A TRAGIC LOVE STORY

Kapo

++++courtesy of HSA-Holocaust Social Archive++++++++++++++++

She was the troubled daughter of the rabbi of Warsaw’s great synagogue; he was the son of a Polish Jewish leader. As neighbors they used to play together as children, but when they grew up, each went on their separate way. The leader’s son became a communist who fought in the Brigade in Spain, and did not immigrate to Israel with the rest of his family. The daughter of the rabbi married a successful lawyer and they were among the aristocratic Bohemia of Warsaw and were the parents of a single child, born after 11 years of marriage.
After the Nazi occupation, the spoiled boy arrived in the Warsaw ghetto, learned how to walk through cracks in the wall and bring food from the garbage cans. His mother called her former nanny who took him to her village, where she introduced the blue-eyed and blond-haired boy as her nephew, but warned him not to expose his body in front of other children.
The leader’s son was captured in France and sent to Auschwitz, where his friends asked him to represent them because he was a jurist and proficient in languages. In fact, he became a Kapo, and to this day, there are differences of opinion about the degree of cruelty he discovered in this position and the part he took in the resistance and camp’s underground.
The Rabbi’s daughter’s husband perished in the camp, and after the liberation she arrived in Jerusalem weighing 35 Kg. With the help of her family, she found her son in a village in Poland. She brought him to Israel but was unable to raise him and he was sent to ‘Kibbutz Ramat David’.
The leader’s son was arrested and tried in Paris as a collaborator with the Nazis, and some claim that the fact he opposed Stalin played a part against him. His father left all his pursuits and fought for his credit. After the trial ended and he was found ‘not guilty’, he came to Israel and lived in his parents’ house in Jerusalem, where he met again with the daughter of the rabbi and they fell in love. She started gaining weight and the two talked about getting married and the boy’s return from the kibbutz.
The leader’s son wanted to join the IDF but was refused because of his past, and was recruited only after the war of independence started. In a battle in Ramat-Rachel, an order of withdrawal was issued but the leader’s son stormed at the enemy in what appeared as a suicidal action, and was killed.
When the rabbi’s daughter heard of his death, she declined his parents’ offer to mourn with them, went to her home and took her own life.
Away from besieged Jerusalem, the child who knew in his life, wealth, hunger in the ghetto, life in a Polish village and a kibbutz was left orphaned and alone.

From the fascinating book “Kapo in Auschwitz” by Professor Tuvia Friling.

Link to the book’s preview:
https://www.academia.edu/26350561/A_Jewish_Kapo_in_Auschwitz_History_Memory_and_the_Politics_of_Survival
Link to the book’s reviews:
https://www.academia.edu/36873051/A_Jewish_Kapo_in_Auschwitz_-_Book_Reviews
Link to purchase the book:

 

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The young people who fought back.

 

I have many weaknesses ,one of them is that I have a very low tolerance or even no tolerance for people who have a warped sense of entitlement. I know I shouldn’t be intolerant and just rise above it , but I find that very hard at times.

Especially when it comes to the snowflake generation or millennials. A millennial is described  as “a person reaching young adulthood in the early 21st century.Or people born between the years of 1981 to 1998. I have to say not all of these people do have that sense of entitlement, there are many very decent people among them. It is only a minority of millennials but is a very vocal minority, They appear to have a problem for every solution. Generally they have not experienced any hardships but yet they claim their lives are much worse then that of the generation before them.

Then I come across stories of extremely brave young people like Mordechai Anielewicz,Mira Fuchrer and Rachel (Sarenka) Zylberberg(all pictured above)zob

These 3 young people ,who were in the same age bracket as the millenials, all died this day 76 years ago in Warsaw, May 8,1943. They were all members of the  Jewish Combat Organizationor ZOB in Polish), a resistance movement in occupied Poland, which was instrumental in engineering the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising.

 

The youth groups that were instrumental in forming the ŻOB had anticipated German intentions to annihilate Warsaw Jewry and began to shift from an educational and cultural focus to self-defense and eventual armed struggle

Their headquarters  was a bunker based on Ulica Miła 18 (or 18 Pleasant Street in English)

I am not going too much into the details of the group. I leave that up to all of you to do the homework on that, Because there is so much information on them.

Suffice to say that Mordechai Anielewicz was the leader of the ZOB and Mira Fuchrer was his girlfiend. Together with their friend Rachel  Zylberberg they played a pivotal role in the uprising at the cost of their lives.

On the 8th of May they were in the bunker with a group of about 120 fighters, when the bunker was discovered.s They were surrounded by the Nazis but the young resistance  fighters refused to surrender. Many of them committed suicide.

bunker

These heroes should never be forgotten.

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The end of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising

Dworzec_Gdański_i_płonące_getto_1943

I often like to play with words for example when you take Warsaw and switch some parts of the name you get an accurate description of what the city went through during WWII . Saw War and Was raw.

Warsaw saw the war in its rawest  and most brutal form. It is also one of the few cities that fought back. The Warsaw ghetto uprising was  revolt that occurred from April 19 to May 16, 1943,by Jews in the ghetto and members of the Polish underground.

The uprising commenced on April 19 when the Ghetto refused to surrender to the police commander SS-Brigadeführer Jürgen Stroop, who then ordered the burning of the Ghetto, block by block. This is what Stroop said about fighters in the uprising in his report .

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“When we invaded the Ghetto for the first time, the Jews and the Polish bandits succeeded in repelling the participating units, including tanks and armored cars, by a well-prepared concentration of fire.  The main Jewish battle group, mixed with Polish bandits, had already retired during the first and second day to the so-called Muranowski Square. There, it was reinforced by a considerable number of Polish bandits. Its plan was to hold the Ghetto by every means in order to prevent us from invading it.  Time and again Polish bandits found refuge in the Ghetto and remained there undisturbed, since we had no forces at our disposal to comb out this maze.  One such battle group succeeded in mounting a truck by ascending from a sewer in the so-called Prosta [Street], and in escaping with it (about 30 to 35 bandits).  The bandits and Jews – there were Polish bandits among these gangs armed with carbines, small arms, and in one case a light machine gun – mounted the truck and drove away in an unknown direction”

By May 16th an estimated A total of 13,000 Jews had died, about half of them burnt alive or suffocated.  It was the largest single revolt by Jews during World War II.

General Stroop reported after the destruction of the ghetto that 56,065 Jews had been taken; of those 7,000 sent to the Treblinka killing center, and the remainder deported to forced-labor camps and the Majdanek camp. Some of the resistance fighters succeeded in escaping from the ghetto and joined partisan groups in the forests around Warsaw.

Below some pictures of the uprising.

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Askaris_im_Warschauer_Getto_-_1943

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Ghetto Resistance

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The shoemaker and the Bride of Auschwitz.

shutterstock-333292880

This is a short poignant story but it has so much in it.A story of hope,survival,death, bereavement and most of all a story that tells us that life is a very precious thing. It is also a stark reminder that we have to remain vigilant to ensure that evil doesn’t win.

It is the story of Sonia K, and her sister, Jewish Holocaust survivors. I don’t know the sister’s name nor do I know Sonia’s full last name but this is really irrelevant.

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Sonia and her family lived in Warsaw in 1943, when the Nazis found them in hiding. Warsaw Ghetto  was burning at the time, they were given a choice either to leave or die in the Ghetto. Although they knew where they would be going to, they decided to take that option. Sonia K said about it “Life is a very precious thing, and you hang onto it as much and as long as you can.”

Her parents and brother were murdered.

When Sonia and her sister arrived in Auschwitz, their heads were shaved and their arms were tattooed.1389.3 Holocaust G

Those who had arrived were put in selection rows of 5. Sonia and her sister were in row 4. A Nazi passed by and called out” Who here is a shoemaker?” although Sonia who was 17 at the time and wasn’t a shoemaker, lifted her hand. She said about that that she wasn’t sure who lifted her hand, if it was God almighty our her parents who had died, she didn’t know. But anyway her hand was raised and she also prompted her sister to raise hers. The Nazi guard believed them.

They were then assigned to work in a so called ‘shoe commando’, where they were separating and taken apart the shoes of murdered people.

Auschwitz_shoes_of_the_murdered_1945

One morning while going to work, Sonia saw a train arrive from Hungary, heading straight to the gas chambers. One of the women on the train must have been picked up on her wedding for she was wearing her bridal gown.gown

People were told they were going to the showers but they were all gassed, including the young bride. It is an image that will stay with Sonia until the days she dies, she said on an interview on CNN.

While allied troops were approaching Auschwitz in January 1945, Sonia and her sister were send  to other camps and then on a death march. Sonia barely survived the march, her sister and adopted sister had dragged Sonia along, Anyone who would stop on the death march would have been killed.march

In April 1945 they were liberated by American troops. Sonia K is now a citizen in the US.What profoundly saddens me is the fact that a brave soul like Sonia has to witness ,the start of what easily can become a repeat of what she had to endure. on the news when racist bigots call out chants like “Jews will not replace us” Capture

There is a significant difference between then and now. Now we don’t have an excuse to let this happen again because we have the luxury of hindsight.

Finishing up with a quote from Sonia “Silence is the first thing after hate that is dangerous, because if you are silent it is an approval of what is going on”

Many thanks to Norman Stone for pointing me to the story

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They paid a high price-The heroes of the Warsaw uprising.

1 uprising

On April 19, 1943, the Warsaw ghetto uprising began after German troops and police entered the ghetto to deport its surviving inhabitants. By May 16, 1943, the Germans had crushed the uprising and left the ghetto area in ruins. Surviving ghetto residents were deported to concentration camps or killing centers..

So many times have I heard the argument “Why didn’t the Jews fight back” In the Warsaw they did fight back and they paid the ultimate price for it. I am not going into individual accounts for to me they were all heroes.

But as so many times before there are very few living heroes.

13,000 Jews were killed in the ghetto during the uprising (some 6,000 among them were burnt alive or died from smoke inhalation). Or died trying to escape the fire, in the picture below you can see a man jumping out of the window from a multi-story building.1024px-Stroop_Report_-_Warsaw_Ghetto_Uprising_-_26568

Of the remaining 50,000 residents, most were captured and shipped to concentration and extermination camps, in particular to Treblinka.

Jürgen Stroop’s internal SS daily report for Friedrich Krüger, written on 16 May 1943, stated:

“180 Jews, bandits and sub-humans, were destroyed. The former Jewish quarter of Warsaw is no longer in existence. The large-scale action was terminated at 20:15 hours by blowing up the Warsaw Synagogue. … Total number of Jews dealt with 56,065, including both Jews caught and Jews whose extermination can be proved. … Apart from 8 buildings (police barracks, hospital, and accommodations for housing working-parties) the former Ghetto is completely destroyed. Only the dividing walls are left standing where no explosions were carried out.”

Stroop_Report_-_Warsaw_Ghetto_Uprising_-_NARA24

Stroop’s report is one of the most disturbing pieces of reporting of the Holocaust. It is just so ‘matter of fact’ as if they are minutes of meetings or reports of an ordinary working day, rather then committing mass executions and genocide. If the title of the report “There is no more Jewish residential district in Warsaw”

Stroop_Report_-_Cover_Page_(Polish_Copy)

But because of the detailed description of the actions taken in the report it became a blessing in disguise,for lack of a better word. there were 4 copies but only 2 were discovered after the war, Both copies were introduced as evidence at the International Military Tribunal in Nuremberg, sharing the document number 1061-PS, and used in the trial as “US Exhibit 275”

The assistant prosecutor dealing with the persecution of the Jews referred to it as “the finest example of ornate German craftsmanship, leather bound, profusely illustrated, typed on heavy bond paper … the almost unbelievable recital of the proud accomplishment by Major General of Police Stroop.Jürgen_Stroop

Although they must have been aware they had little or no chance of succeeding the people in the Warsaw ghetto said “enough is enough” and decided to act and paid a heavy price for that action. But they did it with their heads held up high, Let us never forget the heroes of Warsaw.

1024px-Stroop_Report_-_Warsaw_Ghetto_Uprising_07

Stroop_Report_-_Warsaw_Ghetto_Uprising_-_IPN35

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