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

101

The one thing I find the most difficult 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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The Slovak invasion of Poland

Slovak

You don’t have to be a History biff to know that September 1,1939 was the date when the Germans invaded their neighbours, Poland.

What often is forgotten is that it wasn’t only the Germans who invaded Poland on that day. The Germans got a  helping hand from the newly formed republic of Slovakia.

More Slovaks

And it was quite a substantial helping hand, approximately 50,000 Slovak soldiers took part in the invasion of Poland.

No one had envisaged  the attack from the independent Slovak state. Reason being there had not been a Slovak republic prior to 1939. The First Slovak Republic was only established on March 14th 1939, after Germany’s occupation of Bohemia and Moravia.

Adolf Hitler decided to create a puppet Slovak state, headed by Jozef Tiso, a Roman Catholic priest and leader of the Slovak People’s Party, the SPL.

Tiso

During secret discussions with the Germans on July 20–21, 1939, the Slovak government agreed to partake in Germany’s planned attack and invasion of Poland. They also agreed to let Germany  use Slovak’s territory as the staging area for its troops. On August 26, the Slovak Republic mobilized its army and created a new field army, named “Bernolák”, which comprised of 51,306 soldiers.

Army

The attack started on September 1, 1939, at 5:00 a.m.

At the start, Poland had a problem with the idea of treating Slovaks as their enemies, they even dropped leaflets requesting them to halt the invasion.

Even though the fighting between the Slovaks and the Poles was not really all that fierce and there were no real major battles, there were still casualties.

During the whole  campaign in September, the losses of the Slovaks amounted to 18 killed, 46 wounded and 11 missing. Approximately 1,350 Polish soldiers were taken prisoner. In January 1940, about 1,200 of them were transferred to the Germans and the Ref Army,  the rest were imprisoned in the camp in Lešť.

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When should we stop pursuing justice? NEVER!

jUSTICE

The pursuit for truth and justice for the victims of the Holocaust should never ever stop.Even when perpetrators are brought to justice it is still just a hollow one, because what punishment can possibly cover the vile and sickening crimes committed.

However it is important that these people are pursuit regardless what age they are, or in what health condition they are.

Earlier this month US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents removed Jakiw Palij from his home in Queens, N.Y.  in order to send him back to Germany.

DEPORTATION

Jakiw Palij is a former Nazi guard, who had worked as a guard at the Trawniki Labor Camp.He immigrated to the United States in 1949, he had lied  on his immigration documentation that he claimed he  had been a simple farm-worker on his father’s land during the war. Palij entered the U.S. via Boston and became a US citizen in 1957. He bought a  home in Queens, New York in 1966.

He was Born in a part of Poland that is now modern-day Ukraine. He lived a quiet life as a draftsman in the US. In 2001 an investigator from the Justice Department’s Office of Special Investigations  showed up at his home  to question him about his wartime activities. Palij  admitted to federal officials  that he had been trained as a Nazi guard in spring 1943.

On November 3, 1943, more than 6,000 men, women and children imprisoned at Trawniki were shot to death in one of the largest single massacres of the Holocaust.

 

By ensuring that no one was able to escape, Jakiw Palij was instrumental in the massacre of the 6000 innocent men,women and children.

camp

Nearly three decades ago  investigators found his name on an old Nazi roster and a fellow former guard spilled the secret that he was “living somewhere in America.” It would take until 2001 before he was found. In 2003 he citizenship was revoked,based on his wartime activities, human rights abuses and immigration fraud. An immigration judge ordered him to be deported in 2004.

protest

But that turned out to be more complicated as was envisaged for neither the Ukraine nor Germany, nor any other country wanted him. he therefore remained in the US until August 21 when he was finally deported to Germany.

His  case will now be part of an investigation at a Nazi crimes investigation unit in Ludwigsburg, Germany.

Himmler

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The Ravensbrück Rabbits

Rabbitts

The Ravensbrück Rabbits was the name given to 74 Polish women, who were subjected to medical experiments in the Ravensbrück concentration camp.

Of the 74 women, 5 died as a result of the experiments and 6 other victims whose wounds did not heal were executed. The other survived with permanent damage.

Rather then go through all 74 accounts I am focusing on the account of one sirvivor,Jadwiga Kaminska. below is the translation of her affidavit submitted to the Nuremberg trials.

Rabbis

“I, Jadwiga Kaminska, 24 Avenue de 1’Yser, Brussels, make oath and state as follows:

“I was arrested on 18 March 1941 and arrived in Ravensbruck on 27 September 1941 and left the camp on the 16 April 1946.

“I was twice operated on during my stay in the camp. The first time was August 15, 1942, in the second group of prisoners to be operated on; the following were operated on with me: Kormanska, Zofia; Kaminska, Zofia; Karolewska, Vladyslava; Jurkowska, Alicia; Karwacka, Ursula; Iwanska, Yanina; Iwanska, Krystyna; Karesman, Muria.

“In the morning of the same day we were operated on we were all sent to the Revier not knowing what was to happen to us. Five of us were sent to one room and the two Inwanska sisters and Karwacka to another. On arrival we all had baths and were given small hospital shirts and blouses. We had no medical examination and were given nothing to eat. When they were taking me to the operating theatre I fought to keep out but was held down by the nurse Ericka and two owner nurses in the corridor whilst Dr. Rosentahl gave me an anaesthetic by injection in my arm.

Dr Rose

Just before I had the injection I saw Gebhardt in the corridor and I also recognize him on No. 3 in the group of photographs. I also saw Dr. Oberhauser going into the Operating theatre. When I came round, I found that all of us had been operated on and that my right leg was in plaster up to the knee, three days later I was taken to the Dressing Room and my face was covered with a sheet so that I could not see what going on, I recognized the voices of Oberhauser, Rosenthal, Schidlauski and there were several others there whose voices I did not recognize. I heard another Doctor who I believe removed plaster ask for instruments.

“Immediately after the operation I had a temperature of 39 degree, the first week after the operation it varied between 38 and 39. When I was sent back to my block three weeks after the operation I still had some fever and felt very weak.

After the first operation Gebhardt came into the room where I was having my dressing changed with several other doctors and talked about the operations and said they were “Military Operations”. I recognized Gebhardt when he came into the room.

Gebbhardy

“About a week after my first operation Rosenthal came into our room drunk. We asked him why we had been operated on, he answered “because you are young girls and Polish Patriots.” Oberhauser was also asked the same question She answered that the operation had been ordered by the Gestapo. Dr. Fischer advised us to ask the Senior Doctor, Schidlausky, why we had been operated on, but after that we never saw Schidlausky again.

“I was in great pain after the operation, the first two days we were offered a medicine but refused to take it after which we were offered nothing.

“About a week after the operation I first saw my wound which was about 10 cms. long and 5 cms. wide and full of green pus and very inflamed. It is now 10 cms. long and about 3 cms. in width.

“Thee days after my first dressing the second one was done under similar circumstances as the first, but I managed to pull the sheet off my face for a few seconds and saw Dr. Fischer who was doing my dressing.

“I was operated on the second time on 13 September 1942, with five others who were: Wojtaski, Wanda; Rakowska, Pelagia; Gnas, Maria; Kaminska, Jadwiga; Karolewska, Vladislava,; Karwacka, Ursula.

“The day before the operation I was again put in the Revier and had a bath and then salt compresses were put on my wound by the nurse Wricke and another nurse. Before the second operation I was given something to drink which made we sleep and consequently knew no details of the operation.

“When I came to from this operation I had much more fever than the first time; we were given something to drink three times a day to alleviate the pain but it had little effect; in the evening, however, Oberhauser gave us morphine injections. We were not in plaster after the second operation. The first two times my dressings were changed by Dr. Fischer and afterwards by Schidlausky and Oberhauser and also by SS nurses.

“After my second operation I stayed in the Revier three months, during all that time I had fever and felt very weak and I was given no care.

“When I left the Revier three months after that operation my fever had almost gone but my wound was still open. Before I left the Revier Oberhauser had a look at my wound, and said I was fit to go. In March 1943 my leg was still discharging pus.

“In February 1945 the order came out that all of us who had been operated on were to remain in our blocks. We knew this meant we were to be liquidated.

“I went to the bureau and spoke to Binz and Swarzhuber; they told me that as we were still weak we would be transferred to the Gresrosen camp. I said that was not true but that we should be shot in the camp without being transferred.

“I demanded of Swarzhuber that I saw Suhren; he said it was impossible. After a few days, however, I saw Suhren and told him that we would rather be killed in the camp than at Grossrosen. Suhren said he would do everything in his power to save us.

“My leg is new healed but gets tired very quickly and during the last three months I have had intermittent fever which my doctor tells me is due to recurrence of infection in my leg and also the glands in my right groin have become swollen. Signed Jadwiga Kaminska.”

OR

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A working day in Auschwitz

Block 11.JPG

Every aspect in Auschwitz was designed for either extermination of dehumanization of the prisoners, mainly Jewish prisoners.

For those young and fit enough to work there was a daily roll call, sometimes these could last for hours. Prisoner were forced to stand still, wearing very thin clothing regardless what weather condition ,even the slightest movement could lead to severe physical punishment or death.

Roll call

The typical working would began at 4:30 during the summer and 5:30 in the winter. After the roll call a working day would be 11-12 hours long. Prisoners doing labor in remote places several kilometers away did not have to participate in the roll call,they left for work earlier. Neither  did the prisoners from camp labor details as the hospital, kitchen, or orchestra.

orchestra

Typically they would have an hour break time.

Three times a day they would receive a meal, or at least what the Nazis thought constituted a meal good enough for the prisoners.

In the mornings they would get something that vaguely resembled coffee, really it was boiled water with a grain based substitute for coffee, or a herbal tea. This in the eyes of the Nazi was enough for breakfast.

The lunch was made up of  of about a liter of soup, the main ingredients  were potatoes,  a kind of turnip , and small amounts of groats, rye flour, and Avocado food extract.

meal.JPG

The evening meal  consisted of about 300 grams of black bread, served with a small bit of sausage, about 25 grams, or a tablespoon of marmalade ,cheese,or margarine.

The calorie count  ranged from 1,300 calories for light-work prisoners to 1,700 calories for prisoners performing hard labor.

Where really  a hardworking man needs 4,800 calories  per 24 hours and an average working man more than 3,600 calories.

If you weren’t selected for the Gas chamber you would likely die of malnutrition and disease.

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The killing of Athletes

empty trucks.JPG

It is often said that the death of a million is a statistic but the death of one is a tragedy, and unfortunately this is true. People just become desensitized when they see the pictures of a great number of corpses. It is just human nature, a defense mechanism because the brain just can’t fathom the horror.

However people do get emotionally touched when the stories are personalized and especially when they are able to identify or associate themselves to that story. I was going to do a blog on the Palmiry massacre.

The Palmiry massacre was a series of mass executions carried out by Nazis , during the occupation of Poland , near the village of Palmiry in the Kampinos Forest, located northwest of Warsaw. The best documented of these massacres took place on 20–21 June 1940, wherein 358 members of the Polish political, cultural and social elite were murdered in a single operation.

Loading up on trucks

However I decided to focus on just 2 victims, athletes, and not just any athletes but Olympic medal winning athletes.

Tomasz Stankiewicz

Tomasz_Stankiewicz_(cyclist,_-1924) (1)

 

I would nearly say this is a double tragedy because so little is known or written about Tomasz. He was a Polish track cyclist who represented his country in the 1924 Summer Olympic Games in Paris.

As a as member of the Polish team he won a silver medal in the  team pursuit event.

tHOMAS

As so many other he became involved in underground activities at the beginning of the German occupation of Poland

One day he  accidentally ,  fell into a trap prepared by the Germans. Unfortunately, he was carrying illegally printed underground newspapers. He was arrested and was sent to Pawiak prison in Warsaw

prison

From there, he was deported to Palmiry on 20 or 21 June 1940 and executed.

Janusz Kusociński.

Janusz

Born in Warsaw into the family of a railroad worker, Janusz Kusociński, or Kusy as he was nicknamed. As a schoolboy he was more interested in playing football, and he played  for several clubs in Warsaw. He turned to  athletics in 1928 after joining the sport club “Sarmata”. His coach at the club was the famous Estonian, decathlete Aleksander Klumberg.

In his first competition at the Polish National Championships, Kusociński surprisingly won the 5000 m and cross country titles.

During the Los Angeles Summer Olympics in 1932 he won the Gold medal in the 10 000 m with a time of 30:11.4.

race

He volunteered for the Polish army when Poland was invaded by the Germans and was wounded twice.  He worked as a waiter during the German occupation, but was also a member of the Polish resistance. Janusz was arrested by the Gestapo on 26 March 1940 and  imprisoned in  the Mokotów prison. He was also executed during the June 20/21 executions.

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The end of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising

Dworzec_Gdański_i_płonące_getto_1943

I often like to play with words for example when you take Warsaw and switch some parts of the name you get an accurate description of what the city went through during WWII . Saw War and Was raw.

Warsaw saw the war in its rawest  and most brutal form. It is also one of the few cities that fought back. The Warsaw ghetto uprising was  revolt that occurred from April 19 to May 16, 1943,by Jews in the ghetto and members of the Polish underground.

The uprising commenced on April 19 when the Ghetto refused to surrender to the police commander SS-Brigadeführer Jürgen Stroop, who then ordered the burning of the Ghetto, block by block. This is what Stroop said about fighters in the uprising in his report .

Strp012_Jurgen_Stroop_report_p5

“When we invaded the Ghetto for the first time, the Jews and the Polish bandits succeeded in repelling the participating units, including tanks and armored cars, by a well-prepared concentration of fire.  The main Jewish battle group, mixed with Polish bandits, had already retired during the first and second day to the so-called Muranowski Square. There, it was reinforced by a considerable number of Polish bandits. Its plan was to hold the Ghetto by every means in order to prevent us from invading it.  Time and again Polish bandits found refuge in the Ghetto and remained there undisturbed, since we had no forces at our disposal to comb out this maze.  One such battle group succeeded in mounting a truck by ascending from a sewer in the so-called Prosta [Street], and in escaping with it (about 30 to 35 bandits).  The bandits and Jews – there were Polish bandits among these gangs armed with carbines, small arms, and in one case a light machine gun – mounted the truck and drove away in an unknown direction”

By May 16th an estimated A total of 13,000 Jews had died, about half of them burnt alive or suffocated.  It was the largest single revolt by Jews during World War II.

General Stroop reported after the destruction of the ghetto that 56,065 Jews had been taken; of those 7,000 sent to the Treblinka killing center, and the remainder deported to forced-labor camps and the Majdanek camp. Some of the resistance fighters succeeded in escaping from the ghetto and joined partisan groups in the forests around Warsaw.

Below some pictures of the uprising.

Stroop_Report_-_Warsaw_Ghetto_Uprising_03

Askaris_im_Warschauer_Getto_-_1943

wg

Ghetto Resistance

Warsaw3

 

 

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“It is not you who are in charge. God will judge you” the bravery of Fr.Józef Cebula.

jozef cebula

The word ‘Hero’ is branded way too easily nowadays, Recently I heard someone on a current affairs program saying he saw the Kardashians as his role models and heroes, that actually scared me. If people whose only contribution to society is self indulgence and self promotion are seen as heroes, then real heroes like Father Józef Cebula will soon be forgotten.

Father Józef Cebula was born into a modest family of Polish origin on March 23, 1902, at Malnia in southern Poland. He suffered tuberculosis as a child,and was in fact declared incurable . After an unexpected recovery, he visited an Oblate shrine where he shared his story with an Oblate priest. The priest advised Józef to study with the Oblates at the newly-established Oblate minor seminary.

oblates

Jozef entered the Oblate Junior Seminary in 1920, and was ordained to the priesthood on June 25, 1927.While still in a seminary. Father Cebula became a superior at the Oblate seminaries in 1931, and became novice master at Markowice in 1937.

When the Germans invaded and occupied Poland in September 1939, they declared loyalty to the Church illegal. In October 1939 the 100 member community at Markowice was placed under house arrest, and set to work as farm laborers.

Later on that month, the Community was evicted and the novitiate was turned into a centre for the Hitler Youth.

H Y

Fr. Jozef was called before the authorities on several occasions for refusing to stop saying Mass and hearing confessions. Eventually he was arrested and sent to the Mauthausen Concentration Camp in Austria.

Known for his humility, Fr. Cebula was a man of quiet prayer with a deep spiritual life. He radiated peace in the very middle of the death camp, even when tormented by the Nazis.

Mauthausen

In Mauthausen he was harassed and forced to work hard, to break rocks in the quarry, simply because he was a Roman Catholic priest. Father Cebula was forced to carry 60-pound rocks from the quarry to a camp two miles away. He had to climb a 144-step staircase called the Death Stairs, while being beaten and insulted by his tormentors. The guards humiliated and mocked him by ordering him to sing the texts of the Mass while he worked.

quarry

On May 9th 1941 , Fr. Cebula summoned up his strength and courage  and said, “It is not you who are in charge. God will judge you.” The Nazis ordered him to run, with a rock on his back, towards the camp’s barbed wire fence, where a guard shot him with a sub-machine gun and declared that Fr. Cebula “was shot while trying to escape”. He died  in this volley of bullets. His body was taken to a crematorium and burned.

It takes a Hero to stand up against evil knowing it will cost you your life. Lets never forget the real heroes.

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They paid a high price-The heroes of the Warsaw uprising.

1 uprising

On April 19, 1943, the Warsaw ghetto uprising began after German troops and police entered the ghetto to deport its surviving inhabitants. By May 16, 1943, the Germans had crushed the uprising and left the ghetto area in ruins. Surviving ghetto residents were deported to concentration camps or killing centers..

So many times have I heard the argument “Why didn’t the Jews fight back” In the Warsaw they did fight back and they paid the ultimate price for it. I am not going into individual accounts for to me they were all heroes.

But as so many times before there are very few living heroes.

13,000 Jews were killed in the ghetto during the uprising (some 6,000 among them were burnt alive or died from smoke inhalation). Or died trying to escape the fire, in the picture below you can see a man jumping out of the window from a multi-story building.1024px-Stroop_Report_-_Warsaw_Ghetto_Uprising_-_26568

Of the remaining 50,000 residents, most were captured and shipped to concentration and extermination camps, in particular to Treblinka.

Jürgen Stroop’s internal SS daily report for Friedrich Krüger, written on 16 May 1943, stated:

“180 Jews, bandits and sub-humans, were destroyed. The former Jewish quarter of Warsaw is no longer in existence. The large-scale action was terminated at 20:15 hours by blowing up the Warsaw Synagogue. … Total number of Jews dealt with 56,065, including both Jews caught and Jews whose extermination can be proved. … Apart from 8 buildings (police barracks, hospital, and accommodations for housing working-parties) the former Ghetto is completely destroyed. Only the dividing walls are left standing where no explosions were carried out.”

Stroop_Report_-_Warsaw_Ghetto_Uprising_-_NARA24

Stroop’s report is one of the most disturbing pieces of reporting of the Holocaust. It is just so ‘matter of fact’ as if they are minutes of meetings or reports of an ordinary working day, rather then committing mass executions and genocide. If the title of the report “There is no more Jewish residential district in Warsaw”

Stroop_Report_-_Cover_Page_(Polish_Copy)

But because of the detailed description of the actions taken in the report it became a blessing in disguise,for lack of a better word. there were 4 copies but only 2 were discovered after the war, Both copies were introduced as evidence at the International Military Tribunal in Nuremberg, sharing the document number 1061-PS, and used in the trial as “US Exhibit 275”

The assistant prosecutor dealing with the persecution of the Jews referred to it as “the finest example of ornate German craftsmanship, leather bound, profusely illustrated, typed on heavy bond paper … the almost unbelievable recital of the proud accomplishment by Major General of Police Stroop.Jürgen_Stroop

Although they must have been aware they had little or no chance of succeeding the people in the Warsaw ghetto said “enough is enough” and decided to act and paid a heavy price for that action. But they did it with their heads held up high, Let us never forget the heroes of Warsaw.

1024px-Stroop_Report_-_Warsaw_Ghetto_Uprising_07

Stroop_Report_-_Warsaw_Ghetto_Uprising_-_IPN35

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A tear rolls down my face

Henio

A tear rolls down my face because you made me cry, not because you hurt me.

A tear rolls down my face because you made me sad, not because you did me wrong

A tear rolls down my face and I wonder why, because I don’t know you.

A tear rolls down my face although I have never met you.

All I see is a young boy aged 9 with a happy smiley face, full of life .

This last picture of you, taken outside the entrance of a bank. is all that remains of you.

On the same day  day you started 1st grade in school, September 1,1939 an evil force swept through your land and declared you an enemy.

An ‘enemy’ that was all in their twisted mind, for how could a 6 year old be a threat.

There was no room anymore in your own land for people like you, so the evil force gave you a new ‘home’., called  Majdanek concentration camp.

You and your family had to go through a selection in this new home, in spring 1942 you survived.

On November 9th 1942 you were killed in a Gas chamber, you were 9. Your name is Henio Zytomirski

A tear rolls down my face because now I know your name and age.

A tear rolls down my face because I know I was 9 once.

A tear tolls down my face for I know the pain you felt was real.

A tear rolls down my face, knowing you died innocent.

A tear rolls down my face.