Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Holocaust documentation

The weight of the Holocaust lies heavy on my shoulders, and the weight of the murdered Jews lies heavy on my soul.
After WWII the Allies established the innocuously named "International tracing service" in a small town in Germany called Bad Arolsen. It was put under the administratrion of the Intl. Red Cross. But, while not actually secret, access was restricted, and they used the legal excuse of not revealing personal information without documentation. This smacks of anti-Semitism to me, just as the Swiss Banks would not give out information to relatives of those who were murdered in the Holocaust without a death certificate. Only this year, after 62 years, have the archives been made available by the controlling countries to qualified organizations and individuals.
The Archives includes information from every camp that the Germans established throughout Europe, collected together by the Allies. Whereas after the war it was estimated that there were ca. 7,000 camps of various kinds (labor camps, concentration camps, death camps) it is now known that there were ca. 20,000 camps. The voluminous miles of Archives have folders on 17.5 million persons (!). They include anyone who was in any way investigated or arrested by the Germans, including Gypsies, homosexuals, political prisoners (Communists, Socialists) and many other nationalities as well as Jews, all this in only 12 years (1933-1945).
In the Archives are the "Totenbuch" or death books, listing those excecuted or murdered in many different ways in most of the camps. For example, it is revealed that on Hitler's birthday in 1943 in Matthausen Camp, a Jew was shot in the head every 2 mins for 24 hrs, as a present to the Fuhrer. That was 720 Jews murdered. This is not a general statement, but each of the names of the Jews is recorded in single spaced hand-written entries on one page, with the exact time he or she was "executed." This is the insanity of the German mind.
Towards the end of the war, when it became impossible to keep up with the rate of killings, the details were dispensed with. For example, hundreds of thousands of Hungarian Jews, who were transported to Auschwitz in 1945 were not registered. The Jews of Budapest were forced to march by road without food or drink the nearly 300 km to Auschwitz, and those who could not keep up were shot along the route. Noone knows how many were murdered in this way.
In other places there are also huge documentation centers that contain millions of entries of Holocaust material, including those taken from Europe after the war by the US Government, most of it stored in huge warehouses in Beltsville, Maryland, as well as at the National Archives in Washington DC. Then there are also the Holocaust Museum in Washington and Yad Vashem in Jerusalem. All these millions of pieces of paper contain stories that chill the blood.
In Auschwitz, which was a huge camp with thousands of German accomplices and hundreds of slave labor factories, it is recorded that ca. 1.6 million people were murdered, the vast majority of them Jews. In this camp it was possible to do anything to a Jew. One group of Lithuanian soldiers used to throw people from a sixth floor window and watch how they smashed to earth. Another German group liked to stand naked women up against a wall and shoot them in the genitals, while taking bets on their shooting accuracy. Even the Commandant of the Camp considered these activites excessive and obscene and the soldiers were punished, usually by being sent to the Eastern Front, and the "games" were banned.
In the Plaszow Camp near Krakow the sadistic Commandant Amon Goeth, as shown in the movie "Schindler's list," used to shoot Jews randomly from his bedroom window every morning. It was forbidden for Germans, especially SS, to have sex with Jews, but Goeth ignored this regulation, as well as stealing money from the camp for his own private uses. As a result he was arrested, tried and hung by the SS.
Within the SS there was discussion about what to do about the Jews of Great Britain (listed in the Wannsee document as 330,000) when they were captured. Should they establish a concentration camp in Britain or would it be more economical to transport them to the Continent to the camps already there, to Drancy in France or Westerbork in Holland, and from there to Auschwitz? Preliminary plans were drawn up to establish a transit camp between London and Cambridge, near the flat area called the Fens. But, (luckily for us) the British Jews were the only ones in Europe that remained beyond the reach of the Nazis (technically Switzerland, Sweden, Spain and Portugal were neutral, but there were very few Jews there).
I don't write this to reject the deniers of the Holocaust, there is more than enough evidence to convince any reasonable person . But, we must remember not only the deaths, but the savagery with which they were meted out, the suffering of starvation and the human degradation. In the Camp at Majdanek on Yom Kippur 1944, the starving Jews were lined up and offered bowls of nutricious soup. None of them stepped forward to eat the soup, even non-religious Jews showed their contempt for the Germans by refusing to eat.


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