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 Post subject: Auschwitz-Birkenau.
PostPosted: Wed May 21, 2008 7:50 pm 
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Auschwitz-Birkenau , visited it two years ago driving down from Prague.
The camp is on two sites Auschwitz 1 the old Polish barracks developed by the SS into a camp for Polish political and later Soviet POWs.
There are a number of Museum type displays open to the public showing the history and development of the camp / site.
The first gas chamber employed is on this site although it was used for a relatively short time.
A small shop exists on site as well as several book shops prices are very good for overseas buyers.
Be advised if you are visiting the site best to bring your own food.
If your images of Auschwitz are coloured by wooden huts , this site will be something of a surprise.

Birkenau is approx. 2 miles from Auschwitz 1.
This was the real killing centre which with the demise of the "Reinhard camps" expanded and accepted a dual role camp system.
The platform / "ramp" was moved into the camp in May 44 - as seen in thse photos , prior to that the "ramp" for arrivals was approx half a mile from the camp.
On the left is the womens camp buildings there are brick built , on the right the male camp , the "family camp".
At the top end apprx half a mile from the main gate - Krema ( Gas Chamber) units 2 and 3 , "The Sauna" , "Kanada" (the storage and sorting house for belongings brought to the camp - sorted before being returned to Germany) and Krema( GCU) units 4 and 5.
Open air cremation took place near 4 and 5 in Summer of 44.
Still to be found in the surrounding area the industrial units which obtained workers from the camp.
Around 4 and 5 the "Birch wood" from which Birkenau derives its name - a well known series of photos show those selected for "Special treatment" waiting unaware of what awaited them. The same trees which still stand there and when the wind moves through their leaves it is as if the dead are whispering , this place as an atmosphere of all of its own.
If visiting these two sites best to make a day of it to cover both sites a whole day would be required.
Although it might seem that there is less to see at Birkenau it is the most striking of the two sites.
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Auschwitz 1
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Birkenau , looking towards the main gate and tower looking "out".
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looking towards the ramp and units 2 and 3 .
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Krema unit 3 , the steps have been built up to enclose the cement fence posts which once surrounded the unit.
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The undressing room of Unit 3 , totally destroyed by explosives when the guards left the camp in Jan 44.
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A memorial stone adjacnet to units 4 and 5.
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If you are familiar with the history of the camp and the surviving images , this area will need no explaination.
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The Birch Wood , now a peaceful place upon which the chill of death still hangs.
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 Post subject: Re: Auschwitz-Birkenau.
PostPosted: Fri May 23, 2008 10:32 pm 
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thanks for that insight James and the pictures ,The biggest murder scene/graveyard in the world are there many buildings intact ?

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 Post subject: Re: Auschwitz-Birkenau.
PostPosted: Fri May 23, 2008 11:40 pm 
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Thought this was interesting, it relates to Auschwitz.


Son Recognizes Father as SS Man in Auschwitz Photograph
He didn’t know what his father did in the war

More than a million people visit the Auschwitz Museum each year. Many of them search for information about family members who lost their lives in the camp. It is highly unusual, however, for a son to recognize his father in one of the photographs—when the father is wearing an SS uniform.

The story began in the spring of 2007. A group of visitors arrived from Germany. After touring the main exhibition, they joined an educational workshop at the Roma and Hungarian exhibitions. After the summing up remarks, one of the participants came up to Jacek Lech of the International Center for Education about Auschwitz and the Holocaust.

“He was an older man, about 65 or 70. He told me that he recognized his father in one of the pictures in Block no. 4,” Lech recalls. “I asked him if he was sure that it was Block no. 4, because visitors usually recognize relatives in the pictures of prisoners, which hang in blocks no. 6 and 7. He confirmed that it was Block no. 4, and said that he would give me more precise information the next time he came back to the Museum.”

In late July, the man returned to the Museum. This time, he had a family album with him. He asked if he could go to Block no. 4, where one of the rooms contains photographs from Lili Jacob’s famous album depicting the procedures used with an arriving transport of Jews. “We stood in front of one of the pictures showing an SS physician on the ramp selecting new arrivals for death in the gas chambers,” recalls Lech. “The German visitor pointed to a young man wearing an SS uniform, standing to the left of the physician, and said, ‘That young man in the SS uniform is my father.’ He laid the album on the window sill and showed me four photos from the album.”

One showed a man in an SS uniform during drills, the second showed him with his unit, the third showed him in an SS dress uniform, and the fourth, taken after the war, showed the same man, in civilian clothing, with his family. It was undoubtedly the same man as in the 1944 photograph from Birkenau. Lech recalls that the visitor seemed shocked. “He hadn’t known anything about [his father’s] wartime past.”

We know little about the SS man. He was born near Potsdam in 1906. After passing final school exams, he worked as an apprentice to a carpet dealer. Later, he became a deacon with the Knights of Malta, got married in 1937, and settled in Berlin with his wife.

“The son knew almost nothing about his father’s wartime fate,” says Lech. “He was born in 1942, and said only that his father was held by the British until 1947, and became a pastor a year later. He died in 1988. His widow told her son that his father had served an internship as an orderly in a mental institution in Berlin in 1937, and might have been at one of the Nazi euthanasia centers in 1941.”

The staff of the death camps in occupied Poland were recruited from the euthanasia centers organized under Aktion T4. The man in question might therefore have ended up in Auschwitz, leaving his wife and newborn son behind in Berlin.

No information about this particular SS man has been found in the personnel records in the Archives of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum. However, this does not mean that the individual in question did not serve in Auschwitz, since the Germans destroyed an enormous number of documents before liberation. Lech says that the son recalled “finding transfer orders to Auschwitz dated 1942 at home, along with a receipt from the camp storehouse for a pair of suspenders and other SS uniform accessories.”

One of the documentation centers in Berlin might contain information about the man’s wartime record. The son knows that there are some records there, but German law prevents him from obtaining them while his mother is still alive. During his last visit, the man said he would contact the Museum as soon as he receives any new information. Perhaps we will then learn the solution to this puzzle.




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Photos from Auschwitz. The Lili Jacob Album
More than 430 thousand Jews were deported from Hungary to Auschwitz in 1944. Among them was 18-year-old Lili Jacob, along with her whole family and the rest of the Jewish community of the small Carpathian locality of Bilke (formerly Subcarpathian Rus, Czechoslovakia; under Hungarian rule during the war; now Zakarpattia Oblast, Ukraine).

Of her whole family, only Lili survived the war. After an odyssey through the concentration camps, she was liberated at the Dora-Mittelbau camp in Germany in April 1945. In the abandoned SS quarters there, she found a photo album marked with the title Aussiedlung der Juden aus Ungarn (The deportation of the Hungarian Jews) She recognized family members in one picture, and herself in another photo, taken by the Nazis a year earlier in the Birkenau women’s camp.

Almost 200 pictures taken by SS photographers document the process of receiving a transport on the ramp in Birkenau, from the moment when the people disembark from the freight cars, through selection, to the time when they are taken to their death in the gas chambers. The people selected as fit for labor and registered as prisoners in the camp can also be seen in the photographs.

The National Jewish Museum in Prague made copies of the photographs in 1946, thanks to which some of them were published in Bratislava in 1949 as The Tragedy of the Slovak Jews, under the editorship of F. Steiner. In 1956, the Czech historian Erich Kulka, himself a former Auschwitz prisoner, sent prints of some of the photographs to the Auschwitz Museum. Since then, they have been an important element in the permanent exhibition on the destruction of the Jews in Auschwitz.

Lili Jacob donated the original album to the Yad Vashem memorial institution in Israel in 1980.

http://www.auschwitz.org.pl/new/index.p ... EN&id=1404


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 Post subject: Re: Auschwitz-Birkenau.
PostPosted: Sat May 24, 2008 8:15 pm 
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West front , I have the book you mention now published by Yad Vashem as "The Auschwitz Album" , the account you gave about what the man discovered of his father's time at Auschwitz is something else.
Alan Auschwitz 1 is almost as it was left to the Russians , at Birkenau almost all of the wooden huts so often seen from the air in post war coverage of the camp is gone , only the bases remain and the chimney stacks, the womens camp was brick built and it is mostly intact , along with the sauna building .
The watch towers are well maintained as is the fencing which appears to have endured , the drainage ditches are there but are not as efficent as they were when the camp was in use.
The Gas chambers and Crematoriums are utterly destroyed - following the Sondorkommando revolt and from Oct 44 these were being dismantled and prepared for destruction , all internal fittings were removed and either sent back to Germany or destroyed , elements of them were found post war still giving evidence of their purpose.
These units were blown up as the last prisoners were moved west and much of the materials which could be salvaged were removed in the post war years to rebuild and repair local buildings - a cheap and available source of building material.
Of the two Sites Auschwitz is the most intact although Birkenau which was the real engine of destruction is the most interesting and in many ways provides a greater insight.


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 Post subject: Re: Auschwitz-Birkenau.
PostPosted: Sun May 25, 2008 7:52 pm 
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Many thanks james and west-front very interesting i would'nt mind going over to see it for myself very sad place,unbeliveable stuff

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 Post subject: Re: Auschwitz-Birkenau.
PostPosted: Mon May 26, 2008 8:19 am 
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What a subject, and for us that re-enact axis forces it does pose some questions, if this is slighty off topic please delete or move.

However this is one of the subjects that has always played on my mind when putting on the field grey, although its not until you visit one of these places that you can begin to understand the topic. Books, the internet and other sources of info can inform but its not until you walk the walk you get close enough to the subject to make it real.

Hence on a recent trip to Munich i took the short train ride to Dachau which is a mere 10 minutes on the train. Arriving at Dachau station was a starange feeling in that i had read about the place for so long it was surel to be there. I went with a group of people and a guide they were manily young people from the US and canida and you could feel the trepidation on all those that had got off the train.

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From Dachao main station we got on the bus that took us through the main town, the bus was packed and passer by on the street had a look that showed they knew exactly where we were going.

The bus stopped nd we goot off right in the middle of town, and infront of us was a long gravel path so mobile toliets and what looked the the begginings of an offiical welcome centre being built. I was not totaly covinced that this is what 60 odd years of rembrance should achive, not sure what i was expecting though to be honest.

Any way further down the road i suddebly came face to face with the words that anyone with an interest in the subject knows so well.

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And then on into the main camp, we looked around some reconstructed buildings as most had been burnt down after the war, however all the guard towes and some of the fencing is still there,
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We alked around the main camp and although very interesting what the guide had to say he was very political and cross referenced with events of the 3rd riech to that of the US goverment :?

The place was very quiet will a range of different people wondering round taking photos anlong with elderly gentelmen with rows of medals.

Then we walked up to the far corner of the camp, over a small bridge and thrugh a gate and before was us what many had not been prepared for, the chamber the crematoria etc..

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Some where visable shocked by what they had just seen and you could tell that the mood had changed, especialy when some brits had read the plaq in dedication to the SOE agents that had pereshed in the camp.

Foe me there was the added significance that i am a german re-enactor whose chosen portray will always be linked to the camp system, The origins of the the Totenkopf where born at Dachau, w-ss uniforms and other equipemnt where made by those in the camp systems but from visiting the place, reading the subject matter and conisdering the known facts the men of w-ss were so far removed from the camp system that my consuous is clear in re-enacting what i do.

Not sure if this is off topic, mods feel free to delete, it is just my story of self evaluation.

best regards

muller


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 Post subject: Re: Auschwitz-Birkenau.
PostPosted: Mon May 26, 2008 11:10 am 
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These places are certainly like no other that you might visit and they do leave an impression.
The gas chamber at Dachau although built was ( as far as I am aware) not actually used - the crematorium would have been used and they were common to all camps , in death there would be no dignity.
There is a constant thread which runs from T4 directly to the Reinhard camps progressing through to Auschwitz-Birkenau.
I recently borrowed a book from "Sigrune" which documented the movement of some 970 ( I think that was the figure) SS men from camp duties to front line units, what they knew or told about their postings within the KZ system is open to speculation , all who were posted to the camp system had to sign an order which demanded that they speak about nothing which they might see or hear within the said system.

Dachau did see the shooting of a number of Waffen SS who had surendered to the Americans , dicipline and control breaking down in the wake of what they had found within the camp.
(The SS men who were shot had nothing to do with the internal management ( if it can be called that) of the camp.

Heydrich , and their underlings -those who were career officers etc within this system are very different from those who served at the front .
For those of us who re enact SS it is always a potential question which might be posed and for those who would wish to portray us as " weekend nazis" as per that quite one sided BBC " documentery" attempted to "expose".


Last edited by Tychsen on Mon Jul 07, 2008 12:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Auschwitz-Birkenau.
PostPosted: Mon May 26, 2008 8:19 pm 
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Location: Monchengladbach Germany
Hello There ,
I myself visited Auschwitz many years ago , before i took up ww2 re-enacting . I remember it as if it were yesterday , an awful , terrible place but oddly interesting in a morbid kind of way .
And yes whenever i put on my 'bad boys ' uniform , i do remember the awful things that happened in Nazi Germany , however i also remember all soldiers allied and axis , who died in the war . I have no guilt about wearing my uniform , however i do have pride of remembrance .
If we keep one eye closed on history we can still go forward , if we keep both eyes closed we go no-where .
Cheers
John


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 Post subject: Re: Auschwitz-Birkenau.
PostPosted: Mon May 26, 2008 9:00 pm 
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Many thanks for the pictures and the insights gents it is a bad part of history but a part that cannot be forgotten

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http://ww2reenactingireland.co.uk/


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 Post subject: Re: Auschwitz-Birkenau.
PostPosted: Mon May 26, 2008 10:18 pm 
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Overall website on Dachau

http://www.scrapbookpages.com/DachauScr ... index.html

Also has pages dealing with the shooting of POW's by the 45th Division:

Quote:
"The killing of unarmed POWs did not trouble many of the men in I company that day for to them the SS guards did not deserve the same protected status as enemy soldiers who have been captured after a valiant fight. To many of the men in I company, the SS were nothing more than wild, vicious animals whose role in this war was to starve, brutalize, torment, torture and murder helpless civilians." Flint Whitlock, The Rock of Anzio, From Sicily to Dachau: A history of the U.S. 45th Infantry Division


http://www.scrapbookpages.com/DachauScr ... illed.html

Quote:
In 1989, Lt. Col. Sparks wrote an account of the role of the 45th Infantry Division in the liberation of Dachau. His description of what happened at the wall is as follows: As I watched, about fifty German troops were brought in from various directions. A machine gun squad from Company I was guarding the prisoners. After watching for a few minutes, I started for the confinement area (the concentration camp), after taking directions from one of my soldiers. After I had walked away for a short distance, I heard the machine gun guarding the prisoners open fire. I immediately ran back to the gun and kicked the gunner off the gun with my boot. I then grabbed him by the collar and said: "What the hell are you doing?" He was a young private about 19 years old (Private William C. Curtin) and was crying hysterically. His reply to me was: "Colonel, they were trying to get away." I doubt that they were, but in any event he killed about twelve of the prisoners and wounded several more. I placed a noncom on the gun and headed towards the confinement area.


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 Post subject: Re: Auschwitz-Birkenau.
PostPosted: Mon May 26, 2008 10:22 pm 
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Quite a sobering article from the same site about SS-Untersturmführer Heinrich Wicker who surrendered the camp.

Quote:
Late in the afternoon of April 29, 1945, KZ Dachau, the infamous Nazi concentration camp near Munich, was surrendered to the American Army by SS-Untersturmführer Heinrich Wicker, an officer in the SS-Totenkopfverbände. That morning, within the confines of the Dachau camp complex, Wicker had gotten together with his mother and sister who had arrived in Dachau to visit him on April 12, 1945. Wicker's fiance and her two-year-old son by Wicker were also there and were staying in the town of Dachau. After this last family get-together at the Dachau SS training camp on the morning of the surrender, Wicker's mother and sister never saw him again and they subsequently reported him to the International Tracing Service of the International Red Cross as a missing person.


http://www.scrapbookpages.com/Dachauscr ... icker.html


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 Post subject: Re: Auschwitz-Birkenau.
PostPosted: Mon Jul 07, 2008 12:02 pm 
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For the info.

Grand-pa od my wife was a prisoner at Auschwitz camp.

He was taken with the FIRST transport of ppl there - early 1940. He's got his 149 number (yes, its one hundred forty nine - VERY EARLY number, FIRST wave as I said).

During lat 1940 (?) some group of the first wave tried to escape (I think only one person actually managed to escape). For that 'offence', as a part of 'collective punishment', the rest of the first wave still living, were transferred to the dreadful Mauthausen camp. He survived somehow due to his skill (he never told the Germans he was an univeristy graduate as Germans killed them all on the spot; he worked as stone carver). He was freed by the americans in May 1945. He spent FIVE years in concentration camps...

I got 5 tapes of his memoirs - he later recalled that 'Auschwitz was nothing compared to Mauthausen. When you endured entry selection it was relatively easy to live. Mauthausen was a kiling ground...'

I sometimes listen to those tapes. I cannot listen to them all in one go - its a horror show worse than any other I encountered in any memoir or book or film. Its so cold-blooded tale about killing, pain, no-future...

When I walk along Auschwitz camp paths, I always recall what he said. And I cant resist crying...

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 Post subject: Re: Auschwitz-Birkenau.
PostPosted: Mon Jul 07, 2008 12:07 pm 
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One more thing.

There was a man that voluntarily got himself caught to be put into Auschwitz camp, just to see and report on how is it inside... Yes, its true...

His name was Witold Pilecki.

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From English wikipedia:

Quote:
[He] was a soldier of the Second Polish Republic, the founder of the Secret Polish Army (Tajna Armia Polska) Polish resistance group and a member of the Home Army (Armia Krajowa).

During World War II, he became the only known person to volunteer to be imprisoned at Auschwitz concentration camp. While there, he organized the resistance movement in the camp, and as early as 1940, informed the Western Allies of Nazi Germany's Auschwitz atrocities. He escaped from the camp in 1943 and took part in the Warsaw Uprising. Pilecki was executed in 1948 by the communists. Until 1989, information on his exploits and fate was suppressed by the Polish communist regime.


The tragic irony is that instead of being treated as a hero after the war, he was soon charged and executed by the communist regime. And HE WAS A HERO !

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Witold_Pilecki

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His reports from Auschwitz can be found here (scroll down):

http://witoldsreport.blogspot.com/

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 Post subject: Re: Auschwitz-Birkenau.
PostPosted: Thu Jul 10, 2008 11:46 pm 
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Mario33 - a name I will have to look up , thank you for the information.
Auschwitz- Birkenau is a chilling place - one I will have to go back to.


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 Post subject: Re: Auschwitz-Birkenau.
PostPosted: Sat Jul 12, 2008 4:55 am 
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Did you know that many KZs where still in use after 45?
The allies did not know what to do with all the homeless jews. They let them live in the KZ till they could leave the country towards Israel.

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