Camps de Gurs—The Forgotten Concentration Camp

Although its official name is Gurs Internment Camp, let’s call it what it really was, a concentration camp. It is also probably one, if not the only time, the Nazis sent Jews westward.

At first, it served as a camp for Spanish republicans and German refugees who fled from Nazism. The Gurs Camp was among the first and one of the largest camps established in prewar France. It was located at the foot of the Pyrenees in Southwestern France, just South of the village of Gurs. The camp, about 50 miles from the Spanish border, was situated in the foothills of the Pyrenees Mountains northwest of Oloron-Sainte-Marie.

The camp measured about 1.4 km (in length and 200 m in width, an area of 28 ha (69 acres). Its only street ran the length of the camp. On either side of the street were plots of land measuring 200 m by 100 m, named îlots (blocks; literally, “islets”). There were seven îlots on one side and six on the other. The plots were separated from the street and from each other by wire fences. The fences were doubled at the back part of the plots to create a walkway along which the exterior guards circulated. In each plot stood about 30 cabins; there were 382 cabins altogether.

In early 1940, the French government interned about 4,000 German Jewish refugees as “enemy aliens” along with French leftist political leaders who opposed the war with Germany. After the French armistice with Germany in June 1940, Gurs fell under the authority of the new collaborationist French government, the Vichy regime.

In October 1940, the Nazi Gauleiter (“governor”) from the Baden region of Germany had also been named Gauleiter of the neighbouring French region of Alsace. In Baden resided some 7,500 Jews, mainly women, children, and the elderly, given that the young and middle-aged men had emigrated or had gone to the Nazi concentration camps.

The Gauleiter received word that the camp at Gurs was mostly empty, and on 25 October 1940, it was decided to evacuate the Jews from Baden (between 6,500 and 7,500) to Gurs as part of Operation Wagner-Bürckel. There, they remained locked up under the French administration. The living conditions were difficult, and illness rife, especially typhus and dysentery.

The deportation of the German Jews to Gurs in October 1940 is a unique case in the history of the Holocaust. IT WAS the only deportation of Jews carried out toward the west of Germany by the Nazi regime.

Conditions in the Gurs camp were very primitive. It was overcrowded and there was a constant shortage of water, food, and clothing. During 1940–41, some 800 detainees died of contagious diseases, including typhoid fever and dysentery.

One in four of the deportees died in Gurs or other French camps, 11 per cent succeeded in emigrating overseas, 12 per cent hid out in France, and 40 per cent (around 2,600 deportees) were transported to Auschwitz after July 1942. The fate of the remaining 600 deportees is unknown.

The Vichy regime turned over the Jews who were located in Gurs to the Nazis. On 18 July 1942, the SS captain, Theodor Dannecker, inspected the camp and then ordered that they prepare themselves to be transported to Eastern Europe. The Nazis sent the majority of them to the Drancy transit camp just outside of Paris. From Drancy, they were deported in six convoys to the killing centres in Poland, primarily Auschwitz.

Vichy authorities closed the Gurs camp in November 1943. Almost 22,000 prisoners had passed through Gurs, of whom over 18,000 were Jewish. More than 1,100 internees died in the camp. In 1944, Gurs was reopened briefly to intern political prisoners and resistance fighters arrested by Vichy police.

From 25 August to 31 December 1945, Nazi collaborators and hundreds of anti-Franco militants were interned. In total 3,370 persons, exclusively men.

sources

https://www.cheminsdememoire.gouv.fr/en/gurs-internment-camp

https://encyclopedia.ushmm.org/content/en/article/gurs

https://portal.ehri-project.eu/institutions/fr-006277

https://www.fondationshoah.org/en/node/47403

The Oradour Massacre by Das Reich

WARNING: THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS GRAPHIC IMAGES

The 2nd SS Panzer Division Das Reich surrounded the tiny hamlet of Oradour-sur-Glane in the Limousin region of South Central France on 10 June 1944. The division then massacred 642 French civilians in the village.

Some believe that the troops were seeking retribution for the kidnap of a German soldier, but others say that resistance members were based in a different, nearby village. Most of the victims were women and children. Many were herded into a local church, and hand grenades thrown in, before being set on fire. The men were locked in a barn. Machine gunners shot at their legs, then doused them in petrol and set them alight. An investigation years later saw some 60 soldiers brought to trial in the 1950s. Twentywere convicted, but all were later released.

How they got away with their crimes is something I don’t understand.

The men of the village were rounded up, pushed into a barn and shot.
Then the women and children were forced inside the village church and burned alive. In the meantime, other stormtroopers went through the village, drenching the houses with an incendiary product before setting them afire and machine-gunning those who hid in a vain attempt to escape.

sources

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-53875150

The Journey of No Return

The picture above is a photograph of a rail track I pass over nearly every day. Yesterday, when I passed it, I had to think of all those who went on train journeys and never returned.

The trains that travel over this rail track are comfortable, They have soft seats you can sit on, and some even have restaurant facilities on board.

On 20 January 1942, a conference was held in Berlin and became known as The Wannsee Conference. It was there that they decided what to do with the remaining Jews in Europe, not only occupied Europe but also The United Kingdom and Ireland. The Nazis wanted to murder all 11 million Jews in Europe. They called it, “The Final Solution.“

It was on that day when they decided that all Jews, Roma, undesirables, and non-Aryans, were to be transported by train to the concentration and extermination camps.

Trains were used before that, but more to concentrate the Jewish populations in the ghettos or to transport them to forced labour and concentration camps for economic exploitation.

Not like the luxury trains that pass the rail track above. The trains the Nazis used didn’t have the same facilities. The Nazis used both freight and passenger cars for the deportations. There was neither food nor water available on those trains. The toilet was one bucket for the hundreds of people per wagon. The people were deported in sealed freight cars with extreme heat in summer, freezing temperatures in winter, and the stench of urine and excrement. Some were transported in passenger cars, but the majority were deported on cars which were originally built to transport cattle. The difference was the cattle would have been a lot more comfortable because there were fewer of them, and they would be fed and given water. Without food or water, many of the deportees died before the trains reached the camps. Armed guards shot anyone trying to escape. They even had to pay for the train tickets. Everyone was pushed into the trains regardless the age, sex, or health condition. Young babies, pregnant women, people of old age, and sick people all in one car.

There is no denying how the railway transports of the Deutsche Reichsbahn operated. However, all other Railway companies across occupied Europe complied and were therefore complacent.

In France, it was the Société Nationale des Chemins de Fer Français railway, or short SNCF. It became an instrument of death during the Holocaust. Under German occupation, it provided the trains that transported 73 convoys of Jews eastwards. French railway workers operated the trains until they reached the border with Germany, where they were replaced by German staff

In the Netherlands, Westerbork became the main transit camp in 1941 and the first deportees left on 15 July 1942. The final train left on 13 September 1944, with 279 Jews on board. Among those deported from the camp were 245 Sinti and Roma. Approximately 100 trains left Westerbork.

The prisoners at Westerbork lived from transport to transport and between hope and fear. The evening before a departure was unbearable because the names of those who would be transported were announced then. The next day there was no escape. Sometimes as many as 70 people with all their bags were crammed into each filthy boxcar of the lengthy train.

A representative of the National Westerbork Memorial, Dirk Mulder, said in a TV interview that the NS(Dutch Railways) had “complied with the German order to make trains available. The Germans paid for it and the NS had to come up with a timetable. And the company went and did it without a word of objection.”

There are some miraculous stories of survival though.

Mirjam Lapid-Andriesse was 10 years old when she was taken from her home in the Dutch city of Utrecht and placed in an Amsterdam “ghetto” with her family in April 1943. In an interview with the BBC, she recalled her memories.

“I was a little girl during the war, so my memories are childhood memories, not political, I was the youngest of four children, two boys and two girls. I remember we were taken from the ghetto by train to the Westerbork transit camp in June 1943.”

Shortly before the war ended, the Nazis began destroying evidence of concentration camps, including sites and documentation, and transporting prisoners to other locations within Germany. It was at this time, as Mirjam was travelling through Germany in 1945 on one of three trains that had departed from the camp at Bergen-Belsen, that she recalls the moment she was freed.

“Our train was known as The Lost Train,” she said after the vehicle intended to travel to Theresienstadt, in what is now the Czech Republic, was forced to reroute due to bombing, before stopping in the small German village of Tröbitz. Many of the people on board died in transit due to malnutrition and illness. I celebrated my 12th birthday on the train, on 17 April 1945. Since then I celebrate my second birthday on 23 April—the day we were liberated by the Russian army in Tröbitz, where we were held for two months. We were then returned to the Netherlands.”

Mirjam was one of the few lucky ones. Most went on a journey of no return.

#NEVER FORGET#

sources

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-49233817

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-30351196

Click to access Filling-the-Silence-JM1-State-of-Research.pdf

https://encyclopedia.ushmm.org/content/en/article/german-railways-and-the-holocaust

https://kampwesterbork.nl/en/history/second-world-war/durchgangslager/66-history/durchgangslager/266-transports

Holocaust Diaries

A diary is the most personal possession someone might have. It is a journal of their wishes, fears and often their secrets. It is therefore extremely important when a diary becomes public it is treated with the utmost dignity and respect, especially those that were written during the darkest era of mankind.

Diary of Susi Hilsenrath

Susi Hilsenrath was barely ten years old when her parents decided to send her and her younger brother to France from their native Bad Kreuznach in Germany. This happened in the aftermath of the nationwide anti-Jewish violence organized by Nazi leaders in November 1938, which has often been referred to as Kristallnacht.

As the Germans invaded and defeated France in the summer of 1940, Susi’s father hired a guardian to evacuate Susi and her brother from Paris to Broût-Vernet, a small town in Vichy France. There, they were helped by the Œuvre de Secours aux Enfants, a French Jewish organization that was helping Jewish refugee children. The organization housed them with several other Jewish children in a local château, where they awaited emigration. Susi and her brother soon received immigration visas with the help of the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, an American humanitarian organization that helped European Jewish refugees to immigrate to the United States. Travelling via Spain and Portugal, they arrived in New York City in the fall of 1941. There they were reunited with their parents and their youngest brother, who had managed to escape to the United States separately.

While housed at the château from the summer of 1940 until the late summer of 1941, Susi kept a diary. She described her life as part of the larger group of children and their uncertainty about the future. The diary captures a range of her moods and emotions, from childish musings to profound anxiety and sadness. Like many other child authors of Holocaust diaries, Susi expressed her awareness of the extraordinary and perilous situation she was in even though she may not have fully understood the specific threats that she was facing.

Sunday, August 3, 1941


“Oh, how happy I was, and now how many tears I’ve shed. I am not leaving. The others left an hour ago. Weichselbaum, Feuer, and Fellman aren’t leaving either. Oh, now I can’t stand it anymore, the day seems twice as long. Strange, everything is all turned around. Edith is leaving and Adolf and Alexander are leaving. Oh yes, Helga is also staying. With whom shall I go now? With Helga, impossible. In the end, she would drive me crazy. I don’t want to go with Sabine, and with Susi W., I don’t know whether we get along. The house will be empty, but I think 40 new children are going to come. […] I don’t know how long I can stand it here. I want so much to travel after them on a bus, to eat the good things, and travel so long on the train, through a whole country. Then by ship across the big ocean and then, best of all, to see my dear parents again. My dear, dear parents. But often I get quite a strange feeling, I think that my parents have separated and don’t want to be together anymore, but I don’t know why, the thought just comes to me on its own.

Today is Tisha b’Av.1 We fasted until 2:30, and I was terribly hungry. I thought I would be in Ganal by this time, and where am I now—in this miserable house? But one thing you can say, if we had gone with this transport, then we would have to thank the Directress for almost everything. Because she is on the telephone all day, she says, Hilsenrath and Feuer have to leave; she repeats it every time. One can certainly say that since Herr Weichselbaum left, she has become much nicer and more decent. She doesn’t shout as much anymore, and when she does shout, there’s a reason for it. She is much more engaged with us, too. I am extremely angry with Herr Cogan. If he had not phoned today, and the Directress had phoned instead, she would have accomplished more. It was like this: he spoke to Frau Salomon about the children who left (Flora and Gustel almost wouldn’t have gone, if the Directress hadn’t been there). He talked about Flora and someone asked him her age, and he said she was 15, and Gustel 12. The children who were over 12 couldn’t go, for the most part. I think Frau Salomon was about to say they couldn’t go, but the Directress spoke insistently […] After a lot of mulling it over, he got the words out. Then she told him [to say] a lot of other things, but he just would not say them. She spoke about us, too, she said, ask about Hilsenrath and Feuer. Not a word came out. “About Hilsenrath and Feuer,” the Directress said. Not a word. Finally, it came out. Madame Salomon said it was impossible, he said “Fine, fine,” and once again, “fine.” He doesn’t care whether we go or not. I’m sure that if the Directress had had the telephone in her hand, she would have accomplished something. But he, the dumb fool, or even better, idiot, can’t do anything. Then the Directress took the phone in her hand for a minute and asked about Hilde and Otto, because they couldn’t go either, and she accomplished it. Oh, if you only knew how angry I am at Cogan.

I’m not at all sorry about the children who left, only Edith. How we came together, I really don’t know. How happy I would be if I had gone with her. I would have enjoyed the trip twice as much. Oh, that would have been so nice, and now everything is over, all over. Never, I think, will I feel really good here”

Susi survived the Holocaust

Eva Heyman was a Jewish girl from Oradea. She began keeping a diary in 1944 during the German occupation of Hungary. Published under the name The Diary of Eva Heyman, her diary has been compared to The Diary of Anne Frank. She discusses the extreme deterioration of the circumstances the Jewish community faced in the city, offering a detailed account of the increasingly restrictive anti-Jewish laws, the psychological anguish and despair, the loss of their rights and liberties and the confiscation of property they endured. Heyman was 13 years old when she and her grandparents were murdered in Auschwitz.

She started writing in her diary on her thirteenth birthday 13 February 1944.

February 13, 1944

I’ve turned thirteen, I was born on Friday the thirteenth. From Grandpa, I received phonograph records of the kind I like. My grandfather bought them so that I should learn French lyrics, which will make [Mother] happy because she isn’t happy about my school record cards except when I get a good mark in French I do a lot of athletics, swimming, skating, bicycle riding, and exercise. I’ve written enough today. You’re probably tired, dear diary.

March 19, 1944

Dear Diary,
You’re the luckiest one in the world, because you cannot feel, you cannot know what a terrible thing has happened to us. The Germans have come!

May 10, 1944

Dear Diary,

We’re here five days, but, word of honour, it seems like five years.

The most awful thing of all is that the punishment for everything is death. There is no difference between things; no standing in the corner, no spankings, no taking away food, and no writing down the declension of irregular verbs one hundred times the way it used to be in school. Not at all: the lightest and heaviest punishment—death.

sources

https://www.yadvashem.org/education/educational-materials/ceremonies/diary.html

https://perspectives.ushmm.org/item/diary-of-susi-hilsenrath/collection/holocaust-diaries

Holocaust Letters

This is just my opinion and there is no scientific research done on this, at least not as far as I am aware, but I think the Holocaust can be categorized as organized randomness.

On a large scale the industrialized murder of millions was organized efficiently, however on smaller scales the treatment of mainly Jews, by the Nazis, was often quite random. There are several examples where Jews were left alone, One of those is the Jewish division in the Finnish army, Finland was one of the Axis powers.

There was even a field synagogue for these soldiers, some German soldiers sometimes even visited the synagogue and showed respect for the Jews who prayed there, despite the propaganda they had been subjected to for years.

Erhard Milch, Wilhelm Keitel, Walther von Brauchitsch, Erich Raeder, and Maximilian von Weichs were all senior officers in the Wehrmacht, and they all were of Jewish descent.

On the other hand, there were random single killings. One only has to think of Amon Göth who used to randomly shoot Jews from his balcony.

The ones in this post are also random. Just random thoughts of fear, hope, anxiety, and determination. The letter at the top of the post was a telegram from Erna and Arnold Korn from Berlin to their son Walter and his wife Chava (Chawa) on Kibbutz Matzuva, a month before the former were sent to their deaths in Auschwitz. Arnold and Erna would send Walter-who had moved in March 1939, to Eretz Israel—a letter every week. Afterward, from time to time a telegram would reach him via the Red Cross. The last sign of life from Arnold and Erna was sent in February 1943.

21 December 1942

Sender:
Korn Eliyahu
Matzuba Group
Post Office, Nahariya

We both, all the relatives, [and] Gerda, are healthy. Expecting baby at the end of January. Hope Reni, Paula and Oskar are well. Work is good. We were happy to get your letter.

Kisses, Chava [and] Eliyahu

Side 2

Sincere thanks for your words. Hope you are happy parents. We are both fine. No news of our dearest ones. Gerda is happy that you are well. Kisses.

Mother, Father

11 February 1943

Yuri Lyubarski, a Jewish officer in the Red Army, wrote these words to his wife Rosa in Shymkent-Chimkent, Tashkent from the front in the Kharkov region.

16 May 1942
Dear Rosichka and Larichka,

Yesterday, Grisha sent you 500 rubles in a registered letter and forgot to enclose my letter, which I’m sending now. In a few days I will be getting money, and I’ll send you some. Then you’ll be able to buy yourself and Larichka everything you want. I contacted the Ministry of Finance requesting that they send the certificate to the Shymkent-Chimkent office of the Soldiers’ Association. You need to go there and check if it arrived, and to nag them. Maybe you should ask them to contact the office in Moscow. That may help you get the certificate quicker. They have your old address in Moscow. In any event, even if the document arrives late, you will receive money from May onwards. All in all, it would be better to get it on time.

There’s nothing new on my end. Please answer all the questions I asked you in previous letters down to the minutest details. Don’t think that long letters tire me out. Write as much as you can, and in as much detail as you can. I will read the good news with great pleasure. I await the arrival of a photo of you and Larichka and will try and send you writing paper. No stamps necessary.

I will end here. It’s already 1:00 in the morning and I’m going to sleep.
Stay alive and in good health.
Regards to Father, Mother, Masha, and the Eibinders.
Kisses to you and Larichka.
Your Yuri

Letter from Siegfried Bodenheimer
Siegfried Bodenheimer wrote these words in his last letter to his son Ernst in the children’s home in Montintin, three months before Ernst’s Bar Mitzvah.

Siegfried Bodenheimer
Les Milles camp, 18.5.42
Group 13

To
Ernst Bodenheimer
Chateau Montintin

My beloved Ernst,
Yesterday I received your letter of 10.5 and was glad to hear that you are well. We are always very interested to hear how your Achilles tendon is faring. What I hear from you alleviates my anxiety and I see that as far as you are concerned, all is well. Let’s hope it stays that way. What do you hear from your beloved Ilse and Mother? You will always receive mail from La Chatre.
Dear Ernst, although we [the family] are spread out, we have to thank God for one thing: that as of now, all of us are more or less healthy. Do you feel the same way, dear Ernst? We are now approaching Shavuot. What this means for us – I don’t need to tell you. The giving of the statutes [Torah] was a one-time event, but they will be in force for as long as the world exists. The commandments are so sacred and immutable that we must aspire to observe them under any circumstances. From this year forward, my dear son, you will have to observe them, and therefore, please act accordingly. But despite everything, always remain happy and good-hearted. Come what may, the war will still go on for a long time. The most important thing is that you learn something that will be useful.
Here, nothing significant has taken place. In the last week, many people have been forced to leave and go out to work. A few friends left for the US, and on Shabbat, a few received evacuation notices [transports to Auschwitz] for mid-June.
Have I already written to you that we have two beautiful dogs, called Pateraf and Conchet?
I see that you can already correct my mistakes! Yes, I spelled the word Mattre wrong. The French doesn’t penetrate my old head. For example: today – Monday – I had an English lesson, and in the morning, a French lesson.
Dear Ernst, observe the festival well and regards and kisses from your father.
Heartfelt regards to all the children we know, especially Av Maksel.
Can you read my handwriting?

Like so many other Jews from Berlin, Ilse Chotzen was deported to Riga, Latvia, with her husband Erich in January 1942. Erich died two months after their arrival in Riga, which made Ilse’s life even more difficult. She then befriended a German soldier, Adolf—whose last name she never revealed—who agreed to send letters to Ilse’s in-laws under his name using the German military’s postal service. This was an extremely bold move since soldiers’ mail was inspected by the authorities. The nature of Ilse’s relationship between Ilse and Adolf is unknown. It is also unknown what happened to Adolf and whether he survived the war.

Ilse’s father-in-law in Berlin had died shortly after she and Erich were deported to Riga, but she had no way of knowing since she did not receive letters from Berlin there. So Ilse continued to write letters addressed to both Erich’s parents, describing life in Riga and asking about their health and circumstances in Berlin.

Dated July 23, 1942, the featured letter shows the deep pain experienced by its author. It also underscores the tragic disintegration of family ties—a common experience for many Jewish families during the Holocaust.2

llse Chotzen’s exact fate is unknown, but she did not survive the war. She was only twenty or twenty-one years old at the time of her death.

23./7 [July 23, 1942]

This is the sixth time that I’ve written you, and I still haven’t received any answer. What’s going on with you? By now, of course, you know everything that I’ve been through but just think: now I’m together with A. every day.1 He’s a great guy, and I’m very happy that I have him here. Enclosed, we’re sending along a permit stamp for military postal parcels. 1 kg. Please send A. soap, he needs it badly, and I urgently need stockings and a nightgown. You need to get the parcel ready right away, please, so that the stamp doesn’t expire. I can’t describe to you how I’m doing because I never suspected that one can survive with such profound pain. The longing for all of you, my dear ones, tortures me to no end, and to this day I still can’t conceive of living without my beloved Erich. I simply don’t comprehend it, and I always think (I sit in the dark at the window for half the night) that I just have to find him or something of him in nature, but…! Are you well? Dearest Mama and Papa, you’ve never been so close to me as you are now in my immeasurable grief. I think about you so much! […] I want you all to write us, please, especially you, dearest Mama, and my dear Papa. Adolf would like to hear all your news, too. We talk a great deal about home. He’s interested in everything. […] Do send me pictures of Erich and yourselves, please. Dearest Papa, I hope your leg is alright again, I’m so worried about you and above all about Mama. I think about you so much, Papa, because Erich had such a close resemblance to you. When A. goes on leave in September, he’ll come to see you. He’ll be traveling through Berlin anyway. He’ll certainly have some stories for you! […]

The Last Letter From Aron Liwerant
Aron Liwerant wrote these words on a deportation train in France to his daughter, Berthe. Aron was murdered in Majdanek. Berthe survived.

March 3, 1943

Dear Berthe,
It is already day four. I am now in the railroad car. We are surely traveling to Germany. I am also certain we are going to work. We are about 700 people, 23 railroad cars. In each car, there are two gendarmes. This is a commercial railroad car, but it is neat with benches and a heater. Of course, German railroad cars. Of course, without compartments. They put a pail in it. Imagine the impression this makes. Not everyone can use it. You have to be strong in every situation.
I hope, my child, that you receive all my letters. If you can, keep them for a memento. Dear Berthe, I enclose two lottery tickets. I don’t have a newspaper. I believe I will be able to write a letter to Aunt Paula. I hope, my child, that you will know how to behave as a free person, even though you are without your parents for now. Don’t forget that you must survive, and don’t forget to be a Jew and also a human being. Sharae this with Simon. Remain free people and observe everything with open eyes. Don’t be influenced by first impressions. Know that you cannot open up a person to look inside, at his concealed thoughts, if he has a serious face, or even if he laughs and is pleasant. I don’t mean one specific thing only, but everything that lives around you and everything you see. Both false thoughts and honest thoughts are often blurred, and you should watch how a person behaves in your presence. You don’t see the falsehoods or the honesty of a person in one day. You understand that my advice is for your benefit. Always remember these ideas. My dear child, I think this letter will be my last because we are nearing Paris. If I can – I will write again. My dear Bertshi, take care of your health and don’t drink cold drinks when you sweat so I will be able to see my healthy children once again. Tell Simon everything I have written you. Tell him to study and be a good student, because he is gifted. I am finishing my letter. Many kisses. I am going with the confidence that you will grow up and be a good, healthy, and smart girl.

Your Father, hoping to see you soon

This letter was thrown from a deportation train somewhere in Poland in December 1942.

Płońsk 16.XII.42

It is morning. We are inside a railcar with the whole family. We left with the last departure. Płońsk has been cleared.

Please go to the [home] of the Bamóws on 6 Niska Street and give them our regards

This is from the side of those who were responsible for the Holocaust, The business-like language is probably more chilling them the words written by the victims. In a February 26, 1942 letter to Martin Luther, Reinhard Heydrich follows up on the Wannsee Conference by asking Luther for administrative assistance in the implementation of the “Endlösung der Judenfrage” (Final Solution of the Jewish Question).

15 November.1941
Reichskommissar for Ostland
IIa 4
Secret
To: Reich Minister for the Occupied Eastern Territories
RE: Execution of Jews

…Will you please inform me whether your inquiry of 31 October should be interpreted as a directive to liquidate all the Jews in Ostland? Is this to be done regardless of age, sex, and economic requirements (for instance, the Wehrmacht’s demand for skilled workers in the armament industry)? Of course, the cleansing of Ostland of Jews is a most important task; its solution, however, must be in accord with the requirements of war production…
Loshe
Reichskommissar for Ostland

Letter: The Jewish Question

18 December.1941
Berlin
Reich Minister for the Occupied Eastern Territories
To: Reichskommissar for Ostland
RE: Jewish question

The Jewish question has presumably been clarified by employing verbal discussion. In principle, economic considerations are not to be taken into account in the settlement of the problem. It is further requested that any questions that arise be settled directly with the Higher SS and Police Leader.
Braeutigam


December.1941
Reichskommissar for Ostland
To: Higher SS and Police Leader

…I request most emphatically that the liquidation of Jews employed as skilled workers in armament plants and repair workshops of the Wehrmacht who cannot be replaced at present by local personnel be prevented…

…Provision is to be made as quickly as possible for the training of suitable local personnel as skilled workers…
Loshe
Reichskommissar for Ostland


16 December 1941
Minsk
Generalkommissar for Byelorussia
To: Reichskommissar for Ostland

I wish to ask you personally for an official directive for the conduct of the civilian administration towards the Jews deported from Germany to Byelorussia. Among these Jews are men who fought at the Front and have the Iron Cross, First and Second Class, war invalids, half-Aryans, even three-quarter Aryans…

…These Jews will probably freeze or starve to death in the coming weeks…On my responsibility I will not give the SD any instructions with regard to the treatment of these people…

I am certainly a hard [man] and willing to help solve the Jewish question, but people who come from our cultural sphere just are not the same as the brutish hordes in this place. Is the slaughter to be carried out by the Lithuanians and Letts, who are themselves rejected by the population here? I couldn’t do it. I beg you to give clear directives [in this matter,] with due consideration for the good name of our Reich and our Party, in order that the necessary action can be taken in the most humane manner.
Heil Hitler!
Wilhelm Kube

What comes across quite clearly in these letters also, is the fact that it wasn’t only the Germans involved, The French gendarmerie, Lithuanians, and Latvians (referred to as Letts) are mentioned as perpetrators.

sources

https://perspectives.ushmm.org/collection/wartime-correspondence

https://www.yadvashem.org/yv/en/exhibitions/last-letters/1941/index.asp

https://www.dw.com/en/last-letters-from-the-holocaust-remembering-the-victims/a-42325106

Donation

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Odette Hallowes—Tortured and Starved in Ravensbrück—and Survived

This is one of those amazing stories of resilience and perseverance.

Odette Sansom, aka Odette Churchill and Odette Hallowes, code name Lise, was an agent for the United Kingdom’s clandestine Special Operations Executive (SOE) in France during World War II.

She was born on 28 April 1912 in Amiens, France.

She met an Englishman, Roy Patrick Sansom, in Boulogne and married him in Boulogne-sur-Mer on 27 October 1931, moving with him to Britain. The couple had three daughters, Françoise Edith, born in 1932 in Boulogne; Lili M, born in 1934 in Fulham; and Marianne O, born in 1936 in Fulham. Mr Sansom joined the army at the beginning of the second world war, and Odette Sansom and the children moved to Somerset for their safety.

In the spring of 1942, the Admiralty appealed for postcards or family photographs taken on the French coastline for possible war use. Hearing the broadcast, Odette wrote that she had photographs taken around Boulogne, but she mistakenly sent her letter to the War Office instead of the Admiralty. That brought her to the attention of Colonel Maurice Buckmaster’s Special Operations Executive.

Odette was recruited as a courier for the SPINDLE circuit of Special Operations Executive. She was a wife and mother of three who didn’t drink, smoke or swear, and to the casual observer, she was quite ordinary, perhaps even boring. Yet, she was a trained killer. She feared neither danger nor dagger—interrogation nor torture. She didn’t think twice about confronting German generals or commandants and often placed principle before prudence. Like her colleagues in the SOE, she signed up for the war knowing that arrest (and execution) was a very real possibility—a fate that awaited almost one in two for F Section (France) couriers.

She was betrayed by a double agent, Colonel Henri, in April 1943. Colonel Henri was a German officer who claimed he wished to work for the allies. Despite, Odette’s suspicions, his involvement led to her arrest.

Arrested in 1943 by the Gestapo, she was sent with fellow SOE agent Peter Churchill (no relation to the Prime Minister) to Fresnes Prison in Paris. At Fresnes, she was interrogated and tortured 14 times by the Gestapo, including having her toenails torn out, her back scorched by a red hot poker, and locked in a dark basement for 3 days at a time. During the interrogation she lied to the Gestapo agents saying Peter Churchill was her husband and the nephew of Prime Minister Winston Churchill, to make the Germans believe she was a relative of Winston Churchill then she’d be kept alive as a bargaining tool.

In 1943, she was sentenced to death twice, to which she responded, “Then you will have to make up your mind on what count I am to be executed because I can only die once.” Infuriated, the Gestapo agent sent her to Ravensbruck Camp. At Ravensbruck, she was kept on a starvation diet in a cell where other prisoners could be heard being beaten. After D-Day, all food was removed for a week, all light was blocked from her cell, and the heat was turned up. She was expected to die after a few weeks but instead only fell unconscious and was relocated to solitary confinement. As a child she’d been blind and bedridden from serious illnesses for three-and-a-half years, so the darkness didn’t bother her, and as she was considered a difficult child (likely due to her illnesses) during her convent education, she was used to starvation punishments. As the Allies approached Ravensbruck, the commandant drove her to a nearby American base to surrender, hoping to use Odette as a bargaining tool to escape execution.

She testified against the prison guards charged with war crimes at the 1946 Hamburg Ravensbrück Trials, which resulted in Suhren’s execution in 1950. Roy and Odette’s marriage was dissolved in 1946 and she married Peter Churchill in 1947.

Despite her appalling treatment, she was not over-consumed with bitterness. Instead, after the war, she worked for various charities seeking to lessen the war pain for others. For her service, she was awarded the George Cross. Her humility meant she was not keen on accepting the award, but she did accept it on behalf of all agents who suffered during the war. She briefly married, Peter Churchill, before marrying her third husband, Geoffrey Hallowes. She died in 1995 aged 83.

sources

https://www.biographyonline.net/military/odette-sanson.html

https://time.com/5502645/decorated-wwii-spy-odette/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Odette_Hallowes#Recruited_by_SOE

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Willem Jacob van Stockum-Scientist and Dutch WWII Hero.

Willem Jacob van Stockum was born on November 20,1910 in Hattem,the Netherlands.

Willem moved to Ireland in the late 1920s, Where he studied mathematics at Trinity College, Dublin, where he earned a gold medal. He went on to earn an M.A. from the University of Toronto and his Ph.D. from the University of Edinburgh.

The outbreak of World War II happened while he was teaching at the University of Maryland. He was eto join the fight against Hitler and Fascism,.

He joined the Canadian Air Corps in June 1941 (according to his sister, he was asked to join the Manhattan project, but chose this instead). Taught mathematics to pilots. Then became a bomber pilot himself. Moved to Britain in the spring of 1943 and joined no. 10 squadron at RAF Melbourne in Yorkshire, he was the only Dutch officer to do so.

He flew a Halifax Mk-III, MZ684, ZA-‘B’ bomber. Completed 6 missions before being shot down by German A.A. fire near Entrammes in France on the night of 9/10 June 1944. All seven crew were killed and are buried at the Cimetière Vaufleury at Laval, Dept. Mayenne, France.

He wrote this article on his reasons for becoming a bomber pilot

“I didn’t join the war to improve the Universe; in fact, I am sick and tired of the eternal sermons on the better world we are going to build when this war is over. I hate the disloyalty to the past twenty years. Apparently people think that life in those twenty years, which cover most of my conscious existence, was so terrible that no-one can be expected to fight for it. We must attempt to dazzle people with some brilliant schemes leading, probably, to some horrible Utopia, before we can ask them to fight.

I detest that point of view. I hate the idea of people throwing their lives away for slum-clearance projects or forty-hour weeks or security and exchange commissions. It is a grotesque and horrible thought. There are so many better ways of achieving this than diving into enemy guns. Lives are precious things and are of a different order and entail a different scale of values than social systems, political theories, or art.

“Why are we not given a cause?” some people ask. I do not understand this question. It seems so plain to me. There are millions and millions of people who are shot, persecuted and tortured daily in Europe. The assault on so many of our fellow human beings makes some of us tingle with anger and gives us an urge to do something about it. That, and that alone, makes some of us feel strongly about the war. All the rest is vapid rationalization. All this talk about philosophy, the degeneration of art and literature, the poisoning of Nazi youth, which the Nazi system entails, and which we all rightly condemn, is still not the reason why we fight and why we are willing to risk our lives.

Here, let us say, is a soldier. He asks himself, “Why should I die?” You would tell him: “To preserve our civilization.” When the soldier replies: “To Hell with your civilization; I never thought it so hot,” you take him up wrongly when you sit down and say to yourself: “Well, after all, maybe it wasn’t so hot,” and then brightly tap him on the shoulder and say: “Well, I’ve thought of a better idea. I know this civilization wasn’t so hot, but you go and die anyway and we’ll fix up a really good one after the war.” I say you take him up wrong because his remark: “To Hell with your civilization” doesn’t really mean that he is not seriously concerned about our civilization. He is simply revolted by the idea of dying for ANY civilization. Civilization simply isn’t the kind of thing you ever want to die for. It is something to enjoy and something to help build up because it’s fun, and that is that, and that is all.

When a man jumps into the fire to save his wife he doesn’t justify himself by saying that his wife was so civilized that it was worth the risk! There is only one reason why a man will throw himself into mortal combat and that is because there is nothing else to do and doing nothing is more intolerable than the fear of death. I could stand idly by and see every painting by Rembrandt, Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo thrown into a bonfire and feel no more than a deep regret, but throw one small, insignificant Polish urchin on the same bonfire and, by God, I’d pull him out or else. I fight quite simply for that and I cannot see what other reasons there are. At least, I can see there are reasons, but they are not the reasons that motivate me.

During the first two years of the war when I was an instructor at an American University in close contact with American youth and in close contact with the vital isolationist question in the States, I often felt that there was much insincerity, conscious or unconscious, on our, the Interventionist, side of the argument. We had strong views on the danger of isolationism for the United States. We thought, rightly, that for the sake of self-interest and self-preservation the United States should take every step to ensure the defeat of the Nazi criminals. But however sound our arguments, our own motives and intensity of feeling did not spring from those arguments but from an intense passion for common righteousness and decency.

Suppose it could have been proved to us at that time that the participation of the United States in the stamping out of organized murder, rape and torture in Europe could only take place at great cost to the United States, while not doing so would in no way impair her security. Would we not still have prayed that our country might do something? And would we not have been proud to see her do something?

There is an appalling timidity and false shame among intellectuals. The common man in the last war went to fight quite simply as a crusader. I am not talking about politics now, I am not either asserting or denying that England declared war from purely generous and noble considerations, but I am asserting that the common man went and fought with the rape of Belgium foremost in his mind and saw himself as an avenger of wrong.

After the war the common man went quietly back to his home. The intellectuals, however, upon coming back, ashamed of their one lapse of finding themselves in agreement with every Tom, Dick and Harry, must turn around and deride the things they were ready to give their lives for. As they were the only vocal group, the opinion became firmly established that the last war was a grave mistake and that anyone who got killed in it was a sucker.

And now, in this war, these intellectuals are hoist with their own petard. They lack the nerve and honesty to represent the American doughboy to himself for what he is. They do not give him the one picture in his mind which would stimulate his imagination and which would make him see beyond the fatigues, the mud, the boredom and the fear. The picture is there for anyone to paint who has a gift for words. It is a simple picture and a true picture and no one who has ever sat as a small child and listened with awe to a fairy story can fail to understand. The intellectuals, however, have made fun of the picture and so they won’t use It.

But some day an American doughboy in an American tank will come lurching into some small Polish, Czech or French village and it may fall to his lot to shoot the torturers and open the gates of the village jail. And then he will understand.

There is a lot of talk among our intellectuals about our youth. Our youth is supposed to want a change, a new order, a revolution or what not. But it is my conviction that that is emphatically NOT what our youth wants. Have you ever been in a picture house on a Saturday afternoon, when it is filled with children and some old Western movie is ending in a race of time between the hero and the villain? Have you seen the rapt attention, the glowing faces, the clenched fists? What our young men really want is to be able to give that same concentrated attention and emotional participation, this time to reality, and this time as heroes and not as spectators, that they were able to give to unsubstantial shadows, before long words and cliches had killed their imaginations. Killed them so dead that they can no longer see even reality itself imaginatively.

It is up to the intellectuals to rekindle the thing they have tried to destroy. It is as simple as St. George and the Dragon. Why not have the courage to point out that St. George fought the dragon because he wanted to liberate a captive and not because he wanted to lead a better life afterwards? Some day, sometime, my picture of an American doughboy in a Polish village will become true. Wouldn’t it be better for him then to have the cross of St. George on his banner than a long rigmarole about a better world?

As long as our intellectuals and leaders do not have the courage to risk being thought sentimental and out-of-date and are not willing to stress that nations as well as individuals are entitled to their acts of heroism and chivalry, they will never be able to give our youth what it needs.

It is true that every fairy story ends with the words: “and they lived happily ever after.” How irritating a child would be, though, if it interrupted its mother at every sentence to ask: “But, Mummy, will they live happily ever afterwards?” It simply isn’t the point of the fairy story and it isn’t the point of this war.

Presumably we won’t live happily ever after this war. But just as a fairy story helps to increase a child’s awareness and wonder at the world, so this war may make us more aware of one another. Perhaps we shall learn, and perhaps some things will be better organized. I hope so. I believe so. But only if we engage in this war with our hearts as well as our minds.

For goodness’ sake let us stop this empty political theorizing according to which a man would have to have a University degree in social science before he could see what he was fighting for. It is all so simple, really, that a child can understand it.”

Below is a translation of the last letter he wrote to his mother, and actually the last words he ever wrote.

Willem to Olga van Stockum, 7 June 1944
[Translated by Engelien de Booij; this was shortly before Willem took off on his last flight from his Yorkshire RAF station, bombing a bridge over the river next to Laval, France.]

“Dear Mother, I am curious to know whether you have noted the date of my last letter. I cannot tell you how great the satisfaction was to be one of those who dropped the first bombs during the invasion. Officially we did not know it would start on June 5th, but the instructions we got, the mysterious doings, our route and what we could expect while in flight, made us fairly sure that this was The Day. We did our job in difficult circumstances, although there was not a very big opposition. … I am free tonight and am glad of it, for the strain is great and we had not a moment’s rest in the past days. Our kind of job needs hours of preparation, the operation itself takes 6 hours and after that debriefings, etc. Then a meal, to bed, sleep, and again preparations. Of course, we did not know beforehand it would be rather easy, and the nervous strain makes your breathing faster. Soon it will be worse, when the Germans get more information. But I would not want to miss this time for anything, and I am very thankful that I resisted the temptation to go to the other station, where Bierens de Haanals10 is, for then I would be now between two squadrons and perhaps have missed all this. My crew is perfect, calm, matter of fact, and one cannot find any signs of being nervous. I sometimes have the feeling I am the only one who is…. but perhaps they think the same thing of me. I have the feeling there is an enormous energy in everybody and even the B.B. (body building programs) are better and more imaginative. The whole station comes out to see us off when we take off, with their thumbs up and this is a pleasant feeling. I know how you and Hilda enter into my feeling now, and this is an invigorating feeling. [Note from Engelien – I cannot find the rest of this letter, unless the following fragment is the continuation, but this seems not very probable.] My roommate [at the air station in the UK – Yorkshire?] is a Belgian pilot aged 40 who doesn’t speak English [or Dutch], and with whom I spend much of my time, which is very good for my French. If only you could hear all the fantastic stories people tell, more interesting than the most terrible spy thriller!! My friend came here a few months ago here after having been in the Belgian underground movement. Did I write you that I saw in London Aunt Mia [Tante Mies?] quite often? We sympathized with each other about our tastes in literature. We talked about Dostoyevsky and she told me that you had written such a wonderful article about him. How nice there are people who remember this. I would like to see it some time. I long to read it. Very, very much love from your son Willem”

sources.

http://www.cgoakley.org/efa/1910WJvS.html

http://www.cgoakley.org/efa/WJvSletters.html

https://oorlogsgravenstichting.nl/persoon/148527/willem-jacob-van-stockum

http://aircrewremembered.com/1944-06-10-loss-of-prof-willem-van-stockum.html

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D-Day-The beginning of the end.

Although the tide had already turned for the Nazis , June 6-1944 was to become the final push for the allied troops to free Europe from the Nazi regime.

the British 22nd Independent Parachute Company, 6th Airborne Division being briefed for the invasion, 4–5 June 1944

Theodore Roosevelt Jr., son of former US President Theodore Roosevelt,was the only general on D-Day to land by sea with the first wave of troops. At 56, he was the oldest man in the invasion,[29] and the only one whose son also landed that day; Captain Quentin Roosevelt II was among the first wave of soldiers at Omaha Beach.

At the time of the D-Day landings on June 6th 1944, Roosevelt was a frail man, not in the best of health; needing the aid of a walking stick. His health had suffered as a result of the first World War, he had arthritis . Despite his poor health, he proved to be a fine leader and as depicted in the film the longest day, he would famously state: “We’ll start the war from right here!”. He made this famous quote after discovering that the allied landings on Utah Beach were approximately 2 km off course.

Theodore Roosevelt Jr, died as a result of a heart attack on July 1944, just over a month after D-Day.

He was awarded a Medal of Honor.

Brigadier General Theodore Roosevelt Jr.
Unit: 16th Infantry, 1st Infantry Division

‘Citation: For gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty on 6 June 1944, in France. After 2 verbal requests to accompany the leading assault elements in the Normandy invasion had been denied, Brig. Gen. Roosevelt’s written request for this mission was approved and he landed with the first wave of the forces assaulting the enemy-held beaches. He repeatedly led groups from the beach, over the seawall and established them inland. His valor, courage, and presence in the very front of the attack and his complete unconcern at being under heavy fire inspired the troops to heights of enthusiasm and self-sacrifice. Although the enemy had the beach under constant direct fire, Brig. Gen. Roosevelt moved from one locality to another, rallying men around him, directed and personally led them against the enemy. Under his seasoned, precise, calm, and unfaltering leadership, assault troops reduced beach strong points and rapidly moved inland with minimum casualties. He thus contributed substantially to the successful establishment of the beachhead in France.’

It was a young postmistress in Ireland who played an important part in D-Day.

When Maureen Flavin took on a job as postmistress at the Blacksod light house in Co. Mayo in Ireland she had not anticipated the other job which was bestowed on her.The job was taking barometer and thermometer readings(basically weather forecasting) at the remote Blacksod weather station on Ireland’s west coast. But she did do her job and it made a global impact.

On her 21st birthday, June 3 1944, she took the barometer readings and noticed a sudden drop, indicating bad weather was coming. Maureen gave the report to Ted Sweeney who was the lighthouse keeper and they sent it in and, Maureen , quickly received a call from a British woman asking them to check and confirm the report.

The report was send again and an hour later, she received a call from the same British woman, asking her to check and confirm again, which she did.

Unbeknownst to Maureen the Allied leaders who were in London were relying on her weather reports to judge whether they should proceed with the D-Day launch as planned. The chief meteorologist, a Scottish man named James Scagg, was giving General Eisenhower regular weather updates.

He advised Eisenhower that based on Maureen’s report Operation Overlord, which was planned for June 5,1944, should be postponed.

sources

https://www.army.mil/d-day/history.html

RTE Doc on One

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theodore_Roosevelt_Jr.#D-Day

https://www.cmohs.org/recipients/theodore-roosevelt-jr

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Stolpersteine-Holocaust history on your doorstep.

A Stolpersteinplural Stolpersteine; literally means “stumbling stone”, metaphorically a “stumbling stone” is a sett-size, ten-centimetre (3.9 in) concrete cube bearing a brass plate inscribed with the name and life dates of victims of Nazi extermination or persecution..

Created by the artist Gunter Demnig in 1992, Stolpersteine are brass-topped cobblestones embedded in the pavement outside a home or building of significance pertaining to a Holocaust victim.

There are already over 91,000 stolpersteine in over 700 locations. Many cities and villages across Europe, not only in Germany, have expressed an interest in the project. Stones have already been laid in many places in Austria, Hungary, the Netherlands, Belgium, in the Czech Republic, in Poland (seven in Wrocław, one in Słubice), in Ukraine (Pereiaslav), in Italy (Rome) and Norway (Oslo). Today the first stolpersteine will be placed in Dublin, Ireland.

The first Irish stumbling stones were embedded at St Catherine’s National School in south Dublin by their creator, German artist Gunter Demnig.

Founding trustee of the Holocaust Education Trust Ireland, Lynn Jackson, explained that in the early 20th century Ireland had a Jewish population of around 5,000 people and the area around the South Circular Road and Portobello in Dublin was once known as “Little Jerusalem” as there was a vibrant Jewish community there.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, she said the stones will commemorate six Irish victims of the Holocaust: Ettie Steinberg Gluck, her husband Wojteck Gluck, and their baby son Leon, along with Isaac Shishi, Ephraim Saks and his sister, Jeanne (Lena) Saks.

I just want to highlight the youngest of the group.

Leon was born on the 28 March 1939,in Paris. Unfortunately, the threat of violence spread throughout France in 1940 and this put them in danger. From 1940 to 1942 the small family was in hiding, moving from place to place, rarely staying still for more than two nights at a time.

Back in Dublin, the Steinbergs, Leon’s grandparents, worked desperately to save their daughter Ettie by getting her and her family back to Ireland. Pleas were sent to the Vatican and the Red Cross for information, but to no avail. They eventually managed to secure three visas from the British Home Office in Belfast and sent them to Toulouse, where the family was in hiding. However, they arrived one day too late for Ettie, Vogtjeck and little Leon. The Glucks had been caught in a round-up of Jews on the 2 September 1942 and were put on a train to Auschwitz.

sources

https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/146364294/leon-gluck

https://www.rte.ie/news/regional/2022/0601/1302393-stumbling-stones/

Marcel Petiot-Evil beyond Evil

I have often wondered how many murders have been unsolved because of World War 2?

And one would also have to wonder how many serial killers were active during the war years. I reckon some may have just joined the SS. However there were several ‘civilian’ serial killers at large during WW2.

Nazi-occupied Paris was a terrible place to be during the waning days of the War. With Jews, Resistance fighters and ordinary citizens all hoping to escape. Disappearances became so common they often weren’t followed up.

One man exploited this situation for his own evil satisfaction and greed.

Marcel Petiot was a respected doctor in France until his horrific murders were uncovered during World War II. Though perceived as gentle, kind, and generous by those who thought they knew him, he in fact only posed as a liberator for Jews hoping to escape occupied France to find sanctuary in South America. Insisting that these hopefuls bring their possessions to him for safe keeping and submit to an injection that would keep them safe from foreign diseases, Petiot instead killed his victims and kept their possessions amounting in the end to thousands, if not millions, of dollars worth of furniture, clothing, furs, and jewelry.

Petiot was unusually intelligent as a child but exhibited severe behavioral problems in school and was expelled several times before completing his education. At age 17 he was arrested for mail theft but was released after a judge determined that he was mentally unfit to stand trial. In 1917, while serving in the French army during World War I, he was tried for stealing army blankets but found not guilty by reason of insanity. Despite his mental state, he was returned to the front, where he suffered a mental breakdown. He was eventually discharged for abnormal behaviour, for which some of his examiners said he should be institutionalized. Despite his history of instability, Petiot then enrolled in school and eventually obtained a medical degree in 1921.

Petiot’s first murder victim might have been Louise Delaveau, an elderly patient’s daughter with whom Petiot had an affair in 1926. Delaveau disappeared in May of that year, and neighbors later said they had seen Petiot load a trunk into his car. Police investigated but eventually dismissed her case as a runaway.

That same year, Petiot ran for mayor of Villeneuve-sur-Yonne and hired somebody to disrupt a political debate with his opponent. He won, and while in office embezzled town funds. The following year, Petiot married Georgette Lablais, the 23-year-old daughter of a wealthy landowner and butcher inSeignelay. Their son Gerhardt was born in April 1928.

The embezzlement discovered by his constituents, and they reported him to the Prefect of Yonne Département. In August 1931, he was suspended from his position as mayor.

Only a month after he was removed as mayor of Villeneuve-sur-Yonne, he won a seat on the general council for the Yonne district .He was the youngest man to ever sit in that office, at the time.. During his time on the council, he was charged with the theft of electric power from Villeneuve-sur-Yonne. He was fined and lost his seat on the council, and moved to Paris.

After the 1940 German defeat of France, French citizens were drafted for forced labor in Germany. Petiot provided false medical disability certificates to people who were drafted. He also treated the illnesses of workers who had returned. In July 1942, he was convicted of over prescribing narcotics, even though two addicts who would have testified against him had disappeared. He was fined 2,400 francs.

After paying a fine, he then took on the alias of Dr. Eugène and set up a false escape network for Resistance fighters, Jews and criminals looking to escape the Gestapo. He claimed that his network, Fly-Tox, worked in conjunction with Argentinian authorities to safely transport people to South America without the knowledge of the German invaders. He had had three accomplices: Raoul Fourrier, Edmond Pintard, and René-Gustave Nézondet.

He claimed that he could arrange a passage to Argentina or elsewhere in South America through Portugal, for a price of 25,000 francs per person. His accomplices, directed victims to “Dr. Eugène”, including mainly Jews, Resistance fighters, but also ordinary criminals. Once victims were in his control, Petiot told them that Argentine officials required all entrants to the country to be inoculated against disease, and with this excuse injected them with cyanide. He then took all their valuables and disposed of the bodies.

It was the Gestapo that first became suspicious of him. However, they thought that he was a member of the Resistance and was assisting Jews to escape. They apprehended all three of his accomplices and tortured them for information.

While the Gestapo did not learn anything about the Resistance, as Fourrier, Pintard, and Nézondet had nothing to tell them, they did reveal that “Dr. Eugène” was Marcel Petiot.
On March 11, 1944, Petiot’s neighbours told the authorities that there was a foul stench in the area. They were also informed of the large amounts of smoke that often came out of the chimney of the house. The police discovered a coal stove in the basement of his house, as well as the quicklime pit. They also found human remains and properties of his victims.

At first, Petiot had dumped the bodies of his victims in the Seine, but he later destroyed the bodies by submerging them in quicklime or by incinerating them.

In the subsequent months, Petiot evaded capture by staying with his friends. He adopted a new pseudonym, “Henri Valeri”, during the liberation of Paris and enlisted in the French Forces of the Interior (FFI). He was eventually captured on 31 October 1944 at a Paris Métro station.

Petiot went on trial on 19 March 1946, facing 135 criminal charges. René Floriot acted for the defense, against a team consisting in state prosecutors and twelve civil lawyers hired by relatives of Petiot’s victims. Petiot taunted the prosecuting lawyers, and claimed that various victims had been collaborators or double agents, or that vanished people were alive and well in South America under new names.

The extensive coverage of the Petiot affair soon escalated into a full-blown media circus. Newspapers dubbed the doctor the Butcher of Paris, Scalper of the Etoile, the monster of rue Le Sueur, the Demonic Ogre, and Doctor Satan. One of the first and more popular sobriquets was the Modern Bluebeard. Later, other names would be proposed for the murder suspect, from the Underground Assassin to the Werewolf of Paris.

He admitted to killing just nineteen of the twenty-seven victims found in his house, and claimed that they were Germans and collaborators – part of a total of 63 “enemies” killed. Floriot attempted to portray Petiot as a Resistance hero, but the judges and jurors were unimpressed. Petiot was convicted of 26 counts of murder, and sentenced to death.It was estimated that he netted 200,000( I believe an equivalent of $2,000,000} francs from his ill-gotten gains. He was charged with murder for profit.

On 25 May, Petiot was beheaded, after a stay of a few days due to a problem in the release mechanism of the guillotine.

It is estimated he killed 60 people, many of them were French Jews who had been hiding and hoped to try to escape to South America. It wasn’t the Nazis who murdered him but a French Doctor pretending to be a resistance fighter.

He was known throughout Paris as a freedom fighter who would help smuggle away anyone being hunted by the Nazis.

Yet it turns out he preyed on their hopes and dreams and murdered them.

The irony is that it was the Gestapo who stopped the killing. Although the could not find anything on him, it must have been clear to Petiot that he would remain under suspicion

(initially posted on July 13,2016 under the Title ‘Marcel Petiot-“Doctor Satan” ‘)

sources

.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-9004961/Chilling-new-photos-grinning-French-serial-killer-Dr-Satan-trial-murdering-60-people.html

https://www.ala.org/united/friends/bookclubchoices/death

https://allthatsinteresting.com/marcel-petiot

http://www.crimemagazine.com/dr-petiot-will-see-you-now

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