Auschwitz and the Holocaust

Colonel Tom Carter posted this yesterday at Opinion Forum.
He has graciously authorized me to re-post it here.

International Holocaust Remembrance Day, created in 2005 by a UN General Assembly resolution, coincides with the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp by Soviet forces on January 27, 1945. This is the second of a series of three articles being re-published to observe this solemn day of remembrance.

The Auschwitz complex consisted of three camps. One was mostly administrative, another was a slave labor camp supporting an I.G. Farben industrial enterprise, and Auschwitz-Birkenau was the death camp. Well over a million people were murdered at Auschwitz, about 90 percent of them Jews. Some Nazi victims at Auschwitz were from Poland, but many were deported to Auschwitz from other countries, including Hungary, Czechoslovakia, the Netherlands, Belgium, and Yugoslavia.

auschwitz10-150x105The experience of the Jews of Hungary was particularly tragic. Earlier in the war, Hungarian authorities, while generally cooperating with the Nazis, resisted attempts to deport Hungary’s approximately 750,000 Jews. After the Nazis seized control of Hungary, about 430,000 Hungarian Jews, some of whom are pictured at left, were deported to Auschwitz during April-June 1944, where almost all of them died. In just these few months, the Hungarian Jews assembly-lined through the death machine at Auschwitz accounted for about one-third of all Jews killed there.

SS Obersturmbannführer Adolf Eichmann, the administrative mastermind of the Final Solution, the Nazi plan to eliminate the Jews of Europe, arrived in Budapest in 1944. His mission — his passion — was to finally deal with the Hungarian Jews. In a bizarre turn of events, Eichmann contacted an influential leader of the Jewish community and offered to ransom one million Jews, more than there were in all of Hungary, for ten thousand trucks. This offer was carried to the Allies and, after extensive deliberations, was declined because of a reluctance to pay ransom, especially in a form that could help the German war effort.

auschwitz05-150x102Eichmann accomplished his mission, even to the point of exceeding his orders, with the full and willing support of the Hungarian regime in power.

The killing machine that was Auschwitz was darkly impressive in its efficiency. SS Obersturmbannführer Rudolf Höss, former Commandant of Auschwitz, testifying at Nuremberg:

The way we selected our victims was as follows: We had two SS doctors on duty at Auschwitz to examine the incoming transports of prisoners. The prisoners would be marched by one of the doctors who would make spot decisions as they walked by. Those who were fit for work were sent into the camp. Others were sent immediately to the extermination plants. Children of tender years were invariably exterminated since by reason of their youth they were unable to work. Still another improvement we made over Treblinka was that at Treblinka the victims almost always knew that they were to be exterminated and at Auschwitz we endeavored to fool the victims into thinking that they were to go through a delousing process. Of course, frequently they realized our true intentions and we sometimes had riots and difficulties due to that fact. Very frequently women would hide their children under their clothes, but of course when we found them we would send the children in to be exterminated. We were required to carry out these exterminations in secrecy but of course the foul and nauseating stench from the continuous burning of bodies permeated the entire area and all of the people living in the surrounding communities knew that exterminations were going on at Auschwitz.

Those selected for death upon arrival were quickly murdered, most by gassing but some by other means when the gas chambers were overworked. Some, especially children, were selected for medical experiments that were cruel and inhumane beyond description. Dr. Josef Mengele, an SS physician, was in charge of most selections of those who would live, die, or be subjected to experiments. He was particularly curious about twins, conducting experiments on twin children that were truly vile. He injected dye into their unanesthetized eyeballs to see if he could change the color of their eyes; he murdered the survivors of twins who had been experimented on to conduct comparative autopsies; he even killed sets of twins to settle disagreements with his co-workers.

auschwitz06-150x96In this photo, Dr. Mengele is second from left. SS Obersturmbannführer Höss, who commanded Auschwitz for much of the time it operated, is in the center foreground. They appear to be normal human beings, passing a pleasant moment among friends. But don’t be deceived. They were as evil as any creatures that ever trod upon this earth.

Höss met a fitting end. He was convicted of murder in Poland and hanged at Auschwitz in April 1947, near a crematorium. Unfortunately, Mengele escaped the justice he so richly deserved, despite a decades-long manhunt. He ran to South America when the war ended and lived there for 34 years before his death.

Could anything have been done to stop or at least slow the killing at Auschwitz? Reports of what was going on dribbled out during the war. Toward the end of the war, the Allies had a pretty good idea of what was happening. But Auschwitz was deep inside Poland, inaccessible to Allied military power. Near the end of the war, when some of the late, frantic killing was happening at Auschwitz, the Allies could have bombed the camps or perhaps the rail lines servicing them. Some fault the Allies for not bombing Auschwitz. But in the context of their times, it’s difficult to judge them too harshly because of the limits of their knowledge and the pressure of prosecuting the larger war. Beyond that, the inaccuracy of high-level bombardment and the ease of repairing rail lines meant that bombing would have likely killed very many prisoners and accomplished little of substance.

Kofi Annan, Secretary General of the United Nations, speaking before the United Nations General Assembly in 2005 during the UN commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz:

…the tragedy of the Jewish people was unique. An entire civilization, which had contributed far beyond its numbers to the cultural and intellectual riches of Europe and the world, was uprooted, destroyed, laid waste.

Elie Wiesel, an Auschwitz survivor and Nobel Peace Prize laureate, speaking before the UN General Assembly during the 2005 commemoration, said:

Had the Western nations intervened when Hitler occupied Czechoslovakia and Austria; had America accepted more refugees from Europe; had Britain accepted more refugees from Europe; had Britain allowed more Jews to return to their ancestral land; had the Allies bombed the railways leading to Birkenau, our tragedy might have been avoided, its scope surely diminished. This shameful indifference we must remember.

Mr. Wiesel delivered the first major speech the United Nations had ever agreed to hear in commemoration of the deaths of six million Jews. However, the room was only half full. Among Muslim countries, Jordan and Afghanistan were prominently visible, but most were absent.

In a near future not hard to imagine, will we have to repeat Elie Wiesel’s lament against “shameful indifference?” The time to help the Jews of Europe avoid the horrors of the Holocaust was in the late 1930s and early 1940s. The time to support and defend Israel is now.

(Other articles in this series: Remembering the Holocaust, The Church and the Holocaust)

*****************************************************************************

Here’s my two cents worth:

Please read the last paragraph again. The Holocaust could and should have been prevented. Yet Hitler’s Germany was allowed to engage in massive and increasing violations of treaty obligations as she rearmed in preparation for the Second World War. It was felt better to appease than to threaten or to take the minor military efforts that would have caused the violations to cease. WWII could likely have been prevented and along with it the Holocaust. Unless we chose to sit back and wait to be shocked by another, “The time to support and defend Israel is now.”

Yet

Schools are dropping the Holocaust from history lessons to avoid offending Muslim pupils, a Government backed study has revealed.

It found some teachers are reluctant to cover the atrocity for fear of upsetting students whose beliefs include Holocaust denial.

That was in England. Might the same happen in the United States as her Islamist population grows?

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About danmillerinpanama

I was graduated from Yale University in 1963 with a B.A. in economics and from the University of Virginia School of law, where I was the notes editor of the Virginia Law Review in 1966. Following four years of active duty with the Army JAG Corps, with two tours in Korea, I entered private practice in Washington, D.C. specializing in communications law. I retired in 1996 to sail with my wife, Jeanie, on our sailboat Namaste to and in the Caribbean. In 2002, we settled in the Republic of Panama and live in a very rural area up in the mountains. I have contributed to Pajamas Media and Pajamas Tatler. In addition to my own blog, Dan Miller in Panama, I an an editor of Warsclerotic and contribute to China Daily Mail when I have something to write about North Korea.
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10 Responses to Auschwitz and the Holocaust

  1. Just to promote a recently set up website on my experience of Auschwitz

    http://remembertheholocaust.wordpress.com

  2. The MAD Jewess says:

    Yknow, its really awful.. I dont post about the holocaust because people have come and bothered me about it. Saying “I have a ‘victim’ mentality.”
    These people clearly do not know me. Or mine.

    TY for taking the time to do this.

    • It was “awful” indeed. Now, about seventy years later, there are savages who call it a hoax and hope to do it themselves. Their disease is not confined to the Middle East but is spreading in much of Europe and even our own mother country, England. The US? Apparently just to a lesser extent thus far.

      Will we do anything, or is our fear of offending adherents to the “Religion of Peace,” much beloved by President Obama (may his holy name be praised) and his friends, too overpowering? Are we so sensitive to the labels “racist” and “Islamaphobe” that we prefer not to know? Rather like many Germans in Hitler’s Germany? Or do we simply not care?

      If the video does not embed properly, <a href = "http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RfJ6FpabknY<here is a link. You have probably seen it, but if not it’s well worth watching.

      Dan

  3. Tom Carter says:

    Dan, thanks. I share your concern that knowledge of the Holocaust and how and why it happened has been on the wane for a long time. I’ve encountered many people over the years in the U.S. and abroad who don’t know much about it but are nonetheless convinced that the Holocaust has been exaggerated or maybe didn’t happen at all. Even worse, anti-semitism, whether blatant or mild and somewhat covert, can be found everywhere.

    When Islamists say they intend to destroy Israel and remove all Jews from the region, their goal aligns perfectly with Hitler’s. Their methods would be less organized and efficient than were the Nazis, of course, but the result would be the same — millions of dead and displaced Jews. Are Americans willing to be complicit it permitting that kind of horror to happen again?

  4. I visited Dachau several years ago. I cried. When I readd crap like this, I want to hurt somebody:

    ” A key figure in Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi’s government called the Holocaust a hoax cooked up by U.S. intelligence operatives and claimed the 6 million Jews who were killed by Nazis simply moved to the U.S.”

    Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/world/2013/01/29/aide-to-egyptian-president-morsi-claims-holocaust-us-hoax/#ixzz2JOjAZeIf

    • Thanks, Jim. I haven’t been there but have the same reaction to the quote from the Morsi functionary.

      Islamists in suits are no better than those in native garb. They may be worse because of our incredibly naive tendency to believe that since they dress like Westerners and speak English they must be civilized.

      Will our own powers that (unfortunately) be learn while something useful can still be done to prevent a repetition of the Holocaust by nuking or gassing Israel?

      Dan

  5. boudicabpi says:

    Hey Dan, if you have not seen it here is the Auschwitz Album.
    http://boudicabpi.boudica.us/?p=1838
    Bob A.

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