A single rail track.

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I took the picture above this morning at about 11:00 am . It is a rail track just around the corner of my home. When I looked at that rail track this morning several thoughts came to mind.

Firstly I thought how the railways made such a big change in the lives of ordinary citizens. It connected cities and also countries. People were no longer bound by the location they were born in. To this day it still fuels the imagination of children. Shows like Thomas the Tank engine are immensely popular as are the books. Even my own children when they were growing up loved to read those books and watch the show. My oldest son first learned to read from a book entitled “My first book of trains”

My second thought when I looked at the tracks  and at the picture after I took it,was that it looked like a picture of a rail track to any of the concentration camps, be it Auschwitz,Treblinka, Bergen Belsen. It occurred to me that the Holocaust really could have happened any period in history. The picture could have easily been taken in 1942.

I also realized that for the survivors and their children and grandchildren the Holocaust is still a daily reality. For those who survived they still relive that train journey every day.

The one thing that was built to connect people was used to facilitate the mass murder of millions. 1.5 million of which were  children. Children who would have been in awe of the technology,

Train journeys were supposed to be pleasant but there was nothing pleasant about their journeys.Often a hundred or more people would be cramped in a cattle car with no windows , no sanitary facilities, nowhere to sit and many would not even survive the journey.

Below is a picture of some children who survived. Who they are I don’t know. All I know is that they were liberated from the Bergen Belsen concentration camp in April 1945.

survivors

They were some of the lucky ones, but I say lucky reluctantly because even though they survived their nightmare still went on in their minds for years to come,sometimes coupled with the insult by those who claimed the Holocaust never happened. The Holocaust would forever be a part of their lives.

1.5 Million were killed,although I do believe that number is higher.

Here are just some of their names

Harry Knöpfelmacher  Murdered age 9

Hedwig Zander Murdered age 12

Frederika Borstrock Murdered age 4

Ester Kwint Murdered age 12 or 13

Peter Czeisler Murdered age 2

The scary thing is that it appears we haven’t learned from our mistakes and the one thing I fear most is that a Holocaust is very likely to happen again  and it could happen to any group of people.

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Lodz Ghetto . Children rounded up for deportation to Chelmno extermination camp.

Children

I wanted to change the title of the blog to evoke an emotion, but I figured if this doesn’t hit you in the gut nothing will.

It is the actual  title of the picture it is from a public domain. I only changed the names from German into the Polish names.

When you don’t know the background to the picture, you would think that it is an old picture of young primary school children going for a walk or a field trip.

I regularly see a group of children of a similar size, about 30 or so, walking from the local primary school to the leisure centre about half a mile down he road, it is the same centre I attend, they go there for swimming lessons.My children were pupils in that school and would have walked that same route.

However the children in the picture don’t go for a fun activity. They were rounded up to be transported to a place where they would be murdered. There are only 2 adults in the picture A man who is near the end of the group, he is bend over and appears to be giving some instructions.He is wearing an armband so I assuming he is a Kapo or Sonderkommando,but I can’t tell for certain.

On the right edge of the picture stands a woman, she may just be a bystander but my feeling tells me she is a female guard.

What disturbs me about this is that those 2 adults know what will happen to the children and are willingly or forcibly participating. I could not do that, I’d rather kill myself.

Time and time again I ask myself, Why the children? I know the answer but I cannot and will not accept it, the children were seen as enemies and subhuman, and they would grow up to be adult enemies. But the twisted and evil logic behind it escapes me.

This is a line from a Whitney Houston song but it is so fitting here “I believe the children are our future, teach them well and let them lead the way.Show them all the beauty they possess inside.”

They are our future by killing them you kill the future.

Every time I see a group of Schoolchildren now going for a walk or fieldtrip, I will think of this picture and will pray that no other child will ever be deported to be killed.But I will also look at the kids and will enjoy their innocent smiles and laughter, just a bit more then I did before

Source

USHMM

 

 

A broken doll and children’s shoes

doll

This blog only contains 2 pictures. A picture of a broken doll and a picture of some children’s shoes. Both were called pictures of Auschwitz artifacts, now I know the description is not meant disrespectful and was meant with the best intention and perhaps it is the only way to describe them.

But the word artifact has several definitions below are 3 examples and none really get the essence of the objects in the pictures.

1.any object made by human beings, especially with a view to subsequent use.
2.a handmade object, as a tool, or the remains of one, as a shard of pottery, characteristic of an earlier time or cultural stage, especially such an object found at an archaeological excavation.
3.any mass-produced, usually inexpensive object reflecting contemporary society or popular culture

The doll and the shoes belonged to children, children who with a high probability were killed as soon as they arrived in Auschwitz.

These children had names, unknown to us, but nonetheless names.

They played with the e doll and wore the shoes like any other kid would have done. To only difference, they were born to a group of people who were considered,subhuman, in other words less then human by a warped ideology created by men who were pure evil,sick and twisted.

The doll and the shoes each have stories to tell, Stories of lives and loves that might have been and should have been, but were cut short.

Stories we may never hear but they are compelling even so, because looking at the doll it is broken, it signifies a broken life.

The shoes are not complete it signifies lives that were not allowed to develop and be brought to completion.

So they are not artifacts but stories, perhaps not to be heard but to be experienced in our own minds by remembering all the children that were brutally killed.

shoes

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Litzmannstadt-the Children’s concentration camp.

girlsThe children’s camp on Przemyslowa Street in Lodz, which was located within the Lodz Ghetto.Separated from the Ghetto only by a high fence made of planks.

The young inmates were Polish children from all of Poland’s regions.The children were either ophans or the children of deported parents. They were aged between 2 and 17 but the majority were between the ages of 8 and 12 Not much is known how children were selected or reasons why they ended up there. There is one record claiming that a young boy was sent to Litzmannstadt because he was caught without a ticket on a train.

The Nazis were always on the look out for children who did fit the ‘aryan’ profile.Those among them found to be suitable, were transported  from Litzmannstadt to the greater German Reich for adoption and Germanisation to be raised as Germans.

The conditions were harsh in the camp.Everyone slept in bare wooden multi-storey bunks. They would eat out doors regardless what condition. Children as young as two were forced to work at crafts and small-scale industrial projects.

boys

Children who could not keep up, or who committed “violations” which could be something innocent like  wetting the bed, were severly punished by beatings, hours of exercises like running,jumping,standing, etc, reduced rations, and being drenched with cold water and exposed to the weather in winter, fall, and early spring. As in nearly all other   camps, vermin such as lice, scabies, flies, and rats were rampant.

profile

 

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Sources

Zeit

Vintage News

Many thanks to Norman Stone for pointing the story out to me

 

World War 2 heart break. -But in a positive way.

1

There are so many images of death and destruction during WWII, Images of dying children or children that already have been killed.

Images of families torn apart not knowing if they will ever see each other again, But the amazing thing though, amidst all of these portrayals of the abyss there are some pictures that will break your heart,but in a positive way. Pictures like the one above where a little girl gives a soldier a kiss on Valentine’s day 1945 in France.

Maybe I should say they will melt your heart, but either way I will have no doubt that these will bring tears to your eyes.

A volunteer who saved and comforts a baby after a bombing in London.

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An American soldier kissing a little Italian girl

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American soldier cleaning the face of a young french orphan.

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A British soldier gives soup to a little French girl in Caen

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US soldiers talking to the only French girl left in Cerisy-la-salle, France after the Allied invasion of Normandy. July 25, 1944

6

Soviet soldier returning home to greet his daughter.

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Guardsman returning to duty after being home on leave kisses his little son in 1941

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Two Dutch kids get some much needed food from an allied soldier (Jan 1st, 1945)

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I am an idiot

bABY

I am Gerhard Kretschmar, I am an idiot.

I am Gerhard Kretschmar, there are no pictures of me

I am Gerhard Kretschmar, I am a 5 month old idiot.

I am Gerhard Kretschmar, my Father wanted me to be put asleep

But the Doctor refused.

I am Gerhard Kretschmar, my Father then asked Hitler if he would kill me.

Hitler said no problem.

I am Gerhard Kretschmar, I was born blind and one leg and one arm.

I am Gerhard Kretschmar,, I am an idiot, at least that is what the Nazis called me.

I am Gerhard Kretschmar, the first T4 Victim

 

 

Hitler’s Children

1

One of the more disturbing and intriguing aspects about Hitler is his seemingly fondness of children,at least ‘aryan’ children.

The same man who was responsible of millions of children to die, made sure he would use any photo opportunity with kids. He saw children in two ways, they were either impure and  the offspring of vermin or they were the future warriors and breeding machines for the third reich. Both would often have the same outcome, death, either in the gas chambers or as result of slave labour or at the battlefield.

2

Although he would like to be portrayed not only as the Führer but also as the father of the nation. A man who had only the best intentions of the country and all he did was to build a secure future for the children of the nation.

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And the propaganda worked, people believed it, At least early on during his time as the supreme German leader. He kept his promises of jobs and prosperity, and in a poverty stricken country that is a very powerful tool.

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But prosperity made with the endorsement of violence and without a social conscientiousness  breeds selfishness. People didn’t want to see the crimes committed by their leaders. They had a good life as had their family, and that was all that mattered. Little did they know that all this wealth and prosperity was only superficial. It only serve one real purpose, the indulgence of a power mad evil regime.

Soon the citizens of the third reich found out that to maintain their standard of living sacrifices had to be made. Those young warriors were called to serve their master, not their country, but their master.

HJ

At the end the only one the Führer cared for was the grandson born out of wedlock to Maria Schicklgruber, the son of Alois Hiedlet(later Hitler) , Adolf Hitler.

He didn’t care how many were sacrificed  or what age they were.

combat

Were the signs there? Yes and they were blatantly clear. But as I said earlier, the propaganda was believed and for a short time life had been good. But only for those who were deemed to be of a pure race. For the Jews,Roma,Disabled,Homosexuals,Jehovah Witnesses, the narrative was one of death and destruction. Eventually all of Germany faced destruction caused by the allies because the Nazi leaders left them no choice.

dresdan

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The Children of Castle Hoensbroek

Kinderen Hoesnbroek

I came across the above picture a few years ago and the information I got with it is that the children in the picture were orphans, staying with the nuns in Castle Hoensbroek, in Limburg .the south east of the Netherlands

However all the children had been placed under guardianship. They originally came from a town in North-Holland called Velsen where they had been students of a boarding school ,run by Nuns.

In October 1942 the German occupiers had ordered the boarding school to be evacuated, for it was going to be demolished. The Germans were going to build a 5 km long defense line and the boarding school was in the way.

Frantically the nuns looked for an alternative accommodation. They were offered the castle Hoensbroek in December 1942. They moved in on December 23 just in time for the Christmas celebrations. The distance between Velsen and Hoensbroek is about 200km. For the children that must have felt like moving to the other side of the world.

Hoensbroek

The children lived a relatively undisturbed live in the castle. Several times it had been declared unsuitable for the Germany army. However a few days before liberation there were a few nervous moments.

Kinderen

Some SS men on leave. had stayed in the adjacent farm and had been throwing hand grenades in the canals surrounding the castle, just for fun. They had also been walking around naked.

On September 12, 1944 a highly placed SS officer had visited the castle for inspection, he was told there was no room. His reply was not too worry about that, the SS would make some room, while he was looking around at the yard where the children were playing at  the time.But he left.

The following day another highly placed SS officer,with a limp, came to the castle but he too left.

On September 17, 1944 Hoensbroek was liberated by the allied forces. As a part of the celebrations the children were dressed up in the traditional clothing of the Velsen-Volendam region. The pictures taken were send to the US to show the people there that the troops had arrived in the Netherlands.

klederdracht

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The murder of the Goebbels children

Goebbels

Regardless what you think of their parents, when you analyse it the Goebbels children were victims of the same warped ideology and regime as so many other children. The only difference they may have died in less painful circumstances, at least 5 of them.

So enthralled were Joseph  and Magda Goebbels with Hitler that they gave all 6 of their children names starting with H to honor their beloved leader.

Helga Susanne.Hildegard Traudel,Helmut Christian,Holdine Kathrin,Hedwig Johanna and Heidrun Elisabeth.

Obersalzberg, Besuch Familie Goebbels bei Hitler

There also was a half brother called Harald, born in November 1921. from a previous marriage between Magda Goebbels nee Behrend Rietschel and German business man Günther Quandt,founder of several companies including BMW. Harald,He served as a lieutenant in the Luftwaffe during World War II.   he survived the war and together with his half brother Herbert Quandt, ran their father’s businesses including the aforementioned BMW after the war. The picture below is a photograph of the whole Goebbels family including the half brother Harald.Bundesarchiv_Bild_146-1978-086-03,_Joseph_Goebbels_mit_Familie

Like any child anywhere in the world a child is formed and conditioned by the environment it grows up in, as was the case with the Goebbels children. And on the surface they were loved by their parents, and  maybe even a bit deeper then the surface but not much. For any normal thinking and loving parent will do anything to safeguards their child’s life.

In the case of the Goebbels parents their love for Hitler was bigger then the love for their children. On May 1st 1945 ,a day after Hitler committed suicide, Joseph and Magda Goebbels decided to follow suit and also kill the children. Some people say they did this because of fear what the soviet army might do to the children, they imagined it a fate worse then death, Joseph Goebbels was of course well aware what this might entail, for he was one of the leaders of the regime who slaughtered millions of children in the most horrendous conditions , and he  had lost not one night sleep over it.

But I believe they killed their own kids so that could die pure Aryan, for there had been plenty of opportunities to smuggle their kids to the west of Germany where the US and UK troops had occupied the country. Many of those who had been in the bunker did just do that and could have easily taken the kids with them, if they had been asked.

Adolf Hitler [Misc.]

Joseph and Magda wrote goodbye letters to Harald, explaining their decision, calling death the “the only possible and honorable conclusion.” Magda, convinced she was sparing her children from a life of humiliation, finalized the plan to end their lives.

It isn’t entirely clear as to who helped the Goebbels poison their children. The plan was to sedate them, but it is not certain who actually administered the drugs that put the children to sleep. The most likely candidate was Helmut Kunz,Helmut Kunz a dentist who served as one of the Nazi’s chief medical officers. Supposedly, Magda had asked him to help her kill the children, but he refused to do it, saying he was “incapable” of such an act. She then told him that it was an order from Hitler, and he agreed to do it.

Kunz did give the children morphine, but it’s unclear who gave them the cyanide. Magda was unable to do it and was said to have called Dr. Ludwig Stumpfegger, one of the SS’s doctors, to administer the “candy” to the children.

He gave the children cyanide in some form of chocolate.

Rochus Misch, the bunker telephone/radio operator, stated that Werner Naumann told him that he had seen Hitler’s personal physician, Dr Stumpfegger, give the children something “sweetened” to drink.[Another account says that the children were told they would be leaving for Berchtesgaden in the morning, and Stumpfegger was said to have provided Magda with morphine to sedate them. Erna Flegel claims that Magda reassured the children about the morphine by telling them that they needed inoculations because they would be staying in the bunker for a long time.

On the same night that their children were killed, Magda and Joseph Goebbels went into the study in the Führerbunker. According to legend, the couple stood near where Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun had died and been burned as they bit into cyanide and shot themselves, perhaps at the same time. Another theory is that Günther Schwägemann, Günther SchwägemannNazi officer and object of their daughter Hedwig’s affection-Hedwig insisted, in 1944, that when she grew up she was going to marry Günther Schwägermann, having been captivated by the fact he had a fake eye.  -shot them. The bodies of Magda and Joseph Goebbels were set on fire.

On 3 May 1945, the day after Soviet troops led by Lt. Col. Ivan Klimenko had discovered the burned bodies of their parents in the courtyard above, they found the children down in the Vorbunker dressed in their nightclothes, with ribbons tied in the girls’ hair after they died.

Goebbels family

Based on autopsy findings, there was some trouble when it came to giving Helga the poison. She either woke up from her slumber and resisted taking it or the dosage was insufficient to kill her. When Russian doctors autopsied Helga’s body, they found bruises, indicating that there had been a struggle. Her jaw may have been broken as well.Helga

Helga was killed age 12,Hildegard was killed age 11.Helmut was age 9 when he was killed.Holdine was eight years old at the time of her death.Hedwig was six years old, four days shy of her seventh birthday, at the time of her death. And Heidrun was only 4 when she was killed.

children

I know some people will say”They deserved what was coming to them” and to an extend I can understand that sentiment, but these kids were not responsible for the actions of their parents, in fact they were a victim of the warped ideology their parents had subscribed to.

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I am a product of love.

Celine

I am a product of love,love between a man and a woman.

I am a product of love, by 2 people who would do anything for me.

I am a product of love, for anyone who looks into my angelic eyes can’t but love me.

I am a product of love to all those around me.

But I am not only a product of love I am also a victim of hate.

I am a victim of hate, hated by those who say they love their country and the men who lead them.

I am a victim of hate for some think I am different,not quite human.

I am a victim of hate, but yet I have 10 fingers and 10 toes just like those who hate me.

I am a victim of hate because I am different but yet I am the same.

I am a victim of hate but I don’t want to be remembered as a victim of hate.

I am Celine de Vries but people also call me Lieneke. I was born in Amsterdam on Nov 15 1936. But I died a long way from home in Sobibor on June 11 1943. I was only 6.

I am a victim of hate but I want to remembered as a product of love.