Treblinka: Hitler's Killing Machine (A review of the Smithsonian channel's new video)
On March 29th, 2014, the Smithsonian channel will air a new documentary video on archaeological investigations at Treblinka, Poland. Treblinka was one of the death camps created by Adolf Hitler during the lead up to World War II as part of his "final solution", an attempt to lay the blame for Germany's failures as an economic, political and military power on the shoulders of repressed minorities, by killing 6 million men, women and children in the space of five years.
Treblinka survivor Samuel Willenberg recalls suffering and resistance
Wearing a military beret, medals and walking with a stick, 90-year-old Samuel Willenberg led a crowd of people through a clearing in the pine forest, stopping to point out: "And the platform was here, the trains stopped here." Nothing remains of Treblinka extermination camp apart from the ashes of the 870,000 mostly Jewish men, women and children that the Nazis gassed and buried underground. Samuel Willenberg is the last survivor of the Jewish prisoners' revolt in the camp and he had returned for the 70th anniversary.
Escape tunnel discovered at Nazi death camp Sobibor
A team of Polish and Israeli archaeologists have discovered traces of an escape tunnel at the infamous Nazi death camp at Sobibor. Lying five feet below the surface, the tunnel stretched for 32 feet from one of the barracks and under the barbwire fences surrounding the camp. Its discovery provides the first physical evidence of prisoners trying to dig their way out of a Nazi death camp. The length of the tunnel gives an indication of the ingenuity of prisoners desperate to escape a camp that claimed the lives of 250,000 in the 17 months of its operations in German-occupied Poland.
Israeli archaeologist digs into Sobibor death camp in search of Nazi killing machines
After learning that two of his uncles were murdered in the infamous Sobibor death camp, archaeologist Yoram Haimi embarked on a landmark excavation project that is shining new light on the workings of one of the most notorious Nazi killing machines. Sobibor marks perhaps the most vivid example of the "Final Solution," the Nazi plot to wipe out European Jewry. Unlike other camps that had at least a facade of being prison or labor camps, Sobibor, Belzec and Treblinka were designed for exterminating Jews. Victims were transported there in cattle cars and gassed to death immediately. But researching Sobibor has been difficult. After an October 1943 uprising at the camp, the Nazis shut it down and leveled it to the ground.
Treblinka: A Survivor's Memory, 1942-1943 by Chil Rajchman
Rarely could any volume better illustrate the evil and utterly bankrupt nature of the Third Reich's "racially pure" population policy than "Treblinka: A Survivor`s Memory", Chil Rajchman's chilling and posthumously published memoir. Sent to Treblinka in 1942, Rajchman escapes execution but is instead deployed first as a corpse carrier and then a puller of teeth, required to extract gold from the mouths of the dead to fuel the Nazi war effort.
Treblinka: Revealing the hidden graves of the Holocaust (article + podcast available until Jan 30)
When the Nazis left Treblinka in 1943 they thought they had destroyed it. They had knocked down the buildings and levelled the earth. They had built a farmhouse and installed a Ukrainian "farmer". They had planted trees, and lupins. But if they thought they had removed all evidence of their crime, they hadn't. For a forensic archaeologist, there is a vast amount to study. Now any doubts about the existence of mass graves at the Treblinka death camp in Poland are being laid to rest by the first survey of the site using tools that see below the ground.
British archaeologist uses ground penetrating radar to locate Treblinka mass graves
A British forensic archaeologist has unearthed fresh evidence to prove the existence of mass graves at the Nazi death camp Treblinka - scuppering the claims of Holocaust deniers who say it was just a transit camp. Some 800,000 Jews were killed at the site during the Second World War but a lack of physical evidence in the area has been exploited by Holocaust deniers. Forensic archaeologist Caroline Sturdy Colls has now undertaken the first co-ordinated scientific attempt to locate the graves. Her work at the site is being followed in forthcoming Radio 4 documentary The Hidden Graves Of The Holocaust.
Memoir of a Jewish doctor who performed "research" on other Jews with Dr. Josef Mengele
"Auschwitz: A Doctor's Eyewitness Account" by Dr. Miklós Nyiszli is a memoir of a Jewish Hungarian medical doctor who performed "research" on other Jews with Dr. Josef Mengele aka "Angel of Death." Miklós Nyiszli, a Jew as well as a medical doctor, was sent to Auschwitz when the Nazis invaded Hungary in 1944. Dr. Nyiszli - No. A8450- was picked by Dr. Josef Mengele, to perform "scientific research" on the inmates and eventually became Mengele's personal research pathologist.
Uwe Boll's controversial new film "Auschwitz" depicts a "normal" day in a concentration camp (interview, trailer)
Uwe Boll's trailer from his latest film "Auschwitz" has been called tasteless and exploitative (it shows a Nazi guard standing in front of a gas chamber as victims die inside). In this interview the German director sets some of the facts about his film - which aims to show a "normal" day in a Nazi death camp - straight.
Uwe Boll: "Every single movie about the Holocaust concentrates on one character, stories of survivors, heroes, whatever. I wanted to show the Holocaust for what it was. In Auschwitz, more than 50% of people who went there were dead in two hours... this is how it was, in reality."
Polish gold-diggers robbed Jewish corpses at Treblinka after the war, claims a new book
A new book by historian Jan Tomasz Gross reveals how Polish relic hunters robbed Jewish corpses in Treblinka Nazi death camp after the war was over. "A Golden Harvest" could cause as much controversy as Gross's 2001 book "Neighbours" - which described a pogrom by Poles against Jews in Jedwabne (previously it had been thought that the Nazis had killed the Jews). A Golden Harvest is based on an article -- Gold Rush in Treblinka -- which describes how the Treblinka became a magnet for gold diggers.
Treblinka Survivor: The Life and Death of Hershl Sperling by Mark S. Smith (book review)
1939-1945 Hershl Sperling withstood everything the Nazis threw at him: from Blitzkrieg to the Czestochowa ghetto, the horrors of Auschwitz-Birkenau and the hell-fires of Treblinka. Mark Smith spent 3 years researching his book "Treblinka Survivor: The Life and Death of Hershl Sperling". 800,000 people were sent to the Treblinka extermination camp - less than 70 survived. Sperling was one of them. At Auschwitz, he looked into the eyes of Dr Josef Mengele and lived to tell to the tale. Almost 70 years after Treblinka was leveled, this book tells Sperling's story and solves the mystery of his suicide.
The Liberators: America's Witnesses to the Holocaust by Michael Hirsh (WWII book review)
What many of them remember most was the smell: burnt and decaying flesh - "the first thing you encounter and the last thing you forget," says a GI who was at Buchenwald. The American servicemen who walked into the Nazi death camps near the end of World War Two saw a level of evil that few can understand. The Liberators recounts the memories of the Americans who were in the camps. Even though the Soviet army had begun liberating death camps months earlier, American soldiers knew little about them. When they discovered the camps - sometimes by accident - they were unprepared for the horrors inside the gates.
Student documentary film reveals how Soviet Union herded Ethnic Germans into death camps
Students at St. Louis Community College-Meramec (STLCC) have created an in-depth, feature-length documentary film "The Forgotten Genocide." The documentary film reveals the suffering of Ethnic Germans behind the Iron Curtain. At the end of the Second World War, the Soviet Union systematically drove Ethnic Germans from Eastern Europe into death camps for the purpose of extinction. By examining relics of the era and carrying out interviews with German survivors of a little-known historical atrocity, students are unfolding this forgotten story.
Only 82 people survived the Nazi death factory camps - Thomas Blatt is one of them
Thomas Blatt is one of the last people alive to have survived the Nazi extermination camps. And he still has a bullet in his jaw to show for it. His tasks in Sobibor ranged from polishing SS men's boots to shaving the naked women before they were driven up the "Himmelfahrtstrasse" towards the gas chambers. "When a transport arrived, an SS man would hold a speech. He would apologise for the arduous journey, and said that for hygienic reasons, everyone needed to shower... later they would be given work. Some of the new arrivals applauded... They were all murdered in the gas chambers within the hour."
Philip Bialowitz survived Sobibor death camp
In the Jewish cemetery in the town of Izbica, Philip Bialowitz point to a battered gravestone. "This is the place where I was shot. I was brought here with a group ... and shot with machine-guns." The Nazis killed 4,000 Jews in the cemetery. Philip jumped in as soon as the bullets started to fly. "I fell down and pretended I was dead... I lay there a few hours covered in blood." A few months later, Philip was rearrested and sent to Sobibor death camp. Sobibor was one of 3 secret killing factories built by the Nazis in eastern Poland. In 18 months, 250,000 Jews were killed in the gas chambers. Their bodies were burned, their ashes buried in pits.
DVD review: Escape from Sobibor - uprising by prisoners of extermination camps
SS Sonderkommando Sobibor was a Nazi extermination camp in Eastern Poland. Along with Nazi camps at Belzec and Treblinka, it was set up by SS chief Heinrich Himmler as part of Operation Reinhard - the Nazi's plan to murder Polish Jews. On 14 October 1943 there took place the most successful uprising of the War, and half of the 600 prisoners escaped into the nearby woods. Escape from Sobibor (1987) is a British-made TV film, so the extras are very limited.
Trip to Terezin - Wittman Tours employs Holocaust survivors as tour guides
The man in the front seat turns to us solemnly and looks us each in the eye: "Hello, My name is Pavel Stransky, and I am a survivor." Nobody says a word. To answer seems somehow inadequate. For some trips Wittman Tours, a Prague-based company that offers tours of the city, hires Holocaust survivors as tour guides. Along the tour Stransky tells us stories: "There is where they shot Reinhard Heydrich." And he points to a bend in the road - All 8 of us turn as if we expect to see the former top Nazi and the Czech assassins. Stransky knows when to allow us to make our discoveries from memorabilia and when to share his facts and memories.
Anthony Acevedo, one of 350 GIs at Berga an der Elster, a satellite camp of the Buchenwald
Anthony Acevedo goes through the pages of his diary, labeled "A Wartime Log." It's a list of horrors that were carried out on U.S. soldiers held by Nazis at a slave labor camp. Acevedo hesitates when he comes across a soldier with the last name of Vogel: "He died in my arms. He wouldn't eat. He didn't want to eat. He said, 'I want to die! I want to die!'" He was one of 350 GIs held at Berga an der Elster, a satellite camp of the Buchenwald concentration camp. Acevedo's experience was never to be revealed: "[before we were freed] We had to sign an affidavit ... saying we never went through what we went through. We weren't supposed to say a word."
James Hoyt was one of the first 4 americans to see Buchenwald camp
James Hoyt, who was one of the 4 American soldiers to first see Buchenwald concentration camp, has died aged 83. He had seldom spoken about that day in 1945, but he lately opened up. "There were thousands of bodies piled high. I saw hearts that had been taken from live people in medical experiments," Hoyt told Stephen Bloom in a soon-to-be-published book "The Oxford Project." As a private first class in the U.S. Army, Hoyt and his 3 comrades (Captain Frederic Keffer, Tech. Sgt. Herbert Gottschalk and Sgt. Harry Ward) discovered Buchenwald in a concealed wooded area of eastern Nazi Germany.
"Dachau was like a hotel," said Treblinka survivor Edi Weinstein (Article no longer available from the original source)
We've all heard the names Dachau, Bergen-Belsen, Auschwitz. But few realize that there were many more German camps dotted across Third Reich and in countries overrun during the Nazi blitzkrieg. Perhaps less familiar is Treblinka. "Dachau was like a hotel," said Treblinka survivor Edi Weinstein. "Treblinka was worse than Auschwitz. In Auschwitz ... there were hundreds of thousands of others working in the industries. In Treblinka there were no names, there were no numbers - they killed everyone. A few Jews were put to work, but only to kill others." During its final months 99% of the victims died within 2 hours of reaching Treblinka.
One of most prominent Holocaust survivors, Anja Lundholm dies at 89
One of Germany`s most prominent Holocaust survivors Anja Lundholm, whose books recounted the horrors she experienced in a Nazi camp, has died aged 89. She published a series of books about her time at the Ravensbrueck women`s concentration camp, including her memoir "Hoellentor" ("Hell`s Gate"). She fled Nazi Germany for Italy with a fake passport in 1941 and joined the anti-fascist resistance there. In 1943, 6 months after the birth of her daughter, Lundholm was denounced by her SS officer father and arrested. She was sent to Ravensbrueck, where she became a slave labourer in degrading conditions - made vivid in her books.
Cash-Strapped Death Camp Memorial Sites Struggle to Survive
Germany's memorial sites at Nazi camps are in dire economic straits. The Dachau camp memorial site near Munich receives over 800,000 visitors per year. It is among the best-known sites commemorating the memory of the millions who perished in the Holocaust. But faced with an acute cash crunch, memorial centers strewn across Germany are struggling more and more to carry out their primary task: educating future generations about the horrors. Barbara Distel, director of the Dachau memorial site said education department cannot meet all requests for tours: "The situation in Dachau is unsatisfactory."
Escape from Auschwitz: Alfred Wetzlers flight told for first time in English (Article no longer available from the original source)
A first-hand account of how a Alfred Wetzler managed to escape from Nazi Germany's most notorious death camp and help save more than 120,000 Jews is to be told for the first time to an English-speaking audience. Alfred Wetzler was one of the tiny number of people to escape from Auschwitz-Birkenau. It was in the spring of 1944 that he and Rudolf Vrba managed to escape, initially by hiding under a woodpile for 4 days in the camp until the search was called off. The two men had also smuggled out evidence: a ground plan of the camp, details of the gas chambers, crematoriums and a label from a canister of Zyklon gas.
Germany plans entry fee for concentration camps
Germany may be poised to break a taboo by charging an entrance fee to concentration camp sites. Peter Dietz de Loos, president of the Dachau Committee, named after the first camp of the Nazi regime near Munich, said the camps needed the money for renovations, staff and daily upkeep. Several groups have spoken out against the plan - pointing out that camps are also cemeteries and as such should not be charged. Dietz de Loos says government subsidies are no longer sufficient to keep the gulag from falling apart. Educational programs at Buchenwald have already been cut back because of a shortage of funds.
America inspired Third Reich - Nazis learned about Zyklon B from US
A book by a Mexican-American historian documents how the Nazis were inspired by what the U.S. had been doing to their Mexican neighbours since 1917. In Ringside at the Revolution: An Underground Cultural History of El Paso and Juarez, David Dorado Romo establishes the US Immigration Department's brutality. Mexican visitors were forced to strip naked and subjected to screening (for low IQ, physical deformities like 'clubbed fingers') and to disinfection with various toxic fumigants, including gasoline, kerosene, sulfuric acid DDT and, after 1929, Zyklon-B (hydrocyanic acid) - the same gas used in the nazi death camps.
Files Show Postwar Woes of Nazi Victims
For the living skeletons who survived the Nazi terror, the Displaced Persons camp offered little relief. A bleak picture springs from reports by the Allied officers. People still died at the rate of 1,000 to 1,500 a day. Corpses were stacked in front of barracks, to be carted away by captured SS guards. When the Third Reich surrendered in May 1945, 8 million people were left uprooted. Far from scenes of joyful liberation, the files reveal loss, and often insensitive military authorities. Many had nowhere to go. Those who wanted to get to Palestine were shut out by a British ban. Food was still scarce often just coffee and wet black bread.
WWII camp survivor defends her memoirs "Too Stubborn to Die"
A handful of Dutch immigrants question the authenticity of one woman's memoirs of her life in German-occupied Amsterdam and as a prisoner in a camp. In "Too Stubborn to Die" (1995) Cato Jaramillo writes about a childhood in Amsterdam and being held prisoner at Nordhausen camp. But Jerry and Hanna Meents, who lived in Amsterdam during Nazi occupation, grew concerned about her story. "I read the book in one day, and that's when I found out that 95% is B.S. Because all the historical facts of Amsterdam did not happen on the days she said, and she mentioned some things in the book that happened when she was supposed to be in the concentration camp," said Jerry Meents.
Group that wasn't always liberated from the nazi camps (Article no longer available from the original source)
In 1936, the SS Reichsfuhrer Heinrich Himmler created the Gestapo`s Central Office for the Combating of Homosexuality and Abortion. As a result, 100,000 men were arrested as homosexuals, and 50,000 sentenced. Some spent time in regular prisons, some were forcefully castrated, and thousands were sent to Nazi camps. Men with pink triangles were often treated severely by guards and other inmates alike. Some were victims of cruel medical experiments, designed to change them into heterosexuals. The liberation from the Nazi camps did not end the suffering - some were even forced to serve out their terms of imprisonment.
The Nazis built Sachsenhausen in 1936 as a prototype
Inside Sachsenhausen camp, except for the sound of the rushing wind, it's as quiet as a tomb. The Nazis built Sachsenhausen in 1936 as a prototype for their rapidly expanding network of camps. With 9 watchtowers and a topographical layout designed for optimal surveillance of prisoners, it was hailed by SS leader Heinrich Himmler as a "modern, up-to-date, ideal and easily expandable concentration camp." At the main entrance, the greeting "ARBEIT MACHT FREI", "Work Makes You Free," remains wrought in large black letters on the steel gate.
The worst friendly-fire incident: RAF killed 7,000 Nazi camps survivors (Article no longer available from the original source)
In the worst friendly-fire incident in history Royal Air Force killed more than 7,000 survivors of Nazi camps who were crowded onto ships in Lybeck harbor. The ragged masses stood no chance against the guns of their liberators. This tragic mistake occurred one day before the British accepted the surrender of all German forces in the region. Reports of the incident were hushed up, as world prepared to celebrate the Allied victory in Europe. Despite the bitter irony of dying in hellish fires on sinking ships just hours before liberation, the tragedy was quickly forgotten or resolutely ignored. The RAF records of the disaster are sealed until 2045.
Saved from scraps, music of the death camps - Listen samples
Scribbled in notebooks and diaries they provide a remarkable history of the music played and sung by the victims of the nazi era. Scores for thousands of waltzes, tangos, operas and folk songs will be made available by Francesco Lotoro, a professional pianist who for 16 years has been scouring cities to amass his collection. Much of the music is sad and plaintive, the lyrics of one song by Josef Kropinski read: "In Buchenwald, the birch trees rustle sadly, as my heart sways languishing in woe." Despite the privations of life, there are several upbeat songs and plenty of wry humour: "There's no life like life at Auschwitz!"
WWII-era photos frequently poorly documented
Gruesome Holocaust photos are often poorly documented, providing ammunition to historical revisionists. The Buchenwald Memorial is doing something about it. "A picture would be attributed to Buchenwald one time, to Dachau another time, and then to Nordhausen." Images are scattered across the globe and the photographers are unknown or dead. The photos are often only scantily labelled and wrong attributions are taken at face value. 6 years ago, an exhibition on the German army in WWII called "The Crimes of the Wehrmacht" had to be reworked after historians discovered serious errors in the captions of several images.
Heinrich Himmler's Joy Divisions (Article no longer available from the original source)
Forced to work in Heinrich Himmler's death-camp brothels women were destroyed by the evil of the Nazis. Now the women's story is being told at an exhibition being held at Ravensbruck. It includes first-hand accounts from the women and the men who used them. In 1942 SS chief Heinrich Himmler wrote to Auschwitz commandant Rudolf Hoess: "I consider it necessary to provide in the most liberal way hard-working prisoners with women..." Each session lasted 20 minutes with every woman expected to sleep with 8 men a day and up to 40 at weekends. Ryszard Dacko was one of the men who used the women: "If I wanted to get a voucher, I had to sort things out with an SS man..."
Names Of Dead From Soviet Camps in Germany Published (Article no longer available from the original source)
A museum in Berlin has opened a public display of the names of 43,000 people who died in prison camps operated by the Soviet Union in Germany after World War II. Alexandra Hildebrandt found out that the German Red Cross had a list of the people who perished in Soviet-run camps. She decided to publish the names in books that the public could solve mysteries about the fate of their loved ones. The government says 65,000 people died or were killed in military prison camps run by the Soviets 1945-1950. "My husband said it was 96,000." Historians estimate 180,000 people were held in the camps.
Buchenwald and its records kept by the SS Oberführer in charge
Records kept by the SS Oberführer in charge show the deaths at the Buchenwald camp near Weimar numbered 6,477 in January, 5,614 in February, 5,479 in March, and 915 in April. The April toll was only up to the 10th of the month. The next day the American Third Army overran the area and brought release to the 21,000 inmates at this resort of starvation, torture, hangings and shootings. When the sound of gunfire from the approaching Americans was heard, thousands of the inmates were marched off by 600 SS Guards to an unknown destination.
Lost words of a German conscript - Bergen-Belsen
Next week sees the 61st anniversary of the liberation of Bergen-Belsen, the first of the Nazi death camps to be reached by UK and US troops at the end of WWII. Andrew Joynes has been piecing together the story of one man who survived the camp and whose story is now being told at the new memorial centre at Belsen. Anton Igel was drafted into the German army, and then embarked on a series of desertions which took him to Gestapo cells. On his final escapade he ran away from a Wehrmacht unit on its way to the Russian front and went to ground in the Warsaw Ghetto. He avoided being shot by feigning mental illness.
Photographs of Victims of UK's post war torture camp
Photographs of victims of a secret torture programme operated by British authorities are published for the first time after being concealed for almost 60 years. The pictures show men who had suffered months of starvation, sleep deprivation, beatings and extreme cold at one of a number of interrogation centres run by the War Office in postwar Germany. Believing that war with the Soviet Union was inevitable, the War Office was seeking information about Russian military and intelligence methods. Dozens of women were also detained and tortured, as were a number of genuine Soviet agents, scores of suspected Nazis, and former members of the SS.
Bergen-Belsen - From nightmare to haven
Rucela Wisznic remembers Bergen-Belsen well. Not the nightmarish Nazi concentration camp, but the displaced-persons camp that replaced it at the end of WWII. Organized by Jews, Bergen-Belsen was the largest displaced-persons camp in post-war Germany, providing food, shelter, schooling, worship and a many-layered social structure for 250,000 Jews displaced by war, who lived there until 1950. The Bergen-Belsen community also forged a fierce and determined group of pioneers, most of whom helped shape the new state of Israel.
Spanish Nazi victims' chief says was never in camp (Article no longer available from the original source)
The former head of a Spanish association of Nazi concentration camp victims said on Wednesday he was never actually a prisoner in any camp and had lied for almost 30 years about his past. Enric Marco, who published a book entitled "Memories of Hell" in 1978 about his experiences, confessed he had invented his account of suffering in Germany's Flossenburg concentration camp.