Putting evil into words

They say a picture tells a thousand words. But it never tells the full story. The picture above has a clear description of how evil men can be, below are some testimonies and eye witness accounts of liberators and survivors of the Holocaust.

Gina Rappaport was liberated by the US Army in April 1945, after spending two years in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in Germany. After her liberation, she wrote down her story. This is an excerpt of what she wrote.


“After two years the SS told us to pack our things and go to the station, and they put us on a train which travelled for an unknown destination. We were seven days in the train travelling very slowly, when we were liberated by the American army on the 13th of April. It was the luckiest day of my life.
At that moment I was bathing in the river when I saw the first American soldier from afar. What a joy. I couldn’t believe my eyes. I was sure it was a dream, but still it was true.
A few minutes before the American soldiers arrived we were told that we should have to go on foot over the Elbe River. But the American army saved us from a sure death, which we will never forget.
I was also sad this day because I remembered how many people of value had died and couldn’t see the liberation and the fall of the barbarian, Hitler. I shall never forget what I owe to the American army.
I hope that I will be able to estimate the right value, what the Americans have done for us. Now, after five years of suffering I shall know how to appreciate the more my liberty.”

In spring 1945, Benjamin Ferencz began investigating crimes committed by the Nazis. In the area outside the Flossenbürg concentration camp, he followed a trail of mass graves. This is his recollection.


“As the camps were about to be liberated, the Germans tried to move the inmates out, those who were still able to walk or to work. They left those behind to be killed or to die, who were too sick. But they marched them out. And they were marching—I think it was from Flossenbürg to Dachau, or one of the camps. And they took them through the woods and they marched at night, and if anybody faltered on the way, they were immediately shot. If anybody paused to try to pick up a potato or to eat a root or something, they were shot.
And I was able to follow this trail through the woods of mass graves—10, 20, 30, 50 killed, you know.
And I would get the nearest farmer to, say, dig them up. They would say, “Oh yes, we heard firing last night, there was shooting going on.” “Where was it?” ‘Over there in the woods.’ And I would say, ‘Let’s
go.’ And we’d go out to the woods and there would be a newly dug-up place, and I would say, ‘Get some shovels.’ And then stop some Germans on the street, ‘Take this shovel, dig them up.’ And we’d dig up the
bodies of people who’d been obviously shot through the head, usually top of the skull was blown off, shot probably kneeling from the back. Some of them were tied still, you know, just lightly covered over with six
inches of dirt, something like that. But I could follow the trail of crime being committed all along the way”

Marie Knowles Ellifritz was 22 when she tended to the survivors of the Mauthausen concentration camp. Her commanding officer gave the nurses the option not to enter the camp because he couldn’t bring himself
to subject them to the horrors he had seen. This is her recollection.


“The emotional trauma caused by our medical participation in the liberation of the European concentration camps was beyond belief. As Americans and as women we never before had been subjected to such inhumanity to man. And my initial feeling was of a tremendous job to do.
To take in 1,500 patients into a 400-bed hospital had to be madness. That fact became our madness. And it proved to become a tremendous overwhelming job. Clinically, it was a matter of sorting the dead from the
living, deciding who would live for at least three days or more, and to make all those we found comfortable and to begin the process of treatment. A tent to keep the patient dry, an air mattress to give them a place
to lie down, a blanket to help them keep warm, pajamas to give them some dignity, a small amount of foodto nourish them, and plasma to preserve the remaining life and begin them on a road back to living.
Everyone had work to do. The patients themselves helped as much as they could. We deloused them. We moved them out of the larger camp into our tent city and we let the fresh air, the sunshine, the space, and
most of all their freedom do its work.
It seemed to take one to three days for us to convince some of them that they were truly free at last.

And when that reality came they simply closed their eyes and died in peace and freedom. Some of the patients seemed to know immediately that they were free once again and so they were able to rejoice and begin to make plans for the future. Life force for these patients had begun when the camp’s gates were opened by their liberators.”

Mr. PATRICK GORDON WALKER (BBC): I reached Weimar’s concentration camp a few days after its liberation by British soldiers. I met these soldiers. They were filled with righteous anger. Unlike British soldiers as a rule, they wanted to talk, to tell the world what they had seen. I made recordings of these men, all of them of the outfit …(unintelligible) just outside the camp itself.

Mr. TYLER McKENNEY PAYNE (British Soldier): I’m Tyler McKenney Payne(ph) of the …(unintelligible). I live at Mansfield Woodhouse(ph). I want to tell you a tale, just one tale, as there are many other horrible sights in the past days that I saw. I myself was guarding the milk store, and around this milk store was a screaming crowd of women with babies. I kept picking a few babies out and feeding them.

And one woman who was–I think she was mad, kept kissing my feet and clothing, so I took the baby from her. When I looked at the baby, his face was black and he had been dead for a few days. I couldn’t come to say it was dead so I burst the milk can opened and poured milk down through its dead lips. The woman crooned and giggled with delight. I gave her the baby back and she staggered off and lay in the sun. And when I next looked, she was dead with the baby in her arms. So I put her in the stack of the dead bodies, 2 or 300 dead, and then I turned away. I was allowed to say that I’m a British soldier and it’s not propaganda; it’s the truth.

Mr. MURROW: As we walked out into the courtyard, a man fell dead. Two others–they must have been over 60–were crawling towards the latrine. I saw it, but will not describe it.

In another part of the camp, they showed me the children, hundreds of them. Some were only six. One rolled up his sleeve, showed me his number. It was tattooed on his arm; D6030 it was. The others showed me their numbers. They will carry them till they die. An elderly man standing beside me said, The children, enemies of the state.' I could see their ribs through their thin shirts. The old man said,I am Professor Charles Risha(ph) of the Sorbonne.’ The children clung to my hands and stared. We crossed to the courtyard. Men kept coming up to speak to me and to touch me. Professors from Poland, doctors from Vienna, men from all Europe, men from the countries that made America.

Lucjan Salzman, a Polish Jewish prisoner, was 17 when, in April 1945, he was liberated from the Wöbbelin concentration camp in Germany by the 82nd Airborne Division. This is his recollection.


“I ran in that direction and as I came onto that place I noticed many prisoners yelling and screaming and jumping and dancing. And there standing amongst them were seven giants, young people. They must have
been 18 or 19—American soldiers. There were seven or eight of them standing inside the camp. Apparently they cut the wire and came into the camp.
They were bewildered by us. Wild and unkempt and dirty and, I’m sure, smelly people, jumping and dancing and trying to embrace them and kiss them. And I did too. I also joined the crowd and yelled and screamed
and somehow knew that the day of liberation has come.
It was a strange feeling for me, however, because as I remember it, on the one hand, I was, I was overwhelmed by this unexpected and unhoped for encounter of freedom, but at the same time, what was happening was outside of me. I really—I didn’t know what to make of it. I knew I was free, but
I didn’t count on it. I somehow didn’t know what it meant. And I knew it was great, but I, I was overjoyed because all people around me were overjoyed and were singing and dancing and, and—but I, I was 17.
I, I was free, but what it meant I wasn’t sure.”

sources.

https://www.npr.org/2005/05/04/4630493/eyewitness-reports-of-nazi-concentration-camps?t=1651948620658

https://www.eisenhowerlibrary.gov/research/photographs/world-war-ii-holocaust-images

Holocaust testimonies from victims, perpetrators and liberators.

These are some testimonies of victims, perpetrators an liberators. I will not specify who is who, but the language makes the testimony and context clear.

At the end of blog is a description on one method of mass murder which was used by the einsatzgruppen.

Hans Friedrich:

“The order said—they are to be shot.” “And for me, that was binding.”

Gertrude Deak:

“We had to stand and watch, while the two girls dug their own graves, then were shot, and we had to bury them.”

Gina Rappaport:

“After two years they [the SS] told us to pack our things and go to the station, and they put us on a train
which travelled for a [sic] unknown destination. We were seven days in the train travelling very slowly,
when we were liberated by the American army on the 13th of April. It was the luckiest day of my life.
At that moment I was bathing in the river when I saw the first American soldier from afar. What a joy.
I couldn’t believe my eyes. I was sure it was a dream, but still it was true.
A few minutes before the American soldiers arrived we were told that we should have to go on foot over
the Elbe River. But the American army saved us from a sure death, which we will never forget.
I was also sad this day because I remembered how many people of value had died and couldn’t see the
liberation and the fall of the barbarian, Hitler. I shall never forget what I owe to the American army.
I hope that I will be able to estimate the right value, what the Americans have done for us. Now, after
five years of suffering I shall know how to appreciate the more my liberty.”

Rudolf Höss:

“True opponents of the state had to be securely locked up. Only the SS were capable of protecting the National Socialist State from all internal danger. All other organisations lacked the necessary toughness.”

Jerzy Bielecki:

“I saw an SS-man, a junior officer, walking around the gravel pit with a pistol in his hand…It was sadism. ‘You dogs! You damned communists! You pieces of shit!’ Horrible words like these. And from time to time he would direct the pistol downwards and shoot: pow… pow pow.”

Sergeant Leon Bass:

“We were in the intelligence reconnaissance section of our unit and we went right to Buchenwald. And that
was the day that I was to discover what had really been going on in Europe under the Nazis because
I walked through the gates and I saw walking dead people.
And just looking at these people who were skin and bone and dressed in those pajama-type uniforms,
their heads clean shaved, and filled with sores through the malnutrition. I just looked at this in amazement
and I said to myself, you know, “My God, who are these people? What was their crime?” You know?
It’s hard for me to try to understand why anyone could have been treated this way. I don’t care what they
had done. And I didn’t have any way of thinking or putting a handle on it, no frame of reference. I was
only 20. Had I been told, I doubt if I could have had, in my mind’s eye, envisioned anything as horrible as I saw”

Heinz Mayer:

“As the Americans were approaching, the SS thought that it was them who were firing the shots, The SS fled, and the prisoners armed themselves with the abandoned weapons. We occupied all the watchtowers and blocked the forest in the direction of Weimar in order to intercept any returning SS.”

Hans Friedrich

“Because my hatred towards the Jews is too great. And I admit my thinking on this point is unjust, I admit this. But what I experienced from my earliest youth when I was living on a farm, what the Jews were doing to us—well that will never change. That is my unshakeable conviction.”

Lieutenant Marie Knowles Ellifritz:

“The emotional trauma caused by our medical participation in the liberation of the European concentration
camps was beyond belief. As Americans and as women we never before had been subjected to such inhumanity to man. And my initial feeling was of a tremendous job to do.
To take in 1,500 patients into a 400-bed hospital had to be madness. That fact became our madness. And itproved to become a tremendous overwhelming job. Clinically, it was a matter of sorting the dead from the
living, deciding who would live for at least three days or more, and to make all those we found comfortable and to begin the process of treatment. A tent to keep the patient dry, an air mattress to give them a place
to lie down, a blanket to help them keep warm, pajamas to give them some dignity, a small amount of food to nourish them, and plasma to preserve the remaining life and begin them on a road back to living.
Everyone had work to do. The patients themselves helped as much as they could.

We deloused them. We moved them out of the larger camp into our tent city and we let the fresh air, the sunshine, the space, and
most of all their freedom do its work.

It seemed to take one to three days for us to convince some of them that they were truly free at last. And
when that reality came they simply closed their eyes and died in peace and freedom. Some of the patients
seemed to know immediately that they were free once again and so they were able to rejoice and begin
to make plans for the future. Life force for these patients had begun when the camp’s gates were opened
by their liberators”

Józef Paczynski —:

“I personally was afraid of walking past Block 11. Personally, I was afraid. Although it was closed off, I was really scared to walk past there. Whether it was the avenue when I was walking there, or what… I was afraid. Block 11 meant death.”

Kazimierz Smolen:

“During an evening roll call, we were told that all the sick among us could go away for treatment… that they could leave to be cured, and that they were to sign up. Of course, it was said that they would be going for treatment. And, in the camp, some people believed it…”

Lucjan Salzman:

“I ran in that direction and as I came onto that place I noticed many prisoners yelling and screaming and
jumping and dancing. And there standing amongst them were seven giants, young people. They must have been 18 or 19—American soldiers. There were seven or eight of them standing inside the camp. Apparently
they cut the wire and came into the camp.
They were bewildered by us. Wild and unkempt and dirty and, I’m sure, smelly people, jumping and dancing and trying to embrace them and kiss them. And I did too. I also joined the crowd and yelled and screamed and somehow knew that the day of liberation has come.
It was a strange feeling for me, however, because as I remember it, on the one hand, I was, I was overwhelmed by this unexpected and unhoped for encounter of freedom, but at the same time, what
was happening was outside of me. I really—I didn’t know what to make of it. I knew I was free, but I didn’t count on it. I somehow didn’t know what it meant. And I knew it was great, but I, I was overjoyed
because all people around me were overjoyed and were singing and dancing and, and—but I, I was 17.I, I was free, but what it meant, I wasn’t sure”

Vasyl Valdeman:

“That’s how it was—the first execution—the most horrible one. It wasn’t the last one. There were three more large executions after that with 2000 to 3000 people shot at every one of them. More people were executed afterwards in smaller scale ones and this is how the Jewish community of Ostrog was annihilated.”

All over the Soviet Union in the summer of 1941 the Nazis and their collaborators were murdering women and children at close range and in cold blood. Himmler realised he had to find a better way of killing—better for the murderers, not their victims.

Which is why SS Lieutenant Dr. Albert Widmann of the Technical Institute of the Criminal Police travelled into Eastern Europe. Widmann and his colleagues had been involved in the experiments which had led to the use of bottled carbon monoxide to kill the disabled. But he knew that it would be expensive and difficult to send canisters of carbon monoxide all the way to the new killing locations far from Germany. So he had to find a new way forward, which is why he drove into the Soviet Union followed by a truck carrying boxes of high explosive. Widmann reported to Artur Nebe, commander of one of the killing squads, at his headquarters in the Lenin House in Minsk.

Widmann reported to Artur Nebe, commander of one of the killing squads, at his headquarters in the Lenin House in Minsk.

“I hope you’ve got enough explosives with you? You ordered 250 kg, I’ve brought 450 kg with me. You never know. Very good.”

Nazi eyewitness account of murder experiment with explosives: “The bunker had totally collapsed, there was total silence. Body parts were scattered on the ground and hanging in the trees. And the next day we collected the body parts and threw them back into the bunker. Those parts that were too high in the trees were just left there.”

After this horror, Widmann and his SS colleagues tried another method of mass murder—this one suggested by what had happened to Artur Nebe of the SS earlier on in the year. Nebe had driven home drunk from a party in Berlin and passed out in his garage with the car engine still running. As a result the carbon monoxide from the exhaust gasses had nearly killed him. Learning from Nebe’s experience, Widmann and his colleagues then conducted experiments in the Soviet Union, like that one.

sources

https://www.pbs.org/auschwitz/about/transcripts.html

https://www.eisenhowerlibrary.gov/research/photographs/world-war-ii-holocaust-images

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/testimonies-holocaust-survivors-now-online-180976883/

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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