I’m Still Here: Real Diaries of Young People Who Lived During the Holocaust

The title of this post is from a 2005 documentary produced by MTV(yes MTV) It stars a number of famous actors reading excerpts from diaries of young people who lived during the Holocaust, most of them were murdered.

The full length movies is included in this post, but I also picked out 2 excerpts of two of the diarists mentioned in the documentary.

The first one is from the diary of Dawid Rubinowicz., dated April 10,1942. The reason why I picked that day is because April 10 is my birthday. Dawid Rubinowicz was born 27 July 1927 in Krajno, Poland, and murdered in September 1942, aged 15, in the Treblinka extermination camp. He was a Polish Jewish boy. His diary was found and published after the end of World War 2.

April 10, 1942

“They’ve taken away a man and a woman from across the road, and two children are left behind. Again it’s rumored that the father of these children was shot two days ago in the evening. …The gendarmes were in Slupia and arrested three Jews. They finished them off in Bieliny (they were certainly shot). Already a lot of Jewish blood has flowed in this Bieliny, in fact a whole Jewish cemetery has already grown up there. When will this terrible bloodshed finally end? If it goes on much longer then people will drop like flies out of sheer horror. A peasant from Krajno came to tell us our former neighbor’s daughter had been shot because she’d gone out after seven o’clock. I can scarce believe it, but everything’s possible. A girl as pretty as a picture—if she could be shot, then the end of the world will be here soon.”

He was still 14 when he wrote this. What strikes me in his words is that he talks about Gendarmes. Let that sink in for a second and think of it what you like. I know what it means but if I say is I know I will be getting emails from certain organizations threatening me with legal actions, because the truth is not there to be told.

The second excerpt is from the diary of Ilya Gerber. It is dated November 27,1942, 80 years ago today.. He was 18 at the time. The excerpt is about life in the Kovno ghetto in Lithuania. Ilya was murdered on April 28, 1945, on the verge of liberation, Gerber was shot and killed while marching forcibly from Dachau to Wolfsratshausen, Germany. He was not yet 21 years old.

November 27, 1942.

“I haven’t written since the nineteenth because there was no very important Jewish news, except that brigades have lately been smuggling in [food] not in their pockets, and not in little packages, but in fact in whole bundles… Mostly, when the ghetto commandant stands by the gate, the bundles or packages are confiscated and you sometimes feel his whip. But if he is not there it costs you whatever it takes to grease the palm of the partisan [Lithuanian auxiliary serving the Germans] or the policeman and you pass through undisturbed.”

Similar to Dawid Rubinowicz’s observation Ilya makes a reference to partisan, what that means is mentioned in the excerpt too, I don’t know if it was added by Ilya or of it was added later to put it in context for the readers. But also if you read between the lines you will recognize the implication of this.

sources

https://www.jpost.com/opinion/youth-behind-barbed-wire-fences-572023

Karl Amadeus Hartmann-Protesting against the Nazi regime through Music

Today marks the 117th birthday of Karl Amadeus Hartmann.He

was born on 2 August 1905 in Munich and came into contact with art and music at an early stage. He studied trombone and composition at the Staatliche Akademie der Tonkunst in Munich from 1924 to 1929.

He hated Nazism and Hitler and anything that ranked of extreme socialism and communism. A fellow composer ,Udo Zimmermann, said about Hartmann “His concept of life oriented towards humanity is inscribed in all his scores. A warning in view of the atrocities of this world, but also resistance from the heart: a revocation of the spirits, love and life.”

His compositions were often politically charged, as Hartmann was a socialist who staunchly opposed the Nazis and fascism. During World War II, Hartmann half-poisoned himself to avoid military conscription.

He voluntarily withdrew completely from musical life in Germany during the Nazi era, while remaining in Germany, and refused to allow his works to be played there. An early symphonic poem, Miserae (1933–1934, first performed in Prague, 1935) was condemned by the Nazi regime but his work continued to be performed, and his fame grew, abroad. A number of Hartmann’s compositions show the profound effect of the political climate. His Miserae (1933–34) was dedicated to his ‘friends…who sleep for all eternity; we do not forget you (Dachau, 1933–34)’, referring to Dachau Concentration Camp, and was condemned by the Nazis. His piano sonata 27 April 1945 is about the thousands of prisoners from Dachau, whom Hartmann witnessed being led away from Allied forces at the end of the war.

Just three days before the liberation of the Dachau camp, the SS forces about 7,000 prisoners on a death march from Dachau south to Tegernsee. During the six-day death march, anyone who cannot keep up or continue is shot. Many others die of exposure, hunger, or exhaustion. American forces liberate the Dachau concentration camp on April 29, 1945. In early May 1945, American troops liberate the surviving prisoners from the death march to Tegernsee.

Solly Ganor, a survivor said about the march.

“we could see the furtive parting of curtains as German civilians peered out at us. To our surprise a few of them came out and tried to offer us some bread, but the result was disastrous. Hundreds of starving inmates would descend on the benefactor, often knocking him or her down. The bread was immediately torn to pieces, and the guards set upon the mob. Each time this happened several more bodies were left by the side of the road.”

After the fall of the Nazi regime, Hartmann was one of the few prominent surviving anti-fascists in Bavaria whom the postwar Allied administration could appoint to a position of responsibility. In 1945, he became a dramaturge at the Bavarian State Opera and there, as one of the few internationally recognized figures who had survived untainted by any collaboration with the Nazi regime, he became a vital figure in the rebuilding of (West) German musical life. Perhaps his most notable achievement was the Musica Viva concert series, which he founded and ran for the rest of his life in Munich.

He died on December 5,1963 in Munich.

Although Hartmann is one of the greatest German composers of the 20th century, he is forgotten about in the English speaking world.

sources

https://holocaustmusic.ort.org/politics-and-propaganda/hartmann-karl-amadeus/

https://archive.ph/20130104153710/http://www.schott-music.com/shop/persons/featured/8399/index.html#selection-559.0-559.208

Jerry Himmelfarb-“What a Jewish G.I. Thinks About Aid to Europe’s Needy”

Jerry Himmelfarb was a GI from Buffalo, New York. He wrote this letter to his Rabbi, about his experiences. It os one of the most powerful testimonies I have ever read

Jerry, serving with the U.S. Army in Germany, wrote to Rev. Harry H. Kaufman, Cantor of Temple Beth El, telling of what the J.D.C. is accomplishing in alleviating the desperate plight of his Jewish brethren in Europe. The letter, in full,below.

May 15, 1945

Dear Cantor:

You’re going to find this a strange letter. I think, perhaps, you will not understand why I write such a letter – until after you have read it. I have written my parents a similar story. Now I write you – for a little different reason. You’ll see what I mean some pages from here.

The Seventh Army has authorised us to write – has allowed us to say – that we’re in Munich. I’m there now. Munich – Hitler’s cradle-city. It’s damaged and quiet. We’re near Berchtesgarten, but I haven’t been there.

We’re also near Dachau – remember Dachau? It’s Jan Valtin’s Dachau – Jan Valtin of “Out of the Night”. Remember? Dachau – an early mystery place of Nazism. But there remains no aura of mystery today. No, it’s all clear – so very clear.

I met a Polish Jew the other day. He had been liberated from Dachau. He was twenty-four years old – and looked fifty. His face looked fifty – his body was about as healthy looking as a normal patient at Harrisburg, Pa. He had no teeth – but they hadn’t fallen out. Hitler’s S.S. were the dentists. He was just one of the lucky ones. There were other unfortunates.

I haven’t seen Dachau – but all I say is true – I swear it on my own life. Disbelieve me – call me a liar – if you dare! There were found some fifty, fully-loaded boxcars – loaded with bodies. I saw a picture of one – it was overflowing. We buried – with bulldozers – some 4,000. They were from the railroad cars and from rooms in the camp where they were stacked like cordwood covered with lime. We spoke to a Pole who had been forced to throw his parents into the incinerator. And how would you like to hear about these incinerators – it makes for nauseous reading. There was a plaque in front of each one saying something about “ashes to ashes” being better than “dust to dust”. Some compensation for the victims, eh! And they were run in a very businesslike fashion. It was necessary to burn 250 bodies each day to keep the furnaces in good working order. How was the quota met? Easy. They always had at least 150 on a list. But the rest were gotten like this.

  • 2 –

These prisoners were divided into groups of sixteen. These sixteen slept on four shelves, approximately six by six, with six inches clearance between shelves. Any infraction by one of the sixteen resulted in the death of all of them. And infractions were easy. Under the S.S. – the trained beasts – the quota was always met. And how were they Killed? No outright death for them – oh, no! They walked or were pushed, through a door when they fell through a four by four hole in the floor to the cement floor some fifteen feet below. There a noose was thrown about their throats and they were hung on hooks on the wall to meet their God. If any still lived after a reasonable length of time – a “man” with a heavy mallet crushed their skulls. The room – hooks on the wall – accommodated fifteen. Then the furnaces. The heat generated was not wasted, by the way. It was piped to the S.S. barracks for warmth – the barracks, where the S.S. troopers celebrated their 10,000th killing by drinking toasts from the scoured skulls of their victims. A lovely people – the Germans!

And don’t let me forget to tell you about the wife of the Commandant of one of these camps – not Dachau, another one, – there were plenty in Germany. She loved beautiful knick-knacks in her home. So any prisoner who bore tattooing on his or her body was stripped and taken before this woman for her O.K. Then death – next skinning, and curing the skin – and a new lampshade or book cover adorned the lovely lady’s home. What’s wrong – don’t you believe me? Take my word for it – you have to believe me – those who were tattooed can’t tell you!

And that isn’t all. We have some 5,000 people in hospitals here. We’ve lowered the death rate to seventy-five a day. And we have statistics to prove that of these seventy-five – some forty-five are Jews. And even though only 8,000 of the 38,000 prisoners of one camp were Jews – the deaths were some 40% or 50% Jewish. The chaplain told us that the other day – after his return from services conducted over that common grave of 4,000 – there were bound to be some Jews in it – we didn’t know how many. Which brings me to the point of this letter.

The chaplain told us about the American Joint Distribution Committee’s borrowing $10,000,000 on their name – and about setting a goal of $46,000,000 for this year. He asked us to contribute what we could. And he asked us to write our families a letter. I did, but I write to you, too, because you can reach more people. He didn’t suggest a letter like this – I guess it was the farthest thing from his mind. I just decided it was the best kind. Eloquent pleas are swell things – but pictures are better. Maybe this wasn’t a very pretty picture – I didn’t want it to be. I tried to make it as disgusting, as revolting as nauseous as possible without leaving the bounds of conventional decency – without distorting the truth. Believe me I have done neither. Every word is true. I swear that before God.

I know of some people who say, “that money goes into the pockets of the black-coated, pie-hatted men with beards. “I thought so once, too – until I learned this. While the chaplain was reciting the services over that common grave I spoke of before, a convoy of Swiss Red Cross trucks came in. He spoke to the man in charge. The convoy was leaving some fifty tons of food, medicines, clothing etc. – all loaded and paid for by A.J.D.C. – black-coated men, indeed! The stuff comes here.

  • 3 –

Don’t let anyone believe otherwise. It came here. You can supply more statistics on how many Jews still live in Europe and on what remains for us to do – now that it is too late to save the many. That’s not in my line. Neither is putting in a good old-fashioned touch in my line – but I’m doing it. Here it is. You’ve read it. You can see what I’m getting at. Cantor, I beg you – tell this to the well-fed, well-clothed members of your congregation. Read them what I’ve written. Maybe they’ve seen some of these facts in their papers. I don’t know. So, in case they haven’t, read them this first-hand dope. I know you’re going to mention the J.D.C.’s drive – you always do. I know you’ll have your own plea to make. But consolidate mine into yours, will you please. Jolt them right off their seats. Tell them to do something about the cocodile tears they shed and have been shedding for the past ten years. Tell them to stop that, “how awful, tsch, tsch” talk and start some real talk. Money talks. Don’t give them a chance to say, “But -”. It’s too late for “buts” now. Talk is O.K. in its place. The place isn’t here.

We must do something to help these people over here.

We’re not giving only to Jews – I know that. Every poor dog is aided over here. Tell them that, too. If you must get down on your knees and beg them to give, Cantor – do it – for God’s sake – do it! There can be no degradation to surpass what I have seen and heard of. And if the complacent doubts why we won this war – while 4,000,000 died – then read them the 94th Psalm. It was news to me – maybe it will be news to them. Maybe that will let the moths out of their purses.

Yours, Jerry Himmelfarb

source

https://www.testifyingtothetruth.co.uk/viewer/metadata/106545/1/

Remembering Simon de la Bella-Murdered in Dachau July 11-1942

It is impossible to remember all 6 Millions + Jewish victims of the Holocaust individually. However it is important whenever it is possible to remember one individual to do so. Because they weren’t born to be victims, they were born to lead a life like anyone else. They were all human beings, with the same needs, pains, sorrows, joys, hunger, thirst and emotions like every one else.

Today I am remembering Simon de la Bella, he was born in Amsterdam, on 28 October 1889. He was murdered in Dachau on July 11,1942 in Dachau. He was a Dutch Jewish politician and trade union man.

He was the son of Aron de la Bella, diamond cleaver, and Cato van Vriesland. On November 25, 1914, he married Hinderientje van Zuiden, with whom he had a daughter. De la Bella called himself De la Bella Jr.

He was a Socialist trade unionist and senator, who co-authored the ‘Labour Plan’ in 1935. Simon was initially an office worker and director of the Association of Office Workers. He then became treasurer and secretary of the NVV and was one of the founders of publishing house De Arbeiderspers. In 1935 he was elected a member of the Senate for the SDAP and there he quickly questioned the government about the reduction in unemployment benefit. Managed to secure the union’s capital in 1939.

He was the, vice-chairman of the Nederlands Verbond van Vakverenigingen (NVV)-Netherlands Union of Trade organisations-.

On July 16, 1940, De la Bella and NVV chairman Evert Kupers were dismissed by order of the Germans.

Four days later he was informed that the Germans wanted to arrest him because of the 5 million guilders he had transferred to England. A hiding place had been arranged, but De la Bella wanted to think about it for another night. He was arrested that same evening. On the way to prison, De la Bella ingested poison, but the suicide attempt failed because the poison worked too slowly and his stomach was pumped out. He was detained in the House of Detention on the Weteringschans until September 4, before he was deported to Dachau. On July 11,1942 he was murdered in the gas chamber in Dachau.

sources

https://www.geni.com/people/Simon-de-la-Bella/6000000019300341327

https://www.mnhs.org/mgg/artifact/gas_chamber

https://www.joodsmonument.nl/nl/page/188650/simon-de-la-bella

https://socialhistory.org/bwsa/biografie/bella

https://www.parlement.com/id/vg09lkxvlmxi/s_simon_de_la_bella

Aktion Arbeitsscheu Reich -work-shy Reich

So many people think that the Holocaust only lasted as along as WWII. But they could not be further away from the truth. It could be argued that the foundation of the Holocaust goes back to 1879, when Wilhelm Marr becomes the first proponent of racial anti-Semitism, blaming Jews for the failure of the German revolutions of 1848–49. I started to watch a series on Netflix called ‘Knightfall’ which is set in the 13th century, it is inspired by events of the time although with fictional characters. In the show there already is a portrayal of hate against the Jews and there is a scene where they are forced to leave Paris, and the order is given to kill all of them once they have left the outskirts of Paris. In the show they are saved by the templars, but I know there have been pogroms going back as far as that.

In 1933 the first concentration camp became operational,Dachau. Between 13–18 June 1938, the first mass arrests of Jews begin through Aktion Arbeitsscheu Reich.

In the course of the “work-shy Reich” campaign carried out by the German police between June 13 and 18, 1938 against people classified as “asocial”, more than 10,000 people were arrested and deported to concentration camps. Around 6,000 prisoners were taken to the Sachsenhausen concentration camp alone and marked as “asocial” with a brown, later black triangle.

During the Nazi regime, the accusation of work shyness served to characterize the so-called asocial. According to an implementing regulation from 1938, anyone who “shows through behavior contrary to the community, even if it is not criminal, that he does not want to fit into the community” was considered antisocial.

According to the ordinance, anti-social persons were those who “through minor but recurring violations of the law do not want to submit to the order that is taken for granted in a National Socialist state”. Tramps, beggars, prostitutes, gypsies, drunkards and people suffering from contagious diseases, especially venereal diseases, were listed by name.

The wave of arrests was primarily intended to discipline the so-called sub-proletarian groups. During the “June Action” there were also targeted mass arrests of Jews. In Berlin, the police arrested between 1,000 and 2,000 Jews under the flimsiest of pretexts, crossing a street crossing incorrectly was enough. An anti-Semitic speech by Reich Minister of Propaganda Joseph Goebbels acted as the initial impetus. At a meeting in the Ministry of Propaganda on June 10, 1938, he stirred up the atmosphere. In his diary, Goebbels noted: “Spoke in front of 300 police officers in Berlin. I really got excited. Against all sentimentality. The slogan isn’t the law, it’s harassment. The Jews have to get out of Berlin. The police will help me with that.” Encouraged by the actions of the police, pogrom-like anti-Semitic riots broke out in Berlin and other large cities in the German Reich. Jewish shops were smeared and Jewish shopkeepers forced to close their shops; several synagogues were demolished.

Dr Christian Dirks, curator of the exhibition of diplomatic dispatches on the 1938 pogrom, suggests a connection with anti-Semitic attacks in Berlin, which, starting in May, escalated from June 13–16, 1938 with boycotts of Jewish shops, marking shops, raids on cafes and arrests.

In 2013 Dr Dirks also called an Irish report on Kristallnacht ,which was issued by Ambassador Charles Bewley in 1938, disgraceful.

Bewley, who described the events as “obviously organised,” began his report in the tone of a dispassionate diplomatic observer and identified with Germany’s claims that Jews dominated in areas of finance and entertainment and used their influence to promote “anti-Christian, anti-patriotic and communistic” thinking.

Charles Bewley

He went on to say their corrupting moral influence helped explain the “elimination of the Jewish element from public life.”

Bewley condemned the Irish media for following the “British press, itself in Jewish hands”, and “Anglo-Jewish telegraph agencies” by prominently displaying news of oppression against Jews but suppressing news of crimes perpetrated by Jews and anti-fascists.

He refrained from advising Dublin on how to correct what he believed was Ireland’s one-sided view of what he called the “Jewish problem”, but left no doubt that he viewed Jews themselves as the key issue.

sources

https://www.irishcentral.com/news/pro-nazi-irish-ambassador-report-on-kristallnacht-to-go-on-display-in-berlin-231342571-237786911

https://www.nd-aktuell.de/artikel/1091388.aktion-arbeitsscheu-reich-das-bezeichnete-bleibt-beiseite.html

https://www.dhm.de/lemo/kapitel/ns-regime/ausgrenzung-und-verfolgung/aktion-arbeitsscheu-reich-1938.html

Donation

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May 2nd Dachau Death March.

On the 2nd of May a unit from the 522nd Field Artillery Battalion, US Army, encountered Jewish inmates  who were put on a death march from Dachau and were approaching Waakirchen. The US soldiers were almost entirely of second-generation American soldiers of Japanese ancestry (Nisei)

During these marches, also called the “death marches”, at least one thousand prisoners died. They died of disease, undernourishment, and exhaustion. If a prisoner collapsed or, fully exhausted, simply could not continue, they were beaten or shot to death by SS guards. The route of the marches passed through numerous villages and small towns. Scores of residents witnessed the brutal marches.

Women prisoners from the Dachau concentration camp on an “death march” in Percha, Lake Starnberg, April 28 1945 (Municipal archives Landsberg am Lech)

By the second of May 1945, only some of the 6,000 prisoners sent on the death march were still alive; thosewhose heatlth failed them or were unable to continue had been shot as they fell. On that day, as the eastwards-marching prisoners had passed through Bad Tölz and were nearing Waakirchen, nearly sixty kilometers (37 miles) south of Dachau, several hundred of the dead and dying were lying on open ground, nearly all covered in freshly fallen snow.

They were spotted by advance scouts of the U.S. Army’s 522nd Field Artillery Battalion, the only segregated Japanese American-manned military unit in Germany at the time. Only days earlier, they had liberated the Kaufering IV Hurlach satellite slave labor camp of the Dachau main camp’s “system”.

Finishing up with the words of one of the survivors.

Willemijn Petroff-van Gurp
Due to my resistance activities, I was imprisoned in Scheveningen, Vught, Ravensbrück and Dachau. We were liberated by the Americans.

I owe my life to my friends, who dragged me along with them when I passed out and kept me warm when I was in bad shape in the camp.

Because of the war, it became clear to me what freedom of expression, the danger of dictatorship and declaring human beings to be inferior mean. This is why I contributed to a report of my experiences of the war, because I think it is important that the youth also realize this.

My oldest son Robert had prepared himself to go to the commemoration in Dachau in my name. Unfortunately I can not go there myself anymore due to my health, as I am now 101 years old.

Willemijn Petroff-van Gurp wrote this message 2 years ago

sources

http://encyclopedia.densho.org/522nd_Field_Artillery_Battalion/#

https://collections.ushmm.org/search/?f%5Bspecial_collection%5D%5B%5D=The%20Jeff%20and%20Toby%20Herr%20Oral%20History%20Archive

Band of Brothers

I recently bought a subscription for an application called Now TV. I basically bought it because it has some great box sets on it like ‘Sopranos’ .Howver I also saw that ‘Band of Brothers’ was on it too.

I forgot how good and powerful the show is. Last night I watched the second last episode, episode 9 titled “Why we fight” it is the episode where they come across one of the sub camps of Dachau. There is one powerful line in that episode which describes all the ‘enemies’ of the Third Reich.

“They are musicians, clerks, artists, doctors, teachers, Poles or Gypsies they are Jews, considered “undesirable” by the Germans. ” None of the men in the camp had any military connection.

There is one other scene earlier on in the episode, and I hadn’t noticed it before,. One of the men of EZ company entered a shop looking for VAT 69 whisky. Behind them there is a poster of a company called Opekta.

That is the company that Anne Frank’s father Otto managed in Amsterdam.

Anne Frank wrote in her diary on June 20, 1942: “Since we are Jews, my father went to the Netherlands in 1933. He became director of the Dutch Opekta company for jam production. “

source

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0185906/?ref_=ttfc_fc_tt

The shoe of a boy-The story of murder.

I always found it hard to understand why the Nazis kept the shoes of those they murdered. Of all clothing items, shoes are the most personal. Even today you don’t go to a shoe shop and just pick a pair of the shelves. You sit down and you fit them first to see if they fit and if they are comfortable.

It baffles me therefore that the shoes were kept, they had no real value, they could not really be sold to others. Then why keep them? Of course the whole Nazi ideology made no sense.

In July 2020 staff in Auschwitz could match a shoe to the name of a 6 year old victim, Amos Steinberg,

Experts at the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial found a pair of children’s shoes with a handwritten inscription detailing the child’s name, their mode of transport to the Auschwitz concentration camp, and their registration number.

But Amos was not just the owner of a pair of shoes. He was a human being, a young child with a future cut short.

Amos Steinberg was born in Prague on June 26, 1938. On August 10, 1942, Amos, his father Ludwig aka Ludvik , and his mother Ida were first imprisoned in Theresienstadt, and then deported from Czechoslovakia to Auschwitz. Amos was deported to Auschwitz along with his mother in the same transport on 4 October 1944, where they were most likely murdered in the Gas chambers when they arrived.

Researchers believe that Ida Steinberg put the note inside her six-year-old’s shoe to show to whom it belonged.

Those shoes should never have been taken off little Amos. He should have lived a full live, Kicking a ball with those same shoes, maybe even breaking a neighbour’s window because he accidentally kicked the ball through it.

Amos was one of the 1.5 million children murdered. 1.5 million, potential artists, athletes, , fathers, mothers, footballers, painters, electricians ,plumbers. The Nazis did not only murder these kids but also their future and the potential history we could have had.

Amos’s Father, Ludwig, was put on another transport, From Auschwitz to Dachau on October 10,1944. He survived the war. He was liberated from the Kaufering sub-camp. He emigrated to Israel in May 1949. He became a teacher and principal of several schools in Israel. He was highly valued and liked by his pupils and teachers who worked with him. He still loved music and worked as a cantor in several synagogues. He also conducted choirs. He passed away in 1985.

sources

https://www.thefirstnews.com/article/identity-of-child-murdered-in-auschwitz-found-scrawled-inside-old-shoe-14295

http://auschwitz.org/en/museum/news/little-shoe-and-suitcase-the-story-of-amos-steinberg-continues-,1446.html

https://www.timesofisrael.com/note-in-murdered-boys-shoe-lets-auschwitz-museum-match-with-fathers-briefcase/

https://www.foxnews.com/science/auschwitz-discovery-childrens-shoes

Dachau herb garden

Aside from their murderous practices, the SS also had several businesses.

On January 23, 1939 Oswald Pohl .the head of “SS Main Economic and Administrative Office” founded the “German Research Institute for Nutrition and Food Provision Ltd.” The shareholders were the SS concern “German Earth and Stone Works Ltd.” and a member of the SS Main Economic and Administrative Office. Although his name is not found in available sources, it can be assumed that the individual concerned was the SS-Standartenfuhrer (Colonel) Dr. Salpeter whose name was recorded as that of a trusted shareholder at the end of 1939. The major aim of the undertaking was the cultivation and study of medicinal plants and spices. Its management was the responsibility of Hauptsturmfuhrer (Captain) Heinrich Vogel in the Office of Economic Administration of the WVHA. According to the partnership agreement the research institute had the following tasks:

a) Systematic research and cultivation of those medicinal herbs native to Germany in the interest of the national economy
b) Supplying German and foreign markets with German drugs.
c) Production of new drugs and new syntheses based on scientific research.
d) Maintenance of laboratories.
e) Acquisition of plots
f) The organization of all commercial and agricultural transactions arising in connection with the enterprise e.g. poultry and animal farms etc.

The plantation at the Dachau concentration camp was the centerpiece of the whole venture which came to include a wide range of assorted projects. While at the end of 1939 there were in total only three in operation (Dachau, Ravensbruck, Bretsteintal in der Steiermark.) by the end of 1944 the “German Research Institute for Nutrition and Food Provisions Ltd” comprised over twenty agricultural enterprises as well as fish hatcheries and the administration and oversight of properties in the occupied territories of Czechoslovakia, Poland, and the Soviet Union.

One of these enterprises was the herb garden in Dachau, Known as the plantation.

The plantation at Dachau and the smaller one at Ravensbruck concentration camp were distinctive in the sense that they were cultivated almost exclusively by prisoners. The other projects, which were spread across Germany an Austria, employed a good deal more civilian workers and were cultivated only in part by prisoners. They were also less labor intensive, being based around experiments with biodynamic cultivation methods in which both Himmler and Pohl were believers as well as cattle and sheep breeding and experimenting with veterinary medicine etc.

Ernst-Günther Schenck was tasked to set up the plantation.in Dachau concentration camp, which contained over 200,000 medicinal plants, from which, among other things, vitamin supplements for the Waffen-SS were manufactured.

In 1940 he was appointed as inspector of nutrition for the SS. In 1943 Schenck developed a protein sausage, which was meant for the SS frontline troops. Prior to its adoption it was tested on 370 prisoners in Mauthausen-Gusen concentration camp, some of whom died of hunger.

The extensive cultivation of medicinal herbs, however, particularly in the given climate conditions, was highly labor intensive: such a project under the the prevailing wage conditions was hardly feasible. For the initiators of the project to use concentration camp prisoners was therefore an obvious one. Using a labor force that could be exploited could guarantee the viability of the whole undertaking.

The plantation was located outside the prisoner camp. It was a large nursery with areas of cultivated land that, from 1938 onwards, the prisoners were forced to lay out and work on. The SS described this agricultural operation euphemistically as the “herb garden”. Today, the area is mostly overbuilt with industrial buildings.

The complex comprised numerous structures, including a maintenance building, a teaching and research institute, a shop, an equipment shed, a bee house, greenhouses, as well as large sections of productive land. It was Heinrich Himmler’s idea that by cultivating and studying medicinal and aromatic herbs the Nazi state could itself independent of its reliance on foreign medicines and herbs. Establishing a “Volk medicine” in close touch with nature was a prestige project of Nazi health policy and was avidly supported by the leader of the SS. Responsible for selling the produce from the experiments and testing was the SS-owned company “Deutsche Versuchsanstalt für Ernährung und Verpflegung GmbH” (DVA).

The residents of Dachau, as in the town Dachau, and neighboring areas could purchase the produce of the “herb garden” in a shop. There individual prisoners succeeded in secretly establishing contact with the civilian population who helped them, at the risk of death, to smuggle goods and information in and out of the camp.

The prisoners called the feared deployment to the outdoor areas of the “herb garden” the “plantation” work detail. They were forced to do the extremely arduous and exhausting work no matter the weather. Inadequate clothing, malnutrition, bullying and abuse by the SS turned the already hard outdoor work into a perilous torture. The working conditions in the buildings and greenhouses were less brutal. A work detail of illustrators had to compile a herbarium.

The former administrative and institute building as well as remnants of three greenhouses with added end structures have survived. There are plans to restore the building ensemble, which is in the possession of the City of Dachau authority. Based on a new utilization concept, the historical structures are to be integrated into the Memorial Site and become part of its ‘space of memory’.

In April 1945 Dr. Ernst-Günther Schenck volunteered to work in an emergency casualty station located in the large cellar of the Reich Chancellery, near the Vorbunker and Führerbunker,during the battle in Berlin.

Although he was not trained as a surgeon and lacked the experience, as well as the supplies and instruments necessary to operate on battle victims, he nonetheless assisted in major surgical operations. During these surgeries, Schenck was aided by Dr. Werner Haase, who also served as one of Hitler’s private physicians. Although Haase had much more surgical experience than Schenck, he was greatly weakened by tuberculosis, and often had to lie down while giving verbal advice to Schenck.

During the end time in Berlin, Schenck saw Hitler in person twice, for only a brief time: once when Hitler wanted to thank him, Haase, and nurse Erna Flegel for their emergency medical services, and once during the reception after Hitler’s marriage to Eva Braun.

Because of this chance encounter with Adolf Hitler his memoirs proved historically valuable. His accounts of this period are prominent in the works of Joachim Fest and James P. O’Donnell regarding the end of Hitler’s life, and were included in the film Downfall (2004).

sources

https://www.thirdreicharts.com/the-dachau-herb-garden

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Forgotten Heroes—Risking Their Lives to Oppose an Evil Regime

I would be lying if I would say that all Dutch opposed the Nazi occupiers because many were happy enough to follow the rules of the new lords of the land.

However, many opposed the evil regime and especially opposed the way they treated their Jewish friends and neighbours.

Organisations like Het Derde Front (The Third Front) —a Marxist resistance group, called to boycott all businesses that refused Jews. There was a national strike on 25-26 February 1941, organized by several groups like the CPN) Communist Party Netherlands) and also the third front.

Both actions were announced by using posters and flyers. Anyone who would have been caught carrying these posters would face severe punishments including the death penalty.

A few dozen organizers and participants of the strike were arrested and executed. Two of them died in Dachau. This did instil fear in the population of the Netherlands because prior to that, the Nazis hadn’t been too harsh against the Dutch with the exception of the Jewish citizens of course.

However, there were several acts of bravery throughout the war.

Approximately 75% of all Jews in the Netherlands were murdered during the Holocaust, an estimated 105,000. This is the highest number per capita of all occupied countries. In retrospect, it is easy to judge those who didn’t act, but unless you have been in a situation like that yourself, you can’t.

It is true that many collaborated with the Nazis and some of them made a living out of it, additionally, the Dutch had a very sophisticated and effective civil service, combined with very accurate and up-to-date records of all citizens. This of course did help the Nazis greatly.

Despite all of that thousands that helped their Jewish fellow citizens, in many ways, were again facing severe punishments and even the death penalty, if they were caught.

Yad Vashem puts the number of the Dutch “Righteous Among the Nations” at 5,851. This is also the highest number per capita of all righteous.

The Righteous Among the Nations, honoured by Yad Vashem, are non-Jews who took great risks to save Jews during the Holocaust. The rescues took many forms and the Righteous came from different nations, religions and walks of life. What they had in common was that they protected their Jewish neighbours at a time when hostility and indifference prevailed.

One of these brave people was Pieter Bosboom.

Pieter (Piet) Bosboom was responsible for rescuing approximately 1,000 people—Jews as well as Allied airmen and other fugitives. He was born in Zaandam, North Holland, to a religious Calvinist mother and a socialist father, from both of whom he got his deeply humanistic character. As the Nazis tightened their grip on power in Germany, Piet became involved in bringing illegal refugees over the border to Holland. He quickly learned “laundering” techniques to provide escapees with new identities and visas to third countries.

In May 1940, he began organizing Resistance cells in and around Zaandam and prepared the local community to host Jewish fugitives. In August 1943, the director of the Bergstichting, a home for wayward children, was warned of an impending raid.

The institution, which was run by a non-Jewish couple, the Reitsemas, was home to many Jewish children and counsellors. The director turned to the Resistance group that was run by Piet and Marietje Overduin and hiding places were found for the Jews. Among those in danger was Ruth Donath (later Neuberger), an immigrant from Vienna whose entire family had been deported. She was determined to leave her fate to chance and refused to go into hiding. Piet did his utmost to persuade her to change her mind, although she pointed out that nobody would have her because of her Jewish looks. Ruth finally gave in and found a hiding place in Friesland and survived the war.

On 3 November 1970, Yad Vashem recognized Pieter Bosboom as Righteous Among the Nations.

It would be easy to judge those who did nothing, but I prefer to honour those who did act and let them be my example. Because although the war and the Holocaust may be over, the ideology at the foundation is still around. For decades it has been simmering in the background, but in recent times it has been coming and rearing its ugly head, showing itself.

Love still lingers on but so does hate and if we give in to that hate, history will repeat itself.

sources

https://www.joodsmonument.nl/en/page/653/berg-stichting

https://www.yadvashem.org/righteous/about-the-righteous.html

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