Discussion in 'Massacres and Atrocities of the Second World War' started by Jim, Mar 5, 2007.
Chilling photo. The clarity of it is remarkable.
A tragedy at best. These photos put a human face on it. Difficult to see and ponder what might have been if the Nazis had never existed.
Thank you for all those photos and the helpful commentary wm. Particularly intrigued by your reference to : Country of Ash: A Jewish Doctor in Poland, 1939-1945 by Edward Reiche.
Googled this book and found that a contact of mine, Jan Guzlowski, who we have discussed in a WW2 poetry thread , had a blog a few years ago: Jan published a list of 91 works relating to Poland in WW2 , which had been devised by a Facebook group called The Way Back -- Stories of Poland's Rape, Murder, Enslavement 70 Years Ago."
'Country of Ash' is listed.
Echoes of Tattered Tongues: Memory Unfolded: 91 Essential Books about Poland and World War II
Will need to look out for this book.
Lots of books, it's like drinking from the firehose
Another story from 103 Żelazna Street:
I was told that among the 103 Żelazna workers loaded into boxcars on 12.09.42 there was a mistress of one of the Gestapo chiefs and her small child. After he had learned that they all were going to be deported he drove to the Umschlagplatz. He was told there they had been loaded already, he didn't have the guts to get his mistress out a sealed boxcar. He returned to Żelazna Street and there was a message there saying his only child had died in an air raid. He ran out of his office screaming it was a Jahwe vengeance. He was taken to a psycho-neurotic hospital. They were saying that but I think it's a legend, although with a grain of truth. The woman didn't perish in Treblinka, she jumped out, although without the child.
from: Henryk Makower A Diary from the Warsaw Ghetto
Höfle had a beautiful Jewish servant, Klara, the widow of a Polish Jewish officer who had been murdered in Katyń. She had a small daughter. Klara was blond, with nothing Jewish about her. Was she Hofle’s mistress? Eventually, after the war, I received infonnation that suggested such a possibility. Höfle’s former secretary, the blond who had received me on my first visit to the Befehlsstelle, was jealous of Klara, and was waiting for an opportunity to take revenge. That moment had arrived.
Höfle and a few assistants had gone to Otwock and a few other small towns outside Warsaw to finish off the Jews there. Handke had stayed behind in Warsaw. The secretary convinced Handke to send Klara to the Umschlagplatz. Klara was cleaning Höfle’s apartment when Handke arrived with two Ukrainians to take her and her child to the Umschlagplatz. This came as a horrifying shock to Klara, and she resisted. The Ukrainians dragged her and the child out. She was playing for time. She must have hoped that perhaps Höfle would return soon and set her free. When they reached the entrance to the house, she threw herself to the ground and hugged one of the thick iron guard rails that stand to either side of Polish entryways to prevent entering cars from damaging the walls. Klara grasped the rail with one hand while holding her little Stefcia tight with the other. The child was crying and shouting. The Ukrainians stood by uncertainly, but then Handke showed up. He grabbed Klara’s magnificent long hair and pulled with all his might. Klara screamed in pain. But she did not give up, still waiting for help that didn't come. One of the Ukrainians stepped in to help Handke by tearing Klara’s hand from the post while Handke pulled her hair. Klara was still lying on the ground. But when the Ukrainian fired a warning shot into the air, Klara gave in and went with the child to the Umschlagplatz.
I saw it all from the roof. Apparently, when Höfle came back, he screamed like a wounded beast when he heard what Handke had done to Klara.
I saw Klara again in 1943, on the Polish side. She had managed to leap from the window of the cattle car en route to Treblinka. She was free, but her child perished at Treblinka.
The story of the place didn't end with the destruction the Warsaw Ghetto.
This was going on in front of that building a year later, during the Warsaw Uprising.
They were all flying towards the Polish held Old Town district.
Quite the succession of photos.
Very nice sequence wm. With cameras of the day it was a good photographer that took those.
Jim included a series of photos in the opening post. Ill see if I can find them somewhere in the backup.
The Ghetto at the end of the war:
sources: 1, 2, 3.
The devastation is shocking. Thanks for sharing.
And thanks from me, some classic photos here. Also interested to read the account of Klara, the German officer's mistress in post 24. The levels of absolute desperation she experienced sounded horrific,
In the internet archive Chronicles of terror you can find testimonies concerning Warsaw Ghetto. There are depositions (avalaible in English) of eyewitnesses, both Jewish and Polish. Check Chronicles of terror
Excellent photos wm.
Thank you so much for posting this link. I have been reading through the witness statements in English published on the website.Particularly noticed a couple of harrowing accounts of how the German's deliberately created unsanitary and overcrowded living conditions, along with mass-hunger, in the Warsaw Ghetto to stimulate the outbreak of typhus.
I don't think it's true the Germans were trying to spread typhus in the Ghetto. Some of them were motivated by malice, but most by greed and prospects of ill gotten gains. Actually they deployed quite serious resources (although not theirs) to combat typhus there, mainly the infamous sanitary columns which unfortunately mostly "chose the dark side" and prefered to shake down the inhabitants for money instead of helping them out.
They say the problem was the German responsible for sanitary conditions in Warsaw was some small minded bureaucrat who did everything by the book. And the by "the book" combined with the collapse of social order in the Ghetto were the main reasons for the poor results of all the "combating".
But they extensively used the argument that the Jews were carriers of typhoid to justify the creation of ghettos, including the mass distributed Jews [equals] lice [equals] typhoid poster.
Living conditions of the "Arians" outside weren't any better, statistically overcrowding was three or four person per room, they had more food allocated per person (which you had to buy anyway) but still it was at genocidal levels. It simply wasn't possible to survive on those allocations alone.
The only difference was the "Aryans" had more opportunities to do something, to save themselves than the ghetto inhabitants.
Good points raised wm. Has made me reconsider my earlier post # 33.Thanks
The Warsaw Ghetto fourteen years after.
Do you know this man?
The building in front of him was Warsaw Ghetto's Central Prison, run by the collaborationist Jewish Police.
The administering the ghetto Jewish Council was located there too.
The 36 ft tall Ghetto Heroes Monument is on the right. It was renovated at that time. It had been erected only ten years earlier and needed renovation already. That was communism at its "best".
He left his flowers on the scaffolding.
it was times when presidents were humans, behaving without pretense or phoniness.
When he ventured inside many people nearly fainted thinking he would injure himself in the ruins, or get killed by an unexploded ordnance.
Twenty five years later.
Overcome by emotions, Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany Willy Brandt is spontaneously kneeling down at the Ghetto Heroes Monument.
We would later write "Under the weight of recent history, I did what people do when words fail them. In this way I commemorated millions of murdered people".
A commemorative monument located near by:
The same place sixty six years later.
Do you know this man?
The monument among ruins of the Ghetto in the forties.
1946, it's construction. The prison is on the left.
It was was built of brought to Warsaw in 1942 by Albert Speer for his planned monumental works Scandinavian basalt.
Excellent selection of photos. Thank you. Particularly interested to learn about Willy Brandt 's visit to Warsaw on 6th December 1970 and him kneeling at the monument to the Warsaw Ghetto .
Found a few clips on You Tube that are in German
Also an English language feature including an interview with Willy Brandt about 5 minutes in. Interesting to learn that there was some hostility to his gesture in West Germany.
Lots of people in Germany thought Germany should have regained its lost territories in the East (by peaceful means), and they instinctively opposed anything Brandt the Appeaser was doing.
It wasn't like they were micro-Hitlers or something, they simply regarded what had happened with their territories as blatant injustice inflicted on Germany.
This is how maps of Germany looked at that time (this one was used by German TV weather forecast):
a large part of modern Poland was usually included.
Seen from Poland that look very bad.
That man in that video, Marek Edelman, he wasn't a mere "survivor" - he was the last leader of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, a real SOB that wasn't afraid of the Nazis and the Communists, and fought them both.
His funeral service in 2009, at the monument:
Great to have your expertise on this thread wm and a thought provoking post indeed. Yes, I wasn't suggesting that all those who expressed their doubts about Willy Brandt's gesture were Nazi sympathisers by any means and with borders shifting and ethnic divisions being emphasised, and manipulated, I can see that there would be people in 1970 who felt victimised and dispossessed due to the fallout of World War 2, And these would include ethnic Germans who were not Nazis.
But I still feel that there was something quite moving about Willy Brandt's gesture. And the it's great that Brandt's visit got international attention focused on the Warsaw Ghetto .
Thank you. I was more concerned that others could have thought that if Germans opposed such a noble man they must have been the evil incarnated.
Brandt actually wasn't the first to do more than political necessity required.
Earlier there were German Christians organized in the Action Reconciliation Service for Peace. And Polish bishops who in 1965 sent the The Letter of the Polish Bishops to their German Brothers which contained the words we forgive and ask for forgiveness.