April 23,1945- Speer and Goering

telegram

In the English language there is a saying ” The chickens are coming home to roost” it basically means bad deeds or words return to discomfort their perpetrator.

Hitler must have felt very much discomforted by the actions of two of his closest allies.

Hermann Göring sent Hitler a telegram wherein he gave Hitler an ultimatum.

“My Führer:

General Koller today gave me a briefing on the basis of communications given him by Colonel General Jodl and General Christian, according to which you had referred certain decisions to me and emphasized that I, in case negotiations would become necessary, would be in an easier position than you in Berlin. These views were so surprising and serious to me that I felt obligated to assume, in case by 2200 o’clock no answer is forthcoming, that you have lost your freedom of action. I shall then view the conditions of your decree as fulfilled and take action for the well being of Nation and Fatherland. You know what I feel for you in these most difficult hours of my life and I cannot express this in words. God protect you and allow you despite everything to come here as soon as possible.

Your faithful Hermann Göring”

The telegram made Hitler furious and as a reaction he stripped his chosen successor of all power and appointed new political successors, Joseph Goebbels and Karl Dönitz.

On that same day Albert Speer visited Hitler for the last time to advise Hitler that he  ignored the Nero Decree for scorched earth.The Nero Decree was issued by Adolf Hitler on March 19, 1945 ordering the destruction of German infrastructure to prevent their use by Allied forces as they penetrated deep within Germany.

speer.JPG

It was basically 2 evil men telling another evil man that the game was up.

The day after on April 24 another close ally of the Führer,Himmler, made a secret offer of surrender to the allied forces.

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915 Euthanasias a month.

Sonnenstein

I do mention  Euthanasias in the title but in reality they were murders. Euthanasia. Sonnenstein Euthanasia Clinic was in of the euthanasia centres of the T4 program.

It operated between June 1940 and September 1941. Most of the victims  were suffering from psychological disorders and intellectual disability, but their number also included inmates from the concentration camps.

It didn’t take much to be branded as somebody with a psychological disorder, even political delinquents were seem as people with mental disabilities.

Between June 1940 and September the centre euthanized on average 915 victims a month, or about 30 victims a day.

One of the victims was Elfriede Lohse-Wächtler.

elfriede

She was was a German painter of the avant-garde movement  whose works were considered “degenerate art” and therefor banned and sometimes destroyed.

In 1929, she suffered a nervous breakdown due to financial  problems and relationship issues ,she was committed to a psychiatric institution in Hamburg-Friedrichsberg. During the two months she stayed there  stay, she painted the Friedrichsberg heads. A portfolio  of work consisting of about 60 drawings and pastels of mainly portraits of fellow patients. After her recovery  she had a very creative phase. She painted numerous paintings of Hamburg’s harbor, scenes from the life of workers and prostitutes, and pitiless self-portraits. But despite some exhibitions, sales, and smaller grants, she lived in  poverty.

Due to  these financial problems and increasing social isolation, she returned to her parents’ home in Dresden in 1931. When her mental state worsened her father admitted her to the state mental home at Arnsdorf in 1932. Where  she was diagnosed with schizophrenia. From 1932 to 1935 she was still creatively active, drawing portraits and creating arts and crafts. After her husband  divorced her in May 1935 she was incapacitated due to “incurable insanity”.

After refusing to consent to a sterilisation, she was no longer allowed  to leave the hospital . In late 1935, she was subjected to a surgical sterilisation in the Dresden-Friedrichstadt women’s hospital as per the Nazi eugenicist policies. After this trauma  she never painted again. In 1940 she was deported to Sonnenstein where she was killed on July 31,1940.

Centre Sonnenstein

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Isaäc Swart and Henderika Piller.

isaac

Isaäc Swart, what can be said about him and who is ?

Basically there is not much that can be said about him , he was just an ordinary travelling sales man.

Today would have marked his 95th birthday. He was born April 21,1914 in Amsterdam. Three days before his 26th birthday he married Henderika Piller on April 18,1940 in Amsterdam.

henderika

It was only a few weeks  before Germany would occupy the Netherlands and a Nazi regime would control the country.

The story of Isaäc and his wife Henderika is at first glance unremarkable. Just 2 young people,newlyweds who went about their daily mundane lives.

However their’ wittebroodsweken’ (this is the Dutch term for the first 6 weeks of marriage)  were disrupted in a way they did not expect.

May 15th after the bombardment of Rotterdam, the Dutch resistance was broken and the Germans invaded the Netherlands, bringing with them the most brutal regime the country had ever seen.

For most newlyweds life did not change all that much but Isaäc and Henderika were now considered enemies of the German occupiers, not because they had taken up arms to fight them but because they were Jewish, That was the only reason, A loving couple who never harmed anyone, were now considered enemies.

During the first few months there were only a few changes to their lives. But gradually their lives were made increasingly difficult. as it would be for every Jewish person in the country.

Isaäc and Henderika were arrested at their home  on  the 7th of  September 1943 , together with Isaäc’s aunt Schoontje Bont-Schenkkan. That  very same day they where deported to Auschwitz. On arrival there on the 10th September, his aunt was immediately killed.  Isaac and Henderika were selected for hard labor. Henderika  died  in Auschwitz on 30 November 1943,aged 28. Isaäc died in Auschwitz on 31 March 1944.aged 29. Only 3 weeks away from his 30th birthday.

There is one solace to be found in this. These ‘unremarkable’ people became remarkable heroes and were made heroes by the regime that saw them as subhuman. Like all the other millions who were murdered, each one of them a hero and a reminder that we are not allowed to let this happen again, for now we have the hindsight of history.

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Sources

Joods Monument

The book of…..

book

They say that everyone has a book in them.

Just imagine the millions of books which were never written because of a regime that deemed millions unworthy of life, leave alone worthy of writing a book.

So many potential authors and scholars who never got a chance because of policies based on hate.

Dasha Mojzesch,

The book of the author  Dasha Mojzesch, who would have written a book about man’s exploration in the universe, How they researched the effects of supernovae and what effect they had on the climate on earth.

But he never got a chance to write that book, he was killed age 5.

Gyorgy Szekely,

The book of   Gyorgy Szekely, whose fairy tales set in the medieval times of Eastern Europe.Stories of dragons, knights in shiny armor, princes,princesses,kings and queens. His books read by millions around the globe.

But before he could even start thinking of writing a book he was murdered aged 15 or 16.

Sara

The book of the young brilliant scientist Sara Waas. Who chronicled her break trough research in 1960 when she was just 24. The research that not only found a cure for cancer but also for Parkinson disease.

Cures which saved the lives of so many and gave other a better quality of life.

But alas it was not to be for Sara was murdered when she was only 8.

The policies of hate by the Nazis did not only destroy the lives of so many innocent lives. It also destroyed the lives of some of their children and grandchildren. Because they destroyed potential scientists who could have discovered life altering medicines.

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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.

stone

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Sources

The Librarian of Auschwitz

USHMM

 

Record Store day

record

This is a small deviation from my usual more dramatic historical blogs, but since today is marked as Record Store day I felt compelled to do a blog celebrating this day.

Record Store day is a bi-annual event inaugurated in 2008 and held on one Saturday every April and every “Black Friday” in November to “celebrate the culture of the independently owned record store”

As a young man I spent a lot of time and money in my local record syore called “Limburg’s platenhuis” which means Records house of Limburg. In Geleen. It wasn’t the only one where I bought my weekly and sometimes daily dose of music, but it was the one I frequented the most.

Nowadays I feel nostalgic thinking back to those days, and I feel sorry for youngsters now who often rely on downloads and/or streaming services.

Nothing beats a good customer service in a shop. Especially a pro active customer service from staff who appreciate you buying goods in their shop.

To illustrate what I mean with pro active customer service I will use an example from “Limburgs Platenhuis”

I walked in one Saturday afternoon not thinking of buying anything, just browsing. Shortly after I had entered the shop one of the sales staff called me to the counter. She told me ” I kept this album aside for you when it came in, I reckon you might like it. Have a listen to it”

She then proceeded by putting on the album ‘Long Cold Winter’ by the American Hard Rock band ‘Cinderella’

Cinderella

She was right I did like the album indeed. So much so that I didn’t mind parting with some money in order to purchase this compilation of great Rock songs.

That is the kind of service you just don’t get on line or even in shops nowadays.

All that is left for me to do now is to leave you with one of the singles of the aforementioned album. Enjoy!

 

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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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Westerbork the Jewish refugee camp that became a concentration camp.

Westerbork

What a lot of people don’t realize is that Camp Westerbork was actually established as a refugee camp for Jews escaping the Nazi regime in Germany and Austria.and who had illegally entered the Netherlands. It was established by the Dutch government in the summer of 1939.

In July 1942, the Nazis took over the camp and turned it into a transition camp. Jews arrested in the Netherlands were taken to the camp and put on transport. Transport trains arrived at Westerbork every Tuesday from July 1942 to September 1944, and left with close to 100,000 jews.But also Roma and Sinti were transported from Westerbork.

The Deportations were part of  the responsibilities of Gestapo sub-Department IV-B4, which was headed by Adolf Eichmann.

train

Although the camp was relatively “humane” by  Nazi standards , it was cruel in other ways. Jewish inmates with families were housed in 200 interconnected cottages The cottages  contained two rooms, a toilet, a hot plate for cooking, and a small yard. Single inmates were put  in oblong  shaped barracks which contained a separate bathroom for each sex.

The camp also had a school, hairdresser, orchestra and even restaurants arranged by SS officials to give inmates a false sense of hope for survival but also to aid avoiding problems during transportation.

school

Nearly t all of the  estimated 95,00 persons deported to Auschwitz and Sobibor in German-occupied Poland were killed upon arrival.

The camp was  liberated by Canadian forces on April 12, 1945. A total of 876 inmates were found.

liberation

The fact that the Nazis maintained that false sense of hope is probably one of the most sickening aspects of the camp. They knew what the fate was of the inmates and giving them that hope that they would survive, that they were only going to be resettled to Eastern Europe.

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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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Sources

USHMM

Liberation Route Europe

 

This building had once stabled 80 horses. There were 1,200 men in it, five to a bunk.

Buchenwaldf

The title is a line from a report by Edward R. Murrow, a CBS radio news reporter.He  reported largely from Europe during World War II, and was the first reporter on scene following the liberation of the Buchenwald concentration camp The report was broadcast on  Sunday, April 15, 1945, in Studio B-4 of the BBC, only a few days after the liberation.

I could include pictures of what the allied troops encountered in April 1945. Pictures of piles of corpses or emaciated inmates, and there are plenty. But I won’t do that. I have decided to tell the story with some of the excerpts from the report. When you initially read it then probably just like me, you won’t be that shocked,maybe a bit disturbed but not shocked.

This is probably because the horrors written down, don’t trigger a response. However when you read it again and leave the words sink in, the horrors become so clear and they will stick with you more so then any picture could do.

Edward

Report from Edward R. Murrow

“There surged around me an evil-smelling stink, men and boys reached out to touch me. They were in rags and the remnants of uniforms. Death already had marked many of them, but they were smiling with their eyes. I looked out over the mass of men to the green fields beyond, where well-fed Germans were ploughing.

I asked to see one of the barracks. It happened to be occupied by Czechoslovaks. When I entered, men crowded around, tried to lift me to their shoulders. They were too weak. Many of them could not get out of bed. I was told that this building had once stabled 80 horses. There were 1,200 men in it, five to a bunk. The stink was beyond all description.

barn

We went to the hospital. It was full. The doctor told me that 200 had died the day before. I asked the cause of death. He shrugged and said: ‘tuberculosis, starvation, fatigue and there are many who have no desire to live. It is very difficult’ He pulled back the blanket from a man’s feet to show me how swollen they were. The man was dead. Most of the patients could not move.

In another part of the camp they showed me the children, hundreds of them. Some were only 6 years old. One rolled up his sleeves, showed me his number. It was tattooed on his arm. B-6030, it was. The others showed me their numbers. They will carry them till they die. An elderly man standing beside me said: “The children- enemies of the state!” I could see their ribs through their thin shirts.

Children

They called the doctor. We inspected his records. There were only names in the little black book, nothing more. Nothing about who these men were, what they had done, or hoped. Behind the names of those who had died, there was a cross. I counted them. They totaled 242. 242 out of 1,200, in one month.

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

Jedem

Unlike Auschwitz or other camps Buchenwald’s gate did not say “Arbeit macht Frei” but ” Jedem das Seine” which translates to “to each his own” or “to each what he deserves”. No one in Buchenwald got what they deserved. No one deserves to be treated as a subhuman. Nor did they deserve to be murdered for being Jewish,Communist or just critical of the Nazi regime.

 

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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Sources

Scrapbook pages

Jewish Virtual Library

Berkley Library

 

 

April 10

april 10

These are just some historical events which took place on this day, April 10.

Hayley’s comet

Hayley

837 Halley’s Comet makes its closest approach to Earth at a distance equal to 0.0342 AU (5.1 million kilometres/3.2 million miles).

Mount Tambora

tAMORA

1815 The Mount Tambora volcano begins a three-month-long eruption, lasting until July 15. The eruption ultimately kills 71,000 people and affects Earth’s climate for the next two years.

American Civil War

ADDRESS

1865 A day after his surrender to Union forces, Confederate General Robert E. Lee addresses his troops for the last time.

The Great Gatsby

GATSBY

1925 The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald is first published in New York City, by Charles Scribner’s Sons.

Paul McCartney

pAUL

1970 – Paul McCartney announces that he is leaving The Beatles for personal and professional reasons.

Good Friday Agreement

gOOD FRIDAY

1998 -The Good Friday Agreement is signed in Northern Ireland.

Polish Air Force Tu-154 crash

POLIS

2010- On 10 April 2010, a Tupolev Tu-154 aircraft of the Polish Air Force crashed near the Russian city of Smolensk, killing all 96 people on board. Among the victims were the President of Poland Lech Kaczyński and his wife Maria, the former President of Poland in exile Ryszard Kaczorowski, the chief of the Polish General Staff and other senior Polish military officers, the president of the National Bank of Poland, Polish Government officials, 18 members of the Polish Parliament, senior members of the Polish clergy and relatives of victims of the Katyn massacre.

Birthdays

1921 – Chuck Connors, American baseball player and actor.

1929 – Max von Sydow, Swedish-French actor.

max

1932 – Omar Sharif, Egyptian actor and screenwriter

1952 – Steven Seagal, American actor, producer, musician, deputy Sheriff and martial artist.

Seagal

1992 – Daisy Ridley, English actress of Star Wars fame

1968- Dirk de Klein

 

You could have been one of my teachers

Nathan

You only lived a few miles down the road from me.

You could have been my teacher.

You could have been my Doctor

You could have been my plumber.

You could have been the father of a girl friend

You could have been the uncle of my best friend.

You could have been a scientist who discovered the cure for cancer or dementia.

You could have been a baker who bakes lovely cakes.

You could have been a waiter in a bistro.

You could have been anything

But you became an object of hate for a sick regime.

They did not see as a human being

They did not see you fit for life.

They killed you in Auschwitz when you were just 3.

You could have been my teacher, in fact you are my teacher.

You have taught me that an innocent life means nothing to those who only seek destruction.

You taught me that there could be someone writing something similar about me, because it was just an accident of being born on a certain time in history. It could have been me.

You became a soul nearly forgotten, but not by me, never by me.

You are Nathan Herman Sassen born on  August 12  1940 in Sittard.

Murdered on September 24 in Auschwitz