THE HOLOCAUST: PAGE I


"Today I will once more be a prophet: If the international Jewish financiers inside and outside Europe should again succeed in plunging the nations into a world war, the result will be not the bolshevization of the earth and thus the victory of Jewry, but the annihilation of the Jewish race throughout Europe."

Adolf Hitler speaking before the Reichstag, 1939





Chimney



LAST UPDATED: January 26, 2000

Note: This webpage is broken up into 2 pages due to file size. At the end of this document is a second link to access the continued text.

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MY HOLOCAUST WEBSITE INDEX:
button Eyewitness accounts of Einsatzgruppen (mobile killing squads) actions on Russian Jews

button Chaim Rumkowski's "Give Me Your Children!" Speech

button A Speech by Himmler to SS Officers in Poznan, Poland: Encouraging Genocide of the Jews

button A Speech by Hans Frank, Governor of Occupied Poland Informing Subordinates that Genocide Must Begin

button Rosa Robota: Jewish Heroine of Auschwitz

button Alicia Appleman-Jurman: Survival & Heroism of a Young Girl During the Holocaust

button The Mechanisms of Extermination: - how the gas chambers and crematories of Auschwitz-Birkeneau operated. Excerpted from Olga Lengyel's book ,"Five Chimneys".

button Holocaust Poetry & Art: Your contributions are welcome.

button References: Some of the books on the Holocaust I have read and recommend. These books served as data sources for the Holocaust pages within this website.

OTHER HOLOCAUST SITES:
Alexander Kimel's Holocaust Website This is a link to a complete Holocaust site on the Net in my opinion. Mr. Kimel is a survivor.

The Nizkor Project One of the long-standing websites on the Holocaust and the fight against "revisionism".

The Concentration Camps Loads of info on the camps, the system, the forgotten camps, etc.


The Holocaust: The extermination of millions of Jews. The zenith of anti-Semitism. Ghettoization and death from "ghetto disease". Starvation. Executions. The SS. The mass shootings in the East by the Einsatzgruppen. The "production line" mechanized mass murders at Auschwitz and the other death camps in Poland - this is the worst evil that people as a group have ever committed against another people - so far. The extermination & annihilation of children. How much more terrible can we as members of mankind be? Could we ever do worse than this most horrible example of man's inhumanity to man? 1.5 million children"exterminated"...a word we normally reserve for killing bugs and pests...exterminate..to be totally killed off. This word was never meant to include people. People like you and me. Most of them full of dreams and innocent. Families full of dreams for their children. Jewish families were most often very close-knit. Grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins everywhere - always together...and together the Holocaust rained down onto them. Together they had endured the anti-Semitism of Europe. Together they trembled as all they owned was stripped away. Together they marched into the walled-off medieval ghettos of Warsaw , Lodz, Lublin & Vilna. There, from their former everyday lives, these people - and particularly the children, entered and embraced a world of total human suffering: poverty, fear, cold, extreme hunger & starvation, poor sanitation, overcrowding & the overall psychology & brutality maintained by the German occupiers. The "old" anti-Semitism of Europe had finally boiled over. In the ghettos of Poland, the stark reality that all Jews were hated was brought home. Former friends and neighbors turned against the Jews and betrayed hiding places. Actions within the ghettos would result in the murder of hundreds while thousands would be gathered up for "resettlement in the East" - what really awaited them was the gas chambers and slave labor. In the ghetto, one had the knowledge that breaking any rules could mean being immediately shot. Your life means nothing! The horror of seeing family and acquaintances being brutalized or shot - and being able to do nothing must have been nightmarish. A nightmare from which there was little chance for escape, for once a person found himself in the ghetto, the trap had been sprung. Once in the ghetto, the way to the extermination factories or the shooting pits was a surety - if you didn't die from the conditions in the ghetto first. In the ghetto, those within suddenly were steeled to the reality of extreme anti-Semitism. Yet even in the ghetto, as awful as it was, the whole truth was still invisible... German deceit hid the real agenda: total extermination of European Jewry. The Germans & their collaborators were masters at deceit... a deceit so efficient, that even in the summer of 1944, in Lodz (the last ghetto), rumors of the death camps were discarded as being too unbelievable to be true. How did they do it?


IN THE BEGINNING ("HOW?"):

The reasons for Europe's anti-Semitism is itself a complete subject of study. Suffice it to say that from the beginning, the Jewish claim as "the chosen people" and their insistence on being "separate" with special religious laws and customs has usually always aroused negative feelings among the cultures they have lived alongside of. Since their origins in the ancient times, Judaism was looked at with suspicion due to being one of the first religions that was monotheistic - when the worship of many gods was the rule. In the origins of Judaism, these tribes of Israelites, it is believed, came from Mesopotamia to settle in Canaan (Palestine). Through centuries of revolts against oppression by other peoples, the tribes of Israel became scattered throughout what was once the Roman Empire. Their migration into Europe was only a natural phenomenon of this ethnic religious culture with no "home". Their predisposition towards finance and mercantilism caused even more negativity within the "host" cultures. In these early times, Jews were additionally blamed for the death of Christ. In 1391, thousands of Jews in Spain were massacred and the name "Marranos" (swine) emerged there to describe those Jews who converted to Christianity to save their lives. During the Middle Ages, Jews were segregated into walled-off "ghettos" to limit their contact with Christians and to control Jewish economic activity. They were even required to wear badges when outside these ghettos...a practice the Germans would revive. Although anti- Semitism was prevalent world wide, it was in central and western modern Europe where it began to fester. Many neo-scientific ideologies in the 19th century coming out of Germany held that certain races, namely, the Nordic (Germanic) race was superior and that certain other races were inferior. Jews, in this ideology, where cast at the bottom as being in league with the devil and akin to his minions. In Germany, this ideology took hold and began to grow. After the humiliating defeat of WWI, Germany was racked with socio-economic upheaval. Jews received much of the brunt of the German people's frustration resulting from the Treaty of Versailles which was further exacerbated by the world economic depression of the 1930's. Earlier, Hitler wrote "Mein Kampf" while in prison for his failed "putsch" in Munich - in it, he outlined his agenda for the National Socialist Party (NAZI) based on purification and unification of Germany into a racially and culturally homogenous people. This philosophy, was based on the "volk" (one folk) ideology and he planned to accomplish the racial homogenization of Germany by ridding it of all others except the "racially superior" Nordic stock. To catalyze his plan, he fanned anti-Semitism by blaming Germany's socio-economic condition on several factors that always involved the Jews of Europe and especially of Germany. In Hitler's "best seller" (it outsold the Bible in Europe in the early 1940's) he actually proposes elimination of the Jews but avoided going further into any explanation of how this would be carried out. Under the influence of Hitler and the subsequent Nazi Party agenda, Germany began her fateful journey into the abyss of what we now call "The Holocaust".
To continue to answer the question of "How"...we must explore what "the mind of Germany" thought during the decade up to 1939.


INTO THE MIND OF GERMANY

Anti-Semitism was so strong by the time the NAZI party became organized, that with one voice, virtually all of Germany was ranting, "The Jews are our misfortune! (Die Juden sind under Ungluck!) They must be made to disappear!
When Hitler came to power in January 1933, measures were immediately implemented to disenfranchise, rob and deprive the Jews in Germany - especially once the Jews were blamed for the Reichstag fire, which occurred only a month after Hitler's appointment as Chancellor. It is therefore, 1933 - the year the NAZI party took control of Germany that the road to the extermination of the Jews became somewhat visible. In 1935, the Nuremburg Laws were created which removed German citizenship from Jews and also outlawed marriages between Germans and Jews. In November 1938, "Kristallnacht" ("night of broken glass") occurred where numerous synagogues and Jewish business were destoyed under the pretext of revenge for the killing of a German diplomatic aid in Paris by a young Jew. Then on September 1, 1939, Germany invaded Poland. At that moment, WWII officially began.
Immediately once the war began, ideas against the Jews that were until that time, darkly incredible, began to look possible. War enables such things. Enter then, into the "mind" of Germany and how it's thought process must have been:
Eliminate them! But how? Deportation? Few nations of the world would take them. Even the U.S.A., (in keeping with it's "isolationist" agenda), accepted fewer European Jews than the quota it set for itself in the years immediately prior to WWII. Is some responsibility therefore, on America? Should we think ourselves so blameless? Anti-Semitism was ripe in America, too.
The Germans asked themselves over and over: What to do with all these Jews??? Finally an idea: Let's ship them to the island of Madagascar! (Himmler's "Madagascar Plan") Hmmm...good idea... let's look at this...no..it would be a logistical nightmare.
How about....somehow eliminate them within Germany by attrition!!! Yes...we could sterilize all the men and forbid pregnancies within the women! Hmmm...another great idea....well...that would be too slow. These Jews would be among us still for a few generations...we want them out now! Well...until we crack this problem, we must collect them ALL and ship them to cities in...hmm, let's see... Yes! Poland! We'll wall them into the poorest parts of the big Polish cities and stack them on top of each other till we figure out what to do! Hey! Let's do the same with all the Jews within the captured/occupied territories and when we conquer Europe, we will do Europe a favor and make ALL of Europe Judenrien (pure of Jews)!!!!!

Thus the medieval styled ghettos were reborn in all the major cities of Poland. Jews began to be deported to these "protective custody staging areas". In these ghettos, Jews were piled onto one another with little regard to how it could be done. They were simply forced in. The Germans allowed the Jews to organize their own "governments" within the ghettos which were called Judenrats and these small groups of Jewish elders struggled daily with trying to create some semblance of order. This too, was "used" by the Germans to orchestrate a great deception: that the inhabitants within the ghetto were earmarked for extermination.
With 12 people living on starvation rations in one room in total squalor and infested with lice, scabies and bedbugs the intitial stage of physical and psychological reduction and degradation had been set.
What do we do now?
The Germans asked themselves. We cannot shoot them all! There are too many of them. How many are there? We must decide what to do with them!!! They are dying by the hundreds everyday in the ghettos, but it is not good enough...we must be pro-active in the extermination process...not sitting by, passively allowing starvation and disease ("ghetto disease") take them slowly one by one!


IMPLEMENTING EXTERMINATION

In every sector, the killing off of the Jews was being experimented with often on a large scale, but it was not organized enough for the satisfaction of Heinrich Himmler, head of the SS. In response to this, he called for a secret meeting among high-ranking Nazi officials which took place in Nuremburg in January 1942. Today, this meeting is called the Wannsee Conference. It was at this conference that the total estimated number of Jews in Europe was determined and then finally - it was openly accepted that the Jews would all be exterminated. At this conference, German officials empowered each other to carry out the tasks necessary to initiate organized genocide of the Jews. It was at this point that the true agenda was accepted and then measures developed to implement this agenda in an organized and expedient manner. The plan was this: concentration camps, like the ones that already existed for years within Germany as "work prisons" would be constructed in obscure places in Poland and all the Jews of Europe would be shipped there to be killed. How it would be done would be the responsibility of the SS. Mass shootings by the Einsatzgruppen in the East (Russian Front) had been effectual, but was tedious, less-secretive and not best-suited in a concentration camp setting. Yet 1.5 million men, women and children were killed in this way.
Euthanasia techniques had been explored in the famous quasi-secret T4 program within Germany (the killing-off by doctors of the physically/mentally infirm), but the public outcry by the German people against it caused the German bureaucracy to abandon the program. Yet, it is interesting that that when the Jews were being exterminated,, anti-Semitism was so prevalent that there was no "public outcry"....just the sentiment of, Yes, it is awful what is happening to those poor Jews - and that was the sentiment from the ones who had a heart. Anyway...many of the T4 "alumni" were called-in to help "crack" the problem of the mechanics of how extermination would be carried out. Finally, from this group came an answer. An answer to "The Jewish Question": The "Final Solution" (Endlosung):
Death by poison gas would be the answer.
But with what??? Carbon monoxide from diesel engines was chosen for the early death camps like Sobibor and Treblinka. It worked fairly well. Chelmno (The White Castle) and it's "gas vans" developed during the Einsatzgruppen days showed that smothering with exhaust fumes was successful to a limited extent. These gas vans were the precursors to the true form of the Holocaust: using "mechanized means" to effect the killing process. This is what sets the Holocaust apart from other horrific events in history: the Holocaust was the first time the world would see mechanized production-line killing of humans on a large scale. The Holocaust was the first time the world would see that thousands could be slaughtered by the throw of a lever, or the opening of a hatch or the closing of a door. The victims were not killed by the direct hand of another person, but rather, by a detached, systematic mechanized method which cushioned the perpetrator from his victims. Mass murder made easy. A person could assist in the mass murder of men, women and children by the hundreds but never have to actually kill them with his bare hands unless he felt like it...and many felt like it. Chelmno's "gas vans" were simply vans in which the victims were forced into the sealed cargo area of a van/truck. After the doors closed, the exhaust pipe was then diverted so that the exhaust would be pumped into the space where the victims were. The van was then cranked-up and driven out a few miles to the mass graves where. The dead victims were pulled out with specially-fashioned hooked implements and thrown into burial pits by Jewish slave labor who would then be shot afterwards. It was surprisingly effective but disappointingly "small-scale".
The diesel engines of Sobibor and Treblinka were the next step: it was certainly on a larger scale and the mighty Treblinka proved that mechanized "production-line" extermination of people could be done. In doing so, Treblinka "ate" the entire Warsaw Ghetto...men, women and children - practically all of them. Treblinka became a blue-print or precursor for Auschwitz's metamorphosis into as a killing center. However, existing solely as a killing center, Treblinka differs from Auschwitz. At Auschwitz, a deportee at least had a chance to be "selected" for work outside the wires and history shows the chance to survive was real - the Russian liberation of Auschwitz has allowed the world to hear witness from 1000's of survivors. At Treblinka this did not happen. Yet there was a prevailing sentiment among the perpetrators: There must be something better than carbon monoxide to kill them with. Afterall, diesel engines require precious fuel needed for the war and the engines, when broken down, interrupted an otherwise "smooth" process. Of the many agents that were candidates for being the "right" asphyxiant...prussic acid (Zyklon B) was finally chosen. Now...with the building of Birkeneau at Auschwitz, it was time to really get down to the business of extermination. Mechanized production-line killing of men, women and children could now begin on an "industrial" scale, 24 hours a day. With Auschwitz, the ghettos would soon all be emptied. Ultimately, the Germans hoped to wipe the Jews from the face of the earth.


LEAVING THE GHETTO

Once an area within the ghetto had been selected for "deportation", it was sealed off by the Kripo (criminal police) and the Ordnungsdienst (Jewish police) and together, the families therein were marched down the streets to the Umschlagplatz



LET US IMAGINE...

Let us imagine we are one of the victims: You are in the rail car with your Jewish family. A child - your little sister, is clinging to you. Your younger brother gazes at you with his shiny blue eyes. You see the familiar brown spot in his iris - a birthmark, everyone had said. He smiles and grimaces simultaneously. You are a young man in your prime of age, but a bit haggard from the years in the ghetto. You have survived in the Lodz Ghetto up to the final "evacuations", of which Hans Biebow, the German overseer of the ghetto personally pleaded with you and your family to appear at Balut Ring (the market square), beginning his speech with the words "Mein Juden..." (My Jews...). He promised that no one would be hurt, as Germany now needs all the manpower it can get in this final stage of the war. You had held out until now. You have more strength than many of the others because of you were "connected" while in the ghetto. Yet, here in the railcar the class structure in the ghetto no longer exists. People are praying - some are crying and wailing. Then there are moments of silence and foreboding. Hours and hours go by. Finally the train slows, veers to a siding and eventually comes to a stop after an entire day on the rails. It is pre-dawn - powerful searchlights illuminate the "station". An orchestra is playing outside. There is the sound of voices, shouts of "Shnell!!! Schnell!!!" mixed with the barking of dogs. It is all confusion...it is darkly surrealistic. One by one, the seals on the cars are broken. "Prisoners" in striped clothes haul-up a ramp and orders are shouted to disembark: "Raus!".

Prisoner Garb

Authentic prisoner shirt from Buchenwald Concentration Camp


A prisoner with face turned downwards quickly whispers "If you have any jewelry or food - or anything of value, give it to me, for they will take it all away from you. Later, I'll give half back to you! Do it now! There is no time!". You struggle to decide, for you are not sure what to do. Already the prisoner is asking the same of others in the cattle car. You all decide against it. You don't trust him. After all, he is wearing prisoner garb, so he must be a criminal! But the prisoner knows something you don't. He's heard that almost all of this transport is to be sent straight to the gas chamber and this is his way of getting goods to trade for his own survival. Food could be traded to fellow inmates, but diamonds or piece of gold could buy favors, food or protection under a Ukranian guard or camp kapo. It could secure a transfer to a block not scheduled for any selections. This method of survival became famously known as organizing - and indeed was one of the only ways to survive in a camp. The prisoner, realizing no one is going to give him anything says to them quite bluntly: "Do you see the smoke in those chimneys?", motioning to the tall brick towers, "That is where all of you are going, may God help you all!". Everyone gasps in horror. You have found yourself at Auschwitz, "Anus Mundi", a true Knochenmuhlen ("bone mill"). It is the worst time to be there: the summer of 1944.
Suddenly a Ukranian guard hurls insults and shoves the prisoner away and personally orders your group out. These Ukranians served the Germans with infamy during the Holocaust. From the Ghettos to the death camps, the Ukranians were there. Returning attention to the prisoner at the selection ramp - he himself walks a tightrope each day to survive. The guard glances and makes a mental note that if that prisoner continues to cause disturbances, he will report him. The prisoner himself could find himself among the next batch "selected" from the blocks.
Finally, you are in the fresh air - it's amazing how air is taken for granted. There is music coming from an orchestra composed of inmates. It is funny, ironic, to see them playing music while wearing striped clothes and looking so malnourished. The barbed wire fence is outrageous: two of them, with cement pillars 12 feet high with electrical wires on them. Guard towers, armed SS men & women with dogs and Ukranian guards are everywhere. No, there is no way to escape and no where to go. An SS woman interrupts your thoughts shouting at you to let go of your younger sister. You resist and a whip hits your back - you are compelled by this brutality to let your sister go. An SS doctor glances at you and flicks his hand to the right. To the right is life, but you don't know this yet. You are pushed to a group...to the left of them is another group of mainly the old and women with children. A small group of young women are also being formed to the right. From there you are all marched away five abreast and a registration process begins. Your head is totally shaved. A number is tattooed on your forearm and you are issued striped clothes that don't fit. You have been selected to become a slave...to work until you are either selected later to be gassed, or to die of starvation or of disease - or simply murdered. It does not matter to them. Just as long as before you expire, some work can be extracted out of the energy that your body is capable of delivering - while being deliberately starved.
Factories and industries (some still in business today) used the slave labor to contribute to the German war-machine. Here are names of some of them...get ready...for you will recognize some of them from whom you buy things: Bayer (pharmaceuticals), Phillips, Siemens (both electronics) and Thysenn. Then there are others: I.G. Farben and the famous Krupp conglomerate - these giant firms tooled up to manufacture military arms. How did these big businesses escape punishment? Easy....money talks, bullshit walks. Sad but true.

Let us return to the story... there are also tons of jobs to be done in order to run a death/work camp. Being part of the sonderkommando at the chambers, crematoria and pits was one of them - and it was the worst job - a living nightmare. After a few weeks in quarantine (the Germans were petrified of disease), you are assigned there. Your job is to work 12-hour shifts, processing the freshly killed bodies - some of them you even recognize. Things go through your mind as you are in that room loading up the freshly killed corpses. Most faces have the look of an anguished death. The children...always so many of them...
Disentangling the human pyramid is nightmarish, they are so freshly dead that you even see movement here and there. Are they really all dead? We are going to be burning some of them alive! You avoid looking directly into their wide open eyes - only 15 minutes ago, they were alive. Why do they clutch so strongly to each other? They have to be pulled loose from each other - and the bite and scratch marks: symbolic of the animalistic way they were slaughtered. For in their last moments - in the dark, they were reduced to animals in the primal struggle for life. Hell itself has oozed to the surface of the earth here in Poland. Hauling them by stretcher to the crematoria is an endless task. When the stacks at the ovens are too high, the SS & Ukranian guards order them to be hauled to the open burning pits. Teams of doctors and engineers and SS made it a "project" to figure out the mechanics of the pyres. How high? How deep? How much wood? In what ways should the stacking be done? How many bodies at a time? Click here for Filip Muller's famous testimony on this). With your partner, you haul the freshly-killed and throw them onto the pyre. Your every move is being watched. You can't slow down. Your partner mutters between his teeth that one of the sonderkommado has just jumped into the pit itself, committing suicide rather than continue as a slave in this gruesome work. Others are down below the pits, collecting the human fat in buckets from run-off trenches to douse the corpses on top - to make the burning more efficient. What one will do to live another day! To live! To survive to tell the world.
Your partner whispers something - then a guard jumps up and screams at him - talking among prisoners is verboten. Your partner is beat to the ground and his injuries cause you to have to work harder to pull the slack. The guards are grinning and fingering their rifles - your partner can no longer keep up. Two Ukranian guards wait for the right moment, when you and your partner are closest to the pit. They come up to your partner from behind, throw him face forward to the ground and shoot him in the nape of the neck. The guards then scream that anyone else who slows down, will likewise be shot. It's a game they play with the sonderkommando every day.
After weeks in the sonderkommando, you have become an automaton, but you have not gone to the edge of existence as the so-called muselmanner ("Muslim") - a term coined by Himmler himself that became a universal slang in the camps describing people so starved, so decrepit, so near death, that in their catatonic state, they reminded Himmler of Muslims bent over in prayer. These were the "living corpses". Anyone who reached this state was considered "done for" and were usually immediately "selected".
Your faith in this world and your ideals become something that no one else in this world could experience unless they too are among the sonderkommando - the sheer horror of what has happened to you is overwhelming and pushing your limits of adaptation. Every morning, you stand in the Appelplatz (parade ground) for roll call...it has to be perfect...the numbers have to be right - these Germans are so precise, you think. A few of your group are selected every day or so and you never see them again. The SS doctor has a special way of selecting those unfit for further work: if he can pass his clenched fist between your thighs without touching them, you are done for. Nonetheless, after 2 months, your entire kommando is selected for sonderbehandlung (special treatment), and you finally follow the trail of thousands before you. For a minute, you can't believe they are going to do this to you - you worked so hard for them! Then you realize that you have to be liquidated. For you have seen and you know too much. With terse resignation you undress and enter the familiar gas chamber - this time from the opposite door, feeling that you have been a traitor to your people by the work you have been doing. You had thought that maybe you would survive - and that you could tell the world. As the lights are doused and the Zyklon B (prussic acid) pellets are dropped in from the grating in the ceiling, there, in the dark with tears streaming down your eyes you try to remember everything you've done in your life, you picture the family members you hope to meet in heaven who were also murdered thusly. Your final thoughts are of the world: Don't they know what is happening here? How can this be happening? Will the world ever know what they are doing? Then you are immersed in self-pity and a final flow of tears. You inhale the gas as strongly as you can...for you have been given the small gratuity of knowing exactly what is happening to you and how to best die in the chambers.

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Dedicated to the children who were annihilated in Europe during the Holocaust


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