The NAZI’s blueprint for extermination camps.

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The concept of the concentration camps was not a Nazi concept. It was in fact the British who created the first concentration camps. The first use of concentration camps was by the British during the Boer war (1899–1902).

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Boers and black Africans were placed in camps so that they would be unable to aid Boer guerrillas. It is reported that more than 27,000 Boers and 14,000 Africans died in the camps from disease and starvation. Most of the dead were children, clearly noncombatants in the conflict.

A little known genocide took place between 1904 and 1907 in Namibia and was carried out by the troops of the Kaiser Wilhelm II

The Herero and Nama genocide was a campaign of racial extermination and collective punishment that the German Empire undertook in German South West Africa (modern-day Namibia) against the Herero and Nama people. It is considered one of the first genocides of the 20th century.

In January 1904, the Herero people, led by Samuel Maharero and Nama(or Namaqua) Captain Hendrik Witbooi, rebelled against German colonial rule.

In August, German General Lothar von Trotha defeated the Herero in the Battle of Waterberg and drove them into the desert of Omaheke, where most of them died of dehydration.

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In October, the Nama people also rebelled against the Germans, only to suffer a similar fate.

Under German colonial rule, natives were routinely used as slave labourers, and their lands were frequently confiscated and given to colonists, who were encouraged to settle on land taken from the natives; that land was stocked with cattle stolen from the Herero and Namas.

General Trotha stated his proposed solution to end the resistance of the Herero people in a letter, before the Battle of Waterberg:

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I believe that the nation as such should be annihilated, or, if this was not possible by tactical measures, have to be expelled from the country … This will be possible if the water-holes from Grootfontein to Gobabis are occupied. The constant movement of our troops will enable us to find the small groups of this nation who have moved backwards and destroy them gradually.

Trotha’s troops defeated 3,000–5,000 Herero combatants at the Battle of Waterberg on 11–12 August 1904 but were unable to encircle and annihilate the retreating survivors.

Survivors of the massacre, the majority of whom were women and children, were eventually put in places like Shark Island Concentration Camp,

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where the German authorities forced them to work as slave labour for German military and settlers. All prisoners were categorised into groups fit and unfit for work, and pre-printed death certificates indicating “death by exhaustion following privation” were issued.The British government published their well-known account of the German genocide of the Nama and Herero peoples in 1918

Food in the camps was extremely scarce, consisting of rice with no additions. As the prisoners lacked pots and the rice they received was uncooked, it was indigestible; horses and oxen that died in the camp were later distributed to the inmates as food. Dysentery and lung diseases were common. Despite those conditions, the Herero were taken outside the camp every day for labour under harsh treatment by the German guards, while the sick were left without any medical assistance or nursing care.[25]:76

Shootings, hangings, beatings, and other harsh treatment of the forced labourers (including use of sjamboks) were common.

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A 28 September 1905 article in the South African newspaper Cape Argus detailed some of the abuse with the heading: “In German S. W. Africa: Further Startling Allegations: Horrible Cruelty”.

Contrary to the German belief, the indigenous Herero and Nama people were not savages. The Herero had a sophisticated culture, having occupied their ancient lands for centuries, while the Nama  –  the mixed-race offspring of early Dutch settlers  –  were ferocious warriors as well as Christians.

Three-and-a-half thousand innocent Africans were liquidated here at the hands of the Germans, decades before the rise of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi party, with the tacit sanction of the German emperor, Kaiser Wilhelm II, and his ministers.792550-hhzwilhelm2The story of the German extermination of the Herero and Namaqua peoples has been expunged from the history books  –  and the tourists and scuba divers on the Shark Bay waterfront will find no mention of it in their guides.

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More chilling still, the book raises another awful prospect. That the Nazi crimes of World War II were not an aberration, as some have claimed, but emerged from a tradition deeply embedded in the heart of German culture, with its warped beliefs about racial superiority, going back into the 19th century.

In 1908 Eugen Fischer(a German professor of medicine, anthropology, and eugenics, and a member of the Nazi Party.  conducted field research in German Southwest Africa (now Namibia).

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He studied the Basters, offspring of German or Boer men who had fathered children by the native women (Hottentots) in that area. His study concluded with a call to prevent a “mixed race” by the prohibition of “mixed marriage” such as those he had studied. It included unethical medical practices on the Herero and Namaqua people.He argued that while the existing Mischling descendants of the mixed marriages might be useful for Germany, he recommended that they should not continue to reproduce.

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His recommendations were followed and by 1912 interracial marriage was prohibited throughout the German colonies. As a precursor to his experiments on Jews in Nazi Germany, he collected bones and skulls for his studies, in part from medical experimentation on African prisoners of war in Namibia during the Herero and Namaqua Genocide.

His ideas expressed in this work, related to maintaining the purity of races, influenced future German legislation on race, including the Nuremberg law

 

 

 

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Last words of Martin Zellermayer

43.-zellermayer002A planned sea crossing on 21 March 1942 of the  Austrian born Jewish Engelandvaarder (Lit. England-farer) Carl Martin Zellermayer and eight others failed because they were betrayed. In the ferry boss’ house in the Dutch harbour village of Simonshaven they awaited nightfall. Once it was dark, they could embark on their journey to England. But before that happened, the Germans surrounded the house and arrested the would-be Engelandvaarders.

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Zellermayer was executed by the Germans on 15 August 1942. A few hours before his sentence was to be carried out he wrote this letter to his fiancée Annie Koningsbrugge.

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His farewell letter begins: ‘I was just informed that my death sentence is confirmed and will be carried out this very afternoon at ½ 3. So I have just 4½ hours to live and then I must die.”

Below is a picture of the death notification of Carl Martin Zellermayer in the  Jewish weekly newspaper, which ran from the 11th of April until the 28th of September of 1943 by the Jewish council in the Netherlands but was under censorship by the German occupiers.

I don’t know what happened to the brother of Martin Zellermayer ,who placed the notification on the 19th of August 1942.

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Himmler’s speech- a warped ideology

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Heinrich Himmler, in charge of implementing the Nazi’s “Final Solution to the Jewish Question,” gave an infamous speech to one hundred SS men on October 4, 1943 (in a Polish town called Posen). As direct as anyone could possibly be on the issue, Himmler defined “evacuation” as “Ausrottung.” That word, in English, means “extermination

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Below are some excerpts from that speech. It is a clear indication on how warped the Nazi ideology was.

(Original transcript in German.)

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“Whether the other races live in comfort or perish of hunger interests me only in so far as we need them as slaves for our culture; apart from that it does not interest me. Whether or not 10,000 Russian women collapse from exhaustion while digging a tank ditch interests me only in so far as the tank ditch is completed for Germany.”146193

“We shall never be rough or heartless where it is not necessary; that is clear. We Germans, who are the only people in the world who have a decent attitude to animals, will also adopt a decent attitude to these human animals”

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“I shall speak to you here with all frankness of a very serious subject. We shall now discuss it absolutely openly among ourselves, nevertheless we shall never speak of it in public. I mean the evacuation of the Jews, the extermination of the Jewish race.”

(Himmler’s handwritten speech notes showing the term “Judenevakuierung” meaningevacuation of the Jews.)note

 

“And then they all come along, the eighty million good Germans, and each one has his decent Jew. Of course the others are swine, but this one is a first-class Jew. (some laughter) Of all those who talk like this, not one has watched, not one has stood up to it. Most of you know what it means to see a hundred corpses lying together, five hundred, or a thousand. To have gone through this and yet – apart from a few exceptions, examples of human weakness – to have remained decent fellows, this is what has made us hard. This is a glorious page in our history that has never been written and shall never be written.”

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“It is one of those things which is easy to say. ‘The Jewish race is to be exterminated,’ says every Party member. ‘That’s clear, it’s part of our program, elimination of the Jews, extermination, right, we’ll do it.”

 

 

Was April 20th 1889, the worst day in history?

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The above picture is of a young child, still a baby. This boy was born on 20 April 1889, and although you wouldn’t think so from this picture, but this baby boy later became responsible for the deaths of millions.

You see this little boy is Adolf Hitler.

There is a questions which is often posed in psychology to determine if you are a psychopath. The question is “If you could travel back in time to April 20 1889. would you kill the infant Hitler?

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I don’t think the stars could have predicted what this infant would do in later life.

Hitler’s father Alois Hitler was the illegitimate child of Maria Anna Schicklgruber. Alois was born in 1837 but the baptismal register did not show his father’s name. So, initially, Alois bore his mother’s surname, Schicklgruber. Johann Georg Hiedler married Maria Anna in 1842.

Maria Anna died in 1847 and Alois changed his baptismal register in 1876 by recording Georg Hitler (Johann Georg Hiedler) as his father. Thus he assumed the surname Hitler which is also spelled as Hiedler, Huettler or Hüttler. Hitler surname is presumably based on ‘one who lives in a hut’.

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Hitler had 7 siblings, 3 of which died when they were still children.

For 36 years he was an Austrian citizen, for  nearly 7 years he was stateless. He only had the German nationality for 13 years.

What if something would have happened to him at birth on that 20th of April 1889? How different would the world have been?

I do think that 20 April 1889 may just have been the worst day in history.

 

 

 

Ebensee concentration camp

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The Ebensee concentration camp was established by the SS to build tunnels for armaments storage near the town of Ebensee, Austria, in 1943. It was part of the Mauthausen network.

Due to the inhumane working and living conditions, Ebensee was one of the worst Nazi concentration camps for the death rates of its prisoners. The SS used several codenames Kalk (English: limestone), Kalksteinbergwerk (English: limestone mine), Solvay and Zement (English: cement) to conceal the true nature of the camp.

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The construction of the Ebensee subcamp began late in 1943, and the first 1,000 prisoners arrived on November 18, 1943, from the main camp of Mauthausen and its subcamps. The main purpose of Ebensee was to provide slave labor for the construction of enormous underground tunnels in which armament works were to be housed. These tunnels were planned for the evacuated Peenemünde V-2 rocket development but, on July 6, 1944, Hitler ordered the complex converted to a tank-gear factory.

After rising at 4:30 A.M. the prisoners dug away at the tunnels until 6 P.M. After some months work was done in shifts 24 hours a day. There was nearly no accomodation to protect the first batch of prisoners from the cold Austrian winter. Thus the death toll increased astronomically. Bodies were piled in heaps and every 3-4 days they were taken to the Mauthausen crematorium to be burned.

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Ebensee did not yet have its own crematorium. The dead were also piled inside the few huts that existed. The smell of the dead, combined with sickness, phlegmon, urine and faeces, was unbearable. The prisoners wore wooden clogs. When the clogs fell apart the prisoners had to go barefoot. Due to this total ill treatment combined with food allocations consisting of , in the morning: half a liter of ersatz coffee, at noon three-quarters of a liter of hot water containing potato peelings, in the evening 150 grams of bread, the death toll continued to rise. Soon lice infested the camp.

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The camp was surrounded by a barbed wire fence, small towers with machine guns and shacks for the SS.

Jews formed about one-third of the inmates, the percentage increasing to 40% by the end of the war, and were the worst treated, though all inmates suffered great hardships. The other inmates included Russians, Poles, Czechoslovaks, and Romani, as well as German and Austrian political prisoners and criminals.

The Mauthausen commandant Franz Ziereis sent his most capable and vicious man to head the camp, Georg Bachmayer.

After establishing his rule, he once again returned to Mauthausen and left the camp under the command of an Obersturmfûhrer who proved to be totally deranged. The combination of these two became a reign of terror.

One of their favourite methods of torture was to tie a prisoner´s arms behind him, with the hands side by side and thumb to thumb and then suspend him from a tree about eighteen inches off the ground. Bachmayer would then let his favourite dog, an Alsation called “Lord”, loose. The prisoner would be left in this unspeakable torture to die a slow and agonizing death.

In early 1944 a new commandant was appointed in Ebensee, Obersturmfûhrer Otto Riemer. During his period the conditions deteriorated even further. He personally beat, shot and tortured prisoners daily. He openly offered extra cigarettes and leave to those sentries who could account for the largest number of deaths. If a sentry at the end of a day had not a sufficient number to his credit, he would knock off the cap of a prisoner and throw it into a forbidden area. When the prisoner went to retrieve it, he would be shot dead.

The Commandant Otto Riemer (born May 19, 1897, date of death unknown) was a Nazi, a crew member of the Mauthausen-Gusen concentration camp, and SS-Obersturmführer. Unfortunately, his fate is unknown.Another SS man was Alfons Bentele, who died in a French prison.

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As the Second World War in Europe came to an end, mass evacuations from other camps put tremendous pressure on the Mauthausen complex, the last remaining concentration camp in the area still controlled by the Nazis. The 25 Ebensee barracks had been designed to hold 100 prisoners each, but they eventually held as many as 750 each. To this number must be added the prisoners being kept in the tunnels or outdoors under the open sky.

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The crematorium was unable to keep pace with the deaths and naked bodies were stacked outside the barrack blocks and the crematorium itself. In the closing weeks of the war, the death rate exceeded 350 a day. To reduce congestion, a ditch was dug outside the camp and bodies were flung into quicklime. On a single day in April 1945, a record 80 bodies were removed from Block 23 alone; in this pile, feet were seen to be twitching. During this period, the inmate strength reached a high of 18,000.

In May 1945, shooting in the distance could be heard from inside the camp and there was a sense among prisoners that American and British forces were close at hand. On May 4, 1945, the commandant of the camp informed prisoners that they had been sold to the Americans and that they should seek shelter in the camp’s underground tunnels for protection. Prisoners refused and remained in their barracks; hours later some of the tunnels exploded, reputedly due to the detonation of mines. On May 5, 1945, prisoners awoke to find that the SS had deserted Ebensee and that only elderly Germans armed with rifles were guarding the camp.

American troops of the US 80th Infantry Division arrived at the camp on May 6, 1945 – though for many inmates liberation came too late and they died of hunger, disease and exhaustion despite the efforts of American doctors to save them.

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Romanian-born Hermann Kahan was plucked alive from a pile of corpses, surviving to become a businessman in Norway.

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Holocaust survivor and author Moshe Ha-Elion recalls that when the camp was liberated, the Polish inmates were singing the Polish hymn, the Greek inmates were singing the Greek hymn and the French inmates were singing La Marseillaise. After, the Jews inmates were singing Ha Tikvah.

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Around May 19, 1945 Bachmayer commited suicide after first shooting his family.

 

Karl Gebhardt Medical Experiments

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Karl Gebhardt was Gruppenführer in the SS and Generalleutnant (Lieutenant General) in the Waffen SS; personal physician to Reichsfuehrer-SS Himmler; Chief Surgeon of the Staff of the Reich Physician SS and Police (Oberster Kliniker, Reichsarzt SS und Polizei); and President of the German Red Cross.

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He served as Medical Superintendent of the Hohenlychen Sanatorium. As a physician he would have sworn to the Hippocratic Oath ‘First do no harm’

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He was a Consulting Surgeon of the Waffen-SS, Chief Surgeon in the Staff of the Reich Physician SS and Police, and personal physician to Heinrich Himmler.

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Gebhardt was the main coordinator of a series of surgical experiments performed on inmates of the concentration camps at Ravensbrück and Auschwitz.

During the war, Gebhardt conducted medical and surgical experiments on prisoners in the concentration camps at Ravensbrück (which was close to Hohenlychen Sanatorium) and Auschwitz. At Ravensbruck he had initially faced opposition from camp commandant Fritz Suhren, who feared future legal problems given the status of most camp inmates as political prisoners, but the SS leadership backed Gebhardt and Suhren was forced to cooperate.

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In order to absolve Gebhardt for his failure to prescribe sulfonamide for Heydrich, Himmler suggested to Gebhardt that he should conduct experiments proving that sulfonamide was useless in the treatment of gangrene and sepsis. In order to vindicate his decision to not administer sulfa drugs in treating Heydrich’s wounds, he carried out a series of experiments on Ravensbrück concentration camp prisoners, breaking their legs and infecting them with various organisms in order to prove the worthlessness of the drugs in treating gas gangrene.

43-031He also attempted to transplant the limbs from camp victims to German soldiers wounded on the Russian front. The Ravensbrück experiments were slanted in Gebhardt’s favor; women in the sulfonamide-treated experimental group received little or no nursing care, while those in the untreated control group received better care. Not surprisingly, those in the control group were more likely to survive the experiments.

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During the Subsequent Nuremberg Trials, Gebhardt stood trial in the Doctors’ Trial (9 December 1946–20 August 1947), along with 22 other doctors.

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He was found guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity and sentenced to death on 20 August 1947. He was hanged on 2 June 1948, in Landsberg Prison in Bavaria.

The Yellow Star of David fabric

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Two years after the invasion of the Netherlands all Jews age six and older were required to wear a so-called yellow star visible on the left side of their clothing. It was yet another measure to isolate and exclude Jews from Dutch society. The word Jood  (Jew) appears in the middle of this six-pointed star, which has the same form as the Jewish Star of David.

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These stars were printed on inexpensive yellow cotton in De Nijverheid, a textile factory in the Dutch city of Enschede that had previously belonged to a Jewish family.

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The company had been confiscated from them shortly before and placed under German supervision. The around 100,000 yellow stars needed in the Netherlands were probably printed on this one 10,000 metre roll of material.

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Production most likely took no more than a day. This made the sale of these stars for 4 cents each a rather lucrative business. In addition to the purchase price Jews had to turn in a textile ration coupon.

The Gardelegen massacre

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On May 7th, 1945, Life Magazine published a series of photographs which showed the atrocities discovered by American troops as they fought their way across Germany during the last days of World War II. Included was the photo above, which shows the charred bodies of concentration camp prisoners who were burned to death inside a barn near the Medieval walled town of Gardelegen in eastern Germany on the night of April 13, 1945.

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The Gardelegen massacre was a massacre perpetrated by German SS and Luftwaffe troops during World War II. On April 13, 1945, on the Isenschnibbe estate near the northern German town of Gardelegen, the troops forced 1,016 slave laborers, many of them Poles, who were part of a transport evacuated from the Mittelbau-Dora labor camp into a large barn which was then set on fire. Most of the prisoners were burned alive; some were shot trying to escape. The crime was discovered two days later by F Company, 2nd Battalion, 405th Regiment, U.S. 102nd Infantry Division, when the U.S. Army occupied the area.

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On Friday, April 13th, approximately 1050 to 1100 of the concentration camp prisoners were herded inside a grain barn, piled knee-high with straw, which had been previously doused with gasoline. The barn was then deliberately set on fire by German SS and Luftwaffe soldiers and boys from the Hitler Jugend, according to the survivors. Prisoners who tried to escape from the fire were machine-gunned to death by the Germans guarding the barn, including teen-aged boys in the Hitler Jugend. A total of 1016 prisoners were burned to death or shot as they tried to escape from the unlocked barn. Around 100 of the prisoners survived, including several Russian Prisoners of War who greeted the American soldiers and led them to the scene of one of the most ignominious war crimes of World War II.

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The man who is considered to be the main instigator of the Gardelegen massacre is 34-year-old Gerhard Thiele, who was the Nazi party district leader of Gardelegen. On April 6, 1945, Thiele called a meeting of his staff and other officials at which he issued an order, which had been given to him a few days before by Gauleiter Rudolf Jordan, that any prisoners who were caught looting or who tried to escape should be shot on the spot.

On April 14, the 102nd entered Gardelegen and, the following day, discovered the atrocity. They found the corpses of 1,016 prisoners in the still-smoldering barn and nearby trenches, where the SS had had the charred remains dumped. They also interviewed several of the prisoners who had managed to escape the fire and the shootings. U.S. Army Signal Corps photographers soon arrived to document the Nazi crime and by April 19, 1945, the story of the Gardelegen massacre began appearing in the Western press. On that day, both the New York Times and The Washington Post ran stories on the massacre, quoting one American soldier who stated:

I never was so sure before of exactly what I was fighting for. Before this you would have said those stories were propaganda, but now you know they weren’t. There are the bodies and all those guys are dead.

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On April 21, 1945, the local commander of the 102nd ordered between 200 and 300 men from the town of Gardelegen to give the murdered prisoners a proper burial.

Over the next few days, the German civilians exhumed 586 bodies from the trenches and recovered 430 bodies from the barn, placing each in an individual grave. On April 25, the 102nd carried out a ceremony to honor the dead and erected a memorial tablet to the victims, which stated that the townspeople of Gardelegen are charged with the responsibility that the “graves are forever kept as green as the memory of these unfortunates will be kept in the hearts of freedom-loving men everywhere.” Also on April 25, Colonel George Lynch addressed German civilians at Gardelegen with the following statement:

“The German people have been told that stories of German atrocities were Allied propaganda. Here, you can see for yourself. Some will say that the Nazis were responsible for this crime. Others will point to the Gestapo. The responsibility rests with neither — it is the responsibility of the German people….Your so-called Master Race has demonstrated that it is master only of crime, cruelty and sadism. You have lost the respect of the civilized world.”

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Gerhard Thiele managed to elude justice in January 1946. He escaped , but it was found out he had lived in Düsseldorf at least until 1991 under a false identity.He died in 1994.

However, at least one of the SS men involved in the Gardelegen massacre was put on trial in 1947, according to Gring. She states on page 34 that SS-Untersturmführer Erhart Brauny was sentenced to life in prison. According to Gring, Brauny had been assigned to the Rottleberode sub-camp in 1944 and he was the transport leader for the prisoners evacuated from the Mittelbau-Dora concentration camp who subsequently wound up in Gardelegen and were herded into the barn which was set on fire.

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He was sentenced to life imprisonment and died in 1950 of natural causes in prison.

Anne Frank’s possessions

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Some Jewish children gave away their toys when they had to report for transport or went into hiding. Marbles were a child’s prized possession. The night before they were transported, a few children in the South of Amsterdam were known to have said: ‘Let’s just toss them!’ They threw their marbles out the window, hoping other children in the neighbourhood would gather them up.

Shortly before going into hiding on 6 July 1942, with her parents and sister Margot in the Secret Annex on Amsterdam’s Prinsengracht, Anne Frank also left a few prized possessions behind. She gave her tea set, the book Nederlandsche sagen en legenden  (Tales and Legends of the Netherlands) that she’d also received on 12 June as a birthday gift and this metal tin of marbles to her neighbourhood friend Toosje Kupers.

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Anne was concerned that her treasured marble collection would fall into the wrong hands, so she asked Toosje to keep them for safe until her return.

 

Toosje Kupers had kept her promise to Anne. The marbles, tea set and book were still safe. She offered to return Anne’s treasures to her father, but Otto Frank told her to keep them.

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Otto Frank was the only one of the Frank family to survive the concentration camps. After the war, Toosje Kupers saw Anne’s father several times. When Anne Frank’s diary was published in 1947, Otto Frank personally gave Toosje a copy.

 

The Vrba–Wetzler report aka the Auschwitz Protocols

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On April 10, 1944 (some reports say April 7), two men escaped from Auschwitz: Rudolph Vrba (Vrba was born Walter Rosenberg in Topoľčany, Czechoslovakia. He took the name Rudolf Vrba in April 1944 after his escape, and changed his name legally after the war.) and Alfred Wetzler. They made contact with Slovak resistance forces and produced a substantive report on the extermination camp at Auschwitz-Birkenau. In great detail, they documented the killing process. Their report, replete with maps and other specific details, was forwarded to Western intelligence officials along with an urgent request to bomb the camps. Part of the report, forwarded to the U.S. government’s War Refugee Board by Roswell McClelland, the board’s representative in Switzerland, arrived in Washington on July 8 and July 16, 1944.

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While the complete report, together with maps, did not arrive in the United States until October, U.S. officials could have received the complete report earlier if they had taken a more urgent interest in it.

In April, 1944 Vrba and Wetzler hid in a woodpile right under the guards’ noses for three days, traversed rugged and dangerous enemy terrain, and solicited the generosity of strangers. After an extraordinary 15-day trek covering 85 miles across occupied Poland, they finally reached people they thought they could help. At the Jewish Council headquarters in Zilina, Slovakia, they described the horrific activities of the Nazis at Auschwitz. Their tale was recorded in the Vrba-Wetzler Report, which they assumed would be distributed to the proper authorities, who would then force the Germans to stop the deportations and executions.

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The men crossed the Polish-Slovakian border on 21 April 1944. They went to see a local doctor in Čadca, Dr. Pollack, someone Vrba knew from his time in the first transit camp. Pollack had a contact in the Slovak Judenrat (Jewish Council), which was operating an underground group known as the “Working Group,” and arranged for them to send people from their headquarters in Bratislava to meet the men. Pollack was distressed to learn the probable fate of his parents and siblings, who had been deported in 1942.

Vrba and Wetzler spent the night in Čadca in the home of a relative of the rabbi Leo Baeck.

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The next day, 24 April, met the chairman of the Jewish Council, Dr. Oscar Neumann, a German-speaking lawyer.

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Neumann placed the men in different rooms in a former old people’s home and interviewed them separately over three days. Vrba writes that he began by drawing the inner layout of Auschwitz I and II, and the position of the ramp in relation to the two camps. He described the internal organization of the camps, how Jews were being used as slave labour for Krupp, Siemens, IG Farben and D.A.W., and the mass murder in gas chambers of those who had been chosen for Sonderbehandlung, or “special treatment.”

The report was written and re-written several times. Wetzler wrote the first part, Vrba the third, and the two wrote the second part together. They then worked on the whole thing together, re-writing it six times.Neumann’s aide, Oscar Krasniansky, an engineer and stenographer who later took the name Oskar Isaiah Karmiel, translated it from Slovak into German with the help of Gisela Steiner.They produced a 40-page report in German, which was completed by Thursday, 27 April 1944. Vrba wrote that the report was also translated into Hungarian. The original Slovak version was not preserved.

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The report contains a detailed description of the geography and management of the camps; how the prisoners lived and died; and the transports that had arrived at Auschwitz since 1942, their place of origin, and the numbers “selected” for work or the gas chambers.

Rudolf Vrba’s sketch of the Crematorium at Birkenau(translated in English)Vrba-Wetzler_report_sketch_(crematoria)

The report provided details known only to prisoners, including, for example, that discharge forms were filled out for prisoners who were gassed, indicating that death rates in the camp were actively falsified.

It also contains sketches and information about the layout of the gas chambers. In a sworn deposition for the trial of SS-Obersturmbannführer Adolf Eichmann in 1961, and in his book I Cannot Forgive (1964), Vrba said that he and Wetzler obtained the information about the gas chambers and crematoria from Sonderkommando Filip Müller and his colleagues who worked there.

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Müller confirmed this in his Eyewitness Auschwitz (1979).Auschwitz scholar Robert Jan van Pelt wrote in 2002 that the description contains errors, but that given the circumstances, including the men’s lack of architectural training, “one would become suspicious if it did not contain errors.

The report was indeed sent to Allies around the world. But to Vrba’s horror, some copies took months to arrive in the right hands, and the most urgent copy was suppressed by Rudolph Kastner, head of the Hungarian Jewish underground, who worried it would destroy a deal he was trying to make with the Nazis. Kastner’s deal eventually saved about 1600 Jews on his “train to freedom,” but according to Vrba and others, the suppression of the report resulted in hundreds of thousands more being deported to the gas chambers.

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The Jews of Europe needed outside assistance, but by then, Vrba and Wetzler had all but given up hope that their report would ever trigger a coordinated Allied response. Copies had been sent to the British, Americans and even the Pope, but nothing had happened. Then, in June of 1944, a copy of the report made its way to British Intelligence. It confirmed growing Allied suspicions that the Nazis were murdering millions of Jews. The document was immediately forwarded to top British and American officials.

On June 15th, the BBC broadcast the horrific details of the report. Five days later, extracts were published in The New York Times. The Nazi secret was finally out. America’s first official response was to threaten reprisals against anyone involved in the Hungarian deportations. The Vatican added the Pope’s condemnation. But despite the Allied pressure, Admiral Horthy, the Hungarian head of state and puppet to Hitler, allowed the deportations to continue. On July 2nd, the US Air Force attacked Budapest, raining bombs on the Hungarian capital. Horthy believed the raid was punishment for his refusal to stop the deportations. But in fact, the timing was a complete coincidence.