The Holocaust just got even more shocking

Discuss whatever you want here ... movies, books, recipes, politics, beer, wine, TV ... everything except classical music.

Moderators: Lance, Corlyss_D

Post Reply
jbuck919
Military Band Specialist
Posts: 26867
Joined: Wed Jan 28, 2004 10:15 pm
Location: Stony Creek, New York

The Holocaust just got even more shocking

Post by jbuck919 » Sat Mar 02, 2013 9:11 am

The New York Times

March 1, 2013
The Holocaust Just Got More Shocking
By ERIC LICHTBLAU

THIRTEEN years ago, researchers at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum began the grim task of documenting all the ghettos, slave labor sites, concentration camps and killing factories that the Nazis set up throughout Europe.

What they have found so far has shocked even scholars steeped in the history of the Holocaust.

The researchers have cataloged some 42,500 Nazi ghettos and camps throughout Europe, spanning German-controlled areas from France to Russia and Germany itself, during Hitler’s reign of brutality from 1933 to 1945.

The figure is so staggering that even fellow Holocaust scholars had to make sure they had heard it correctly when the lead researchers previewed their findings at an academic forum in late January at the German Historical Institute in Washington.

“The numbers are so much higher than what we originally thought,” Hartmut Berghoff, director of the institute, said in an interview after learning of the new data.

“We knew before how horrible life in the camps and ghettos was,” he said, “but the numbers are unbelievable.”

The documented camps include not only “killing centers” but also 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.

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.

The maps the researchers have created to identify the camps and ghettos turn wide sections of wartime Europe into black clusters of death, torture and slavery — centered in Germany and Poland, but reaching in all directions.

The lead editors on the project, Geoffrey Megargee and Martin Dean, estimate that 15 million to 20 million people died or were imprisoned in the sites that they have identified as part of a multivolume encyclopedia. (The Holocaust museum has published the first two, with five more planned by 2025.)

The existence of many individual camps and ghettos was previously known only on a fragmented, region-by-region basis. But the researchers, using data from some 400 contributors, have been documenting the entire scale for the first time, studying where they were located, how they were run, and what their purpose was.

The brutal experience of Henry Greenbaum, an 84-year-old Holocaust survivor who lives outside Washington, typifies the wide range of Nazi sites.

When Mr. Greenbaum, a volunteer at the Holocaust museum, tells visitors today about his wartime odyssey, listeners inevitably focus on his confinement of months at Auschwitz, the most notorious of all the camps.

But the images of the other camps where the Nazis imprisoned him are ingrained in his memory as deeply as the concentration camp number — A188991 — tattooed on his left forearm.

In an interview, he ticked off the locations in rapid fire, the details still vivid.

First came the Starachowice ghetto in his hometown in Poland, where the Germans herded his family and other local Jews in 1940, when he was just 12.

Next came a slave labor camp with six-foot-high fences outside the town, where he and a sister were moved while the rest of the family was sent to die at Treblinka. After his regular work shift at a factory, the Germans would force him and other prisoners to dig trenches that were used for dumping the bodies of victims. He was sent to Auschwitz, then removed to work at a chemical manufacturing plant in Poland known as Buna Monowitz, where he and some 50 other prisoners who had been held at the main camp at Auschwitz were taken to manufacture rubber and synthetic oil. And last was another slave labor camp at Flossenbürg, near the Czech border, where food was so scarce that the weight on his 5-foot-8-inch frame fell away to less than 100 pounds.

By the age of 17, Mr. Greenbaum had been enslaved in five camps in five years, and was on his way to a sixth, when American soldiers freed him in 1945. “Nobody even knows about these places,” Mr. Greenbaum said. “Everything should be documented. That’s very important. We try to tell the youngsters so that they know, and they’ll remember.”

The research could have legal implications as well by helping a small number of survivors document their continuing claims over unpaid insurance policies, looted property, seized land and other financial matters.

“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.

Dr. Megargee, the lead researcher, said the project was changing the understanding among Holocaust scholars of how the camps and ghettos evolved.

As early as 1933, at the start of Hitler’s reign, the Third Reich established about 110 camps specifically designed to imprison some 10,000 political opponents and others, the researchers found. As Germany invaded and began occupying European neighbors, the use of camps and ghettos was expanded to confine and sometimes kill not only Jews but also homosexuals, Gypsies, Poles, Russians and many other ethnic groups in Eastern Europe. The camps and ghettos varied enormously in their mission, organization and size, depending on the Nazis’ needs, the researchers have found.

The biggest site identified is the infamous Warsaw Ghetto, which held about 500,000 people at its height. But as few as a dozen prisoners worked at one of the smallest camps, the München-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.

When the research began in 2000, Dr. Megargee said he expected to find perhaps 7,000 Nazi camps and ghettos, based on postwar estimates. But the numbers kept climbing — first to 11,500, then 20,000, then 30,000, and now 42,500.

The numbers astound: 30,000 slave labor camps; 1,150 Jewish ghettos; 980 concentration camps; 1,000 prisoner-of-war camps; 500 brothels filled with sex slaves; and thousands of other camps used for euthanizing the elderly and infirm, performing forced abortions, “Germanizing” prisoners or transporting victims to killing centers.

In Berlin alone, researchers have documented some 3,000 camps and so-called Jew houses, while Hamburg held 1,300 sites.

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.”

Eric Lichtblau is a reporter for The New York Times in Washington and a visiting fellow at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

Ricordanza
Posts: 2000
Joined: Sun Jun 26, 2005 4:58 am
Location: Southern New Jersey, USA

Re: The Holocaust just got even more shocking

Post by Ricordanza » Sat Mar 02, 2013 11:44 am

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.
Not only that, but the scale of this indicates the tens of thousands of "ordinary" citizens of Germany, Poland, Hungary, etc. (i.e., those not in the Nazi hierarchy) who participated in this vast system of oppression. It's chilling to think about this.

sans maitre
Posts: 211
Joined: Thu Jan 03, 2013 3:33 pm

Re: The Holocaust just got even more shocking

Post by sans maitre » Sat Mar 02, 2013 5:00 pm

not more shocking than the actions of the Einsatzgruppen and the accompanying complicity of the Wehrmacht in the USSR

Cosima___J
Posts: 1486
Joined: Wed Jul 07, 2010 1:38 pm
Location: Georgia

Re: The Holocaust just got even more shocking

Post by Cosima___J » Mon Mar 04, 2013 3:30 pm

It's just blows my mind to think that so many people were involved in the Nazi persecutions. How in the world could so many people stoop to such depravity??? I really have to ask the frightening question: Could it happen again somewhere on this planet? Has our sense of morality and decency really improved?

John F
Posts: 21076
Joined: Mon Mar 26, 2007 4:41 am
Location: Brooklyn, NY

Re: The Holocaust just got even more shocking

Post by John F » Mon Mar 04, 2013 5:13 pm

Of course it can - no reason to believe that it can't. Humanity has developed even faster and more efficient ways of committing mass slaughter in the 80 years since the Nazis came to power in Germany, and more people than ever live under dictatorships that will kill them to stay in power.
John Francis

jbuck919
Military Band Specialist
Posts: 26867
Joined: Wed Jan 28, 2004 10:15 pm
Location: Stony Creek, New York

Re: The Holocaust just got even more shocking

Post by jbuck919 » Mon Mar 04, 2013 5:33 pm

John F wrote:Of course it can - no reason to believe that it can't. Humanity has developed even faster and more efficient ways of committing mass slaughter in the 80 years since the Nazis came to power in Germany, and more people than ever live under dictatorships that will kill them to stay in power.
The difference is that it is unlikely that a country that was central to setting the standard for modern civilization and culture will ever again turn its energies to being the worst perverter and destroyer of same. The irony is that a nation had to be the first in order to succeed so incomparably in being the second.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

John F
Posts: 21076
Joined: Mon Mar 26, 2007 4:41 am
Location: Brooklyn, NY

Re: The Holocaust just got even more shocking

Post by John F » Mon Mar 04, 2013 5:47 pm

Of course, Stalin's Soviet Union was even worse than Hitler's Germany, and Russia never set any standard for civilization.
John Francis

jbuck919
Military Band Specialist
Posts: 26867
Joined: Wed Jan 28, 2004 10:15 pm
Location: Stony Creek, New York

Re: The Holocaust just got even more shocking

Post by jbuck919 » Mon Mar 04, 2013 5:57 pm

John F wrote:Of course, Stalin's Soviet Union was even worse than Hitler's Germany, and Russia never set any standard for civilization.
Right. But scan the world, and where is there a possibility of something like that ever happening on such a scale again? China, remotely, maybe. But state crimes on that level since WW II have been limited (if you can call it that) to countries of much lesser world importance, or capability of wreaking devastation on a continental scale. The same "advances" you cite as making this kind of horror repeatable come along with advances in communication, interconnectedness, and world policing that make it much less likely.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

John F
Posts: 21076
Joined: Mon Mar 26, 2007 4:41 am
Location: Brooklyn, NY

Re: The Holocaust just got even more shocking

Post by John F » Mon Mar 04, 2013 6:35 pm

State crimes on that scale before World War II were hardly known - can you think of any? Which didn't prevent them from happening in Germany and Russia during the '30s and '40s. Since the war, China's Great Leap Forward in 1958-61 caused peacetime deaths of China's own citizens estimated from 18 million to 45 million, matching or exceeding Stalin's purges and dwarfing the death toll of Germany's Holocaust. All of these would have seemed unlikely before they actually happened, and now that we know they can happen, saying they are unlikely now strikes me as pretty rash.
John Francis

jbuck919
Military Band Specialist
Posts: 26867
Joined: Wed Jan 28, 2004 10:15 pm
Location: Stony Creek, New York

Re: The Holocaust just got even more shocking

Post by jbuck919 » Mon Mar 04, 2013 8:41 pm

John F wrote:State crimes on that scale before World War II were hardly known - can you think of any?
Sure. There was the Armenian genocide, which Turkey still denies.

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

You mention China and that is also the only country about which I expressed a guarded reservation. It is the only great power that could conceivably still engineer a mass slaughter of its own people with global consequences, but I can't see it happening again. It should also be remembered that what happened in Russia and Germany (and pretty much also in China) must be seen in the context of the aftermath of world wars of incalculable and probably unrepeatable proportions.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

sans maitre
Posts: 211
Joined: Thu Jan 03, 2013 3:33 pm

Re: The Holocaust just got even more shocking

Post by sans maitre » Mon Mar 04, 2013 9:45 pm

I would argue that while perhaps it was better to be a loyal, ethnically pure German under Hitler than a loyal Russian communist under Stalin, if Hitler had accomplished his goals the death toll would have dwarfed that of Stalin (the plan was for 80% of the per-war USSR population to be starved to make room for German settlement)

Killing at the scale of ww2 (on a per-capita basis) was a staple of pre-modern warfare from Rome to the Mongols

Steinway
Posts: 2147
Joined: Tue Jan 23, 2007 10:08 am
Location: Philadelphia
Contact:

Re: The Holocaust just got even more shocking

Post by Steinway » Tue Mar 05, 2013 4:00 pm

"Not only that, but the scale of this indicates the tens of thousands of "ordinary" citizens of Germany, Poland, Hungary, etc. (i.e., those not in the Nazi hierarchy) who participated in this vast system of oppression. It's chilling to think about this."

The theory that "ordinary" citizens didn't know what what was happening in their countries is preposterous. My sense has always been that most of them either condoned or relished the annihilation of those ethnic groups they despised and were hardly unknowing. Call me a cynic but incidents of that magnitude in any given community are not so secret that the story is totally hidden. That's not the reality of real life now, nor was it then.

The shame of this will never be erased and should never be shrugged off.

Agnes Selby
Author of Constanze Mozart's biography
Posts: 5568
Joined: Tue Dec 20, 2005 3:27 am
Location: Australia

Re: The Holocaust just got even more shocking

Post by Agnes Selby » Tue Mar 05, 2013 4:16 pm

Cliftwood, I fully agree!!!!

Regards,
Agnes.

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 20 guests