The Train Violin.

violin 1

The following story may not seem like much for anyone who is not a musician. But a musician will understand the significance of it and can identify with the sense of loss and sacrifice.

A musician’s instrument is more then a tool it becomes part of him or her.nearly a member of the family.

The violin from Lyon or the Train Violin

In July 1942 thousands of Jews were arrested in Paris and sent by cattle trains to concentration camps in the East, most of them to Auschwitz. On one of the packed trains was a man holding a violin. When the train stopped somewhere along the sad roads of France, the man heard voices speaking French, a few men were working on the railways fixing them and walking at leisure. The man in the train cried out:

“In the place where I now go – I don’t need a violin. Here, take my violin so it may live!”

The man threw his violin out the narrow window. It landed on the rails and was picked up by one of the French workers. For many years the violin had no life. No one played it. No one had any use for it. Years later the worker passed away and his children found the abandoned violin in the attic. They soon looked to sell it to a local maker in the South of France and told him the story they heard from their father. The French violin maker heard about Violins of Hope and gave it to us, so the violin will live.

violin 3

One Violin

Two Hands

Four Strings

Ten Fingers

Thousands  pieces of music

One Haunting Memory

One Final Farewell

One Revival

The soul of the musician is heard again.

The spirits are lifted one more time.

You can kill the artist but you can’t kill the art.

 

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Reichsbahn-‘Weapon’ of mass destruction.

Reichsbahn

If it hadn’t been for the Reichsbahn-the Nazi contolled railways ,the Holocaust would not have been possible to the extend it was.The irony, for lack of a better word, the hate for the Jews by  Hitler ,Himmler and the other Nazi leaders quite possibly caused them to lose the war. So many trains had been allocated to transport Jews and others to the death camps and concentration camps, that there was a lack of trains for transport of troops,supplies and equipment especially to the Eastern front.

Julius Heinrichtrein Dorpmueller was  general manager of Deutsche Reichsbahn-Gesellschaft and the Reich Minister for Transport from 1937 to 1945.After the Nazi seizure of power Dorpmüller replaced nearly all “non-Aryan” workers with National Socialists. Dorpmüller became Reich Transport Minister on 2 February 1937

Dorpmüller had doubts about the capacity of the Reichsbahn and had confessed to Albert Speer  at one stage that the  Reichsbahn had not enough  cars and locomotives available for the German area that it was no longer possible  to meet the most urgent transportation needs.

Speer then convinced Hitler to appoint Albert Ganzenmüller state secretary under Dorpmüller. Ganzenmüller immediately goy  involved in the organisation of trains for deportation.Albert He collaborated in the transportation scheme for elderly German Jews to Theresienstadt and made sure  the  transport to the extermination camps as set up under Operation Reinhardt  ran as smoothly as possible. However there were some complaints about the management of the transports by Ganzemüller. On July 16 Himmler’s personal adjutant Karl Wolff, , complained to the newly appointed under-secretary about irregularities on  transport and track repairs on the line to the extermination camp at Sobibor. Ganzenmüller replied in writing on 28 July 1942 as follows:

“A train carrying 5,000 Jews has run daily since 22 July from Warsaw to Treblinka via Malkinia; furthermore, another train has run twice a week with 5,000 Jews from Przemysl to Belzec. The senior management of the eastern division of the railways, ‘Gedob’ (Generaldirektion der Ostbahnen), is in constant touch with the security service  in Krakau. The latter is in agreement that transport from Warsaw to Sobibor via Lublin should continue while the reconstruction work on this stretch renders such movements impossible ([until] approximately October 1942).”

Karl Wolff thanked him on 13 August 1942 in a personal letter:

“I note with particular pleasure from your communication that a train with 5,000 members of the chosen race has been running daily for 14 days and that we are accordingly in a position to continue with this population movement at an accelerated pace.”

Not only was the Reichsbahn used as a sort of weapon of mass destruction , it was also used as a money making tool.Most of the Jews were forced to pay for their own deportations, particularly wherever passenger carriages were used.According to an expert report established on behalf of the German “Train of Commemoration” project, the receipts taken in by the state-owned Deutsche Reichsbahn for mass deportations in the period between 1938 and 1945 reached a sum of  an equivalent of close to 450 Million Euro or 505 Million USD.

It must be said that it wasn’t only the German railways who were involved, most of the other European railways also transported Jews and other so called’undesirables’ to the camps. Although they were controlled by the Reichsbahn, they still had some level of autonomy.

slovak train

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Bundesarchiv

 

Deutsche Reichsbahn-Transport to Death.

db2

The Holocaust would not have been possible without the help of the railways, at least not to the extend as it happened.

The Deutsche Reichsbahn was headed by Julius Dorpmüller, who was also Reich Minister for Transport, but it was  his deputy , Albert Ganzenmüller, who had the  responsibility for the organisation of trains for deportation.

Albert

Ganzenmüller had replaced Wilhelm Kleinmann, who’resigned’ on May 26,1942. Kleinmann had stated that he had exceeded the age limit for the position, the reality was that he was pushed out because the Nazi regime weren’t impressed by the performance of the Reichsbahn in relation to the deportation and Operation Barbarossa, Hitler even threatened to send Kleinmann to Sachsenhausen concentration camp, as he did with other railway executives.

However Ganzenmüller was a more enthusiastic Nazi than Kleinmann. He collaborated in the transportation scheme for elderly German Jews to Theresienstadt and made sure  the running of transport to the extermination camps set up under Operation Reinhardt would go smoothly.

On 16 July 1942, Karl Wolff, the Personal assistant to Heinrich Himmler, complained to the newly appointed deputy chief of the Deutsche Reichsbahn about irregular transport and track repairs on the line to the extermination camp at Sobibor.

On July 28,1942, Ganzenmüller sent the following reply in writing to Karl Wolff:

“A train carrying 5,000 Jews has run daily since 22 July from Warsaw to Treblinka via Malkinia; furthermore, another train has run twice a week with 5,000 Jews from Przemysl to Belzec. The senior management of the eastern division of the railways, ‘Gedob’ (Generaldirektion der Ostbahnen), is in constant touch with the security service  in Krakow.Timetable

The latter is in agreement that transport from Warsaw to Sobibor via Lublin should continue while the reconstruction work on this stretch renders such movements impossible until approximately October 1942.”

Karl Wolff, personally thanked him in writing on 13 August 1942 :

“I note with particular pleasure from your communication that a train with 5,000 members of the chosen race has been running daily for 14 days and that we are accordingly in a position to continue with this population movement at an accelerated pace.”

Train

Ganzenmüller was  directly approached by  Himmler in early 1943 in order to ensure the pending removal of Jews to the Auschwitz concentration camp.

Albert Ganzenmüller escaped to Argentina in 1945 but was given amnesty in 1952, he returned to Germany in 1955. He did serve a few weeks in remand in 1957, after his correspondence with Wolff and Himmler had been discovered but he wasn’t charged. In 1974 new charges were presented at a regional court but the case was halted and eventually terminated.

Aside from the obvious ,another sickening aspect of the transports was the fact that the victims had to pay for the tickets.Adults paid 4 pfennigs per kilometre, children 2 pfennigs, while those under the age of 4 traveled free. Trainloads of 400 or more, which amounted to massive overcrowding, received a 50% discount.

Train ticket

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The rescue of the Death train

Jewish prisoners after being liberated from a death train, 1945 small (2)

This is a Friday the 13th story with a positive twist, on top of that it is one of those rare positive Holocaust events.

On Friday, the 13th of April, 1945. A few miles northwest of Magdeburg there was a railroad siding in wooded ravine not far from the Elbe River. Major Clarence L. Benjamin in a jeep was leading a small task force of two light tanks on a routine job of patrolling. On that patrol they came across a train on a siding.

wpe1

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But rather then putting the story in words I will let the pictures do the talking.(Photo credit: U.S. Army / George C. Gross)

The little fellow was pleased at having his picture taken.

Jewish prisoners after being liberated from a death train, 1945 small (5)

This is a view of the train from the rear, showing boxcars like those in picture 1.  On the hill to the left are people resting–some forever.  Some sixteen died of starvation before food could be brought to the train.

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This is a closer view of the scene in the previous picture. Note how quickly the starved people have regained their sense of purpose and are scrounging about for berries and other food.

Jewish prisoners after being liberated from a death train, 1945 small (7)

 

This view shows compartment cars.  Most of the train was made up of boxcars.  It looks as though one man at lower left is praying; others are sitting or lying on the ground.

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They were crammed into all available space and the freight cars were packed with about 60 – 70 people.

cramped

This is Gina Rappaport, who spoke very good English and spent a couple of hours telling her story to the American troops. She was in the Warsaw ghetto under terrible conditions, and then was sent to Bergen-Belsen.

gina

The attempt was evidently to get them to a camp where they could be eliminated before they could be liberated.

atta

Most of these Jews were from Poland, Russia and other Eastern countries, so with the total destruction of their homes, loss of families and the serious prospects of coming under the jurisdiction of the Soviets, most were fearful about their future. Most chose the option of remaining in Germany, or the possibility of being repatriated to some other Western European countries. Eventually, many were finally repatriated to Israel, South American countries, for which many had passports, England, Canada and to the United States of America.

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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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The Holocaust from a different perspective.

MSG_III_1937_Anti-Nazi_Rally-570x437

The middle ages are often referred to as the dark ages but I really think the Dark Ages were from 1933 to 1945. However with every darkness there is also light. This blog is dealing with those few bits of light that shone during those dark ages.

The picture above is a picture of an American Jews organized  nation-wide boycott of Nazi-Germany. Such a show of support, in so united a way is displayed beautifully in this picture from a rally in 1937.

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This amazing photo  depicts Jews in hiding during Passover in Poland, baking matzos.

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A soldier  in the Jewish Brigade, a segment of the British Army that fought the Germans in Italy in 1944.Holding a bomb the bomb says “Hitler’s Gift”

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This photo has made the rounds after the  passing of Rabbi Herschel Schachter, depicted leading this Shabbat service shortly after the liberation of Buchenwald. There is something beyond moving about this image that shows the prisoners, still in their garb, still in their prison, but liberated and celebrating the most important day of the week.

The 2 images below are pictures from survivors of a “Death Train”

Three trains were sent from Bergen-Belsen on April 10, 1945 with the purpose to move eastward from the Camp, to the Elbe River, where they were informed that it would not be advisable to proceed further because of the rapidly advancing Russian Army. The train then reversed direction and proceeded to Farsleben, where they were then told that they were heading into the advancing American Army.

The engineers were then given orders, to drive the train  onto the bridge over the Elbe River, where they  either had to blow it up, or just crash  it off the end of the damaged bridge, with all of the cars of the train crashing into the river, ] killing or drowning everyone on the train The engineers were having some second thoughts about this action, as they too would be hurtling themselves to death also this is the point at which they were discovered, just shortly after the leading elements of the 743rd Tank Battalion arrived on the scene.

train

train 2

 

Jewish survivors of the Buchenwald Nazi concentration camp, some still in their camp clothing, stand on the deck of the refugee immigration ship Mataroa, on July 15, 1945 at Haifa port.

survivors

 

 

 

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

https://rarehistoricalphotos.com/

USHMM