Patterico's Pontifications

12/30/2018

Last Known Warsaw Ghetto Uprising Fighter Passes Away

Filed under: General — Dana @ 8:58 pm



[guest post by Dana]

This is my third post in a row about someone passing away. Entirely unplanned, I assure you. Lest anyone suspect I’ve developed a morbid fixation on death, I haven’t. But what I have done is learn about three individuals that I never had the pleasure of meeting, and from all accounts, they each seemed to understand that their worlds were bigger than themselves.

With that, news came last week that Simcha Rotem, a Jew who fought against the Nazis in the Warsaw ghetto uprising in 1943, passed away at the age of 94:

Born in 1924, Rotem was 15 when Nazi Germany invaded Poland.

The Warsaw ghetto initially held some 380,000 Jews who were cramped into tight living spaces, and at its peak housed about a half million.

Resistance began to grow after July 1942, when 265,000 men, women and children were rounded up and later killed at the Treblinka death camp. As word of the Nazi genocide spread, those who remained behind in the ghetto no longer believed German promises that they would be sent to forced labor camps.

A small group of rebels began to spread calls for resistance, carrying out isolated acts of sabotage and attacks. Some Jews began defying German orders to report for deportation.

The Nazis entered the ghetto on April 19, 1943, the eve of Passover. Three days later, the Nazis set the ghetto ablaze, turning it into a fiery death trap, but the Jewish fighters kept up their struggle for nearly a month before they were brutally vanquished.

“Right at the beginning, when I saw the mass of German forces enter the ghetto, my initial reaction — and I guess I wasn’t alone in this — was one of hopelessness,” Rotem said later, as quoted in Haaretz.

“What chance did we have with our miserable supply of firearms to hold off this show of German force with machine-guns, personnel carriers and even tanks? … An absolute sense of powerlessness prevailed.”

The teenage Rotem served as a liaison between bunkers and took part in the fighting, before arranging for the escape of some of the last survivors through sewers.

This is from an article covering a lecture Rotem gave in 1997:

One of Simha “Kazik” Rotem’s most painful memories is of the time he worked with other Jews to resist the Nazi invasion of his native Poland. While on patrol in the Warsaw ghetto, he searched through the rubble and found a young mother, dead, with a crying infant still in her arms. “I stopped for a moment and then went on,” he said.

Speaking in hushed tones to an audience of more than 600 at the eighth University Wallenberg Lecture on Nov. 19, Rotem said in that moment he understood that in addition to annihilating thousands of Jews, the Nazis also “had robbed me of my humanity.”

Rotem, who was only 15 years old in 1939 when he watched the Nazis enter Warsaw, fought in the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising of 1943, defying the Nazis for almost a month. He helped lead the few surviving Jews out of the ruins of the ghetto through the underground sewer canal system to the “Aryan” side of Warsaw and then into the countryside.

Posing as a gentile and using the code name “Kazik,” Rotem was head courier for the Jewish underground and responsible for providing food and shelter for thousands of Jews living in the Warsaw ghetto. After the ghetto was destroyed, he fought with the Poles in the Home Army and the People’s Army, continuing to aid the remaining Jews in Warsaw.

Rotem said he frequently is asked why Jews allowed the Nazis to lead them like lambs to the slaughter and why they waited so long to resist. What many don’t realize is the speed with which the Nazis conquered Poland in 1939, he explained. It was captured within only four weeks. Although many Jews thought the discriminatory treatment would end and life would return to normal, Rotem said, “The first contact I had with the Germans, I felt a pending disaster.”

For a thousand years of Polish history Jews had lived with discrimination in every area of their lives. “For us, ghettos and killings were not something new,” Rotem said. However, during World War I, the Jews had been treated relatively decently by the Germans.

Explaining that it is impossible to adequately describe living conditions in the Warsaw ghetto, Rotem said Jews, who had lost their sources of income, were suffering from starvation and disease. The Nazis created tremendous confusion by separating the healthy from the sick, the young from the old, and the productive from the non-productive, he said. They also closed the schools and forbade cultural activities. “The goal,” he said, “was to turn us into working cadavers.”

Despite the German restrictions, Rotem said, “everyone tried to survive.” Illegal schools opened and small children helped smuggle limited quantities of food into the ghetto.

However, when the first massive deportation was announced in 1942, tens of thousands of hungry Jews turned themselves in for “six pounds of bread and some jam.” They had been hungry for so long that they didn’t know what else to do. Also, most of them still didn’t believe that the Germans planned to exterminate the Jews, Roten recalled.

It was an incredible life, and one lived on behalf of others. In 1946, Rotem moved to Israel, where he became a successful businessman.

In reading about Rotem’s passing, I am reminded of Bari Weiss’s excellent op-ed in the New York Times last month, which focused on the rising Anti-semitism in Europe and the disturbing number of individuals who are admittedly Anti-semitic and/or, shockingly, have very little knowledge, if any, about the Holocaust:

On Tuesday, a CNN poll about the state of anti-Semitism in Europe startled many Americans — and confirmed what Jews who have been paying attention already knew about the Continent.

Not 74 years since the Holocaust ended, a third of respondents said they knew only a little or nothing at all about it.

The poll, which surveyed more than 7,000 people across Austria, France, Germany, Britain, Hungary, Poland and Sweden, didn’t only discover ignorance. It exposed bigotry.

Nearly a quarter of the respondents said Jews have too much influence in conflict and wars. More than a quarter believe that Jews have too much influence in business and finance. Nearly one in five believe that most anti-Semitism is a response to the behavior of Jews. Roughly a third say Jews use the Holocaust to advance their own goals. Just 54 percent say Israel has the right to exist as a Jewish state.

Many religious Jews in Paris and Berlin wear baseball hats instead of kippot in public. Nearly half of Dutch Jews say they are afraid to identify publicly as Jewish. Every French Jew I’ve ever met who can afford it has bought an apartment in Israel or Montreal.

As has been noted by many, as the aged eye-witnesses pass on, there is an increased danger that this insidious chapter of history will fade from view and that anti-Semitism will have its way. Again. Weiss is also concerned, yet suggests something more than just the silence of the survivors as the reason why:

The postwar generation who lived with the shame of the Holocaust is dying out. Their children and grandchildren are less abashed when it comes to the old prejudices.

In her forthcoming book, “Anti-Semitism: Here and Now,” the scholar Deborah Lipstadt discusses a 2013 study of overtly anti-Semitic letters, emails and faxes received over the previous decade by the Israeli embassy in Berlin and the Central Council of Jews in Germany. The study found that 60 percent of the messages “came from educated, middle-class Germans, including lawyers, scholars, doctors, priests, professors, and university and secondary school students.” Even more remarkable, most of the letter writers provided their names and addresses.

It is a must-read piece, especially as she discusses the hatred of Jews by Europe’s neo-Fascist right, popular Anti-semetic politicians, political groups who dismiss Nazis as “little more than a speck of bird poop,” radicalized Muslims, and “the fashionable anti-Semitism of the far left that masquerades as anti-Zionism and anti-racism.”

She sums up this “three-headed dragon” that the European Jews must now contend with, and points out that there is now the manifestation of these “three strains of hate” in the U.S. as well:

Physical fear of violent assault, often by young Muslim men, which leads many Jews to hide evidence of their religious identity. Moral fear of ideological vilification, mainly by the far left, which causes at least some Jews to downplay their sympathies for Israel. And political fear of resurgent fascism, which can cause some cognitive dissonance since at least some of Europe’s neo-fascists profess sympathy for Israel while expressing open hostility to Muslims.

In his eloquent essay from 2016, Jeff Jacoby lamented that eventually even the Holocaust would be lost to time’s passage:

For survivors like my father, and for the sons and daughters they raised, it goes without saying that “Never Forget” remains an ineradicable moral imperative. I have always taken the Holocaust personally, and always will. But the world, I know, will not. Eventually, everything is forgotten. Even the worst crime in history.

One certainly hopes not.

(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)

–Dana

44 Responses to “Last Known Warsaw Ghetto Uprising Fighter Passes Away”

  1. It’s an awful thing to resignedly say “same as it ever was” when the subject is Anti-semitism. But there you have it.

    Dana (023079)

  2. No he is definitely worthy of a post, those trapped in the blood lands, which was everything from Germany to territorial Russia faced a Hobson’s choice.

    Narciso (b6aad3)

  3. I think of what I was doing at 15…

    Dana (023079)

  4. I don’t think happyfeet should post on this thread. If he does, he should be very careful about what he says.

    Patterico (e2fe07)

  5. I count myself fortunate to have met and spoken with a holocaust survivor. The meeting changed me.

    felipe (023cc9)

  6. Dana (023079) — 12/30/2018 @ 9:17 pm

    You did what was required of you in your own unique circumstance. Rotem did what was required during a horrific time. Rotem and many others survived, thanks be to God.

    felipe (023cc9)

  7. I have been fascinated by all things related to World War II since I first watched “A World At War” on TV as a young boy. That series first aired in 1973, when I was 10.

    At the time, being a child, the war seemed like an ancient historical fact. Most of the photos and movie footage were in black and white. The cars and planes looked primitive.

    As I’ve aged, it has amazed me how wrong my (distant) initial perspective was. I was born in 1963, 18 years after the war ended. That is exactly how long ago 9/11 was for someone born today, and 9/11 almost seems like it happened last week…

    Similarly, age has put the length of the war into perspective. When I was 10, a six year war was more than half of my lifetime (and more like three times the part of my life I could remember). But today, six years seems like almost nothing – only one and half presidential terms! For so much incredible drama and heroism and tragedy to have transpired all over the world in such a short time seems unbelievable.

    This came to mind as I was reading the Ghetto survivor’s explanation of why Jews initially didn’t resist. The Germans came in late 1939. The uprising was only three and a half years later. Without the benefit of hindsight, it would have been natural to hope things would return to normal. And even for Polish Jews who were perennial victims of mistreatment in pre-war Poland, and before that Tsarist Russia, the possibility of pre-meditated, industrial scale mass extermination had to have been unthinkable.

    The German executioners relied on peoples’ optimism, hope and misplaced trust in basic humanity.

    Dave (1bb933)

  8. When I was in college, one of my roommates was Jewish, and he and his father introduced me to many Jewish traditions—growing up where I did, I had met no Jewish people (saying “Jew” continues to sound pejorative to me). I loved my roommate’s father, who was beyond awesome and funny, and would teach me Yiddish words. He bought me my first bagel with lox at Cantor’s Deli.

    My roommate decided he wanted to join the ACLU, at the time they were defending the rights of Nazis to march in Skokie, Illinois. His father was outraged, and since I was around when they argued, I got to see…

    My roommate’s father, angry, showing his son the tattoo on his arm. The uncertain looking numbers that told me what this kind man had been through: he had been at Auschwitz as a boy.

    I kept trying to remind my roommate later that he couldn’t expect his father to be openminded on this topic, but he was pretty teenagery about it.

    As for me, seeing that tattoo made WWII more real than any movie or book. I shiver thinking about it.

    May SR rest in peace as the hero he was, and is.

    Simon Jester (984e98)

  9. Dana, I continue to think that anti-Semitism is just under the surface in many places, including our own nation. I think that, like all forms of bigotry, it originates and grows due to personal issues, not philosophical ones.

    Consider Alice Walker’s situation. She was recently (and correctly) lambasted for anti-Semitism.

    https://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2018/12/26/times_ignores_appalling_pedigree_of_anti-semitism_139017.html

    But this essay suggests that Walker’s bigotry originates from a more personal source:

    http://nymag.com/intelligencer/2018/12/alice-walkers-anti-semitic-poem-was-personal.html

    How deeply sad. It is symptomatic of our “blame culture,” in a way. We all seem to need a scapegoat. Politicians know this, and use it to their advantage, even while our collective memory of the Holocaust wanes.

    Simon Jester (984e98)

  10. Dana, I continue to think that anti-Semitism is just under the surface in many places, including our own nation. I think that, like all forms of bigotry, it originates and grows due to personal issues, not philosophical ones.

    My grandparents, who came from very poor rural families in Kentucky and northern Alabama, were rather bigoted. Although they (and I) lived in the city of Detroit, there were no blacks living within about a mile of us when I was young.

    To their credit, I never once heard my grandparents (or my mom) use the N-word when I was growing up, but they were definitely prejudiced against blacks (and Jews). My Aunt, their daughter, lived down the street from a Jewish family, and was good friends with them, so playing with their kids (“that little Jew boy” my grandmother would call their youngest son, not trying to sound hateful, but definitely “othering” him…).

    I’m convinced my grandparents’ racism originated in fear – fear of people different (they believed) from them, who they didn’t understand and couldn’t relate to. After they moved out of Detroit, and rented their home there, they didn’t accept blacks at first, but they eventually sold the house to a black buyer, “breaking” the block and outraging their former neighbors (an elderly Polish couple lived next door, and they weren’t shy at all about using the N-word…).

    My mom decided to move out of Detroit to the suburbs when busing started (again: fear), extending my sheltered, lily-white environment a few more years. It wasn’t until I got a scholarship to a college prep school (ironically, in one of the wealthiest suburbs) that I really had regular contact with Jewish and black people. It was an eye-opening and life-changing experience that I’m really grateful for.

    Dave (1bb933)

  11. Well she was relying on an utter knave like David ickes, Poland and the Ukraine were in a pincer between two lions, stalin and Hitler, the holomodor made the former think Hitler would bring hope, you get that notion in the late Philip Kerr’s ‘man without breath’

    Narciso (1a8e60)

  12. “We all seem to need a scapegoat”

    This seems to sadly be human nature…..whether it’s race, religion, or nationalism. We love stereotypes because it helps simplify a complex world….and distracts attention from our own foibles. This is why an over-simplified treatment of Muslims, Mexicans, and Chinese is so unsettling….and oftentimes misplaced. It plays on irrational fears and anger.

    That said, for me, when I hear about such heroic resistance efforts during WWII…against such great odds….I wonder how we get wired for fight, flight, or being frozen into inaction. It inevitably makes me wonder, what would I have done? Would I have had the courage and strength to resist….or would I have given in to despair and hopelessness? Heroes are important.

    AJ_Liberty (165d19)

  13. One isn’t even allowed to notice that terrorist a murderer a thief is of an off limit group, except one crazy phillipino (remember him) he became an honorary white man.

    Narciso (1a8e60)

  14. So Israel because it has survived 70 years of attempted annihilation is the villain in Europe’s eyes.

    Narciso (1a8e60)

  15. How dare one little country survive against the odds. In any other scenario, the world would be rooting for the little guy and cheering them on for another day lived.

    Dana (023079)

  16. It’s always been a rough neighborhood against the assyrians the canaanites, philistines, but it’s only now that they root for the latter.

    Narciso (1a8e60)

  17. My uncle was sixteen when he was rounded up and executed by the Germans. Along with his older brother and his father (my grandfather’s brother). Because someone in the vicinity fired some shots at a German patrol. And they were not even Jewish. And Hitler admired Greeks.

    It was not antisemitism that killed the between 20 and 40 million* non-Jewish Russians in WWII. Or the 20 million Chinese. Or the other non-Jewish 40 to 60 million. It was militarism first and foremost. A&&holes who thought war was glorious. And greed for the property of, and for power over, the liberty and lives of other people.

    Only the Russians really extracted some measure of retribution for the Axis’s crimes. The West were all too willing to forgive them and rehabilitate them. Sniveling about the Berlin Wall, and such nonsense. Good grief! The only thing wrong about the Berlin Wall, in my opinion, was that every German above the age of twelve was not put up against it and shot.

    *20 million is the official number but it has been suggested that it was much greater than that and Stalin did not want to reveal how much the Soviet Union had been weakened.

    nk (dbc370)

  18. Well we’re mixing apples and oranges without the molotov pact and the acquiescences of the communists Poland couldn’t have been occupied , now Mussolini also had designs on hellas the Balkans slowed Hitler’s advance into the fall

    Narciso (1a8e60)

  19. Of 1941, metaxas well you had him long before 41, but you could ask the survivors of salonika was it mere militarism, well if you can find any.

    Narciso (1a8e60)

  20. Rotem, didn’t have the luxury of debating politics, from katyn to the betrayal of the home army, the west let Poland down.

    Narciso (1a8e60)

  21. why would i have any argument with a post high-lighting the burgeoning anti-semitism in europe

    it’s an awful place, but i admire Poland

    i like especially how they’re willing to deploy their vast coal resources towards realizing some measure of energy independence, which means independence from Russia in particular

    in this they make a very stark and interesting contrast with Germany, and I think it’s a revealing form of pro-freedom praxis

    happyfeet (28a91b)

  22. The West were all too willing to forgive them and rehabilitate them. Sniveling about the Berlin Wall, and such nonsense. Good grief!

    Well, we did turn their cities into charcoal. Radioactive charcoal, at the end.

    Dave (1bb933)

  23. So you would have the Soviets take the whole ball of wax or only as far as west germany?

    Narciso (1a8e60)

  24. Did you say “burgeoning antisemitism in Europe”?

    Do you think it’s because the Rothschilds who control the climate are causing global warming? Europeans are very concerned about global warming, you know.

    nk (dbc370)

  25. I never knew about Simcha Rotem, until I read about him a few days ago, (you never read about a lot of people until they die and newspapers run their obituary) but I did know about Marek Edelman,

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marek_Edelman

    He was one of the leaders of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising, and one of the few Jews who were in Poland after the war (there were maybe 300,000 Jews who at some point returned to Poland out of an original population of 3 million plus) who chose to stay in Poland even after 1968. He became acardiologist and was active later in Solidarity in the 1980s. He lived until 2009.

    Sammy Finkelman (102c75)

  26. Nagasaki and Hiroshima? Not enough to pay for Shanghai only, let along Nanking.

    nk (dbc370)

  27. Kyoto was the only city that wasnt burnt to a cinder,

    Narciso (1a8e60)

  28. The only thing wrong about the Berlin Wall, in my opinion, was that every German above the age of twelve was not put up against it and shot.

    Reminds me of some dark humor.

    General Secretary Stalin, Chancellor Adenauer of Germany and Prime Minister Gomulka of Poland were flying back from a post-war peace conference when their plane tragically crashed. There were no survivors.

    In the afterlife, the trio were ushered in before the throne of God, who announced that in view of their notoriety as great leaders, he would grant each of them one wish on behalf of their people.

    Stalin didn’t hesitate. He stepped forward and, without emotion, intoned “Kill. All. The. Germans.”

    Adenauer gasped and started to protest, but with a raised hand God cut him off: “It is done. And it is your turn to make a wish.”

    Adenauer was distraught but as he fought to regain his composure he yelled “Fine! Kill all the Russians then!”

    Stalin appeared unconcerned, and an instant later God announced “It is done.”

    Finally God turned to Gomulka, the Pole, and asked “Now, what is it you would wish for?”

    Looking embarrassed, Gomulka hesitated for a moment before he answered softly “After what you’ve done, just a cup of coffee please.”

    Dave (1bb933)

  29. 7. Dave (1bb933) — 12/30/2018 @ 10:40 pm

    As I’ve aged, it has amazed me how wrong my (distant) initial perspective was. I was born in 1963, 18 years after the war ended. That is exactly how long ago 9/11 was for someone born today, and 9/11 almost seems like it happened last week…

    Well 17 years since 9/11 – it is not even the beginning of 2019 yet.

    But the time of 9/11 is like the start of World War II was to someone born in 1901 and the end of World War II to someone born in 1907. And we are there now with regard to the Y2k fear or, more exactly, the tied presidential election of the year 2000 which is when people started using the terms “red states” and “blue states” because it was not standardized until then. It was taken from the NBC map.

    Talking about how distant and how not distant in time some events were, there was an op-ed article today about that by Fay Vincent in the Wall Street Journal.

    https://www.wsj.com/articles/old-acquaintances-help-us-remember-history-11546199840 (nbehind a paywall)

    He’s always been interested in this. He’s now reached his 80s (born May 29, 1938) and there are not too many older people for him to talk to but in the early 1950s, he hung around a haberdashery store whose owner was about 20 years older than he was and he was very sad when he suddenly died and the store closed. They used to talk baseball.

    He has these stories:

    Recently he came across a letter written by George VanSantvoord (1890?-1975) to his nephew in 1970. He was the head of the Hotchkiss School from 1926-55. He wrote that children should learn their family history and didn’t like “current fashion of insulating them from all social contact and personal acquaintance with their elders.

    In that letter he wrote: “I remember hearing my father’s grandmother telling of hearing of Napoleon’s escape from Elba; it brought history to life. [1815 – about 75 years before his birth] And in Pittsfield in 1908 my great aunt told of the burning of Schenectady in 1690, related by her grandmother who heard the story from her grandmother.”

    Fay Vincent also writes that he sat next to John Lockwood [born circa 1903) at a board meeting in the 1970s. He knew taht in the late 1920s he had clerked for Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr (born 1841, served on the United States Supreme Court from 1902 to 1932 died 1935) who had been in the Civil War, and since he was also reading a book about the Civil War at the time, he asked John Lockwood if Holmes had ever talked to him about it.

    Fay Vincent writes:

    “Once,” Lockwood replied, “he took me and my fellow clerk to the Arlington cemetery and as we stood over the graves of some of ‘his boys.’ ” Lockwood quoted Justice Holmes: “They talk today of the bloody war in Europe”—World War I. “They should have been with me at Antietam.” I believe Lockwood’s co-clerk was Alger Hiss.

    The Civil War in the United States is talked of as the first modern war with mass casualties by gunfire. But Justiec Holmes may have been wrong and World War I may actually have been worse in places. The generals weren’t trying to avoid it, unlike the way they weer in World War II (Western generals, Soviet ones may have been somewhat different)

    Fay Vincent also remembers

    Tommy Henrich, telling of Lou Gehrig sitting smoking cigarettes after going 0 for 4; Bob Feller, talking of his wartime duty on the USS Alabama; Buck O’Neal, proudly extolling Negro League baseball; Warren Spahn, describing the collapse of the Bridge at Remagen just after he got off it; and Larry Doby, praising his friend and mentor Bill Veeck.

    Sammy Finkelman (102c75)

  30. 10. Dave (1bb933) — 12/31/2018 @ 1:13 am

    My mom decided to move out of Detroit to the suburbs when busing started (again: fear)

    The feqr was probably justified. And if we had good thinkers, they’d explain why that wasn’t racist.

    The Obama Administration thohght different disciplinary rates for black and white students in a school was ipso facto evidence of racism (because how could the rates of bad behavior be different) but this nonsense has been overturned by the Trump Administration.

    I think it has to do not only with what goes on in their neighborhoods but what goes on in their schools.

    And people who say this helped the Parkland massacre to occur are right because school officials would nto want to treat black and white students differently, for legal reasons if no other, and they would ease up on school supensions for everyone not just blacks.

    Sammy Finkelman (102c75)

  31. The Nazis also never announced that they wanted to kill all the Jews, and they had severe punishments and retaliations for resistance, so they got things to the point where they had killed about 3/4 of the population of the Warsaw Ghetto before there was any kind of revolt by anyone.

    Detterence.

    Sammy Finkelman (102c75)

  32. People will remember this as long as they remember World War II, which you can argue I guess was the greater crime in total numbers, and under whose cover the Holocaust took place. Hitler was responsible for the deaths of about 2% of the world’s population. He is now the epitome of all evil.

    Sammy Finkelman (102c75)

  33. oopers *highlighting* i mean

    happyfeet (28a91b)

  34. @21. And they’re natural comedians, too, Mr. Feet- particularly when changing light bulbs.

    DCSCA (797bc0)

  35. if they didn’t have a sense of humor they’d have a lot more in common with germany

    happyfeet (28a91b)

  36. @35. ‘Springtime For Hitler’ ist komisch, Mr. Feet; sauerkraut, too.

    DCSCA (797bc0)

  37. The Nazis also never announced that they wanted to kill all the Jews

    Actually, they kinda did.

    This is Hitler, quoted in a 1920 police report:

    “.. we have no intention of being emotional anti-Semites who want to create the atmosphere of a pogrom. Instead, our hearts are filled with an inexorable determination to attack the evil at its roots and to extirpate it root and branch. In order to reach our goal every means will be justified, even if we have to make a pact with the devil.”

    and four years later in Mein Kampf:

    “It is the inexorable Jew who struggles for his domination over the nations. No nation can remove this hand from its throat except by the sword … Such a process is and remains a bloody one.”

    Dave (1bb933)

  38. Just so you know, Sammy’s father was a genuine “Holocaust survivor”. Of three concentration camps, if I remember the number correctly, Sammy?

    Moreover, the Final Solution was not decided upon until January until January 1942, at Wannsee. Before that, “relocation” was the term, some times euphemistically and some times not, and continued to be used after Wannsee even when the “relocation” was to a mass grave or an oven.

    nk (dbc370)

  39. Mass murders by Einsatzgruppen began within days of the invasion of Poland in 1939. The Wannsee conference in January 1942 represented an effort to centrally direct the process and operate more efficiently and systematically.

    I don’t think it’s accurate to say the fundamental decision was only made in 1942. Rather, the Germans came to realize that the methods they had been using were impractical (Himmler, in particular was concerned that it was too traumatic for the men carrying out mass executions by shooting) and being good Germans they got together and engineered something that worked much better.

    Dave (fef735)

  40. Well it did take fmr secony vacuum salesman eichmann to put the strategy together at wannsee.

    Narciso (caabae)

  41. Nonetheless, Sammy can tell you that his father was in fact “held to service or labor” in at least the first two of the three camps, IIRC, like many of the residents of the Warsaw ghetto who believed Nazi promises that they would only be sent to forced labor camps as the article relates.

    nk (dbc370)

  42. My friend clarice tracked them down from Latvia to central Asia, and had to get bast their enablers, the deep state.

    Narciso (caabae)

  43. this is what humanity is all about. do not ask for whom the bell tolls it tolls for thee. every day we go and fight evil and in the end evil does lose.

    lany (c935c5)

  44. Dave (fef735) — 12/31/2018 @ 5:09 pm

    Mass murders by Einsatzgruppen began within days of the invasion of Poland in 1939.

    No the mass murders by the Einsatzgruppen began within days of the invasion of the Soviet Union (which included , at that time,about one thirs of pre-war Poland) Poland on June 22,1941. In fact the killing of the Jews and the invasion of the Soviet Union were probably, in my opinion, the same decision, and probably (secretly – not something Hitler would tell his generals) the chief motive for the invasion of the Soviet Union at that time, as opposed to waiting some years. The extermination of the Jews could not get started until that happened because if it started without that, it would be no Final Solution.

    It was the euthanasia program – the killing of people believed to be mentally or otherwise disabled that started with the invasion of Poland, and that took place mostly or entirely in Germany. There were mass killings of Jews in Poland starting in September, 1939, but these were in small outlying communities, where they would assemble all the local Jews into the synagigue, lock the doors, and set the synangogue on fire. That went on for about two months, till November, 1939, when the mass murder of Jews was called to a halt, probably because Hitler realized that if he did things that way, without first registering and counting all Jews, many Jews would escape. Including all of those who were not in territory he occupied.

    They killed maybe 150,000 Jews in Poland from September to November 1939 according to a “Black Book” published in 1943, citing a more contemporary account. The Einsatzgruppen killed some 1,500,000 to 1,750,000. This was also stopped because the Nazis decided to go through the ghetto and forced labor process first like they had done and were doing in Poland.

    The people killed were forced to dig their own graves and then shot. This was a method of execution pioneered in the Balkans shortly before World War I, (And also used after it, circa 1919) when the boundaries of some countries were going to be drawn according to what sort of population lived where. So the local nationalists set out to change the composition of the population by killing people.

    The Nazis probably also chose that because they believed at that time that any contact or even proximity to dead people was potentially deadly (that’s why all such tasks were delegated to non-Germans with the most prolonged contact with nmurdered Jews being limited to other Jews) and burial was quick and sanitary disposal – a fraud that Hitler did not become aware of until after the July 1944 plot when the archives of the “Schwarze Kappele” in which they had recorded all their “good deeds” were turned over (to the SD I think) after torture of somebody to reveal their hiding place.

    They were read by the Nazis but destroyed before they fell into the hands of the Allies. The Nazis seem to have become aware of this fraud around August 1944 and after that they were no longer afraid of dead bodies and that’s why you can see all these pictures of dead people in concentration camps laying around after the Liberationin 1945.

    Toward the end the war, as they retreated, the SS, on Heinrich Himmler’s orders, (this was hidden from Hitler because it was defeatist) began digging up all those bodies and burning them probably because he and others close to him interpreted the vague warnings of unconditional surrender with no unjust harm and people being brought to justice but no unjust harm as`meaning that Germany would become a British colony like Tanganika or Hong Kong and (I think) they would be tried under British common law, which they mistakenly thought, based on British mystery novels, required for there to be a corpus delecti” which they thought meant a physical dead body, for anyone to be convicted of murder. If no dead bodies could be found they would be acquitted. So Himmler apparently thought. (Himmler in the end committed suicide rather than standing trial)

    They also tried arguing that the murdered Jews had never existed, and they spent time compiling arguments with Census figures. All this was in preparation for the defeat of Nazi Germany. Now some other Nazis weren’t so stupid.

    The Wannsee conference in January 1942 represented an effort to centrally direct the process and operate more efficiently and systematically.

    The Wannsee conference was called actually because there was some reluctance to aid it by people in the German Army (Hitler had argued back to them, who now remembers the massacre of the Armenians – the point is the German Army had a role) By the time the meeting happened the resistance was gone, so they spent time talking aboiut other things, mainly the situation of “half Jews” but this paper had been produced.

    It was mistakenly cited as the start at Nuremberg because prosecutors like to think what evidence they have is all there is. They simplify things. It is a fault of prosecurtors.

    There were 30 copies of the protocol made – only copy 16 of 30 survived the war and it escaped destruction partly because it was NOT the very first paper record of the intent to murder all the Jews and so was not on the highest priority of high level Nazis for destruction. We have the idea that Nazis records survived the war but only a fraction did – one thing that did was the complete Nazi Party membership list, which kept those people at least away from official positions. Kurt Waldheim was never on that list because he was in the military.

    It was an update (as of January 1942) and includes many figures showing the reduction of the Jewish population in various countries and where they still needed to reduce it. The word murder was not used, not because they were sensitive about it, but because Hitler had ordered all this kept very very secret.

    And he forgot to give them a budget also. So they had to steal all the money to pay for the trains to the gas chambers on the very same day – otherwise it went to the Reich Treasury and could not be used to pay the railroad workers and Hitler had also institurted very stringent anti-corruption measures. But that applied only to money. If all this was known at the time it could have facilitated resistance, at least until the Nazis did things differently.

    I don’t think it’s accurate to say the fundamental decision was only made in 1942.

    The spring of 1941 of course. And it had probably been in Hitler’s mind since the early 1920s but pushed off.

    Sammy Finkelman (102c75)


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