Revisiting the PastPosted by P.A. Draigh Tue, April 30, 2019 22:02:36
"..When I came to Warsaw ..I found many restrictive laws that had already been proclaimed by ..Germans against ..Jews ..order for wearing ..badge or ..Shield of David ..marking of ..shops with ..Shield of David ..a ban on possessing foreign currency or property in excess of 2,000 zloty ..a ban on purchasing working tools ..a ban on medical aid Jewish doctors could give to non-Jews and vice versa. ..curfew ..which was a general one also for ..Polish population ..was advanced by 2 hours for ..Jews. ..It may be said that ..in ..first days of my reaching Warsaw ..I felt ..and other Jews in ..Ghetto felt ..that in essence we had been placed beyond any law ..and that any German could do whatever he pleased. However ..apart from these restrictive regulations ..many other decrees were issued within a short time ..business establishments were taken from Jews ..homes were taken from Jews ..they were forbidden to ride in ..trams ..forbidden to travel on ..trains ..forbidden to trade. ..apart from ..legal prohibitions ..from ..first days we became outlaws in matters of life and death ..and ..any German could do with us as he pleased. I will give you an example. In ..early days of ..Ghetto a Polish policeman was looking for a certain Jew to take vengeance upon him ..to arrest him. ..Jew drew a pistol and killed ..Polish policeman. As retribution for this ..Germans ..following morning ..entered ..courtyard of Nalewski 9 ..removed 50 Jews from among those living in this courtyard and from those who happened to be there by chance. They were taken away ..and didn't return to their families. This was done for deterrence. Hence in ..early days there prevailed this fear of being collectively responsible for ..acts of each individual Jew ..and if anyone lifted a finger ..or it would be even sufficient if any German or Pole mentioned that any Jew spoke out against ..Germans 100's of Jews paid for this with their lives ..for ..sake of deterrence. I remember another instance. One of our friends from before ..War ..a cultured Jew ..an important engineer ..had a Ukrainian friend ..who related that this Jew had reported a German. They came to him at night ..removed him from his bed without saying a word to his family ..only half a year later word reached his Wife that her Husband had been taken away ..and if she would pay ..she would be able to get ..ashes." Zivia Lubetkin.
I have a wish to remind any of those who read these few words, the necessity to carefully note that I single out Zivia Lubetkin clearly. Zivia Lubetkin is Remembered as a Woman, Recalled as a Jewish Woman and given the status as a spokesperson for all manner and forms of Jewish Resistance. Here, following on from what I wish to say about her, and those very many just like her, are her words for Memory to bring her ever forth to admonish those who damned her People and recognise she was a Giant amongst her Jewish People.
"..Immediately upon ..occupation of Poland by ..Germans ..Polish intelligentsia were arrested ..and ..in a special action ..Jewish intelligentsia ..leading public workers ..doctors ..engineers ..according to lists prepared beforehand ..were seized at night and taken to an unknown destination ..and even notice of their death did not reach their families. ..economic prohibitions ..were not only economic ..but ..aimed at degrading and depressing us ..and ..restrictions in ..field of cultural and social life. Right at ..beginning they issued a ban on ..opening of schools. Only primary school up to four grades was permitted. A prohibition was issued on ..holding of prayers in ..synagogue ..a prohibition ..on ..maintenance of public bodies ..Jewish political parties. A decree was issued dealing with ..closing of libraries ..and ..well known institute of Jewish Studies at Tlomackie 5. ..we became ..objects of anarchy. And if there had only been these laws and these restrictions ..intended to depress us ..to degrade us ..to bring us to ..ignominy of starvation ..we thought ..nevertheless ..Jews would somehow have been capable of circumventing ..restrictions and carrying on with their lives. But life did not turn out this way ..since ..we had been placed beyond ..law. ..I recall a day when I went out in ..morning to attend to matters ..streets ..full of Jews hastening to their work ..to seek a source of livelihood. Suddenly a column of Germans passed by in a hurry ..and without any reason they fired in all directions ..without distinction ..and we were left lying prone on that day ..at that hour ..as I saw it ..scores of People ..Women ..Children ..Men ..without knowing for what or why. When this thing happened day after day ..we realized that this was a means of frightening us ..of terrorizing us ..so that we should be afraid. ..indeed ..Jews feared they would pay with their lives. ..beyond ..scope of any law ..kidnapping for forced labour. A person would leave his house in ..morning ..would never know when ..and if he would return. ..formations of Germans were able to come in by day ..in ..morning ..or ..evening ..close a street ..and with screams of such a nature that it would be difficult today to describe them as actually being human voices ..they would first of all collect People by shooting ..and without taking note of age or sex ..seize people and take them off to work. Some of them ..on their return ..related that they had never engaged in any work ..there were those who simply carried stones from place to place ..there were those who dug holes and filled them in again. Again it was clear that this was a method of torture ..of terror ..of making our lives worthless." Zivia Lubetkin.
For Zivia personally, recognised by the custodians of all of History as a remarkable Human Being we accept that she alone, for her obvious ability to see with clarity what Hitler was set to achieve, she was present and was able to note what Poland was unprepared to prevent. Escaping the flames of Resistance, For Zivia to then identify for us, while Poland and the rest of the World stood so idly by and allowed all of this to happen to her People as Zivia too is an accusation which all too many now seek to circumvent.
"..In general ..number of Jews in ..city of Warsaw until ..Second World War was estimated at approximately 350,000. It is difficult for me to assess ..number of Jews at that time. Some of ..Jews moved to ..East ..a number of ..Jews were killed in ..bombings in ..are between Poland and Germany. ..I believe that at ..beginning of ..liquidation of ..Warsaw Ghetto ..there were about 500,000 Jews there. ..a flow of refugees ..from ..Warthegau. ..Jews from ..smaller towns and villages ..naturally attracted to ..larger city ..so that during ..times of The Holocaust ..which everybody knew was coming closer to realization ..they could be together with Jews. ..when ..Ghetto in Warsaw was already in existence ..Germans brought a number of Jews from ..nearby villages ..about 100,000 ..into ..Ghetto ..already crowded ..ultimately ..number of Jews was estimated to be 500,000. On ..Day of Atonement 1940 we heard an announcement on ..radio that there had been a declaration of ..establishment of a Jewish quarter. ..order stated that ..because disease had spread amongst ..Jews ..they must be put into a section of ..city ..for the sake of preserving ..health of the Aryans. ..secondly ..lives of ..Jews had ..been devoid of any protection ..had not been organized and not well ordered ..in this way ..Jews ..concentrated in special streets ..a special quarter ..where they would be able to live their lives in greater tranquillity ..enjoying cultural and social autonomy. It was stated thus in ..order ..in ..announcement. Within a few days ..Jews were obliged to leave their homes ..their places of residence .and to move to ..quarter designated for them. ..Jews ..placed in an area ..inadequate for ..150,000 ..over 300,000 ..put there. ..in ..course of a few days one could see scenes in ..streets ..Jews ..their families ..their possessions ..on hand carts ..abandoning ..houses ..apartments ..endeavouring to take with them ..property ..accumulated during 10's of years ..passing by ..moving in ..direction of ..quarter without knowing where to find shelter and what would be done with them. ..for whole days ..by day and night ..Jewish families stood in ..streets with nowhere to go to. Having no alternative ..Jews crowded together. ..in every room there dwelt 8 persons on ..average. ..this ..still before ..flood of refugees from ..country towns. ..entire City of Warsaw became ..a city of refugees. ..Out of ..blue ..beginning of November ..Jews got up in ..morning and everyone hurried to his work and his source of livelihood ..and suddenly was confronted with ..fact ..Ghetto was closed ..closed with gates ..German ..Polish guards ..standing at ..gates. This happened suddenly. If ..refugees ..uprooted from their homes and had not been able to take all their possessions ..suffered from starvation ..they were ..able to go out to ..Aryan side ..to work ..to trade ..now ..all this was over. ..Ghetto ..with its 100's of 1,000's of Jews became converted into ..huge prison ..in which each person ..throughout ..months ..years ..received 125 grams of bread ..a kilogram of jam per month ..a little soap substitute and some kilograms of coal waste for cooking and heating ..rooms. ..in prisons too ..there are ..rules. In this prison ..Ghetto ..there were no rules. Despite ..announcement that ..Ghetto would be a place where Jews would be able to live in greater tranquillity ..they would be able ..to put their lives in order ..misdeeds of ..Germans ..instead of stopping ..increased ..Germans who ..I had no doubt about it ..not then and not today ..had a single aim ..to torture us ..to degrade us ..to crush us." Zivia Lubetkin.
Zivia Lubetkin is a remarkable person of outstanding human quality, a soldier of courage and a human of such dimension, and while she was presented with such deep inhuman darkness she has shed such light on our own inability to see the near total destruction which Hitler sought to wreak upon her People. Perhaps though, and seduced by the fact of German civilisation, she too could not fully foresee what 6,000,000 Jews would be consumed within.
"..environs of ..Ghetto were guarded by ..Schutzpolizei ..Gestapo ..SS. Inside ..Ghetto ..even before it was closed off ..SS men ..Gestapo men ..made their rounds. ..people of Warsaw remember ..young German pilots ..blond hair ..strong young men ..and ..people of Warsaw were very well aware of their strength and their cruelty ..when they used them against helpless persons ..people of Warsaw remember ..Schutzpolizei ..people of Warsaw also remember ..ordinary soldiers who were able to enter ..Ghetto ..to loot ..to destroy ..to torture ..to kidnap ..to do whatever they pleased. We didn't know then that this was intended for a particular purpose ..but ..Germans issued an order that Jews were no longer to be left in ..small towns. Again they gave ..reason that their lives in ..small towns were more chaotic ..disorganized ..without means of subsistence. Therefore it was important to concentrate ..Jews in ..large towns ..together they would learn in ..larger towns how to organize their lives ..how to arrange their affairs ..and ..also how to work for ..Germans. ..on ..strength of this order about 100,000 Jews were moved to ..City of Warsaw from ..neighbouring towns within a few days. These were already death marches. Any weak person ..old Person ..Child ..anyone who groaned ..anyone who appeared to any German whatsoever to bear an expression that was more insolent ..was shot on ..spot. In this way 10's of 1,000's of people came into ..City of Warsaw ..carrying in their hands a small bundle ..and that was all they possessed. ..Ghetto in Warsaw was already ..terribly overcrowded ..and ..Jews of ..City of Warsaw had already been wandering around for days and weeks without a roof over their heads ..then you will understand that these 10's of 1.000's of Jews who entered ..Warsaw Ghetto were in actual fact without any means of subsistence ..of earning a livelihood ..without a penny in their pocket and ..homeless. ..Jews ..Jewish organizations ..tried to assist to ..best of their ability. To my great regret ..they weren't in a position to save ..situation. It could be taken for granted that in such terrible congestion there could be no sanitary facilities. At ..beginning there was not even water in ..Ghetto ..nor ..electricity. Later on ..matter was attended to. But since in one room near to me ..or we ourselves lived 12 to 15 persons in a room measuring 5 by 5 ..and these were already years of hunger in ..Ghetto ..obviously serious sickness broke out and claimed many victims. I want to point out ..particularly ..sanitary condition of these refugees. Owing to ..lack of space ..these refugees were placed in special houses ..occupants of which had been somehow evacuated. These were ..worst conditions of all in ..Ghetto. Once I entered such a refugee home ..a refugee shelter ..in order to look for a family I knew. I knew them before ..War as a well off family. He was a Teacher ..she was a Doctor. They had Children in ..Youth Movement who studied at school. They were ..normal type of people. When I came inside to look for them ..I found them on ..floor ..one on top of ..other. They were in a corner ..but I couldn't reach them ..for there was not a spare inch of floor where it was possible to place one's foot. There was no toilet in this house ..but in order to relieve themselves ..on 4th. floor they had to walk down to ..courtyard. There was no water in this house. In this way people sat there ..in this way 10's of 1,000's sat there and went from bad to worse ..since they did not have any chance of obtaining work. Under conditions of starvation ..under such sanitary conditions ..it was obvious that ..typhus which broke out in ..Ghetto started in these houses. It was impossible ..although they tried ..to keep ..sick separate ..and sometimes even ..dead who died from hunger ..particularly Children in their Mothers' arms." Zivia Lubetkin.
For us involved in History, caught up in the trauma that is The Holocaust, 6,000,000 Murdered Jews must capture for us what we can barely imagine. However, what will be the inevitable fate for these 6,000,000 Jews of Europe, 3,000,000 Polish Jews of whom would be destroyed within the boundary of a land they assumed was their's also, lost a battle few of them knew they were in. However, levelled by stealth and confusion, those all too many Jews who then emerged into the light of realisation, just as the doors to the gas chambers swung closed or at the edge of a bloody ravine where their fallen had gone before them, recognised finally their fate.
"..when Ghetto was closed off ..most Jews were left without any means of subsistence ..without work and a source of livelihood. And then hunger began to take its toll of many victims. These were ..normal scenes to which we had already become accustomed ..to see in ..streets of ..cities whole families ..Father ..Mother ..Children ..families of 8 to 10 souls ..sitting in ..streets ..swollen by hunger. It was hard to say that they had a human appearance. Especially well I remember ..in ..evenings ..after ..curfew ..when silence prevailed in ..Ghetto ..everyone would hide in his corner ..voices of ..little Children ..a stikele broit ..a piece of bread ..and ..no one who could throw them a piece of bread ..for only a few of us ..had a piece of bread. ..they reached such a stage that they burrowed in ..garbage containers in order to seek potato peels. ..those days in ..Warsaw Ghetto there were times when 300 funerals took place each day. These were people who had died of starvation ..from diseases ..without help. ..at ..beginning there were 2 Ghettos ..a small and large one. Between ..2 Ghettos ..link ..by ..bridge ..built. This was ..notorious bridge in Warsaw. Many Jews passing over it paid with their lives. Police used to pass under .. bridge and Jews passed over it. German guards stood near ..bridge and watched lest Heaven forbid ..Jews should mix with ..Germans. In order to cross ..bridge one had to remove one's hat. Many young Jews did not remove their hats and naturally were shot to death on ..spot. ..any movement ..any sound ..without ..reason at all ..Jews were shot at ..bridge. Since there were ..people with family ..in both sections of ..Ghetto ..Jews could not forgo crossing it ..and thus ..day after day ..Jews crossed over there ..and day after day they paid with their lives. It can be said that ..Jewish Youth movements did not cease their activities from ..first day of ..outbreak of ..War. ..they continued ..in different ways ..until ..last Jew that remained alive in ..Warsaw Ghetto. Jewish Youth movements adjusted their works to ..new reality. Right from ..beginning ..when it appeared to us that ..German policy was to degrade us ..to depress us ..to starve us ..by closing libraries ..closing schools ..apart from 4 grades ..to change us into a nation of slaves ..ignorant people ..lacking culture ..we still believed that this was not total destruction. ..consequently our activities during that period ..until news of ..Extermination reached us ..we concentrated on ..war against these restrictive laws. If ..we thought that these prohibitive laws were intended to wipe out ..human image ..then our battle was to preserve ..human image ..to develop a spirit of revolt against these evil decrees. ..when I say revolt I do not refer at present to a particular rebellion but rather to preserve ..human ..social ..cultural character of ..youth. All our strength lay in ..fact that we were organized in communes. When I crossed ..border from Russia ..when I returned to Warsaw ..I had been sent there by ..headquarters of Hehalutz for 2 purposes. We said ..Jews have remained ..even though we heard about ..evil decrees of ..Germans ..Jews have remained there and ..Halutz movement has to be with them. Kovel ..a town which at that time was under Soviet rule. ..town of my birth was also in that region ..called Bytom. I left my parents there. But in that town of Kovel I was also together with a group of comrades ..we set out together from Warsaw. There we started activities. We sent people to Vilna so that they should be able to reach Palestine ..for a route had been opened up from there. ..second purpose ..was to encourage ..departure of ..Jews from ..German area and to direct them to ..territory of Lithuania. For at that time there were rumours ..and it was also true ..many were rescued and are to be found today in Israel ..that it was possible to reach Palestine from Lithuania. I arrived at a house called Dzielna 34. This had been ..until ..War ..building of ..headquarters of Hehalutz. When we ..were commanded by ..Polish authorities to leave and to travel to ..East ..this building rapidly became filled with people who had moved to Warsaw." Zivia Lubetkin.
For all of these 6,000,000 Murdered Jews, from Lithuania to Warsaw, Bytom, Kovel and Vilna. all of these who are now consigned to our keeping for us to Remember them, we do so willingly. From the passages of time, knowing how badly they were let down by this World, we admonish such cruelty as indifference does behave. For the Jews themselves, almost immediately upon realisation, when the Killing Site or Gas Chamber shared its deadly secret, none of these Jewish People had a place to turn.
"..First of all ..refugees who arrived from ..Warthegau ..but not only they ..many Jews gathered in Warsaw out of a feeling that ..somehow ..Jews being together might be able to overcome this period. And when I came there ..to Dzielna 34 ..right away in ..first months ..when ..Jewish street was already gripped by fear and terror of ..Germans ..and each Jew stood by himself in this very difficult struggle for his existence ..for a slice of bread for ..continuation of his life ..alone against this mighty War machine ..I ask you to remember that when a Jew saw a single German in ..Ghetto ..he knew that he possessed ..power ..that huge army that had occupied Europe and to which great nations had surrendered ..and he knew that there was such power behind him. And he stood alone ..by himself. Our strength lay in ..fact that we did not stand alone. I already found ..at this Dzielna Street house ..180 young Men and Women who did not stand alone when at ..time of ..bombings ..shared one glass of water between them ..for there was no water. And if one of them found a potato in ..camp ..he shared it with 6 others. Concentrations like this existed in Warsaw for all ..Youth movements 5 or 6 ..and these were concentrated there ..from where they radiated to Warsaw and beyond. At ..beginning ..when ..Ghetto was open and it was possible to travel ..we travelled to ..Jews and established contacts with them. ..afterwards ..when ..Ghetto was closed ..we sought other ways. ..main aspect of our activity was organization ..to organize ..Youth ..in order that it could preserve ..human and ..Jewish image ..to promote within themselves ..despite ..degradation and ..depression ..a feeling of Jewish self respect ..so ..they could stand firm against these decrees. ..indeed ..it was ..Youth ..when ..day came ..when it became clear to them that this was Extermination ..also took up arms. We also dealt with food smuggling ..although I must point out ..there were more professional people involved in it than we. One of our problems ..and there is no doubt that this was a national ..or could I say elementary human ..essential ..a holy activity ..smuggling of food into ..Ghetto. ..smuggling ..proceeded in various ways. ..commonest and most tested methods was ..bribing of Germans. No German unit ..SS ..Gestapo nor ..others ..abhorred Jewish money. ..through bribery it was possible to bring food into ..Ghetto. ..on more than one occasion it happened that ..guard duty of ..Germans who had taken ..bribe was changed in ..meanwhile and fresh guards arrived who had not received ..money ..and seeing that ..Jews sometimes ..came late ..10 minutes after ..guards were changed ..they paid for that with their lives. In ..worst periods of ..starvation there were whole families whose main breadwinners were Children aged ..7 to 11 ..since a Child aged 12 was regarded in ..Ghetto as an adult person. How did they support their parents. They used to assemble ..group by group ..near ..gates ..waiting for ..opportunity when ..Germans would turn away ..when ..Germans would light a cigarette ..and ..in their masses ..cross into ..Aryan sector. ..Germans always used to be quick in opening fire ..and there were always victims. But ..Children were nimble and ..hunger gave them courage ..and they used to scatter in all directions ..and to run around ..streets of Aryan Warsaw in order to gather bread crumbs ..potatoes ..and they used to return immediately with their prize so that they could bring it to their Parents ..Sisters ..Brothers. Many of these Parents waited in vain ..for ..Children did not come back ..as they had been killed in ..streets of Warsaw ..or on going out of ..gate or on entering ..Ghetto." Zivia Lubetkin.
Likewise, there was nothing to enable these Adult Jews to consider past what the Children, the Elderly or the infirm Jew could possibly achieve left to their own devices and their Murder was imminent. In all of this of course, we still have live Jews fending off the trauma, the brutality and seeking solace in their hoped for survival past another day. Clearly, as Zivia speaks for this individual bravery open to barely a few Jews, those who are unable to arm themselves, she too cannot foresee the distinct possibility of a Poland without its Jews.
"..It was understandable that ..Youth looked for us and found us. ..Its importance lay in ..very fact of our getting together ..when this getting together was forbidden. Its importance lay in ..fact that we conducted an intensive cultural activity. ..included ..secular movements and ..religious movements. ..There had been seminars such as this in No. 34 Dzielna. ..a short time before ..declaration about setting up ..Ghetto. Scores of Boys and Girls from 24 Towns ..Villages in Poland assembled ..and ..remained ..for 6 weeks. ..in Dzielna ..under conditions of hunger ..cold ..this was wintertime ..we studied ..Torah ..Pentateuch. ..value of ..seminar was very important both for ..Students and ..lecturers. ..Jewish intelligentsia in ..Warsaw Ghetto ..were amongst ..first victims because they didn't know how to conceal themselves ..they suffered from starvation ..for ..tremendous cultural potential with which this large community was endowed there was no way to express itself. ..when we were able to obtain only some 10's of them ..Professors ..Teachers ..Public Figures who ..during these confusing days ..were able to teach ..Torah ..and ..talk about faith in Man ..about our faith as Jews ..and ..teach ..history ..chapters of Jewish suffering and chapters of Jewish heroism ..and thereby to educate ..Young generation ..this was of great encouragement to them ..Students and ..us. These students would go out throughout ..towns of Poland to bring their message ..words of encouragement ..words to mould ..character ..words of revolt against ..Nazi oppressor that rose up to Exterminate us. ..We organized ..Youth ..one of ..things which enabled us at that time ..under such conditions ..not to lose ..human image. And this wasn't difficult. I don't know if any of you are aware what it is to experience starvation ..or more accurately semi starvation. ..when a person does not eat for days ..and ..is swollen from hunger ..he doesn't feel anything. But a person who has lived for months and years on a slice of bread and a plate of soup ..is not capable of thinking about anything in ..world except about a slice of bread. ..if ..we succeeded in inspiring this youth with ..spirit of life ..despite ..fact that their thoughts during ..day were centred on slices of bread ..then that was a great achievement. These seminars ..this cultural activity ..encompassed 1,000's of ..Youth in ..Warsaw and beyond it. There was another matter which was of great value. There was an underground press. ..underground newspapers ..included all ..Jewish organizations ..and first and foremost ..Jewish Youth Movements ..from right to left. From ..first days it was forbidden to listen to ..radio ..apart ..from ..German station. This was a decree for both Poles and Jews. ..we had a secret radio and listened to it. We issued bulletins. We passed on news about what was going on in ..world at large ..for we were cut off from ..world at large. At ..beginning this provided much encouragement. For some reason ..Jews believed that ..Russians would advance and defeat ..Germans ..and possibly ..end of ..War was approaching. In general it isn't difficult to understand that a person who is in trouble clutches with faith at any small thing ..perhaps. I myself did not belong to ..optimists in ..Ghetto. ..I believed in complete faith that ..end of ..forces of evil would come. But I knew we would have to stand up to this for years. ..those were ..years when ..Germans occupied ..whole of Europe. And we also believed with ..outbreak of ..war between Germany and Russia ..and with ..chaos that would be created with ..German retreat ..as usual there would first of all be massive outbreaks of violence against ..Jews. And then we set up an organization ..this was not yet ..Jewish fighting force ..whose function was that ..if there should be such outbreaks of violence ..it would resist. At that time there were still no arms. It was a matter of sticks and anything that we chanced upon." Zivia Lubetkin.
So while all too many of these Polish Jews have to become prepared so as to deliver their own ultimate sacrifice in order that they can deliver the last moments of compassion and love to their own, they have to secretly hold back their own fears and anxiety's. However, with approaching stealth and a well devised plan of subterfuge, there still remained a creeping sense that something incomprehensible was being waged. For all too many Jews, who could not see the deliberate nature of Hitler's true hatred and clinical resolve, a Final Solution was in the fuller sense, progressing.
"..We tried to establish contact with ..Armia Ludowa or more exactly with their political organization. During this period ..Polish underground was only beginning to be formed and did not carry out acts of actual war ..its activity consisted of getting themselves organized ..closing ranks and encouragement. But this was not yet ..period where they used arms. We set up ..organization called ..Anti Fascist League. This organization ..owing to ..fact that contacts with ..Polish underground were weak ..and meanwhile matters developed in a totally different way ..and this body was already in existence ..was of great value for several months ..for it trained people to use sticks. ..it was not so important that people should know how to use sticks and anything else that comes to hand ..but rather that it hardened ..spirit and prepared ..Youth for ..days to come. ..Meanwhile ..Germans advanced ..and ..occupied large areas populated by many Jews ..Vilna ..Lithuania ..Volhynia ..Polesie. ..places of close Jewish settlement. With ..advance of ..army ..we decided to establish contact with these Jewish centres. Since these were ..first months of ..War and there was great confusion on ..roads ..we decided for ..first time to send a certain Pole whose name was Heniek ..a member of ..Polish scouts with whom we were in touch from ..first days. I use this opportunity to mention ..name of ..Woman who was ..head of ..Polish scouts ..Irena Damowitz ..who from ..first day of our life in ..underground ..helped us ..and more than once .. risked her life. ..We sent Heniek to Vilna without knowing what was happening there ..but in order to inform us what was happening there ..how ..Jews were living and what was ..state of ..movement. He was given addresses ..for in Vilna there was a large concentration of youth who were planning to set out for Palestine ..but not all of them managed to get away. This we knew. 100's of halutzim ..who were unable to leave ..remained there. ..route there and back took him several months. In order to reach Vilna from Warsaw one had to cross 3 borders. ..on ..way to ..Baltic countries. Even a Pole who wished to reach Vilna in those days needed a great deal of courage ..a sense of orientation and a lot of luck. He was lucky." Zivia Lubetkin.
For what had so far been constantly denied the Jewish People, here within Poland and across the breadth of Europe, all of this stands as an immense measure of the Resistance to all that these Jews, abandoned and alone, could not Survive. Zivia Lubetkin, who remains a colossus amongst generations, and not just for Jews, inspires us still and now for me on this day, to write about what about her contribution to what is essentially, a Jewish Day of Mourning. With a greater sense of the shame that has been omitted from the World through inaction, and for what a World allowed to happen, I write in memory and for the 6,000,000 Murdered Jews in words much more relevant and delivered to us by Zivia.
"..already autumn or ..beginning of winter ..we had an agricultural farm outside Warsaw ..Czerniakow was its name. Apart from ..fact that it represented ..for ..Jewish Youth ..an honourable source of livelihood ..this place served as a starting off point for our Male and Female messengers whom we used to send out from ..Ghetto. ..it was a farm situated outside ..Ghetto ..and we also worked on a farm belonging to a Polish farmer ..as Jews. Our messengers roamed around ..Aryan streets of Warsaw. Any flicker of an eyelid of theirs could expose them to mortal danger ..lest someone ..would recognize that this was a Jew or a Jewess. They had this base which enabled them to come to ..farm by night and to arrive as Jews. This was something great. We maintained there a stock of newspapers ..and ..a store of arms. We received a phone call in ..Ghetto from ..farm at Czerniakow to ..effect that Heniek had arrived ..asking us to come to a meeting. We rejoiced at ..news. At that time we had various ways of leaving ..Ghetto ..despite ..efficient guard system. ..out of ..Ghetto we removed ..Shield of David from our persons ..and we would go about as Aryans. Many of us were killed. But nevertheless many kept up ..contact. When I reached Czerniakow at nightfall ..we sat in a hut. ..no electricity ..and Heniek told his story. ..for ..first time we heard that they were transporting ..Jews of Vilna in their 1,000's and their 10's of 1,000's to Ponar where Children ..Women ..Babies ..were put to death. ..already at the end of 1941. At ..beginning of 1942 a Jew escaped from Chelmno and came to Warsaw. ..he told us that ..in Chelmno ..Jews were being driven out of ..city in trucks and put to death by gas. This Jew reached Warsaw ..but on ..way went into a town ..to ..Rabbi ..told him ..story. ..Rabbi was convinced ..Jew had gone crazy ..and didn't believe him. After we had heard ..account from Vilna ..and ..story of Chelmno ..we believed that this was being done systematically. I must say that in ..previous years ..even we could not picture to ourselves that a nation in 20th. Century would indeed execute a death sentence on an entire people. We asked ourselves more than once: They are degrading us ..they are suppressing us ..are they truly thinking of destroying all of us. We did not believe it. ..doubt was gnawing at our hearts all ..time. We had been living in this way for years. ..when we received this information from Vilna and Chelmno within a short time ..when we sent our messengers to towns and villages in Poland and tales of disaster began to arrive from each place ..of course ..under a different disguise ..in Vilna because ..Jews were cooperating with ..Communists ..in Chelmno they did not disclose at all that this was extermination. We put all these incidents together ..and on ..same day we heard Heniek's testimony ..this was a decisive moment in ..life of ..Jewish underground movement. We stopped our social activities ..schools about which I haven't managed to tell you ..Hebrew Gymnasium ..drama groups and ..rest of our cultural activities ..all our efforts were now devoted to active self defence. But ..Jews didn't believe it. ..hard to imagine that in fact an entire people would be Exterminated. ..ordinary Jew didn't believe it ..nor did ..Jewish leadership. If you were to ask me why we believed it ..was this because we were wiser. Were we greater heroes. I would not say so. What stood us in good stead was our Halutz education that in normal times ..we were not afraid to face ..fate of ..Jews ..and to see it for what it was. That same youth believed it ..due to its world outlook and its personal education. I have no other explanation ..for there were many wise Jews in Warsaw ..heroes also ..did not believe it." Zivia Lubetkin.
I have sat through many meetings and for years of hoping to justly Remember the Jew's of The Holocaust, utilising in what for me was an appropriate date, January 27th. 1945. This date, recognising the arrival of Russian forces in Poland for the liberation of Auschwitz, is fundamentally an epoch moment for the future Survival of what was left of Polish Jewry and The European Jews. On this Liberation Day, and though the Surviving Jews of this space did not yet know it, full and future Survival in Poland was to be a gift of non-Jewish Poles that was not too willingly given.
"..In July 1942 ..liquidation of ..Warsaw Ghetto began. It started suddenly one day ..although there had already been rumours some days before ..and there was much concern amongst ..Jews. ..we were informed suddenly one day when we got up in ..morning ..by means of notices from ..Germans ..that it had been decided to transfer to ..East Aussiedlung nach dem Osten ..those Jews who were not working here ..who had no source of livelihood. Exempted from ..deportation were ..Jews who were working ..obviously first of all in German places of work in ..Ghetto ..which included ..Jewish organizations ..those that were legitimate ..Judenrat ..Jewish police ..members of their families ..various organizations of social welfare of all kinds ..hospitals. ..then ..Jews came to ..conclusion that ..this was only a small percentage which was destined for deportation. ..reasoning was ..these are Jews who don't have their source of livelihood here ..they were ..living under difficult conditions ..Germans would transfer them to a place ..East ..a place where they were required for labour ..and ..they would even receive good conditions. ..close to one of ..gates in the approaches to ..Warsaw Ghetto ..there was a railway track ..there was a large field there ..Umschlagsplatz ..where ..Jews were commanded to assemble ..and from that point they were loaded on ..wagons. This involved 70,000 to 100,000 Jews. To ..Extermination Camp ..Treblinka. ..beginning of ..deportation ..announced that Jews possessing foreign nationality ..neutrals .had to gather at a certain place and they would be taken out of ..Ghetto. ..concentrated in ..central prison of ..Ghetto ..Pawiak ..most of them were shot. I knew many of them. Amongst them ..workers for ..Joint ..American citizens ..Neustadt ..Segalowitz ..others ..who were shot and did not stay alive. ..Czerniakow ..head of ..Judenrat in ..Warsaw Ghetto. When ..became clear to him ..this was ..Extermination ..that it meant death ..he committed suicide. In view of ..fact that ..announcement concerning ..deportation was accompanied by an order that all those who worked would remain alive ..each Jew tried to find employment for himself and then workshops they were called Shops sprang up like mushrooms after ..rain. Jews used to walk along with a machine on their back ..as if it seemed to them that this was their ticket for staying alive. ..Germans organized workshops and ..Jews worked in them and they were given Kennkarten certificates that they were working in this particular Shop ..and it is a fact that in ..first deportation these Jews were not taken away. This operation of deportation ..from ..first day to ..last ..was disguised in an exceptional way. When ..hunger grew more severe at ..time of ..deportations and ..Angel of Death stalked ..Ghetto for 2 months ..100's of 1,000's of Jews were taken away ..also ..people were dying of starvation. Nobody went out and nobody came in. A kilogram of bread cost more than 100 zlotys ..and even this was impossible to obtain. Then ..Germans announced that anyone coming to ..Umschlag of his own free will would receive 3 kilograms of bread and 1 kilogram of jam ..Jews came there with their meagre bundles in order to receive ..3 kilograms of bread." Zivia Lubetkin.
Here though, while this date was supposedly signifying the end of the tragedy for Polish Jewry and of the Jewish presence in Europe, there was an abhorrent rise in antisemitic hatred bolstered by greed and avarice turned against a returning Jew looking for solace in a place they had known as home. For me, with the continued dilution of the term, The Holocaust, with its referencing in Holocaust Memorial Day toward other Genocide's, this had signalled a sea change in any form of reverence I thought should be wholly attributable to the 6,000,000 Murdered Jews of Europe, who are The Holocaust.
"..transferred to Treblinka ..to ..Death Camp. ..Men ..Women ..Children. There were those familiar pictures of ..procession of Children from orphanages ..who walked in their shabby clothes towards ..Umschlag ..Children who walked with their Teachers ..Janusz Korczak ..who had made a name for himself ..and whom ..Germans wanted to release ..but he would not agree. ..beginning of September 1942. Within a few hours ..Jews were ordered ..all those who still remained and had not been deported ..to gather in 2 or 3 streets of Warsaw. ..120,000 Jews assembled. ..Jews were told to assemble in these streets in ..course of a few hours. ..ordered to assemble by 10 a.m. ..and anyone found elsewhere after this hour would be shot. Every Jew was obliged to leave all his possessions at home ..and to leave his apartment open. ..at that time ..a special unit which collected all Jewish property and sorted it ..furniture ..jewellery ..shoes ..and so on. ..Jews were ordered to leave their homes open. ..in order to maintain ..camouflage they were told to take with them a parcel limited to 10 kilograms and to bring it to Mila Street. It was impossible to enter ..houses. ..action ..lasted Week ..6 days. In ..course of this week ..60,000 Jews were removed from these streets. Many Jews were there ..and ..Shops were also there ..for ..Jews thought they would come together with ..Shops and with their documents ..and they would be taken off to work. In one street men of ..SS and ..Gestapo were standing at a table ..indicating by a movement of ..hand who was to go to ..right and who to ..left ..who was to live and who was to die. ..of course ..those chosen for death were Children ..great enemies of ..German Reich ..Children ..Women ..Aged ..Sick. .. healthier ..still allowed to live ..by means of a motion of ..hand to ..right. ..families would be separated. There were those terrible scenes ..since ..despite it all ..whole families were still going together. They knew what ..fate of ..Children would be ..and a Mother would attempt to make her Son look a little bigger ..paint ..cheeks of her Daughter ..to give her shoes with higher heels ..but all this was to no avail ..and they went ..same way as their Brothers. In ..course of a few days ..50,000 Jews were taken away. This action in ..Warsaw Ghetto was completed on Yom Kippur 1942 ..with ..liquidation of part of ..Jewish police ..concerning whom we were so sure at ..beginning of ..deportation that their lives would be spared. Their loyal cooperation with ..Germans did not help them ..they ..too ..taken to Treblinka with their families and on Yom Kippur 1942 ..out of 500,000 Jews in Warsaw ..about 60,000 Jews remained within ..Ghetto walls." Zivia Lubetkin.
Where once we contemplate 500,000 Jews of Warsaw reduced to 60,000 Jews, we have the incomprehensible value that 6,000,000 Annihilated Jews, Murdered solely for being Jews, brings forth an atrocious degradation of all humanity. So while this reduction in Human value stands before us, I wonder why it is necessary to withdraw a Jewish relevance from the term which wholly encompasses all that was measured against them. The Holocaust term has so been eroded by claims to recall all those dead through Genocide, it does not form the marker by which 6,000,000 Murdered Jews are registered as the intentional victims of Hitler's resolve for The Final Solution of The Jewish Question.
"..April 18th. 1943 was ..eve of Passover. 2 days before ..Gestapo's liaison officer ..Brandt came to ..Jewish Council office and said ..Council was not sufficiently concerned about ..Jewish Children. There was no greenery in ..Ghetto ..not sufficient food ..he proposed setting up kindergartens ..where Jewish Children would be able to play and also to laugh. ..he was certain that those Jews who remained in Warsaw were productive people and there was no danger of deportation threatening them. We had already learned from experience ..and we knew if there were such rumours and such a promise ..this was a bad omen. ..in recent days there had been various strange rumours circulating in ..Ghetto ..that on ..approach of Passover ..Germans were planning to destroy ..Warsaw Ghetto. ..immediately after these rumours ..others came along saying that they had heard from one German or another ..information that this was not true ..that ..Jews ..in ..Ghetto would remain there. ..18th of ..month ..during ..day ..a policeman of ours ..a Jew ..also a member of ..Jewish fighting force came to us at our headquarters ..and said that Polish policemen had told Jewish policemen ..there was no doubt that something was going to happen that night. ..Jewish fighting force ..was in existence and was organized inside ..Ghetto and had fighting units ..each unit having its own post ..prepared in advance. An alert was declared within ..units ..movement ceased ..everyone was to take his arms to his post ..to ..fortifications ..each officer and his men. At ..about midnight ..this policeman came to headquarters and informed us that ..Ghetto was surrounded. ..between January and April ..even before then ..Judenrat was no longer in charge of ..Ghetto. ..Ghetto as well as ..Judenrat acted in accordance with ..orders and instructions that we used to post up in ..streets of Warsaw. This was a time when ..Jews obeyed us ..obeyed us in everything. We dispersed among ..fighting units. I was at 23 Nalewski Street ..where ..officer in charge of that unit was Secharia Artstein. Mordechai Anilewicz and ..rest of my comrades were dispersed in ..other strong points. Mordechai Anilewicz came to ..post at 29 Mila Street. What did we tell ..Jews that night. We told them that anyone who possessed arms should come out to fight. Not only ..Jewish fighting force but ..ordinary Jews as well had arms. ..we advised those who did not have arms ..Women ..Children ..Babies ..should go down into ..bunkers ..and at ..first opportunity ..go over to ..Aryan sector ..break through and make their way to ..forest ..some would survive. ..we had no need to issue orders to ..fighting units ..those Boys and Girls had been waiting for months for ..moment ..they would be able to shoot at Germans. ..indeed ..moment had come. When ..day dawned ..I was standing in ..upper part of this building ..at 23 Nalewski ..I saw ..1,000's of Germans ..surrounding ..Ghetto ..with machine guns ..cannon ..1,000's of them ..with their weapons ..as if they were going to ..Russian front. ..there we stood opposite them ..some 20 young Men and Women. ..our weapons. ..a revolver ..a hand grenade ..entire unit had 2 rifles ..and ..homemade bombs ..primitive ones ..fuse ..had to be lit by ..match ..and Molotov Cocktails. ..strange to see ..some Jewish Boys and Girls ..confronting this enormous enemy with all his weapons ..were joyful and merry. Why were they joyful and merry. We knew that our end had come. We knew beforehand that they would defeat us ..but we also knew that they would pay a heavy price for our lives. ..they did. It is difficult to describe ..there will surely be many who will not believe it ..that when ..Germans came near ..foot of one of our strong points and passed by in formation ..and we threw ..bombs and ..hand grenades ..we saw German blood pouring in ..streets of Warsaw ..after so much Jewish blood and tears had previously flowed in ..streets of Warsaw ..we felt ..great rejoicing and it was of no importance what would happen ..following day. ..great rejoicing amongst ..Jewish fighters. ..behold ..miracle ..great German heroes withdrew in tremendous panic in ..face of ..handmade Jewish hand grenades and bombs. ..1 hour later ..a German officer was spurring ..soldiers on to go to battle ..to go out and bring in ..wounded ..and not one of them moved and they abandoned their wounded men whose weapons we subsequently collected. And so it happened ..that on ..first day we ..few ..with our scant arms ..drove ..Germans out of ..Ghetto. ..they came back. They were not short of ammunition ..bread ..water as we were. And they returned. They returned that day ..for a second time ..in greater strength ..with field guns and tanks ..and we with our Molotov Cocktails also set a tank on fire although this was not at ..post where I was but in Mila Street ..with another fighting unit. That day ..in ..evening ..we each reported. We had seen that ..with our meagre arms ..number of those killed in our ranks was negligible ..2 in all. ..a number of wounded. ..we knew that ..on that day 100's of Germans had fallen ..killed ..wounded. ..by chance ..I ..met a German on ..Aryan side ..a year after ..Warsaw Ghetto revolt ..posing as an Aryan ..and he had only one eye ..he told me that on that very day ..at 23 Nalewski ..he had lost his eye in a battle with ..Jews and that it was a big fight and we paid for it with many casualties ..I did not know then how to appreciate this. But if one may evaluate this years later ..when I saw my people proceeding on its final journey ..this was some slight consolation." Zivia Lubetkin.
As far as I am concerned, and translation cannot alter any intention otherwise, die Endlosung der Judenfrage speaks exclusively for what Hitler intended would be the total eradication of the Jewish People from within Europe. In accordance with the protocol established at The Wannsee Conference, this would account for 11,293,300 Jews of Europe, All Men, Women and Their Children to be systematically sought out for Slaughter and Murdered, in situ or in carefully prepared Killing Sites and the Gas Chambers. Firstly though. all of these Jews would be marked out for close attention, segregated and then marked for removal, firstly from their former homes and their own community’s, as they are finally removed from all existence, life itself.
"..battle continued for a number of days at ..same pace. ..Germans could not subdue us and on each occasion retreated from ..Ghetto. ..not all ..days were like ..first day. We paid with more losses and also killed less Germans. But ..in ..days following ..Germans changed their tactics and tried also to change our tactics. From street fighting in places we had prepared for ourselves ..we changed to a method of fighting in small groups. We split up into several groups who at night would find for themselves houses and strong points ..simply hid ..waiting for ..Germans. ..Germans ..no longer came into ..Ghetto in large numbers ..but in small units. ..like us ..we had rags on our feet so that they should not hear our footsteps ..they had rubber boots so that we should not hear their footsteps ..and each side sought ..other. In these days ..also ..we had ..upper hand ..we knew ..terrain ..houses ..prepared for ourselves places of refuge in attics and cellars ..not known to ..Germans. It continued in this way for days. It is difficult for me to describe life in ..Ghetto during that week ..and I had been in this Ghetto ..years. ..Jews embraced and kissed each other ..although it was clear to every single one that it was not certain whether he would remain alive ..or it was almost certain that he would not survive ..reached ..day of our taking revenge ..although no vengeance could fit our suffering. At least we were fighting for our lives ..and this feeling lightened his suffering and possibly also made it easier for him to die. I also remember that on ..second day ..it was ..Passover Seder ..in one of ..bunkers ..I came across Rabbi Meisel. There had been contacts between us and him ..since ..days of ..Halutz underground in ordinary times as well. ..Halutz underground ..in its operations ..had not always had an easy time on ..part of ..Jewish population ..they did not always accept us." Zivia Lubetkin.
It is a further catastrophe then as to which part of this atrocity does the world need to now dissolve let alone resolve while The Holocaust term becomes continually diluted. I am fully aware of the significance of YomHaShoah and it is that specific day in Israel right now, May 1st. 2019 that it is both poignant and reverential to all Jews wherever they are. As such, perhaps it is time to ensure the Jews know best how to mark what we seek to remember is a Jewish Catastrophe above and beyond all other's and ask the World to concentrate its attention on the debacle of The Holocaust, as a unifying act of Remembrance on this one day. With The Holocaust, there is this unique blend of legality, complicity, duplicity and the sheer scale of the atrocity which is all aimed exclusively at the Jews whose murder this present to us.
"..There were those who thought that we were bringing harm to their lives ..collective responsibility ..fear of ..Germans. ..this time ..when I entered ..bunker ..this Jew ..Rabbi Meisel ..interrupted ..Seder ..placed his hand on my head and said ..May you be blessed. Now it is good for me to die. Would that we had done this earlier. ..fighting went on ..for days. ..already from ..first day ..had been seeking liaison with ..Aryan side. We had many comrades on ..Aryan side ..Yitzhak Zuckerman ..among them. Their main activity in ..first days was ..acquisition of an additional supply of arms. ..after many endeavours this was achieved. But there was a problem of how to transfer it. In ..first days we had another link by means of ..telephone ..but apart from telephone contact ..connection still existed through ..Burial Society. Our cemetery was beyond ..boundaries of ..Ghetto ..and since ..Burial Society had its hands full ..it had ..to go out of ..Ghetto and to come back into it. And in this way we received a message from Yitzhak Zuckerman ..that he had received a number of rifles which we would be able to obtain ..through ..Burial Society ..we smuggled letters outside ..amongst them ..letter from Mordechai Anilewicz ..which has since been published. But this link ..too ..was soon cut off. ..We began to look for possibilities of sending out a number of comrades for ..purpose of obtaining help. We had a small number of comrades on ..Aryan side who were able to organize help and arms for us ..or food ..or later on to look for a place where a person could stay in ..event of his remaining alive. We thus began searching for a way of getting a number of people out. We were told that there was a bunker in a particular place ..near ..Ghetto wall. From ..bunker there was a canal leading to ..Aryan side. Afterwards it became clear to us ..Apart from ..Jewish fighting force ..which included ..all ..various ideological forces in Jewish public life ..left to right ..there existed a group of Revisionists ..in Muranowska Street. They had prepared this exit for themselves. ..several days of difficult and daring battle ..they decided to go out to ..Aryan sector. We encountered one of them who had been saved. All ..others had been caught and were killed. Without being aware of this ..we sent 2 of our comrades in this way to seek contact with our comrades on ..Aryan side ..Simha Ratajzer ..and another ..no longer alive. When they reached ..Aryan sector and a Polish policeman saw them ..he thought that they were Poles and said to them ..Why are you wandering around here. Do you know what happened here an hour ago. ..he told them about ..fight in ..Ghetto ..that ..entire quarter was full of SS ..and Gestapo ..and ..they were not allowing anyone to come out or to go in. Nevertheless ..due to their courage and ..perhaps ..also their good fortune ..they succeeded in passing by ..German sentries and establishing contact with Yitzhak. They represented an important reinforcement to ..tiny group ..many of whose members fell in ..first days of our fight in ..Ghetto in various actions on ..Aryan side ..to provide substantial aid ..which we subsequently broadened to help ..fighters inside ..Ghetto to assist in taking them out and to help any activity of ..Jewish underground ..which continued until ..liberation. We could not engage in open warfare. ..Germans set ..Ghetto on fire. ..impossible to fight against fire and conflagration ..they did not have to battle against us ..fire fought us." Zivia Lubetkin.
All of what Hitler aimed for, which makes this a particularly Jewish tragedy, and that is an unparalleled and an unprecedented atrocity in all time, wonders at why the World cannot allow the Remembrance for these Jews to be their's. For me then, and I speak here personally, as a non-Jew, if back then I had been a non-Jewish pole, barely surviving during the crime of the catastrophe for Polish Jewry and European Jews, I would have felt compelled to resist any and all of Hitler's clear intentions. Poland was at war with Germany, and all of Hitler's direction should have brokered an all out response by all of Poland to what was happening to its Jewish Community. It is reprehensible that Poland did not act in accord with its christian principles nor of its catholic dogma. The fact too that this would have created the ideal CV for anyone acting with human compassion would have seen a non-Jewish Pole who had taken a Jewish Family of 7, or even 70 from a extended Jewish Family, to the Woods and then assisted in the building of an underground bunker.
"..Scenes of Women ..Children ..Men are well known. We had previously told them ..called upon ..Jews to hide themselves ..those who did not have arms ..to hide in ..bunker. ..when ..building was suddenly set alight ..when ..smoke entered ..bunker ..it was no longer possible to get out. ..there were ..scenes ..from 4th. ..5th. and 6th. floors ..People jumped from a building enveloped in flames ..in most cases with Children in their arms. There were also scenes of People who jumped from fire into gunfire. ..German machine guns which surrounded ..wall did not miss them. Every such Jew in sight was shot on ..spot. They looked for hiding places in other bunkers. Many of them entered ..sewage canals for want of another way out. ..several People found shelter in ..ruins of ..burnt houses. ..Germans seized many of them and took them ..no longer to ..Umschlag ..but to Treblinka. There was no chance of defeating them in battle. That was clear. This was still in April 1943. ..victories of ..Red Army were only beginning. ..it was plain to us that we had no chance of winning in ..accepted sense of ..term. ..in ..military sense or ..accepted sense of today. ..believe me ..this is no empty phrase ..despite their power ..we knew that ultimately we would defeat them ..we ..weak ones ..because in this lay our strength. We believed in justice ..in humanity ..and in a regime different from ..one which they glorified. ..May 8th. 1943 ..When ..principal bunker of ..Jewish fighting force at 18 Mila was destroyed with Anilewicz and another 120 fighters ..quite by chance I was not there ..for on ..previous day I went on a mission to another part of ..Ghetto and returned after this had happened. I found no traces of ..bunker or of people ..only a small group of fighters who succeeded in getting out of there through some kind of side route ..at ..very last minute. They related their experiences." Zivia Lubetkin.
Here in such a bunker, where they would have Survived till the Russians had saved them, they would have been written my opus for me, a page in their History to be proudest of. Who could not be proud of such an act of saving lives, when all about Poland the stench of destruction infiltrated the very air poles breathed. For me it seems, humanity would have been keenly felt and a moral bridge would have been crossed. But none of this is as it should have been. The heroism of Parents, unable to assist the fight, struggling to ensure their Children did not know what awaited them, and as they succumbed in desperation to what Hitler intended and Poland did so little to stop, and as a World stood too idly by, they passed into History.
"That night we decided ..there were only a few of us left ..without food ..without water ..almost no weapons ..at any rate without bullets for ..revolvers and rifles ..to send a group of comrades to ..sewage canal ..so that they might cross to ..Aryan sector and see what could be done. These comrades ..on ..way to ..sewage canal ..encountered a delegation of our friends. One of them was ..same Simha Ratajzer ..who had gone out to Muranowska. This delegation had been sent by our comrades on ..Aryan Side in ..company of a Pole who showed them ..way ..to bring ..surviving fighters through ..sewage canal to ..Aryan side. We walked in ..sewage canal for 48 hours. .on May 12th. ..on a clear day ..when ..in spite of ..desire of ..Polish underground to come to our aid ..they did not have ..power to do much ..apart from several people who assisted us in carrying out ..operation ..and when it became clear to our comrades that they would not get any assistance ..they hired 2 trucks saying that they were required for moving furniture from one place to another. When they reached ..street where we were standing in ..sewage canal ..our comrades drew out revolvers ..aimed them at ..drivers and said ..This is not furniture but people ..and if you make even ..slightest noise ..you will endanger your lives. ..so they remained silent. ..sewage canal was opened and we came out of it ..about 50 fighters ..if I am not mistaken ..and we were loaded onto ..trucks. We drove through ..streets of noisy Warsaw ..naturally with weapons in our hands ..and ..reached ..Lomianki forest ..7 kilometres from Warsaw ..since we did not have anywhere ..where we could go to. ..We had a special sector of ..Jewish fighting force within ..Polish revolt in ..ranks of ..Armia Ludowa." Zivia Lubetkin.
As the remnants of Polish and Warsaw Jewry sat in bunkers, in attics or hidden in rooms, the flames of an unholy conflagration surrounded them. Many of these distraught Parents, People on the edge of this insanity, took hold of everything that was dear to them, their Children, comforted and relaxed them before signalling their intention to defy Hitler's marauder's and resisting finally that lasting resolve to accomplish what 3,000 years of History had failed to do. Outside the Ghetto, the city of Warsaw was bustling with non-Jewish life, looking on with a regard that has not entered mainstream History. So the scenes, as Zivia could relate them, have been secured for posterity to future accuse this Warsaw, this Poland and this World for what was left behind in the Jewish World. When Jews need to know what Resistance meant so as to know it definitively, or hear it, or re-listen to its retelling, then listen and learn from what Zivia Lubetkin relays and teaches us all.
"..August 1944. ..Poles decided to give themselves up and be taken prisoner ..our group did not do so. Having no alternative ..we remained in a bunker in one of ..places in Warsaw ..and this was now in Aryan Warsaw ..for Jewish Warsaw was no longer in existence at that time. But even in Aryan Warsaw ..Poles ..too ..were prohibited from being there at all. So we went into some house ..where there was a cellar ..a group of Jewish fighters ..carrying arms and we did not really know what to do with ourselves ..until we sent off a number of comrades ..mostly Girls ..to look for contacts on ..Aryan side. ..they found them and they returned with a delegation of ..Red Polish Army who made out as if it was known that there were sick people there ..typhus patients. Those fighters amongst us who had pronounced Jewish features had their imaginary wounds bandaged so they would not be recognized and were taken out as typhus patients. In this way we crossed into ..Aryan sector and in a village near Warsaw liberation came to us at ..hands of ..Russians." Zivia Lubetkin.
Revisiting the PastPosted by P.A. Draigh Mon, November 26, 2018 13:25:04
"..I hope I will be able to confide everything to you ..as I have never been able to confide in anyone ..and I hope you will be a great source of comfort and support." Anne Frank.
I have been searching for the appropriate words to lend them toward some form of comprehension, not only for what happened to 6,000,000 Jews of Europe but for what we allowed to become Their Holocaust. I want to write a piece too on my relationship with the words of Anne 'Annalies Marie' Frank. For me, and because Anne is so well known, I will write more about the loss of Anne Frank to her Family and to us all than perhaps a more obvious narrative on her life in our times. To that end I will add to my recent travels to the x6 Death Camps in Poland, established by Hitler for the Destruction of all of European Jewry. From amongst Belzec, Chelmno, Majdanek, Sobibor, Treblinka and Auschwitz Birkenau, this final industrial scale murder facility, will house Anne Frank and Family and the other occupants of The Secret Annexe.
For a time, all remained to survive here, but a permanent place of Remembrance is reserved for both Edith Frank and Hermann van Pels. For me, between November 2nd. and November 4th. 2018 I will visit Anne Frank's last bolt hole of Survival, The Anne Frank Museum. As Anne, and her Family and Friends struggled with what was impacting upon the community of Jews of all Europe, their complete destruction, the four walls which detained them are a permanent Memorial to why hatred is wrong and why Humanity is more important than not. Today, not only does The Anne Frank House stand as a memorial to a Young Girl, who gifted us so much in learning from her of the values of the tolerances required of a generation that so cruelly abandoned them, it is for us to ensure the proper lessons are taken forward. As the hatred unfolds toward the Jews of Europe, the Jewish population of Amsterdam was approximately 80,000 as some pro Nazi Dutch welcomed Hitler's Invasion of the Netherland's, on May 10th. 1940.
"..When disaster happens slowly ..in installments ..people have a tendency to accept each installment. ..This is what happened here. So I think we cannot afford to stay silent and just hope for ..best." Rabbi Binyomin Jacobs.
The previous declaration of neutrality, as Hitler struck at Poland September 1st. 1939 could not now save the Netherlands. Hitler's orders to invade the Country, and the subsequent and devastating assault upon Rotterdam on May 13th. 1940 brought the City to its knees and was followed by the Netherlands complete capitulation the following day, May 14th.1940. With the Dutch forces in disarray, they surrendered as the government and the Dutch Royal Family fled to London, and so abandoning all responsibility for its People. The whole of Holland, the Netherlands, was still home to more than 160,000 Jews, many of these refugees from Hitler's Jewish persecution in Germany, Austria and Poland and of these 106,000 Jews would never see the end of Hitler's War.
My visit to Amsterdam, and my purpoe in visiting The Anne Frank House, was fortuitous in many ways. Across the road from the Westerkerk, this church is located to the side of the Anne Frank House, I stayed in a Hotel within earshot of the same sounds which kept Anne somewhat occupied for some of those 2 years in hiding. Here, where Anne listened to these same chimes, and looked out onto the clock face on the Westertoren I could see for myself, I could walk past it and know, Anne too had been here. From the attic of the Secret Annexe, she noted in her Diary on July 11th. 1942 and wrote:
Saturday July 11th. 1942
"..Dearest Kitty ..Father ..Mother ..Margot still can't get used to ..chiming of ..Westertoren clock ..which tells us ..time every quarter of an hour. Not me ..I liked it from ..start ..it sounds so reassuring ..especially at night. You no doubt want to hear what I think of being in hiding. Well ..all I can say is that I don't really know yet. I don't think I'll ever feel at home in this house ..but that doesn't mean I hate it. It's more like being on vacation in some strange pension. Kind of an odd way to look at life in hiding ..but that's how things are. ..Annex is an ideal place to hide in. It may be damp and lopsided ..but there's probably not a more comfortable hiding place in all of Amsterdam. No ..in all of Holland. ..building on our right is a branch of ..Keg Company ..a firm from Zaandam ..and on ..left ..a furniture workshop. Though ..people who work there are not on ..premises after hours ..any sound we make might travel through ..walls. Someone's calling me. Yours." Anne.
Here too, alongside the spices Otto had imported were the Furniture and Keg makers plying their trades. Also, and from amongst these craftsmen are some of the 30 or so Diamond Exchange Centers that had existed for the World of Diamonds. Within Amsterdam, which was the oldest Exchange Centre for the trade in Diamonds right up until Hitler's intervention into the Netherlands, much of this particular trade has now been lost. Clearly, and due to the pertinent fact that most of the Diamond industry was conducted by Jewish workers, cutters and traders, the Jewish decimation in The Holocaust signalled, not only their loss of life, but was as significantly marked as it ensured their trading presence fell into such a sharp decline. Such loss though, still managed to secure for Hitler's coffers, a vast enrichment with the confiscation of all Diamonds.
Not just these, but their material worth in land, assets, monies and all gains from all and any Jewish enterprise encountered was to be confiscated. It is ironic though, that when you stand in a space the size of an average room and try and imagine how these 8 Jewish People could live, cramped up for nearly two years, there is no sense of how it was possible to be gained. However, from July 6th. 1942 until August 4th. 1944, Anne Frank, her Sister Margot Frank, Parents Edith Frank and Otto Frank and Auguste van Pels, Hermann van Pels, Peter van Pels and Fritz Pfeffer, all cohabited a space less fit for a Family of 4. Such is that space it is hard to imagine such a Family's trouble with the limited accomodation, let alone the tighter control exacted with an intrusion of 4 other hidden Jews. But Human kindness found its way into the darkest of difficult times and Otto's express wish to help, assist and cooperate with these 4 others, is a marvel of compassion.
Monday November 2nd. 1942
"..Dear Kitty ..Bep stayed with us Friday evening. It was fun ..but she didn't sleep very well because she'd drunk some wine. For ..rest ..there's nothing special to report. I had an awful headache yesterday and went to bed early. Margot's being exasperating again. This morning I began sorting out an index card file from ..office ..because it'd fallen over and gotten all mixed up. Before long I was going nuts. I asked Margot and Peter to help ..but they were too lazy ..so I put it away. I'm not crazy enough to do it all by myself." Anne Frank.
There are modest comic touches in what Anne can deliver and with Anne's deprecation of her own impatience, we can begin to see such a warm and gentle soul emerging. What with her mixing with the excesses of survival's greatest trick, managing to stay alert and not go nuts, Anne is somewhat gifted with an ability to make things seem somehow ordinary. It must never be forgotten though, tht in these x2 years of incarceration, nothing can be remotely declared as being in the slightest bit ordinary. Even the light through the windows hid a route in whch gave a spy or a collaborastor could catch a glimpse of another world hidden away from Hitler's express wish to harm all those inside. You stand in those closed in spaces and you cannot begin to visualise what was being enacted as tempers freyed and arguments aired themselves.
Thursday March 25th. 1943
"..Dearest Kitty ..Mother ..Father ..Margot and I were sitting quite pleasantly together last night when Peter suddenly came in and whispered in Father's ear. I caught ..words ..a barrel falling over in ..warehouse ..and ..someone fiddling with ..door. ..Margot heard it too ..but was trying to calm me down ..since I'd turned white as chalk and was extremely nervous. ..three of us waited while Father and Peter went downstairs. ..Once again we waited and waited ..but heard nothing. Finally we came to ..conclusion ..burglars had taken to their heels when they heard footsteps in an otherwise quiet building. ..problem now was ..chairs in ..private office ..were neatly grouped around ..radio ..tuned to England. If ..burglars had forced ..door and ..air raid wardens were to notice it and call ..police ..there could be very serious repercussions. ..Incidents like these are always accompanied by other disasters ..and this was no exception. ..Westertoren bells stopped chiming ..and I'd always found them so comforting. ..night had just begun ..we still weren't sure what to expect. ..somewhat reassured by ..fact ..between 8:15 when ..burglar had first entered ..building ..put our lives in jeopardy ..and 10:30 ..we hadn't heard a sound. ..more we thought about it ..less likely it seemed that a burglar would have forced a door so early in ..evening ..when there were still people out on ..streets. Besides ..it occurred to us that ..warehouse manager at ..Keg Company ..might still have been at work. What with ..excitement and ..thin walls ..it's easy to mistake ..sounds. ..your imagination often plays tricks on you in moments of danger. So we went to bed ..though not to sleep. Father ..Mother ..Mr. Dussel were awake most of ..night ..and I'm not exaggerating when I say that I hardly got a wink of sleep. Yours." Anne.
It goes without saying that the tension during the entire period would be even more heightened from time to time. Anne is often forthright in what she sees as near misses, as those misconceptions over what was happeneing outside came to haunt their innermost and hidden thoughts. Imagination is a great source of trickery to the minds eye which sees all manner of ailments in nothing more than a creaking floor or the wind through a crease in a roof tile. I am mindful of the renovation work that has been done to confer Museum status upon this Secret Annexe. But for me as I attempt to place Anne and the other's, either pacing the rooms or sitting still a panic looms again, I can still relate the sounds to previous endeavours for them to ignore their benign presence within their still cramped space.
Tuesday August 10th. 1943
"..Dearest Kitty ..We've all been a little confused this past week because our dearly beloved Westertoren bells have been carted off to be melted down for ..war ..so we have no ..idea of ..exact time ..either night or day. I still have hopes that they'll come up with a substitute ..made of tin or copper or some such thing ..to remind ..neighborhood of ..clock. ..Yours ..Anne." Anne Frank.
The chiming then of the carillon, the tuned bells in the Westertoren, the actual tower itself of this Westerkerk, was such a comfort for Anne. For me, and as I listened intently too, as I sought to imagine its delivery of a peace and soothing rendition to not just Anne, but perhaps to other's who might have been appraised on the passage of time and the nearness of liberation, I was in the pages of Anne's Diary recalling her exact words. However, for Anne, this source of comfort mocked an almost futile attempt by so many Jews to evade their own capture. For the sanctuary status of these church's, whether protestant or catholic as a whole, they mnaged not to share any greater indignation than what was demanded of a compassionate nor christian ethos. It is difficult for those whose own upbringing tught them the meaning of such compassion to know, it did not avail itself for those Jews, 106,000 of whom would be lost to the Netherlands in the grist mills of destruction that were Sobibor, Auschwitz and Birkenau.
Wednesday November 3rd. 1943
"..Dearest Kitty ..To take our minds off matters as well as to develop them ..Father ordered a catalog from a correspondence school. ..We've decided that from now on ..stove is going to be lit at 7:30 on Sunday mornings instead of 5:30. I think it's risky. What will ..neighbors think of our smoking chimney. ..same with ..curtains. Ever since we first went into hiding ..they've been tacked firmly to ..windows. ..That's how every act of carelessness begins and ends. No one will notice ..no one will hear ..no one will pay ..least bit of attention. Yours." Anne.
We tend to forget at times the very simple detail of cautious awareness that can seem largely exagerated at times. But, be it a lit stove, or a curtain that flickers open to deliver a brief glimpse of the hidden world behind it, would make the tension that could so grind the soul. As we stand here, almost privileged to immerse ourselves in their struggle for life, which was roundly to be denied 8 Jews here and from the entirety of World Jewry, none too many from the statistical analysis which Hitler had his charges undertake, would survive. We too have become aware that Otto was amongst these few, as he was the only one to Survive the secret of the annexe. Anne and the others shared the fate of some 6,000,000 other Jews, plundered from their homes and divested of life in a murder apparatus that sprung into aktionen on a continental scale.
Monday February 28th. 1944
"..My dearest Kitty ..It's like a nightmare, one that goes on long after I'm awake. .. In ..distance a clock was tolling. ..I'm sentimental ..I know. I'm despondent and foolish ..I know that too. Oh ..help me. Yours." Anne M. Frank.
We can so easily immerse ourselves, and so deeply engage in the tragedy for these Jews of The Holocaust, that we can still too easily forget their human tragedy. We can Never be immune to the effect of the overwhelming tragedy which swept 6,000,000 People toward oblivion, simply because they were Jews. For all my research, I am always prepared for what is next, and visits to the 6 Death Camps tested me as they required a knowledge of what lies beneath their surface, was literally countless 1,000,000's of Murdered Jewish People. So here I am in Amsterdam, and I was sat in my Hotel room and I could hear the peel of church bells. It was a simple sound but that it was from other than from the Westertoten itslef, it struck me. I wondered if I too was listening to that same clock toll its times and the sound from a clock which must have reminded Anne that life continues outside her hiding place, marks a reflective impression.
Friday March 10th. 1944
"..My dearest Kitty .. proverb ..Misfortunes never come singly ..definitely applies to today. ..Let me tell you ..awful things that have happened and ..are still hanging over our heads. ..Miep is sick. ..She caught cold in ..Westerkerk. ..police have arrested a man ..whose name I won't put in writing. It's terrible not only for him ..but for us as well ..since he's been supplying us with potatoes ..butter ..jam. Mr. M. ..has 5 children under ..13 ..another on ..way. Last night we had another ..scare ..in ..middle of dinner ..someone knocked on ..wall next door. For ..rest of ..evening we were nervous and gloomy. Yours." Anne M. Frank.
I could stand upon the balcony which faced the Westerkerk and I could clearly see that alongside this church there now stood the Anne Frank Museum. It appears as though a shield has been thrown around the old building, and surely these are purely there to stem the effects of weather degradation. But that defensive shroud, as we reflect back to Friday August 4th. 1944, where there is another day of fear is to torn from securing the safety of those soon to be exposed. Still, there is an expectation and there is a continued hope for those of the Annexe as another day beckons the future. However, at 10:30 am, the SD led by SS Hauptscharfuhrer Karl Josef Silberbauer, of the SS secret police, the Sicherheitsdienst, arrive at the factory. They are fully armed so as to ensure the peaceable arrest of those Jews they have been informed are hidden and they have come to collect.
As these Nazi's seek the attention of those they now are aware have been secretly hiding Anne and the other Jews of the Annexe, an emotional fear braces these helpers. Making their way forward, up the stairs and finding that the Annexe is secreted behind the bookcase. Behind that bookcase, which now lays open, there is a step which leads to a white door and beyond this, Otto Frank, Edith Frank, Margot Frank, Anne Frank, Hermann van Pels, Auguste van Pels, Peter van Pels and Fritz Pfeffer are taken by surprise. As their secret has been uncovered all manner of fear and terror must have confronted them. Here in microcosym, the fate of so many is played out and even after 2 years of hiding, there was always the hope of safety and the fear of being exposed. That exposition came abruptly and the wheels of a final resolve would be brought to bear and 7 more Jews would add to the Catastrophe weighted so heavily against them.
"..It did not end with ..betrayal ..I believe that my father blackmailed Otto Frank." Anton Ahlers.
The tragedy for Dutch Jewry is exemplified here in terrifying exactness and in cold relief we are witness to the mounting tragedy which had engulfed European Jewry over the past 4 years in the Netherlands. Though the entire tragedy for Dutch Jewry is under exposed, it is equally less disclosed than it should be. While history has not forgotten what many Dutch people did for their Jewish Community, we must remember the sheer enormity of the assault upon Jewish existence here in the Netherlands. While strikes were held and protests made, and when it became a struggle over life or death, many like the 4 main helpers of the Secret Annexe, acted with courage, compassion and a moral probity that was ethically firm.
Here, and if we take as an example the case of Anne Frank, we know full well the tragedy for those 8 of the secret Annexe. Though Otto Frank Survived to remind us of the struggle that they has all fought to Survive, Otto's soul was destroyed by an incalculable loss. What brought the end to the captive security from within the Secret Annexe cannot now be answered by the man who so betrayed them, Tonny Ahlers. However, as with all collaboration, and also with the opposite response from those, in saving Jews from Hitler, it would not only be the Jews alone who would be penalised for both any collaborative effort on behalf of those who might betray the Jewish People and more certainly for those who showed their humanity was shown.
"..All 4 immediately agreed ..though they were fully aware of ..dangerous task they would be taking upon themselves them in doing so. By Nazi law everyone helping Jews was severely punished and risked being put into prison ..being deported or ..shot." Otto Frank.
For Miep Gies, Johannes Kleiman, Victor Kugler and Bep Voskuijl the ramifications for their shared humanity were enormous. As for Jan Gies, Miep's Husband and for Jan Voskuijl, Bep's Father, their assistance came with the same level of deadly threat. The fall out for any of these could have so easily been extended to every branch of all of these Familily's. In truth, no one knew exactly where the sword would fall for the correctness of an attempt to save human beings from persecution, prosecution and destruction. How could these saviours of human dignity know their own fate. How could the fate of so many helpers of Jews, and throughout these Netherlands be considered other than fluid. With Hitler hell bent upon the destruction of all of Jewry, and by 1944 that resolve was clearly known to all who chose to see, hear and witness its reality.
"..Never have they uttered a single word about ..burden we must be ..never have they complained that we were too much trouble. They come upstairs every day and talk to ..Men about business and politics ..to ..Women about food and wartime difficulties and to ..Children about books and newspapers." Anne Frank.
Wherever the drive for The Final Solution raged, and for all those who acted with similar compassion for Friends, Neighbours or complete strangers, their fate would be inextricably weighted against them, and alongside the Annihilation awaiting All Jews. By now, SS Hauptcharfuhrer Silbebauer has called for a truck to deliver the 8, former Jewish residents of the Secret Annexe to Gestapo headquarters at Euterpestraat. Within minutes all 8 of these hidden Jews were out on the Street in the full glare of day and seeing their first sign of outside daylight in over 2 years. Gestapo headquarters at Euterpestraat was a brief sojourn for the 8 before their removal to the prison on Weteringschans the following Morning, Saturday August 5th. 1944. Then, on Tuesday August 8th. 1944 they were all again moved toward Amsterdam's Central Station
"..Frank girls looked terrible ..their hands and bodies covered with spots and sores from ..scabies. ..They were in a very bad way ..pitiful ..that’s how I thought of them." Ronnie Goldstein van Cleef.
From the train Station, and along with 72 other's, they were embarked on the next stage of the journey, this time to the Westerbork Concentration Camp. Westerbork detention camp, and hut 67 now awaited them and this too was merely a prelude from harm. Along that road toward their total degradation this transport hub for so many Jews being sent toward the East was a focal point from where where both Sobibor and Auschwitz awaited the Jews of the Netherlands. The transport which took Anne and her fellow Annexe survivors was amongst the last Dutch transports to leave toward Auschwitz. Indeed, their own transport on September 3rd. 1944 was the final transport of some 83 such resettlement transports which took 106,000 Dutch Jews toward extinction. This final transport however, was still specifically a death train, even as Russian pressure along the entire front was now fast approaching Auschwitz itself.
"..They had little squabbles ..caused by their illness, because it was clear they had typhus. " Rachel van Amerongen Frankfoorder.
Along the route of these journeys, in the Camps that came to recognise Anne and Margot's presence, there would be Janny Brandes Brilleslijper, Lenie de Jong van Naarden, Bloeme Evers Emden, Ronnie Goldstein van Cleef, Hannah Goslar, Nanette Konig and Rachel van Amerongen Frankfoorder who would recall them. Here, and these were amongst many Jews from all over Europe who touched upon Anne and Margot's fight for Survival, little knowing the impact Anne would have upon the World. Those who recalled Anne, Margot and even Edith would be forced to come to terms with what was known at the time and what will be then become known as The Holocaust. Separately, these individuals had met both Anne and Margot, either in both the transit Camp at Westerbork or then into Birkenau.
"..When ..Anne was in hiding ..her Mother was someone against whom she rebelled. ..in ..camp ..all of that actually completely fell away. By giving each other mutual support ..they were able to keep each other alive ..although no one can fight typhus." Bloeme Evers-Emden.
Their arrival at Auschwitz was on the Night of September 5th. and 6th. 1944 and upon their arrival at Camp of Auschwitz, they were sent forward toward Birkenau. Having been sealed into a cattle car for some 48 hours, they were amongst 1,019 Jews on this SD Transport. Amongst them, 498 Jewish Men, 442 Jewish Women and 79 Jewish Children, a selection was made. Of these 258 Jewish Men were selected for a momentary reprieve as were 212 Jewish Women, selective to service the demands of the SS overseers. However, for all of these other 549 Jews from this transport, these Jewish People are immediately gassed. There was the hand of fate playing here and all the Annexed 8 managed to survive this immediate selection. It is now known to History what happened and when, though not strictly in any sense of an exacting date for the final many for many of them.
There is no particualr resting place for them all as can be stressed for the 6,000,000 Jews, who are The Holocaust. Finally though, Birkenau expelled Anne and Margot and enroute toward Belsen, they heaed toward the space where both Anne and Margot did not Survive. Many other's travelled along the same route and some of these remained to recollect their memory of them both. In a mixture of the Camps that both Anne and Margot were in, they touched other's. For the 8 of the Secret Annexe, their story is a well worn narrative. For Otto Frank, who was born on May 12th. 1889, much of his story will be told through the narrative account of his future Wife Edith Holland Frank and their two Daughter's Margot and of course Anne. Some time between July and August 1933 Otto Frank goes to Holland to establish a new business.
On September 15th. 1933 Otto sets up his Opekta import business in Amsterdam and what history makes us aware of is, that Otto is secretly extricating himself and his Family from Hitler's Nazi control. The vitriol of hatred has spread from the rhetoric of hate to the commital of hatred. The vile and vicious nature of that hatred is being applied thoroughly and throughout his beloved Germany. While Edith, Margot and Anne stay behind in Aachen, Otto is concerned enough about the swell of anti-Jewish feeling, that he ventures forth alone. Soon after, and during November 1933 Edith joins her Husband while Margot follows in December. Anne remains behind until February 16th. 1934 and once again they are a united Family together. This is in a way a Birthday surprise for Anne's big Sister Margot.
The success of Otto's gambit is witnessed by which the Frank Family manage integrate into Dutch Society. But that ease of situation is not a permanent one when Hitler's forces cross into the Netherlands, May 14th. 1940. History is now entwined in the passages of a Book that has yet to be written. As we move firmly toward betrayal and the savagery that is to be witnessed by all Jews who enter places like Auschwitz and Birkenau, that detail is to be experienced by in excess of 4,000,000 Jews of Europe. Skipping forward, Otto Frank was admitted to the Auschwitz Death Camp, Birkenau and received his tatooed number B-9174. What that experience amounted to is the subject of Otto's own life tale. His progress toward safety is not easily made and the fretful duration brings him to the realisation of what he has lost and a realignment with whjat remains for him.
The day of liberation, what is recalled as Holocaust Remembrance day, January 27th. 1945 sees Otto free to make his journey home. He would make it firstly toward to Odessa en-route toward finding out all that he had ever loved had been taken away from him. What Otto was finally forced to acknowledge came in a letter he wrote on July 7th. 1945 and a snippet of that sentiment struck me as I read it on the Wall in the Anne Frank Huis. Having studied The Holocaust for so long now, I realised I was never going to remain immune from what intrinsically touches one's inner being, the loss to Humanity of these 6,000,000 Human Beings. To see in such cold relief the astonishing level of hatred that consumed these People, and simply because of their Jewish antecedence. This all stands in marked contrast to the reality that faced all the Jews of Europe threatened by Hitler and it is a margin which runs between fear and hope.
"..I have to accept ..fact of Edith's death ..but I keep hoping I can find my Children. That is what I am living for at ..moment. I gravitate between hope and fear." Otto Frank.
Edith (Hollander) Frank was born on January 16th. 1900 and in between her early life and coming to prominence in the story of a Young Girl's hope's and aspirations, this Mother is born. Edith had a typical upbringing and schooling, though a Christian Girl's School does appear somewhat at odds and apart from what enmeshed the Jewish People in a wholly unchristian context. On May 12th. however life has its up and in 1925 Edith Hollander marries Otto Frank and now comes to our attention as the narrative of this story finally emerges. I think it is with a huge level of sadness that what Otto finally discovers in the pages of Anne's Diary will be the common theme of a Young Girl emerging from the shadow of a Mother who gave rise to her prominence.
"..I was concerned ..there was not a particularly good understanding between my Wife and Anne ..and I believe my Wife suffered more from this than Anne. In reality ..she was an excellent mother ..who went to any lengths for her children. She often complained that Anne was against everything she did but it was consolation for her to know that Anne trusted me." Otto Frank.
Edith is often so much a a hidden character in what we learn from Anne but she is a constant in all the lives of the Frank's and those who came to seek a shelter from the impending storm. Edith managed to Survive until weeks, or even days before the final liberation of Auschwitz on January 27th. 1945, even though liberation was not the full saving grace for so many totally debilitated Survivors. For Edith, the certainty was to be a cold reality which faced all too many and yet, it was always an opportunity to know you had Survived Hitler's intentions for those gifted to do so. It is somewhat ironic that in conversation with Miep Gies Edith confided in her that she shielded her entire Family and the other hidden of the Annexe of her fears for their future.
"..What she needed to talk about ..which she couldn’t talk about in front of ..others ..was that she was suffering under a great weight of despair. Although ..others were counting ..days until ..Allies came ..Mrs. Frank confessed that she was deeply ashamed of ..fact that she felt ..end would never come." Miep Gies.
It has to be imagined, that in that hidden 2 year period, hope was beginning to slip away from all of those couped up in such a small space, and Edith was no exception. It is evidently clear though, Edith never gave way to any such negative feelings of open despair. Though Edith must have been sharply in contradiction with herself as the hopeful expression given over to succeeding, survivng and staying alive did not betray her inner fear. Toward the latter part of her life, as Stalin's forces relentlessly advanced and reached into the heart of Poland, Edith was drawing close to her last moments. It was abundantly clear to a World at War, and by the end of September 1944 it was more apparent than ever that Hitler's grasping hold on a greater Reich was being gradually diminished, beaten and then crushed.
However, this did not preclude further transports reaching Auschwitz for Birkenau and they dutifully arrived from Budapest, Lodz, Pruszkow, these remnants of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, Slovenia, Vienna and of course the Westerbork Transport which had brought the detainees from the Secret Annexe. Then, during October 1944 from amongst many of the camp’s 39,000 women prisoners, both Margot and Anne were entrained for Belsen. From here on in, and while it is without certainty exactly when, Edith Frank finally succumbed sometime on January 6th. 1945 to the grief over the obvious loss of her Children Margot and Anne and to a place that was to remain unknown to her. I have no doubt too that Edith was further impacted by the very debilitating and catastrophic effects of exhaustion and starvation that was the mainstay for those Jews held over temporsrily from the immediate intention to Murder them all.
"..Edith died ..in bed ..next to me." Rosa de Winter-Levy.
Edith had been compelled to allow both Margot and Anne to leave Birkenau and her broken heart fixed Edith to that space within Birkenau. As another Dutch Jew, who knew the Frank Women, Young and Older at Auschwitz, a little more light is shone on a very dark chapter in Jewish existence and the Frnk's persistence. When the Sisters were confined to the scabies barrack, Lenie de Jong van Naarden helped Edith Frank dig a hole under the structure of the barrack so as to smuggle bread to her daughters. The ingenuity of captives, even within the Death Camp system, was remarkably adaptive to the prevailing stench of destruction which surrounded them. Life, marginally above the level of what existed for those who were consumed with the gas chambers, served to remind all Jews, their fate was sealed.
"..In ..barracks where ..Frank girls were ..Women went crazy ..completely crazy. ..There were people who threw themselves against ..electric fence. ..To work it out completely alone ..that didn’t work ..even very strong women broke down." Lenie de Jong van Naarden.
Margot Frank, was born on February 16th. 1926 and is schooled early on in her life, in Germany and then in Amsterdam. After Otto feels certain that all their lives are at risk, Schooling in Germany becomes a deeply negative concept. Laws were passed which would place all Jews outside the remit for education, outside the remit for life within Germany and finally, outside the essential to life itself for them. For any Child growing amidst the terrifying spectacle of outright hatred for them, because they were Jews, I cannot even begin to inform you here of what that must have been like. How Children must have felt or bre the scars of such intolerances toward them or indeed how Parents could recover their Children from the very trauma they faced on a daily basis and simply for being Jews, so escapes me it shocks my core.
"..Margot is very kind and would like me to confide in her ..but I can't tell her everything. She takes me too seriously ..far too seriously ..and spends a lot of time thinking about her loony Sister ..looking at me closely whenever I open my mouth and wondering ..is she acting ..or does she really mean it." Anne Frank.
The pace of Margot's life is ground to a stalled halt as on July 5th. 1942, Margot herself receives her summons. This letter from the Gestapo, for Margot to report to a work camp somewhere in Germany stuns a frightened Family. This clearly alerts Otto once again to the grave danger for them and they set upon a course that is about to move them out of harms way. It is important to reflect her that all through their lives, Margot was with her Sister and in these formative years, it all proves pivotal in their growth as Sister's, as Friends at the best and worst of times and always totally reliant upon each other. Through the dark days of the Annexe in hiding and then discovery, through arrest, incarceration, imprisonment and then on to the Westerbork Concentration Camp, Margot and Anne were connected, rooted to each other. Together they then resisted the struggle to simply die in the Birkenau Death Camp.
"..Typhus was ..hallmark of ..Belsen ..Anne and Margot had those hollowed out faces ..skin over bone. They were terribly cold. They had ..least desirable places in ..barracks ..below ..near ..door ..which was constantly opened and closed. You could really see both of them dying." Rachel van Amerongen Frankfoorder.
Even before Margor or Anne could be liberated by the approaching Russian forces, both she and Anne were removed toward Belsen. Here, in this holding Camp, where the utter chaos of death had replaced the organised structure of destruction was also to become an antechamber to that hell which had always been Auschwitz and more certainly Birkenau. In Belsen, Margot was the first to die, and she succumbed to the brutality of an intolerance heavily weighted against her. At sometime during February 1945, and this is contested and uncertain, Margot dies of the effects of typhus. Also, and hile her Sister Anne died days later, their close proximity to each other within the confines of Belsen holds them bonded together more closely and by more than their Jewish nature which had condemned them both to this end.
"..Margot had fallen out of bed onto ..stone floor ..she couldn’t get up anymore. Anne died a day later. 3 days before her death from typhus was when Anne had thrown away all of her clothes during dreadful hallucinations. That happened just before ..liberation." Janny Brandes Brilleslijper.
Annalies Marie Frank, better known to the World of Humanity as Anne Frank, was born on June 12th. 1929. The very detail of Anne's life is well written and documented into the very fabric of what The Holocaust means for 6,000,000 Murdered Jews. That is true also for the Jewish People in general and for Humanity in particular. For Anne Frank, who was with her Sister Margot to the very end and for whom both had resisted the struggle to die in the Birkenau Death Camp, life would be now measured by the struggle to live. After just a few weeks, within that deeply disturbing struggle to survive what Birkenau threw at them, both Anne and Margot contracted scabies.
This ailment, which was so rampant amongst these debilitated human beings so low in their immunity to disease, took hold of those who had little resources to fight them off. These skin mites tore at the human defence mechanism like no other and further brought the disintegration of so many survivng, ever closer toward extinction. It is a calamity for anyone to have to speak in such terms about Human beings, for them being so on the brink of annihilation and to being so ravaged by their situation that they disintgrated externally as they disappeared internally. But this was the reality for 6,000,000 Jews of Europe, whose course had wound them toward such an ignominy and insistence upon their destruction. Of course so many other's suffered a similar fate, but it has never been decidedly confirmed so systematically, as Hitler had placed for the Jews as on the Final Solution of the Jewish People.
"..I saw Anne walking on ..other side of some barbed wire. I couldn't go near it .though ..I would have been tortured or killed. ..later ..able to talk. ..She was depleted ..wrapped in blankets because her clothes were full of lice. ..It was from Anne that I learnt what was happening in Auschwitz." Nanette Konig.
Within the scabies barrack, both Margot and Anne were alone, no longer sheltered from the storm by the closeness of Family. Though Edith somehow managed and made efforts to ensure they were as cared for as was humanly possible, it is an unbearable reality for all Jews confined within the sphere of the intention to destroy them, that Family ties were merely a momentry interlude in what was always Hitler's intention for them all. Somehow both Margot and Anne survived, but only until they were forced elsewhere, and Belsen will find them both consigned to the fate Hitler had assigned them. Here in Belsen, Margot was the first to die of the effects of typhus while Anne died later both uncertain as to the fate of the other it has to be assumed and both almost certainly unsure as to the fate of both of their Parents, Edith and Otto.
"..We did our best to help them. ..Not only Anne and Margot ..but also ..other girls we knew went regularly to provide them with a little balance and sometimes a little culture." Janny Brandes Brilleslijper.
Some testimony's give the specific date for Anne's death as March 31st. 1945, but certainty cannot be given over to this as clarity is hardly the prevailing recollections for those who struck a deal with death so as to gain life. Clearly though, both Anne and Margot were to be remembered by some of those who touched them and were even touched by their prevailing strength in having survived for so long. Many survivors too speak of both Sister's as they too followed them through the struggle for life in the Camps of Westerbork and Auschwitz and even into the jaws of the destructive capacity that was the Death Camp Birkenau and then onto the camp of death that was Belsen. It is essential to ensure memory does not diffuse the differences with the similarity's that met those Jews who did not emerge from the system of Camps, Hitler established.
"..Anne was very calm and quiet and somewhat withdrawn ..and often stood next to me at appell and Margot was close by. ..fact that they had ended up there had affected Anne profoundly ..that was obvious." Ronnie Goldstein-van Cleef.
There were a total of x6 Death Camps, established by Hitler within Poland and these were solely designed for the purpose of the annihilation of those Jews assigned to them. That other than Jew's died in those Death Camps is certain. That Jews did and were Murdered in every Camp that Hitler established, also within Poland but elsewhere throughout Europe, camps designed to wholly contain them, does not make of them Death Camps. Even though Jewish death was a product of the camps existence, the systematic, mechanised and industrial scale of the murder process was attributable only to those x6 Death Camps in Poland, namely, Auschwitz and Birkenau, Belzec, Chelmno, Majdanek, Sobibor and Treblinka. Here, in excess of 4,000,000 Jews of Europe were consumed and if the full facts were reexamined and detailed, far in excess of this number of Jewish Murdered would be applied to History.
"..Anne thought that her parents were dead. I have always thought that if Anne had known that her father was still alive ..she would have found .. strength to go on living." Hannah Goslar.
It is impossible to speculate over the inner feelings of another Person without a direct insight into their being. But I can assume so much given Anne's telling ways and words which marked her as an extraordinary individual. To borrow from another Survivor, Halina Birenbaum who wrote, Hope is The Last to Die, and as that hope springs eternal, we know the grasp of hope can be the mainstay of that very hold onto life. For Anne, knowledge of the fate of her Father Otto in particular, and the sure need of a Mom who had always nurtured her forthrightness, would have given her a little more comfort and perhaps even a stronger will to fight back from the brink of death. But we know from history that none of this gave Anne, nor Margot, nor indeed the 6,000,000 Jews who perished, a hope that would not die.
It would appear that, as Anne would spend her time speaking, tutoring and even engaging in the distraction of the Children, life managed to hold a notion of hope could be obtained. For entertaining the Children as Anne and Margot went along, life here is so far from human expectation, it is troubling to even consider this as life. It appears too that both Margot and Anne made deeply human connections with those they came into contact with. Even here in Belsen, where life both transitory and an illusion, if we are then to be convinced either or both Margot or Anne believed that their Parents were dead, was hope also dead. Life along that margin is still recalled by those touched by them and it effects for us a sense that while there was a will to maintain some grasp on life, the reality was always markedly different and prone to the whims of brutal and unrestrained progression toward certin death.
"..At a certain moment in her final days ..Anne stood in front of me. ..She didn’t have any more tears ..and she told me that she had such a horror of ..lice and fleas in her clothes ..that she had thrown all of her clothes away. It was ..middle of winter and she was wrapped in one blanket. I gathered up everything I could find to give her so that she was dressed again." Janny Brandes Brilleslijper.
Hermann van Pels was born on March 31st. 1898 and would not Survive the rigorous process at Auschwitz. In these coming days, while the other 7 managed to fix a space for themselves in this life outside life, age and strength played a heavy hand. Herman van Pels suffered a hand injury which prevented him from working toward the Nazi goal. With relentless finality, and on October 3rd. 1944, Hermann van Pels was selected for destruction and was gassed and cremated in the complex of Birkenau on November 26th. 1944.
Auguste van Pels, who was born on September 9th. 1900 and having survived for these both the Annexe, Westerboprk and even Auschwitz and Birkenau, was sent to the Belsen Concentration Camp in northern Germany and lasted 2 months in that particular hell. She was amongst a group of 8 other Jewish Women who embarked upon the journey toward Belsen. On February 6th. 1945, Auguste van Pels was further deported to the Raguhn subcamp of Buchenwald, and she died somewhere in Germany or Czechoslovakia, between April 9th and May 8th 1945. It is clear though, that while being once more deported, and to the Ghetto Camp at Theresienstadt, the guards detailed to escort this transport threw Auguste van Pels in front of that transport train and she was killed instantly.
Peter van Pels was born on November 8th. 1926 and journeyed though our times and from the Secret Annex toward Westerbork and onto Auschwitz and Birkenau. From Birkenau Peter van Pels was sent on a Death March and away from Auschwitz. Peter arrived days later at the Mauthausen Concentration Camp on January 25th. 1945. Peter van Pels died at the Mauthausen Camp on May 10th.1945.
Fritz Pfeffer was born on April 30th. 1989 and he too came to our recollectioin as he was brought to the safety of the Secret Annexe. For x2 years that safety seemed assured but eventually discovered he too wound his way toward Westerbork. From here to Auschwitz and Birkenau where he has to leave Birkenau sometime in October 1944. The Nazis send him to the Neuengamme Concentration Camp near Hamburg in Northern Germany. Here, all manner of prisoner are forced into labour, the heavy work debilitating, starving and crushing their spirit. As was the status in all Camps of Hitler's demands, rations were so scarce, very little food was made available for the detainees to eat. Fritz Pfeffer finally succumbs to the pressures and ill, time marks him and he died on December 20th. 1944.
This brings me up to today and my recent visit to the Anne Frank House. Study has always taught me that the unexpected can creep up and surprise, regardless of the years of research which supposedly should prepare you for all eventualities. I was never ever prepared for the depth of emotion which swept over me as I surveyed the devastating places that had been formerly, The Death Camps. I knew full well here though that the misfortunes never came singly, and The Secret Annexe, where all 8 hidden are a testimony to that truth. In a 2 year time span Anne Frank, her Family and 4 others in hiding would be eventually removed to face Hitler's resolve to Murder them all. What I did not suspect, which would mitigate my own attempts to be prepared for what might confront me was a simple quote from Otto Frank.
Otto, the only Survivor of the 8 mmembers from the Secret Annexe, knowing already that his Wife had been Murdered, but was still hoping that both his Children, Margor and Anne would return. How could he know then what I know now that they wouldn't and We all know that both Anne and Margot died in Belsen. It was deeply sad, knowing full well what Otto had completely hoped for and we, with history behind us, are all too aware of their fate. The tragedy is well known the World over but on June 21st. 1945, for a momentary light to have flashged through the darkest despair for a Husband and a Father, it has long since been dimmed by the reality of the factual truth, that all 3, Edith, Margot and Anne had died an intolerable death.
"..I just can't think how I would go on without ..Children having lost Edith already. ..It's too upsetting for me to write about them. Naturally I still hope." Otto Frank.
Here, what Otto Frank hopes for, we know History has delivered us to the cruelest of news, and it is an enshrined fact that Edith, Margot and Anne have died and I am staring at words on a wall which offer a hope we know are dashed. They had all been consigned to a fate outside what Humanity considers compassionate. Anne and Margot's Mother, Edith Frank had perished in Auschwitz, this other Annexe to Jewish existence and though severely malnourished and debilitated, Anne and Margot were forced toward Belsen, another camp which was undignified in its worst excesses toward those Jews and other's forced to remain there. It is for posterity that we bear these facts and know why reason must ensure that these lessons are learned and are taught well and that they are respected and are fully comprehended.
"..I bought ..little book last week ..to see if I was mentioned there ..I saw that I was not." Karl Josef Silberbauer.
Here, what Silberbauer stated in 1963 is typical of the selfish importance he placed above the lack of compassion or humanity he clearly had shown. For the 8 innocent Jewish People he set along the road toward annihilation, history will judge him accusingly. His personal concern goes way beyond that too for the Writer of this 'LITTLE BOOK' whose energy surpasses his wasted insignificance. Here, and while not even realising that he could have completely denied the entire World the gift of the Book. The Diary, which has given hope to so many, leaves his charmless life behind as it ebbs into obscurity, here mentioned merely as an after thought for more concerning principles dominating human concern, compassion and toleration for all others.
"..I turned 100 years ..April ..a beautiful birthday party surrounded by my grandchildren ..great grandchildren and other family members. I even danced a little. Willard Scott mentioned my name on television. But such a time is also for reflection. I decided to overcome my long reluctance to revisit terrible times. Older people must tell their stories. With ..help of Jonathan Alter ..here’s a bit of mine. ..Hitler came to power ..and like many other Jews ..we fled to Holland. As ..Nazis closed in ..we sent one Daughter abroad with relatives and the other into hiding with my Sister and her children in ..Hague. My Husband and I could not hide so easily ..and in 1941 we were sent ..to Westerbork ..stayed about a year ..and later to ..Belsen ..from where 1,000's of innocent people were sent to Extermination Camps. There were no ovens at ..Belsen ..instead ..Nazis killed us with starvation and disease. My husband and brother both died there. I stayed for about 3 years before it was liberated ..Spring ..1945. When I went in ..I weighed more than 125 pounds. When I left ..I weighed 78 pounds." Irma Sonnenberg Menkel.
All witness testimony is essential in adding to any narrative wishing to come to terms with the facts in History. But in terms of the conduct of those who delivered 6,000,000 Jews toward Destruction, and in examining the life of any particular person within that catalogue of hatred, that essential is even more pertinent. Independent testimony is not only corroborative, it also lends an insight into the prevailing awareness of the condtitions surrounding those we seek to recall, in extremis. For Miep Gies and Jan Gies, Johannes Kleiman, Victor Kugler, Bep Voskuijl and for Jan Voskuijl, their assistance in secuing a period of safety for The Secret Annexe hidden, is enlightening as far as a Dutch will to resisist and assist is concerned. Anne Frank has infilled the blank spaces of the lives she shared with those closely involved here and these in turn extend her words to further mean what can be gained from them.
"..After I arrived at ..Belsen ..I was told I was ..barracks leader. ..I .. had no choice. ..Nazi Kommandant ..was from my home town in Germany ..studied with my uncle in Strasbourg. This coincidence probably helped save my life. ..About once every 3 weeks ..he would ask to see me. I was always afraid. It was very dangerous. Jews were often shot over nothing. After ..war ..I heard he had committed suicide." Irma Sonnenberg Menkel.
The 49 year old SS Hauptsturmfuhrer Adolf Haas was born in Hachenburg and though it is uncertain as to how he died, it is either believed he was missing in action, committed suicide or was killed elsewhere, his irreleavnce also does little to balance The Holocaust, a book of shame written in 6,000,000 titles. As a company commander of a panzier grenadier battalion, he was pitted against the rising tide of Allied advances on Hitler's Reich. As Irma has stated however, while suicide is just as likely to have been his route away from being indicted as a war criminal, it lessen's the knowledge we can gain. Given his credentials as a Kommandant at Belsen and other Nazi installations, this route out was often times the reaction of so many to being caught and made to answer for their crimes. That so many of these supposed ideologues took such a premature end, speaks of the immaturity of the system spawning them.
"..more evacuation transports arrived in ..Belsen ..more catastrophic ..situation became. ..over crowded huts ..often without any heating lacked all equipment or furnishings and people had to lie on ..bare floors. ..camp authorities deliberately refrained from easing ..situation and made no attempt to draw on ..reserves of food ..clothing ..medical supplies ..stored at ..nearby military training grounds. ..lack of water was so severe that prisoners in ..Belsen died of thirst. Others went mad with hunger and thirst. " Belsen Memorial Booklet.
With the incarcerated and the interned, with the thretened Jewish fate being an annihilatory one, the narrative is both an intimate insight and a captive one. The lesser known journey, for those of the secret annexe, and after their secret had been revealed, is no less concerning. Here too, many give voice to that search for what happened to Anne and the other's as they progressed toward and back from their own annihilation and then to their eventual destruction . Here, Janny Brandes Brilleslijper, Lenie de Jong van Naarden, Bloeme Evers Emden, Ronnie Goldstein van Cleef, Hannah Goslar, Nanette Konig and Rachel van Amerongen Frankfoorder lend us their recollections of both Anne and Margot Frank. Also, and with a short insight into what deeply affected, traumatised and eventually delivered Edith Frank into The Holocaust, we perhaps gain what Anne failed to deliver in her own testimony about her Mother.
"..There were about 500 Women and Girls in my barracks. Conditions were extremely crowded and unsanitary. No heat at all. Every morning ..up at 5 and wake ..rest. 6 ..we went to appell. ..wait there for hours ..no matter ..weather. ..we worked as slave labor in ..factory ..making bullets for German soldiers. When we left Holland ..I had taken only 2 changes of clothes ..toothbrush ..no books or other possessions. ..I had a few more clothes ..including a warm jacket ..which came from someone who died. Men ..Women lined up for hours to wash their clothes in ..few sinks. ..no showers. ..no bedding. ..day ..spent working and waiting. At 10 p.m ..lights out. ..midnight ..inspection came 3 or 4 soldiers. I had to say everything ..in good condition when ..conditions were beyond miserable. ..again at 5." Irma Sonnenberg Menkel.
We gain from those traumatically connected to the ebb and flow of life where life is permanently endangered, a cared for Mother caring for her Children, a Mother, maternal, loving and dutiful to the last. Furthermore, as the focus is and has been on Anne, we can not afford to forget the significance of those who all played a part in Anne's coming to our attention. Then, and for anyone who could so declare that as a prisoner in Belsen that 'I Saw Anne Frank Die', her evidence must be considered especially crucial. It is not simply the fact that this evidence exists but that it adds a newer dimension to Anne which has been guessed about, worked upon and posited for these past 70 years and more. We have perhaps gained our own insight into a young girl whose diary has delivered so much that has been taken from it. Here, we have an addition to those pages which emerge as added depth to a person we have sought to know.
"..One of ..Children in my barracks toward ..end of ..war was Anne Frank ..whose diary became famous after her death. I didn’t know her family beforehand ..and I don’t recall much about her ..but I do remember her as a quiet child. When I heard later that she was 15 when she was in ..camps ..I was surprised. She seemed younger to me. Pen and paper were hard to find ..but I have a memory of her writing a bit. Typhus was a terrible problem ..especially for ..Children. Of 500 in my barracks ..maybe 100 got it ..and most of them died. Many others starved to death. When Anne Frank got sick with typhus ..I remember telling her she could stay in ..barracks ..she didn’t have to go to appell." Irma Sonnenberg Menkel.
"..There was so little to eat. In my early days there ..we were each given one roll of bread for 8 days ..we tore it up ..piece by piece. One cup of black coffee a day and one cup of soup. And water. That was all. Later there was even less. When I asked ..kommandant for a little bit of gruel for ..Children’s diet ..he would sometimes give me some extra cereal. Anne Frank was among those who asked for cereal ..but how could I find cereal for her. It was only for ..little Children ..and only a little bit. ..Children died anyway. A couple of trained nurses were among ..inmates ..and they reported to me. In ..evening ..we tried to help ..sickest. In ..morning ..it was part of my job to tell ..soldiers how many had died ..night before. Then they would throw ..bodies on ..fire." Irma Sonnenberg Menkel.
I will not even begin to catalogue the Books that are available referencing Anne Frank, which is a catologue on its own. Without The Diary of Anne Frank, there would have been no following that could inspire so much, both reverential and dissecting with regards the inhumanity that could not destroy the humanity which is in each of us. Anne's life, her times and the tumult of those times have accused humanity, judged history and haunted reams of paper with dissertation and the flow of words unable to capture the essential needlessness of her Destruction. So for me, I will Catalogue those Books I have, I have Read and I would reference in connection with the life of a remarkable Young Girl seeking to inform us, which I know accutely well and I would urge all those keen to learn more, know more and perhaps understand even less, to search the:
Anne Frank House. Museum with a Story.
"..Anne Frank House is a museum with a story. ..Attention is ..given to ..traces left behind by ..inhabitants of ..Secret Annex ..images Anne pasted on her bedroom wall and ..pencil marks indicating how much Anne and Margot grew during ..2 years in hiding." Ronald Leopold.
Anne Frank House. House.
"..There is much to learn from ..story of this young Woman amid ..terrible times." Jeffrey Shandler.
Denenberg, Barry. Shadow Life.
"..We live at a time when insensitivity to ..value of human life is on rise .. ..reading about Anne Frank is ..especially ..meaningful now. ..Perhaps we will finally understand ..object of hate ..violence ..evil may be a Child just like ourselves. ..even a young girl living in Amsterdam who has ..celebrated her 13th. Birthday ..has ..received .only gift she cared about ..a diary. ..her whole life before her." Barry Denenberg.
Frank, Anne. Dreaming, Thinking, Writing.
"..I am almost 90 now ..my strength is gradually declining. ..task ..Anne set before me keeps giving me new strength ..to struggle for reconciliation and for human rights ..world over." Otto Frank.
Frank, Anne. The Diary of a Young Girl.
Saturday July 15th. 1944
"..It's really a wonder that I haven't dropped all my ideals ..they seem so absurd and impossible to carry out. Yet I keep them ..because in spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart. I simply can't build up my hopes on a foundation consisting of confusion ..misery ..death. I see ..world gradually being turned into a wilderness ..I hear ..ever approaching thunder ..which will destroy us too ..I can feel ..sufferings of 1,000,000's and yet ..if I look up into ..heavens ..I think that it will all come right ..that this cruelty too will end ..and that peace and tranquillity will return again. In ..meantime ..I must uphold my ideals ..for perhaps ..time will come when I shall be able to carry them out ". Anne M Frank.
Frank, Anne. The Diary of Anne Frank:
The Critical Edition.
Saturday July 15th. 1944
"..It's really a wonder that I haven't dropped all my ideals ..they seem so absurd and impossible to carry out. Yet I keep them ..because in spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart. I simply can't build up my hopes on a foundation consisting of confusion ..misery ..death. I see ..world gradually being turned into a wilderness ..I hear ..ever approaching thunder ..which will destroy us too ..I can feel ..sufferings of 1,000,000's and yet ..if I look up into ..heavens ..I think that it will all come right ..that this cruelty too will end ..and that peace and tranquillity will return again. In ..meantime ..I must uphold my ideals ..for perhaps ..time will come when I shall be able to carry them out. " Yours Anne.
Frank, Anne. The Diary of Anne Frank:
The Definitive Edition.
Saturday July 15th. 1944
"..It's a wonder I haven't abandoned all my ideals ..they seem so absurd and impractical. Yet I cling to them ..because I still believe ..in spite of everything that people are truly good at heart. It's utterly impossible for me to build my life on a foundation of chaos ..suffering ..death. I see ..world being slowly transformed into a wilderness ..I hear ..approaching thunder that ..one day ..will destroy us too ..I feel ..suffering of 1,000,000's. ..yet ..when I look up at ..sky ..I somehow feel that everything will change for ..better ..that this cruelty too will end ..that peace and tranquillity will return once more. In ..meantime ..I must hold on to my ideals. ..Perhaps ..day will come when I'll be able to realize them. " Yours Anne M Frank.
Frank, Anne. Tales from the Secret Annexe.
"..message of hope in that one person can make a difference. ..Otto Frank's determination lead us to learn how not to hate." Gillian Walnes.
Gies, Miep. Anne Frank Remembered: The Story of the Woman Who Helped to Hide the Frank Family.
"..More than 20,000 Dutch people helped to hide Jews ..in need of hiding. ..I willingly did what I could. ..My husband did. ..It was not enough. ..place ..Anne Frank holds in history ..what her story has come to mean for ..many millions ..touched by it." Miep Gies.
Lee, Carol Ann. Otto Frank.
"..arrest ..led by ss Oberscharfuhrer Karl Josef Silberbauer ..took place in ..annexe of ..spice company ..it included ..director of ..company ..Otto Frank ..and his Family. ..calamity had spread across ..life of Otto Frank like a sheet of flame ..and ..embers ..burned many years later," Carol Ann Lee.
Lindwer, Willy. The Last Seven Months of Anne Frank.
"..Women speak ..Women ..like Anne ..were in Westerbork ..Auschwitz ..Belsen. ..knew Anne. ..describe what happened on ..transports ..in ..camps where Anne stayed. ..what Anne and these women ..who approached ..limits of human endurance ..went through." Willy Lindwer.
Schloss, Eva. After Auschwitz.
"..I feel I have a responsibility to help others understand that we are capable of overcoming ..most difficult circumstances." Eva Schloss.
Schloss, Eva, with Evelyn J. Kent. Eva's Story: A Survivor's Tale by the Step-Sister of Anne Frank.
"..So by ..tragedy in both our lives ..together we found new happiness." Fritzi Frank.
I am mindful there should be an Epitaph that would extend beyond those memorials to Anne, that already exist, that would be able to trace her arrest, review her detention and then follow her on the transport to and from Westerbork. Following her toward Auschwitz and Birkenau and then from there and onto Belsen is a duty for many but an effort for few. These traces would further ensure we commemorate Anne's presence, a life that was taken from us. There is always the fact that Anne, a viable person, is recalled as having been here and in each of these places. The delivery of Anne toward destruction could be retraced from her Birthplace to Holland and from safety to destruction. Perhaps a documentary on what Anne might have seen enroute to Westerbork, Auschwitz and Birkenau and then Belsen would avail us of more of the fact of this intriguing Young Girl's legacy to us.
"..I have a dim memory of Anne Frank speaking of her father. She was a nice ..fine person. ..When she slipped into a coma ..I took her in my arms. She didn’t know that she was dying. She didn’t know that she was so sick. You never know. At ..Belsen ..you did not have feelings anymore. You became paralyzed. In all ..years since ..I almost never talked about ..Belsen. I couldn’t. It was too much. When ..war was over ..we went in a cattle truck to a place where we stole everything out of a house. I stole a pig ..and we had a butcher who slaughtered it. Eating this ..when we had eaten so little before ..was bad for us. It made many even sicker. But you can’t imagine how hungry we were. At ..end ..we had absolutely nothing to eat. I asked an American soldier holding a piece of bread if I could have a bite. He gave me ..whole bread. That was really something for me." Irma Sonnenberg Menkel.
Sadly, this survival was not to be the fate for Anne, nor 6,000,000 Jews of Europe upon whom I remark. And as I reflect and rcall as I sat on that train, a Railway journey that was stopping off along the very route Anne would have taken from Central Station Amsterdam toward Westerbork, how could she then know what awaited her. Asking questions from those in the neighbourhood of Anne’s former residence, we gain a clearer picture of Anne's kind hearted though mischievous soul. Within Westerbork, Auschwitz and Birkenau and then Belsen, moments creep out which still present newer emphasis of her to us. Anne, nor the many 1,000,000's from within the 6,000,000 Murdered Jewish catastrophe itself, can see those who have profitted most from the removal of the Jews from these areas of former Jewish presence. No moral concern delivers to History a wrong righted, especially given this expropriation of what has been Jewish before being taken, including these Jewish lives.
There are traces of the former lives of th Jew of Europe, which seem owned by tother's not rihtly belonging to them. We see owned former Jewish property’s, possibly from those Jews now disappeared, overtaken by other's who have no right to the claims. As I stand before the memorial statue of Anne Frank, which is situated a few yards from The Anne Frank House and outside the Westerkerk, I am struck by its seeming paucity of stature as I recognise with equivalence the place of Amsterdam in Jewish a former presence now largely disipated. Here too the Art World is open to similar accusation. Art, though it is becoming the aristocrat of greed and the symbol of a divisiveness unseen since the Renaissance created such brilliance, has been so misapproipriated as to be complicit in all that Anne represents and all that 6,000,000 Jews have lost.
The profit of ownership far outways the diligence afforded People deprived of a living standard so beneath a living standard, People die of hunger, neglect and the lack of human concern or compassion reminisecent of a past we are meant to learn positively from. Invariably I dislike comparison because in doing so it throws up a dissent which might even demean the discourse I wish to traverse. Here though, with The Holocaust a gaping wound before all of History, unprecedented in nature and unparalled in its extreme and systematic atrocity, Anne Frank too remains incomparable. In a literal sense, and in Humanitarian terms, Anne's reach is unsurmountable. For instance, take an artist like Rembrandt, who considers himself the equal of, or the aspiring student whose view toward superior artists, in many ways, does his demand some harm.
The likes of Caravaggio, Michelangelo, Raphael or Titian, to share their world prominence, one must share an ability that is remotely comparable in the least. For the artist Rembrandt,1606 till 1669, he fits that remit in so many ways, and his work is rightly revered for its dexterity, mood and brilliance. For some 13 years prior to his death, and for perhaps 17 years, he worked and painted in Amsterdam. But I am not here to commend such artistry, as it is rightly held, but to compare the inequality given over to the exploitation of gifts, talents and legacies. For an almost comparable length of time Anne Frank too spent time in Amsterdam, from February 16th. 1934 until her betrayal on August 4th. 1944. Also, there were a further 7 Human Beings cowering in a shelter insulated somewhat from what was now ravaging Jewish existence throughout the rest of Europe.
Already sheltering from an approaching storm as Hitler's rhetoric was converted into abuse, assault and Murder, Otto Frank formed an astute recognition of the dangers for his Family, as Jews, even here in 1933. Here in Amsterdam, their collective Survival would rest largely upon that intuition for the proceeding 12 year period. Added to this, for 2 years of that time, between 1942 -1944 Anne and the Family and the van Pels and Fritz Pfeffer remained hidden and concealed from a murderous attempt, soon to be recognised as, The Holocaust. So we reach a climate of the gravest concern for all of humanity and for which the artistry of Anne's words strives to a given mention of the horror to come and for us to attain a comprehension which is inconceiveable and incomprehensible to human nature. So do we weigh the relevance of words with a statue which pales in comparison to that of Remembrandt's or suggest a bias that once persisted still exists for which Anne deserves better than she is given.
"..When I got back to Holland ..no one knew anything. I finally found a priest who had ..address where my Sister and Daughter were. I didn’t know if they were living or not. They were. They had been hidden by a man who worked for my brother. That was luck. I found them and began crying. I was so thin that at first they didn’t recognize me. There are many stories like mine ..locked inside people for decades. Even my family heard only a little of this one until recently. Whatever stories you have in your family ..tell them. It helps." Irma Sonnenberg Menkel.
Revisiting the PastPosted by P.A. Draigh Fri, November 09, 2018 19:31:06
"..You must first remember ..context of my experience. In 1938 ..I was 13 years old and had experienced Nazi Germany for ..last 5 years. I was 8 years old in 1933 when ..Nazi party took over ..German government. Even with this beginning event ..my whole lifestyle as a Jewish child changed drastically." Werner Coppel.
I have no wish to omit one single Jew from within the term, The Holocaust. For that reason alone, I am overly cautious about where I would suggest we find the commencement date of the beginnings of the very atrocity attributed to its reach, depth and even terms of reference. For me, all or anything that would have confined any Jew, of any description, Male, Female or der Kinder, must be considered ever present in what Hitler fully intended for them all.
"..I was living in Hamburg at ..time. ..a student at an advanced preparatory school next to our synagogue. I remember we could look out ..windows of ..school and see ..synagogue. ..morning after Kristallnacht ..we could see just strands of glass where ..windows of ..synagogue had been destroyed. ..entire inside of ..synagogue had been burnt out. Our teacher got there in ..morning and then let us out early due to what had happened." Hugo Eichelberg.
Therefore, we cannot ever discard from the narrative of Hitler's constructed Final Solution of The Jewish Question, the very presence of any Murdered Jew. From the period of Hitler's presence in any political guise, and during Hitler's rise to, his coming to and the then approved power base of his brokerage of that power, the Jewish People were centre stage in what was a clearly Hitler's murderous intention for all and any Jew. While supposition would promote the commencement of the overall catastrophe sometime after The Wannsee Conference, on January 20th. 1942.
"..All ..children gathered in ..synagogue every day. ..cub scouts and girl scouts were put together ..based on what training they had. There were Zionist overtones to our community ..ultimate goal was to return to Israel. When we were in ..synagogue ..we were not bothered with what was going on in ..outside world. It was in that very room in ..synagogue that I was able to celebrate my Bar Mitzvah in February of 1938. It was a very simple celebration with soft drinks and cake ..but it was held in a safe environment." Werner Coppel.
This starting point is being considered while der Einsatzgruppe was already Murdering what would approach the Slaughter of 1,250,000 Jews. Even adhering to the jump off point for these roving bands of killers with Hitler's attack on Russia, Operation Barbarossa on June 22nd. 1941, der Einsatzgrupope had previously scouted the arena of the mass murder of the Jews, though in a less intensive way. Here too though, with the Death Camp at Chelmno, which was adding to the approaching tragedy, and was indeed in operation on December 7th. 1941, these both preceded Wannsee.
"..Early in ..morning we suddenly heard loud banging on ..door to ..building and then shouts and boots stomping up the stairs. We didn’t know what was happening ..it was clear ..it was something terrible. We closed ..shutters facing ..street and sat on my parents’ bed at ..end of ..corridor. We hugged each other and trembled with fear." Daniel Heiman.
A Death Camp competing with an arsenal of Murderer's shooting their way through entire Jewish Community's, murdering with increasing speed all Jews from along the length and breadth of a War Front, and in the case of Chelmno, all around the area of Poland with Lodz especially expelling its Jewish Ghetto Community increasingly regularly. So these commencement dates cannot be as definitive as some would state, and even with regards the case of The Wannsee Conference when this was largely convened so as Hitler could administratively procure an intention to inveigle all arms of the Reich in the Murder process.
"..There are some important things to keep in mind. Our Rabbi ..who played a great role in my growth and development ..refused to leave Germany ..but ..knew exactly what was going on. Much like a captain refusing to abandon ship ..he stayed. Also ..Hamburg was not at this time antisemitic. ..Nazis had to import people from southern Germany to do their dirty work in destroying Hamburg’s synagogues. ..people in Hamburg would not destroy anything ..not lay a finger on ..Jewish buildings. ..After Kristallnacht ..we moved to a Spanish ..Portuguese synagogue. It was not completely orthodox but we were able to make changes to make it work for us. We were ..only place in Germany that was still able to worship in a synagogue after Kristallnacht took place." Hugo Eichelberg.
At this time though the apparatus of Jewish Destruction was not yet as refined as Hitler would demand. But soon Auschwitz, which was being sought out to convert a nearby site into Auschwitz II, for The Death Camp Birkenau. Also, and coming on stream were the Aktion Reinhard Death Camps at Belzec, Sobibor and Treblinka while Majdanek too would resolve for Hitler his one anticipated goal, the termination of all Jewiosh existence. All of which was practicably and fully formed in terms of mass murder though its administration could not yet inculcate all of Germany in Hitler's resolve.
"..we heard ..noise of furniture being thrown from ..top floor to ..street ..then a terrible shout and a thud. They threw Mr. Ulfelder out of ..window ..he was killed." Daniel Heiman.
Also, and there are two salient points of concern here relating fully to why many seem to insist upon a starting line for the commencement of The Holocaust. Please always bear in mind, what was termed, die Endlosung der Judenfrage was Hitler's resolve and it was aimed at destroying all the Jews of Europe. This detailed Jewish assessment of routes to be taken toward a final end, which culminates in 6,000,000 of their number being annihilated, was as a resolve to this particular Final Solution of The Jewish Question.
"..We left Hamburg on ..last day of Passover and took a train to Italy. In Italy there were 2 boats ..Manhattan and ..Roma. ..Roma was an Italian boat ..but its passengers never got to depart because Mussolini did not allow ..ship to sail. I do not know what happened to ..passengers of that boat. My Mother and I were on ..Manhattan ..which left as scheduled ..sailed to New York. My Father left England 3 days later and we eventually met up in New York ..where we stayed for 11 weeks. After those 11 weeks ..we moved to Cincinnati ..where we had relatives." Hugo Eichelberg.
From this it is very clear, and the very fact that a formative Einsatzgruppe had already been operating in, and Murdering Polish Jewry since Hitler Invaded Poland on September 1st. 1939, the contention arises which places the Einsatz murder process back nearly two years. Then there is the case of SS Sturbnnfuhrer Dr. Herbert Lange, the first kommandant at Chelmno. Lange had been Murdering the Jews of Lodz, and some within Chelmno as far back as April 20th. 1940 when he first took up his post. This decreases the relevance of Wannsee as both the Death Camp system and der Einsatzgruppe aktionen is way ahead in operationl terms.
"..While I was traveling to Dinslaken I heard in ..train that antisemitic riots had broken out everywhere and that many Jews had been arrested. Synagogues everywhere are burning." Yitzhak Stephen Herz.
The Holocaust, in its murderous assault upon the Jewish People should not then deny the presence of any Murdered Jews demanded by Hitler's hatred. So while we have a wish to recall and remember here, that at Kristallnacht this might be seen as a catalyst toward the escalating terms of the atrocity, this Pogrom too should not avail us of a start date for The Holocaust. The night of November 9th. and 10th. 1938, which should not deny any Jew who was Murdered anytime prior to this Pogrom from being a Jew of The Holocaust. For me, Kristallnacht also cannot be described as the commencement date for what is recognised as The Holocaust.
"..It happened on November 9th. I had heard 2 or 3 days earlier that vom Rath had been shot and killed by a Jewish boy in Paris. I had no idea what would happen later." Werner Coppel.
While many studies might seek to state that the commencement of The Holocaust began with Kristallnacht, or the Night of Broken Glass, that too would be erroneous. While this assault was indeed the promotion of a move from the rhetoric of hatred to the mob mentality of violent action's, Jews had previously been Murdered under Hitler's tutelage. Of what finally emerged as Hitler's plan for the total destruction of the entirety of the Jewish People has not been confined to a single date, the Murder's of the Jews themselves was conducted widely and throughout the period of Hitler's presence as an antagonist of Jewish hatred.
"..Growing up ..we were told that we were ..ones who got out decades before ..Nazis destroyed our family’s hometowns. My Mother’s family came in ..first decades of ..20th. Century ..my Father’s family a decade or so later. All of my grandparents were born in ..United States ..attending public schools in Boston and Chicago when Kristallnacht hit Germany’s Jews in November 1938." Ben Sales.
This Kristallnacht atrocity, which occured on the night of November 9th. and 10th. 1938 finally convinced the Jewish People that Hitler's tone was no longer entirely rhetorical. Many 1,000's of Jewish Men, Women and Their Children, and most of German Jewry as a body was more convinced than ever, that Hitler had crossed a rubicon of hatred. Now there was a steadier Nazi progression toward them and this was a more aggressive approach with a violence of intention being orchestrated. While the Jews had been severely hampered by legislation, The Nuremberg Laws passed on September 15th. 1935 were aimed at isolating, abusing and then severely and more brutally making them aware of their immediate predicament.
"..After Kristallnacht not only hell breaks loose in Germany ..but ..panic among Jewish citizens in surrounding countries." Erica van Beek.
While some 50,000 Jewish Men in Germany were deported to a number of Concentration Camps, Buchenwald, Dachau, Flossenburg and Sachsenhausen amongst them. In parallel to this many more of them were further deported back to their Country of origin, Poland especially. Heydrich here now provides Goering with the list of those interred under a protective custody order. Of the many 1,000's of German, Austrian and even Sudeten Synagogues, more than 1,400 of these were defiled, desecrated or otherwise damaged. A conservative estimate suggests that some 267 of these were totally Burned out and Destroyed.
"..I lived in Moers ..a small town with a very small Jewish community. There were about 220 Jews in my community ..and only about 22 Jewish children. Our whole life centered on a small room in our town’s synagogue ..which was our safe haven from ..outside world and from Nazi Germany. At this point in time ..Jews were not allowed on playgrounds or in parks. We were not allowed entrance to movies or restaurants. There were signs that stated ..Jews and dogs prohibited ..or ..Jews die in ..gutter." Werner Coppel.
On top of this, 7,500 Jewish Shops, Warehouses, Cemetery's and various other Jewish Businesses and whole Enterprises and Homes were either looted, destroyed or both. Tombs were broken into and smashed, as were gravetones which were uprooted and the graves violated. Bonfires were set and all combustibles, Torahs, other prayer books and scrolls, exquisite artwork and furniture were piled high and set ablaze. The desecration of anything considered sacred to Jewish antecedence was vandalised at the least, obliterated at the extreme. This Night was the single most decisive assault upon the integrity of the Jewish People since Hitler came to power.
"..What do you think about ..synagogues burning. All those synagogues ..all those ..Torahs ..all that glass breaking in ..stores. Next thing they'll be burning Jews." Yitzhak Stephen Herz.
We saw too that more than 240 German, Austrian and former Czech Sudetenland Jews, and those Jews from other nations caught up in the violence, all were murdered. The illusion had now been lifted and Jewry as a whole was more accepting of fleeing their Homelands, Homes and Livelihoods rather than risk what prospect might lay ahead. Within the coming months the race to exit steadily grew apace and as Hitler's hatred boiled over into brutal excess, we recognise that more than 200,000 of the 500,000 Jews who had been on the German 1933 Census had already emigrated.
"..Michelsberg Synagogue of Wiesbaden. ..this large and imposing edifice was totally destroyed during the November 10 th. 1938 murderous devastation known as Kristallnacht ..various congregations combined into one. ..we worshipped at a smaller synagogue at a different address. This Friedrichstrasse Synagogue escaped burning ..was looted ..desecrated." Charlotte Guthmann Opfermann.
However, there was a dual purpose of concern that was not limited to Jews exiting the Country but where were these Jews to go and who wanted them. For me it is a question History will never answer as to why these nations did not open their doors a little wider to save ever more of these now brutalised Jews. More than 9,000 of these Jews fled to Poland and into harms way, while more than 2,000 fleeing Jews made it to the relative safety of Palestine. Of course, this desire to remove themselves and so mitigate their fears barely applied to those Jews who could ill afford to leave. The emerging and vociferous call for a more resolute Solution to The Jewish Question was gaining a prominence within Hitler's inner circle.
"..We were aware of ..Nazis and events in Germany from ..newspapers. I remember ..incident at Zbaszyn when ..Polish citizens were expelled from Germany and were forced to return to Poland. This led up to Kristallnacht ..which happened in Germany. I remember that one refugee family did not have a place to live ..and my father gave them a room." Eva Galler.
Jewry's existence, under the steely gaze of a more repugnant Hitler, would be fatally altered here at Kristallnacht. For all time, The Holocaust would be seen from the very intrinsic move toward a more exacting resolve than mere words had previously suggested. Once Kristallnacht was augmented with such an extreme violence, Jewish lives were put under immense and perilous pressure. While German troops and civilians acted with impunity, SA and even SS knives were brought to the fore as Jewish life itself became an expendable commodity.
"..We saw them starting to march on ..streets and ..next day ..all ..stores already had signs saying ..Juden sind hier unerwunscht ..Jews are not wanted here. ..Jewish stores ..they wrote Jude on them and all kinds of things happened. ..I see my Mother ..cleaning ..street. ..They took her to clean up. ..She didn’t want me to stay there. ..I cried tremendously and I didn’t go home ..I stayed there. ..people ..had no compassion whatsoever. ..full of hate. All of them. All of them. ..In ..winter they came and picked up my Father and Mother and we had to shovel ..snow. We had to shovel snow for hours. ..people were standing around laughing." Thea Rumstein.
Into this mix, which flowed with the wealth, assets, property's and titles of more and more Jews and straight into Hitler's bulging pockets. Many Jewish Community's, especially from Rural areas, were forced out toward major Centres and were compelled to congregate amongst their Jewish City neighbours. Now fully fending for themselves, the Jewish People saw Kristallnacht for what it was, an attack upon their very existence. As social welfare efforts were adopted, and increasingly more urgently by the Reich's Deputation of the German Jews, this Reichsvertretung der Deutschen Juden, reacted.
"..war broke out very soon after ..Germany invaded Poland ..and England and France got involved. My father went to Scotland Yard and informed ..English that he had family in Germany. Before we could leave to join him ..however ..my Mother was called to meet ..Gestapo ..where they asked her about my Father. ..Gestapo had intercepted a letter ..and on ..7th day of ..Passover ..Gestapo gave me and my Mother 24 hours to leave Germany ..or we would be arrested." Hugo Eichelberg.
However, the reality was not being lost that insufficient funding would not avail all of assistance. With a collective of agencies, numbering some 19 diverse groups of concered Jews now came together to administer Jewish relief, assurance and a modicum of hope. With some $400,000,000 of fines levied by Hitler through Goering and against German Jewry for the Kristallnacht destruction, German Jewry was forced to pay for the harm and damage done to them. This procurement was authored on December 12th. 1938 and for an assault that had been railed against the Jewish People, for being Jews in their own German lands.
"..What took place yesterday ..we know ..what will be tomorrow ..we do not know ..but what happens today ..that we have witnessed ..outside this church ..synagogue is burning ..and that also is a house of God." Bernhard Lichtenberg.
The World had now become witness to an escalating tragedy for German, Austria and Sudeten Jewry. The World could not now remain ignorant nor indifferent as it was now cognizant of what Hitler's clear intentions for the Jewish People was. Let us not forget that with the judicious enactment that was setting forth the legally immoral Nuremberg Laws of 1935, and with the very evident destruction of Jewish Life during the Kristallnacht Pogrom, Hitler's verbal rhetoric is now becoming more violently stated and punitive.
"..During that time there were ..brown shirts ..SA and ..black shirts ..SS. ..They had a quota for ..number of Men they had to arrest. They sat in front of ..home of our rabbi ..but for some reason he was not arrested. My father was also not arrested ..despite ..fact that we lived just across ..courtyard from an SS. Many others were imprisoned and interned in ..camps. My family decided it was best if my father left Germany. In June ..1939 ..all his papers were in order ..and he left for England in September of 1939." Hugo Eichelberg.
Then, for the damage of Kristallnacht to be paid for by the Jews themselves, Jewish presence in any lands bordering Hitler's grasping Weltanschauung, his prospective Wroldview, became untenable. With both a visibly and now physically stated intention, the humiliation of the Jewish People is being given over further to their physical eradication. Few in the West could now doubt the intention of Hitler was only to deal more brutally with a Jewish presence. Even though the terms of the murderous reference had not been clearly expressed or even identified, it was given sovereignty.
"..Most Holocaust reflections are personal and not communal. ..Most do not gather up ..shards of glass from Kristallnacht and surround their art with them." Yitzhak Stephen Herz.
The eventual solution was finally moving toward the end resolve for the resolution of 'The Jewish Question.' Here in History, and out of the flames of so much broken glass, hope and expectation, the Kindertransport was borne. From this physical shock wave of hatred, we will many 1,000's of Jewish Children eventually arrive in Britain and accept their safety is secured. Tragically, and without realising it, the true extent to which they would lose all touch with their Parents, Families and Friends was to be expressed in the destructive capacity of the Death Camps.
"..After Kristallnacht we succeeded in getting a sizable number of Jews to Palestine. That was thanks to ..Captain Frank Foley who did all he could to enable Jews to immigrate. ..he saved 1,000's of Jews from death.” Benno Cohn.
That clearer capacity was to consume many 1,000,000's of their most dearest. For a deep sigh of regret for having to do so, I place before you a series of names. Here, where Synagogues once resided peaceably and were attacked and either Destroyed wholly, were looted, damaged or desecrated in a myriad of ways, their names are known. If nothing else is to be drawn from this, civilising humanity was burned down during Kristallnacht. Not just in these Towns or City's where Synagogues were set to flame but in the hearts and minds of individuals who saw nothing wrong in the assault upon their Jewish Neighbours.
"..Now as I look back 70 years later ..lesson for all of us is that what happened in Germany was a consequence of racism ..hate ..and prejudice. Every new generation must be aware that ..cancer of hate and prejudice is also with us today. ..no way anyone can walk away from messages that contain racism ..prejudice. ..You must always stand up against racism and prejudice ..even if you are not being directly persecuted." Werner Coppel.
The names of these Towns and City's are chosen at random for the Synagogues presence amidst the conflagration. They are now merely an indication of the more widespread atrocity that was filtering through German, Austrian and Sudeten civilised society. Given the insurmountable challenge to Jewish persistance, how can we ever reclaim what was taken from them. I am certain too that at the time, we have lost much of the detail of the very exacting nature of all the crimes committed in the name of Kristallnacht of those consumed in its reach.
"..When we entered ..house we saw ..destruction. ..all ..closets and furniture had been turned over ..their contents spread all over ..floor. Everything was in ruins with broken glass and precious crystals. In ..midst of it all my aunt sat in shock." Daniel Heiman.
For lack of space, and for the time constraints of such a testimonial piece as this, I do not have a permit for a far more widespread indictment. I have always stated my commitment to those Jews of The Holocaust is not just in recalling their presence and their traversing through our time, but it is an accusation of our great wrong, in terms of a so called christian action. Of all that was done by all those who sought to achieve this atrocity, we cannot enable History to forget what was achieved and how it was achieved by both the doers and the bystanders. Know then that the assault upon the Jewish Synagogue was an attack upon Jews caught in the flames of a hatred that had been fanned by Hitler and those like him.
"..All ..synagogues in Germany were destroyed. In our town ..synagogue was not burned ..because if it was burned it would have burned down ..entire block ..and ..Nazis did not want this. However ..no one stopped them from destroying ..entire inside of ..synagogue. This changed my entire life ..as this had been our safe haven. ..Kristallnacht ..every Jewish male had to add ..name ..Israel ..and every Jewish female had to add ..name ..Sarah. ..I became Werner Israel Coppel. My entire social life stopped ..and life changed direction completely. I was ..sent to Auschwitz in 1945." Werner Coppel.
Aach, Aachen, Ahaus, Ahrensburg, Allenstein, Alpen, Altdorf, Altenstadt, Amberg, Anklam, Annaberg, Arnswalde, Arolsen, Auerbach.
Bacharach, Baden-Baden, Bamberg, Bassum, Bautzen, Bayruth, Berlin, Bernberg, Bibra, Bielefield, Billerbeck, Bocholt, Bochum, Bodenfeld, Bonn, Borken, Braunschweig, Bremen, Breslau, Brieg, Bruhl, Buchen, Bunde, Burgdorf, Bytom.
Celle, Cham, Chemnitz, Coburg, Cologne, Cosel, Cottbus, Cranz, Creglingen.
Dahn, Dannenberg, Darmstadt, Dillingen, Dobling, Dorsten, Dortmund, Dramburg, Dresden, Drossen, Duren, Dusseldorf.
Eberbach, Eberswalde, Efringen, Ellrich, Emmerich, Erfurt, Erlangen, Eschau, Eschwege, Essenheim, Essingen.
Fasanenstrasse, Festenberg, Flacht, Flatow, Floss, Forst, Frankenthal, Frankfurt, Freiburg, Freienwalde, Freystadt, Friedrichstadt, Furstenwalde.
Gallingen, Gelsenkirchen, Gemund, Gerden, Gernsbach, Gliwice, Glockengasse, Goch, Goldbach, Gollnow, Gorlitz, Goslar, Graben, Greifenberg, Guttentag.
Halberstadt, Halle, Hamm, Hanover, Harburg, Heidelberg, Heilbron, Hietzinger, Hockenheim, Hofheim, Horb.
Ihringen, Illereichen, Illingen, Ingolstadt, Irrel.
Jastrow, Jauer, Jebnitz, Jever.
Kaiserlautern, Karlsruhe, Kassel, Kiel, Kirchheim, Kirf, Konigsberg, Konstanz, Koslin, Krefeld, Krojanke, Kuppenheim, Kusel.
Labbes, Lahr, Lambsheim, Landau, Landeshut, Landsberg, Lauenburg, Leipzig, Leopoldstadter, Liegnitz, Linz, Lubbecke, Lubeck, Lunen, Lyck.
Magdeburg, Mainz, Mannheim, Marienburg, Marburg, Mayern, Memmigen, Meppen, Mohrungen, Moringen, Mosbach, Munich,
Nalbach, Namslau, Naugard, Neidenburg, Netra, Neudeggergasse, Neuenkirchen, Neustadt, Nordhausen, Nuremberg.
Oedheim, Oels, Ohlau, Oldenburg, Opole, Oppeln, Oppenheim, Osann, Osnabruck, Osterode, Osthofen, Ottensoos.
Pappenheim, Pasewalk, Pazmaniten, Peine, Plauen, Plettenberg, Polnische, Potsdam.
Ratibor, Ratzebuhr, Reckendorf, Regensburg, Riesenburg, Rimbach, Robel, Rosenberg, Rosenthal, Rostock, Rothnburg, Rottweil, Rummelsburg, Rust.
Saalfeld, Saarbrucken, Sagan, Salzburg, Schlochau, Schwelm, Schwerin, Seeburg, Semper, Siegen, Soest, Sommerfeld, Sontra, Sorau, Spandau, Speyer, Stettin, Stolp, Storkow, Stuttgart, Suhl.
Talheim, Tann, Taplau, Templin, Themar, Tilsit, Trachenberg, Treis, Treuburg, Tubingen, Tutz, Twistringen.
Vienna, Vierheim, Viersen, Vietz, Vilshofen, Vohl.
Waldorf, Walsrode, Wangen, Warburg, Wehlau, Wertheim, Wiesbaden, Wilhelmshaven, Windsheim, Wollin, Worms, Worstadt, Worth, Wuppertal, Wurzburg.
Zell, Zeven, Ziebingen, Zielenzig, Zullichau, Zulz, Zwickau.
"..I look back ..it is important to realize that this can happen in any country. It is not an isolated event in Germany. We must make our own destiny." Hugo Eichelberg.
Revisiting the PastPosted by P.A. Draigh Fri, May 25, 2018 19:26:12
One of 6,000,000 Murdered Jews.
"..You ..my only one ..dearest ..in isolation we are waiting for darkness. We considered ..possibility of hiding but decided not to do it since we felt it would be hopeless. ..famous trucks are already here and we are waiting for it to begin. I am completely calm." Vilma Grunwald.
From a piece of paper, the love and resilience of a Wife, a Mother, a concerned human being who was awaiting her Destruction with her older Son John, recognises that their final end approaches. While it is inconceivable to us that humanity could have sunk so desperately low, it has become so real for Vilma and 6,000,000 other Jews from the whole of Europe. Tragically, we are left to reflect upon what could have been for Vilma and all too many of these 6,000,000 Jews, if we in the World had simply intervened. As we now know, Vilma is taken toward Birkenau, and away from her Husband and younger Son and her destruction and John’s is certain there. From the remoteness of time we become all too well aware that she chose rationally in the best interests of her Son. In those final moments before any choice eluded her, to fully console and care for the one Son who had been chosen to die due to a pronounced limp, Vilma accepted death as the only course open to her.
"..Ultimately ..we have just one moral duty ..to reclaim large areas of peace in ourselves ..more and more ..peace ..and reflect it toward others. ..more peace there is in us ..more peace there will be in our troubled World." Etty Hillesum.
Here, this scene final which fully captivates us, does not reflect even the start of the tragedy for the Jewish People. It signifies the struggle Parents, their Children, their Family’s must have continually and consistently been forced to make. Nor does this individual episode suggest the end of the atrocity for the Jews of Europe is anywhere nearing its final toll. From the very start and somewhere in Germany or even in Austria, and certainly prior to Hitler's rise toward power in 1932, a Jewish Man, Woman or even Jewish Children was somehow Murdered. This relevant though unrecorded fact was administered as a consequence of either Hitler's hatred for the Jewish People, or as an example of the vehemence of Hitler’s clearly pronounced and often stated bigotry. At the end of all that has been recorded in relation to what the Jewish People and here Vilma was due to suffer, of everything we have since assessed and accumulated on the atrocity that is The Holocaust, we are absolutely certain that 6,000,000 Jewish People are no more.
"..My Mother was a great reader of personalities. ..She must have sensed this guard had some compassion. He was older; he was 50 or 60." Frank 'Misa' Grunwald.
Vilma Grunwald alone does not give us a full view of the terror brought to such a horrible place as Auschwitz nor more certainly Birkenau, but what majesty represents for us, is exemplified here by Vilma. Vilma Grunwald gifts her Son John what will remain a final few moments that will be filled with such Love and Devotion, we are bereft of any chosen words to assess the Love she delivers, let alone the Sacrifice she made. That love and devotion is inherent in Mother’s the World over and this selfless devotion will be recognised wherever Children and Parental bonds are in evidence. While we accept broadly, that these 6,000,000 Jews were Murdered and while much of the World stood aside, Vilma Grunwald stands as an example of how humanity should operate, should concern and must behave. As our human race did little to alleviate much of the Jewish pain, or even condoned much of the treatment vented against these Jews, a Mother and her Son faced oblivion amongst those of her People.
"..Thinking gets you nowhere. It may be a fine and noble aid in academic studies ..but you cannot think your way out of emotional difficulties. That takes something altogether different. You have to make yourself passive then ..and just listen. Re-establish contact with a slice of eternity." Etty Hillesum.
The Jews under duress and immediate threat, for whom at the time we simply refused to recognise was imminent, recognised our inaction as intolerable, indifferent and immoral. Due to Misa’s decision later in life, the World has a space filled in with a letter of such courage and is such an extraordinary detailed view of compassion, this one single episode shames us even further. Of course, there are many such instances of this bravery of resistance, and many have gone unrecognised in the initial stages of Hitler’s own rage. While history terms The Final Solution of The Jewish Question as The Holocaust, the Jewish suffering under the directing banner of die Endlosung der Judenfrage is more than a symbol of hatred, it is a club wielding exercise in debauched savagery. What was an unresolved issue for the Jews in Germany, the Jews of Austria, or the Jewish People of the Czech lands, grew with escalating force to a systematic resolve which consumed all 6,000,000 of these Jewish People in a mechanised slaughter upon an industrial scale.
"..You my only and dearest one ..do not blame yourself for what happened ..it was our destiny. We did what we could." Vilma Grunwald.
European Jews, who were forced to repress their anxiety, were still waiting as the conflagration in the World consumed so many other’s and still we watched blindly and then abandoned the Jews to an unprecedented and unparalleled atrocity. Admittedly, we were as unaware of the full extent to which Hitler would raise the stakes in dealing with European Jewry. But the signalling could not have been so more obvious if Hitler had written it himself into his tacky tale of Mein Kampf. However, and even without consideration of such a book, it became quite clear that Hitler would not simply stop at disenfranchising the Jews of Germany or Austria, nor of removing their human rights, nor of stripping them of any worldly value. Here though the supposed ideological impertinence of the act was laid bare and wasted no time ensuring it also delivered a financial and profitable gain. It was an enormous gain for the furnishing of a regime which history will never be able to deny.
"..I want to tell those deniers ..I have seen ..gas chambers ..I have seen ..crematoria ..I have seen ..burning pits. ..these atrocities happened. I was there." Oscar Groening.
With the stench of atrocity, which was permeating Hitler’s whole effort toward the Jewish People, his outspoken words could not be written more demonstrably. These declarations of intent, the pronouncements of a murderous exercise to be conducted against all Jews was not simply orated and not just within his immediate sphere of influence. The World listened to the rancid detail spouted by the Austrian corporal and simply glanced and looked the other way. Here though, and with Hitler’s wider resolve to conduct his affairs against all of World Jewry, his move against the Jewish People was out in the open while being honed into an enormous and murderous confrontation. All too readily the World was eager to denounce as merely rhetoric or simply bluster what the Jewish People faced on a daily basis. It is a sad fact too however, that all too many Jews of The Holocaust struck this as a resigned tone for themselves in not accepting that the vehemence of Hitler stated aims hid a more despicable clause.
"..Destruction of Hungarian Jewry constitutes ..last phase in Nazis war against ..Jews." Randolph L. Braham.
Those Jews who were immediately confronted, and whether from some religious conviction, or being so rigidly berated by the hatred which surrounded them, they all too often looked to what clearly appeared real to them, but as some form of an aberration. How else could innocent Jewish People view a supposedly civilised, cultured and moral German people? However, what caught the Jews off guard was such an aberration that history recalls, it moved swiftly to devour all the best of European Jewry and from many other’s beyond that Jewish Question. As for our own inaction? The Jews who clearly learned first hand and saw their abandonment was evidently clear, and from our vantage point, it might appear that so many of these Jewish People acceded to the capricious nature of what was to become their assigned fate.
"..I have told ..story of ..arrival to people ..when I can see exactly how it happens through this photo ..I relive it. Every emotion. It takes me right back." Irene Weiss.
Simply put, because of our lack of any human compassion for them, their march toward an uncertain fate for all so many of them, was marked by our indifference toward them. Also, and while it was true that many of these same Jews did all they could to alleviate their own and fellow Jews suffering, even when they purchased much of their safety or even sought to enhance their despicable position, this was no guarantee of their eventual nor final security. Where was a Jew to go when it had already been proven that nation’s the World over did not want them. Here though, that simple effort of a Mother’s care and relief cannot but accuse an intolerant effort being watched over by an idle World. It will be so often said of such an indifferent World, which did not do enough of what it should have done, time was wasted in the delivery of care carelessly.
"..Because my hatred towards ..Jews is too great. ..I admit my thinking on this point is unjust ..I admit this. But what I experienced from my earliest youth ..what ..Jews were doing to us ..well that will never change. That is my unshakeable conviction." Hans Friedrich.
The unbridled nature of shooting operations had seeped into the consciousness of the ‘intelligence’ services of the allied nations. Continually too, as Hitler maligned all of World Jewry on a wholly atrocious and unbridled level, Jewish fears were not augmented by much from a World of concern so omitting of compassion or care. Through the lens of hindsight, we see now what must have presented itself to Vilma as she stood amongst her own, and it seems, knowing her fate was to be so destructive, her choice was Motherly and compassionate. Then, once we had reached the end of a Second World War, any such human despair was over written by lost pages and missing People’s reports for these 6,000,000 Jews of Europe. Here, we know they were Murdered in the most horrific of ways ever envisaged or enacted.
"..I see it as my task ..to face up to these things that I experienced and to oppose ..Holocaust deniers who claim that Auschwitz never happened." Oskar Groening.
The many photographs, some of which form an album of this procession, now known to have been of the soon to be Murdered Hungarian Jews, is a shocking and revealing insight. Of these lines of innocence, there are 6,000,000 Murdered Jews who formed the back drop to a World history that would forever be mired in the destruction of the Jewish People. Today we sit less comfortably than we should because of the deliberately brutalising experience suffered by the Jewish People, all because we moved too tardily to prevent the atrocity itself. The emergence of such photographic examples, added here to a more rounded acknowledgement of what the World refused to act against. Of the overall atrocity that is The Holocaust however, the seeming indifference to the Jewish struggle would set an almost cynical precedent for other’s to follow. Ever since then, there are now many examples of the conduct of other atrocity’s raged throughout the World and these are enacted against their own fellow human beings.
"..Kropotkin. ..reread his first reaction to ..prison cell in which he was to spend several years. that account can still teach us how to cope with ..measures by which our own freedom of movement is ..being restricted. to take what little space we are left with ..to fathom its possibilities and ..use them to ..full." Etty Hillesum.
Peter Alekseyevich Kropotkin touched an anarchistic note with Etty and perhaps from within his own Mutual Aid, she resigned her own fate to other’s. From the text of what turned out to be an accurate assessment of what Hitler always intended, Mein Kampf has pasted the narrative of aggressive realisation that we simply chose to ignore throughout the course of this War. In these grubby Hitler pages, it must be remembered, that for the Jews and Hitler’s world view, Hitler’s dystopian view, die Weltanschauung, there would be a factor of complete dominion over the Jewish People, an aggression of intolerable indifference to their suffering and a destructive capacity that would Slaughter Men, Women and Their Children simply for being Jews. As to the World, it looked on with complete ignorance toward what Humanity fully demanded, compassion, concern and the alleviation of the suffering of that Jewish individual.
Monday June 29th. 1942 "..They want to exterminate us to ..last ..this is a new certainty which I accept ..but an acquired certainty should not be eroded by another. I work and live with ..same conviction and I find life meaningful anyway ..even if I hardly daresay so in society." Etty Hillesum
Here, on June 29th. 1942 Etty Hillesum wrote to her diary what she had just learned on the British Broad Casting radio. It is barely credible that we are here acknowledging that 700 000 Jews had already been exterminated by the Hitler and his Nazis within Poland. This is practically 3 years before the ending of World War II and a significant amount of time for Hitler to press ahead with his overriding agenda, to pursue the liquidation of the Jewish People. It is incredulous from all that has been omitted by time that such was the stark reality facing the Jews of Europe and for the next 34 months. What must have shook those like Etty at this time, who now knew with little doubt that the annihilation of the Jews was at the forefront of Hitler’s demand, could not have envisaged the total inactivity of the World in the fight against this annihilatory process.
"..It was not long before I was assigned to supervise ..luggage collection of an incoming transport. When this was over ..it was just like a fairground ..there was lots of rubbish left and amongst this rubbish were ill people ..those unable to walk. And ..way these people were treated really horrified me. For example ..a child who was lying there naked was simply pulled by ..legs and chucked into a lorry to be driven away ..and when it screamed like a sick chicken ..then they bashed it against ..edge of ..lorry ..so it shut up. We were convinced by our world view that we had been betrayed by ..entire world ..and that there was a great conspiracy of ..Jews against us." Oskar Groening.
Back then, Etty was seized by a double conviction that will never leave her, and she wrote till her enforced transportation toward that destruction stilled the pen which has inspired so many of us to this day. Also, there is no certainty that Vilma, nor Etty came up against these murderous individuals we mention, whose prevailing attitude at the time was obedience to a criminal act which they enacted and witnessed on a daily basis. What can be certain is, and in both Etty’s and Vilma’s case, there were vicious signs of the atrocity before them that were so terrible, that neither one of them could dispute they had arrived at the way station before hell. For Vilma in particular, such a scene as Groening describes could not allow her to leave her Child to the vagaries of a brutal and brutalising system which would all too readily devour her Son and leave him consumed by fear right up to the very moment he would be consumed wholly.
"..In ..ghetto there was an order given out one day for girls under 16 to have their hair cut or their father would be punished. I didn’t even tell my mother. I just ran to this place and sat down. They cut my hair. I had long braids at ..time. They had a way of having people comply." Irene Weiss.
Compliance was a barked at response and here I can only begin to reconstruct what must have been both terrifying and unimaginable. To honest, decent human beings being faced with such savagery, there must have appeared a strange madness before them that confronted their former awareness. How else does one retreat from the ability to describe what remains in Remembrance, for those who have no other conduit of expression before they are catapulted into oblivion. Far more than that which is afforded them, must be reconstructed for them after they have been destroyed. Tragically, and while 6,000,000 Jews were systematically sought out for such Slaughter, both Vilma and Etty coped with the vagaries of their shrinking position and within those measures which sought to restrict them ever further. This is not simply an indictment of Hitler’s policy toward all the Jewish People in isolation, but it is also an accusation of our complete indifference to the Jewish People.
"..You ..my only one ..dearest ..in isolation we are waiting for darkness. We considered ..possibility of hiding but decided ..it would be hopeless. ..famous trucks are already here and we are waiting for it to begin." Vilma Grunwald.
As proof and evidence of the escalating brutality and murderous treatment was made aware, and this was clearly known almost immediately the destructive process was commenced, we moved with a languid approach both reckless and careless. Until the Jewish People had to finally come to terms with the Catastrophe not of their making, we deliberately muffled the inadequacy of response. With a resounding acquiescence that allows for a complicit nature to emerge duplicit in all that 6,000,000 Murdered Jewish lives suffered and endured, humanity has been somewhat immune to concern. Here, and from the overall assessment of too many lost lives, I will borrow the words from both Vilma Grunwald, an extraordinary Mother and from Etty Hillesum, whose Letter’s of an extraordinary Writer, we mark that descent toward the abyss so many were forced to take. Also, and with a long standing sorrow for Tovah ‘Tokele’ Olshak, I will create the words needed to leave an added legacy of Remembrance for her, that Etty and Vilma have left for us in their own words.
"..Children ..they are not ..enemy at ..moment. ..enemy is ..blood inside them. ..enemy is ..growing up to be a Jew that could become dangerous. And because of that ..children were included as well. ..So many people died in ..war ..not only Jews. So many things happened ..so many were shot ..so many snuffed it. People burnt to death ..so many were burnt ..if I thought about all of that I wouldn't be able to live one minute longer." Oskar Groening.
For me in particular it is essential that the Children are forever at the forefront of this degradation of human concern, as they are the least able to understand, appreciate or avoid the coming tragedy. That all of these x3 individual Jews fully deserve their appropriate space in that recall, that is also my wished for promise to more than 1,500,000 Murdered Jewish Children. It is becoming more and more obvious that we simply cannot ever look at History the same way ever again. There are 6,000,000 Jewish Murdered reasons why that will always be the case. Morally unjustifiable, the assault upon the integrity of the Jewish People was unprecedented, sustained and calamitous. For me, as I look at photographs of Tokele, Etty and now Vilma, and I know the sadness of loss which many in this Human Race have yet to recognise, I find it astonishing still that the suffering of 6,000,000 People, their total Destruction can still be overlooked simply because they are Jews.
"..Stay healthy and remember my words that time will heal if not completely then at least partially. Take care of ..little golden boy and don't spoil him too much with your love." Vilma Grunwald.
Israel knows this tragic detailed assessment all too well and so must The Holocaust Survivors, and as do the Jewish People recognise this a tragedy for all humanity, so must we. For me it is a matter of principle that People should never be used as political pawns or obliterated from our conscious mind with little concern. While I know too that it is the Catastrophe for the Jewish People which can never be calculated in numerical terms, we must correlate our human concern with figurative assessment. For me too, if but just 1 Jew from the sum total of 6,000,000 Murdered Jews, who are The Holocaust, is to be recognised from amongst the entirety of the atrocity, then that one Jewish life lost to our humanity must affront us on every conceivable level. The protection which was never fully afforded them during their period of assault, must be clearly recognised and protected during our period of recollection.
"..We should be willing to act as a balm for all wounds." Etty Hillesum
Etty seeks to heal our wounds, and with the certain knowledge of what was done to her and 6,000,000 of her own People, who are we not to look for the answers which will encourage us to seek to heal the wounds of their betrayal. We can look simply to the resolve of knowledge, and where we are allowed to know the shortcomings that exist in The Holocaust narrative, assign only truth to fix that fact. Fully aware that knowledge of the individual is scant indeed and we have a detailed assessment of the 6,000,000 Jews Murdered, who are The Holocaust, to make, we cannot ever forget we are dealing in the lives of People. So while we know not who all of them are, we are aware that all of those removed from existence were brutally treated and in all too many ways. Now, as we look to the evidence from those places now missing their Jewish Community’s, we search through the debris and records of their former existence to structure their presence in any conceivable way.
"..Both of you stay healthy ..my dear ones. I will be thinking of you and Misa. Have a fabulous life ..we must board ..trucks." Vilma Grunwald.
We also must recognise that in a supposed secrecy we know could not exist, all too many of these Jews were aware of what now lay in front of them. Sadly too, that while we have only named a few more than 4,500,000 of these Jewish People, and what we do know of them is perhaps sketchy at best, it is lacking the fuller detail of their presence and existence. When we are clearly well aware that they have all been taken from amongst us, we can begin to see the enormity of the task remaining to add a newer dimension to their lost identity. Clearly, a Child who enters this life has no expectation of the Love and Nurturing that awaits them. That the Jewish Child of The Holocaust was no different and received both care and affection in abundance, this was not to be denied prior to or after Hitler sought to destroy them.
"..As soon as Mengele saw my brother limping he directed him to ..left with a group of young kids." Frank 'Misa' Grunwald.
With the clearest Hitler intention for All Jews altered that premise of care and compassion, as Jewish Children were forced to depart our concern with all manner of hatred drowning out the warmth and Love they had previously encountered was still met with Maternal love and Paternal care. In so many cases that very strength of compassionate enrichment was secure, and though barely of any extensive duration, it might even have been momentarily afforded but it was surely felt. Thus, forced toward oblivion, the Jewish Child is coerced and uncertain as to why the hatred imposed itself into their short lived lives. For the Survivor who has lost a Child, how much more deeply must the trauma run as the Catastrophe consumed so much Love and Affection. Eventually too, what caught up with the Jewish willingness to nurture their own, it became undone by a fellow human being who must also have nurtured the thought that care and concern were sacred values.
"..We have to fight them daily ..like fleas ..those many small worries about ..morrow ..for they sap our energies." Etty Hillesum.
Surely here in the midst of the carnage, the depth of human emotion struck the very limits of human despair. The immeasurable grief is pinned here with words unable to fathom the recesses of human minds that are shredded by grief, fear and the obvious threat of annihilation. Can we not now mourn this incurable loss without resort to mere blame? Any accusation, which cannot fully exhume what is now missing, must still deliver the Justice necessary to confront this grave wrong. While we seek any tangible link to a specific time or place, we recognise further still the losses incurred as those empty spaces show up their ghostly past. All too often when a Jew has been Murdered, and we know not when or where these occurred in all too many instances, the Jewish Child has also been Murdered, and the Jewish Child is also condemned toward oblivion in the midst of this apparent void.
"..Seeing John alone ..too much for Vilma to bear. She couldn’t let John go into ..gas chamber by himself ..so she chose to go in with him." Frank 'Misa' Grunwald.
The distance, let alone the duration of the killing spree which persisted even outside the gas chambers, and stretching the length and breadth of that very human excess, has all too few markers. These markers to the memory of all too many now remains focused upon that void where once 6,000,000 Jews once resided. There is all too often little remaining of their presence and beside them, locked in the turmoil of conscience over regret, 1,500,000 of their remarkable Children, unproven in the deeds of future possibilities, are a humbling exercise in human awareness. Jewish Children we have to remember, were extinguished from existence over a birth mark they cannot resist. We now reach into that nothingness and continually seek to know their last resting place. That which remains for far too many of these 1,500,000 Jewish Children and the 6,000,000 Jews, who are The Holocaust, is an unknown resting place for far too many of them.
"..Polish antisemites say ..a good thing ..Jews sit behind their walls. At last Poland will be Jewless." Mary Berg.
On September 7th. 1943 Esther ‘Etty’ Hillesum boarded a transport that contained 987 Jews from the Westerbork internment Camp in Holland. This transport then arrived at Auschwitz on September 9th. 1943 and Etty is amongst the 105 Jewish Women admitted to the Auschwitz main Camp, alongside 187 Jewish Men. It is uncertain as to the fate of her Parents, Dr. Louis Hillesum or her Mother Rebecca ‘Riva’ Hillesum, formerly Bernstein. While we know that both Parents did not Survive the selection process. Though we can barely be certain that Etty’s parents died on September 10th. 1943, as prevailing records show, we remain uncertain as to whether they died in transit or were gassed immediately upon their arrival.
"..It’s ..only artefact that they have that expresses a prisoner's feelings right before they were killed." Frank 'Misa' Grunwald.
Etty’s Brother Michael ‘Mischa’ Hillesum remained in Auschwitz until October 1943, when he was moved to the Warsaw Ghetto, where, according to the International Red Cross, he died sometime before March 31st. 1944. As will be noted by those who emerged from with the Warsaw Ghetto itself, there was to be no hiding place for any Jew, let alone a Jew extracted from the West. Of this Westerbork transport, all remaining 695 other Jews are taken forward toward immediate gassing at the Birkenau Death Camp facility.
"..That I should die next week ..I would still be able to sit at my desk all week and study with perfect equanimity ..for I know now that life and death make a meaningful whole." Etty Hillesum.
Amongst these Gassed too are the 170 Jewish Children on board. Etty’s two younger brothers, Jacob ‘Jaap’ Hillesum and Michael ‘Mischa’ Hillesum suffered differing fates. Though Etty only mentions Mischa and her Parents on the postcard, we know with uncertainty too of Jacob ‘Jaap’ Hillesum’s deadly end. It has to be remembered too that while all hope of escape was disappearing, the further Western Jews got from their former Home, and specifically for these Jews who ended up in Poland, the hostility there was twofold. Immediate capture of foreign Jews was almost certain and destruction awaited whatever their intention to save themselves might have been. Here though, and while Etty does not mention Jaap, we are aware that he had not been brought to Westerbork prior to the Family’s dispersal to Auschwitz.
"..Aryan side. ..a number of Jews hiding there ..live in constant terror. Many ..blackmailed by ..Poles with whom they are staying. After ..money ..jewels ..are ..gone ..hosts deliver them to ..Germans. ..in spite of ..fact Polish population ..is bitterly persecuted by ..invaders." Mary Berg.
Jaap Hillesum did finally arrive in Westerbork though, but after his Family’s transport had long since departed. He did not make any awaiting transport toward Auschwitz neither, but in February 1944 he was removed to the holding camp at Belsen as somewhat of a privileged prisoner. Here, as a bartering commodity for Hitler, Jews from all over Europe, from his Death Camps he was demolishing in Poland, they were concentrated in an area and left to their own devices to perish. It is believed that Jaap died some time after the Camp was handed over to the British Army and liberation was then secured on April 15th. 1945. Before Etty departed Westerbork, she composed herself and wrote to her friend Christine back in Deventer a postcard, and before the journey that would take her toward Auschwitz and consign her to a destruction there we are given her insight:
Opening the Bible at random I find this: ‘The Lord is my high tower’. I am sitting on my rucksack in the middle of a full freight car. Father, Mother and Mischa are a few cars away. In the end, the departure came without warning. On sudden special orders from The Hague. We left the camp singing, Father and Mother firmly and calmly, Mischa too. We shall be travelling for three days. Thank you for all your kindness and care. Friends left behind will still be writing to Amsterdam; perhaps you will hear something from them. Or from my last letter from camp.
Goodbye for now from the four of us.
On November 30th. 1943, Etty died in the Gas Chambers at Birkenau, amongst the now numbered 1,100,000 other Jews who shared the same Zyklon ‘B’ gassing, or the other murderous fatality’s that awaited them. Here at the Birkenau Death Camp, merely a short distance from the arrival station at Auschwitz, Jewish existence was being decimated. For Etty, as she had shared her fate with her fellow Jewish People, we are left with a remarkable imprint which will forever allow us to retrieve her memory from the words we are made aware of. These words allow us to link her to the tragedy for so many other Jewish People who have left little or no trace as to their being. For more than 1,500,000 of these Jews they remain but a blemish upon the parchment of words set aside to recall their passage in and amongst us. To add further perspective as to the chances of Survival for any Jew who could escape the confines of these Death Camps, Mary Berg is quite adamant.
"..ocean of blood in which ..Jewish population of Poland is being drowned still has not washed away ..existing antisemitic poison." Mary Berg.
While estimates might vary as to the chances of Survival in and around the Death Camp system, or from deep within the Ghetto complexes of Polish Towns or Cities, history will lend us an assessment which does suggest the possible outcomes. In Warsaw alone there were nearly 30,000 Jews in hiding and barely 11,500 of these Jews Survived. These were mostly Polish Jews who could for the time being escape the attention of all but the intentional betrayer. For Western Jews that possibility was less than uncertain. For varying reasons also, we cannot know why such is this fact but perhaps Mary Berg had lent us her insight. Of course this subjective view might suggest some 18,000 hidden Warsaw Jews alone were betrayed, but it is not a proven fact. When, on July 11th. 1944 Vilma Grunwald, formerly Eisenstein, wrote her note to her husband, in the vain hope that something more lasting than their fading from sight would reach them and inform them of her final moments.
"..Sometimes ..most important thing in a whole day is ..rest we take between 2 deep breaths ..or ..turning inwards ..for 5 short minutes." Etty Hillesum.
Vilma must have judged her captor well, for the note made its way to Kurt and Misa, and as a result, History has a further piece of that evidential puzzle which has entrapped 6,000,000 Murdered Jews in The Holocaust. Kurt Grunwald had lovingly imparted the knowledge of the fact of the letter to his Son, and this was sometime in 1946. Allowing for space and time, and when Kurt felt that his Son had sufficiently recovered, at least physically from the trauma, Misa was not quite ready for the ordeal. The sheer weight of their loss, which could have so easily submerged them both, still managed to direct them toward a future that could be filled with hope and promise. With the War still fresh in the minds of Kurt and Misa and their loss was not blurred by such heightened a well of despair, Misa, soon to become Frank, was as an 11 year old without his Mother and Brother.
"..I was curious about ..letter ..but at ..same time afraid ..I think ..for its sadness." Frank 'Misa' Grunwald.
Tragically however, there are 6,000,000 Murdered Jews with no place to hold onto their own Memory as they have been vanquished from existence. So we simply have to assume that within a 3 million square mile area, 6,000,000 Jews of Europe were brutally Destroyed. For them, mostly, no stone can be placed on all the sites were they were shot, gassed, destroyed, annihilated, killed and murdered. So with words and sometimes deeds, we add a newer stone to any such site where we can assert as close as possible that enough is known of them to recall and remember them specifically there.
"..Dr. Grunwald F Lager.
You, my only one, dearest, in isolation we are waiting for darkness. We considered the possibility of hiding but decided not to do it since we felt it would be hopeless. The famous trucks are already here and we are waiting for it to begin. I am completely calm. You my only and dearest one, do not blame yourself for what happened, it was our destiny. We did what we could. Stay healthy and remember my words that time will heal if not completely then at least partially. Take care of the little golden boy and don’t spoil him too much with your love. Both of you stay healthy, my dear ones. I will be thinking of you and Misa. Have a fabulous life, we must board the trucks.
Into eternity, Vilma."
I have been using words to describe the incomprehensible nature of The Holocaust for so long and I have yet to feel I have afforded memory an adequate response. There are however, 6,000,000 very real reasons why the effort to do so, and the effort must continue for the sake of a world looking to strengthen the present with lesson’s from the past. It is all an essential need to ensure that the future is no longer failed by what should have been adequately and truthfully learned. So while we simply cannot know all that we need to know, I point to Tokele and one who was from the last Murdered Jews of The Holocaust. But for now we allow from a short note delivered to posterity, from a Murdered Jewish Wife and Mother of The Holocaust, the last word.
"..Into eternity. ..Vilma." Vilma Grunwald.
Revisiting the PastPosted by P.A. Draigh Mon, March 26, 2018 16:28:48
"..Thursday March 28th. 1940 ..Polish youth ..armed with clubs ..sticks ..make pogroms against ..Jews. ..Jews ..beaten and wounded. ..Jewish quarter ..abandoned to toughs and killers." Chaim A. Kaplan.
While there are many Polish non-Jews seeking the exact same answers also that we all are looking for in the detail of The Holocaust. With that in mind, we need to be aware that the Poles are not all guilty in the exacting circumstance of The Holocaust of the Jews of Europe. Many Poles are clearly reminded that some of their own did not act as all good human beings should have done. Some Poles are clearly concerned that the dialogue entered into is tempered by an anger directed toward them and this is wrong. Not one of the 3,000,000 or More Polish Jews would want any condemnation of anyone who did not participate, perpetrate or by omission, impose any penalty upon any Polish Jews during this time. For those Poles who became the betrayers of their neighbours and friends, all History is urged to name them. The World must still allow for Justice to detain them and we must authorise all accusation to rightly blame them.
"..no room for racism and anti-Semitism." Polish President Lech Kaczynski.
Lech Kaczynski presided between 2005 till 2010 and as he remarked in 2006, to commemorate the Kielce Mass Murders, which was to be the final straw for the Jewish presence in Poland, President Kaczynski knew the depth of hatred racism bred from antisemitism. For all other Polish citizens, we simply cannot discredit all of them for the deeds of some of them, no matter how many the some might be. We can see that the political will to stem the flow of Jewish blood was not in much evidence during the period 1939 till 1946 or even 1947, and many would suggest it continues today. Here too, the Polish church could have played a massive role in the prevention of 3,000,000 Polish Jews being Murdered in The Holocaust. That the 3 million other Poles who were killed and otherwise dead through Hitler's invention should have elicited a more robust form of disapproval. For Cardinal August Hlond, the primate of Poland of the time, he neither instilled the form of tolerance ‘christianity’ preached to all nor did he invoke the sympathy necessary to those for whom the attacks continually perpetrated were upon the Jews of Poland, christ’s People. In fact, this representative of christ even suggested the Jewish treatment was self inflicted, given the supposed and unproven Jewish attempts to convert Poland into a communist state. The bishop of Kielce for instance, Czeslaw Kaczmarek, went even further still and he then suggested that those of Kielce's Surviving Jews had sought out such a pogrom in order to force Britain's hand in turning over the mandated territory of Palestine to them.
"..Half a century after ..tragic Kielce events ..have left a bloody imprint on Polish-Jewish relations ..we owe ourselves words of truth and moral evaluation." Polish Prime Minister Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz.
Between 1996 until 1997 the seeds of reform were being firmly planted and admissions of guilt resounded like no other apology before it. Perhaps here it is an appropriately suitable time too to remind ourselves that reprisal actions against Poles for harbouring Jews might mean their death, the death of their Families and or the destruction of their entire communities. So for balance, for truth and toward the integrity of The Holocaust, we must stop blaming all nationals for the deeds of those few nationals who did not act with any moral compass. No one should ever doubt that Poles, and in quite large numbers, gave their effort, diminished their lives and lost their limbs to secure a living space for Polish Jewry. However, that so many acted against these fine standards of humanity, and while their Jewish cousins were being obliterated, this will stand more accusingly as time goes by. We should not then diminish what was achieved by those gentle Poles who stuck their heads well and truly above the parapet and threw themselves so far down and into the lions mouth. Throughout The Holocaust term, there was significant protest and even rebellion amongst some Poles against what Hitler sought to achieve here against Polish Jewry, and the whole of Poland in its entirety.
PROTEST. August 11th. 1942.
"..The world looks at this atrocity, more horrible than anything ever seen in the annals – and stays silent. The slaughter of millions of unarmed individuals is committed in the midst of a widespread, ominous silence. The deathsmen remain silent, they do not gloat over what they have committed. Neither England nor America speak aloud, even the influential international community of Jews remains silent, yet so recently sensitive to each iota of harm to their own. The Poles also stay silent. The Polish political allies of Jews limit themselves to press releases; the Polish opponents of Jews demonstrate a lack of interest in a matter, which is foreign to them. The dying Jews are solely surrounded by Pilate’s washing their hands of any fault. This silence cannot be tolerated any longer. Whatever its motives they are despicable. In the face of crime, one cannot remain passive. Who remains silent in the face of slaughter becomes an enabler of the murderer. Who does not condemn then consents. Therefore, we gather our voices, we Catholic Poles. Our feelings towards Jews have not changed. We have not stopped considering them the political, economic and conceptual enemies of Poland. Additionally, we realise that they hate us more than the Germans, that they fault us for their demise. Why and on what basis remains the secret of the Jewish soul, nonetheless it is a fact and continuously confirmed. The consciousness of these feelings does not free us of the responsibility of condemning the crime. We do not wish to be Pilate’s. We do not have the ability to actively forestall the German slaughters, we cannot change anything, and save anyone, yet we protest from the depths of our hearts, which are encompassed with pity, indignation and anger. God requires this protest from us, God who does not allow murder. It is required of a Catholic conscience. Each being, calling itself human, has a right to brotherly love. The blood of the innocent calls for vengeance to the heavens. He, who does not support this protest is not Catholic. We also protest as Poles. We do not believe that Poles could take profit in the brutality of the Germans. Conversely. In the stubborn silence of international Jewry, in the efforts of German propaganda already attempting to discard the odium for the murder of Jews onto the Lithuanians and the Poles, we discern the seeds of an enemy action against us. We also know how poisonous the seeds of crime are. The compulsory participation of the Polish nation as observers of the bloody spectacle occurring on the lands of Poland, can cultivate an apathy to evil, sadism, and above all to the dangerous conviction that those who are close to us can be murdered with no retribution. He who does not understand this, who would wish to link a proud and sovereign future for Poland with this base glee in the misfortune of his brother is neither a Catholic, nor a Pole!" Zofia Kossak-Szczucka.
Do not forget also that Zofia Kossak-Szczucka was a mentor to Jan Karski and a close confidante of the this Polish person clearly identifiable as one who also sought to inform the World of what Hitler was achieving in Poland. While much has been written about der Einsatzgruppe following in after Hitler and the Wehrmacht assault on Russia, Poland endured these formative Einsatz kommandos, Operation ‘Tannenberg’ immediately upon the collapse of Poland September 28th. 1939. We cannot ever be ambiguous in search of the truth, it is either whole or it remains partly told, hidden or downright wrong. We cannot allow a lie to then lay dormant for its resurrection to seek to usurp the veracity of the truth that has been laid down by meticulous adherence to evidence, testimony and the statements of all those who can attribute a detail to the truth. We must never allow for the passage of time to conceal the truth and we should be ever vigilant against the seeds of suspicion and doubt, all of which breed a captive consciousness.
"..destruction of Poland is in ..foreground ..aim is ..elimination of living forces ..not ..arrival at a certain line. I shall give a propagandist cause for starting ..war ..never mind if it is plausible or not. ..victor will not be asked later on whether he told ..truth or not." Adolf Hitler.
We simply cannot allow ourselves to become complicit in the accusations to be aimed at those who were neither guilty nor negligent in their conduct toward the Jews of The Holocaust. To do so would be to deliver a posthumous travesty of Justice toward a body of People already denied each and every aspect of a Justice excluding them and we must not now misuse its namesake. To mete out Justice we must first be just and we must ensure that its delivery is aimed correctly at those deserving of our righteous indignation. Of course we can run out of superlatives for those who risked ALL for their Jewish counterpart in Poland and these are specifically the ones who saved Polish Jewish lives. So while we must never allow for our accusation to be swayed by distance nor time, it must be relayed accurately and only against those deserving of it. However, while I aim never to let anyone mistake the clear intention of Hitler was to systematically seek out the Jewish People, wherever they were, and have them slaughtered, he did not operate this intention in a vacuum or upon a landscape without all too many willing to assist.
"..first and foremost perpetrator was Adolf Hitler. ..without him it would have been inconceivable." Raul Hilberg.
With this well adjudged accusation standing before the mantle of The Holocaust, we then look toward all those either equally guilty or so deprived of human emotion, they ventured nothing to assist, aid or even save a single Jew. While it is evident that so many could have managed to save more of their neighbours who were Jews, it could have amounted to a few Jews or even Community’s of Jews. Now we direct our denunciation so as to deliver an appropriate charge against those we know are the guilty ones. However, for those who offered aid, and with an assured perpetration of the most horrendous crimes in all of History confronting every sense they had, these words of my remembrance are also accusatory. I share these words because I found them and have no wish to deny them venting the silence that would remain if they were not stated. Here, with this despoiling of Jewish antecedence, that was to be all too true even in Poland, more than 90% of Polish Judaism practically ceased to exist. It is clear that almost immediately after Hitler invaded Poland's sovereign status, on September 1st. 1939 3,000,000 Polish Jews would soon forfeit their very existence.
".. I ..like all ..Jews ..refused human rights ..doomed to ..a tragic end. At ..critical moment ..at Brody ..Walter Ukalo ..representing Wladyslawa Choms. ..offering us help ..false papers ..money. ..Some ..found accommodations at Mrs. Choms friends." Zygmunt Chotiner.
On December 4th. 1942, with the Jewish Aid Council 'Zegota' established, all manner of preparations should have commenced which would relieve all Jews from the terrible atrocity which continually confronted them. From this vantage point, Poland must never forget those who stood tallest in Polish society and did their utmost to relieve the strain of a battered Polish Jewry and managed to save a not insubstantial amount of them. To undermine the efforts of those who sought to achieve this moral righteousness is, in any attempt to bleach over the attempts by other’s to act with less charitable compassion, is to undermine such a moral effort. And while we recognise the efforts of Wladyslawa Choms to act with such devotion and humanity, it is clear other’s of her friends acted with similar accord. Pogroms of assault, and in excess of 1,800 Murders were invested in these, and the returning Jewish Survivor was scourged once more. Even we can never be certain that the figure arrived at is ever going to accurately articulate the tragedy for the Surviving Jews for what awaited them upon that Survival and with a hoped for return to their former homes.
"..apologies ..for 42 victims of ..1946 Kielce pogrom." Polish Foreign Minister Professor Dariusz Rosati.
A servant of the Polish people from 1995 till 1997 Professor Rosati was certain that an apology was so necessary, as the vested interest of greed and avarice, the perpetuating larceny from a traumatised ridden Jewish People persists. Those whose ownership of property’s and possessions was so widely coveted, came to the forefront of all and any consideration against them. Property’s and possessions which had not belonged to other than these Surviving Jews, or more likely those Jews who had not Survived, was converted into those ages old hatred’s of antisemitism. The fact too though, which still remains, is that when Polish community’s sought their own rage against the Surviving Jewish People, those Jews purely wishing to return to their home localities, and lick their wounds, this further atrocity occurred on a broader sweep of the Polish landscape than has been recognised. While this was all to be confronted by an assailing hatred that was to be so shocking to an almost terminally wounded Polish Jewish presence within Poland, the only recourse to the integrity of any Jew who had Survived was to see their future Survival elsewhere, and away from their Polish homeland.
"..From 1945 to 1946 ..more than 1,000 Jews were killed in various places by Poles ..taken off trains ..hunted down in small towns ..killed. ..I was one of those Jews on a train from Kielce to Ostrowiec when ..train stopped and hooligans entered to hunt for Jews. ..I hid my face ..so ..I speak ..and ..remember ..I was frightened to death." Kalman Sultanik.
Sultanik, as the President of Federation of Polish Jews in America and Vice President of the World Jewish Congress clearly identifies with his people and in places such as Biala-Podlaska, Bialystok, Bielawa, Boleslawiec, Bytom, Chelm, in Cracow where the district of Kaziemierz was under siege and the Kupa Synagogue burned, in Czestochowa, Dabrowa-Tarnowska, Diosgyor, Gniewoszow, Gniewczyna-Lancucka, Grodno and Groject, the Jewish Survivor was attacked and Murdered by those they had previously known. In Jedwabne, Kielce, Klementow, Kunmadaras, Lednica, Lodz, Losice, Lublin, Mordy, Opatow and Otwock, the picture for the Jewish Survivor was dark and bleak. In Parczew, Piaski, Polaniec, Przemysl, Pzeszow, Raciaz, Radom, Rava-Ruska, Rzeszow, Sanok, Skarzysko-Kamienna and Sompolno, the Jewish Survivor fared no better than under Hitler’s tutelage of a conclusive resolve to The Final Solution. In Sokoly, Sosnowiec, Szczecin, Tarnow, Turek, Warsaw and Wlodawa, the Jewish Survivor faced so much further assault so as to compound their near broken state, injury was inflicted deeper into their wounds and as they were Murdered by their former neighbours, a further chapter was being added to Hitler’s all encompassing demands raised against the Jews of Europe.
"..Mrs. Choms had to be careful not only of ..Gestapo but ..her neighbours of whom she could never be certain." Zygmunt Chotiner.
None of these former neighbours of course could be considered in any degree at all like Wladyslawa Choms or her Zegota representative to Brody, Walter Ukalo. There is sadly a proviso to this acknowledgement of Wladyslawa’s great charitableness, and it was her concern that she too might be betrayed, and by those who supposedly served nation first and Hitler, Never. Here is where a Polish President’s apology can prove essential in combating the forms of negation that the Polish influenced in the many cases that raged against the Jewish People. The Nazi presence in these Polish community’s had actually retreated in many instances, and as it was precipitously replaced by a millennia of old resurgent hatred’s, Jews were singled out for having Survived what Hitler fully intended for them, which included for them not to have Survived. In some of these Community’s identified here, these Murdered Jews had already Survived what Hitler had fully resolved for them and in spaces clearly within earshot of those same Poles who strode along and bypassed all human concern for their Jewish neighbours, soon turned their own intentions toward and against the homecoming Jewish Survivor.
"..This was a particularly cruel crime. It was justified by nothing. ..victims were helpless and defenceless. For this crime ..we should beg ..souls of ..dead and their families for forgiveness. This is why today ..as a citizen and as president of ..Republic of Poland ..I apologise." Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski.
From 1995 till 2005 Aleksander Kwasniewski served Poland as its President and recognised clearly the essential need to apologise not only for the loss of 3,000,000 intentionally Murdered Jews, but for the complicit connivance of those Poles who assisted in the overall resolve to achieve Hitler’s Final Solution. While it is important to Remember what happened to the Jews who managed to Survive, it is doubly important to lay the blame for their destruction upon those specifically guilty of doing so. This does not allow for any blanket accusation against anyone who did not, would not nor could not have competed with the terms for annihilation Hitler presented them with. While this President of the Polish Republic apologises for what was committed during Hitler’s onslaught against the Jewish People, it is also essential we conduct ourselves with integrity related to those crimes committed by Polish people against their fellow Jewish Poles. As these Polish Survivor Jews returned to their former homes, in the hope of healing their bitter memories and the inflicted wounds of hatred, all they felt from their former neighbours or even friends was that same resentment. Surely the hatred from those who did not wish to return what had previously belonged to the returning Jewish owner seared the hearts of those Jews.
"..All of Poland was rife with anti-Semitism." Rubin Offenbach.
For all too many of the non-Jewish Poles, who could not quite understand how any Jews had Survived, the reality of Jewish Survival was a shock to their now formed ownership of what did not belong to them. Here in that place called Jedwabne for instance, it was apparent that where more than 340 Jews of the Town and were driven into a barn and burned alive. Such was this case for which Hitler had left an indelible mark upon the non-Jewish Pole, and it heightened and reverberated with the Polish often seen and brutally offensive antisemitic resonance. The blame for any atrocity against the Polish Jews, which had formerly fallen upon those Nazi’s of the occupation, and for years, this was the accepted account, can no longer remain unequivocally so. While it is true that the main protagonist’s to the Jedwabne Massacre in particular were compiled of the local people, and while the instigators were indefatigably German, such an orchestration of hatred was fully a Polish expression. This expression would seethe through Polish nationality for the next few years, undaunted and murderous in its detail.
"..Polish public was rife with elements that exposed Jews and turned them in to ..Nazi’s ..gangs of ‘szmalcownik’ ..Polish blackmailers ..bane of Jews in hiding." Israel Gutman.
So those who immersed themselves in this particular Jedwabne atrocity were not exclusively German or even Nazi, though cut from the same cloth. Even a man like Jan Karski, whose presence in the midst of the Polish Jewish atrocity and on the fringes of Polish resistance to The Holocaust, he will clearly inform us of Poles who are forced to deal in the retribution of their own people. For those Polish traitors and informers who acted even toward their own Polish non-Jewish community, there was a constant and continuous confrontation. Here too though, Professor Gutman had to qualify the fact that while some betrayed their own conscience in delivering Jews to Hitler’s intention for them, the many Jews who in fact Survived owe that reality to some very courageous Polish non-Jews who did not act without conscience or moral probity. Many such Poles, and their names are well known to us, leave behind a legacy which includes many unknown who acted likewise. However, this does not accuse anybody who should not be charged with collaboration. For those specific Poles who colluded alongside the efforts of the Nazi's, these are as guilty as if they had adorned the very Nazi regalia of Hitler’s forward echelons or rear guard phalanx.
"..Germans could not tell ..Jews apart from ..other Polish soldiers. ..depended on ..Poles to tell them that." Shep Zitler.
Such was the interconnecting theme of cooperation, it was often the case that the Jewish Community might have escaped German attention had it not been for Polish identification of them. Many of these Poles who colluded with Hitler’s aim for The Final Solution and who were on hand to ensure that any information which was gained to benefit any of Hitler's wants from the errant Polish State, these are the Poles we are roundly accusing. In viewing the very landscape of The Holocaust, there can be no discoloration of the very truth which has painted it. As there can be no History which is not truthful, any form of distortion cannot be allowed to prevail which would shade that truth. There is erected in Jedwabne now, a newly erected Monument which seeks to memorialise those Jews of the Community who were Murdered. It is there also to remember the very fact of what occurred there and also to express a regret for what surely happened. None of this can then be denied or absolved from the accusation of all History, and should be remembered so that those credited with Righteous status are recognised for so doing the right thing it too becomes an accusation of what is wrong.
"..In memory of ..Jews of Jedwabne and surrounding areas ..men ..women ..children ..fellow dwellers of this land ..murdered and burned alive at this site on 10 July 1941."
Throughout The Holocaust realm, as we move from such sites as Jedwabne and Sokoly, and we visit not just places and community’s where atrocities were piled high upon the Jews who once resided there, we have a system of these 6 Death Camps that Hitler had built in German Occupied Poland to ensure atrocity was piled ever higher upon atrocity. As we know for certain that there were numerous other Camps dotted around all Poland, in which all manner of assistance was delivered by many Poles, History expects a regret as to what local Poles also achieved in and around The Death Camps. All cooperation, which finally led toward Hitler’s final resolve to Murder all the Jews of Europe, must not be exempting of an atrocity exerted or attributed to local Polish citizenry. Specifically though, and in these particularly Camps designated as Death Camps, and there were only 6 such locations in the whole of Hitler’s Reich, these were placed firmly in Poland and have become entrenched in the psyche of both the Polish Jewish and Polish non-Jewish Peoples.
"..We are all obliged to remember these heroic people ..Righteous Among Nations but we must not allow their heroism to cover ..crimes and wickedness of a much larger group of Poles. Antisemitism was and remains endemic in our country." Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz.
As a Prime Minister 1996 till 1997, Cimoszewicz recognised the plaudits which fell upon those who were Righteous and as they served to reflect what is best in any society, the issue of those who were not so diligent in their moral probity must be exposed. It must be a considered fact here that a distinction must be made in which, a system which Hitler created, is delivered away from the immediate Reich and was done within Poland for obvious reasons. Where these 6 Death Camps dealt exclusively in the destructive capacity to annihilate the Jews sent there, the Final Solution which had put them in place had its final resolve in Poland largely, and in many other nations also. But these 6 Death Camps were Hitler’s Death Camps. They were erected by organs of Hitler’s Reich for the eventual resolve and resolution of Hitler’s Final Solution. The shift of emphasis here, and taking the Jewish European People away from Reich territory was a deliberate attempt to not only contaminate the lands of Poland with the blood of Polish Jewry ostensibly, but with the combined weight of all of European Jewry finally being resettled, also to be evacuated and to be finally confined there.
"..My parents just walked out of our apartment ..and that was it. ..Since then ..I've thought material possessions don't mean anything." Bianca Lerner.
History has clearly acknowledged that there is no such thing as a Polish Death Camp and so the term, Polish ‘death camps’ has to be seen as an attempt by apologist’s for Hitler’s Jewish blood letting. I have revisited many times the origins of this assertion concerning these Death Camps and know that Gerard Reitlinger made it a statement with a geographical face. But they have always been conceived of in History, and indeed were always Hitler’s Death Camps, so we have no need to confuse this fact. The effort though, to clearly shift the intention away from Hitler, who actually sought to fully effect the spoiling of Polish lands with the blood of the European Jews, has been the right of the Polish Government to respond to. For this contamination of The Holocaust intention cannot therefore allow for anything other than the affirmation of Hitler’s guilt. Clearly, in both Auschwitz and Majdanek, while some of these Jewish People were afforded a temporary reprieve and given forced labour, at least until they could work no longer, the term applied to all 6 of these Death Camp’s still speaks specifically of Hitler’s final intention.
"..flames could be seen from 15 or 20 kilometres ..people knew ..human beings were being burned there." Adolf Bartelmes.
At Auschwitz, those Jews who were transferred to nearby Birkenau, and who had reached the end of the line, the final moments of their existence was treated both methodically and mechanically. Those Jews remaining behind however and within Auschwitz were left to face a debilitating existence which would severely limit their ability to survive. Given the short distance from Auschwitz itself, the efforts at Birkenau would be clearly visible as a local Polish rail worker has clearly noted. But the clear intention always was to create an uncertainty related to Hitler’s so cruelly chosen place for Poland in being the Jewish Cemetery of the World. That is what is at stake and it is necessary to confront that clearest of intentions here. Once the term of Polish ‘death camps’ had been constructed however, and it must be recognised that it is an illegitimate attempt to shift the emphasis of Hitler’s clear policy for The Final Solution, the term must be stricken from the conscious assurance that is given over to the veracity of all Holocaust literature, statements and their intentions.
"..I saw them shooting people. ..transport children and parents ..knock a child against ..wall. ..What ..Germans ..did was not right ..I revolted. I tried to help everyone in whatever way I could." Walter Ukalo.
The attempt to move any and all accusation away from Hitler, Germany and those Nazi’s who were obsessed and predicated on delivering for Hitler all that he demanded of them, must be returned to its rightful owner, the originator of The Final Solution, Hitler. Of course the term of Polish ‘death camp’ itself has vented its way into The Holocaust term, its description however incorrectly states an error and needs to be replaced by a more tangible meaning! We can never allow for the deliberately orchestrated attempt to negate the fundamental severity by which Hitler sought to destroy all of European Jewry, and mainly within Poland to escape him. That said, and given the clear cut statements of so many who witnessed first hand the close liaison between some in Polish society, it is clear Hitler had chosen Poland for the specific purpose of destroying all of European Jewry, and with as much assistance as the awareness of Polish antisemitism could avail of and was to be obtained.
"..attitude of ..non–Jewish population ..almost all Poles ..was hateful. They rejoiced at our misfortune ..enriched themselves with Jewish property." Betzalel Papial.
As the usage of ‘polish’ Death Camp as a term lends itself as such incorrectly to what Auschwitz and Birkenau, Belzec, Chelmno, Majdanek, Sobibor and Treblinka must insist, we take back its fullest meaning in the context of Hitler’s proper intention. And that is a simple fact that while these Camps were indeed on Polish soil, they were the initial construct of Hitler, the development of Hitler’s invasive and murderous regime and established purely to Murder the Jews of Poland and the rest of Europe. Previously, I have clearly been at fault in this use of the term, but never in asserting other than these Death Camps were Hitler owned though geographically placed within Poland. The distinction has been so obviously made, that in the level of mechanised and systematic destruction of the Jewish People, for which these Death Camps were raised in Poland, they are of an entirely Hitlerian construct with no ambiguity. While the Polish Government has every right to be affronted by anyone who might insist that, with other than their geographical placement, The Death Camps are in Poland, and there were 6 of these, they were other than an organ of Hitler’s criminal Reich. That fundamentally means that these Death Camps had their genesis with Hitler and none other than Hitler.
"..Jewish population ..living under ..impact of news from London. ..world has been stirred by ..reports of ..slaughter in Poland ..aroused ..deepest emotions in all of us. For many ..many months ..endured ..most terrible sufferings ..asking ourselves ..Does ..world know about our sufferings ..if it knows ..why is it silent. Why was ..world not outraged 10's of 1,000's of Jews ..shot ..at Ponary. ..10's of 1,000's of Jews poisoned in Chelmno. 100's of 1,000's of Jews ..slaughtered in Galicia. ..slaughter in Vilna ..180,000 ..in Rostov ..Jews ..murdered ..in Kiev. ..blood is flowing in rivers. Is ..blood of ..Jews more precious. ..Only now have we come to understand ..cause of this silence. ..Polish government ..its own radio station .knew nothing about it. ..if London knew ..next day 100 people ..shot ..Pawiak prison ..why ..did it take many months before they learned of ..100's of 1,000's murdered Jews. ..a question which cannot be turned away by excuses!" Emanuel Ringelblum.
That these Death Camps were manufactured under Hitler’s approval, and as they were conducted for the mass Slaughter of Human Beings, because they were Jewish, they were clearly ordained and demanded by Hitler. This is not to say either that Jews alone were Murdered within these Camps and Death Camps, or indeed were alone in being assailed by Hitler’s legions. As Hitler and his Wehrmacht, SS, Gestapo, Waffen SS, der Einsatzgruppe and all other arms of Hitler’s Reich traversed the length and breadth of Europe, any presence of Jews was quarterised from their local community’s, and those other’s for whom Hitler might have the slightest annoyance for, they too suffered greatly. The Jews of Europe were then force fed toward Poland and their eventual decapitation from the body of existence was made final. Here, evidence of that Fact has been reduced to an irreducible truth, Hitler is the cause, the motivating force and was enveloped in the conclusive hatred that led 6,000,000 Jews toward destruction. Within that capacity to Slaughter human beings, without human concern, it is understood that:
"..While not all ..victims of ..Nazi's were Jews ..all Jews were victims." Elie Wiesel.
When that is all said and done, the Jews of Europe became the victims of everyone’s fears, prejudices and hatred’s. History cannot then ever deny that it was expressly for Hitler a priority so as to destroy the entire antecedence of all Jewish existence. That some of these hatred’s and fears, and the bias of prejudice was engaged by many of the nationalities whose Jews were expelled and totally destroyed, there can be no denying that the Slaughter was meant to be a final stroke. That any Jewish presence from amongst the Jewish People might escape Hitler’s final goal is clearly out of the question. It is with the Jewish Faith which Hitler determined must be singularly sought out, and for all those who participated or proscribed any form of Judaism, and that they were all to be destroyed. That statement of fact too is proven, for as many converts who chose to move away from their Judaism and Jewish antecedence were dragged back into the conflagration simply on the pretext and certainty of their Jewish descent.
"..As a child of ..Jewish people who ..by ..grace of God ..for ..past 11 years has also been a child of ..Catholic Church ..I dare to speak to ..Father of Christianity about that which oppresses 1,000,000's of Germans. For weeks we have seen deeds perpetrated in Germany which mock any sense of justice and humanity ..not to mention love of neighbour. For years ..leaders of National Socialism have been preaching hatred of ..Jews. But ..responsibility must fall ..after all ..on those who brought them to this point and it also falls on those who keep silent in ..face of such happenings. Everything that happened and continues to happen on a daily basis originates with a government that calls itself 'Christian.' For weeks not only Jews but also 1,000's of faithful Catholics in Germany ..and ..I believe ..all over ..world ..have been waiting and hoping for ..Church of Christ to raise its voice to put a stop to this abuse of Christ's name." Edith Stein,
As a some what lapsed catholic, I am all too well aware that the sainthood imposed upon a person is both reverential and special within the Catholic Church. But for me, it is incumbent upon those denoting saintliness and warranting the sainthood of anyone, that the importance attributed to them is in stressing the reason of that ordaining position. For me, Edith Stein, while she was a remarkably reverent and theological Christian, her Murder at the hands of Hitler and his Reich was due in no uncertain to her status as a Jew. This certainty for her Murder was not for her former status as a Jew, but for that very proclivity under Hitler which sought the fullest identification of a Jew as a Jew and which belonged to a Jew. This ordination of identity would remain with the Jewish People until the Jewish People had been fully destroyed by Hitler. Here, and what I have often found in the denial lobby is a very inarticulate distortion to claim what just is not so. Even when, in Edith’s case, the denier clearly sees her Jewish status first and foremost, they will still deny or attribute her destruction to Hitler and before acknowledging his antisemitic hatred.
"..Everything was taken away from me ..even my name." Rubin Offenbach.
Nor is it possible from this particular time span to future proof an atrocity because of the hatred for a Jewish People. In the case of The Holocaust, 6,000,000 Jews of Europe were destroyed and it appears to be a continuous issue for all manner of haters, antisemites and various other miscreants. As they look to present day Israel to seek a past justification, we recognise the colour of their denial. For all the wrongly inarticulate reasons, and so that deniers can state the cause of their extremist hatred, from within the Palestinian issue for instance, they do so to justify their own antisemitism. Where the lands of the State of Israel and its People are to be fought over, an irreverence to the factual truth that these 6,000,000 Jews were Murdered is to be so causally denied. Not withstanding this form of negation, there is a link with anything that gives rise to those who will seek any doubt to issue a blanket rebuttal of the entire truth. It is apparent to me, in the attempt by this present Polish Government to redirect historical attention away from the not insufficient Polish collaboration in the midst of The Holocaust, more can be gained by the denier than it would seem the veracity of History has to surely gain.
"..When ..Poles saw how ..soldiers were victimising us they piled on ..too. ..a German guard was marching me ..some other men to ..nail factory. ..a Polish boy ran up ..stabbed me in ..hand." William Schiff.
What no one can refute is the truth and what no one debates is The Holocaust. That factual truth of the Slaughter of 6,000,000 Jews in The Holocaust is no more debatable than the very fact of our own existence. For the Polish position, which should clearly point to cases where Poles were instrumental in the identification of Jews for abuse, atrocity and their eventual destruction, the academic World cannot simply accept an attempt which might conspire to corrupt our past any further. The Polish position does warrant a response and as they have made the case in defence of their forebears, it should be stressed that 3,000,000 Polish Jews do not have this luxury of response. Nor do any of those Jews who were transported into Poland, to be resettled by Hitler’s own hate filled volition, so as to face complete annihilation, they have been denied to any future hearing. It is without doubt the whole assertion, and that any attempt to then obliterate these Polish Jews and the Jews of Europe from all existence, this is all Hitler’s doing. The Polish position though is thus:
"..It wasn’t our mothers ..nor our fathers ..who are responsible for ..crimes of ..Holocaust ..which were committed by German and Nazi criminals on occupied Polish territory. Our responsibility is to defend ..truth and dignity of ..Polish State and ..Polish Nation ..as well as our Fathers ..our Mothers ..our Grandparents." Polish Justice Minister Zbignew Ziobro.
Zbignew Ziobro, who does not seek to distinguish his Country’s record in upholding the truth in its entirety. Should the need to recall what is Remembered, that it is never to be Forgotten and what we will not Forget, all History will Remember what was done in achieving 6,000,000 Murdered Jews of Europe. These Jews, who are The Holocaust, expect nothing less than that fullest commitment. While it is most certainly true that many of the parents of Poland, and even the grandparents of Poland were of the Jewish Faith, these were not offered the full and requisite protection of the Polish State. Nor, from all of those Poles, within the Polish Nation of the time, who could not ensure the capacity of life to the Jews, Polish Jews knew all too well there were many non-Jewish Poles who could not be counted upon either.
"..Ladies ..Gentlemen ..on ..basis of accurate investigation ..we have determined ..truth about your Semitic origins. In view of ..above ..we request that you deliver to ..bearer of this note ..sum of 2,000 zlotys in a sealed envelope. ..In return ..we will destroy ..incriminating evidence that is in our possession. Otherwise ..we will immediately hand over ..evidence to ..German authorities." Ewald Reiman.
Truth and dignity must be bestowed where Truth and Dignity belongs, and as with those Poles who assisted and aided, and for those Poles who helped and hid those Jews they either knew or did not know, theirs was a matter of moral and human conscience. It is fair to state, that while those who are proven Righteous before the World, there are those who have been proven culpable and complicit in the Crimes of The Holocaust. These must be clearly identified, even if they are Polish. However, I fully agree with the Polish position which sees rightly that within Hitler’s orchestrated assault and the subsequent Nazi occupation of Poland, it was Hitler who drove the frenzy of annihilation forward.
"..For all I knew ..I could be out ..back door ..they out ..front ..running to ..police ..to tell them ..Jews had returned to Buczacz. You never knew if a neighbour was about to turn on you ..plenty had." Alicia Appleman-Jurman.
That said we cannot then deny the use made of Polish informants, Polish Police, Railroad workers and others who were instrumental in the containment and distribution of Polish Jewry toward these Killing Centres. While it is necessary to ensure that former Nazi's are not allowed to deflect their substantial perpetration and participation in the annihilation of the Jews on Polish soil, it should not be considered that Poles had no part in the tragedy at all. To observe the truth one must know what it is one is looking for. So while German knowledge of Polish Jewry had a reliance upon the well established antisemitic and fraught and difficult inter relationship between Poles and Jews, and the somewhat intuitive recognition of Polish Jews, this effort was collaborative. That antisemitism within Poland had existed between Poles and Jews for millennia, it must be made clear that Poles identified Jews and Poles were certainly paid to do so. Poles have since plundered the possessions of the Jewish Slaughter and to this day they retain what ostensibly remains stolen. In any religious context, no established religious basis can be given to the continued gain from any previous theft
"..no way out ..Gestapo was making ready to deport ..Jews. I had to return to ..labour camp. At ..railway station I presented my travel pass ..but ..Polish policeman ignored it and took me to ..gathering area in Rabka. I saw my family there ..along with ..others we were divided up by Rosenbaum. I found myself in a special group of 4 ..a man named Shaut a tinsmith ..Yehiel Tirk a mechanic ..Finkelstein a locksmith ..I ..an electrician ..fourth. We were put to work on maintenance of ..target practice range. On Yom Kippur Eve 1942 ..four of us were taken to a spot where 30 Jews were to be executed for failing to report for ..deportation. ..Germans shot them. Next to ..pit stood a barrel of lime. ..four of us were ordered to pour lime on ..corpses and cover ..pit with earth. All ..possessions of ..Jews were taken to a large warehouse for sorting and refurbishing." Hirsch Schiffeldrin.
Clearly, Poles hid Jews and understandably, those Poles who took an enormous risk in denying Hitler any assistance in claiming even more Jewish lives, these Poles are commendable. But the one altruistic position only adds as a counter weight to the atrocious enabling of Hitler’s murderer’s to achieve their end goal. What cannot be denied either is that some Polish priests led this charge with their vitriole and assisted in a more acute and enabling way toward Jewish destruction. A Polish ministry that was steeped in any form of antisemitism, that is in contravention of the priesthood’s ethical, moral and Christian duty, cannot escape the accusation of complicity in a duplicitous manner. In Christ’s name the Christian commandment is to 'Love thy Neighbour as thy self' and with this requirement, all too many of these priests failed to do so.
"..killing was perpetuated by hoodlums. ..what about ..soldiers who ..took part. ..what about ..others ..onlookers ..bystanders. ..history of ..Polish people is filled with suffering and glory ..Be worthy of that history ..citizens of Poland. ..face ..recent past which is also yours. To forget is to choose dishonour." Elie Wiesel.
The collaborative, antisemitic remonstrations are the scenes which are repeated the length and breadth of Hitler’s Final Solution in Poland. In so many sites, camps and Death Camps the evidence of a systematic hatred is brought to bear. The depiction’s of what has emanated from within Poland, this also share’s the concerted nature of that widespread atrocity that Hitler had sought. By 1943, some 16,000 Polish police officers, some of them armed, served under the Germans authority. While this is not in dispute, there are many who point to Vichy collaboration as defining what does not allow for this to be Polish collusion in any way.
"..before ..uprising in Sobibor I and three other SS men and a larger group of Ukrainians auxiliaries were again ordered to go to Belzec. We were doing forestation work there. We had to prevent ..Poles from turning ..whole area upside down in their searches for gold." Heinrich Unverhau.
It has to be commented upon, that whatever some Poles did in not assisting the Jews, there are many more Poles who are to be commended for doing so much to assist their Jewish neighbours. These Jewish neighbours were under direct threat and under the direst intimidation to their own lives and the lives of their Family’s along with those Jews they might have assisted. Of course, Poland was first nation to feel the effects of World War II as Hitler's invading Armies crushed all Polish Resistance and within a matter of days. As the assault rang out on September 1st. 1939, for the Jews of Cities, Towns, Villages and Shtetl's, they were now forced to live through those initial days, alarmed and even terrified by the threats Hitler had already testified to. Sporadic attacks on Jewish community's were widespread and on September 2nd. 1939 there were some 30 Jews of Piotrkow who were Murdered. But this was only the very beginning as the plunder of Jewish existence and all other value was orchestrated on a massive and co-ordinated scale.
"..I remember ..visit of Reichsfuhrer Heinrich Himmler in Sobibor. All ..SS men ..members of ..police ..Ukrainian volunteers ..lined up in a parade. ..reported my platoon to Himmler for inspection. ..on ..day when Himmler was in Sobibor a certain number of Jews was gassed. I can tell for sure that Himmler visited Camp lll ..extermination area. I saw Himmler with ..whole group going in ..direction of Camp III." SS Oberscharfuhrer Hubert Gomerski.
The following day, September 3rd. 1939 some 180 of Czestochowa's Jews were murdered as were 17 of Wieruszow's Jews, 4 of Lelow’s Jews and 3 of Zdunska Wola's Jews. All murdered as a consequence of birth, antecedence and progeny and even before we enlist the terms of Hitler’s Final Solution to understand the fate set aside for the Jews of Poland, Europe and World Jewry. Meanwhile the tempo of the atrocity increased with such intensity that when Russia enjoined the conflict on September 17th. 1939, and as 20 of Laskarzew's Jews are murdered, Jewish hope had all but dwindled and died. As Russia moves to occupy most of Eastern Poland, with this Hitler pact and without any formal declaration of War, Jewish life East of the divide settled into a bearable routine. Towns then enjoyed a relative quiet as the population gradually adjusted to a less volatile Russian influence in this Eastern sector of Poland. It was a different story under Nazi control though as pogroms and assaults upon the integrity of the Jewish Community continued, and in the Western sector of Poland, it was a continual threat to be a Polish Jew.
"..war with ..Soviet Union has ..created ..possibility of disposing of other territories for ..Final Solution. ..Fuhrer has decided ..Jews should be evacuated ..East. ..Madagascar ..no longer ..considered in connection with Final Solution." Franz Rademacher.
The German Reich Foreign Office Department Chief was equal to any task related to the Jewish People during the period of The Holocaust, in all manner of creative ways so as to please his fuhrer. As the tempo once again altered though, and all of this pretext for Lebensraum changed again, when on June 22nd. 1941 Hitler turned against his erstwhile ally and Barbarossa was launched against Russia, any geographical aim became an annihilatory one for the Jews. The military forces of Stalin and close on 12,000,000 Jews were under immediate threat. Of course the move into Eastern Poland was rapid, German killing agents sucked into the void and what descended upon those Jewish Communities was unbridled hatred. These Jews, who had so far suffered fewer ill effects from the partition of Poland, up to that point, it all now went toward the unimaginable cruelties that had been systematic for the Jewish People West of that divide. The impoverished Jews of Eastern Poland now became the decimated Jews of all of Poland.
"..heroism of those who risked their lives to hide Jews from ..Nazis .and did so despite ..pressure exerted on them from their relatives and neighbours." Jan Grabowski.
The dying Jews all over Poland, who had suffered the iniquities of an abandonment unprecedented in its nature and deadly in its execution, languished in certain knowledge that their time had been clearly fixed. There was an agenda of destruction that had now commenced, it had been rehearsed ever since Hitler took power and without subtlety and with a forceful direction, 10’s of Murdered Jews became 1,000’s of Murdered Jews and increasingly, 10’s of 1,000’s of Jews on a daily basis. Immediately, as an avalanche of anti Jewish assault fell upon all of these Jewish Community’s, any opportunity for escape, which formerly had not existed for the 1,000,000’s of Polish and East European Jewry, was completely cut off from them. Whether Jews felt attacks randomly, or with a sense that some form of collective aggression had breached all civilised restraint, the assault against them stretched across all the Jews of Poland and now Western Russia.
"..arrived ..report to Camp Kommandant ..SS Hauptsturmfuhrer Bothmann. ..addressed us in his living quarters ..in ..presence of SS Untersturmfuhrer Albert Plate. ..explained ..we had been dedicated to ..Kulmhof extermination camp as guards and added that in this camp ..plague boils of humanity ..Jews ..were exterminated. We were to keep quiet about everything we saw or heard ..otherwise we would have to reckon with our families' imprisonment and ..death penalty. ..extermination camp was made up of ..'castle' and ..camp in ..woods. ..castle was a fairly large stone building at ..edge of ..village of Kulmhof. ..Jews ..transported by lorry or railway were first brought. ..lorry arrived ..following members of ..SS Sonderkommando addressed ..Jews ..Camp Kommandant Bothmann ..Untersturmfuhrer Albert Plate ..Polizei Meister Willy Lenz ..Polizei Meister Alois Haeberle. ..explained to ..Jews ..would ..all be given a bath ..deloused in Kulmhof ..then sent to Germany to work. ..Jews then went inside ..castle. ..to get undressed. ..sent through a passage ..to ..ramp to ..castle yard where 'gas van' ..parked. ..back door of ..van would be open. ..Jews ..made to get inside ..van. ..done by three Poles. ..Poles hit ..Jews with whips if they did not get into ..gas vans fast enough. When all ..Jews were inside ..door was bolted. ..driver then switched on ..engine ..crawled under ..van ..connected ..pipe from ..exhaust to ..inside of ..van. ..exhaust fumes ..poured into ..truck so that ..people ..suffocated." Polizei Theodor Malzmueller.
However, much of this newer assault was driven by the local Polish population who had taken over the administrative power from the fleeing Russian's in the East of Poland. The Policing of these areas now continued as before, with supervised and even independently acting Polish police forces enforcing German anti-Jewish legislation. These Eastern regions began their own torture and brutal repression of their now former Jewish neighbours, and in concert with an all consuming and long held detestation for the Jewish People, further motivated by Hitler’s own hatred the assault became an unhinged factor in Polish Jewish relations. The story has been told and it has been well written and documented, but with such a systematic reign of violence against frightened, innocent and seemingly helpless Jewish People, the attacks became an unrelenting prelude toward the total destruction of all Jewry. Entire Jewish Community’s in the entire Polish Country, more than 3,000,000 Jewish Men, Women and Their Children now fell under this catastrophic yoke of oppression. While it was fixed by Hitler's influence, it fed through all too often to some in the Polish administration, and to community’s who took refuge in this detailed assault for them to deliver their own injustices and against their own Polish Jewish neighbours. The accusation of History therefore does not stop at just a few local antisemitic, though ignorant Poles either. It signifies a connivance with the tenets of Hitler’s resolve to destroy all Jews wherever they were found, even if the programme had not been filtered down to Polish militia or Polish police forces.
"..How can we expect fate to let a righteous cause prevail when there is hardly anyone who will give himself up undividedly to a righteous cause." Sophie Scholl.
Before Hitler's move toward the programme for his Final Solution in Poland, almost any murder of the Polish Jews could be attributed to Polish excess. Even from amongst the local priest's and the so called intelligentsia, pogroms unleashed against the Jews had less of an unintelligent lead. Many Jews were ritually abused and were forced to shave off their beards and remove all identifying artefacts of their Jewish Faith. Those who barely clung onto life were forced to endure unspeakable torments, merciless torture, physical restraint and an immoral degradation of their basic humanitarian rights. Polish Council's too took liberty to daily harangue and expropriate what was not theirs. Many Poles took stock of what Jewish Citizens would now forfeit, began to enrich their own existence. Until a time came when Hitler's control loosened the slip knot, and the Jewish People assumed their Survival, a stillness went before the newer storm that soon arrived. With a well vented fury recognises and that history still reels from The Holocaust, more deliberate destruction is piled high upon Jewish expectancy.
"..Polish militia police began to expel Jews from their apartments. ..shop owners and craftsmen were not far behind them. Farmers forcefully entered Jewish shops ..homes ..restaurants ..and cafes. After they drove out ..owners ..they stole ..equipment and possessions." Michael Maik.
What Hitler perpetrated here in Europe, though largely within Poland, has been fundamentally shown to have exposed the latent genocidal tendencies of human beings who sought to excel where atrocity leads. With that in mind, Poland owes to its own History that certainty which composes a rightful telling of the truth. For the fact of its veracity, Poland needs to ensure History is correct. Poland has to lead the way forward for the Jews of the World to ensure memory of the catastrophe is never to be forgotten. In places like the Death Camps, Polish soil is running deep with the blood, and not only of innocent European and Polish Jewry but of many other’s, Polish non-Jews included. While that fact remains, it is important that Poland seeks to identify the blood of those interred there on their soil and also, that the attributing accusation for all of those who ensured the blood which saturated the Polish ground, was Jewish blood, that clear fact is to be recognised. What do we suppose the Polish conscripts assaults amounted to as they raged against the many Polish Jews, assailed during the Easter of 1940's Warsaw.
"..We were warned by ..gentile friends that ..Polish underground was coming to kill Jewish Survivors. They did not want to return ..houses ..businesses ..Jews left behind. We had to leave town again." Rubin Offenbach.
Rubin Offenbach, who hailed from Sompolno, Poland where on February 4th. 1942 the Jewish existence in the Town was liquidated, was further abandoned by his former community upon his brief return. So by the time the Polish Jews emerged from The Death Camps, from the hiding spaces they had languished in after escaping the Killing Sites, or emerging from the back of cupboards and wells afforded them by Polish gentiles, nothing prepared these Survivor's for what some of their former Neighbours would then inflict upon them. As returning Polish Jews encountered such a wave of violence, they feared what had been left behind, with the defeat of Hitler, had returned to finish what Hitler had commenced. This was not the end of the Jewish nightmare, but the beginning of the end for a very strong Jewish presence wishing to stay, or having Survived what no human being should have been forced to endure, sought to heal their wounds in their homes within Poland.
"..For many parts of ..Polish society it is very difficult ..since for decades they were victims themselves ..of ..Nazis. ..countries around Poland ..Ukraine ..Baltic States ..same level of public debate about their relationship with their own Jewish minority." Jan Grabowski.
It will be clearly seen that with 30 or so Polish Jews leaving Poland daily in the immediate aftermath of The Holocaust, this rather conservative figure soon escalated to a complete erosion of all Jewish presence. After Pogroms began to beset those Surviving Jews attempting to return to their former lives, Survival appeared such a callous friend. Perhaps as late as 1946, even after many of the sustained attacks upon these Jews seeking normality, hatred all too easily raised its ugly head again. For these Jews, who had survived so much in order to relay to the rest of us the detail of an atrocity few could ever have imagined, these Surviving Jews were placed under constant threat once again. Between July and September 1946 alone, with a total of some 65,000 Jewish Survivors who felt compelled to leave, fled Poland for good.
"..Nazis were responsible for this tragedy it is they who murdered most of 3,000,000 Jews who lived in Poland before World War II. ..Germans were able to mobilise segments of ..Polish society to take part in their plan to hunt down ..Jews and help them carry out their Final Solution." Jan Grabowski.
We know from here, the catalyst for this Survivoral exodus was the mass murder of 42 Jews of Kielce by their own Polish neighbours. What had distinguished this particular atrocity from the random and even sustained attacks throughout the Country, had a very strong German flavour, and almost influenced methodology. All told, the pogroms, which fully led to the amassed murder of some 1,800 Polish Surviving Jews, with what was the sheer scale of the atrocity and the attachment to it of a once more reiterated 'blood libel' accusation, few Jews felt they could remain alive within Poland. But before we reach this climax in Polish hatred for the Surviving Jew, we have to recognise that the survival of the Polish Jewish Community had not been guaranteed, even as Hitler's flawed legions were being expelled from Polish district after Polish district all the way back to Germany.
Atrocity assailed Jews in every corner of Poland, returning Jews in Biala-Podlaska, with 2 Jews Murdered, could not have suffered so much that they faced once more the neighbourly antisemitism of rural Poland. In Boleslawiec where 8 Jews were Killed and in Chelm, where the first such blood libel was regurgitated during the spring of 1945, was orchestrated by the Polish militia who tortured Jews for not having behaved as the terms of the blood libel had suggested they had. In Dabrowa-Tarnowska, Cracow, Diosgyor, Gniewoszow, Gniewczyna-Lancucka, Grodno and Grojec, the assaults and brutalisation continued. In Jedwabne, and the issue over the slaughter here is a hotly contested one, with all too many seeking to discriminate in favour of those who were the real antagonists and perpetrators in this Murder
"..burning alive of ..Jewish population, forcibly herded by Poles into a barn ..is indisputable." Cardinal Josef Glemp.
On March 4th. 2001 Glemp clearly acknowledged that it had been the Poles who had ‘forcibly herded’ their Jewish neighbours into the barn and set it alight. In Kielce, which has clearly been distinguished as a centre of Jewish Culture, where some 24,000 Jews had been resident there as Hitler’s invading Armies struck Poland, became even more notorious. The vast majority of these Kielce Jews were deported to Treblinka and consigned to their Murderous fate there. Barely 212 Jews returned to Kielce to reclaim their former lives. But even these Jews, who had emerged from hell, could not resume what had been their past lives. As the Jews sought to escape, and they made their way to the Rail station, some of the Jews were cornered by locals and beaten so savagely, reminiscent of the scenes in Kovno, Lithuania, and these distraught Jews did not Survive either.
"..I saw a policeman catch 2 young Jewish boys. He did not shut them in a wagon. ..I was on ..platform ..letting a military transport go through. I asked him to let them go. ..assassin did not even budge. He ordered ..bigger boy to sit down on ..ground and take ..smaller one on his knee ..then he shot them both with one bullet. Turning to me ..You’re lucky ..that was .last bullet. Round ..huge stomach of ..murderer ..a belt ..a clasp ..inscription ..God with us." Franciszeic Zabecki,
Here the Treblinka Station Master writes into Polish history what he recognised was a Polish official acting in accord with Hitler’s demands for the Jewish People. As such, his collaboration confirms what History fully knows, there was indeed collaboration within Poland. In the early afternoon of July 4th. 1946 Regina Fisz was shot, her new born Baby Boy was shot also and though Abram Moszkowicz, who had been taken with them escaped, his body was later found. He had been beaten to death. Included in this catalogue of brutal hatred, a pregnant Jewish Woman, a Jewish Infant, a small Jewish Child, and a number of 16 to 17 year olds shot. The local police too got in on the atrocity by hurling Young Jewish Girls out of the upstairs apartment windows. If they than managed to Survive the fall, they were beaten to death by the non-Jewish Polish crowd below. The lessons from Biblical times too came into stoning to death of a Young Jewish Man.
All in all, some 42 Jews in Kielce were Murdered and more than 100 Jews in Kielce were injured during this rampaging pogrom. In Klementow, 5 Jews were Murdered as Sala Ungerman, who wanted to return Klementow, was counselled by people she knew who informed her not to go back and the resulting Murders by non-Jewish Poles of 5 fellow Surviving Jews there after liberation proved her salvation. She went instead to Lodz, which proved little better for some Surviving Jews. In Kunmadaras, 3 Jews were Murdered and in Lodz, the picture was no better for many Jews who had already Survived so much, and 11 Jews were Murdered.
"..Two Polish women ..raked us with hostile gazes. ..Look ..look ..how many dirty Jews are still alive. And they told us that Hitler had managed to exterminate all of them." Sara Plager Zyskind.
In Losice, on October 27th. 1944, as Surviving Jews settled into a renewed life in Losice a hand grenade was thrown into the property they were occupying. In Lublin, 2 Jews were Murdered and in Mordy, 7 Jews were also Murdered Attacks on Jews returning to Opatow were carried out and in Parczew, 4 Jews were Murdered. In Piaski, 6 Jews were Murdered and in Polaniec, a further 5 Jews were Murdered. In Przemysl, at the beginning of August 1945, leaflets appeared in both Radom and in Przemysl demanding that Jews leave the town before the middle of the month. In Raciaz continued assaults upon the Jews there saw a resolve for many Jews to leave. The story in Radom, was a repetition of what threatened the Jews of Przemysl.
In Rzeszow during June 1945, Polish militia searched Jewish survivors and took them to the police station beating them severely along the way. In Sanok, assaults against Jews were escalating and Skarzysko-Kamienna, 5 Jews were Murdered. In Sokoly, and here this odyssey of mine, in Remembrance of all that was inflicted upon 6,000,000 Murdered Jews has its genesis with the Murder’s of Tokele, included amongst the 9 Survivor’s not allowed to Survive by Polish Murderer’s:
1) Tovah (Tokele, Tolkele, Tulkale, Tulka) Olshak,
2) Shaine (Shaina, Sheine) Olshak,
3) David Zholti (Zholty),
4) Yankele Litwak,
5) Shaikele (Sheike, Yehoshua, Shaikeleh) Litwak,
6) Chaim (Tuvia) Litwak,
7) Shammai Litwak,
8) Batya Weinstein,
9) David Kostshevski (Koschevsky, Koschavsky).
In Sompolno Jews were attacked as they were in Tarnow, and in Turek, 1 Jew was Murdered. In Warsaw the Jewish Survivor could not Survive Polish attempts to deprive them of life. And not even Wlodawa, which knew the extent of Sobibor’s operational remit, escaped the attention of hatred toward the returning Jews. In August, 1945, one thousand elite members of the Polish Peasant Party who gathered at a theatre in Bochnia for a political meeting reacted with thunderous applause to a resolution that proposed to thank Hitler for destroying the Jews and to expel from Poland all those who were still alive. As early as August 11th. 1944, with the establishment of a Polish Central Committee for Surviving Jews, it was clearly recognised the threat the Jewish Survivor was put under.
As Auschwitz and Birkenau raged on in its deliberate offensive against Jewish existence, and the decimation of Hungarian Jewry had all but been completed, attacks upon these Jews grew more frequently deadly. Close to where Sobibor Survivors had sought to resume their lives, in Wlodawa, local Poles began attacking these Jews, incensed at their Survival in the first place and the certain requirement for these Jews to have back what had been their Jewish possessions and property's.
"..purpose ..was to discover ..condition of ..Jews who managed to avoid being sent to death camps and chose to live in hiding. ..individual cases of people who chose to hide. I tried to understand how only very few of those Jews who decided to hide were able to stay alive until 1945," Jan Grabowski.
On August 13th. 1944 The Polish Jewish Central Committee meets to discuss a strategy for relieving the symptoms of antisemitic abuse. Messages were proffered which stated that Jews on their return were to be treated sympathetically, with respect and with the clearest understanding of what they had previously endured.
"..During ..war these relationships became even more hostile. A large segment of ..Polish population was displeased with their neighbours’ help to ..Jews during ..war ..and for many it seemed even as an unpatriotic step. Therefore ..some segments of ..Polish population took an active part in ..hunt for ..Jews." Jan Grabowski.
On September 1st. 1944 A newly created Aid Bureau for the Relief of Polish Jewish Survivors in Poland recognises its challenge. Surviving Jews are both collectively traumatised by their own experience and knowledge of what little remains of their 3,000,000 Murdered Jewish Community, but they now have to deal with threats and violence, theft and murder from the Poles who must have known Hitler’s clear intention.
"..I think that when you look at ..international community ..then ..Polish society seems to have done ..most in terms of attempting to reconcile with ..Polish-Jewish past. ..Polish intellectuals are ready to re-examine ..past." Jan Grabowski.
As a matter of routine, Jewish bodies are found where they were killed on a weekly basis all through the months of 1945 and no amount of denial has been entered into any plea to show this did not happen. For any Surviving Jew faced with such scenes it is hard to argue with them that Poland was not a welcoming land for the Surviving Jew. Seeing scenes like this must have confirmed for the Survivor that Poland indeed was a land filled with hatred standing aloft the bodies, the ash, the cremated remains of in excess of 4,500,000 Jews from all over Europe.
"..I was grateful for them ..but I was afraid of them because they were constantly demeaning me ..and threatening me ..and telling me what a terrible thing I did to come there to cause them that kind of problem. ..That's what she constantly said to us ..My sister and I.
'If ..Germans catch you ..you are going to say who helped you and they are going to kill us.'
So it was a dichotomy of things. ..She wanted to help but she wanted rid of us ..she couldn't get rid of us." Aaron Elster.
Aaron Elster points toward Sokolow-Podlaski and history cannot detain a lie and as Poland has passed a law(sic), which seeks to ascribe to those who subscribe to an accusation that the Polish people or the Polish state shared some responsibility for any form of collaboration in the terms of The Holocaust, this will besought out an unlawful act. This is wholly egregious. Surely Historical evidence has provided enough to show what the Polish state as much as the Polish people know, that they all must be fully aware of, that not all Poles fully resisted Hitler's efforts. Both Zofia Kossak-Szczucka and Wanda Krahelska-Filipowicz who established The Council for Aid to Polish Jews, better known as Zegota, were all too well aware of the lack of uniformity in how Poles sought to salvage some form of respect as their Jewish neighbours were being abandoned to the annihilation they had fully recognised was being enacted.
"..plague of extortion developed into a public evil endangering every Jew on ..Aryan side. ..extortionists stripped their victims of their every last possession and forced them to flee for their lives." Emanuel Ringelblum.
Why would history then seek to judiciously accuse some Poles for colluding with Hitler and the Nazi's over the savagery and brutalising destruction of their Jewish Neighbours. We truly need to grasp that Hitler fully implemented all that Hitler's Reich sought to accomplish with regards The Final Solution, in Poland and in the wider Europe. To suggest as unlawful the fact that some Poles acted wilfully to detain and assign Jews to their fate is a deceit which further compounds a grave wrong. My work does not allow for the mealy mouthed attempts by any government, let alone a Polish one which should know better, to sully the integral effort of History to define the truth.
"..born November 15th. 1925 ..a ..10 year old little girl. I recall on Easter how ..Poles were coming out of ..Church full of scorn and anger at us ..cursed Jews ..for killing Jesus their God and Saviour. We stayed indoors till Easter was over. ..Marszalek Pilsudskl died in 1935 ..start of our gehenna (hell)." Natalie Scharf.
Fault is where fault lies and while there are people painstakingly trying to balance Hitler's grave wrong against the Jews of Poland, with the certainty that some Poles collaborated that effort, the truth will not be denied. History does not admonish Poland and the Polish people for establishing a collaborative pact with Hitler against the Jewish People. That is an untruth and as such would be wrong. But please do not allow for the Righteous nature of some Poles to cloud the issue that other Poles did not serve Humanity well. The Polish government of the time absconded from responsibility for its people, 6 million of whom lost their lives, 3,000,000 of which were Polish Jews systematically Slaughtered. The Righteous Few within Poland are a recorded few. All those other Poles who acted morally, did so as a response to their own ethically engendered and compassionate nature. Also, we will find that more righteous Poles go unrecorded as a consequence of their fellow neighbours personal objection to them having saved their Jewish neighbours.
"..I didn't want to go back to Poland. Poles were killing a lot of Jews who returned to claim property ..homes ..other possessions. My Parents were dead. There was nothing to go back to." Bianca Lerner.
Both Bianca Lerner's Parents were Murdered, with her Mother taken to Treblinka and no miscarriage of justice will ever serve the Righteous Memory for the 6,000,000 Murdered Jews, who are The Holocaust. I get the righteous indignation. I guess I can somehow appreciate the anger and even understand the hatred, though it should be pointed at those clearly responsible. For me it is easy to be objective from outside the close quartered affront and outrage to Jewish persistence The Holocaust presents. It is rather more difficult for the Survivor seeking to accuse, or the descendent seeking to blame those, Estonians, French, Latvian's, Lithuanians, Poles or Ukrainians or any other national grouping who even slightly assisted in any way toward delivering Hitler's prime objective toward The Final Solution. Betrayal was a common theme in each and every Country occupied by Hitler's legions and each Country's Jewish Community became a commodity to be bartered over and handed to the German occupiers.
"..Poles ..who despite ..negative image of Jews and ..enormous pressure from their relatives took a huge risk in hiding them. It is undeniable that certain things have happened but you must understand ..atmosphere in which it happened." Jan Grabowski.
But lest we forget, The Righteous Amongst Nations accords an enormous debt to so many Poles who, despite the threat to themselves and even their own Family's and Community’s, they rose above personal interest in many cases to act with honour. That Poles acted with integrity, compassion and the moral appreciation for the sanctity of all life, has been fully recorded. Right at this moment though, Poland is seeking to abolish the accusation of collaboration from its own History, when History in fact knows all too well the established Fact that some Poles did collude with their Nazi master's. But let me also suggest that it was only in Poland where the ability to assist a Jew was equipped with a reprisal action that would devour them and then their entire Family and whole Community’s. So we have to measure the accusation correctly, and level it with certainty and toward those who are guilty.
"..On ..one hand there were extraordinarily brave Poles who risked their lives to save Jews ..and on ..other hand there was no great love between Poles and Jews before World War II." Jan Grabowski.
No one should doubt the achievement of the Righteous, either here in Poland or wherever we meet them. Theirs is an exemplary orchestration of human courage and moral probity. But for those who seek to pave the way toward seeing all in the same light, while diffusing what must be shone upon those darker deeds, such an effort lessens the impact righteous effort must have upon us all. History does not calibrate itself in a broader spectrum than what is truth and what can be proved to be truthful. To elect to add a correction which opens truth to interpretation is a denial of the fundamental integrity we must all seek. The Holocaust is an incredible array of Truths, Facts, Testimonies and Evidences. None of these are open to conjecture. They stand alone as pillars upon which society must build bridges with the past to form the consequences we seek for our future. I struggled hard with the inclusion of this last statement as it was made by a very fine, dogged and committed researcher, Gerald Reitlinger. He taught me the way forward on my journey to The Holocaust and in many ways still does. But if I was to read these words of his again, I would know the Historical error in what he states would be as mine was, a geographical assessment which placed all x6 Death Camps established by Hitler in German occupied Poland, as just that, a geographical Fact that does not allude to anything other than what it is.
"..Apart from ..gassings in Auschwitz and ..Polish death camps ..more than 1,000,000 Jews must have died by ..firing squads or during round ups in ..ghettos. Auschwitz ..in spite of its immense symbolic significance ..probably contributed less that 1/5th. of ..victims." Gerald Reitlinger.
We are always going to get those with noxious views, hate filled agendas and discriminatory beliefs to give their rowdy point of view in order to get to the front of the pack. They usually are the most loud and certainly have the biggest wrongs to issue. But we have a factor which counters all such irrelevance’s. We have Truth, the integrity of it and the Fact that Tolerance is more worthy of humanity than not! The greater part of why I choose to Remember that 6,000,000 Jews were brutally Murdered is to recall and preserve their memory and to also know those we accuse of their systematic slaughter. In that, we attribute all accusations against only those the 6,000,000 would condemn and damn for their deeds in enacting such an atrocity. This accusation cannot ever be applied to any of those whose innocence in the crimes we know as The Holocaust is recognised and this Fact cannot ever be denied. Let the Polish government know what was accomplished on its soil. How and where this was achieved has been catalogued and when x2 escapees from Auschwitz detailed to the World what Birkenau meant, the World prepared itself to do nothing, for which this Polish government seeks to further disclaim. How then can we know the fuller Truth when we can dispute the evidence of some who know. The Auschwitz Report carries a stark warning and all that any previous inactivity allowed for:
"..Cautious estimate of ..number of Jews gassed in Birkenau ..April 1942 and April 1944 ..by Country of origin:
by truck 300,000
by train 600,000
Camps for Foreign Jews in Poland 300,000
Total 1,765,000." Rudolf Vrba and Alfred Wetzler.
What these 1,765,000 Gassed and Murdered Jews suggest, an achievement in this short space of time reflects that we just might have underestimated the total Jewish cost at Birkenau. If that is equally true, where ever poison gas or a bullet, brutality or atrocity met with the Jews of Europe, History cannot reliably settle upon a figure we give as a representative fact for 6,000,000 Jewish losses alone. Thus, when we face up to the consequences of at least some Polish collaboration, perhaps an infamous and well known Nazi report has so much more to state about the undeniable fact that some Poles did collaborate, collude or give assistance to the Reich against Poland. What SS Brigadefuhrer Stroops stresses in The Warsaw Jewish Quarter is no more on May 16th. 1943 more than suggests close co-ordination and collaboration existed between Reich and the administers of the Slaughter to strike the Jews here in Poland.
"..For ..Fuhrer and ..Country. ..following killed in action during destruction of Jews ..in ..former Jewish quarter ..Warsaw. ..Polish Police Sergeant Julian Zielinski ..carrying out his duties. ..Units used ..Polish Police 4 officers 363 men. Polish Fire Brigade 166 men. ..Officers ..men of ..Police ..proved themselves. ..Polish police ..authorised to turn over to any Polish policeman ..one third of ..Jews cash ..property. ..Polish population ..welcomed ..measures taken against ..Jews." SS Brigadefuhrer Jurgen Stroop.
Revisiting the PastPosted by P.A. Draigh Wed, November 22, 2017 21:25:21
In over 20 years of writing on The Holocaust it is impossible to remain dispassionate as I continually survey the landscape of atrocity, brutality and betrayal. Here, this post is meant to give a concern to the Jews who faced a treachery they could not see coming, even though they had faced the extremes of antisemitic hatred for over x2 millennia. But for me, as I read and reread books and works of importance in the narrative seeking to comprehend, how on this Earth will I ever understand why people turned on their Jewish Neighbours, simply because they were Jews. I first met that betrayal at the commencement of this journey with the image of Tokele, 4 years old and Murdered too amongst her closest relatives, because she was a Jew. The torrent of revulsion sweeps over me and I am constantly shocked that this is the model of atrocity presented by an ostensibly ‘christian’ fraternity, one which I gladly renounce.
But I know I have been here before, writing of an experience so hugely tragic, and in whatever dimension we wish to draw upon, and that there is always a repeat urgency when we see how neo-nazism seeks to claim a foothold across Europe once again. For Poland, I cannot begin to imagine why it should allow for some of its citizens to seek an alliance with a Hitler regime that totally decimated Poland and its People. I am not even talking here about their 3,000,000 Jews of The Holocaust either. Here in time is a differing space, a certain Polish place but with separating names and antisemitism runs rife amongst them. For me, the first sight of Malkinia had informed me that Treblinka was at hand and the torture of humanity still hung in the air. I felt the strong hand of fate drawing me forward and it gains further confusion when the reality is, nazism remains focused on denying the Jews of Treblinka, Poland and elsewhere in Europe a resting place that should give them peace! Malkinia’s staging post was almost like it had been ordained for my visit. The steps up to that point, that had guided me to where Polish rail officials had no idea of such a place as Treblinka, and I spelled it TREBLINKA, it awaited me!
There were images and impressions drawing me forward and in a strange sense, I felt an almost spiritual upheaval that appeared inexplicable to me. It was almost the call of some Biblical cataclysm that had been waiting to dump me in a place as close to another Hell as all x5 other Death Camps had impressed upon me. If ever a picture could add to what Dante envisioned, and if our Children could become frightened by names such as these, Auschwitz/Birkenau, Belzec, Chelmno, Majdanek, Sobibor and then Treblinka, no rehearsal could ever prepare me for what I encountered. Again those words,
‘Abandon hope all ye who enter here’,
which were clearly not intended for me, swept over me. For those Jews detained in Chelmno and Treblinka, and all the Death Camps I had visited, they were contained beneath a soil turned over, looted, excavated and cremated there are remnants which remain still to record the most mechanised destruction of a People ever.
Hitler though, who knew the lessons to be gained from history and he used them in reference to Jenghis Khan, The Armenian Tragedy and other’s, to mark his path of such degeneracy, history has afforded a name, The Holocaust to single out his hatred for an innocent Jewish People. Also, and as Napoleon's experience in Russia suggested, Winter would destroy any of Hitler's clear Lebensraum intentions and his connivance with other’s who collaborated his wishes would show him up for the contempt he showed for People as well as History. Those lessons in history then finally convinced Hitler, with the first set back during the Winter offensive in Russia of 1941, that stepping up the resolve to fully accomplish his Final Solution required an escalating term. This was found with The Wannsee Conference, which Hitler established to ensure the entire administration of Reich would be collaborative and complicit in The Holocaust.
Here, the early 1942 Winter still raging in Russia, saw all arms of the Reich now employed away from total War and in the mass Murder of the Jews of Europe. Here also, we must be very explicit and while we cannot be allowed an opinion in such a History, we strive toward any relevant comprehension with the factual truth of what happened to 6,000,000 Jews. What is based on this factual depiction of events involving so many Human Beings is an open wound in the psyche of all Humanity. Of course, what we do not do, we do not interpret what has been laid before History and the legacy of that period to lend to the posterity from which we must learn, cannot be abridged by any dilution of the truth. As SA thugs marched, and as they sang of their hatred, and as they were cajoled by Hitler, who imposed further upon the Jewish People in Germany, they wreaked Hitler's hatred and their own.
"..When Jewish blood splatters from ..knife."
Here, a direct threat which was felt immediately and was escalating toward terms Hitler encompassed in die Endlosung der Judenfrage. The Final Solution of the Jewish Question then, once Hitler sought and then achieved power was to be translated into a direct and frontal assault upon all Jewish presence and existence. It is not then such an enormous leap in any sense, let alone a rhetorical one, when German Jewry felt under imminent threat to seek out emigration. In fact, before Hitler acted out his physical threat, the imminent threat had been postured to a more than suggested death sentence. But who would take in Jews as refugees. So if we have now made the leap for some German Jews to get abroad, it is certain for German Jews left behind there is a physical abuse to deal with even prior to their physical destruction. Evian had already alerted Hitler that the World considered the Jewish Question of little consideration and the Jewish People were then expendable.
Dachau approached and Jewish incarceration signalled Hitler's resolve to confront the issue of his own hatred for the Jews. Once Kristallnacht was augmented with violence, Jewish lives were put under SA and SS knives. Here, some people acted in violation of all the precepts of human decency against an already beleaguered Jewish People! If these were Germans, we see them as collaborative in Hitler’s wishes for the destruction of Jewish business, Synagogue’s and even Jewish life. So when Hitler invaded Poland and Poles acted without regard for their Jewish neighbours, then Poland must accept the judgement in History that some Poles collaborated with Hitler's efforts. If we are to accept that this was not against Poland, then certainly in condemning the Jews they sought out for Destruction, they acted against the Peoples of that state.
There can be no denial of the evidence of the testimonies given. I am not here to add to the study of Polish collaborating efforts but with estimates of as many as 1,000's who collaborated, rising to more than 1,000,000 collaborators, Poland needs to address the frenetic move to either chasten the past or infer an alternative truth for our future. It is troublesome in this that the Polish government of the time chose to abandon its own People to the wiles of an assailant who would abuse and Destroy 6 million of its own People. We can recognise clearly that Hitler’s intention saw to it that 3,000,000 of them were systematically Murdered and because they were Jewish. Did that Polish government collaborate with Hitler's demands by giving its people over to German chagrin? The Polish government had abandoned the state and were short on the ground to afford any leadership. These mandated leaders of Polish society, as they resided well away from what was to befall the entire Polish countryside, Jews within that Country and many non-Jews besides were left to the merciless German occupation.
Firstly, to secure power and then to convert it into the most radical annihilatory expressed hatred to encroach upon humanity, it became endemic in German politics of the time and was readily adopted in many sovereign states, and here, within Poland I wish to see how widespread it became. Anti Jewish feeling settled into a rhetoric of exclusion at first and then, fully exemplified as it spread widely into aktionen in Killing Sites and the Death Camps, it was evident for all other's to see, hear and know, that mass Murder had been fully intended and then orchestrated. Of course, it was evident for all to know but not to become acknowledged by those who refused to see, hear or relate. There is no comparison to be made either with those who chose this Hitlerian example and trampled all moral values into a Murderous exercise, what ever Country we witnessed it expressed.
Here in Poland, there were 3,000,000 expressions which single out the Country for a more pernicious involvement in what would be exercised against their own Jewish population. Unparalleled and Unprecedented are words which utter the intolerable consequences which have a resonance to this day. As this same hatred continually draws upon such a devastating example, the World moves first to disguise the truth in order to cover the traces of indifference so evident all through the period. Until the entire World wakes up to the relevant lesson of genocide’s gravest wrong, The Holocaust will remain the bench mark for the continuing cycle of all future atrocity. Elsewhere we encounter this expression of hatred appearing, and in 1938, the Italian government passed a law banning Jews from teaching in public schools. A few months later, Italian leader Benito Mussolini formed an axis with Adolf Hitler and we wonder which came first the assault upon the integrity of the Jews or the kindred spirit which sees these two readers duplicating their effort against the Jews. Discrimination continued against 1,000’s of Italian Jews, and in 1943 many were deported to German camps. Fortunately, 80% of Jews in Italy were spared during the war, having been interned in small camps in Italy or rescued by righteous non-Jews, unlike the example we are to encounter once Poland is overrun.
It is true to say that when prejudice is voiced by leader's of Men, people suffer no matter their race, creed or other persuasion. This is the insipid nature of intolerance. It invokes in the masses a belief that others are lesser beings or inferior in some way. This was a mantra which emanated from Hitler as the Jewish People became the target of intolerable abuse. When an entire nation can then act in one accord with this Hitler branding of an ancient originated and newly interpreted hatred, it can be exported and 6,000,000 Jews are then set to be Annihilated. When such immoral norms are clearly advocated by authoritative political or even religious figures, intolerance becomes an institution of that state. The rule of governance is in promoting all moral probity and tolerance. But once the guiding principle of correctness has been distorted, direction becomes deviant and atrocity engulfs those no longer protected by moral certainty and this is more so within a violated state like Poland with 3,000,000 Jews to be targeted.
For now, I have finished my journey back toward those x6 Death Camps which Hitler had established in German Occupied Poland. However, I arrived back home with more questions than answers and all relating to both my continuing effort to achieve comprehension and in confronting a barrier which seemingly persists in Jewish Polish relations. I have finally stood before Chelmno and Treblinka and walked through Warsaw Streets and those same Streets which had seen the vibrancy of so much that was Jewish life was not only devoid of a Jewish presence, but it was also omitting any sense that once, Jewish People had once lived here. Here, in the Jewish Capitol of the European Continent, more than 8% of all Murdered Jews of The Holocaust had been driven toward extinction from their former homes here.
For me there is a finite and certain Polish complicity with Hitler’s efforts in Poland, and against the Jews in particular. What was nothing short of duplicitous for those Poles who obligingly and willingly collaborated is engraved into History and cannot alter the path of truth and integrity. Of course this does not accuse all, or even most of the Polish people, but it most certainly damns and recognises those few Poles who did collude in all manner of ways. For those Poles who would identify a Jew when a German couldn't, this was collaboration. If the fleeing government of Poland had issued instructions for the safety and security of all its citizens, history cannot now know how many of their 3,000,000 Jews had been awarded such a sanctuary by governance which would surely have saved many more Polish Jews from Hitler's intentions.
Of course we know all too well the actions of the Balt’s against their own Jews, and elsewhere where hatred or monetary gain gifted Hitler with further victims, collaborator’s stood to ensure a more rapid approach to the final solution was more speedy. So is history to now have any sense of outrage that Polish collaboration could be bleached from history’s pages or even denied? Collaboration indeed is an ugly word. But when it is used in conjunction with efforts against the good of any People, it is reprehensible, immoral and wrong. The Jews of Poland were collaborated against, individually and in wanton acts of betrayal of entire Jewish Community’s and by neighbours who sought to financially gain from and against their Jewish community. When we then visit the Jewish Survivor, with their attempt to return to their former lives, what they met with was a serious effort to continue with what Hitler had commenced. All over Poland, and elsewhere in Europe, Jews were either badly treated, brutalised or Murdered upon their return. In many Towns and Villages the Jewish Survivor was tortured not only by memories of loss and betrayal but there was a betrayal still which greeted them with renewed vigour.
Jews were randomly Murdered and within Poland, as a crescendo of violence descended upon these returning Survivor Jews, more than 100,000 of these bewildered, abandoned and frightened Jewish People finally sought refuge away from their former Polish homes. And this is where Poland has largely gained from a Jewish absence and Murderous rampage which had already cost 3,000,000 Polish Jewish lives. For various reasons, the spoils of that collaboration is held to this day as a theft of confiscated goods, lands, properties, valuables and moneys. I recognised as I stood in Treblinka, at the stone representing Sokoly, I stood at the point of what is an accusation of all of Poland. This nation owes much to those Jews, not just lost to us all but surely given away, wholesale and as a sordid gain was made which has stained the Polish past with the expropriation gained. From the extirpation of the vanquished Polish Jewish identity those Poles who were involved in the murders must be considered collaborative in the destruction of the Jews of Europe, Hitler’s supreme demand.
"..making it a crime to imply any Polish culpability for Nazi crimes denies ..historical record ..and sets a dangerous precedent for denying ..full scope of The Holocaust." Dr. Yvette Alt Miller.
As we search though the relevant documentation to unearth Polish collaboration, and it was a well advanced phenomena, we find Jozef Cukier. This individual was one of the leaders of the ‘Goralenvolk’, an early separatist movement located in the Podhale Highland region of southern Poland, along the Slovakian border. Here, during the Nazi occupation, Cukier attempted to set up a regional assembly with fellow activist Waclaw Krzeptowski. The establishment of an independent state, in collaboration with the occupying Germans did not gain any widespread support. However, the measure of support afforded the German’s, who accepted the region as part of an ethnic alliance, did secure an amelioration of treatment for the regions people. That said, the level of hostility towards the German occupation did not allow for any fully fledged separatist or collaborationist movement to gain its hold.
The fact of Jedwabne is well known to History and cannot be distorted by any Polish attempt to subdue the terms of collaboration to random assaults. Here, and for this assessment of Collaboration we will look to Jedwabne specifically. It had a population of some 3,000 people with more than 2,000 of these their Jewish neighbours. The Polin Museum itself clearly acknowledges the collaboration here, and elsewhere the collaboration by certain Poles remains a significant corruption of the moral integrity of Poland during the period of The Holocaust. Here, on July 10th. 1941 Marian Karolak, the local Mayor, fully collaborated his efforts with the murderous German occupation to have some 340 the town’s Jews herded into a local barn and they were to be Murdered there, burned to death. The detail of this shocking event is well documented and does not require my continued accusation.
However, this was a Polish town which had turned on its Jewish Community and must be considered for its collaborative and Murderous action. Now while not all Poles were participants in the atrocity, those many not involved are still complicit, due to their failure to assist their own Jewish neighbours out of harms way. The responsibility for History is clear and it must ensure the integrity of this Murderous rampage, which is clearly verified, and does not get washed away with any attempt to dilute the fullest terms of the atrocity. Where doubt lingers, the truth must be restored. Those with a responsibility to contribute knowledge to what we must learn have a more prescient demand placed upon them to ensure what is known is not lost to interpretation. I reckon there are those who are sickened by what The Holocaust presents to us but we must be mindful of what The Holocaust is to the Jewish People and more so the Survivor. The Survivor of this ostensibly 'christian' led atrocity against all the Jews of Europe, and I recognise fully that Jews were not the only victims of Hitler and any collaborative effort, but Jews were the only victims of The Holocaust.
Why then should it amaze anyone that there is a commercial side to Writing? Even while I choose to write in Remembrance of 6,000,000 Jews, who are The Holocaust, that is also true? No Publisher is going to give free rein to any Writer to write what will not sell and no one who does not appreciate what I state and why I state it will not wish to read from the pages of those Books, now placed before the mantle of The Holocaust Remembrance, that we are here to share. Also, and I have never suggested other than that requirement is to read what one chooses to read. In essence I have the bones of 30 other Books already conceived of and they await each agreement based upon the achievement of the last effort. That means I am not searching here, or any other media platform, to gather for any of the Books I have already sketched an impression of.
"..This was a particularly cruel crime. It was justified by nothing. ..victims were helpless and defenceless. For this crime ..we should beg ..souls of ..dead and their families for forgiveness. This is why today ..as a citizen and as president of ..Republic of Poland ..I apologise." President Aleksander Kwasniewski.
Agreed! I clearly attribute certain concerns to what I state here, such as collaboration, but this will not qualify as a Book unless it is proven substantial to do so. Part of what collaboration in The Holocaust encompasses is a clearer accusation that many states are unwilling to admit to. A work on Jedwabne clearly forms such an accusation which has been painstakingly worked on and this single atrocity against the some 340 Jews Burned to Death leads more accusingly toward the 1,600 Jews of Jedwabne, and those from the nearby communities of Radzilova and Vizna, Men, Women and Their Children who have vanished from History. Those being memorialised though, which has credit beyond what I could here add to speaks of such grave losses we could never contemplate. For me, there is a simple resolve to such positions as to what collaboration represents. I will explore Jedwabne but within a narrative that clearly identifies with Kielce and Sokoly. All of which provides a legacy to add collaboration to any attempt by Hitler to ensure the destruction of as many Jews as he could. The newly established Memorial Monument at Jedwabne states:
"..In memory of the Jews of Jedwabne and surrounding areas, men, women, and children, fellow-dwellers of this land, murdered and burned alive at this site on 10 July 1941."
But this clearly does not go far enough in admonishing those who wronged their neighbours, Murdered them because they were Jews and even today, watch as the resistance to admission is being ameliorated toward denial. States should not then ever be ambiguous in any detail of their History, despite the terrible detail it has inflicted upon History. For the Jews from these individual atrocities, no nation will stand the test of scrutiny who wishes to distance itself from what was inflicted upon the Polish Jewish People by their own Polish neighbours. Any distortion of the truth will only lead to a corruption of the veracity of all of History. This need to conceal any element and particle of the truth cannot but doubt the honesty of any nation. Any Country whose moral founding has been ethically constituted, must uphold with integrity what it wishes to deliver forth.
As for the collaborating efforts so often mentioned, imagine the added horror for the Jewish People in knowing the fact of a neighbour turning upon their neighbour because they are Jews. The enactment itself is of unbridled hatred and the amassed Murder to be witnessed against those Jews, while it is expressly, bears no relation to what their religious, moral or ethical teachings commanded of them and that they 'love thy neighbour as thy self.' This negation of the obligation to a duty each human being holds with the other must be confronted brought into question. It must be constituted in the way it was intended and honoured by all of humanity engaged in a living space shared equally by all peoples everywhere. And remember too that I didn't state that original text about loving your neighbour, a Christian god did.
"..Jesus said unto him ..Thou shalt love ..Lord thy God with all thy heart ..and with all thy soul ..and with all thy mind. This is ..first and great commandment. And ..second is like unto it ..Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all ..law and ..prophets."
It is evident that The Holocaust is riven with so many atrocities we have been obliged to lend it this single term and any such accusation which Jedwabne, Kielce and Sokoly delivers, provides us with a hideous example of this vile, vicious and murderous display. Here, collaboration becomes the ugliest of words set against the back drop of the most virulent hatred ever devised by humankind. So what is presented at Sokoly, Kielce and Jedwabne is either the ignorance of human Morality and the failing obligation to obey gods Commandments or it is the complete abrogation of what their God’s law must hold for them. The subject then of collaboration is an emotive one but must not be confined to seeking ways of extracting the truth and enabling those who collaborated to simply divest themselves of their cruel, wicked and murderous affray against those they knew where their own People. In terms which must make us shudder, we recognise not only Jedwabne, Kielce and Sokoly but we must look to those individual assaults upon the Jews of Europe by those privileged enough to have escaped the wrath of Hitler’s resolve for ALL Jews.
"..Normally I can talk about ..Holocaust ..no problem. When you are talking to boys and girls at schools you want to hide your emotions. But sometimes ..suddenly ..when I am speaking ..whole thing becomes very real. Memories come back. And when I go to Jedwabne ..it doesn’t matter that it was Jews or any other people. To think what these people did to their neighbours. They were their neighbours from ..1600s. Their burial places indicate that they lived there from that time. It was not enough that they killed them. They slaughtered them. They cut them to pieces." Tomi Reichental.
I cannot begin to imagine what a Jew, let alone a Survivor considers as they survey the wreckage of humanity wrought by human beings against their fellow Man, Woman and Their Children because they were Jews. The 10's of 1,000's of those Jews who have had the fortune to Survived, and those Jews forced to escape further still the hatred from neighbours, they know especially harshly what words uttered here cannot deliver. Collaboration however, is written clearly in the destruction of these Polish Jews and those other Jews who found a contemptible people, wherever they were, disabling all moral probity to deliver further toward Hitler’s Final Solution. Honestly, I have no axe to grind against the Polish People, or any other national grouping, but I object to what amounts to the denial of the Truth by anyone who would seek to shelter from the integrity History demands, the ability of so many to collaborate with Hitler’s efforts or against their own communities, for whatever reason. 6,000,000 Jews of The Holocaust deserve the truth, and when they have been denied all too much in their stricken lives, that is expressly demanded.
"..In their minds ..murderers and accomplices of Germany ..and Poland ..and Hungary ..and so many ..many other places didn’t do something evil. They convinced themselves it was ..right thing to do ..thing they had to do." James Comey.
When we look to individuals like Ludwik Kalkstein who was an agent for the Gestapo, he worked tirelessly to undo the Jewish effort to remain alive. With Waclaw Krzeptowski, one of the leaders of the Goralenvolk, collaboration can be assessed. Krzeptowski sought a breakaway region, the Podhale to remove them from Poland and closer ties with Hitler and Germany. Throughout Poland, almost immediately upon the defeat of the Germans, unrest in Poland centred around the Jewish Survivors, those seeking to return to some form of normality. Pogroms were constituted in several Cities and Towns, two of which, Sokoly decided the path I have taken for the past 20 years and Kielce, which defined the course of any future Jewish presence within Poland. Pogroms against returning Jews were not restricted to Poland alone, but I wish to draw to the attention of those Polish officials who would seek to draw a line in the sand. Tragically for the Jews of Poland, this line had been severely crossed, and so ignobly amongst the various Polish communities who led these anti-Jewish Pogroms, and some of these were the Jews who had returned to:
Biala-Podlaska, and x2 Jews were Murdered upon their return. In Bialystok and Bielawa there was no welcome for the Survivor Jews. In Boleslawiec x8 returning Jews were Murdered and in Bytom and Cracow , the same sickening story of hatred awaited the Jews. In Czestochowa, Kielce and Legnica, and as if the Jews had no suffered enough, their return was met with scorn, fury and nonacceptance. In Lublin x2 returning Jews were Murdered whereas in Mordy x7 Jewish Survivors were Murdered. The story repeats itself in Otwock and the emergence of the Jews from the Camps, the Killing Sites, the Death Camps was greeted with amazement that these Jews managed to Survive at all. In Parczew x4 returning Jews were Murdered and that same fate was met in Piaski when x6 Surviving Jewish residents assumed to Return Home. In Polaniec x5 returning Jews were not allowed to Survive and this sorry tale was met by Jews returning home to Rzeszow.
In Skarzysko-Kamienna x5 Jews too assumed they could return Home and regale their neighbours of their terrible ordeal. Truth is, their neighbours had known what had awaited the Jews. The telegraph system of informant and travelling whispers acquainted all of what had been the planned annihilation of the Jews of Poland. In Sokoly x9 Surviving Jews had staged a Home welcome for themselves and were Murdered for doing so. In Sosnowiec, Szczecin and Tarnow the Jews of these Towns who had known such levels of hatred no human being should experience suffered the gravest evil, Murder at the hands of their former neighbours. In Turek and I saw the signs for this Town on my way toward Lodz, x1 Survivor was confronted by the same element of hatred exercised by the now former German occupiers and was Murdered. For the larger of these Pogroms, we will look to their composition and with the Kielce Pogrom, a swing shift in Polish Jewish relations was reached.
The Jewish Community gathered in the Jewish Community Centre's to organise a welcome for those Survivor’s who had been lucky enough to Survive. On July 4th. 1946 an armed gang of thugs, Polish Soldiers, Polish Police and Kielce’s Polish community killed 42 of those Jews who were gathered and more than a further 50 Jews were beaten and wounded. Though Justice here was as unequivocal as could be, and as the Polish Courts indicted and convicted many of the perpetrator’s, and even 9 of the culprits were executed, this signalled the final straw for more than 100,000 Surviving Jews of Poland who felt they had been betrayed by Poland and gradually left the Country. World opinion was not incensed enough though to look inward at how it had previously treated the Jews of Europe, 6,000,000 of who were laid to waste, and mostly in Poland.
We arrive now at Sokoly, a Town to the East of Bialystok where my search for some form of understanding or comprehension of the very tenets of The Holocaust became my choice Always to Remember, Never to Forget. Here on 17th. February 1945, x9 Surviving Jews of the Town were sought out and Murdered. Amongst them:
1) Tokele, my little 4 year old Jewish Girl who has fixed the trajectory of my life for more than 20 years now. These Jewish Survivors I have sought always to remember are Tovah ‘Tokele’ Olshak;
2) Shaina Olshak,
3) David Zholti,
4) Shaikele Litwak,
5) Chaim Litwak,
6) Shammai Litwak,
7) Batya Weinstein, and
8) David Kostshevski though he died from his wounds in Hospital, he is a part of the tragedy for Survivor Jews who could not be allowed to return and stay. Also,
9) Yankele Litwak was shot by a Polish soldier while in Bialystok and was the 15 year old Brother of Shaikele, Shammai and Shainie Litwak. In Death none are exempt and so these x9 Jews whose lives were taken from them for being Jews should not be parted here as Jews of Sokoly.
"..We dipped our pen into the valley of tears
To record an immortalization for the holy martyrs of Sokoly
Every page of the book is a scroll of fear
About our dear ones, who were cut off with a sharp sword.
We lived in the community, we spent time together
We drank gladness and poison from the same cup
The dynasty of his grandfather – the grandson the blacksmith
A continuation of the generations of the Nation of Israel.
We sat on the same bench of learning
In the same ‘cheder’ we expounded Torah
We had the same study hall, rules and procedures
The same cemetery and the same graves.
We walked the same roads and streets
Young girls and youths, grandfathers and grandmothers
Under the wedding canopies we heard, with rhythm,
Notes of a Jewish melody of joy and sadness.
We were transported to those Treblinkas in multitudes
We were squeezed into cattle cars like sheep
Our destination was massacre, we turned into dust
The story of our people is written here in the book.
Where are you, Sokoly, you were our cradle
You were eroded like dust and broken like clay
Where are your Jews, infants and fathers
Old people, grooms and beautiful brides?
Where are the pulpits of gemara, and around them the sounds of commentary
Of the yeshiva students explaining portions of the Midrash
Prayers and hopes lifted up to God on high
Were choked off, were silenced with the smoke of destruction." Reuven Lev.
I never appreciated that anyone would approach the sense of personal grief I felt with other than an acknowledgement of a fellow sufferer’s sympathy and human empathetic concern. I saw my Dad Dead and knew an immense loss. I knew my Sister's had died and had no time to adjust to this before the life of a Child was urged to move on. I was not well prepared for the image of Tokele, so young, so vibrant and taken from this World because of a hatred that Jews like her had Survived and realised a personal attachment which caught me unawares? People have asked me why I have become so attached to Tokele and I can only use the missing grief over the loss of my own x2 very Young Sister’s to give that grief to one I felt now able to grieve over!
"..10 days after ..war started ..German soldiers burst into our town ..Sokoly ..and immediately began a mad rampage. Guided by young Poles ..they passed through ..homes of ..Jews and abducted ..leaders of ..community." Michael Maik.
It is unimaginable to the unaccustomed mind the full sense of horror that I have surveyed and I have felt its potency in all that I have researched and studied. On the very explicit detail of The Holocaust, there has been no parallel in all of History to draw upon and the very unprecedented nature of the assault upon the Jewish People has gouged a path through our times which is an accusation against all of humanity. So I have written about the horror explicitly and sought to articulate the terror with a sense of shame that humanity could have sunk to such depths of human depravity. I have remonstrated verbally with a World which stood by and allowed all of this to happen with a shudder of indifference to a very pronounced intolerance. But, it with my use of words that I have been compelled to recognise that 6,000,000 other People could be so ruthlessly condemned and murdered and simply because they were Jews. Are we not all Jews amongst those who believe in Jewish ways and a Jewish God while we have adapted the godliness to act ungodly like?
"..Germans rounded up 1,000's of Jews from Warsaw and its surroundings and sent them in boxcars to Treblinka ..a place where ..Germans had built a giant slaughterhouse for killing Jews by ..strangulation with gas. Exact details as to how they killed ..Jews were not yet known ..but it was known that every day dozens of boxcars loaded with Jews arrived at Treblinka. ..shoved onto special platforms ..supposedly taken to a bathhouse ..ordered to undress ..given a piece of soap ..a towel. ..doors were opened to an empty room into which ..victims were driven. ..room was filled with people and so crowded that there was no more space ..doors were locked ..and in a few minutes they suffocated. ..new transports of Jews were sent to this death camp ..and ..immediately ..turned into dust. ..Jews from Poland ..Lithuania ..Ukraine ..White Russia ..France ..Belgium ..Holland and other European countries also arrived in full trains at Treblinka ..where they were murdered." Michael Maik.
For me, I had never heard of Sokoly, but I was now confronted with a measure of evil which rampaged through a home were Survivor's of the worst calamity to strike at humanity's core were resting and recovering from their ordeal. Where previously some 2,500 Jews had once lived, apparently in peaceful coexistence, the Jews had enjoined their neighbours in a communal effort to secure a better future for both? However, and at a given moment Polish robbers entered a House where these Survivor's were and in the a frenzy of atrocity hear what the words of Michael Maik, who describes what I read, more than 20 years ago and has gripped me ever since:
"..Tova (Tokele) (Tulka) Olshak ..4 year-old orphan ..was a cheerful and sweet little girl. She clung lovingly to any person who took her into his arms to spoil her and play with her. She filled every Jewish heart with pleasure and everyone took comfort in her. ..beautiful little girl ..innocent of any sin ..an actual little angel ..lay dead with open eyes. Her eyes expressed deep protest against ..bestial murderers." Michael Maik.
So the horror of an image can capture fully the tenets of The Holocaust, but the very detail of the Slaughter has just got so much worse for me. In betrayal's darkest moments I have discovered that a 4 year old Child can be such a threat to humanity that she can be ruthlessly Murdered because she is a Jew. For these Jews of Sokoly, having Survived all that the Catastrophe brought to them, these Jews of Sokoly emerged from places like Auschwitz, Majdanek and Treblinka to be Murdered in the own Home and within their own community. For the all too few Jews who had managed to Survive, they must have wondered how come their luck had managed to bring them home. But their luck soon changed as soon as they had reached the apparent safety of their former homes. For me, this defines not only the most heinous of crimes but also the Collaboration of certain Poles in Hitler's efforts to Murder as many Jews as possible. And so I leave the final words of Sokoly’s damning evidence to one who knew:
"..Bialystok ..a gathering point for all ..Jews of ..surrounding area ..including ..Jews from Sokoly who had previously been expelled. From Bialystok ..groups of Jews were sent to Treblinka ..to ..gas chambers." Michael Maik.
The Schutzmannschaft Battalion 107 was composed of as many as 450 local Poles and worked extensively in the Volhynia region. They were under the German command and formed a guard duty to ensure the free running of the Railways. They were not a commissioned police force as such, unlike Schutzmannschaft Battalion 202 which was an auxiliary and collaborating Polish police force established in Cracow. More than 300 were forcibly signed up to deliver for the occupying forces varying degrees of cooperation. However, the level of voluntary collaboration was small, and eventually more than half the group abandoned its position to join free Polish forces. Jan Emil Skiwski was a Polish writer, journalist, literary critic, an outspoken extremist supporter of the far right, and an advocate of National Democracy. That he was a collaborator with Hitler’s world view is clearly expressed in his publishing of newspapers supporting Nazi and Polish cohesion, even when his own Country was occupied by an aggressor nation.
Eugeniusz Swierczewski too was a Polish journalist, a drama critic and a Gestapo agent. Karol Juliusz Sym, who was widely known as Igo Sym, was a Polish actor who collaborated with Hitler’s plans for Poland and against what Poland had once been, a sovereign state. Clearly, we cannot enter the realm of Polish collaboration without mention of The Blue Police, made up of Polish police officers. We are aware that these Polish Granatowa policja, more correctly interpreted as 'Navy Blue Police' were a 20,000 strong force of Poles. They were either conscripted and volunteered almost immediately upon German entry into Poland on September 1st. 1939. Not only responsible for the enforcement of German demands, with regard Jews and Poles alike, they policed the Ghetto areas and ensured Jewish compliance to German demands.
Their mark has left an indelible stain on Polish nationhood, but it is largely denied in the most onerous ways and can never be assessed or accepted in any meaningful way due to these constraints. That such moral certainty was abandoned by some Poles, and it has to be stressed that most Polish people did not enter into any cohesive action with any Germans, but as Hitler's rhetoric of hatred blossomed, some Poles succumbed to a motive of reprehensible proportions. What underscores those political efforts to this day, for those still seeking to deny that any form of Polish collaboration ever existed, will allow for the fomentation of denial to give future rise to the same or similar hatreds. Under such an atmosphere of self interest and personal promotion, victimisation against Polish Jewry clearly flourished. While no one can insist Hitler created antisemitism, we can be certain that he made it his own weapon of choice and delivered it to the Poles who took up the gauntlet to act with impunity at times against their own Jewish Citizens.
When all is said and done, Poland's 'blue police' not only assisted the Nazi effort to consume 3,000,000 Jews but wilfully participated and perpetrated Crimes against Humanity. Their presence against the Jews of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising was a clear collaboration against the Jewish People and Poland's sovereignty. These Blue Police units, formed on October 30th. 1939, with the German’s allocating the worst type of policing to these eager recruits, so as to ensure the more deadly deeds had a Polish footprint all through! The strength of this organisation was present within Poland until August 27th. 1944 when it was appropriately decommissioned. It is essential to realise that Hitler knew the lessons to be gained from history and he used them widely.
Whether in mentioning Jenghis Khan, The Armenian Tragedy or the knowledge he surely gained of Napoleon's experience in Russia has suggested, Hitler was well briefed on History. However, what is missing is Hitler’s ability to understand History fully and his arrogance in not appreciating that Winter would destroy any of Hitler's clear Lebensraum intentions, is well documented. What had been clearly in operation since his arrival in power, this then convinced Hitler, with the first set back during the Russian Winter offensive of 1941, that the stepping up of his resolve to fully accomplish his Final Solution was in need of a more focused approach. This newer emphasis required a more fuller and escalating response, even when we have become aware that since Kristallnacht, Jewish life was an expendable commodity in Hitler’s pocket.
Here too, when The Wannsee Conference was established to ensure that the entire Reich would be fully complicit in every detail of The Holocaust. The escalating terms must be considered alongside what BabiYar presents, what Both the SD killing experts would relay and what Hitler then expected from his legions. Few here presented any arguments against what could be accomplished, and the duplicity of Germany and the Germans was complete. It is to be seen that as this Conference convened, the relevant experience gained by the mass Murderer’s of the time, SS Obersturmbannfhrer Dr. Rudolf Lange, der Einsatzkommando 2 Commander and SS Brigadefuhrer Dr. Georg Karl Eberhard Schongarth, the Commander of the Security Police & Security Service in the Generalgouvernment, pushed the emphasis of the atrocity away from Shootings and toward the emerging Death Camps. Now, all arms of the Reich was aware, implicitly engaged and fully employed in the mass Murder of the Jews of Europe.
The Warsaw Ghetto
Here, between April 19th. and May 16th. 1943, and by now not only had the majority of the Jews who had once been held in the Warsaw Ghetto been annihilated, the remaining 50,000 Jews were awaiting the same fate. Held to ransom, the remnant of Jewry here could do no more than pay the extortionate price expected for weapons. This criminal act, which would only hasten the Jewish demise stands before a history which now balks at calling this deliberate and calculated extortion what it was Collaboration. Here, as the approach of the final days of Hitler’s 1,000 year reich was looming, the Jews of the Warsaw Ghetto seized their moment and struck back at Hitler’s intention to destroy every single one of them. But here again, amidst the crumbling ramparts of Poland’s Capitol City the Jews once more stood alone!
I have no wish here though to single out only Warsaw as alone in those Ghetto’s taking back control from Hitler’s oppression and annihilation. But, as we must be explicit and specific, and while we can still be allowed an opinion in such a History, we strive toward relevance with the factual truth of what faced the remnants of the largest Jewish Ghetto in all of Europe, Jewish Warsaw. Not only do I wish to point out what happened here, but as I see here a similar collaboration which 6,000,000 Jews faced, the facts of this truth accuses. Here too, the Warsaw Ghetto sets forth the worst excesses of abuse, hatred and most definitely collaboration against these Jews, and the ultimate destruction of the Jews of all of Poland had been well orchestrated and mirrored here in the ruins of Warsaw.
But, was there some collaborative effort in ensuring that the 'transports' from Warsaw, which were taken to the gates of Treblinka, and as with all the Death Camps, managed with Polish escorts, it is certain what these Polish attendants had delivered their Jewish transportees toward. So taken in isolation though, and as we are introduced to the Jewish Resistance during the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising these Jews fought an extraordinarily gallant Fight. It might have proved futile to do so but is it not credible now to allow them their immense, singularly isolated and Herculean effort. It would appear that while some are resorting to the revised annotation that certain in History would deliver for them and escalate an interference from outside bodies which did not assist. The example here, with the urgent need for Guns played a major part in the overall failure of the Jewish Combatants to assail further the German assault.
Though the end was an inevitable end for Jewish lives here, the Jewish capacity to defend itself against the weight of Hitler’s proposed elite, Criminals and mercenary killers severely increased the cost to the overwhelming military superiority the Jewish Fighter’s had to engage, due to a tenacity borne from a certainty they were alone and on a collision course with annihilation. Let us deal with the extortion for a moment. For instance, a gun to the Jewish Resisters could cost US $1,000 - US $2,500, and when the going rate at the time for say a revolver was US $20.00 to US $25.00. Here, for the Jews fighting Hitler’s Nazi’s was the margin for exploitation that was clearly and substantially enhanced! This was a clear exploitation and it was mixed with a collaborative effort that saw Hitler's clearer intention to deny any final life to these isolated Warsaw Jews brought closer. Did not the failure of the Polish resistance to assist their Jewish counterparts not merely pander to Hitler’s wishes but fully render to Hitler an extended ability to enure that the Jews could not defend themselves against such a resolve??
"..Assassinations were carried out ..of ..Gestapo collaborators seeking to save their own lives at ..expense of ..Jews." Abraham Geppner.
So the truth emerges that Polish collaboration, which existed in its most pernicious forms is based on this factual depiction of events involving so many desolate Jews. These Jewish Human Beings were abandoned by such a device as we see that their fellow humans being collaborative? This surely is an open wound in the psyche of all Humanity. Of course, what we do not do, we do not interpret what has been laid before the posterity from which we must learn. What is pertinent here though, is the sheer lack of cooperation from those outside the Ghetto's who either chose to ignore the Jewish plight or sought to profit from the Jewish situation. It is essential to understand and appreciate that for some Poles who ventured into the midst of this largely Jewish conflict, but within Polish Warsaw and only saw along with the Nazi protagonists, only a common enemy.
Of course some Poles died alongside their Jewish counterparts doing what they were obliged to commit to against the same Nazi aggressor, but the overall indifference shown by an apathetic or unconcerned Polish people abandoned the remaining Warsaw Jews to the murderous efforts of Jurgen Stroop. For me the question begs the unquestioning answer! Weren't the Polish Jews fighting to rid Poland of the exact same German aggressor enemy? Was not the Jewish Fight a Polish fight? Why then should a Jew have to pay for a weapon used to fight a common enemy? The Jews proved expendable even in the fight to rid The Warsaw Ghetto and Poland of Hitler's Murderer's!
As I summarise my own perspective as to what collaboration against the Jews in Poland represents what for me is so startling, nothing, absolutely Nothing prepares you for this realising betrayal of their fellow Country Men, Women and Their Children and all because they were Jews. Seeing the images as I have compiled them to survey the devastated landscape of a Polish territory, it is certainly true that it was largely abandoned by Poland! When nothing will prove more horrifying than what greets you as you stand before open fields here at Chelmno and Treblinka I get the sense that what was a missed opportunity to assist in Warsaw dissolved a mutual collaboration with these Jews of Warsaw and their Polish neighbours was a confrontation with a common enemy, Hitler’s invading forces. That same feeling of shock and shame confronted me as I stood in Auschwitz and Birkenau, Belzec, Majdanek and Sobibor.
Nothing has prepared me sufficiently for what is just as terrible, vile and monstrous in terms of a human failure to alleviate, assist or aid the Jewish fight in Poland against Poland’s enemy. However, the knowledge that more than 3,000,000 Jewish People, and possibly as many as 5,484,700 Jewish People were laid to waste in just these x6 places of ignominy, all adds a clearer more alarming perspective to what should have been expected from a knowledgeable non-Jewish Poland. Human Beings did this to Men, Women and Babies, Infants and Children and simply because they were JEWS while Poles in the main stood aside. Anger rages more deeply as I stood amidst rows of stones and boulders in Treblinka, and these standing memorials to lost Jewish Communities confront your senses knowing all too well what could have been achieved. If only Poland had acted as one with their own People, their own People, those suffering as Jews, but Polish all the same.
But then again, there are those who Survived the clear intention by Hitler to Murder them only for Poles to finish the task for him. I cannot begin to know the horror I stand in the shadows of but I can acknowledge their terror was far reaching. For some of these Jews, who even managed to crawl away from such spaces, Ghetto’s, Killing Sites and Death Camps how can I pretend not to be remotely horrified enough and angered more sufficiently when I hear that there was this lack of aid delivered to their own. The awareness or knowledge from those who resided next door to the encampments of destruction is a deceit which cannot camouflage the truth to be denied. For me there is a flood of emotions at all the Death Camps but it is here at Treblinka, where a Stone confronts me which floors me. Emblazoned across its surface I read SOKOLY.
This Town, where my poor little Tokele was so savagely Murdered, just 4 years old and butchered in a senseless hatred that no human being should possess. I felt frail and lost. I was merely humbled before stones which can devour ones mind of thoughts, well thoughts other than disgust. Here, my Camera lens becomes the tool of accusation and sharply brings to focus the most heinous crimes perpetuated by mankind. All too many of these crimes remain Unpunished. There are far too many Unconcerned enough to admit the exact detail of their collaborations, their intolerance’s or the indifference’s shown to fellow Human Beings. However, the weight of knowledge is burdensome enough without having History so exposed to duplicity and complicity in The Holocaust that some can deny all of its effects. So I will end here with an accusation as I encounter the very images I have posted to say I have been, I have marked my presence and I still choose to Remember that in
Belzec from 500,000 Jews to what amounts to 884,700 Jews were Murdered. In Birkenau, Auschwitz II from 1,100,000 Jews to a theoretically possible Slaughter of 2,500,000 Jews having been Murdered. At Chelmno where between 152,000 Jews toward 400,000 Jews having been Murdered there. For Majdanek we must assess that from 120,000 Jews to 200,000 Jews were Murdered there and at Sobibor some 225,000 Jews to 300,000 Jews were Murdered in this place of annihilation. The same is also true for Treblinka where as many as 700,000 Jews to 1,200,000 Jews were Murdered. This all gives rise to an overall assessment, unbridled in atrocity, unparalleled in brutality, unprecedented in all of History and unwarranted in all of humanity.
The staggering figures that we are talking about here within The Death Camp system would amount to some 2,797,000 Murdered Jews or some 5,484,700 Murdered Jews, depending upon all the gauged documentation and evidence, having been Murdered in The Death Camps alone! Remember too that while we seemingly acquiesce toward the lower estimates, we must fully consider the overall capacity that is The Death Camps. Plus be mindful also that while I make assessments based upon what Hitler’s legions fully accomplished, 33,771 Murdered Jews of Kiev in x2 days for instance, this would have ensured der Einsatzgruppe could have shot to death The Holocaust total of 6,000,000 Murdered Jews in about 355 days. We are reminded also of Hoess's own assessment, and this would suggest the entirety of those Murdered Jews of The Holocaust, these 6,000,000 Jewish Men, Women and Their Children would have been Destroyed in the space of 600 days at Auschwitz and Birkenau alone.
"..highest number of gassings in one day was 10,000. ..most that could be carried out in a day with ..available facilities." SS Obersturmbannfuhrer Rudolf Hoess.
Revisiting the PastPosted by P.A. Draigh Fri, October 06, 2017 21:04:50
It is Friday September 29th. 2017 and this part of my journey has come to an end. I have experienced some deeply moving experiences. I saw wholesale grief from many who so obviously had returned to pay their respects to the memory of those Jews now lost. The Jews of The Holocaust are always Remembered and in the placing of a stone, which I did, individually, and also for those who required one and for the many I know would appreciate it, I placed many stones. The symbolism shows the Jewish People today that the Jews of yesterday are never to be forgotten. I depart Warsaw from Chopin Airport so unless we measure the distance of the Concourse, I will have walked little today but travelled about 8 miles to get here.
The onward journey will make a total for today, of about 1,514 miles or so and to be honest, I doubt I could have been here another day and sought out any other place to visit, I am so weary. I stood in Centralna though, and there was a Train which would have taken me to Sokoly. I would have arrived at the same time I was supposed to be landing back on home soil? There is always that pull, there is always an unfinished recognition, and unsolved quest and an unrestrained commitment which persists in enabling me to take another step. A part of me though is quite relieved I have concluded this part of my journey, and I head back from the 'wasteland', a term I borrow from Karina Gora whose insight into taking Memory forward is refreshingly thoughtful and relevant.
I am only sorry I never saw her interpretative work while I was there, so as to appreciate it in close proximity to the Community of Tomazow-Mazowiecki's own Catastrophe. I am thankful the interest in keeping memory alive is pertinent to others who share a mutual human concern. I have travelled, all told more than 3,500 miles, 4,200 kilometres in new money over these past x5 days with 1,500 miles of that just to get to Warsaw. Warsaw has greatly disappointed though as there seems to be some errant or collective amnesia in Poland when it comes to asking about the Death Camps. And when it comes to those searching for answers and looking to the past for them, why do officials in Poland not at least know the names, Belzec or even Treblinka?
I have come a long way to visit places in Poland that the Poles do not know the names of? Is it Me? Did I look like I really did not wish to visit such places? Or could the answer be, there is a wish by far too many to forget their past History? Despite the fact that this detail in History was imposed upon them by Hitler, I would not expect the Polish people Not to know places which gorged on 4,000,000 Jewish People from all over Europe! Also, in each of these x6 Death Camps established by Hitler in German Occupied Poland, the remnants of Polish dead and Murdered is also to be found alongside their Jewish neighbours.
The Holocaust for me should be clear and unequivocal and certainly unique in terms of those 6,000,000 Jews of Europe who were intentionally Murdered by Adolf Hitler. In the most systematic, brutal, unprecedented, mechanised, industrialised and unparalleled Slaughter of Human Beings in ALL of History, requires that uniquely Jewish term History has recognised is, The Holocaust. That is The Holocaust Slaughter of 6,000,000 Human Beings for being Jewish. If ever my aim has been Always to Remember, Never to Forget then I will continue to inform, write and learn. How could I not? I know for certain the attempt by all to many to either minimise the impact the Jewish presence holds for us all, and I would suggest this accounts for an additional antisemitic response to an antisemitic act.
World War II saw 50/70 Million Dead, but not as Hitler's intention for the Jewish People has been exposed as so systematically sought. When some of those who offer up their recognition for The Holocaust, they are being disingenuous if they forget the very fact of the Jewish presence, or even choose to ignore that The Holocaust is 6,000,000 Murdered Jews. trump, now trudeaux have proved either stupid or ignorant of that fact, and a politician cannot have our mandate to be stupid. A politician here, who will remain gormless, when I questioned him about The Holocaust replied to me that he knew about the Holocaust because he had been to Auschwitz. This terse reply displayed an irrelevance I would not consider in any way empathetic.
My visit to Warsaw has suggested itself to me that there is a seeming and underlying attempt to either blur the line which connects 6,000,000 Jews to this Catastrophe, or dismiss it altogether. Either that or there is a simple attempt to deny these Jews of Europe their presence in THE most orchestrated and Murderous hatred meted out in supposed enlightened and civilised times. I am a bit low! My soul weakened by what I witnessed, and a little by what I have encountered. It does not fix itself when I witnessed a Lady crying as she observes the outside display at the Polin Museum. What could I say to her but Sorry! Here too, the dilution of the terms of reference which fixes the Jewish People within The Holocaust, is oh so a major cause for concern.
I appreciate that some Jews find it questionable for the religious overtones of The Holocaust term being used to Remember such an awful atrocity, and yet. Surely, The Holocaust term is the standard bearer of a truth which is Always to Remember, Never to Forget but it also vilifies those who watched as The Holocaust unfolded and is a blatant accusation of all of those who either profited from The Holocaust Jewish ordeal or participated in the very detail of the overall atrocity which is The Holocaust. For those who perpetrated these crimes in The Holocaust, either on behalf of Hitler or for their own sick and twisted idea, The Holocaust is our accusation.
How could it ever be otherwise, that Murdering Jewish People because they were Jews could be ever considered acceptable. How could such terms as The Holocaust presents become the accepted practice amongst all too few of these who have actually been tried for their Crimes. As I say! I am weary of the experience, but I will not forsake my commitment. Tokele stands alongside me. The Stone of Sokoly weighs heavily and 6,000,000 Jewish souls call out for a voice that wishes nothing other than to Remember them all. As I see it, the dead of War are a blight on Humanity whereas The Holocaust blights Humankind.
I know I have been here before, in terms of writing of an experience so hugely tragic and in whatever dimension we wish to draw upon. Here though was a differing space, a certain place but with separating names. The first sight of Malkinia had informed me Treblinka was at hand. I felt drawn forward. It was like it had been ordained and the steps that had guided me to where Polish rail officials had no idea of such a place as Treblinka, spelled TREBLINKA, I reached another awful space in the Destruction of the Jewish People! There were images and impressions drawing me forward and in a strange sense, I felt an almost spiritual upheaval. Again I have no wish to draw any religious connotations in this. I do not want to bring anyone's god into an equation which deals with such a massive loss. It had been remarked however that the god of Israel would sanctify and preserve the Jewish People, his Chosen People. Well for me, such was the absence of any god that the Jews fully felt a wrath and for what. To prove the presence of some god who cares more about the freedom to commit atrocity than to prevent it? As far as I am aware! The Jews obeyed their god's laws as they delivered to the World a monotheist way to believe adopted by a diverse multi-faith group of people. So where was god?
Even if the call came from some Biblical cataclysm which had been waiting to dump me in a place as close to another Hell as x5 other Death Camps had impressed upon me, I have yet to find the traces of any god. Instead, if ever a picture could add to what Dante envisioned, then our Children could become frightened by names such as these, Auschwitz/Birkenau, Belzec, Chelmno, Majdanek, Sobibor or even there at Treblinka. Again those words, "Abandon hope all ye who enter here," was clearly not intended for me. For those Jews detained in Chelmno and Treblinka, contained beneath a soil turned over, finally excavated and the remnants cremated, much remains still of the most mechanised destruction of a People ever.
I remember as I set foot on Malkinia Station that I was retracing the steps that as many as 1,200,000 Jews heading toward that place Treblinka had made. I take no satisfaction knowing a few hours after arriving at Malkinia that a train from Bialystok would arrive and it would take me back to Warsaw. That is exactly what happened and I felt a deepening sadness knowing that those Jews deposited at Treblinka were given no choice whatsoever. Thoughts flicker and I am concerned that while I leave behind 6,000,000 lives worthy of Remembering, I do not feel they are in good hands. I feel the negative connotations of fixing words before the deeds of wronged and Murdered Jewish People, has not lent itself to the reverence 6,000,000 Murdered Jews require.
If a nation has become so fixed on requiring reparations from Germany for what was done by the Hitlerite hordes on Polish soil, they must regard the debt that is owed to 3,000,000 of their own Jews who did not return, who did not renew their ownership of all they once owned and who have been left without any legacy owned by their descendants. All of which is being denied to their relatives and heirs on the basis of a non returning ownership that had been totally obliterated! I have many thoughts going through me at this time and I find with an historical assessment, it is entirely conceivable that as Hitler surveyed the Polish terrain, from a military perspective, he saw in the Vistula, Bug and the Ner Rivers a way to further distribute his final resolve for the Jewish People.
The Vistula River is 1047 kilometres long and The Bug River is 772 kilometres long while The Ner River flows for 134 kilometres. The practice run with T4 brought together the ability to gas people. Cremate their remains and dispose of their ashes in the nearest River. In Poland, these x3 Rivers lay at the Centre of all that Hitler envisaged would obliterate all traces of those ill and infirm he had set his eugenics team on. For the Jews of Europe, who could be all too easily transported to their Deaths in the Camps built and established by Hitler for that purpose, the ash of Krematoria and Funeral Pyre was never too distant from the flow of a River which would distribute the ash as far away from the scene of the atrocity as was possible.
Revisiting the PastPosted by P.A. Draigh Thu, October 05, 2017 20:31:08
It is Thursday September 28th. 2017 and I am aiming for Treblinka. It is hard not to remonstrate with someone’s god when what awaits me is the hollowed out call from a dark place, Treblinka. I know the Jewish Murdered are there. I do not know how many we seek. I do not know their names even if that is quite Wrong! I do have an idea of the vast number of those Jews of Treblinka who await me! In excess of 700,000 and as many as 1,200,000. All Murdered because they were Jews. There are many others interred here, but these are the subject of an other's quest, and though they have been intolerably treated, I involve myself in a search for 6,000,000 Murdered Jews.
They are not part of my endeavour in finding why we allowed this all to happen and for the Jews of Treblinka and even though I know the names of some of Treblinka’s Jews, all of whom were forcibly transported there, I cannot ever know all who remain here, lost to all practicable efforts to locate and name them. However, I will still follow their route towards an abominable place and will be certain Always to Remember, Never to Forget that for me, I will be on the return train from Malkinia Station to Warsaw. So now, I have walked my customary 4 miles and I have to travel a further 6 miles and I have not even have got any further than Warsaw.
Today I will have walked 10 miles and travelled about another 134 Miles, once I get started. As with Chelmno, my walk on such hallowed ground will not be measured in time nor distance. That would violate the cause I have established for myself. So I will let you in on what seemed farcical, but caused me delay and moments of confusion. My walk to Warsawa Centralna Train Station takes 30 minutes so I set out in good time. But before that eventual journey begins, allow me to take you to the ticket desk at Warsawa Centralna Railway Station. My Polish being what it is, non-existant, I had written where it was I wished to go! TREBLINKA!
Now bearing in mind that this site of reverence to Polish Jewry, World Jewry and the State of Israel, and lest we forget History we too have a stake in acknowledging the awful crimes here, a State official looked blankly at my piece of paper. Anyway, we move forward and I had arrived at Centralna and asked for my ticket and was informed they do not have trains to where I wished to go. I even showed how it was spelled but I was then sent to another rail official. I was eventually pointed to a Bus Company which would supposedly facilitate my journey to Warsawa Western Railway Station. The Bus Company was certain I had been sent to them purely because they spoke English and the Train people didn't??
So now I was in a queue for Bus service I did not want? Ah! Polish buses. I am reminded of a previous venture on Polish buses heading to Belzec. As I trudged through knee high snow, and as the Bus which deposited me, the wrong side of Belzec, I was forced to trudge for ever just to reach the Belzec Gates. I actually saw the Bus veer into the distance along the Lvov road and straight past the Death Camp at Belzec, the Camp he obviously had never heard of? Or had he? I needed to get to Treblinka and the Bus Company furnished me with a ticket to get me to Western Station? I paid for the Bus ticket but decided against journeying across Warsaw in a Bus. I was eager to put Warsaw behind me.
I caught a Taxi which would be quicker. The Taxi Driver takes me to the Westin Hotel? The concierge had to explain to the Taxi driver I wanted the Western Train Station. Eventually, duly set down at said Station, queued in a relentless line of other would be traveller’s and got my Tickets and then set off for the platform. Amazingly. In the distanced I my route toward the Centralna station stood before me in the distance. The train even stopped at Warsawa Centralna to pick up passengers on my way now toward Malkinia! Aggghhhh! I wrote a piece for a Magazine a good while back, and on this day, it appears to appropriate a space in time that has already been consumed.
"..My quest for comprehension of ..events within The Holocaust commenced with ..Murder of a 4 year old Jewish Girl, Tokele. She resided in Sokoly, Poland. Now for a failed catholic like myself ..it is an abhorrence that anyone should be Murdered because of a Faith ..a Belief system ..ethnicity or antecedence. Troubling too that a Child's life can be so callously destroyed. I am sure that anti-Semitism played a key role in this particular atrocity as it does in ..whole of The Holocaust. It also concerns me that those who have profited within Poland from ..Destruction of 3,000,000 Polish Jews can maintain their supposed christian or even catholic status." Patrick Dempsey.
But if all that this sounds like idiocy, I was making My way toward Malkinia and as we all are to be made aware of, Malkinia is the staging post for Warsaw’s Jews to be Destroyed in Treblinka. So in some way I did not mind the mild farce which had got me here, before a sign which reads MALKINIA. The journey itself was time to listen to and talk to Kasia and her Son Patrick which took my attention away from this apprehension and sinking feeling which was gripping me. I arrived after a rather pleasant journey and there before me was that sign, MALKINIA! MALKINIA was not just a place I had heard of, it was a torrent of issues and concerns for the past few years as I tried to add to what I knew of Treblinka, a synonymous resonance with a dark space in our revulsion of what could and was achieved here.
To say I was exhausted is an under statement. But to know I had achieved what I had set out to undertake, and more, has eased a burden I have felt since I began this odyssey, 20 years ago. A promise made has been fulfilled now and I have met with a deeper seated concern that Memory is not fading into a forgotten state. There was a greeting too of sorts, with a Child from a place whose Community name SOKOLY is on a stone here in Treblinka. This is my ultimate reward. I have gone full circle in my search to when Tokele was introduced to me and her Community, many of whom have been laid before us, here in amongst the other 700,000 or 1,200,000 Jews of Treblinka.
That communal place, Sokoly has signalled for all, a time when hatred ruled over life and human decency was eradicated. But while lives have been taken from us, and 6,000,000 constitutes a lot of names now missing from us, we have words, acts and deeds to permanently defend their memory. Is it enough that mention is made of the tragedy they faced? NO! It will never deliver in essence what is lost, what was taken and how all too easily we abandoned so many Human lives. All we can do now is add a measure of remorse to a degree of empathy and know how wrong this World had been in the Catastrophe for 6,000,000 Jews. I will rewrite this, and add to a piece on Treblinka itself, as I will with Chelmno, as they are stand alone atrocity’s in need of a marker beyond a travelogue of sorts.
Revisiting the PastPosted by P.A. Draigh Wed, October 04, 2017 21:27:38
It is Wednesday September 27th and it is 2017. I simply forgot I hadn't altered my Phones time, so I had crept into Wednesday thinking I was working on what remained of Tuesday. It is late, I am tired but I have things on my mind. So while I can, I write! I never quite appreciated the magnitude of grief that can be brought to People. But now I have ventured upon a realisation. I have been to Chelmno and now know that nothing compares to that loss of life which has been interrupted by the intervention of others. Hitler interrupted the lives of 6,000,000 Jews of Europe and absolutely nothing will ever compare to the sense of grief this evokes.
The Irish are known for their melancholy nature but I am always upbeat, the glass is Always half full in my neck of the woods. For me too, no one has a monopoly over grief and this was brought to the fore a while ago as I managed an office staff. I listened as a Woman informed a fellow Female colleague that she had no need to grieve, she had only lost an Aunt, or someone not so immediate? Her reasoning being? She had lost her Mom the previous year and her Uncles Brother's Cousin, or whoever, the year before that. I felt quite aggrieved that anyone can impose their own sense of loss upon another so as to simply dismiss the fundamental grieving process owned by all and any People.
I clearly spelled out to her, that grief belongs to the individual concerned and she had no right to deny anyone the right to grieve in whatever capacity they chose and for whomever they had a grief over. I pointed out also that my own Mom's loss was, and until I began this journey, incomparable and no one else's could surely compare to my Moms. As I am never giving of what remains private to me, I will share this fact that in the space of x2 years my Mom had lost a Sister, her Dad, x2 Daughters and a Husband. Of course, these were my Aunt, my Granddad, both my Sisters and my Dad. But I had not been comparing my own grief then and until now was not prepared to compare anyone's sense of grief. How could I suggest grief, when there are Jews who know the meaning of this enormous grief we seek to add to the memory of The Holocaust. Each to their own!
However, that the magnitude of grief is felt now as I sit here wondering what can ever compare to the experience of those Jews left to reflect and grieve over The Holocaust, I am uneasy. I feel perturbed that while Simon Wiesenthal insists we should not look on The Holocaust merely statistically, how do I compare such an immense horror without recourse to numbers so devoid of all names. I have met and been introduced to so many People whose sense of grief bears no comparison to anything I could ever feel nor measure, even in all of History. But it appears it is incumbent upon those who seek, Always to Remember, Never to Forget, that such numbers as those which have been taken from us in The Holocaust, somehow insist on the calculation being made.
The overall assessment, which extrapolates such a criteria as is measured 6,000,000 times over with loss, grief and the horrible realisation of a terrible wrong, bears no comparison. That these Jews were taken from us and systematically interrupted from their own vibrant life, is an accusation of all that Humanity should stand for. I will get some rest now as Lodz awaits and I am supposed to be up in about 4 hours to breakfast before I begin journeying again. It appears my journey is endless. It also seems like sleep and rest have been removed from any equation I wish to make. Monday, I was travelling and awake for some 22 hours. It appears I have been on the go for 20 hours, and this was Tuesday??
I am fully awake? And I have taken my stroll to Centralna and I will have walked about 11 miles today and travelled 175 other Miles or so. As I am fully cognisant that while not all Jews suffered the same fate, all too few Jews of the 11,293,300 intended for destruction escaped the trawl of 6,000,000 innocent lives that were totally Destroyed. But of those who did Survive, they do not have the same regard or even disregard for their former neighbours as many would seem to hold. Each tale of Survival is different. Each story of those Survivors informs us of a familiar tale of intolerance from some of their neighbours and the warming sense of human dignity reaching out to save too few.
Brutality and atrocity was met by a Jew wherever they were bounded by the intolerance or indeed, the seeming indifference of all too many. However, what can be hidden in the terms of reference connected to the contribution 6,000,000 terrorised and destroyed Jews must bring to memory, is the attempts by many to save the few. In proportion though, the many 26,000 amongst all Nations, are far too few while the few Survivors are the remnant of far too many, 6,000,000 of whom were Destroyed. I am certain that perspective will be considered as I reach the Marek Edelman Dialogue Centre in Lodz though will be more amply exposed when I reach the Death Camp at Treblinka tomorrow. I am more certain of that exposure of grief which not only creeps up on me, unawares, it is a presence I feel constantly.
Lodz, it is clear, was fundamentally chosen as a centre of Jewish presence for the Ghettoisation, containment and eventual removal toward the Death Camps of the Warthegau's Jews. If we need to be pedantic in terms of Hitler's establishment of all x6 Death Camps, then they were established in German Occupied Poland. There is a play on words still, and while semantics have no responsible space to procure ownership of any part of The Holocaust, the word 'collaboration' shares a presence. Why is it then that we are prepared to accept a seeming collaborative effort with Hitler's germanising attempt to rename the City of Lodz and indeed its Ghetto.
We should in no way allow for the altering of the obvious Polish nature of a City so as to conform to a German insinuating accent. The Lodz Jews, and others who had lived in Lodz or were transported to Lodz, were Ghettoised in the Lodz Ghetto and died there, were Murdered there or were transported to their deaths elsewhere as Lodz Jews. The very nature of Hitler's attempt to eradicate Lodz Jewry should not reflect other than the very Jewish nature of Hitler's attempt to annihilate all of them as the Jewish inhabitants of the City of Lodz and then the Lodz Ghetto. Meanwhile, thoughts raging, it is essential for me that I focus on this day, seizing this moment and sizing the Marek Edelman Centre's ability to afford a dialogue to what was taken from Lodz Jewry.
To be more precise, the coming to terms with the murderous loss to Lodz Jewry. I am sitting here at the Marek Edelman Centre and I am looking across a Park which remembers the loss and the efforts of the some. The statue of Jan Karski is omnipresent gazing over the Park itself. The apparent mission here and vision that those who planned and instigated this worthy enterprise, an array of displays and focal points set before me, is well constructed and it has a resonance with the past that sweeps into our present! The attempt to add diversity to what lessons must be learned from The Holocaust past, is sure to shape the future for any organisation seeking to confront an unease with which Poland perceives The Holocaust.
The Dialogue Center
is an open, secular cultural institution acting beyond any political divisions, the primary purpose of which is to undertake educational, research and cultural activity including but not limited to:
1) Popularizing the heritage of different cultures,
2) Promoting multicultural and multiethnic legacy of Lodz, with the emphasis put on the Jewish culture,
3) Propagating the idea of tolerance and counteracting any signs of racism, xenophobia and lack of respect for people of different outlooks on the world, different backgrounds and cultures,
4) Undertaking educational activity in the scope of multiculturality for Polish and foreign communities,
5) Undertaking training and educational activity for children, the youth and the grown-up as well as organizing international exchange,
6) Running a library and an archive as well as building up various collections, especially those related to the Lodz Jewish community and the history of the Lodz Ghetto,
7) Carrying out projects commemorating the Lodz Jewish community,
8) Activities aiming at commemorating the Survivors and the Righteous and their families,
9) Popularising art works promoting the idea of multiculturality and multiethnicity,
10) Obtaining non-budgetary funds from national and foreign sources and using them for the purposes of statutory tasks.
The Marek Edelman Dialogue Center is the public cultural institution and education center, created on the basis of the multicultural and multiethnic past of Lodz, to discuss the history and its influence on today's life, with the emphasis on the Jewish culture, history and Polish-Jewish relations. An institution open towards the future, attractive for the local, national and international audience.
The Marek Edelman Dialogue Center is an institution that preserves the multicultural and historical heritage of Lodz through education, publishing, art projects and commemorative events, cooperating with many other institutions and organizations in Poland and abroad, recognized locally and internationally.
I commend the sterling efforts undertaken here as I would agree, those at the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews measures with intricacy, the fate of 3,000,000 Polish Jews. Again though! I am visiting places in reverse order. Having visited Chelmno yesterday, I now visit the place so many of them were transported from, for their last time. Lodz itself, which expelled its Jewish Community to Chelmno, is close at hand. I will be amazed if any hint of a former Jewish presence greets me as I am amazed at Warsaw's almost complete lack of acknowledgement of its former resident Jews. The idea though that a dialogue, in part to Remember Marek Edelman and his Jewishness, is to be found here in Lodz is surprising. I am reminded now of a quote from Elie Wiesel and what is set before me confirms that Memory will be sustained by the efforts of more than those who write it.
"..Holocaust defies literature. ..describing an event ..we transmit ..its reflection. ..No one has ..right to speak for ..dead. ..story had to be told. In spite of all risks ..misunderstandings ..for ..sake of our children." Elie Wiesel.
What is more enlivening in this building is the careful tread of visitors whose efforts sift across an emotive space for those Survivors who venture here. All too many now no longer able to impart their truths for us. The concept of the space, which seeks to put in the lessons from the past so as to ensure our future, actually appears like an idealistic reality. I am aware of the ownership given to both Lodz and the Death Camps in Hitler's scheme of things. But I will now manage to alter course and change the definition I have often used to one which places ownership of Hitler's Death Camps, with him as it was he who established these Death Camps in occupied Poland, and I fully restore their ownership to Hitler and at his front door.
"..Letters From ..Ghetto is not just a love story ..but also history to which ..world remained indifferent. It is my personal ..internal protest ..closed in ..convention of motion theater." Kariny Gory.
I meet with Kariny Gory (Karina Gora) at the Centre and I find there are those looking for more ways to add toward the memory we all seek to add to. The Holocaust impressed upon Karina, who had utilised the love letters from Aljuche Izrael Orenbach (Lutek) to a Jewish girl he had met before Hitler's invasion of Poland, and this was Edith Blau. Their love story became a series of pen pal letters once the x2 became separated by Hitler's war. Lutek, a native of Tomaszow-Mazowiecki came from the same Town as does Karina, so her interest in producing this work was more than coincidental. The two, whose separation lasted without them meeting again, as Lutek was murdered in Treblinka and Edith was murdered in the Riga Ghetto, is as compelling as it is tragic.
"..yearning locked in ..words ..hope giving breath to say goodnight ..to greet ..morning ..monotonous days filled with fear ..where life and death are mixed in unity." Kariny Gory.
But love transcends all, and when literature has been deprived of an answer, Movement and Expression, which is what Karina's group brought to the Theatre, has ensured that memory is not alone and has another grasp at holding on. Here too, I am drawn to the statue of Jan Karski as it stares out over an obliteration process that physically left more Jews intact, within Lodz itself and more than Hitler would have demanded. Jan Karski himself evokes a reminder in us that too few like him persisted with letting the World know of a burgeoning route toward The Holocaust. The Catastrophe for all of European Jewry unfolded before his eyes and as it continued its rampage through our Historical consciousness, it remains as damnable, reprehensible and certainly accusatory for knowing it was known to the World of the time.
"..Lutek Orenbach and Edith Blau became ..pretext for my creative work on structuring their characters. ..to close ..time ..place and circumstances ..in ..Tomaszow space." Kariny Gory.
I wonder though, how would the impact upon this Centers efforts be, if it is to acknowledge the integrity of the past which could all too easily be affected by the arbitrary efforts to prevent the use of the word 'Collaboration'? This is a position which exposes the Centres efforts to re-ignite Polish Jewish relations even when collaborative efforts to add to Hitler's final resolve, and though only aimed at by some in Polish circles, it is widely known that some Poles were greatly involved in collaborating against their Jewish Community. Jewish Survivors know, for their part that luck in avoiding those who would collaborate against them is very pronounced and true. When there is an emphasis which appears to run counter to what certain elements of this Polish government wishes to alter, bleach or even deny, these would seem to impede your efforts:
"..to discuss the history and its influence on today's life, with the emphasis on the Jewish culture, history and Polish-Jewish relations."
and can there remain an independent view, free from the governments seeming 'revisionist' words and those fully amplified and untruthful implications. The Polish governments insinuation would surely alter those Polish efforts which sought to both save Jews from The Holocaust and also perhaps exonerate those who perpetrated many of the excesses History clearly acknowledges? I am keen to discuss this, and should it make any difference to the way History is written, it should be tackled everywhere. I have a wish to gain from the Center, and I will look more deeply to gain the insight into my search for further comprehension.
We must involve all those who know The Holocaust and from whichever perspective, and accept that in acknowledging the terrible wrongs done. To do so, we do a service to all in History and in Remembrance for the 6,000,000 Murdered Jews, we choose to remember them correctly. I know now I am tired as I have been travelling today for more than 14 hours. The train arriving at, and I forget the platform, is running 12, 17, 25, and then 57 minutes late. In my confusion, there is a Swiss guy, and in my tiredness I forgot to ask his name? While he lends me his support, as his Polish is perfect. At least I know the Train will arrive, eventually.
I am back at the Hotel, the walk is beginning to feel more wearisome and I have yet to prepare for what will be a most difficult day, Treblinka. Before I go though, I heard someone say it was a Jewish Festival around this time. I found this greeting and wish to share it with you all, even if it is against all principles held within agnosticism? So Chag Sameach! I know the Jewish People celebrate Sukkot and that this is meant to be a celebratory acceptance of God providing for his chosen People, the Israelites! This then to me is my concern, and it as if it was written in my deference to my own religious background. It is not meant to cause any offence to anyone whatsoever.
So when the Holocaust launched the Jews of Europe into a wilderness and all Jewish faith focused on their God's faithfulness to keep his promises to secure them, it is also to make them aware of the power of his presence. However, we saw 6,000,000 Jewish Men, Women and Their Children abandoned and brutally Murdered. This, I am afraid is what strikes me as I still see that stone to the memory of the Jews of Sokoly. It evokes a great anger in me that is rightly directed at a World standing on the sidelines as the trail of despair stretches 6,000,000 People long. And it is not just that what happened in Sokoly that frustrates my, but what happened to Tokele threatens my very understanding.
Then as we look to 6,000,000 Jewish innocents, at the brutality, because of the vile and indiscriminate hatred, and with the knowledge of knowing that those in power were accepting of all of this atrocity, and we realise the intolerable depth of despair inflicted upon these People and the scornful indifference observed by all 6,000,000 Jews as they are strewn through a wasteland. Forgive me if I am at pains to share what is not a condemnation of any faith, but it is a reason for me not to have one, and I am very tired?????
"..In spite of ..vast accumulating literature ..an abyss still lies between those who endured ..unimaginable and those who did not. ..Survivors themselves remain pendant between ..living ..and ..dead ..searching ..to pierce ..realms of each." Nora Levin.
Revisiting the PastPosted by P.A. Draigh Tue, October 03, 2017 20:28:03
It is Tuesday September 26th. 2017 and for me, Chelmno awaits and it is weighing heavily. I have taken my leisurely 4 miles stroll to the Centralna train station and I will have walked my usual 8 miles by my return. Any walking in pursuit of Memory, which will involve today's walk around Chelmno, cannot ever be counted. Also, and this might seem ironic to many, but my walk into Warsaw Centralna for my visit to the Death Camp throws up a strange anomaly. This will see me on a Train bound for Berlin. I can hardly believe it.
Admittedly, I will get off at Kutno to journey on toward Kolo and then to Chelmno. But this Train heads direct to Berlin, the heart of where Hitler's plan to Destroy all of European Jewry was conceived of and largely conducted. Direct from Hitler, the plan to murder the ill and the infirm of Germany and Austria, had its genesis in Berlin too and then, so as to alleviate the symptoms of der Einsatzgruppe's psychological well being, a more mechanised approach was conceived. Chelmno was the first Death Camp established by Hitler in German Occupied Poland.
As such, the terrible lessons to be learned would be experienced by Lodz Jews. Whatever else, a target was set for The Jewish People, a marker was agreed that 11,293,300 Jews, as adjudged by The Wannsee Conference, would be sought out and The Holocaust Slaughter of 6,000,000 Jews would be realised. Hitler moved no further than his desk to share details in voiced undertones of all he had planned. So here, on these platforms in the Centralna station, every Train has a significance.
Each destination has a meaning in our reach for comprehending the entirety of The Holocaust. Bydgoszcz, Cracow, Czestichowa, Katowice, Kielce, Kutno, Lodz, Lowicz-Glowny, Piotrkow-Trybalinski, Tychy and especially Warsaw, all flash up recalcitrant images of everything I have been steeped in for more than 20 years now. The shock I am feeling is quite palpable. There is a whirring sense that I am in the midst of a cauldron which was deadly for the Jewish People, and this was merely 70 to 80 years ago.
But for Warsaw, as I leave it slowly behind, this was the largest contained, brutalised and Destroyed Jewish Community in all of Europe. It pauses me to consider how many of The Holocaust's Jews had merged with their Polish neighbours to board trains for far away places. Here, where a place like Treblinka beckoned, how we now wish the Jews could have gotten onto trains bound elsewhere. But with Treblinka, it functioned fully upon the transportation of Jews from Warsaw, and while other Jews had been expelled from other communities, Treblinka was Warsaw's nemesis.
So while I speed in the opposite direction, and toward Kutno, my mind looks out upon a landscape drenched with the blood of Jewish lives. It is troubling, knowing Chelmno approaches, and I will once again stand on the very space, where the epitome of all hatreds was conducted. Chelmno, which still secretes to the mind the missing presence of more than 152,000 to 400,000 Jews, taken and transported from the Countryside this Train is travelling through.
I am troubled as we travel and as I see order, with life continuing without a flicker of recognition for what must have been so obvious during those times. If it is to be said then it is going to be a pleasure to walk amongst those I can feel close to. In some strange and uniquely personal way, these Murdered Jews have given me cause to accuse, reflect and look far more deeper into humanity's gravest wrongs, for an answer.
I will not measure such reverence in other that the consumption of concerns for the passing of Human Beings, and regardless of the Fact that their Jewish designation ensured their destruction, my concern is a purely human response to an awful atrocity. Today, I will have travelled some 388 more Miles and will have looked across open Countryside, purged of all Jewish presence. But, to reach this Death Camp on the Ner River, it is an accomplishment I have neared for 12 years.
Chelmno itself is a sterile ground transformed into a visitor center, a form of museum. It has nothing really to suggest that murders took place here. Hitler established this Death Camp on German Occupied Polish land and this too is a strange anomaly. Different from all other Death Camps, though in a similar way to Treblinka, in that Murder and interring were achieved in situ and removed elsewhere for interring. Chelmno's Death Camp is x2 distinct sites and the Murders were largely achieved en-route from one site to the other.
The site of the killing is separated by a journey through hell for those Jews encased in Gassing Vans augmented purely for killing those who entered. I perhaps journey here the wrong way round, visiting the containment site first and then the transporting and loading area, as it was, secondly. But along that road from one place to another space, Jews were gassed and their lifeless bodies removed to where they awaited, no final resting space.
The feverish attempts to finally disinter and destroy the evidence of their detailed mass Murder would seek to dislodge from Memory the place were these Jews were laid to no rest. I have walked and walked. I have been from every corner of this containment centre and feel deeply that some force beckons which is intangible, yet still, it calls to those who seek the place where so many have failed to escape.
I am displeased with the loading area. Reconstructed and with no resemblance to what was the former place of such horror for the Jewish People, and others, brought there. My day is done. My head is done. I have nearly 200 miles to make a resolution with myself to add further to what needs to be said. I am weary. Tired. Not quite worn out and a walk back to my hotel, through night time Warsaw to confront the confusion. I am struck by the awe struck realisation of what humankind can accomplish against Humanity. I have Eugen Kogon’s The Theory and Practice of Hell to while away the coming hours, knowing full well, I have just visited a hellish place, and I have walked freely amongst lost but not Forgotten souls, and I manage to emerge.