Never shall I forget that night, the first night in camp, which has turned my life into one long night, seven times cursed and seven times sealed….Never shall I forget those moments which murdered my God and my soul and turned my dreams to dust. Never shall I forget these things, even if I am condemned to live as long as God Himself. Never.
Elie Wiesel, Night
On 11 Apr 1945 the Buchenwald concentration camp was liberated by its resistance as U.S. troops arrived. However, many of those interned in camps for homosexuality were not freed by the U.S., but required to serve out the full term of their sentences under the Nazi penal code.
In just about two days, I will be heading to Germany with a few co-workers and a handful of students. This will my third straight spring break in Europe and my fourth in a row spent outside the confines of my home city/county/state. I am not complaining about northern New Jersey (even if it sometimes pales in comparison to my true home, NYC) but it’s just that I was bitten by the travel bug a few years ago and now I am compelled to spend at least a week each year being in a place that feels foreign and new. It’s good for the mind, body, and soul.
There are several specific things I am excited about, and I want to mention a few of them here. First, the Stasi Museum in Berlin and anything else related to the events of the late 1980s in Germany. The fall of the Berlin Wall was a monumental part of my childhood. It’s strange to think that Germany was divided until the time I was about to enter high school. And when I saw The Lives of Others a few years ago, I became even more fascinated by the modern history of Germany before the wall fell. Seeing the meeting rooms and exhibits is going to be very sobering.
Another stop that is sure to be interesting is Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria. It was the inspiration for Disneyland’s Sleeping Beauty Castle, the king who commissioned it was known to be a bit of an eccentric (resulting in interesting design elements inside), and the surrounding countryside looks breathtaking. Can’t wait to see it.
I believe we will also be seeing Wartburg Castle, which is where Martin Luther hid for a year during the early 1500s after a little incident that he caused with the 95 Theses. He translated the New Testament into German during that time.
I’m sure there are many surprises in store for me as well. I am taking 26 GB’s worth of compact flash cards just in case, and borrowing a nice prime lens with a low f-stop for low light situations. I will also be updating our progress on a separate blog that I created for parents of the kids that are going on the trip. You can check out the blog from the trip to England and France two years ago to get an idea of what to expect from this year’s updates.
**This film contains extremely graphic scenes of human suffering, please exercise caution when viewing.**
Compilation footage of Nazi concentration camps in the immediate aftermath of World War II. The footage was gathered by the US Department of Defense as part of the effort to conduct war crimes trials.
This copy was dubbed from a video copy at the National Archives in College Park, Maryland.
National Archives Identifiers:
Army Lt. Col. George C. Stevens, Navy Lt. E. Ray Kellogg and U.S. Chief of Counsel Robert H. Jackson read exhibited affidavits which attest to authenticity of scenes in film. Map of Europe shows locations of concentration camps in Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czechoslovokia, Danzing, Denmark, France, Germany, Isle of Jersey, Latvia, Netherlands, Poland and Yugoslavia. At Leipsig Concentration Camp, there are piles of dead bodies, and many living Russian, Czechoslovakian, Polish and French prisoners. At Penig Concentration Camp, Hungarian women and others display wounds. Doctors treat patients and U.S. Red Cross workers move them to German Air Force hospital where their former captors are forced to care for them.
At Ohrdruf Concentration Camp, inspection team composed of Allied military leaders, members of U.S. Congress and local townspeople tours camp. Among them are Generals Dwight David Eisenhower, Supreme Headquaters Allied Expeditionary Forces commander; Omar Nelson Bradley; and George S. Patten. General Eisenhower speaks with Congressmen. They see bodies heaped on grill at crematorium and Polish, Czechoslovakian, Russian, Belgian, German Jews and German political prisoners. Col. Heyden Sears, Combat Command A, 4th Armored Division commander, forces local townspeople to tour camp. U.S. officers arrive at Hadamar Concentration Camp, where Polish, Russian and German political and religious dissidents were murdered. Maj. Herman Boelke of U.S. War Crimes Investigation Team (WCIT) examines survivors. Bodies are exhumed from mass graves for examination, identification and burial. Four-man panel interviews facility director Dr. Waldman and chief male nurse Karl Wille.
At Breendonck Concentration Camp, Belgium, methods of torture are demonstrated. At Harlan Concentration Camp near Hannover, U.S. Red Cross aides Polish survivors. Allied troops and able-bodied survivors bury dead. At Arnstadt Concentration Camp, German villagers are forced to exhume Polish and Russian bodies from mass graves.
At Nordhausen Concentration Camp, there are piles of bodies. Troops treat, feed and remove survivors who are mainly Polish, Russian and French. At Mauthausen Concentration Camp, Navy Lt. Jack H. Taylor stands with fellow survivors and describes his capture, imprisonment and conditions at Mauthausen. Volunteers bathe victims.
Reel 5: At Buchenwald Concentration Camp, Army trucks arrive with aid for survivors. Piles of dead, mutilated and emaciated bodies. Some survivors among dead. Huge ovens and piles of bone ash on floor of crematorium. Civilians from nearby Weimar are forced to tour camp. They see exhibits of lampshades made of human skin, and two shrunken heads.
R.6: British commander of Royal Artillery describes conditions at Bergen-Belsen Concentration Camp. German Army Schutzstaffel (SS) troops are forced to bury dead and aid survivors. Woman doctor, former prisoner, describes conditions in female section of camp. Belson commander Kramer is taken into custody. German guards bury dead. Bulldozer pushes piles of bodies into mass graves.
(Ps: ebből az emberbőrből varrott lâmpaernyő valszeg alaptalan, de ez a történtek mellatt jelentéktelen apróság
After the defeat of Nazi Germany, claims circulated that Ilse Koch, wife of the commandant of Buchenwald concentration camp, had possessed lampshades made of human skin, and had specifically tattooed prisoners killed in order to use their skin for this purpose. After her conviction for war crimes, General Lucius D. Clay, the interim military governor of the American Zone in Germany, reduced her sentence to four years’ prison on the grounds “there was no convincing evidence that she had selected Nazi concentration camp inmates for extermination in order to secure tattooed skins, or that she possessed any articles made of human skin”.
81 years ago today, my great-grandfather was arrested and brought to Buchenwald concentration camp, because he was Jewish. Lucky for him, he was in a “mixed marriage” and let go after a couple of days and only arrested again in February of 1945 and brought to the concentration camp in Theresienstadt. He also survived this. Wouldn’t it be great if things like that did the happen any longer? But they do, with Muslims in China, with Mexicans in the United States and I’m sure elsewhere. So much for learning from history.
The author Jenna Blum has been writing short stories since she was 16. Several of them have been published. “Those who save us” is her first novel. The book has been on various bestseller lists and has been nominated for several awards.
The summary For fifty years, Anna Schlemmer has refused to talk about her life in Germany during World War II. Her daughter, Trudy, was only three when she and her mother were liberated by an American soldier and went to live with him in Minnesota. Trudy’s sole evidence of the past is an old photograph: a family portrait showing Anna, Trudy, and a Nazi officer, the Obersturmfuhrer of Buchenwald. Driven by the guilt of her heritage, Trudy, now a professor of German history, begins investigating the past and finally unearths the dramatic and heartbreaking truth of her mother’s life.
The review The characters are put down very well, you really start to feel for them. Getting angry a bit at Anna for not telling her daughter more, but understanding too that she simply wants to forget what has happened. I found it very interesting to read a book from this perspective as most of WWII books are about survivors of camps, people in the resistance or people from other countries and how they got trough the war. I think it is very well put and gives a clear view what a human being will do to survive. The book will be able to call for some negative feelings too though so you have to be able to really put things in the right place while reading.
Die Worte der redseligen Madame Schpoljanskij hatten Miras Bild mit ungewöhnlicher Kraft heraufbeschworen. Es war beunruhigend. Nur in der Distanziertheit einer unheilbaren Krankheit, in der Geistesklarheit des nahen Todes konnte man damit einen Augenblick lang fertig werden. Um bei Verstand existieren zu können, hatte Pnin sich in den letzten zehn Jahren beigebracht, nie an Mira Bjelotschkin zu denken-nicht weil die Erinnerung an eine für sich genommen kurze und banale Jugendliebe seinen Seelenfrieden bedroht hätte (leider waren die Erinnerungen an seine Ehe mit Lisa gebieterisch genug, um jede frühere Verliebtheit zu verdrängen), sondern weil man, wenn man mit sich selber ganz ehrlich war, vom Gewissen und also auch vom Bewußtsein nicht erwarten konnte, daß sie in einer Welt fortdauerten, in der so etwas wie Miras Tod möglich war. Man mußte vergessen – weil man nicht mit dem Gedanken leben konnte, daß diese anmutige, zerbrechliche, zarte junge Frau mit diesen Augen, diesem Lächeln, diesen Gärten und diesem Schnee im Hintergrund per Viehwagen in ein Vernichtungslager geschafft und mit einer Phenolinjektion ins Herz gemordet worden war, in dieses sanfte Herz, das man unter seinen Lippen im Dämmer der Vergangenheit pochen gehört hatte. Und da die genauen Umstände ihres Todes nicht feststanden, starb Mira in der Vorstellung eine große Zahl von Toden, erlebte sie eine große Zahl von Wiederauferstehungen, nur um wieder und wieder zu sterben, weggeführt von einer ausgebildeten Krankenschwester, infiziert mit Dreck, Tetanusbazillen, Glassplittern, in einer vorgetäuschten Duschanlage mit Blausäure vergast, auf einem benzingetränkten Stapel Buchenholz in einer Grube bei lebendigem Leibe verbrannt. Dem Ermittler zufolge, mit dem Pnin in Washington zufällig gesprochen hatte, war die einzige Gewissheit die, daß sie, da zu schwach für die Arbeit (obwohl immer noch lächelnd, immer noch imstande, anderen jüdischen Frauen zu helfen), bei der Selektion für den Tod bestimmt und ein paar Tage nach ihrer Ankunft in Buchenwald eingeäschert worden war, auf dem schön bewaldeten Großen Ettersberg, wie der klangvolle Name der Gegend lautete. Es ist nur eine Fußstunde von Weimar, wo Goethe, Herder, Schiller, Wieland, der unnachahmliche Kotzebue und andere wandelten. „Aber warum“, pflegte Dr. Hagen zu klagen, die sanfteste Seele auf Erden, „warum mußten sie dieses entsetzliche Lager so dicht in der Nähe einrichten!“, denn in der Tat, in der Nähe war es – nur acht Kilometer vom kulturellen Herzen Deutschlands entfernt – „dieser Nation der Universitäten“, wie der für seinen Gebrauch des mont juste berühmte Präsident des Waindell College es so elegant zu formulieren gewußt hatte, als er unlängst in einer Ansprache zur feierlichen Verleihung der akademischen Würden die europäische Situation Revue passieren ließ, zusammen mit dem Kompliment, das er einem anderen Folterhaus machte, „Rußland – dem Land Tolstojs, Stanislawskijs, Raskolnikows und anderen großen und guten Menschen“.
By the end of the Second World War, the concentration camp at Buchenwald had turned into a hotbed of underground politics. The Nazi SS controlled security and dealt with Soviet POWs, Poles, and Jews, but the internal administration of the camp — the clinics, the offices, the stores — was largely in the hands of the politicals, most notably the hundred or so communists and the fifty to sixty social democrats who were active in the camp. The communists in Buchenwald were able to listen to NKFD broadcasts during the war and, partly as a result, they developed a hybrid program of leftist KPD slogans combined with the antifascist democratic rhetoric of the Free Germany movement. In an April 22, 1945, conference shortly after liberation, the Buchenwald KPD called for the formation of a “people’s republic,” based on antifascist democratic principles. The conference noted that the world bourgeoisie still harbored “imperialist goals,” but that it was not yet time to introduce the dictatorship of the proletariat. Instead, the people’s republic would be an intermediary stage on the road to socialism in Germany. The Buchenwald KPD’s program differed most strikingly from the Moscow-based initiative groups in its uncompromising attitude toward former Nazis, who should, it stated, “be driven out of their hiding places, out of their offices, out of the police, and placed in forced labor for the rebuilding [of Germany].” Flying in the face of Ulbricht’s tenets, the program also insisted that all large industries should be nationalized and all power in anti-Nazi Germany should be turned over to the antifascist committees.