 Moers (D) 03-09-1943 Auschwitz
22 Heimberg-Klestadt Bertha 28-12-1891 Büren (D) 25-01-1943 Auschwitz***
23 Claessens-Krzanowska Ajga 17-03-1909 Zawiercie (Polen) 31-08-1942 Auschwitz
24 Lebenstein Ida 16-05-1888 Ochtrup (D) 28-05-1943 Sobibor
25 Levy Arnold 27-05-1880 Wuppertal-Elberfeld (D) 28-05-1943 Sobibor
26 Levy Hans Erich 22-03-1911 Düsseldorf (D) 31-03-1944 Polen
27 Löwenfels Luise 05-07-1915 Trabelsdorf (D) 30-09-1942 Auschwitz
28 Freimark-May Gertruda 16-02-1902 Niedermendig (D) 31-08-1942 Auschwitz
29 Winter-May Irma Johanna 30-08-1908 Niedermendig (D) 31-08-1942 Auschwitz
30 Goldsteen-Mendel Carolina 06-07-1880 Tetz (D) 22-10-1943 Auschwitz****
31 Meyer Max 23-01-1900 Remagen-Oberwinter (D) 30-04-1943 Midden-Europa
32 Roer Helene 14-09-1921 Zülpich (D) 31-08-1942 Auschwitz
33 Roer Ilse 20-02-1925 Zülpich (D) 31-08-1942 Auschwitz
34 Baum-Salmagne Sophia 12-06-1867 Eilendorf (D) 16-11-1943 Bergen-Belzen
35 Willner Paul Siegfried 05-06-1902 Aachen (D) 30-04-1943 Midden-Europa
36 Winter Gustav 01-11-1897 Korschenbroich (D) 30-04-1943 Midden-Europa
37 Kaufmann-Zilversmit Adele 07-12-1890 Gronau (D) 03-09-1943 Auschwitz

 

Oskar Gröning -Bookkeeper of Auschwitz

This week marks the 1st anniversary of the trial against Oskar Gröning- the ‘Bookkeeper’ of Auschwitz. So it’s a good opportunity to look back at his life and his trial.

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More than 70 years have passed since the liberation of the death camps and many of those involved have now died.

So the trial of Oskar Groening was one of the last of its kind.

Mr Groening, known as the “book-keeper of Auschwitz”, was allegedly responsible for counting banknotes confiscated from prisoners.

Prosecutors in Lueneburg, northern Germany, also allege that he hid victims’ luggage away from new arrivals, to disguise the victims’ fate.

Oskar Gröning (born 10 June 1921) is a German former SS junior squad leader who was stationed at Auschwitz concentration camp.

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His responsibilities included counting and sorting the money taken from prisoners, and he was in charge of the personal property prisoners had arrived with.

On a few occasions he witnessed the procedures of mass-killing in the camp.

killings

After being transferred from Auschwitz to a combat unit in October 1944, Gröning was captured by the British on 10 June 1945 when his unit surrendered. He was eventually transferred to Britain as a prisoner of war and worked as a forced labourer.

Gröning wanted to join an elite army unit and set his sights on joining the Waffen-SS.Without his father’s knowledge, he did so in 1940 at a hotel where the SS was recruiting. Gröning says his father was disappointed to learn this when he came home after having joined.

His father, a proud nationalist, joined the Stahlhelm paramilitary group after Germany’s defeat in World War One. His anger at how Germany had been treated under the Treaty of Versailles increased when his textile business went bankrupt in 1929.

Gröning describes himself as a “desk person” and was content with his role in SS salary administration, which granted him both the administrative and military aspects he wanted from a career.

Gröning worked as a bookkeeper for a year until 1942, when the SS ordered that desk jobs would be reserved for injured veterans, and that fit members in administrative roles were to be subjected to more challenging duties.Gröning and about 22 of his colleagues travelled to Berlin where they reported to one of the SS economic offices.:They were then given a lecture by several high-ranking officers who reminded them of the oath of loyalty they took, which they could prove by doing a difficult task.The task was top secret – Gröning and his comrades had to sign a declaration that they would not disclose it to family or friends, or people not in their unit. Once this had concluded, they were split into smaller groups and taken to various Berlin stations where they boarded a train in the direction of Katowice with orders to report to the commandant of Auschwitz, a place Gröning had not heard of before.

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Upon arrival at the main camp, they were given provisional bunks in the SS barracks, warmly greeted by fellow SS men and provided with food.Gröning was surprised at the myriad food items available in addition to basic SS rations. The new arrivals were curious about what function Auschwitz served. They were told that they should find out for themselves because Auschwitz was a special kind of concentration camp. Immediately someone opened the door and shouted “Transport!”, causing three or four people to leave the room.

The next day, Gröning and the other arrivals reported to the central SS administrative building and were asked about their background before the war.One of the officers said Gröning’s bank clerk skills would be useful, and took him to barracks where the prisoners’ money was kept.Gröning was told that when prisoners were registered into the camp, their money was stored here and later returned to them when they left.

It became clear that Auschwitz was not a normal internment camp with above average SS rations, but that it served an additional function. Gröning was informed that money taken from interned Jews was not actually returned to them. When he inquired further, his colleagues confirmed that the Jews were being systematically exterminated and that this had included the transport of prisoners who had arrived the previous night.

Gröning’s responsibilities included sorting and counting the multitude of currencies taken from arriving deportees, sending it to Berlin, and guarding the belongings of arrivals until they were sorted He said he was astonished to learn of the extermination process,but later accepted his part in it, stating that his work became “routine” after several months.

His bureaucratic job did not shield him completely from physical acts of the extermination process: as early as his first day, Gröning saw children hidden on the train and people unable to walk that had remained among the rubbish and debris after the selection process had been completed, being shot Gröning also heard:

…a baby crying. The child was lying on the ramp, wrapped in rags. A mother had left it behind, perhaps because she knew that women with infants were sent to the gas chambers immediately. I saw another SS soldier grab the baby by the legs. The crying had bothered him. He smashed the baby’s head against the iron side of a truck until it was silent.

After witnessing this, Gröning claims he went to his boss and told him that he could not work at Auschwitz any more, stating that if the extermination of the Jews is necessary, “then at least it should be done within a certain framework”.Gröning claims that his superior officer denied this request, forcing him to continue his work.

One night towards the end of 1942, Gröning and his comrades in their SS barracks on the outskirts of Birkenau were awakened by an alarm.They were told that a number of Jews who were being taken to the gas chambers had escaped and hidden in the woods. They were ordered to take pistols and search the woods.When his group arrived at the extermination area of the camp they saw a farmhouse, in front of which were SS men and the bodies of seven or eight prisoners who had been caught and shot. The SS men told Gröning and his comrades that they could go home but they decided to hang around in the shadows of the woods.

They watched as an SS man put on a gas mask and emptied a tin of Zyklon B into a hatch in the cottage wall.

Gröning said the humming noise from inside “turned to screaming” for a minute, then to silence.A comrade later showed him the bodies being burnt in a pit. A Kapo there told him details of the burning, such as how gases developed in the body and made the burning corpses move.

Gröning claims that this disrupted the relative tranquility his job gave him and he claims he yet again complained to his superior.His boss, an SS-Untersturmführer, listened but reminded him of the pledge that he and his comrades made. Gröning thus returned to work. He has declared that he manipulated his life at Auschwitz so as to avoid witnessing the camp’s most unpalatable aspects.

Gröning’s application to transfer to a unit on the front-line was successful, and in 1944 he joined an SS unit fighting in the Ardennes.He was wounded and sent to a field hospital before rejoining his unit, which eventually surrendered to the British on 10 June 1945, on his birthday

He realised that declaring “involvement in the concentration camp of Auschwitz would have a negative response”, and so tried not to draw attention to it, putting on the form given to him by the British that he worked for the SS-Wirtschafts-Verwaltungshauptamt (SS Main Economic and Administrative Office)instead.

He did this because “the victor’s always right”, and that things happened at Auschwitz which “did not always comply with human rights”.

Gröning and the rest of his SS colleagues were imprisoned in an old Nazi concentration camp.He was later sent to Britain as a forced labourer in 1946 where he had a “very comfortable life”. He ate good food and earned money, and travelled through the Midlands and Scotland giving concerts for four months, singing German hymns and traditional English folk songs to appreciative British audiences.

Gröning was released and returned to Germany in 1947 or 1948.

But when the war was over – and he was released from a British prison – he did not speak of his role at Auschwitz. Upon return to Germany, Gröning lived with his father-in-law.[At the dinner table, they once made “a silly remark about Auschwitz”, implying that he was a “potential or real murderer,” which Gröning said enraged him, banging his fist on the table, demanding: “This word and this connection are never, ever, to be mentioned again in my presence, otherwise I’ll move out!”Gröning said that this request was respected.

Instead he began a normal, middle-class life in Lueneburg Heath in Lower Saxony, where he worked at a glass-making factory until retirement.

It was not until he heard people denying the Holocaust had ever happened, decades later, that he suddenly felt the need to speak up.

“I saw the gas chambers. I saw the crematoria,” he told the BBC in the 2005 documentary Auschwitz: the Nazis and the “Final Solution”

“I was on the ramp when the selections [for the gas chambers] took place.”

He spoke of witnessing an SS soldier murdering a baby, and how the treatment of the prisoners had “horrified” him.

But he said that at the time he believed that killing Jews – including children – was the “right” thing to do.

childern

“We were convinced by our world view that we had been betrayed… and that there was a great conspiracy of the Jews against us.”

 However, Mr Groening says he did not take part directly in the killing, and described his role as “a small cog in the gears”.

“If you can describe that as guilt, then I am guilty, but not voluntarily. Legally speaking, I am innocent,” he told Der Spiegel in 2005.

In the book accompanying the BBC documentary, historian Laurence Rees describes the experience of listening to Mr Groening speak about his time at Auschwitz as a “strange experience”.

He says Mr Groening “shields himself” from taking full responsibility, by referring to the power of family beliefs and propaganda, but that he does not claim to have purely been following orders.

“He carried on working at Auschwitz not just because he was ordered to but because… he thought the extermination programme was right.

“It’s just that that ‘right’ then turns out not to be ‘right today.”

In September 2014, it was reported that Gröning had been charged by state prosecutors with having been an accessory to murder for his role at Auschwitz receiving and processing prisoners and their personal belongings. The indictment stated that Gröning economically advanced Nazi Germany and aided the systematic killing of 300,000 of the 425,000 Hungarian Jews who were deported to Auschwitz by 137 railway transports during the summer of 1944.

The trial commenced on 20 April 2015 at Lüneburg Regional Court (Landgericht). In an opening statement, Gröning asked for forgiveness for his mainly clerical role at Auschwitz in the summer of 1944, by saying: “For me there’s no question that I share moral guilt,” the 93-year-old told the judges, acknowledging that he knew about the gassing of Jews and other prisoners. “I ask for forgiveness. I share morally in the guilt but whether I am guilty under criminal law, you will have to decide”.

During the trial several of the 60 ‘co-claimants gave evidence.Eva Mozes Kor who was 10 years old when she arrived at Auschwitz, testified that she and her twin sister were used for the cruel medical experiments conducted by Josef Mengele

and that she had lost her parents and older sisters in Auschwitz. Kor conversed with and embraced the defendant after giving evidence,while other holocaust survivors in the courtroom protested against this gesture.Another witness, Max Eisen who was 15 years old at the time of entry into Auschwitz, described the brutality of the extermination part of the camp, including extracting gold teeth from dead victims. On 12 May 2015, Susan Pollack, an 84-year-old Briton, gave evidence how she was taken from Hungary to Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen; describing the living conditions encountered at Auschwitz, she said: “I was in a barrack with about 800 other girls … we were losing weight, we weren’t able to use our minds anymore”. On the same day, Ivor Perl, an 83-year-old Briton who was born in Hungary into a religious Jewish family, also gave evidence;Perl testified that he was 12 years old when he arrived at Auschwitz and that he and his brother lost his parents and seven siblings in the Holocaust In July, Irene Weiss, an 84-year-old survivor from the United States, testified that her family was torn apart on arrival at Auschwitz in May 1944, during the mass deportation of Hungarian Jews and that she had lost both her parents, four siblings and 13 cousins at Auschwitz.

On 15 July 2015 he was found guilty of being an accessory to the murder of at least 300,000 JewsReacting to the sentence, Auschwitz survivor Eva Mozes Kor said that she was “disappointed” adding: “They are trying to teach a lesson that if you commit such a crime, you will be punished. But I do not think the court has acted properly in sentencing him to four years in jail. It is too late for that kind of sentence… My preference would have been to sentence him to community service by speaking out against neo-Nazis. I would like the court to prove to me, a survivor, how four years in jail will benefit anybody.”

Although I do believe Oskar Gröning was guilty albeit by association and complicity, I do think Eva Mozes Kor makes a valid point. It would have been more beneficial to have sentenced him to community service by speaking out against neo -Nazis and go to schools and talk about his time and the crimes he was complicit in, in Auschwitz

What a wonderful woman she is though, I hope she will be an example to all of us.

On 28 November 2016, the appeal was declined by the German Federal Court of Justice. In August 2017, Gröning was judged to be fit for prison. An appeal to the Federal Constitutional Court also failed. The latter court ruled his age was not a valid reason not to send him to jail.

On 15 January 2018, Gröning applied for pardon as a last measure to avoid imprisonment.The pardon was rejected.

On 9 March 2018, Gröning died while hospitalized before he was to begin his sentence. He was 96.

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Charles Coward-The Count of Auschwitz

1-charles-coward

What’s in a name? My last name would indicate that I would be someone from a small stature, however with my 1.90 m (6ft23) I could not be considered small by any stretch of the imagination. The same can be said about Charles Coward one of WW2 biggest heroes despite his name.

Charles Coward, nicknamed the “Count of Auschwitz,” was held as a British POW but, since he had escaped so many other POW camps, he was sent to Auschwitz III, a POW camp near Auschwitz II in Birkenau.

Once, during an escape, he blended in with German wounded and was accidentally awarded the Iron Cross by Nazi officers.  In the Auschwitz POW camp, he met a British doctor who would visit the camp from the Jewish side.  One day he switched clothes with the doctor and spent a day in the Auschwitz death camp witnessing the horrors only a few meters away.

Coward joined the Army in June 1937 and was captured in May 1940 near Calais while serving with the 8th Reserve Regimental Royal Artillery as Quartermaster Battery Sergeant Major. He managed to make two escape attempts before even reaching a prisoner of war camp, then made seven further escapes; on one memorable occasion managing to be awarded the Iron Cross while posing as a wounded soldier in a German Army field hospital.

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When in captivity he was equally troublesome to his captors, organizing numerous acts of sabotage while out on work details.

Finally in December 1943, he was transferred to the Auschwitz III (Monowitz) labour camp (Arbeitslager), situated only five miles from the better-known extermination camp of Auschwitz II (Birkenau).

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Monowitz was under the directionof the industrial company IG Farben, who were building a Buna (synthetic rubber) and liquid fuel plant there.IG Farben also manufactured Zyklon B

It housed over 10,000 Jewish slave labourers, as well as POWs and forced labourers from all over occupied Europe. Coward and other British POWs were housed in sub-camp E715, administered by Stalag VIII-B.

Thanks to his command of the German language, Coward was appointed Red Cross liaison officer for the 1,200-1,400 British prisoners.

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In this trusted role he was allowed to move fairly freely throughout the camp and often to surrounding towns.He witnessed the arrival of trainloads of Jews to the extermination camp. Coward and other British prisoners smuggled food and other items to the Jewish inmates. He also exchanged coded messages with the British authorities via letters to a fictitious Mr. William Orange (Code for the War Office), giving military information, notes on the conditions of POWs and the other prisoners in the camps, as well as dates and numbers of the arrival of trainloads of Jews.

On one occasion a note was smuggled to him from a Jewish-British ship’s doctor, who was being held in Monowitz. Coward determined to contact him directly; managed to swap clothes with an inmate on a work detail and spent the night in the Jewish camp, seeing at first hand the horrific conditions in which these were held. He failed to find the individual, later found to be Karel Sperber. This experience formed the basis of his subsequent testimony in post-war legal proceedings.

Determined to do something about it, Coward used Red Cross supplies, particularly chocolate, to “buy” from the SS guards corpses of dead prisoners, including Belgian and French civilian forced labourers. Coward then directed healthy Jewish prisoners to join the nightly marches of Jews considered unfit for further work from Monowitz to the Birkenau gas chambers.During the course of the march the healthy men dropped out of procession to hide in ditches; Coward scattered the corpses he had purchased on the road to give the impression that they were members of the column who had died on the march.He then gave the documents and clothes taken from the non-Jewish corpses to the Jewish escapees, who adopted these new identities and were then smuggled out of the camp altogether. Coward carried out this scheme on numerous occasions and is estimated to have saved at least 400 Jewish slave labourers, even though this wasn’t officially verified.

 

In December 1944 Coward was sent back to the main camp of Stalag VIII-B at Lamsdorf (now Łambinowice, Poland) and in January 1945, the POWs were marched under guard to Bavaria, where they were eventually liberated.

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After the war, Coward testified at the Nuremberg war crimes trials, describing the conditions inside the Monowitz camp, the treatment of Allied POWs and Jewish prisoners, and the locations of the gas chambers.

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In 1953, Coward also appeared as a witness in the “Wollheim Suit”, when former slave labourer Norbert Wollheim sued I.G. Farben for his salary and compensation for damages.

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In January 1955, he joined the Old Comrades No. 4077 of UGLE.

He was the subject of This Is Your Life in 1960 when he was surprised by Eamonn Andrews at the BBC Television Theatre.

In 1954 John Castle’s book, The Password is Courage, describing Coward’s wartime activities, was published. It has been through ten editions since, and remains in print. On the back cover of the current edition he is billed as “The Man who Broke into Auschwitz”, (which is also the title of Denis Avey’s book). This was adapted into a 1962 film also titled The Password Is Courage starring Dirk Bogarde. The film was lighthearted compared to the book and made only passing reference to Coward’s time at Auschwitz; it concentrated instead on his numerous escapes and added a fictitious romantic liaison.

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In 1963 Coward was named among the Righteous among the Nations and had a tree planted in his honour in the Avenue of Righteous Gentiles in Yad Vashem. In 2003 Coward was further commemorated with the mounting of a blue plaque at his home at 133 Chichester Road, Edmonton, London, where he lived from 1945 until his death. The North Middlesex Hospital has a ward named “Charles Coward” in his honour.

In 2010, Coward was posthumously named a British Hero of the Holocaust by the British Government.

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This move was seen as a reaction to comments made by Shimon Peres, the Israeli President, who commended Mr Coward’s actions in the House of Commons on 19 November 2008.

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His own father, Yitzak Persky, was also a prisoner of war who saved Jews from the gas chambers, and met Mr Coward, reportedly describing him as a “most impressive character”

En route, a New Zealand soldier died from hypothermia and starvation. “Coward took his dogtag and documentation off him and replaced my identity with his,” Persky reported. He used this identity for the rest of the war.

After Charles Cowards’s death there have been conflicting reports in relation to how many people has helped to escape.When Coward himself was questioned by Yad Vashem researchers in 1962 he offered few details about their identities or fates saying “It is not known exactly how many of these people regained their freedom, because some people went different ways and to different countries.” He added: “And naturally no records were kept of them because once they arrived in their new country, special papers were given to them and perhaps different names, etc.” The revisionist position is that Coward may have saved a few Jews, but certainly not hundreds, but does that make him less of a Hero? In my opinion it doesn’t.

 

sources

http://www.wollheim-memorial.de/en/charles_joseph_coward_19051976

https://www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/blue-plaques/charles-coward/

https://ww2-movie-characters.fandom.com/wiki/Charles_Coward

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Forgotten History-The Jews from Geleen 1940-1944.

During the war Geleen was a small mining town in the South-East of the Netherlands in the province of Limburg. Above are 2 maps the first one is of the Netherlands and the other one is of the greater Geleen Sittard area, just to give you a geographical sense of the place.

Due to the close proximity to Germany many Jews escaped to Limburg in the 1930’s. The Netherlands was a neutral country so the Jewish community thought they were safe.

Geleen itself had a relatively small Jewish community but significant enough for a town with a population of approximately 15,000 at the time.The exact number of Jews living in Geleen is not known but it is estimated there were 67.

Rather then going in to each individual account I will be showing the timeline of events relating to the Jews in Geleen. This timeline would be identical for Jewish communities in other towns and cities in the country and indeed throughout Europe. It is a good indication of the systematic dehumanization of the Jews by the Nazi’s. In total there are 42 events, I will not mention all of them but will highlight , for a lack of a better description, the most important ones.

22 June 1940: All Jewish shop are besmirched by the Nazi’s with the text ” Jüdisches Geschäft” (Jewish Shop)

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1 July 1940: Jews have to leave the Bomb shelters

26/27 July: During night time the windows of Jewish shops are shattered.(Below a news paper article about it)

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31 July 1940: Ban on ritual slaughter

6 September 1940: The general secretaries of most Government departments promise not to hire Jews in pubic office jobs.

5 October 1940: Government personnel have to sign an ‘Aryan’ declaration

21 November 1940: An announcement is made that all Jews working in the public and civil service are to be fired.

10  January 1941: Compulsory Registration is introduced, by the 21st of February all Jews need to be registered. Mayor Damen announces on the 15th of April that 67 Jews have been registered.

4 June 1941: The freedom of movement is restricted for Jews

1 September 1941: Jewish children are no longer allowed to attend regular schools. A make shift school is set up in the teachers residence next to the synagogue.

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15 September 1941: Signs with “Verboden voor Joden” forbidden for Jews are put up. Jews are forbidden to go to cinemas,sports ground,libraries,concert hall and most other public places.

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Also in 1941 Richard Kaufmann is picked up by the Nazi’s and sent to a labor camp in the Netherlands. On October the 3rd he is deported to Westerbork.

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Shortly afterwards he is deported from Westerbork to Auschwitz.Richard Kaufmann dies on the 3rd of September 1943 in Auschwitz.

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2 May 1942: All Jews are ordered to start wearing the yellow star of David.

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19 May 1942: Radio builder Frederik Goldsteen is been arrested after it is found out he kept building radio’s after he was forbidden to do so, and also because of his criticism of Adolf Hitler.Via Camp Amersfoort he is sent to Westerbork and from there to Auschwitz where he dies on 15 August 1942.

12 June 1942: Jews are no longer allowed to buy vegetables in Non Jewish shops

2 August 1942: In all of the Netherlands Jews who have been converted to Catholicism are picked up. In Geleen there were 4 one of then was a Nun who is transported to Auschwitz and dies in the gas chamber. The other 3 are released because they are from mixed marriages.

9 August 1942: Luise Löwenfels aka Sister Maria Aloysia dies in the Auschwitz gas chambers.

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https://dirkdeklein.wordpress.com/2016/03/24/forgotten-history-luise-lowenfels/

25 August 1942:approximately 20 Jewish citizens were deported from City Hall by the Germans. Only 1 survives the war.

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10 November 1942: Guus van Dam is picked up and sent to Groningen in the North of the country, from there he is deported to Auschwitz via Westerbork. His fate is unknown. On the 17th of August 1945 some of his family members put an ad in a newspaper to see if anyone has information.

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In September 1930, Guus had moved with his parents to Geleen and lived there on Jubileumplein 12, this was near the rear entrance of my school. An address I would have passed by on a daily basis.

21 January 1943: The Jewish mental asylum “Het Apeldoornse Bos” is evacuated. Two patients were from Geleen. They are all send to Auschwitz where they all perished.

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September 1943: Jews with mixed marriages are exempt of wearing the yellow star of David

March 1944: Jews from mixed marriage are ordered to be sterilized or to proof they are infertile

18 September 1944: Geleen is liberated by the Combat Command (B) 2nd Armored Division.

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Below is the list of all those who were deported from Geleen and never returned.

  Name  First Name Born Died
1 Freimark-Adler Hermine 12-12-1876 Urspringen (D) 14-05-1943 Sobibor
2 Baum Max 04-01-1907 Bauchem (D) 31-03-1944 Auschwitz
3 Cohen-Ten Brink Esthella Carolina 05-06-1904 Ootmarsum 31-08-1942 Auschwitz
4 Meyer-Cahn Jeanette (Jetta) 18-12-1859 Leutesdorf (D) 10-05-1943 Westerbork
5 Claessens Albert 19-04-1905 Obbicht 30-04-1943 Midden-Europa
6 Cohen Frieda 11-07-1924 Vaals 31-08-1942 Auschwitz
7 Cohen Henny 30-10-1925 Vaals 26-09-1942 Auschwitz
8 Cohen Josephine 09-07-1930 Geleen 31-08-1942 Auschwitz
9 Cohen Simon 01-05-1889 Midwolda 31-08-1942 Auschwitz
10 Freimark Ernst 12-08-1936 Frankfurt (D) 31-08-1942 Auschwitz
11 Freimark Friedrich 27-10-1902 Marktheidenfeld (D) 30-04-1943 Midden-Europa
12 Freimark Kurt 21-12-1939 Heerlen 31-08-1942 Auschwitz
13 Levy-Goldschmidt Irene 15-02-1907 Rheda (D) 30-11-1943 Auschwitz
14 Goldschmidt Josef 24-10-1867 Rheda (D) 28-05-1943 Sobibor
15 Goldsteen Frederik 09-07-1918 Rheydt (D) 15-08-1942 Auschwitz
16 Levi-Harf Rosalie 27-10-1880 Mönchengladbach (D) 28-05-1943 Sobibor
17 Goldschmidt-Jacob Frieda 19-02-1869 Rheda-Wiedenbrück (D) 07-10-1943 Maastricht**
18 May-Jacobsohn Klara 14-05-1871 Neckarbischofsheim (D) 14-05-1943 Sobibor
19 Meyer-Kaufmann Berta 03-01-1912 Köln (D) 31-08-1942 Auschwitz
20 Kaufmann Margard 10-11-1928 Gronau (D) 03-09-1943 Auschwitz
21 Kaufmann Richard 30-06-1886 Moers (D) 03-09-1943 Auschwitz
22 Heimberg-Klestadt Bertha 28-12-1891 Büren (D) 25-01-1943 Auschwitz***
23 Claessens-Krzanowska Ajga 17-03-1909 Zawiercie (Polen) 31-08-1942 Auschwitz
24 Lebenstein Ida 16-05-1888 Ochtrup (D) 28-05-1943 Sobibor
25 Levy Arnold 27-05-1880 Wuppertal-Elberfeld (D) 28-05-1943 Sobibor
26 Levy Hans Erich 22-03-1911 Düsseldorf (D) 31-03-1944 Polen
27 Löwenfels Luise 05-07-1915 Trabelsdorf (D) 30-09-1942 Auschwitz
28 Freimark-May Gertruda 16-02-1902 Niedermendig (D) 31-08-1942 Auschwitz
29 Winter-May Irma Johanna 30-08-1908 Niedermendig (D) 31-08-1942 Auschwitz
30 Goldsteen-Mendel Carolina 06-07-1880 Tetz (D) 22-10-1943 Auschwitz****
31 Meyer Max 23-01-1900 Remagen-Oberwinter (D) 30-04-1943 Midden-Europa
32 Roer Helene 14-09-1921 Zülpich (D) 31-08-1942 Auschwitz
33 Roer Ilse 20-02-1925 Zülpich (D) 31-08-1942 Auschwitz
34 Baum-Salmagne Sophia 12-06-1867 Eilendorf (D) 16-11-1943 Bergen-Belzen
35 Willner Paul Siegfried 05-06-1902 Aachen (D) 30-04-1943 Midden-Europa
36 Winter Gustav 01-11-1897 Korschenbroich (D) 30-04-1943 Midden-Europa
37 Kaufmann-Zilversmit Adele 07-12-1890 Gronau (D) 03-09-1943 Auschwitz

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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Resources

http://members.home.nl/w.brasse/vergeten_joden_van_geleen.htm#SlachtoffersGeleen

https://www.stolpersteinesittardgeleen.nl/Slachtoffers/Gustaaf-van-Dam

Forgotten History-Maria Mandl:The Female face of evil

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There is a misconception that only men are able to carry out evil acts and atrocities, but evil does not discriminate ,it comes in every color,gender,race and religion.

Maria Mandl (also spelled Mandel; 10 January 1912 – 24 January 1948) was an Austrian SS-Helferin infamous for her key role in the Holocaust as a top-ranking official at the Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camp where she is believed to have been directly complicit in the deaths of over 500,000 female prisoners.

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After the Anschluss by Nazi Germany, Mandl moved to Munich, and on 15 October 1938 joined the camp staff as an Aufseherin(Supervisor_ at Lichtenburg, an early Nazi concentration camp in the Province of Saxony where she worked with fifty other SS women.

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On 15 May 1939, she, along with other guards and prisoners, were sent to the newly opened Ravensbrück concentration camp near Berlin. She quickly impressed her superiors and, after she had joined the Nazi Party on 1 April 1941, was elevated to the rank of a SS-Oberaufseherin in April 1942. She oversaw daily roll calls, assignments for Aufseherinnen and punishments such as beatings and floggings. 

On 7 October 1942, Mandl was assigned to the Auschwitz II Birkenau camp in German-occupied Poland where she succeeded Johanna Langefeld as SS-Lagerführerin, a female commandant under (male) SS-Kommandant Rudolf Höß.

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As a woman she could never outrank a man,but her control over both female prisoners and her female subordinates was absolute. The only man Mandl reported to was the commandant. She controlled all the female Auschwitz camps and female subcamps including at Hindenburg,Lichtewerden and Raisko.

Mandl took a liking to Irma Grese, whom she promoted to head of the Hungarian women’s camp at Birkenau.

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According to some accounts, Mandl often stood at the gate into Birkenau waiting for an inmate to turn and look at her: any who did were taken out of the lines and never heard from again. At Auschwitz, Mandl was known as The Beast, and for the next two years she participated in selections for death and other documented abuses. She signed inmate lists, sending an estimated half a million women and children to their deaths in the gas chambers at Auschwitz I and II.

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Mandl also had a passion for classical music and created the Women’s Orchestra of Auschwitz to accompany roll calls, executions, selections and transports. An Auschwitz prisoner, Lucia Adelsberger, later described it in her book, Auschwitz: Ein Tatsachenbericht:

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“The women who came back from work exhausted had to march in time to the music. Music was ordered for all occasions, for the addresses of the Camp Commanders, for the transports and whenever anybody was hanged…”

For services rendered, Mandl was awarded the War Merit Cross 2nd class.

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In November 1944, she was assigned to the Mühldorf subcamp of Dachau concentration camp.

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Elisabeth Volkenrath became head of Auschwitz.

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In May 1945, Mandl fled from Mühldorf into the mountains of southern Bavaria to her birthplace, Münzkirchen.

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The United States Army arrested Mandl on 10 August 1945. Interrogations reportedly revealed her to be highly intelligent and dedicated to her work in the camps. She was handed over to the People’s Republic of Poland in November 1946, and in November 1947 she was tried in a Kraków courtroom in the Auschwitz Trial and sentenced to death by hanging.

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Stanisława Rachwałowa (a Polish survivor of Auschwitz who was an inmate under Mandl’s administration and, after the war, was arrested by Poland’s post-war communist authorities as an “anti-communist activist” was imprisoned in the cell next to Maria Mandl  Rachwałowa was proficient enough in German to interpret for the wardens. She stated that the last time she and the two German war criminals met – after they had been sentenced to death and shortly before their executions took place – both had asked her for forgiveness.

Maria Mandl was put in a cell with Therese Brandl(Brandl was one of several SS women to be assigned to Auschwitz I .Brandl was hanged on 28 January 1948, aged 45.

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She also shared a cell with SS-Rapportführerin Elisabeth Ruppert, who had also worked in Auschwitz.Below is video footage of the two in jail.

Mandl was hanged on 24 January 1948, aged 36. her last words being, “Long live Poland!”