Do you dream of me at night?

Henny

Yesterday it would have been my 80th Birthday. Henny Sophia Frank, born on February 23,1939 in Amsterdam. My name is Henny Sophia but people call me Henneke.

But alas I was not allowed to celebrate my 80th birthday. Nor was I allowed to celebrate my 70th or 60th, in fact I wasn’t even allowed to celebrate my 5th birthday.

You see, you killed me in Sobibor when I was 4. All the things I could have been never came to pass. In the end I became a number, a statistic. But I am so more then that.

I am a child who had many dreams, dreams of becoming a teacher, a nurse, a doctor or just simply someone that works in a shop, a boutique where they sell the lastest fashion from Paris and Milan.

My dream were cut short by you and the regime you so admired, a regime of hate and greed.

My dreams were cut short, but do you see me in your dreams?

Do you ever think of me or all the others you killed, the ones you lied to. You told them not to worry, they’d be fine after they had a shower, but they did not get water but death.

Do you ever see my eyes in your dreams? My eyes that only displayed innocence.

I doubt you dream at all.

 

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There is nothing more beautiful then the smile of a child.

ema

Being a Parent is the hardest job in the world. The sleepless nights, the dirty diapers, the countless times being peed on.Also the worries when your baby has a bit of a temperature, the millions of scenarios of what could go wrong with your child.

But all of that is forgotten the second you see that very first smile. Nothing on this earth is more valuable or could replace its beauty.

A smile so pure and full of innocence and unconditional love, it could melt every one’s heart.

Yet there are those who saw this token of purity and innocence as a threat to their very existence.

The love was answered with hate.

The pureness was answered with filth.

The innocence was answered with death.

How could anyone look at a smiley face like that of Emma Zilverberg and feel compelled and righteous enough to destroy that life?

It breaks my heart to think that the last minutes of this 18 month old girl were filled with pure evil. Evil in its most barbaric, inhumane form.

The really disturbing aspect of this that those who killed her possibly had young children themselves, or may have been an uncle or aunt to a niece or nephew.

Emma Zilverberg was killed in Sobibor she was still a baby. If we forget Emma and all those countless children who died in the Holocaust and other genocides, we will have failed as a society.

 

Source of picture

Ancientfaces.com

 

Your hate will die with you. My love will last.

LUIS KOE

You hate me simply because I am a Jew.

You hate me just because I am not a pure Aryan.

Yet by your own definition I look more Aryan then your leader, the same man who has told you to hate me.

You hate me because you lack the intellectual capacity to recognize that your hate is based on nothing.

You hate me  that’s why it is easy for you to kill me, but you only kill the body that encapsulated the essence of me.

You hate me and you will take that hate in to your grave and your hate will die with you, whereas my soul and love will love forever.

You hate me,  but I am loved by so many

I am Louis Koe I was born on January 3, 1936. I was deported to Sobibor in June 1943 from Vught via Westerbork on the so-called children’s transport. I was murdered  on July 9th, 1943 age 7.

 

Source

Yad Vashem

Joods Museum

 

Cleaning the gas chambers.

Gas

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The Nazis used forced labor to clean the Gas chambers it was done by the so called Sonderkommando’s mostly mad up of Jewish inmates who were selected because they were often young and still reasonably fit, fit enough to carry out physical labour.

Being forced to clean the gas chambers was actually one of the cruelest punishments really , because often those tasked with that awful job had remove their own family members.

The hair of the victims was s shaven  from the heads of corpses straight after their removal from the gas chambers .Human hair was often used in delayed action bombs, where its particular qualities made it highly useful for detonating purposes. Women’s hair was preferred over men’s and children’s , the Nazis running the camps even made a profit from this.After treatment  the hair  was put into twenty-kilogram bales. The bales were sold to German companies at twenty pfennig per kilogram.

hair

It is believed some of the products manufactured  from or containing  hair in those companies may still be in use in German homes today.

In camps like Auschwitz or Sobibor It was the job of the Sonderkommanso’s to get the bodies from the gas chambers, remove the gold teeth from the jaws  using large pliers and then throw the bodies in the mass grave and cover them with chlorinated lime. At a later stage  the corpses from the gas chambers were immediately burned in crematoria or pyres. They also had to clean the gas chambers and remove the blood and excrement. This work was physically and mentally draining and would cause physical and mental  exhaustion , so the work could only be done for a short time.When brink of exhaustion was reached the Sonderkomanndo’s would be gassed themselves. They would quicklt be replaced by prisoners from yet another transport.

Below are some testimonies of some who survived.

Henryk Mandelbaum, a member of the Sonderkommando in Auschwitz.

“I thought I was in hell. Fire and smoke were everywhere. I had to clean the gas chambers and put the bodies in the crematoria, or burn them outside when the extermination was in full swing and the crematoria were not enough,”

SONDERKOMMANDO

Daniel Bennahmias was  also selected to be part of the Sonderkommando unit in Auschwitz.

“Once the gas chamber had been cleared, it must be hosed free of all traces of blood and excrement – but mainly blood – and then it must be whitewashed with a quick drying paint. This step is crucial, and it is done each time the gas chamber is emptied, for the dying have scratched and gouged the walls in their death throes. The walls are embedded with blood and bits of flesh, and none on the next transport must suspect that he is walking into anything other than a shower. This takes two or three hours.”

BLUEPRINT

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Sources

USHMM

Sobiborinterviews.nl

 

 

 

 

 

Karl Frenzel-‘Fair’in his punishments

Frenzel

Karl August Wilhelm Frenzel  was an SS non-commissioned officer in Sobibór extermination camp. As the commandant of Camp I, he was in charge of a Sonderkommando, a unit consisting inmates, mainly Jewish prisoners forced to do a variety of jobs including herding  victims into the gas chambers.

Frenzel claimed that he was always fair in conducting punishments.

Below are a few examples of his ‘fairness’

A 15 year old boy was caught stealing a can of sardines, Frenkel took the boy to Lager III, the crematorium and shot him.

In spring  1943,  two Jews from Chelm escaped from the camp, Frenzel announced that as a punishment , every tenth prisoner at the morning roll call would be executed. He personally walked along the lines of the roll call and selected the victims  to be shot at Camp III. Twenty prisoners were shot as a reprisal for the two who escaped.

One  survivor testified that one time Frenzel grabbed an abandoned baby in an incoming transport, smashed the baby’s  skull and threw the infant aside, like a dead rat.

After World War II, he was arrested by United States troops at a prisoner of war camp near Munich, but was soon released. Frenzel found a job in Frankfurt as a stage lighting technician. On 22 March 1962, while on a break at work, he was again identified, arrested and brought to trial along with other former SS officers at the Sobibór trial on 6 September 1965.

Trial

Frenzel was  charged with personally murdering 42 Jews , and was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment for war crimes but was ultimately released after 16 years.

He died 2 September 1996,aged 85.

It seems to me the only one who got a ‘fair’ punishment was Frenzel. Another case where justice wasn’t served.

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Transport 64:Westerbork-Sobibor

Westerbork

The Transport 64  from Westerbork in the Netherkands , was the designated transport number for the moving of 2511 people to Sobibor in Poland, on May 18th 1943.(The transport also had designated number 12, there would often be more numbers for 1 transport)

Trein

Most of them were residents of the city of Nijmegen. In the middle of the night 17/18 May they were taken from their homes by the SS and NSB.

The journey would take 3 days, those 3 days were the last days of the 2511 alive.Among these 2511 were,620 children. One of those  children was 10 year old Lotte Löbenstein .

cHILD

As they arrived in Sobibor all 2511 were led straight to the gas chambers and were killed.All that was left of these people were their names on a list, a number, no longer seen as a human being.

Lijst

 

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Sources

Stichting Sobibor

Joods Monument

 

 

I am a product of love.

Celine

I am a product of love,love between a man and a woman.

I am a product of love, by 2 people who would do anything for me.

I am a product of love, for anyone who looks into my angelic eyes can’t but love me.

I am a product of love to all those around me.

But I am not only a product of love I am also a victim of hate.

I am a victim of hate, hated by those who say they love their country and the men who lead them.

I am a victim of hate for some think I am different,not quite human.

I am a victim of hate, but yet I have 10 fingers and 10 toes just like those who hate me.

I am a victim of hate because I am different but yet I am the same.

I am a victim of hate but I don’t want to be remembered as a victim of hate.

I am Celine de Vries but people also call me Lieneke. I was born in Amsterdam on Nov 15 1936. But I died a long way from home in Sobibor on June 11 1943. I was only 6.

I am a victim of hate but I want to remembered as a product of love.

 

 

Helga Deen- Another teenage girl,another diary.

De_in_1943_vermoorde_Helga_Deen

We all know the story of Anne Frank but unfortunately Anne wasn’t the only teenage who died in the camps. Helga Deen another teenage girl who lived in the Netherlands also died as result of the Nazi ideology and she also wrote a diary.

Helga Deen (6 April 1925 – 16 July 1943) was the author of a diary, discovered in 2004, which describes her stay in a Dutch prison camp, Kamp Vught, where she was brought during World War II at the age of 18.

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Deen was half-Dutch. Initially her father lived with his German GP wife in Germany, but moved back to the Netherlands as persecution increased. Her mother worked for a time as a doctor at a concentration camp at Vught. She was given leave to remain but chose to accompany her family to Sobibor, where she died.

After her last diary entry, in early July 1943, Helga Deen was deported to Sobibór extermination camp and murdered. She was 18 years old.

Helga Deen wrote her diary in a three-month period of time in 1943, the year she was eighteen, and also the year she died.

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The diary shows how desperation slowly set in. In an excerpt dated June 6, 1943, just after 1,300 children were deported to Auschwitz and Sobibor death camps in Poland, she wrote: “Transport. It is too much. I am broken and tomorrow it will happen again. But I want to (persevere), I want to because if my happiness and willpower die, I too will die.”

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In the diary, Deen recorded some of her day-to-day experiences for Van den Berg, but even more of her emotions, Weling said. “Maybe this diary will be a disappointment to you because it doesn’t contain facts,” Deen wrote to Van den Berg. “But maybe you’ll be glad that you find me in it: conflict, doubt, desperation, shyness, emptiness.”

Among other entries, Deen’s diary recorded the relief she felt after her family was once not selected for deportation — and the fear they might be chosen next time. “We are homeless, countryless and we have to adjust ourselves to that way of life. What we have seen in these last months is indescribable, and for someone who hasn’t been there, unimaginable,” she wrote.

prisoners in transit at Vught

Helga hoped hard work might save her from deportation. But, in early July 1943, she was told her family would be on the next train.Below is the last entry of her diary, dated 6th of July 1943.

“Packing, and this morning a child dying which upset me completely,” she wrote.

“Another transport and this time we will be on it.”

A memorial stone to Helga and her family has been placed by a member of the Dutch Sobibor Foundation on the pathway which used to lead to the gas chambers (‘Road to Heaven’).

Memorial Helga Deen Tilburg

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Gustav Wagner-Sadistic Murderer

It is just unfathomable how many of the most evil and vile war criminals escaped justice. It is something the German government and other European and American governments should be deeply,deeply ashamed off because they escaped under their watch.

Gustav Franz Wagner (18 July 1911 – 3 October 1980) was am Austrian member of the SS with the rank of Staff sergeant (Oberscharführer). Wagner was a deputy commander of the Sobibór extermination camp in German-occupied Poland, where more than 200,000 Jews were gassed during Operation Reinhard. Due to his brutality, he was known as “The Beast” and “Wolf

Born in Vienna, Wagner joined the Nazi Party in 1931 as member number 443,217. After being arrested for proscribed National Socialist agitation, he fled to Germany, where he joined the SA and later the SS in the late 1930s.

In May 1940, Wagner was part of the Action T4 euthanasia program at Hartheim with administrative functions .

https://dirkdeklein.net/2016/04/08/forgotten-history-the-t-4-holocaust-victimsthe-killing-of-the-disabled/

Due to his experience in T4, Wagner was assigned to help establish the Sobibór extermination camp in March 1942.

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Once the gassing installations were completed, Wagner became deputy commandant of the camp under Commandant Franz Stangl. His official title was quartermaster-sergeant of the camp.

stangl_franz

 

Wagner was in charge of selecting which prisoners from the newly arrived transports would be used as slave laborers in and outside the camp, and which would be sent to their deaths in the gas chambers. When Wagner was on vacation or attending to duties elsewhere, Karl Frenzel assumed his role within the camp.

frenzel_karl_august

Together with Frenzel he selected the prisoners who had to work in or outside the camp from the incoming transports. Although absent during the uprising, he did help dismantle the camp, among other things by executing the Arbeitsjuden from Treblinka who tore down the barracks.

 

More than any other officer at Sobibór, Wagner was responsible for the daily interactions with prisoners. Wagner supervised the routine and daily life at Sobibór, and he was one of the most brutal SS officers. Survivors of the camp described him as a cold-blooded sadist.Wagner was known to beat and thrash camp inmates on a regular basis, and to kill Jews without reason or restraint. Inmate Moshe Bahir described him:

moshe-bahir-center-one-of-the-participants-in-the-uprising-in-the-sobibor-extermination-camp

“He was a handsome man, tall and blond — a pure Aryan. In civilian life he was, no doubt, a well-mannered man; at Sobibor he was a wild beast. His lust to kill knew no bounds… He would snatch babies from their mothers’ arms and tear them to pieces in his hands. I saw him beat two men to death with a rifle, because they did not carry out his instructions properly, since they did not understand German. I remember that one night a group of youths aged fifteen or sixteen arrived in the camp. The head of this group was one Abraham. After a long and arduous work day, this young man collapsed on his pallet and fell asleep. Suddenly Wagner came into our barrack, and Abraham did not hear him call to stand up at once before him. Furious, he pulled Abraham naked off his bed and began to beat him all over his body. When Wagner grew weary of the blows, he took out his revolver and killed him on the spot. This atrocious spectacle was carried out before all of us, including Abraham’s younger brother.”

Inmate Eda Lichtman wrote that on the Jewish fast day of Yom Kippur, downloadWagner appeared at roll call, selected some prisoners, gave them bread and forced them to eat it. As the prisoners ate the bread, Wagner laughed loudly, enjoying his joke because he knew that these Jews were pious.

One of the Sobibór prisoners improvised a song which ironically described camp life (original text with English translation):

  • Wie lustig ist da unser Leben
  • Man tut uns zu essen geben
  • Wie lustig ist im grünen Wald
  • Wo ich mir aufhalt
  • How fun is our life there,
  • They give us food to eat that’s fair,
  • What fun it is in the green wood,
  • Where I am stood.

Wagner enjoyed this song and he forced the prisoners to sing it frequently.

After two Jews escaped from Sobibór in the spring of 1943, Wagner was put in charge of a squad of soldiers from the Wehrmacht, who laid minefields around the camp so as to prevent further escapes. However, these efforts did not prevent another escape, which took form in the Sobibór revolt. Wagner was not present at the camp on the day of the Sobibór revolt (14 October 1943). The inmates knew of Wagner’s absence and believed that it would improve their chances of success.

Heinrich Himmler considered Wagner to be “one of the most deserving men of Operation Reinhard”

After Sobibór, Wagner was transferred to Italy, where he participated in the deportation of Jews

Gustav Wagner was sentenced to death in absentia, but escaped with Franz Stangl to Brazil. Clergy at the Collegio Teutonico di Santa Maria dell’Anima in Rome assisted Wagner in his flight from justice.

alois_hudal

Wagner was admitted as a permanent resident on 12 April 1950 and on 4 December 1950 a Brazilian passport was issued in the name of “Günther Mendel”, his new identity. He lived in Brazil undisturbed until he was exposed by Simon Wiesenthal and arrested on 30 May 1978.

It was only because Franz Stangl had mentioned ,that Wagner lived in Brazil, during an interview with Gitta Sereny for a study of him published as Into that Darkness.

gitta_sereny

Stangl died of heart failure nineteen hours after the conclusion of that interview, in Düsseldorf prison on 28 June 1971.

Simon Wiesenthal investigated the whereabouts of Wagner after that interview.

simon_wiesenthal_1982

The trail went dead for years but it was only when an article appeared in a Brazilian Newspaper which was also picked up by the New York times, the article was about Nazi’s in Sao Paulo ,Brazil celebrating Hitler’s Birthday.

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The invite to the  secret celebration in was coded.It was out of pure luck that the reporters had found the location of the party.

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Because they had become hungry and thirsty they stopped at a hotel.When they arrived reporter/photographer,Cynthia Brito noticed Nazi porcelain in a display unit in the lobby. They then looked around in the  and noticed the. party going on in a function room at the back of the hotel.She then secretly took pictures of the guests.

None of the pictures showed Wagner but Wiesenthal asked Cynthia Brito, if she could publish a picture of one of the men and say that this was Gustav Wagner,SS Officer and War Criminal, he sent her Wagner’s SS rank number.Just to lure Wagner out of hiding.

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Brito agreed and published the picture. A day after publishing the ‘mock’ Wagner was killed and afraid that he would be indicted for the murder the real Wagner reported to the police.

Wagner was arrested after Wiesenthal contacted the police.Also a Sobibor survivot who also lived in Brazil gave evidence to Wagner’s crimes.

Extradition requests from Israel, Austria and Poland were rejected by Brazil’s Attorney General. On 22 June 1979 the Brazilian Supreme Court also rejected a West German extradition request.

beastmedia_2-02-2

 

Wagner, in a 1979 BBC interview, showed no remorse for his activities in running the camp, remarking:

I had no feelings. … It just became another job. In the evening we never discussed our work, but just drank and played cards.

In October 1980, Wagner was found with a knife in his chest in São Paulo. According to his attorney, Wagner committed suicide. His date of death was determined to be 3 October 1980. However it is widely believed that is more likely he was killed rather then suicide.

 

 

The real escape from Sobibor

poland_sobibor_-_death_camp_mausoleum

Today marks the 74th anniversary of the Sobibor uprising. The reason why I call this article “the real escape from Sobibor” is not to mistake it for the movie “Escape from Sobibor” although the book and the movie are based on the event, parts of it are fictionalized.

escape_from_sobibor

However this is not to say it is not a good movie, because it is a good movie and although I haven’t read the book I understand it is a very compelling read.

Sobibór  was a Nazi German extermination camp located on the outskirts of the village of Sobibór, in occupied Poland, within the semi-colonial territory of General Government, during World War II.

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During the revolt of 14 October 1943, about 600 prisoners tried to escape; about half succeeded in crossing the fence, of whom around 50 evaded capture. Shortly after the revolt, the Germans closed the camp, bulldozed the earth, and planted it over with pine trees to conceal its location. Today, the site is occupied by the Sobibór Museum, which displays a pyramid of ashes and crushed bones of the victims, collected from the cremation pits.

On 14 October 1943, members of the camp’s underground resistance succeeded in covertly killing 11 German SS-Totenkopfverbände officers and a number of Sonderdienst Ukrainian and Volksdeutsche guards. Of the 600 inmates in the camp, roughly 300 escaped, although all but 50 – 70 were later re-captured and killed. After the escape, SS Chief Heinrich Himmler ordered the death camp closed. It was dismantled, bulldozed under the earth, and planted over with trees to cover it up.

By the summer of 1943, the transports to the Sobibór death camp were slowing down. The veteran Jewish prisoners sensed that the end was quickly approaching. In July, the prisoners organized an underground unit. It was led by Leon Feldhendler, the son of a rabbi from the nearby town of Zolkiewka.

leon_feldhendler

In September 1943, a deportation from Minsk of Soviet Jewish prisoners of war brought to the camp a trained officer, Lieutenant Aleksandr “Sasha” Aronovich Pechersky.

sobibor_extermination_camp_05b

The Jewish underground recruited Pechersky and placed him in command. His deputy was Leon Feldhendler.

They devised a daring plan. SS officers would be lured into storehouses on the pretext that they were to be given new coats and boots. Once inside , aided by the bold efforts of Thomas (Tuvia) Blatt,thomas_blatt

they would be attacked by the prisoners and killed with axes and knives. Nazi weapons were to be seized, and at roll call the camp would be set ablaze. All prisoners would have a chance to bolt for freedom. Once outside Sobibór’s gates, they would all be on their own.

 

 

At 4:00 p.m. on October 14, 1943, the first SS soldier was killed with an axe. Ten more SS men were killed, as were several Ukrainian guards. Telephone wires and electricity lines were cut. Within an hour, the camp was burning, guns were aimed at the guard towers, and the first group of prisoners fled across the German mine fields surrounding the facility.

By dusk more than half the prisoners—about 300 people—had escaped. Most were killed by their Nazi pursuers or died crossing the minefields. After the revolt, some joined partisan units; others found shelter among sympathetic Poles. It is estimated that just 50 of the escapees survived the war.

 

Within days of the uprising, the SS chief Heinrich Himmler ordered the camp closed, dismantled, and planted with trees.The gas chambers were demolished. Remnants of their foundations were covered with asphalt and made to look like a road.Four of the chambers were uncovered by archaeologists in 2014, using modern technology.

sobibor_extermination_camp_crop-1

Feldhendler was among those who survived the war, hiding in Lublin until the end of German occupation. The city was taken by the Soviet Red Army on 24 July 1944, and became the temporary headquarters of the Soviet-controlled communist Polish Committee of National Liberation established by Joseph Stalin. However, on 2 April 1945, Feldhendler was shot through the closed door of his flat as he got up to investigate a commotion in an outer room. Feldhendler and his wife managed to escape through another door and made their way to Lublin’s Św. Wincentego á Paulo hospital, where he underwent surgery but died four days later. According to most of the older publications, Feldhendler was killed by right-wing Polish nationalists,sometimes identified as the Narodowe Siły Zbrojne,an anti-Communist and anti-Semitic partisan unit (name unknown). However, more recent inquiries, citing the incomplete treatment of the event by earlier historians, and the scant documentary record, have called into question this version of events.

The only concrete document found by local Polish scholars is a record of Feldhendler’s hospital admission at Wincentego á Paulo describing the injury. Dr Kopciowski wrote that Feldhendler was likely shot in an armed robbery gone bad, because he was known locally as a budding gold trader. Feldhendler’s killing was one of at least 118 violent deaths of Jews in the Lublin district between the summer of 1944 and the fall of 1946 amid the crime-wave of the so-called Soviet liberation.