A Stranger to Myself: The Inhumanity of War: Russia, 1941-1944

The title of this blog is also the title of a book written by Willy Peter Reese.

He was born on born January 22, 1921 in Duisburg. It is not clear when he died but it estimated he more then likely died between June 22 and 27, 1944 near Wizebsk in the Soviet Union.

Willy Peter Reese was a German writer. During the Second World War , as a Wehrmacht soldier on the Eastern Front, he kept records of his experiences, which he edited into a manuscript. It was published in 2003 with the title “A Stranger to Myself: The Inhumanity of War: Russia, 1941-1944”

In the book he describes the things he sees on the battlefields and the crimes which are committed. He is clearly disgusted by it, but even more so because he is a participant in these horrific deeds because he was a soldier.

He was only twenty years old when he found himself marching through Russia with orders to take no prisoners. Three years later he was dead. Bearing witness to-and participating in-the atrocities of war, Reese recorded his reflections in his diary, leaving behind an intelligent, touching, and illuminating perspective on life on the eastern front. He documented the carnage perpetrated by both sides; the destruction that was exacerbated by the young soldiers’ hunger, frostbite, and exhaustion; and their daily struggle to survive. And he wrestled with his own sins, with the realisation that what he and his fellow soldiers had done to civilians and enemies alike was unforgivable, with his growing awareness of the Nazi policies toward Jews, and with his deep disillusionment with himself and his fellow men.

I have to be honest I have only read some of the book. In a way it is an easy read in the way it is written, but is extremely hard to read because if the descriptive narration of the horrors. I will however finish the book soon.

One thing that is very clear from the book is that it wasn’t only the SS committing atrocities, but also the regular German army, the Wehrmacht.

These are just two excerpts from the book.

“We are war. Because we are soldiers. I have burned all the cities, Strangled all the women, Brained all the children, Plundered all the land. I have shot a million enemies, Laid waste the fields, destroyed the churches, Ravaged the souls of the inhabitants, the blood and tears of all the mothers. I did it, all me.—I did. Nothing. But I was a soldier.”

“Our quarters were wrecked, and there were corpses littered about everywhere. We covered the German dead with tarpaulins; with the Cossacks we took off their felt boots and caps, as well as their pants and underpants, and put them on. We now moved closer together in the few houses still standing. One soldier had been unable to find any felt boots, which were an excellent protection against the cold. The next day he found a Red Army corpse frozen stiff. He tugged at his legs, but in vain. He grabbed an ax and took the man off at the thighs. Fragments of flesh flew everywhere. He bundled the two stumps together under his arm and set them down in the oven, next to our lunch. By the time the potatoes were done, the legs were thawed out, and he pulled on the bloody felt boots. Having the dead meat next to our food bothered us as little as if someone had wrapped his frostbite between meals or cracked lice.”

sources

https://www.nationalww2museum.org/war/articles/words-war-11

https://www.academia.edu/3420145/Sexual_Violence_in_Europe_in_World_War_II_1939_1945_in_Politics_and_Society_March_2009?email_work_card=view-paper

Evil science

No mater how you twist or turn it, when you are complicit to a crime, you are just as guilty as the perpetrator, and perhaps even more guilty because you were an enable of that crime.

Hermann Stieve was Director of the Berlin Institute of Anatomy from 1935 to 1952, which was from the early days of the Third Reich until 7 years after the war.

His research on the female reproductive system is controversial, as some of his scientific insights derived from histological investigations on the genital organs of executed women. These investigations were made possible by the sharp increase in executions during the “Third Reich.” Stieve’s research was methodologically accurate and contributed significantly to contemporary scientific debates. Nevertheless, his use of the organs of execution victims, some of them resistance fighters, benefited from the Nazi justice system. He thus indirectly supported this system of injustice.

Charlotte Pommer , a young physician, who had been an assistant to Dr Stieve, reported after the war.

“On 22nd of December 1942 eleven men were hanged and five women decapitated. Fifteen minutes later they were laid out on the dissection tables in the anatomical institute. [She] lay on the first table, […] on the third table the big lifeless body of her husband […] I felt paralyzed and could hardly assist Professor Stieve, who – as always- carried out his scientific exploration with great care and uncommon diligence […] After the impressions of that night I resigned from my position”

Stieve wanted to study human organs. He was able to get some donated uteruses and ovaries from the bodies of accident victims, or from surgeons who had removed them. One of the best historical sources of organs for research, the bodies of executed criminals, had not been available during the early years of his research as the Weimar government made very minimal use of the death penalty, and did not execute any women. In a 1931 letter Stieve complained that it was difficult to get a set of ovaries from a healthy woman.

After the National Socialist regime came to power in January 1933, one of its first goals was the reorganization of the universities. Leadership of the universities was taken away from the individual German states and centralized within the Ministry of Education in Berlin, which was also responsible for the anatomical institutes. This included research funding, recruitment of faculty, and the professional society, the Anatomische Gesellschaft. In terms of the body procurement, the Ministry of Education shared this responsibility with the Ministry of Justice, when bodies from prisons and executions were concerned. All science was to be aligned with NS doctrine and to be utilized for war purposes.

Stieve, who had accepted a professorship at what is now Humboldt University of Berlin as well as the directorship of its anatomical institute, reached an agreement with administrators at Plötzensee Prison outside the city to accept all bodies of those shot, hanged or beheaded, many of them political prisoners. Others were “Polish and Russian slave laborers executed for such acts as socializing with German women,” according to Seidelman. Over the entire Nazi era that came to around 3,000 victims, many more bodies than Stieve needed for research purposes. It is alleged that during his research he claimed the corpses of 182 victims of the Nazi regime, 174 of whom were women at the age rank from 18 to 68, two thirds of victims were of German origin.

I just want to focus n 2 of his subjects.

Liane Berkowitz, a German resistance fighter and was most notable for being was a member of the Berlin-based pro-soviet resistance group that coalesced around Harro Schulze-Boysen, that was later called the Red Orchestra by the Abwehr. Arrested and sentenced to death, she was executed shortly after she gave birth to a daughter in custody.

The young mother was executed in Plötzensee Prison at 7.45 p.m on 5 August 1943, two days before her 19th birthday.

Liane’s daughter Irina was born on 12 April 1943 in the women’s prison on Barnimstraße.[The grandmother took care of the child from July 1943. As the Reichskriegsgericht pronounced the sentence recommendation when checking with Adolf Hitler to dismiss the pregnant Liane Berkowitz from prison, he expressly rejected any reprieve. The death sentence was confirmed by Field Marshal Wilhelm Keitel and countersigned. Her body was delivered to Hermann Stieve to be dissected for research. Her final resting place is unknown. Her daughter Irina died on 16 October 1943 in hospital in Eberswalde under unclear circumstances.

Mildred “Mili” Elizabeth Fish-Harnack was an American literary historian, author, translator, and resistance fighter, born in Wisconsin. After marrying Arvid Harnack, she moved with him to Germany, where she began her career as an academic. Fish-Harnack spent a year at the University of Jena and the University of Giessen working on her doctoral thesis. At Giessen, she witnessed the beginnings of Nazism. In 1930, the couple moved to Berlin and Fish-Harnack became an assistant lecturer in English and American literature at the University of Berlin. In the early 1930s, the couple became increasingly interested in the Soviet communist system. Harnack established a writers’ group that studied the Soviet planned economy, and the couple were able to arrange a visit to the Soviet Union during August 1932 and by 1933 they were fully committed to Soviet ideology. Through contacts at the American embassy, Fish-Harnack became friends with Martha Dodd, who became a part of her salon where they discussed current affairs. In 1936, Fish-Harnack’s translation of Irving Stone’s biography of Vincent van Gogh, Lust for Life, was published.

In 1938, the couple began to resist Nazism. They became friends with Louise and Donald Heath, who was First Secretary at the embassy, and to whom Harnack passed economic intelligence from his position at the Reich Trade Ministry. By 1940, the couple came into contact with other anti-fascist resistance groups and cooperated with them. The most important of these was run by German air force officer Harro Schulze-Boysen. Like numerous groups in other parts of the world, the undercover political factions led by Harnack and Schulze-Boysen later developed into an espionage network that collaborated with Soviet intelligence. Fish-Harnack became a resistance fighter as a member of a Berlin anti-fascist espionage group, later called the Red Orchestra (Rote Kapelle) by the Abwehr. The couple were arrested in September 1942 and executed shortly after.

On 7 September 1942, the Harnacks were arrested by the Gestapo at the seaside village of Preila on the Curonian Spit.

Harnack was sentenced to death on 19 December after a four-day trial before the Reichskriegsgericht (“Reich Military Tribunal”), and was executed three days later at Plötzensee Prison in Berlin. Fish-Harnack was initially given six years in prison, but Adolf Hitler refused to endorse the sentence and ordered a new trial, which resulted in a death sentence on 16 January 1943.She was beheaded by guillotine on 16 February 1943. While she was imprisoned, She was the only American woman executed on the direct orders of Adolf Hitler.

After her execution, her body was released to Hermann Stieve to be dissected for his research into the effects of stress, such as awaiting execution, on the menstrual cycle. After he was finished, he gave what was left to a friend of hers, who had the remains buried in Berlin’s Zehlendorf Cemetery.

Unlike the research of Nazi scientists who became obsessed with racial typing and Aryan superiority, Stieve’s work didn’t end up in the dustbin of history. The tainted origins of this research, along with other studies and education that capitalized on the Nazi supply of human body parts—continue to haunt German and Austrian science, which is only now fully grappling with the implications. Some of the facts, amazingly, are still coming to light. And some German, Austrian, and Polish universities have yet to face up to the likely presence of the remains of Hitler’s victims, their cell and bone and tissue, in university collections that still exist today.

sources

https://web.archive.org/web/20150715183928/http://www.gedenkstaette-ploetzensee.de/zoom/09_6_dt.html

https://slate.com/human-interest/2013/11/mildred-harnack-was-executed-by-hitler-for-resisting-the-nazis-now-we-know-what-happened-to-her-remains.html

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-48215894

https://www.timesofisrael.com/microscopic-remains-of-nazi-victims-studied-by-german-doctor-buried-in-berlin/

http://www.slate.com/articles/life/history/2013/11/nazi_anatomy_history_the_origins_of_conservatives_anti_abortion_claims_that.html?via=gdpr-consent

https://journals.uic.edu/ojs/index.php/jbc/article/view/10848/10058

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19173259/

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ROCKTOBER-Anyplace, Anywhere, Anytime

It is rare that a song gets better when it has been re-released , but this is the case with “Anyplace, Anywhere, Anytime”. It was originally released as “Irgendwie, irgendwo, irgendwann” on October 5,1984 by Nena, written by Jörn-Uwe Fahrenkrog-Petersen and Carlo Karges.

The original song was a commercial success in Europe and it reached number 3 in the German charts in 1984.

It was the last top-five entry Nena was to have in her homeland for 19 years until in 2003 she reprised the song as the duet “Anyplace, Anywhere, Anytime” with another 80s icon, Kim Wilde. as part of Nena’s 2002 career revival brought about by the triple platinum Nena feat. Nena album. The song also featured in all three seasons of the 2017-2020 Netflix German science fiction thriller series Dark.

There is a slight musical twist to the 2003 version.

The twist is not so much relating to the song but rather to the person who wrote the English lyrics, Lisa Dalbello.

Lisa Dalbello had a hit single in 1987 titled “Tango” .But that is not the twist I am talking about. She also wrote and released “Gonna Get close to you” which was covered by Seattle based Heavy Metal band Queensryche, it was their version that really got ne interested in the band and I have been a fan ever since. It is also a case where the cover version was better then the original.

I am ending the blog with Queensryche’s version of the song.

How the Nazis could have won the war, if it hadn’t been for hate.

Max Planck, was a German theoretical physicist whose discovery of energy quanta won him the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1918.He had foreseen that the Nazi regimes racial law would have consequences for science in Germany.

An immediate consequence upon passage of the law was that it produced both quantitative and qualitative losses to the physics community. Numerically, it has been estimated that a total of 1,145 university teachers, in all fields, were driven from their posts, which represented about 14% of the higher learning institutional staff members in 1932–1933.Out of 26 German nuclear physicists cited in the literature before 1933, 50% emigrated. Qualitatively, 11 physicists and four chemists who had won or would win the Nobel Prize emigrated from Germany shortly after Hitler came to power, most of them in 1933.These 15 scientists were: Hans Bethe, Felix Bloch, Max Born, Albert Einstein, James Franck, Heinrich Gerhard Kuhn, Peter Debye, Dennis Gabor, Fritz Haber, Gerhard Herzberg, Victor Hess, George de Hevesy, Erwin Schrödinger, Otto Stern, and Eugene Wigner. Britain and the United States were often the recipients of the talent which left Germany. The University of Göttingen had 45 dismissals from the staff of 1932–1933, for a loss of 19%.

Eight students, assistants, and colleagues of the Göttingen theoretical physicist Max Born left Europe after Hitler came to power and eventually found work on the Manhattan Project, thus helping the United States, Britain and Canada to develop the atomic bomb; they were Enrico Fermi,[50] James Franck, Maria Goeppert-Mayer, Robert Oppenheimer (who was American, but had studied under Born), Edward Teller, Victor Weisskopf, Eugene Wigner, and John von Neumann. Otto Robert Frisch, who with Rudolf Peierls first calculated the critical mass of U-235 needed for an explosive, was also a Jewish refugee.

Max Planck, the father of quantum theory, had been right in assessing the consequences of National Socialist policies. In 1933, Planck, as president of the Kaiser Wilhelm Gesellschaft (Kaiser Wilhelm Society), met with Adolf Hitler. During the meeting, Planck told Hitler that forcing Jewish scientists to emigrate would mutilate Germany and the benefits of their work would go to foreign countries. Hitler responded with a rant against Jews and Planck could only remain silent and then take his leave. The National Socialist regime would only come around to the same conclusion as Planck in the 6 July 1942 meeting regarding the future agenda of the Reichsforschungsrat (RFR, Reich Research Council), but by then it was too late.

Hans Geiger was a German physicist. He is best known as the co-inventor of the detector component of the Geiger counter and for the Geiger–Marsden experiment which discovered the atomic nucleus.

In 1925, Geiger accepted his first teaching position, which was at the University of Kiel, Germany. Here, he and Walther Müller improved the sensitivity, performance, and durability of the counter, and it became known as the “Geiger-Müller counter.” It could detect not only alpha particles but also beta particles (electrons) and ionizing photons. The counter was essentially in the same form as the modern counter.

In 1929, Geiger moved to the University of Tübingen (Germany), where he was named professor of physics and director of research at the Institute of Physics. In 1929, while at the Institute, Geiger made his first observations of a cosmic-ray shower. Geiger continued to investigate cosmic rays, artificial radioactivity, and nuclear fission after accepting a position in 1936 at the Technische Hochschule in Berlin, a position he held until his death. In 1937, with Otto Zeiller, Geiger used the counter to measure a cosmic-ray shower

Beginning in 1939, after the discovery of atomic fission, Geiger was a member of the Uranium Club, the German investigation of nuclear weapons during World War II. The group splintered in 1942 after its members came to believe (incorrectly, as it would later transpire) that nuclear weapons would not play a significant role in ending the war.

Although Geiger signed a petition against the Nazi government’s interference with universities, he provided no support to colleague Hans Bethe (winner of the 1967 Nobel Prize in Physics) when he was fired for being Jewish.

Politicization of the German academia under the Nazi regime had driven many physicists, engineers, and mathematicians out of Germany as early as 1933. Those of Jewish heritage who did not leave were quickly purged from German institutions, further thinning the ranks of academia. The politicization of the universities, along with the demands for manpower by the German armed forces (many scientists and technical personnel were conscripted, despite possessing technical and engineering skills), substantially reduced the number of able German physicists.

The German nuclear weapons program (German: Uranprojekt; informally known as the Uranverein; English: Uranium Club) was an unsuccessful scientific effort led by Germany to research and develop atomic weapons during World War II. It was mainly unsuccessful because of the immigration, purge and murder of so many brilliant scientists. The scientists that remained and worked in the Uranium Club weren’t brilliant enough to figure out that their work was leaked to foreign intelligence agencies.

From April through December of 1945, ten of Nazi Germany’s greatest nuclear physicists were detained by Allied military and intelligence services in a kind of gilded cage at Farm Hall, an English country manor near Cambridge. The physicists knew the Reich had failed to develop an atomic bomb, and they soon learned, from a BBC radio report on August 6, that the Allies had succeeded in their own efforts to create such a weapon. But what they did not know was that many of their meetings and private conversations were being monitored and recorded by British agents.

Just imagine what could have happened if Hitler did not have such a hate for the Jews. His own hate lost him the war.

sources

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3228631/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/German_nuclear_weapons_program

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Rolf Wenkhaus; Child actor and Luftwaffe crew member

I was reminiscing on TV shows I watched as a kid in the Netherlands. One of my favourite shows was a series called “Q&Q”. It was about 2 teenage detectives. The boys named Aristides Quarles and Wilbur Quant accidentally snap a photo of a dead body in the woods. After finding the place where the body was, they find it to be gone. Nobody believes them except Grandpa. They decide to investigate themselves. I will spare you the theme song because once you hear it, it will be in your head for days.

Then I also remembered a German movie I watched about some German teenage detectives, nowadays with Google and IMDB, it was relatively easy to find the title. The movie is called “Emil and the Detectives” .Turns out it is the birthday of the young main actor today. Rolf Wenkhaus was born on September 9,1917. The movie I was referring to earlier was made in 1931.

Rolf only made tow more movies, the last one was a Nazi propaganda movie titled “S.A.-Mann Brand”

Ironically the screenplay for Rolf Wenkhaus’s 1st movie, “Emil and the Detectives” was written by Billy Wilder, a Jewish Austrian screenwriter who lived in Berlin. After the rise of the Nazi Party, he moved to Paris, due to rampant antisemitism and discrimination against the Jewish people. He moved to Hollywood in 1933. That movie was also based on a novel by Erich Kästner, a pacifist and an opponent of the Nazi regime. The Gestapo interrogated Kästner several times, the national writers’ guild expelled him, and the Nazis burned his books as “contrary to the German spirit” during the book burnings of 10 May 1933, instigated by Joseph Goebbels.

After the outbreak of World War II, Rolf Wenkhaus enlisted in the military. At the time of his death, aged 24, he was in the aircrew of a Focke-Wulf Fw 200 Condor, a four-engine bomber that specialized in attacks on shipping. Wenkhaus’s plane, with identification code F8 MH 0093, was shot down on 31 January 1942, off the coast of Bloody Foreland in County Donegal, Ireland by HMS Genista, a British Flower-class corvette being utilized as a convoy escort vessel.

The entire aircrew of six was killed. The body of the pilot, Werner Bornefeld, washed up at Bunbeg two weeks later, and was eventually reburied at a German War Cemetery at Glencree, Ireland.

Because Rolf Wenkhaus’s corpse has never been found they officially pronounced his dead only in 1948.

sources

https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0921020/?ref_=tt_ov_st

https://prabook.com/web/rolf.wenkhaus/1928015

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Erich_K%C3%A4stner#Berlin_1933%E2%80%931945

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This is how close the Holocaust still is to me.

The picture is of a vacant building in the town center of Geleen in the Netherlands. The building wasn’t always empty. It used to be a clothes shop called “Modehuis” or Fashion House. It was really a shop which catered more for the older ladies, my mother liked to shop there A few doors next to it, there used to be a hairdresser, where I got my haircut several times.

Across from it there used to be a video store where I would rent my favourite movies. The address of the shop was Raadhuisstraat 16.

All of this will mean absolutely nothing to you, and even until today the historical reference of the place was not known to me.

The shop was known as “Kousenhuis” (Stockingshouse) in the 1930s, the owner was Paul Siegfried Willner and his wife Charlotte Sophia Walter. Paul was Jewish but Charlotte was Roman Catholic . They were married on April 17,1934 in Geleen, the maximum temperature that day was 21 degrees centigrade, so it was a warm spring day. Aside from the shop they also ran a wholesale business in cleaning products.

The shop was initially situated somewhere else, but due to subsidence caused by mining they moved to the Raadhuisstraat. On January 11,1939 Paul sold the shop to Julius Jacob Wolff.

Paul and his wife moved to Molenstraat 27 in Geleen. Below is a recent picture of that address.

As a young kid in secondary school, I actually had a friend living in Molenstraat 25, which is next door. The house is also near my favourite restaurant, swimming pool, and a few other places I would have visited several times a week.

Paul Siegfried Willner was born in Aachen in Germany, near to the Dutch border, on June 5,1902. He had moved in February 1934 from Aachen to Geleen. On November 25,1941 Paul lost his German citizenship as per new Reichs citizens law. As a Jew he was no longer considered to be a German.

On February 5,1942 Paul and Charlotte divorced, I don’t know why but I can only imagine that this was to safe Charlotte. If she was no longer married to a Jew, she would more then likely be safe.

On August 25, 1942 ,Paul had to register for labour in Germany, A day later on August 26, he ended up in Westerbork transit camp. Two days later he was deported to Auschwitz. But shortly before arriving there he was taken of the train at the labour camp in Kosel. It is not clear where he was murdered. His date of death was registered as April 30 1943, but that was a generic date used for many whose death date wasn’t known.

On October 5,1942 the RAF mistakenly bombed Geleen, assuming it was Aachen, Paul’s house was destroyed as was the house of his ex wife.

Julius Jacob Wolff who was also Jewish, survived the war, His shop was still thriving when I left Geleen in 1997.

When I said at the start ‘how close the Holocaust still is to me, I meant it in a physical way as in buildings I have been in or have been close to, but also in a emotional way, because I never knew this bit of history. I had to emigrate to find out the significance of the actual buildings, which is a pity.

sources

https://www.joodsmonument.nl/nl/page/137523/paul-siegfried-willner

https://www.stolpersteinesittardgeleen.nl/Slachtoffers/Paul-Siegfried-Willner

https://www.openarch.nl/rhl:54839896-93a6-84fb-e6c6-a4540cb3b0a6

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Remembering Josef Strauss

This is not the famous composer Joseph Strauss as a young man. This is actually another young man called Josef Strauss. Technically he never became a man because he was murdered in Auschwitz on August 17,1942. He was aged 17.

Unlike his famous name bearer there is very little known about Josef, yet from the little data we have a picture can be painted about his life.

He was born October 6 1924 in Darmstadt, Germany. His mother was Helene Rothschild. his father was Henry Strauss.

His mother’s birth date was August 6,1891. His father’s birth date was December 20,1875.

Josef was a refugee from Germany: he arrived in the Netherlands on December 7th, 1938. First he stayed in the quarantine facility in Amsterdam, in December 1938 he went to live in Arnhem (Huize Sonsbeek), and from there in February 1940 to Wieringen.

Notes upon arrival in the Netherlands:
Parents on their way to Rhodesia. Will probably go with Kindertransport to USA.

He was only 14 when he arrived in the Netherlands.

He had either a cousin or uncle, but I assume cousin because of a different surname, there is no difference in the Dutch language for cousin or nephew. However. lets assume it was a cousin, his name was Paul Schirling. There is only one reference I can find on Paul, on a site I often use for research. He was also murdered in Auschwitz on March 31.1944.

On July 20,1939 Paul sent a request to the Dutch ministry of internal affairs, asking if his cousin Josef Strauss, could holiday with him for 2 weeks. The request was approved on July 29,1939.

On 27 February 1940, Josef was sent to Werkdorp Wieringen, Nieuwesluizerweg 42, Slootdorp (Wieringen), this was set up for young German Jews to learn a trade before emigration. The werkdorp was officially opened on October 3, 1934.

On May 22,1942 Josef was sent to Amsterdam

From there he was sent to Auschwitz, presumably via Westerbork, where he was murdered on August 17,1942.

Josef was sent away as a refugee by his parents, because an evil regime had taken power in their country. I am a parent, and one of my sons is traveling abroad soon, not as a refugee but as a student and to the country where I was born. Despite that I am having panic attacks, I can only imagine what Josef parents went through.

sources

https://www.joodsmonument.nl/nl/page/226300/josef-strauss

Edith Frank ,mother of Anne and Margot.

In late morning of August 4, 1944, Dutch police entered the “Secret
Annex” and arrested the Frank family, the van Pels family, and Fritz Pfeffer, as well as Johannes Kleiman and Victor Kugler, who worked at Opetka, Otto Frank was the managing director of Opetka, and had been helping to hide the residents.

On August 8.1944 After several days in police custody in Amsterdam, the eight residents of the “Secret Annex” were deported by train to Westerbork, a large transit camp in the Netherlands. There, they were placed in a
punishment barrack, because going into hiding was considered a criminal act.

I have often though how horrific that time must have been for Edith Frank. Not knowing what was going to happen next to her daughters. I can only imagine that her main concern was the wellbeing of her children.

Edith was the youngest of four children, she was born on January 16,1900 into a German Jewish family in Aachen, Germany. Her father, Abraham Holländer was a successful businessman in industrial equipment who was prominent in the Aachen Jewish community together with Edith’s mother, Rosa Stern . The ancestors of the Holländer family lived in Amsterdam at the start of the 18th century, emigrating from the Netherlands to Germany around 1800. Edith’s maiden name name, Holländer, is German for “Dutchman” Edith had two older brothers, Julius and Walter ), and an older sister, Bettina. Bettina died at the age of 16 due to appendicitis when Edith was just 14. Both Julius and Walter made it to the United States in 1938, surviving the Holocaust. The Holländer family adhered to Jewish dietary laws and was considered to be religious. Nevertheless, Edith attended the Evangelical Higher Girls’ School and passed her school-leaving exams (Abitur) in 1916. Afterwards, she worked for the family company. In her free time, she read copiously, played tennis, went swimming and had a large circle of friends.

She met Otto Frank in 1924 and they married on his 36th birthday, 12 May 1925, at Aachen’s synagogue. They had two daughters born in Frankfurt, Margot, born 16 February 1926, followed by Anne, born 12 June 1929.

In 1933 the Frank family moved to the Netherlands worried about the Nazi persecution of German Jews, Otto Frank traveled to Amsterdam.

Although she returned to the home of her ancestors, Edith found emigration to the Netherlands difficult. The family lived in confined conditions and she struggled with the new language. She remained in contact with her family and friends in Germany, but also made new friends in Amsterdam, most of them fellow German refugees. Edith was an open-minded woman who educated her daughters in a modern way. Her mother Rosa Holländer-Stern left Aachen in 1939 to join the Frank family in Amsterdam, where she died in January 1942.

Aachen is only a few kilometers away from the south eastern Dutch border.

Anne had not much little sympathy for her mother during their turbulent years in the annex, and she had few kind words to say about her, especially in the earlier entries of her diary. But then again what teenage girl has good things to say about her mother or father for that matter, teenagers always no best. Later on in her diary Anne, changes her view on her mother. As Anne gets older she gets a more objective a perspective, and has more sympathetic feelings for her mother.

On September 3,1944 Edith and those with whom she had been in hiding were transported to the Westerbork to Auschwitz, on the last train to be dispatched from Westerbork to Auschwitz.

All of the “Annex” residents survived the initial selection, but the men were separated from the women. Edith Frank never saw her husband again. This was not the last separation for Edith. On October 30,1944 another selection separated Edith from Anne and Margot. Edith was selected for the gas chambers, and her daughters were transported to Bergen-Belsen. Edith managed to escape with a friend to another section of the camp, where she remained through the winter. Edith became very ill and died of illness and starvation on January 6,1945. 3 weeks before the Red Army liberated Auschwitz and 10 days before her 45th birthday.

sources

https://www.cliffsnotes.com/literature/d/the-diary-of-anne-frank/character-analysis/mrs-frank

https://www.annefrank.org/en/anne-frank/go-in-depth/reconstruction-arrest-people-hiding/

http://www.bbc.co.uk/annefrank/biogs/edithfrank.shtml

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Kurt Jozef Rudolf Rosenthal -One name out of 6 million.

I could have done a piece on any of the millions of victims of the Holocaust. The reason why I picked Kurt Jozef Rudolf Rosenthal, is because he was murdered today 80 years ago.

His story is still important today because he was a refugee, trying to find a better future but he found death instead.

He was born in Arnsberg, Germany , on 12 May 1922.He was murdered in Mauthausen, 25 July 1941.

His life was interrupted in many ways. When he was 14 he decided to flee Germany. His Parents had already done so and fled to Zurich in Switzerland. Young Kurt decided to go to the Netherlands, I presume because it was quite near. Why his parents didn’t take him with them to Zurich I don’t know.

In 1934, a Quaker school was set up in Eerde (Ommen town),in the Netherlands . A few young German Jewish refugees attended the school, where they were educated for a farming life in Israel. Kurt Jozef Rudolf Rosenthal was one of them, he registered on September 3,1936.

In 1940 Kurt felt unsafe in Eerde and moved to Amsterdam, at that stage his Parents had already moved there. They were reunited again as a family.

Kurt managed to raise enough money to get a Visa for the USA, however he would have to travel through Germany for it. I don’t know why he didn’t but I can only imagine that he thought he would not survive that journey. He would more then likely be right in that assumption. During the early Nazi occupation of the Netherlands, things had not changed all that much for the Jews. So Kurt probably still felt safe enough.

Kurt never left for the US. On June 11,1941, he was picked up together with 310 other men. He ended up in Schoorl transit camp, originally a Dutch army camp from 1939 to 1940), but was converted to a Nazi concentration camp (1940–1941) near the village of Schoorl in the Netherlands.

From Schoorl, Kurt was deported to Mauthausen. Austria on June 26,1941. Where He was murdered nearly a month later, on July 25,1941.

Aside from the fact he was murdered there are a few things that disturb me in his story. First of all, why did he have to raise money to get a Visa. At that stage it must have been clear to the US authorities what the Nazis were about and what they were doing. Visa should have been provided at no costs.

Why was there no Dutch family who could have looked after a 14 year old refugee.

I don’t know what happened to his parents but I can only assume they were also murdered.

sources

https://www.joodsmonument.nl/en/page/32097/kurt-jozef-rudolf-rosenthal

https://westerborkportretten.nl/westerborkportretten/kurt-rosenthal

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Law for the Prevention of Hereditarily Diseased Offspring

The plan of the Nazis was to eradicate anyone who they deemed not worthy. This didn’t mean only killing but also ensuring that not one person, who the Nazis considered subhuman, would be born.

On July 14,1933 the Nazi regime fulfilled the long-held dreams of eugenics proponents by enacting the Law for the Prevention of Genetically Diseased Offspring. Individuals who were subject to the law were those men and women who “suffered” from any of nine conditions listed in the law: hereditary feeblemindedness, schizophrenia, manic-depressive disorder, hereditary epilepsy, Huntington’s chorea (a rare and fatal degenerative disease), hereditary blindness, hereditary deafness, severe physical deformity, and chronic alcoholism.

The basic provisions of the 1933 law stated that:

§ 1.(1) Any person suffering from a hereditary disease may be rendered incapable of procreation by means of a surgical operation (sterilization), if the experience of medical science shows that it is highly probable that his descendants would suffer from some serious physical or mental hereditary defect.

(2) For the purposes of this law, any person will be considered as hereditarily diseased who is suffering from any one of the following diseases:

(1) Congenital Mental Deficiency,
(2) Schizophrenia,
(3) Manic-Depressive Insanity,
(4) Hereditary Epilepsy,
(5) Hereditary Chorea (Huntington’s),
(6) Hereditary Blindness,
(7) Hereditary Deafness,
(8) Any severe hereditary deformity.

(3) Any person suffering from severe alcoholism may be also rendered incapable of procreation.

§ 2.Applications for sterilization can be made by the individual to be sterilized. If this person is legally incompetent, has been certified on account of mental deficiency, or is not yet 18, a legal representative has the right to make an application on this person’s behalf but needs the consent of the court of guardians to do so. In other cases of limited competency, the application needs to be approved by the legal representative. [ . . . ]

§ 3.Sterilization can also be requested by the following: 1. the state physician. 2. In the case of inmates of hospitals, nursing homes, and penal institutions, by the head thereof.

§ 4. The application is to be made to the office of the Eugenics Court; it can either be made in writing or dictated to the court. The facts upon which the application is based should be supported by a medical certificate or confirmed in some other way. The office must inform the state physician of the application.

§ 5.Responsibility for the decision rests with the Eugenics Court that has jurisdiction over the district in which the person to be sterilized officially resides.

§ 6. The Eugenics Court is to be attached to a district court [Amtsgericht]. It consists of a district court judge acting as chairman, a state physician, and another physician certified by the German Reich and particularly well trained in eugenics. [ . . . ]

§12.Once the Court has decided on sterilization, the operation must be carried out even against the will of the person to be sterilized, unless that person applied for it himself. The state physician has to attend to the necessary measures with the police authorities. Where other measures are insufficient, direct force may be used.

This law comes into effect on January 1, 1934.
Berlin, July 14, 1933.

The Reich Chancellor
Adolf Hitler

The Reich Minister of the Interior
Frick

The Reich Minister of Justice
Dr. Gürtner

This law meant that a woman like Gerda D., a shop worker, one of the estimated 400,000 Germans who were forcibly sterilized. She was sterilized after a disputed diagnosis of schizophrenia. Later, Nazi authorities forbade Gerda to marry because of the sterilization. So not only was she sterilized she was also not allowed to marry. All because of a questionable diagnosis of schizophrenia.

19-year-old Gerda D. was hospitalized in the psychiatric emergency ward of a hospital in Berlin. Although the diagnosis of Gerda as schizophrenic was uncertain, she was released only after being sterilized under the Law for the Prevention of Progeny with Hereditary Diseases.

The law itself was based on the American Model Eugenical Sterilization Law developed by Harry H. Laughlin.

sources

http://www.holocaustchronicle.org/staticpages/76.html

https://ghdi.ghi-dc.org/sub_document.cfm?document_id=1521

https://www.ushmm.org/learn/timeline-of-events/1933-1938/law-for-the-prevention-of-offspring-with-hereditary-diseases

https://encyclopedia.ushmm.org/content/en/article/the-biological-state-nazi-racial-hygiene-1933-1939

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