miércoles, 31 de diciembre de 2014

Racial Hygiene and the Third Reich

What did Racial Hygiene really mean in the Third Reich? Did doctors carried it on freely? #RacialHygiene #ThirdReich #NaziDoctors
Don't miss my article at Anachronia  

miércoles, 24 de diciembre de 2014

Ambler resident recalls fleeing Nazi Germany, her father's imprisonment in Buchenwald

It was November 1938, less than a year before the Nazis invaded Poland, and 11-year-old Ellen Nussbaum was startled awake at 5 a.m. to the sound of two gestapo officers knocking on the front door of her parents’ home in Berlin, Germany.
When her parents finally opened the door — themselves having just woken up — the officers informed them that Ellen’s father, Leo Nussbaum, was under arrest.

“They had no reason for the arrest that my mother could find out,” remembers Ellen, now 87. But Leo, a prominent business owner, knew the score. He had committed no crime, true, but the Nussbaums were a Jewish family living in a rapidly changing Germany.

Reason played no role in this.

Still groggy with sleep, Leo “asked to be allowed to freshen up,” Ellen recalls. “So, one of the officers stood in the bathroom with him, his back against the window. The other officer stood outside with his back against the door. It seemed like a lot of people had jumped out of windows [to escape arrests] at that point. They wanted to prevent it.”

As the officers escorted Leo from the building, he called out to his family, “I have a cousin in Louisville, Kentucky. I don’t know his address. See if you can contact him to help me.”

“No name,” Ellen says, “no address.”

It would be months before she saw her father again.

That was 76 years ago, but Ellen remembers it like it was yesterday. In fact, those few short early morning moments would shape the rest of her life. Some months later, she would leave Berlin with her mother, Gertrude — and would never return.

Sitting on the couch in her quaint apartment in Artman assisted living facility, Ellen shows no sign of the turmoil she experienced during World War II. In fact, she’s all class, poised and postured, smiling tenderly in a spotless, cherry red cardigan, with a string of pearls around her neck.

Her banter is witty, her insights bright.

The only hint of the harrowing ordeals she endured can be found in her densely dark, melancholy eyes and the way she nervously offers another cup of coffee when the conversation turns too serious.

Now a published author who has penned five nonfiction books — including two biographies on Nobel Peace Prize laureate Elie Wiesel — and countless autobiographical short stories, Ellen has spent a lot of time poring over the events of her early life, perhaps looking for some meaning in it all.

“I am really amazed at the process of the mind,” she says, her hands folded neatly on her lap. “You put things away — you think — and then something sets it off again,” memories come flooding back. “I’m beginning to think everything is somehow connected.”

She comes back to this often, the idea of connectedness, the thought “that everything that happens in life is meant to, maybe.” Though, she admits, “some things are hard to accept.”

Following his arrest, Leo Nussbaum was taken to Buchenwald concentration camp, where he remained for 11 weeks and served as a hard laborer in a rock quarry. The work was brutal, and later in life, the conditions of the camp would cost Leo his legs — not to mention his finances.

It wasn’t long before the family discovered “the purpose of arresting [Leo] was to get him to sign over his business to his non-Jewish partner,” Ellen says. Such arrests were commonplace during the time, a symptom of a Nazi movement termed Aryanization, defined as a systematic removal of Jewish citizens from business life in Germany.

Leo’s business partner, Ellen says, “knew it was all wrong,” but there was nothing he could do about it. During the months that Leo was in Buchenwald, the partner “tried to help my mother and me, sending us a little money because we had no funds after my father was arrested. He was very decent to us.”

But life was dire without Leo, and matters were getting worse by the day. His final words to her still haunting Gertrude, it was clear the only hope for the Nussbaum family was to get word to the cousin in Louisville — a man no one had ever met; a man no one even knew how to reach.

As an act of outright desperation, Gertrude “sat down and wrote a letter to the mayor of Louisville,” Ellen recalls. It was a shot in the dark, but Ellen’s mother wrote the letter, mailed it and hoped for a reply.

“The mayor,” it turns out, “was German born,” Ellen says, “and he happened to play cards with our relative every Thursday night in a well-known deli in Louisville. The next time they [played cards] the mayor pulled out this letter and said, ‘This came for you. I didn’t open it. Take a look.’

“The mayor was the connection that would help us get out [of Germany].”

Acting fast, the relative, Karl, immediately sent papers and affidavits claiming responsibility for Ellen’s family — Leo included. Gertrude promptly took the paperwork to the American consulate, but was met with yet more difficulty.

“The people at the American consulate were very nasty,” Ellen says. “I always thought they looked down on the people who were trying to get out so desperately. They made all kinds of conditions. They told my mother, ‘In order for your husband to receive a passport or a visa, he has to appear in person.’ And my mother said, ‘That’s a little difficult since he’s in Buchenwald.’”

In the end, it seems, it all came down to money.

“My mother found an American lawyer,” Ellen says, “gave him a heap of money and bribed someone at the consulate.”

Leo was out of Buchenwald in a day.

However, it wasn’t a pleasant exit. His keepers made sure to instill lasting fear in Leo.

“They released him,” Ellen recalls, “and said, ‘Don’t think you’re getting away from us. We’ll find you no matter where you go.’”

Within 24 hours of leaving Buchenwald, Leo darted to his home in Berlin, packed everything he could carry and high-tailed it for Antwerp, Belgium, where he caught a ride on a ship called the Europa. The next time Ellen saw her father was when she and Gertrude reunited with him in Louisville.

Fear of the Gestapo still hanging over him, one of the first things Leo did in Kentucky was to choose a new name for his family. He opened up a phone book, searched through the listings under the letter N and, seemingly at random, chose the surname Norman.

“He liked the name,” she says, “so he changed his name from Nussbaum to Norman. It was funny — my mother would say only criminals change their name.”

From there, and thanks to the generosity of Karl, the Norman family began a safer, albeit humbler life in America.

“[Karl] was tremendous,” Ellen says. His family “arranged for us to have a house that we paid off. They were wonderful to us. When the grandchildren got new clothes, [I] did, too. They gave me music lessons, voice lessons.”

Leo tried to build his business again — in Germany, Ellen says, he sold construction machinery — but the competition was stiff in Louisville, and health complications made matters worse.

“He lost both legs as a result of the rock business in Buchenwald,” Ellen explains. A mixture of diabetes, arteriosclerosis and the hardships endured in the labor camp “took a lot out of him. He had to have both legs amputated in Louisville.”

For a moment a tender silence takes hold of the small apartment in Artman.

“The worst thing,” Ellen says, finally, “was coming here and seeing the wheelchairs again. It brings back memories. And now my husband is in one, too.”

She offers some more coffee.

Time went on. The Norman family adjusted to life in America. Ellen attended the University of Louisville and got a job working as a clerk for NBC, first in Kentucky and then in New York, where she met her husband and took the surname Stern.
After time, she started writing about her experiences.

Some of her short stories caught the attention of the Jewish Publication Society, which asked her to write a juvenile biography on Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis.

The book met relative success, and the JPS asked Ellen if she’d be interested in writing a biography on Elie Wiesel, author of the moving, iconic Holocaust memoir “Night.” At the time, Ellen was working as a religious school secretary. She wasn’t sure she was qualified to write about Wiesel, wasn’t even sure he would want her to.

But then, one day, she received a phone call at work: “‘This is Elie Wiesel. I like the way you write. Will you come and see me so we can talk?’

“I’ve never been the same since,” she says.

In Wiesel, Ellen found someone who understood the mark left on her by the events of World War II. She admits she felt that her experiences were slight compared to his — Wiesel famously survived imprisonment and unspeakable brutality in Auschwitz and other concentration camps — but the two expatriates found comfort in one another.

“I went to New York to interview Wiesel,” Ellen recalls, “and for over two hours we talked about our fathers, who had said we’d never leave Europe ... Wiesel of course had much more horrendous experiences [than me]; he was in the camp, he lost everybody. But there was something there like a homecoming. We understood where we came from, had an understanding of each other.”

Still, for Ellen, humility reigned. She couldn’t fathom writing about such a man, so prolific, so brilliant — and a Nobel Peace Prize laureate to boot. Just knowing Wiesel was monumental. But to chronicle his life?

“I said this to him: ‘How can I understand you?’ Here I was, a reformed Jew,” who still felt like that same little girl pushing a doll carriage around the streets of Berlin. “‘You come from a totally different milieu. How can I write about you?’

“He said, ‘You can find me in my books.’”

So Ellen read his books — all 35 of them. More interviews and correspondences ensued, and when all was said and done, Ellen wrote two biographies on Wiesel, the first simply titled “Elie Wiesel”; the second, “Elie Wiesel: Witness for Life.” During a trip in Washington, D.C., Wiesel lost the manuscript to one of those biographies on a train, Ellen says. Thankfully, she had an extra copy.

“The nicest thing,” she says of knowing the author, “is he has stayed a friend. Sometimes you write about people and they don’t like it. But he just wrote me a greeting for the Jewish New Year.”

It is now time, Ellen says, to put history behind her: “I don’t want to write about the past anymore.”

The Artman resident — whose last published work, “The French Physician’s Boy,” was an account of the 1793 yellow fever epidemic in Philadelphia — is ready to focus on the here and now.

“I felt I’d done enough,” she says. “And the world has since then [World War II] gotten into different shapes, unfortunately. So I would just like to be on a more positive track.”

Though, she admits with a laugh, “I haven’t reached it quite yet.”

Leo Norman passed away in 1965, but not, Ellen adds, before meeting his two grandchildren, Lawrence and Michael, who both now live in Montgomery County and visit their mother often. Ellen’s husband, Harold, is never far from her side.

And as for the past that she’s ready to put behind her?

“It was awful,” she says. “We didn’t know what was happening to the rest of the family [back home in Berlin]. And when we found out, it was bad. Oh God.”

Even so, Ellen Stern can find silver linings in almost any memory — “[life’s] been pretty darn good since then; we’re darn lucky and blessed” — and her faith in mankind, though tested, has never wavered.

“People are not all bad,” she says, simply. “People are not all bad.”

Source: http://www.mainlinemedianews.com/articles/2014/12/22/region/doc549427e821770945073324.txt?viewmode=fullstory

domingo, 21 de diciembre de 2014

Edward Mosberg, born in 1926, is a sole survivor out of sixteen members of his family of the Holocaust

Edward Mosberg spoke to the Fifth Grade students at Eastlake School on Thursday, December 19. Eastlake Prinicipal Mr. Mark Gray, Dr. Nancy Gigante, Assistant Superintendent/Chief Academic Officer, Mr. Juan Cruz, Director of Secondary Education and Parsippany-Troy Mayor James Barberio was in attendance.

Mosberg, born in 1926, is a sole survivor out of sixteen members of his family of the Holocaust he gave the testimony of his experience. He survived the Karakow Ghetto, Plaszow, Mauthausen and Linz Concentration Camps. Cecile, his wife, survived the Krakow Ghetto, Mieiec, Dubienka and Wielicza. She also survived the Concentration Camp Plaszow, Auschwitz-Birkenau, including two death marches, Bergen Belsen, Gelenau and Mauthausen, where she was liberated at the concentration camp’s stone mines.
Mr. Mosberg’s overall message was to never forget the atrocities of the Holocaust and to spread awareness of what actually happened, from a first-hand account.

Edward Mosberg cannot forget certain images: A Nazi soldier ripping a baby from his mother’s arms and smashing the baby’s head against a wall; another soldier shooting through a rucksack to kill a hidden child. Among the six Holocaust survivors to meet with Pope Benedict XVI during his visit to the Yad Vashem Hall of Remembrance May 11, 2009, Mosberg, now an American and the only survivor from his extended family, said he would have liked a moment with Pope Benedict to tell him about his mother, father and two sisters, in addition to his aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents.
Mosberg, 88, a resident of Powder Mill, was 13 years old when the Nazis entered his native Krakow, Poland, and put his family into the Krakow Ghetto.
But soon his father was killed and, one by one, his grandparents were taken to the gas chambers. When the Nazis liquidated the ghetto March 13, 1943, his remaining family was sent to the Plaszow concentration camp, which was where German Catholic businessman Oskar Schindler drew up his famous list, saving the lives of more than 1,000 Jews. Mosberg and his family, however, were not among those on the list.
From Plaszow, Mosberg’s mother and sisters were taken to the Nazi-run Auschwitz concentration camp, where his mother was killed in the gas chambers. His sisters, Helena and Carolina, were taken to the Stutthof concentration camp in Poland. On the night before liberation, they were among a group of 7,000 young women the Nazis shot, killed and threw into the Baltic Sea.
Mosberg said he survived because he was a strong teenager able to do all kinds of work. He was taken to the Mauthausen concentration camp in Austria and forced to work in the stone mines, carrying heavy stones on his back up and down 186 steps all day.
“If you stopped for a moment, they either shot you or they pushed you off the cliff to your death,” he said.
Alone at 19 years old and ill, Mosberg spent eight months in Italy for medical treatment before returning to Krakow, where he met his wife, Cecile, and her father, the only survivors from their family.
Following their wedding in Belgium, in 1951 the couple moved to the United States, where Mosberg went into the construction business. Mosberg has been a developer in Parsippany since 1965, when he came to town as the local representative of the Wilf family, a real estate organization based in Millburn. Over the past four decades, his companies have built thousands of homes in Parsippany.
We can’t go with what was in the past. We have to go to with what will be,” said Mosberg, who has three daughters.
Source: http://parsippanyfocus.com/2014/12/20/mr-mosberg-talks-eastlake-fifth-graders-holocaust/

sábado, 20 de diciembre de 2014

A Survivor Recalls What It Was Like to Be Experimented on During the Holocaust

What was it like to be part of the genetic experiments on twins during the Holocaust?

Answer by Eva Kor, Holocaust survivor and forgiveness advocate
My twin sister Miriam and I were used in Josef Mengele's experiments at Auschwitz as 10-year-old girls. We were taken six days a week for the experiments. On Monday, Wednesday and Friday, we would be taken to the observation lab, where we would sit for hours, naked -- up to eight hours. They kept measuring most of my body parts, comparing them to my twin sister, then comparing them to charts. They were trying to design a new Aryan race so they were interested in all these measurements. These experiments were not dangerous, but they were unbelievably demeaning and even in Auschwitz, I had difficulty coping with the fact that I was a nobody and a nothing -- just a mass of cells to be studied. On alternate days we would be taken to another lab that I call the blood lab. This is where they would take a lot of blood from my left arm and give me several injections in my right arm. Those were the deadly ones. We didn't know the contents then and we don't know today. After one of those injections, I became very ill with a very high fever. I had also tremendous swelling in my arms and legs as well as red spots throughout my body. Maybe it was spotted fever, I don't know. Nobody ever diagnosed it.
As a guinea pig in Auschwitz, we had to realize that they could do to our bodies whatever they wanted and we had no control over what they put into us, what they removed, or how they treated us, and there was no place for us to go. 
People often ask me, "Why didn't you run away?" I am convinced those people know very little about Auschwitz. The barbed wire would electrocute you if you touched it. The whole camp was surrounded by that. Before you got to the high voltage fence, there was a ditch filled with water. So as you approached that fence, your hands were damp and you would be immediately electrocuted. At age 10, even if I succeeded in getting out, where would I go? 
Maybe I could have succeeded in running away when we were marched from Birkenau to Auschwitz I for some of the experiments. But as far as I could see when we were marching, that was all a military zone. Where on earth would I have gone if I escaped? I didn't know how far I would even need to run. And of course most of the time when someone escaped and they turned on the sirens, we would have to stand for roll call for two to four hours until the person was found dead or alive. If the person was found alive, the person would be hanged in front of us. The lessons were very clear. If found dead, they would be brought in front of the group so we would know that nobody escapes from Auschwitz. 
At age 10, I would not have dared to escape and I did not even think about it. That was so far from my mind. What I was thinking about every day was how to live one more day, how to survive one more experiment. I knew as the air raids were increasing, that this could not last for much longer. On the days when they would keep us for hours at roll call until the escapees could be found, I would often think, "Good luck -- I hope you make it." I never thought anyone did. I was lecturing in San Francisco about 15 years ago. They had about 10 survivors who were introduced. One of them said, "I escaped from Auschwitz." I was so excited! I went up to him and said, "Finally I know why I stood at roll call for so many hours -- I am glad to know somebody made it."
As twins, I knew that we were unique because we were never permitted to interact with anybody in other parts of the camp. But I didn't know I was being used in genetic experiments. 
I began lecturing about my own experiences in 1978. As I was telling my story, people would come up to me later on and ask about the experiments. Well, I remembered some details of my own experience, but I knew nothing about the bigger scope of the experiments. So I decided to read books about Josef Mengele, hoping to get more of an insight. But in all these books, it only had one or two sentences about him. 
I was trying to figure out how I could get more information, and I was looking at the famous photo that was taken by the Soviets at liberation. I could see there maybe 100 children marching between those barbed wire fences who were liberated. 
That is me and Miriam holding hands in the front row. I thought if I could somehow locate those other twins, we could have a meeting and share those memories. 
It took me six years, but in 1984, with the help of my late twin sister Miriam, we found 122 "Mengele Twins" living in 10 countries and four continents. We had a meeting in Jerusalem in February of 1985 (click here for picture). 
We talked to many of them. What I found out was that there were many, many other experiments. For instance, the twins who were older than 16 or were of reproductive age would be put in a lab and used in cross-gender blood transfusions. So blood was going from the male to the female and vice-versa. Sadly, they did not check of course to see if the blood was compatible and most of these twins died. There are twins in Australia who survived, Stephanie and Annette Heller, and there is a twin in Israel who was a fraternal twin -- Judit Malick, and her twins' brother's name was Sullivan. I heard Judit testify in Jerusalem that she was used in this experiment with a male twin of reproductive age. She remembered being on a table during the experiment when the other twin's body was turning cold. He died. She survived but had a lot of health problems. 
The question is how many of these twins did survive? Most of them obviously died. I also know for a fact that Mengele did strange experiments on kidneys. Mengele himself suffered from renal problems when he was 16 in 1927. He was out of school three or four months, according to his SS file. He was deeply interested in the way the kidneys worked. I know of three cases where twins developed severe kidney infections that did not respond to antibiotics. 
One of them is Frank Klein, who lived in El Paso, Texas, after the war. He very much wanted to attend the gathering in Jerusalem, but he was on dialysis. He actually came with his nurse and very much hoped he would get a kidney so he could live like a normal person. He did get a transplant in 1986. I talked to him after the surgery and he said he was doing pretty good, but then three days later he died. The other twin whose name I don't remember off the top of my head died also because of kidney failure problems. 
Then of course my twin sister developed kidney problems with her first pregnancy in 1960. The problems did not respond with antibiotics. In 1963 when she expected her second baby, the infection got worse. This is when the doctors studied her and found out her kidneys never grew larger than the size of a 10-year-old's kidneys. When I refused to die in the experiment where Mengele thought I would die (read about it here: What gives you hope during tough times?), Miriam was taken back to the lab and was injected with something that stunted the growth of her kidneys. After her third baby was born, her kidneys failed. In 1987 I donated my left kidney to her. We were a perfect match. At that hospital in Tel Aviv they had been doing kidney transplants for ten years. None of them developed cancerous polyps except for my twin sister Miriam, in her bladder. All the doctors kept saying was that there had to be something in Miriam's body that was injected into her that combined with the anti-rejection medication to create the cancerous polyps. 
Other experiments I have heard of from survivors: Many twins who did not have blue eyes were injected with something into their eyes. Luckily Miriam and I had blue eyes. Mengele did some other strange experiments. Most of them were very much in the line of trying to understand how to make blue-eyed blondes in multiple numbers, the germ warfare experiments, etc. If one twin died, Mengele would have the other killed and then do the comparative autopsies. According to the Auschwitz Museum, Mengele had 1,500 sets of twins in Auschwitz. There were only 200 estimated individual survivors. Everybody who has been researching that, including the Auschwitz Museum, said most died in the experiments and I agree. Dying in Mengele's lab was very easy. I am one of the few I have heard about to be in the "barrack of the living dead" and get out of there alive. 
I learned a great deal after the war in attending conferences, including one at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute. This is where Mengele studied, and today it is called the Max Planck Society. They were trying to collect information about Mengele's experiments. They invited several twins and a few other people used in experiments by Mengele. Here is a photo of me studying some of the vials used in experiments at Auschwitz.

Auschwitz was the laboratory for any experiments any Nazi scientists wanted to do. There was no limit on what doctors and researchers could do at these camps. So it was open season on twins and other human guinea pigs like us.
Source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/quora/a-survivor-recalls-what-it-was-like-to-be-experimented-on_b_6336556.html

miércoles, 17 de diciembre de 2014

Racial Hygiene and the Third Reich

jueves, 4 de diciembre de 2014

Nazi fugitive Alois Brunner 'almost certain' to have died in Syria

Brunner, who was born in 1912 and topped most-wanted lists for his role in the Holocaust, said to have died four years ago in Damascus

Alois Brunner allegedly helped organize the deportation of at least 130,000 Jews
 from Germany, Austria, France and Greece.
 Photograph: AP

A Nazi war criminal who topped most-wanted lists over the Holocaust is “almost certain” to have died in Syria four years ago, the Simon Wiesenthal Centre said Monday.
“I am almost certain that he’s no longer alive,” Efraim Zuroff, director of the group’s Jerusalem office, told AFP.
Zuroff said that according to a German intelligence officer, Alois Brunner “died four years ago in... Damascus,” where he had fled seeking refuge decades ago.
The Wiesenthal Centre “could not confirm the information” for certain, he stressed, but given the 1912 birth year of Brunner, the unrepentant “right-hand man” of leading Holocaust architect Adolf Eichmann, he was in any case unlikely to be alive.
Brunner topped the Simon Wiesenthal list of wanted Nazis for deporting tens of thousands of Jews to death camps during the second world war, although he was removed this year due to his age and almost certain death, Zuroff said.
After the war Brunner escaped detection by taking on a false identity and worked for two years for the US occupying forces in Germany, before fleeing to Egypt in 1954 and from there to Syria, where he was protected by successive regimes.
He was pursued by Nazi hunters and survived assassination attempts allegedly by Israel’s secret intelligence service, the Mossad.
“In Brunner’s case, he got two letter bombs. He lost three fingers, he lost an eye, so I’m sure that didn’t contribute to his (good) health,” Zuroff said, in a veiled allusion to the Mossad.
French investigators, trying to call Brunner to account for crimes committed during the occupation of their country, lost track of him in 1992 in Damascus, where he had been living under an assumed identity.
“He was responsible for the deportation to the death camps of 128,500 Jews,” Zuroff said – including 47,000 from Austria, 44,000 from Greece, 23,500 from France and 14,000 from Slovakia.
“He was a fanatic anti-Semite, a sadist and a person who was totally dedicated to the mass-murder of European Jewry.”
Almost seven decades after World War II, the hunt for Nazi war criminals continues and the Simon Wiesenthal Centre publishes an annual list of those most wanted.
The current most wanted is Gerhard Sommer, a former SS lieutenant allegedly involved in the massacre of 560 civilians in August 1944, in Italy’s Tuscany region.
He has been under investigation in Germany.
In October, the Israeli branch of the Centre urged Germany to prosecute alleged members of Nazi death squads, giving it a list of 80 suspects.
It said the 76 men and four women whose names it provided to Germany’s justice and interior ministries belonged to “mobile killing squads”.
All of the suspects were born between 1920 and 1924, it said, making them “alive and healthy enough to face prosecution”.
Zuroff, who heads the Los Angeles-based group’s Jerusalem office, told AFP they believed two percent of “Nazi criminals” were still alive and that half of them could still be tried.
Source: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/dec/01/nazi-war-criminal-alois-brunner-syria