Saturday, June 27, 2009

The Iaşi Pogrom - June 27, 1941

The Jews of Iaşi being rounded up and arrested, during the pogrom
The Jews of Iaşi being rounded up and arrested, during the pogrom

The Iaşi pogrom of June 27, 1941 was one of the most violent pogroms in Jewish history, launched by governmental forces in the Romanian city of Iaşi against its Jewish population, resulting in the murder of at least 13,266 Jews, according to Romanian authorities.

During World War II, from 1939 to 1944, Romania was an ally of Nazi Germany, and echoed its anti-Semitic policies. During 1941 and 1942, thirty-two laws, thirty-one decree-laws, and seventeen government resolutions, all sharply anti-Semitic, were published in the Official Gazette.

On June 27, 1941, Romanian dictator Ion Antonescu telephoned Col. Constantin Lupu, commander of the Iaşi garrison, telling him formally to "cleanse Iaşi of its Jewish population", though plans for the pogrom had been laid even earlier.

Before the pogrom, rumors backed up by the state-run press, that stated that Soviet parachutists had landed outside of Iaşi, and that the Jews were working with them. In the week before the pogrom, the signs grew more ominous: houses were marked with crosses if the residents were Christian, Jewish men were forced to dig large ditches in the Jewish cemetery, and soldiers started to break into Jewish homes "searching for evidence." On June 27, the authorities officially accused the Jewish community of sabotage, and assembled the soldiers and police who would spearhead the pogrom, where they were falsely told that Jews had attacked soldiers in the streets.

Soon, Romanian soldiers, police, and mobs started massacring Jews, at least 8,000 were killed in the initial pogrom. The Romanian authorities also arrested more than 5,000 Jews, forcing them to the train station, and shooting those who did not move quickly, and robbing them of all of their possessions. Over 100 people were stuffed into each car, and many Jews died of thirst, starvation, and suffocation aboard two trains that for eight days travelled back and forth across the countryside.

In the midst of brutality, there were also notable exceptions. In the town of Roman, there was Viorica Agarici, chairman of the local Red Cross during World War II and one of the 54 Romanian Righteous Among the Nations commemorated by the Israeli people at Yad Vashem. On the night of 2 July 1941, after caring for the Romanian Army wounded coming from the Russian front, she overheard people moaning from a train transporting Jewish survivors of the Iaşi pogrom. Taking advantage of her position, she asked and received permission to give food and water to those unfortunate passengers. Her actions were strongly condemned by the community of Roman and she had to move to Bucharest.

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

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Death Toll of the Holocaust

General Victims and Death Toll of the Holocaust
Jews5.9 million
Soviet POWs2–3 million
Ethnic Poles1.8–2 million
Jehovah's Witnesses2,500–5,000

The Annihilation of the Jewish Population of Europe by Country
CountryEstimated Pre-War Jewish populationEstimated Jewish population annihilatedPercent killed
Baltic countries253,000228,00090
Germany & Austria240,000210,00090
Bohemia & Moravia90,00080,00089
Byelorussian SSR375,000245,00065
Ukrainian SSR1,500,000900,00060
Russian SFSR975,000107,00011

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

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Nazis liquidate Lidice (a Czech village) in retaliation for Heydrich's death - June 10, 1942

Memorial to the murdered children of Lidice
Memorial to the murdered children of Lidice

Lidice is a village in the Czech Republic north-west of Prague. As part of Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia, it was completely destroyed by German forces in reprisal for the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich during World War II. On June 10, 1942, all 192 men over 16 years of age from the village were murdered on the spot by the Germans in a much publicised atrocity. The rest of the population were sent to Nazi concentration camps where many women and nearly all the children were killed.

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

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Shooting - June 10, 2009

President Barack Obama places a flower at a memorial at Buchenwald Nazi concentration camp, June 5, 2009. With the President are German chancellor Angela Merkel, Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel, and camp survivor Bertrand Herz.

On June 10, 2009, a lone gunman shot a museum security guard, Stephen Tyrone Johns who later died of his injuries at the hospital. The alleged shooter, having been shot by security staff, was identified as 88-year old James von Brunn, a white supremacist with a well-known criminal history.

Several news agencies have noted the timing of the June 10 shooting at the museum that came shortly after Obama's June 5 visit to and speech at the Buchenwald concentration camp, Germay, and that may have set off the shooter.

Von Brunn, a white supremacist and Holocaust denier, has written many antisemitic essays, created an antisemitic website called The Holy Western Empire, and is the author of a 1999 self published book, Kill the Best Gentiles, which praises Adolf Hitler and denies the Holocaust.

Von Brunn was born on July 11, 1920 in St. Louis, Missouri. He served in the United States Navy for 14 years, and was a commanding officer of PT boat 159 during World War II in the Pacific Theater, receiving a commendation and three battle stars. He enrolled in Washington University in St. Louis in 1938 and received his Bachelor of Science in journalism in 1943.

During his time at the university, von Brunn was said to have been president of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon chapter and a varsity football player. Von Brunn had worked as an advertising executive and producer in New York City for 20 years. In the late 1960s he moved to the Eastern Shore of Maryland where he continued to do advertising work and began painting.

Von Brunn's arrest history dates back at least as far as the 1960s. In 1968, he received a six-month jail sentence in Maryland for fighting with a sheriff during an incident at the county jail. He had earlier been arrested for driving under the influence following an altercation at a local restaurant.

Von Brunn was arrested in 1981 for attempted kidnapping and hostage-taking, of members of the Federal Reserve Board, after approaching the Federal Reserve's Eccles Building armed with a revolver, knife, and sawed-off shotgun. He reportedly complained of "high interest rates" during the incident and was disarmed without any shots being fired, after threatening a security guard with a .38 caliber pistol. He reportedly claimed he had a bomb, which was found to be only a device designed to look like a bomb. He was convicted in 1983 for burglary, assault, weapons charges, and attempted kidnapping. Von Brunn's sentence was completed by September 15, 1989, having served six and a half years in prison.

Von Brunn was a member of the now-defunct American Friends of the British National Party, a group that raised funds in the United States for the far right and whites-only British National Party (BNP).

In a statement, von Brunn's son, Erik, expressed sorrow and horror about the shooting, and said his father's "beliefs have been a constant source of verbal and mental abuse my family has had to suffer with for many years. His views consumed him, and in doing so, not only destroyed his life, but destroyed our family and ruined our lives as well." The younger von Brunn, who is 32, said that he did not know his father until he was nearly 11 years old, after he completed his prison term for the Federal Reserve incident.

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

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Death Camps

Majdanek crematorium
Majdanek crematorium

Death camps, or extermination camps, were built by Nazi Germany during World War II for the systematic killing of millions of people in what has become known as The Holocaust. During World War II, under the orders of Heinrich Himmler, extermination camps were built during a later phase of the program of annihilation. Victims’ corpses were usually cremated or buried in mass graves. The groups the Nazis sought to exterminate in these camps were primarily the Jews of Europe, Eastern Europeans, as well as Roma (Gypsies). The majority of prisoners brought to extermination camps were not expected to survive more than a few hours beyond arrival.

Nazi-German extermination camps are different than concentration camps such as Dachau and Belsen, which were mostly intended as places of incarceration and forced labor for a variety of “enemies of the state”—the Nazi label for people they deemed undesirable. In the early years of the Holocaust, the Jews were primarily sent to concentration camps, but from 1942 onward they were mostly deported to the extermination camps.

Most accounts of the Holocaust recognize six German Nazi extermination camps, all located in occupied Poland:

Auschwitz II (Auschwitz-Birkenau) (1,100,000 killed)
Treblinka (700,000 killed)
Bełżec (434,500 killes)
Sobibór (167,000 killed)
Chełmno (152,000 killed)
Majdanek (78,000)

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

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The Final Solution and the Wannsee Conference

The Final Solution and the Wannsee Conference In a February 26, 1942, letter to German diplomat Martin Luther, Reinhard Heydrich follows up on the Wannsee Conference by asking Luther for administrative assistance in the implementation of the Final Solution of the Jewish Question.

The Final Solution was Nazi Germany's plan and execution of its systematic genocide against European Jewry during World War II, resulting in the final, most deadly phase of the Holocaust (Shoah). Heinrich Himmler was the chief architect of the plan, and the German Nazi leader Adolf Hitler termed it: "the final solution of the Jewish question".

Mass killings of about one million Jews occurred before the plans of the Final Solution were fully implemented in 1942, but it was only with the decision to eradicate the entire Jewish population that the extermination camps were built and industrialized mass slaughter of Jews began in earnest. This decision to systematically kill the Jews of Europe was made by the time of, or at the Wannsee conference, which took place in Berlin, in the Wannsee Villa on January 20, 1942. The conference was chaired by Reinhard Heydrich. He was acting under the authority given to him by Reichsmarshall Goring in a letter dated July 31, 1941. Goring instructed Heydrich to settle "...the solution of the Jewish problem..." During the conference, there was a discussion held by the group of German Nazi officials how best to handle the "Final Solution of the Jewish Question". A surviving copy of the minutes of this meeting was found by the Allies in 1947, too late to serve as evidence during the first Nuremberg Trials.

By the summer of 1942, Operation Reinhard (the code name given to the Nazi plan to murder Polish Jews, and marked the beginning of the most deadly phase of the Holocaust, the use of extermination camps.) began the systematic extermination of the Jews, although hundreds of thousands already had been killed by death squads and in mass pogroms.

The Wannsee Conference, mentioned above, was a meeting of senior officials of the Nazi German regime, held in the Berlin suburb of Wannsee on 20 January 1942. The purpose of the conference was to inform administrative leaders of Departments responsible for various policies relating to Jews, that Reinhard Heydrich had been appointed as the chief executor of the "Final solution to the Jewish question", and to obtain their full support. In the course of the meeting, Heydrich presented a plan, presumably approved by Adolf Hitler, for the deportation of the Jewish population of Europe to German-occupied areas in eastern Europe, and the use of the Jews fit for labour on road-building projects, in the course of which they would eventually die, the surviving remnant to be annihilated after completion of the projects. The plan was never carried out as conceived, as it was predicated on the continued occupation of Polish and Soviet lands then under German control. Instead, as Soviet forces gradually pushed back the German lines, most of the Jews of German-occupied Europe were sent to extermination or concentration camps, or killed where they lived. As a result of the efforts of historian Joseph Wulf, the Wannsee House, where the conference was held, is now a Holocaust Memorial.

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