miércoles, 3 de septiembre de 2014

Disabled victims of Nazi gas chambers to be commemorated with Berlin memorial

 Hundreds of thousands of people were deemed unfit to live by the murderous policies of Adolf Hitler and condemned to die.

More than 300,000 disabled people who were murdered by the Nazis are to be honoured with a memorial due to open this week in Berlin.
It will be the fourth and probably final major memorial to Adolf Hitler’s victims built in or near Berlin's central Tiergarten park, following sites dedicated over the last decade to Jews, gays and Roma slaughtered in the Holocaust.
"The murder of tens of thousands of patients and residents of care homes was the first systematic mass crime of the National Socialist regime," said Uwe Neumaerker, director of the memorial foundation.
"It is considered a forerunner of the extermination of European Jews."
The site next to the city's world-renowned Philharmonie concert hall will commemorate the fates of people like Benjamin Traub, a German schizophrenic who was admitted to a psychiatric hospital near the Dutch border in 1931.
Nine years later, with Hitler at the height of his power, he was selected for transfer nearly 300 kilometres (190 miles) away to a Nazi "intermediate facility" in the western state of Hesse.
In 1941, he was taken to a clinic nearby in the town of Hadamar which had been transformed into a factory of death. There, immediately after his arrival, Traub was sent to a gas chamber and murdered with carbon monoxide.
Between January 1940 and August 1941 doctors systematically gassed more than 70,000 people - the physically and mentally handicapped, those with learning disabilities, and people branded social "misfits" - at six sites across the German empire.
In an elegant villa at Tiergartenstrasse 4 in Berlin, more than 60 Nazi bureaucrats and like-minded doctors worked in secret under the "T4" programme to organise the mass murder of sanatorium and psychiatric hospital patients deemed unworthy to live.
From August 1941 until the war's end in 1945, tens of thousands more died through forced starvation, neglect or fatal doses of painkillers such as morphine administered by purported caregivers.
The German parliament voted in November 2011 to erect a memorial to the victims of the Nazis' cynically labelled "euthanasia" programme where the villa once stood.
Source: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/germany/11066205/Disabled-victims-of-Nazi-gas-chambers-to-be-commemorated-with-Berlin-memorial.html

miércoles, 20 de agosto de 2014

Expérience, subjectivité et mémoire chez les SS (Experience, subjectivity and memory with the SS)

domingo, 3 de agosto de 2014

Major Josef Hell interviewed Adolf Hitler on Anti-semitism in 1922 (Text in English, Spanish and German)

The retired Major Josef Hell was a journalist in the twenties and in the beginning of the thirties, during which time he also collaborated with Dr. Fritz Gerlich, the editor of the weekly newspaper Der gerade Weg, as cited in Fleming, Gerald, p. 28-29.

Josef Hell,  "When I now broached the question of what the source of his so strongly felt hatred for the Jews was, and why he wanted to destroy this so undeniably intelligent race - a race to which the Germans and all other Aryans, if not the entire world, owed an incalculable debt in virtually all fields of art and knowledge, research and economics - Hitler suddenly calmed down and gave this unexpectedly sober and almost dispassionate explanation:"
"It is manifestly clear and has been proven in practice and by the facts of all revolutions that a struggle for ideals, for improvements of any kind whatsoever, absolutely must be supplemented with a struggle against some social class or caste.

"My object is to create first-rate revolutionary upheavals, regardless of what methods and means I have to use in the process. Earlier revolutions were directed either against the peasants, or the nobility and the clergy, or against dynasties and their network of vassals, but in no case has revolution succeeded without the presence of a lightning rod that could conduct and channel the odium of the general masses.

"With this very thing in mind I scanned the revolutionary events of history and put the question to myself against which racial element in Germany can I unleash my propaganda of hate with the greatest prospects of success? I had to find the right kind of victim, and especially one against whom the struggle would make sense, materially speaking. I can assure you that I examined every possible and thinkable solution to this problem, and, weighing every imaginable factor, I came to the conclusion that a campaign against the Jews would be as popular as it would be successful."

Source: Institut für Zeitgeschichte, IfZ ZS 640

Text in Spanish

Hitler concede una entrevista al Mayor Josef Hell –periodista de los años veinte y principio de los treinta y colaborador del Dr. Fritz Gerlich, editor del semanario Der gerade Weg, donde explica la razón de su antisemitismo.

“Es evidente y se ha probado en la práctica por los hechos de todas las revoluciones que la lucha por ideales, por mejoramientos de cualquier clase, debe ir acompañada indiscutiblemente por una lucha contra alguna clase social o casta.

Mi objetivo es crear un primer porcentaje de levantamientos revolucionarios, independientemente de los métodos y medios que se utilicen en el proceso. Las revoluciones anteriores fueron dirigidas tanto contra los campesinos, la nobleza y el clero, o contra las dinastías y su red de vasallos, pero en ningún caso la revolución tuvo éxito sin la presencia de un pararrayos que pudiese conducir y canalizar el odio de las masas.

Recordando esto, escudriñé los hechos revolucionarios de la historia y me pregunté, ¿contra qué elemento racial podía desatar en Alemania mi propaganda de odio con la mayor perspectiva de éxito? Tuve que encontrar la víctima ideal, y especialmente una contra quien la lucha tuviese sentido, materialmente hablando. Puedo asegurar que examiné toda posible y concebible solución a este problema, y, sopesando cada factor imaginable, llegué a la conclusión de que una campaña contra los judíos sería tan popular como exitosa”.[1]

[1] Texto original facilitado por el Institut für Zeitgeschichte, ZS 640. 

Original Text in German

“Es ist klar und hat sich bei allen Revolutionen durch die Praxis und die Tatsachen erwiesen, daß ein Kampf für Ideale, für Verbesserungen irgendwelcher Art unbedingt ergänzt werden muss durch den Kampf gegen irgendeine Gesellschatsklasse oder Kaste.

Bei früheren Revolutionen –meine Ziele sind revolutionäre Umwandlungen 1.Klasse, gleichgültig, welche Methoden und Wege ich dabei beschreite- ging der Kampf bald gegen die Bauern, bald gegen den Adel oder die Geistlichkeit, gegen Fürstenhäuser und deren viel verzweigte Gefolgschaft, aber keine der Revolutionen ist jemals ohne eine solchen Blitzableiter, durch den die Hassgefühle der breiten Massen abgeleitet werden, ausgekommen.

Gerade daraufhin habe ich die revolutionären Vorgänge in der Weltgeschichte nachgeprüft und mir dann die Frage vorgelegt: Gegen welchen Volksteil in Deutschland kann ich mit der grössten Aussicht auf Erfolg meine Hasspropaganda einsetzen? Gefunde musste ein solches Opfer werden und zwar eines, gegen das der Kampf auch materiell lohnte. Ich kann Ihnen die Versicherung geben, ich habe alle überhaupt denkbaren und möglichen Lösungen dieses Problems geprüft und auf Grund aller in Frage kommenden Faktoren bin ich zu dem Ergebnis gekommen, daß ein Kampf gegen die Juden ebenso populär wie erfolgreich sein würde”.

jueves, 31 de julio de 2014

Le Visage Outragé (The Insulted Face)

lunes, 28 de julio de 2014

Frozen in memory

The Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland is a reminder of what evil can perpetuate. Ranjita Biswas revisits one of the most painful & violent chapters  in history.

Auschwitz, the name has been emblazoned in shame and outrage since the end of the Second World War. So many lives were snuffed out in this concentration camp in Poland during the holocaust of the 1940s that, it has become a subject of numerous books, research-tomes and script for movies like the Oscar winning Schindler’s List.

The wish to visit Auschwitz, now an open-air museum, was always there. Not as a ‘tourist’, but to pray for the souls lost in a barbaric act. So I left behind historic Krakow, one-time capital of Poland, to witness with my own eyes this infamous place.
The camp has not been dismantled, but preserved as a museum by the Polish government since 1947. In 1979, UNESCO declared it a World Heritage site.

Horrors of holocaust

True, war always takes a toll on human lives. The pages of history tell you that. But herding people like cattle with the intention of murdering them inhumanly in a gas chamber stands out as an example of co-ordinated evil. 

The genocide by Nazi Germany killed an estimated 1.5 million people at Auschwitz. The world came to know about the extent of the monstrous act in January 1945, when Soviet soldiers walked into the camp to encounter skeletal men in striped pajamas who had survived, their numbers tattooed on their wrists. 

You may have seen television features or documentaries, even movies on the subject, but it still does not prepare you for Auschwitz. Ironically, the inscription at the entrance to the camp proclaims: “Arbeit macht frei” (Work will make you free). Indeed when the people were brought here from Nazi-occupied Europe, most of them were unaware of the fate that had awaited them; they thought they were brought here to work in the fields and “resettled”. Later, prisoners called it the “Gate of Death”.

Auschwitz was a new name given by the invading German army. Formerly, it was called Oswiecim, a barrack for the Polish army. The SS turned it into Polish political prisoner camp in 1940, but later it was turned into a concentration camp. In 1941, three kilometres away, the Nazis evicted all the people from village Brzezinka, destroyed their houses, and built the Auschwitz II-Birkenau camp. 

According to Reminiscences, the autobiography of Rudolf  Hoss, the first camp commandant, SS boss Himmler chose Auschwitz “both because of its convenient location as regards communication and because the area can be easily isolated and camouflaged ” by the surrounding forests.  

Today, as visitors from across the world walk past the houses containing the memorabilia, some reconstructed, there is only silence, not the touristy chatter, as people get dumbfounded by an atrocity modern world has seldom seen. 

The multi-lingual guides point out the exhibits — photographs of prisoners meticulously recorded with German precision, empty Zyklon-B canisters, which contained chemicals used in gas chambers, piled up hair of women prisoners, shoes which once adorned the feet of fashionable ladies and children. 

Painful reminders

A suitcase bears the name: Jnes Meyer, Koln 05377, lying among many similar abandoned bags bearing the owners’ names. Thousands of Jews, Russian prisoners of war, Gypsies and those considered by the Nazis as ‘unfit to live’ were gassed, shot, tortured to death, or simply starved to death here. Many gave in to diseases in the cloistered barracks. 

Outside in the courtyard, there is a wall pockmarked with bullet marks, reminder of the prisoners executed. Flowers by visitors contrast brightly against the stark wall. Also, there are the poles from which prisoners were hanged, for trying to flee, or helping someone to flee. At the gate near the kitchen, a band was made to play, so that the prisoners could march and it was easier for the guards to head-count. 

After Auschwitz I, the bus took us to Birkenau. The ominous fences which were electrified then, the stilted guard houses seen in many films can be startling even today. I could feel an unknown dread creeping into my veins; it felt cold though the grass was green in the fields and the sunlight was flooding everything in a golden light. 

From the watchtower at the entrance gate the view of the concentration camp looked as if  frozen in memory. The railway tracks by which the prisoners were brought in boxed-up in compartments were still there. I saw that someone had put a bunch of yellow roses on the track, perhaps for a forefather annihilated here. 

On arrival, the prisoners were ‘selected’ and segregated into groups; the old, pregnant women, even children, who were of ‘no use’, were sent directly to the gas chamber. The able-bodied men were retained for work; as also young women, some of whom could later be used as guinea pigs for experiments by doctors and psychiatrists. 

A German gynaecologist, Carl Clauberg, carried out sterilisation experiments on women prisoners. Ironically, photographs taken by some unknown German soldiers, the reels of which survived the burning of documents before the Nazis flew, stand testimony to this selection process.  

The living quarters, some of which are still there, show how bunkers were built into stables meant for horses; each wooden bunker sometimes accommodated more than 10 inmates. Holes in rows on stone slabs with no privacy served as toilets, obviously an ideal place for festering diseases and death. 

George Santayana’s words at Auschwitz kept repeating in my mind as I boarded the bus for Krakow: “The one who does not remember history is bound to live through it again.” 

Source: http://www.deccanherald.com/content/421974/frozen-memory.html

lunes, 14 de julio de 2014

‘You put it in a box somewhere, as you wouldn’t be able to carry on’ - Clayhall man talks of escaping the Nazis and returning to Germany to translate Hitler’s will

Herman Rothman, 89, with his wife Shirley

A 14-year-old boy boards a train, his only possessions the clothes on his back and the items he carries inside a small suitcase.

As he steps forward, he leaves behind his family and the only life he has ever known – on the streets of Germany, where the Nazis are preparing for war and intensifying their persecution of the Jewish people.
This memory is still all too fresh for 89-year-old Herman Rothman, who was one of approximately 10,000 Jewish children saved by the Kindertransport rescue mission, which brought them all to Britain.
But this was not to be his last remarkable experience as, when he returned to the country as an adult, he became one of the first people to lay eyes on Fuhrer Adolf Hitler’s will.
Herman, who has lived in Clayhall for 55 years, was born in Berlin on September 2, 1924.
He grew up in the city with his parents Erich and Betty and younger brother Sigbert, unaware that their lives would be changed irreparably in the coming years. Herman said: “My parents looked after me, I went to school – there was nothing I can report about anything I suffered.
“It was my parents who suffered, all the Jews in Germany suffered.”
As a boy, Herman witnessed examples of the brutality which lurked in the country’s streets.
Aged 13, he was sent out on an errand by his mother. He saw an elderly Jewish man being pushed around and told his attacker to stop, which he did.
Herman’s school was also partially destroyed during Kristallnacht on November 9 and 10, 1938, which saw the Nazis target Jewish businesses, homes, and synagogues.
With the climate of fear rising among the Jewish community, Herman’s parents managed to get him onto the Kindertransport in 1939.
He said: “The Kindertransport was a marvellous thing. [But] it must have been really sad for my parents; we didn’t see each other for about 15 years.”
While Herman began his new life in Britain, working in agriculture, his parents were suffering the terror of the Nazi regime.
His father was at the Sachsenhausen concentration camp for eight months, before police officer Herr Belgart sprung him out, along with Herman’s best friend Siegfried Mandelkerm.
Erich travelled to join Betty and Sigbert in Palestine, where they had fled. But Siegfried stayed in Germany so he could say goodbye to his parents and he was shot dead.
Herman joined the British Army in 1944 and was later transferred to a counter-intelligence section.
After the war ended, he interrogated Nazi prisoners at a camp in Germany. He also helped to translate Hitler’s will after it was discovered in the shoulder pads of Heinz Lorenz, who had been propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels’ press secretary.
Upon returning to England, Herman met his wife Shirley, in 1949 at a dance, and became a lawyer.
The couple had two children, Janice and Jonathan, and now have six grandchildren and a great-grandchild on the way.
Herman has played an active role in Redbridge’s community, having been a founder of a synagogue and a governor at King Solomon High School.
But he will never forget the horrors the Nazis inflicted on millions.
“You put it in a box somewhere, as [otherwise] you wouldn’t be able to carry on. There were so many Jews who didn’t live to tell their story.
“My whole family in Poland was obliterated and part of my mother’s side was too. I still carry it with me. I do not understand why people cannot live in peace.”
Source: http://www.ilfordrecorder.co.uk/news/you_put_it_in_a_box_somewhere_as_you_wouldn_t_be_able_to_carry_on_clayhall_man_talks_of_escaping_the_nazis_and_returning_to_germany_to_translate_hitler_s_will_1_3681464

viernes, 11 de julio de 2014

Holocaust survivor Adina Sella shares inspiring story

“Hitler would only have won if all the survivors stayed silent, but here we are fighting for a better future.”
Holocaust survivor and retired school psychologist Adina Sella shares her survival story with the community and field trips as a member of the Illinois Holocaust Museum’s Speakers’ Bureau. Earlier this year, the Museum paid tribute to local Holocaust survivors, including Adina, in the special tribute video below.

We had a chance to ask Adina about her background and experience at the museum.
Q: Where are you originally from?

A: I am originally from Hamburg, Germany.

Q: How did life change for your family when the Nazis came to power?

A: My father could no longer pursue his profession as a businessman, my brother was forced to leave school and give up sports and all of our civil rights were deprived, which made every day life very hard.

Q: Was your family split up? Were you able to locate any family members after the war?

A: My immediate family wasn’t split up, we survived the war together, but my distant family was. After the war, we were able to locate a few cousins and other family members, but had to find out that only about 10% of them survived the Holocaust.

Q: What helped you most during the Holocaust?

A: The righteous, ordinary citizens of a town in Italy called Anghiari. Regular people, like teachers, nuns or priests did everything they could to help us, although their own life was at risk. Their courage made it possible for us to survive the Holocaust.

Q: What did you feel during the Holocaust?

A: I remember having a constant fear of being separated from my family.

Q: Have you ever returned to your hometown?

A: Yes, two times actually. I was back in 1958 for the first time and then again around 1985 when the city of Hamburg invited me, my brother and other Holocaust survivors back as their guest.

Q: Why did you want to join the Illinois Holocaust Museum’s Speakers’ Bureau?

A: Because I see it as my duty to family members and everybody else who died during the Holocaust to make sure it will never be forgotten and to educate younger generations about it, so it will never happen again.

Q: What do you hope people take away from your story?

A: In spite of everything that happened to me and all the mistreatment I suffered, I was able to overcome it and heal. I want to tell kids that Hitler would only have won if all the survivors stayed silent, but here we are fighting for a better future. I also want them to learn that no matter where they come from or what happened to them, they can become whoever they want to be if they work hard for it.

Q: What is your favorite space in the Museum and why?

A: Goodman Auditorium, where other survivors and I talk to school groups, because this is where our generations meet and history becomes real for them and I get to see their bright shining faces.

Q: Why should people visit the Illinois Holocaust Museum?

A: To get first-hand factual knowledge, so Holocaust deniers won’t have a chance.

Adina is currently visiting Anghiari, Italy, to attend a ceremony honoring the couple—Gioncando and Annina Marconi—who took her in during the war, and taught her the Italian lifestyle so that she would blend in. Descendants of the couple will receive the award in their name. On Wednesday, August 13, at 2:45 pm the Illinois Holocaust Museum will honor Gioncando and Annina during a special ceremony at the Museum’s Ferro Fountain of the Righteous, a space that pays special tribute to those named by Yad Vashem as Righteous Among the Nations. The fountain is encircled by plaques that pay tribute to Gentile families who risked their own lives to rescue Jews during the Holocaust. The Museum continues to celebrate the Righteous Among the Nations by adding new names to the Ferro Fountain throughout the years. Learn more about the ceremony here.
“Two young kids, saved by those noble people, left Italy after the war and twenty-four of their descendants are now returning so many years later to honor them… twenty-four people who would never have lived if it was not for their Righteousness.”

–Adina Sella

Source: http://skokie.suntimes.com/2014/06/30/holocaust-survivor-adina-sella-shares-inspiring-story/