View Full Version : Treblinka

24th Apr 2013, 09:25
Last night I watched the BBC 4 programme 'Death Camp Treblinka, Survivor Stories'.

The programme was intense and sad viewing. One of the two survivors which the programme was about was a particularly outgoing individual and an animated speaker called Samuel Willenberg.

Listening to him it was unimaginable for me, in my comfortable middle class peaceful world, to even begin to understand what he went through. He was one of the 'Work Jews' at Treblinka tasked with sorting belongings of the Jews sent to death. Particularly difficult to watch was when he described finding the dresses of his two sisters which confirmed that they had been murdered. It was as vivid to him today as it must have been then.

He was one of the very few to escape Treblinka and managed to find his father, who had been pretending to be a mute non- Jew and was living in Warsaw. His father asked if he had news of his daughters but he pretended he had no knowledge because he couldn't bring himself to tell him the truth.

At the end of the programme he said something along the lines of 'Treblinka never leaves you'.

The truth of that statement was plain and it made me wonder how on earth people like Samuel adjusted to living with the horrors which they saw and endured during that terrible period.

Nowadays it is recognised that witnessing traumatic events can have an effect and as such treatment to help someone deal with the problem but after WW2 there was nothing of the kind.

Worrals in the wilds
24th Apr 2013, 09:38
What do you say? :sad:
PSTD is now known and better understood, but back in the day you were supposed to get on with it or quietly drink yourself to death.

Unfortunately this is a mentality that still exists. That said, I don't know if the modern treatment methods help much. Some people see things people shouldn't have to see, usually as a result of someone else's craziness.

B Fraser
24th Apr 2013, 10:18
For those that survived the Nazis, the Russians were often no better. As they rolled into Europe, huge swathes of land and assets were confiscated with the owners being sent to Siberia. In some cases, up to 80% perished on the journey.

24th Apr 2013, 10:21
Worrals, I am not sure that it is PTSD in this case but just an overwhelming sadness of what one has endured. I am reminded that Primo Levi, the Italian writer and Auschwitz survivor, supposedly committed suicide while suffering depression thought to have been related to his time in the camp.

I have always thought the most thoughtless phrase used in present society is "closure". After something like Treblinka there can never be closure as witnessed by the statement of the survivor.

I recall a television series on Australian SBS channel about the concentration camps where one survivor was being interviewed. He was a young man at the time and he spoke of being raped by one of the other internees. After the event he realised that his attacker had stolen his cap and that would mean certain execution the following morning at roll-call. He told of then offering himself to another male (this was in the hut during the night) so that he could steal his cap. You do what you have to do to survive. After something like that how could you possible forget.

24th Apr 2013, 10:39
When I visited Dachau some years back I was taken aback by the sheer number of camps in operation - there is/was a wall with them all listed. There must have been several hundred, admittedly not all were on a scale of the most notorious ones.

I find the stories about the camp Capos intriguing - basically there were inmates who did the guards job. In order to keep their job and status they were often more brutal than the camp guards. Understandably few of them survived the liberation of the camps to tell their story. It shows the lengths some were prepared to do go to to try and make it through.

24th Apr 2013, 10:47
Perhaps worth mentioning that both Treblinka and Sobibor were closed after the inmates revolted.

Worrals in the wilds
24th Apr 2013, 11:02
Worrals, I am not sure that it is PTSD in this case but just an overwhelming sadness of what one has endured.Sure, but I think they're one and the same.
I have a friend who's an ambo. He doesn't deal with war, horrific death camps or the aftermath of mass sociopathy; in our peaceful, civilised world what he mostly deals with are car accidents.

Not situations where someone woke up one day and decided to annhilate a race; just places and times where someone made a bad judgement call while operating a motor vehicle that resulted in bits of people strewn across a road. :sad:

He experiences the overwhelming sadness you describe, and maybe the person referred to in the OP does as well. IMO both of these are symptoms of the same condition. As you say, there is no such thing as closure, and a study I read recently (can't remember where or I'd cite it) suggested that the concept may be as damaging; it's really just a 21st century version of 'get on with it.' Better to listen, surely.

Closure is BS but the telling and the listening are important. Whether via TV programs or over a drink or five I think that's the more vital thing; that people can tell of their experiences safe in the knowledge that other people will listen without too much judgement. Otherwise they have to bottle these stories up in the fear that people will judge them poorly, and that's where the trouble starts.

24th Apr 2013, 11:12
Worrals, you may well be right and absolutely agree on your "closure" point.

crewmeal, I think you are right about Palestine as well. It appears the lessons of history are either only too quickly forgotten and therefore repeated, or worse, only too well remembered and deliberately repeated.

24th Apr 2013, 11:47
the most thoughtless phrase used in present society is "closure

That one is high on my list too.

Another is the idiotic and cruel mantra, used in "charity" commercials for cancer and the like by this or that celebrity survivor: If I could do it, you can too.

That one really angers me. Many who are afflicted and are working like mad for a cure WILL NOT survive, unlike you, you fool. Shut your stupid mouth. I am a survivor of cancer (three times, so far) and Yes! it was hard work. I assure you, it was hard work. Trust me, it is hard work ("So now we'll just do the blood-work. Hmm! Can't get anything from this arm. OK! We'll try the left."). Let me tell you, it is no fun to have blood taken from a big toe.

Mr and Ms Celebrity Survivor, You can just go to HELL!

It also required a very great deal of plain dumb luck or God's grace, give the credit wherever you choose, and I can well recall other victims in the cancer ward who did not survive.

I never know when it may be me again, and it burns me up to hear some patronising bastard come out with that: "If I can, you can too". One totally humbling hero in the ward used to say:

There's no such thing as pain. It's just a frame of mind.

Oh Yes! There is such a thing as pain, and he knew it. He was the bravest liar I have ever known, before he died.

Another heap of sh*t dropped here by an ex-Olympic gold ("Hi! I am ............, former Olympic gold medallist at ............ Yak! Yak! Hear about ME AND THE OLYMPICS AND MY GOLD in thumb-twiddling.) is about a fatal syndrome from which her Dad, ex-military officer, suffers. She solicits money. Look! You stupid b*tch! HE is the one suffering, not YOU.

Do not publicise his wretchedness just to revel in a few retrospective moments of your own former glory (Oh? I am unjust with that, am I?). It's probably true that he is unaware of his misery, sure, well maybe, but YOU don't know that. Leave the poor soul alone.

24th Apr 2013, 13:24
....if you haven't done so already get a copy of his book "If this is a man".
He makes the point that until you find yourself in that situation you can never foresee the depths of degradation that YOU will stoop to in order to survive. He greatly admired one chap who couldn't face the task of throwing bodies into a pit of burning diesel and threw himself in. Levi felt he could never be brave enough to do that.

He also wrote about the chaos of "returning from Auschwitz" at the end of hostilities. It took them months, because of the literal millions of people on the move trying to get "home". I read that book alongside putting Google Earth placemarks at all the places he mentioned in his travels. It was jaw dropping. We today (and certainly our childrens' generation) can have very little perception of the totality of emotional trauma that swept across Europe at the end of the war. We are still living with aftereffects today in modern Europe.

I too watched that programme last night, with tears in my eyes.

The Ancient Mariner

Dak Man
24th Apr 2013, 14:18
Truly horrible places.

Having lived in Berlin & Munich, I've been to Dachau, Auschwitz, Auschwitz Birkenau and Sachsenhausen. The lingering feelings of death and solemnity left behind are tangible.

There was an interesting camp in Genshagen (Southern edge of Berlin), worth a look.

Stalag III-D - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stalag_III-D)

Interestingly, the Russians kept Sachsenhausen (North of Berlin) open after the war and well into the 1950's. Also, there are some survivors from Dachau still living in the area and one of them conducts tours of the camp.

Of course, we Brits came up with the concept during the Boer war.

24th Apr 2013, 14:26
Dak Man:

Having also lived in Munich I did the Dachau thing as well. But give the current Germans some credit where it's due: above the entrance to Dachau is a sign which, in English, reads: Lest We Forget.

I'm sure you also made note of the map of concentration camps which stands in the entrance to Dachau? Unbelievable. The sheer number of such camps throughout Germany at the time was astounding. Seems almost like every large town and city had one. For the German bevolkerung to claim at the time that they had no idea that such camps existed was disingenuous at best, down right lies at worst.

But we all need to keep in mind one thing: the concentration camps in Germany at that time were NOT just for Jews. Yes, the Jews were in the majority of the prisoners sent there but were by no means all. (European gypsies, people with handicaps from any country including Germany, Russians out the yazoo regardless of religion, etc.)

24th Apr 2013, 14:29
Of course, we Brits came up with the concept during the Boer war.

But the Confederate country club at Andersonville or Camp Sumter, Ga., reads as something not dissimilar in 1864, a few years before the South African events. Can Britain really claim all the credit? Some of the pictures in Wikipedia appear worse, if we can possibly resort to comparatives in such a context, than those I have seen from the German and Japanese horrors. Men reduced to human skeletons.

They used the "orders is orders" defence. General Wirz the commandant was hanged after trial. The drop failed to break his neck and he took a couple of minutes to expire. Meanwhile the assembled survivors present helped him on his way with a chant of "Wirz, remember Andersonville".

24th Apr 2013, 14:43
Of course, we Brits came up with the concept during the Boer war

That may very well be. But I seriously doubt the Brits did things like: turn prisoner's skin into lamp shades, inject diesel fuel under the skin just to see what happens, bring prisoners to "showers" and then turn on the gas instead, etc. As far as I know, the Brits did nothing even similar to these examples.

tony draper
24th Apr 2013, 14:57
When people mention it was the British who invented the Concentration Camp they forget or fail to mention it was the outrage of the British Public that got the those South African Concentration Camps shut down,not the objections of Foreign Governments.
Would that it had been so elsewhere.:=

Dak Man
24th Apr 2013, 14:57
Point 1 RGB, agreed the Germans could have easliy bulldozed all camps and it's to their credit that they remain open and maintained as a warning from history. Indeed it seemd that every little German "dorf" had a camp of some sorts, a good indication of the rabid nature of National Socialism.

Point 2 RGB, agree entirely, the artrocities carried out are unfathomable, wholly inhumane and never justifiable in any context.

I've also visited Berchtesgaten [sp.] on the Austrian / German border, where AH had his Eagle's Nest and all his top brass had lodges on the lower slopes. I got a severe chil there, there was (to me) no feelings of solemnity, I "smelled" an almost repugnant celebratory air within the environs of the museum etc, I didn't enjoy the experience at all. Not that one enjoys concentation camps, they should leave you feeling solemn, Berchtesgaten [sp.] didn't.

24th Apr 2013, 15:01
turn prisoner's skin into lamp shades

I have read that this at least was apocryphal. There was an SS lawyer whose job, incredible it seems to us, took him around the concentration camp archipelago, as it were, conducting trials of guards for offences of theft etc., that did lead to death sentences and executions. He had heard of the lamps shades story, investigated, and was satisfied it was not true. If it had been true, he said, he would have prosecuted.

After the war he went on to a continued career in practice. I can't remember his name.

I am not an apologist for those people, and I was not there. One way or another I cannot attest to the truth. As in so many tales of such horrors, one dares to hope the excesses were not true.

P.S. from Wikipedia:

Frau Koch had been previously investigated for 8 months by Dr. Georg Konrad Morgen, an SS officer who had been assigned in 1943 to look into accusations of corruption and murder in the Buchenwald camp. She had already been put on trial in December 1943 in a special Nazi Court where Konrad Morgan was the judge. The rumor, circulated by the inmates at Buchenwald, that lamp shades had been made out of human skin, was thoroughly investigated, but no evidence was found and this charge against Frau Koch had been dismissed by Morgen.

24th Apr 2013, 15:07
Dak Man:

It is Berchtesgaden. I visited there as well a number of times. Not for the Museum, which I also visited, but for the village itself which is such a nice place.

But, yes, the Museum leaves a lot to be desired. I was very uncomfortable in there and couldn't figure out why until I left and thought about it. yes, it had almost a celebratory air about it. But you also stated you lived in Munich, no? Well you must have realized that the Bavarians think a little differently than the rest of Germans. I wouldn't go so far as to claim the Bavarians thought what happened during the third Reich was acceptable but I don't think most of the older Bavarians are as sickened by what happened as the rest of the Germans are.

Do also keep in mind where the Austrian corporal started out on his road to tyranny: Munich. With full support of the populace. Nuremberg also. Which is also in Bavaria.

Conversely, the Prussians hated Hitler. Which is one of the reasons the vast majority of the conspirators who tried to assassinate him were Prussian.

Prussia and Bayern: same country but worlds apart.

Dak Man
24th Apr 2013, 15:14
For sure RGB, the Bavarians are not Berliners, different language, culture and attitudes.

Never the twain shall meet.

Although I liked Munich, I loved Berlin.

24th Apr 2013, 15:16

I have also heard that the lampshade out of human skin thing was not true. I have also heard that it was. So I'll just say I don't really know.

What I DO know is about one Ilse Koch. She was one of the first Nazis tried by the U.S. military at the Nuremberg tribunals. She was the sick bitch of a wife of Karl-Otto Koch who was commandant of the concentration camps at both Buchenwald and Majdanek.
She testified and admitted to taking souvenirs from the skin of murdered inmates who had "distinctive tattoos". She would cut the skin off with her own knife.

She was also known for having quite a collection. Of prisoners' internal organs "harvested" after their death.

After several lengthy trials she was sentenced to life in imprisonment where she hung herself in 1967. Which is too bad: she should have been shot instead.

Bern Oulli
24th Apr 2013, 15:27
Skin into lampshades. A very long time ago in the early sixties, I was a humble CO in the UK Civil Service at the JAG's office in Trafalgar Square. At that time the Israelis were Nazi hunting and it was my task to wade through the records of the Nuremburg trials to find references that might help convict this particular person. There was stuff in those files that have probably never seen the light of public day. One particularly nasty individual (not the one I was looking for) spent his time touring the camps looking for prisoners with especially artistic tattoos for the purpose of converting them into just those lampshades. Some of this stuff, with photos (of lampshades), you never forget, even if it is simply in a transcript.

Did we track down references to the individual I was looking for? Yes. I have no idea whether he was caught and dealt with, or even if he was then still alive.

Dak Man
24th Apr 2013, 15:49
I read somewhere that the tattoo issue was a bit of a 2 fingers up the Jewish orthodoxy (as if they needed another thing to deal with) as tattoos are forbidden within that religious demograph.

24th Apr 2013, 15:49
....On a wet day in Sep '83 I took my family to visit the site. I,too, was struck by the map and one of the staff told me that there were 2000 white dots on that matt black wall at the entrance. When I got back to work in Naples I did a straw poll "how many concentration camps can remember/name?" Very few got more than about 4 or 5.

I was staggered to find that one of the exhibits with photos diplayed the survival time in sea water data that I'd last seen on the sea survival course at RAF Mountbatten a few years before.

The visit certainly provoked lots of questions from our (then)12 and 14 year old kids. It was an exercise in telling history from today, backwards in time to explain "Why did XXXXX happen, Dad?"

A naval officer's wife acccused us of "almost child abuse" for taking them on such a visit. "Appalling" she said "Absolutely appalling" and never spoke to us again.

The Ancient Mariner

Dak Man
24th Apr 2013, 16:02
Rossian, there as none so blind as those that refuse to see......

24th Apr 2013, 16:45
So I'll just say I don't really know.

rg, Truth to tell, I don't really know either. There were enough awful things to satisfy the most wicked.

24th Apr 2013, 16:55
I came away from a visit to Auschwitz - Birkenau absolutely convinced that every schoolchild should visit and see just how low humanity can sink.

The media has depersonalised violent acts and death. The sombre and carefully presented displays at Auschwitz and the barren atmosphere of despair at the Birkenhau rail head, are enough to convince even the most hardened individual that we must never, ever allow this to happen again.

24th Apr 2013, 17:40
But give the current Germans some credit where it's due: above the entrance to Dachau is a sign which, in English, reads: Lest We ForgetI'm know the vast majority are appalled at what happened in their country, however there is still a core who think otherwise. I remember seeing the BBC series "Nazis: A Warning from History" a few years back. In one episode they interviewed this unassuming old dear who admitted she had denounced her Jewish neighbours, with the result they were arrested and carted off, never to be seen or heard of again. When asked if she now regretted her actions (bare in mind this was some 50 years after the act), she simply smiled and didn't answer. Chilling to think there are still such people out there.

24th Apr 2013, 17:57
Since 2011, there is a new exhibition at the law court where the Nuremberg Trials were held. Everything is in German and English, and the exhibition is extremely good (inasfar as anything that deals with this terrible part of history can be said to be good). It deals with the history of the war, all aspects of the trials, the charges, the evidence, the defence, the discussions around the legal basis for the trials, etc. If you are in the area it is well worth spending a very sobering 3 hours or so.

24th Apr 2013, 18:04
A naval officer's wife acccused us of "almost child abuse" for taking them on such a visit. "Appalling" she said "Absolutely appalling" and never spoke to us again.

What a misguided attitude. I too have visited Dachau and I think it was over the door to the building now housing the small museum the words were written 'Those who forget history are condemned to relive it' . When I read your post those words immediately sprang to mind.

When asked him she now regretted her actions (bare in mind this was some 50 years after the act), she simply smiled and didn't answer. Chilling to think there are still such people out there.

When I look at the unpleasant thugs running the British National Party you can quite see how they gain popular support but I hate to think how they would behave should they attain any sort of power.

Observation of some of the acts committed by the Taliban in Afghanistan, to take just one example, indicates that their are plenty of people around capable of the most appalling acts towards other human beings.

There is a thin veneer between civilised behaviour and appalling atrocities.

24th Apr 2013, 18:21
The Bayern government holds the copyright for 'Mein Kampf'.

On the subject of lampshades, human or otherwise; not so long ago a guide at Hearst Castle, San Simeon, California, was startled to hear a tour member castigating Randolph Hearst as an evil man who bought grisly trophies from the NAZIs. The reason for this idiotic outburst was the guide book description of the two magnificent cartographic lampshades in Hearst's small work office as being made of kid's skin.

24th Apr 2013, 18:28
For the German bevolkerung to claim at the time that they had no idea that such camps existed

All the Germans I know of my age who were children during the war remember the scolding if you were misbehaving.

"Be good or you will go up the chimney."

John Marsh
24th Apr 2013, 19:41
A naval officer's wife acccused us of "almost child abuse" for taking them on such a visit. "Appalling" she said "Absolutely appalling" and never spoke to us again.I'd suggest that it's 'abuse' to fail to teach the lessons of history.

Pre-GCE O-level, I took history as a compulsory subject. I was taught absolutely nothing about WW2, the Holocaust included. I did not subsequently choose history as an O-level subject.

I did, however, take O-level German. We were given a brief outline of German intellectual and cultural highlights. Nothing about the Holocaust - or, indeed, WW2.

Some years later, I spent time with a voluntary organisation based in Israel. A colleague made a comment referencing the Holocaust. To my lasting shame, I replied "What's that?" As you may imagine, I quickly learned.

24th Apr 2013, 20:47
A real danger people are confusing Concentration camps / Labour camps and Death camps.

The latter sole job was murdering whoever came into in while the former was to hold people as prisoners and/or for their labour where deliberate murdering of prisoners was not welcome as they were the labour force the nazis needed.

There were thousands of of camps dotted around but the idea that all had barbed wire around them with machine gun nests is a clear fallacy. Nazis didn't have that type of resources.

I do remember reading the story of a Stoke on Trent soldier captured in Norway campaign who spent most of the war working on German farms held as slave labour....................no means to escape because it was escape to where. Locked up in a barn at night but that was it.

Auschwitz 1 was used to hold and execute Poles at the start of the war and still is a very contentious place because Polish Catholics seek to remember the Poles killed there while Jewish groups attack them because they see Auschwitz as a Jewish site which it never was.

25th Apr 2013, 00:01
Auschwitz 1 was used to hold and execute Poles at the start of the
war and still is a very contentious place because Polish Catholics seek to
remember the Poles killed there while Jewish groups attack them because they see
Auschwitz as a Jewish site which it never was.

Bit confused now racedo, (seriously), were there not hundreds of thousands of Jews murdered at Auschwitz as well? Didn't the survivors of the Warsaw ghetto get sent there?

My only experience of the camps was a visit to Belsen in 1966, a really grim place where no birds sang, where the numbers on the graves did not represent the actual numbers buried, where the official memorial that used the word 'died' was built in front of the original Jewish memorial that clearly stated 'murdered' and where the graves of the thousands of Russian POWs who were murdered there were kept out of public view, (then).

25th Apr 2013, 00:52
“This is the concentration camp and crematorium at Auschwitz. This is where people were turned into numbers. Into this pond were flushed the ashes of some four million people. And that was not done by gas. It was done by arrogance. It was done by dogma. It was done by ignorance. When people believe that they have absolute knowledge, with no test in reality, this is how they behave.”
― Jacob Bronowski, The Ascent of Man

Who can ever forget that when these words were said, he was holding the mud from that pond.

Now, near nightly I see images on television of people aping and idolising the beliefs and actions of those who created that mud; the salutes, the hate, the mindless repetition of meaningless words. There is so much good in the world, so much to aspire to, but I fear that evil is on the rise again and will prevail. I am rather pleased that I am entering the 6th if not the 7th age of man because I don't like what I see happening.

25th Apr 2013, 00:54
Rossian / TheTimesReader84:

Some time ago I was in a discussion with a colleague who was a human factors specialist, we were discussing the design of a work station and whether the controls were spaced and sized for the "average" human being. The discussion turned to the data being used, and my colleague mentioned that the majority of the "average human" data on limb length, reach, height, spread of hand etc was based on Nazi research. Under a number of programs they had amassed a wealth of data on body size by basically measuring everyone and working out averages based on age, gender, racial type etc.

That basic "average human" data (with updates over the years) is now used in everything from the design of cars to computer keyboards to aircraft cockpits.

25th Apr 2013, 00:56
There were two distinct Auschwitzs - (actually more than that, but, to over-simplify) – there was Auschwitz Birkenau, the death camp, and the Auschwitz (for want of a better name) ‘main camp’, which was a huge industrial complex and labour camp, where many major German companies, whose names would be very familiar to many of us today, had factories in situ to make best use of the cheap (=slave) labour.

Newcomers arriving at the Auschwitz rail head, immediately after disembarking from the train, underwent ‘the selection’ – where, with quite literally a flick of the wrist, ‘left or right’, an SS doctor would assign each newcomer either to the main camp if he or she looked capable of work (or could convince him he or she possessed some skill the Germans could use), or, if sick, lame, old, too young or too old, a mother with children, they were assigned straight to the gas chambers.

The so-called lucky ones would stay in the main camp factories only if they stayed healthy and productive. If they fell ill or were no longer fit to work, (or if the Germans decided they needed their barracks for newcomers), they were sent across to Birkenau and the gas chambers. Anyone who has seen the excellent ‘The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas’ will be familiar with that process, which was the climax of the movie.

Treblinka and Sobibor (and others) were a very different matter. They were small, usually isolated, specialised death camps, where people were sent specifically to be executed immediately upon arrival. Only after the Germans found they needed some prisoners to do the nasty jobs of moving and disposing of the corpses were some prisoners temporarily spared at these camps.

The Japanese were in a league of their own in what they did, in my opinion, far exceeding the Germans in sheer bastardry. They carried out the most extraordinary experiments on prisoners, including vivisection. (Len Deighton covers a vivisection operation on a European prisoner in chilling detail in one of his books, a series of short stories about war through the ages.)

The Chinese were the main source of victims for these experiments, but a significant number of American, Australian and British prisoners were killed in these experiments, some in truly horrible circumstances.

As has been already pointed out here, what really rankles is that the commandant of the Japanese unit most responsible for these experiments traded all his carefully-collected reports of these experiments for indemnity with the Americans after the war and he and many of his staff, almost certainly guilty of war crimes far more terrible than 99% of the Germans who were prosecuted after the war, were taken to the US, where they enjoyed normal, even relatively wealthy lives and, I understand, some were granted US citizenship.

Old Photo.Fanatic
25th Apr 2013, 01:04
The book by Lord Russel of Liverpool, "The Scourge of the Swastika" (1954)

I read this book many many years ago and it left a lasting deep impression of just what Nazism was all about.

I think that this book should be required reading for anyone who wishes to learn the truth of what went on during the Nazi regime.

It is not an easy book to read, in that it is very graphic in details of the depravity carried out at all levels both Civilian and Military

If ever I meet any level of doubt from anybody about the Nazi actions I say with deep conviction , go read this book and I defy you to come back and say you still feel the same.

A few years ago I visited Dachau, and having read this book it gave an added deeper insight into the suffering of all Concentration camp inmates.

Google will give you an idea of the depth and scope of this book.


Worrals in the wilds
25th Apr 2013, 01:10
The Chinese were the main source of victims for these experiments,
Even today, while working in an international terminal I noticed that many older Chinese people would not stand next to Japanese people. They didn't make a big deal about it, but moved quickly. Can't say I blame them.

PLovett, re the Bronowski quote; hear hear.

25th Apr 2013, 01:33
The Bayern government holds the copyright for 'Mein Kampf'.

No wonder the bleedin' thing is still in print. I saw a copy in a bookshop just the other day.

which was a huge industrial complex and labour camp, where many major German companies, whose names would be very familiar to many of us today

Whilst not directly located at the camps I note that Ford received compensation for its factories in Germany being bombed by Allied bombers during the war. More than likely by B-24s' most likely made at Willow Bend by Ford. And you thought "Catch 22" was fiction. Fanta was first produced by Coca-Cola Germany during war as they could no longer get the syrup for Coke.

More chillingly, it has been argued that the Nazis' could not have achieved the efficiency in the transportation and execution of so many people without the use of the IBM punch-card data machines that existed at the time.

25th Apr 2013, 01:57
You're quite correct, Plovett. Catch 22 didn't tell the half of it. If you want to be really shocked - and depressed - read this:

IBM and the Holocaust: The Strategic Alliance Between Nazi Germany and America's Most Powerful Corporation. Black, Edwin. ISBN: 9780375431241

Basically, it says that Germany, particularly its air force and its railway system, could not have functioned throughout the war without the active support of IBM, which continued to supply and support its subsidiaries in Germany throughout the war via its offices in Switzerland.

A really interesting read.

25th Apr 2013, 03:31
Would it be too naïve of me to suggest that there was no such thing as an 'End User Certificate' in those days and that IBM thought they were genuinely supplying the Swiss market only, where there was a large rail network and arms industry, not to mention the banking industry, who would possibly all have used card index machines? Just a thought but probably too much of a long shot.

25th Apr 2013, 03:59
Absolutely not, para. It was a matter of business. After D-Day, American Army units made up of ex(yeah, right)IBM employees were tasked with recovering every IBM machine (today, we'd call them computers). The top of the line IBM machine of the day employed key punch cards, and couldn't operate without them. IBM knew exactly where their cards were going. As I said, it's a book well worth reading, particularly for anyone who thinks the Conrad Blacks and Rupert Murdochs of today are in any way different to the senior men of industry and business in earlier generations.

25th Apr 2013, 07:15
May I suggest if you want to learn more of conditions at Auschwitz (including the selection process), you read

Survivor: Auschwitz,The Death March, and My Fight for Freedom

by Sam Pivnik

Hodder& Stoughton, 2012

ISBN 978-1-444-75837-5

A really excellent book.

25th Apr 2013, 10:44
...I was involved in the first NATO exercise held in Poland. Two weeks of 12 hour shifts with the middle Saturday advertised as a "cultural day".

On the Friday afternoon a German army colonel came into our space and called for everyone's attention.
" Just to remind you all gentlemen that the main part of the cultural day will be an extended visit to Auschwitz. I recommend this to you as a very interesting and enjoyable visit. Thankyou for your attention" Actually did click his heels and walk out.
My Dutch colleague sitting beside my whispered "Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear did he REALLY say that?" There was almost total silence in the room.

Said colleague went with some of his Dutch mates on their own visit by car. When I asked him on Sun morning how it had gone, he was a tad reticent. Slowly, he explained that he had gone to the exact spot where the SS doctor stood on the railway platform separating the people as they waled towards him. It's easily identifiable from all the documentaries we've seen.
"I stood there and I wondered what went through his mind as he did it - work,death, work, death" At that point he broke down and cried and pretended to busy himself at his work station. He later explained that the Dutch guys had gone independently because they felt that, as a nation, the Dutch had sent large numbers of people to that point on that railway platform.
Exorcising a sense of shared guilt?? Who knows. A very humane man.

The Ancient Mariner

Dak Man
25th Apr 2013, 11:06
Supporting both sides in any war is a sure fire way to cash in, been the standard practice since time immemorial. There's no such thing as patriotism when you're beholden to the shareholder.

air pig
25th Apr 2013, 22:47
Haven't seen the programme as yet, but will do this week.

In the UK there was a German concentration camp on the Channel islands on the island of Alderney called Sylt. it was a sub camp of Neuengamme near Hamburg. A considerable number died there through work disease and plain violence. The underground hospitals on Jersey and Guernsey had 'wards' built there, just happened to be the same size as the gas chambers in Birkenau (Auschwitz II) also the main entrances had gas tight doors slanting floors for easier wash down and a railway line. At least 2 or 3 Austrian women were deported to Auschwitz from the Channel Islands and were murdered there. The Germans had 'assistance' from the local authorities who allowed registration of religion on their ID cards.

The question I have always wondered is, if Hitler had marched into the UK after Dunkirk how would the population have reacted. The SS/SD/Gestapo under Dr Franz Six, did have a primary arrest list, the so called Black book ready to go on arrival.

the Todt organisation and some large industrial companies were not behind the door at being implicated in the deaths of workers, in particular those 'hired for work' by the SS.

I would suggest that people read Holocaust by Sir Martin Gilbert, but not as a bedtime book if you are prone to nightmares, Laurence Rees book on Auschwitz and the view of the Germans in the Kz system, Commandant of Auschwitz by Rudolph Hoess. Written before the Poles hanged him on the main appelplatz in Auschwitz in 1946.

On the Japanese atrocities, they started with the rape of Nanking working through Indo-China, with the Development of Unit 731 under the murderous b*stad Ishi, who sold out to the Americans for immunity in 1945. The Russians did try and then execute some of them after the war. Apart from human experimentation they also did experiments with animal and plant diseases as to coin a modern theme 'weapons of mass destruction'. The Japanese secret police the Kempetai were even worse than the Gestapo if that was possible and rounded people up from the Chinese population to be experimented on. Some would say it was a pity that there not enough A bombs to destroy Japan totally.

27th Apr 2013, 18:18

A holorith punchcard, the origion of the prisoner number, it was simply His/Her card no.
Printed in the USA and shipped through Switzerland to Nazi germany! read the book, all facts are referenced, The holorith machines in each camp were serviced by IBM technicians who were allowed passage into germany and out again via switzerland

27th Apr 2013, 19:37
The holorith machines in each camp were serviced by IBM technicians who were allowed passage into germany and out again via switzerland

Naw, I liked the one about the IBM employee secretly attached to every forward US combat unit much, much better. :E

27th Apr 2013, 22:11
Bit confused now racedo, (seriously), were there not hundreds of thousands of Jews murdered at Auschwitz as well? Didn't the survivors of the Warsaw ghetto get sent there?

My only experience of the camps was a visit to Belsen in 1966, a really grim place where no birds sang, where the numbers on the graves did not represent the actual numbers buried, where the official memorial that used the word 'died' was built in front of the original Jewish memorial that clearly stated 'murdered' and where the graves of the thousands of Russian POWs who were murdered there were kept out of public view, (then).


Auschwitz 1 was adminsitrative centre where estimated 60-100,000 Poles and Russians murdered and was where Fr Maximillian Kolbe now a Saint was murdered. It was used from early 1940 and Zylon gas was first used on Poles and Russians. This was also where Polish Home Army Officer Witold Pilecki was held and escaped from twice to highlight what was happening.

Auschwitz 11 was Birkenau was an extermination camp from 1941 onwards

Auschwitz 111 was a labour camp for IG Farben but there were numerous satelite ones as well beside factories, mines and also in support of agriculture.

In total historians feel between 1 to 1.3 Million people died in Auschwitz with 80-85% of them being Jewish frim Poland, Hungary and many other countries. The rest are Poles with numerous other nationalities including Gypsys.

27th Apr 2013, 22:14
con-pilot, there was nothing secret about it. There was a unit in the US Army that was manned by ex-IBM employees. It was made up of ex-IBM employees because their expertise as IBM machine technicians was part of their job description.

That units' task was to follow immediately behind combat units to recover the IBM machines and cards cards and any documentation that would be of intel. value to the US.

You're being a bit precious in refusing to acknowledge that Big Business sees things differently to us, the Great Unwashed. As I said in my earlier post, do yourself a huge favour and read that book. It's quite dispassionate in its description of how IBM operated during the war, with its senior management doing the right thing by its shareholders by always keeping their eye on the long game rather than letting a little thing like a world war interfere with what they were paid by their shareholders to do - make money.

1st May 2013, 08:39
Back on page 1, post # 17, Davaar said that he'd read that turning prisoners' skin into lamp shades was apocryphal.

I just watched a programme on the History Channel (I think) titled "Listening to Hitler's Army", about a very sophisticated audio monitoring system put in place by the Brits in their POW camps to learn as much as possible from German POWs, monitoring the conversations of the unaware prisoners in virtually every part of the camp. (They used, in the main, native German speakers, most of whom were Jewish, to transcribe the conversations.)

One German prisoner, speaking to another German prisoner and unaware that the Brits were recording the conversation, had been a political prisoner at Buchenwald. He had been released to serve in the army when manpower became short towards the end of the war. He said that block leaders (kapos) were instructed to have any prisoners with 'interesting' tattoos report to the medical centre, where they were given fatal injections, the tattooed sections of their skin removed, and it was then sent on to the wife of the commandant.

Also in the same programme was the transcript of a conversation between a Luftwaffe pilot and another prisoner where the pilot tells of meeting a SS man in a mess who invited him along to a mass shooting of 1500 Jews in a nearby barracks. (I'm assuming, although it wasn't stated, that this would have been either early in the Polish campaign or possibly early in the Russian campaign. It was possibly more likely the Polish campaign, for he also talks about strafing soldiers 'before breakfast' and growing to quite enjoy it.')

Back to the 1500 Jews: he said that they killed 1500 Jews 'in his lunch hour' and openly admitted to joining in himself. He also spoke quite openly of having sex with a 'very good looking, quite high class' Jewish girl, ('who didn't look Jewish at all') and what a pity it was that she had to die with all the rest of the Jews. (You could only assume that the girl was trying to save herself by having sex with the German officer(s).)

So, although I know it won't convince anyone who chooses not to believe it, it would seem, at least to me, that there is some credibility behind the tattoo lampshades stories, and perhaps even moreso, it gives a clear lie to the oft-repeated line that only the SS were involved in the mass killings in Eastern Europe. I haven't mentioned other parts of the History Channel programme where senior generals discussed the open massed killings that no one made any attempt to hide as they advanced into Poland and Russia.

1st May 2013, 09:08
it gives a clear lie to the oft-repeated line that only the SS were involved in the mass killings in Eastern Europe

This is the point that I have never, ever, been able to get my head around. I can, to some extent, understand how a fanatical group, like the SS, behaved as they did. They were absolutely convinced that what they were doing was aligned to their fanatical beliefs.

What I can't understand is how ordinary German citizens could behave in the same way without coercion (and the evidence that they did seems quite clear). I understand that, as part of the national "healing process" in Germany after the war, it became commonplace to separate out Nazis from Germans, and blame the atrocities on the Nazis, as a way of relieving their national conscience.

I remain unconvinced that any nation that commits acts of genocide and mass torture should be allowed to pass the blame wholly on to a single political group within the nation, as a dodge around accepting collective responsibility for their acts.

1st May 2013, 10:15
VP, this will possibly explain some of your questions.

Hitler's Willing Executioners: Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust

Daniel Jonah Goldhagen

ISBN: 0349107866 / 0-349-10786-6The commander of one of the German police units that wiped out Jewish villages and towns in Poland and Russia brought his bride along 'on operations' on their honeymoon(!) The book has photographs of the commandant and his (quite beautiful) bride taken at a village where they were wiping out its Jewish population. The lady looks likes she's enjoying a weekend in the country. This was a civilian German police unit, not the 'Einzatzgruppen' military units that I understand were military or SS, but from this book, it would seem they did a very similar job - and the book gives multiple examples where ordinary German soldiers willingly joined in mass executions or came along to watch and took photographs, which they sent home to their families.

1st May 2013, 12:42
Andu and VP:

Although certainly no expert on all things German, I did live amongst them for more than a decade. I learned the language (fluent) and spent a lot of time with both the younger and older.

I also had the opportunity, on many occasions, to discuss the Nazis and what occurred in Germany during that period of time. Again, with both younger and older Germans. And also with some radical Germans. I wouldn't call them Neo-Nazis but close.

What I came away with in these conversations is thus: the younger Germans, for them most part, were/are horrified by what was done in the name of Germany. They've gone the other way and, again for the most part, are quite pacifist. I think for the younger German generations what happened was a disgrace - to say the least - and I think they think it will never happen again.

The older generation of Germans I had conversations with varied. a father of one of my German Frauleins was young during WWII and was actually a refugee. He spoke nothing but pure hatred of the Nazis, Hitler and Co.

Another father of one of my German Frauleins was a Wehrmacht officer during the war. If I remember correctly, he was in the Panzer Corps. During conversations he did a lot of side-stepping of certain topics but, in general, felt that "Germany had to do, at that time, what Germany had to do." Of course his daughter was horrified but such thinking and spoke openly against it. But was silenced by Herr Wehrmacht.

I think what I'm trying to get at is that period of time, the third Reich, people who were critical of what was going on were silenced into acquiescence by the threat of being tossed into a concentration camp like everyone else. Or they were "disappeared" Others simply fled. And many not only went along with it, but did so openly. Because they truly thought that the greater German people were "Die Sonnenkinder." (The children of the sun.) Think about what that means. Because, in reality, it is racism at its purest.

1st May 2013, 13:44
I had a friend at school whose father was at the opening of one of the camps. He had been one of the group because he spoke German. What he saw there haunted him for the rest of his life. In later life he was the editor of a shipping magazine and would go to ship launchings around the world. One place he steadfastly refused to go was Germany. He refused to speak German and maintained that Germany was a barbaric country and one he refused to have any dealings with.

If you get the chance, visit the Holocaust Museum in DC. It is the only musuem I have visited where there is absolute silence in the galleries. Visitors are truly stunned by what they are seeing. As it should be.

1st May 2013, 14:15
One place he steadfastly refused to go was Germany. He refused to speak German and maintained that Germany was a barbaric country and one he refused to have any dealings with.

I regret to say I had a parent like that, could never forgive the Germans for the horrors of the last war. Even had a major problem with a girlfriend I had years ago, just because she'd lived and worked in Germany and loved the place and the people.

I also understand the generation difference in Germany. I sat on a NATO committee a few times and for a time my German counterpart was much older than me. At social functions his wife was prone to get a bit outspoken about how the world would be a better place if Hitler had got his way. In total contrast, his successor was a young, former East German, who openly condemned the barbarism of the Nazi regime.

1st May 2013, 14:27
What I can't understand is how ordinary German citizens could behave in the same way without coercion

I've read "every man dies alone" by Hans Fallada, a (fictional) book about an elderly couple who, after their son is killed fighting for the fatherland decide to protest the regime, the efforts used to find them and the consequences of their action. A rather bleak book, based on a true story, but also offers an insight into German life on the home front at that time. (Fallada was a writer who was imprisoned under the nazis for a while)

From what I can gather, the vast majority of people in Germany were so scared at what would happen to them if they spoke out, that they were quite happy to turn a blind eye. Added into the mix were the usual busy bodies, who were quite happy to rat out their neighbours for some gain.

In total contrast, his successor was a young, former East German, who openly condemned the barbarism of the Nazi regime.

Interesting you say this, I had heard that post WW2, those in West Germany were told (on a national level) "look at what you've done, this was your fault, you need to accept that you and your countrymen committed these atrocities and account for them", whereas those in the east were told "don't worry, it wasn't your fault, you were acting on the orders of your capitalist masters, they are responsible, not you", as this fit the communist ethos.

Not having been able to discuss these things in Germany myself, due to only being there for brief periods, I don't know how true any of the above is, but it would explain why there are more neo-nazi groups in the former east...


1st May 2013, 17:10
If you read Goldhagen's book then you must also read Christopher Browning's "Ordinary Men" (ISBN: 0-141-00042-2).

He and Goldhagen used exactly the same primary source material and came to very different conclusions.

Dak Man
1st May 2013, 17:47
There are some truly amazing stories of survival, I noticed this today.

A holocaust survivor born in a concentration camp remembers her Welsh upbringing - Wales Online (http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/wales-news/holocaust-survivor-born-concentration-camp-3023533)

1st May 2013, 21:06
I wonder how modern Brits would react if extremist elements of a group within our society were to make it clear that their intention was to reject our culture and attack us at every opportunity? Perhaps that, together with a polarised government, would see people here behaving in an 'unthinkable' manner.

One only has to look at Northern Ireland in last 1960's where the Stormont Govt gave carte blanche authority to do whatever they could to smash a minority seeking civil rights. Majority population probably close to an all out war on the minority pushed by the politicians.

The fact that the Govt in London were able to keep the lid on it getting worse and ultimately sent in the Army ensured it didn't go down the route of full scale slaughter but it was close.

The idea that Nazi's in Germany were an abberattion is false as has happened since where Govts have got the population cowed and targetting a minority was the thing to happen to get around difficulties they were having.

1st May 2013, 22:47
To help explain why so many in the general German population (apparently, for quite a few, willingly) allowed the excesses to occur, I don't think you can underplay the sense of injustice many felt over the overly harsh terms of the Treaty of Versailles.

I know it's easy to see how wrong - and even stupid - that treaty was with 20/20 hindsight, but the sad fact is, Hitler or anyone like him would never have risen to power, or certainly not as easily, in a society that did not harbour the deeply-felt resentment that most Germans felt over the Versailles treaty. Someone had to be held responsible, and, with Antisemitism already never all that far below the surface throughout Europe at that time, (did I just say 'at that time'?), the Jews were an easy target.

The Allies weren't alone in exhibiting such short-sightedness when holding the upper hand when drafting peace treaties at the time. The terms the Germans imposed upon the new post-Tzarist Russian government at the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, ending Russian involvement in WW1, (against the Germans, at least), made Versailles look like the Marshall Plan.

4th May 2013, 12:06
A very moving documentary, I have just the watched the recorded programme (Prisoner Number A26188) about Henia Bryer, a survivor of Auschwitz, who now lives in Cape Town. A little bit of a personal connection as her son works with one of my friends there.

Many Jews of the same age in South Africa must have survived those terrible times but are not able to talk about it. Brave woman.

6th May 2013, 17:38
Along the lines of....

Germany has arrested a former Waffen SS guard at Auschwitz, the 96-year-old Hans Lipschis. He was expelled from the U.S., where he had been living, in 1983 when his Nazi past was uncovered.

The German government also announced that the investigations into a further 50 living and former death camp guards will continue in earnest.

Dak Man
6th May 2013, 17:59
The way these animals were seemingly squirelled away and maybe given a new life after the war is as obnoxious as the crimes for which they are accused.

6th May 2013, 18:03
Dak Man:

Although I generally agree with what you wrote I don't think all of them were "squirreled" away. Some of them seem to have eluded the "long arm of the law" for quite some time. In this case, the 93-year-old former Waffen SS soldier, it took awhile but eventually he was found out.

I'm not sure that's the case for some of the former Nazi regime members living in, say, Venezuela or Argentina.

Dak Man
6th May 2013, 18:05
Yes RGB, I meant to put a caveat on there regarding location.

7th May 2013, 00:28
The way these animals were seemingly squirreled away and maybe given a new life
after the war is as obnoxious as the crimes for which they are accused.

After the programme I saw yesterday I am inclined to believe that many senior officers were 'squirreled away' - the programme revealed that German POWs, particularly but not exclusively, Generals etc. had their every word recorded and between themselves they admitted that it wasn't just the SS that carried out the atrocities and that they, as ordinary line soldiers, had also carried out mass executions etc.

When the war was over they were released, as to have prosecuted them would have meant revealing the source of information and how it was gathered. Only the written transcripts were retained after the war finished. Churchill wanted it all made public but the security services prevailed.

7th May 2013, 08:20
There were many Germans at all levels in the military, justice, intelligence and political services who had tainted backgrounds but were allowed to integrate into or continue with these services in post-war Germany.

This was mostly possible because there was little political will to continue the hunt by German authorities as many in service sympathised with the Nazi aims and also resented being subservient to the Allies. Perhaps another component was pragmatism as it may have been recognised that banning all Nazis would have deprived the new state of skilled personnel and made its re-growth far more difficult.

I have read that the American authorities now believe it was a very grave error to exclude all members of the Ba'ath party from post-war Iraqi government because their organisational skills were badly missed and moreover were then often put to use against the Coalition forces in organising resistance.