March 2, 2013

"Auschwitz and a handful of other concentration camps have come to symbolize the Nazi killing machine in the public consciousness."

"Likewise, the Nazi system for imprisoning Jewish families in hometown ghettos has become associated with a single site — the Warsaw Ghetto, famous for the 1943 uprising. But these sites, infamous though they are, represent only a minuscule fraction of the entire German network, the new research makes painfully clear."

47 comments:

The Drill SGT said...

as a data point, Dachau, the first concentration camp, near Munich was set up in 1933, 51 days after Hitler's taking power...

The initial prisoners were political enemies...

St. George said...

“It did not really matter what we expected from life, but rather what life expected from us. We needed to stop asking about the meaning of life, and instead to think of ourselves as those who were being questioned by life—daily and hourly. Our answer must consist, not in talk and meditation, but in right action and in right conduct. Life ultimately means taking the responsibility to find the right answer to its problems and to fulfill the tasks which it constantly sets for each individual.”

“If there is meaning in life at all, then there must be meaning in suffering.”

“Our greatest freedom is the freedom to choose our attitude.”

From the profound book "Man's Search for Meaning" by Viktor Frankl, physician and Holocaust survivor.

YoungHegelian said...

In an interview, [Greenbaum] ticked off the locations in rapid fire, the details still vivid...

The experience of Mr. Greenbaum's being moved from place to place comports with the experiences of the Holocaust survivors I know, who also volunteer at the Holocaust Museum, and no doubt know Mr. Greenbaum.

The "moving around" of prisoners makes sense, when you think about it. If the Nazis didn't need or want you for labor, they killed you, since you were an untermenschen & a useless burden on the Reich. If they needed you for labor in a wartime environment, they moved you were they needed labor on a case by case basis, often on a moment's notice.

Eric said...

I'm skeptical this represents new information rather than a reclassification of camps that were already known.

jimbino said...

So true.

In the early 70s, I gave tours of Dachau and taught physics at a German gymnasium.

There was no such thing as de-nazification after the war. Nazis were protected by the Amerikan gummint; they were exploited for their knowledge of missile technology and for their help in countering the commies; they were helped to emigrate to places like Paraguay, Argentina, Brazil and Amerika itself.

Many persons I knew in positions of power in post-war Germany---mayors, schoolmasters, etc. ---were ex(?)-nazis, apologists, sympathizers or true members of Hitler Youth, like Gunter Grass. I even witnessed a group from my school doing a "Sieg Heil" chant on a ski trip.

I hold our Amerikan gummint totally complicit in the support of eradication of Jews and post-war escapades on behalf of Nazis. Sad that so many Amerikan lives were lost serving our corrupt fascist guimmint in war against the Nazis.

As much as I disdain the position of the Amerikan gummint, I hold the Swiss in total contempt for being more Nazi than the Nazis and for maneuering to get rich on the homes, skin, gold fillings, bank accounts and confiscated art of the Jews. The Swiss are perverted scumbags who need to do much more than pretend to apologize. I can't converse with Swiss without holding their fascist feet to the fire, though I'd prefer to offer them "right many a nipperkin" if it weren't for their grievous inhospitality.

sydney said...

I'm reading The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich and I am pretty sure the author mentions the many camps the Nazis had set up, and the many people they put in them - Jews, Gypsies, political enemies....

sydney said...

I also once saw a program on the History Channel that was the rise and fall of the Third Reich told through family letters, photographs, and home movies of the average German. Very interesting. I didn't realize this, but when the Allies finally invaded and found the concentration camps and all the stacked up dead bodies, they forced the Germans living in the towns and villages that housed the camps to bury the dead. The program showed film of very glum looking Germans - men and women - lugging bodies to their graves.

The Drill SGT said...

sydney said...
they forced the Germans living in the towns and villages that housed the camps to bury the dead.


One of the late episodes of "Band of Brothers" starts with a cooment that, "the Germans sure do clean up nice" and shows the discovery of a work camp Arbeitslager.

In Germany, in the mid 70's, I was out at a local rural German bierfest drinking with some of the other officers and families near Bad Kitzingen, near the end of the night a bunch of middle aged German men, with the help of the oompapa band starting singing the Panzerlied. There was a Panzer School in town during WWII. Every interting evening.

Jane said...

While I don't mean to diminish the work of these researchers, is the Holocaust any worse for knowing there were 42K sites, vs. a handful? Besides, the lumping together of any site of Nazi Holocaustal activity tends towards leading people to think they were all the same -- vs. the range from forced labor on a farm to special-purpose death camps.

edutcher said...

Eric is absolutely right; this is very old ground and they've moved the goalposts considerably to do it.

Consider, "thousands of forced labor camps, where prisoners manufactured war supplies; prisoner-of-war camps; sites euphemistically named “care” centers, where pregnant women were forced to have abortions or their babies were killed after birth; and brothels, where women were coerced into having sex with German military personnel".

You can accuse the Nips of the same things, only on an even wider scale; the Krauts didn't have Hell ships or practice bayonet drill on POWs.

jimbino said...

So true.

In the early 70s, I gave tours of Dachau and taught physics at a German gymnasium.

There was no such thing as de-nazification after the war. Nazis were protected by the Amerikan gummint; they were exploited for their knowledge of missile technology and for their help in countering the commies; they were helped to emigrate to places like Paraguay, Argentina, Brazil and Amerika itself.


try again, jerk-off.

The Werewolves were executed when caught and the West Germans were still running down nazis into the 60s.

I know you hate this country (you can leave anytime for one of the People's Paradises), but you better get your facts straight.

Many persons I knew in positions of power in post-war Germany---mayors, schoolmasters, etc. ---were ex(?)-nazis, apologists, sympathizers or true members of Hitler Youth, like Gunter Grass. I even witnessed a group from my school doing a "Sieg Heil" chant on a ski trip.

I know a former member of the Hitler Jugend, too - Joseph Ratzinger. And the officials allowed to hold office or teach were vetted by the Occupation forces.

Basta! said...

In 2006 Evropa Publishers put out a series of books on Nazi activities in the Baltics, made up exclusively of contemporaneous documents from Soviet archives (especially NKVD). These consisted of reports made on-site upon the Soviets' discovery of mass graves and camps, and interviews with survivors and captured Nazis. There's a lot that isn't well-known.

The episode that haunts me the most is the closure of Klooga, a labor-camp in westernmost Estonia. There was a port nearby, from which the German administration of the camp expected to escape, should the Soviets get too close. They promised to take their Estonian collaborators with them but, of course, they didn't.

The Red Army was approaching much much faster than they'd expected, so they didn't have much time to liquidate the camp. At first they set up four huge pyres on a base of railroad timbers. They forced inmates to lie like sardines on the timbers and lay brushwood on top of them. Then the next group of inmates was made to lay crosswise on top of the brushwood, and so on, until they had a tall pile, which they then doused with gasoline and set on fire. There was resistance; some of the corpses on the pyres had been shot, and the bodies of inmates trying to flee were found in all directions, shot in the back.

The Nazis managed to stack and fire three of the four pyres, by which time the Red Army was so close they didn't have time to stack the prisoners on the fourth. Instead, they lay the rest of the inmates they could muster together in the increasing chaos on top of each other in the barracks, shot them, and set the barracks on fire. Many of those shot were not killed; survivors and captured guards said horrendous screaming from inside the burning barracks went on for some time.

These books are in Russian and, as far as I can tell, haven't been translated, so this information is likely to remain little known.

Ann Althouse said...

I hope people read the linked article.

It would be good to restrict comments to that subject.

I'm going to delete some comments that are off subject.

Ken Mitchell said...

I'm Jewish, and many of my Jewish friends used to talk about "The Six Million", as if only the six million JEWS who were killed were worth talking about. My response was always "There were not six million victims of the NAZIs!" When challenged, my answer was generally "There were FIFTEEN million victims." (I lost some friends insisting that Gypsy, German and Polish victims were just as lamentable as the 6M Jews.)

I guess my comment here is, "Why is this news NOW?" This has been known for a LONG time.

edutcher said...

Precisely. anybody who had done any kind of reading knows the real toll of the New Order was 14 - 15 mil.

This is just ignorance on parade.

Roadkill said...

Ann,
I have read Shirer’s “Rise and Fall…,” Chuchill’s “Memoirs..,” Murray and Millet’s “War to be Won,” Wiesel’s “Night,” Ambrose’s “Citizen Soldier” and a plethora of other WWII and Holocaust histories that I’m looking at right now in my library, and have watched countless movies and documentaries and WWII battlefield film clips of Concentration Camp horrors.

I know all too well how terrible and dehumanizing and banally murderous the Nazi’s were.

The point of my comment, which you deleted, was merely to observe how journalists never seem to tire of writing about Nazi horrors, but have always been blithely incurious regarding the many more millions killed in the gulags and re-education camps of left wing/collectivist/communist regimes.

Don’t you find that interesting?

Lydia said...

“…as few as a dozen prisoners worked at one of the smallest camps, the M√ľnchen-Schwabing site in Germany. Small groups of prisoners were sent there from the Dachau concentration camp under armed guard. They were reportedly whipped and ordered to do manual labor at the home of a fervent Nazi patron known as “Sister Pia,” cleaning her house, tending her garden and even building children’s toys for her.”

Sister Pia. As in "pious"? Was that a touch of Nazi humor, or was the name given to her by the prisoners?

Anyway, what a kick she must have gotten watching them build those toys. Killing the poor bastards really wasn't quite satisfying enough.

Ann Althouse said...

"Don’t you find that interesting?"

What I found interesting was a new article, which people were not reading. They were using this post to say things they felt prompted to say as if the post had said "Hey, everybody, let's talk about the Holocaust."

That offended me.

You may have been swept into a whole set of deletions I did for that reason.

I'm responding to you even though it's against my comments policy to comment to discuss deletions.

I don't want any more discussion of the deletions in the comments.

I am restricting this thread to the discussion of the material in the linked article.

rcocean said...
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rcocean said...
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DADvocate said...

During my teens and college years, I read books on Treblinka, Dachau, Victor Frankl's "Man's Search for Meaning" and others. The horror is truly staggering.

Unknown said...

What difference, at this point, does it make?

rcocean said...

“HOW many claims have been rejected because the victims were in a camp that we didn’t even know about?” asked Sam Dubbin, a Florida lawyer who represents a group of survivors who are seeking to bring claims against European insurance companies."

Extract from the article that is very interesting.

traditionalguy said...

The issue always becomes the same when Jew haters arise to blow smoke: Are Jews humans or not?

If they are, then Jews need to be protected from insane haters. And a silence of the lambs attitude is not acceptable.

Free speech and militia weapons are the only answer, but Obama and his Muslim friends want to disarm and silence us. Hmmm.

The European Jew survivors, one from a family and one from a city, that reached Israel after WWII by running the blockade enforced by the British Empire and its Arab allies, are never going to let that happen to the Jews again no matter what banal Obama and his Muslim friends want done again.

Rusty said...

DADvocate said...
During my teens and college years, I read books on Treblinka, Dachau, Victor Frankl's "Man's Search for Meaning" and others. The horror is truly staggering

The horror was and still is that they walked in without a fight.

edutcher said...

With Ann's warning in mind, dare I make note of the fact the world knew about Organization Todt l=ong before V-E Day?

That, as a kid in the 50s, I saw an item in the Philadelphia Bulletin, about a Jewish woman who had survived Auschwitz because she had been willing to serve in a bordello there, made up to look like a seraglio with all the girls dressed to make evocative use of their Semitic good looks?

(there was even talk of a duel fought over one young lady (the woman about whom the article was written admitted freely the girls made full use of their womanly wiles to stay alive) when one of the green kid Untersturmfuhrers took exception to a Sturmbannfuhrer's pulling of rank in trying to reserve the girl for his sole delectation on the grounds said green kid had fallen in love with her)

James Pawlak said...

Warsaw became famous as the Jews of Poland were able to get and have weapons. This was not the case in Hitler's Germany or Stalin's USSR.

How many non-Jews were exterminated in all the camps by the Nazis? (This includes Russian soldiers not dealt with under the Geneva Conventions)

Jane said...

I'd be curious as to what defines a "concentration camp" -- given that, to me, the most shocking, and least well-known part of the Holocaust, was the mass killing through the Einsatzgruppen, the mobile killing squads, which would just go to a town, round up all the Jews, march them off to the forest, make them dig a mass grave, and shoot them all. Or massacres like Babi Yar. I find this incomprehensible. The death camps I can understand -- the Jews in Western Europe were absolutely unaware of what awaited them at Treblinka, and the Nazis were very careful to keep up the charade of a genuine work camp, tough but fair, to the point of giving the arrivals deposit slips to collect their valuables after they returned from the showers. Polish Jews knew what would happen to them, but suffered from the conditions in the ghettoes so much that the were simply exhausted by the time they were sent off to the "showers." But the mass killings -- I just cannot comprehend why the people in these circumstances would just wait their turn in line, stand at the edge of the mass grave as directed, not run, fight -- anything! (Not that I mean it's their "fault" but I just don't understand.) And the focus on labelling, identifying, naming camps misses the fact that the large majority of killing took place outside any camp at all or at a handful of death camps, at most of which (Auschwitz is the only exception, I believe) there wasn't even the chance of survival of a selection -- they were just pure killing factories.

Lydia said...

This testimony from an eyewitness at Babi Yar might help to understand why the victims didn't just run away:

Naked Jews were led to a ravine about 150 metres long, 30 metres wide and 15 metres deep. The Jews went down into the ravine through two or three narrow paths. When they got closer to the edge of the ravine, members of the Schutzpolizei (Germans) grabbed them and made them lie down over the corpses of the Jews who had already been shot.

It took no time. The corpses were carefully laid down in rows. As soon as a Jew lay down, a Schutzpolizist came along with a sub-machine gun and shot him in the back of the head.The Jews who descended into the ravine were so frightened by this terrible scene that they completely lost their will. You could even see some of them lying down in the row on their own and waiting for the shot to come.

Only two members of the Schutzpolizei did the shooting. One of them was working at one of the ravine, the other started at the other end. I saw them standing on the bodies and shooting one person after another.

Walking over the corpses toward a new victim who had already laid down, the machine gunner shot him on the spot. It was an extermination machine that made no distinction between men, women and children.Children were kept with their mothers and shot with them. I did not watch for long. When I approached the edge, I was so frightened of what I that I could not look at it for a long time.

I saw dead bodies at the bottom laid across in three rows, each of which was approximately 60 metres long. I could not see how many layers were there. It was beyond my comprehension to see bodies twitching in convulsions and covered with blood, so I could not make sense of the details.Apart from the two machine gunners, there were two other members of the Schutzpolizei standing near each passage into the ravine.

They made each victim lie down on the corpses, so that the machine gunner could shoot while he walked by. When victims descended into the ravine and saw this terrible scene at the last moment, they let out a cry of terror. But they were grabbed by the waiting Schutzpolizei right away and hurled down onto the others.

Those who followed them could not see the terrible scene because it was obstructed by the edge of the ravine. While some people were getting undressed and most of the others were waiting their turn, there was a lot of noise. The Ukrainians paid no attention to the noise and just kept forcing people through the passages into the ravine.

You could not see the ravine from the site where people were taking off their clothes, because it was situated about 150 metres away from the first pile of clothes. Besides, a strong wind was blowing and it was very cold. You couldn’t hear the shooting in the ravine.

So I concluded that the Jews had no idea what was actually happening. Even today I wonder why the Jews did nothing to challenge what was going on. Masses of people were coming from town and they did not seem to suspect anything.

They thought they were just being relocated.

Grundoon said...

Thanks, Ann, for linking to this article. My father was a WWII veteran. I was born in 1954. Growing up I heard stories of his adventures in the US Army in Europe, starting in September 1944 in Marseilles and ending up in 1946 in Salzburg. He was a radio operator in a headquarters group and not a combat soldier. He died in 2006. After his death I mentioned to my mother that I had discovered on the web that his division had liberated concentration camps. She said yes, that he had told her about seeing freed prisoners in striped uniforms making their way home. That was a story I had never heard from my father. He was a mild-mannered, squeamish guy and I now wonder what horrors he saw and protected me from hearing and thinking about.

Grundoon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Grundoon said...

Hey, what is up with the New York Times? I know that internet advertising uses some logic to present you with ads you might be interested in--but one of my custom ads with the holocaust article is for a colonoscopy center in my city (a major metropolis far away from New York) and another is for a product called a "Bloodless Castrator" from a ranch supply company. I live in a state with ranches but none are in my suburban zip code. Is this random or is there some logic that reads the words in the article and picks these topics just for me? Yuk!

G Joubert said...

Nothing new here is there, really? They long ago documented the major death camps, and they admit they knew going in they'd find thousands and thousands more but lesser ones. They're just "surprised" at the number. Well, they counted them down to the micro level of bordellos and personal household servants. That's how the numbers grew. And then they threw in the POW camps and counted them too as if they were something new.

I don't buy that it's only pertinent now because it's being driven by lawyers greedily wanting to make claims. While I'm sure the greedy lawyer part is true, those survivors with real claims should be heard.

No, something else is afoot. Not sure what, but this at the end caught my eye :

Dr. Dean, a co-researcher, said the findings left no doubt in his mind that many German citizens, despite the frequent claims of ignorance after the war, must have known about the widespread existence of the Nazi camps at the time."You literally could not go anywhere in Germany without running into forced labor camps, P.O.W. camps, concentration camps," he said. "They were everywhere."

Hrmmm...

Youngblood said...

G Joubert,

Before getting to that paragraph, I realized what the implications were. The standard line trotted out about the holocaust is that the slavery, torture, murder, and abuse took place away from the eyes of average Germans, who were in no way complicit. (This was part of the opposition to Goldhagen's Hitler's Willing Executioners.)

This sort of research puts the lie to that line, which leads to a fuller understanding of Germany under Nazi rule and the Holocaust more generally.

G Joubert said...

Youngblood,

Could be, but given the dwindling numbers of adult German citizens from that day still surviving, it all seems a bit late to the rodeo, especially considering they've had this info right in front of them all along. They just never got around to looking at it all until the 2000s. Which is weird all in itself. This is stuff that goes back to Nuremberg, 1946.

Rusty said...


How many non-Jews were exterminated in all the camps by the Nazis? (This includes Russian soldiers not dealt with under the Geneva Conventions)

James. At least as many as the Jews. The Nazis used the camps to get rid of anyone they didn't like. next to Jews and Russian soldiers I'd say Gypsies were the next largest group.

Rusty said...

Dr. Dean, a co-researcher, said the findings left no doubt in his mind that many German citizens, despite the frequent claims of ignorance after the war, must have known about the widespread existence of the Nazi camps at the time."You literally could not go anywhere in Germany without running into forced labor camps, P.O.W. camps, concentration camps," he said. "They were everywhere."

Hrmmm...

It tended to keep the populace in line.

Rusty said...

Warsaw became famous as the Jews of Poland were able to get and have weapons.

They managed to smuggle in just ten firearms. Some of which only had a couple of rounds.
the Jews in ghetto were so cowed the Germans felt comfortable having single soldiers on patrol.

Mian said...

I think this research is important in that it goes to show that the depth of the Holocaust was significantly more extensive than supposed.

Although many commenters here seem to feel that they're expected to have an opinion, well, I don't think that's the right response. (And moral equivalencies such as "the Russians were worse, or what about all the Gypsies? etc" I find to be particularly odious.

This is not about Jewish suffering, really, but about the existence of a broader Holocaust that, if possible, was even worse than thought.

To me, the findings completely refute the "we didn't know what was going on" argument so often heard in Europe, and not exclusively by the Germans. These findings show that slave labor was ubiquitous -- everyone had to know about it -- and is a profound failure of humanity to meet the test of decency.

G Joubert said...

It tended to keep the populace in line

There's that. And there's also the fact that most Germans probably believed Germany was going to win the war up until they didn't.

Jane said...

The question is, too, what constitutes "The Holocaust"? I have no doubt ordinary Germans knew that people in the occupied countries were being brought in as forced labor. But that's different than knowing that the conditions in these camps were as inhumane as they were. (And I think conditions did vary from camp to camp, from true "work camps" to camps in which they just didn't bother feeding anyone at the end, like Bergen Belsen.) Or that the fate of deported Jews was gassing. (Though my grandmother-in-law, in Upper Silesia, that is, the part of Poland which was formerly Austria and was "annexed" by Germany, lived a short distance from Auschwitz and says everyone in the immediate vicinity did indeed know, even if they felt powerless to do anything about it.

Jane said...

Thought experiment: imagine that Germany's actions consisted entirely of forced labor -- and that conditions were bad, but for reasons of worker productivity, the workers were fed sufficiently, given adequate medical care, not beaten to death, etc. Would we still be talking about it as a Holocaust?

Rusty said...

There's that. And there's also the fact that most Germans probably believed Germany was going to win the war up until they didn't.

I think the bombing disabused them of that idea.

Rusty said...

Jane said...
Thought experiment: imagine that Germany's actions consisted entirely of forced labor -- and that conditions were bad, but for reasons of worker productivity, the workers were fed sufficiently, given adequate medical care, not beaten to death, etc. Would we still be talking about it as a Holocaust?

Yeah. The gas chambers and ovens give it away every time.

Jane said...

Rusty -- you missed my point. "Entirely of forced labor" means hypothetically imagining there was no further dimension of mass killing of undesirables. What part of "entirely" wasn't clear?

Rusty said...

Jane said...
Rusty -- you missed my point. "Entirely of forced labor" means hypothetically imagining there was no further dimension of mass killing of undesirables. What part of "entirely" wasn't clear?

The thought experiment doesn't work without the certainty of arbitrary death attached to it.

Nichevo said...

1. The Japanese had extremely savage POW camps where prisoners were abused, worked, starved systematically, and tortured and killed randomly. The indigines under Japanese occupation could tell you their own story of course. But all this was perpetrated on foreigners, of course.

The Russians ran the Gulag system which worked and starved their own people to death, but no gas, ovens, no bayoneting contests. There were busy execution chambers but generally this was retail, one at a time with at least a pretense of trial.

2. The Poles lost, IIRC, 3 million non-Jewish Poles to the Nazi machine. (vs. 3.3 million Polish Jews)

3. And this goes to something from Shouting Thomas a while back on another thread playing pop shrink: it was not just the Jews who went quietly, under more or less elaborate pretense.

Solzhenitsyn in The Gulag Archipelago writes of how docilely Russians submitted to arrest and the whole process, and wondered what if people had prepared to resist, even with shovels and brooms nevermind a gun here or there, and given at least some fraction of the "Organs" some uncertainty as to when or whether they would return to their own homes that night. And damns their docility, their cooperation with Authority.

Aside from some evil fool trying to arrest and murder six million Scots-Irishmen, I think going along with the badges, more than the guns, is the rule rather than the exception. Then again England did somehow become the UK.

Hopefully in America it would be different. Scots-Irish or not.

4. Yeah, Shirer. Can't really be read in on the Nazis without him.

Nichevo said...

BTW my #1 above did not mean to judge grade or rank Nazi/Jap/Sov atrocities. And totally ignores others: the Chicom lao gai and the big purges with the catchy names, the Khmer Rouge Year Zero where the wearing of spectacles was literally a capital offense. Carried out by bludgeoning as bullets were precious.

For that matter who knows how many Napoleon killed, or the Terror before him. Or Genghis Khan. Or Chinese emperors with the Mandate of Heaven behind them. Or Chinese dynastic turnover, always bloody. Or feudal Japan. Or the Hundred Years War.

As for Nazi Germany vs Soviet Russia? As my great-aunt, a professor of Russian literature who fled the Pale with our whole family in 1920 as a child and lived through all of this, might say had she been a football fan: Pick 'em.