jueves, 23 de febrero de 2017

Holocaust survivor: 'I lost my will to live'

Fanny Starr lay in a field in Auschwitz more than 70 years ago, looking at the night sky and asking God how it was she ended up there.

White flakes fluttered through the darkened sky. It was not snow, but the ashes of bodies burned in ovens.
Her mother, two of her siblings and her extended family members were gassed and burned when they arrived at Auschwitz, Poland, and her father later starved himself in Dachau, she says. Her pain has not receded in the intervening decades.
"The pain will never go away," said Starr, who is 95 and lives in Denver. "It's hard. Never can you forget."
Starr shared her story February, 21 at Colorado State University. The university's Students for Holocaust Awareness organized for her to speak during the 20th Annual Holocaust Awareness Week, and the event was co-sponsored by the Associated Students of Colorado State University, Hillel, Chabad Jewish Student Organization, and the Jewish fraternity and sorority, AEPi and Sigma AEPi.
Starr was born and raised in Lodz, Poland, as one of five children. Her father ran a successful tannery, but the family was forced into the city's ghetto in 1939 when she was a teenager. The Lodz ghetto became one of the largest in German-occupied Europe.
Nazis came to their home, forced them out, and put bullets in their St. Bernard's head and through their aquarium.
During her time in the ghetto, Starr was forced to carefully cut apart clothes and retrieve gold, diamonds and other valuables that had been sewn in them. She tied the cloth pieces in bundles and sorted each retrieved item into barrels that would later be taken away. She did not know until she arrived at Auschwitz that the clothes she had been cutting apart belonged to murdered Jews.
When the ghetto was liquidated in 1944, Starr and her extended family members were forced into a train car. By her estimate, more than 60 of them crowded into one car.
They arrived at Auschwitz, where they were shaved and undressed. Starr and her younger sister, Rena Alter, survived. So did a cousin and an uncle. She wouldn't find out until 1964 that one of her brothers also survived. The rest of her family members died — they were among 6 million Jews and more than 11 million total people who died during the Holocaust.
Starr and Alter were dressed in gray-striped outfits at Auschwitz, but they weren't tattooed because there were too many people coming through the camp at the time. It was then that Starr said that she gave up.
"I didn't want to live," she said. "I lost my will to live."
The camp was crawling with lice, she said, and many of the people on the bunk beds around her were dead. She pauses and cries when sharing these details, and folds and re-folds a tissue she holds in her hands.
She credits her sister with keeping her alive. Alter grabbed Starr by her striped dress, stood her up and smacked her in the face.
"You have to put yourself together," Starr recalls her sister saying. "We have to go forward."
The pair filtered through other camps across Europe, including Ravensbruck, Mauthausen-Gusen and Bergen-Belsen.
In Mauthausen-Gusen, Starr helped build V-2 missiles for the Germans. A man taught her how to do the job and hid half an apple to give to her, an act she said proved he had a good heart.
She was liberated on April 15, 1945, in Bergen-Belsen, but she remained there because it served as a camp for displaced people and because they could not leave without a sponsor. She met her husband, Zesa Starr, there, and they were married at Bergen-Belsen. Their first child was born at the former camp.
Their second was born in Des Moines, Iowa, and their third in Denver. Helen Starr, their youngest, traveled to Fort Collins for her mother's speech Wednesday. She's also helped her mother to tell her story across the country, a story she said has incredible significance today.
Helen also noted that Fanny Starr is one of a small number of survivors alive and willing to talk about the atrocities committed during the Holocaust.
"There is only a handful of survivors that will speak," she said. "You could sit down in a room with all of her friends, who are all survivors, they will not talk about anything. It is very painful. They're humiliated and ashamed that they couldn't stand up and fight."
Source: http://www.coloradoan.com/story/news/local/csu/2017/02/21/holocaust-survivor-lost-my-live/98211626/

Learn more about Nazism and Holocaust by reading 

"The Nazis and Evil: the Annihilation of the Human Being" 

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lunes, 13 de febrero de 2017

Austin veteran from World War II remains a witness to Nazi atrocities



Herbert Stern, now 97 and living in Austin, is one of the “Texas liberators” whose stories of finding Nazi concentration camps at the end of World War II will be featured in an upcoming book. Photo by Cat Cardenas.




The silence was almost as overpowering as the stench of death.
It was April 12, 1945, and soldiers with the 9th Infantry Division had happened upon the Nordhausen slave labor camp, hidden in the Harz Mountains of Germany.
Prisoners at the camp had been worked to exhaustion and rarely saw daylight as they were chained to workbenches in the mountain’s tunnels. Those who were no longer fit to assemble V-2 rockets were sent to the crematoria or to Auschwitz-Birkenau. The camp’s methodical torture of its prisoners yielded one of the highest mortality rates in the concentration camp system.
Then 25 years old, Sgt. Herbert Stern took pictures of trenches stacked high with human remains and saw ovens with bones scattered along the grates. In the tangle of bodies were a few survivors clinging to life.
“You couldn’t tell life from death,” recalled Stern, now 97 and living in Austin. “The few that were able to raise their heads were taken up by medical officers and treated. It was an experience that none of us could ever forget.”
Those images documented the camp that nearby villagers claimed to know nothing about, seen through the eyes of a man who narrowly avoided being sent to such a camp himself.
Stern’s recollections are among the stories being gathered by the Texas Holocaust and Genocide Commission, a state agency that plans to release a book featuring the testimony of more than 300 “Texas liberators” — soldiers who saw the horrors of the Nazi camps as World War II drew to a close in Europe.
Former commission chairman Peter Berkowitz, who oversaw the Texas liberators project from its inception, said documenting their liberators’ testimonies has become increasingly important as the number of World War II veterans dwindles. According to data from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, fewer than 4 percent of the 16 million Americans who served in the war were still alive in 2016.
“We’re trying to educate our citizens here in Texas to understand the consequences of genocide and honor those heroes who were part of the liberation period,” Berkowitz said. “The stories (liberators) have to tell relate not only the horrors they saw, but an understanding that humanity has a responsibility to help those that cannot protect themselves.”
Refugee to soldier
Born Ulrich Stern in 1919 to a Jewish family in Berlin, Stern experienced first-hand the effects of the Nazis’ rise to power. As sentiments toward Jews worsened, Stern remembers the Star of David sewn onto his clothes, then suddenly being unable to attend school. Sometimes a knock in the middle of the night would precede a friend or family member being taken away.
“(Jews) were singled out and we were very much aware of it,” Stern said. “You could spend hours talking about how many restrictions there were. It was like a noose that was gradually being put around us.”
His father began making arrangements for Stern and his sister to flee to America and England, respectively, but was arrested by the Gestapo in 1934. During his father’s incarceration, Stern stayed with family friends who helped him arrange his paperwork to come to America. It took him two and a half years to get a visa.
Stern left for New York on the MS St. Louis in 1936, just two days after his father had been released from prison. When Stern arrived in the U.S., he met the distant cousins who took him to live in Cincinnati. None of the family members spoke any German, so he constantly carried an English-German dictionary. He changed his first name to Herbert, after his father, to mask his heritage.
After attending college at the University of Cincinnati, Stern was drafted in 1941 and became a U.S. citizen a short time later.
Stern went to Fort Bragg in North Carolina as part of the 9th Infantry Division, which would go on to North Africa, Sicily, and England, where he was briefly reunited with his father after seven years. After managing to get his children out of Germany, Herbert Sr. had used his connections with Lloyd’s insurance market to flee to its headquarters in London.
The value of proof
Eventually, Stern’s division made its way to France, taking part in the Normandy Invasion on Utah Beach, which later earned Stern the French Legion of Honour medal. As a German-speaker, Stern interrogated people from the camp, probing for information on the outfits they were with, what areas they had come from or where other troops were concentrated.
The war was nearing its end as the liberation of concentration camps began. While Stern says many divisions became aware of concentration camps through clandestine radio broadcasts, Stern heard in letters in the early 1940s from his father that several cousins and his grandmother had been sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau, never to be heard from again. He later learned that the husband and wife who cared for him before he came to America had also died in the war, though their son, who was five years younger than Stern, survived his time in the concentration camps.
As he spoke to the townspeople near the Nordhausen slave labor camp, Stern became increasingly angered by their claims that they knew nothing about the camp.
In the years following the war, Stern realized how incredibly important it was that he and other soldiers documented the conditions within the camp.
“I heard people from all over the world saying, ‘this never happened at all,’” Stern said. “It was important to have proof of people like myself who were actually there and who were lucky enough to have cameras because what happened was horrible, simply horrible. I often think, ‘It could’ve been me.’”
Finding the liberators
Following the war, Stern was reunited with his sister, Barbara Quinn, in 1946. They hadn’t seen each other since 1934, and in that time, Quinn had married a soldier from Austin. Stern saw his sister off on a train leaving New York, not knowing that a few years later, he would be living in Texas, too.
He returned to Cincinnati to work for a scrap metal brokerage company, then transferred to the company’s Houston offices where he worked until 1982. He then worked in the oil and gas pipeline business until his retirement in 2007. Two years ago, Stern and his wife, Cathy, decided to move to Austin to be closer to their daughter.
The couple celebrated their 70th anniversary last December, surrounded by their three children, Nancy, Peter and Charles, and extended family.
In 2011, the liberation of concentration camps and POW camps during World War II was added to the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS). That prompted the Texas Holocaust and Genocide Commission, created two years earlier to educate students and the general public on the Holocaust and other genocides, to seek out the veterans who liberated the Nazi camps.
With the help of Baylor University and the University of Texas’ VOCES Oral History Project, the commission identified 307 Texas liberators. Their stories will be in the book, coming out later this year, as well as an app that will allow people across the state to participate in the search for liberator testimonies.
“It’s a perspective people don’t always hear about,” said program specialist Cheyanne Perkins. “They’re people who bore witness to what happened, standing up and saying, ‘We saw it.’ 


Source: http://www.mystatesman.com/news/national/austin-veteran-from-world-war-remains-witness-nazi-atrocities/mYssNw4Egb5GVroY1TeU0J/

Learn more about Nazism and Holocaust by reading "The Nazis and Evil." Published in 6 languages.

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lunes, 9 de enero de 2017

"The Nazis and Evil: The Annihilation of the Human Being"

Book description:

Nazism opened the door to global terrorism. It designed a structural evil in which no one was safe, not even the German people themselves. The enemy: anyone able to think freely for themselves, in a manner contrary to rules dictated by the Nazis. The Aryans were merely "manufactured individuals," designed for violence, that is to say, dehumanized intelligent automatons. The socialization of crime through violence-turned-culture was one of the objectives that the Nazis managed to establish within the camps and throughout society. 
This is a current book that reflects on the past and offers us questions on the present.The Nazis and Evil is a concise and intelligently written dissection of the Nazi regime and the different dimensions of humanity that it attacked to achieve its goals. It has special poignancy because of its dedication to the memory of a real prisoner who was in the Mauthausen concentration camp. Translated into 5 languages, this book has been thoroughly researched from source files in Germany. Rubio-Serrano documents how Nazism succeeded by the eradicating the humanity of all of the people it involved, both victims and perpetrators. She ends on a brighter note by reminding us of the brave souls who spoke out again Nazism and how because of them humanity, not Nazism, triumphed in the end. The forward by Dr. Norbert Bilbeny, a professor of ethics at the University of Barcelona, provides an excellent moral framework for the book. The important theme of the book is that the evil that was embodied in Nazism is not simply something to be studied as part of history. The dark ideas and motives that created the Nazi menace still reside in the human soul, and it is essential to understand them to prevent something like the Nazism from rising again. We ignore its message at our peril. I highly recommend this important and excellent book!

5 Stars Reviews:

"The Nazis and Evil" is a concise and intelligently written dissection of the Nazi regime and the different dimensions of humanity that it attacked to achieve its goals. It has special poignancy because of its dedication to the memory of a real prisoner who was in the Mauthausen concentration camp. Translated into 5 languages, this book has been thoroughly researched from source files in Germany. Rubio-Serrano documents how Nazism succeeded by the eradicating the humanity of all of the people it involved, both victims and perpetrators. She ends on a brighter note by reminding us of the brave souls who spoke out again Nazism and how because of them humanity, not Nazism, triumphed in the end. The forward by Dr. Norbert Bilbeny, a professor of ethics at the University of Barcelona, provides an excellent moral framework for the book. The important theme of the book is that the evil that was embodied in Nazism is not simply something to be studied as part of history. The dark ideas and motives that created the Nazi menace still reside in the human soul, and it is essential to understand them to prevent something like the Nazism from rising again. We ignore its message at our peril. I highly recommend this important and excellent book! - LUXMAN 

More Reviews on Amazon, Barnes and Nobles, Kobo, and Apple.

The Nazis and Evil is a concise and intelligently written dissection of the Nazi regime and the different dimensions of humanity that it attacked to achieve its goals. It has special poignancy because of its dedication to the memory of a real prisoner who was in the Mauthausen concentration camp. Translated into 5 languages, this book has been thoroughly researched from source files in Germany. Rubio-Serrano documents how Nazism succeeded by the eradicating the humanity of all of the people it involved, both victims and perpetrators. She ends on a brighter note by reminding us of the brave souls who spoke out again Nazism and how because of them humanity, not Nazism, triumphed in the end. The forward by Dr. Norbert Bilbeny, a professor of ethics at the University of Barcelona, provides an excellent moral framework for the book. The important theme of the book is that the evil that was embodied in Nazism is not simply something to be studied as part of history. The dark ideas and motives that created the Nazi menace still reside in the human soul, and it is essential to understand them to prevent something like the Nazism from rising again. We ignore its message at our peril. I highly recommend this important and excellent book!
The Nazis and Evil is a concise and intelligently written dissection of the Nazi regime and the different dimensions of humanity that it attacked to achieve its goals. It has special poignancy because of its dedication to the memory of a real prisoner who was in the Mauthausen concentration camp. Translated into 5 languages, this book has been thoroughly researched from source files in Germany. Rubio-Serrano documents how Nazism succeeded by the eradicating the humanity of all of the people it involved, both victims and perpetrators. She ends on a brighter note by reminding us of the brave souls who spoke out again Nazism and how because of them humanity, not Nazism, triumphed in the end. The forward by Dr. Norbert Bilbeny, a professor of ethics at the University of Barcelona, provides an excellent moral framework for the book. The important theme of the book is that the evil that was embodied in Nazism is not simply something to be studied as part of history. The dark ideas and motives that created the Nazi menace still reside in the human soul, and it is essential to understand them to prevent something like the Nazism from rising again. We ignore its message at our peril. I highly recommend this important and excellent book!
The Nazis and Evil is a concise and intelligently written dissection of the Nazi regime and the different dimensions of humanity that it attacked to achieve its goals. It has special poignancy because of its dedication to the memory of a real prisoner who was in the Mauthausen concentration camp. Translated into 5 languages, this book has been thoroughly researched from source files in Germany. Rubio-Serrano documents how Nazism succeeded by the eradicating the humanity of all of the people it involved, both victims and perpetrators. She ends on a brighter note by reminding us of the brave souls who spoke out again Nazism and how because of them humanity, not Nazism, triumphed in the end. The forward by Dr. Norbert Bilbeny, a professor of ethics at the University of Barcelona, provides an excellent moral framework for the book. The important theme of the book is that the evil that was embodied in Nazism is not simply something to be studied as part of history. The dark ideas and motives that created the Nazi menace still reside in the human soul, and it is essential to understand them to prevent something like the Nazism from rising again. We ignore its message at our peril. I highly recommend this important and excellent book!
The Nazis and Evil is a concise and intelligently written dissection of the Nazi regime and the different dimensions of humanity that it attacked to achieve its goals. It has special poignancy because of its dedication to the memory of a real prisoner who was in the Mauthausen concentration camp. Translated into 5 languages, this book has been thoroughly researched from source files in Germany. Rubio-Serrano documents how Nazism succeeded by the eradicating the humanity of all of the people it involved, both victims and perpetrators. She ends on a brighter note by reminding us of the brave souls who spoke out again Nazism and how because of them humanity, not Nazism, triumphed in the end. The forward by Dr. Norbert Bilbeny, a professor of ethics at the University of Barcelona, provides an excellent moral framework for the book. The important theme of the book is that the evil that was embodied in Nazism is not simply something to be studied as part of history. The dark ideas and motives that created the Nazi menace still reside in the human soul, and it is essential to understand them to prevent something like the Nazism from rising again. We ignore its message at our peril. I highly recommend this important and excellent book
Now available in 6 languages:

  • English
  • Spanish
  • German
  • Italian
  • French
  • Portuguese


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viernes, 23 de septiembre de 2016

Why Germany still pursues justice for victims of Nazis


Hubert Zafke, a former medic with the SS at Auschwitz-Birkenau, has had his trial put on hold for the fifth time. What's behind a fresh pursuit of justice for victims of the Holocaust?


In 1944, Hubert Zafke was a medical orderly at the infamous Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp. This year, at the age of 95, he was supposed to stand trial for his actions during his time with the SS.
A German court announced Monday that his trial would be suspended for health reasons, the fifth such postponement since Mr. Zafke was brought in front of a judge for a first hearing in February.
The multiple postponements highlight the difficulties of putting former Nazis on trial almost 70 years after the fall of the Third Reich. In spite of the difficulties, German courts have seen a spike in prosecution attempts in the past several years. That uptick reflects a relatively recent shift in the legal framework applied in a decades-old pursuit of justice for some six million Jews killed during the Holocaust.
Zafke is charged with 3,681 counts of accessory to murder, according to The Guardian. Prosecutors allege that his unit worked near the gas chambers that killed hundreds of thousands of Jews and others at Auschwitz-Birkenau. They also claim that by providing medical assistance to SS guards, the medical staff, including Zafke, was culpable in helping the operation of the camp.
For many observers, Zafke, a single medic, represents a mere cog in the Nazi genocide machine. For much of the 20th century, following the Nuremberg trials of Nazi war criminals in 1945 and the trial of Adolf Eichmann in 1961, prosecutors of Nazi war criminals focused on proving a direct involvement in the atrocities committed at the various camps. For decades, guards like Zafke were allowed to remain free because of a lack of proof linking them to specific murders.
"In order to be found guilty of criminal complicity [in the Holocaust], the prosecution had the burden of proving specific involvement in acts of criminal violence against known, named individuals, and that's a very high standard," Ken Ledford, a professor of history and law at Case Western Reserve University, tells The Christian Science Monitor in a phone interview. "It's just very difficult to have that evidence, either in the eyewitness testimony or in documentary evidence."
All that changed with the case of John Demjanjuk, in 2011, a former SS guard who worked at the Sobibór extermination camp in Poland. For the first time, a new generation of prosecutors argued that a guard's involvement at the camp was enough to convict him, despite the lack of evidence linking him to a specific murder. In 2011, the court agreed, ushering in a new wave of prosecution of former Nazis, after such cases had largely dried up in the preceding decades.
"At a place that existed solely for the purpose of murdering people, anyone who was involved in carrying out that process was an accessory to the murder that was happening there," Elizabeth White, a historian at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum who helped the US Department of Justice investigate Demjanjuk under immigration law, told the Monitor in February. 
There are not many such criminals left. Those that are, such Zafke, are old and often ill, and some question whether it is even worth the effort after so many decades, arguing that there's nothing that such low-ranking guards could have realistically done to resist becoming caught up in the Nazi system.
"People have said 'Well, these guys who were still alive were really young. They were just small fry,'" said Dr. White in February. "But to the people, they helped kill, they were not small fry. They were not insignificant." Klaus Kabisch, the judge in Zafke's case, has faced allegations of bias for seeming reluctant to have Zafke stand trial, with prosecutors submitting a motion for him to recuse himself. A higher court overruled an earlier ruling against bringing the case to trial, because of concerns over Zafke's health, according to Agence France-Presse.
"The co-plaintiffs have abandoned all hope that a trial that is anything other than a farce will actually start one day under this presiding judge," plaintiff lawyers Thomas Walther and Cornelius Nestler said in a statement last week.
Dr. Ledford explains that, in spite of the angry remarks by the prosecution, repeated delays like this in the German legal system are not unusual, and recusals like the one called for by the prosecution only happen under extraordinary circumstances. Postponements due to health are common when prosecuting someone as old as Zafke, a major obstacle towards putting former Nazis on trial.
The Zafke trial comes after the three most recent trials of former SS members all resulted in convictions. In addition to Demjanjuk's conviction, Oskar Groening was sentenced to four years in prison, and Reinhold Hanning was sentenced to five; both men were stationed at Auschwitz.
While the sentences may seem short, the German legal system takes into account the condition of those who are sentenced. Since both men are in their 90s and not expected to live much longer, the sentences are considered harsh by German standards, according to Dr. Ledford.
But for many Germans, the conviction of former SS guards is not just about punishing the men responsible, but about educating younger generations about the atrocities committed in the past before the last members of that generation die out.
"Given Germany's crimes of the Holocaust in the Second World War, Germany has an obligation to itself, and to the world, to constantly remain vigilant," says Ledford.
"I think the victims deserve it," he adds.
Learn more about Nazism and Holocaust by reading "The Nazis and Evil", published in 4 languages.
5 Stars Reviews eBook on Barnes and Noble and Bestseller on Kobo
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Source: http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Global-News/2016/0920/Why-Germany-still-pursues-justice-for-victims-of-Nazis


viernes, 2 de septiembre de 2016

The last surviving Nuremberg prosecutor has one ultimate dream

Ben Ferencz pops a cough drop into his mouth, "to loosen my ancient throat." Where to begin his improbable story?
"I was born in a small village in Transylvania in the Carpathian Mountains," he says, sitting in the living room of his modest retirement home. "It was a small house with a thatched roof, no running water, no electricity," and, he jokes, "not even a television."
Ferencz is 96. His memory astonishes, plucking dates and names from more than half a century past. He's a tiny man, barely brushing five feet, but a legal giant: the last surviving prosecutor from the Nuremberg trials and a champion of international criminal law who is about to donate millions to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum to promote world peace.
His Nuremberg case, which the Associated Press called "the biggest murder trial in history," defines him. It involved the Einsatzgruppen, roving extermination squads responsible for more than a million deaths during World War II. Ferencz convinced his fellow attorneys at the postwar tribunals that the Nazi officers who led the squads had to be put on trial. Fine, they said. Ben, you serve as chief prosecutor.
Ferencz was 27.
It was his first trial.
He presented precisely one witness, who certified Nazi documents that recorded the slaughter of Jews, gypsies and other civilians with a banker's efficiency.
"They were so sure they were going to win! The Germans were great at documentation, thank you very much," Ferencz says, clapping his hands.
"Death was their tool and life their toy," he told the judge in the Palace of Justice's quiet, wood-paneled courtroom. "If these men are immune, then the law has lost its meaning, and man must live in fear."
The prosecution rested after two days. All 22 defendants were found guilty.
Was he nervous? "I'm not the type," he says. "Fearless Ferencz!" Afterward, though, "my head was bursting. I never had such a headache in my life. It was high tension." Ferencz had to lie down and skip the party he threw for his staff.
The courtroom's size limited the number of defendants the prosecutors could try. "There were hundreds of people responsible," he says. "How many were put on trial? Practically none."
After the trials, Ferencz fought for restitution for thousands of World War II victims and argued for the creation of the International Criminal Court, which entered into force in 2002, headquartered in The Hague.
"My hope is that people will not be content to look at the past and say never again, and then do nothing," he says. "So I am taking the measures for preventing it from ever happening again."
That's the purpose of his $1 million donations to the Holocaust Museum for the Ferencz International Justice Initiative. The annual gift is renewable for up to $10 million.
Where did he get the money? He saved what he earned from his salary and cases unrelated to war victims. And he appears to have saved almost every dollar.
His retirement community in Delray Beach, Florida, a place he does not care for, resembles a 1970s military barracks capped with glazed pink Spanish tile roofs. His home, which he purchased 40 years ago for less than $23,000, is decorated with budget furniture that offers little comfort. Personal flourishes are few. It looks like he moved in yesterday.
"Law not war, that's my motto. Simple. Three words," he says. "It causes me pain to see the world as it is. But not to do anything, not to try, that would be wrong."
As a private who rose to the rank of sergeant in Gen. George Patton's 3rd Army, Ferencz was present at or arrived days after, the liberation of several concentration camps: Buchenwald, Mauthausen, Flossenburg, Ebensee.
"The story is basically the same for every camp," he says. "Inmates being worked to death at every camp. Conditions absolutely horrible and indescribable, unforgettable. Guards fleeing."
Ferencz has shared his stories for seven decades. "I saw the inmates beat up a guy they captured and burn him alive," Ferencz says of a German guard. "Slowly. I saw it."
He stops. His eyes pool with tears, and a linen handkerchief emerges from his pinstriped pocket.
"Excuse me," he says, "but I still see it. Could I have probably stopped it? No. Did I try? No. Should I have tried? No. You try being there."
Ferencz spends his days in a narrow office overlooking a man-made lagoon and a flock of white ibises. At his desk, crafted from a slab of plywood supported by filing cabinets, he curses the computer for failing to obey his commands. "It must be an anti-Semite," he says.
A New Yorker most of his life, Ferencz has another home in New Rochelle, where he raised four children. He has lived long enough to see them retire.
Ferencz is here, in the punishing late summer heat and humidity, only because of Gertrude, his wife of 70 years, is in failing health and prefers Florida. Her problem? "She's old!"
He lived simply, invested wisely and sat on those investments for decades. "I don't gamble. I like plain food," he says, pulling at his navy suspenders. "I like simple things." The slippers he's wearing, purchased for $5, are his fancy pair. A copy of the Kama Sutra winks from a bookshelf thick with tomes on international criminal law. He's a bit of a flirt. His indulgence is talk. For four hours he talks.
"I came into the world a poor boy. I want to go out of this world a poor boy," he says. "My resolve is to give it all back in gratitude for the opportunity I've had in the United States. I have been trying to my life, ever since I can remember, to try and create a more peaceful and humane world. And I want the money to go for that purpose. I realize it will not happen in my lifetime because I'm trying to reverse thousands of years of tradition and glorification of war."
"The recipient of Ferencz's largesse is the Holocaust Museum's Simon-Skjodt Center for the Prevention of Genocide. "We're planning to make sure the fight he has waged his whole life continues after he is gone. Ben has seen absolutely the worst of humanity," says Cameron Hudson, director of the center. "He's seen it up close, and to have this kind of faith in humanity, that we can overcome our most base impulses, is amazing."
Ferencz has lived to see many more atrocities - Rwanda, Sudan, Syria. Still, he believes "we can reverse the glorification of war. We can change hearts and minds, and hold individuals accountable."
He remains frustrated that despots and terrorists are killed instead of tried in criminal courts to deter further aggression. He would have brought Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden to trial in international court.
But he is also optimistic about civilization's advances. "I have also lived through unbelievable change, that a woman is running for president, or that a man can marry a man - enormous, inconceivable transformations in my lifetime," he says.
This is how Ferencz speaks, alternating between speeches about global peace and what he calls "Benny stories," tales worthy of Sholem Aleichem if Aleichem had been raised in a Hell's Kitchen cellar and gone to Harvard Law.
The family moved to the United States when Ben was 10 months old. Ferencz's father was a janitor who graduated to house painting. His parents were in an arranged family marriage - they were cousins - and later divorced. Crime was the neighborhood's chief industry. An uncle told him, "You'll either be a good lawyer or a good crook." Ferencz attended City College, where bright immigrants went free in the 1930s. "I didn't know any lawyers. I wanted to go to the best school," he says.
Someone mentioned Harvard. OK, Ferencz said, Harvard, it is.
He wanted the best as insurance and protection, he says, to command respect. "Because I was very short. I was very small. Five-foot-two at the height of my height," he says. "It kept me out of the Air Force. I wanted to be a pilot. I couldn't reach the pedals. But, by chance, I had a very good education."
Harvard, where he began his lifelong study of war crimes, got him to Nuremberg, but not before he served as a grunt in Patton's army.
He enlisted. "In their typical brilliance, being a Harvard Law School graduate and an expert on war crimes, they assigned me to clean the latrines in the artillery and do every other filthy thing they could give me," he says. "Why? Because I was a Harvard man. I was never high and mighty. They didn't care. They were a bunch of idiots."
His low rank had its privileges. On bathtub duty, he claims, he saw Marlene Dietrich naked. As a member of Patton's forces, he was at Normandy, broke though the Maginot and Siegfried lines, crossed the Rhine at Remagen, and took part in the Battle of the Bulge at Bastogne.
He was awarded five battle stars, though not, he argues, for bravery. "I was hiding under whatever truck or tank I could get under," he says. "My weapon was a typewriter."
After his return to the States and Gertrude, Ferencz was recruited for Nuremberg. Telford Taylor, his eventual boss, noted that his Army files indicated that he was occasionally insubordinate.
"That's not correct, sir. I am not occasionally insubordinate," Ferencz told his future law partner. "I am usually insubordinate. I don't take orders that I know are stupid or illegal."
After Nuremberg, Ferencz worked for years seeking restitution for individuals and organizations. "I was known as a lawyer who takes hopeless but morally well-founded cases on a contingency basis," he says. He wrote books on international law. The Vietnam War disgusted him - "crazy and should be illegal," he says. He quit his law practice to dedicate himself to peace.
"It's possible to take the most fundamental, strongly held ideas and change them. What makes people change? Sometimes fear, sometimes reason, sometimes sentiment," he says. "You have to teach people to be more tolerant, to be more compassionate, to compromise. It takes courage. Crimes are committed by individuals, not movements, and you have to hold the people responsible in courts."
Ferencz has lived long enough to participate in the first case before the International Criminal Court. At age 91, he gave a closing statement in the prosecution of Congolese warlord Thomas Lubanga Dyilo in Uganda. But he is far from satisfied and has railed at senators and former Cabinet members, urging more aggressive prosecution of war criminals.
Ferencz has been awarded a trove of medals, including the French Legion of Honor, Germany's military medal of honor and Holland's Erasmus Prize. He doesn't want to see the Holocaust Museum "just be a historical archive. It has to do something, to build on the suffering to avoid any in the future." In pursuit of peace and more teaching of international criminal law, he is working with Harvard and Cardozo law schools.
Next year marks the 70th anniversary of the Einsatzgruppen trial at Nuremberg. The last remaining prosecutor could be excused for watching a baseball game or two, or reading a mystery.
Ferencz does none of that. He performs 100 push-ups each morning, swims in his retirement community pool, cares for Gertrude at night. Otherwise, he works at his makeshift desk, cursing the computer.
Fun? Ferencz has no time for fun.
Source: http://www.messenger-inquirer.com/features/perspective/the-last-surviving-nuremberg-prosecutor-has-one-ultimate-dream/article_967f2972-7082-11e6-a965-a747565c7a26.html

jueves, 1 de septiembre de 2016

Failed Jewish Holocaust survivor plot to kill Nazis still a mystery after 70 years

Joseph Harmatz at his apartment in Tel Aviv,
Israel, on 23 May 2016. Photograph: Tsafrir Abayov/AP
Neither Jewish ‘Avenger’ Joseph Harmatz nor a recently declassified US military report can explain why Nuremberg poison operation caused no known deaths


Seventy years after the most daring attempt of Jewish Holocaust survivors to seek revenge, the leader of the plot has only one simple regret – that to his knowledge he didn’t actually kill any Nazis.
Joseph Harmatz is one of the few remaining Jewish “Avengers” who carried out a mass poisoning of former SS men in an American-run prisoner-of-war camp in 1946 that sickened more than 2,200 Germans but ultimately caused no known deaths. A recently declassified US military report obtained by the Associated Press has only added to the mystery of why the brazen operation did not kill Nazis because it shows the amount of arsenic used should have been fatal to tens of thousands.
Still, the 91-year-old Harmatz says the message echoed into a rallying cry for the new state of Israel, established in 1948 – that the days when attacks on Jews went unanswered were over.
“We didn’t want to come back [to Palestine] without having done something, and that is why we were keen,” Harmatz said in a hoarse, whispery voice from his apartment in north Tel Aviv. He lost most of his family in the Holocaust.
Despite a visceral desire for vengeance after the second world war, most Holocaust survivors were too weary or devastated to seriously consider it. But a group of some 50, most young men and women who had already fought in the resistance could not let the crimes go unpunished. While there were some isolated acts of Jews harming individual Nazis after the war, the group, codenamed Nakam, Hebrew for vengeance, sought a more comprehensive form of punishment.

The mission was simple.
“Kill Germans,” Harmatz said flatly.
How many?
“As many as possible,” he quickly replied.
The first idea described by Harmatz was initiated by the resistance fighter and poet Abba Kovner: to poison the water supply of Nuremberg. But there were deep reservations even among the Avengers that such an operation would bring mass death to innocent Germans and undermine international support for the eventual creation of the state of Israel. Either way, when Kovner sailed for Europe with the poison, he drew suspicion from British authorities and was forced to toss it overboard.
So attention shifted toward Plan B, a more limited operation that specifically targeted the worst Nazi perpetrators.

Undercover members of the group found work at a bakery that supplied the Stalag 13 POW camp at Langwasser, near Nuremberg. On 13 April 1946, using poison procured from one of Kovner’s associates, three members spent two hours coating some 3,000 loaves of bread with arsenic. The goal was to kill 12,000 SS personnel, and Harmatz oversaw the operation from outside the bakery.
“The terrible tragedy was about to be forgotten, and if you don’t punish for one crime, you will get another,” explained Dina Porat, the chief historian at Israel’s Yad Vashem memorial, who is about to publish a book on the Avengers. “This is what was driving them, not only justice but a warning, a warning to the world that you cannot hurt Jews in such a manner and get away with it.”
Under German regulations, authorities in Nuremberg later investigated Harmatz and Leipke Distal, who worked undercover in the bakery for months, after they revealed details of the operation in a 1999 television documentary. The prosecutors eventually concluded that even though there was an attempted murder they would not file charges because of the “extraordinary circumstances”.
According to previously classified files from the US military’s counter-intelligence corps, the amount of arsenic used should have been enough to cause a massive number of deaths. The files were obtained by the AP through a Freedom of Information Act request to the National Archives.
In one memo from 1947 stamped “confidential”, investigators write that at the bakery they found “three empty hot water bottles and a burlap bag containing four full hot water bottles”. An analysis of the contents “revealed that they contained enough arsenic mixed with glue and water to kill approximately 60,000 persons”.
Another confidential report said a chemist called in to help in the investigation had determined “10 kilo of pure arsenic was present, mixed with water and glue for adhesive purposes”.
Laboratory investigators found arsenic on the bottom, top and sides of the bread, and reported that doctors said the SS men exhibited symptoms “similar to cholera and included vomiting, diarrhea and skin rashes”. The report added that the most amount of arsenic found on a loaf was 0.2 grams – which fell well within the range of 0.1-0.3 grams that would be “in most cases lethal”.
To this day, it remains a mystery as to why the poison failed to kill Nazis. The prevailing theory is that the plotters in their haste spread the poison too thinly. Another is that the Nazi prisoners immediately sensed something was off with the bread and therefore no one ingested enough of it to die.
After the attack, Harmatz, Distal and others had to flee quickly. At the border of Czechoslovakia, they were met by Yehuda Maimon, an Auschwitz survivor from Poland who lost his parents in the camps. He smuggled the group out safely, and they ended up in Palestine.
From a retirement home outside Tel Aviv, the 92-year-old Maimon looks back with satisfaction at carrying out his “duty” for revenge.
“It was imperative to form this group. If I am proud of something it is that I belonged to this group,” he said. “Heaven forbid if after the war we had just gone back to the routine without thinking about paying those bastards back. It would have been awful not to respond to those animals.”
Source:https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/aug/31/jewish-holocaust-survivor-kill-nazis-poison-arsenic-nuremburg

The Angel of Death's tortured Auschwitz victims: Body parts and BRAINS from Nazi doctor Josef Mengele's sick experiments are discovered in a Munich research lab

  • Remains were found during renovations at a Psychiatric Institute last year

  • In wartime, the unit received body parts from Nazi doctor Josef Mengele

  • He was dubbed the 'Angel of Death' for carrying out horrific experiments

  • Research committee has already started to identify some of the victims



  • Body parts and brains of victims of horrific experiments by Nazi doctors - including the infamous 'Angel of Death' Josef Mengele of Auschwitz - have been found at a leading German research institute.

    The gruesome remains were discovered in jars during renovations at the Max Planck Psychiatric Institute in Munich last year but reported on by Israeli media only this week.
    In the wake of the discovery a committee has been established in order to ascertain just how the victims came to die.

    It is known that in wartime the institute regularly received human body parts from Josef Mengele, the doctor at the Nazi death camp in occupied Poland where he became infamous for carrying out horrific experiments without anaesthetic.

    The Max Planck Institute claims the samples were once used by the Nazi brain researcher Julius Hallervorden, who conducted experiments on humans during and after the rule of the Nazis.

    He even served as the head of the neuropathology department at the institute, then known as the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute, in 1938.

    The research committee has already started to identify some of the victims from whom the samples were taken with the goal of eventually interring them in a mass grave.

    The institute published on its website: 'We are embarrassed by these findings, and the blemish of their discovery in the archives. 

    'We will update the public with any further information that comes to light with complete transparency.'

    Yad Vashem, the Holocaust museum in Jerusalem, Israel, had not been aware of the existence of the samples.

    Professor Dan Machman, director of the International Centre for Holocaust Research at the museum, told an Israeli radio station: 'It's surprising, although not completely. We know that experiments were conducted and that not everything was erased and buried. 

  • Two years ago, bones of victims on whom experiments were conducted were found in Berlin in the trash. Next year, we're going to organise a convention about this issue.

    'This current finding is something new that was previously unknown, and joins other events that are suddenly uncovered after 70 years.'

    'Whoever thought this chapter was completely finished is mistaken. It's hard to know if these samples are exclusively from "mercy killings" - the Nazi jargon for the murder of sick people for the purposes of experimentation - or if they also derive from other sources.' 

    From 1940 to 1945, hundreds of brains from victims of the mass murder of psychiatric patients and the mentally deficient at that time were examined scientifically at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Brain Research (KWI) in Berlin.

    'Researchers at the KWI for Brain Research like Julius Hallervorden (1882 -1965), who worked at the KWI from 1938, made themselves complicit in the organised murder of patients in an unbelievable manner,' said the institute.

    'The investigation mandated now should reveal more about the possible victims as well as scientific evaluations which have been performed. 

    'In addition, the brain sections dating from the Nazi era should be buried. It has yet to be decided where the sections which arose after 1945 will remain.' 



    Victims of Josef Mengele recall the horrors at Auschwitz. Video

    Learn more about the Nazi Medicine by reading "The Nazis and Evil", published in 3 languages.
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    Source: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3767152/Auschwitz-Angel-Death-s-gruesome-experiments-discovered-Body-parts-BRAINS-Nazi-doctor-Josef-Mengele-s-victims-Munich-research-lab.html