Dachau 1933-1945

State prosecutor Albert Rosenfelder, at the front of the picture

Hitler had a vision for an empire that would last a thousand years. It only lasted 12, but in those 12 years, he and his Nazi party did more damage than any empire before.

On 30 January 1933, Von Hindenburg have appointed Hitler chancellor. “It is like a dream. The Wilhelmstraße is ours,” Joseph Goebbels, the future Minister of Propaganda, wrote in his diary. Wilhelmstraße in Berlin was recognised as the centre of the government in Germany.

On 23 March 1933, the Reichstag met in Berlin. The main item on the agenda was a new law, the ‘Enabling Act.’ It allowed Hitler to enact new laws without interference from the president or Reichstag for four years. It gave Hitler and the NSDAP absolute power in Germany. The day before that on 22 March, in a picturesque town called Dachau—20 Kilometers north of Munich—the first concentration camp was opened.

A press release stated:

“On Wednesday the first concentration camp is to be opened in Dachau with accommodation for 5,000 people. All Communists and—where necessary—Reichsbanner and Social Democratic functionaries, who endanger state security, are to be concentrated here, as in the long run, it is not possible to keep individual functionaries in the state prisons without overburdening these prisons, and on the other hand, these people cannot be released because attempts have shown that they persist in their efforts to agitate and organize as soon as they are released.”

The camp stayed open until 29 April 1945, when it was liberated by the US Army.

In those 12 years, the camp had 10 camp commandants:
• SS-Standartenführer Hilmar Wäckerle (22 March 1933–26 June 1933)
• SS-Gruppenführer Theodor Eicke (26 June 1933–4 July 1934)
• SS-Oberführer Alexander Reiner [de] (4 July 1934 –22 October 1934)
• SS-Brigadeführer Berthold Maack (22 October 1934–12 January 1935)
• SS-Oberführer Heinrich Deubel (12 January 1935–31 March 1936)
• SS-Oberführer Hans Loritz (31 March 1936–7 January 1939)
• SS-Hauptsturmführer Alexander Piorkowski (7 January 1939–2 January 1942)
• SS-Obersturmbannführer Martin Weiß (3 January 1942–30 September 1943)
• SS-Hauptsturmführer Eduard Weiter (30 September 1943–26 April 1945)
• SS-Obersturmbannführer Martin Weiß (26 April 1945–28 April 1945)

Rudolf Höss, later commandant of Auschwitz-Birkenau, learned much from Theodor Eicke at Dachau. Facing trial and likely execution in Poland for his crimes during World War II, Höss recounted a flogging he witnessed in Dachau. It was Eicke’s order, Höss remembered, that at least one company of SS personnel be there when the punishment was carried out:

“Two prisoners had stolen cigarettes from the canteen and were sentenced to twenty-five blows of the cane. The soldiers lined up in a U-shaped formation with their weapons. The punishment bench stood in the middle. The two prisoners were presented by the block leaders. The commandant put in his appearance. The camp commander and the senior company reported to him. The duty officer read the sentence and the first prisoner, a small, hardened, lazy man, had to lie down across the bench. Two soldiers from the troop held his head and hands firmly while two block leaders carried out the sentence, alternating after each blow. The prisoner didn’t utter a sound. It was different from the second one, a strong, broad-shouldered, political prisoner. After the first blow, he screamed wildly and wanted to tear himself loose. He continued screaming to the last blow, even though the commandant told him repeatedly to be quiet.”

In January 1941, the leader of the Dutch Nazi party, Mussert, was invited to Munich by Himmler. Goal: to enthuse the NSB leader to the SS. The Dutch NSB delegation included Mussert, Van Geelkerken, Rost, Feldmeijer and Zondervan. On 20 January 1941, a surprise tour awaited: a day at the Dachau concentration camp. The visitors were shown nice-looking aspects of the camp: model dormitories, good sanitary facilities, and a kitchen that produced good quality food that everyone tasted and thought was the usual prison fare. In March 1946, Mussert says in the cell barracks in Scheveningen: ‘So I was in Dachau in 1941. It was beautiful. People were in the free air: they painted, baked, and gardened. They looked good and smiled. Of course, I found that out later, I saw the exhibition section.’

Although they did not have the same level of evilness as the NSDAP, the NSB were nevertheless willing participants in the Holocaust. Mussert may not have been fully aware of what was going on in Dachau in January 1941, since it was reasonably early on in the war, but he knew exactly what the fate of the Jews was later on and he facilitated the occupying Nazi regime in any way he could.

Beginning in 1942, Nazi doctors performed medical experiments on prisoners in Dachau. Physicians and scientists from the Luftwaffe (German Air Force) and the German Experimental Institute for Aviation conducted high-altitude and hypothermia experiments, as well as experiments to test methods of making seawater potable. These efforts aimed to aid German pilots who conducted bombing raids or who were downed in icy waters. German scientists also carried out experiments to test the efficacy of pharmaceuticals against diseases like malaria and tuberculosis. Hundreds of prisoners died or were permanently disabled as a result of these experiments.

While these “medical experiments” happened behind closed doors, new evidence of ominous intent became visible in the layout of the camp itself. In 1942, a new crematorium was constructed, supplementing the existing one erected two years earlier. This new crematorium, named “Barrack X,” was fitted with four furnaces, a disinfection section, and, most chilling in retrospect, a gas chamber. Generally, the SS utilized the crematoria to immolate the bodies of inmates who died in the camp. They also hanged or shot inmates involved in resistance activity there (the whole area was separated from the prisoners’ barracks by a wall). Despite all the labour and resources expended, the SS thankfully never implemented the mass gassing of human beings at Dachau.

The number of prisoners incarcerated in Dachau between 1933 and 1945 exceeded 200,000.

The number of prisoners who were murdered in the camp and the subcamps between January 1940 and May 1945 was at least 28,000. This number does not include those who were killed there between 1933 and the end of 1939, as well as an unknown number of unregistered prisoners. Also, a great number committed suicide. It is unlikely that the total number of victims who died in Dachau will ever be known.

As late as 19 April 1945, prisoners were sent to KZ Dachau; on that date, a freight train from Buchenwald with nearly 4,500 was diverted to Nammering. SS troops and police confiscated food and water that local townspeople tried to give to the prisoners. Nearly three hundred dead bodies were ordered removed from the train and carried to a ravine over 400 metres away. The 524 prisoners who had been forced to carry the dead to this site were then shot by the guards, and buried along with those who had died on the train. Nearly 800 bodies went into this mass grave.

On 26 April 1945, prisoner Karl Riemer fled the Dachau concentration camp to get help from American troops and on 28 April, Victor Maurer, a representative of the International Red Cross, negotiated an agreement to surrender the camp to U.S. troops. That night a secretly formed International Prisoners Committee took over the control of the camp. Units of the 3rd Battalion, 157th Infantry Regiment, 45th Infantry Division, commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Felix L. Sparks, were ordered to secure the camp. On 29 April, Sparks led part of his battalion as they entered the camp over a side wall. At about the same time, Brigadier General Henning Linden led the 222nd Infantry Regiment of the 42nd (Rainbow) Infantry Division soldiers including his aide, Lieutenant William Cowling, to accept the formal surrender of the camp from German Lieutenant Heinrich Wicker at an entrance between the camp and the compound for the SS garrison. Linden was travelling with Marguerite Higgins and other reporters; as a result, Linden’s detachment generated international headlines by accepting the surrender of the camp. More than 30,000 Jews and political prisoners were freed, and since 1945 adherents of the 42nd and 45th Division versions of events have argued over which unit was the first to liberate Dachau. But one thing that can’t be argued, what the liberators found was something that stayed with them for life.

The disturbing aspect about all of this is that the torturing and killing all happened within the boundaries of German law.

sources

https://www.history.com/news/dachau-concentration-camp-liberation

https://www.nationalww2museum.org/war/articles/shocking-level-brutality-and-degradation-dachau-wartime

https://encyclopedia.ushmm.org/content/en/article/dachau

https://www.annefrank.org/en/anne-frank/go-in-depth/germany-1933-democracy-dictatorship/

https://www.hmd.org.uk/resource/22-march-1933-dachau-concentration-camp-established/

Titus Brandsma—Catholic Friar Murdered in Dachau

drawing made by John Dom in Kamp Amersfoort.

I have written about Titus Brandsma before, but I thought the fact that I am going to visit Dachau in a few months time, I thought it would be a good time for another post on the Dutch Catholic Friar. He also has a connection to Ireland, where I live now.

Titus Brandsma was born in the Netherlands on Feb. 23, 1881. His parents named him Anno Sjoerd Brandsma and he grew up in the rural setting of Oegeklooster in the province of Friesland. His family lived on the proceeds of the milk and cheese produced by their dairy cattle.

His parents, who ran a small dairy farm and were devout and committed Catholics, a minority in a predominantly Calvinist region. Except for one daughter, all of their children (three daughters and two sons) entered religious orders.

The grounds of the Franciscan friary in Megen where Brandsma did his high school studies. From the age of 11, Brandsma pursued his secondary studies in the town of Megen, at a Franciscan-run minor seminary for boys considering a priestly or religious vocation.

Brandsma felt a calling to the religious life and joined the Carmelite monastery in Boxmeer, Southeastern Netherlands, in 1898, taking his father’s name, Titus, as his religious name.

Although the Carmelites are known for separating themselves from worldly affairs and engaging in contemplative prayer, Brandsma felt called to a second vocation, journalism, that would draw him into the drama of interwar Europe.

Brandsma was ordained to the priesthood on June 17, 1905. After studying in Rome, he returned home to work in the field of Catholic education.

When the Catholic University of Nijmegen was founded in 1923, he joined the faculty, rising to become the institution’s Rector Magnificus, or head, in 1932. With fears of a second world war rising in Europe, Brandsma was asked by his superiors in Rome to undertake a lecture tour of Carmelite foundations in the United States in 1935.

To improve his English, he visited Ireland, staying with Carmelite communities in Dublin and the picturesque coastal town of Kinsale. Titus Brandsma stayed with his Irish Carmelite brothers at Whitefriar Street in Dublin and Kinsale, Co Cork. He later wrote with warmth about his time in Ireland where he met, among others, the president of the Executive Council of the Irish Free State Éamon de Valera. The same Éamon de Valera would offer condolences to the German people after Hitler killed himself.

After Nazi Germany invaded the Netherlands on May 10, 1940, the authorities imposed severe restrictions on the Church. They ordered Catholic schools to expel Jewish students, barred priests and religious from serving as high school principals, restricted charitable collections and censored the Catholic press. The Dutch bishops asked Brandsma to plead their cause, but without success.

He came to the notice of Nazi authorities even before their occupation of the Netherlands in 1940 as he had written critically of National Socialism at the Dutch Catholic University of Nijmegen, where he was a professor and the press. Accused of being an ally of communism, he was dubbed by the Nazis as “the Dangerous Little Friar”

During the occupation of the Netherlands by the Nazis he actively opposed the publication of Nazi propaganda in Catholic newspapers and in the press generally. In his role as an adviser to the Archbishop of Utrecht he encouraged Dutch bishops to speak out strongly against the persecution of Jews and the infringement of basic human rights by Nazi occupiers.

In January 1942 he delivered a letter from the Catholic bishops to editors of Catholic newspapers in the Netherlands instructing them not to comply with a new law requiring they print Nazi advertisements and articles. He was arrested by the Gestapo at the Carmelite priory in Nijmegen.

The friar was taken to a prison in the seaside town of Scheveningen, where the interrogating officer demanded to know why he had disobeyed state regulations.

“As a Catholic, I could have done nothing differently,” Brandsma responded. The officer, Captain Paul Hardegen, later asked Brandsma to express in writing why his countrymen scorned the Dutch Nazi party.

“The Dutch,” the friar wrote, “have made great sacrifices out of love for God and possess an abiding faith in God whenever they have had to prove adherence to their religion … If it is necessary, we, the Dutch people, will give our lives for our religion.”

After being held prisoner in Scheveningen, Amersfoort, and Cleves, Brandsma was transferred to the Dachau concentration camp, arriving there on 19 June. His health quickly gave way, and he was transferred to the camp hospital. He died on 26 July 1942, from a lethal injection administered by a nurse[of the Allgemeine SS, as part of their program of medical experimentation on the prisoners.

The nurse, known as “Titia,” testified that Brandsma gave her his rosary. When she responded that she could not pray and did not need it, he encouraged her to recite the second part of the Hail Mary, “Pray for us sinners.”

“I started laughing then,” she recalled. “He told me that, if I were to pray a lot, I would not be lost.”

Brandsma is honoured as a martyr within the Catholic Church. He was beatified in November 1985 by Pope John Paul II. His feast day is observed within the Carmelite order on 27 July. On Sunday, 15 May 2022, in front of more than 50,000 people from around the world, Pope Francis canonized Brandsma and nine other saints at a Mass in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican in Rome.

sources

https://www.irishtimes.com/news/social-affairs/religion-and-beliefs/dutch-carmelite-who-spent-time-in-dublin-and-cork-to-be-canonised-in-may-1.4819778

https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/250601/who-was-titus-brandsma-the-wwii-catholic-martyr-who-will-be-canonized-in-may

I’m Still Here: Real Diaries of Young People Who Lived During the Holocaust

The title of this post is from a 2005 documentary produced by MTV(yes MTV) It stars a number of famous actors reading excerpts from diaries of young people who lived during the Holocaust, most of them were murdered.

The full length movies is included in this post, but I also picked out 2 excerpts of two of the diarists mentioned in the documentary.

The first one is from the diary of Dawid Rubinowicz., dated April 10,1942. The reason why I picked that day is because April 10 is my birthday. Dawid Rubinowicz was born 27 July 1927 in Krajno, Poland, and murdered in September 1942, aged 15, in the Treblinka extermination camp. He was a Polish Jewish boy. His diary was found and published after the end of World War 2.

April 10, 1942

“They’ve taken away a man and a woman from across the road, and two children are left behind. Again it’s rumored that the father of these children was shot two days ago in the evening. …The gendarmes were in Slupia and arrested three Jews. They finished them off in Bieliny (they were certainly shot). Already a lot of Jewish blood has flowed in this Bieliny, in fact a whole Jewish cemetery has already grown up there. When will this terrible bloodshed finally end? If it goes on much longer then people will drop like flies out of sheer horror. A peasant from Krajno came to tell us our former neighbor’s daughter had been shot because she’d gone out after seven o’clock. I can scarce believe it, but everything’s possible. A girl as pretty as a picture—if she could be shot, then the end of the world will be here soon.”

He was still 14 when he wrote this. What strikes me in his words is that he talks about Gendarmes. Let that sink in for a second and think of it what you like. I know what it means but if I say is I know I will be getting emails from certain organizations threatening me with legal actions, because the truth is not there to be told.

The second excerpt is from the diary of Ilya Gerber. It is dated November 27,1942, 80 years ago today.. He was 18 at the time. The excerpt is about life in the Kovno ghetto in Lithuania. Ilya was murdered on April 28, 1945, on the verge of liberation, Gerber was shot and killed while marching forcibly from Dachau to Wolfsratshausen, Germany. He was not yet 21 years old.

November 27, 1942.

“I haven’t written since the nineteenth because there was no very important Jewish news, except that brigades have lately been smuggling in [food] not in their pockets, and not in little packages, but in fact in whole bundles… Mostly, when the ghetto commandant stands by the gate, the bundles or packages are confiscated and you sometimes feel his whip. But if he is not there it costs you whatever it takes to grease the palm of the partisan [Lithuanian auxiliary serving the Germans] or the policeman and you pass through undisturbed.”

Similar to Dawid Rubinowicz’s observation Ilya makes a reference to partisan, what that means is mentioned in the excerpt too, I don’t know if it was added by Ilya or of it was added later to put it in context for the readers. But also if you read between the lines you will recognize the implication of this.

sources

https://www.jpost.com/opinion/youth-behind-barbed-wire-fences-572023

Doctor Erno Vadasz-Gynecologist in Kaufering-Dachau

I know that some people will see the title of the post and will get the shivers. They will think it is going to be a story of indescribable horrors of cruelty. Perhaps a tale of experiments on women in Dachau. They might not even read the rest of the post, because they will not be able to stomach it.

However, this is not such a story.

Erno Weisz was born in 1890 in the small Hungarian town of Nagykallo The son of the local butcher, he completed high school in 1908. Weisz then changed his name to Vadasz, to help avoid exclusion from his studies due to the “numerus clausus” code restricting Jewish students. He excelled in his studies and continued his education in the Medical Faculty of the University of Budapest, graduating in 1913.

By 1930, he was well established as an obstetrician/gynecologist and raised two children with his strictly Orthodox wife. In 1944, the family was deported to Auschwitz.

In February 1945, when the tide of war was turning against the Third Reich, several pregnant Jewish women managed to survive in the concentration camps, together with their newborns.
A very special example was the “Pregnancy Unit” (Schwanger Kommando) in the Kaufering subcamp of Dachau. Malnourished, exhausted, and low
in weight, seven women with growing abdomens had not hidden their secret. Surprisingly, they were not murdered. Instead, they were housed in a barrack and fed by a Jewish Kapo, David Witz, in charge of the kitchen. He recruited Dr. Erno Vadasz, who was a prisoner in the men’s camp, to perform the deliveries of the babies. The heroism of the mothers was complemented by the heroism of Dr. Erno Vadasz

Vadasz was so weak and hungry that he needed a prop to stand up. He asked for soap, a knife, hot water, and towels, as for any delivery. The mothers had been well-fed before the deliveries, and within a few weeks, Vadasz had successfully brought all seven babies into the world even though two of the births were complicated.

Following the deliveries, one of the mothers developed pneumonia. Vadasz sat next to her as she lay, semi-conscious for two weeks, and cared for both mother and child, sharing his food until she recovered. He also managed to save a young girl from the crematorium, whom he recognized from his town. The last baby he delivered was born one day after the demolition of the crematorium, on April 29, 1945.

Following the camp’s liberation, the doctor learned that his entire family had been murdered. He was never rewarded or recognized for the lives of the babies he delivered. He returned to his hometown and restarted the practice he loved, marrying a nurse from Dachau – but he refused to have children for fear of what might happen to them, the authors wrote. He died in 1957 from prostate cancer. The picture at the top post-war picture of Dr. Erno Vadasz with the Daughter of a Patient.

sources

https://www.researchgate.net/figure/Post-war-Photo-of-Dr-Erno-Vadasz-with-the-Daughter-of-a-Patient-Reproduced-with_fig5_326692426

file:///C:/Users/Dirk/Downloads/Managing_Pregnancy_in_Nazi_Concentration_Camps_The.pdf

https://europepmc.org/article/pmc/pmc6115479

Karl Amadeus Hartmann— Protesting Against the Nazi Regime Through Music

Today marks the 117th birthday of Karl Amadeus Hartmann. He was born on 2 August 1905 in Munich and came into contact with art and music at an early stage. He studied trombone and composition at the Staatliche Akademie der Tonkunst in Munich from 1924 to 1929.

He hated Nazism and Hitler and anything that ranked extreme socialism and communism. A fellow composer, Udo Zimmermann, said about Hartmann, “His concept of life oriented towards humanity is inscribed in all his scores. A warning in view of the atrocities of this world, but also resistance from the heart: revocation of the spirits, love and life.”

His compositions were often politically charged, as Hartmann was a socialist who staunchly opposed the Nazis and fascism. During World War II, Hartmann half-poisoned himself to avoid military conscription.

He voluntarily withdrew completely from musical life in Germany during the Nazi era, while remaining in Germany, and refused to allow his works to be played there. An early symphonic poem, “Miserae” (1933–1934, first performed in Prague, 1935) was condemned by the Nazi regime but his work continued to be performed, and his fame grew abroad. A number of Hartmann’s compositions show the profound effect of the political climate. His “Miserae” (1933–34) was dedicated to his friends…who sleep for all eternity; we do not forget you (Dachau, 1933–34), referring to Dachau Concentration Camp, and was condemned by the Nazis. His “Piano Sonata 27 April 1945,” is about the thousands of prisoners from Dachau, whom Hartmann witnessed being led away from Allied forces at the end of the war.

Just three days before the liberation of the Dachau camp, the SS forced approximately 7,000 prisoners on a death march from Dachau, south to Tegernsee. During the six-day death march, anyone who could not keep up or continued was shot. Many died of exposure, hunger, or exhaustion. American forces liberate the Dachau Concentration Camp on 29 April 1945. In early May 1945, American troops liberate the surviving prisoners from the death march to Tegernsee.

Solly Ganor, a survivor said about the march, “We could see the furtive parting of curtains as German civilians peered out at us. To our surprise, a few of them came out and tried to offer us some bread, but the result was disastrous. Hundreds of starving inmates would descend on the benefactor, often knocking him or her down. The bread was immediately torn to pieces, and the guards set upon the mob. Each time this happened several more bodies were left by the side of the road.”

After the fall of the Nazi regime, Hartmann was one of the few prominent surviving anti-fascists in Bavaria whom the postwar Allied administration could appoint to a position of responsibility. In 1945, he became a dramaturge at the Bavarian State Opera and there, as one of the few internationally recognized figures who had survived untainted by any collaboration with the Nazi regime, he became a vital figure in the rebuilding of (West) German musical life. Perhaps his most notable achievement was the “Musica Viva” concert series, which he founded and ran for the rest of his life in Munich.

He died on 5 December 1963 in Munich.

Although Hartmann is one of the greatest German composers of the 20th century, he is forgotten in the English-speaking world.

sources

https://holocaustmusic.ort.org/politics-and-propaganda/hartmann-karl-amadeus/

https://archive.ph/20130104153710/http://www.schott-music.com/shop/persons/featured/8399/index.html#selection-559.0-559.208

Jerry Himmelfarb—“What a Jewish G.I. Thinks About Aid to Europe’s Needy”

Jerry Himmelfarb was a GI from Buffalo, New York. He wrote this letter to his Rabbi about his experiences. It is one of the most powerful testimonies I have ever read.

Jerry, serving with the U.S. Army in Germany, wrote to Rev. Harry H. Kaufman, Cantor of Temple Beth El, telling of what the J.D.C. is accomplishing in alleviating the desperate plight of his Jewish brethren in Europe. The letter, in full below.

May 15, 1945

Dear Cantor,

You’re going to find this a strange letter. I think, perhaps, you will not understand why I write such a letter—until after you have read it. I have written my parents a similar story. Now I write you—for a little different reason. You’ll see what I mean by some pages from here.

The Seventh Army has authorised us to write—has allowed us to say—that we’re in Munich. I’m there now. Munich—Hitler’s cradle city. It’s damaged and quiet. We’re near Berchtesgarten, but I haven’t been there.

We’re also near Dachau—remember Dachau? It’s Jan Valtin’s Dachau—Jan Valtin of Out of the Night. Remember? Dachau—an early mystery place of Nazism. But there remains no aura of a mystery today. No, it’s all clear—so very clear.

I met a Polish Jew the other day. He had been liberated from Dachau. He was twenty-four years old—and looked fifty. His face looked fifty—his body was about as healthy looking as a normal patient at Harrisburg, Penn. He had no teeth—but they hadn’t fallen out. Hitler’s S.S. were the dentists. He was just one of the lucky ones. There were other unfortunates.

I haven’t seen Dachau—but all I say is true—I swear it on my own life. Disbelieve me—call me a liar—if you dare! There were found some fifty, fully-loaded boxcars—loaded with bodies. I saw a picture of one—it was overflowing. We buried—with bulldozers—some 4,000. They were from the railroad cars and from rooms in the camp where they were stacked like cordwood covered with lime. We spoke to a Pole who had been forced to throw his parents into the incinerator. And how would you like to hear about these incinerators—it makes for nauseous reading. There was a plaque in front of each one saying something about “ashes to ashes” being better than “dust to dust.” Some compensation for the victims, eh? And they were run in a very businesslike fashion. It was necessary to burn 250 bodies each day to keep the furnaces in good working order. How was the quota met? Easy. They always had at least 150 on a list. But the rest were gotten like this.

  • 2 –

These prisoners were divided into groups of sixteen. These sixteen slept on four shelves, approximately six by six, with six inches of clearance between shelves. Any infraction by one of the sixteen resulted in the death of all of them. And infractions were easy. Under the S.S.—the trained beasts—the quota was always met. And how were they killed? No outright death for them—oh, no! They walked or were pushed, through a door when they fell through a four-by-four hole in the floor to the cement floor some fifteen feet below. There a noose was thrown about their throats and they were hung on hooks on the wall to meet their God. If any still lived after a reasonable length of time—a “man” with a heavy mallet crushed their skulls. The room—hooks on the wall—accommodated fifteen. Then the furnaces. The heat generated was not wasted, by the way. It was piped to the S.S. barracks for warmth – the barracks, where the S.S. troopers celebrated their 10,000th killing by drinking toasts from the scoured skulls of their victims. A lovely people—the Germans!

And don’t let me forget to tell you about the wife of the Commandant of one of these camps—not Dachau, another one—there were plenty in Germany. She loved the beautiful knick-knacks in her home. So any prisoner who bore tattooing on his or her body was stripped and taken before this woman for her O.K. Then death—next skinning, and curing the skin—and a new lampshade or book cover adorned the lovely lady’s home. What’s wrong—don’t you believe me? Take my word for it—you have to believe me—those who were tattooed can’t tell you!

And that isn’t all. We have some 5,000 people in hospitals here. We’ve lowered the death rate to seventy-five a day. And we have statistics to prove that of these seventy-five—some forty-five are Jews. And even though only 8,000 of the 38,000 prisoners of one camp were Jews—the deaths were some 40% or 50% Jewish. The chaplain told us that the other day—after his return from services conducted over that common grave of 4,000—there were bound to be some Jews in it—we didn’t know how many. Which brings me to the point of this letter.

The chaplain told us about the American Joint Distribution Committee’s borrowing $10,000,000 on their name—and about setting a goal of $46,000,000 for this year. He asked us to contribute what we could. And he asked us to write our families a letter. I did, but I write to you, too, because you can reach more people. He didn’t suggest a letter like this—I guess it was the farthest thing from his mind. I just decided it was the best kind. Eloquent pleas are swell things—but pictures are better. Maybe this wasn’t a very pretty picture—I didn’t want it to be. I tried to make it as disgusting, as revolting as nauseous as possible without leaving the bounds of conventional decency—without distorting the truth. Believe me, I have done neither. Every word is true. I swear that before God.

I know of some people who say, “that money goes into the pockets of the black-coated, pie-hatted men with beards.“ I thought so once, too—until I learned this. While the chaplain was reciting the services over that common grave I spoke of before, a convoy of Swiss Red Cross trucks came in. He spoke to the man in charge. The convoy was leaving some fifty tons of food, medicines, clothing etc.—all loaded and paid for by A.J.D.C.—black-coated men, indeed! The stuff comes here.

  • 3 –

Don’t let anyone believe otherwise. It came here. You can supply more statistics on how many Jews still live in Europe and on what remains for us to do—now that it is too late to save the many. That’s not in my line. Neither is putting in a good old-fashioned touch in my line—but I’m doing it. Here it is. You’ve read it. You can see what I’m getting at. Cantor, I beg you—tell this to the well-fed, well-clothed members of your congregation. Read them what I’ve written. Maybe they’ve seen some of these facts in their papers. I don’t know. So, in case they haven’t, read them this first-hand dope. I know you’re going to mention the J.D.C.’s drive—you always do. I know you’ll have your own plea to make. But consolidate mine into yours, will you please? Jolt them right off their seats. Tell them to do something about the crocodile tears they shed and have been shedding for the past ten years. Tell them to stop that, “how awful, tsk, tsk” talk and start some real talk. Money talks. Don’t give them a chance to say, “But.” It’s too late for “buts” now. Talk is O.K. in its place. The place isn’t here.

We must do something to help these people over here.

We’re not giving only to Jews—I know that. Every poor dog is aided over here. Tell them that, too. If you must get down on your knees and beg them to give, Cantor—do it—for God’s sake—do it! There can be no degradation to surpass what I have seen and heard. And if the complacent doubts why we won this war—while 4,000,000 died—then read them the 94th Psalm. It was news to me—maybe it will be news to them. Maybe that will let the moths out of their purses.

Yours,
Jerry Himmelfarb

source

https://www.testifyingtothetruth.co.uk/viewer/metadata/106545/1/

And The Memory Remained

All of those men who liberated the camps throughout Europe never lost the memories of what they witnessed. Below are just some of their accounts.

The Dachau concentration camp was liberated on April 29, 1945. Hilbert Margol (pictured above) and his twin brother, Howard. Two Jewish American soldiers were there and documented the tragedy. Hilbert and Howard came across the so-called “death train” at Dachau. This is his recollection.

“So we get orders to pull off to the right side of the road. We all smelled this very distinct odour, a very strong odour. One of our jeep drivers came by and he said, ‘On the other side of those woods, it must be a chemical factory over there.’ Well, Howard heard that and he came over to me, and he said, “I don’t think it’s a chemical factory.” And he said, you know, that odour reminded him of when our mother used to go to the kosher meat market to buy a freshly killed chicken. She would take it home and hold it over the gas flame of the gas stove in the kitchen to burn off the pin feathers. It would burn the skin and some of the fat of the chicken. He said that’s the odour it reminds him of. I said, “Well, why don’t we go over there and see what is over there.” We were curious. The first thing we saw, we saw a line of railroad boxcars. Now we climbed over between two of the railroad cars and on the other side, some of the cars’ sliding doors had been opened by the infantry guys in front of us. That’s who we supported. And on that boxcar plus others on that train was [sic] dead bodies and most of them were in very grotesque positions. And, of course, it was easy to see they were all dead. US Army Infantryman Private Hilbert Margol 42nd Infantry Division 508.784.1945 Testimony 1”

A young African American GI, Leon Bass, entered the notorious Buchenwald concentration camp and saw piles of dead bodies and prisoners so weakened that large numbers of them would die in the days and weeks following the liberation. This encounter was seared into his memory.

Leon Bass entered the Buchenwald concentration camp in Germany as part of an intelligence reconnaissance unit. This is his recollection.

“We were in the intelligence reconnaissance section of our unit and we went right to Buchenwald. And that was the day that I was to discover what had been going on in Europe under the Nazis because I walked through the gates and I saw walking dead people. And just looking at these people who were skin and bone and dressed in those pyjama-type uniforms, their heads clean-shaven, and filled with sores through malnutrition. I just looked at this in amazement and I said to myself, you know, “My God, who are these people? What was their crime?” You know? It’s hard for me to try to understand why anyone could have been treated this way. I don’t care what they had done. And I didn’t have any way of thinking or putting a handle on it, no frame of reference. I was only 20. Had I been told, I doubt if I could have had, in my mind’s eye, envisioned anything as horrible as what I saw. Reconnaissance Sergeant Leon Bass 183rd Combat Engineer Battalion 508.784.1945”

During the winter of 1944-45, Anthony Acevedo was a 20-year-old Army medic assisting wounded soldiers fighting against Nazi forces in World War II. The war in Europe was coming to an end, but for Mr Acevedo, the horror was just beginning.

On April 9, 1945, German camp guards forcibly evacuated US Army medic Anthony Acevedo and other prisoners of war in the Berga concentration camp. After marching for 15 days, Acevedo and his fellow
prisoners were liberated by the 11th Armored Division. This is his recollection.


“So, we heard that tanks approaching, and we don’t—we didn’t know whether they were Americans, or French, or English, whatever. Or Russians. But the Germans started to feel the—the heat, and so they wanted us to follow them. And so they push—they pulled the—the rifles against us, and
pointed at us, and says, w-we—either we go, or—with them, or they’ll shoot us. That’s what they wanted to do.

So, as I yelled back at them, and the other medic, I mean, we’re medics, and we’re taking care of these men, and they’re dying. One just died—or two just died just a—a while ago. So, how can we go, and—they can’t walk anymore.
So, before you knew it, they too escaped, and the guards turn in our—gave us our rifles. And he says, we’ll stay with you. And we started to hear the rumbling getting closer, and then—we—we all started to run towards the highway, and when we got to the highway, the tanks were the 11th armoured division, liberating us.”

sources

https://collections.ushmm.org/search/catalog/pa1173019

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/obituaries/anthony-acevedo-us-army-medic-who-endured-prison-camp-horrors-in-wwii-dies-at-93/2018/03/10/ac2273f0-23e2-11e8-86f6-54bfff693d2b_story.html

Remembering Simon de la Bella-Murdered in Dachau July 11-1942

It is impossible to remember all 6 Millions + Jewish victims of the Holocaust individually. However it is important whenever it is possible to remember one individual to do so. Because they weren’t born to be victims, they were born to lead a life like anyone else. They were all human beings, with the same needs, pains, sorrows, joys, hunger, thirst and emotions like every one else.

Today I am remembering Simon de la Bella, he was born in Amsterdam, on 28 October 1889. He was murdered in Dachau on July 11,1942 in Dachau. He was a Dutch Jewish politician and trade union man.

He was the son of Aron de la Bella, diamond cleaver, and Cato van Vriesland. On November 25, 1914, he married Hinderientje van Zuiden, with whom he had a daughter. De la Bella called himself De la Bella Jr.

He was a Socialist trade unionist and senator, who co-authored the ‘Labour Plan’ in 1935. Simon was initially an office worker and director of the Association of Office Workers. He then became treasurer and secretary of the NVV and was one of the founders of publishing house De Arbeiderspers. In 1935 he was elected a member of the Senate for the SDAP and there he quickly questioned the government about the reduction in unemployment benefit. Managed to secure the union’s capital in 1939.

He was the, vice-chairman of the Nederlands Verbond van Vakverenigingen (NVV)-Netherlands Union of Trade organisations-.

On July 16, 1940, De la Bella and NVV chairman Evert Kupers were dismissed by order of the Germans.

Four days later he was informed that the Germans wanted to arrest him because of the 5 million guilders he had transferred to England. A hiding place had been arranged, but De la Bella wanted to think about it for another night. He was arrested that same evening. On the way to prison, De la Bella ingested poison, but the suicide attempt failed because the poison worked too slowly and his stomach was pumped out. He was detained in the House of Detention on the Weteringschans until September 4, before he was deported to Dachau. On July 11,1942 he was murdered in the gas chamber in Dachau.

sources

https://www.geni.com/people/Simon-de-la-Bella/6000000019300341327

https://www.mnhs.org/mgg/artifact/gas_chamber

https://www.joodsmonument.nl/nl/page/188650/simon-de-la-bella

https://socialhistory.org/bwsa/biografie/bella

https://www.parlement.com/id/vg09lkxvlmxi/s_simon_de_la_bella

May 2nd Dachau Death March.

On the 2nd of May a unit from the 522nd Field Artillery Battalion, US Army, encountered Jewish inmates  who were put on a death march from Dachau and were approaching Waakirchen. The US soldiers were almost entirely of second-generation American soldiers of Japanese ancestry (Nisei)

During these marches, also called the “death marches”, at least one thousand prisoners died. They died of disease, undernourishment, and exhaustion. If a prisoner collapsed or, fully exhausted, simply could not continue, they were beaten or shot to death by SS guards. The route of the marches passed through numerous villages and small towns. Scores of residents witnessed the brutal marches.

Women prisoners from the Dachau concentration camp on an “death march” in Percha, Lake Starnberg, April 28 1945 (Municipal archives Landsberg am Lech)

By the second of May 1945, only some of the 6,000 prisoners sent on the death march were still alive; thosewhose heatlth failed them or were unable to continue had been shot as they fell. On that day, as the eastwards-marching prisoners had passed through Bad Tölz and were nearing Waakirchen, nearly sixty kilometers (37 miles) south of Dachau, several hundred of the dead and dying were lying on open ground, nearly all covered in freshly fallen snow.

They were spotted by advance scouts of the U.S. Army’s 522nd Field Artillery Battalion, the only segregated Japanese American-manned military unit in Germany at the time. Only days earlier, they had liberated the Kaufering IV Hurlach satellite slave labor camp of the Dachau main camp’s “system”.

Finishing up with the words of one of the survivors.

Willemijn Petroff-van Gurp
Due to my resistance activities, I was imprisoned in Scheveningen, Vught, Ravensbrück and Dachau. We were liberated by the Americans.

I owe my life to my friends, who dragged me along with them when I passed out and kept me warm when I was in bad shape in the camp.

Because of the war, it became clear to me what freedom of expression, the danger of dictatorship and declaring human beings to be inferior mean. This is why I contributed to a report of my experiences of the war, because I think it is important that the youth also realize this.

My oldest son Robert had prepared himself to go to the commemoration in Dachau in my name. Unfortunately I can not go there myself anymore due to my health, as I am now 101 years old.

Willemijn Petroff-van Gurp wrote this message 2 years ago

sources

http://encyclopedia.densho.org/522nd_Field_Artillery_Battalion/#

https://collections.ushmm.org/search/?f%5Bspecial_collection%5D%5B%5D=The%20Jeff%20and%20Toby%20Herr%20Oral%20History%20Archive

Holocaust testimonies from victims, perpetrators and liberators.

These are some testimonies of victims, perpetrators an liberators. I will not specify who is who, but the language makes the testimony and context clear.

At the end of blog is a description on one method of mass murder which was used by the einsatzgruppen.

Hans Friedrich:

“The order said—they are to be shot.” “And for me, that was binding.”

Gertrude Deak:

“We had to stand and watch, while the two girls dug their own graves, then were shot, and we had to bury them.”

Gina Rappaport:

“After two years they [the SS] told us to pack our things and go to the station, and they put us on a train
which travelled for a [sic] unknown destination. We were seven days in the train travelling very slowly,
when we were liberated by the American army on the 13th of April. It was the luckiest day of my life.
At that moment I was bathing in the river when I saw the first American soldier from afar. What a joy.
I couldn’t believe my eyes. I was sure it was a dream, but still it was true.
A few minutes before the American soldiers arrived we were told that we should have to go on foot over
the Elbe River. But the American army saved us from a sure death, which we will never forget.
I was also sad this day because I remembered how many people of value had died and couldn’t see the
liberation and the fall of the barbarian, Hitler. I shall never forget what I owe to the American army.
I hope that I will be able to estimate the right value, what the Americans have done for us. Now, after
five years of suffering I shall know how to appreciate the more my liberty.”

Rudolf Höss:

“True opponents of the state had to be securely locked up. Only the SS were capable of protecting the National Socialist State from all internal danger. All other organisations lacked the necessary toughness.”

Jerzy Bielecki:

“I saw an SS-man, a junior officer, walking around the gravel pit with a pistol in his hand…It was sadism. ‘You dogs! You damned communists! You pieces of shit!’ Horrible words like these. And from time to time he would direct the pistol downwards and shoot: pow… pow pow.”

Sergeant Leon Bass:

“We were in the intelligence reconnaissance section of our unit and we went right to Buchenwald. And that
was the day that I was to discover what had really been going on in Europe under the Nazis because
I walked through the gates and I saw walking dead people.
And just looking at these people who were skin and bone and dressed in those pajama-type uniforms,
their heads clean shaved, and filled with sores through the malnutrition. I just looked at this in amazement
and I said to myself, you know, “My God, who are these people? What was their crime?” You know?
It’s hard for me to try to understand why anyone could have been treated this way. I don’t care what they
had done. And I didn’t have any way of thinking or putting a handle on it, no frame of reference. I was
only 20. Had I been told, I doubt if I could have had, in my mind’s eye, envisioned anything as horrible as I saw”

Heinz Mayer:

“As the Americans were approaching, the SS thought that it was them who were firing the shots, The SS fled, and the prisoners armed themselves with the abandoned weapons. We occupied all the watchtowers and blocked the forest in the direction of Weimar in order to intercept any returning SS.”

Hans Friedrich

“Because my hatred towards the Jews is too great. And I admit my thinking on this point is unjust, I admit this. But what I experienced from my earliest youth when I was living on a farm, what the Jews were doing to us—well that will never change. That is my unshakeable conviction.”

Lieutenant Marie Knowles Ellifritz:

“The emotional trauma caused by our medical participation in the liberation of the European concentration
camps was beyond belief. As Americans and as women we never before had been subjected to such inhumanity to man. And my initial feeling was of a tremendous job to do.
To take in 1,500 patients into a 400-bed hospital had to be madness. That fact became our madness. And itproved to become a tremendous overwhelming job. Clinically, it was a matter of sorting the dead from the
living, deciding who would live for at least three days or more, and to make all those we found comfortable and to begin the process of treatment. A tent to keep the patient dry, an air mattress to give them a place
to lie down, a blanket to help them keep warm, pajamas to give them some dignity, a small amount of food to nourish them, and plasma to preserve the remaining life and begin them on a road back to living.
Everyone had work to do. The patients themselves helped as much as they could.

We deloused them. We moved them out of the larger camp into our tent city and we let the fresh air, the sunshine, the space, and
most of all their freedom do its work.

It seemed to take one to three days for us to convince some of them that they were truly free at last. And
when that reality came they simply closed their eyes and died in peace and freedom. Some of the patients
seemed to know immediately that they were free once again and so they were able to rejoice and begin
to make plans for the future. Life force for these patients had begun when the camp’s gates were opened
by their liberators”

Józef Paczynski —:

“I personally was afraid of walking past Block 11. Personally, I was afraid. Although it was closed off, I was really scared to walk past there. Whether it was the avenue when I was walking there, or what… I was afraid. Block 11 meant death.”

Kazimierz Smolen:

“During an evening roll call, we were told that all the sick among us could go away for treatment… that they could leave to be cured, and that they were to sign up. Of course, it was said that they would be going for treatment. And, in the camp, some people believed it…”

Lucjan Salzman:

“I ran in that direction and as I came onto that place I noticed many prisoners yelling and screaming and
jumping and dancing. And there standing amongst them were seven giants, young people. They must have been 18 or 19—American soldiers. There were seven or eight of them standing inside the camp. Apparently
they cut the wire and came into the camp.
They were bewildered by us. Wild and unkempt and dirty and, I’m sure, smelly people, jumping and dancing and trying to embrace them and kiss them. And I did too. I also joined the crowd and yelled and screamed and somehow knew that the day of liberation has come.
It was a strange feeling for me, however, because as I remember it, on the one hand, I was, I was overwhelmed by this unexpected and unhoped for encounter of freedom, but at the same time, what
was happening was outside of me. I really—I didn’t know what to make of it. I knew I was free, but I didn’t count on it. I somehow didn’t know what it meant. And I knew it was great, but I, I was overjoyed
because all people around me were overjoyed and were singing and dancing and, and—but I, I was 17.I, I was free, but what it meant, I wasn’t sure”

Vasyl Valdeman:

“That’s how it was—the first execution—the most horrible one. It wasn’t the last one. There were three more large executions after that with 2000 to 3000 people shot at every one of them. More people were executed afterwards in smaller scale ones and this is how the Jewish community of Ostrog was annihilated.”

All over the Soviet Union in the summer of 1941 the Nazis and their collaborators were murdering women and children at close range and in cold blood. Himmler realised he had to find a better way of killing—better for the murderers, not their victims.

Which is why SS Lieutenant Dr. Albert Widmann of the Technical Institute of the Criminal Police travelled into Eastern Europe. Widmann and his colleagues had been involved in the experiments which had led to the use of bottled carbon monoxide to kill the disabled. But he knew that it would be expensive and difficult to send canisters of carbon monoxide all the way to the new killing locations far from Germany. So he had to find a new way forward, which is why he drove into the Soviet Union followed by a truck carrying boxes of high explosive. Widmann reported to Artur Nebe, commander of one of the killing squads, at his headquarters in the Lenin House in Minsk.

Widmann reported to Artur Nebe, commander of one of the killing squads, at his headquarters in the Lenin House in Minsk.

“I hope you’ve got enough explosives with you? You ordered 250 kg, I’ve brought 450 kg with me. You never know. Very good.”

Nazi eyewitness account of murder experiment with explosives: “The bunker had totally collapsed, there was total silence. Body parts were scattered on the ground and hanging in the trees. And the next day we collected the body parts and threw them back into the bunker. Those parts that were too high in the trees were just left there.”

After this horror, Widmann and his SS colleagues tried another method of mass murder—this one suggested by what had happened to Artur Nebe of the SS earlier on in the year. Nebe had driven home drunk from a party in Berlin and passed out in his garage with the car engine still running. As a result the carbon monoxide from the exhaust gasses had nearly killed him. Learning from Nebe’s experience, Widmann and his colleagues then conducted experiments in the Soviet Union, like that one.

sources

https://www.pbs.org/auschwitz/about/transcripts.html

https://www.eisenhowerlibrary.gov/research/photographs/world-war-ii-holocaust-images

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/testimonies-holocaust-survivors-now-online-180976883/