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the Final Solution & the Massacres of the Jews

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Author Topic: the Final Solution & the Massacres of the Jews  (Read 1391 times)
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« Reply #15 on: February 09, 2007, 10:47:21 pm »

Treblinka extermination camp

Treblinka was an Nazi Germany extermination camp, part of the Holocaust, the systematic murder of Jews and others. It was operated from July 1942 until October 1943. Current estimates are that around 800,000 to 900,000 people were killed there, second only to Auschwitz II (Birkenau) as the site with the most victims killed in the Holocaust.

Organization of the camp

The camp was operated by 20-25 SS (Germans and Austrians) and 80-120 Ukrainian guards.

The work was performed by 700-800 Jewish prisoners, organized into special squads (Sonderkommandos). The blue squad was responsible for unloading the train, carrying the luggage and cleaning the wagons. The red squad had the task of undressing the passengers and taking their clothes to the storage areas. The Geldjuden—Money Jews—were in charge of handling the money, gold, stocks, and jewelry. They were forced to search the prisoners just before the gas chambers. Another, the dentist, would open the mouths of the dead and pull out gold teeth with a pair of pliers. Then there were the Totenjuden, the Jews of death, who lived in Treblinka II and were forced to carry the dead from the gas chamber to the furnace and sifted through the ashes of the dead, ground up recognizable parts, and buried the ashes in pits. There also were the court Jews, who took care of the upkeep of the camp. There was the camouflage commando, which went every day into the forest and gathered branches to camouflage the camp and the "funnel" by weaving branches in the barbed wires.8 The work squads prisoners were continuously whipped and beaten by the guards and were often killed. New workers were selected from the daily arrivals and pressed into the commandos.

There was a bruise rule; if a prisoner had been bruised on the face, he would be shot that evening at roll call, or the next morning if the bruise had begun to show. Many prisoners, in utter despair at the horrible deaths of their families and unwilling to go on living, committed suicide by hanging themselves in the sleeping barracks with their belts.9 Normally, the work crews were almost entirely replaced every three to five days.10

Mass slaughter
A mass grave in Treblinka opened in March 1943, the bodies were removed for burning in this picture taken by the camp's deputy commander. In the background, dark gray piles of ash from cremated bodies can be seen.At Treblinka, arriving train passengers were savagely pulled from the train, separated by sex, and ordered to strip naked. In winter, the temperature often dropped to -5 °C (25 °F). The guards chose who would go to the "infirmary". The technique was to rush the whole process while beating everyone so nobody would have the chance to resist. The guards would first whip the men and force them to run uphill through the thirteen feet wide funnel all the way to the gas chambers. The men were locked in and asphyxiated with carbon monoxide from two captured Soviet tank engines. Making them run also raised their heartbeat, which made the process go faster (Lanzmann). It took thirty to forty minutes, then the "Jews of death" unloaded the dead and cleaned the chambers. Then the women were rushed in, and everyone was crammed as much as possible. The children that were "thrown into the chambers hit the ceiling and then, disfigured, sometimes with broken heads, fell on the heads of the prisoners."11

When the gassing was in progress, begun with a "Ivan, water!" by one of the guards, the prisoners screamed and pounded on the walls. There was a little peephole so the soldiers could see if the prisoners were dead yet.10 While the men were being gassed, the women were waiting naked in the funnel. They could hear their fathers, husbands, and sons dying. They experienced the "death panic", which caused them to empty their bowels involuntarily, because of the fear of imminent death. The ground in the funnel was covered with piles of excrement afterwards.12

When the doors were opened, "the disfigured, bitten prisoners, with ears torn off, lay on top of each other in the most varied posture."
The bodies were then carried to the furnace to be burned. Sometimes, the people were not dead and began to revive in the fresh air, especially pregnant women. They were shot by the guards and burned like the others. Some 800-1000 bodies were burned at the same time. They would burn for five hours. The incinerator was operated twenty-four hours a day.13

The killing centers had no other function. They were not part of the war effort, so the prisoners were just killed as soon as possible.14 But the prisoners, mostly Jewish, would believe anything in the face of such a monstrosity. So everything was eventually set up to make them feel better. The Germans had the camp decorated into a train station, complete with train schedules, posters of faraway lands and a real-looking clock (in reality, a prisoner would move the hands to the approximate time before each convoy arrived). The Nazis did not do this in order to make things more humane for the prisoners, but rather to have less work. Originally, the prisoners, as soon as they realized where they were, went mad and began to run around in horror, screamed horribly and tried to escape or commit suicide by jumping onto the barbed wires. This caused a lot of work for the soldiers. After the camp had been camouflaged as a station, the people did not suspect that their death was imminent.15


In August of 1943, the prisoners of the work commandos rebelled. They seized small arms, sprayed kerosene on all the buildings and set them ablaze. In the confusion, many German army soldiers were killed but many more prisoners perished. Of 1500 prisoners, only 12 survived the revolt. The camp ceased operation. Camp commander Kurt Franz recalled during his testimonies: "After the uprising in August 1943 I ran the camp single-handedly for a month; however, during that period no gassings were undertaken. It was during that period that the original camp was leveled off and lupins were planted."17 There was also a revolt at Sobibór around the same time.

After the revolt, it was decided to shut down the death camp and shoot the last of the Jewish prisoners [Arad, p.373]. The camp had been badly damaged by the fire, and the murder of the Polish Jews was also largely complete. Odilo Globocnik wrote to Himmler: "I have on [October 19, 1943], completed Action Reinhard, and have dissolved all the camps."18 The final group of about thirty Jewish prisoners at Treblinka were shot at the end of November.

Death Toll and Aftermath
A picture taken of the Treblinka site in 1945. Among the ashes and bone fragments in the disturbed mass burial pits are larger fragments of bone and various personal effects.In 1965, after a report by Dr. Helmut Krausnick, director of the Institute for Contemporary History in Munich, the Court of Assize in Dusseldorf concluded that the minimum number of people killed in Treblinka was 700,000. In 1969, the same court, after new evidence revealed in a report by expert Dr. Wolfgang Scheffler, reassessed that number to 900,000. According to the German and Ukrainian guards who were stationed in Treblinka, the figure ranges from 1,000,000 to 1,400,000.19 It is exceedingly difficult to correctly assess the actual number of those killed, as many witnesses were killed later during the war (which ended two years after the camp's closure, on May 8, 1945). Many records were lost or destroyed, especially regarding railroad transports, which were heavily bombed by Allied warplanes. Less than one hundred Treblinka survivors were found at the end of the war.20

In 2001, a copy of a decerypted telegram sent by the deputy commander of the Operation Reinhart was discovered among recently declassified information in Britain. The Höfle Telegram listed 713,555 Jews killed in Treblinka through the end of December, 1942, though the camp continued operating through 1943. Recent estimates are that at least 800,000 to 900,000 people were killed at Treblinka.[1]

After the camp was dismantled, local farmers began to dig up the ground around Treblinka, looking for valuables and bits of bone and decaying tissue were strewn around the site, even in 1959, visitors to the site found that the soil was still filled with millions of tiny bone fragments. [2] Today, Treblinka has a small memorial.

In Israel on April 25, 1988 John Demjanjuk was sentenced to death for war crimes committed in the camp. He was accused of being a notorious guard known as "Ivan the Terrible" by survivors, then later acquitted in 1993.
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« Reply #16 on: February 09, 2007, 10:48:28 pm »

Auschwitz concentration camp

Auschwitz is the name loosely used to identify the largest Nazi extermination camp along with two main German concentration camps and 45-50 sub-camps. The name is derived from the German name for the nearby Polish town of Oświęcim (pronounced [oɕ'fʲeɲʨiːm]), situated about 60 kilometres (37 mi) southwest of Kraków. Beginning in 1940, Nazi Germany built several concentration camps and an extermination camp in the area, which at the time had been annexed by Nazi Germany. The camps were a major element in the perpetration of the Holocaust, killing around 1.1-1.6 million people, of whom over 90% were Jews.

The three main camps were:

Auschwitz I, the original concentration camp which served as the administrative centre for the whole complex, and was the site of the deaths of roughly 70,000 people, mostly Poles and Soviet Prisoners of War
Auschwitz II (Birkenau), an extermination camp and the site of the deaths of at least 1.1 million Jews, 75,000 Poles, and some 19,000 Roma
Auschwitz III (Monowitz/Monowice), which served as a labor camp for the Buna-Werke factory of the IG Farben concern.
See List of subcamps of Auschwitz for others. The exact number of people killed in the camps is not known, but most modern estimates are around 1.1-1.6 million.[/b]

Like all Nazi concentration camps, the Auschwitz camps were operated by Heinrich Himmler's SS. The commandants of the camp were the SS-Obersturmbannführers Rudolf Höß (sometimes transliterated in English as "Hoess") until Summer 1943, and later Arthur Liebehenschel and Richard Baer. Höß provided a detailed description of the camp's workings during his interrogations after the war and also in his autobiography. He was hanged in 1947 in front of the entrance to the crematorium of Auschwitz I. Chief of the women's field was handled by Johanna Langefeld, Maria Mandel and last by Elisabeth Volkenrath.

About 700 prisoners attempted to escape from the Auschwitz camps during the years of their operation, with about 300 attempts successful. A common punishment for escape attempts was death by starvation; the families of successful escapees were sometimes arrested and interned in Auschwitz and prominently displayed to deter others.

Auschwitz I
Entrance to Auschwitz in 1941. The slogan Arbeit macht frei over the gate translates as "Work (shall) make (you) free" (or "work liberates")
Auschwitz I concentration camp in 2001
View of Auschwitz in the winter(2002)Auschwitz I served as the administrative center for the whole complex. It was founded on May 20, 1940, on the basis of an old Polish brick army barracks. A group of 728 Polish political prisoners from Tarnów became the first residents of Auschwitz on June 14th that year. The camp was initially used for interning Polish intellectuals and resistance movement members, then also for Soviet Prisoners of War. Common German criminals, "anti-social elements" and 48 German homosexuals were also imprisoned there. Jews were sent to the camp as well, beginning with the very first shipment (from Tarnów). At any time, the camp held between 13,000 and 16,000 inmates; in 1942 the number reached 20,000.

The entrance to Auschwitz I was (and still is) marked with the cynical sign "Arbeit macht frei", "Work (shall) make (you) free" (or "work liberates"). The camp's prisoners who left the camp during the day for construction or farm labour were made to march through the gate at the sounds of an orchestra. Contrary to what is depicted in several films, the majority of the Jews were imprisoned in the Auschwitz II camp, and did not pass under this sign.

The SS selected some prisoners, often German criminals, as specially privileged supervisors of the other inmates (so-called: kapo). The various classes of prisoners were distinguishable by special marks on their clothes; Jews were generally treated the worst. All inmates had to work; except in the associated arms factories, Sundays were reserved for cleaning and showering and there were no work assignments.

The harsh work requirements, combined with poor nutrition and hygiene, led to high death rates among the prisoners.

Block 11 of Auschwitz I was the "prison within the prison", where violations of the numerous rules were punished. Some prisoners had to spend several days in tiny cells too small to sit down. Others were executed by shooting, hanging or starving.

Entrance of Auschwitz IIn September 1941, the SS conducted poison gas tests in block 11, killing 850 Poles and Russians using cyanide. The first experiment was on 3 September, 1941, and it killed 600 Soviet POWs. The substance producing the highly-lethal cyanide gas was sold under the trade name Zyklon B, originally for use as a pesticide used to kill lice. The tests deemed successful, a gas chamber and crematorium were constructed by converting a bunker. This gas chamber operated from 1941 to 1942 and was then converted into an air-raid shelter.

The first women arrived in the camp on March 26, 1942. From April 1943 to May 1944, the gynecologist Prof. Dr. Carl Clauberg conducted sterilization experiments on Jewish women in block 10 of Auschwitz I, with the aim of developing a simple injection method to be used on the Slavic people. Dr. Josef Mengele experimented on twins in the same complex. Prisoners in the camp hospital who were not quick to recover were regularly killed by a lethal injection of phenol.

The camp brothel, established in the summer of 1943 on Himmler's order, was located in block 29 and was used to reward privileged prisoners. It was staffed by women specifically selected for the purpose, and by some volunteers from the female prisoners most of whom were raped by the Nazis.

Auschwitz II (Birkenau)

Entrance to Auschwitz II (Birkenau), the main extermination camp, in 2002
Selection at the Birkenau ramp, 1944 — Birkenau main entrance visible in the background
Birkenau concentration camp in 2001Auschwitz II (Birkenau) is the camp that many people know simply as "Auschwitz". It was the site of the imprisonment of hundreds of thousands, and the killings of over one million people, mainly Jews.

The camp is located in Brzezinka (Birkenau), about 3 kilometres (1.8 mi) from Auschwitz I. The camp was designed, according to the Bauhaus concept of functionalism and construction started in 1941, as part of the Final Solution (Endlösung). The camp was about 2.5 kilometres by 2 kilometres (1½ mi by 1¼ mi) large and was divided into several sections, each of which was separated into fields. Fields as well as the camp itself were surrounded with barbed, electrified wire (which was used by some of the inmates to commit suicide). The camp held up to 100,000 prisoners at one time.

The camp's main purpose, however, was not internment with forced labour (as Auschwitz I & III) but rather extermination. For this purpose, the camp was equipped with four crematoria with gas chambers; each gas chamber was designed to hold up to 2,500 people at one time. Large-scale extermination started in Spring 1942.

Most people arrived at the camp by rail, often after horrifying trips in cattle cars lasting several days. From 1944 railway tracks extended into the camp itself; before that, arriving prisoners were marched from the Auschwitz railway station to the camp. At times, the whole transport would be sent to its death immediately. At other times, the Nazis would perform "selections", often administered by Josef Mengele, to the end of choosing whom to kill right away and whom to imprison as labour force or use for medical experiments. Young children were taken from their mothers and placed with older women to be gassed, along with the sick, weak and old.

Those arriving prisoners who survived the initial selection would go on to spend some time in quarantine quarters and eventually work on the camp's maintenance or expansion or be sent to one of the surrounding satellite work camps.

One section of the camp was reserved for female prisoners. In another section known as "Canada" (so named because Germans believed that Canada was a land of vast riches), the belongings of the arriving victims were sorted and stored, to be transferred to the German government. Items such as banknotes, coins, jewellery, precious metals and diamonds were removed from "Canada" and shipped off to the Reichsbank.

Those selected for extermination were sent to any of four massive gas chamber/crematorium complexes, all at the edge of the camp. Two of the crematoria (Krema II and Krema III) each had an underground undressing room and the underground gas chamber, capable of holding thousands of people. To avoid mass panic, the victims were told that they were going there for showering; to reinforce this impression, shower heads were fitted in the gas chamber, though never connected to a water supply. The victims were ordered to strip naked and leave their belongings in the undressing room in a location that they could subsequently remember, before being led to the adjacent gas chamber. Once the victims were sealed shut in the chamber, the toxic agent Zyklon B was discharged from openings in the ceiling. Gas chambers in crematoria IV and V were above ground and Zyklon B was poured through the special windows in the walls. An oven room, where selected camp prisoners called Sonderkommandos took out the dead bodies and burned them, was part of the same building. This same process happened in Auschwitz I, but on a smaller scale.

Empty poison gas canisters and hair from victims, as seen in the Auschwitz museum that has been built in Auschwitz IJews from many countries were sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau to be killed: 300,000 from Poland, 69,000 from France, 60,000 from the Netherlands, 55,000 from Greece, 46,000 from Moravia, 25,000 from Belgium, as well as tens of thousands of Jews from other countries. The largest group of Jews deported to Auschwitz came from Hungary after Germany took control of its former ally in March 1944. Between May and July 1944, about 438,000 Jews from Hungary were deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau and the most were killed there. When the crematoria could not keep up, bodies were burned in open pits. [1].

Many Roma had been imprisoned in a special section of the camp, mostly in family units. They were gassed in July 1944. On 10 October, eight hundred Roma children were systematically killed at Birkenau.

On October 7, 1944, the Jewish Sonderkommandos (those prisoners kept separate from the main camp and involved in the operation of the gas chambers and crematoria) staged an uprising. Female prisoners had smuggled in explosives from a weapons factory, and crematorium IV was partly destroyed by an explosion. The prisoners then attempted a mass escape, but nearly all of the 250 were killed soon after.

Many of the inmates enslaved here survived less than a year due to their harsh living conditions. Birkenau was liberated on January 27, 1945.

Auschwitz III and satellite camps
Also see List of subcamps of Auschwitz
The surrounding satellite work camps were closely connected to German industry and were associated with arms factories, foundries and mines. The largest work camp was Auschwitz III Monowitz, named after the Polish village of Monowice. Starting operations in May 1942, it was associated with the synthetic rubber and liquid fuel plant Buna-Werke owned by IG Farben. In regular intervals, doctors from Auschwitz II would visit the work camps and select the weak and sick for the gas chambers of Birkenau. The largest subcamps were built at Trzebinia, Bleechammer and Althammer. Female subcamps were constructed at Budy , Plawy, Zabrze, Gleiwitz I, II, III, Rajsko and at Lichtenwerden.

Knowledge of the Allies
A photograph of Birkenau, taken May 31, 1944 by a Mosquito plane from South African Air Force, sent to take photographs of the fuel factory at nearby Monowitz. The photographic analysts missed the significance of the photograph, it was identified in the late 1970s and analyzed by the CIA in 1978. Smoke can been seen coming from Crematoria V, indicating that a group of prisoners were recently gassed.Some information regarding Auschwitz reached the Allies during 1941-1944, such as the reports of Witold Pilecki and Jerzy Tabeau, but the claims of mass killings were generally dismissed as exaggerations. This changed with receipt of the very detailed report of two escaped prisoners, Rudolf Vrba and Alfred Wetzler, which finally convinced most Allied leaders of the truth about Auschwitz in the middle of 1944.

Detailed air reconnaissance photographs of the camp were taken accidentally during 1944 by aircraft seeking to photograph nearby military-industrial targets, but no effort was made to analyse them. (In fact, it was not until the 1970s that these photographs of Auschwitz were looked at carefully.)

Starting with a plea from the Slovakian rabbi Weissmandl in May 1944, there was a growing campaign to convince the Allies to bomb Auschwitz or the railway lines leading to it. At one point Winston Churchill ordered that such a plan be prepared, but he was told that bombing the camp would most likely kill prisoners without disrupting the killing operation, and that bombing the railway lines was not technically feasible. Later several nearby military targets were bombed. One bomb accidentally fell into the camp and killed some prisoners. The debate over what could have been done, or what should have been attempted even if success was unlikely, has continued heatedly ever since.

Evacuation and liberation

The gas chambers of Birkenau were blown up by the Germans in November 1944 in an attempt to hide their crimes from the advancing Soviet troops. On January 17, 1945 Nazi personnel started to evacuate the facility; most of the prisoners were marched West. Those too weak or sick to walk were left behind; about 7,500 prisoners were liberated by the 322nd Infantry unit of the Red Army on January 27, 1945.

'Liberation' was not necessarily the end of the ordeal for many prisoners. Soviet POWs were accused of collaborating with the Germans and were either executed or sent to gulags in the Soviet Union.

Death toll

Since the Nazis attempted to destroy the evidence of the mass murder at Auschwitz, the exact number of victims is impossible to fix with certainty. Early efforts to count the number of dead relied on the testimony of witnesses, especially Nazi Rudolf Hoess, who gave the number of dead at 2.5-3 million. Though this number, and a higher total of 4 million, was used by Soviet and Polish authorities, it was never taken seriously by Western scholars, who generally supported numbers of around 1-2 million. In 1983, French scholar George Wellers was one of the first to use Nazi data on deportations to estimate the number killed at Auschwitz, arriving at 1.613 million dead, including 1.44 million Jews and 146,000 Poles. A larger study started around the same time by Franciszek Piper used time tables of train arrivals combined with deportation records to calculate 1.1 million Jewish deaths and 140,000-150,000 Polish victims, along with 23,000 Roma. This number has met with "significant, though not complete" agreement among scholars.^

After the war

After the war, the camp served as a prison of the NKVD through most of 1945 and then remained in a state of disrepair for several years. The Buna Werke were taken over by the Polish government and became the foundation for the chemical industry of the region.

The Polish government then decided to restore Auschwitz I and turn it into a museum honouring the victims of nazism; Auschwitz II, where buildings were prone to decay, was preserved but not restored. Today, the Auschwitz I museum site combines elements from several periods into a single complex: for example the gas chamber at Auschwitz I (which did not exist by the war's end) was restored and the fence was moved (because of building being done after the war but before the establishment of the museum). However, in most cases the departure from the historical truth is minor, and is clearly labelled.

Part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site - ruins at Birkenau, 2002Auschwitz II and the remains of the gas chambers there are also open to the public. The Auschwitz concentration camp is part of the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites.

In 1979, the newly elected Polish Pope John Paul II celebrated Mass on the grounds of Auschwitz II to some 500,000 people. After the pope had announced that Edith Stein would be beatified, some Catholics erected a cross near bunker 2 of Auschwitz II where she had been gassed. A short while later, a Star of David appeared at the site, leading to a proliferation of religious symbols there; eventually they were removed.

Carmelite nuns opened a convent near Auschwitz I in 1984. After some Jewish groups called for the removal of the convent, representatives of the Catholic Church agreed in 1987. One year later the Carmelites erected the 8 metre (26 ft) tall cross from the 1979 mass near their site, just outside block 11 and barely visible from within the camp. This led to protests by Jewish groups, who said that mostly Jews were killed at Auschwitz and demanded that religious symbols be kept away from the site. Some Catholics have pointed out that the people killed in Auschwitz I were mainly Polish Catholics. The Catholic Church told the Carmelites to move by 1989, but they stayed on until 1993, leaving the large cross behind. In 1998, after further calls to remove the cross, some 300 smaller crosses were erected by local activists near the large one, leading to further protests and heated exchanges. Following an agreement between the Polish Catholic Church and the Polish government, the smaller crosses were removed in 1999 but the large papal one remains. See Auschwitz cross for more details.

In 1996, Germany made 27 January, the day of the liberation of Auschwitz, the official day for the commemoration of the victims of 'National Socialism'.

The European Parliament marked the anniversary of the camp's liberation in 2005 with a minute of silence and the passage of this resolution:

"27 January 2005, the sixtieth anniversary of the liberation of Nazi Germany's death camp at Auschwitz-Birkenau, where a combined total of up to 1.5 million Jews, Roma, Poles, Russians and prisoners of various other nationalities, and homosexuals, were murdered, is not only a major occasion for European citizens to remember and condemn the enormous horror and tragedy of the Holocaust, but also for addressing the disturbing rise in anti-semitism, and especially anti‑semitic incidents, in Europe, and for learning anew the wider lessons about the dangers of victimising people on the basis of race, ethnic origin, religion, social classification, politics or sexual orientation."

Other Controversies

For many years, a memorial plaque placed at the camp by the Soviet authorities and the Polish communist government stated that 4 million people had been murdered at Auschwitz. This number was never taken seriously by Western historians, and was never used in any of the calculations of the death toll at Auschwitz (which have generally remained consistently around 1-1.5 million for the last sixty years) or for the total deaths in the Holocaust as a whole. After the collapse of the Communist government, the plaque was removed and the official death toll given as 1.1 million. Holocaust deniers have attempted to use this change as propaganda, in the words of Nizkor: "Deniers often use the 'Four Million Variant' as a stepping stone to leap from an apparent contradiction to the idea that the Holocaust was a hoax, again perpetrated by a conspiracy. They hope to discredit historians by making them seem inconsistent. If they can't keep their numbers straight, their reasoning goes, how can we say that their evidence for the Holocaust is credible? One must wonder which historians they speak of, as most have been remarkably consistent in their estimates of a million or so dead. In short, all of the denier's blustering about the 'Four Million Variant' is a specious attempt to envelope the reader into their web of deceit, and it can be discarded after the most rudimentary examination of published histories."[2]

Recently the Polish media and the foreign ministry of Poland have voiced objections to the use of the expression "Polish death camp" in relation to Auschwitz, as they feel that phrase might misleadingly suggest that Poles (rather than Germans) perpetrated the Holocaust. Most media outlets now show awareness of the offence this may cause, and try to avoid using such expressions (or issue an apology after using them, see for example the recent note in The Guardian).

The Polish film directors Andrzej Munk and Andrzej Wajda were both given permission to film in Auschwitz for the films Pasażerka and Krajobraz Po Bitwie respectively. However, permission was denied to Steven Spielberg for Schindler's List. His Auschwitz scene was therefore filmed outside the near-symmetrical entrance, with scenery added to make it look like the real thing.

In February 2006, Poland refused to grant visas to Iranian researchers who were planning to visit Auschwitz.[3]. Polish Foreign Minister Stefan Meller said his country should stop Iran from investigating the scale of the Holocaust, which Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has dismissed as a myth.
« Last Edit: February 09, 2007, 10:54:14 pm by Sarah » Report Spam   Logged

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« Reply #17 on: February 09, 2007, 10:49:19 pm »

Holocaust Death marches

The death marches refer to the forcible movement in the winter of 1944-5 by Nazi Germany of thousands of prisoners, mostly Jews, from German concentration camps near the war front to camps inside Germany. Later the term "death march" was applied to similar events elsewhere.

Toward the end of World War II in 1944, as The United States, Britain, and Canada moved in on the concentration camps from the west, the Soviet Union was advancing from the east. The Germans decided to abandon the camps, moving or destroying evidence of the atrocities they had committed there.

Prisoners, already sick after months or years of violence and starvation, were marched for tens of miles in the snow to train stations; then transported for days at a time without food or shelter in freight trains with open carriages; and forced to march again at the other end to the new camp. Prisoners who lagged behind or fell were shot.

The largest and best known of the death marches took place in January 1945, when the Soviet army advanced on Poland. Nine days before the Soviets arrived at the death camp at Auschwitz, the Germans marched 60,000 prisoners out of the camp toward Wodzislaw, thirty-five miles away, where they were put on freight trains to other camps. Around 15,000 died on the way.

The Germans killed large numbers of prisoners before, during, or after death marches. Seven hundred prisoners were killed during one ten-day march of 7,000 Jews, including 6,000 women, who were being moved from camps in the Gdansk region, which is bordered on the north by the Baltic Sea. Those still alive when the marchers reached the coast were forced into the sea and shot.

Elie Wiesel, Holocaust survivor and winner of the 1986 Nobel Peace Prize, was forced on a death march, along with his father, Shlomo, from Auschwitz to Buchenwald, which he describes in his 1958 novel Night.
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« Reply #18 on: February 09, 2007, 10:50:19 pm »

March of the Living
Polish-Jewish March of the Living, Auschwitz, 2000The March of the Living, also called "The March of Remembrance and Hope", is a dynamic educational program which brings students from all over the world to Poland, where they explore the remnants of the Holocaust. On Holocaust Memorial Day (Yom Hashoah), Participants march from Auschwitz to Birkenau, the largest concentration camp complex built during World War II.

The programme was established in the 1990s by the government of Israel and worldwide Jewish organisations and takes place annually in April for two weeks. Its purpose is to teach students of different religious and ethnic backgrounds about the dangers of intolerance through the study of the Holocaust, and to promote better relations among people of diverse cultures.

At the climax of the programme is the march, which is designed to contrast with the death marches which occurred towards the end of World War II. When Nazi Germany withdrew its soldiers from forced-labour camps, inmates—usually already starving and stricken by oppressive work—were forced to march tens of miles in the snow, while those who lagged behind or fell were shot. This irony of the living walking the path of a death march serves to illustrate the continued existence of world Jewry despite Nazi attempts at their obliteration.

March of the Living programmes often conclude by travelling to Israel to celebrate its independence day (Yom Haatzmaut), further strengthening the contrast of Jewish life and death.   

Sh'erit ha-Pletah (Hebrew: שארית הפליטה, literally: The Surviving Remnant) is a biblical (First Chronicles 4:43) term used by Jewish survivors of the Nazi Holocaust to refer to themselves and the communities they formed following their liberation in the spring of 1945. It took on significant meaning in the several years when hundreds of thousands of such survivors made their homes in displaced persons camps in Germany, Austria, and Italy.

Sarah (שָׂרָה means "Princess" in Hebrew.

Shalom(שָׁלוֹם) is a Hebrew word meaning peace.

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"If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, may my right hand fail..." - King David, Psalms 137:5
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