I’m Still Here: Real Diaries of Young People Who Lived During the Holocaust

The title of this post is from a 2005 documentary produced by MTV(yes MTV) It stars a number of famous actors reading excerpts from diaries of young people who lived during the Holocaust, most of them were murdered.

The full length movies is included in this post, but I also picked out 2 excerpts of two of the diarists mentioned in the documentary.

The first one is from the diary of Dawid Rubinowicz., dated April 10,1942. The reason why I picked that day is because April 10 is my birthday. Dawid Rubinowicz was born 27 July 1927 in Krajno, Poland, and murdered in September 1942, aged 15, in the Treblinka extermination camp. He was a Polish Jewish boy. His diary was found and published after the end of World War 2.

April 10, 1942

“They’ve taken away a man and a woman from across the road, and two children are left behind. Again it’s rumored that the father of these children was shot two days ago in the evening. …The gendarmes were in Slupia and arrested three Jews. They finished them off in Bieliny (they were certainly shot). Already a lot of Jewish blood has flowed in this Bieliny, in fact a whole Jewish cemetery has already grown up there. When will this terrible bloodshed finally end? If it goes on much longer then people will drop like flies out of sheer horror. A peasant from Krajno came to tell us our former neighbor’s daughter had been shot because she’d gone out after seven o’clock. I can scarce believe it, but everything’s possible. A girl as pretty as a picture—if she could be shot, then the end of the world will be here soon.”

He was still 14 when he wrote this. What strikes me in his words is that he talks about Gendarmes. Let that sink in for a second and think of it what you like. I know what it means but if I say is I know I will be getting emails from certain organizations threatening me with legal actions, because the truth is not there to be told.

The second excerpt is from the diary of Ilya Gerber. It is dated November 27,1942, 80 years ago today.. He was 18 at the time. The excerpt is about life in the Kovno ghetto in Lithuania. Ilya was murdered on April 28, 1945, on the verge of liberation, Gerber was shot and killed while marching forcibly from Dachau to Wolfsratshausen, Germany. He was not yet 21 years old.

November 27, 1942.

“I haven’t written since the nineteenth because there was no very important Jewish news, except that brigades have lately been smuggling in [food] not in their pockets, and not in little packages, but in fact in whole bundles… Mostly, when the ghetto commandant stands by the gate, the bundles or packages are confiscated and you sometimes feel his whip. But if he is not there it costs you whatever it takes to grease the palm of the partisan [Lithuanian auxiliary serving the Germans] or the policeman and you pass through undisturbed.”

Similar to Dawid Rubinowicz’s observation Ilya makes a reference to partisan, what that means is mentioned in the excerpt too, I don’t know if it was added by Ilya or of it was added later to put it in context for the readers. But also if you read between the lines you will recognize the implication of this.

sources

https://www.jpost.com/opinion/youth-behind-barbed-wire-fences-572023

Evil Words by Evil Men

I was struggling to find a title for this piece. I was thinking of using words like testimonies or confessions, but neither of those words reflect the reality in my opinion.

Testimony is too soft because it lessens the effect of the severity of the actions of the perpetrators. On the other hand. testimony in the context of the victims and survivors of the Holocaust strengthen the descriptions of the crimes.

Confession is a way of looking for forgiveness and I don’t think that is not my prerogative to forgive them, that is only for the victims and their families if they wish to do so.

Starting with the words of Oscar Gröning, as pictured above. He was known as the bookkeeper of Auschwitz.

Oscar Gröning: It was not long before I was assigned to supervise the luggage collection of an incoming transport.

When this was over, it was just like a fairground, there was lots of rubbish left and amongst this rubbish were ill people and those unable to walk. And the way these people were treated horrified me. For example, a child who was lying there naked was simply pulled by the legs and chucked into a lorry to be driven away, and when it screamed like a sick chicken, then they bashed it against the edge of the lorry, so it shut up. We were convinced by our worldview that we had been betrayed by the entire world and that there was a great conspiracy of the Jews against us.

Interviewer: But surely, when it comes to children you must realise that they could not have possibly done anything to you?

Oskar Gröning: The children, they’re not the enemy at the moment. The enemy is the blood inside them. The enemy is the growing up to be a Jew which could become dangerous, and because of that, the children were included as well.

Interviewer: But…aren’t you sorry that you made your own life more comfortable while millions actually died?

Oskar Gröning: Absolutely not. Everybody is looking out for themselves. So many people died in the war, not only Jews.

So many things happened, so many were shot, and so many snuffed it. People were burnt to death, so many were burnt, if I thought about all of that I wouldn’t be able to live one minute longer.

The special situation at Auschwitz led to friendships which I’m still saying today that I like to look back on with joy.

Heinrich Arthur Matthes was the deputy commandant of the Treblinka extermination camp, a Nazi Party concentration camp from 1942 to 1943, and was involved in giving the orders.

During the entire time I was in Treblinka, I served in the upper camp. The upper camp was that part of Treblinka with the gas chambers, where the Jews were killed and their corpses laid in large pits and later burned.

About 14 Germans carried out services in the upper camp. There were two Ukrainians permanently in the upper camp. One of them was called Nikolai, the other was a short man, I don’t remember his name… These two Ukrainians who lived in the upper camp served in the gas chambers. They also took care of the engine room when Fritz Schmidt was absent. Usually, this Schmidt was in charge of the engine room, and in my opinion, as a civilian, he was either a mechanic or a driver.

Altogether, six gas chambers were active. According to my estimate, about 300 people could enter each gas chamber. The people went into the gas chamber without resistance. Those who were there in the end, the Ukrainian guards had to push inside. Personally saw how the Ukrainians pushed the people with their rifle butts

The gas chambers were closed for about thirty minutes. Then Schmidt stopped the gassing, and the two Ukrainians who were in the engine room opened the gas chambers from the other side.”

Left to right:Paul Bredow, Willi Mentz, Max Möller, Josef Hirtreiter

Willi Mentz also worked at the Treblinka extermination camp during the Operation Reinhard phase of the Holocaust in Poland. Mentz was known as “Frankenstein” at the camp.

When I came to Treblinka the camp commandant was a doctor named Dr. Eberl. He was very ambitious. It was said that he ordered more transports
than could be “processed” in the camp. That meant that trains had to
wait outside the camp because the occupants of the previous transport
had not yet all been killed. At the time it was very hot and as a
result of the long wait inside the transport trains in the intense
heat, many people died. At the time whole mountains of bodies lay on
the platform. The Hauptsturmfuehrer Christian Wirth came to Treblinka
and kicked up a terrific row. And then one day Dr. Eberl was no
longer there.
For about two months I worked in the upper section of the camp and
then after Eberl had gone everything in the camp was reorganized. The
two parts of the camp were separated by barbed wire fences. Pine
branches were used so that you could not see through the fences. The
same thing was done along the route from the “transfer” area to the
gas chambers.

Finally, new and larger gas chambers were built. I think that there
were now five or six larger gas chambers. I cannot say exactly how
many people these large gas chambers held. If the small gas chambers
could hold 80-100 people, the large ones could probably hold twice
that number.

Following the arrival of a transport, six to eight cars would be
shunted into the camp, coming to a halt at the platform there. The
commandant, his deputy Franz, Kuettner, and Stadie or Maetzig would be
here waiting as the transport came in. Further, SS members were also
present to supervise the unloading: for example, Genz and Belitz had
to make sure that there was no one left in the car after the occupants had been ordered to get out.

When the Jews had got off, Stadie or Maetzig would have a short word
with them. They were told something to the effect that they were a
resettlement transport, that they would be given a bath, and that they
would receive new clothes. They were also instructed to maintain quiet
and discipline. They would continue their journey the following day.

Then the transport was taken off to the so-called “transfer” area.
The women had to undress in huts and the men out in the open. The
women were then led through a passageway, known as the “tube,” to the
gas chambers. On the way, they had to pass a hut where they had to hand
in their jewelry and valuables.”

I know there will be people who will say that these men probably had no choice. If they didn’t follow orders they were likely to be killed themselves. However, there are no records whatsoever that any member of the Wehrmacht or SS were punished for refusing to kill Jews. Those who murdered or was complicit in the murders did so of their own free will. None of these men showed remorse and they all lived a long time after the war, without any real consequences for their actions.

sources

https://www.pbs.org/auschwitz/40-45/victims/perps.html#groning

https://groups.google.com/g/alt.revisionism/c/bYlTZ-qQi8I?pli=1

https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/testimonies-of-nazi-ss-at-treblinka

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Holocaust Testimonies

Mara Ginic and mother Johanna Ctvrtnik on the island of Hvar, Croatia, May 1941.

Mara Ginic (now Kraus) was born in Zagreb, Yugoslavia in 1925. At the age of 3 or 4 she moved with her grandparents to Osijek, Slavonia(Nowadays in Croatia). When she was five years old her parents divorced and her mother moved to Belgrade, but she stayed with her father and grand parents in Osijek. When she was 8 they moved to Belgrade. After her father re-married, Mara lived with him and her step-mother.

—In April 1941, a few weeks after Hitler’s troops occupied Belgrade my father and I escaped with the help of my Catholic and ethnic German mother to the Dalmatian island Hvar. But Hvar occupied by the Croat Ustashi turned out to be a quite unsafe place. So we escaped once more under the nose of the authorities, this time to Split, occupied by the Italians. In December of the same year, the Italians deported us to a small town in Piedmont, Castellamonte, in northern Italy, where we were interned as civil prisoners of war.

Mara and father Alexander Ginic, Castellamont, Italy, 1943.

In September 1943 the Germans occupied northern Italy. My father, some friends and I fled to the mountains with the intention to cross over to Switzerland. After an adventurous, dangerously unsuccessful try we were able to find a guide in Breuil (Cervinia). He descended from a line of famous mountaineers: his grandfather Jean Antoine Carrel was the first Italian to climb the Matterhorn.

Breuil lies at the foot of Matterhorn and our aim was Zermatt which lies on the other side of the Matterhorn in Switzerland. Accompanied by Carrel and wearing our backpacks and low shoes, we left at dusk. On the way another mountain guide joined us. We plodded single file into the night up a path which became steeper and steeper. We were a party of five refugees, two men and three women. Carrel headed the line and carried a thick rope rolled over his shoulder, while his colleague closed the line.

After a time Carrel stopped and gave us all a small pill. A drug for endurance that pilots take before difficult assignments, he explained. My backpack suddenly became light as feather, and it seemed as though my feet barely touched the ground. For about three or four hours we went uphill on paths that weren’t too difficult. The bright night was turning cooler and I put on my mittens. Father wasn’t so well equipped, and he constantly held his city hat with one hand because the wind threatened to blow it off his head. I gave him one of my mittens since his hands were freezing, as the cold became more biting.

We wandered uphill without much effort until daybreak, but the worst still lay ahead. The path became more stony and narrow, and we now had to step carefully sideways, leaning against a steep rock face. Then our taciturn guide fastened one after the other to the rope and let us slide down several yards over the step-like cliffs. After this difficult passage was behind us, Carrel stopped and pointed straight ahead. A glacier spread out before us, and far below, meadows and houses were veiled in the morning mist. “That’s the direction”, pointed Carrel. ” Now you have to go alone. It’s the border and I can’t go any farther”.

There he was given the gold coins as it has been agreed before by my father’s friend, Hinko Salz, who was a dentist and had gold coins. Luckily for us, because my father didn’t have any.

The two men turned around and disappeared from our sight in an instant. For a few moments we stood there, helpless, then got hold of ourselves and stepped onto the glacier. Its icy breath beat against us. It was smooth and crossing it wouldn’t have been difficult if we had worn mountain shoes, and if there hadn’t been crevasses every couples of yards which we sometimes easily stepped over, but more often were forced to jump. We had been on our way for twelve hours and the pills had lost their effect. The high had passed now into a great weariness. Every step became an effort of will, not to mention jumping, when our backpacks yanked us to the ground every time.

My throat was parched, the wind blew my hair in my face and obstructed my vision. My knees buckled and the glacier never seemed to end. Every time now when I jumped I fell on the ice, until I no longer had the strength to get up. Father was bushed too, but spurred me on and helped me again and again to get up. My limbs were stiff from the cold, my fingers and tows were numb. Enough was enough! Not another inch! I am staying here!

As father tried to help me I started to scream. At 11.500 feet this was exactly the right time to have a nervous breakdown. At Dr. Salc’s sign, my father gave me a slap in the face, and I began to cry, but gradually quieted down, pulled myself together and dragged myself along like a good girl. Soon we made it over the glacier. Now before us lay a lake, and not far from there we saw a house: the border guard.

The guards had been observing us with binoculars for some time and came to meet us. We dropped exhausted on the benches in front of the small guard house. They gave us water and let us have a breather before we were politely, but resolutely informed that we couldn’t remain there in Switzerland but had to turn back. We hadn’t expected that. At that time we still didn’t know anything about the many refugees who were not only refused entry to the country, but were even immediately handed over to the Germans.

At first my father and Dr. Salc tried to persuade the border guards. My father said his sister lived in Switzerland, and since he had her address — she was interned in a camp near Lugano — he asked to be allowed to call her there. Over the telephone he inquired if she had any contacts who could help us be admitted to Switzerland. “My poor brother, I’m a refugee, how can I help you?” Since nothing could be expected from that side, the negotiations turned to imploring and begging for entry — and when even tears were of no avail the two adult women threw themselves at the feet of the officials, pulled their hair and made such a scene that I had to look away in shame.

After this terrible exhibition the top official went to the phone, spoke for a long time with distant superiors and finally informed us he couldn’t decide anything on his own and had to bring us to Zermatt. We hoped then we were saved. We believed once in the country we wouldn’t be expelled any more. We were lucky, because as I heard later, many refugees who already were inside the country have been handed over by Swiss police to the Germans.

So we started on our way, traipsing along with our remaining strength behind the border guard through this wonderful, free country where there was no war and no SS.

Even the air seemed to me particularly fragrant, like honey, or was it my imagination? Was I hallucinating smells? In my exhaustion and ecstasy I hadn’t noticed that our escort was smoking a pipe, out of which small honey-scented clouds floated over us. How we came to Zermatt, to whom our guard handed us, where we spent the night: all this went unperceived by my sleepwalking senses. The twenty-four hours of marching, climbing, jumping over crevasses, agitation, despair and ensuing deliverance had completely emptied my mind. I believe we stayed in a hotel. All I see is the staircase we went down the following morning which caused us immense strain because of our sore muscles.

In Zermatt we became famous overnight. We were treated like heroes. People felt admiration for our accomplishment and compassion for our lot. On our way to the train station from where we were to leave for a camp, men and women on the streets congratulated us and offered us fruits and chocolate. Even as we sat in our compartment, they passed us apples and cigarettes through the windows.

We remained in Switzerland until the end of the war. Meanwhile I had married Ivo Kraus and we decided not to return to Yugoslavia, but go to Italy. From Italy we emigrated to Argentina. My father did return to Yugoslavia, only to escape from the Tito regime 2 years later. Some month before he had married in Belgrade an Auschwitz survivor, Silvia Drucker. They emigrated to Venezuela where their daughter Nicole was born.

My husband and me had two children and we lived later again in Italy, and in France, in Venezuela and finally in São Paulo, Brazil, where we divorced. In São Paulo I met Joe J. Heydecker with whom I lived until his death in Vienna, Austria.—–

Daniel Falkner

Daniel Falkner was born in Poland in 1912 and grew up in the city of Rzeszow. Daniel hoped to become a doctor but was unable to attend medical school because of restrictions placed on the number of Jewish students. As he neared the age of compulsory military service in Poland, he was sent to a military academy. After completing military service he moved to Warsaw and shortly before September 1939, he was called up.

Daniel’s division eventually surrendered and he became a prisoner of war. After escaping, he returned to Warsaw. In the autumn of 1940, Warsaw’s Jewish population was forced into the ghetto. Daniel and his wife escaped the ghetto and lived in hiding until discovered in 1943. Later, hiding amongst a group of non-Jewish Polish political prisoners, Daniel was taken to Sachsenhausen camp in Germany.

As Allied troops advanced in April 1945, the Germans evacuated those prisoners deemed fit for forced labour and left the rest behind to die. Daniel avoided deportation by hiding under floorboards and was liberated. After the war, Daniel joined the British Army as an interpreter and was reunited with his wife in 1946.

And of course then came the ghetto, and this was a terrible upheaval. Thousands and thousands of
people had to move in and out, those Poles who lived among the Jews had to move out from this
designated area and the designated area was only a small corner of Warsaw, the most dilapidated part of Warsaw and the Jews who lived throughout Warsaw had to move in. And this was a period which is
imprinted on my mind, people with, with all sorts of chattel moving in and out.
And of course the living conditions were impossible, every, every cellar, every corridor was full, filled
with people. And many couldn’t find even this and they slept in the street. The result was that every
morning the undertakers had to collect bodies from the streets.
In July 1942 the German authorities announced that to ease up your loss, you can volunteer to go to
the East and there you will be provided with work and food and clothing and so forth. They were not specific to say where to the East, what is the name of the place where you are going, and what sort of work you are going to, to have to perform. And many thousands of volunteers came forward to be sent to the East.

Every day about six thousand volunteers were sent off, not to be seen or heard of again.
And then when these volunteers started to become thin on the ground, the Germans made traps in the, arranged traps in the street, and whoever was caught in the trap was sent off. And among those were old people, disabled people, blind people or children, and they were packed to capacity in those cattle trains and sent off. And one or two of those who were sent off came back and said ‘this is all a lie, this, we are, they are being sent only a few tens of kilometres away from, from Warsaw to a place called Treblinka and there they are being exterminated completely’.
You see the human nature is such that this is a thing that is incomprehensible, no one, no one can take it in that someone is planning a complete annihilation or murder of a whole people, this is inconceivable.

Pieter Kohnstam with his mother and grandmother.

Pieter Kohnstam was born in Amsterdam in 1936. His parents, Hans and Ruth Kohnstam, were forced to flee from the Nuremberg/Fuerth area in Germany to Amsterdam, The Netherlands during the early days of the Nazi regime. Coming from a well-known upper middle class family, they left behind a lucrative toy merchandising company with sales offices and warehouses in cities throughout Germany and Europe.

It was by chance that the Kohnstam’s apartment in Amsterdam was downstairs from the family of Anne Frank. Ruth became a close friend of Edith Frank, and Anne, the youngest daughter, became Pieter’s babysitter. Both children attended the local schools in the neighborhood.

“In the morning of July 6, 1942, Anne Frank came to say good-bye to us. The Franks were about to go into hiding in their secret annex. It was a sad and difficult parting for everyone. As things had deteriorated, Anne had come down every day to play with Pieter (age 6). Ruth (Pieter’s mother, age 31) and Clara (Ruth’s mother/Pieter’s grandmother) had become very fond of her. We hugged and kissed each other good-bye. Remembering that moment still brings tears to my eyes.

We watched from our living room window as the Franks left for their hiding place. It was raining outside. Margot had gone ahead earlier. Otto was dressed rather formally, as if he were going to work. He wore a dark suit and tie, an overcoat, and a hat. He was carrying a satchel under one arm and holding onto Edith with the other. Edith was also wearing a hat and carried a shopping bag. Anne had put on a scarf against the rain. She looked back one more time as we waved good-bye to them. We were crying and praying for their safety.

Two days later, the Nazis conducted a Razzia in our neighborhood. We heard their sirens and car horns blaring from far away. As the black lead motorcycle turned into our street followed by the passenger car and the large truck packed with Nazi soldiers, I was filled with foreboding. Pieter was standing on the sofa with his nose pressed against the lower part of the window, looking towards the street while holding on to Clara’s waist. Ruth and I looked at each other with apprehension.

The convoy stopped in front of our building, and soldiers poured from the back of the truck. They rushed up to our apartment and hammered their rifle butts against our front door, shouting, “Open up, or we will break down the door.”

While Clara let them in, I saw Ruth slipping a small piece of paper into Pieter’s pocket.

The soldiers burst into the room, led by a Nazi officer who waved his pistol at us and shouted, “Be still, or you will be shot.” Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Pieter dig for the paper in his pocket, sneak it into his mouth, and carefully chew and swallow it. I held my breath, praying that no one else had noticed. Fortunately, the soldiers were too busy putting tags with the SS insignia on our furniture and belongings, and paid no attention to us. The officer explained that, because we were being deported, they were claiming possession and ownership of everything we had. We would be committing a crime if we removed so much as a toothpick from our apartment.

When they finally left, we all heaved a sigh of relief. Ruth praised Pieter for his quick thinking in disposing of the paper slip. She smiled at him and said, “Don’t worry; it won’t harm you. It all comes out eventually.” The slip had been filled with telephone numbers, including one for Gerda Leske. (Gerda and Ad Leske were close friends of the Kohnstams, frequently coming to Sunday brunch before the German occupation. They continued to come over on Sundays following the occupation, making sure to supply food for the family and toys for Pieter, an only child. Both Christian; Gerda was originally from Berlin and Ad was Dutch. They owned stores in Amsterdam and Maastricht). Ruth had taken a big risk, figuring that the Gestapo would not think to search a small child. We had been very lucky indeed.

When we received notice for our departure date, Ruth called Gerda, who devised a brilliant, but dangerous plan.

Nothing further happened until the day when we were to report to the freight depot in the eastern section of Amsterdam for transport to Westerbork. Ruth and Clara spent the morning sewing cash — large bank notes — and jewelry into the shoulder pads of our coats. Ruth also hid some money in the shoulder pads of her blouse. We buried the rest of her jewelry in the garden behind our apartment. We never saw any of it again. The day before, I had bought two knapsacks — the kind hikers use — and we packed them with enough food for two days. We stored them in the back bedroom, so they would not be visible if somebody looked through our living room window from the street. I had also obtained strong, waterproof hiking boots with nailed rubber soles for Ruth, Pieter, and me. In addition, I had forged travel permits and identity cards for the three of us.

The hours crawled along at an interminable snail’s pace. We were too nervous to eat anything for lunch. Pieter kept asking questions of Grandma Clara: Why do we have to leave? Why can’t you come with us? Will I ever see you again? She answered every one of them patiently, reassuring him that everything would be all right. I realized, with surprise, that he was voicing the same concerns that were going round and round in my mind. I, too, was wondering if we were ever going to see Clara again, if we would ever return to Amsterdam. As my thoughts turned to the previous time when I fled from the Nazis, I wondered if I would ever set foot on German soil again, and if I would ever regain any of what my family had lost.

(Ruth and I had fled Nuremberg for the Netherlands in September 1932. My work as an artist was considered “degenerate” by the powerful, fanatic followers of Hitler in Nuremberg; and, not only our possessions, but quite possibly our lives were in danger. Though the Nazis were not yet “officially” in power, on the advice of my father, a judge, we quickly fled the country. This was one year after our marriage and I was thirty years old.)

Finally it was time to go, and it was hard to tear ourselves away. The apartment at Merwedeplein 17 had been our home for nearly eight years; and, once again, we were leaving everything behind, except for our lives, our memories, our hopes and our faith. We had agreed that I would start off alone, and Ruth would follow with Pieter. If she was stopped by a Nazi patrol, she would claim that he was sick, and that she was taking him to the hospital. I drank half a bottle of French Armagnac, put on my black beret, and, with a final goodbye to Clara, left our apartment through the back door. The gate at the rear of our garden opened onto a small passage that ran along the back of our apartment buildings. Emerging from the alley into the main street, I saw an SS patrol taking a cigarette break in the park. I prayed that Ruth and Pieter would get away without any trouble.

Fortunately, we all made it safely to Gerda’s salon. Since we did not look like shoppers, we entered through the back door, so as not to arouse suspicions. The first thing we did was to remove the Stars of David from our garments. It was a cumbersome process, but critical for our survival. We rubbed dye into the areas where the yellow patches had covered the fabric, so they would match the rest of the coat where the material looked more worn.

Gerda had come up with a clever cover story: She was taking her staff to a fashion show in Maastricht. Since Ruth was a young and beautiful woman, she would go as her fashion model. I was the artist and would act as the company’s fashion designer. And Pieter would come along as Gerda’s son. We impressed on Pieter that he would have to be absolutely quiet for the duration of the train ride, and that he would have to act as if Ruth were a stranger. Knowing what a challenge it would be for a gregarious child who liked to talk to anybody, and who was, no doubt, as scared as we were, worried me. How would he behave under these tense circumstances? Would he be able to keep silent and deny his own mother?

By the time we finished with our coats, there was not much time left. We quickly agreed on a meeting place in case we got separated. Then we headed to the Hauptbahnhof, the main railroad station, to take the train to Maastricht. We took separate trolleys. My ride went without a hitch, although there were a number of Nazi troops patrolling the streets, stopping, kicking, clubbing, and frisking people at random. When I arrived at the great hall of the railroad station, Ad Leske was waiting for me under a large round clock that was suspended from the ceiling. He greeted me formally like a business acquaintance, shook my hand and said, “Good afternoon, how are you?” In the process, he pressed a railroad ticket into my palm.

Then he accompanied me to the platform where a commuter train was waiting. We passed an Amsterdam City Council member I knew well coming from the train. He winked at me and gave me a quick nod, letting me know that Ruth, Gerda and Pieter were safe in the railroad car. Ad took me to my seat, quietly wished me luck, shook my hand again, and left. After all the years of a close friendship, it was difficult to part so abruptly, but we had no choice.

The train was filled with Dutch workers heading home for the day. Ruth was sitting two seats ahead of me on the other side of the aisle. Gerda and Pieter were several rows farther down, facing us. Pieter looked serious but content, nestled inside Gerda’s arms. We had agreed that if any one of us was stopped or apprehended, the others were not to look or give any sign of recognition. Pieter tried once to make eye contact with Ruth, who forced herself to look away. For a moment he looked stricken, and I was afraid that he would start to cry; but, Gerda had noticed the exchange and drew him closer to her, hugging him to her breast as if he were her own son. As he slowly relaxed into her body, I also felt myself calming down.

But we still had to wait. It seemed to take forever until the conductor finally walked along the train cars, slamming all the doors shut. His shrill whistle signaling departure was music to my ears. With a sudden jolt, the train lurched into motion and slowly pulled out of the station. We were finally on our way.

Throughout the ride, Nazi soldiers patrolled and spot checked the identity cards of various passengers. We tried to act unconcerned, but it made me nervous every time they walked down the aisle. Sure enough, one of them asked to see my papers. I handed him my ticket and the identity card I had forged, and held my breath. They looked them over and handed them back to me without comment. A wave of immense relief swept over me, followed by a warm feeling of pride that my handiwork had passed the test.

By the time we reached Maastricht, the sun had set and it was getting dark. We met at the end of the railroad platform, and Pieter gave Ruth a tight hug, burrowing into her as if to seek extra reassurance.

Outside the station, the managing director of Gerda’s salon in Maastricht was waiting for us, a thin man with a pinched face. His eyes kept darting all over the place. As we started to walk to his car, he asked to speak to Gerda in private. They stepped to the other side of his Peugeot, and I heard him murmur in a low, insistent voice while glancing nervously in our direction. Gerda stared at him, and her face became tight with anger. She did not raise her voice, but she must have said something to him that permitted no argument, because he looked down at the cobblestone street and then nodded in acquiescence.

He stood back as we said good-bye to Gerda. It was a long, emotional, tearful parting. How could we ever thank this extraordinary woman enough? How could we repay her for her generosity and courage? Gerda had risked her life for us. She had made arrangements with the underground in Amsterdam to take us across the Belgian border. She had accompanied us to Maastricht herself. If the Nazis had apprehended her, they would have killed her and her family. We did not want to let her go, but after yet another embrace, Gerda finally tore herself away and headed back into the railroad station, wiping her teary eyes, to wait for the next train back to Amsterdam.

As I watched her leave, I realized that our lives were never going to be the same. We had crossed a line and could no longer turn back. We were committed. Our journey to freedom had begun. It was July 14, 1942. By coincidence it was also Bastille Day in France; a good omen, I hoped.”

In 1963, Pieter immigrated to the United States where he pursued a career in the specialty chemical industry, focusing on pharmaceuticals and cosmetics. He became a U.S. citizen in 1968. He and his wife, Susan, married in 1965 and have two children and three grandchildren. Now retired in Venice, Florida, Kohnstam is active in community affairs. He is the past President of the Jewish Congregation of Venice. He is frequently invited to schools and various organizations to speak about his experiences as a Holocaust survivor, his book, and matters relating to Jewish and interfaith topics.

Maria Ossowski

Maria Ossowski was a Polish civilian living in Zakopane, Poland when the Second World War began. During the war, non-Jewish Poles were conscripted into forced labour in Germany and Maria’s parents sent her to live with family in Warsaw in an attempt to save her from being called up. In Warsaw, Maria and her aunt helped Jewish children by providing them with whatever food and clothing they could. She was suspected of being part of the Polish Resistance and arrested in 1943. She was deported to Auschwitz in May later that year.

“Eventually we were herded into what was to be our washing room. It was a huge barrack, with the water running, cold water I must add, from the, from the, from the, the top, there were men in already prison garb, which we never seen before. We were made to strip, we were made to go in front – each one of us – in front of that man, that man or the other one, they were all standing in the line, and we were shaven – we were shaven – our heads were shaven, our private parts were shaven and we were pushed then under that water. And after a while we were pushed out of it into another part of that big block, where the huge amount of terrible-looking – and already smelling terrible – clothes were prepared for us.

What we actually got was one dress which you had to put over your head. The dress had sleeves, but not long, like three-quarter sleeves, and when we have had this on, we were marched again to another part, where the girls this time – prisoners obviously – were sitting by the little tables,
and that, and then where we were getting our numbers tattooed on our arms. It was done with simply –
Biros were not invented then – so it was just implement with which you write letters in those days, and it was put into the ink and the point was made on your arm ‘til it had the shape of the number.
You actually are asking me what, what made me survive, or what helped me survive. And this answer is the one which actually brings you pain all your next life, this normal life, because you never know why.
So the easiest thing is to say, yes, God wanted it, that was supposed to be that way, but there were more human factors in it.

The fact that I was not, that I was young, that I was not ravaged by the long term imprisonment in prison…I told myself very quickly that I don’t want to die there, and the, this psychical attitude help you enormously. You were never to feel sorry for yourself. If you started to feel sorry for yourself you were a goner, you, you, you, you were Muselmann, as we were calling those who were physically and mentally broken.
When we came, of course, we knew nothing. I, I knew nothing. I didn’t know about the extermination policy or – we knew that the ghettos were, were burning and the people were killed in the ghettos…

To see it with my own eyes was really a terrible shock and I can tell you one thing, that there is point in your life where your heart is no heart anymore, it’s a piece of ice. I had the feeling that my heart was hard, and not because I didn’t have feeling for my fellow prisoners – no, that I always had – but there was this hand, this iced hand which kept hold my heart like this. And my heart were not alive any more, it was – the sheer terror of it made my, part of my body almost turn into the ice.”

Sources

http://www.pieterkohnstam.com/about-pieter-kohnstam.html

https://www.ushmm.org/remember/holocaust-reflections-testimonies/behind-every-name-a-story

https://www.iwm.org.uk/history/concentration-camp-survivors-share-their-stories

Murdered in Westerbork March 15 1943.

Although Westerbork wasn’t an extermination camp but transit camp, it didn’t mean that no one was murdered there. It is often referred to as a ‘humane’ camp, but there was nothing humane about it.

Only 751 people were murdered there, now some will say that some died and were not murdered, but I don’t subscribe to that point of view. Everyone who died in the camps was murdered, they should never have been there in the first place and all camps had sub standard and appalling living condition. It is a wonder that not more died.

The low mortality rate in Westerbork is mainly due to the relatively short period of time that most prisoners would stay in Westerbork, before they were transported to Auschwitz,Sobibor or Treblinka and a few other camps.

Westerbork was originally established in 1939 by the Dutch before the German invasion of the Netherlands. It began as a refugee camp for German Jewish refugees who had fled Nazi persecution.

Until 1942, when it became a transit camp from which Jews, Roma and Sinti were deported to Nazi extermination and concentration camps in Germany and occupied territories of Central and Eastern Europe..

These are just a few names of the 751 who were murdered in Westerbork. They were all murdered on March 15,1943.

Jacques Jacob Arend-Born in Rotterdam, 11 March 1908.Occupation Draughtsman.

Jacques Jacob Arend was murdered on 15 March 1943 he was cremated on 18 March 1943. The urn with his ashes was placed on the Jewish cemetery in Diemen on field U, row 7, grave number 12.

Rosina de Solla-Sturkop- Amsterdam, 14 September 1860

Rosina de Solla-Sturkop,murdered on 15 March 1943 she was cremated on 18 March 1943. The urn with her ashes was placed on the Portuguese-Israelite cemetery in Ouderkerk at the Amstel on field 1894, Ca.12, Sa.13.

Borach Sleutelberg-Born Delfzijl, 26 February 1860.Occupation,butcher.

Borach Sleutelberg, murdered on 15 March 1943, he was cremated on 17 March 1943. The urn with ashes was placed on the Jewish cemetery in Diemen on field U, row 2, grave number 6.

Margaretha Hamburger-Stouwer-Born in Amsterdam, 22 May 1870.

Margaretha Hamburger-Stouwer ,murdered on 15 March 1943, she was cremated on 17 March 1943. The urn with her ashes was placed on the Jewish cemetery in Diemen on field U, row 2, grave number 1.

Hermine Sichel-Schwabacher- born in Frankfurt am Main, 17 April 1858

Hermine Sichel-Schwabacher, murdered on 15 March 1943, she was cremated on 18 March 1943. The urn with her ashes was placed on the Jewish cemetery in Diemen on field U, row 4, grave number 27.

Margaretha Hamburger-Stouwer-Born in Amsterdam, 22 May 1870.

Margaretha Hamburger-Stouwer. murdered on 15 March 1943,she was cremated on 17 March 1943. The urn with her ashes was placed on the Jewish cemetery in Diemen on field U, row 2, grave number 1.

Josua Colthof-Born in Opsterland, 10 May 1864.

Josua Colthof, murdered on 15 March 1943,he was cremated on 18 March 1943. The urn with his ashes was placed on the Jewish cemetery in Diemen on field U, row 1, grave number 3.

With the exception of Jacques Jacob Arend, all of these people were 70 years and older. It is clear that the conditions in the camp must have killed them, to me that makes it murder.

sources

https://encyclopedia.ushmm.org/content/en/article/westerbork

https://culture.ec.europa.eu/cultural-heritage/initiatives-and-success-stories/european-heritage-label/european-heritage-label-sites/camp-westerbork-the-netherlands

https://www.tracesofwar.com/articles/4439/Camp-Westerbork.htm#

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Reports on The Holocaust

I know that looking back on history with a retrospective view always comes with a 20/20 vision, nevertheless it is important to understand that it was widely know what was happening to the Jewish population in Europe throughout World War 2. Too often I have heard the argument that no one knew until after the war. There were regular reports issued to the governments of the allied forces and to newspapers.

The picture above is a cutting from the Daily Worker newspaper of an open letter – also published in the Times – by well-known figures appealing for action against the mistreatment of Jews in Europe. It was issued in February 1943.

Transcript
DAILY WORKER

Cutting dated …17 Feb 1943 … 194

Britain Urged To Act Now and Save Jews

The following letter appeared in the Times yesterday: –

We have noted with satisfaction the Joint Declaration of the United Nations vigorously protesting against the Nazi outrages upon the Jewish people.

We desire to associate ourselves with it. But we think that present action to mitigate this barbarism now is even more essential that the assurance of penalties after Hitler’s defeat for those who have shared in the perpetration of the outrages upon the Jews and other victims of Nazi Germany.

We suggest that the nation is eager to see the British Government take the lead in attempting to rescue as many as possible of these, the most helpless of Hitler’s victims, as they were also the first; the generous temper in which Italian settlers in Abyssinia have been repatriated to Italy should be applied to the right of the Jews to protection.

OBLIGATION

In the circumstances, we suggest that it is incumbent on the British Government to take the initiative in the following measures:

To make representations by the United Nations to the German Government to permit Jews to leave the occupied countries of Europe.
To offer the joint protection of the United Nations to Jews liberated or escaping from the occupied territories.
To facilitate the transfer of Jews to and their asylum in the territories and colonies of the United Nations.
To urge on neutral countries the desirability of receiving as many Jewish refugees as possible until, with victory, it is possible to consider ways and means of their permanent settlement. Where food and finance raise difficult problems for neutral countries willing to assist, the United Nations should agree to make these available to them.
To make available the fullest possible facilities for the immigration of Jewish refugees into Palestine.
We suggest that, as a prelude to these large-scale measures, the British Government should offer immediately to admit to Great Britain the largest possible number of Jewish refugees, especially children.

We see little difficulty, given good will, in taking all the necessary precautions which the national security demands.

We do not deny either the magnitude or the complexity of the Jewish problem. But we do not feel that the Government and nation can stand helplessly by while a whole people is ruthlessly butchered.

Verbal sympathy is not enough. We must be prepared, whatever the action of other people, to act with resolution and magnanimity.

HISTORIC TRADITION

That is an attitude rooted in our historic tradition. Never was it more necessary to prove that it is still a living faith among us.

For if we do nothing while a helpless people is assassinated, we shall breed a temper of acquiescence in the barbarism of tyrants which may become one of the unhappiest legacies of this epoch of agony. – Yours faithfully, W.G.S Adams, Phyllis Bottome, A.M. Carr-Saunders, Wyndham Deedes, P.A.M. Dirac, E.M.Forster, G.P.Gooch, R.A.Gregory, Storm Jameson, F.G.Kenyon, A.D.Lindsay, Kingsley Martin, Frederick Maurice, Gilbert Murray, Harold G. Nicolson, John Boyd Orr, Margaret Rhondda, Sankey. George Bernard Shaw, R.H. Tawney, Beatrice Webb, Wedgwood, Rebecca West.

Report from Poland

Report of the mass execution of Jews in Poland

Transcript
EXTERMINATION OF THE JEWS IN POLAND

According to recent reliable reports received from leaders of the underground movement in Poland, the process of extermination of the Polish Jewish population of over 3 million and of the large number of Jews deported to Poland from Germany, Austria and the occupied countries of Europe has been carried far towards its final completion.

Although at first the Germans established a number of ghettos in various Polish cities and towns, thus deluding the Jews into the belief that they would be allowed to survive in this way, they proceeded early in 1942 with the mass extermination of the Jews and it is known that the principal ghettos, those of Warsaw, Wilno, Lwow, Krakow and Lublin have now been largely liquidated. It is known that some time in April the remnants of the Jews in the Warsaw ghetto, offered desperate resistance to the German military and police attempting to remove them, and that the complete destruction of the Jews in this ghetto was preceded by street and house-to-house fighting lasting several days.

The dreadful mass slaughter of the Jews in Poland is being carried out in several death camps, the largest and most notorious of which is that of TREBLINKA. The Polish Government have received a detailed description of the circumstances and methods of the mass slaughter, based on the personal accounts of several Jewish grave-diggers who succeeded in escaping from the confines of the camp and are being sheltered by the Polish underground movement.

The Slaughter Camp of TREBLINKA.

‘The extermination of Jews in Poland by methods of mass slaughter continues with unabated intensity. Not only Polish Jews, but those from other occupied countries of Europe, including France, Belgium, Holland, Norway, Czechoslovakia, etc., are being deported to special Death Camps and murdered by the thousand without discrimination as to age or sex.

‘The principal Death Camp has been established near the village of TREBLINKA situated near the main Biakystok-Warsaw Railway Line. At first, the Germans used this camp as a Penal Concentration Camp for Poles, where many thousands of them were executed in March 1942, however, the Germans proceeded to construct a special Death Camp for their mass …’

Situation in transit camps

Telegram describing the deteriorating situation in transit camps

Transcript
[CYPHER] Departmental No.1.

From Berne to Foreign Office

Mr Norton

No. 3767 D.8.00p.m. 11th August, 1944.

11th August, 1944 R.2.00a.m. 12th August, 1944

() () () ()

My telegram 3229.

The Swiss Government inform me orally that Bergen-Belsen is the Transit Camp to which all jews eligible for repatriation are temporarily sent.

The Jewish camp at Westerbork in Holland is in process of being dissolved. The usual number of inmates fluctuates between 40,000 and 50,000. The present number is approximately 2,000. The Jews are evacuated from Westerbork in three directions; those eligible for repatriation fall to Bergen-Belsen; technicians and persons likely to be of use to the German war effort are sent to Theresienstadt in Czechoslovakia those who are considered useless are sent to Ausschwitz for elimination.

O.T.P.

Kristallnacht

Telegram from Sir G Ogilvie Forbes regarding the damage dealt to Jewish properties during ‘Kristallnacht’ on 10 November 1938.

Transcript
From GERMANY.

Telegram (en clair) from Sir G. Ogilvie Forbes (Berlin),

D. BY TELEPHONE. 10th November, 1938.

R 5.5p.m. 10th November, 1938

No.663.

IMPORTANT

“My telegram No. 661.

I have just returned from a tour of Friedrichstrasse and city districts where Jewish shops are being smashed and looted by youths in plain clothes, followed by large and smiling crowds including soldiers and others in party uniforms. Police were taking no notice.

Only exception was the premises of Messrs. Israel, a big department store partly British-owned which was guarded by police with fire brigade standing by. His Majesty’s Consul-General who visited these premises informs me that enormous damage has been done to stock and fittings. According to Mr. Israel store was attacked early this afternoon by a crowd which included S.S. men in uniform. Business offices owned by Jews are also being entered and smashed up apparently with impunity. Similar attacks on Jewish property are said to be taking place all over Germany.

His Majesty’s Consul Dresden reports that a British Jew from Leipzig has asked for asylum in the Consulate as Jews in Leipzig are being beaten up. I have taken immediate steps with the Under Secretary of State for the safeguarding of British subjects.

Chief Rabbi of Berlin has been arrested and seven synagogues have been burnt.

The facts that these attacks began only after midnight last night and that Jewish shops and offices have been systematically signalled out indicate that this action was deliberately planned.”

The report on the Kristallnacht was issued 10 months before World War 2 started.

source

https://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/education/resources/holocaust/

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The Karski Report

It is often believed that the allied forces were not aware of the mass killings. The fact is they were aware but chose to ignore it.

Jan Karski was a Polish soldier, resistance-fighter, and diplomat during World War II. In late 1942, Karski was smuggled in and out of the Warsaw ghetto and Izbica, a transit ghetto for Jews being sent to the Belzec killing center. In both places, he witnessed the horrific conditions imposed by the Germans that had caused tens of thousands of Jews to die of starvation and disease. In Izbica, disguised as a guard, he saw thousands of Jews being crammed into cattle cars. Karski learned that the train was taking them to be murdered.

Karski then managed to travel across German-occupied Europe to London, where he delivered a report to the Polish government-in-exile and to senior British authorities, including Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden. He described what he had witnessed and reported the evidence that Nazi Germany was murdering Jews from all over Europe. In July 1943, Karski journeyed to Washington and met with American President Franklin D. Roosevelt to give him the same report. Karski pleaded for specific actions to rescue Jews. Allied leaders, however, insisted that Germany’s military defeat must be their first priority.

Below is the transcript of the report he had issued.

“News is reaching the Polish Government in London about the liquidation [of] the Jewish ghetto in Warsaw.

The persecution of the Jews in Poland, which has been in progress from the very first day of the German occupation, has taken on extremely acute forms since March 1942, when Himmler ordered the extermination of 50% of the Jewish population in the Government General, to be carried out by the end of 1942.

Though the German assassins had started this work with extraordinary gusto, the results apparently did not satisfy Himmler, for during his visit to the General Gouvernement [sic] in July 1942 he ordered new decrees personally, aiming at the total destruction of Polish Jewry.

The persecutions in Warsaw started on July 21st. 1942, when German police cars suddenly drove into the ghettos. The soldiers immediately started rushing into houses, shooting the inhabitants at sign without any explanation. The first victims belonged mostly to the educated classes. On that day almost all the members of the Jewish Municipal Council were arrested and held as hostages.

On July 22nd. 1942 the Jewish Council was ordered to proclaim the decree of the German authorities dealing with the resettlement of all the Warsaw Jews, regardless of sex or age, in the Eastern part of Poland, with the sole exception of persons working in German factories or members of the Jewish militia. The daily quota of people to be re-settled was fixed at 6,000 and members of the Jewish Municipal Council were ordered to carry out the order under the pain of death.

By the next day, however, on July 23rd., the German police again appeared in the Jewish Municipal Council and demanded to see the chairman, Mr. Czerniakow. After the police had left, Czerniakow committed suicide. From a note he left for his wife, it became clear that he had received an order to deliver 10,000 people the next day and 7000 daily on the following days, in spite of the fact that the quota had been fixed originally at 6,000. The victims to be delivered to the Germans are either dragged out of their homes or seized in the streets. As the zeal of the Jewish police to perform these duties against their own people was slight and did not give a guarantee of efficiency, the Germans have mobilised temporary security batallions for the man-hunts, consisting of Ukrainians, Latvians, and Lithuanians. These batallions, under the command of SS men, are characterised by their utter ruthlessness, cruelty and inhumanity.

The Jews, when caught, are driven to a square. Old people and cripples are then singled out, taken to the cemetery and there shot. The remaining people are loaded into goods trucks, at the rate of 150 people to a truck with space for 40. The floor of the truck is covered with a thick layer of lime and chlorine sprinkled with water. The doors of the trucks are locked. Sometimes the train starts immediately on being loaded, sometimes it remains on a siding for a day, two days or even longer. The people are packed so tightly that those who die of suffocation remain the crowd side by side with the still living and those slowly dying from the fumes of lime and cholorine, from lack of air, water and food. Wherever the trains arrive half the people arrive dead. Those surviving are sent to special camps at Treblinka, Belzec and Sobibor. Once there, the so-called ‘settlers’ are mass murdered.”

sources

https://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/education/resources/holocaust/karski-report/

https://encyclopedia.ushmm.org/content/en/article/jan-karski

The 80th Anniversary of the Establishment of the Death Camps—Belzec, Sobibor, and Treblinka 27.2.22

Once again I had the privilege to attend a session organized by the Ghetto Fighters’ House museum. A very informative session and also very chilling the witness accounts.

The third program in the series, “Rethinking the ‘Final Solution,’ and the Wannsee Conference 80 Years Later,” will present a multidisciplinary look at the three Operation Reinhard camps and how they operated. Dr. Tamir Hod, a historian at the Ghetto Fighters’ House, will present his most recent research on the daily life of the Ukrainian collaborators in Belzec and Treblinka. The archeologist Yoram Haimi will discuss his long-term work in the Sobibór Archaeological Project and the importance of his findings. Hannah Wilson, a Ph.D. candidate at Nottingham Trent University and Content Director for World ORT, took part in the project with Haimi and will discuss the Sobibor uprising that took place in October 1943 whose narrative has marginalized the experiences of women in the camp. She will outline the roles of women within camp structures, the uprising itself, and their stories throughout the months that followed.

This program is in partnership with Liberation 75, Remember the Women Institute, the Rabin Chair Forum, Classrooms Without Borders, the House of the Wannsee Conference Memorial and Educational Site, and the Johannesburg Holocaust and Genocide Center.

source

https://www.gfh.org.il/eng

Holocaust reports ignored.

ignored

Time and time again reports about the Holocaust were either ignored or not believed, even when the reports came from eye witnesses like Kurt Gerstein.

Gerstein was a German SS officer and head of technical disinfection services of the Hygiene-Institut der Waffen-SS (Institute for Hygiene of the Waffen-SS) in this capacity he would travel to Auschwitz,Belzec and Treblinka offering the supply of Zyklon B.

ZYLON B

In this lies the irony the man who supplied Belzec and Treblinka with the gas that killed so many, had joined the SS to get an inside view and try to change the policies from within the organisation. In a letter to his wife Gerstein once wrote: “I joined the SS … acting as an agent of the Confessing Church.” Because of his position he witnessed first hand the horrors of the Holocaust. He had given a detailed report to Swedish diplomat Göran von Otter, as well as to Swiss diplomats, members of the Roman Catholic Church whu had contact with  Pope Pius XII, and to the exiled Dutch government.

exile

In February 1943 Gerstein was visited by Dutch industrialist H.J. Ubbink.Where Gerstein told Ubbink but the crimes he had witnessed. In a letter sent by Ubbink to Erika Arajs, Department of Justice in Nuremberg, dated September 14, 1949, Ubbink stated.

“With great indignation he told me how  gassings took place using the exhaust gas from diesel engines. He gave me all the details and told me that at that time there were 9000 deaths per day in the three camps.”

Ubbink passed Gerstein’s  on to a member of the Dutch Resistance, Cornelius Van der Hooft, who reluctantly because he could not believe what he heard , did write  a report on March 23, 1943 titled”Tötunsanstalten in Polen” This report seems  been sent to the Dutch government-in-exile because  on April 24, 1943, a month after the meeting between Ubbink and  Van der Hooft , another version of the report inspired by Gerstein was written. Typed on paper without an official heading, and with the shortened  title of “Tötungsanstalten”, this version was dispatched  within the Dutch government-in-exile, to the British government and eventually to the attention of the United States Inter-Allied Information Committee.

The clandestine Dutch Newspaper Trouw

, who van der Hooft was associated with also had alluded  to the fate of the Dutch Jews in article written on March ,19.1943.

“We must never forget what this oppressor [as in the German occupier] inflicts upon us, how he in his cowardly way assassinates the most noble and pure of the nation, how he makes mass arrests of our best fellow citizens and imprisons them in these evil places where cruelty and sadism reign, how he sacks our country with a brutality never before equaled in all our history, how he robs us of our valiant laborers in order to force them to work like Pharaoh made the Israelites, how coldly and in the most inhumane manner, he strips our Jewish fellow citizens and then assassinates them”

Trouw

Despite all of this no actions were taken.

Two weeks before Nazi Germany’s surrender,on 22 April 1945, Gerstein voluntarily surrendered himself  to the French commandant of the occupied town of Reutlingen. He received a sympathetic reception and was transferred to a residence in a hotel in Rottweil. Here he was able to write several reports , some of which were used inthe Nuremberg trials.

Below is an excepts of one of his reports, but I have to warns you it is a very graphich description of what he witnessed.

————–


“Then the procession starts moving. In front a very lovely young girl; so all of them go along the alley, all naked, men, women, children, without artificial limbs. I myself stand together with Hauptmann Wirth on top of the ramp between the gas chambers. Mothers with babies at their breast, they come onward, hesitate, enter the death chambers! At the corner a strong SS man stands who, with a voice like a pastor, says to the poor people: “There is not the least chance that something will happen to you! You must only take a deep breath in the chamber, that widens the lungs; this inhalation is necessary because of the illnesses and epidemics.” On the question of what would happen to them he answered: “Yes, of course, the men have to work, building houses and roads but the women don’t need to work. Only if they wish they can help in housekeeping or in the kitchen.”

For some of these poor people this gave a little glimmer of hope, enough to go the few steps to the chambers without resistance. The majority are aware, the smell tells them of their fate! So they climb the small staircase, and then they see everything. Mothers with little children at the breast, little naked children, adults, men, women, all naked – they hesitate but they enter the death chambers, pushed forward by those behind them or driven by the leather whips of the SS.

The majority without saying a word. A Jewess of about 40 years of age, with flaming eyes, calls down vengeance on the head of the murderers for the blood which is shed here. She gets 5 or 6 slashes with the riding crop into her face from Hauptmann Wirth personally, then she also disappears into the chamber. Many people pray. I pray with them, I press myself in a corner and shout loudly to my and their God. How gladly I would have entered the chamber together with them, how gladly I would have died the same death as them. Then they would have found a uniformed SS man in their chambers – the case would have been understood and treated as an accident, one man quietly missing. Still I am not allowed to do this. First I must tell what I am experiencing here!

The chambers fill. “Pack well!” – Hauptmann Wirth has ordered. The people stand on each other’s feet. 700 – 800 on 25 square meters, in 45 cubic meters! The SS physically squeezes them together, as far as is possible.

The doors close. At the same time the others are waiting outside in the open air, naked. Someone tells me: “The same in winter!” “Yes, but they could catch their death of cold,” I say. “Yes, exactly what they are here for!” says an SS man to me in his Low German. Now I finally understand why the whole installation is called the Hackenholt-Foundation. Hackenholt is the driver of the diesel engine, a little technician, also the builder of the facility.

The people are brought to death with the diesel exhaust fumes. But the diesel doesn’t work! Hauptmann Wirth comes. One can see that he feels embarrassed that that happens just today, when I am here. That’s right, I see everything! And I wait. My stop watch has honestly registered everything. 50 minutes, 70 minutes [?] – the diesel doesn’t start! The people are waiting in their gas chambers. In vain! One can hear them crying, sobbing… Hauptmann Wirth hits the Ukrainian who is helping Unterscharführer Hackenholt 12, 13 times in the face.

After two hours and 49 minutes – the stop watch has registered everything well – the diesel starts. Until this moment the people live in these 4 chambers, four times 750 people in 4 times 45 cubic meters! Again 25 minutes pass. Right, many are dead now. One can see that through the small window in which the electric light illuminates the chambers for a moment. After 28 minutes only a few are still alive. Finally, after 32 minutes, everyone is dead!

From the other side men from the work command open the wooden doors. They have been promised – even Jews – freedom, and some one-thousandth of all valuables found, for their terrible service. Like basalt pillars the dead stand inside, pressed together in the chambers. In any event there was no space to fall down or even bend forward. Even in death one can still tell the families. They still hold hands, tensed in death, so that one can barely tear them apart in order to empty the chamber for the next batch. The corpses are thrown out, wet from sweat and urine, soiled by excrement, menstrual blood on their legs.

Children’s’ corpses fly through the air. There is no time. The riding crops of the Ukrainians lash down on the work commands. Two dozen dentists open mouths with hooks and look for gold. Gold to the left, without gold to the right. Other dentists break gold teeth and crowns out of jaws with pliers and hammers.

Among all this Hauptmann Wirth is running around. He is in his element. Some workers search the genitals and anus of the corpses for gold, diamonds, and valuables. Wirth calls me to him: “Lift this can full of gold teeth, that is only from yesterday and the day before yesterday!” In an incredibly vulgar and incorrect diction he said to me: “You won’t believe what we find in gold and diamonds every day” – he pronounced it (in German Brillanten) with two L – “and in dollars. But see for yourself!” And now he led me to a jeweller who managed all these treasures, and let me see all this. Then someone showed me a former head of the Kaufhaus des Westens in Berlin, and a violinist: “That was a Hauptmann of the Austrian Army, knight of the Iron Cross 1st class who is now camp elder of the Jewish work command!”

The naked corpses were carried on wooden stretchers to pits only a few meters away, measuring 100 x 20 x 12 meters. After a few days the corpses welled up and a short time later they collapsed, so that one could throw a new layer of bodies upon them. Then ten centimeters of sand were spread over the pit, so that a few heads and arms still rose from it here and there. At such a place I saw Jews climbing over the corpses and working. One told me that by mistake those who arrived dead had not been stripped. Of course this has to be done later because of the  valuables which otherwise they would take with them into the grave.”

————-

Gerstein was  later movedto the Cherche-Midi military prison, where he was treated as a Nazi war criminal. On 25 July 1945, he was found dead in his cell, after an alleged suicide.

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Sources

https://journals.openedition.org/

https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/

Trouw

WikiPedia

 

 

Freud’s sisters.

freud

When you think of psychiatry one of the names you think of first is Sigmund Freud. A controversial but a successful Austrian Jewish neurologist and the founder of psychoanalysis, who created an entirely new approach to the understanding of the human personality.

Although his work will have saved many from mental health issues, he was not able to save some of his own family. Some of them were plagued by mental health.

Sigmund Freud died on September 23,1939 he had been able to escape the claws of the Nazi regime, 4 of his sisters were not so lucky.

Regina Debora aka Rosa

Rosa had  married a lawyer, Heinrich Graf . They had one  son, Hermann  who was killed in the First World War; their only daughter, Cacilie , committed suicide in 1922 after an unhappy love affair. Rosa was killed in Treblinka in 1943.

Marie aka Mitzi

Mitzi married her cousin Moritz Freud . They had three daughters: Margarethe (, Lily , Martha and one son, Theodor  who died in a drowning accident. Martha, took er own life after her husband committed suicide.Mitzi was killed in Treblinka in 1942

Esther Adolfine  aka Dolfi

Dolfi never married  and stayed in the family home to care for her parents. She died in Theresienstadt concentration camp in 1943.

Pauline Regine aka Pauli

Pauli married Valentine Winternitz  and emigrated to the United States where their daughter Rose Beatrice (1896–1969) was born. After the death of her husband she and her daughter returned to Europe. Pauli was killed in Treblinka in 1942

Anna

Anna was the only sister who survived the Holocaust

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When I

max

When I see a dog I want to play with it

When I see a flower I want to pick it

When I see a crayon I want to draw a picture

When I cross the road I hold my Mother’s hand

When I have a bad dream I call my Father

When I smile, you smile.

When I see a strawberry I want to eat it.

When I am tired I want to sleep

When I am awake I want to play.

When I am 4 I want to go to school

But some people, when they see me, they hate.

When they see me they are disgusted

When they see me they want me dead

In fact that is what they did, they killed me.

I, a three year old was a threat to them.

I died a horrible death in the gas chambers of Treblinka

I am Max Rosenblatt. aged 3.