martes, 27 de agosto de 2013

Malaria Experiments. Excerpts from the testimony of FATHER LEO MIECHALOWSKI

[from National Archives Record Group 238, M887]

Father Miechalowski, a Roman Catholic Priest, was arrested along with other Polish priests by the Germans after the invasion of Poland in 1939. He was deported to the Sachsenhausen camp, north of Berlin, and in 1940 was transferred to Dachau concentration camp near Munich, Germany. While in Dachau, Father Miechalowski was selected against his will as a subject for medical experiments. He was intentionally infected with Malaria so that various compounds could be tested. Further, he was subjected to hypothermia experiments. American forces liberated Dachau in April 1945. On December 21, 1946, Father Miechalowski testified for the prosecution at the Doctors Trial about the medical experiments before an American military tribunal in Nuremberg, Germany.

Excerpts from the testimony of
Born March 22, 1909, in Babrzezne, Poland

Now, father, will you tell the Tribunal just what happened when you were experimented on with malaria? That is, when it happened and how you happened to be selected? 

I was that weak that I fell down on the road because everybody was hungry in the camp. I wanted to be transferred to another assignment later on where we got some bread to eat between meals so my health could improve by the additional food. One man arrived and selected about thirty people for some easy labor. I also wanted to be selected for this assignment and those who had been selected for this work were led away. We went in the direction where the work was located and at the very last moment instead of going to the place of work we were lead to the camp hospital. We did not know what was going to be done with us there. I thought to myself that perhaps this was going to be some detail for easier work in the hospital. We were told that we should undress and after we had undressed ourselves our numbers were taken down and then we asked what was going on and they told us, smilingly, "this is for air detail." But we were not told what was going to be done with us. Then the doctor came and told us all to remain and that we were to be x-rayed. Now that our numbers had already been taken down we were supposed to go to our blocks. I sat for two days in the block and afterwards I was again called to the hospital and there I was given malaria in such a manner that there were little cages with infected mosquitoes and I had to put my hand on one of the little cages and a mosquito stung me and afterwards I was still in the hospital for five weeks. However, for the time being no symptoms of the disease showed themselves. Somewhat later, I don't exactly recall, two or three weeks, I had my first malaria attack. Such attacks recurred frequently and several medicines were given to us for against malaria. I was given such medicine as neo-salvasan. I was given two injections of quinine. On one occasion I was given atabrine and the worst was that one time when I had an attack, I was given so-called perifer. I was given nine injections of that kind, one every hour and that every second day through the seventh injection. All of a sudden my heart felt like it was going to be torn out. I became insane. I completely lost my language — my ability to speak. This lasted until evening. In the evening a nurse arrived and wanted to give me the eighth injection. I was then unable [sic] to speak and I told the nurse about all of the complications I had had and that I did not want to receive the injection. The nurse had already poured out the injection and said that he would report this to Dr. Schilling. After approximately ten minutes another nurse arrived and said that he would have to give me the injection after all. Then I said the same thing again, that I was not going to have the injection. However, he told me that he had to carry out that order. Then I replied that no matter what order he had, I would not be willing to commit suicide. Then he went away and returned once again after ten minutes. He told me, "I know you know what can happen if you don't accept the injection." Then I said in spite of everything, "I refuse to receive a another injection and that I would tell that to the professor. "I requested that he himself know that I would not be willing to receive the injection. So that the nurse would not have any further difficulty after twenty minutes Dr. Ploettner came with four inmate nurses and he talked to my comrades. "There is going to be a big row here." Then I said, "If I have resisted for such a long time I will continue to do so." Dr. Ploettner, however, was very quiet. He only reached for my hand and he check my pulse, then touched my head and asked me what complications I had had. I told him what I had had after that injection. And then he told the nurse to give me two tablets in order to remove the headache and the pains in my kidneys. When I had been given that Dr. Ploettner was about to leave and told the nurses that they were to give me the rest of the injections. Then I said, "Hauptsturmfuehrer, I refuse to be given that injection." The physician turned around after I had said that and looked at me and said, "I am responsible for your life, not you." then when the injection he told the nurse — the nurses complied with his order and it was then they gave me this injection. It was the same one to whom I had previously told that I did not want to have another injection. It was only strange that after the eighth injection no results happened as they had done previously so that, in my opinion, I think that the nurse gave me some other injection. On the morning I was given the ninth injection — when I woke up in the morning the results were then as usual. I became sick and I began to feel cold and I had a high fever.

Father, do I understand you to say that you were injected with malaria in the middle of 1942? 

It was approximately in the middle of 1942 when I was infected with malaria.

And you were not asked your consent to the malaria experiment?

No. I was not asked for my consent.

And you did not volunteer for this experiment?

No. I was taken in the manner which I have just described.

Did you make any protest?

In 1942 it was very difficult in the camp to lodge any protest. When I protested with this eighth injection which I was to be given, I clearly realized that it would have the most serious consequences for me. Later on such things could be risked, but in that year I still think that I would have been unable to do that, and I don't think it would have been to any avail.

Now how many people were experimented on with you, that is, malaria experiments?

In the hospital when I had my attacks, there were approximately fifty to sixty people; the numbers changed.

And do you know the approximate total number of inmates experimented on with malaria in Dachau? 

Towards the end I heard that approximately one thousand two hundred prisoners were subjected to these experiments. 

Do you know whether or not any of those inmates died as a result of the malaria experiments? 

Several have died, but if this was the direct result of malaria, I do not know. I know of one case when the patient died after having been given Perifere injections. Then I still know another priest who died, but afterwards — and prior to his death he was sent to another room. 

Was it customary to transfer patients out of the block in which there were conducting the malaria experiments if it appeared that they might die? 

It looked to me as if this patient of whom I have just spoken had been moved for the reason so it could not be seen that it happened in the case of malaria, but I do not know if people died as a result of malaria because I am not an expert on the subject. 

How many recurrences of malaria fever did you have, Father? 

I cannot give you the exact number any more. However, those attacks recurred frequently, I think about five times, and then I still had treatment in bed for some time, and then there were several more, and altogether I had ten attacks, one every day. Then I reached a temperature of 41.6. 

Do you still suffer any effects from the malaria? 

I still have had some after effects, but I do not know if this is only of malaria because I was also subjected to another experiment. 

Well, will you tell the tribunal about this other experiment? 

During those malaria attacks on one occasion I was called by Dr. Prachtol and I was examined by a Polish physician, and Dr. Prachtol told me, "If I have any use for you, I will call you." However, I did not know what was going to be done with me. Several days later, that was on the seventh of October, 1942, a prisoner came and told me that I was to report to the hospital immediately. I thought I was going to be examined once more, and I was taken through the malaria station to block 5 in Dachau, to the fourth floor of block 5. There — the so-called aviation room, the aviation experimental station was located there, and there was a fence, a wooden fence so that nobody could see what was inside, and I was led there, and there was a basin with water and ice which floated on the water. There were two tables, and there were two apparatus on there. Next to them there was a heap of clothing that consisted of uniforms, and Dr. Prachtol was there, two officers in Air Force uniforms. However, I do not know their names. Now I was told to undress. I undressed and I was examined. The physician then remarked that everything was in order. Now wires had been taped to my back, also in the lower rectum. Afterwards I had to wear my shirt, my drawers, but then afterwards I had to wear one of the uniforms which were lying there. Then I had also to wear a long pair of boots with cat's fur and one aviator's combination. And afterwards a tube was put around my neck and was filled with air. And afterwards the wires which had been connected with me — they were connected to the apparatus, and then I was thrown into the water. All of a sudden I became very cold, and I began to tremble. I immediately turned to those two men and asked them to pull me out of the water because I would be unable to stand it much longer. However, they told me laughingly, "Well, this will only last a very short time." I sat in this water, and I had — and I was conscious for one hour and a half. I do not know exactly because I did not have a watch, but that is the approximate time I spent there.
During this time the temperature was lowered very slowly in the beginning and afterwards more rapidly. When I was thrown into the water my temperature was lowered very slowly in the beginning and afterwards more rapidly. When I was thrown into the water my temperature was 37.6. then the temperature became lower. Then I only had 33 and then as low as 30, but then I already became somewhat unconscious and every fifteen minutes some blood was taken from my ear. After having sat in the water for about half an hour, I was offered a cigarette, which, however, I did not want to smoke. However, one of those men approached me and gave me the cigarette, and the nurse who stood near the basin continued to put this cigarette into my mouth and pulled it out again. I managed to smoke about half of this cigarette. Later on I was given a little glass with Schnaps, and then I was asked how I was feeling. Somewhat later still I was given one cup of Grog. This Grog was not very hot. It was rather luke warm. I was freezing very much in this water. Now my feet were becoming as rigid as iron, and the same thing applied to my hands, and later on my breathing became very short. I once again began to tremble, and afterwards cold sweat appeared on my forehead. I felt as if I was just about to die, and then I was still asking them to pull me out because I could not stand this much longer.
Then Dr. Prachtol came and he had a little bottle, and he gave me a few drops of some liquid out of this bottle, and I did not know anything about this liquid. It had a somewhat sweetish taste. Then I lost my consciousness. I do not know how much longer I remained in the water because I was unconscious. When I again regained consciousness, it was approximately between 8 and 8:30 in the evening. I was lying on a stretcher covered with blankets, and above me there was some kind of an appliance with lamps which were warming me.
In the room there was only Dr. Prachtol and two prisoners. Then Dr. Prachtol asked me how I was feeling. Then I replied, "First of all, I feel very exhausted, and furthermore I am also very hungry." Dr. Prachtol had immediately ordered that I was to be given better food and that I was also to lie in bed. One prisoner raised me on the stretcher and he took me under his arm and he led me through the corridor to his room. During this time he spoke to me, and he told me, "Well you do not know what you have even suffered." And in the room the prisoner gave me half a bottle of milk, one piece of bread and some potatoes, but that came from his own rations. Later on he took me to the malaria station, block 3, and there I was put to bed, and the very same evening a Polish prisoner — it was a physician; his first name was Dr. Adam, but I do not remember his other name — He came on official orders. He told me, "Everything that has happened to you is a military secret." You are not to discuss it with anybody. If you fail to do so, you know what the consequences will be for you. You are intelligent enough to know that." Of course, I fully realized that I had to keep quiet about that.

On one occasion I had discussed these experiments with one of my comrades. One of the nurses found out about this and he came to see me and asked me if I was already tired of living, because I was talking about such matters. But, in the way these experiments were conducted, I do not need to add anything further to it.

How long was it before you recovered from the effects of those freezing experiments? 

It took a long time. I also have had several (pause) I have had a rather weak heart and I have also had severe headaches, and I also get cramps in my feet very often. 

Do you still suffer from the effects of this experiment? 

I still have a weak heart. For example, I am unable to walk very quickly now, and I also have to sweat very much. Exactly, those are the results, but in many cases I have had those afflictions ever since. 

Were you in good physical condition before you were subjected to Malaria and Freezing experiments? 

Since the time of this starvation I weighed 57 kilograms in Dachau. When I came to the camp I weighed about one hundred kilo; I lost about one half of my weight. In the beginning, I was weighed, and I was in bed for about a week. And then my weight went down to forty-seven kilo. 

How much do you weigh now, father? 

I can not tell you exactly but I have not weighed myself lately but I think at this time I weigh fifty-five kilogram. 

Do you know how you were pre-warmed in these freezing experiments? 

I was warmed with these lamps, but I heard later that people were rewarmed by women. 

Do you know approximately how many inmates were subjected to the freezing experiments? 

I can not tell you anything about this, because it was kept so secret; and because I was in there quite individually, and I was quite single during this experiment. 

Do you know whether anyone died as a result of this experiment? 

I can not give you any information about that, either. I have not seen anybody. But it was said in camp that quite a number of people died there during this experiment.


lunes, 26 de agosto de 2013

The boy saved by Schindler

LEON Leyson, one of the youngest survivors on the list drawn up by the remarkable factory owner, died this year, just a day after sending his memoirs for publication. Here we reveal his remarkable story.

In the autumn of 1965 Leon Leyson went to Los Angeles airport to meet a man he had not seen in 20 years.

Their last meeting had been in very different circumstances.

Back then Leon was Leib Lejzon, a scrawny boy of 15, so undersized that he had to stand on a box to reach the machinery in the factory where he worked.

The man he was meeting was his former employer and Leon – now 36 and 6ft tall – was not at all sure he would remember him.

But as soon as his eyes fell on Leon, Oskar Schindler smiled and said:

“You are Little Leyson,” his nickname for the youngest of the 1,100 Jews working in his factories – first in southern Poland and later at Brünnlitz in Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia.

Leon toiled for 12 hours a day on his box for three years. It was slave labour yet everyone there considered themselves lucky. The alternative, after all, was so much worse.

Schindler’s story became famous through Thomas Keneally’s book which Steven Spielberg made into the Oscar-winning film Schindler’s List, soon to be released in digitally remastered form.

But the story of Little Leyson, the youngest of the Schindlerjuden (Schindler’s Jews) has remained little known until now because he didn’t think people wanted to hear it. He could not have been more wrong. Leon’s memoir, The Boy On The Wooden Box, is an account both of unimaginable horror and extraordinary resilience.
 Liam Neeson as Oskar in a scene from Schindler’s List
Leon, his parents Moshe and Chanah, his sister Pesza and brother David all survived the Holocaust because they were Schindlerjuden.

Two other brothers Hershel and Tsalig and around 100 other family members were not and perished.

Time and again Schindler not only saved Leon’s life but tried to make it less unbearable. Boys of Leon’s age were destined for the gas chambers yet Schindler gave him a job.

He gave instructions for “little Leyson” to receive double food rations.

He switched him from the night shift to the less taxing day shift and moved him to more challenging tasks to keep the boy stimulated.

“I am an unlikely survivor of the Holocaust,” Leon writes. “I had so much going against me and almost nothing going for me. I was just a boy. I had no connections. I had no skills. But I had one factor in my favour that trumped everything else: Oskar Schindler thought my life had value.”

Leon was born in 1929 in Narewka, a village in north-east Poland where homes had no running water and electricity did not arrive until 1935.

In 1938 the family relocated 350 miles south to the city of Krakow.

The German army reached Krakow on September 6, 1939, and within months the city’s Jews were forced into a ghetto. One day Moshe, a skilled machinist, was summoned to an enamelware factory where the new owner, a Nazi party member, needed a safe opening. Moshe cracked the safe and the factory owner hired him on the spot.

It would prove to be the saving of the family: the Nazi factory boss was Oskar Schindler.

In the film it is witnessing the brutal clearing of the Krakow ghetto that transforms Schindler.

In another scene Schindler dashes to the railway station to rescue his accountant Itzhak Stern who has been rounded up for deportation. What was not seen in the film was Schindler trying to pull Leon’s 17-year-old brother Tsalig off a train too. But Tsalig would not leave his girlfriend Miriam. Both perished.

With the ghetto emptied the remaining Jews of Krakow were transferred to what Leon calls “the innermost circle of hell” – Plaszow concentration camp.

As the Jews were marched through the Krakow streets Leon was shocked by the indifference of the gentile Poles.

“Had they not known what we had been suffering just a few blocks away?

How could they NOT have known?

How could they not have done something to help us?

They showed absolutely no interest in who we were, where we were going or why.

Our misery, our confinement and pain were irrelevant to their lives.”

In Plaszow life and death were at the whim of the psychotic commandant Amon Goeth. He used prisoners as target practice and once shot dead all the patients in the infirmary only minutes after Leon had left it.
Another time he was not so lucky. Goeth ordered him to be given 25 lashes with a leather whip for not shovelling snow fast enough. Leon had to count out the lashes and if he faltered the guard would start again.

“The moment I entered the gates of Plaszow, I was convinced I would never leave alive,” Leon wrote.

In late 1943 Schindler bribed Goeth into letting him build his own camp next to his enamelware works, arguing that it was more efficient than marching the workers two and a half miles each way.

To his dismay, Leon learned that his name had been crossed off the transfer list.

Risking instant execution Leon protested to a guard who, amazingly, let him through to join his parents.

Leon worked alongside his father and brother David in the factory.
Schindler often came down to the factory floor at night, the smell of cigarettes and cologne signalling his presence.

He would chat to the boy on the wooden box and point him out to visitors as a hard worker.

Sometimes he even invited Leon to his office.

“I had grown used to the fact that to Nazis I was just another Jew; my name didn’t matter. But Schindler clearly wanted to know who we were,”
Oskar Schindler, leon, leyton, germany, jews, nazis, ww2, Oskar Schindler, left, meeting Leon and his wife Lis in 1965
Leon writes, recounting how Schindler would put his hand on his father’s shoulder, saying: “It will be all right, Moshe.” Such basic humanity from a Nazi to a Jew made a deep impression on Leon.

With the Soviet army already in eastern Poland, Plaszow camp was to be closed and all inmates transferred to Auschwitz. But Schindler set about moving his factory to Brünnlitz in Czechoslovakia along with some of his workers.
But Leon, Moshe and David were not among them – until Leon stepped out of the line of prisoners just as Schindler strolled past.

His boldness earned him a blow from a guard’s rifle butt but it alerted Schindler who ordered Leon, Moshe and David to be pulled out.

Leon’s mother was not safe either.

The train carrying the female workers to Brünnlitz was diverted to Auschwitz.
I am an unlikely survivor of the Holocaust, but Oskar Schindler thought my life had value
Leon Leyson
Schindler bribed camp commanders to return them to him.

In April 1945 as the war in Europe neared its end, Schindler gave each of his workers a bottle of vodka and a bolt of cloth and bid them farewell.

Leon and his parents emigrated to California. Leon did military service in Korea and then taught industrial arts in the same high school for 37 years.

He married fellow teacher Lis in 1965 after a six-month romance and they had a son, a daughter and six grandchildren. His colleagues knew nothing of his past until a reporter tracked him down after the release of Schindler’s List.

After his story appeared he was invited to speak all over the US.

He also returned to Plaszow three times.

Sadly, Leon died aged 83 of a rare form of skin cancer in January this year, a day after delivering the manuscript for his memoir so it falls to Lis to speak for him now.

“Leon had no bitterness in him. He loved every day of his job and was thrilled to be drafted into military service for his adopted country. After his story became known he was sustained by the warmth people showed to him.”

Sobrevivir dos veces: de Auschwitz a Madre de Plaza de Mayo

Su infancia en el gueto de Lodz. Auschwitz y el trabajo en una fábrica de aviones. Su entrada clandestina en una Argentina que no recibía judíos y una carta a Eva Perón. La desaparición de su hijo y la búsqueda de justicia. Una mujer que recibió en 2008 el premio Azucena Villaflor que da el gobierno nacional y fue declarada ciudadana ilustre de la Ciudad de Buenos Aires hace un mes.

La mujer levanta la vista. Tiene los ojos húmedos, enrojecidos. “Mayormente no lloro”, dice. Se seca con un pañuelo de papel. Revuelve el té que acaba de servir en la mesa de su departamento de Belgrano. “Mayormente no lloro”, repite Sara Rus. Tiene 83 años. Pero habla y es una nena de doce años que separan de la fila de la lechería del gueto de Lodz, donde fue con su jarrito para conseguir alimento para su hermano porque su madre está enferma y no puede amamantar. Es una nena que ve morir al bebé y no puede contener las lágrimas. Después será la joven que salvó a su mamá de las cámaras de gas de Auschwitz, la que trabajó esclava en una fábrica de aviones y la que se enamoró a pesar de todo. La mujer que llegó a la Argentina tras cruzar de forma ilegal la frontera con Paraguay, la que empezó de nuevo y fue feliz y perdió a su hijo mayor, cuando una patota de la última dictadura se lo llevó de la Comisión Nacional de Energía Atómica. Hoy es la abuela que conmueve a estudiantes en sus charlas y va al gimnasio y baila rikudim. La que cree que la vida vale la pena porque después de todo lo que vivió tiene una mesa para recibir visitas y compartir el pan con una familia que la rodea de amor. “Hago lo que hice toda mi vida, lucho por no olvidar. Para que los nazis de Alemania y los que estuvieron acá nunca más tengan la fuerza que tuvieron.”


Schejne María (Sara) Laskier de Rus nació en Lodz, Polonia, en 1927. Fue, hasta 1939, la única hija consentida de Jacobo y Carola Laskier. Su papá era sastre. Hacía trajes a medida para los señores y tapados de piel para las señoras. Sara iba a la escuela y estudiaba violín. Hasta que llegaron los nazis. “Yo no tenía noción de qué pasaba. Mi madre decía ‘si ganan los alemanes vendemos todo y nos vamos de Polonia’. Mi padre creía que iba a ser como en la Primera Guerra. Pero después teníamos que bajar de las veredas, usar la estrella de David para identificarnos. Hubo mucha discriminación que probablemente yo no entendía. Con el correr del tiempo empecé a darme cuenta. Un tío, hermano de mi madre, emigró porque un grupo de chicos polacos le dio una paliza por ser judío. Ya teníamos familia en la Argentina y se vino acá”, cuenta.
Recuerda bien la primera vez que sintió en carne propia la violencia antisemita, aunque en esa oportunidad ni siquiera la tocaron: “Un día aparecieron los alemanes en casa. Cuando entran, con esa prepotencia, ven mi violín sobre la mesa. Uno pregunta ‘¿acá quién toca el violín?’. Mi madre, toda orgullosa, dice ‘mi hija está aprendiendo’. ‘Ah, ¿Te gusta el violín?’, dice y con una fuerza terrible lo revienta en la mesa”.
Pronto tuvieron que dejar el departamento e instalarse en un pieza del gueto. Empezaron las “selecciones”: los vecinos que se subían a un tren con la promesa de una vida mejor en otra parte. El trabajo era obligatorio. El que no trabajaba, no comía. Y el que trabajaba casi no comía. A Sara la mandaron a una fábrica de sombreros: sombreros para mujer, sombreritos para chicos y manguitos de piel para protegerse las manos en invierno. Carola estaba débil y no podía cumplir con las obligaciones impuestas por los nazis. Su hija, que tenía catorce años, se llevaba trabajo a su casa, preparaba una producción extra y la entregaba en nombre de su madre para que no le quitaran la carta de alimentación.
“Mi madre en el año ’40 tuvo un bebé, un nene. Ella estaba muy enferma. Tenía tifus, prácticamente no tenía leche para alimentar al nene. Había hospitales pero con muy pocos recursos. Yo, como una hermanita todavía chiquita, iba a la madrugada a la lechería donde repartían un poquito de leche a la gente que tenía bebés, tenían que presentar un papel. A mí no me consideraron, me ponía en la fila y me echaban, no podía conseguir... El nene vivió tres o cuatro meses y lo más terrible, que mi madre un tiempo largo no se enteró por qué mi padre y yo íbamos al hospital. Casi al año quedó otra vez embarazada, tuvo otro varoncito, que fue liquidado al nacer.” Sara se quiebra. Llora. Aunque en general no lo haga.
Las lágrimas obedecen a la impotencia, a no haber podido intervenir para alejar la muerte. Lo mismo pasaría 37 años después. Frente a los SS, en cambio, sus acciones, sobre todo las más atrevidas, parecen haber salvado su vida y la de su madre.
Pero antes de que la llevaran al campo de concentración le pasó otra cosa. Le pasó Bernardo. “Porque también hay una historia de amor, también pasaban cosas como ésta, por lo menos a esta niña que está hablando”, dice Sara y ahora sus ojos se iluminan.
Bernardo Rus llegó a su casa de la mano de papá Jacobo, que lo encontró un domingo en la calle y lo invitó a cenar porque era “un muchacho muy interesante y daba gusto conversar con él”. Luego, la madre le reprocharía haber traído a un hombre a quien la nena miraba demasiado. Y era verdad. Se llevaban doce años pero Sara se sentía adulta: “Yo lo miré, él me miró... y empezó a venir más a menudo. Estábamos enamorados. Yo tenía una libretita en la que él me anotó que si algún día sobrevivimos, el 5 del 5 del ’45 nos vamos a encontrar en el edificio Kavanagh de Buenos Aires. El sabía que yo tenía familia en Argentina, se hablaba de eso en mi casa y él leía mucho sobre Argentina”. Pero antes de esa fecha Sara y sus padres tuvieron que dejar el gueto.


Habían sobrevivido a muchas “selecciones”. A la madre, que era flaquita, le rellenaban la ropa y le pintaban la cara para que tuviera mejor semblante. De todas formas llegó el día en que rodearon la casa y les dijeron que llevaran lo mínimo posible. Sara eligió una mochila muy chiquita que ella misma había cosido antes de la vida en el gueto. No reparó en meter bombachas. En cambio, puso algunas fotos familiares y la libretita en la que Bernardo anotó la fecha de su reencuentro: “Yo pensaba que podía ser... algún día, pero llegó un momento que dejamos de pensar. Y empezó el viaje a Auschwitz”.
–¿Cómo fue?
–Nos fuimos los tres, con algunos vecinos y otros que no conocíamos.
–¿Ya sabían de qué se trataba?
–Absolutamente no sabíamos a dónde nos llevaban. En el viaje fuimos apretujados, sucios. Ponían un balde para hacer las necesidades. Se viajaba en un tren de animales. Se veía que la gente se caía de hambre.
–¿Cuánto duró?
–Nunca supe. Perdí la noción del tiempo. Llegamos a Auschwitz. Nos llevaron a Birkenau, a una plaza enorme y empezó la selección. A los hombres directamente los sacaron. Nunca más vi a mi padre. Te dabas cuenta quién iba a un lado y quién a otro por cómo estaban físicamente. Mi madre estaba a la miseria, pero era una mujer muy bonita y todavía muy joven. Pero me la llevaron. La pusieron de un lado y a mí del otro. En mi casa hablábamos alemán y cuando veo que me encuentro sin mi madre... me atreví a acercarme a un SS con un rebenque que estaba en el medio de la plaza. La gente me miraba. Pensaba que me iban a matar. El me mira y me dice ‘cómo te atrevés a acercarte’. Le dije en alemán ‘¿por qué me sacaste a mi madre?’. Si hoy pienso lo que hice... Me mira y me dice ‘¿de dónde hablás alemán?’. Le dije que en mi casa se hablaba. Me preguntó ‘¿cuál es tu madre?’ y me dijo: ‘Andá a buscarla’. La primera salvada. Desde ese entonces mi madre estaba siempre conmigo. Sobrevivió a la guerra conmigo. Pero pasamos momentos muy duros.
Las mandaron a los baños, les cortaron el pelo, les dieron ropa que no les quedaba y las llevaron a una barraca donde se amontonaron en el piso de cemento. No tenían que hacer nada, excepto salir y formar para que las contaran. Todos los días sacaban algunas mujeres de la fila. Mujeres que no volvían. A diferencia de la mayoría de los prisioneros, no las marcaron con un número. “Llegamos en el ’44, estábamos destinadas a ir al gas.” Pero no fueron. Las seleccionaron para trabajar en una fábrica.

Alemania, Austria

Después de dos meses en Auschwitz, se subieron otra vez a los trenes para viajar como animales que van al matadero. Las ubicaron en una fábrica de aviones en Alemania. Sara tenía que remachar las chapas de las alas con una pistola de aire comprimido que casi no podía sostener. “Siempre decíamos, ningún avión de acá se va a levantar”, recuerda. En un turno nocturno, no vio los rieles que estaban en el piso y se cayó para atrás. Casi se corta en dos. En la enfermería, una rusa la trató como a una enemiga de guerra.
“Había que trabajar todos los días. Pero yo no podía levantarme de la cama. Apareció un alemán que me dijo: ‘qué bien que te lo hiciste, vos pensaste que no vas a trabajar, que vas a estar acá descansando’. Yo era un poco atrevida, o no me importaba más nada. Se ve que no pensé o no me interesó. Era bastante rebelde, parece. Le dije en alemán: ‘¿qué me dijiste, que me hice esto a propósito? Sí, señor, me lo hice a propósito para quedarme acá, pero no me imaginaba que iba a perder tanta sangre’. Mi mamá empezó a gritar ‘no le hagas caso, está loca, no sabe lo que dice’. Las chicas que estaban en la habitación se quedaron mudas de miedo. pensaban que nos iban a matar a todas por mi culpa. Un rato después aparece una alemana, una SS, y me dice ‘tenés suerte, el jefe dijo que te mandemos algo de comer’. No podía creerlo”, relata.
–Todas las veces que se rebeló le fue bien.
–Una vez, en una charla que di, un abogado explicó que pude sobrevivir porque, para los alemanes, mientras vos no te rebelás, no les contestás, no sos nadie, nada. Se ve que los impacta que alguien se les anime a contradecirlos y enfrentarlos. Igual, mi descanso no duró mucho.
Después del accidente la mandaron a trabajar a la cocina como pelapapas. A veces podía comerse una papa cruda y también traficaba en el forro de un tapadito cáscaras y pedazos de papas para sus compañeras. “Uno no se puede dar idea de lo que puede significar una papa o la cáscara de una papa. Es el alimento más importante que uno puede imaginarse”, dice. Y sabe.
Los aliados estaban cerca, así que otra vez subieron a los trenes. Esta vez rumbo al campo de concentración de Mauthausen, en Austria, donde finalmente fueron liberadas: “El mismo día que llegamos la Cruz Roja ocupó el campo. Y dejaron de matar. Los alemanes se estaban empezando a organizar para retirarse y todavía tenían ese descaro de decirnos si queríamos ir con ellos porque venían los americanos. Fuimos liberados el 5 del 5 del ‘45. Este día yo fui liberada. Esta fecha quedó en mi mente pero yo no sabía nada de Bernardo y él no sabía nada de mí”.
En Mauthausen Sara recibió una carta. Bernardo la estaba buscando. Y ella fue a verlo. No fue en el Kavanagh, pero no importó. Se casaron y buscaron trabajo. Sara se incorporó a una compañía de teatro. Empezaba a reponerse pero un médico le dijo que debido al accidente que había sufrido en la fábrica no iba a poder tener hijos. “Mi esposo estaba totalmente resignado, basta que me tenía a mí, que nos habíamos podido reencontrar y estar juntos. Para mí, fue un golpe terrible.”

Argentina, vía Paraguay

En Buenos Aires, el tío de Sara estaba dispuesto a recibirla junto a su madre y su esposo. Pero el gobierno de Juan Domingo Perón no le abría las puertas a los judíos. Después de un viaje en avión accidentado, en el que se incendió una turbina y algunos religiosos querían también prender velas porque era viernes, llegaron a Paraguay.
“Oficialmente no podíamos entrar a la Argentina –relata–; teníamos que pasar ilegalmente con un barquito, juntar un poco de plata para dar a una persona que nos cruce la frontera. Eramos diez. Nadie hablaba una palabra de castellano. Nos llevaron a Clorinda. Y el tipo se mandó a mudar. Nos dejó solos, de noche, con lluvia. Hasta que vino un policía a caballo con un rifle. Sentó a mi madre arriba del caballo y a mí me dio el rifle. Nos llevó a su casa a los diez, con su mujer y no sé cuántos chicos y nos dieron de comer. Pero al otro día nos llevaron en micros a Formosa y nos metieron en la cárcel. Pero era una cárcel... qué querés que te diga, los muchachos, los vigilantes nos tenían tanta lástima. Había más de cien personas. A algunos los llevaron después a casas particulares y a nosotros al templo. ¿Pero cómo se hace para ir a Buenos Aires? Nos decían que nos iban a mandar de vuelta a Paraguay. Mi esposo era un hombre muy inteligente. Ya sabíamos que existía Eva Perón, que ella hacía mucho por la gente. El se atrevió a mandar una carta en polaco a Eva Perón. Le contaba nuestra historia. Se ve que le llegó, la hizo traducir y mandó a decir que no nos asustemos y que nos iban a mandar pases para ir a Buenos Aires. Efectivamente después de un tiempo nos mandaron los pases a todos los que estábamos allá. Y nos vinimos a Buenos Aires.”
Había que empezar de cero. Bernardo se inició en el oficio de anudador textil y, asegura su mujer, llegó a ser el mejor de Villa Lynch. Sara no se resignó a la idea de no tener hijos y fue a ver a un médico que para su sorpresa le dijo que no tenía nada, sólo un cuerpo que había sufrido mucho y necesitaba reponerse. Daniel nació el 24 de julio de 1950. Y cinco años después llegó Natalia: “El de Daniel fue un embarazo complicado porque era un cuerpo complicado. Pero resistí. Era un chico hermoso y desde chiquito fue brillante en todo: en el colegio, se recibió de lo que él quería, fue físico nuclear.... Hasta el año ’76 lo tenía yo”.
Sara dice que Daniel no militaba, pero que seguramente era peronista. Que ella no sabía nada porque su única preocupación era rehacerse. “Recién empezábamos a vivir”, apunta.
El 15 de julio de 1977, a las dos y media de la tarde, Daniel Rus fue secuestrado en la puerta de la Comisión Nacional de Energía Atómica (CNEA), donde trabajaba. Otros veinte físicos empleados de ese organismo fueron detenidos ilegalmente durante la última dictadura. A Daniel lo subieron a una camioneta. Esa fue la última vez que alguien lo vio. No hay testimonios que lo ubiquen en algún centro clandestino de detención, aunque su madre sospecha que estuvo en la Escuela de Mecánica de la Armada, ubicada en la vereda de enfrente de la CNEA.
Cuando Daniel no llegó a casa, Sara y Bernardo pensaron que había tenido un accidente. Recorrieron comisarías y hospitales, hasta que fueron a la CNEA y se enteraron de que estaba desaparecido. “Ahí empecé yo a luchar – dice Sara, como si su vida anterior quedara reducida ante la pérdida de su hijo–. Fui al Ministerio del Interior, presentamos hábeas corpus, mi esposo escribió cartas a todo el mundo, el Papa incluido, y me incorporé a las Madres de Plaza de Mayo y empecé a dar vueltas a la plaza. Antes había entrado a una agrupación de sobrevivientes de la guerra. Lo más triste fue que cuando desapareció Daniel esa gente, hasta los mismos sobrevivientes, empezaron a alejarse de nosotros por el miedo que había en el país. Una chica que también fue secuestrada, hermana de un muy amigo de Daniel que está desaparecido, nos contó que en la sala de torturas había esvásticas. Estaba claro que acá habían aprendido una buena lección de los nazis... A mí me parecía que era imposible perder a este hijo. Un día subí a la terraza de mi casa y grité tan fuerte, llamándolo, pensando que él en algún lado podía estar escuchando. El siempre decía ‘vos sos tan fuerte mamá’. Y yo no pude hacer nada por él.” Sara llora. Es otra vez la impotencia.
–Lo buscó, reclamó a las autoridades, a la Justicia, se unió a las Madres...
–Es verdad, pero me imagino que eso es lo que él pensó. No sé de qué manera lo mataron, cómo lo hicieron sufrir. Mi madre vivió hasta los noventa años conmigo, pero en el momento en que me llevaron a mi hijo dejó casi de hablar. No le interesó más la vida. Murió con su dolor y no pudo ver todavía bisnietas, lo que yo estoy deseando.
–¿Y qué pasó con su esposo?
–En el ’77 dijo que estaba esperando que venga la democracia, que en algún momento vamos a tener que pasar a estos asesinos. Y en el ’83 dijo: ‘si mi hijo en seis meses no vuelve, yo ya no tengo nada que hacer’. Vino la democracia, pasaron seis meses, mi esposo se enfermó de un tumor y falleció el 2 de mayo de 1984.
“¿Sabés lo que todos me preguntan –se adelanta Sara–, de dónde saco mis fuerzas? Yo lucho por no olvidar. Lucho por la memoria. Para que jamás los nazis de Alemania y los que estuvieron acá tengan la fuerza que han tenido. La memoria es lo más importante, porque si no se tiene memoria las cosas vuelven a pasar. La fuerza sale de que gracias a Dios tengo una familia, una hija, un yerno, dos nietas, las Madres de Plaza de Mayo, los amigos que hice y que me quieren... Mi madre me decía, cuando estábamos en Alemania, ‘vas a ver que todavía vamos a tener un pan sobre la mesa’ y yo le contestaba ‘¿en qué mesa?’. Yo digo que la vida es linda porque si pasó todo eso y tengo una mesa y puedo recibir visitas, puedo servir y estar rodeada de amor... qué más se puede pretender. La vida es hermosa, si uno no quiere vivir es fácil morirse.” Y apunta: “Yo tengo mis recuerdos bien adentro. Si todavía puedo pensar, puedo contar, y mientras pueda contar, lo voy a seguir haciendo”.

lunes, 19 de agosto de 2013

Helga Weissová, una joven de 12 años dibujó el horror nazi

Helga Weissová sobrevivió a tres campos de concentración. También sus dibujos. Con 12 años documentó su paso por Terezín, Auschwitz, Mauthausen…

Lo peor de todo era el transporte… El tiempo que pasaba entre la llegada de uno u otro tren podía soportarse con cierta decencia en Terezín antes de que el gueto quedara superpoblado a medida que se iba aplicando la solución final. Pero cuando llegaba el transporte caía de golpe la angustia. Aquellos trenes terminaban con la tregua de cada espera fundamentada, con una más que razonable terquedad, en la necesaria evasión de la supervivencia.
Cuando crujían las ruedas sobre los raíles y se perdían en mitad de la niebla matinal de Bohemia, rumbo a Auschwitz, a Treblinka o Mauthausen, las familias quedaban rotas, las vidas cobraban el valor de una sentencia de muerte, a todos les invadía una sensación de despedida definitiva y el tiempo, la vida, se diluía sin remisión en un inquietante chasquido metálico y un crujir de maderas de vagón llenas de futuros cadáveres. Quienes entraban en aquellos vehículos dejaban atrás un paréntesis de espejismos dedicado por parte de los nazis a dar buena imagen ante las inspecciones de la Cruz Roja Internacional. El gueto de Terezín, a unos 50 kilómetros de Praga, ofrecía escenas cotidianas de supervivencia poco traumática para los estándares del Holocausto.
A pesar de que allí, de los 144.000 judíos que pasaron por sus contornos, perecieron 35.000 –“sin cámaras de gas ni asesinatos en masa, solo por razones de enfermedad, insalubridad y hacinamiento”, según relata Vojtech Blodig, vicedirector del Terezin Memorial–, los chavales jugaban con normalidad en aquel pueblo fortificado entre 1780 y 1790 por los efectivos del Imperio Austrohúngaro para defenderse de las probables invasiones. “Para un niño era un sueño, no había escuela, ni deberes, pasabas hambre, cierto, pero no como en otros campos, nos daban carne una vez por semana”, cuenta hoy el escritor, también superviviente en Terezín, Ivan Klima, autor de El espíritu de Praga (El Acantilado). “Ahora sí, sabías que al entrar en aquellos trenes no volverías jamás”.
Entre las anchas avenidas, los restos de talleres y los patios conservados hoy, resulta fácil imaginar a los viejos fumando para combatir el frío del destino. También a las mujeres con sus labores y a los artistas mientras entretenían con conciertos y obras de teatro aquella espera contemplada con sorna por los oficiales alemanes, plenamente conscientes del final que tenían reservado para todos aquellos judíos a algunos kilómetros al norte.

Los camastros en campos de concentración como Auschwitz acogían a varios presos por literia.
Terezín ha pasado a la historia por ser el campo de los artistas. Su museo muestra el paso de varias leyendas checas y eslovacas por sus barracones. No solo en la Segunda Guerra, también allí fue recluido Gavrilo Princip, autor del asesinato del archiduque Francisco Fernando de Austria en Sarajevo, un acto que provocó, por ejemplo, la guerra de 1914.
En los habitáculos del gueto, un tanto alejado del campo para prisioneros comunes en cuya entrada luce hoy una enorme estrella de David junto a varias tumbas, quedan reproducidos los espacios acotados y también los escenarios improvisados para las representaciones. Allí fue a parar la joven Helga Weissová, que hoy, en la misma casa de Praga de donde salió rumbo al incierto impasse de Terezín, recuerda las vivencias y las imágenes plasmadas en cuadros y dibujos que fueron perfilando su vocación de artista hasta el presente.
Helga fue una niña feliz antes de la ocupación, según relata en suDiario, publicado por la editorial Sexto Piso. Vivía su preadolescencia de lógicas preocupaciones arropada en una familia sin agobios con padre empleado en un banco estatal y madre modista. Hoy nos invita a escuchar su historia sentados en el salón de su casa. Destila un humor envidiable y sus dotes de negociante para vendernos el libro con sus dibujos reproducidos. Los originales no los quiere mostrar… “Necesitan su oscuridad. Los tengo escondidos”, se excusa.
“Nos dejaron llevar 50 kilos de equipaje”, cuenta la superviviente. Allí debía entrar todo: “ropa de abrigo para el invierno, comida, hornillos, velas y, en mi caso, unas acuarelas o crayones con los que pintar y dos muñecas”. Más o menos, así son los objetos que muestran sus dibujos. En ellos, las mantas desbordan las ventanas, los calcetines cuelgan de unos finísimos hilos en el interior, los atriles se hacen hueco entre cada bulto, los camastros parecen despedir un hedor aterrado ante el sueño imposible de conciliar, el gesto sonriente de los niños se va tornando en gélido desamparo y los colores templados dan paso sucesivamente al dramatismo de las sombras.

La falta de disciplina escolar para los niños contrastaba con la promoción de actividades culturales. Para los nazis, lo último rentaba más en términos de propaganda. Se mostraban obsesionados en el cinismo de querer esconder sus verdaderas intenciones y de paso aparentar que tampoco era para tanto… De allí han salido novelas, obras de teatro, composiciones musicales como la ópera Brundibar, de Hans Krása, quien, aunque la concibió antes de entrar en el gueto, la reconstruyó en Terezín para ser representada allí con los niños del campo. “Fue muy importante, porque participar en aquellas iniciativas conservaba en nosotros la conciencia de que éramos seres humanos”.Son trazos proverbiales, de gran valor documental. 

Cuando Helga llegó a Terezín con su familia, no había plazo ni fecha de regreso. La vida cambió radicalmente. Lo que para el pequeño Klima, hoy escritor reconocido en todo el mundo, suponía cierta liberación, para la joven pintora resultaba preocupante. “Los niños por encima de 13 años debían trabajar en el campo, plantar patatas, verduras. Prohibieron la educación, no había clases, si querías aprender algo, dependías de que algún adulto te explicara matemáticas, geografía, inglés…”.
Terezín fue un lugar en el que tanto ella como sus compañeros de penurias comprendieron en una dimensión única el significado de la amistad. “Quienes hemos sobrevivido de allí, permanecimos siempre en contacto”. Ahora todo es más fácil con Internet. Pero esa necesidad de apego permanente comenzó muy pronto entre ellos. Empezaron con cartas, ansiosamente, después de haber sufrido restricciones en el envío o descubrir más tarde métodos truculentos. “En muchos casos, los soldados obligaban a los prisioneros a poner fechas posteriores en sus misivas, de forma que cuando las recibían sus familiares ya estaban muertos”.
El día en que llegó su temido transporte le dieron 24 horas para recoger sus cosas. Salió de allí con su madre. Su padre partió en otro tren. Con los hombres…
En octubre de 1944 llegaron a Auschwitz. “Habíamos viajado en vagones de ganado apilados durante 48 horas. No nos dejaron sacar nuestras pertenencias del tren. Nos alinearon y pese a tener 15 años tuve la suerte de que me apartaran para trabajar, junto a quienes tenían más de 16. Los más pequeños iban a la cámara de gas, así que me salvé. Fui uno de los 100 que pudieron seguir con vida entre los 15.000 niños que gasearon”, recuerda Weissová imponiendo su conciencia superviviente.
“No digáis que estáis enfermos. Insistid en que no para que os pongan a trabajar”, les aconsejaban quienes llevaban algún tiempo en sus barracones. Así es como la posteridad debe entender ese macabro eslogan que los nazis pintaban a la entrada de cada campo y que también puede leerse hoy tanto en Terezín como en Auschwitz: “Arbeit macht frei” (El trabajo os hará libres).

Helga Weissová pintó las escenas de Terezín en color mientras que las de Auschwitz y Mauthausen se reflejan en blanco, negro y sepia.
Su madre, que entonces había cumplido 38 años, también valía para trabajar. Y para aterrorizarse, porque cada vez que las enviaban a las duchas creían que no volverían a salir… Cuando el agua cesaba dentro, continuaba fuera porque las echaban al barro para rematarlas de una pulmonía cuando caían chuzos de punta.
De Auschwitz salieron para Mauthausen, allí necesitaban refuerzos para trabajar en una fábrica de piezas para la aviación. Pero las condiciones en el nuevo campo eran terribles. Ya ni comían, fueron dejándolas a merced del hambre y del frío. “Tan solo unos españoles nos acogieron y nos ayudaron a sobrevivir esos días. Con solo acotarles un espacio donde dormir en el suelo, fueron tirando. Se habían rendido. Únicamente cabía dejarse morir. Helga guarda el nombre y la dirección de uno de ellos: Manuel Caballero Domínguez, de Barcelona. “Me gustaría saber qué fue de él”.
¿Y los cuadros? ¿Cómo sobrevivieron? “Se los dejé a un tío mío que antes de salir los ocultó en la pared del campo tras unas piedras. Cuando todo acabó, volvimos y allí estaban. Un milagro”. ¿Y ahora no me los va a dejar ver? “No”, responde recelosa esta mujer heroica, testigo en lápiz y acuarela del apocalipsis. “Aunque está usted encima de ellos…”, asegura mirando al asiento que hace las veces de baúl. Un baúl donde Helga Weissová oculta los turbios tesoros del horror que entonces vivió.


lunes, 12 de agosto de 2013

Top Nazi war crimes suspect Laszlo Csatari dies at 98

Budapest: A 98-year-old Hungarian who topped the dwindling list of surviving Nazi war crimes suspects has died in hospital while awaiting trial for allegedly sending 12,000 Jews to the death camps.

Laszlo Csatari "died on Saturday morning. He had been treated for medical issues for some time but contracted pneumonia, from which he died," his lawyer Gabor Horvath told AFP today.

Csatari was alleged to have been a senior police officer actively involved in the deportations from the Jewish ghetto in Kassa, now known as Kosice in present-day Slovakia, during World War II.

After being sentenced to death in absentia by a Czechoslovakian court in 1948 he made it to Canada where he lived and worked as an art dealer before being stripped of his citizenship in the 1990s.

He returned to Hungary, where he lived undisturbed for some 15 years until prosecutors began investigating his case in late 2011 on the basis of information from the Simon Wiesenthal Center, which put him at the top of its list of surviving alleged Nazi war criminals.

He was placed under house arrest in July 2012 and in June prosecutors charged him. They said that as commander of a collection and deportation camp in the Kassa ghetto he was "actively involved in and assisted the deportations" in 1944.

Csatari, also known as Csatary, "regularly beat the interned Jews with his bare hands and whipped them with a dog-whip," prosecutors said. 

He also allegedly refused requests to cut windows into airless train wagons each transporting around 80 men, women and children to the gas chambers of Nazi-occupied Europe, mostly at the Auschwitz camp in Poland.

The Jewish population in and around Kassa had been crammed into the ghetto following the occupation of Hungary by German troops in 1944 after the country's dictator and former ally was deposed by Hitler.

The silver-haired Csatari denied committing war crimes in several hearings held behind closed doors, according to his lawyer.

The case was suspended on July 8 on grounds of double jeopardy, since Csatari has already been convicted of the charges presented. 

Last week however a higher court ruled that proceedings could resume after the prosecutor successfully appealed the suspension.

Slovakia meanwhile had commuted the 1948 sentence to life imprisonment and authorities there issued a subpoena for him to attend a hearing last month, but he failed to show up.

A court in Kosice had been due to rule on September 26 where he should serve his sentence.

"We never believed that Csatary would live long enough to face justice on Earth," Lucia Kollarova, spokeswoman for the Federation of Slovak Jewish Communities, told AFP today.

In recent years, the authorities in Europe have made renewed efforts to bring to justice the small number of people still alive thought to have been involved in the Holocaust.

Most notable was Ukrainian-born former Sobibor guard John Demjanjuk, deported from the United States in 2009 and sentenced in Germany in 2011 to five years in prison for complicity in some 28,000 murders.

He died at a nursing home last year aged 91 while freed and awaiting an appeal.

The Demjanjuk verdict, stating that simply having worked at an extermination camp was enough to establish complicity in murder, set a legal precedent and Germany is now investigating around 50 suspected ex-Auschwitz guards.

German police in May arrested alleged former Auschwitz guard Hans Lipschis, 93, on charges of complicity in mass murder. Lipschis insists he only worked as a cook at the camp.

The Wiesenthal Center, the Los Angeles-based organisation named after the famous Nazi-hunting Holocaust survivor who died in 2005, estimates that only around 60 potential defendants are still alive.

Last month as part of its "Operation Last Chance" it hung around 2,000 posters in German towns and cities appealing to the public for information on the last perpetrators of the Holocaust still at large.


Falleció Laszlo Csatary, criminal de guerra nazi

Laszlo Csatary
Csatary negó las acusaciones en su contra.
Laszlo Csatary, ciudadano húngaro acusado de haber sido criminal de guerra nazi, murió a los 98 años mientras aguardaba el inicio de un proceso en su contra.
Csatary, quien falleció en un hospital en Hungría, encabezó en el pasado la lista de los sospechosos de crímenes de guerra nazis más buscados. Fue acusado de ayudar a deportar a campos de concentración 15.700 judíos durante la Segunda Guerra Mundial.

Fiscales húngaros acusaron formalmente a Csatary en junio por "su rol como jefe de un campamento para judíos en Kosice", una localidad que se encontraba entonces en territorio húngaro y que actualmente pertenece a Eslovaquia.Csatary negó las acusaciones, señalando que fue simplemente intermediario entre funcionarios húngaros y alemanes, pero no estuvo involucrado en ningun crimen.

Kosice, conocida en aquella época como Kassa, fue el primer campamento para la internación de la población judía en Hungría luego de que el país fuera ocupado por Alemania en marzo de 1944.
La acusación contra Csatary, que trabajaba en aquella época como agente de policía, señala que éste "deliberadamente ayudó a la ejecución y tortura de judíos deportados a campos de concentración como Auschwitz desde Kosice".
Csatary fue acusado de golpear regularmente a los prisioneros con sus manos y con una fusta.

Operación "Última Oportunidad"

El sospechoso, cuyo nombre completo era Laszlo Csizsik-Csatary, fue sentenciado a muerte en ausencia en la entonces Checoslovaquia en 1948 por crímenes de guerra.
Eslovaquia buscaba la extradición de Csatary para juzgarlo en su territorio.
Csatary fue nombrado en 2012 como el sospechoso más buscado por el Centro Simon Wiesenthal.
Reporteros del diario británico The Sun fueron quienes siguieron la pista a Csatary y lo hallaron en Budapest en julio de 2012.
Luego de la guerra el sospechoso había huido a Canadá donde trabajó vendiendo obras de arte en Montreal y Toronto, desapareciendo del país en 1997 después de que le fuera retirada la ciudadanía canadiense.
El Centro Simon Wiesenthal lanzó el mes pasado su operación "Última Oportunidad" y ofreció recompensas por pistas que ayuden a localizar a los últimos sospechosos de crímenes de guerra nazis que podrían seguir con vida.
Uno de los sospechosos más buscados es Alois Brunner, asistente de Adolf Eichmann, que fue visto por última vez en Siria en 2001, y Ariberti Heim, doctor de tres campos de concentración, que fue visto por última vez en Egipto en 1992.

Suspected Nazi war criminals in US despite deportation orders, eligible for public benefits

At least 10 suspected Nazi war criminals ordered deported by the United States never left the country, according to an Associated Press review of Justice Department data -- and four are living in the U.S. today. All remained eligible for public benefits such as Social Security until they exhausted appeals, and in one case even beyond. 

Quiet American legal limbo was the fate of all 10 men uncovered in the AP review. The reason: While the U.S. wanted them out, no other country was willing to take them in. 

Suspected Nazi war criminal Vladas Zajanckauskas
gets to stay in his home in Sutton, Mass.,
because no other country was willing to take him.

That's currently the case of Vladas Zajanckauskas in Sutton, Massachusetts. It's the case of Theodor Szehinskyj in West Chester, Pennsylvania. Of Jakiw Palij in New York City. And of John Kalymon in Troy, Michigan. 

All have been in the same areas for years, stripped of citizenship and ordered deported, yet able to carry out their lives in familiar surroundings. Dozens of other Nazi war crimes suspects in the U.S. were also entitled to Social Security and other public benefits for years as they fought deportation. 

The United States can deport people over evidence of involvement in Nazi war crimes, but cannot put such people on trial because the alleged crimes did not take place on American soil. The responsibility to prosecute would lie with the countries where the crimes were committed or ordered -- if the suspects ever end up there. 

In the 34 years since the Justice Department created an office to find and deport Nazi suspects, the agency has initiated legal proceedings against 137 people. Less than half -- at least 66 -- have been removed by deportation, extradition or voluntary departure. 

At least 20 died while their cases were pending. In at least 20 other cases, U.S. officials agreed not to pursue or enforce deportation orders, often because of poor health, according to a 2008 report by the Justice Department. In some cases, the U.S. government agreed not to file deportation proceedings in exchange for cooperation in other investigations, the report said. 

But the key stumbling block has been the lack of political will by countries in Europe to accept those ordered to leave. 

"Without any doubt, the greatest single frustration has been our inability, in quite a number of cases now, to carry out the deportation orders that we've won in federal courts. We can't carry them out because governments of Europe refuse to take these people back," Eli Rosenbaum, the longtime head of the Justice Department agency charged with investigating accused Nazi war criminals, said in the 2011 documentary "Elusive Justice: The Search for Nazi War Criminals."

Justice officials declined to make Rosenbaum available for an interview. 

The four men still living in the U.S. despite deportation orders have all exhausted appeals: 

-- Zajanckauskas, 97, remains in Massachusetts 11 years after authorities first began the denaturalization process. He was ordered deported to his native Lithuania in 2007, and ran out of appeals in 2010 but remains in the U.S. because other countries, including Lithuania, won't accept him, Rosenbaum has said. Zajanckauskas took part in the "brutal liquidation" of the Warsaw Ghetto, according to Rosenbaum. Zajanckauskas, who didn't return a message from the AP, has denied being in Warsaw at the time. 

-- Szehinskyj, 89, remains in Pennsylvania nearly 14 years after DOJ began a case against him. He was denaturalized and ordered deported to his native Ukraine, Poland or Germany, and exhausted all appeals in 2006. The Department of Justice has said no country has been willing to accept him. Authorities say Szehinskyj was an armed guard at Nazi concentration camps in Germany and Poland, a claim he has denied. Szehinskyj's attorney didn't return messages from the AP. 

-- Palij, 89, remains in New York 11 years after the DOJ initiated a case against him and seven years after he exhausted appeals. Court records say Palij - born in a part of Poland that is now part of Ukraine- was an armed guard at an SS slave labor camp for Jews in Nazi-occupied Poland until at least the spring of 1943, and helped to keep prisoners from escaping. Palij has denied the accusations. The original order deporting Palij to Ukraine has been amended to allow deportation to Germany, Poland or any other country willing to accept him. Justice officials say none has been willing. A man who answered the phone at Palij's number had trouble hearing and could not carry out a phone conversation. A woman who answered the phone at the office of Palij's attorney said he does not speak to reporters. 

-- Kalymon, 92, is still in Michigan despite exhausting appeals earlier this year in a process that took nine years. Prosecutors said Kalymon, who was born in Poland, was a member of the Nazi-sponsored Ukrainian Auxiliary Police in Lviv, which rounded up Jews and imprisoned them. Prosecutors said Kalymon also shot Jews. He was ordered deported to Ukraine, Poland, Germany or any other country that would take him. His attorney, Elias Xenos, said his client was a teenage boy who was essentially guarding a sack of coal. 

"That's not the government's position, of course. But they've run out of true persecutors, and they are trying to now prosecute people on the fringes," Xenos said. 

He said he is not aware of any country that has agreed to take Kalymon, who he said has Alzheimer's disease and cancer. 

In Poland, prosecutor Grzegorz Malisiewicz said an investigation of Kalymon was closed in January because authorities couldn't definitively tie him to crimes committed in 1942. In Germany, Munich prosecutors have been investigating Kalymon on suspicion of murder since 2010. 
Efraim Zuroff, chief Nazi hunter for the Simon Wiesenthal Center, said many countries lack the political will to accept suspected Nazi criminals who have been ordered deported: "I don't think it's any lack of effort by the American government." 

Germany has taken the position that people involved in Nazi crimes must be prosecuted, no matter how old or infirm, as it did in the case of retired Ohio autoworker John Demjanjuk. He died last year at age 91 while appealing his conviction of being an accessory to 28,060 murders while a guard at the Sobibor death camp. 

Before that case, Germany had been reluctant to prosecute Nazi war crimes suspects who weren't German citizens, said Stephen Paskey, a former Justice Department attorney who worked on the Demjanjuk and Zajanckauskas cases. Germany has also resisted accepting those who are ordered deported because, like other countries, it doesn't want to be seen as a refuge for those with Nazi pasts, the DOJ said. 

The case of Johann Leprich fell into that category. Authorities said Leprich, of Clinton Township, Michigan, served as an armed guard at a Nazi camp in Austria during World War II. He was 78 when he was ordered deported in 2003. Germany, Hungary and Leprich's native Romania - which passed a law in 2002 barring the entry of war crimes suspects - all refused to accept him. A technical issue related to Leprich's deportation order allowed him to remain eligible for public benefits until he died in 2013, although for unclear reasons he stopped receiving them long before that. 

According to AP's analysis of DOJ records, five other Nazi suspects were ordered deported but remained in the U.S. until they died because no country was willing to take them: 

-- Osyp Firishchak, 93, of Chicago, died last November, nine months after exhausting appeals. A U.S. judge concluded that Firishchak had lied when he said he was not a member of the Ukrainian Auxiliary Police, which helped Nazis arrest Jews in large numbers and sent them to labor and death camps. He was born in territory that was then Czechoslovakia and is now part of the Ukraine. He was ordered deported to Ukraine in 2007. 

-- Anton Tittjung, of Wisconsin, died last year at age 87. Born in a part of the former Yugoslavia that is now Croatia, he was accused of being an armed guard at the Mauthausen concentration camp in Austria and was ordered deported to Croatia in 1994. He said he was not a Nazi. He exhausted his appeals in 2001 but remained in the U.S. because Croatia would not accept him, saying he was neither born there nor a citizen of Croatia, according to a DOJ report. The U.S. also asked Austria and Germany to accept him; both refused. 

-- Mykola Wasylyk spent most of his American years in the Catskills region, 90 miles north of New York City, and died in North Port, Florida, in 2010 at age 86. He exhausted his appeals in 2004. He was born in former Polish territory that is now part of Ukraine. Prosecutors say he was an armed guard at two forced labor camps in Nazi-occupied Poland, but he claimed he was unaware that prisoners there were persecuted. The United States ordered him deported to Ukraine. At Wasylyk's request, the DOJ amended the order to seek to deport him first to Switzerland. Neither country took him in. 

-- Michael Negele, died in St. Peters, Missouri, in 2008 at age 87. He was ordered deported to his native Romania or to Germany in 2003, and he exhausted appeals in June 2004. Neither country was willing to take him, the DOJ said. Negele was accused of being an armed guard and dog handler at the Sachsenhausen concentration camp in Germany, and later at the Theresienstadt Jewish ghetto in what is now the Czech Republic. Negele had argued he was not involved in any wartime atrocities. 

-- Bronislaw Hajda, died in Schiller Park, Illinois, in 2005 at age 80. He was ordered deported to his native Poland or Germany in 1998, and his appeals process ended in 2001. But both countries repeatedly refused to accept him, authorities said. He was accused of participating in a massacre of Jews at a Nazi slave labor camp. Hajda had denied the allegations and said he never killed anyone.

Leading Holocaust experts express frustration at the failure to remove such men from the United States. 
"That they have been able to live out their lives enjoying the freedoms of this country, after depriving others of freedom and life itself, is an affront to the memory of those who perished," said Paul Shapiro, director of the Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington. 

The reluctance of countries to accept suspected Nazi collaborators could become a factor in the case of Michael Karkoc, a Minnesota man identified in an AP investigation last month as a commander in a Nazi SS-led unit accused of massacres. 

Both German and Polish prosecutors are investigating whether there is enough evidence to bring charges against Karkoc, 94, and seek extradition. If neither country decides to charge Karkoc, U.S. officials may try to hold him accountable through separate civil proceedings that would strip him of his citizenship and seek to have him deported. In that event, the U.S. would need to find a country that would take him in - and the earlier cases suggest that may prove difficult. 

"No one is obligated to take him unless he is charged," Paskey said. "Ukraine wouldn't have to take him. No one else would want him." 

The AP investigation revealed that Karkoc lied to American immigration officials to enter the United States after the war, saying he had no military experience and concealing his work as an officer and founding member of the SS-led Ukrainian Self Defense Legion. Records don't show Karkoc had a direct hand in wartime atrocities, but the evidence shows that he had command responsibility over a unit that massacred Polish civilians. 

Karkoc's family claims he was never involved in Nazi war crimes. Justice officials would not confirm whether the U.S. is investigating Karkoc.

Paskey said the U.S. could have a good denaturalization case against Karkoc, because prosecutors wouldn't have to prove he had a direct hand in war crimes. But the quickest - and perhaps only - way to remove him from the U.S. would be if he is charged criminally. 

"Unless Poland or Germany decides to prosecute him," Paskey said, "he is likely to die in the United States."