Sonderkommando Auschwitz Revolt

Today in Holocaust History —> On this day in 1944, the Sonderkommando of Auschwitz-Birkenau—a group of Jewish prisoners tasked with removing corpses from gas chambers and burning them—rose up against their Nazi captors. Using gunpowder smuggled by young Jewish women forced to work in munitions factories, a group of Sonderkommando prisoners blew up one crematorium and killed some of the guards.

250 of the revolt’s participants died fighting the SS and police, and 200 more were shot by the SS after the fighting ended. Although the SS quashed the uprising, the Auschwitz-Birkenau revolt remains an example of bravery in the face of extraordinary oppression.

#AuschwitzRevolt #Resistance

Babi Yar

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Today in Holocaust History —> Today, we remember one of the largest single mass murders of the Holocaust. Beginning on September 29, 1941, German forces and their auxiliaries rounded up and killed the Jews of Kiev, Ukraine, at a ravine called Babi Yar. In just two days, 33,771 Jewish men, women, and children were shot.

The Babi Yar massacre remains a harrowing example of Nazi atrocities during the invasion of the Soviet Union. In the months following the massacre, German authorities stationed at Kiev killed thousands more Jews at Babi Yar, as well as non-Jews including Roma (Gypsies), Communists, and Soviet prisoners of war. It is estimated that some 100,000 people were murdered at Babi Yar.

#Holocaust #Remembrance #BabiYar

Adolf Eichmann Sentenced

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On February 5th 1961 Adolf Eichmann is sentenced to death for war crimes in Israel.

Charged with managing and facilitating the mass deportation of Jews to ghettos and killing centers in the German-occupied East, he was among the major organizers of the Holocaust.

Eichmann admitted during his last day of testimony, that he was in fact responsible for sending millions to their deaths, co-coordinating the plans down to the last detail, from removing the people from their homes and deporting them to extermination camps, to dividing and plundering their assets, – however, he maintained that he did not feel guilty about his actions, or the consequences.

#Holocaust #Israel #Eichmann

Anne Frank’s Last Diary Entry

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On August 1st 1944, Anne Frank penned her last entry into her diary.

“… Believe me, I’d like to listen, but it doesn’t work, because if I’m quiet and serious, everyone thinks I’m putting on a new act and I have to save myself with a joke, and then I’m not even talking about my own family, who assume I must be ill, stuff me with aspirins and sedatives, feel my neck and forehead to see if I have a temperature, ask about my bowel movements and berate me for being in a bad mood, until I just can’t keep it up any more, because when everybody starts hovering over me, I get cross, then sad, and finally end up turning my heart inside out, the bad part on the outside and the good part on the inside, and keep trying to find a way to become what I’d like to be and what I could be if … if only there were no other people in the world.”

Three days later, Anne was arrested with her family in the “secret annex” of a house in Amsterdam, Netherlands, where they had hidden for two years. She later died at the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp when she was 15.

(Anne Frank at the Sixth Montessori School, Amsterdam, 1941)

Ursula von Kardoff on Sophie Scholl and the White Rose

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On Sophie Scholl and the White Rose:

“I will never forget the excitement when a leaflet was pressed into my hand by somebody in the editorial room of the Allgemeine Zeitung. The leaflets were being circulated by White Rose followers in Hamburg. Something inflammatory, heartening—yes, magical!—emanated from these typewritten and hectographed [mimeographed] lines.

We copied them off and passed them on. A wave of enthusiasm swept over us—we who risked so damned little in comparison.”
~ Ursula von Kardoff (reporter at Nuremberg War Crimes Tribunal, 1945)

Sophie Scholl: An Introduction

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“How can we expect righteousness to prevail when there is hardly anyone willing to give himself up individually to a righteous cause? Such a fine, sunny day, and I have to go, but what does my death matter, if through us, thousands of people are awakened and stirred to action?”

~ Sophie Scholl, Her last words before execution.

Sophie Scholl (1921-1943), German student and anti-Nazi political activist, active within the White Rose non-violent resistance group in Nazi Germany.  Convicted of high treason after having been found distributing anti-war leaflets at the University of Munich (LMU). As a result, she was executed by guillotine.

In 1942, five young German students and one professor at the University of Munich (LMU) crossed the threshold of toleration to enter the realms of resistance, danger and death. Protesting in the name of principles Hitler thought he had killed forever, Sophie Scholl and other members of the White Rose realized that the ‘Germanization’ Hitler sought to enforce was cruel and inhuman, and that they could not be content to remain silent in its midst…

#SophieScholl #WhiteRose #WorldWarII #ProtestAuthoritarianism #Resist

 

Warsaw Ghetto Uprising Comes To An End

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On May 16th 1943, the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising ended with about 15,000 Jews killed, the rest deported to the camps, and the end of the massacre announced in this way:

The suppression of the uprising officially ended on 16 May 1943, when Stroop personally pushed a detonator button to demolish the Great Synagogue of Warsaw. Stroop later recalled:

“What a marvelous sight it was. A fantastic piece of theater. My staff and I stood at a distance. I held the electrical device which would detonate all the charges simultaneously. Jesuiter called for silence. I glanced over at my brave officers and men, tired and dirty, silhouetted against the glow of the burning buildings. After prolonging the suspense for a moment, I shouted: Heil Hitler and pressed the button.”

~ Jürgen Stroop, Conversations with an Executioner

Warsaw Ghetto Uprising

On April 19th 1943, the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising began. It was the 1943 act of Jewish resistance that arose within the Warsaw Ghetto in German-occupied Poland during World War II, and which opposed Nazi Germany’s final effort to transport the remaining Ghetto population to Treblinka. The uprising started on 19 April when the Ghetto refused to surrender to the police commander SS-Brigadeführer Jürgen Stroop, who then ordered the burning of the Ghetto, block by block, ending on 16 May. A total of 13,000 Jews died, about half of them burnt alive or suffocated. German casualties are not known, but were not more than 300. It was the largest single revolt by Jews during World War II.

On 19 April 1943, on the eve of Passover, the police and SS auxiliary forces entered the Ghetto. They were planning to complete the deportation action within three days, but were ambushed by Jewish insurgents firing and tossing Molotov cocktails and hand grenades from alleyways, sewers, and windows. The Germans suffered 59 casualties and their advance bogged down. Two of their combat vehicles (an armed conversion of a French-made Lorraine 37L light armored vehicle and an armored car) were set on fire by insurgent petrol bomb. Following von Sammern-Frankenegg’s failure to contain the revolt, he lost his post as the SS and police commander of Warsaw. He was replaced by SS-Brigadeführer Jürgen Stroop, who rejected von Sammern-Frankenegg’s proposal to call in bomber aircraft from Kraków and proceeded to lead a better-organized and reinforced ground attack.

The longest-lasting defense of a position took place around the ŻZW stronghold at Muranowski Square, where the ŻZW chief leader, Dawid Moryc Apfelbaum, was killed in combat. On the afternoon of 19 April, a symbolic event took place when two boys climbed up on the roof of a building on the square and raised two flags, the red-and-white Polish flag and the blue-and-white banner of the ŻZW. These flags remained there, highly visible from the Warsaw streets, for four days. After the war, Stroop recalled:

“The matter of the flags was of great political and moral importance. It reminded hundreds of thousands of the Polish cause, it excited them and unified the population of the General Government, but especially Jews and Poles. Flags and national colours are a means of combat exactly like a rapid-fire weapon, like thousands of such weapons. We all knew that – Heinrich Himmler, Krüger, and Hahn. The Reichsfuehrer [Himmler] bellowed into the phone: ‘Stroop, you must at all costs bring down those two flags!'”
~ Jürgen Stroop, 1949

#WarsawGhettoUprising #JewishResistance #Holocaust

Ordinary People Commit Atrocities

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This is one of the hardest but most important warnings for us today. Perpetrators were ordinary people.

People want to believe that only monsters commit mass abuses & atrocities. But it’s actually ordinary people, “just doing their jobs” and “just following orders”, who make horrors happen.

Photos of Auschwitz personnel, 1944.