On this day in 1945, the Auschwitz-Birkenau
concentration camp in Poland was liberated by the Soviet Red Army. One of the most notorious camps of Nazi Germany, Jews and others persecuted by the Nazi regime were sent to Auschwitz from 1940 onwards. During its years in operation, over one million people died in Auschwitz, either from murder in the gas chambers or due to starvation and disease. As the war drew to a close and the Nazis steadily lost ground to the Allied forces, they began evacuating the camps and destroying evidence of the war crimes and crimes against humanity committed there. The
leader of the SS, Heinrich Himmler, ordered the evacuation of the
remaining prisoners at the camp as the Soviet Red Army closed in on the area.
Nearly 60,000 prisoners from Auschwitz were forced on a march toward
Wodzisław Śląski (Loslau) where they would be sent to other camps; some
20,000 ended up in the Bergen-Belsen camp in Germany. However, thousands
died during the evacuation on the grueling marches, leading to them
being called ‘death marches’. 7,500 weak and sick prisoners remained in
Auschwitz, and they were liberated by the 322nd Rifle Division of the
Soviet Red Army on January 27th 1945. Auschwitz remains one of the most
powerful symbols of the Holocaust and the horrific crimes committed by
the Nazi regime against Jews and numerous other groups.
Today is the International Holocaust Remembrance Day. On January 27 1945, the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp was liberated by Soviet troops.
The above image shows just some of the thousands upon thousands of wedding rings confiscated by the Nazis from victims of the Holocaust. These rings were found by US troops after liberating Buchenwald in 1945.
This actually happened in some of the cartoons! I gasped out loud when I saw it for the first time. (Go to about 10 minutes in for the full scene.) I thought I’d do something a little different, because while I love Erik in the First Class movies, I always wanted a happier ending for him…
The Howling Commandos, as a forward team focused on Hydra, hadn’t liberated many camps; the ones they had were Hydra slave labor camps, where the men were, if not well-fed, then at least not the gaunt, barely-alive prisoners they’d heard about from Red Army soldiers and Allied units.
This camp was different; at the heart of it was some kind of lab. When Steve battered down the last reinforced door, he found a man holding a gun to the head of a young boy.
“I’ll kill him,” the man said. Steve didn’t bother with an answer; the shield took the man’s head off before he could threaten the kid again.
Still, in that second before death, Steve had seen the man’s finger spasm on the trigger, and felt the thickness in the air when the trigger wouldn’t move. He looked at the boy, looked at the body, and had a sense of destiny resettling itself in the world.
“Was he the camp commander?” he asked the boy, who nodded, huge-eyed. “Commander…Shaw?”
The boy nodded again. He turned and pulled Steve’s now bloody shield out of the concrete wall like it was nothing. Then, with narrowed eyes, he floated it across to him, through the air, without touching it.
Steve took the shield out of the air, shook off what he could, put it on his back, and said, “Thank you.”
“My pleasure,” the boy said, in trembling English.
“What’s your name, son?”
Steve had seen a lot of things in the war; nothing like this, but there had been signs of strange experiments in Hydra labs. This was comparatively harmless.
“Well, I’ll make you a deal, Erik,” he said. “I won’t tell what I saw here just now, and you help me close this place down. Then we’ll take you to HQ and get you a hot meal. Sound good?”
Erik nodded, then offered, “They knew you were coming. They destroyed all the records.”
“Doesn’t matter,” Steve said. “Come on.”
In the convoy, bringing the prisoners out of the camp, Steve brought Erik up to the cab of the lead truck, and put him in next to Bucky at the wheel.
“Who’s this?” Bucky asked.
“Erik,” Steve said. “He’s riding with us.”
“Sprichts du English?” Bucky asked.
“Yes,” Erik replied. “I can speak. English, German, Yiddish, some Russian. Good interpreter. I can work for Allies?”
“How old are ya?” Bucky asked.
“Sixteen,” Erik said.
“You are twelve,” Bucky told him.
“I’m just small,” Erik replied.
“Yeah, because you’re twelve,” Bucky insisted. “Well, we’ll make sure the folks handling the refugees take good care of y – “
“No, he’s coming with us,” Steve said.
“Erik’s coming with us to HQ. We could use an interpreter. And he’s small enough to make a good spy. He’s had enough of camps, ain’t ya, kid?” he asked, and Erik nodded.
“You wanna join the allies, huh?” Bucky asked.
“I go with Captain America,” Erik announced.
“Yeah, that’s what I said, and now I know better,” Bucky replied, but he was grinning. “Fine, on your own head be it. Sixteen my ass,” he said to Steve.
Steve took off his helmet and plopped it onto Erik’s head. “Sorry, got a new sidekick now,” he told Bucky, who laughed.
Years later, when a magazine asked Erik Lensherr why he agreed to become Captain America after the disappearance of Steve Rogers, he said, “Steve took a terrified twelve-year-old Jewish kid out of a slave labor camp, gave him a helmet, and told him he had power. I believed him. Turns out he was right.”
ALSO IMAGINE MAGNETO AS CAPTAIN AMERICA WITH THE SHIELD. HOLY CRAP. :D
Today, January 27th, is the international holocaust memorial day. Today I learned that there are peole who do parkour on the Auschwitz - Birkenau memorial in Berlin, some of them with the title “jumping on dead jews”.
Now, for those of you who don’t know: January 27th is the day the allies broke into the Auschwitz concentration camp and liberated the jewish people who were imprisoned and starved there. The armies also witnessed the dead bodies, piled on the ground, the smaller piles, of glasses and hair, that were forcefully taken from the jewish prisoners. They saw the ovens and the ashes of 1.1 million jews.
As a Jewish girl, I am always so angry of my people’s history. The jewish people has always been chased and threatened, but the holocaust was different. It was an organized, modern, democratically voted genocide, committed by a country towards its own citizens, using technological means and a chain of command.
I am begging you - REMEMBER. Remember the suffering, remember the death, remember the horror. Remember the sacrifices, the war, the fighting. Remember the ones who died and remember the ones who survived. Remember the ones who committed murder and the ones who saved people from being tortured and killed.
Remember, so it will never happen again. To the Jewish people, to the Armenian people, to the Native American people. To anyone.
Remember the past so we could save the future. Please.
A newly freed inmate at Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, his face swollen from a severe beating prior to the camp being liberated by the British 11th Armoured Division, drinks water from a rusty tin. April 17th, 1945.
The liberation of the concentration camps was a time of celebration for the tens of thousands of prisoners who were incarcerated in them. What people often forget about this time is that the prisoners who were wearing the pink triangle (the Nazis’ way of identifying homosexuals) were sent back to prison to serve out their sentence due to the law known as “Paragraph 175″ which criminalized homosexuality. The time spent in concentration camps did not count towards their sentence. This law wasn’t repealed until 1969.
Today is International Holocaust Remembrance Day, and I have a message for my American readers.
Some of you are probably posting Elie Wiesel quotes, images of Anne Frank, distressing images of newly liberated concentration camp prisoners, etc; the special variety of asshole among you may be posting that today is stupid because people only care about the Holocaust because “Jews are white.”
Regardless, if you are posting anything at all about this day, I urge you to take your grief for and your remembrance of these ordinary people, sentenced to death by an uncaring world which closed its doors to refugees, and call your representatives, write letters, and march for the would-be refugees of today. If you have no interest in doing that, then maybe don’t post about the Holocaust, because it clearly taught you nothing.
xoxo, your friendly neighborhood historian of jewish movement and migration between 1930 and 1950
(and if you’re wondering when i decided to take off the gloves and get overtly, rather than passive aggressively, political, it was on tuesday)
“First they came for the Communists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Communist
Then they came for the Socialists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Socialist
Then they came for the trade unionists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a trade unionist
Then they came for the Jews
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Jew
Then they came for me
And there was no one left
To speak out for me.”
They also came for the Romani, the gays, the disabled, the incurably sick, the blacks, the dissidents. Anyone who didn’t fit their ‘perfect Aryan ideal’.
The world was silent then. The world outside turned away boatloads of refugees, desperate to escape the slaughter. The world knew of the horrors, but did not, would not, act.
The camps were liberated, yes, but that was not the aim of the war. It was a sideline.
I can see a horrific mirror of those days beginning to appear now. Refugees turned away, the President of the United States proposing a Muslim Register, and a list of crimes committed by immigrants. The repeal of the ACA in the US, and the actions of the DWP in the UK, taken against the disabled and chronically ill.
Hate crimes against Jewish people and businesses, and anti semitism in general, on the rise. Honest to goodness Neo-Nazis on the streets and on the TV.
WE CANNOT REMAIN SILENT.
We cannot let this happen again. We must not let them divide us.
We must speak up, we must fight, we must resist!
On this International Holocaust Remembrance Day, of all days, we must remember:
There was a Jewish boxer named Salamo Arouch imprisoned at Auschwitz. He was forced to fight fellow prisoners. The losers were sent to the gas chambers or shot. He survived more than 2 years and 200 fights, eventually being released when the camp was liberated. source
When discussing gay theater, I am always reminded of Blanche DuBois’ proclamation: “I don’t want realism, I want magic!!” It is a sense of theater as a magical space mirroring life but large than life and the sense that theatre best mirrors the performance of gender and the awareness of performativity that have historically been part of the gay experience. These plays all take their audiences and readers to surprising places. There is no way in which we could refer to these plays as “straight” plays. Gay playwrights, even in their most serious moments, remind their audiences of the many readings of the word play, What does theatre mean if it is not joyous, camp, liberating, and magical? It is not somber, literal, or naturalistic.
Let me introduce you fine folks to Jacob DeShazer.
DeShazer was one of the Doolittle Raiders, a unit who directly responded to the attack on Pearl Harbor by bombing Nagoya, Japan. He and his fellow soldiers were forced to parachute over enemy territory before they could make it to their safe point. They were then taken as prisoners of war where some died via firing squad and others starved. He was kept in various POW camps throughout China and Japan until the war was won and American soldiers liberated the camp 40 months after his capture. He lived in inhuman conditions, a torturous environment, counting off the deaths of his comrades. Despite that, he returned, a mere three years later, as a missionary to Japan. To the people who had captured him and abused him to the point of near death, he came back to tell them they were loved.
As if that weren’t enough, there was a man named Mitsuo Fuchida. Captain Mitsuo Fuchida led the attack on Pearl Harbor. After reading DeShazer’s story, and the forgiveness this American man felt toward the Japanese, Mitsuo became a Christian. But that isn’t all. Jacob DeShazer and Mitsuo Fuchida, the Doolittle Raider and Pearl Harbor bomber, enemies of war, the most stark in contrast, became best friends. According to the world, they had every right to hate each other, but because of the love Christ extends to each and every one of us, they chose to love each other instead of fuel hate.
Corrie Ten Boom has an awfully similar story, she was imprisoned, her family died horrible death at the hands of Nazis, but she forgave them. She understood that they had the right to forgiveness just as much as she did, because Jesus died on the cross to save them too.
Don’t say Nazis deserve hatred, don’t say they deserve violence and to be called horrible things. Violence doesn’t stop hatred. Hatred doesn’t stop hatred. It’s a cycle that never ends. Love and forgiveness is what ends hatred, and Christ is the one who changes the hearts of the cruelest people.
If these people, who faced nazi brutality for years, whose friends and family died at the hands of evil captors… if these people could forgive and love, then you who have never known such horrors have absolutely no right to say Nazis don’t deserve respect.
Like, not to be too histrionic but umm Korematsu v. U.S. has never been overturned so the current U.S. Supreme Court precedent is in favor of race/nationality based concentration camps because of liberal appointees.