viernes, 20 de marzo de 2015

I Don't Know What I Would Have Been Without Auschwitz

Let's talk about the difference between a victim and a survivor. I was victimized. I know about the story of my life. I accept it. I went through the valley of tears, but I never intended to set up camp there.

On our way to Auschwitz my mother said something I never forgot, she said: 'We don't know where we're going. We don't know what's going to happen. Just remember, no one can take away from you what you put here in your own mind.' My mother had the biggest impact on me. 
Arriving at the camp Dr. Joseph Mengele stood at the end of a line of prisoners deciding who would go to the gas chambers and who would head for the prison barracks. He pointed to my mom to go to the left, and I followed my mom and Dr. Mengele grabbed me and he said, 'You're going to see you mother soon, she's just going to take a shower.' 
One day Dr. Mengele came to the barracks and wanted to be entertained. I danced to the music of the Blue Danube Waltz. I closed my eyes, and I pretended that the music was Tchaikovsky, and I was dancing 'Romeo and Juliet' in the Budapest opera house.
What kept me going in the concentration camp was my curiosity. I always wanted to know what's next. I always told myself: if I survive today, I will be free tomorrow! One strength I developed in the camp was to let go of things I have no control of. There is no crisis, just transitions. There are no problems, just challenges. You are not what has been done to you.
I don't know what I would have been without Auschwitz. But it was the best place of education. Keep in mind -- there is a big difference between IQ and EQ. I went back to Auschwitz. And it was a very positive thing for me to do. I am a grandmother three times -- that's my best revenge to Hitler!
Practice every day and say to yourself: I am powerful. Don't react, but think. Never shoot from the hip. Don't allow people to get to you. You don't have to invite people for dinner, but see the humanity in them. There is a little Hitler in all of us. ...and so is love, power and hope. 
In the 1970s I began to study psychology. Today, I still work as a clinical psychologist, running a practice out of my home in La Jolla. My specialty involves treating patients suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. I always say, Self-love is self-care. The biggest concentration camp is in our mind. There is a big difference between curing and healing. Healing is an inside job. I suggest you to ask yourself two questions: What is the genuine you and would you like to be married to yourself?"
This speech was given by Edith Eger, an Auschwitz survivor, at the annual Healing Summit 2015.

jueves, 19 de marzo de 2015

Music saved Long Island City resident’s life during the Holocaust

When Long Island City resident Alex Rosner, now 79, first crossed paths with wealthy German-Catholic businessman, Oskar Schindler in 1944, it was under horrific circumstances. 
The war in Europe was raging and it seemed as if the world was on fire. 
Rosner was 9 when he and his father, a renowned violinist, sought refuge at Schindler’s thriving enamelware factory in Krakow, Poland during the Holocaust. 
It had become a secret safe haven for Jews who worked there to avoid Nazi death camps. 
Back then, the boy had no inkling that just five years later, his family would be reunited – in Queens – with the man who would rescue them from the Nazis. 
In a recent telephone interview with Rosner, an established Long Island City business owner of Rosner Custom Sound, he recalled how Schindler had traveled to New York many times in the 1950s, and would always stay with his family at their Middle Village home, where his parents, Henry and Marianne Rosner, would welcome their longtime friend. And, while he was away at college or in the Navy, Rosner said that Schindler would sleep in his bedroom.
Between the ages of 14 and 24, Rosner would see the older gentleman schmoozing with his parents and at times, other survivors would come by to visit and take Schindler shopping for clothes. He pointed out that back then, many grateful families had been providing for their hero financially, until his death in 1974. 
During the Holocaust, Schindler had lost his vast fortune bartering with the Nazis for their lives.
While on the phone discussing his connection to Schindler, Rosner talked at length about his beloved accordion. The story behind this special instrument is a fascinating one. The red accordion and Henry’s violin had literally become instruments of survival during the Holocaust, playing a crucial role early on by keeping father and son alive until Schindler could save them.
Last summer, Rosner said he decided to donate the accordion to the Holocaust Memorial and Tolerance Center of Nassau County in Glen Cove, L.I., where it’s now on display through April 12 as part of the museum’s “Objects of Witness: Testimony from Holocaust Artifacts” exhibit honoring the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.
“HMTC is privileged to act as guardians for the accordion, and all our artifacts. Each one offers a specific view on the Holocaust, and as a collection, they provide a multidimensional, nuanced history from the perspectives of perpetrators to American soldiers to resisters and survivors,” Beth Lilach, senior director of education and community affairs, said. “This exhibit allows both ordinary and extraordinary objects to teach us about human history in an intimate and unique manner.” 
The museum’s items span about 100 years and connect to countries across the globe – from China to Greece. Among the artifacts on display is a child’s shoe found at Auschwitz-Birkenau – another iconic image of the Holocaust.
Rosner was just 5 when the war broke out. 
“We lived in Krakow, Poland and were rounded up and taken to the ghetto, where everyone lived under difficult circumstances,” Rosner said. 
In 1940, he and his parents had been forcibly removed from their home by Nazi soldiers, along with thousands of others, whose only crime was that they happened to be Jewish.
Later on, when the Krakow ghetto was liquidated and 20,000 Jews were sent to death camps, Rosner and his parents ended up in Plaszow Labor Camp. There, Henry was forced to play his violin at the commandant’s wild parties, and it was during one of these functions that he happened to meet Oskar Schindler. These events are portrayed in Stephen Spielberg’s 1993 movie “Schindler’s List.” 
Rosner said the movie “had my family all over it.” 
According to Rosner, Schindler liked his father, so he put Henry and his son on his list, along with Rosner’s mother, his uncle and his wife, “and a whole bunch of Rosners.” 
Then the men were shipped first to Schindler’s factory in Krakow. 
“And after my father and I were there a few weeks, some German soldiers came around and said we couldn’t stay there because no children were allowed. So 11 boys and 11 fathers were shipped to Auschwitz. The women and girls, including my mother, hadn’t yet gotten to Schindler’s place,” Rosner said. 
But once there, she remained at the factory for the duration of the war, separated from her loved ones.
“We were in Auschwitz for a relatively short time, while my father played for the German soldiers. One day, a female guard asked me if I played any instruments, and I said, ‘Yes, I play the accordion.’ So, she returned in about an hour later with a red accordion and gave it to me,” Rosner said. 
Rosner survived because he played his accordion for the camp’s guards. 
“When the Germans saw the war was coming to a close, they kind of saw the handwriting on the wall — they tried to get rid of the evidence, so they shipped the remaining Jews who were still alive to other places, and my father and I were shipped to Dachau,” he said. “We had no instruments at that time, so we didn’t play.” 
On April 29, 1945, American forces of the Seventh Army liberated 60,000 prisoners from Dachau Concentration Camp, including Rosner and his father. 
“After the war ended, my mother was reunited with us in Munich, Germany and she brought with her the accordion and violin, which Oskar Schindler managed to find somehow. How he got them, I don’t know and I never discussed it with my father, so it was a very strange situation,” said Rosner. “My father’s violin was a very important violin because he had it since he was a kid. The accordion wasn’t so important...I was just so happy to see my mother; we had been apart for years.” 
The boy took his red accordion with him aboard the ship that brought his family to New York City in May 1946. 
And throughout his life, Rosner’s accordion would accompany him wherever he resided, until it ended up in the basement of his Long Island City home decades later. 
“It was sitting around in a case and later, when the case disintegrated, in a plastic bag collecting dust,” he said. “I met this man from the museum, Steven Markowitz at a tennis club that we play at. We got to talking and I suggested maybe he wants the accordion, and he seemed enthusiastic about it.”
Although the grandfather of four insists he has left the past behind and moved on with his life, the horror of ghetto life still haunts him at times. When asked about the portrayal of the Krakow Ghetto in “Schindler’s List,” Rosner replied, “If it were made realistic, no one would go see it.” 
Schindler stayed in touch with the Rosners throughout his life.
Rosner did not speak about the Holocaust until after the movie came out in 1993. Then he started speaking publicly to students all over the country about the film, the Holocaust and bigotry. And still does.
Rosner and his entire family, together with the actors who played them, appeared in the epilogue scenes at Schindler’s grave. 
The survivor described Schindler as “a wonderful man who everybody liked.” He said when he walked into a room, both men and women paid attention to him. “He was gregarious and outgoing; very charismatic. When I asked my father about Schindler, he’d say, ‘He was an angel who came down to save us.’”
Rosner said his children learned of the past mostly from his parents. 
“The grandchildren are still getting used to it; once they reached 13 I answered their questions.” 
He will be speaking to students at his granddaughter’s Massachusetts high school in April. 
“Oskar Schindler gave me a watch as a graduation present (in 1957). It got wet on the beach and ruined many years later, so I threw it away,” Rosner said. “Had I known that he would become so famous, I would have kept it.”

miércoles, 11 de febrero de 2015

Greta Klingsberg, child opera star of the Nazi death camp

Greta Klingsberg (middle row, second from right in pinafore
dress) and the cast of Brundibár at Theresienstadt concentration
camp in Czechoslovakia.

The children’s opera Brundibár is a fairytale with a fairly familiar message: good triumphs over evil. But place the work in the context of Theresienstadt, the Nazi concentration camp in Czechoslovakia where it was performed between 1943 and 1944, and that message is thrown into much sharper relief. The resemblance to Hitler of Brundibár, the evil organ-grinder who claims the town square as his own, was obvious to adult audiences. But not, insists its lead singer, to its cast.

When she was 13, concentration camp prisoner Greta Klingsberg was thrilled to be cast as the lead in an opera – even though her audience were SS guards.  

“The grownups interpreted it as this bad man who bullies everyone,” says Greta Klingsberg, who played lead character Aninka. “But the children never did. To us, Brundibár was the most popular character. He wore a moustache and, when he sang, it went up and down. We found him very funny.”
The opera, by the Jewish-Czech composer Hans Krása who was an inmate at Theresienstadt, tells the story of a brother and sister who try their hand at busking in the square, only to be chased away by the garishly dressed and talentless musician Brundibár (colloquial Czech for a bumblebee). So the siblings hatch a plot to turn him out. “At the end, when he’s thrown out, we welcomed him back on stage with open arms. He was one of us, our lovable Brundibár. It was not for us to see a political message.”
The opera provided a fantasy world for the children of Theresienstadt, even if the camp’s cultural life – due to the high number of prominent artists from central Europe imprisoned there – was cynically promoted by the Nazis for propaganda purposes.
“As a child, you identify with everything you do,” says Klingsberg, who was 13 at the time, with sole responsibility for her younger sister, her parents having escaped from Czechoslovakia to Palestine. “So when I was on stage, I had a school, a cat, and ice cream. All these things we hadn’t seen for years all of a sudden became quite real. It was wonderful. These were the moments of normal childhood for me, and for all of the children who participated in this opera. That’s why it was so special. In the camp, they stopped calling me Greta and called me Aninka.”
Having been chosen for the part because of her perfect pitch, and having already proved herself in other productions in the camp of Verdi’s Requiem, Smetana’s The Bartered Bride and Mozart’s The Magic Flute, Klingsberg performed it more than 50 times. There was a special show in 1944 for gullible representatives of the Red Cross who came to investigate the camp’s living conditions. Theresienstadt was turned into a “Potemkin village” for the visit, the most ailing prisoners having been deported to Auschwitz beforehand to reduce overcrowding. The Red Cross believed everything they were told and, on the back of their visit, a propaganda film was made called The Führer Gives the Jews a City, in which Klingsberg also featured – a tall pensive girl in a pinafore with a mane of dark hair, singing her heart out.
“I only found out I was in the film about 10 years ago,” says Klingsberg. A friend was visiting Yad Vashem, the Holocaust centre in Jerusalem, “and spotted the bit in which I appear. ‘How do you know it’s me?’ I asked. ‘Big eyes, big nose, now you just have a few more wrinkles,’ he replied. So I went to see it for myself and was really proud I hadn’t faked the singing for the camera.”
She remembers all the children being told to recite the line: “Uncle Rahm, sardines again?!” Rahm was their SS custodian. “I don’t know why – probably to show that we couldn’t have had it that bad if we were complaining about food.” The relish and speed with which the cast downed the sandwiches they had been given for the filming might have been comical were it not such a poignant reminder of how they were being starved. “We ate them so fast that they had to give us more, because they couldn’t film as fast as we ate. It was luxury – bread and margarine – out of the blue”.
Hope for more of the same kind of treatment was short-lived because, immediately after filming, all the cast and crew were loaded on to cattle trains and deported to Auschwitz. Most of the children, the musicians, the composer Krása and his director Kurt Gerron, were gassed. In the random selection process, Klingsberg was chosen for slave labour; her sister Trude, for death in the gas chambers, though she only discovered this much later. Klingsberg spent months in a series of camps before being returned to Theresienstadt, where she was liberated by the Soviet army in May 1945.
Klingsberg is now 85 and living in Jerusalem, where for years she enjoyed a successful operatic career. But Brundibár, she says, has never left her: she has translated the libretto into Hebrew, and is often called on to advise on productions around the world, most recently in Kosovo and Greece. “Once, years later, a woman came up to me when I was visiting Czechoslovakia and said, ‘I was in Theresienstadt with you. I was so happy once when you were sick and I was asked to sing your role. Thank you for that.’ We had a great laugh about it.”

jueves, 5 de febrero de 2015

“The Three Musketeers” How a 13 Year-Old Survived in a Nazi Concentration Camp

Survivors of Dachau concentration camp

I met a true human being.  A man who once was a boy who has been through experiences that we will never know of living here in Coral Springs, Florida, where we are sheltered from atrocities that are unimaginable, and the only thing we can complain are traffic and the high price of things.


Sholom, who wants his last name and the number tattooed on his arm by the murderous Nazi’s to remain a secret.  The last “0” on the tattoo is hard to read on the inside of his forearm, the soft skin used to belong to a 13 year-old in 1943 living in the Carpathian mountains of what is now the border between the Czech Republic and the Ukraine.  Here Sholom lived in a small town with his family. Today he lives in our town.  
Happy as one would consider for a life of a peasant, Sholom had his parents and his brothers and sisters in hiding from the Nazi Germans who had not as of yet made their way into his neck of the woods, but everyone knew they would. 
In 1943, Sholom’s family, his father, mother and two brothers were captured.  They put his family and thousands of other Jews from his area onto trains fit for cattle and sent them to Auschwitz, the concentration camp in Southern Poland. 


Upon arrival, the German guards slid open the freight car, and started screaming at people to get out. They beat them over their heads with bats and whips and Sholom jumped from the car to the ground. The Germans immediately began segregating the Jews. Pregnant woman, like Sholom’s aunt were sent to the left along with his parents and brothers.  That was the last time Sholom saw his family.  They immediately marched them out and sent to them to the gas chambers where they were murdered and then incinerated in the ovens.
Sholom was sent to the right, to be paraded in front of  Dr. Josef Mengele the “Angel of Death – the title he was given by the people he preyed on.  As he waited his turn in line,  one of the Jewish workers walked by and whispered to him to tell the doctor that he was 15 years old and that he worked as an electrician’s assistant back home.  It came his turn, and he told Mengele exactly what the Jewish worker, who risked his life talking to anyone in line told him.  That saved Sholom’s life, since most of the younger children were immediately sent back to the left, and of course, gassed.  Sholom never knew the workers name, and never saw him again.
The Germans wanted to keep only those Jews that they felt would be useful to them  The children did chores, ate less than adults, and were easily controlled, and the Nazis liked that.  There was plenty of work to do and Sholom never complained, he liked staying alive.  As long as they had work, he would be kept alive.  As long as they had some use of him, his 13 year-old body could survive.  However, even with work, food was scarce. 
You could imagine in Auschwitz, 10,000 human beings, mostly Jews were being exterminated in the gas chambers each day. The Nazi machine never stopped. The Allies never took interest in bombing, as  Roosevelt put it, “There is no reasons to bomb the concentration camps since there were higher priority targets.” 
Sholom in Auschwitz could think of no higher priority targets than trying to stop the senseless killing brought on by intelligent people. He would have welcomed the bombs on top of his head if the madness could end. For a child, how could they comprehend what was going on?  He just wanted go back to his parents and friends and play. That was not going to happen.  Keeping alive was his focus.  Not the bombings by the Allies, or anything else for that matter.  He put out the thoughts of his mother and father, murdered, or his family killed, or anything any 13 year-old living in Coral Springs would imagine to be important. When Sholom was a child of 13 years old,  he was wandering around Auschwitz looking for food so he could live another day, a child struggling to keep alive in a world of chaos.

Dr. Josef Mengele

He along with 400 other children were put into what used to be a barn that housed horses.  This  was now his home.  A long and narrow building with very little light where the children were held captive would sit on a water trough what used to hold water where the horse would dip their heads to take a drink while they comfortably rested in their stalls.  No water was there now. Instead, they were filled with concrete to make long benches where the children sat and ate, that is, when they had food.  Where the horses once rested in the stalls, now were wooden bunks made of wooden slates and straw for bedding and a burlap bag for a blanket to keep the children from freezing to death.  This was where Mengele, the Doctor of Death, would see them standing at attention when he walked into the barracks looking for his next experiment, or the next sick child he could send to the ovens and gas chambers. 
Mengele was often called in to look at the health of the children. Sick and weak children were of no use to the Nazis. The kids were not stupid, when they saw the ambulance pull up,  they knew.  If they got sick Mengele would send them to the ambulance waiting in the back of the barn which was supposed to take them to the hospital to heal.  Instead, they knew it would take them to the gas chambers.  Called out to go to the ambulance was a death sentence.   Mengele would walk in at precisely 8 a.m. in the morning, with his white doctor’s lab coat and a German soldier at his side who had a pistol.  The soldiers would call the children to attention. 
They would stand either in their low bunks crouching over or at the concrete trough waiting to be examined by Mengele – and waiting to be told if they would live or die.   
On one particular day when Scarlet Fever spread around the bunk and the children were under quarantine,  Mengele came in late at 11 a.m., to examine the children who may have had blemishes or spots.  That day, Sholom was sleeping on a burlap blanket that left imprinted red dots on his face. When Mengele approached him, stopping in front of him examining his face, he felt his heart jumping out of his body.  Mengele called him out of the bunk and sat him on the concrete trough.  He put a thermometer under his little armpit.   Sholom thought to himself, ” I am finished”.  Sholom saw the ambulance waiting and instead of squeezing tightly the thermometer in his armpit by pressing his arm close to his body, he left it loose. For every child knew that keeping it tight, if you did have a fever would make the thermometer read the correct temperature, the deadly one. 
Mengele approached Sholom and pulled the thermometer out from his armpit.  The temperature was less than a regular body temperature. 
Mengele shouted at him in German, “You think you can fool me?”   
He grabbed Sholom and sat down on the concrete trough bench. He then placed him on his lap, put the thermometer in his armpit and wrapped his hands around the boy squeezing his arm to his body so this time the right temperature would be read. 
Sholom could smell the aftershave lotion, and hear his own heartbeat in his ears!  “This is it,”  he said to himself,  “I am dead!”
After a few minutes, Mengele pulled the thermometer out of the armpit of the boy, stood up and looked at the reading.  He then looked at Sholom who was shaking  and with a pause the Doctor of Death shouted,“Get out from my sight before I change my mind!” 
Sholom’s temperature was normal and he quickly ran back to his bunk and prayed Mengele would go away. Other children as we know were not so lucky.  Sholom was able to live another day in Auschwitz. 

The Three Musketeers

To survive in a concentration camp is almost impossible.  It depends on whether there is work for you so the captures will feed you. Work is the reason for the Nazis to keep you alive, and while this reason was there,  you have food that keeps you alive so you can work.  The Nazis would send the able-bodied children and other victims to work at the local refinery, road details, building, farm work,  or wherever they needed.  There was no kitchen, instead they would throw them food and watch all the people grab for it, like animals tearing at meat.  The stronger would remain strong as they grabbed the food from the weak, and the weak would get weaker because they could not fight for the food that would make them strong.  All this time, the Nazis would laugh at how they turned human beings into animals. They believed themselves to be Gods.  They were the animals. 
Sholom found a way to survive.  He formed an alliance with two older boys. All three made a pact that saved their lives in the concentration camp.  They became the Three Musketeers. One Jewish boy was in Auschwitz because he happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time.  He came to Poland a few days before the Germans launched the invasion of Poland.  He was in London, England with his parents at the time traveling to a wedding.  His parents were dead.  The other boy came from the town of Lodz, Poland.  He was captured and sent to the concentration camp in 1939.  It was now 1943 and he had survived four years in hell.  Lodz used to have 150,000 Jews representing a fourth of the population of that city.  Almost every Jew was either starved to death living in the Lodz Ghetto, or were sent to Auschwitz where they were exterminated.  This one Jewish boy survived.  He did not know how long he was there. He did not want to know.
The pact formed by the Three Musketeers was quite simple: They would split whatever food they found into thirds, one third for each of them.  As well, they would fight for each other and found strength in numbers making sure no one would take away the food they found. 
Working at different areas of Auschwitz or sent on different work details, the Three Musketeers  would perform their tasks, and hopefully find a slice of bread, an apple, something to try to keep their energy up so they could live another day and work to keep alive. They would cut the food into thirds, save it for when they would meet up in the horse barn, and each one had their third portion.  One for all and all for one!  Not one of them would think of holding out on the other, since trust was all they had and without the three, they would be defeated. Other children tried to form similar groups based on their success. However, all of them failed, because they couldn’t resist eating the whole portion to keep themselves alive. They were after all, children. They didn’t know what they were doing and didn’t survive.  The Three Musketeers survived.
Sholom often was given the opportunity to work in town where he would do cleaning, or other labor.  The Poles would walk by seeing the children in a pathetic state with very little meat on their bones and would throw food to them when the Nazi guards were not looking; an apple, a sandwich. They knew the children were starving.  Sholom would grab the food and put it into his pocket for later distribution to the other Musketeers. 
During late 1944, several months after Sholom and the other two made the pact,  both the Allied forces to the west and the Russians to the east were closing in on the retreating Germans.  The Germans started to panic.  In January 1945, the Germans started the closing of Auschwitz as the Russians were at the doorstep. For some reason they were actually concerned about how it would look after the war that they killed and murdered so many woman and children. They woke up.  In an effort to try to hide their atrocities, they started killing many of the people in Auschwitz. When they ran out of bullets and realized they could not kill everyone, they decided to move the labor force out of the camp to other concentration camps closer to Germany. 

Death March

January 1945 started the death march. They marched the children and hundreds of others out of Auschwitz towards the Bavarian border.  Many died from starvation in the muddy, icy roadway. The Three Musketeers stayed together.  Along the way Sholom  noticed a large grey winter German officer’s coat at the brim of the roadway as they were walking. He ran to the coat picked it up and  rolled it up into a bundle.  The other two Musketeers told him to drop it, it was too heavy.  If the Germans saw them with a jacket maybe they would be shot.  Something inside  Sholom told him this jacket would save their lives. Countless days into the march they arrived at a train station where the Germans began loading their prisoners onto an awaiting train.  They ran out of the closed cattle cars that offered some shelter to the cold wintery weather.  When it came to the turn of the  three musketeers, they were loaded onto open train cars, that offered no shelter from the weather. It was the middle of winter, and in Poland the temperature was several degrees below zero.  The wind started to pick up as the train began to accelerate and Sholom unrolled the thick wool jacket.  The Three Musketeers huddled inside hugging each other.  The coat kept them from freezing to death.  Most of the people on the open box car were not so lucky and died.  What made Sholom pick up the coat in the first place? That was not the children’s concern, only that they lived another day. 

Bergen Belsen Camp

The train brought the children past Berlin, to Bergen Belsen death camp. The children were unloaded and Sholom with his other two friends immediately knew this place was no Auschwitz. They saw the condition of the people and the children.  No food. Only suffering. They knew in a couple of weeks they surely would die. They were placed into a barracks with other children. One morning a Gestapo member came into the barracks.
“Who wants to work for Food?” He shouted. 
Sholom and his two friends quickly answered the call since they were stronger than the children that were in Bergen Belsen longer.  Off they went marching one mile to a building, not unlike the barn they slept in at Auschwitz.  However, this barn was different.  The doors where opened, and there they saw piles of what used to be people: men, women and children,  stacked one on top of each other dead and decomposing, liquidated  by the Nazis.   
Along side the barn was a ditch  already dug deep and long.  They were ordered to take the bodies and pull them into the ditch.  Sholom and the other two Musketeers  complied.  It was horrible. One would pull on a hand only to find the hand was no longer attached to what once was a the human being.  They were given no masks. No gloves. The stench of the rotting bodies made the children vomit. But, with no food in his stomach, all that could be heard was a retching sound and then nothing. 
Sholom, 14 years old, had to become a man very quickly. But these were children. How could they have not wanted to end their own suffering and simply kill themselves at the horrors they saw?  The Gestapo never gave them food.  They were lied to. Why not? They were only looked upon as animals to the Germans. 
Almost starving to death, the children were moved to another concentration camp where there was work and little food, but something to keep them alive. The Three Musketeers would have spent time in five or six different death camps and they always found a way to survive, together.  Or they would have died together, which was another pact that they made with each other.  Live or die, these three would have the same conclusion in this insane world they were living in. 
As the Russians were continuing to advance, the children were loaded onto cattle wagons and their caravan headed southwest toward Frankfurt and then toward the Austria, away from the advancing American forces lead by Patton.  At night they would sleep inside a building, and their Nazi captures would go into buildings where it was warm, while they stayed locked up in the wagons at night.  The Three Musketeers huddled for warmth, the coat long gone or taken by some other children who were hopefully using it to survive. 
The Allies were close.  They could hear the planes flying overhead as the bombs were being dropped.  Several would hit the buildings of some of their captures. Others would hit one of the wagons holding their Jewish prisoners. None of the wagons were marked on the roof with anything. “How would the planes know it was them?” The three Musketeers told themselves.  They thought maybe one bomb would hit their wagon and end their suffering once and for all.  Night after night they traveled along a road to wherever their captures would take them …a long way from the Carpathian mountains. 


On April 27th 1945, on the way to Dachau concentration camp the Germans stopped near a village known as  MickHausen. The children were placed in a barn and were guarded by Nazis.  Earlier in the  morning of the 28th of April,  The Three Musketeers woke up to deafening silence. They could hear birds and the rustling of the wind. They did not hear any Nazis. They were no where to be found. 
“They are gone,”  one of the Musketeers said, and immediately headed for the kitchen wagon to see if he could get some food to share with the other two.  Sholom grabbed him and told him to stay put.
“The Nazis could be outside in the forest with guns waiting for us to run so they can shoot us,”  he said. 
This was well-known to the children, as the ruthlessness of the Nazis were often brought from camp to camp as bad news travels fast. They waited.  The Three Musketeers heard tanks approaching the building.  Through the doorway you could see a tank with a white star on it.  All the children popped their heads out of the doorways and windows to see what the commotion was about. They could see a tank commander on top of the turret with his hands on a machine gun. Several tanks approached and Sholom noticed that the soldiers must have been in the sun too long, they all had bad suntans! They had never seen a black man let alone an American black man.  The liberation force was only one of two tank battalions that were made up entirely of African Americans. The 741st Tank Battalion liberated him and the other Musketeers. Their pact, the one in which they said live or die together, was concluded.  They lived.  Sholom was 15 years old. 
Sholom doesn’t know where the other Musketeers are today.  He was sure the London native went back home. The boy from Lodz went to Israel or at least so he was told. 
Sholom was a child of 13 when the Nazis came and changed his life forever. Today, he is a Coral Springs resident.  He survived because he used to be a Musketeer.

martes, 20 de enero de 2015

The Auschwitz survivor who adopted the camp chief’s grandson

Hitler's Children Discussion Eva Mozes Kor and Rainer Höß 

Since meeting in 2013, Mengele survivor Eva Mozes Kor and Rainer Höss have formed a close bond. Together they preach understanding and tolerance.

For a Holocaust survivor, meeting the offspring of one’s tormenters would be difficult enough. The prospect of developing a close friendship with them, even familial warmth, would seem utterly impossible.

Yet this is just the sort of unlikely relationship struck between a woman who was subjected to horrific Nazi medical experiments at the Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camp, and the very grandson of that camp’s notorious commander, according to the Vice news website.

In 1944, at the age of ten, Romanian-born Eva Mozes Kor was captured by the Nazis and — along with her twin sister — was subjected to savage medical experiments at Auschwitz carried out by Nazi war criminal Dr. Josef Mengele. Mengele, who had a particular interest in twins in his work, is believed to have victimized approximately 1,500 pairs throughout the war. Only around 200 of those pairs survived.

“Throughout the week, the doctors would be giving me a minimum of five injections into my arm. I became very ill,” Kor recently recounted to high school students at a lecture in Casper, Wyoming, according to Oil City.
At one point Mengele told her, laughing, that she had only two weeks to live. Her sister, too, was very sick, but both knew that if one died, the other would likely be killed as well.
“I remember going back to the camp where I remember crawling and fading in and out of consciousness, crawling to get to a water fountain, telling myself, ‘I must survive, I must survive,'” she said.
And, miraculously, they did.
In 1995, Kor founded the CANDLES Holocaust Museum and Education Center in Terre Haute, a small city in western Indiana where she has lived since the 1950s, with the aim of sharing her story with her neighbors. But instead of speaking in anger of her captors, Kor has preached forgiveness.
“I had the power to forgive. No one could give me the power, or take it away from me,” Kor, now 80, told Vice last week. “I refused to be a victim, and now I am free.”
In 2013, Kor first met Rainer Höss, whose grandfather Rudolf Höss commanded Auschwitz for much of the war and is identified with the decision to use pesticide Zyklon B to kill prisoners in the camp’s gas chambers.
Many families of former Nazi war criminals have avoided their past. Some have attempted to bury it, while others deny that any evil was perpetrated at all. But not Rainer Höss. Since finding out the truth of his grandfather’s actions, he has become a fierce and vocal critic of his forebear and has sought to learn all that he could of his dark roots.
When his family criticized his choices, Höss cut his ties with them. He has devoted recent years to educating schoolchildren about the dangers of right-wing extremism. What began when his children’s teachers asked him to share his story with pupils at their school has now become a full-time job that saw him visit more than 70 schools in Germany in 2013 alone.
After hearing of Kor’s story, Höss, 49, contacted her and asked to meet her. He also asked her if she would agree to become his adoptive grandmother. After meeting him, Kor consented.
“I’m proud to be his grandmother,” she told Vice. “I admire and love him. He had the need of love from a family he never had.”
One million Jews were killed at Auschwitz from 1940 to 1945 along with more than 100,000 non-Jewish Poles, Roma, Soviet prisoners of war, homosexuals and anti-Nazi partisans before the camp was liberated on January 27, 1945.
Rudolf Höss went into hiding after World War II but was captured by the Allies in 1946 and hanged the year after near the infamous Auschwitz crematorium.
Rainer has said in the past that if he knew where his grandfather was buried, he would go to his grave in order to urinate or spit on it. Kor says she has urged him to forgive his grandfather as well as the rest of his family. Only by forgiving your worst enemies can you be truly free, she contends.
“I do argue with him, as I don’t always agree with everything he does. But I definitely love him,” she said. “There is a real camaraderie and emotional understanding. People from different places who call each other grandma and grandson can give a sign of hope.”