Rutka Laskier’s teenage account of the Holocaust.

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Rutka was 14 years old when she was murdered in the gas chambers at Auschwitz. In the months before her death, Rutka, like Anne Frank in Amsterdam, kept a detailed diary documenting her deepest thoughts and fears. When she and her family – younger brother Henius, mother Dorka and father Yaakov ,were moved by the Nazis from their home in the Polish town of Bedzin to a closed ghetto, she believed she would not survive and hid the notebook under a floorboard, telling only her friend Stanislawa Sapinska of its existence.

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From 19 January to 24 April 1943, without her family’s knowledge, Laskier kept a diary in an ordinary school notebook, writing in both ink and pencil, making entries sporadically. In it, she discussed atrocities she witnessed committed by the Nazis, and described daily life in the ghetto, as well as innocent teenage love interests. She also wrote about the gas chambers at the concentration camps, indicating that the horrors of the camps had filtered back to those still living in the ghettos.

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Below are some of her Diary entries.

January 19, 1943

“I cannot grasp that it is already 1943, four years since this hell began.”

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January 27, 1943

I had my photo taken. Although usually I don’t look pretty in photographs, in reality I am very beautiful. I’m tall, thin, with nice legs, a thin waist, elongated hands but ugly fingernails. I have big black eyes, thick brown eyebrows and long eyelashes. Black hair, trimmed short and combed back, a pug nose, nicely outlined lips, snow-white teeth. I would like to pour out all the turmoil I am feeling inside, but I’m incapable. Sometimes I’m so depressed, that when I open my mouth it’s only to sting someone.

February 5, 1943

The rope around us is getting tighter. Next month there should be a ghetto, a real one, surrounded by walls.

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In the summer it will be unbearable. To sit in a grey locked cage, without being able to see fields and flowers. I can’t believe that one day I’ll be able to leave the house without the yellow star.

 

The little faith I had has been shattered. If God existed, He would not have permitted that human beings be thrown alive into furnaces, and the heads of little toddlers be smashed with butt of guns or be shoved into sacks and gassed to death… Those who haven’t seen this would never believe it. But it’s the truth.

February 6, 1943.

Something has broken in me. When I pass by a German, everything shrinks in me. I don’t know whether it’s out of fear or hatred. Today, I recalled in detail the day of August 12, 1942 the mass round-up of Bedzin’s Jews for deportation.

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We got up at 4am. There were thousands of people on the road. I looked beyond the fence and saw soldiers with machine guns aimed at the square in case someone tried to escape. People fainted, children cried. Judgment Day. It was terribly hot. Then, all of a sudden, it started pouring. The rain didn’t stop. At 3pm the selection started. 1. meant returning home, 1a. going to labour, 2. meant going for further inspection and 3. deportation, in other words death. Mom, Dad and my brother were sent to group 1. I was sent to 1a. I was stunned. Salek, Linka and Niania already sat there. The weirdest thing was that we didn’t cry AT ALL. Little children were lying on the wet grass. The policemen beat them ferociously and shot them.

 

I sat there until 1am. Then I ran away. I jumped out of a window from the first floor of a small building, and nothing happened to me. My lips were bitten so bad that they bled. Oh, I forgot the most important thing. I saw how a soldier tore a baby, who was only a few months old, out of its mother’s hands and bashed his head against an electric pylon. The baby’s brain splashed on the wood. The mother went crazy. I’m 14, and I haven’t seen much in my life, and I’m already so indifferent. Janek came by this afternoon. He blurted out he’d like it very much if he could kiss me. I said “maybe”. But I won’t let him. I’m afraid it would destroy something beautiful, pure. I’m also afraid that I’ll be very disappointed.

February 20, 1943…
I have a feeling that I’m writing for the last time. There is an Aktion “resettlement” of Jews. This is hell. I try to escape from thoughts of the next day, but they haunt me like nagging flies.

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I was foolish about Janek. My eyes have been opened. The only thing that matters to him is that his pants are ironed, how many cakes he ate at Frontag’s coffee house and girls’ legs.
March 8, 1943…
I must pull myself together and not wet my pillow with tears. I am sick and tired of the steady fear seen in everybody’s faces. This fear clutches on to everyone and doesn’t let go.
April 24, 1943…
The sun is shining so brightly. Outside the windows apple trees and lilacs are blooming, and you have to sit in this suffocating and stinking room. The entire day I’m walking around the room, I have nothing to do.

Rutka was deported from the ghetto and was believed to have died in a gas chamber, age 14, along with her mother and brother, upon arrival with her family at the Auschwitz concentration camp in August 1943.Although there are reports she may have died later.

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While writing the diary, Laskier shared it with Stanisława Sapińska (21 years old, at that time), whom she had befriended after Laskier’s family moved into a home owned by Sapińska’s Roman Catholic family, which had been confiscated by the Nazis so that it could be included in the ghetto.Laskier gradually came to realise she would not survive, and, realizing the importance of her diary as a document of what had happened to the Jewish population of Będzin, asked Sapińska to help her hide the diary. Sapińska showed Laskier how to hide the diary in her house under the double flooring in a staircase, between the first and second floors.

After the ghetto was evacuated and all its inhabitants sent to the death camp, Sapińska returned to the house and retrieved the diary. She kept it in her home library for 63 years and did not share it with anyone but members of her immediate family. In 2005, Adam Szydłowski, the chairman of the Center of Jewish Culture of the Zagłębie Region of Poland, was told by one of Sapińska’s nieces about the existence of the diary

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With help from Sapińska’s nephew, he obtained a photocopy of the diary and was instrumental in the publishing of its Polish-language edition. Its publication by Yad Vashem Publications was commemorated with a ceremony in Jerusalem by Yad Vashem (the Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Authority), Israel’s Holocaust museum, on 4 June 2007, in which Zahava Scherz took part. At this ceremony, Sapińska also donated the original diary to Yad Vashem, in violation of Polish law.

The diary, which has been authenticated by Holocaust scholars and survivors, has been compared to the diary of Anne Frank, the best known Holocaust-era diary. The two girls were approximately the same age when they wrote their respective diaries (Laskier at age 14 and Frank between the ages of 13 and 15), and, in both cases, of their entire families, only their fathers survived the war.

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Janowska concentration camp and Lvov

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Awful atrocities were carried out at the Janowska concentration camp and surrounding Lvov(aka Lwow and Lviv) by the Nazis, Soviet troops and Ukrainian nationalists. To an extend it reminds me of the current situation in Aleppo where the population is being subjected by violence from all sides.

In September 1941, the Germans set up a factory on Janowska Street in the northwestern suburbs of Lvov, in southeastern Poland(today Lviv in Ukraine). This factory became part of a network of factories, the German Armament Works, owned and operated by the SS. Jews were used as forced laborers, mainly in carpentry and metalwork. In October 1941, the Germans established a camp housing the forced laborers next to the factory.

After the Nazi-Soviet invasion of Poland at the beginning of World War II, the city of Lwów in the Second Polish Republic(now Lviv, Ukraine) was occupied in September 1939 by the Soviet Union under the terms of the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact.

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At that time, there were over 330,000 Jews residing in Lwów, including over 90,000 Jewish children and infants. Over 150,000 of them were refugees from the German-occupied western part of the Poland. In June 1941, the German Army took over Lvov in the course of the initially successful attack on the Soviet positions in eastern Poland, known as Operation Barbarossa. Almost no Jews of Lvov were alive at the end of the war, many being horrifically tormented and tortured before they were murdered.

The retreating Soviets killed about 7,000 Polish and Ukrainian civilians in June during the NKVD prisoner massacres in Lvov.

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The invading Germans blamed the NKVD massacre on the Soviet Jews in the NKVD ranks, and used the atrocity as propaganda tool to incite the first pogrom in which over 4,000 Polish Jews were killed between 30 June and 2 July 1941 by Ukrainian nationalists.

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The arrival of the Nazis let loose a wave of antisemitic feelings. Encouraged by German forces, local Ukrainian nationalists murdered additional 5,500 Jews during the second Lviv pogrom in 25–27 July 1941. It was known as the “Petliura Days”, named for the nationalist leader Symon Petliura. For three straight days, Ukrainian militants went on a murderous rampage through the Jewish districts of Lwów. Groups of Jews were herded out to the Jewish cemetery and to the prison on Łąckiego street where they were killed. More than 2,000 Jews died and thousands more were injured.

In early November 1941, the Nazis closed-off northern portions of the city of Lwów thus forming a ghetto.German police shot and killed thousands of elderly and sick Jews as they crossed under the rail bridge on Pełtewna Street (which was called bridge of death by Jews), while they were on their way to the ghetto. In March 1942, the Nazis began to deport Jews from the ghetto to the Belzec extermination camp. By August 1942, more than 65,000 Jews had been deported from Lwów and killed. In early June 1943, the Germans destroyed and liquidated the ghetto

In addition to the Lwów ghetto, in September 1941, the Germans set up a D.A.W. (Deutsche Ausrüstungswerke – the German Armament Works) workshop in prewar Steinhaus’ mill machines factory on 134 Janowska Street, in northwestern suburbs of Lwów (at that time in German-occupied southeastern Poland, now in western Ukraine). This factory became a part of a network of factories, owned and operated by the SS. The commandant of the camp was SS-Haupsturmführer Fritz Gebauer. Jews who worked at this factory were used as forced laborers, mainly working in carpentry and metalwork.

In October 1941, the Nazis established a concentration camp beside the factory, which housed the forced laborers along with the rest of the prisoners. Thousands of Jews from the Lwów ghetto were forced to work as slave laborers in this camp. When the Lwów ghetto was liquidated by the Nazis, the ghetto’s inhabitants who were fit for work were sent to the Janowska camp; the rest were deported to the Belzec for extermination. The concentration camp was guarded by a Sonderdienst battalion of the SS-trained Hiwi police guards known as “Trawniki men”.

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In addition to being a forced-labor camp for Jews, Janowska was a transit camp during the mass deportations of Polish Jews to the killing centers in 1942. Jews underwent a selection process in Janowska camp similar to that used at Auschwitz-Birkenau and Majdanek extermination camps. Those classified as fit to work remained at Janowska for forced labor. The majority, rejected as unfit for work, were deported to Belzec and killed, or else were shot at the Piaski ravine, located just north of the camp. In the summer and fall of 1942, thousands of Jews (mainly from the Lwów ghetto) were deported to Janowska and killed in the Piaski ravine.

The Nazis occasionally allowed small groups of Jews to go to town for daylong leaves of absence. They would use this temporary freedom to dig up Torahs that had been hidden in Lwów’s Jewish cemetery.The Torahs were then cut into pieces which were hidden under their clothes and smuggled back into the camp. After the war the various pieces were assembled into a single scroll, the Yanov torah, which is currently in California.

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Ahead of the Soviet advance, in November 1943 the new camp commandant SS-Hauptsturmführer Friedrich Warzok was put in charge of the evacuation of the Janowska inmates to Przemyśl.

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The Germans attempted to destroy the traces of mass murder during Sonderaktion 1005.

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Prisoners were forced to open the mass graves in Lesienicki forest and burn the bodies. On November 19, 1943, the Sonderkommando inmates staged a revolt against the Nazis and attempted a mass escape. A few succeeded, but most were recaptured and killed. The SS and their local auxiliaries murdered at least 6,000 Jews who had survived the uprising killings at Janowska, as well as Jews in other forced labor camps in Galicia, at the time of the camps’ liquidation.

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One of the inmates and a survivor of the Janowska Concentration camp was Simon Wiesenthal.

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In late 1941, Wiesenthal and his wife were transferred to Janowska concentration camp and forced to work at the Eastern Railway Repair Works. He painted swastikas and other inscriptions on captured Soviet railway engines, and Cyla was put to work polishing the brass and nickel. In exchange for providing details about the railways, Wiesenthal obtained false identity papers for his wife from a member of the Armia Krajowa, a Polish underground organisation.

She travelled to Warsaw, where she was put to work in a German radio factory. She spent time in two different labour camps as well. Conditions were harsh and her health was permanently damaged, but she survived the war. The couple was reunited in 1945, and their daughter Paulinka was born the following year.

 

 

Sonderaktion Krakau-the raid on Polish scholars.

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On November 6, 1939, Obersturmbannführer SS Bruno Müller ordered the the faculty of the University of Krakow to assemble for a special lecture to present the Nazis’ vision for Poland.

Upon arrival the faculty found themselves among the first casualties of the systematic deconstruction of the country. Codenamed the Sonderaktion Krakau, the professors were all taken into custody and deported to the concentration camps of Sachsenhausen and Dachau.

A little over two months after the German Invasion of Poland, the Gestapo chief in Kraków SS-Obersturmbannführer Bruno Müller,bruno_muller_ss-obersturmbannfuhrer

commanded Jagiellonian University rector Professor Tadeusz Lehr-Spławiński to require all professors to attend his lecture about German plans for Polish education.

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The rector agreed and sent an invitation throughout the university for a meeting scheduled at the administrative centre building in the Collegium Novum . On November 6, 1939 at the lecture room no. 56 (or 66, sources vary) at noon, all academics and their guests gathered; among them, 105 professors and 33 lecturers from Jagiellonian University (UJ), 34 professors and doctors from University of Technology (AGH) some of whom attended a meeting in a different room, 4 from University of Economics (AE) and 4 from Lublin and Wilno.

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The academics filled the hall but no lecture on education was conducted. Instead, they were told by Müller that the university did not have permission to start a new academic year , and that Poles are hostile toward German science, and act in bad faith. They were arrested on the spot by armed police, frisked and escorted out. Some senior professors were kicked, slapped in the face and hit with rifle butts. Additional 13–15 university employees and students who were onsite were also arrested, as well as the President of Kraków, Dr Stanisław Klimecki who was apprehended at home that afternoon.

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All of them, 184 persons in total, were transported first to prison at Montelupich street, then to barracks at Mazowiecka, and – three days later – to a detention center in Breslau, Germany (now Wrocław, Poland), where they spent 18 days split between two prison facilities: the detention centre (Untersuchungsgefängnis, at the Świebodzka 1 Street), and the Strafgefängnis penal complex at Kleczkowska 35. The Gestapo were unprepared for such a large transfer of prisoners, and awaited permission to send them to Buchenwald concentration camp which was filled to capacity. As a result, on November 27, 1939 at night, they were loaded onto a train to Sachsenhausen concentration camp located on the other side of Berlin, and in March 1940, sent further to Dachau concentration camp near Munich after a new batch of younger academics taken prisoner arrived.

Following loud international protest by prominent Italians including Benito Mussolini and the Vatican,101 professors who were older than 40 were released from Sachsenhausen on February 8, 1940. Additional academics were released later. Many elderly professors did not survive the roll-calls held twice a day in snow and rain, and the grim living conditions in the camp where dysentery was common and warm clothes were rare. Twelve died in the camp within three months, and another five within days of release. Among the notable professors who died in the camp were Ignacy Chrzanowski (UJ; Jan 19, 1940), Stanisław Estreicher (UJ; Dec 29, 1939), Kazimierz Kostanecki ( Jan 11, 1940), Antoni Meyer (AGH; Dec 24, 1939), and Michał Siedlecki (Jan 11, 1940, after roll-call). In March 1940 the able prisoners from Kraków who remained alive were sent to Dachau concentration camp and most of them, but not all, released in January 1941 on intervention.

Many of those who went through Sonderaktion Krakau and the internment, in 1942 formed an underground university in defiance of the German punitive edicts. Among the 800 students of their underground college was Karol Wojtyła, the future Pope John Paul II, taught by prof. Tadeusz Lehr-Spławiński among others.

John-Paul Ii In Zaire In August, 1985.

Today there is a plaque commemorating the events of Sonderaktion Krakau in front of Collegium Novum in Kraków. Every November 6, black flags are hung outside all Jagiellonian University buildings, and the Rector of the University lays wreaths to honor those who suffered.

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The Liberation of Breda

This day 72 years ago the city of Breda is liberated by the 1st Polish Armoured Division. led by General Stanislav Maczek.

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A picture sometimes tells a thousand words, therefore below some pictures of that day 29 October 1944.

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Dutch Resistance fighters armed with captured German weapons celebrate the liberation of Breda by the Polish 1st Armored Division

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Honouring those who died for the freedom of strangers.

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The fake Typhus epidemic

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War can bring out the worst in people but also the best. The latter applies to Dr .Eugene Lazowski, who saved thousands of Jews from certain extermination and did this in a very creative manner.

Eugene Lazowski born Eugeniusz Sławomir Łazowski (1913, Częstochowa, Poland – December 16, 2006, Eugene, Oregon, United States}In a time when innocent people were brutally murdered only for their nationality and religion, one soldier stands out among the rest.He defied the Germans, repeatedly risking his life to save the lives of thousands. Dr. Eugene Lazowski is considered a hero to many, but for him, saving others was his only option—it was simply the right thing to do.

Lazowski provided medical care for his Jewish neighbors in Rozwadow.  The area had devised a system where if a Jewish resident needed medical assistance they would hang a rag on Lazowski’s fence and then Lazowski would make a house-call to their residence under the cover of darkness.  Lazowski’s medical oath required him to help people in need and his moral fiber compelled him to not think of race or religion when providing medical assistance

Before the onset of World War II Eugeniusz Łazowski obtained a medical degree at the Józef Piłsudski University in Warsaw. During World War II Łazowski served as a Polish Army Second Lieutenant on a Red Cross train,

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then as a military doctor of the Polish resistance Home Army. Following the German occupation of Poland Łazowski resided in Rozwadów with his wife and young daughter.

Łazowski spent time in a prisoner-of-war camp prior to his arrival in the town, where he reunited with his family and began practicing medicine with his medical-school friend Dr Stanisław Matulewicz. Using a medical discovery by Matulewicz, that healthy people could be injected with a vaccine that would make them test positive for typhus without experiencing the disease, Łazowski created a fake outbreak of epidemic typhus in and around the town of Rozwadów (now a district of Stalowa Wola), which the Germans then quarantined. This saved an estimated 8,000 Polish Jews from certain death in German concentration camps during the Holocaust.

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The doctors discovered if they injected a healthy person with a “vaccine” of killed bacteria, that person would test positive to Epidemic Typhus. In secrecy, Dr. Matulewicz tested it on a friend who was on special leave from a work camp in Germany. He desperately needed a way to avoid going back to face death in the work camp—and becoming just another number. He injected the man with the bacteria and sent a blood sample to the German laboratory. About a week later, the young doctors received a telegraph informing them their patient had Epidemic Typhus, which prohibited the man’s return to the work camp. It worked.

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He repeated this process on anyone who was sick, creating an “epidemic.” The Germans were terrified of the disease, not to mention very susceptible to it–they hadn’t been infected with it in many years. With each case of “Typhus,” the Germans would send a red telegram—a few more lives were saved. When the “disease” reached epidemic proportions, the Germans quarantined the area. No additional people were sent to concentration or work camps. Also, no Germans entered the area.

It looked promising for the young doctor until the Germans sent a medical inspection team into the region to verify the “disease.” The team, comprised of a few doctors and several armed soldiers, met Dr. Lazowski just outside the city, where a hot meal awaited the team. They started eating and drinking with the young doctor. The lead doctor was having fun drinking, and thereby sent the younger two doctors to the hospital. Fearing for their own safety, they only drew blood samples and left. Dr. Lazowski knew he had succeeded.

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He saved 8,000 people from certain death in Nazi concentration camps. It was his private war—a war of intellect, not weapons. Dr. Lazowski followed in his parents’ footsteps, who helped save the lives of Jewish people during the holocaust. His parents, later named Righteous Gentiles, hid two Jewish families in their home. While Dr. Lazowski didn’t hide families, he did help many Jews medically against German orders.

Towards the end of the war, Dr. Lazowski left Rozwadow when a German soldier, whom he had helped several months earlier, warned him that the Germans were going to kill him.They were on to his scheme.,with his wife and young daughter at his side, Dr. Lazowski ran out through their back fence for Warsaw. As he looked down the street, he saw that same soldier killing Jewish children.

In 1958, Lazowski emigrated to the United States on a scholarship from the Rockefeller Foundation and in 1976 became professor of Pediatrics at the State University of Illinois. He wrote a memoir entitled Prywatna wojna (My Private War) reprinted several times, as well as over a hundred scientific dissertations.

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Lazowski retired from practice in the late 1980s. He died in 2006 in Eugene, Oregon, where he had been living with his daughter

 

 

The Wola Massacre

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The Wola massacre  was the systematic killing of between 40,000 and 50,000 people in the Wola district of Poland’s capital city Warsaw by German troops and collaborationist forces during the early phase of the Warsaw Uprising.

From 5 to 12 August 1944, tens of thousands of Polish civilians along with captured Home Army resistance fighters were brutally and systematically murdered by the Germans in organised mass executions throughout Wola. The Germans anticipated that these atrocities would crush the insurgents’ will to fight and put the uprising to a swift end.However, the ruthless pacification of Wola only stiffened Polish resistance, and it took another two months of heavy fighting for the Germans to regain control of the city.

The Warsaw Uprising broke out on 1 August 1944 and during the first few days the Polish resistance managed to liberate most of Warsaw on the left bank of the river Vistula (an uprising also broke out in the small suburb of Praga on the right bank but was quickly suppressed by the Germans). Two days after the start of the fighting, SS General Erich von dem Bach-Zelewski was placed in command of all German forces in Warsaw.

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Following direct orders from SS-Reichfuhrer Heinrich Himmler to suppress the uprising without mercy, his strategy was to include the use of terror tactics against the inhabitants of Warsaw. No distinction would be made between insurgents and civilians.

Himmler’s orders explicitly stated that Warsaw was to be completely destroyed and that the civilian population was to be exterminated.

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Professor Timothy Snyder, of Yale University, wrote that “the massacres in Wola had nothing in common with combat” as “the ratio of civilian to military dead was more than a thousand to one, even if military casualties on both sides are counted”

On 5 August, three German battle groups started their advance towards the city centre from the western outskirts of the Wola district, along Wolska Street and Górczewska Street. The German forces consisted of units from the Wehrmacht and the SS Police Battalions, as well as the mostly Russian SS-Sturmbrigade RONA and the SS-Sturmbrigade Dirlewanger, an infamous Waffen SS penal unit led by Oskar Dirlewanger.

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Shortly after their advance towards the centre of Warsaw began, the two lead battle groups Kampfgruppe “Rohr” led by Generalmajor Günter Rohrand Kampfgruppe “Reinefarth” led by Heinz Reinefarthwere halted by heavy fire from Polish resistance fighters. Unable to proceed forward, some of the German troops began to go from house to house carrying out their orders to shoot all inhabitants. Many civilians were shot on the spot but some were killed after torture and sexual assault.Estimates vary, but Reinefarth himself has estimated that up to 10,000 civilians were killed in the Wola district on 5 August alone, the first day of the operation. Most of the victims were the elderly, women and children.

The majority of these atrocities were committed by troops under the command of SS-Oberführer Oskar Dirlewanger and SS-Brigadeführer Bronislav Kaminski.

Russland, Brigadekommandeur Borislaw Kaminski

Research historian Martin Gilbert, from the University of Oxford, wrote:

“More than fifteen thousand Polish civilians had been murdered by German troops in Warsaw. At 5:30 that evening [August 5], General Erich von dem Bach gave the order for the execution of women and children to stop. But the killing continued of all Polish men who were captured, without anyone bothering to find out whether they were insurgents or not. Nor did either the Cossacks or the criminals in the Kaminsky and Dirlewanger brigades pay any attention to von dem Bach Zelewski’s order: by rape, murder, torture and fire, they made their way through the suburbs of Wola and Ochota, killing in three days of slaughter a further thirty thousand civilians, including hundreds of patients in each of the hospitals in their path

On 5 August, the Zośka battalion of the Home Army had managed to liberate the Gęsiówka concentration camp and to take control of the strategically important surrounding area of the former Warsaw Ghetto with the aid of two captured Panther tanks belonging to a unit commanded by Wacław Micuta.

Over the next few days of fighting this area became one of the main communication links between Wola and Warsaw’s Old Town district, allowing insurgents and civilians alike to gradually withdraw from Wola ahead of the overwhelmingly superior German forces that had been deployed against them.

On 7 August, the German ground forces were strengthened further. To enhance their effectiveness, the Germans began to use civilians as human shields when approaching positions held by the Polish resistance.These tactics combined with their superior numbers and firepower helped them to fight their way to Bankowy Square in the northern part of Warsaw’s city centre and cut the Wola district in half.

German units also burned down two local hospitals with some of the patients still inside. Hundreds of other patients and personnel were killed by indiscriminate gunfire and grenade attacks, or selected and led away for executions.The greatest number of killings took place at the railway embankment on Górczewska Street and two large factories on Wolska Street – the Ursus Factory at Wolska 55 and the Franaszka Factory at Wolska 41/45 – as well as the Pfeiffer Factory at 57/59 Okopowa Street. At each of these four locations, thousands of people were systematically executed in mass shootings, having been previously rounded up in other places and taken there in groups.

Between 8 and 23 August the SS formed groups of men from the Wola district into the so-called Verbrennungskommando (“burning detachment”), who were forced to hide evidence of the massacre by burning the victims’ bodies and homes.[12] Most of the men put to work in such groups were also later executed.

On 12 August, the order was given to stop the indiscriminate killing of Polish civilians in Wola. Erich von dem Bach issued a new directive stating that captured civilians were to be evacuated from the city and deported to concentration camps or to Arbeitslager labour camps.

No one belonging to the German forces who took part in the atrocities committed during the Warsaw Uprising was ever prosecuted for them after the end of the Second World War. The main perpetrators of the Wola massacre and similar massacres in the nearby Ochota district were Heinz Reinefarth and Oskar Dirlewanger. Dirlewanger, who presided over and personally participated in many of the worst acts of violence, was arrested on 1 June 1945 by French occupation troops while hiding under a false name near the town of Altshausen in Upper Swabia. He died on 7 June 1945 in a French prison camp at Altshausen, probably as a result of ill-treatment by his Polish guards.In 1945, Reinefarth was taken into custody by the British and American authorities but was never prosecuted for his actions in Warsaw, despite Polish requests for his extradition. After a West German court released him citing a lack of evidence, Reinefarth enjoyed a successful post-war career as a lawyer, becoming the mayor of Westerland, and a member of the Landtag parliament of Schleswig-Holstein. The West German government also gave the former SS-Obergruppenführer a general’s pension before he died in 1979.

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In May 2008, a list of several former SS Dirlewanger members who were still alive was compiled and published by the Warsaw Uprising Museum.

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The Monument to Victims of the Wola Massacre, displaying a list of execution sites across Wola and estimates of the number of victims at each site.
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Arthur Seyss-Inquart: A dangerous fool

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Arthur Seyss-Inquart was a dangerous fool for thinking that the Dutch population would subscribe to the Nazi ideas, although there was a substantial minority in the Netherlands who did endorse the National Socialist philosophy , the majority of the Dutch did not follow Hitler’s ideas.

 

Arthur Seyss-Inquart(22 July 1892 – 16 October 1946) was an Austrian Nazi politician who served as Chancellor of Austria for two days – from 11 to 13 March 1938 – before the Anschluss annexation of Austria by Nazi Germany, signing the constitutional law as acting head of state upon the resignation of President Wilhelm Miklas.

Wien, Arthur Seyß-Inquart, Adolf Hitler

During World War II, he served the Third Reich in the General Government of Poland and as Reichskommissar in the Netherlands. At the Nuremberg trials, he was found guilty of crimes against humanity and sentenced to death.

Arthur Seyss-Inquart, the son of a teacher, was born in Stannern, in Austria, on 22nd July, 1892. The family moved to Vienna in 1907 and Seyss-Inquart studied law before joining the Austro-Hungarian Army. During the First World War he saw action against the Russian Army on the Eastern Front and in Italy before being badly wounded in 1917.

After the war Seyss-Inquart became a lawyer in Austria. He developed extreme right-wing views and joined the German Brotherhood.

A strong advocate of Anschluss, Seyss-Inquart became a state counselor in May 1937. The following February Kurt von SchuschniggKurt_Schuschnigg_1934 appointed him minister of the interior and served as chancellor for a brief spell in March, 1938, before Hitler took control of the country.

Seyss-Inquart has a series of jobs under the Nazis including governor of Ostmark and minister without portfolio in Hitler’s cabinet. When the German took control of Poland Seyss-Inquart served as deputy governor under Hans Frank. In May 1940, he became Reich Commissioner of the Netherlands.

 

Seyss-Inquart drafted the legislative act reducing Austria to a province of Germany and signed it into law on 13 March. With Hitler’s approval he became Governor of the newly named Ostmark, with Ernst Kaltenbrunner his chief minister and Josef Burckel as Commissioner for the Reunion of Austria (concerned with the “Jewish Question”).

Seyss-Inquart also received an honorary SS rank of Gruppenführer and in May 1939 he was made a Minister without portfolio in Hitler’s cabinet. Almost as soon as he took office, he ordered the confiscation of Jewish property and sent Jews to concentration camps. Late in his regime, he collaborated in the deportation of Jews from Austria.

Following the invasion of Poland, Seyss-Inquart became administrative chief for Southern Poland, but did not take up that post before the General Government was created, in which he became a deputy to the Governor General Hans Frank.

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He fully supported the heavy-handed policies put into effect by Frank, including persecution of Jews. He was also aware of the Abwehr’s murder of dozens of Polish intellectuals.

Following the capitulation of the Low Countries Seyss-Inquart was appointed Reichskommissar for the Occupied Netherlands in May 1940, charged with directing the civil administration, with creating close economic collaboration with Germany and with defending the interests of the Reich. Among the Dutch people he was mockingly referred to as “Zes en een kwart” (six and a quarter), a play on his name. He supported the Dutch NSB and allowed them to create a paramilitary Landwacht, which acted as an auxiliary police force.

Other political parties were banned in late 1941 and many former government officials were imprisoned at Sint-Michielsgestel.

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The administration of the country was controlled by Seyss-Inquart himself and he answered directly to Hitler.He oversaw the politicization of cultural groups from the Nederlandsche Kultuurkamer  “right down to the chessplayers’ club”, and set up a number of other politicised associations.

He introduced measures to combat resistance, and when a widespread strike took place in Amsterdam, Arnhem and Hilversum in May 1943, special summary court-martial procedures were brought in, and a collective fine of 18 million guilders was imposed. Up until the liberation, Seyss-Inquart authorized the execution of around 800 people, although some reports put this total at over 1,500, including the executions of people under the so-called “Hostage Law”, the death of political prisoners who were close to being liberated, the Putten raid,

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and the reprisal executions of 117 Dutchmen for the attack on SS and Police Leader Hanns Albin Rauter.

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Although the majority of Seyss-Inquart’s powers were transferred to the military commander in the Netherlands and the Gestapo in July 1944, he remained a force to be reckoned with.

There were two small concentration camps in the Netherlands – KZ Herzogenbusch near Vught, Kamp Amersfoort near Amersfoort,

and Westerbork transit camp (a “Jewish assembly camp”) Anne Frank stayed in the hut shown to the left(replica) from August until early September 1944, when she was taken to Auschwitz-Birkenau.

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There were a number of other camps variously controlled by the military, the police, the SS or Seyss-lnquart’s administration.

These included a “voluntary labour recruitment” camp at Ommen (Camp Erika). In total around 530,000 Dutch civilians forcibly worked for the Germans, of whom 250,000 were sent to factories in Germany. There was an unsuccessful attempt by Seyss-Inquart to send only workers aged 21 to 23 to Germany, and he refused demands in 1944 for a further 250,000 Dutch workers and in that year sent only 12,000 people.

Seyss-Inquart was an unwavering anti-Semite: within a few months of his arrival in the Netherlands, he took measures to remove Jews from the government, the press and leading positions in industry. Anti-Jewish measures intensified after 1941: approximately 140,000 Jews were registered, a ‘ghetto’ was created in Amsterdam and a transit camp was set up at Westerbork. Subsequently, in February 1941, 600 Jews were sent to Buchenwald and Mauthausen concentration camps. Later, the Dutch Jews were sent to Auschwitz. As Allied forces approached in September 1944, the remaining Jews at Westerbork were removed to Theresienstadt. Of 140,000 registered, only 30,000 Dutch Jews survived the war.

When the Allies advanced into the Netherlands in late 1944, the Nazi regime had attempted to enact a scorched earth policy, and some docks and harbours were destroyed. Seyss-Inquart, however, was in agreement with Armaments Minister Albert Speer over the futility of such actions, and with the open connivance of many military commanders, they greatly limited the implementation of the scorched earth orders.At the very end of the “hunger winter” in April 1945, Seyss-Inquart was with difficulty persuaded by the Allies to allow airplanes to drop food for the hungry people of the occupied northwest of the country.

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https://dirkdeklein.wordpress.com/2016/04/29/operation-manna-and-operationchowhoundending-the-dutch-famine/

Although he knew the war was lost, Seyss-Inquart did not want to surrender. This led General Walter Bedell Smith to snap: “Well, in any case, you are going to be shot“. “That leaves me cold“, Seyss-Inquart replied, to which Smith then retorted: “It will

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Before Hitler committed suicide in April 1945, he named a new government headed by Grand Admiral Karl Dönitz in his last will and testament, in which Seyss-Inquart replaced Joachim von Ribbentrop, who had long since fallen out of favour, as Foreign Minister. It was a tribute to the high regard Hitler felt for his Austrian comrade, at a time when he was rapidly disowning or being abandoned by so many of the other key lieutenants of the Third Reich. Unsurprisingly, at such a late stage in the war, Seyss-Inquart failed to achieve anything in his new office.

He remained in his posts until 7 May 1945, when, after a meeting with Dönitz to confirm his blocking of the scorched earth orders, he was arrested on the Elbe Bridge at Hamburg by two members of the Royal Welch Fusiliers, one of whom was Norman Miller (birth name: Norbert Mueller), a German Jew from Nuremberg who had escaped to Britain at the age of 15 on a kindertransport just before the war

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and then returned to Germany as part of the British occupation forces.Miller’s entire family had been killed at the Jungfernhof Camp in Riga, Latvia in March 1942.

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At the Nuremberg trials, Seyss-Inquart was defended by Gustav Steinbauer and faced four charges: conspiracy to commit crimes against peace; planning, initiating and waging wars of aggression; war crimes; and crimes against humanity.

During the trial, Gustave Gilbert, an American army psychologist, was allowed to examine the Nazi leaders who were tried at Nuremberg for war crimes. Among other tests, a German version of the Wechsler-Bellevue IQ test was administered. Arthur Seyss-Inquart scored 141, the second highest among the defendants, behind Hjalmar Schacht.

Seyss-Inquart was acquitted of conspiracy, but convicted on all other counts and sentenced to death by hanging. The final judgment against him cited his involvement in harsh suppression of Nazi opponents and atrocities against the Jews during all his billets, but particularly stressed his reign of terror in the Netherlands. It was these atrocities that sent him to the gallows.

Upon hearing of his death sentence, Seyss-Inquart was fatalistic: “Death by hanging… well, in view of the whole situation, I never expected anything different. It’s all right.”

He was hanged on 16 October 1946, at the age of 54, together with nine other Nuremberg defendants. He was the last to mount the scaffold, and his last words were the following: “I hope that this execution is the last act of the tragedy of the Second World War and that the lesson taken from this world war will be that peace and understanding should exist between peoples. I believe in Germany.”

Before his execution, Seyss-Inquart had returned to Catholicism, receiving absolution in the sacrament of confession from prison chaplain Father Bruno Spitzl.

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His body, as those of the other nine executed men and the corpse of Hermann Göring, was cremated at Ostfriedhof (Munich) and the ashes were scattered in the river Isar.

Zegota- WWII Heroes

Would you risk your own life 

and your family’s to save another human being?

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That is the question anyone aiding Jews would have asked themselves each day.

Would you risk your own life
and your family’s to save another human being?

I am not sure if I would.

Zegota is a story of thousands of those who did. It happened during World War II under the brutal Nazi Germany occupation of Poland. The risk takers were Polish Christians who saved Polish Jews destined for Shoah. They came from all areas of life, educated or not, religious or not, from large cities or small villages, as members of Polish resistance or as unorganized individuals. They all knew the possible price to be paid, nevertheless they acted.

 

“Żegota” (also known as the “Konrad Żegota Committee”, was a codename for the Polish Council to Aid Jews , an underground organization of Polish resistance in German-occupied Poland active from 1942 to 1945.

The Council to Aid Jews operated under the auspices of the Polish Government in Exile through the Government Delegation for Poland, in Warsaw. Żegota aided the country’s Jews and found places of safety for them in occupied Poland. Poland was the only country in Nazi-occupied Europe where there existed such an organization.

The Council to Aid Jews, Żegota, was the continuation of an earlier secret organization set up for this purpose, called the Provisional Committee to Aid Jews (Tymczasowy Komitet Pomocy Żydom), founded in September 1942 by Zofia Kossak-Szczucka and Wanda Krahelska-Filipowicz (“Alinka”) and made up of democratic as well as Catholic activists. Its members included Władysław Bartoszewski, later Polish Foreign Minister (1995, 2000).

Władysław Bartoszewski

Within a short time, the Provisional Committee had 180 persons under its care, but was dissolved for political and financial reasons.

Founded soon after in October 1942, Żegota was the brainchild of Henryk Woliński of the Home Army (AK).

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From its inception, the elected General Secretary of Żegota was Julian Grobelny, an activist in prewar Polish Socialist Party. Its Treasurer, Ferdynand Arczyński, was a member of the Polish Democratic Party. They were also the two of its most active workers. Żegota was the only Polish organization in World War II run jointly by Jews and non-Jews from a wide range of political movements. Politically, the organization was formed by Polish and Jewish underground political parties.

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Jewish organizations were represented on the central committee by Adolf Bermann and Leon Feiner. The member organizations were the Jewish National Committee (an umbrella group representing the Zionist parties) and the socialist General Jewish Labor Union. Both Jewish parties operated independently also, using money from Jewish organizations abroad channelled to them by the Polish underground. They helped to subsidize the Polish branch of the organization, whose funding from the Polish Government-in-Exile reached significant proportions only in the spring of 1944. On the Polish side, political participation included the Polish Socialist Party as well as Democratic Party (Stronnictwo Demokratyczne) and a small rightist Front Odrodzenia Polski. Notably, the main right-wing party, the National Party (Stronnictwo Narodowe) refused to participate.

Kossack-Szczucka withdrew from participation from the onset. She had wanted Żegota to become an example of pure Christian charity and argued that the Jews had their own international charity organizations. She went on to act in the Social Self-Help Organization (Społeczna Organizacja Samopomocy – SOS) as a liaison between Żegota and Catholic convents and orphanages, where Catholic clergy hid many Jews.

It is estimated that about half of the Jews who survived the Holocaust in Poland (thus over 50,000) were aided in some shape or form by Żegota founded in 1942. Żegota had around one hundred (100) cells, operating mostly in Warsaw where it distributed relief funds to about 3,000 Jews. The second-largest branch was in Kraków, and there were smaller branches in Wilno (Vilnius) and Lwów (L’viv). In all, 4,000 Jews received funds from Żegota directly, 5,600 from the Jewish National Committee and 2,000 from the Bund (because of overlaps, the total number of Jews helped by all three organizations in Warsaw was about 8,500). This aid reached about one-third of the Jews in hiding in Warsaw, but mostly not until late 1943 or 1944. The systematic killing of Jews began to take place, so it was hard to save Jews already in the ghetto. That is why they only protected Jews located in hiding in Poland.

Concealing Jews was punishable in Poland by death for all the persons living in the house where they were discovered. A difficult problem therefore was to find hiding places for persons who looked Jewish. Zegota was on a constant lookout for suitable accommodations. No estimate can be given of the magnitude of this form of aid by Zegota, but it appears to have been great. Children were put in the care of foster families, into public orphanages or similar institutions maintained by convents. The foster families were told that the children were relatives, distant or close, and they were paid by Zegota for the children’s maintenance. In Warsaw, Zegota had 20-500 children registered whom it looked after in this way.

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The head of the children section was Polish Nurse and Social worker called Irena Sendler.

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Assisted by some two dozen other Żegota members, Sendler smuggled approximately 2,500 Jewish children out of the Warsaw Ghetto and then provided them with false identity documents and shelter outside the Ghetto, saving those children from the Holocaust.

Żegota helped save some 4,000 Polish Jews by providing food, medical care, relief money and false identity documents for those hiding on the so-called “Aryan” side of German-occupied Poland. Most of its activity took place in Warsaw. The Jewish National Committee had some 5,600 Jews under its care, and the Bund an additional 1,500, but the activities of the three organizations overlapped to a considerable degree. Between them, they were able to reach some 8,500 of the 28,000 Jews hiding in Warsaw, as well as perhaps 1,000 elsewhere in Poland.

Help in the form of money, food and medicines was organised by Żegota for the Jews in several forced labour camps in Poland as well. Forged identity documents were procured for those hiding on the ‘Aryan side’ including financial aid. The escape of Jews from ghettos, camps and deportation trains occurred mostly spontaneously through personal contacts, and most of the help that was extended to Jews in the country was similarly personal in nature. Since Jews in hiding preferred to remain well-concealed, Żegota had trouble finding them. Its activities therefore did not develop on a larger scale until late in 1943.

Medical attention for the Jews in hiding was also made available. Zegota had ties with many ghettos and camps. It also made numerous efforts to induce the Polish government – in – exile and the Delegatura to appeal to the Polish population to help the persecuted Jews.Below is a letter they sent to the exiled government,asking for funding.

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“The Mass Extermination of Jews in German Occupied Poland”, by the Polish government-in-exile addressed to the wartime allies of the then-United Nations, 1942″

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Over 700 Polish heroes, murdered by Germans as a result of helping and sheltering their Jewish neighbors, were posthumously awarded the title Righteous Among the Nations[6] They were only a small percentage of thousands of Poles reportedly executed by the Nazis for aiding Jews. According to differing research “the number of Poles who perished at the hands of the Germans for aiding Jews” was as high as fifty thousand. Nonetheless, “Władysław Bartoszewski,

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who worked for Żegota during the war estimates that ‘at least several hundred thousand Poles, participated in various ways and forms in the rescue action [for Jews].’ Recent research suggests that a million Poles were involved” in giving aid, “but some estimates go as high as three million” of those passively protective.More specific estimates indicate that some 100,000 of those who meet Yad Vashem’s criteria, to 300,000 Poles were directly engaged in rescuing Jews even though the threat of death did act as a deterrent.

Many members of Żegota were memorialised in Israel in 1963 with a planting of a tree in the Avenue of the Righteous at Yad Vashem. Władysław Bartoszewski was present at the event.

The third anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising with members of Żegota,Warsaw, April 1946. Seated, from right to left: Piotr Gajewski, Ferdynand Marek Arczyński, Władysław Bartoszewski, Adolf Berman and Tadeusz Rek.

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I think all these brave men and women have taught us one vital lesson that there is always a choice. You can choose to just look away or act like they did and I know it is not alwaysan easy choice but a choice nonetheless.