Deception and death.

Franz

I was struggling with the title of this blog and even about the contents. I was going to do a picture blog with pictures of some of the atrocities committed by the Nazis, and even though I have done blogs containing horrific images I realized that although a picture tells a thousand words it doesn’t necessarily tell the full story.

Therefore I decided to use testimonies from a Nazi and a witness statement of a  survivor to illustrate the evil of one particular evil man ,Franz Hössler, an often forgotten perpetrator who used deception and death to fulfill his own sadistic needs.

Franz 2

Franz Hössler  was a Nazi German SS-Obersturmführer and Schutzhaftlagerführer at the Auschwitz-Birkenau, Dora-Mittelbau and Bergen-Belsen.

Johann Kremer, SS camp doctor in Auschwitz from 30 August to 17 November 1942, recorded a transport of 1,703 Dutch Jews to the main camp managed by Hössler. He had described the event in his diary and used it in his testimony during the Auschwitz  trial.

Kremer

“In connection with the gassings I described in my diary dated 12.10.1942, I declare that on that day about 1,600 Dutch were gassed. This is an approximate figure, which I stated as a result of what I had heard from others. The action was led by SS officer Hssler. I remember that he tried to drive the whole group into a single bunker. This he achieved up to a last man who could not be crammed further into the bunker. Hossler shot this man with a revolver. This is the reason why I wrote in the diary: “Gruesome scene before the last bunker! (Hössler!)”.

Filip Müller one of the very few Sonderkommando members who survived Auschwitz. gave the following testimony. It was a speech of deception Hössler had given to  a group of Greek Jews in the undressing room at the portals of the gas chambers.

filip

“On behalf of the camp administration I bid you welcome. This is not a holiday resort but a labor camp. Just as our soldiers risk their lives at the front to gain victory for the Third Reich, you will have to work here for the welfare of a new Europe. How you tackle this task is entirely up to you. The chance is there for every one of you. We shall look after your health, and we shall also offer you well-paid work. After the war we shall assess everyone according to his merits and treat him accordingly.
Now, would you please all get undressed. Hang your clothes on the hooks we have provided and please remember your number of the hook. When you’ve had your bath there will be a bowl of soup and coffee or tea for all. Oh yes, before I forget, after your bath, please have ready your certificates, diplomas, school reports and any other documents so that we can employ everybody according to his or her training and ability.

Would diabetics who are not allowed sugar report to staff on duty after their baths”

Hössler was not tried at the Auschwitz trial but was   tried in the Belsen Trial.

trial

On 17 November 1945 Hössler was sentenced to death by hanging. The sentence was carried out by British hangman Albert Pierrepoint on 13 December 1945 at Hameln prison.

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Cleaning the gas chambers.

Gas

++++++CONTAINS GRAPHIC IMAGES+++++++++++++++++++++

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

 

 

 

 

 

Punishments in Auschwitz

Block 11

Killing the Jews and other so called “subhumans” in Auschwitz just wasn’t enough for the Nazi regime. Examples had to be made too, these examples were made by carrying out punishments.

Most of these punishment were carried out in Block 11 this was also the place where the first attempts to kill people with Zyklon B were implemented.

The punishments were completely random. Prisoners received a variety of punishments for the same ‘offenses’. The most common punishments were flogging and confinement. often solitary.Block 11 had special torture chambers in which various punishments were carried out on prisoners. Punishment like  being locked in a dark chamber for several days or being forced to stand in one of four standing cells,where four people would be  crammed together, able only to stand. There was only a 2″ opening for air, so that prisoners wouldn’t die of suffocation.

The punishments were often carried out as penalties for ‘crimes’ such as picking an apple.  Marie Tajfelbaum, was sentenced to 5 days in a standing cell for picking an apple, as it states on the punishment report below. Just imagine 5 days standing, no seats, no bed, no place to rest your legs, just standing up straight 5 days and 5 nights.

card

Then of course there was the ‘crime’ of trying to go to the toilet in privacy. On the punishment reports below  it states that prisoner “Ludevit Katz despite being forbidden, the prisoner went behind block 7 to relieve himself”. The relieve referred to making a poo. Ludevit would have been severely punished for this. The handwriting is not very clear, but it indicates whatever punishment it was it was multiplied by 3.

card 2

I am not sure if either Marie or Ludevitz survived the war, somehow I doubt it given the fact that they had a;ready been picked our for punishments.

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Source

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Auschwitz.org

Reached the age of 3

Marianna Aandagt

Reached the age of 3 it says in some places.

Reached the age of 3, that is me

.Reached the age of 3, but that is not only me.

For I am so much more them just the age of 3.

I am a child whose only ambition it was to become 4.

If I wanted to to I could have asked for so much more.

All I expected from life was love given to me freely, in return it would give it unconditionally.

Not too much to ask of someone who reached age 3, one would think.

But there were those who thought I was not worthy of that love. And to prove that point. on July 18, 1942 they killed me together with my Mother and Brother in Auschwitz.

Reached the age of 3, that is me Marianne Aandagt

 

 

Rest in peace little one-But how can you?

Jacques

 

Rest in peace little one, but how can you?

You did not ask to be born but yet you were.

But that was good because it was because of the love between two people, you came to be. You were so wanted.

A blessing to be seen by every one.

Rest in peace little one.

If it was love that ruled the world your lovely smile would illuminate this world for decades to come,.

Alas love does not always rule the world.

Rest in peace little one.

Like so many others you became a subject of hate. Although you were only aged 1 and could barely walk and not even talk, it was enough reason for you to be murdered.

You did not ask to be killed and yet you were.

Your name Claude Alexandre, Born in Lyon January 8th,1943. Murdered in Auschwitz 14 Aug 1944.

Rest in peace little one,but how can you? For you should still be with us.

Topf and Sons-Business of Death

Oven

The Nazis would never have been able to commit the crimes they committed if they hadn’t received the cooperation from businesses that supplied to them.

Technically some companies may not have been directly involved in the killing of Jews.Roma’s,Homosexuals and others, but by facilitating the third reich the played an equal part to the Holocaust.

J.A. Topf and Sons (German: J.A. Topf & Söhne) was an engineering company which was founded in Erfurt in 1878. It had a variety of products including chimneys  and incinerators.

poster

In 1939 the company decided to go into business with Hitler and his cronies.Not only did they design and built the ovens for the crematoria in several death camps, they also made improvements to make the ovens work more efficiently.

Kurt Prüfer, was the head of Topf & Söhne’s small crematoria department, he was the main oven designer. Kurt designed and developed a two-muffle transportable oven in September 1939, which was delivered to Dachau concentration camp in November 1939.To facilitate multiple bodies to be burned simultaneously even though  that this was still illegal under German law.

2 muffled

The company’s partnership with the Nazis, in the Holocaust reached its peak with the production of ovens for Auschwitz

Between August 1940 and  May 1942, the companybuilt 3 double-muffle ovens at Auschwitz Camp I.  Read the last few words again’built 3 double-muffle ovens at Auschwitz Camp I’ This means they built them on site.

In October 1941, the SS ordered five three-muffle ovens for the new Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camp , where it was initially was thought that an estimated 1000+ people per day would be killed. At the time  125,000 Soviet prisoners of war.were imprisoned in Auschwitz II, and it was estimated  that with the use of the new ovens, these prisoners of war  could all be killed and disposed of in about four months.

In an internal memo by Kurt Prüfer he explains that he has told Krone, who has just returned from Auschwitz, that the camp can be provided with enough cremation muffles to bring the cremation capacity up to 2650 per day, or 80,000 per month. However, Prüfer notes: “Mr. K said that this number of muffles is not yet sufficient; we should deliver more ovens as quickly as possible.”

po

Topf & Söhne’ also designed and provided ventilation systems to remove Zyklon B from the underground gas chambers.

At least 4 fitters from Topf & Söhne’ traveled to Auschwitz to supervise the installation of the systems and to ensure they worked properly. For this it meant they had  to observe the murder of Jews.

Kurt Prüfer also visited the camps to inspect the operation of Topf products. He himself, with the blessing  of the company’s owners, continued to facilitate to the needs of the SS On October 26, 1942 he applied ,via the company, for a patent for a four-storey crematorium complete with conveyor belts intended to drastically enhance the speed at which bodies could be burned.

design

Although employees of the company witnessed the actual murder of Jews and others they did nothing about it, in fact they ensured that the disposal of the bodies would happen quicker and more efficient. There was a clear lack of humanity in these people.

There is a principle in supply chain management about ‘bottlenecks’ ,bottlenecks determine the throughput of a supply chain. Basically your supply chain is just as fast as your  bottleneck, ie constraint.

The disposal of the bodies was the bottleneck in all death camps. Even if the engineers of Topf and Sons, could not stop the supply of ovens to the Nazi regime, they could have designed them less efficient thus creating a bigger bottleneck, therefor saving lives, but they didn’t .

After Prüfer was first arrested in 1945, one of the co-owners of the company Ludwig Topf committed suicide in  his suicide note he said  that “I was always decent.” His brother, Ernst-Wolfgang, fled to West Germany where he attempted to reestablish the company. The company went bankrupt in May 1963. Prüfer died in prison.

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Attack on the twentieth convoy to Auschwitz.

Train

War often brings out the worst in people. they commit crimes they would usually never even contemplate, but equally war also brings out the best in people performing heroic acts they know can cost their lives.

Early 1943 Jews throughout Belgium were rounded up and arrested.People like three members of the Gronowski family(Mother,son and daughter), who were arrested for committing the awful ‘crime’ of being Jewish.

Gronowski.JPG

After the round up they were transported to the Kazerne Dossin,army barracks in Brussels.For most this would be last ‘residence’ in Belgium they would ever be in, for this was the gathering place for the final transport to the death camps.

Kazerne

On 18 April,  1,631 were informed they were going to be  deported by train the following day.The end station would be Auschwitz. The train was designated as Transport 20.

Shortly after the train had set off on route to Auschwitz it was stopped.

Three young students and members of the Belgian resistance including a Jewish doctor, Youra Livchitz  and his two non-Jewish friends Robert Maistriau  and Jean Franklemon armed with  only one pistol, and a makeshift  red warning  lantern ,  stopped the train on the track Mechelen-Leuven, between the towns of Boortmeerbeek and Haacht. This was the first and only time during World War II that any Nazi transport carrying Jewish deportees was stopped.

The train  was guarded by one officer and fifteen men from the Sicherheitspolizei. After a quick  battle between the Germans train  the three Resistance members, the train started again.In the mean time the resistance fighters had opened one rail car and were able to set 17 people free.

The train driver Albert Dumon most I have felt inspired by this  he deliberately drove  slow enough . and stopped frequently to allow people to jump without being injured or killed, 236 in all escaped. 115 of those were never recaptured.

Youra Livchitz unfortunately  was arrested by the Gestapo one month later, but managed to overpower his guard and escape; he was rearrested in June and executed by firing squad the following year.

yoyra

His two brothers in arms survived the war. As did Simon Gronowski the son of the Gronowski family.

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Sources

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I am human being just like you!

Sandro

When the rain falls, my face gets wet.

When the sun shines, it blinds my eyes.

When the snow falls, I want to go out and feel the crunch of the fresh new snow beneath my feet.

When it is muddy, I get dirty.

When I am hungry, I eat.

When I am thirsty, I drink.

When I see a baby cry, I am sad for I know only a few years ago I was a baby.

You see, once you were a baby too.

Once the sun would would blind your eyes, and the rain would make your face wet.

Your mother would also be annoyed when you came in with a muddy face.

Once you were a 5 year old mischievous little angel.

Like you, I am a human being too.

At least I maintained my humanity, where you no longer are that mischievous angel.

The day you killed me in Auschwitz you became a devil.

I am Sandro Sonnino, aged 5. Once a human being, now an angel.

Arbeit Macht Frei-A false promise.

Frei

It is seldom that 3 random words can send shivers down your spine but the words Arbeit Macht Frei do.

Just three ordinary words used many times in daily life and yet they also mean total horror. The literal translation is Work makes free, I know they are often translated as works set you free, even by me, but I think that is wrong, the literal translation is what should be used.

‘Work sets you free’ has more of a condition attached to it, it is not a definite, for there is this silent’but’. Whereas ‘Work makes free’ it states exactly that it makes free for definite.

The Nazi regime turned so many things into weapons, including words.  The phrase or slogan ‘Arbeit mach frei ‘was one of the most powerful psychological weapons. It gave the victims a sense of hope. If they would work they would be free. Even after arriving at the Concentration and death camps ,where the slogan was used at the gates, there were selections.

Selections

Again creating that illusion and false hope that people were selected for different kinds of works. Soon enough though it became clear that this was not the case.

Not only did the Nazis massacre millions of Jews and other groups of people they deemed to be subhuman,they also caused so much psychological damage to those few who survived. Psychological damage not only caused by the daily horrors they witnessed but also by these blatant lies, the promise that work makes free, creating the hope if I just work my family and I will be free at some stage.  This was another psychological crime committed by the Nazis, ensuring that where possible families would be transported together, They even allowed them to bring some possessions ,again making the victims believe that. yes, the situation was bad but it could be worse. At least they were still together.

Only to be torn apart after they arrived at the Concentration camps.

Family

Despite everything there were some brave people who were defiant. The slogan over the entrance to Auschwitz I , was erected by order of commandant Rudolf Höss, and was made by prisoners. As an act of defiance they turned the letter ‘B’ upside down.

arbeit

 

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The last single Journey: Westerbork-Auschwitz

Sign

One of the cruel jokes the Nazis played on their victims was giving them hope. Like a railway sign indicating a return journey that was never to be. Only empty trains returned ready to pick up more victims like lambs led to the slaughter.

Trein

On September 3,1944 the last transport by train from Westerbork Transit Camp to Auschwitz took place.

Westerbork

Between July 15 ,1942 and September 13,1944 a total of 99 trains had left Westerbork for either Auschwitz,Sobibor,Theresienstadt and Bergen Belsen.

On the September 3rd transport 1019 victims were transported to Auschwitz. A journey which would take 3 days. Even before they reached Auschwitz they endured hell, because they were cramped in cattle cars, quite literally like cattle. There were no toilets, barely any food or water, nowhere to sleep. Some would die even before they reached their final destination.

What makes this transport special is because of one family, A Father,mother and 2 daugthers, only the father would eventually survive. This family was the Frank Family.

scheule

Anne and Margot Frank had one more journey to make on 28 October they were selected to be transported to Bergen-Belsen, where both girls died. Otto and Edith Frank remained in Auschwitz but Edith eventually died of starvation in January 1945.

Frank Family

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