Just a fraction of the Horrors.

Dachau

The picture is of clothes that once belonged to prisoners of the Dachau concentration camp, it was taken shortly after the camp was liberated.

When you look a it it looks like a launderette has dumped its load in a courtyard.

But this picture tells so much more. Each of those pieces of material and pieces of cloth once belonged to a human being. A human being who was not deemed worthy of live by the ideology spread by the NSDAP_-Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei. The national  socialist workers party. Leave those words sink in. and especially the words socialist and workers. Indicating they had the best interest at heart for the workers.

It was all a lie. If the workers would be Jewish, Homosexual, Roma or any other group which did not fit the NSDAP ideal, they would be worked to death or immediately gassed if they arrived in any of the death camps.

Even if you look at those piles of clothes you realize that this only a fraction of all crimes and horrors committed.

How did we ever let this happen?

Dachau was the first concentration camp and was in operation from 1933 to 1945.

Over the years of its operation, thousands of Dachau prisoners died of disease, malnutrition and slave labour. Thousands more were executed for breaking  camp rules, which were often very vague.Starting 1941, thousands of Soviet prisoners of war were sent to Dachau then shot to death at a nearby rifle range. In 1942, construction began at Dachau on Barrack X, a crematorium that eventually consisted of four big ovens used to burn corpses. With the implementation in 1942 of Hitler’s “Final Solution” to systematically eradicate all European Jews, thousands of Dachau detainees were moved to Nazi extermination camps in Poland, where they died in gas chambers.

Dachau was also used for some of the most gruesome experiments.For example, prisoners were forced to be test subjects in a series of tests to determine the posibility of reviving individuals immersed in freezing water. For hours at a time, prisoners were forcibly submerged in tanks filled with ice water. Some prisoners died during the process.

Approximately 40,000 died in Dachau, Which is roughly about 0.4% of the total amount of people who died during the Holocaust, and that percentage may even be smaller because I took the number of 11,000,000 which is generally taken as the approximate number of victims, but I think that number is actually more.

But just imagine that although a number of 40,000 looks big it is only 0.4 ” , a fraction of the horrors.

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Sources

http://kz-gedenkstaette-dachau.de/

 

My weapon- A plastic doll.

doll

This doll belonged to a 7 year old Belgian girl her name was Aline Klajn. I could say 2 things about Aline. I could say she was from Polish parents and I could also say she was Jewish. But none of that warranted her death, but yet it did.

She was killed because she was Jewish. Her parents were Idessa and Wigdor and had moved to Belgium in the 1920s. When the Nazis occupied Belgium in 1940 , the signs were there that eventually every Jewish person was considered a ‘risk’ for the state and would have to be killed. For Aline it must have been her plastic doll that was a dangerous weapon which could be used against the Nazi regime, because I can see no other reason why she would be an enemy. Of course there was no reason whatsoever. Aside from being Jewish she was a human being made like any other human being on earth.

What makes us a  society of human beings is our diversity. Our differences should be celebrated not destroyed.

But the Nazis lacked the mental capacity to understand that basic concept of humanity.

Aline, and her family  were given a hiding place by Alfred and Clara Duva, several other  family members hid in a nearby apartment. On October 20, Aline and Idessa went to the apartment to borrow sugar, and it was raided by Nazis

On October 24,1942  they were deported from Ukkle in Belgium to Auschwitz where they were killed.

No matter how often I try to understand why anyone, be it Jewish,Roma, Homosexual or otherwise had to be killed , I just cant’t comprehend it.

But what I find totally unfathomable is the murder of children. That is probaly something I will never get to answer to, and maybe I don’t want to.

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Sources

USHMM

Death is just a heartbeat away.

last

The title is a line from a song by Gary Moore and Phil Lynott called “Out in the Fields”. Although the song has nothing to do with the Holocaust, the particular line though I used for the title, was a reality for millions.

Millions who were murdered for no reason but hate and a warped sense of superiority by the perpetrators.

There is no way that we can compare any of the ways used to slaughter these innocent lives. All the manners of execution were unfathomable. Be it the executions of the Einsatzgruppen, or the use of dynamite to experiment more efficient ways of killing or any of the other ways.

One method of extermination  stands out above all others, and that  was the mass killing in the Gas chambers. It was believed for a long time that the victims died quickly , but in fact it could sometimes take up to half an hour before they would die.

It only makes sense that the young and healthy would suffer longest in the Gas chambers.

Aside from the killing their last dignity was taken away from them before they entered the Gas chambers. They were told they were going to be showered and deloused and were ordered to strip naked, not in a private cubicle , but together with everyone else who were about to enter the “Showers”. Even that last bit of privacy and dignity was stolen from them, regardless what age they were.

Millions of last heart beats.

I have to believe though,that after they died they went to a better place. Although I am a reasonably religious man, this sentiment doesn’t have much to do with religion but more with spirituality. I have to believe this because if I knew they didn’t go to a better place, I just could not cope with that and would drive me insane. However that is my feeling on it and I fully appreciate and respect others thinking differently about that.

Gaschamber

 

Source of pictures

Yad Vashem

 

 

Holocaust Remembered

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On 27 January 1945, Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest Nazi concentration and death camp, was liberated by the Red Army.

UN Resolution 60/7 establishing 27 January as International Holocaust Remembrance Day urges every member nation of the U.N. to honor the memory of Holocaust victims, and encourages the development of educational programs about Holocaust history to help prevent future acts of genocide.

“We must also go beyond remembrance, and make sure that new generations know this history. We must apply the lessons of the Holocaust to today’s world. And we must do our utmost so that all peoples may enjoy the protection and rights for which the United Nations stands”

Some of the pictures below are graphic and may be disturbing. But please do keep in mind disturbing as they may be, they are still fairly sanitized there are other images even more disturbing.

In 1948 ,a girl who grew up in a concentration camp was asked to draw “home” and what she drew was scribbles. It shows how the horrors of the concentration camp warped her mind. It’s a mystery what the lines truly mean to her, probably the chaos or the barbed wire.

A girl who grew up in a concentration camp draws a picture of home while living in a residence for disturbed children, 1948

Transport

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SS prison guards forced to load victims of Bergen-Belsen concentration camp into trucks for burial, 1945

SS prison guards forced to load victims of Bergen-Belsen concentration camp into a trucks for burial, 1945

Evil words

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Photos of Jewish children in the Auschwitz concentration camp.

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Prisoners were stripped of all their possessions when they arrived at the camps. In an area of the camp called Canada people\’s personal belongings were processed, stored and then redistributed to Germans.

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Glasses collected from people murdered in the gas chambers.

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Jews being transported to the Camps

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A long-buried documentary, co-directed by Alfred Hitchcock and produced by Sidney Bernstein, provides unequivocal proof of the Holocaust’s horrors.

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SS guards humiliating Orthodox Jewish man

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German soldier shooting a woman with a child in her arms, Ivanograd, 1942.

EXECUTIONS OF KIEV JEWS BY GERMAN ARMY MOBILE KILLING UNITS, 1942

A group of holocaust victims that are often forgotten are the Roma

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Lithuanian nationalists clubbing Jewish Lithuanians to death. Kovno (Kaunas), Lithuania, June 27, 1941.

The Kovno Garage Massacre - Lithuanian nationalists clubbing Jewish Lithuanians to death, 1941 (1)

The liberation of Auschwitz by the Red Army.

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I often hear people say “Leave the past in the past” but if we do that we repeat the mistakes, some of the mistakes have already been repeated.

NEVER FORGET.

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The Nazi Musical Genocide

music-comp

The Holocaust was and still is the biggest crime ever committed in the history of mankind.Additionally it also killed music by killing the talent that produced and created music.

Some of the composers and musicians in this blog were killed only because they were Jewish.or because they defied the Nazi rule, for as musicians they were creatures of emotion and they knew what they witnessed was wrong because that is how they felt it, and they decided to do something about it.

 

Samuel Schuijer

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Samuel Schuijer was born in The Hague on September 9, 1873, son of Roosje van Kam and Abraham Schuijer. The family had a jewelry store on the Heerengracht 18. Five of the nine Schuijer children became professional musicians. Sam studied violin, cello, bassoon and music theory at the Royal Conservatory in The Hague. Shortly after graduating, he worked primarily as the principal bassoonist in various Dutch orchestras and also made a European tour with the Eduard Strauss orchestra as principal solo bassoonist. In 1894, he married Elizabeth Alter, an opera singer and actress. They had three sons: Abraham (pianist), Marinus, who died in infancy and Louis (cellist).

On December 11, 1942, Samuel Schuijer was murdered in Auschwitz. His home and music school had been plundered by the Nazis. With the loss of his life and destruction of his belongings, all traces of this significant Dutch musician seemed to be erased. But a group of children in The Hague found a box containing music manuscripts, waiting for the garbage truck. They took their treasure home and it became the first step in rediscovering a lost fragment of Dutch music history.

Mischa Hillesum

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The pianist Mischa Hillesum was an extremely musical, sensitive but also mentally unstable personality. Conservatory teachers acknowledged his stunning talents and audiences were thrilled by his performances. Music was his primary necessity, his way of dealing with daily realities. He was hospitalized several times in a mental institution. In 1943, the Hillesum family arrived in Westerbork. Mischa eventually died while detained as a forced laborer in Warsaw. Only a few of his compositions are known.

Sim Gokkes

Sim_Gokkes_(1928)

Simon (Sim) Gokkes (21 March 1897, Amsterdam – 5 February 1943, Auschwitz) was a Dutch-Jewish composer.

As a child, Gokkes took his first singing lessons with Ben Geysel, an opera singer who ran the Rembrandt Theatre of Amsterdam. Gokkes was also a pupil of Victor Schlesinger, cantor of the Rapenburg Synagogue in Amsterdam. In 1912, Gokkes wrote his first compositions, “Ngolinu Leshabiag” and “Yigdal”. He studied composition with Sem Dresden and also piano and flute at the Conservatorium of Amsterdam, finishing in 1919. He then worked as an assistant director of the Netherlands Opera.

Throughout his life, Gokkes directed several choirs. In 1921, he founded the School Choir of Amsterdam. For years he was director of the Santo Serviçio, the choir of the Portuguese Synagogue in Amsterdam. Gokkes is known as an innovator of synagogue music. His compositions relate primarily to religious themes.

In 1923, Gokkes married pianist Rebecca Winnik. Along with his wife and his two children, David and Rachel, he was murdered in Auschwitz concentration camp on 5 February 1943.

Only some of his works are preserved in the Netherlands Music Institute.

Jan van Gilse

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Jan van Gilse received his musical education in Germany. His music developed into a synthesis of French impressionism and German romanticism. He became a popular conductor and one of the founders of the Society of Dutch composers (GeNeCo) and also the copyright organization BUMA. During the war, this socially engaged human being was fiercely anti-German. He had to pay a heavy price for his fighting spirit.

van Gilse (Rotterdam, 11 May 1881 – Oegstgeest, 8 September 1944) was a Dutch composer and conductor. Among his works are five symphonies and the Dutch-language opera Thijl.

7980 Thijl

Coming from a family of theologians, Jan van Gilse showed an early aptitude for piano playing and composing. From 1897 onwards, he studied at the Cologne conservatory. After his teacher, Franz Wüllner, died in 1902, he continued his studies with Engelbert Humperdinck in Berlin. From 1909 to 1911, he studied in Italy. In 1901, van Gilse received the Beethoven-Haus Prize in Bonn for his (First) Symphony in F major; In 1906, the Michael Beer Prize was awarded to him for his Third Symphony, ‘Erhebung’ (‘Elevation’; for soprano solo and orchestra).

In addition to composing, van Gilse soon developed an interest in conducting. He started out with the Bremen opera, a post which was followed by appointments in Munich and Amsterdam.

During World War II, van Gilse became actively involved with the resistance movement against the German occupation of the Netherlands. Both his sons, who were also resistance fighters, were killed by the occupiers before van Gilse himself succumbed (probably to pneumonia) in the autumn of 1944. To protect his shelter, he was buried in an unmarked grave outside the village of Oegstgeest.

 

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The minutes of the Wannsee conference meeting.

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On January 20, 1942, 15 high-ranking Nazi Party and German government officials gathered at a villa in the Berlin suburb of Wannsee to discuss and coordinate the implementation of what they called the “Final Solution of the Jewish Question.”

Aside from the fact that they were deciding how best to eradicate the Jews,what maybe even more disturbing is the “business as usual” approach they adopted for this. The whole conference was set up as a corporate event.

Wannsee_Conference_-_Letter_from_Reinhard_Heydrich_to_Martin_Luther_(Invitation)

The Participants

Participants

names

The Minutes of the meeting

 

At the beginning of the discussion Chief of the Security Police and of the SD, SS-Obergruppenführer Heydrich, reported that the Reich Marshal had appointed him delegate for the preparations for the final solution of the Jewish question in Europe and pointed out that this discussion had been called for the purpose of clarifying fundamental questions. The wish of the Reich Marshal to have a draft sent to him concerning organizational, factual and material interests in relation to the final solution of the Jewish question in Europe makes necessary an initial common action of all central offices immediately concerned with these questions in order to bring their general activities into line. The Reichsführer-SS and the Chief of the German Police (Chief of the Security Police and the SD) was entrusted with the official central handling of the final solution of the Jewish question without regard to geographic borders. The Chief of the Security Police and the SD then gave a short report of the struggle which has been carried on thus far against this enemy, the essential points being the following:

a) the expulsion of the Jews from every sphere of life of the German people,

b) the expulsion of the Jews from the living space of the German people.

In carrying out these efforts, an increased and planned acceleration of the emigration of the Jews from Reich territory was started, as the only possible present solution.

By order of the Reich Marshal, a Reich Central Office for Jewish Emigration was set up in January 1939 and the Chief of the Security Police and SD was entrusted with the management. Its most important tasks were

a) to make all necessary arrangements for the preparation for an increased emigration of the Jews,

b) to direct the flow of emigration,

c) to speed the procedure of emigration in each individual case.

The aim of all this was to cleanse German living space of Jews in a legal manner.

All the offices realized the drawbacks of such enforced accelerated emigration. For the time being they had, however, tolerated it on account of the lack of other possible solutions of the problem.

The work concerned with emigration was, later on, not only a German problem, but also a problem with which the authorities of the countries to which the flow of emigrants was being directed would have to deal. Financial difficulties, such as the demand by various foreign governments for increasing sums of money to be presented at the time of the landing, the lack of shipping space, increasing restriction of entry permits, or the cancelling of such, increased extraordinarily the difficulties of emigration. In spite of these difficulties, 537,000 Jews were sent out of the country between the takeover of power and the deadline of 31 October 1941. Of these

approximately 360,000 were in Germany proper on 30 January 1933

approximately 147,000 were in Austria (Ostmark) on 15 March 1939

approximately 30,000 were in the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia on 15 March 1939.

The Jews themselves, or their Jewish political organizations, financed the emigration. In order to avoid impoverished Jews’ remaining behind, the principle was followed that wealthy Jews have to finance the emigration of poor Jews; this was arranged by imposing a suitable tax, i.e., an emigration tax, which was used for financial arrangements in connection with the emigration of poor Jews and was imposed according to income.

Apart from the necessary Reichsmark exchange, foreign currency had to presented at the time of landing. In order to save foreign exchange held by Germany, the foreign Jewish financial organizations were – with the help of Jewish organizations in Germany – made responsible for arranging an adequate amount of foreign currency. Up to 30 October 1941, these foreign Jews donated a total of around 9,500,000 dollars.

In the meantime the Reichsführer-SS and Chief of the German Police had prohibited emigration of Jews due to the dangers of an emigration in wartime and due to the possibilities of the East.

Another possible solution of the problem has now taken the place of emigration, i.e. the evacuation of the Jews to the East, provided that the Führer gives the appropriate approval in advance.

transport

These actions are, however, only to be considered provisional, but practical experience is already being collected which is of the greatest importance in relation to the future final solution of the Jewish question.

Approximately 11 million Jews will be involved in the final solution of the European Jewish question, distributed as follows among the individual countries:

WannseeList

The number of Jews given here for foreign countries includes, however, only those Jews who still adhere to the Jewish faith, since some countries still do not have a definition of the term “Jew” according to racial principles.
The handling of the problem in the individual countries will meet with difficulties due to the attitude and outlook of the people there, especially in Hungary and Romania. Thus, for example, even today the Jew can buy documents in Romania that will officially prove his foreign citizenship.

The influence of the Jews in all walks of life in the USSR is well known. Approximately five million Jews live in the European part of the USSR, in the Asian part scarcely 1/4 million.

The breakdown of Jews residing in the European part of the USSR according to trades was approximately as follows:

Agriculture 9.1 %
Urban workers 14.8 %
In trade 20.0 %
Employed by the state 23.4 %
In private occupations such as
medical profession, press, theater, etc. 32. 7%

Under proper guidance, in the course of the final solution the Jews are to be allocated for appropriate labor in the East. Able-bodied Jews, separated according to sex, will be taken in large work columns to these areas for work on roads, in the course of which action doubtless a large portion will be eliminated by natural causes.
The possible final remnant will, since it will undoubtedly consist of the most resistant portion, have to be treated accordingly, because it is the product of natural selection and would, if released, act as a the seed of a new Jewish revival (see the experience of history.)

In the course of the practical execution of the final solution, Europe will be combed through from west to east. Germany proper, including the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia, will have to be handled first due to the housing problem and additional social and political necessities.

The evacuated Jews will first be sent, group by group, to so-called transit ghettos, from which they will be transported to the East.

SS-Obergruppenführer Heydrich went on to say that an important prerequisite for the evacuation as such is the exact definition of the persons involved.

It is not intended to evacuate Jews over 65 years old, but to send them to an old-age ghetto – Theresienstadt is being considered for this purpose.

THERESIENSTADT
In addition to these age groups – of the approximately 280,000 Jews in Germany proper and Austria on 31 October 1941, approximately 30% are over 65 years old – severely wounded veterans and Jews with war decorations (Iron Cross I) will be accepted in the old-age ghettos. With this expedient solution, in one fell swoop many interventions will be prevented.

The beginning of the individual larger evacuation actions will largely depend on military developments. Regarding the handling of the final solution in those European countries occupied and influenced by us, it was proposed that the appropriate expert of the Foreign Office discuss the matter with the responsible official of the Security Police and SD.

In Slovakia and Croatia the matter is no longer so difficult, since the most substantial problems in this respect have already been brought near a solution. In Rumania the government has in the meantime also appointed a commissioner for Jewish affairs. In order to settle the question in Hungary, it will soon be necessary to force an adviser for Jewish questions onto the Hungarian government.

With regard to taking up preparations for dealing with the problem in Italy, SS-Obergruppenführer Heydrich considers it opportune to contact the chief of police with a view to these problems.

In occupied and unoccupied France, the registration of Jews for evacuation will in all probability proceed without great difficulty.

Under Secretary of State Luther calls attention in this matter to the fact that in some countries, such as the Scandinavian states, difficulties will arise if this problem is dealt with thoroughly and that it will therefore be advisable to defer actions in these countries. Besides, in view of the small numbers of Jews affected, this deferral will not cause any substantial limitation.

The Foreign Office sees no great difficulties for southeast and western Europe.

SS-Gruppenführer Hofmann plans to send an expert to Hungary from the Race and Settlement Main Office for general orientation at the time when the Chief of the Security Police and SD takes up the matter there. It was decided to assign this expert from the Race and Settlement Main Office, who will not work actively, as an assistant to the police attaché.

In the course of the final solution plans, the Nuremberg Laws should provide a certain foundation, in which a prerequisite for the absolute solution of the problem is also the solution to the problem of mixed marriages and persons of mixed blood.

race-laws

The Chief of the Security Police and the SD discusses the following points, at first theoretically, in regard to a letter from the chief of the Reich chancellery:

1) Treatment of Persons of Mixed Blood of the First Degree

Persons of mixed blood of the first degree will, as regards the final solution of the Jewish question, be treated as Jews.

From this treatment the following exceptions will be made:

a) Persons of mixed blood of the first degree married to persons of German blood if their marriage has resulted in children (persons of mixed blood of the second degree). These persons of mixed blood of the second degree are to be treated essentially as Germans.

b) Persons of mixed blood of the first degree, for whom the highest offices of the Party and State have already issued exemption permits in any sphere of life. Each individual case must be examined, and it is not ruled out that the decision may be made to the detriment of the person of mixed blood.

The prerequisite for any exemption must always be the personal merit of the person of mixed blood. (Not the merit of the parent or spouse of German blood.)

Persons of mixed blood of the first degree who are exempted from evacuation will be sterilized in order to prevent any offspring and to eliminate the problem of persons of mixed blood once and for all. Such sterilization will be voluntary. But it is required to remain in the Reich. The sterilized “person of mixed blood” is thereafter free of all restrictions to which he was previously subjected.

2) Treatment of Persons of Mixed Blood of the Second Degree

Persons of mixed blood of the second degree will be treated fundamentally as persons of German blood, with the exception of the following cases, in which the persons of mixed blood of the second degree will be considered as Jews:

a) The person of mixed blood of the second degree was born of a marriage in which both parents are persons of mixed blood.

b) The person of mixed blood of the second degree has a racially especially undesirable appearance that marks him outwardly as a Jew.

c) The person of mixed blood of the second degree has a particularly bad police and political record that shows that he feels and behaves like a Jew.

Also in these cases exemptions should not be made if the person of mixed blood of the second degree has married a person of German blood.

3) Marriages between Full Jews and Persons of German Blood.

Here it must be decided from case to case whether the Jewish partner will be evacuated or whether, with regard to the effects of such a step on the German relatives, [this mixed marriage] should be sent to an old-age ghetto.

4) Marriages between Persons of Mixed Blood of the First Degree and Persons of German Blood.

a) Without Children.

If no children have resulted from the marriage, the person of mixed blood of the first degree will be evacuated or sent to an old-age ghetto (same treatment as in the case of marriages between full Jews and persons of German blood, point 3.)

b) With Children.

If children have resulted from the marriage (persons of mixed blood of the second degree), they will, if they are to be treated as Jews, be evacuated or sent to a ghetto along with the parent of mixed blood of the first degree. If these children are to be treated as Germans (regular cases), they are exempted from evacuation as is therefore the parent of mixed blood of the first degree.

5) Marriages between Persons of Mixed Blood of the First Degree and Persons of Mixed Blood of the First Degree or Jews.

In these marriages (including the children) all members of the family will be treated as Jews and therefore be evacuated or sent to an old-age ghetto.

6) Marriages between Persons of Mixed Blood of the First Degree and Persons of Mixed Blood of the Second Degree.

In these marriages both partners will be evacuated or sent to an old-age ghetto without consideration of whether the marriage has produced children, since possible children will as a rule have stronger Jewish blood than the Jewish person of mixed blood of the second degree.

SS-Gruppenführer Hofmann advocates the opinion that sterilization will have to be widely used, since the person of mixed blood who is given the choice whether he will be evacuated or sterilized would rather undergo sterilization.

State Secretary Dr. Stuckart maintains that carrying out in practice of the just mentioned possibilities for solving the problem of mixed marriages and persons of mixed blood will create endless administrative work. In the second place, as the biological facts cannot be disregarded in any case, State Secretary Dr. Stuckart proposed proceeding to forced sterilization.

Furthermore, to simplify the problem of mixed marriages possibilities must be considered with the goal of the legislator saying something like: “These marriages have been dissolved.”

With regard to the issue of the effect of the evacuation of Jews on the economy, State Secretary Neumann stated that Jews who are working in industries vital to the war effort, provided that no replacements are available, cannot be evacuated.

SS-Obergruppenführer Heydrich indicated that these Jews would not be evacuated according to the rules he had approved for carrying out the evacuations then underway.

State Secretary Dr. Bühler stated that the General Government would welcome it if the final solution of this problem could be begun in the General Government, since on the one hand transportation does not play such a large role here nor would problems of labor supply hamper this action. Jews must be removed from the territory of the General Government as quickly as possible, since it is especially here that the Jew as an epidemic carrier represents an extreme danger and on the other hand he is causing permanent chaos in the economic structure of the country through continued black market dealings. Moreover, of the approximately 2 1/2 million Jews concerned, the majority is unfit for work.

State Secretary Dr. Bühler stated further that the solution to the Jewish question in the General Government is the responsibility of the Chief of the Security Police and the SD and that his efforts would be supported by the officials of the General Government. He had only one request, to solve the Jewish question in this area as quickly as possible.

In conclusion the different types of possible solutions were discussed, during which discussion both Gauleiter Dr. Meyer and State Secretary Dr. Bühler took the position that certain preparatory activities for the final solution should be carried out immediately in the territories in question, in which process alarming the populace must be avoided.

The meeting was closed with the request of the Chief of the Security Police and the SD to the participants that they afford him appropriate support during the carrying out of the tasks involved in the solution.

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Roger Casement-Irish Hero and the Congo

Ed15-Casement

Roger Casement was born in Sandycove, County Dublin in September 1864 and raised in Ballycastle County Antrim following the death of his parents..

between 1911 and shortly before his execution for treason, when he was stripped of his knighthood and other honours, was an Irish-born civil servant who worked for the British Foreign Office as a diplomat, and later became a humanitarian activist, Irish nationalist, and poet. Described as the “father of twentieth-century human rights investigations”, he was honoured in 1905 for the Casement Report on the Congo and knighted in 1911 for his important investigations of human rights abuses in Peru. He then made efforts during World War I to gain German military aid for the 1916 Easter Rising that sought to gain Irish independence.

On this day in 1916 he was sentenced to death for his part in the Easter Rising.

FEATURE_arrest-of-casement

However I will not go in to his involvement in the Easter Rising in this blog, my focus will be on his Congo report known as the Casement report.

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The Casement Report was a 1904 document written  detailing abuses in the Congo Free State

Victim_of_Congo_atrocities,_Congo,_ca._1890-1910_(IMP-CSCNWW33-OS10-19)

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which was under the private ownership of King Leopold II of Belgium.

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This report was instrumental in Leopold finally relinquishing his private holdings in Africa. Leopold had had ownership of the Congolese state since 1885, granted to him by the Berlin Conference, in which he exploited its natural resources (mostly rubber) for his own private wealth.

For many years prior to the Casement Report there were reports from the Congo alleging widespread abuses and exploitation of the native population. In 1895, the situation was reported to Dr Henry Grattan Guinness (1861–1915), a missionary doctor. He had established the Congo-Balolo Mission in 1889, and was promised action by King Leopold later in 1895, but nothing changed. H. R. Fox-Bourne of the Aborigines’ Protection Society had published Civilisation in Congoland in 1903, and the journalist E. D. Morel also wrote several articles about the Leopoldian government’s behaviour in the Congo Free State.

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On 20 May 1903 a motion by the Liberal Herbert Samuel was debated in the British House of Commons, resulting in this resolution: “.. That the Government of the Congo Free State having, at its inception, guaranteed to the Powers that its Native subjects should be governed with humanity, and that no trading monopoly or privilege should be permitted within its dominions, this House requests His Majesty’s Government to confer with the other Powers, signatories of the Berlin General Act by virtue of which the Congo Free State exists, in order that measures may be adopted to abate the evils prevalent in that State.

Subsequently, the British consul at Boma in the Congo, the Irishman Roger Casement was instructed by Balfour’s government to investigate. His report was published in 1904, confirmed Morel’s accusations, and had a considerable impact on public opinion.

Casement met and became friends with Morel just before the publication of his report in 1904 and realized that he had found the ally he had sought. Casement convinced Morel to establish an organization for dealing specifically with the Congo question. With Casement’s and Dr. Guinness’s assistance, he set up and ran the Congo Reform Association, which worked to end Leopold’s control of the Congo Free State. Branches of the association were established as far away as the United States.

The Casement Report comprises forty pages of the Parliamentary Papers, to which is appended another twenty pages of individual statements gathered by Casement as Consul, including several detailing grim tales of killings, mutilations, kidnappings and cruel beatings of the native population by soldiers of the Congo Administration of King Leopold. Copies of the Report were sent by the British government to the Belgian government as well as to nations who were signatories to the Berlin Agreement in 1885, under which much of Africa had been partitioned. The British Parliament demanded a meeting of the fourteen signatory powers to review the 1885 Berlin Agreement. The Belgian Parliament, pushed by socialist leader Emile Vandervelde 

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and other critics of the King’s Congolese policy, forced a reluctant Leopold to set up an independent commission of enquiry.

 

Its findings confirmed Casement’s report in every detail. This led to the arrest and punishment of officials who had been responsible for murders during a rubber-collection expedition in 1903 (including one Belgian national who was given a five-year sentence for causing the shooting of at least 122 Congolese natives).

The forgotten Genocide-Belgian Congo.

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The Congo Free State was a corporate state in Central Africa privately owned by King Leopold II of Belgium founded and recognized by the Berlin Conference of 1885. In the 23 years (1885-1908) Leopold II ruled the Congo he massacred 10 million Africans by cutting off their hands and genitals, flogging them to death, starving them into forced labour, holding children ransom and burning villages. The ironic part of this story is that Leopold II committed these atrocities by not even setting foot in the Congo.

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Under Leopold II’s administration, the Congo Free State became one of the greatest international scandals of the early 20th century.

The ABIR Congo Company (founded as the Anglo-Belgian India Rubber Company and later known as the Compagnie du Congo Belge) was the company appointed to exploit natural rubber in the Congo Free State. ABIR enjoyed a boom through the late 1890s, by selling a kilogram of rubber in Europe for up to 10 fr which had cost them just 1.35 fr. However, this came at a cost to the human rights of those who couldn’t pay the tax with imprisonment, flogging and other corporal punishment recorded.

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Failure to meet the rubber collection quotas was punishable by death. Meanwhile, the Force Publique (the gendarmerie / military force) were required to provide the hand of their victims as proof when they had shot and killed someone, as it was believed that they would otherwise use the munitions (imported from Europe at considerable cost) for hunting. As a consequence, the rubber quotas were in part paid off in chopped-off hands. Sometimes the hands were collected by the soldiers of the Force Publique, sometimes by the villages themselves. There were even small wars where villages attacked neighboring villages to gather hands, since their rubber quotas were too unrealistic to fill.

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A Catholic priest quotes a man, Tswambe, speaking of the hated state official Léon Fiévez, who ran a district along the river 500 kilometres (300 mi) north of Stanley Pool: All blacks saw this man as the devil of the Equator…From all the bodies killed in the field, you had to cut off the hands. He wanted to see the number of hands cut off by each soldier, who had to bring them in baskets…A village which refused to provide rubber would be completely swept clean. As a young man, I saw [Fiévez’s] soldier Molili, then guarding the village of Boyeka, take a net, put ten arrested natives in it, attach big stones to the net, and make it tumble into the river…Rubber causes these torments; that’s why we no longer want to hear its name spoken. Soldiers made young men kill or rape their own mothers and sisters.

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One junior European officer described a raid to punish a village that had protested. The European officer in command “ordered us to cut off the heads of the men and hang them on the village palisades… and to hang the women and the children on the palisade in the form of a cross”. After seeing a Congolese person killed for the first time, a Danish missionary wrote: “The soldier said ‘Don’t take this to heart so much. They kill us if we don’t bring the rubber. The Commissioner has promised us if we have plenty of hands he will shorten our service”

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In Forbath’s words: The baskets of severed hands, set down at the feet of the European post commanders, became the symbol of the Congo Free State…. The collection of hands became an end in itself. Force Publique soldiers brought them to the stations in place of rubber; they even went out to harvest them instead of rubber… They became a sort of currency. They came to be used to make up for shortfalls in rubber quotas, to replace… the people who were demanded for the forced labor gangs; and the Force Publique soldiers were paid their bonuses on the basis of how many hands they collected

In theory, each right hand proved a killing. In practice, soldiers sometimes “cheated” by simply cutting off the hand and leaving the victim to live or die. More than a few survivors later said that they had lived through a massacre by acting dead, not moving even when their hands were severed, and waiting till the soldiers left before seeking help. In some instances a soldier could shorten his service term by bringing more hands than the other soldiers, which led to widespread mutilations and dismemberment.

cong_hands_1904(A Congolese man looking at the severed hand and foot of his five-year-old daughter who was killed, and allegedly cannibalized, by the members of Anglo-Belgian India Rubber Company militia)

A reduction of the population of the Congo is noted by all who have compared the country at the beginning of Leopold’s control with the beginning of Belgian state rule in 1908, but estimates of the death toll vary considerably. Estimates of contemporary observers suggest that the population decreased by half during this period and these are supported by some modern scholars such as Jan Vansina. Others dispute this. Scholars at the Royal Museum for Central Africa argue that a decrease of 15 percent over the first forty years of colonial rule (up to the census of 1924).

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The NAZI blueprint for extermination camps.

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The concept of the concentration camps was not a Nazi concept. It was in fact the British who created the first concentration camps. The first use of concentration camps was by the British during the Boer war (1899–1902).

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Boers and black Africans were placed in camps so that they would be unable to aid Boer guerrillas. It is reported that more than 27,000 Boers and 14,000 Africans died in the camps from disease and starvation. Most of the dead were children, clearly noncombatants in the conflict.

A little known genocide took place between 1904 and 1907 in Namibia and was carried out by the troops of the Kaiser Wilhelm II

The Herero and Nama genocide was a campaign of racial extermination and collective punishment that the German Empire undertook in German South West Africa (modern-day Namibia) against the Herero and Nama people. It is considered one of the first genocides of the 20th century.

In January 1904, the Herero people, led by Samuel Maharero and Nama(or Namaqua) Captain Hendrik Witbooi, rebelled against German colonial rule.

In August, German General Lothar von Trotha defeated the Herero in the Battle of Waterberg and drove them into the desert of Omaheke, where most of them died of dehydration.

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In October, the Nama people also rebelled against the Germans, only to suffer a similar fate.

Under German colonial rule, natives were routinely used as slave labourers, and their lands were frequently confiscated and given to colonists, who were encouraged to settle on land taken from the natives; that land was stocked with cattle stolen from the Herero and Namas.

General Trotha stated his proposed solution to end the resistance of the Herero people in a letter, before the Battle of Waterberg:

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I believe that the nation as such should be annihilated, or, if this was not possible by tactical measures, have to be expelled from the country … This will be possible if the water-holes from Grootfontein to Gobabis are occupied. The constant movement of our troops will enable us to find the small groups of this nation who have moved backwards and destroy them gradually.

Trotha’s troops defeated 3,000–5,000 Herero combatants at the Battle of Waterberg on 11–12 August 1904 but were unable to encircle and annihilate the retreating survivors.

Survivors of the massacre, the majority of whom were women and children, were eventually put in places like Shark Island Concentration Camp,

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where the German authorities forced them to work as slave labour for German military and settlers. All prisoners were categorised into groups fit and unfit for work, and pre-printed death certificates indicating “death by exhaustion following privation” were issued.The British government published their well-known account of the German genocide of the Nama and Herero peoples in 1918

Food in the camps was extremely scarce, consisting of rice with no additions. As the prisoners lacked pots and the rice they received was uncooked, it was indigestible; horses and oxen that died in the camp were later distributed to the inmates as food. Dysentery and lung diseases were common. Despite those conditions, the Herero were taken outside the camp every day for labour under harsh treatment by the German guards, while the sick were left without any medical assistance or nursing care.[25]:76

Shootings, hangings, beatings, and other harsh treatment of the forced labourers (including use of sjamboks) were common.

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A 28 September 1905 article in the South African newspaper Cape Argus detailed some of the abuse with the heading: “In German S. W. Africa: Further Startling Allegations: Horrible Cruelty”.

Contrary to the German belief, the indigenous Herero and Nama people were not savages. The Herero had a sophisticated culture, having occupied their ancient lands for centuries, while the Nama  –  the mixed-race offspring of early Dutch settlers  –  were ferocious warriors as well as Christians.

Three-and-a-half thousand innocent Africans were liquidated here at the hands of the Germans, decades before the rise of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi party, with the tacit sanction of the German emperor, Kaiser Wilhelm II, and his ministers.792550-hhzwilhelm2The story of the German extermination of the Herero and Namaqua peoples has been expunged from the history books  –  and the tourists and scuba divers on the Shark Bay waterfront will find no mention of it in their guides.

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More chilling still, the book raises another awful prospect. That the Nazi crimes of World War II were not an aberration, as some have claimed, but emerged from a tradition deeply embedded in the heart of German culture, with its warped beliefs about racial superiority, going back into the 19th century.

In 1908 Eugen Fischer(a German professor of medicine, anthropology, and eugenics, and a member of the Nazi Party.  conducted field research in German Southwest Africa (now Namibia).

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He studied the Basters, offspring of German or Boer men who had fathered children by the native women (Hottentots) in that area. His study concluded with a call to prevent a “mixed race” by the prohibition of “mixed marriage” such as those he had studied. It included unethical medical practices on the Herero and Namaqua people.He argued that while the existing Mischling descendants of the mixed marriages might be useful for Germany, he recommended that they should not continue to reproduce.

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His recommendations were followed and by 1912 interracial marriage was prohibited throughout the German colonies. As a precursor to his experiments on Jews in Nazi Germany, he collected bones and skulls for his studies, in part from medical experimentation on African prisoners of war in Namibia during the Herero and Namaqua Genocide.

His ideas expressed in this work, related to maintaining the purity of races, influenced future German legislation on race, including the Nuremberg law

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Himmler’s speech- a warped ideology

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Heinrich Himmler, in charge of implementing the Nazi’s “Final Solution to the Jewish Question,” gave an infamous speech to one hundred SS men on October 4, 1943 (in a Polish town called Posen). As direct as anyone could possibly be on the issue, Himmler defined “evacuation” as “Ausrottung.” That word, in English, means “extermination

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Below are some excerpts from that speech. It is a clear indication on how warped the Nazi ideology was.

(Original transcript in German.)

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“Whether the other races live in comfort or perish of hunger interests me only in so far as we need them as slaves for our culture; apart from that it does not interest me. Whether or not 10,000 Russian women collapse from exhaustion while digging a tank ditch interests me only in so far as the tank ditch is completed for Germany.”146193

“We shall never be rough or heartless where it is not necessary; that is clear. We Germans, who are the only people in the world who have a decent attitude to animals, will also adopt a decent attitude to these human animals”

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“I shall speak to you here with all frankness of a very serious subject. We shall now discuss it absolutely openly among ourselves, nevertheless we shall never speak of it in public. I mean the evacuation of the Jews, the extermination of the Jewish race.”

(Himmler’s handwritten speech notes showing the term “Judenevakuierung” meaningevacuation of the Jews.)note

 

“And then they all come along, the eighty million good Germans, and each one has his decent Jew. Of course the others are swine, but this one is a first-class Jew. (some laughter) Of all those who talk like this, not one has watched, not one has stood up to it. Most of you know what it means to see a hundred corpses lying together, five hundred, or a thousand. To have gone through this and yet – apart from a few exceptions, examples of human weakness – to have remained decent fellows, this is what has made us hard. This is a glorious page in our history that has never been written and shall never be written.”

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“It is one of those things which is easy to say. ‘The Jewish race is to be exterminated,’ says every Party member. ‘That’s clear, it’s part of our program, elimination of the Jews, extermination, right, we’ll do it.”