You will never.

Milch

You will never know how it feels like to fall in love, and wake up every morning next to the love of your life.

You will never know the anxiety of school exams.

You will never know that nervousness of a first working day.

You will never know how it feels like to have your teenage heart broken, by your first love.

You will never know how to hate.

I will never know why someone could be so evil and kill you cold blooded.

I will never know you personally

Yet I will never be able to forget you.

You are Lunek Milch, killed by cowards when you were age 3.

They buried you alive during a mass murder in your hometown of  Tłuste in 1943.

 

Source

Ancient Faces

 

 

 

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Letter to Henio

Henlo

The “Letters to Henio” project began in the city of Lublin in 2005 as part of an activity to preserve and reconstruct the city’s Jewish heritage. A local cultural center, Grodzka Gate – NN Theatre, organizes this educational activity. According to the center’s director, Tomasz Pietrasiewicz, the main idea of the project is as follows: “It is impossible to remember the faces and names of 40,000 people. Remember one. A shy smile, white shirt with a collar, colored shorts, side haircut, striped socks… Henio.”

Every year on 19 April, which is Holocaust Remembrance Day in Poland, pupils and citizens of Lublin are asked to send letters addressed to Henio Zytomirski at 11th Kowalska Street, the last known address of Henio in Lublin.

I am not a citizen of Lublin, but I felt compelled to also send a letter to Henio. Howver I will not send it to his last known address but will post it below.

“Dear Henio,

I don’t know you and you don’t know me.

But looking at your last photograph I can see a proud young boy, standing straight and ready to pose for his picture to be taken. A white shirt, pure white socks the symbol of your purity and innocence.

You were only 6  years old when this picture was taken. It was perhaps taken after a long school day and you were eager to go home, to kick a ball or just to have a cod glass of water or lemonade.

Maybe it was a hot day ,because it was July 1939, and you were promised an ice cream after the picture was taken.

None of this was extraordinary because every child is entitled to have a treat after being such a good child.

A few months after this picture was taken at the start of a new school year your world was turned upside down, On September 1 1939, a foreign army invaded your country. A foreign army with ver bad intentions.

You this army did not only want to take all the land it also want to get rid of people like you. You were Jewish and according this evil new regime your life was not worthy.

First they took you and your family from your home in Lublin and were put into a ghetto, Then in November 1942 you and your father were sent to the Majdanek concentration camp, it was not too far away from your house.

But you were never to see your house again because on that day  November 9th,1942 you were murdered. You were put into a gas chamber where you died an awful death. You were only 9.

I don’t know you and you don’t know me but from now on ,every year on March 25th, your birthday, I will light a candle for you and remember you until the day that I shed my earthly coil.

And maybe one day our souls will meet.”

 

The Green Triangle -The first prisoners in Auschwitz

gREEN

Many people believe that the industrialized scale killing of Jews, Homosexuals,Roma and others in Auschwitz started immediately when the camp had opened.

But the fact is that for the first few weeks there were only 30 prisoners. On May 20,1940 the first 30 numbers were assigned to  German prisoners who had been designated as professional criminals.

They were known as “greens” after the green triangles they were required to wear on their prison clothing.

Up to the 14th of June these were the only prisoners in Auschwitz. The prisoner assigned number 31 was the first political prisoner. He was Stanisław Ryniak a Polish political prisoner who had arrived on June 14,1940 with the first mass transport to Auschwitz.

31

Stanislaw survived and died aged 88 on February 13, 2004.

The first gassings started at September 3, 1941.

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The young people who fought back.

 

I have many weaknesses ,one of them is that I have a very low tolerance or even no tolerance for people who have a warped sense of entitlement. I know I shouldn’t be intolerant and just rise above it , but I find that very hard at times.

Especially when it comes to the snowflake generation or millennials. A millennial is described  as “a person reaching young adulthood in the early 21st century.Or people born between the years of 1981 to 1998. I have to say not all of these people do have that sense of entitlement, there are many very decent people among them. It is only a minority of millennials but is a very vocal minority, They appear to have a problem for every solution. Generally they have not experienced any hardships but yet they claim their lives are much worse then that of the generation before them.

Then I come across stories of extremely brave young people like Mordechai Anielewicz,Mira Fuchrer and Rachel (Sarenka) Zylberberg(all pictured above)zob

These 3 young people ,who were in the same age bracket as the millenials, all died this day 76 years ago in Warsaw, May 8,1943. They were all members of the  Jewish Combat Organizationor ZOB in Polish), a resistance movement in occupied Poland, which was instrumental in engineering the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising.

 

The youth groups that were instrumental in forming the ŻOB had anticipated German intentions to annihilate Warsaw Jewry and began to shift from an educational and cultural focus to self-defense and eventual armed struggle

Their headquarters  was a bunker based on Ulica Miła 18 (or 18 Pleasant Street in English)

I am not going too much into the details of the group. I leave that up to all of you to do the homework on that, Because there is so much information on them.

Suffice to say that Mordechai Anielewicz was the leader of the ZOB and Mira Fuchrer was his girlfiend. Together with their friend Rachel  Zylberberg they played a pivotal role in the uprising at the cost of their lives.

On the 8th of May they were in the bunker with a group of about 120 fighters, when the bunker was discovered.s They were surrounded by the Nazis but the young resistance  fighters refused to surrender. Many of them committed suicide.

bunker

These heroes should never be forgotten.

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The fighting postmen of Gdansk

postmen

One event that is often over looked in the wider context of WWII is one of the first actions of the war.

On September 1,1939 the Germans cut the cut the phone and electricity lines to the Post office of Gdansk. At the time there were 56 people in the building. Combat engineer and Army Reserve 2nd lieutenant  Konrad Guderski. 42 Gdansk postal employees, ten postal employees from  the cities of Gdynia and Bydgoszcz, the building keeper with his wife and a 10-year-old daughter who lived in the complex.

Konrad Guderski had been dispatched to  Gdansk  earlier in 1939.konradHis task was to help organize the official and volunteer security staff at the Polish Post Office in Gdansk, because of the imminent threat of a German invasion.

Guderski was sent by the Ministry of Military Affairs in April 1939, to Gdansk.He was an engineer by trade but joined the army in 1934.

Of the 56 people in the Post office complex ,Konrad Guderski was the only one person working for the military.

At 4.45 on September 1st ,1939 the German battleship SMS Schleswig-Holstein started shelling the Polish positions on the Westerplatte, and in doing so fired the first shots of World War II. The ship had already been in Gdansk prior to September 1st. In a way similar as the Trojan horse. It had come to Gdansk as part of an annual  ceremonial visit in August. What wasn’t known by the polish authorities  that the ship had about 100 heavily armed infantry men on board.

cruiser

Gdansk which was called Danzig at the time was technically a German city in Poland, about 90% of the population were ethnic Germans, The city also had SA and SS divisions ,also the police force were loyal to the Nazi regime.

Three ADGZ heavy armored cars were brought in by the police ,as the local SS,SA, the Police and some infantry reinforcements from the Schleswig Hosltein attacked the Post office.

adgz

The Germand thought it was going to be an easy victory .The attack started at the same time, as the shelling of Westerplatte . It was,  even though the attackers were able to get entrance to the complex , the attack initially failed. Guderski though was killed by his own grenade while trying to stop the German advance.

The siege lasted 15 hours, After the Germans pumped burning gasoline into the basement, and used flamethrowers 5 people in the building were burned alive.

The defenders of the Post office decided to call it a day and sent Dr. Jan Michoń, the director of the Post Office and Józef Wąsik, the commandant of the Post Office,out with a white flag. However the Germans ignored the white flag and shot both men.

The rest of the Poles were allowed to surrender and leave the burning building. Six people managed to escape from the building, although two of them were captured the following days.The other 4 managed to survive the war.

Sixteen wounded prisoners were sent to the Gestapo hospital, where six subsequently died (including the 10-year-old daughter of the building keeper). The other 28 were first imprisoned in the police building and, after a few days, sent to Victorianism(a temporary prison for Poles living in Gdansk), where they were interrogated and tortured.

viktoria

All the other defenders of the Post office were sentenced to death.

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Sources

Libcom.org

Warhistory on Line

 

 

 

 

 

 

The execution of 9 Polish farmers.

notification

I would love to explain the exact reason why these 9 Polish men were executed on November 25,1941. But I can’t.

Looking at the text of the German announcement which was signed by the by the governor of Lublin district,all that the announcement indicates is that the men did not fulfill their quota and were therefor in breach of Article 1 of the  Kriegswirtschafts verordnung , War Economy Regulation. which states:

“Anyone who destroys, disposes of, or withholds raw materials or products that belong to the vital needs of the population, and thereby maliciously endangers the cover of this need, will be punished with a prison sentence or in particularly severe cases can be sentenced to death.”

This law was of course deliberately vague so that the Nazis could apply it in whatever way they wanted to.

These 9 men were likely executed for keeping some food for themselves or their family.

The law stayed in place until after the war. It was finally replaced in 1949 by the Economic Criminal Law

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Source

Bundesarchiv

 

Give Me Your Children

Chaim

There were many contradictions during the Holocaust on one hand there were Nazis like Wilm Hosenfeld who saved Jews, on the other hand there were Jews who helped the Nazis ensuring many Jews  were put on transport to their deaths.

One of those Jews was Chaim Rumkowski and although I try no to be judgmental in this case I find it hard not to be, and that is probably a shortcoming and I do apologize for that.

chaim and biebow

Chaim  Rumkowski  was a ,in Russia born, Polish Jew and wartime businessman appointed by the Nazis as the head of the Council of Elders in the Łódź Ghetto during the German occupation of Poland in World War II.

Prior to the war he was the head of a Jewish orphanage although many claim he only did the work for self serving reasons, rather then charity. Holocaust survivor Dr. Edward Reicher claimed Rumkowski had an unhealthy interest in children.

As the Elder of the Jews tasked with running the ghetto’s Nazi-installed Jewish Council, Rumkowski,  appeared to have thoroughly cherished his authority. In the analysis of several historians Rumkowski was so close to the Nazis and indeed identified  himself to his Nazi masters that he could be considered their Jewish counterpart.

In the Lodz ghetto he was nick named King Chaim.

chaim stamp

Some may say he only tried to survive and no one should be blamed for self preservation , and to an extend that is true. He was surely not unique, there were other Jews who helped the Nazis. But there is helping and there is making things very easy for them.

On German orders Rumkowski delivered a speech on September 4, 1942 pleading with the Jews in the ghetto to give up children 10 years of age and younger, as well as the elderly over 65, so that others might survive. Below is a part of that speech.

“A grievous blow has struck the ghetto. They are asking us to give up the best we possess -the children and the elderly. I was unworthy of having a child of my own, so I gave the best years of my life to children. I’ve lived and breathed with children, I never imagined I would be forced to deliver this sacrifice to the altar with my own hands. In my old age, I must stretch out my hands and beg: Brothers and sisters! Hand them over to me! Fathers and mothers: Give me your children!

I had a suspicion something was going to befall us. I anticipated “something” and was always like a watchman: on guard to prevent it. But I was unsuccessful because I did not know what was threatening us. The taking of the sick from the hospitals caught me completely by surprise. And I give you the best proof there is of this: I had my own nearest and dearest among them and I could do nothing for them!

I thought that would be the end of it, that after that, they’d leave us in peace, the peace for which I long so much, for which I’ve always worked, which has been my goal. But something else, it turned out, was destined for us. Such is the fate of the Jews: always more suffering and always worse suffering, especially in times of war.

Yesterday afternoon, they gave me the order to send more than 20,000 Jews out of the ghetto, and if not – “We will do it!” So the question became, ‘Should we take it upon ourselves, do it ourselves, or leave it to others to do?”. Well, we – that is, I and my closest associates – thought first not about “How many will perish?” but “How many is it possible to save?” And we reached the conclusion that, however hard it would be for us, we should take the implementation of this order into our own hands.

I must perform this difficult and bloody operation – I must cut off limbs in order to save the body itself. I must take children because, if not, others may be taken as well – God forbid.”

Children

He had this warped ideology that after the war he would seen as the savior of Jews. Even when it became clear what the fate was of those who were ‘resettled’ Rumkowski believed he could keep some Jews alive by producing goods for Germany and refused any form of resistance to Nazi orders.

He was ruthless, using his position as head of the Judenrat to confiscate property and businesses that were still being run by their rightful Jewish owners in the ghetto.

Rumkowski and his relatives were ultimately sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau, where they met the same fate as most of the Lodz ghetto’s 160,000 Jews. There are conflicting versions  of Rumkowski’s death , including one in which former inmates of his fiefdom recognized him on “the ramp” at Birkenau and decided to end his life with his own hands. Rumour has it that he was beaten  to death at the gate of the Crematorium No. 2 and  his body was disposed of.

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Sources

Times of Israel

Holocaust education and research team

 

Litzmannstadt-the Children’s concentration camp.

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

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

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

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

boys

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

profile

 

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Sources

Zeit

Vintage News

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

 

Auschwitz Greenhouses

Greenhiuses

A mistake many people make is to think that Auschwitz was only 1 camp.Aside from Auschwitz ,Auschwitz Birkenau and Monowitz which were the 3 biggest camps, there were another 40+ camps.

One of these camps was Rajsko (Gärtnerei, which means Horticultural center or nursery). It was officially established on 12th June 1943. The camp was a 10 minutes walk from the main camp, an estimated 300 women worked and lived there.

A number of female prisoners were selected for their experience and qualifications in agronomy.  They were designated “Kommando Pflanzenzucht” meaning Commando growing plants.

These women were very important and vital to the project,  they were sent from Ravensbrück concentration camp, just north of Berlin.

The flowers produced in Rajsko were distributed  all over Germany. And  became very popular and achieved  a reputation for the quality and longevity.

greenhouse

The women   were forced to work in the nurseries tending flowers, plants and vegetables for the Nazis and also help conduct agricultural experiments into rubber.

There were 2 ‘kommandos’ The first Kommando grew vegetables in hothouses for the SS. They also nursed flower beds, and worked in the nearby fields. The gardening Kommando also ran something which was basically a gardening center or a co-op where SS men, their families, and civilians could purchase vegetables, fruit, and flowers.

The women in the second Kommando worked on the development of the Kazakh dandelion, which was known for its production of high quality rubber.

rubber

The Germans had a chronic shortage in rubber.

Due to the importance to maintain cleanliness and precision in the research work, the conditions in the sub-camp were far superior to those in Birkenau. The women lived in reasonable comfort with heated barracks, slept in beds linen.They also had warm water warm water and wore clean clothes, and ate better. But they were closely supervised and, would be  punished for possessing prohibited items by flogging or sent to work in penal camps.

Although strict provisions were in place, the camp was not immune from a typhus outbreak which was eventually controlled.

SS-Obersturmbannführer Joachim Caesar was the commander of Rajskosub-camp. Many prisoners recalled him to be a human man. He was also the only SS-officer to refuse to partake  in selections  in Birkenau, believing it to be unethical. Surprisingly no action was taken against him for his refusal, which indicated that it was possible to turn down such orders without reprisal, meaning SS officers had a choice.

joachim

Rajsko was liquidated on January 18, 1945, and the prisoners were forced to join the Death March in the direction of Wodzisław Śląski, and from there by train to the Ravensbrück camp.

Several women survived.

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I am passionate about my site and I know a you all like reading my blogs. I have been doing this at no cost and will continue to do so. All I ask is for a voluntary donation of $2 ,however if you are not in a position to do so I can fully understand, maybe next time then. Thanks To donate click on the credit/debit card icon of the card you will use. If you want to donate more then $2 just add a higher number in the box left from the paypal link. Many thanks

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Sources

USHMM

Auschwitz.org

Auschwitz Study group

 

 

 

The ease of killing women and children-But orders are orders.

101

The one thing I find the most difficult in doing these blogs, is to remain as objective as possible and to try to keep emotions like anger out of it. It is nearly impossible, especially when you come across a story like the story of Reserve Police Battalion 101.

As the name implies these men were reserves, not professional soldiers or policemen.In a similar fashion as the National Guard in the United States, these German battalions were organized regionally. The 101 consisted mostly of often ordinary middle aged  men from working- and lower-middle-class neighborhoods in Hamburg, many with families.

101 men

Their commander was Major Wilhelm Trapp, he was a career police man, a WWI veteran who had joined the Nazis in December 1932.

In June 1942 the battalion was sent to Poland to  partake  in the rounding up of Jews.

On July 13,1942, just three weeks after their arrival, the men were sent to the village of Józefów, home to 1,500 Jews.

Prior to departure from Biłgoraj, where they had been stationed,they were given large amounts of extra ammunition and a generous supply of alcohol was procured.

101 drinks

Major Wilhelm Trapp, stood up in front of the  men. As he began to speak they noticed he was emotional.

He told his men to round up all the Jews living in this village as reportedly  they were involved with the local partisans.

Trapp ordered  that they should separate the Jewish men so they could be sent off to a work camp. But, the woman, children and the elderly should be taken aside and shot – and although he did not like what they had been asked to do, it would make it easier if they remembered that, back home in Germany, bombs were falling on women and children.

Trapp then said if any of the older men among them did not feel up to the task that was put before him, he could decline to so. He paused, and after a few moments, one man stepped forward. One of the officers  began to reprimand the man. The major told the officer to be quiet. Then 13 or 14 other men stepped forward also. They turned in their rifles and were told to await a further assignment from the major.

Of the 500 men standing there that day ,only 14 or 15 chose to opt out of the killing. The rest went on to massacre all the Jewish women, children and elderly people in the village.

The massacre lasted for 17 hours.By afternoon, the men were being offered bottles of vodka to “refresh” themselves.

It is said that some of the uniforms were dripping wet with brain matter and blood.

Trapp did not take part in the shootings himself, he spent the rest of the day in his headquarters, which was a converted school building in town. He also went to the homes of the Polish mayor and the local priest. Witnesses who had seen him  during the day described  him as  complaining about the orders he had been given and “crying like a child.”

Trapp later remarked to his driver: “If this Jewish business is ever avenged on earth, then have mercy on us Germans … But orders are orders”, he said

For nearly all men, Jozefow was the first time where they had to kill. All of the platoons conducted  at least one more mass shooting . Most found that these subsequent murders were easier to perform.

101+

 

 

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Source

BBC