Sunday, May 31, 2009

The Nazi Party

The Parteiadler (party eagle),  the Nazi party symbol
The National Socialist German Workers' Party (abbreviated NSDAP from German), commonly known in English, in short, as the Nazi Party, It was a political party in Germany between 1919 and 1945. It was known as the German Workers' Party (DAP) before the name was changed in 1920. Hitler joined the DAP in September 1919.

The party's last leader, Adolf Hitler, was appointed Chancellor of Germany by president Paul von Hindenburg in 1933. Hitler rapidly established a totalitarian regime known as the Third Reich.

Nazi ideology stressed the failure of democracy, failure of capitalism, racial purity of the German people, and persecuted those it perceived either as race enemies or those defined as "life unworthy of living". This included Jews, Slavs, and Roma along with homosexuals, the mentally disabled, communists and others. To carry out these beliefs, the party and the German state which it controlled organized the systematic murder of approximately six million Jews and five million other people from the aforementioned and other groups, in what has become known as the Holocaust.

The Nazis' strongest appeal was to the lower middle-class – farmers, public servants, teachers, small businessmen – who had suffered most from the inflation of the 1920s and who feared Bolshevism more than anything else. The small business class were receptive to Hitler's anti-Semitism, since they blamed Jewish big business for their economic problems.

The Nazi Party might never have come to power had it not been for the Great Depression and its effects on Germany. By 1930 the German economy was beset with mass unemployment and widespread business failures. The SPD and the KPD parties were bitterly divided and unable to formulate an effective solution; this gave the Nazis their opportunity, and Hitler's message, blaming the crisis on the Jewish financiers and the Bolsheviks resonated with wide sections of the electorate. At the September 1930 Reichstag elections the Nazis won 18.3% of the vote and became the second-largest party in the Reichstag after the SPD. After two more successful election campaigns, in which the Nazi party scored 37.4% and 33.1% respectively, Hitler was nominated as Chancellor on 30 January 1933.

1933–39 saw the gradual fusion of the Nazi Party and the German state, as the party arrogated more and more power to itself at the expense of professional civil servants. This led to increasing inefficiency and confusion in administration, which was compounded by Hitler’s deliberate policy of preventing any of his underlings accumulating too much power, and of dividing responsibility among a plethora of state and party bureaucracies, many of which had overlapping functions. This administrative muddle later had severe consequences. Many party officials also lapsed rapidly into corruption, taking their lead from Göring, who looted and plundered both state property and wealth appropriated from the Jews. By the mid-1930s the party as an institution was increasingly unpopular with the German public, although this did not affect the personal standing of Hitler, who maintained a powerful hold over the great majority of the German people until at least 1943.

In June 1934, Hitler, using the SS and Gestapo under Himmler's command, staged a coup against the SA (a paramilitary organization of the Nazi Party), having Röhm, its leader, and about 700 others killed.

The effect of the purge of the SA was to redirect the energies of the Nazi Party away from social issues and towards racial enemies, namely the Jews, whose civil, economic and political rights were steadily restricted, culminating in the passage of the Nuremberg Laws of September 1935, which stripped them of their citizenship and banned marriage and sexual relations between Jews and "Aryans". After a lull in anti-Semitic agitation during 1936 and 1937 (partly because of the 1936 Olympic Games), the Nazis returned to the attack in November 1938, launching the pogrom known as Kristallnacht ("Night of Broken Glass"), in which at least 100 Jews were killed and 30,000 arrested and sent to concentration camps, and thousands of Jewish homes, businesses, synagogues and community facilities were attacked and burned. This satisfied the party radicals for a while, but the regional party bosses remained a persistent lobby for more radical action against the Jews, until they were finally deported to their deaths in 1942, 1943, 1944, and most poignantly in Spring of 1945—days before Liberation.

By 1945 the Nazi Party and the Nazi state were inseparable. When the German armies surrendered to the Allies in May 1945 and the German state ceased to exist, the Nazi Party, despite its 8.5 million nominal members and its nation-wide organisational structure, also ceased to exist. And it was also clear that a Nazi Party without Hitler had no basis for existence. Its most fanatical members either killed themselves, fled Germany or were arrested. The rank-and-file burned their party cards and sought to blend back into German society. The Nazi Party was banned by the Allied occupation authorities and an extensive process of denazification was carried out to remove former Nazis from the administration, judiciary, universities, schools and press of occupied Germany. There was virtually no resistance or attempt to organize a Nazi underground. By the time normal political life resumed in western Germany in 1949, Nazism was effectively extinct. In eastern Germany, the new Communist authorities took their vengeance on any former high-ranking Nazis that they could find, and the survival of any kind of Nazi movement was out of the question.

Since 1949 there have been attempts to organise ultra-nationalist parties in Germany, but none of these parties was overtly Nazi or tried to use the symbols and slogans of the Nazi Party.

Source: Wikipedia (All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License)

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Reinhard Heydrich is mortally wounded by Czech Assassins - May 27, 1942

A Nazi stamp memorializing the death of Reinhard Heydrich
A Nazi stamp memorializing the death of Reinhard Heydrich

Reinhard Heydrich (1904 – 1942) was the chief of the Reich Main Security Office (including the Gestapo, SD and Kripo Nazi police agencies) and Deputy Protector of Bohemia and Moravia. Adolf Hitler considered him a possible successor. Heydrich chaired the 1942 Wannsee Conference, which discussed plans for the deportation and extermination of all Jews in German-occupied territory. He was attacked, by assassins sent by the Czechoslovak government in exile in London and the British SOE, in Prague on 27 May 1942 and died over a week later from complications arising from his injuries.

Heydrich was one of the main architects of the Holocaust during the first years of the war, answering only to, and taking orders only from Hitler and Himmler in all matters that pertained to the deportation, imprisonment, and extermination of Jews.

During Kristallnacht, November 1938, he sent a telegram to various SD and Gestapo offices, helping to coordinate the program with the SS, the SD, the Gestapo, the Order Police, the Nazi party, and even the fire departments. It talks about permitting arson and destruction of Jewish businesses and synagogues, and orders the taking of all "archival material" out of Jewish community centers and synagogues. The telegram also ordered that "as many Jews - particularly affluent Jews -- are to be arrested in all districts as can be accommodated in existing detention facilities. . . . Immediately after the arrests have been carried out, the appropriate concentration camps should be contacted to place the Jews into camps as quickly as possible".

After Kristallnacht, Göring assigned him as head of the Central Office for Jewish Emigration. In this position, he worked tirelessly both to coordinate various initiatives for the Final Solution, and to assert SS dominance over Jewish policy.

He was involved in several mass deportations. On Oct 10, 1941, he was the senior officer at a meeting in Prague that discussed evacuating 50,000 Jewish people from the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia (mostly in the modern day Czech Republic) to ghettos in Minsk and Riga. Also discussed was the taking of 5,000 Jewish people "in the next few weeks" from Prague and handing them over to the Einsatzgruppen commanders Nebe and Rasch. The creation of ghettos in the Protectorate was also discussed, which would eventually result in the construction of Theresienstadt, where 33,000 people would eventually die, and tens of thousands more would pass through on their way to death in the East.

In 1941 Himmler named Heydrich as "responsible for implementing" the forced movement of 60,000 Jewish people from Germany and Czechoslovakia to the Lodz (Litzmannstadt) Ghetto in Poland.

Most famously in this respect, on 20 January 1942, Heydrich chaired the Wannsee Conference, at which he presented to the heads of a number of German Government departments a plan for the deportation and transporting of 11 million Jewish people from every country in Europe to be worked to death or outright killed in the East.

Source: Wikipedia (All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License)

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Pope Pius XII and The Holocaust

Hitler's Pope
The cover of Hitler's Pope, showing Nuncio Pacelli (Pope Pius XII) leaving the residence of President Hindenburg in 1927

The relations between Pope Pius XII and Judaism have long been controversial, with some scholars arguing that he kept silent during the Holocaust, while others have argued that he saved thousands if not tens or hundreds of thousands of Jews.

Much of the controversy surrounding Pius XII derives from an inscription at Yad Vashem stating that his record was controversial because he negotiated a concordat with the Nazis, maintained Vatican neutrality during the war and took no initiatives to save Jews.

In 1999, John Cornwell's Hitler's Pope criticized Pius for not doing enough, or speaking out enough, against the Holocaust. Cornwell argued that Pius's entire career as the nuncio to Germany, cardinal secretary of state, and pope was characterized by a desire to increase and centralize the power of the Papacy, and that he subordinated opposition to the Nazis to that goal. He further argues that Pius was anti-Semitic and that this stance prevented him from caring about the European Jews.

Cornwell traces early anti-Semitic tendencies in Pius XII and points to his collaboration with fascist leaders as starting with the concordat with Mussolini known as the Lateran Treaty and followed by the concordat with Hitler known as the Reichskonkordat.

However, five years after the publication of Hitler's Pope, Cornwell stated: "I would now argue, in the light of the debates and evidence following Hitler's Pope, that Pius XII had so little scope of action that it is impossible to judge the motives for his silence during the war, while Rome was under the heel of Mussolini and later occupied by Germany".

The author has been praised for attempting to bring into the open the debate on the Catholic Church's relationship with the Nazis, but also accused of making unsubstantiated claims and ignoring positive evidence.

Most recently, Rabbi David Dalin's The Myth of Hitler's Pope argues that critics of Pius are liberal Catholics and ex-Catholics who "exploit the tragedy of the Jewish people during the Holocaust to foster their own political agenda of forcing changes on the Catholic Church today" and that Pius XII was actually responsible for saving the lives of many thousands of Jews. And to his opinion, Yad Vashem should honor Pope Pius XII as a "Righteous Gentile", and documents that Pius was praised by all the leading Jews of his day for his role in saving more Jews than Oskar Schindler.

In 1999, in an attempt to address some of this controversy, a group of three Catholic and three Jewish scholars was appointed by the Holy See. Disagreements between members resulted in a discontinuation of the Commission in 2001 on friendly terms.

Source: Wikipedia (All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License)

Monday, May 25, 2009

Himmler Presents a Memorandum to Hitler on Treatment of Ethnic Groups and Jews in the East - May 25, 1940

In a top-secret memorandum, "The Treatment of Racial Aliens in the East", dated May 25, 1940, Heinrich Himmler, head of the SS, wrote to Hitler: "We need to divide Poland's many different ethnic groups up into as many parts and splinter groups as possible".

Himmler also called for expelling the entire Jewish population of Europe into Africa and reducing the remainer of the Polish population to a leaderless laboring class.

Hitler called Himmler's memo "good and correct".

Hitler’s remark led to the Himmler-Greiser (Arthur Greiser was responsible for organizing the Holocaust in Poland) viewpoint triumphing as German policy for Poland.

Source: Wikipedia (All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License)

Sunday, May 24, 2009

What is Mein Kampf?

First edition of Adolf Hitler's book Mein Kampf
First edition of Adolf Hitler's book Mein Kampf, July 1925. An exhibit of the German Historical Museum in Berlin

Mein Kampf (My Struggle) is a book by Adolf Hitler. It combines elements of autobiography with an exposition of Hitler's political ideology. Volume 1 of Mein Kampf was published in 1925 and Volume 2 in 1926. Mein Kampf is 694 pages long.

Hitler began the dictation of the book while imprisoned after his failed revolution in Munich in November 1923.

In Mein Kampf, Hitler uses the main thesis of "the Jewish peril," which speaks of an alleged Jewish conspiracy to gain world leadership. The narrative describes the process by which he became increasingly anti-Semitic and militaristic, especially during his years in Vienna, Austria. Yet, the deeper origins of his anti-semitism remain a mystery. He speaks of not having met a Jew until he arrived in Vienna, and that at first his attitude was liberal and tolerant. When he first encountered the anti-semitic press, he says, he dismissed it as unworthy of serious consideration. A little later and quite suddenly, it seems, he accepted the same anti-semitic views whole-heartedly, which became crucial in his program of national reconstruction. Becoming acquainted with Zionism, which he calls a "great movement," is what Hitler claims coalesced his view that one cannot be both a German and a Jew.

In Mein Kampf Hitler also announces his hatred of what he believed to be the world's twin evils: Communism and Judaism. The new territory that Germany needed to obtain would properly nurture the "historic destiny" of the German people; this goal explains why Hitler invaded Europe, both East and West, before he launched his attack against Russia. Blaming Germany’s chief woes on the parliament of the Weimar Republic, he announces that he wants to completely destroy the parliamentary system.

Hitler predicts the stages of Germany’s political emergence on the world scene: in the first stage, Germany would, through a program of massive re-armament, overthrow the shackles of the Treaty of Versailles and form alliances with the British Empire and Fascist Italy. The second stage would feature wars against France and her allies in Eastern Europe by the combined forces of Germany, Britain and Italy. The third and final stage would be a war to destroy what Hitler saw as the "Judeo-Bolshevik" regime in the Soviet Union that would give Germany the necessary Lebensraum (living space). Here Hitler outlines his stage-by-stage plan for his new world order.

Mein Kampf was translated into English and other Europoean languages.

Although Hitler originally wrote this book mostly for the followers of national socialism, it grew in popularity. From the royalties, Hitler was able to afford a Mercedes while still imprisoned. Moreover, he accumulated a tax debt of 405,500 Reichsmark (8 million USD today, or £4m UK Pounds Sterling) from the sale of about 240,000 copies by the time he became chancellor in 1933 (at which time his debt was waived).

After Hitler's rise to power, the book gained enormous popularity and for all intents and purposes became the Nazi Bible. Despite rumors to the contrary, new evidence suggests that it was actually in high demand in libraries and often reviewed and quoted in other publications. Hitler had made about 1.2 m Reichsmarks from the income of his book in 1933, when the average annual income of a teacher was about 4,800 Mark. During Hitler's years in power, the book was given free to every newlywed couple and every soldier fighting at the front. By the end of the war, about 10 million copies of the book had been sold or distributed in Germany.

In The Second World War Winston Churchill felt that after Hitler's ascension to power no other book deserved more intensive scrutiny than Mein Kampf, and called the book "the new Koran of faith and war: turgid, verbose, shapeless, but pregnant with its message." (Winston Churchill: The Second World War. Volume 1, Houghton Mifflin Books 1986, S. 50.)

The book's publication is prohibited and restricted in most European countries but in some cases is available for research purposes. Most German libraries carry heavily commented and excerpted versions of Mein Kampf.

After the Natzi party's poor showing in the 1928 elections, Hitler believed the reason for loss was that the public did not fully understand his ideas. He retired to Munich to dictate a sequel to Mein Kampf which focused on foreign policy, expanded on the ideas of Mein Kampf and suggested that around 1980, a final struggle would take place for world domination between the United States and the combined forces of Greater Germany and the British Empire. Only two copies of the 200-page manuscript were originally made, and only one of these has ever been made public.

Some historians argue that the passage stating that "if only 12,000–15,000 Jews were gassed, then the sacrifice of millions of soldiers would not have been in vain," proves quite clearly that Hitler had a master plan for the genocide of the Jewish people all along.

Others deny this assertion, noting that the passage does not call for the destruction of the entire Jewish people and note that although Mein Kampf is suffused with an extreme anti-Semitism, it is the only time in the entire book that Hitler ever explicitly refers to the murder of Jews. Given that Mein Kampf is 694 pages long, is to much too make out of one sentence. Beyond that, some historians have claimed although Hitler was clearly obsessed with anti-Semitism, his degree of anti-Semitic hatred contained in Mein Kampf is no better or worse than that contained in the writings and speeches of earlier volkisch leaders such as Wilhelm Marr, Georg Ritter von Schönerer, Houston Stewart Chamberlain and Karl Lueger, all of whom routinely called Jews a "disease" and "vermin." Nevertheless, Hitler cites all of them as an inspiration in Mein Kampf.

Mein Kampf was significant in 1925 because it was an open source for the presentation of Hitler's ideas about the state of the world. The book is significant in our time because a retrospective review of the text reveals the crystallization of Hitler's decision to completely exterminate the Jewish race. While historians diverge on the exact date Hitler decided to exterminate the Jewish people, few place the decision before the mid 1930s. First published in 1925, Mein Kampf shows the ideas that crafted Hitler's historical grievances and ambitions for creating a new world order.ources, historians such as Professor Gunnar Heinsohn demonstrate that Hitler's plan for the Jews and Aryans alike was not confined to a racial conception but rather an ideological one. It was the propagation of "Jewish ideas" that Hitler targeted for extermination with relation to the destruction of their community and race. (Gunnar Heinsohn, “What Makes the Holocaust a Uniquely Unique Genocide,” Journal of Genocide Research, vol. 2, no. 3 (2000): 413)

Nearing the end of his reign, Hitler made such ideas clear in a correspondence with Martin Bormann on February 3, 1945:

“We use the term Jewish race merely for reasons of linguistic convenience, for in the real sense of the word, and from a genetic point of view, there is no Jewish race. [...] The Jewish race is above all a community of the spirit. Spiritual race is of a more solid and more durable kind than natural race.”

Source: Wikipedia (All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License)

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Heinrich Himmler Commits Suicide - May 23, 1945

Heinrich Himmler seven years old
Heinrich Himmler in 1907, seven years old

Heinrich Luitpold Himmler (1900 – 1945) was the head of SS and interior minister, from 1943, of the Nazi regime. He was one of the most powerful men in Nazi Germany. He oversaw all police and security forces, including the Gestapo.

As overseer of concentration camps, extermination camps, and Einsatzgruppen (task forces, often used as killing squads), Himmler coordinated the killing of millions of Jews, between 200,000 and 500,000 Roma, many prisoners of war, and possibly another three to four million Poles, communists, or other groups whom the Nazis deemed unworthy to live or simply 'in the way', which included homosexuals, those with physical and mental disabilities and members of the Confessing Church. Shortly before the end of the war, he offered to surrender to the Allies if he were spared from prosecution. After being arrested by British forces, he committed suicide before he could be questioned.

Himmler has been named Greatest Mass Murderer of All Time by German news magazine Der Spiegel.

After the Night of the Long Knives (1934), the SS organized and administered Germany’s regime of concentration camps and, after 1941, the extermination camps in Poland. The SS, through its intelligence arm, the Security Service (SD), dealt with Jews, Gypsies, communists and those persons of any other cultural, racial, political or religious affiliation deemed by the Nazis to be either Untermensch (sub-human) or in opposition to the regime, and placing them in concentration camps. Himmler opened the first of these camps at Dachau on 22 March 1933. He was the main architect of the Holocaust, using elements of mysticism and a fanatical belief in the racist Nazi ideology to justify the murder of millions of victims. Himmler had similar plans for the Poles.

On 4 October 1943, Himmler referred explicitly to the extermination of the Jewish people during a secret SS meeting in the city of Poznań (Posen).

This is something that is easily said: "The Jewish people will be exterminated",
says every Party member, "this is very obvious, it is in our program —
elimination of the Jews, extermination, a small matter."
Himmler was arrested by the Btitish army on 22 May 1945 and in captivity was soon recognized. Himmler was scheduled to stand trial with other German leaders as a war criminal at Nuremberg, but committed suicide in Lüneburg by potassium cyanide capsule before interrogation could begin. Several attempts to revive Himmler were unsuccessful. Shortly afterwards, Himmler’s body was buried in an unmarked grave on the Lüneburg Heath. The precise location of Himmler’s grave remains unknown.

Source: Wikipedia (All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License)

Friday, May 22, 2009

What is Yad Vashem?

Yad Vashem Hall ofNames
The Hall of Names containing Pages of Testimony commemorating the 6 million Jews who perished in the Holocaust.

Yad Vashem (Hebrew: Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority) is Israel's official memorial to the Jewish victims of the Holocaust established in 1953. The origin of the name Yad Vashem is from a Biblical verse: "And to them will I give in my house and within my walls a memorial and a name (memorial=Yad, name=Vashem) that shall not be cut off." (Isaiah, chapter 56, verse 5).

Located at the foot of Mount Herzl on the Mount of Remembrance in Jerusalem, Yad Vashem is a 45-acre (180,000 m2) complex containing the Holocaust History Museum, memorial sites, such as the Children's Memorial and the Hall of Remembrance, The Museum of Holocaust Art, sculptures, outdoor commemorative sites such as the Valley of the Communities, a synagogue, archives, a research institute, library, publishing house and an educational center, The International School for Holocaust Studies. Non-Jews who saved Jews during the Holocaust, at personal risk, are honored by Yad Vashem as "Righteous Among the Nations."

The new Holocaust History Museum, opened in March 2005, was built as a prism-like triangular structure. It is 180 meters long, in the form of a spike, which cuts directly through the mountainside. Its stark walls are made of reinforced concrete, and it covers an area of over 4,200 square meters, most of which is underground. At the uppermost edge of the shaft is a skylight, protruding through the mountain edge.

The new Holocaust History Museum, opened in March 2005, was built as a prism-like triangular structure. It is 180 meters long, in the form of a spike, which cuts directly through the mountainside. Its stark walls are made of reinforced concrete, and it covers an area of over 4,200 square meters, most of which is underground. At the uppermost edge of the shaft is a skylight, protruding through the mountain edge.

There are 10 exhibition halls, each devoted to a different chapter in the history of the Holocaust. Unlike the exhibition in the old museum, which was primarily composed of photographs, the new exhibition is a multi-media presentation that incorporates survivor testimonies as well as personal artifacts donated to Yad Vashem by Holocaust survivors, the families of those who perished, Holocaust museums and memorial sites around the world. The exhibits are set up chronologically, with the testimonies and artifacts accentuating the individual stories used to highlight the historical narrative throughout the museum.

The museum is designed so the visitor begins above underground, proceeds to the lowest underground point in the center of the museum, and then slowly walks upwards towards the exit. The exit from the main part of the museum is onto a balcony overlooking a stunning view of Jerusalem, the visitor stepping from a dark corridor into direct sunlight.

Main goals and objectives of the Yad Vashem institute are education, documentation, commemoration, research and publications and Righteous Among the Nations.

Yad Vashem is the second most visited tourist site in Israel, after the Western Wall, with over one million visitors during 2007.

Source: Wikipedia (All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License)

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

First Concentration Camp Prisoners Arrive at Auschwitz-Birkenau - May 20, 1940

Auschwitz Crematorium Memorial
Interior of the crematorium of Auschwitz I. This facility was much smaller than those of Auschwitz II.

Auschwitz-Birkenau was the largest of Nazi Germany's concentration camps and extermination camps, established in Nazi German occupied Poland. The camp took its german name from the nearby Polish town of Oświęcim. Birkenau, the German translation of pol. Brzezinka (birch tree), refers to a small village nearby.

The three main camps were Auschwitz I, II, and III. Auschwitz I, the original concentration camp, served as the administrative center for the whole complex, and was the site of the deaths of roughly 70,000 people, mostly ethnic Poles and Soviet prisoners of war. Auschwitz II (Birkenau) was an extermination camp, and was the site of the deaths of at least 960,000 Jews, 75,000 Poles, and some 19,000 Roma (Gypsies). Birkenau was the largest of all the Nazi extermination camps. Auschwitz III (Monowitz) served as a labor camp for the Buna-Werke factory of the IG Farben concern.

Like all German concentration camps, the Auschwitz camps were operated by the Nazi party's paramilitary arm, the SS. The first commandants of the camp was Rudolf Höß. Höß provided a detailed description of the camp's workings during his interrogations after the war and in his autobiography. He was hanged on April 16, 1947 in front of the entrance to the crematorium of Auschwitz I.

Prisoners were transported from all over German-occupied Europe by rail, arriving at Auschwitz-Birkenau in daily convoys. Arrivals at the complex were separated into two main groups - those marked for immediate extermination, and those to be registered as prisoners. The first group, about three-quarters of the total, went to the gas chambers of Auschwitz-Birkenau within a few hours; they included all children, all women with children, all the elderly, and all those who appeared on brief and superficial inspection by an SS doctor not to be fully fit. SS personnel told the victims that they were to take a shower and undergo delousing. The victims would undress in an outer chamber and walk into the gas chamber, which was disguised as a shower facility, complete with dummy shower heads. After the doors were shut, SS men would dump in the cyanide pellets via holes in the roof or windows on the side. In the Auschwitz Birkenau camp more than 20,000 people could be gassed and cremated each day. At Birkenau, the Nazis used a cyanide gas produced from Zyklon B pellets, which were manufactured by two companies who had acquired licensing rights to the patent held by IG Farben. The two companies were Tesch & Stabenow, of Hamburg, who supplied two tons of the crystals each month, and Degesch, of Dessau, who produced three-quarters of a ton. The bills of lading were produced at Nuremberg.

Those deemed fit to work were used as slave labor at industrial factories for such companies as IG Farben and Krupp. At the Auschwitz complex 405,000 prisoners were recorded as slaves between 1940 and 1945. Of these about 340,000 perished through executions, beatings, starvation, and sickness.

Sonderkommandos yanked gold teeth from the corpses of gas chamber victims; the gold was melted down and sent back to the Third Reich. The belongings of the arrivals, both those gassed and those admitted to the camp, were seized by the SS. They were sorted in an area of the camp called "Canada". Many of the SS at the camp enriched themselves by pilfering the confiscated property of the Jews. The name "Canada" was very cynically chosen. In Poland it was used as an expression used when viewing, for example, a valuable and fine gift. The expression came from the time when Polish emigrants were sending gifts home from Canada.

Nazi doctors at Auschwitz performed a wide variety of "experiments" on helpless prisoners. SS doctors tested the efficacy of X-rays as a sterilization device by administering large doses to female prisoners. Prof. Dr. Carl Clauberg injected chemicals into women's uteruses in an effort to glue them shut. Bayer, then a subsidiary of IG Farben, bought prisoners to use as guinea pigs for testing new drugs.

The most infamous doctor at Auschwitz was Josef Mengele, who was also known as the “Angel of Death”. Particularly interested in "research" on identical twins, Mengele performed cruel experiments on them, such as inducing diseases in one twin of a pair and killing the other when the first died to perform comparative autopsies. He also took a special interest in dwarves, injecting twins, dwarves and other prisoners with gangrene to "study" the effects.

Starting in May 1944, there was a growing campaign to persuade the Allies to bomb Auschwitz or the railway lines leading to it. At one point Winston Churchill ordered that such a plan be prepared, but he was told that bombing the camp would most likely kill prisoners without disrupting the killing operation, and that bombing the railway lines was not technically feasible.sss Later several nearby military targets were bombed. One bomb accidentally fell into the camp and killed some prisoners. The debate over what could have been done, or what should have been attempted even if success was unlikely, has continued heatedly ever since.

The last selection took place on October 30, 1944. The next month, Heinrich Himmler ordered the crematoria destroyed before the Red Army reached the camp. The gas chambers of Birkenau were blown up by the SS in January 1945 in an attempt to hide the German crimes from the advancing Soviet troops. On January 20, the SS command sent orders to murder all the prisoners remaining in the camp, but in the chaos of the Nazi retreat the order was never carried out. On January 17, 1945 Nazi personnel started to evacuate the facility; nearly 60,000 prisoners, most of those remaining, were forced on a death march to the camp toward Wodzisław Śląski (German: Loslau).

On January 27, 1945 Soviet troops enter the Auschwitz camp complex and liberate approximately 7,000 prisoners remaining in the camp.

In 1947, in remembrance of the victims, Poland founded a museum at the site of the first two camps. By 1994, some 22 million visitors—700,000 annually—had passed through the iron gate crowned with the motto "Arbeit macht frei". The anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz by Soviet troops on January 27, 1945 is celebrated on International Holocaust Remembrance Day, Holocaust Memorial Day in the United Kingdom, and other similar memorial days in various countries.

Source: Wikipedia (All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License)

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Nazis Declare Berlin to be Judenfrei (Free of Jews) - May 19, 1943

Estonia is marked as judenfreiMap, included in a report Stahlecker sent to his superiors in October 1941, summarizes murders committed by Einsatzgruppe A under his command. It shows the number of Jews executed in the Baltic States and Belarus in 1941. The legend at the bottom states that "the estimated number of Jews still on hand is 128,000." Estonia is marked as judenfrei.

Judenfrei (German: free of Jews) was a Nazi term to designate an area free of Jewish presence during The Holocaust.

While Judenfrei merely refers to "freeing" an area of all of its Jewish citizens, the term Judenrein (German: clean of Jews) was also used. This had the stronger connotation that any trace of Jewish blood had been removed as an impurity.

Establishments, villages, cities, and regions were declared Judenfrei after they were ethnically cleansed of Jews. For example:
  • Gelnhausen, Germany – reported Judenfrei on November 1, 1938 by propaganda newspaper Kinzigwacht after its synagogue was closed and remaining local Jews forced to leave the town.
  • German-occupied Luxembourg – reported Judenfrei by the press on October 17, 1941.
  • German-occupied Estonia – December 1941. Reported as Judenfrei at the
  • Wannsee Conference on January 20, 1942.
  • German-occupied Serbia/Belgrade – August 1942
  • Vienna – reported Judenfrei by Alois Brunner on October 9, 1942
  • Berlin, Germany – May 19, 1943
Source: Wikipedia (All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License)

Monday, May 18, 2009

Ravensbruck Concentration Camp Opens - May, 18 1939

The Monument Two Women at the crematorium in front of the Wall of Nations, Ravensbrück Concentration Camp Memorial
The Monument "Two Women" by Will Lammert and Fritz Cremer at the crematorium in front of the Wall of Nations, Ravensbrück Concentration Camp Memorial

Ravensbrück was a notorious women's concentration camp during World War II, located in northern Germany, 90 km north of Berlin at a site near the village of Ravensbrück.

Construction of the camp began in November 1938 by SS leader Heinrich Himmler and was unusual in that it was a camp primarily for women. The camp opened in May 18, 1939. In the spring of 1941, the SS authorities established a small men's camp adjacent to the main camp.

Between 1939 and 1945, over 130,000 female prisoners passed through the Ravensbrück camp system; only 40,000 survived. Although the inmates came from every country in German-occupied Europe, the largest single national group incarcerated in the camp consisted of Polish women.

There were children in the camp as well. At first, they arrived with mothers or were born to imprisoned women.

It is estimated that inmates of Ravensbrück ethnic structure was the following: Poles 24.9%, Germans 19.9%, Jews 15.1%, Russians 15.0%, French 7.3%, Gypsies 5.4%, other 12.4%. Gestapo categorized the inmates as follows: political 83.54%, anti-social 12.35%, criminal 2.02%, Jehovah Witnesses 1.11%, racial defilement 0.78%, other 0.20%.

Inmates at Ravensbrück suffered greatly. Living in subhuman conditions, thousands were shot, strangled, gassed, buried alive, or worked to death. Periodically, the SS authorities subjected prisoners in the camp to "selections" in which the Germans isolated those prisoners considered too weak or injured to work and killed them. At first, "selected" prisoners were shot. Beginning in 1942, they were transferred to "euthanasia" killing centers or to the Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camp. The SS staff also murdered some prisoners in the camp infirmary by lethal injection.

The bodies of those killed in the camp were cremated in the nearby Fürstenberg crematorium until 1943. In that year, SS authorities constructed a crematorium at a site near the camp prison. In the autumn of 1944, the SS constructed a gas chamber near the crematorium. The Germans gassed several thousand prisoners at Ravensbrück before the camp's liberation in April 1945.

Starting in the summer of 1942, medical experiments were conducted without consent. The first type of experiments tested the efficacy of sulfonamide drugs. These experiments involved deliberate cutting into and infecting leg bones and muscles with virulent bacteria, cutting nerves, introducing substances like pieces of wood or glass into tissues, and fracturing bones. The second set of experiments studied bone, muscle and nerve regeneration, and the possibility of transplanting bones from one person to another. Some prisoners died as a result of the experiments, others with unhealed wounds were executed and the rest survived, with permanent physical damage, due to the help of other inmates in the camp. Four of them testified against Nazi doctors at the Doctors' Trial in 1946.

With the Soviet Army's rapid approach in the Spring of 1945, the SS decided to exterminate as many prisoners as they could in order to avoid leaving anyone to testify as to what had happened in the camp. With the Russians only hours away, at the end of March, the SS ordered the women still physically well enough to walk to leave the camp, forcing over 20,000 prisoners on a death march toward northern Mecklenburg. Less than 3,500 malnourished and sickly women and 300 men remained in the camp when it was liberated by the Red Army on April 30, 1945. The survivors of the Death March were liberated in the following hours by a Russian scout unit.

Source: Wikipedia (All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License)

Sunday, May 17, 2009

The MacDonald White Paper is approved by British Parliament - May, 17 1939

The White Paper of 1939, also known as the MacDonald White Paper after Malcolm MacDonald, the British Colonial Secretary who presided over it, was a policy paper issued by the British government under Neville Chamberlain in which the idea of partitioning the Mandate for Palestine, as recommended in the Peel Commission Report of 1937, was abandoned in favor of creating an independent Palestine governed by Palestinian Arabs and Jews in proportion to their numbers in the population by 1949. A limit of 75,000 Jewish immigrants was set for the five-year period 1940-1944, consisting of a regular yearly quota of 10,000, and a supplementary quota of 25,000, spread out over the same period, to cover refugee emergencies. After this cut-off date, further immigration would depend on the permission of the Arab majority. Restrictions were also placed on the rights of Jews to buy land from Arabs.

The British believed that in the event of war (the paper was approved a few weeks after Britain agreed to Germany annexing the rest of Czechoslavakia), Jewish support was guaranteed or unimportant. However they feared that the Arab world might turn against them. This geopolitical consideration was decisive.

The restrictions on Jewish immigration effectively closed Palestine which had been the only available destination for Jews fleeing the persecution in Europe. The Zionists responded by organizing illegal migration which the British countered by blockading Palestine. This resulted in some famous incidents (Struma (ship), Patria disaster, and Exodus (ship).

During the Parliamentary debate, Lloyd George described the White Paper as an act of perfidy while Winston Churchill voted against the government in which he was a minister. The Manchester Guardian described it as 'a death sentence on tens of thousands of Central European Jews'. The Liberal MP James Rothschild stated during the parliamentary debate that 'for the majority of the Jews who go to Palestine it is a question of migration or physical extinction. (House of Commons Debates, Volume 347 column 1984).

By the autumn of 1943, it was discovered that only 44,000 of the 75,000 promised certificates had been issued, and the British authorities ruled that the remaining 31,000 passes could be used immediately. By the end of the following year, the whole quota had been exhausted.

At the end of World War II, the British Labour Party conference voted to rescind the White Paper and establish a Jewish state in Palestine, however the Labour Foreign Minister, Ernest Bevin persisted with the policy and it remained in effect until the British departed Palestine in May 1948.

After the war, the determination of Holocaust survivors to reach Palestine led to large scale illegal Jewish migration to Palestine. British efforts to block the migration led to violent resistance by the Zionist underground.

Illegal immigrants detained by the British Government were imprisoned in camps on Cyprus. The immigrants had no citizenship and could not be returned to any country. Those imprisoned included a large number of children and orphans.

Source: Wikipedia (All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License)

Saturday, May 16, 2009

What Makes the Holocaust Unique?

The Holocaust is unique in its unprecedented ideological driving force merge with unprecedented total destruction means used against the Jewish people.

In other genocides, besides the Holocaust, pragmatic considerations such as control of territory and resources were central to the genocide policy. Yehuda Bauer argues that:

"The basic motivation of the Holocaust was purely ideological, rooted in an
illusionary world of Nazi imagination, where an international Jewish conspiracy
to control the world was opposed to a parallel Aryan quest. No genocide to date
had been based so completely on myths, on hallucinations, on abstract,
nonpragmatic ideology – which was then executed by very rational, pragmatic

(Bauer, Yehuda (2002). Rethinking the Holocaust. New Haven, Conn: Yale University Press. pp. p.48.)

Responding to the German philosopher Ernst Nolte who claimed that the Holocaust was not unique, the German historian Eberhard Jäckel wrote in 1986 that the Holocaust was unique because:

"the National Socialist killing of the Jews was unique in that never before had
a state with the authority of its responsible leader decided and announced that
a specific human group, including its aged, its women and its children and
infants, would be killed as quickly as possible, and then carried through this
resolution using every possible means of state power".

(Maier, Charles The Unmasterable Past, Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1988 page 53)

The slaughter was systematically conducted in virtually all areas of Nazi-occupied territory in what are now 35 separate European countries. It was at its worst in Central and Eastern Europe, which had more than seven million Jews in 1939. About five million Jews were killed there, including three million in occupied Poland and over one million in the Soviet Union. Hundreds of thousands also died in the Netherlands, France, Belgium, Yugoslavia and Greece. The Wannsee Protocol makes clear that the Nazis also intended to carry out their "final solution of the Jewish question" in England and Ireland.

Anyone with three or four Jewish grandparents was to be exterminated without exception. In other genocides, people were able to escape death by converting to another religion or in some other way assimilating. This option was not available to the Jews of occupied Europe. All persons of recent Jewish ancestry were to be exterminated in lands controlled by Germany.

Saul Friedländer writes that: "Not one social group, not one religious community, not one scholarly institution or professional association in Germany and throughout Europe declared its solidarity with the Jews." He writes that some Christian churches declared that converted Jews should be regarded as part of the flock, but even then only up to a point.

Friedländer argues that this makes the Holocaust distinctive because antisemitic policies were able to unfold without the interference of countervailing forces of the kind normally found in advanced societies, such as industry, small businesses, churches, and other vested interests and lobby groups.
(Friedländer, Saul (2007). Nazi Germany and the Jews: The Years of Extermination. London: HarperCollins. pp. p.xxi.)

To the contrary. Every arm of the country's sophisticated bureaucracy was involved in the murder process. Parish churches and the Interior Ministry supplied birth records showing who was Jewish; the Post Office delivered the deportation and denaturalization orders; the Finance Ministry confiscated Jewish property; German firms fired Jewish workers and disenfranchised Jewish stockholders; the universities refused to admit Jews, denied degrees to those already studying, and fired Jewish academics; government transport offices arranged the trains for deportation to the camps; German pharmaceutical companies tested drugs on camp prisoners; companies bid for the contracts to build the crematoria; detailed lists of victims were drawn up using the Dehomag company's punch card machines, producing meticulous records of the killings. As prisoners entered the death camps, they were made to surrender all personal property, which was carefully catalogued and tagged before being sent to Germany to be reused or recycled. The Final Solution of the Jewish question was in the eyes of the perpetrators Germany's greatest achievement.

The unprecedented Holocaust genocide against the Jewish people was enabled by hundreds of years of evil anti-Semitism and racism fed by superstition, popular belief and theology that culminated in Hitler's Mein Kampf to historic proportions.

Source: Wikipedia (All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License)

Friday, May 15, 2009

Beginning of the Deportation of Jews from Hungary to Auschwitz-Birkenau - May 15, 1944

Auschwitz Selection, May / June 1944, of Hungarian Jews.
Auschwitz "Selection", May / June 1944. To be sent to the right meant slave labor; to the left, the gas chambers. This image shows the arrival of Hungarian Jews. It was taken by the SS. Courtesy of Yad Vashem, The Auschwitz Album."

On March 19, 1944, the German army occupied Hungary.

On April 14, 1944, the quisling government of Hungary and Eichmann decided to deport all the Jews of Hungary to Auschwitz.

Adolf Eichmann, whose duties included supervising the extermination of Jews, set up his staff in the Majestic Hotel and proceeded rapidly in rounding up Jews from the Hungarian provinces outside of Budapest and its suburbs. The Yellow Star and Ghettoization laws, and Deportation were accomplished in less than 8 weeks with the enthusiastic help of the Hungarian authorities, particularly the gendarmerie (csendőrség). The first transports to Auschwitz began on May 15, 1944. Even as Soviet troops were rapidly approaching the Hungarian border, and Eichmann and his staff knew that Germany had by then lost the war, the trains continued to roll to Auschwitz.

By July 8, 437,402 Jews had been deported in 151 trains, according to official German reports. One hundred and thirty six trains were sent to Auschwitz, where 90% of the people were exterminated on arrival. Because the crematoria couldn't cope with the number of corpses, special pits were dug near them, where bodies were simply burned. It has been estimated that one third of the murdered victims at Auschwitz were Hungarian. For most of this time period, 12,000 Jews were delivered to Auschwitz in a typical day, among them the future writer and Nobel Prize-winner Elie Wiesel, at age 15. The devotion to the cause of the "final solution" of the Hungarian gendarmes surprised even Eichmann himself, who supervised the operation with only twenty officers and a staff of 100, which included drivers, cooks, etc.

According to Winston Churchill, in a letter to his Foreign Secretary dated July 11, 1944, "There is no doubt that this persecution of Jews in Hungary and their expulsion from enemy territory is probably the greatest and most horrible crime ever committed in the whole history of the world...." (Winston S. Churchill, The Second World War: Volume VI, Triumph and Tragedy, Appendix C, page 597).

The deportation of the Jews of Budapest was halted on July 8 after international pressure, and as a result almost 100,000 Jews of Budapest survived. Most of them were, however, concentrated under inhuman conditions in the Budapest ghetto. Some other areas were also designated as "houses with stars" and some were under the protecion of neutral powers. The names of some diplomats, Raoul Wallenberg, Carl Lutz, Giorgio Perlasca deserve mentioning, as well as some members of the army and police who saved people (Fewnczy, Pál Szalai, Károly Szabó, and other officers who took Jews out from camps with fake papers) and some church institutions and personalities.

Soviet troops liberated the Budapest ghetto on January 18, 1945.

By the end of the war in Hungary on April 4, 1945, from an original population of almost 900,000 people considered Jewish inside the borders of 1941-44 Hingary, only about 255,000 survived.

Source: Wikipedia (All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License)

Thursday, May 14, 2009

What is Holocaust Denial?

April 12, 1945: Generals Eisenhower, Omar Bradley and George S. Patton inspect an improvised crematory pyre.
April 12, 1945: Generals Eisenhower, Omar Bradley and George S. Patton inspect, at Ohrdruf forced labor camp, an improvised crematory pyre.

Holocaust denial is the claim that the genocide of Jews during World War II—usually referred to as the Holocaust—did not occur at all, or in the manner or to the extent as historically recognized.

Key elements of this claim are the rejection of any of the following: that the Nazi government had a policy of deliberately targeting Jews and people of Jewish ancestry for extermination as a people; that over five million Jews were systematically killed by the Nazis and their allies; and that genocide was carried out at extermination camps using tools of mass murder, such as gas chambers.

Holocaust deniers do not accept the term "denial" as an appropriate description of their point of view, and use the term Holocaust revisionism instead. Scholars, however, prefer the term "denial" to differentiate Holocaust deniers from historical revisionists, who use established historical methodologies.

Most Holocaust denial claims imply, or openly state, that the Holocaust is a hoax arising out of a deliberate Jewish conspiracy to advance the interest of Jews at the expense of other peoples. For this reason, Holocaust denial is generally considered to be an antisemitic conspiracy theory. The methodologies of Holocaust deniers are criticized as based on a predetermined conclusion that ignores extensive historical evidence to the contrary.

There is a "convergence of evidence" that proves that the Holocaust happened. This evidence includes:

  • Written documents—hundreds of thousands of letters, memos, blueprints, orders, bills, speeches, articles, memoirs, and confessions.

  • Eyewitness testimony—accounts from survivors, Jewish Sonderkommandos (who were forced to help load bodies from the gas chambers into the crematoria in exchange for the promise of survival), SS guards, commandants, local townspeople, and even high-ranking Nazis who spoke openly about the mass murder of the Jews.

  • Photographs—including official military and press photographs, civilian photographs, secret photographs taken by survivors, aerial photographs, German and Allied film footage, unofficial photographs taken by the German military.

  • The camps themselves—concentration camps, work camps, and extermination camps that still exist in varying degrees of originality and reconstruction.

  • Inferential evidence—population demographics, reconstructed from the pre-World War II era; if six million Jews were not killed, what happened to them all?

  • The first Holocaust deniers were the Nazis themselves. Historians have documented evidence that Heinrich Himmler instructed his camp commandants to destroy records, crematoria, and other signs of mass extermination, as Germany's defeat became imminent and the Nazi leaders realized they would most likely be captured and brought to trial. As one of many examples, the bodies of the 25,000 mostly Latvian Jews whom Friedrich Jeckeln and his gang of killers had shot at Rumbula (near Riga) in late 1941 were dug up and burned in 1943. Similar operations were undertaken at Belzec, Treblinka and other death camps. In the infamous Posen speech on October 4, 1943, Himmler explicitly referred to the murder of the Jews of Europe and further stated that the murder must be permanently kept secret

    Eisenhower, upon finding the victims of the death camps, he ordered all possible photographs to be taken, and for the German people from surrounding villages to be ushered through the camps and even made to bury the dead. He wrote the following to General Marshall after visiting a German internment camp near Gotha, Germany:

    The visual evidence and the verbal testimony of starvation, cruelty and
    bestiality were so overpowering as to leave me a bit sick. In one room, where
    they [there] were piled up twenty or thirty naked men, killed by starvation,
    George Patton would not even enter. He said that he would get sick if he did so.
    I made the visit [to Gotha] deliberately, in order to be in a position to give
    first-hand evidence of these things if ever, in the future, there develops a
    tendency to charge these allegations merely to “propaganda.”

    - Dear General: Eisenhower’s Wartime Letters to Marshall, page 223

    After World War II, many of the former leaders of the SS left Germany and began using their propaganda skills to defend their actions Denial materials began to appear shortly after the war going on till this day.

    A few nototious examples:

    Ernst Zündel operated a small-press publishing house which published and distributed Holocaust-denial material such as Did Six Million Really Die? by Richard Harwood (a British neo-Nazi leader). In 1985, Zündel was tried and convicted under a "false news" law and sentenced to 15 months imprisonment by an Ontario court for "disseminating and publishing material denying the Holocaust." Zündel gained considerable notoriety after this conviction, and a number of free-speech activists stepped forward to defend his right to publish his opinion. His conviction was overturned in 1992 when the Supreme Court of Canada declared the "false news" law unconstitutional. On February 15, 2007, Zündel was convicted on 14 counts of incitement under Germany's Volksverhetzung law, which bans the incitement of hatred against a portion of the population, and given the maximum sentence of five years in prison.

    In 1998, the British author David Irving filed suit against American author Deborah Lipstadt and her publisher Penguin Books, claiming that Lipstadt had libeled him in her book Denying the Holocaust. The statements made by Lipstadt included the accusation that Irving deliberately misrepresented evidence to conform to his ideological viewpoint. Lipstadt and Penguin hired British lawyer Anthony Julius and Cambridge historian Richard J. Evans to present her case. Evans spent two years examining Irving's work, and presented evidence of Irving's misrepresentations, including evidence that Irving had knowingly used forged documents as source material. The judge in the case, Mr Justice Gray, was ultimately persuaded by the evidence presented by Evans and others, and delivered a long and decisive verdict in favor of Lipstadt that referred to Irving as a "Holocaust denier" and "right-wing pro-Nazi polemicist," and confirmed the accusations of Lipstadt and Evans.

    Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad frequently denies the Holocaust. In a December 2005 speech, Ahmadinejad said that a legend was fabricated and had been promoted to protect Israel. He said:

    "They have fabricated a legend, under the name Massacre of the Jews, and they hold it higher than God himself, religion itself and the prophets themselves...If somebody in their country questions God, nobody says anything, but if somebody denies the myth of the massacre of Jews, the Zionist loudspeakers and the governments in the pay of Zionism will start to scream."

    Bishop Richard Williamson is an English traditionalist Catholic that was declared to have incurred excommunication from the Roman Catholic Church in 1988. The Holy See lifted the excommunication in January 2009. However, after his controversial views on the Holocaust attracted widespread media coverage, the Vatican declared that "in order to be admitted to episcopal functions within the Church, he will have to take his distance, in an absolutely unequivocal and public fashion, from his position on the Shoah."

    Since the late 1980s, Williamson has been charged with anti-semitism and Holocaust denial. Williamson has denied the existence of gas chambers or that millions of Jews were murdered by the Nazis, and praised Holocaust denier Ernst Zündel. During an interview on Swedish television recorded in November 2008, he stated "I believe that the historical evidence is strongly against, is hugely against six million Jews having been deliberately gassed in gas chambers as a deliberate policy of Adolf Hitler" and "I think that 200,000 to 300,000 Jews perished in Nazi concentration camps, but none of them in gas chambers."

    Other acts of genocide have met similar attempts to deny and minimize, most notably the Armenian Genocide and the Greek genocide, which is denied by the Turkish Government, but also the Rwanda genocide, Ustasha genocide, Srebrenica Genocide, and the Ukrainian famine.

    Gregory H. Stanton, formerly of the US State Department and the founder of Genocide Watch, lists denial as the final stage of a genocide development: "Denial is the eighth stage that always follows a genocide. It is among the surest indicators of further genocidal massacres. The perpetrators of genocide dig up the mass graves, burn the bodies, try to cover up the evidence and intimidate the witnesses. They deny that they committed any crimes, and often blame what happened on the victims."

    Source: Wikipedia (All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License)

    Monday, May 11, 2009

    Adolf Eichmann is captured in Argentina by Israeli MOSSAD - May 11, 1960

    Adolf Eichmann on trial
    Adolf Eichmann on trial

    Karl Adolf Eichmann (1906–1962), sometimes referred to as "the architect of the Holocaust", was a Nazi and SS-Obersturmbannführer (equivalent to Lieutenant Colonel). Because of his organizational talents and ideological reliability, he was charged by Reinhard Heydrich (chief of the Reich Main Security Office) with the task of facilitating and managing the logistics of mass deportation of Jews to ghettos and extermination camps in Nazi-occupied Eastern Europe. After the war, he travelled to Argentina using a fraudulently obtained laissez-passer issued by the International Red Cross and lived there under a false identity working for Mercedes-Benz until 1960. He was captured by Israeli Mossad operatives in Argentina and tried in an Israeli court on 15 criminal charges, including crimes against humanity and war crimes. He was convicted and hanged in 1962.

    Heydrich disclosed to Eichmann in autumn 1941 that all the Jews in German-controlled Europe were to be exterminated. In 1942, Heydrich ordered Eichmann to attend the Wannsee Conference as recording secretary, where Germany's anti-Semitic measures were set down into an official policy of genocide. Eichmann was given the position of Transportation Administrator of the "Final Solution to the Jewish Question", which put him in charge of all the trains which would carry Jews to the death camps in the territory of occupied Poland.

    In 1944, he was sent to Hungary after Germany had occupied that country in fear of a Soviet invasion. Eichmann at once went to work deporting Jews, sending 430,000 Hungarians to their deaths in the gas chambers.

    By 1945, Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler (head of the SS) had ordered Jewish extermination to be halted and evidence of the Final Solution to be destroyed. Eichmann was appalled by Himmler's turnabout, and continued his work in Hungary against official orders.

    At the end of World War II, Eichmann was captured by the U.S. Army, who did not know that this man who presented himself as "Otto Eckmann" was in fact a much bigger catch. Early in 1946, he escaped from U.S. custody and hid in various parts of Germany for a few years. In 1950 he obtained an International Committee of the Red Cross humanitarian passport in Geneva and an Argentine visa, both issued to "Riccardo Klement, technician." He boarded a ship heading for Argentina on July 14, 1950. For the next 10 years, he worked in several odd jobs in the Buenos Aires area (from factory foreman, to junior water engineer and professional rabbit farmer). Eichmann also brought his family to Argentina.

    In 1959, Mossad (the national intelligence agency of Israel) was informed that Eichmann was in Buenos Aires under the name Ricardo Klement (Clement) and began an effort to locate his exact whereabouts. Through relentless surveillance, it was concluded that Ricardo Klement was, in fact, Adolf Eichmann. The Israeli government then approved an operation to capture Eichmann and bring him to Jerusalem for trial as a war criminal. The Mossad agents continued their surveillance of Eichmann through the first months of 1960 until it was judged safe to take him down, even watching as he delivered flowers to his wife on their 25th wedding anniversary on March 21.

    Eichmann was kidnapped by a team of Mossad and Shabak (Israel Security Agency) agents in a suburb of Buenos Aires on May 11, 1960, as part of a covert operation.

    In June 1960, after unsuccessful secret negotiations with Israel, Argentina requested an urgent meeting of the United Nations Security Council, to protest what Argentina regarded as the "violation of the sovereign rights of the Argentine Republic".

    The legal basis of the charges against Eichmann was the 1950 "Nazi and Nazi Collaborators (Punishment) Law".

    Eichmann's trial before an Israeli court in Jerusalem began on April 11, 1961. He was indicted on 15 criminal charges, including crimes against humanity, crimes against the Jewish people and membership in an outlawed organization.

    After 14 weeks of testimony with more than 1,500 documents, 100 prosecution witnesses (90 of whom were Nazi concentration camp survivors) and dozens of defense depositions delivered by diplomatic couriers from 16 different countries, the Eichmann trial ended on August 14. At that point, the judges began deliberations in seclusion. On December 11, the three judges announced their verdict: Eichmann was convicted on all counts. Eichmann had said to the court that he expected the death penalty. On December 15, the court imposed a death sentence. Eichmann appealed the verdict, mostly relying on legal arguments about Israel's jurisdiction and the legality of the laws under which he was charged. He also claimed that he was protected by the principle of "Acts of State" and repeated his "superior orders" defense. On May 29, 1962 Israel's Supreme Court, sitting as a Court of Criminal Appeal, rejected the appeal and upheld the District Court's judgment on all counts. In rejecting his appeal again claiming that he was only "following orders", the court stated that, "Eichmann received no superior orders at all. He was his own superior and he gave all orders in matters that concerned Jewish affairs.

    Eichmann was hanged a few minutes before midnight on May 31, 1962, at a prison in Ramla, Israel. This remains the only civil execution ever carried out in Israel, which has a general policy of not using the death penalty. Eichmann allegedly refused a last meal, preferring instead a bottle of Carmel, a dry red Israeli wine. He consumed about half of the bottle. He also refused to don the traditional black hood for his execution.

    Shortly after the execution, Eichmann's body was cremated in a specially designed oven. The next morning, on June 1, his ashes were scattered at sea over the Mediterranean, in international waters. This was to ensure that there could be no future memorial and that no nation would serve as his final resting place.

    Since Eichmann's death, historians have speculated on some questions about his life. The critical question is how responsible Eichmann was for the implementation of the Holocaust. Some argue that Eichmann knew exactly what he was doing, while others state that he was unfairly judged and that he was doing only his duty as an administrator. Eichmann's son, Ricardo, condemned his father's actions, and said he harboured no resentment toward Israel for executing his father. Eichmann himself said he joined the SS not because he agreed or disagreed with its ethos, but because he needed to build a career.

    Source: Wikipedia (All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License)

    Sunday, May 10, 2009

    Burning of books in Berlin and throughout Germany - May 10, 1933

    Where they have burned books, they will in the end burn people.

    — Heinrich Heine , Almansor (1821)

    Examples of books burned by the Nazis on display at Yad Vashem.
    Examples of books burned by the Nazis on display at Yad Vashem.

    The Nazi book burnings were a campaign conducted by the authorities of Nazi Germany to ceremonially burn all books in Germany which did not correspond with Nazi ideology.

    On April 6, 1933, the Main Office for Press and Propaganda of the German Student Association (Deutsche Studentenschaft) proclaimed a nationwide "Action against the Un-German Spirit", to climax in a literary purge or "cleansing" ("Säuberung") by fire. Local chapters were to supply the press with releases and commissioned articles, sponsor well-known Nazi figures to speak at public gatherings, and negotiate for radio broadcast time. On April 8 the students association also drafted its Twelve Theses, deliberately evoking Martin Luther; the theses declared and outlined a "pure" national language and culture. Placards publicized the theses, which attacked "Jewish intellectualism", asserted the need to "purify" German language and literature, and demanded that universities be centers of German nationalism. The students described the "action" as a response to a worldwide Jewish "smear campaign" against Germany and an affirmation of traditional German values.

    In a symbolic act of ominous significance, on May 10, 1933 the students burned upwards of 25,000 volumes of "un-German" books, presaging an era of state censorship and control of culture. On the night of May 10, in most university towns, nationalist students marched in torchlight parades "against the un-German spirit." The scripted rituals called for high Nazi officials, professors, rectors, and student leaders to address the participants and spectators. At the meeting places, students threw the pillaged and unwanted books into the bonfires with great joyous ceremony, band-playing, songs, "fire oaths," and incantations.

    Not all book burnings took place on May 10, as the German Student Association had planned. Some were postponed a few days because of rain. Others, based on local chapter preference, took place on June 21, the summer solstice, a traditional date of celebration. Nonetheless, in 34 university towns across Germany the "Action against the Un-German Spirit" was a success, enlisting widespread newspaper coverage. And in some places, notably Berlin, radio broadcasts brought the speeches, songs, and ceremonial incantations "live" to countless German listeners.

    In 1946 the Allied occupation authorities drew up a list of over 30,000 titles, ranging from school books to poetry and including works by such authors as von Clausewitz. Millions of copies of these books were confiscated and destroyed. The representative of the Military Directorate admitted that the order in principle was no different from the Nazi book burnings.

    Source: Wikipedia (All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License)

    Saturday, May 9, 2009

    Hermann Göring captured by U.S. 7th Army - May 9, 1945

    Göring (first row, far left) at the Nuremberg Trials.
    Göring (first row, far left) at the Nuremberg Trials.

    Göring surrendered on 9 May 1945 in Bavaria. He was the third-highest-ranking Nazi official tried at Nuremberg, behind Reich President (former Admiral) Karl Dönitz and former Deputy Führer Hess. Göring's last days were spent with Captain Gustave Gilbert, a German-speaking American intelligence officer and psychologist (and a Jew), who had access to all the prisoners held in the Nuremberg jail. Gilbert classified Göring as having an I.Q. of 138, the same as Dönitz. Gilbert kept a journal which he later published as Nuremberg Diary. Here he describes Göring on the evening of 18 April 1946, as the trials were halted for a three-day Easter recess.

    "Sweating in his cell in the evening, Göring was defensive and deflated and not very happy over the turn the trial was taking. He said that he had no control over the actions or the defence of the others, and that he had never been anti-Semitic himself, had not believed these atrocities, and that several Jews had offered to testify on his behalf."

    Despite claims that he was not anti-Semitic, while in the prison yard at Nuremberg, after hearing a remark about Jewish survivors in Hungary, Albert Speer reported overhearing Göring say, "So, there are still some there? I thought we had knocked off all of them. Somebody slipped up again." Despite his claims of non-involvement, he was confronted with orders he had signed for the murder of Jews and prisoners of war.

    Göring dressed for display, along with the other war criminals, after committing suicide by cyanide.Though he defended himself vigorously, and actually appeared to be winning the trial early on (partly by building popularity with the audience by making jokes and finding holes in the prosecution's case) he was sentenced to death by hanging. The judgment stated that:

    There is nothing to be said in mitigation. For Goering was often, indeed almost always, the moving force, second only to his leader. He was the leading war aggressor, both as political and as military leader; he was the director of the slave labour programme and the creator of the oppressive programme against the Jews and other races, at home and abroad. All of these crimes he has frankly admitted. On some specific cases there may be conflict of testimony, but in terms of the broad outline, his own admissions are more than sufficiently wide to be conclusive of his guilt. His guilt is unique in its enormity. The record discloses no excuses for this man.

    Göring made an appeal, offering to accept the court's death sentence if he were shot as a soldier instead of hanged as a common criminal, but the court refused.

    Defying the sentence imposed by his captors, he committed suicide with a potassium cyanide capsule the night before he was to be hanged (15 October 1946). Göring obtained the cyanide from his skin cream jars (he had interigo) and he had hidden two cyanide capsules in his opaque skin cream that no one found until after his death because he had written a note to Colonel Andrus mocking him and his inability to find Goering's cyanide capsules.. It has been claimed that Göring befriended U.S. Army Lieutenant Jack G. Wheelis, who was stationed at the Nuremberg Trials and helped Göring obtain cyanide which had been hidden among Göring's personal effects when they were confiscated by the Army. In 2005, former U.S. Army Private Herbert Lee Stivers claimed he gave Göring "medicine" hidden inside a gift fountain pen from a German woman the private had met and flirted with. Stivers served in the 1st Infantry Division's 26th Regiment, who formed the honor guard for the Nuremberg Trials. Stivers claims to have been unaware of what the "medicine" he delivered actually was until after Göring's death. Because he committed suicide, his dead body was displayed by the gallows for the witnesses of the executions.

    After his death, the bodies of Göring and the other executed Nazi leaders were cremated in the East Cemetery, Munich Ostfriedhof (München). His ashes were scattered in the Conwentzbach in Munich, which runs into the Isar river.

    Source: Wikipedia (All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License)

    Thursday, May 7, 2009

    Unconditional German Surrender to the Allies - May 7, 1945

    General Alfred Jodl signing the capitulation papers in Rheims.
    General Alfred Jodl signing the capitulation papers in Rheims.

    One half hour after the fall of the city of Breslau in Lower Silesia, Germany, General Alfred Jodl (Chief-of-Staff of the German Armed Forces High Command) arrived in Rheims and, following Dönitz's (Hitler's successor) instructions, offered to surrender only all forces fighting the Western Allies. This was exactly the same negotiating position that von Friedeburg had initially made to Montgomery, and like Montgomery the Supreme Allied Commander, General Dwight D. Eisenhower, threatened to break off all negotiations unless the Germans agreed to a complete unconditional surrender. Eisenhower explicitly told Jodl that he would order western lines closed to German soldiers, thus forcing them to surrender to the Soviets. Jodl sent a signal to Dönitz, who was in Flensburg, informing him of Eisenhower's position. Shortly after midnight Dönitz, accepting the inevitable, sent a signal to Jodl authorizing the complete and total surrender of all German forces.

    On the morning of, May 7, 1945, at the SHAEF (Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force) headquarters in Rheims, France, General Alfred Jodl, signed the unconditional surrender documents for all German forces to the Allies. General Franz Böhme announced the unconditional surrender of German troops in Norway on May 7, the same day as Jodl signed the unconditional surrender document. It included the phrase "All forces under German control to cease active operations at 23:01 hours Central European Time on May 8, 1945." The next day, General Wilhelm Keitel (head of the High Command of the German Armed Forces) and other German army senior representatives traveled to Berlin, and shortly before midnight signed a similar document, explicitly surrendering to Soviet forces, in the presence of General Georgi Zhukov. The signing ceremony took place in a former German Army Engineering School in the Berlin district of Karlshorst.

    World War II in Europe comes to an end (Japan surrendered in August 1945).

    Source: Wikipedia (All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License)

    Tuesday, May 5, 2009

    Mauthausen-Gusen Concentration Camp Liberated - May 3, 1945

    Prisoners of Ebensee, one of the sub-camps of Mauthausen-Gusen, after liberation by the US 80th Infantry Division
    Prisoners of Ebensee, one of the sub-camps of Mauthausen-Gusen, after liberation by the US 80th Infantry Division

    Mauthausen Concentration Camp, established in 1938, grew to become a large group of Nazi labour concentration camps that was built around the villages of Mauthausen and Gusen in Upper Austria, 20 kilometres east of the city of Linz.

    The camp served the needs of the German war machine and also carried out exterminations through labour. The conditions within the camp were considered exceptionally hard to bear, even by concentration camp standards. The inmates suffered not only from malnutrition, overcrowded huts and constant abuse and beatings by the guards and kapos, but also from exceptionally hard labour.

    By December of 1941, a permanent gas chamber that could kill about 120 prisoners at a time was completed.

    Although the Mauthausen-Gusen camp complex was mostly a labour camp for men, a women's camp was opened in Mauthausen, in September 1944, with the first transport of female prisoners from Auschwitz. Eventually, more women and children came to Mauthausen from Ravensbrück, Bergen Belsen, Gross Rosen, and Buchenwald.

    Until early 1940, the largest group of inmates consisted of German, Austrian and Czechoslovak socialists, communists, anarchists, homosexuals, and people of Roma origin. Later arrived to the camp Jews, Poles, Spanish Republicans, Soviet POWs and others.

    In 1944, a large group of Hungarian and Dutch Jews was also transferred to the camp. Much like all the other large groups of prisoners that were transferred to Mauthausen-Gusen, most of them either died as a result of the hard labour and poor conditions, or were deliberately killed by throwing them down the sides of the Mauthausen quarry, nicknamed the Parachutists' Wall by the SS guards and Kapos. The nickname was a cruel joke which mocked the doomed prisoners by calling them "Parachutists without a parachute".

    The exact death toll of the entire Mauthausen-Gusen concentration camp system varies considerably from source to source. A sound estimation is 200,000 (40,000 Jews).

    The camps of Mauthausen-Gusen, the last to be liberated during the World War II, were liberated on 5 May 1945 by the US 11th Armored Division, 3rd US Army.

    It was not until 1949 that Mauthausen-Gusen was declared a national memorial site and finally, 30 years after camp's liberation, on 3 May 1975, Chancellor Bruno Kreisky officially opened the Mauthausen Museum.

    Source: Wikipedia (All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License)

    Sunday, May 3, 2009

    Theresienstadt Handed over to the Red Cross by the Nazis - May 3, 1945

    Gate Work Makes Freedom in the Small Fortress in Theresienstadt
    Gate Work Makes Freedom in the Small Fortress in Theresienstadt

    Theresienstadt concentration camp (often referred to as Terezín) was a Nazi German concentration camp during World War II. It was established by the Gestapo in the fortress and garrison city of Terezín (German name Theresienstadt), located in what is now the Czech Republic.

    On June 10, 1940, the Gestapo took control of Terezín and set there up a prison. By November 24 194, the town of Theresienstadt was turned into a walled ghetto. To the outside it was presented by the Nazis as a model Jewish settlement, but in reality it was a concentration camp. Theresienstadt was also used as a transit camp for European Jews en route to Auschwitz.

    It soon became the "home" for a great number of Jews from occupied Czechoslovakia. The 7,000 non-Jewish Czechs living in Terezín were expelled by the Nazis in the spring 1942. As a consequence, the Jewish community became a closed environment.

    On May 3, 1945, control of the camp was transferred from the Germans to the Red Cross. A week later, on May 8, 1945, Terezín was liberated by Soviet troops.

    Many of the 80,000 Czech Jews who died in the Holocaust were killed in Theresienstadt, where the conditions were extremely difficult. In a space previously inhabited by 7,000 Czechs, now over 50,000 Jews were gathered. Food was scarce and in 1942 almost 16,000 people died.

    Theresienstadt supplied the German war effort with a source of Jewish slave labor.

    456 Jews from Denmark were sent to Theresienstadt in 1943. These were Jews who had not escaped to Sweden before the arrival of the Nazis. Included also in the transports were some of the European Jewish children whom Danish organizations had been attempting to conceal in foster homes. The arrival of the Danes is of great significance as the Danes insisted on the Red Cross having access to the ghetto. This was a rare move, given that most European governments did not insist on their fellow Jewish citizens being treated according to some fundamental principles. The Danish king, Christian X, later secured the release of the Danish internees on April 15, 1945. The White Buses, in cooperation with the Danish Red Cross, collected the 413 who had survived.

    Many educated Jews were inmates of Theresienstadt, and the camp was publicized by the Nazis for its rich cultural life - this was simply a masque to conceal the horror of the place. At least four concert orchestras were forced to operate in the camp, as well as chamber groups and jazz ensembles. Several stage performances were produced and attended by camp inmates compelled to do so in order that an acceptable face of the holocaust could be presented to the world.

    Artist and art teacher Friedl Dicker-Brandeis created drawing classes for children in the ghetto. This activity resulted in the production of over four thousands children's drawings, which Dicker-Brandeis hid in two suitcases before being sent to Auschwitz. This collection was thus preserved from destruction by the Nazis and was not discovered until a decade later. Most of these drawings can now be seen at The Jewish Museum in Prague, whose Archive of Holocaust section is responsible for the administration of the Terezin Archive Collection. The children of the camp also wrote stories and poems, some of which were preserved and later published in a collection called I Never Saw Another Butterfly.

    On June 23, 1944, the Nazis permitted the visit by the Red Cross in order to dispel rumors about the extermination camps. Dr. Paul Eppstein was instructed by the SS to appear in the role of the mayor of Theresienstadt. To minimize the appearance of overcrowding in Theresienstadt, the Nazis deported many Jews to Auschwitz.

    The hoax against the Red Cross was so successful for the Nazis that they went on to make a propaganda film at Theresienstadt. Production of the film began on February 26, 1944. Directed by Jewish prisoner Kurt Gerron (a director, cabaret performer, and actor who appeared with Marlene Dietrich in The Blue Angel), it was meant to show how well the Jews lived under the "benevolent" protection of the Third Reich. After the shooting of the film, most of the cast and even the filmmaker himself, were deported to Auschwitz. Gerron and his wife were executed in the gas chambers on October 28, 1944. The film was not released at the time, but was edited into pieces that served their purpose, and only segments of it have remained.

    Approximately 144,000 Jews were sent to Theresienstadt. About a quarter of the inmates (33,000) died in Theresienstadt, mostly because of the deadly conditions (hunger, stress, and disease, especially the typhus epidemic at the very end of war). About 88,000 were deported to Auschwitz and other extermination camps. When the war finished, there were a mere 17,247 survivors. There were 15,000 children living in the children's home inside the camp; only 93 of those children survived.

    Source: Wikipedia (All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License)