Babyn Yar

On Tuesday March 1,2022 Russian missiles damaged the Babyn Yar (also known as Babi Yar) memorial site. One might say what is the big deal? It didn’t hit a residential area, right?

Five people were killed in that strike which is an awful loss of life, any death cause by war is. But there is more to this. Babyn Yar has a huge historical importance especially in relation to genocide.

It was the site where over 33,000 people were massacred. In September 1941 by the Nazis.

On September 19, 1941, German forces entered the city of Kyiv (Kiev), the capital of Ukraine. Along with a large part of German-occupied Ukraine, the city was incorporated into the Reichskommissariat Ukraine which had been established on September 1 with Erich Koch as administrator.

Before the German invasion, some 160,000 Jews resided in Kyiv,Ukraine . Which was approximately 20 percent of the total population of the capital. Following the start of Operation Barbarossa in June 1941, approximately 100,000 Jews fled Kyiv or were already serving in the Soviet military. By the time the Germans occupied Kyiv, there were about 60,000 Jews remaining in the city. Most of those who remained had been unable or unwilling to flee earlier. This included mostly women, children, the elderly, and those who were ill.

The implementation of the order was entrusted to Sonderkommando 4a, commanded by Blobel, under the general command of Friedrich Jeckeln.This unit consisted of SD and Sipo, the third company of the Special Duties Waffen-SS battalion, and a platoon of the 9th Police Battalion. Police Battalion 45, commanded by Major Besser, conducted the massacre, supported by members of a Waffen-SS battalion. Contrary to the myth of the “clean Wehrmacht”, the Sixth Army under Walter von Reichenau worked together with the SS and SD to plan the mass murder of the Jews of Kiev.

On 29 and 30 September 1941, a special team of German SS troops supported by other German units and local collaborators murdered 33,771 Jewish civilians after taking them to the ravine.

The commander of the Einsatzkommando reported two days later:

“The difficulties resulting from such a large scale action—in particular concerning the seizure—were overcome in Kiev by requesting the Jewish population through wall posters to move. Although only a participation of approximately 5,000 to 6,000 Jews had been expected at first, more than 30,000 Jews arrived who, until the very moment of their execution, still believed in their resettlement, thanks to an extremely clever organization.”

According to the testimony of a truck driver named Hofer, victims were ordered to undress and were beaten if they resisted.

The crowd was large enough that most of the victims could not have known what was happening until it was too late; by the time they heard the machine gun fire, there was no chance to escape. All were driven down a corridor of soldiers, in groups of ten, and then shot.

In the evening, the Germans undermined the wall of the ravine and buried the people under the thick layers of earth.According to the Einsatzgruppe’s Operational Situation Report, 33,771 Jews from Kiev and its suburbs were systematically shot dead by machine-gun fire at Babi Yar on 29 September and 30 September 1941.

The money, valuables, underwear and clothing of the murdered victims were turned over to the local ethnic Germans and to the Nazi administration of the city.Wounded victims were buried alive in the ravine along with the rest of the bodies.

The ravine at Babyn Yar was a killing site for two years after the September 1941 massacre. There, Germans stationed at Kyiv murdered tens of thousands of people, both Jews and non-Jews. Other groups of people who were killed at Babyn Yar included: patients from a local psychiatric hospital, Roma , Soviet prisoners of war, and civilians.

It is estimated that some 100,000 people, Jews and non-Jews, were murdered at Babi Yar

The killings at the Babyn Yar ravine continued until the fall of 1943, only a few days before the Soviets re-took control of Kyiv on November 6.

Putin invaded Ukraine under the premise that he wanted to rid the country from Neo Nazis. Yet the Ukrainian President is Jewish.

A spokesperson for the memorial told the Times of Israel that the air strike had caused damage to buildings in the Jewish cemetery located in the Babyn Yar complex, although a monument to the victims of Nazism was not affected. It may not have caused damage but it did desecrate the site and the surrounding Jewish cemeteries. If that isn’t an act by Neo Nazis then what is?

Putin’s logic appears to be to get rid of ‘Neo Nazis’ by committing acts of Neo Nazism himself.

sources

https://eu.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2022/03/01/ukraine-holocaust-babi-yar/6979800001/

https://www.theartnewspaper.com/2022/03/02/russian-missile-strike-babyn-yar-holocaust-memorial-centre-kyiv

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-60588885

https://encyclopedia.ushmm.org/content/en/article/kiev-and-babi-yar

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2022/03/01/ukraine-russia-babyn-yar/

1.5 Million Children

1,500,000 children by Amelia Stein

I like to visit the Limerick Gallery of Art from time to time. It is nice relaxing place.

Today I noticed this picture which was taken by Amelia Stein a Dublin born photographer and artist. The picture is a memorial to the 1.5 million children murdered during the Holocaust.

It brought these thoughts to my mind.

1.5 Million stars in the sky

1.5 million first kisses denied.

1.5 million potential geniuses discarded

1.5 million innocent souls victimized by hate and ignorance

1.5 million products of love

1.5 million futures destroyed.

1.5 million reasons to never forget

1.5 million children

Laws against Jews in the Netherlands.

At their annual rally held in Nuremberg on September 15, 1935 Nazi party leaders announced, after the Reichstag had adopted them, new laws that institutionalized many of the racial theories underpinning Nazi ideology.

The so-called Nuremberg Laws, signed by Hitler and several other Nazi officials, were the cornerstone of the legalized persecution of Jews in Germany. They stripped German Jews of their German citizenship, barred marriage and “extramarital sexual intercourse” between Jews and other Germans, and barred Jews from flying the German flag, which would now be the swastika.

It would be less then 5 years later, when the Nazis introduced laws against Jews in the Netherlands.

In October 1940, only 5 months after the Germans invaded, a ban on ritual (kosher) slaughter was introduced. Additionally there were, removals of Jews from government employment, confiscations of radios. Jews were banned from recreational facilities, hotels, restaurants. Jews had to register with Dutch authorities by the deadline of January.

A great number of laws were to follow. The most cynical laws, at least that’s what I think, were the laws restricting the movements of Jews. In June 1942 Jews were forbidden to ride on public transportation such as buses and trams. Jews were given a residential curfew from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. And one that may not seem like a harsh one, but anyone who knows the Netherlands knows the importance of the bicycles for the Dutch, On June 23 1942, Jews were required to turn in their bicycles.

The reason why I think these were cynical laws, is because they ensured that the Jews could not travel, therefore they had to remain near their home. This made it easier to find them and round them up during raids.

In a way I can understand why some Dutch turned a blind eye, I can understand it but don’t condone it. However one thing I can’t fathom is why some people did report their Jewish neighbours if they hadn’t turned in their bicycles. Neighbours they had lived next to for many years, and even had invited them into their house for coffee and cake. There was no punishment for not reporting Jews, yet so many were quite eager to betray their fellow citizens.

sources

https://www.facinghistory.org/resource-library/text/anti-jewish-measures-netherlands-and-belgium-between-1940-and-1944

https://www.archives.gov/publications/prologue/2010/winter/nuremberg.html

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Fatebenefratelli Hospital & Syndrome K.

Initially Italy was an ally of Germany and the other axis powers. during World War 2.

By 1943, Italy’s military position had become untenable. Axis forces in North Africa were finally defeated in the Tunisia Campaign in early 1943. Italy suffered major setbacks on the Eastern Front as well. The Allied invasion of Sicily brought the war to the nation’s very doorstep. The Italian home front was also in bad shape as the Allied bombings were taking their toll. Factories all over Italy were brought to a virtual standstill because raw materials, such as coal and oil, were lacking. Additionally, there was a chronic shortage of food, and what food was available was being sold at nearly confiscatory prices. Mussolini’s once-ubiquitous propaganda machine lost its grip on the people; a large number of Italians turned to Vatican Radio or Radio London for more accurate news coverage.

In July 1943, Allied troops landed in Sicily. Mussolini was overthrown and imprisoned by his former colleagues in the Fascist government. The Italian king replaced Mussolini as prime minister with Marshal Pietro Badoglio.

On September 8, 1943, Badoglio announced Italy’s unconditional surrender to the Allies. The Germans, who had grown suspicious of Italian intentions, quickly occupied northern and central Italy.

The 450-year-old Fatebenefratelli Hospital which is situated on a tiny island in the middle of Rome’s Tiber River, just across from the Jewish Ghetto. When Nazis raided the area on Oct. 16, 1943, a handful of Jews fled to the Catholic hospital, where they were quickly given case files reading “Syndrome K.”

The name Syndrome K came from Dr. Adriano Ossicini, an anti-Fascist physician working at the hospital who knew they needed a way for the staff to differentiate which people were actually patients and which were Jews in hiding. Inventing a fake disease cut out all the confusion, when a doctor came in with a “Syndrome K” patient, everyone working there knew which steps to take. “Syndrome K was put on patient papers to indicate that the sick person wasn’t sick at all, but Jewish.

The name Syndrome K not only alerted hospital staff that the “patients” were actually Jewish refugees in good health but also served as a jab to their oppressors, specifically, Albert Kesselring and Herbert Kappler. Kesselring was a Nazi defensive strategist and the commander responsible for the Italian occupation, while Kappler was an SS colonel.

Hidden away in a separate ward of the facility, those “infected” with Syndrome K were instructed to cough and act sick in front of Nazi soldiers as they investigated Fatebenefratelli. The patients were said to be highly contagious, deterring Nazi officials from coming anywhere near the quarters they were being kept in. Nazi officials became terrified of contracting the mysterious illness, steering clear at all costs.

Credited mainly to doctors Sacerdoti, Borromeo, and Ossicini, the operation was only made possible with the help of the entire staff, who played along with the plan, knowing exactly what to do when confronted with an incoming patient diagnosed with Syndrome K..

“The Nazis thought it was cancer or tuberculosis, and they fled like rabbits,” Vittorio Sacerdoti, a Jewish doctor working at the hospital under a false name, told the BBC in 2004. Another doctor orchestrating the life-saving lie was surgeon Giovani Borromeo.

Initially, the hospital was used as a hospice on the premises of the San Giovanni Calibita Church. Later, it was expanded into a modern hospital by Dr. Giovanni Borromeo, who joined in 1934, with the help of Father Maurizio Bialek.

Besides Fr. Maurizio and Borromeo, other doctors on staff assisted the Jewish patients and helped to move them to safer hideouts outside the hospital. In May 1944, the hospital was raided and five Jews from Poland were detained. However, the ruse saved dozens of lives.

Fr. Maurizio and Borromeo also installed an illegal radio transmitter in the hospital basement and made contact with General Roberto Lordi of the Italian Royal Air Force. After World War II, Borromeo was lauded by Government of Italy for his work and was recognized as a Righteous Among the Nations by Yad Vashem. He died in the hospital on 24 August 1961.

If only one person in the Hospital, be it patient or staff, had reported it to the Nazis, then without a shadow of a doubt, all of them would have been killed.

The combined efforts of Sacerdoti, Borromeo, Ossicini, and the entire hospital staff were only revealed 60 years later, and Borromeo specifically was recognized by the World Holocaust Remembrance Center in October 2004, not only for his work with Syndrome K, but for transferring Jewish patients to the hospital from the ghetto long before the occupation of the Nazis.

The Fatebenefratelli Hospital was recognized as a shelter for victims of Nazi persecution, and was named a “House of Life” in June, 2016. The ceremony was attended by Ossicini, 96-years-old at the time, along with some of the very people that his heroic efforts had helped save six decades before.

Fatebenefratelli survivors embrace during a reunion at the hospital on June 21, 2016

Sources

https://qz.com/724169/an-italian-doctor-explains-syndrome-k-the-fake-disease-he-invented-to-save-jews-from-the-nazis/

https://www.mentalfloss.com/article/93650/syndrome-k-fake-disease-fooled-nazis-and-saved-lives

https://allthatsinteresting.com/syndrome-k

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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. 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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Happy Birthday Aron Polak

Aron would have been 80 today, but he didn’t even get to the age of 2. He was born in Amsterdam on September 8, 1941. He was murdered in Sobibor March 26,1943.

The fact that he was murdered at such a young age is not even the saddest part of his story. There was actually a change he could have survived.

Aron’s Father, Joseph, was sent to Westerbork, I am not sure on what date, bur sometime after November 1941. After that Aron’s Mother, Lena, went into hiding with Aron. She moved several times. Eventually she stayed with Family but due to tensions Lena decided to voluntarily report herself and Aron to Westerbork.

Lena actually believed that her Husband had a job in Westerbork, sorting out gold and silver. She probably thought that he could provide for his family, even in Westerbork.

Lena and her son Aron eventually reported themselves voluntarily in Westerbork on 27 February 1943. They stayed in barrack 72 and on the 1st of March, Joseph was also in that barrack. On March 23,1943, , the Polak family was deported to Sobibor and on arrival there on 26 March 1943 immediately sent to the gas chambers, and were murdered.

What is so disturbing about this, is that the Nazis somehow created the illusion that even when you were sent to Westerbork, there was a chance of a reasonable normal life.

As for young Aron, I will be looking up to the sky tonight, imagining he is one of the stars I will see. Happy Birthday little man, you were a star to your parents, and you are a star for all of us. A beacon to remind us of what you went through.

sources

https://www.joodsmonument.nl/en/page/649374/het-lot-van-lena-barend-haar-man-joseph-polak-en-hun-zoontje-aron.

https://geheugenvanoost.amsterdam/page/26420/geen-afscheid

Children murdered on September 6, 1944.

I was going to do a piece on Ursula Gerson, who was murdered in Auschwitz on September 6,1944 aged 8. But then I saw there were more Dutch Jewish children and Jewish refugees, who fled Germany and Austria with their parents, who were murdered that day.

Duifje Gans. murdered in Auschwitz, September 6, 1944. Aged 11

Mirjam Lisette Katz, murdered in Auschwitz, September 6, 1944. Aged 7.

Heijman Karel Franken, murdered in Auschwitz, September 6, 1944. Aged 10.

Jeanette Regina Schenk, murdered in Auschwitz, September 6, 1944. Aged 7.

Mary Winnik, murdered in Auschwitz, September 6, 1944. Aged 7.

Mietje Judith Moscou, murdered in Auschwitz, September 6, 1944. Aged 11.

Samuel Groenteman, murdered in Auschwitz, September 6, 1944. Aged 6.

Karel Jacobs, murdered in Auschwitz, September 6, 1944. Aged 13.

These are only a few. There were at least327 Dutch Jews whose death were registered on September 6,1944.About 30 % or so were children

I was wondering why there were so many on that specific date.Then it dawned on me. They were all on the last transport from Westerbork to Auschwitz, which left the Netherlands on September 3,1944. Anne Frank and her family were also on that transport.

I know that I will have nightmares tonight with the faces of these poor souls haunting me, but it will be worth it. There fate and names should never be forgotten.

source

Coping by using humour.

A few years ago , on the 22nd of June 2016, to be precise I wrote a blog titled “Holocaust and Humour” . I got a lot of criticism for that. The thing I found extraordinary the criticism didn’t come from people who read the blog, but only from people who read the title.

I didn’t mean to disrespect any of the Holocaust victims and survivors, the opposite was true. I wanted to show my deepest respect because despite all the horrors so many still had a sense of humour.

This blog is also meant as a way of expressing my deepest respect for all Holocaust victims and survivors.

When the Nazis came to power in 1933, the German constitution guaranteed freedom of speech and freedom of the press. Through decrees and laws, the Nazis abolished these civil rights and destroyed German democracy. Starting in 1934, it was illegal to criticize the Nazi government. Even telling a joke about Hitler was considered treachery. People in Nazi Germany could not say or write whatever they wanted.

The Treachery Act of 1934 was a German law established by the Third Reich on 20 December 1934. Known as the Heimtückegesetz, its official title was the “Law against Treacherous Attacks on the State and Party and for the Protection of Party Uniforms” (Gesetz gegen heimtückische Angriffe auf Staat und Partei und zum Schutz der Parteiuniformen). It established penalties for the abuse of Nazi Party badges and uniforms, restricted the right to freedom of speech, and criminalized all remarks causing putative severe damage to the welfare of the Third Reich, the prestige of the Nazi government or the Nazi Party. Anyone ,regardless if you were Jewish or Non Jewish, could face the death penalty for breaking this law.

Father Josef Müller, a Catholic priest, was executed for telling some of his parishioners the following story:

A fatally wounded German soldier asked his chaplain to grant one final wish. “Place a picture of Hitler on one side of me, and a picture of Goering on the other side. That way I can die like Jesus, between two thieves.”

The indictment against Müller called this joke “one of the most vile and most dangerous attacks directed on our confidence in our Führer. . . . It is a betrayal of the people, the Führer, and the Reich.”

I just love it how some Jewish people defied the Nazi regime and coped with the horrors of the Holocaust by using humour.

In some of the the ghettos, Hitler’s self proclaimed “masterpiece” was referred to as Mein Krampf (My Cramp). His ides of the “Master Race” was the subject of many jokes. These are just a few of them.

“There are two kinds of Aryan, Non Aryan and Barb-Aryan”

“Aryan, blond like Hitler, slender like Goering and tall like Goebbels”

Cutting the hair of the prisoners was one of the ways the Nazis tried to dehumanize their victims. It was like taking away their dignity and a sense of identity. But even that act did not stop some women to cope with it in a humorous way. This is just an anecdote on how one woman coped with the ordeal.

“When they cut our hair in Auschwitz, that was something terrible. After they cut off my hair, suddenly I saw some of my girlfriends (as in female friends) who I had known for a very long time, many cried. They cried after long hair and then I started laughing and they asked ‘What, are you out of your mind, what are you laughing about? ‘ I said’ This I never had before, a hairdo for free? Never in my whole life’ And I still remember how they looked at me, they looked at me as if I was crazy”

Another anecdote from a survivor was in relation to the transport on the trains.

“This whole situation, they shoved us into those trains. It was like cattle, it was something awful inside the train. When we have just arrived in Auschwitz everybody ran to the window, to see something, but you couldn’t. The window had shutters, a small window. I also wanted to see where we were. Then a girl friend asked ‘what do you want to see so badly?’. I said: ‘I simply want to see the conductor, ’cause I don’t have a ticket, I want to see when he comes in…’

I have quite a good sense of humour myself, albeit sometimes a bit on the dark side and filled with sarcasm, and I have used in many tragic episodes in my life. However I don’t know if I would have the courage to use humour if I was faced with the horrors of the Holocaust.

sources

file:///C:/Users/Dirk/Downloads/Laughter%20in%20a%20Time%20of%20Tragedy_%20Examining%20Humor%20during%20the%20Holocau%20(1).pdf

https://encyclopedia.ushmm.org/content/en/article/nazi-propaganda-and-censorship

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Remembering Isaias(Sjakie) Degen

I wish I could say I am remembering Sjakie Degen for his breakthrough work in science.

I wish I could say I am remembering Sjakie Degen for a great book he wrote.

I wish I could say I am remembering Sjakie Degen for a great painting he painted.

I wish I could say that Sjakie Degen was the Sjakie mentioned in the Dutch song “Sjakie van de hoek” Sjakie from the corner, the mischievous boy who broke a window by kicking a ball through it.

But none of that would be true, Sjakie Degen was just a boy.

He was born on December 13.1939 the first born son of Loutje and Beppie Degen and was nearly 3 1/2 years old, when he and his parents were registered in Camp Westerbork on 23 March 1943. He stayed with his parents for a few days in barrack 60. They were all deported on the 6th April to Sobibor. Upon arrival there on 9 April 1943, Sjakie and his parents were murdered in the gas chambers the very same day.

So all I can say about Sjakie is that he was murdered 25 years and 1 day before I was born.

He had brother who survived.

source

https://www.joodsmonument.nl/en/page/562959/about-isaias-sjakie-degen

The first to die in Dachau

Dachau

It is often thought that the murdering by the Nazis during the Holocaust , only started after the start of World War II. But in fact it started in April of 1933, only ten weeks after Hitler was appointed  chancellor of Germany.

appointed

It is sad enough that  young men were killed on April 12 1933, it is even sadder to think that one of them, and in fact the very first to get killed wasn’t even supposed to have been in Germany at the time.

Arthur Kahn, a 21-year-old Jewish German medical student had enrolled in Edinburgh University in Scotland, he had returned to , Germany to pick up his student records at the University of Wurzburg.

Athur Kahn

Arthur Kahn together with Ernst Goldmann, Rudolf Benario, and Erwin Kahn(not related), had been arrested around the 22th of March 1933, for being  communist party members  and were send to Dachau.Although Arthur Kahn had no Communist affiliation, he had at been at one point  involved in an anti-Nazi organization

Upon arrival in Dachau, the men were identified as Jews and tortured. On April 12, a group of drunken SS officers handed the four young men shovels and made them march to the outskirts of the camp, where they were executed Arthur Kahn was the first one shot. Making him the first Holocaust victim according to historian Timothy Ryback. Goldman and Benario followed and died immediately, Erwin Kahn was also shot but died from his injuries four days later in a nearby Hospital. He did get a chance to make a statement disputing that the 4 men had tried to escape, for that was the reason given for the executions.

Postwar investigation  established that Robert Erspenmüller,the camp’s deputy commander, and two other SS guards, Hans Burner and Max Schmidt, committed the murders.

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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. 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

The National Interest

Schreibdasauf.info

The New Republic