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Collection Of Eyewitness Accounts Of The Holocaust.


Dwight D. Eisenhower on the Camps

"The same day April 12, 1945 I saw my first horror camp. It was near the town of Gotha. I have never felt able to describe my emotional reactions when I first came face to face with indisputable evidence of Nazi brutality and ruthless disregard of every shred of decency. Up to that time I had known about it only generally or through secondary sources. I am certain, however that I have never at any other time experienced an equal sense of shock.
"I visited every nook and cranny of the camp because I felt it my duty to be in a position from then on to testify at first hand about these things in case there ever grew up at home the belief or assumption that `the stories of Nazi brutality were just propaganda.' Some members of the visiting party were unable to through the ordeal. I not only did so but as soon as I returned to Patton's headquarters that evening I sent communications to both Washington and London, urging the two governments to send instantly to Germany a random group of newspaper editors and representative groups from the national legislatures. I felt that the evidence should be immediately placed before the American and British publics in a fashion that would leave no room for cynical doubt."
"Of all these Displaced Persons the Jews were in the most deplorable condition. For years they had been beaten, starved, and tortured."
And in "Ike the Soldier: As they knew him" (G.P. Putnam and Sons, New York, 1987) Merle Miller quotes Eisenhower speaking on April 25th 1945 to the members of Congress and Journalists who had been shown Buchenwald the day before:
"You saw only one camp yesterday. There are many others. Your responsibilities, I believe, extend into a great field, and informing the people at home of things like these atrocities is one of them... Nothing is covered up. We have nothing to conceal. The barbarous treatment these people received in the German concentration camps is almost unbelievable. I want you to see for yourself and be spokesmen for the United States."




Helen Lazar's Story of Liberation

Our choices were to remain behind and hopefully be liberated by whoever was fighting, and it was the Russians I wasn't for it. I really and truly was feeling more secure. It the not talking, the going to bed, the just living in total silence and darkness, somehow was a more secure feeling than I had had for years. And I couldn't think beyond that.
As much as Toby wanted to stay back, I never believed that it would really ever be liberated or that there is anything else left for us or any future. I just wanted to be secure in that little hole of ours.
I just, I never thought beyond tonight anyway, I never cared beyond tonight.
As a matter of fact when the shelling from the tanks became so intense, Toby and I when we were in our foxholes, we always laid down on top of each other. Because we wanted, whatever hits one should hit the other. Our main pardon me our main concern was one shouldn't have to watch the other, whether it be hurt, wounded or dying, that was our main concern that whatever happened should happen to both of us.
And after the bombing stopped for a few minutes, we were completely covered with blood. Toby would go and say, is that your blood or somebody else's? No, no, it's not mine it doesn't hurt. So as long as it wasn't yours, fine. By the next morning there was us, Toby and I, and I believe one soldier remained alive. Everyone else was dead or wounded or you know.
Toby said, she said to him, my sister and I will go into the town, to the Russians, and we're going to tell them a lie. That we are Jewish and that you, the Germans, that you saved our lives, and all of this whole big story and we'll come back for you. He showed us a rope that he had and he said, if you're not back by noon or whatever it was I'll hang myself. And Toby having a heart as big as a barn, you know, when we walked away she said, maybe we'll come back for him. I said, you are crazy. All I'm going to wait for is the time that I can tell that he is dead. And then our problems began. We were liberated by the Russians.


Lucille Eichengreen's Story of Liberation

We stayed in this camp until the end of March 1945. Then they suddenly put us in trucks. We got off the trucks and they made us walk. We really didn't walk very well at that time. I leaned on Ellie, Ellie leaned on Sabina. And we came through a gate it looked similar to Auschwitz, watchtowers _ and I looked on the right and the left. There were huge mountains of shoes, just shoes, any color, any size, maybe ten feet tall, mountains of shoes, no feet, no legs, shoes. They counted us into a barracks, somebody got the information that this was Bergen Belsen. And that night the woman screamed continually, no bunks, and she gave birth to maybe a half pound, a pound, large infant. The infant died immediately. She didn't even know she was pregnant. In Bergen Belsen there was no water, there was hardly any food. There were open, open, not even ditches, open huge pits with bodies, naked bodies. Most of them were decaying in green.. There was a tremendous amount of typhoid. There was no work to be done, I mean no work details, nothing. We were there approximately I would guess two weeks, give or take. And then one morning we saw the SS on the other side of the wire and they had white armbands n their left sleeve. It didn't mean much to us. Everything was the same, maybe less food, but they didn't come into the camp _ they as a rule they didn't_ and by lunch time we heard enormous noises. And then we saw tanks rolling in the main avenue. That was it.
I started working for the English that afternoon.
I: Did you have any idea what was going on?
E: No. None. Nothing in and nothing out. The British didn't know. They had no idea what they were finding and they were looking for interpreters because they had trouble with this multitude of languages. I could manage a couple of them, not all of them, but at least for the Hungarian Jews I could speak Yiddish. With the Polish Jews, either Polish or Yiddish. With the Russians, I sort of spoke some Polish or Russian, but they were not Jewish, the Russian prisoners. And they had no idea what they had found. They found people, that night they dispersed food stuffs from the German warehouses and there were two pound cans of pork and fat. And being hungry you open them and you eat; by the morning you are dead. That's how we lost Ellie's mother. Ellie got very sick and she couldn't even eat, by then she had tuberculosis, she lost a lung in the meantime. And for some reason I had the common sense to ask the major for whom I worked for some biscuits and I didn't eat the pork. I just ate dry biscuits, the first day the second day, we went from barrack to barrack. And he wanted to talk to the people and to know where they're from. And half of them couldn't even talk to them, you know, it was too late.
There was a man who had a knife in his hand, he must have weighed almost seventy pounds. And he was slicing away at a corpse and eating the raw flesh. It was unreal. Because you walked around, you could see it, I think the first order was to bring water and food and bury the dead. And to have some hospitals opened. While they made many mistakes, they also did a lot of good. I mean they tried. I worked for them as an interpreter until they had to rush me out of Germany in December 1945. Sometimes a translator, once I was asked to translate when they had caught a German who never was in the Army, who never was an SS, after much interrogation it turned out he was SS. He was stationed in (Avanenburg), and towards the end of the interrogation the major took his gun out of his holster, released the safety and put it in front of me. I picked it up but I couldn't shoot. I couldn't. And then I asked him if he was interested in the 42 SS from the camp near Hamburg. I had memorized their names and addresses from just doing the paperwork. And he said, yes, let's pick them up.


A U.S. Soldier's Testimony

"I, personally, was the first Allied soldier to enter the city square of Witten, a large city on the Ruhr River. I led a patrol through the city, and incidentally, passed a slave camp that occupied the entire city square. Behind the barbed wire of that camp were French, Dutch, Belgian, Polish, Czech and Soviet prisoners; most were prisoners of war; some were people that had been dragooned into slavery. They worked in the local mills and mines. I found, personally, I saw personally, the effects of the German intent to destroy peoples by starvation, exhaustion and disease. The prisoners were segregated by nationality. The French, Dutch, etc. were the best off, the Soviets the worst. The Soviets were reduced to cannibalism, I saw! I smelled it, all of A and B companies, 1st Battalion 289th Infantry Battalion saw it. This was the first such sight as we conquered Germany. It was far from the last. These were not concentration camps with gas chambers and ovens. In these slave camps people were systematically killed by starvation and disease. This camp held 6,000 people. A total of 30,000 had passed through it. The 24,000 had died during the years 1943, 1944 and one-half of 1945. This too was a death camp, one of thousands of such camps in Germany. I personally saw, as a front line soldier, at least 200 such camps large and small.
German is my third language. I spoke with many Germans, every one to whom I spoke acknowledged the existence of these death camps. At least one-third acknowledged the existence of the concentration camps, and the Einsatzgruppen, the murder squad which operated throughout Eastern Europe. No one admitted to being a participant. Hundreds informed on their friends and neighbors as having been participants. I participated in identifying persons for arrest and trial as war criminals. This was Kreis Brillon in Westphalia, Germany."

Philip R. Bradley, Lt. Colonel JAGC, retired


Adolf Eichmann - Brief Background Info

EICHMANN, [KARL] ADOLF (1906-1962). SS officer charged with the destruction of millions of Jews. ... He hated the Jews he met in Vienna, a sentiment stimulated by attendance at Nazi meetings. "Hitler was right," he said later, "when he charged that this one people had intrigued to link as many nations as possible against our country and bring about the terrible times we are going through." ... In 1932 he became a member of the Austrian Nazi party. As a protégé of Ernst Kaltenbrunner, he took part in Nazi activities, which brought him to the attention of the Austrian police.
...he learned that there was an opening in Heinrich Himmler's SD (Sicherheitsdienst), the information center for the Gestapo. Himmler, who believed that Eichmann could speak Hebrew, made him head of the Scientific Museum for Jewish Affairs.... he was promoted rapidly ... Obersturmbannfuhrer (lieutenant colonel). After service in the Reich Central Office of Jewish Emigration, he was made chief of Subsection IV-B-4 of the Reichssicherheitshauptamt (RSHA), the Reich Central Security Office, as an expert on Jewish affairs. He was present at the Wannsee Conference on January 20, 1942, when it was decided to deport Jews to the extermination camps. In August 1944 Eichmann reported to Himmler that, although the death camps kept no exact statistics, 4 million Jews had died in them and that 2 million more had been shot or killed by mobile units."
Eichmann was arrested by Israeli agents, in Argentina, and smuggled to Israel in May of 1960. He was tried, convicted, and hung (May 31, 1962) for crimes against the Jewish people and humanity


Hoess - "A True Pioneer"

HOESS, RUDOLF FRANZ (1900-1947)... In 1934 he was attached to the SS at Dachau ... 1940 given rank of SS-Hauptsturmfuehrer in command at the Auschwitz camp. [He] was responsible for the execution of more than 2.5 million inmates, not counting a half million who were allowed to starve to death. He performed his job so well that he was commended in a 1944 SS report that called him "a true pioneer in this area because of his new ideas and educational methods." He was sentenced to death at Warsaw and was executed several days later at Auschwitz.
"...He joined the Nazi party in 1922 and, in the next year, was implicated in the murder of a school teacher. Sentenced to life imprisonment, he was release in a general amnesty in 1928, into the arms, as it were, of Adolf Hitler. He was trained in apprenticeship positions at Dachau and Sachenhausen and, in 1940, having amply demonstrated his loyalty, he was given the commandant's post at Auschwitz. He managed its murder machine until December 1943, when his record earned him appointment as chief of the Central Administration for Camps.
As the inevitability of the German defeat became clear even to the Nazi elite, the concern to escape retributive punishment that overwhelmed the Nazis in the other camps took priority at Auschwitz too. It was imperative to destroy all implicating evidence and simultaneously kill off as many inmates as possible. The rest were to be shipped to camps that had not yet been endangered by the Allied sweep. As early as November 1944, the gas chambers that had choked out the lives of millions were closed and blown up. Incriminating documents were shredded and burned. In his autobiography, written later in prison, Hoess described how, having been promoted to an office in Berlin, he had tried to get back to Auschwitz to help supervise the transport of the Jews. Thwarted, or perhaps realizing the folly of moving toward the Russians, Hoess joined in the exodus toward the Schleswig-Holstein border of Denmark on the northwest. He wrote: `It was a gruesome journey, from one clump of trees to the next, as the enemy's low flying planes continually machine-gunned the escape route.' <2> The roads were clogged with dying prisoners, disoriented civilians, and deflated SS warriors and soldiers. En route, the villages were pillaged for food; but the civilian inhabitants, fully aware that they could expect no quarter from the Russians, had already turned tail, loaded down with whatever they could carry. When the news was flashed that the Fuehrer himself had committed suicide, all discipline collapsed.
Hoess was captured in May 1945, along with several hundred thousand Germans and collaborators. He escaped early recognition and took work on a farm near Flensburg, but was rearrested by the British some months later. He had carried, as did all high-ranking Nazis, a poison phial, but claimed it had been broken, and so he was denied the honorable exit of suicide. Hoess was a key witness in Nuremberg at the trial of one of his chiefs, Ernst Kaltenbrunner, who was to be convicted and executed in October 1946. He also testified at the trial of the tycoons of I.G. Farben, Germany's leading industrial firm, indicted for their slave labor activities during the war. In may he was delivered to the Poles, who had been waiting impatiently to deal with him.
Hoess's incarceration lasted almost a year. He used this enforced leisure to write a rambling autobiography in which, though he denied responsibility for many crimes attributed to him, he damned himself out of his own mouth. He claimed to have been a `cog in the wheel of the great extermination machine created by the Third Reich.' Occasionally in the narrative there were expressions of astonishment at the mild treatment he experienced from his captors and at the fairness of his judges, `though they were nearly all Jews.'
There was also recognition that his acts were not benevolent, as when he described the gassing of nine hundred Russians with Zyklon B. `It made me uncomfortable: I shuddered.'<3>
Hoess took pride in his exemplary family life, the devotion to his children and his pets. He recalled, wistfully, how he had been obliged to tear himself away from a Christmas gathering to attend to duties at the gas chambers. The daily death quota then was still a mere 1,500, but he was eager to make sure it was met. When one of his lieutenants was condemned to death for his part in the Auschwitz murders, Hoess and his family lamented: `Such a compassionate man, too. When his pet canary died, he tenderly put the body in a small box, covered it with a rose, and buried it under a rose bush in the garden.'<4>
The evidence given at Hoess's trial repeated, in good measure, what he had written. He described, with the dispassion of a robot, how he had gradually stepped up executions, beginning with a few hundred a day and then, as methods were perfected, rising to 1,200. By mid-1942, facilities had been sufficiently enlarged to dispatch 1,500 people over a twenty-four-hour period for the smaller ovens, and up to 2,500 for the larger ones. By 1943, when the Hungarian Jews were shipped in, a new daily peak of 12,000 was achieved. Hoess described the final routines of the extermination process. These were assigned to squads of Jewish prisoners, the Sonderkommandos. They marched the victims to the gas chambers, helped to undress them, removed the corpses after the gassing, extracted gold from their teeth and rings from their fingers, searched the orifices of their bodies for hidden jewelry, cut off the hair of the women, and then carted the bodies to the crematoria. Usually after several weeks of such service they were executed, first because they were Jews but also so that they would not be witnesses if ever testimony were required. One of the survivors, Dora Klein, who served as a nurse, wrote 1I had a feeling that I was in a place which was half hell and half lunatic asylum.'" Hoess was tried in Warsaw, in March of 1947, and condemned to death. He was hanged on April 7.





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