sábado, 12 de septiembre de 2015

Pickled remains of Auschwitz victim whose wife and children were gassed before he was dismembered by sadistic Nazi doctor are finally laid to rest 72 years later.

The coffin containing the remains of victims of Dr August Hirt, 
is carried at the Strasbourg-Cronenbourg Jewish cemetery, eastern France
  • Polish Jew Menachem Taffel was one of demon Dr. August Hirt's 86 victims.
  • They were brought from Auschwitz in Poland to Natzweiler-Struthof, France.
  • Bodies were pickled in alcohol, but 72 years later they have been buried.

A Polish Jew whose body parts were pickled in a test tube by a sadistic Nazi doctor has finally been laid to rest 70 years after he was murdered.
Menachem Taffel, a dairy merchant who lived in Berlin, died a hideous death so Dr. August Hirt could preserve the skulls and bones of 'these sub-humans' so the 'degeneracy and the animality of these Jews', could be documented.
At the weekend, 72 years after they were killed in the pursuit of perverted medical science, the last two victims of the demon doctor, including Taffel, were buried in an emotional ceremony in France.
In August 1943, these two people - only one of whom could be identified as Taffel - were among a group of 86 Jews plucked from the Auschwitz death camp in Nazi-occupied Poland and transported to France for the sole purpose of being murdered.
There were no family members to say Kaddish, the Jewish prayer for the dead, for Taffel on Sunday. However, the story of what was done to him, his family and the millions of others who perished in the Holocaust lives on.
Taffel was born on July 21, 1900, in the Russian Empire called Galicia, now part of Poland, and in 1938 he and his family moved in with his wife Clare's parents in Berlin as the tempo of persecution against the Jews was stepped up in the Third Reich.
In March 1943, the family, including daughter Esther, who was 15 and a volunteer helper at a local nursing home, were shipped to Auschwitz.
His wife and children were gassed upon arrival. Taffel, who bore the number 107969 inked on his left forearm, had the misfortune of crossing the path of S.S.-Hauptsturmführer Dr August Hirt - a man who perverted the Hippocratic oath as he climbed the tawdry ladder of Nazism.
Born on April 28, 1898, in Mannheim, Germany into a family from Strasbourg in France, Hirt was the son of a Swiss businessman. In 1914, he volunteered to fight in World War I on the German side.

The corpse of Polish Jew Menachem Taffel (pictured) was pickled in alcohol on the orders of Dr August Hirt
          The corpse of Polish Jew Menachem Taffel (pictured) was pickled in alcohol on the orders of Dr. August Hirt

In October 1916, he was wounded in the upper jaw by a bullet and received the Iron Cross. He returned to Mannheim in 1917. 
He went on to study medicine at the University of Heidelberg and in 1921, he took German citizenship.
In the early 1930s he became involved with the Ahnenerbe institute, an S.S. think tank devoted to buttressing the Nazi philosophy that only 'Aryans' were worthy of life and that Jews, Gypsies, and Slavs were sub-humans who needed to be eradicated.
He joined the Institute of Anatomy at the Reichsuniversität in Strasbourg early in 1941 and soon became chairman of the anatomy department. 
He was a confidante of S.S. overlord Heinrich Himmler and privy to the top secret plan formulated at the Wannsee Conference outside Berlin for the 'final solution' - the mass murder - of the Jews in all lands conquered by Germany.
He submitted a paper to Himmler in February of 1942 stating that he wanted to create a collection of skulls and skeletons of the 'sub-humans' destined to die for research. 
Because the gas chambers of the secret killing centres were working at a furious pace, Hirt was worried that Europe's Jewish population would soon be eliminated - at which point 'Jewish skeletons would be as rare and precious as a diplodocus'.

Demon doctor August Hirt (pictured) submitted a paper to Himmler in February of 1942 
stating that he wanted to create a collection of skulls and skeletons of the 'sub-humans'

It was rumored that Hirt, who was venal as well as sadistic, toyed with the idea of setting up a skull mail order business for other Reich doctors, as a way of earning extra money.
Himmler responded enthusiastically to Hirt's request for bodies for his collection saying he was 'prodigiously interested' and considered the project to be of 'enormous value'.
A letter used as evidence during the post-war Nazi trials at Nuremberg includes an attachment with a report on 'securing skulls of Jewish-Bolshevik Commissars for the purpose of scientific research'.
It initially allowed Hirt to begin his gassings of Auschwitz Jews at Natzweiler-Struthof. This was the only Nazi murder camp on French soil, close to his research center and chosen as the place where the victims would die.
Himmler greenlighted to project and it was decided that Auschwitz would provide the prisoners for the macabre scheme. 
Initially, 115 people were selected, a number eventually whittled down to 87. Half of them were Greek Jews from Thessaloniki, the others an assortment of German, Polish, Austrian, Russian and Lithuanian victims.
The guinea pigs were held in a quarantine section of Auschwitz before being shipped in rail cars to Natzweiler-Struthof in July 1943. 
It was run by a man called Joseph Kramer, described by the Allies who would hang him after the war, as 'brutality incarnate'.
A gas chamber was built into an old refrigerator room and hydrogen cyanide was chosen as the method to kill the victims. 
On August 17, 1943, Taffel, and his fellow prisoners were killed over a three-night period in the name of Third Reich medicine.
Kramer later testified: 'One evening, about 9pm, the prisoners arrived. I led about fifteen women to the gas chamber. I told them they were going to be disinfected.
'With the help of some of the S.S. guards, I got them completely undressed and pushed them into the gas chamber.
'When I closed the door they began to scream. I put some of the crystals that Hirt had given me into the funnel above the observation window. 
'I would watch everything that was going on inside through it. The women continued to breathe for half a minute and then fell to the floor. I turned on the ventilation and when I opened the door they were lying dead on the ground. 
'I told some of the male S.S. nurses to put the bodies in a truck and take them to the Institute of Anatomy at 5.30 the next morning.
'I felt no emotion while accomplishing these tasks because I had received an order to execute the prisoners in the manner that I have described to you. That is simply how I was brought up.'
There were 87 victims originally chosen, but one of them, a woman, was shot by a guard as she struggled to escape the gas chamber. Her body was not sent to Strasbourg with the others because it was considered 'spoiled'.
Professor Hirt's assistants, Otto Bong and Henri Herypierre, began placing the bodies into vats of synthetic alcohol to preserve them when they arrived at his institute. Herypierre took the stand at Nuremberg after the war to describe the bodies.
He said: 'They were still warm. Their eyes were wide open and shining. They appeared congested and red and protruded from the socket. 
'There were traces of blood around the nose and mouth. There was no rigor mortis. It is my opinion that these victims had been poisoned or asphyxiated.'
The bodies were left pickling in alcohol when the Allies liberated France. It seems Hirt was given other, more important work to do by his Nazi bosses researching the effects of poison gas in combat situations.
Himmler ordered the destruction of the cadaver collection, but the Allies beat him to it. Most of the bodies were buried on October 23, 1945, in the municipal cemetery of Strasbourg-Robertsau before being transferred in 1951 to the Strasbourg-Cronenbourg Jewish cemetery.
Hirt fled Strasbourg in September 1944, hiding in Tübingen in southern Germany. He committed suicide on June 2, 1945.
It wasn't until July this year that the remains of Taffel and his unidentified soulmate in death were found in laboratory jars at the institute. 
All these years later, a post mortem was able to discern that his last meal on earth was potato peelings, consumed the night before he was murdered. 
Historian Raphael Toledano revealed that a forensics professor by the name of Camille Simonin, who was investigating Hirt, had preserved some of the remains despite the belief they had been buried in 1945. 
Several hundred people gathered for a sombre ceremony at the Strasbourg-Cronenbourg Jewish cemetery on Sunday, throwing an earth on a single coffin holding their collective remains.
The victims of Hirt's skeleton collection have been honored across the world through publications, articles, and memorials.
On December 11, 2005, a memorial was unveiled at the anatomy institute of Strasburg hospital, and at the Strasbourg-Cronenbourg Jewish cemetery. The unveiling was attended by relatives of Hirt's victims from Thessalonica, London, Germany, Israel and France.
The plaque reads: "Souvenez-vous d'elles pour que jamais la medecine ne soit devoyée" (Remember them so that medicine never be corrupted again).

Source: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3225272/Remains-Polish-Jew-wife-children-gassed-Auschwitz-dismembered-pickled-test-tube-sadistic-Nazi-doctor-finally-laid-rest-72-years-later.html

miércoles, 2 de septiembre de 2015

Holocaust survivor: 'There was fear, not jubilation, the day we were freed from the concentration camp'

Tomi Reichental talks about the horrors of his childhood during the Holocaust and life after liberation.

The 80-year-old Holocaust survivor has dedicated much of the last decade to giving lectures in schools and universities, both here in his adopted home of Ireland and around the world, to educate people about the time.
It is, Tomi tells me, his way of honouring those lost during this horrific moment in modern history and making sure that such atrocities never happen again.
There is a poignant contrast as we sit in his beautiful south Dublin home, surrounded by the scent of freshly baked scones and carrot cake to talk about Tomi's traumatic childhood memories - the fear, the starvation, the overcrowding, how he, his brother and his cousin would play innocently amongst the thousands of rotting corpses outside.
Tomi was just nine years old when he was deported alongside five of his family members from his native Slovakia to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in 1944.
"I think I owe it to the victims that their memory is not forgotten," Tomi explains. "Sometimes when the young people hear it from teachers, it might go in one ear and out the other, but when they hear me, they never forget about it because they are seeing somebody who has been a part of that history," he smiles gently.
"I lost 35 members of my family, people that I knew," Tomi pauses. "One day they disappeared and I never saw them again, so for me, it is very important that I speak about it."
However, it took many decades before Tomi could open up and speak about his ordeal. "It took over 55 years until I actually started to speak about it and now they cannot stop me," he jokes. "It is not that I didn't want to before, I just could not do it."
Tomi's family were arrested late in the Nazi campaign - at first Slovakia was simply a friendly nation to Hitler's regime and, as a farmer, Tomi's father was deemed too valuable to the Slovakian economy to be sent, like many other Slovak Jews, to the Nazi work and extermination camps.
This changed, however, once German troops began to occupy Slovakia.
"In 1942, because my father was a farmer and was useful to the economy, we got a special document so that, for the time being, we shouldn't be taken away," Tomi tells me. "When Slovakia was occupied by Germany, of course, then no paper was useful. We tried to escape and we tried to hide, but we were betrayed."
"They used to do a selection process where the young men and women went to the right and the children, mothers and old people to the left," Tomi explains. "In seconds, families were split, the young men and women who were able to work were sent to slave labour and the others they were sent to the extermination camps."
Tomi was transported alongside his mother, brother, grandmother, aunt and cousin in a cattle-cart, which was originally bound for Auschwitz, but was rerouted to Bergen-Belsen.

Tomi Reichental

"The German soldiers got word that they were to retreat from the west to the east because the Russians were advancing. We were on the train at this time; so we were the first transport that didn't go to Auschwitz. If we had been arrested at the beginning of October, I wouldn't be here," Tomi trails off.
He remembers being shielded from much of what was happening during those years by his family, but once he reached Bergen-Belsen, - despite the efforts of his mother, aunt and grandmother - the desperation of their situation became apparent to him, even as a child of nine.
"When it all started in 1942, I had just really started school. The first time I knew that I was different was when I had to wear the yellow star. I was going to school and kids started to shout at me 'dirty Jew, smelly Jew' and all of this," Tomi says.
"My mother was really an extraordinary person. In the worst times, she always smiled and she was the power behind us.
"My mother also survived and she had a good life. She died only 12 years ago; she was 96 years old, she was really the pillar of strength in our hour of despair.
In his younger days with his mum and older brother

"She would never show that we were in trouble. She tried to keep it away from me, but, of course, I was there and saw it."
A couple of months before the Allied Forces liberated the Bergen-Belsen camp, thousands of inmates were moved there from Auschwitz. As a result, the numbers in the already overcrowded camp swelled and disease was rampant. Death and dying was a part of everyday life.
Tomi's grandmother Rosalia passed away just weeks before they were liberated.
"They just came into the room and they picked her up, one by the arms and one by the legs, threw her onto a cart, then she was wheeled out and thrown onto the pile of corpses outside," Tomi remembers.
"We were liberated on April 15. I remember that day very well. It was just an ordinary day, sunny outside. On April 11, we didn't see any guards in the watchtower, they escaped, but still nobody dared to go out, even though the gate was open. We didn't know what was happening, we were afraid."
"There was no food or water for four days," Tomi adds. "Then on the afternoon of the 15th, we heard this rumbling through the camp and we all ran to the barbed wire to see what was happening and we saw jeeps were coming in.
"There was no jubilation. We had smiles on our faces, but 90pc of the people in Bergen-Belsen were sick. People just stood, they were scared, they had no strength, they were dying most of them."
Following a number of months in quarantine, Tomi and his family returned to Slovakia where they were reunited with his father. Tomi's father had been arrested separately and escaped by jumping from a train bound for Auchswitz with a number of others.
According to Tomi, however, the welcome for Jewish people in Slovakia after the war was not a warm one.
"The atmosphere for Jewish people in Slovakia was not very good," Tomi says. "Because of the propaganda the Slovak people had experienced, they still hated the Jews. They used to whisper around that more Jews were coming back than were taken away. It wasn't our home anymore."
After school, Tomi travelled to the newly formed state of Israel, where he joined the Israeli Army. His parents and brother Miki, who was finishing his university studies in engineering, followed a short time later. Tomi was discharged from the army after his two years of service, but was called as a member of the reserve forces in 1956 during Israel's Suez campaign.
"It was tough. I saw a lot of terrible things during that time," Tomi says. "After that, I wanted to study engineering so I decided to go to university in Germany."
While in Germany, a cousin of Tomi's, who was working in London as an au pair, recommended Tomi to her boss, a major industrialist, who was looking for someone to set up a zip manufacturing company in Ireland. Tomi was flown to London and subsequently offered the job.
"That's how I came to Ireland. In 1960, I met a girl and in June, 1961, we married," he smiles.
Tomi and his wife Evanne Blackman left Ireland for Israel a short time later, where his eldest son was born. However, after a number of pleading letters from Evanne's father, the couple returned to Dublin where Tomi took over his father-in-law's jewellery manufacturing business.
"I had started a factory in Israel with my brother, which developed into a huge manufacturing company for tools for the woodworking industry, but eventually I relented and we came back," he smiles. "We were very happy. Unfortunately, my wife got cancer in 2003 and within 14 months, she died," Tomi adds. "I have three sons and six grandchildren."
Tomi has found happiness once again with his partner of nine years, Joyce Weinrib. Last year, he received the International Person of the Year Award and later this month, he will accept an honorary doctorate from the National University of Ireland in Maynooth. In fact, Tomi's home is adorned with many honours and awards, some more modest than others, but all appreciated most sincerely by their recipient.
In January 2008, RTE broadcast a one-hour documentary on Tomi's life entitled I was a boy in Belsen, produced by Gerry Gregg. In 2011, Gregg produced a second film, Close to Evil, which followed Tomi's quest to meet one of his alleged former jailers - Hilde Lisiewicz, who it transpired was alive and living in Hamburg.
After the film was broadcast, a German man named Hans-Jürgen Brennecke filed charges against the 93-year-old woman, which caused prosecutors there to open an investigation into allegations that Hilde served as a Nazi SS guard. Tomi had hoped that the documentary could be "an opportunity for reconciliation", but Hilde refused to meet with him.
"I don't want to see her going to prison," he tells me. "It's too late; she is 93 years old, but for me, it is very important that a conviction comes out of it if she is sent to trial and found guilty, from a moral point of view."
Nominations are being accepted for the 2015 People of the Year until September 14. For more information, see www.peopleoftheyear.com

Source: http://www.herald.ie/lifestyle/holocaust-survivor-there-was-fear-not-jubilation-the-day-we-were-freed-from-the-concentration-camp-31494493.html