My heart is broken

walk

I don’t know how often I have seen this picture but it is today it finally broke my heart.

I sat down and looked at it for a few minutes. Where before I only saw an woman, probably an elderly woman and 3 children walking towards the gas chambers.

What is so utterly disturbing about this is that they did not know what fate awaited them.

I cam clearly see their shies in the picture. Those shoes ended up in a pile of other shoes. Maybe were even sold on.

But what utterly devastated me is the innocence, one child is holding the hand of a younger child. I can only presume they are siblings.If I didn’t know the context in which this picture is places , I would think that it was a picture of a grandmother who is going to visit a family member or a friend with 3 kids who are reluctant to do so, but yet they do because they love their grand mother so much.

That is what I see in this picture, love. Love despite the hate that surrounded them.

 

Children

Children

The one thing I find hardest to come to terms with in relation to the Holocaust is the murder of the Children, in fact it is something I will never be able to comprehend.

I know that some people will say The Nazis did not select children  because they were children, but because they were , or rather their parents,part  of dangerous racial, biological, or political groups as per Nazi ideology. But I really do not give a f*ck about that. Excuse my language but I really get angry when people start to look for a reason behind the murder of innocent lives. There is only one reason, pure evil.

There will be people who will say that those involved in the killing were following orders and were afraid of their won lives, because if they did not carry out those orders they wold be killed themselves. But there is no evidence whatsoever that there were any punitive actions taken to those who refused to kill children or even adults.

Even if that had been the case. If I had been in their place, I would have let them kill me before I would even think of killing a child, in fact I probably would have fought back first and killed those who ordered the killing, for the simple reason that I am human being and every fiber of my humanity tells me murdering a child is wrong and takes away my humanity.

The picture at the top and the picture below are both pictures if children who were put on transport to death camps, for the sole reason to be murdered. What strike me about both pictures, it they were put in a non Holocaust context they could have been pictures of children going on a school trip. There is no chaos, they are walking in an orderly line , completely trusting the adults that accompany them.

Trnsport

I know tonight I will have nightmares and the pictures will haunt me, but that is a small price to pay.

 

Source

USHMM

 

A single rail track.

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I took the picture above this morning at about 11:00 am . It is a rail track just around the corner of my home. When I looked at that rail track this morning several thoughts came to mind.

Firstly I thought how the railways made such a big change in the lives of ordinary citizens. It connected cities and also countries. People were no longer bound by the location they were born in. To this day it still fuels the imagination of children. Shows like Thomas the Tank engine are immensely popular as are the books. Even my own children when they were growing up loved to read those books and watch the show. My oldest son first learned to read from a book entitled “My first book of trains”

My second thought when I looked at the tracks  and at the picture after I took it,was that it looked like a picture of a rail track to any of the concentration camps, be it Auschwitz,Treblinka, Bergen Belsen. It occurred to me that the Holocaust really could have happened any period in history. The picture could have easily been taken in 1942.

I also realized that for the survivors and their children and grandchildren the Holocaust is still a daily reality. For those who survived they still relive that train journey every day.

The one thing that was built to connect people was used to facilitate the mass murder of millions. 1.5 million of which were  children. Children who would have been in awe of the technology,

Train journeys were supposed to be pleasant but there was nothing pleasant about their journeys.Often a hundred or more people would be cramped in a cattle car with no windows , no sanitary facilities, nowhere to sit and many would not even survive the journey.

Below is a picture of some children who survived. Who they are I don’t know. All I know is that they were liberated from the Bergen Belsen concentration camp in April 1945.

survivors

They were some of the lucky ones, but I say lucky reluctantly because even though they survived their nightmare still went on in their minds for years to come,sometimes coupled with the insult by those who claimed the Holocaust never happened. The Holocaust would forever be a part of their lives.

1.5 Million were killed,although I do believe that number is higher.

Here are just some of their names

Harry Knöpfelmacher  Murdered age 9

Hedwig Zander Murdered age 12

Frederika Borstrock Murdered age 4

Ester Kwint Murdered age 12 or 13

Peter Czeisler Murdered age 2

The scary thing is that it appears we haven’t learned from our mistakes and the one thing I fear most is that a Holocaust is very likely to happen again  and it could happen to any group of people.

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Lodz Ghetto . Children rounded up for deportation to Chelmno extermination camp.

Children

I wanted to change the title of the blog to evoke an emotion, but I figured if this doesn’t hit you in the gut nothing will.

It is the actual  title of the picture it is from a public domain. I only changed the names from German into the Polish names.

When you don’t know the background to the picture, you would think that it is an old picture of young primary school children going for a walk or a field trip.

I regularly see a group of children of a similar size, about 30 or so, walking from the local primary school to the leisure centre about half a mile down he road, it is the same centre I attend, they go there for swimming lessons.My children were pupils in that school and would have walked that same route.

However the children in the picture don’t go for a fun activity. They were rounded up to be transported to a place where they would be murdered. There are only 2 adults in the picture A man who is near the end of the group, he is bend over and appears to be giving some instructions.He is wearing an armband so I assuming he is a Kapo or Sonderkommando,but I can’t tell for certain.

On the right edge of the picture stands a woman, she may just be a bystander but my feeling tells me she is a female guard.

What disturbs me about this is that those 2 adults know what will happen to the children and are willingly or forcibly participating. I could not do that, I’d rather kill myself.

Time and time again I ask myself, Why the children? I know the answer but I cannot and will not accept it, the children were seen as enemies and subhuman, and they would grow up to be adult enemies. But the twisted and evil logic behind it escapes me.

This is a line from a Whitney Houston song but it is so fitting here “I believe the children are our future, teach them well and let them lead the way.Show them all the beauty they possess inside.”

They are our future by killing them you kill the future.

Every time I see a group of Schoolchildren now going for a walk or fieldtrip, I will think of this picture and will pray that no other child will ever be deported to be killed.But I will also look at the kids and will enjoy their innocent smiles and laughter, just a bit more then I did before

Source

USHMM

 

 

A broken doll and children’s shoes

doll

This blog only contains 2 pictures. A picture of a broken doll and a picture of some children’s shoes. Both were called pictures of Auschwitz artifacts, now I know the description is not meant disrespectful and was meant with the best intention and perhaps it is the only way to describe them.

But the word artifact has several definitions below are 3 examples and none really get the essence of the objects in the pictures.

1.any object made by human beings, especially with a view to subsequent use.
2.a handmade object, as a tool, or the remains of one, as a shard of pottery, characteristic of an earlier time or cultural stage, especially such an object found at an archaeological excavation.
3.any mass-produced, usually inexpensive object reflecting contemporary society or popular culture

The doll and the shoes belonged to children, children who with a high probability were killed as soon as they arrived in Auschwitz.

These children had names, unknown to us, but nonetheless names.

They played with the e doll and wore the shoes like any other kid would have done. To only difference, they were born to a group of people who were considered,subhuman, in other words less then human by a warped ideology created by men who were pure evil,sick and twisted.

The doll and the shoes each have stories to tell, Stories of lives and loves that might have been and should have been, but were cut short.

Stories we may never hear but they are compelling even so, because looking at the doll it is broken, it signifies a broken life.

The shoes are not complete it signifies lives that were not allowed to develop and be brought to completion.

So they are not artifacts but stories, perhaps not to be heard but to be experienced in our own minds by remembering all the children that were brutally killed.

shoes

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The parallel universe in Auschwitz.

Villa

I was struggling with the title but to be honest I can’t think there is another way of describing it.

An estimated 1.5 to 2 million children were killed during the Holocaust. How many were killed in Auschwitz is not clear but if you consider that for example on October 10,1944 800 gypsy children were gassed, it will give you some indication of how many children were killed in the 5 years the camp was in operation.

auschwitz

Yet some children had a great time in Auschwitz. They lived a very idyllic live, without a care in the world. They had nice clothes,plenty of food,toys and were able to play outside and even go for a swim. These 5 children lived in a parallel universe compared to those children who lived only a few yards away from them.

They were the children of Rudolf Höss, the longest-serving commandant of Auschwitz.

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After ordering to kill children in the camp Rudolf Höss, would go home and play with his own children, Their villa was adjacent to the camp and the gate of the garden would actually come out in the camp.

The villa was so close you could see the prisoner blocks and old crematorium from the upstairs window.The family decorated their home with furniture and art taken from prisoners as they were selected for the gas chambers. It was a life of luxury only a few short steps from horror and torment.

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children

 

Most of Höss’s children denied that the Holocaust ever happened. His Daughter Brigitte did not deny that atrocities took place or that Jews and others were murdered in the concentration camps, but she doubted that millions were killed.

In 1972 she moved to Washington with her Husband.Where she got a job in a Fashion salon which was owned by a Jewish couple who had fled  Nazi Germany after the Kristallnacht in 1938.

Höss’s grandson Rainer, is the only member of his family to publicly denounce his grandfather. He has been involved in several documentaries highlighting the evil acts of his grandfather.

Once he was asked what he would do to his grandfather, he answered ” I would kill him myself”.

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Sources

BBC

Daily Telegraph

Mail On line

Independent.co.uk

Jerusalem Post

 

 

The book of…..

book

They say that everyone has a book in them.

Just imagine the millions of books which were never written because of a regime that deemed millions unworthy of life, leave alone worthy of writing a book.

So many potential authors and scholars who never got a chance because of policies based on hate.

Dasha Mojzesch,

The book of the author  Dasha Mojzesch, who would have written a book about man’s exploration in the universe, How they researched the effects of supernovae and what effect they had on the climate on earth.

But he never got a chance to write that book, he was killed age 5.

Gyorgy Szekely,

The book of   Gyorgy Szekely, whose fairy tales set in the medieval times of Eastern Europe.Stories of dragons, knights in shiny armor, princes,princesses,kings and queens. His books read by millions around the globe.

But before he could even start thinking of writing a book he was murdered aged 15 or 16.

Sara

The book of the young brilliant scientist Sara Waas. Who chronicled her break trough research in 1960 when she was just 24. The research that not only found a cure for cancer but also for Parkinson disease.

Cures which saved the lives of so many and gave other a better quality of life.

But alas it was not to be for Sara was murdered when she was only 8.

The policies of hate by the Nazis did not only destroy the lives of so many innocent lives. It also destroyed the lives of some of their children and grandchildren. Because they destroyed potential scientists who could have discovered life altering medicines.

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Kurt Heissmeyer-“For me there was no basic difference between human beings and guinea pigs.”

kurt

One of the more disturbing aspects of the Holocaust is that so many perpetrators got way with murder, even after admitting to it.

Kurt Heissmeyer was a SS physician and the nephew of the senior SS officer August Heissmeyer.

In order for Kurt to receive a professorship he requires to present original research.

Even though  previously proof was dismissed , his hypothesis was that  injecting of live tuberculosis bacilli into subjects , the bacilli would function as a vaccine. Another aspect of his experiment was based on the Nazi racial theory that race played a factor in developing tuberculosis.

tb

By proving his theory he injected live tuberculosis bacilli into the lungs and bloodstream of 20  Jewish children, at the Neuengamme concentration camp.

On April 20,1945 on the birthday of Hitler and just a few weeks before the war ended, the children were sent to Bullenhuser Damm School, which had been used as a satellite camp. This was done in order to destroy evidence of the experiments. The 20 children and 4 carers were hanged.

Kurt escaped detection after the war and returned home to Maggdeburg in East Germany where he resumed his medical career, it was only in 1959 when he was discovered . He was sentenced to a life sentence in 1966, a year before he died age 61.

When asked why he didn’t use guinea pigs he responded, “For me there was no basic difference between human beings and guinea pigs.” He then corrected himself: “Jews and guinea pigs”. Heissmeyer died on 29 August 1967.

His uncle August was even luckier, Although he had been a senior SS officer who at one stage was in charge of the SS Leadership Main Office ,who were responsible of the supervision of the concentration camps,He only spent 4 years in  total in prison. After release he became the director of the West German Coca-Cola bottling plant.

august

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Why? Why? Why?

children

Young human beings why did you have to die?

One of you still has the eyes open but the eyes are without a spark, the life has gone out of them.

I don’t know who these children are, all I know that they died from starvation and typhus and were about to be buried. The only consolation is that they were getting a decent burial arranged by those who liberated Bergen Belsen.

The look of the dead child has touched me more then any other image I have seen before. It touches my heart. Although I don’t know them I feel a pain which is real.

The over sized socks rip my soul apart.

They only died because of the hate of those who did not deem them worthy to live.

Two young human beings who had so much to live for became a statistic. 2 of 13,000 unburied corpses.

But I refuse to see them as a corpse, the body once encompassed a life and a soul. I refuse to see them or any of the victims as a statistic, they are all a part of our history. If we see them as a statistic or some mathematical equation we forget that they could have been a friend,a neighbour, a parent of a spouse, a parent of the lady in the coffee shop who serves you a latte and a muffin once a week, and does it with a smile on her face.

We should never forget that these were human beings.

If we forget our history, we forfeit our future.

WE CAN NEVER EVER FORGET

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.

Donation

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

Times of Israel

Holocaust education and research team