Dietrich Bonhoeffer— Defying Hitler

The picture is a still from a behind-the-scenes shot of the movie God’s Spy. The film was shot in Limerick and is now in the post-production stage. It tells the story of Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

Bonhoeffer was a German Lutheran pastor, theologian and anti-Nazi dissident who was a key founding member of the Confessing Church—a movement within German Protestantism during Nazi Germany that arose in opposition to government-sponsored efforts to unify all Protestant churches into a single pro-Nazi German Evangelical Church.

Bonhoeffer’s name is mentioned quite a bit in a book I am reading at this moment. titled, Defying Hitler: The Germans Who Resisted Nazi Rule.

Born in Breslau on 4 February 1906, Dietrich Bonhoeffer was the sixth child of Karl and Paula Bonhoeffer. His father was a neurologist and one with plans to stop Hitler. First, arrest Hitler, next have him examined by Bonhoeffer. This would be to determine if Hitler had brain damage. That plan, unfortunately, never came to fruition.

Two days after Adolf Hitler became chancellor of Germany, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, then lecturer at Berlin University, took to the radio and denounced the Nazi Fuhrerprinzip, the leadership principle, that was merely a synonym for dictatorship. Bonhoeffer’s broadcast was cut off before he could finish. Shortly thereafter, he moved to London to pastor a German congregation while supporting the Confessing Church movement in Germany, a declaration by Lutheran and evangelical pastors and theologians that they would not have their churches co-opted by the Nazi government for propagandistic purposes. Bonhoeffer returned to Germany in 1935 to run a seminary for the Confessing Church; the government closed it in 1937.

Bonhoeffer’s outspoken political opinions isolated him within his church. Throughout the 1930s many of his activities were focused abroad.

He regularly reported on events in Nazi Germany to ecumenical Protestant leaders in Europe and the United States. In September 1933, he attended the ecumenical World Alliance meeting in Sofia, Bulgaria, where he spoke about the Jewish question, and the delegates passed a resolution condemning Nazi actions against Jews. Bonhoeffer took a copy of the resolution to the German consul in Sofia to prove that Nazi policies were damaging to Germany’s image abroad. The leaders of the German Evangelical Church in Berlin demanded that he withdraw from ecumenical activities; Bonhoeffer refused.

From September 1933 to April 1935, Bonhoeffer served as pastor to several German-speaking congregations in London, leading them to break with the official German church and join the Confessing Church. In April 1935, Bonhoeffer returned to Germany, where the Confessing Church was under increasing pressure from the Gestapo. Most church leaders refused to openly oppose the Nazi regime and criticized their colleagues who did. As a result, more radical Confessing Christians found themselves embattled on all sides.

Bonhoeffer began to train young clergy at an illegal Confessing Church seminary, Finkenwalde, which was closed by the Gestapo View This Term in the Glossary in September 1937. Bonhoeffer spent the next two years secretly travelling throughout Eastern Germany to supervise his students, most of whom were working illegally in small parishes. The Gestapo banned him from Berlin in January 1938 and issued an order forbidding him from public speaking in September 1940.

Pressed into service in the Office for Foreign Affairs/Counter Intelligence of the Armed Forces High Command in 1940, Bonhoeffer repeatedly travelled abroad to contact the Allied governments. His brother-in-law, Hans von Dohnanyi—son of the Hungarian composer Ernő Dohnányi, also was an officer at the Abwehr, the German intelligence service. Dohananyi used his position in the Abwehr to help Jews escape from Germany and worked with German resistance against the Nazi régime.

The first deportations of Berlin Jews to the East occurred on 15 October 1941.

A few days later, Bonhoeffer and Friedrich Perels, a Confessing Church lawyer, wrote a memo giving details of the deportations. The memo was sent to foreign contacts, as well as, trusted German military officials in the hope that it might move them to action. Bonhoeffer also became peripherally involved in “Operation Seven.” It was a plan to help Jews escape Germany by giving them papers as foreign agents. After the Gestapo uncovered the “Operation Seven” funds that had been sent abroad for the emigrants, Bonhoeffer and his brother-in-law Hans von Dohnanyi were arrested in April 1943.

For one and a half years, Bonhoeffer was imprisoned at Tegel Prison and was awaiting trial. There he continued his work in religious outreach among his fellow prisoners and guards. Sympathetic guards helped smuggle his letters out of prison to Eberhard Bethge and others. The uncensored letters were posthumously published in Letters and Papers from Prison. One of those guards, a corporal named Knobloch, even offered to help him escape from the prison and disappear with him. Plans were made for the disappearance, but in the end, Bonhoeffer declined it, fearing Nazi retribution against his family, especially his brother Klaus and brother-in-law Hans von Dohnányi, who was also imprisoned.

After the failure of the 20 July Plot on Hitler’s life in 1944 and the discovery in September 1944 of secret Abwehr documents relating to the conspiracy, Bonhoeffer was accused of association with the conspirators, although he had been in prison when the attempt happened. He was transferred from the military prison Tegel in Berlin, where he had been held for 18 months, to the detention cellar of the house prison of the Reich Security Main Office, the Gestapo’s high-security prison. In February 1945, he was secretly moved to Buchenwald Concentration Camp, and finally to Flossenbürg Concentration Camp.

The following hymn was written by him in the concentration camp, shortly before his death.

By gracious powers so wonderfully sheltered,
And confidently waiting, come what may,
we know that God is with us night and morning,
and never fails to greet us each new day.


Yet is this heart by its old foe tormented,
Still, evil days bring burdens hard to bear;
Oh, give our frightened souls the sure salvation
for which, O Lord, You taught us to prepare.


And when this cup You give is filled to brimming
With bitter suffering, hard to understand,
we take it thankfully and without trembling,
out of so good and so beloved a hand.

Yet when again in this same world You give us
The joy we had, the brightness of Your Sun,
we shall remember all the days we lived through,
and our whole life shall then be Yours alone.”

On 9 April 1945, he was hanged with other conspirators. His brother Klaus Bonhoeffer was also executed for resistance activities, as were his brothers-in-law Hans von Dohnanyi and Rüdiger Schleicher.

There is so much more that could be said about this man. So many books have been written about him and now a movie had been made about this Hero. All that is left for me to say is happy birthday, Herr Bonhoeffer.

sources

https://www.britannica.com/biography/Dietrich-Bonhoeffer/Ethical-and-religious-thought

https://encyclopedia.ushmm.org/content/en/article/dietrich-bonhoeffer

https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/defiant-theologian-dietrich-bonhoeffer-is-hanged

https://www.gdw-berlin.de/en/recess/biographies/index_of_persons/biographie/view-bio/dietrich-bonhoeffer/?no_cache=1

http://justus.anglican.org/resources/bio/133.html

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt26237514/?ref_=tt_mv_close

“Blanche, if it’s a boy, name him Jacob Ben Meier. If it’s a girl, name her Rachel.”

Mail was allowed to be sent from the concentration camps under strict censorship. It had to be written in the German language and the number of lines was limited. Only simple information about health and daily life was allowed. The Blockführer had to read and sign the mail and then it went to the censorship office. Jews were forced to write that they were in a labour camp to reassure those left behind. This mail was collected in bulk and sent to Berlin.

Meier Vieijra was born on 26 December 1918 in Nieuwe Kerkstraat in Amsterdam. He was the son of Jacob Vieijra and Rachel Simons and had two brothers, Joop (Joseph) and Piet (Louis), and three sisters Elisabeth, Clara and Branca. Like his father and his brothers, Meier was a tailor by trade. They all worked together in his father’s company.

• On 9 August 1939, he married Blanche Nabarro.
• On Saturday afternoon, 22 February 1941, a convoy of German trucks arrived near Waterlooplein. Meier was one of the men who were arrested during the raid in Amsterdam.
• On 28 February 1941, he arrived in Buchenwald (prisoner no. 4754).
• Then he was deported to Mauthausen on 22 May 1941.

Meier sent six letters and postcards to his wife Blanche from Buchenwald.

Below is the translated text of one of those letters

31 August 1941

Dear Blanche,

Thank you for your letters and money orders. Today I have the opportunity to write to you. Blanche, please thank Aunt Aggelen for the money order. You ask in your letter if you can send me 15 RM weekly. It is probably allowed. Blanche, if it will be a boy, name him Jacob Ben Meier. If it is a girl, name her Rachel…

Please send regards to the entire family and especially to Clara and Chellie, and consider yourself warmly greeted and kissed by your loving Meier Vieijra.

Dear Parents and Mother-in-Law!
How are you? Well, I hope. Please write to me sometimes.

Regards,
Meier Vieijr


The handwriting in the letter was not Meier’s. It had been re-written and was also censored. The text that was censored apparently expressed condolences on the death of Samuel Vieijra. Samuel, Meier’s uncle, his father’s brother, was murdered on 7 August 1941 in Mauthausen. Only the signature was original.

Even the written word was controlled, monitored and silenced by the Nazis.

On 17 September 1941, Meier Vieijra died from the consequences of his hard life in Mauthausen. He may not have been gassed or shot but he was murdered nonetheless.

Blanche gave birth to a baby daughter on 2 October 1941 and called her Rachel. In May 1943, Blanche and her daughter went into hiding in Oldebroek with the Flier family. Both Blanche and Rachel survived the Holocaust.

sources

https://www.joodsmonument.nl/en/page/205236/meier-vieijra

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

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

Tattoo Z-1557

(courtesy of John Davis)

This is an excerpt of John Davis’s book “Rainy Street Stories”

It tells the story of a survivor he met at Flossenburg, who had survived Auschwitz, Ravensbruch, and finally Flosssenburg

“Z-1557
While vacationing many years ago my wife Jane and I decided to visit Flossenburg, West Germany. This charming little town is nestled in among rolling hills, fresh brooks, and quaint farmhouses. In the late 1930s, though, the Nazis chose Flossenburg as the site of a concentration camp. It was for that reason we drove along a particularly pleasant road in search of this place.

The German town is, from all outward appearances, wholesome, sturdy and solid. It was difficult to find the old camp. We finally asked a pedestrian where the former concentration camp was and he indicated it was up a hill on the way out of town. We drove there and parked in a shaded lot. A guided path led us along memorials to the thousands of Europeans murdered there. Indeed, the actual incinerator was still in place. The strange feelings that overcame us were difficult to get a handle on.

The symbolic crosses and memorial tablets were fitting. Fitting is the appropriate word. Not moving. Not horrifying. A few flowers, recently placed, were what moved us. They were, in this park-like setting, perhaps the only scene that associated the place with the dread and terror of those many years ago. Real people, just like us, were rounded up, beaten, whipped, hung, shot and hacked to death there. Yet there was no sense conveyed that any of that had happened. Except, of course, from the anonymous people who placed the flowers. They had lost someone, and still felt the loss.

One of the last stops at the concentration camp is a re-created barracks building. Inside is a museum. Scenes in black and white somehow make it all seem distant and unreal. We stopped at a marker dedicated to famous inmates killed there – Admiral Wilhelm Canaris and Pastor Dietrich Bonhoffer. And then we turned to go.
As we arrived at the parking lot, we were approached by two strangers. They’d been in the museum at the same time we were. He asked me what I thought of the memorial. He thought we were English, and were surprised to discover we were Americans. I told him I really had gotten no sense of the dread reality of events at this place.

“No,” he said in German. “It is like a park. We were recently in Auschwitz. I can tell you that as a retired engineer, with one company of engineering soldiers I could have Auschwitz fully operational in 30 days.”Yet at Flossenburg, I said, there didn’t seem to be any sense of what it had really been like.

“Nor for us,” he said. “My wife could not even recognize the place when we drove in. You see, she was an inmate here.”

It was then that I noticed the woman. She was dark, small, and very thin. She wore long sleeves on a hot August day. I asked how she came to be put there. “Racial hatred,” she said. “I was a Roma, a gypsy, living in Danzig. In 1941 my entire village was rounded up. We were put into cargo trains and brought to Auschwitz, where they kept us crammed like animals in barracks for five months.”

She pulled up her sleeve, revealing the tattoo – Z-1557. Z for zigeunerin, or Roma, a gypsy. “Then, one day, they had a formation to select women who could work,” she continued. “I was chosen and sent at 3 o’clock by train to Ravensbrueck, a concentration camp for women. I only learned this week, due to the remarkable records the Nazis kept, that my family together with all the other Romani then held in Auschwitz were massacred four hours later that very evening.”

My wife and I were stunned. We’d never met an actual inmate of such a place. We didn’t know what to say. She finished her story. “After being held in Ravensbrueck, I was sent to Buchenwald, and after that to this place.”

“Did you see the photographs inside?” her husband asked. “Did you see the one where the commandant and guards of Flossenburg were being tried?”

I recalled a photograph that showed about 50 German prisoners being tried by an American tribunal. “Did you see the look on the Germans’ faces?” He inquired. “They looked like bored opera viewers. Their faces said, ‘So what are you going to do to me?’ Only a dozen or so of those tried received the death penalty. Three times that number were free men within eight years. They really did escape from justice. I think that the whole lot of them should have been finished off,” he said.

“We’ve just visited all the places where my wife was once held. She could not bring herself to go into Auschwitz,” he said.

That camp, in Poland, and some others – Buchenwald, in what was East Germany, for another – seem more as they might have been when in use. Not Flossenburg. “This place is a park,” he continued. “Who can even tell that there was a camp here? I think that here in the West the memory of such a place will go away in another generation.”

The tears his wife cried that day were for the murdered who were still part of her life after all these years. Can we imagine ourselves there? Can we imagine our own families in such a place?

Such places as Flossenburg were huge operations during the war. They were immense and readily visible from afar. Whether those who were alive back then knew, is a question for the past. Whether those of us alive today remember and do all in our power to stop such things from ever happening again, anywhere, is a question that we must answer for.

It has been said that to do good and avoid evil is not enough. We have to do good and undo evil. Why did we meet these strangers in a parking lot in Flossenburg?
I think the sensation I had at Flossenburg was an awareness of evil. That evil was smug, and evil was present. It was smug because it was waiting. Waiting for us to forget in the park that is Flossenburg”

source

Scary Irmgard Furchner

Yesterday, a court in Germany convicted 97-year-old Irmgard Furchner and she received a two-year suspended sentence. Most of you will have heard of it. What you possibly didn’t hear is that after the war she married Heinz Furchtsam, a SS officer who also had worked in Stutthof. For reasons unknown to me, he changed his last name to Furchner. Maybe it is because he didn’t want to scare people, Furchtsam translates to scary.

Irmgard Furchner worked as a stenographer and typist at the Stutthof camp near Gdansk, from 1943 until the end of the Nazi regime in 1945. She was tried in a special juvenile court owing to her age at the time of the crimes.

At the age of 18, she began working as a typist in the Nazi death camp. Previously she had worked as a shorthand typist at the Dresdner Bank in Marienburg. In the Stutthof concentration camp, she earned a good living, while prisoners starved, died of exhaustion and abuse and were gassed or shot.

The court at Itzehoe in northern Germany heard from survivors of the camp, some of whom died during the trial.

One survivor told reporters that Furchner’s distance from the killings did not absolve her from being an accessory to the crimes. Josef Salomonovic said: “She’s indirectly guilty….even if she just sat in the office and put her stamp on my father’s death certificate.”

In their charge sheet, prosecutors state that Furchner between June 1943 and April 1945 “assisted those responsible at the camp in the systematic killing of Jewish prisoners, Polish partisans and Soviet Russian prisoners of war, in her role as a stenographer and secretary to the camp commander”.

I know that some people will say “What’s the point of prosecuting people in their 90s?” That is easy to say for those who didn’t lose loved ones during the Holocaust or have been victims themselves. Justice should not be bound by the constraints of time.

sources

https://www.bild.de/news/inland/news-inland/sekretaerin-des-boesen-im-kz-stutthof-die-furchtbare-frau-furchner-77450984.bild.html

https://www.firstpost.com/explainers/who-is-irmgard-furchner-97-year-old-ex-secretary-of-nazi-commander-convicted-of-complicity-in-10500-murders-11846831.html

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-64036465

https://www.nationalworld.com/news/world/ex-nazi-camp-secretary-irmgard-furchner-guilty-sentence-3961259

https://nypost.com/2022/12/20/nazi-secretary-of-evil-97-convicted-by-german-court/

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/sep/30/former-nazi-concentration-camp-secretary-96-faces-trial

The Execution of a Sadist

The beautiful beast and the hyena of Auschwitz were just some names used for Irma Grese. She was born to Berta Grese and Alfred Grese, both dairy workers, on 7 October 1923. Irma was the third of five children (three girls and two boys). In 1936, her mother died by suicide after drinking hydrochloric acid following the discovery of Alfred’s affair with a local pub owner’s daughter.

Holocaust survivor said this about Grese: “She was one of the most beautiful women I have ever seen. Her body was perfect in every line, her face clear and angelic, and her blue eyes the gayest, the most innocent eyes one can imagine. And yet, Irma Grese was the most depraved, cruel and imaginative pervert I ever came across.”

According to professor Wendy A. Sarti’s research, Grese had a sick fondness for striking women on their breasts and for forcing Jewish girls to be her lookout as she raped inmates. As if this wasn’t enough, Sarti reported that Grese would sick her dog on prisoners, whip them constantly, and kick them with her hobnailed jackboots until there was blood.

After the war, several Holocaust survivors provided extensive details of murders, tortures, cruelties and sexual excesses engaged in by Irma Grese during her years at Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen. They testified to her acts of pure sadism, beatings and arbitrary shooting of prisoners, savaging of prisoners by her trained and half-starved dogs, to her selecting prisoners for the gas chambers.

On 13 December 1945, in Hamelin Prison, Grese was led to the gallows. British Army Regimental Sergeant-Major Richard Anthony O’Neill was an assistant to the executioner, Albert Pierrepoint. “We climbed the stairs to the cells where the condemned were waiting. A German officer at the door leading to the corridor flung open the door and we filed past the row of faces and into the execution chamber. The officers stood at attention. Brigadier Paton-Walsh stood with his wristwatch raised. He gave me the signal, and a sigh of released breath was audible in the chamber, I walked into the corridor. “Irma Grese,” I called. The German guards quickly closed all grilles on twelve of the inspection holes and opened one door. Irma Grese stepped out. The cell was far too small for me to go inside, and I had to pinion her in the corridor. “Follow me,” I said in English, and O’Neil repeated the order in German. At 9:34 a.m. she walked into the execution chamber, gazed for a moment at the officials standing around it and then walked on to the centre of the trap, where I had made a chalk mark. She stood on this mark very firmly, and as I placed the white cap over her head she said in her languid voice, Schnell [Quickly]. The drop crashed down, and the doctor followed me into the pit and pronounced her dead. After twenty minutes the body was taken down and placed in a coffin ready for burial.”

I am not sure if there ever was a film made about Irma Grese, but if a movie would be made I think Elisabeth Moss should play her, the resemblance is uncanny.

sources

https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/irma-grese

https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/world-news/sadistic-holocaust-camp-guard-evil-27483513

https://allthatsinteresting.com/irma-grese

https://www.historytoday.com/history-matters/real-beast-belsen-irma-grese-and-female-concentration-camp-guards

The Significance of December 12 in the Context of the Holocaust

The letter above is dated 18 December 1943. However, it is in direct connection with a program that started eight years earlier. On 12 December 1935, the Lebensborn program began as a campaign to encourage so-called “racially valuable” Germans to have more children. Lebensborn initially focused on giving financial assistance to members of the SS with large families and providing pregnant “German-blooded” women with medical care in comfortable maternity houses. During World War II, the program also became involved in the kidnapping of thousands of foreign children for adoption into German families to counter Germany’s declining birthrate.

On 13 September 1936, nine months after the program had been initiated, Heinrich Himmler wrote the following to members of the SS:

“The organisation “Lebensborn e.V.” serves the SS leaders in the selection and adoption of qualified children. The organisation “Lebensborn e.V.” is under my personal direction, is part of the Race and Settlement Central Bureau of the SS, and has the following obligations:
• Support racially, biologically and hereditarily valuable families with many children.
• Placement and care of racially, biologically and hereditarily valuable pregnant women, who, after a thorough examination of their and the progenitor’s families by the Race and Settlement Central Bureau of the SS, can be expected to produce equally valuable children.
• Care for the children.
• Care for the children’s mothers.
It is the honourable duty of all leaders of the central bureau to become members of the organisation “Lebensborn e.V.” The application for admission must be filed prior to 23 September 1936.”

One of the children conceived via the Lebensborn program is Anni-Frid Synni Lyngstad from the Swedish pop band ABBA.

After her birth on 15 November 1945, the result of an encounter between her mother, Synni, and a German sergeant, Alfred Haase, Anni-Frid’s mother and grandmother were branded as traitors and ostracized in their village in Northern Norway. They were forced to emigrate to Sweden, where Anni-Frid’s mother died of kidney failure before her daughter was two.

It is estimated that 20,000 Polish children were kidnapped who passed the Germanization criteria and were integrated into the Lebensborn program.

Below is the translation of the letter above:

Lodz. 18 Dec. 1943
To Mr Karl Müller

Richrath / Langenfeld Rietherbach St. 11
R IV / I – A. E. – 023 – Hei / MHW –

Subject: placement of a child
Reference: Preceding correspondence
Condition: proof of health (2 persons)

Dear Mr Müller!
I am pleased to finally announce that I have found two boys, one of which you will most likely approve. They are Sep Piehl, born on 3 December 1935, and Eugen Bartel, born on 11 March 1937. I believe that at least one of them is of an age that is well-suited to your household. The children currently live in Oberweis (Upper Danube). Arrange to take the 6:19 train leaving Gmunden on 4 January 1944, and arrive in Oberweis at 6:37. If you need overnight accommodation, confirm with me and I will arrange it. It is necessary that you bring your identification papers with you. Please notify me no later than 22 December 1943, whether I can expect you in Oberweis on 4 January. In any event, please complete the accompanying proofs of health for yourself and your wife. The authorized departmental or SS physician will, as is standard, provide me with the completed forms. I hope that my news to you has given you special Christmas joy.

Hail Hitler!
On behalf of: signed

Most people will have heard of the Wannsee conference, but only a few know about the meeting that preceded the conference. That meeting may have had greater implications than the Wannsee conference.

On the afternoon of the 12th of December 1941, Hitler ordered the leading members of the Nazi party to a meeting in his private rooms at the Reich Chancellery.

The announcement Hitler made on 12 December to the Reichsleiter and Gauleiter refers to an earlier statement he had made on 30 January 1939:

“If the world of international financial Jewry, both in and outside of Europe, should succeed in plunging the Nations into another world war, the result will not be the Bolshevization of the world and thus a victory for Judaism. The result will be the extermination of the Jewish race in Europe.”

With the United States being dragged into World War II on 7 December 1941 and the subsequent declaration of war on the US by Nazi Germany on 11 December, the war, especially regarding the above statement, had become truly a World War. Hitler announced this declaration of war on 11 December in the German Reichstag, a speech also broadcast on the radio. On 12 December 1941, he had a meeting with the most important Nazi leaders.

Attendance in this meeting was obligatory for Nazis in high party offices. No official list of the people who attended this meeting exists, but the following leaders of Nazi Germany, are known to have been there:

Adolf Hitler, Heinrich Himmler, Joseph Goebbels, Martin Bormann, Hans Frank and Philipp Bouhler. More than likely, Alfred Rosenberg; Gauleiters Arthur Greiser, Fritz Bracht, and Fritz Sauckel, Reichskommissars Hinrich Lohse and Erich Koch, and Alfred Meyer were also present. Known to have been absent from this meeting were Hermann Göring and Reinhard Heydrich.

Joseph Göbbels. noted the following in his diary on 13 December 1941.

“Regarding the Jewish question, the Fuehrer is determined to clean the table. He prophesized that should the Jews once again bring about a world war, they would be annihilated. These were no empty words. The world war has come, therefore the annihilation of the Jews has to be its inevitable consequence. The question has to be examined without any sentimentality. We are not here to pity Jews but to have pity for our own German people. If the German people have sacrificed about 160,000 dead in the battles in the east, the instigators of this bloody conflict will have to pay for it with their lives.”

What is so significant about the December 12 meeting is that Adolf Hitler himself was present and had called for the meeting. Believe it or not, but to this day there are still people who claim that Hitler had no hand in the murder of Jews, clearly, that meeting shows his full knowledge and endorsement and also that he ordered the mass murder.

On that same day, the first group of Jews was deported to Majdanek: 150 men who had been captured in a manhunt in the Lublin ghetto. By 6 January 1945, just 17 of them were still alive and were liberated from the camp by an order of the German Labor Ministry in Lublin. Between 22 February and 9 November 1942, at least 4000 Jews from Lublin were murdered in Majdanek.

Werner Galnik, a young Jewish boy in the Riga Ghetto in Latvia worded it probably the best in his diary entry of 12 December 1941.

“I figured this way: Hitler loves only the Germans, but no other people, and particularly not us Jews. Does it follow that because we are Jews we must be prisoners? Did my father perhaps steal or murder that he should be arrested? And what had my dear mother done? And what did we children do?”

sources

https://perspectives.ushmm.org/item/brochure-for-the-lebensborn-program/collection/family-life-during-the-holocaust

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2002/jun/30/kateconnolly.theobserver

https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/joseph-goebbels-on-the-jewish-question

https://en-academic.com/dic.nsf/enwiki/10444531

https://encyclopedia.ushmm.org/content/en/article/lebensborn-program

https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/the-quot-lebensborn-quot-program

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There Are No Answers, Just More Questions

For several years I have been on a quest to find answers, initially about the death of my Grandfather, but also about why the Holocaust happened.

In the case of my Grandfather, I have found something like an answer, or at least something I can live with.

However when it comes to the Holocaust I have discovered there are no answers, just more questions. The picture above is of the Cordoza and Abas families.

Only the 3 youngest boys survived, The other 13 people were murdered. Among them was Sara Abigael Cardozo born in Amsterdam on 29 November 1937. He was murdered in Auschwitz on 21 October 1944 at the age of six.

Below is a picture of Friedreich Josef Bier. He was born in
Düsseldorf on 22 September 1927 and murdered in Bergen-Belsen on 29 November 1944. He reached the age of 17 years. He was the son of Julius Bier and Berta Bier-Lewin. I share my birthday with his mother Berta. Friedrich’s siblings survived.

I don’t understand the hate, the randomness of the murders. Why children? I know that especially Himmler spread the lie that the children would take revenge. But did that happen after any war where the children would take revenge for the death of their parents on a large scale?

Another thing that I can’t understand is why so many stood by and did nothing. For fear? Allegedly Hitler told one of his inner circle that the world stood by when the Armenian Genocide took place and did nothing. He reckoned it would be the same with the genocide of the Jews, Gypsies, Homosexuals and so many others.

Why are there today still people, who say that the Holocaust never happened?

Finishing up with a poem by Martin Niemöller as a reminder that the hate and ignorance that caused the Holocaust have not gone away, it is merely lurking in the shadows waiting for the time to strike again. There are no answers just more questions, but that doesn’t mean I will stop looking.

First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a socialist.

Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

—Martin Niemöller

https://www.joodsmonument.nl/en/page/29821/friedreich-josef-bier

https://www.joodsmonument.nl/en/page/151023/sara-abigael-cardozo

https://encyclopedia.ushmm.org/content/en/article/martin-niemoeller-first-they-came-for-the-socialists


All Quiet on the Western Front

I watched All Quiet on the Western Front, last night. I thought that November 11 would be the perfect date to watch a World War I movie. It is a very powerful retelling of the story. Although I thoroughly liked the movie, this is not going to be a review of it, suffice to say I do recommend it.

This post is going to be about the man who wrote the book, Im Westen nichts Neues, which was translated into English as All Quiet on the Western front Erich Maria Remarque was born as Erich Paul Remark, his life was everything but quiet. it is also a reflection of how little regard the Nazis had for their World War I heroes.

Remarque was born on June 22nd, 1898, in Westphalia. After a local school and university education, he was drafted aged 18 and sent to Flanders on June 12, 1917.

Remarque was wounded five times within a month of being on the western front, the last during the third battle of Ypres. He began writing in a military hospital about his experiences, supplementing them with stories of fellow injured soldiers.

Remarque was the third of four children of Peter and Anna. His siblings were his older sister Erna, older brother Theodor Arthur (who died in early childhood), and younger sister Elfriede. The spelling of his last name was changed to Remarque when he published All Quiet on the Western Front in honor of his French ancestors and to dissociate himself from his earlier novel Die Traumbude (which he started writing at the age of sixteen and completed, but it was not published, until 1920). His grandfather had changed the spelling from Remarque to Remark in the 19th century.

In 1929, Remarque scored his greatest success with All Quiet on the Western Front. The novel, a lasting tribute to Germany’s “lost generation” that perished in the Great War, became an immediate international bestseller. In Germany alone in 1929, the book sold almost one million copies. It was translated into more than a dozen languages, including English, Chinese, and Dutch.

All Quiet on the Western Front earned Remarque accolades generally from the liberal and leftist press for the work’s pacifist stance. The Nazis and conservative nationalists immediately called it an assault on Germany’s honor, a piece of Marxist propaganda, and the work of a traitor.

That same year, German-born Hollywood producer Carl Laemmle, acquired the rights to make a film of the book. In May 1930, the American film premiered in Los Angeles and won Academy Awards for Best Picture and Best Director. That summer, audiences in France, Britain, and Belgium flocked to the film and it received popular acclaim.

Nearly immediately the Hollywood-made movie ran into trouble in Germany. When it was proposed for showing, a representative of the German Ministry of Defense demanded that its screening be rejected on the grounds that it damaged the country’s image and shed a bad light on the German military. In response, the Berlin censorship office requested Laemmle to edit the film, which was done. Remarque’s former boss, the press and film magnate, and outspoken German nationalist, Alfred Hugenberg, indicated that because of the movie’s alleged anti-German bias it would not be shown in any of his theaters. He subsequently petitioned German president, Paul von Hindenburg, to ban the film.

In December 1930, when the edited and dubbed version of the film was shown to the general public in Berlin, the Nazis sabotaged the event. The Party’s leader in Berlin and its propaganda chief, Joseph Goebbels, organized a riot to disrupt the showing. Outside, SA Stormtroopers intimidated moviegoers, while inside they released stink bombs and mice and harangued the audience. At subsequent showings, the Nazis carried out violent protests. In response to these actions and conservative attacks on the film, the government banned the film. Liberals and socialists condemned the action, but the prohibition lasted until September 1931, when Laemmle produced a more censored version for German audiences.

Remarque left Germany for Switzerland in 1932.

Once in power, Goebbels banned all Remarque’s works, stripped him of his citizenship, and let his Nazi rumor mill claim the author’s birth name, Remark (his grandfather dropped the French spelling), was a reversal of his real, Jewish, name: Kramer. On May 10, 1933, pro-Nazi students consigned his works to the flames during the fiery book-burning spectacles staged throughout the country. Remarque’s writing was publicly declared as unpatriotic and was banned in Germany. Copies were removed from all libraries and restricted from being sold or published anywhere in the country. The 1930s version of cancel culture.

In 1943, the Nazis arrested his youngest sister, German: Elfriede Scholz, who had stayed behind in Germany with her husband and two children. After a trial at the notorious Volksgerichtshof (Hitler’s extra-constitutional “People’s Court”), she was found guilty of “undermining morale” for stating that she considered the war lost. Court President Roland Freisler declared, “Ihr Bruder ist uns leider entwischt—Sie aber werden uns nicht entwischen” (“Your brother is unfortunately beyond our reach – you, however, will not escape us.”) Elfriede was beheaded on 16 December 1943. The bill of 495.80 Reichsmarks was sent to her surviving sister, Erna. Remarque later said that his sister had been involved in anti-Nazi resistance activities.

In exile, Remarque was unaware of his sister Elfriede’s fate until after the war. He would dedicate his 1952 novel Spark of Life (Der Funke Leben) to her. The dedication was omitted in the German version of the book, reportedly because he was still seen as a traitor by some Germans

In 1944, Remarque wrote a report for America’s Office of Strategic Services (OSS), the country’s foreign intelligence organization and the forerunner to today’s Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). In it, he urged the Allies to adopt a systematic policy for re-educating the German population after the war. Germans, he believed, had to be exposed to Nazi crimes and evils of militarism.

When you watch the movie, and I hope you will, or read the book then please remember it is not just a bit of cultural history, but also something that is still current. That hate has never left, it just came back in different configurations.

(Many thanks to John Davis for pointing out the story to me, and Jackie Frant for doing some research on it)

sources

https://www.irishtimes.com/opinion/an-unquiet-life-erich-maria-remarque-and-all-quiet-on-the-western-front-1.3772230

https://encyclopedia.ushmm.org/content/en/article/erich-maria-remarque-in-depth

https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/erich-maria-remarque-born

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Erich_Maria_Remarque#Early_life

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Laying the Foundation for Hate

When I see young people being very passionate about something that has a political undertone, I always wonder who is really behind that.

The Nazis understood that for them to successfully implement their racial ideas and policies, they would have to indoctrinate the youth. Hitler had a very strong viewpoint on education. The only teacher he liked at secondary school was his history teacher Leopold Potsch.

Hitler wrote in Mein Kampf (1925): “Dr. Leopold Potsch, my professor at the Realschule in Linz, embodied this requirement to an ideal degree. This old gentleman’s manner was as kind as it was determined, his dazzling eloquence not only held us spellbound but carried us away. Even today I think back with gentle emotion on this gray-haired man who, by the fire of his narratives, sometimes made us forget the present; who, as if by enchantment, carried us into past times and, out of the millennial veils of mist, molded dry historical memories into a living reality. On such occasions, we sat there, often aflame with enthusiasm, and sometimes even moved to tears. What made our good fortune all the greater was that this teacher knew how to illuminate the past by examples from the present, and how the past draws inferences for the present. As a result, he had more understanding than anyone else for all the daily problems which then held us breathless. He used our budding nationalistic fanaticism as a means of educating us, frequently appealing to our sense of national honor. By this alone he was able to discipline us little ruffians more easily than would have been possible by any other means. This teacher made history my favorite subject. And indeed, though he had no such intention, it was then that I became a little revolutionary. For who could have studied German history under such a teacher without becoming an enemy of the state which, through its ruling house, exerted so disastrous an influence on the destinies of the nation? And who could retain his loyalty to a dynasty which in past and present betrayed the needs of the German people again and again for shameless private advantage?”

Leopold Poetsch began his history teaching career in Maribor and later moved to Linz. He held strong nationalist opinions on the subject and believed that all ethnic Germans should be united by a single government. He also held strong racist views and told his pupils that Jews and Slavs were members of “inferior races”. However in later years took some distance from his former pupil, and considered Hitler an enemy of Austria.

The Nazis went to great extents on teaching the German youth to be proud of their race through biology teaching, the National Socialist Teachers League (NSLB) in particular taught in schools that they should be proud of their race and not to race mix.

Race biology was meant to encourage the Germans to maintain their racial purity, the NSLB stressed that as early as primary schools Germans have to work on only the Nordic racial element of the German Volk (people) again and again and have to contrast this with the racial differences that foreign peoples such as the Jews represent.

Every institution was infused with National Socialist ideology and infiltrated by Nazi personnel in chief positions. Schools were no exception.

Schools and universities were to:

indoctrinate young people into the racial ideas of Nazism and make children loyal to Hitler – this was in effect a form of brainwashing;
train girls to be good Aryan wives and mothers, and prepare boys to be effective soldiers.

Make young people “swift as a greyhound, as tough as leather, and as hard as Krupp steel”. All teachers had to join the Nazi Teachers’ Association, which vetted them for political and racial suitability. By 1939, 97 percent of teachers belonged to it.

Jewish teachers were fired.

Teachers had to go to summer school so they could teach Nazi ideas effectively. Pupils were encouraged to inform the authorities if teachers did not teach and support Nazi ideas.

There were even so-called Bride Schools. The Reich Bride Schools (German: Reichsbräuteschule) were institutions established in Nazi Germany in the late 1930s. They were created to train young women to be “perfect Nazi brides”, indoctrinated in Nazi ideology and educated in housekeeping skills. The fiancées of prominent SS members and senior Nazi Party officials (and later a wider range of German women) were taught skills including cooking, child care, ironing, and to how to polish their husbands’ uniforms and daggers. They were required to swear oaths of loyalty to Adolf Hitler, to pledge to raise their children as Nazis, and to marry in what the Nazis alleged to be ceremonies based on the pre-Christian model.

The bride schools were a collaboration between Gertrud Scholtz-Klink and SS chief Heinrich Himmler, who was obsessed with German superiority over all races and the need for a “strong family life to create a strong, pure nation”.

Gertrud Scholtz-Klink

Regulations dictated that young women would be taught ‘washing, cooking, childcare and home design’ before they could walk up the aisle with the men who would staff death camps and rule conquered lands with an iron fist.

They were also instructed in social niceties – such as how to hold conversations at cocktail parties – and how to bring up their children worshipping not God or Jesus Christ, but Hitler. Although several bride schools were established in locations across Germany, the demands of the Second World War made it impossible for the Nazis to realize their ideal of women as being exclusively homebound.

Nazi racial policy did not always include degrading Jews but had to always maintain the importance of German blood and the Aryan race. This was often connected to the blood and soil ideology.

Whilst the young Germans were being taught about the importance of one’s blood, at the same time they were being taught about the dangers that the Jews represent in Germany and the necessary living space in the East, in particular Russia.

Novels portrayed the Germans as uniquely endowed and possessors of a unique destiny. The segregation of races was said to be natural, just as separate species did not come together in nature.

Der Giftpilz was a piece of antisemitic Nazi propaganda published as a children’s book by Julius Streicher in 1938. The title is German for “the poisonous mushroom/toadstool”.

The book explains that the Talmud discourages Jews from performing manual labor and encourages them to engage in trade instead; that it teaches Jews that non-Jews are meant to be slaves and asks Jews to enslave the non-Jewish population; and that Talmudic law allows Jews to cheat non-Jews. The book was sometimes used in German schools.

The indoctrination, or rather brainwashing, also happened in third-level education, in the Universities. On May 10, 1933 student groups at universities across Germany carried out a series of book burnings of works that the students and leading Nazi party members associated with an “un-German spirit.” Enthusiastic crowds witnessed the burning of books by Brecht, Einstein, Freud, Mann, and Remarque, among many other well-known intellectuals, scientists, and cultural figures, many of whom were Jewish. The largest of these book bonfires occurred in Berlin, where an estimated 40,000 people gathered to hear a speech by the propaganda minister, Joseph Goebbels, in which he pronounced that “Jewish intellectualism is dead”

The information in this post comes from a great number of sources. The reason why I did this article is to warn people. There are groups out there at the moment who are manipulating young people, to be foot soldiers for their political ideas. We need to check who is behind some of these movements, some of them have a noble veneer, but if you scratch the surface you might discover there is a different agenda behind it.

Of course, the vast majority of young people are decent human beings.

sources

https://www.ushmm.org/collections/bibliography/1933-book-burnings

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/brief-history-book-burning-printing-press-internet-archives-180964697/

https://histclo.com/schun/country/ger/era/tr/book/ned-book.html#:~:text=The%20NAZIs%20proceeded%20to%20unabashedly,of%20the%20national%20community%20…

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2390238/How-perfect-Nazi-bride-The-sinister-regulations-women-learn-breed-cook-sew-iron–worship-Hitler.html

https://slate.com/human-interest/2013/10/nazi-bride-schools-educated-german-women-in-racial-values-and-homemaking.html

https://nypost.com/2013/08/13/documents-reveal-secrets-behind-the-third-reichs-bride-schools-where-women-were-trained-to-be-perfect-nazi-wives/

https://spartacus-educational.com/Leopold_Potsch.htm

https://spartacus-educational.com/GEReducation.htm

https://www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize/guides/z897pbk/revision/3

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I am passionate about my site and I know you all like reading my blogs. I have been doing this at no cost and will continue to do so. All I ask is for a voluntary donation of $2, however if you are not in a position to do so I can fully understand, maybe next time then. Thank you. To donate click on the credit/debit card icon of the card you will use. If you want to donate more then $2 just add a higher number in the box left from the PayPal link. Many thanks.

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