The Librarian of Auschwitz

Auschwitz

I started reading ‘The Librarian of Auschwitz’ I got the book as a birthday present a few days ago. It is based on the story of Dita Kraus, it is partially fictional and historical.

However this blog will not be a book review nor will it be about Dita herself. The blog will be about Fredy Hirsch, one of the main people mentioned in the book.

I don’t think that people appreciate the remarkable bravery of this man. It is also one of the stories I really should have known but didn’t. Fredy was born in Aachen ,Germany which is a city not far away from where I was born and grew up, it was also a place which I visited several times a month.

To illustrate how close Aachen was to me hometwon of Geleen, in the Netherlands. In October 5th.1942 the RAF bombed Geleen, believing it to be Aachen.

But like so may other I had never heard of Fredy Hirsch. He was a revered, openly gay Jewish youth leader who brightened the lives of kids at Theresienstadt and Auschwitz and saved many from death.

Fredy

He was  the deputy supervisor of children at Theresienstadt and the supervisor of the children’s block known as Block 31  at the Theresienstadt family camp at Auschwitz II-Birkenau.

Due to the fact he was charismatic and German he was able to convince the SS guards to grant the children some privileges and persuaded them to allocate Block 31, for children younger than fourteen.

I will not go too much in the details of block 31 but will focus on what Fredy and others actually achieved here/ Fredy had convinced the Nazis that it would be beneficial for the children to learn German, this request was granted, But Fredy recruited others  who had been involved in education basically turned the block into a school. Knowing that education was forbidden, they also realized that it cost them their lives if it was ever discovered.

They used just the handful of books they had to educate the children. Again even the fact that they had books was punishable by death, and to make it even more dangerous for them some of the books had been from authors who were banned by the Nazi regime, Authors like H.G Wells.

Wells’s   works were banned from libraries and book stores. Wells, as president of PEN International (Poets, Essayists, Novelists), angered the Nazis by overseeing the expulsion of the German PEN club from the international body in 1934 following the German PEN’s refusal to admit non-Aryan writers to its membership. At a PEN conference in Ragusa, Wells refused to yield to Nazi sympathisers who demanded that the exiled author Ernst Toller be prevented from speaking. Even Germans caught possessing any of Well’s books could face harsh punishments.

Yet this did not deter Fredy and his fellow teachers to use Wells’s book “A Short History of the World ” as one of their educational tools.

wells

Fredy Hirsch died on March 8, 1944 and the circumstances are unclear, some say he committed suicide, others say he was poisoned. Fredy had been told that day about the preparations for the liquidation of the family camp and to urge him to lead an uprising.

But just let this sink in for a minute a Gay Jewish man educating children by using banned books in Auschwitz. The bravery of this is just beyond anything I can imagine.

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Sources

The Librarian of Auschwitz

USHMM

 

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Who is afraid of Virginia Woolf? Well apparently Hitler was.

Virginia_Woolf_in_1902

As part of the preparation of ‘Operation Sealion’ the planned invasion of Great Britain. A  secret list of prominent British residents to be arrested, was produced in 1940 by the SS.

The original name in German was ‘Sonderfahndungsliste GB’ (Special Search List Great Britain) it was a 144 page document with 2,820 selected targets to be arrested after the German invasion of Britain.

black book

The list was made up of hundreds of prominent politicians, authors, poets, journalists, actors, scientists, musicians, heads of industry and religious leaders.

The ‘Black book’ was drawn up by SS General Walter Schellenbergs office. Schellenberg was to become the Gestapo chief responsible for GB after an invasion, the main Gestapo offices were to be based in Birmingham.

_Walter_Schellenberg

After the German invasion of Britain Hitler wanted the  SS and Gestapo to have rounded up every person on the list, arrested them and, in many cases, executed them.

The invasion that was,  never to be, largely as a result of the ‘Battle of Britain’ culminating in September that year with air supremacy retained by the British RAF

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The list had several notable mistakes, such as people who had already died like Lytton Strachey or moved away like Paul Robeson.

The writer and feminist Virginia Woolf as well as  the ‘War of the Worlds’ author HG Wells were on the list as potential threats to the Nazi Government, if there had been a Nazi controlled government in the UK.

h-g-wells

Donation

I am passionate about my site and I know a 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. Thanks 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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The chances of anything coming from Mars, are a million to one.

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The chances of anything coming from Mars, are a million to one they say. But what if they have already been?

Some scientists have come up with the notion that we may already have been visited by extra terrestrial beings who either were from Mars or were based there. They base these findings on a few things, but the most compelling being the Pyramids and the Sphinx of Giza.

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Some archaeologists believe there may have been a subterranean world below the Sphinx and the Pyramids.Recent pictures of the surface of Mars have shown something resembling a Sphinx in front of a mountain, but which also could be a pyramid.

It is believed that there may be a subterranean world on Mars. I don’t know if I believe this or not but I have to admit it is an intriguing idea.Maybe H.G Well wasn’t an author but a clairvoyant.

Additional to the pictures of the mysterious Sphinx like object there are other pictures of bizarre objects on the surface of our red neighbor,a woman sitting on rocks and a giant face.

The face on Mars

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The woman on Mars

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Helmet on Mars

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Odd shape,looking like traffic lights. on Mars

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Finger on Mars

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Door handle on Mars

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These picture were taken by the Viking 1 spacecraft in 1976 and by the Mars Rover Spirit from 2007 onward.The one of the woman I find the eeriest.

Finishing up with the most suitable song. “the Eve of  War”.

 

The War of the Worlds

 

Yet across the gulf of space, minds that are to our minds as ours are to those of the beasts that perish, intellects vast and cool and unsympathetic, regarded this earth with envious eyes, and slowly and surely drew their plans against us.

— H. G. Wells (1898), The War of the Worlds

I don’t know what it is about this Sci-Fi classic by H.G. Wells first serialised in 1897 in the UK by Pearson’s Magazine and in the US by Cosmopolitan magazine. The novel’s first appearance in hardcover was in 1898 from publisher William Heinemann of London.

But ever since I came across the story I fell in love with it. But it was via Jeff Wayne’s musical version I  encountered the tale of the Martians that invaded our planet, Even though the chances of this happening were a Million to one.

I forget how often I have listened to that album but at least hundreds of times if not thousands(maybe I should get out more). In 2008 I got the chance to see the live show. 30 years I had waited for it and it did not disappoint. Although I was a bit surprised by the cast who joined for the most recent shows,in my opinion some just had no talent at all(An ex member of Westlife), leave alone to be a part of such an amazing phenomena.

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But of course it was Orson Welles’s radio broadcast of the World of the Wars which had probably the biggest impact. The panic that ensued because people believed it was a genuine news broadcast. Ingenious really when you think of it, you just can’t buy that kind of publicity. It was on the 30th of October 1938, the world was in grip of events happening in Germany.

 

Someone asked me once “what is your favourite War of the Worlds movie?”And I honestly couldn’t say. I like the 1953 and Spielberg’s 2005 adaptation equally.

 

The story is really the most basic form of Science Fiction. The earth being invaded by aliens. But it works, it is compelling. It basically is a war story but rather then human enemies we are fighting extra terrestrial foes.

The story clearly inspired other TV show and movie makers. Series like “V” and “Falling Skies” are clearly based on the War of the Worlds as is “Independence Day”

 

What is the most fascinating is that it was written between 1895 and 1897 and it didn’t date. It is still as fresh as it was when it was first released. Ironically I only read the book after I listened to the musical version and watched the movies.

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I think I might just retreat now and listen to the album again, or read the book. I may even watch one of the movies.Either way one thing I know for sure the story will never bore me regardless in which configuration or adaption. Leaving you with some art work of Jeff Wayne’s musical version of TWOTW and my favorite track.

 

Donation

I am passionate about my site and I know a 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. Thanks 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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