Lea (Leja) Lipszic (Lipschitz) nee Blecher was born in Kelme, Lithuania in 1903. She was married to Mordechai Lipszic (Lipschitz) in Siauliai, Lithuania and had four children: Mosche, Pnina (Pearl), Teibe (Toby / Tova) and Yaacov. In 1941 / 1942, the Lipszic family was interned via the Siaulia Ghetto. Upon liquidation of the ghetto, Lea (Leja) Lipszic (Lipschitz) nee Blecher and her two daughters, Pnina (Pearl) and Teibe (Toby / Tova) were transported to the Stutthof concentration camp near Gdansk, Poland. Lea (Leja) was a very strong woman; however, during their internment in Stutthof, her youngest child, Pnina (Pearl) fell gravely ill due to unspeakable, horrific living conditions and malnourishment. Pnina (Pearl) Lipszic was sidelined by the SS (Nazi) beasts and marked for execution. Although she was gravely ill, Pnina's mind still functioned at 100% capacity, and she knew full well the fate that awaited her at the hands of the Nazi beasts. Pnina (Pearl) was absolutely terrified, shrieked and cried on her mother, Lea (Leja) Lipszic (Lipschitz) nee Blecher's shoulder. Naturally, maternal instinct kicked in. Because Pnina (Pearl) was her youngest daughter, Lea (Leja) Lipszic (Lipschitz) nee Blecher chose to sacrifice her own life solely to comfort her baby daughter at the time of her execution in 1944. Because the Russians were moving in closer to the Gdansk region of Poland, both Lea (Leja) Lipszic (Lipschitz) nee Blecher and her daughter, Pnina (Pearl) Lipszic were placed on a boat, along with other victims somewhere in the Baltic Sea. The Nazi beasts fired gun shots killing everyone on board this vessel and sinking the boat. I am the son of Teibe (Toby / Tova) Luksenburg nee Lipszic (Lipschitz). My late, beloved mother, who obviously survived the atrocities in Stutthof, always brought tears to my eyes when sharing this horrifying accounting of her mother, Lea (Leja) Lipszic (Lipschitz) nee Blecher. My late, beloved mother carried this awful horror deep inside of her heart until the day she passed away in September 2007 (complications from Alzheimer's disease). It is something that I too will carry deep within me until the day I die. I am adding two images of both my grandmother, Lea (Leja) Lipszic (Lipschitz) nee Blecher, who I never actually got to meet, and of course, my late, beloved mother, Teibe (Toby / Tova) Luksenburg nee Lipszic, may she rest in eternal, heavenly peace.
Stutthof Concentration Camp
Lea (Leja) Lipszic (Lipschitz) nee Blecher - A Story of Courage
Stutthof was the first Nazi concentration camp built outside of 1937 German borders.
Completed on September 2, 1939, it was located in a secluded, wet, and wooded area west of the small town of Sztutowo (German: Stutthof). The town is located in the former territory of the Free City of Danzig, 34 km east of Gda?sk, Poland. Stutthof was the last camp liberated by the Allies, on May 9, 1945. More than 85,000 victims died in the camp out of as many as 110,000 people deported there.
The Nazi authorities of the Free City of Danzig were compiling material about known Jews and Polish intelligentsia as early as 1936 and were also reviewing suitable places to build concentration camps in their area. Originally, Stutthof was a civilian internment camp under the Danzig police chief. In November 1941, it became a "labor education" camp, administered by the German Security Police. Finally, in January 1942, Stutthof became a regular concentration camp.
The original camp (known as the old camp) was surrounded by barbed-wire fence. It comprised eight barracks for the inmates and a "kommandantur" for the SS guards, totalling 120,000 m². In 1943, the camp was enlarged and a new camp was constructed alongside the earlier one. It was also surrounded by electrified barbed-wire fence and contained thirty new barracks, raising the total area to 1.2 km².
The camp staff consisted of SS guards and after 1943, Ukrainian auxiliaries. In 1942 the first female prisoners and female German guards arrived in Stutthof, including Aufseherin Herta Bothe. A total of over 130 women served in the Stutthof complex of camps. 34 female guards, including Gerda Steinhoff, Rosy Suess, Ewa Paradies and Jenny-Wanda Barkmann, have been identified later as having committed crimes against humanity at Stutthof. Starting in June 1944, the SS in Stutthof began conscripting women from Danzig and the surrounding cities to train as camp female guards because of a severe shortage of guards. In 1944 a women's subcamp of Stutthof calledBromberg-Ost (Konzentrationslager Bromberg-Ost) was set up in the city of Bydgoszcz.
A crematorium and gas chamber were added in 1943, just in time to start mass executions when Stutthof was included in the "Final Solution" in June 1944. Mobile gas wagons were also used to complement the maximum capacity of the gas chamber (150 people per execution) when needed.
The first inmates imprisoned on 2 September 1939 were 150 Polish citizens, arrested on the streets of Danzig right after the outbreak of the war. The inmate population rose to 6,000 in the following two weeks, on 15 September 1939.
Tens of thousands of people, perhaps as many as 110,000, were deported to the Stutthof camp. The prisoners were mainly non-Jewish Poles. There were also Polish Jews from Warsaw andBia?ystok, and Jews from forced-labour camps in the occupied Baltic states, which the Germans evacuated in 1944 as Soviet forces approached. These totals are thought to be conservative, as it is believed that inmates sent for immediate execution were not registered.A number of German was also sent to the camp, where they were known as "camp aristocracy"-a large group of German criminals was also given kapo positions and terrorized other inmates, other Germans included a couple of socialdemocrats , and later members of military faction that tried to gain power from Hitler; in 1945 the camp authorities noted that 35% of inmates are Poles, 8% Russians, and 7% Germans(some of which were Poles who refused to accept Volksliste)
When the Soviet army began its advance through Nazi-occupied Estonia in July and August 1944, the camp staff of Klooga concentration camp evacuated the majority of the inmates by sea to the Stutthof concentration camp.
Conditions in the camp were brutal. Many prisoners died in typhus epidemics that swept the camp in the winter of 1942 and again in 1944. Those whom the SS guards judged too weak or sick to work were gassed in the camp's small gas chamber. Gassing with Zyklon B began in June 1944. Camp doctors also killed sick or injured prisoners in the infirmary with lethal injections. More than 85,000 people died in the camp.
The Germans used Stutthof prisoners as forced labourers. Some prisoners worked in SS-owned businesses such as the German Equipment Works (DAW), located near the camp. Others laboured in local brickyards, in private industrial enterprises, in agriculture, or in the camp's own workshops. In 1944, as forced labour by concentration camp prisoners became increasingly important in armaments production, a Focke-Wulf aircraft factory was constructed at Stutthof. Eventually, the Stutthof camp system became a vast network of forced-labour camps; 105 Stutthof subcamps were established throughout northern and central Poland. The major subcamps were Thorn and Elbing.
Soap production from the bodies of victims
Some evidence exists of small-scale soap production of soap made from human corpses in the Stutthof concentration camp.
In his book "Russia at War 1941 to 1945", Alexander Werth reported that while visiting Gda?sk/Danzig in 1945 shortly after its liberation by the Red Army, he saw an experimental factory outside the city for making soap from human corpses. According to Werth it had been run by "a German professor called Spanner" and "was a nightmarish sight, with its vats full of human heads and torsoes pickled in some liquid, and its pails full of a flakey substance - human soap".
The evacuation of prisoners from the Stutthof camp system in northern Poland began in January 1945. When the final evacuation began, there were nearly 50,000 prisoners, the majority of them Jews, in the Stutthof camp system. About 5,000 prisoners from Stutthof subcamps were marched to the Baltic Sea coast, forced into the water, and machinegunned. The rest of the prisoners were marched in the direction of Lauenburg in eastern Germany. They were cut off by advancing Soviet forces. The Germans forced the surviving prisoners back to Stutthof. Marching in severe winter conditions and treated brutally by SS guards, thousands died during the march.
In late April 1945, the remaining prisoners were removed from Stutthof by sea, since Stutthof was completely encircled by Soviet forces. Again, hundreds of prisoners were forced into the sea and shot. Over 4,000 were sent by small boat to Germany, some to the Neuengamme concentration camp near Hamburg, and some to camps along the Baltic coast. Many drowned along the way. A barge full of prisoners was washed ashore at Klintholm Havn in Denmark where 351 of the 370 on board were saved on 5 May 1945. Shortly before the German surrender, some prisoners were transferred to Malmö, Sweden, and released into the care of that neutral country. It has been estimated that over 25,000 prisoners, one in two, died during the evacuation from Stutthof and its subcamps.
Soviet forces liberated Stutthof on May 9, 1945, and liberated about 100 prisoners who had managed to hide during the final evacuation of the camp.
(January 29, 1922 – July 4, 1946)
In 1939, Steinhoff became a cook, married and had one child. In 1944, because of the Nazi call for new guards, she joined the camp staff at Stutthof. On October 1, 1944, she became a Blockleiterin in Stutthof women's camp SK-III. There, she took part in selections of prisoners to be sent to the gas chambers. On October 31, 1944, she was promoted to SS-Oberaufseherin and was assigned to the Danzig-Holm subcamp. On December 1, 1944 she was reassigned to Bromberg-Ost female subcamp of Stutthof located in Bydgoszcz not far from Gda?sk. There on January 25, 1945, she received a medal for her loyalty and service to the Third Reich. She was devoted to her job in the camps and was known as a very ruthless overseer. Soon before the end of World War II, she fled the camp and went back home.
Arrest, trial and execution
On May 25, 1945, she was arrested by Polish officials and sent to prison. She stood trial with the other SS women and kapos and was convicted and condemned to death for her involvement in the selections and what was called her sadistic abuse of prisoners. She was publicly hanged on July 4, 1946, on Biskupia Gorka Hill, near Gda?sk.
Ewa Paradies (17 December 1920 - 4 July 1946) was a Nazi concentration camp overseer.
Paradies was born in Lauenburg, Pomerania (now L?bork, Poland), Neuendorferstrasse 100. She was a Protestant Christian and not married. In 1935 she left school and worked various jobs in Wuppertal, Erfurt and Lauenburg.
In August 1944 she went to Stutthof SK-III camp for training as an Aufseherin. She soon finished training and became a wardress. In October 1944 she was reassigned to the Bromberg-Ost subcamp of Stutthof, and in January 1945, back to Stutthof main camp. In April 1945 she accompanied one of the last transports of women prisoners to the Lauenburg subcamp and fled.
In May 1945 she was found and arrested by Polish officers in L?bork. At the Sztutowo trial, several witnesses told of Paradies abuse. One told the court: "She forced a group of women prisoners, in the dead of winter to undress. Then she poured icy water over them. If they moved then she [Paradies] would beat them." During the Stutthof Trial, Paradies cried and pleaded for her life. Paradies was subsequently found guilty of murder and sentenced to death
Ewa Paradies was publicly hanged at Biskupia Górka near Gda?sk, along with 10 others who had been sentenced to death (six men: the camp commandant Johann Pauls and five kapos; and four women: Jenny-Wanda Barkmann, Elisabeth Becker, Wanda Klaff and Gerda Steinhoff)
Death on the Gallows
Biskupia Gorka ( Stolzenberg )
near Gdansk (Danzig)
Between 25th April and 31th May before the Special Law Court at Danzig a trial was held against guards of the Stutthof Concentration Camp
The accused were :
1. Camp’s Commandant Johann Pauls – death by hanging
2. SS-Aufseherin Jenny Wanda Barkmann – death by hanging
3. SS-Aufseherin Elisabeth Becker – death by hanging
4. SS-Aufseherin Wanda Klaff – death by hanging
5. SS-Aufseherin Ewa Paradies – death by hanging
6. SS-Aufseherin Gerda Steinhoff – death by hanging
7. SS-Aufseherin a Beilhardt - 5 years in prison
8. Kapo Joseph Reiter – death by hanging
8. Kapo Waclaw Kozlowski – death by hanging
9. Kapo Franciszek Szopiñski – death by hanging
10. Kapo Jan Brajt – death by hanging
11. Sztubowy Tadeusz Kopczyñski – death by hanging
12. Kapo Kazimierz Kowalski – 3 years in prison
13. Kapo Aleksy Duzdal – not guilty
14. Kapo Jan Preiss – not guilty
15. Kapo Marian Zielkowski – died of a heart attack 25th August 1945 in prison
At the trial the SS-women behaved insolently.
During the interruptions they giggled and joked.
Jenny Barkmann changed her hair-do every day and flirted with the guards.
When public prosecutor asked for capital punishment
Klaff, Steinhoff, Becker and Paradies cried and pleaded for her life
Only Jenny Barkmann remained calm .
_The accused with Polish guards at the location of the KZ Stutthof
first row from left to right : Ewa Paradies, Elisabeth Becker, Wanda Klaff
second row : Gerda Steinhoff, Jenny Barkmann
(Click the picture to see detail of the women) _
The gallows are waiting for the 6 men and 5 women sentenced to hang
SS-Guard Jenny Barkmann und her executioner
( in striped KZ uniform)
From right to left : SS-Guard Elisabeth Becker (sitting) , then Wanda Klaff (standing ) , Gerda Steinhoff (not visible) and 6 men (Kommandant Johann Pauls and 5 Kapos)
The priest speaks to Ewa Paradies,
at the left (sitting) : Elisabeth Becker
The hands of the prisoners were tied behind their back and the feet were tied together
Right : Elisabeth Becker
( the executioner just passed the noose around her neck ) ,
left (standing) : Wanda Klaff
The SS-women sat on chairs and had their hands tied in the back . For the execution they were lifted up on the chairs , this was very difficult as they had their legs already tied at the ankles
A few moments before the execution :
from right to left : Ewa Paradies, Elisabeth Becker , Wanda Klaff, Gerda Steinhoff
The disposition of the gallows
The execution started at 5.00 pm
The prisoners were noosed and then pushed from the ramp of the trucks
Jenny Barkmann has just been hanged and struggles at the end of the rope
while Ewa Paradies is being noosed by her executioner.
In the background (white dress): Wanda Klaff .
Already hanging with the back to the camera ( dark blouse , white skirt) :
After the hanging of the Nazi war criminals
From left to right : Jenny Barkmann , Ewa Paradies, Elisabeth Becker ,
Wanda Klaff , Gerda Steinhoff
Left : Gerda Steinhoff
Jenny Barkmann Ewa Paradies Elisabeth Becker Wanda Klaff und
Gerda Steinhoff It seems that one picture of the execution appeared in an edition of TIME Magazine of July or August 1946 under the title :"Ladies first !"
The Polish press informed :
- about 50 000 people (Dziennik Polski 5th July 1946) - this seems a little bit exagerated
- several dozen thousands (Ilustrowany Kurier Polski no 186 12th July 1946)
- great crowd (another paper)
The information about the coming execution were given the day before, on 3th July 1946 (Wednesday), in the newspaper “Dziennik Baltycki”: “Stutthof’s war criminals will be publicly hanged in Gdañsk”.
It is believed that the execution was filmed. During the visit of Stutthof’s
Museum a film “Stutthof’s gallows” is being shown. In this film (newreel) there are scenes of the SS-women in the accused bench , for instance Jenny Barkmann, when she is standing up for the death verdict.
Maybe the complete film showing the executions is in the Museum's
archives or perhaps in a Russian archive.
(c.1922 – July 4, 1946) was a Nazi concentration camp guard.
She is believed to have spent her childhood in Hamburg, Germany. In 1944, she became an_Aufseherin_ in the Stutthof SK-III women's camp, where she brutalized prisoners, some to death. She also selected women and children for the gas chambers. She was so severe the women prisoners nicknamed her the Beautiful Specter
Barkmann fled Stutthof as the Soviets approached. She was arrested in May 1945 while trying to leave a train station in Gda?sk, incarcerated and became a defendant in the Stutthof Trial. She is said to have flirted with her prison guards and was apparently seen arranging her hair while hearing testimony. She was found guilty, after which she declared, "Life is indeed a pleasure, and pleasures are usually short."
(January 29, 1922 – July 4, 1946)
In 1939, Steinhoff became a cook, married and had one child. In 1944, because of the Nazi call for new guards, she joined the camp staff at Stutthof. On October 1, 1944, she became aBlockleiterin in Stutthof women's camp SK-III. There, she took part in selections of prisoners to be sent to the gas chambers. On October 31, 1944, she was promoted to SS-Oberaufseherin and was assigned to the Danzig-Holm subcamp. On December 1, 1944 she was reassigned to Bromberg-Ost female subcamp of Stutthof located in Bydgoszcz not far from Gda?sk. There on January 25, 1945, she received a medal for her loyalty and service to the Third Reich. She was devoted to her job in the camps and was known as a very ruthless overseer. Soon before the end of World War II, she fled the camp and went back home.
Arrest, trial and execution
On May 25, 1945, she was arrested by Polish officials and sent to prison. She stood trial with the other SS women and kapos and was convicted and condemned to death for her involvement in the selections and what was called her sadistic abuse of prisoners. She was publicly hanged on July 4, 1946, on Biskupia Gorka Hill, near Gda?sk.
Kaunas, Lithuania, 1944, Female Survivors of the Stutthof Camp
_ Zina ( 4 from the left top) with friends_
Juniata Hosts Presentation by Holocaust Survivor
(Posted October 25, 2010)
Judy Meisel, a survivor of the Stutthof concentration camp, speaks at Juniata at 7 p.m., Oct. 28.
HUNTINGDON, Pa. -- Judy Meisel, a survivor of the Stutthof concentration camp and an activist for civil rights, will present at Juniata College a documentary film about her life, "Tak for Alt: Survival of the Human Spirit," and will lead a discussion of the film at 7 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 28, in Alumni Hall in the Brumbaugh Academic Center on the Juniata campus.
Judy Meisel was born in Josvainai, Lithuania in 1929, one of three children of a lumber and cattle merchant. When the Nazi army invaded Lithuania in 1941, the country's Jewish population was isolated in the Kovno ghetto. Meisel was forced to work as a slave laborer in a factory making rubber boots for the German army.
In 1944, Meisel and the rest of her family were transported to the Stutthof concentration camp, which was located in Poland, right outside of the city of Danzig (now Gdansk).
At the camp, Meisel was separated from her mother as the family stood in line as inmates were selected for work or death. She never saw her mother again. By the end of 1944, the guards left the camp, leading the inmates on a death march. Those who couldn't walk were shot. As the group walked, the column came under bombardment by Russian troops and Meisel and her sister were able to walk away from the group.
"I speak in memory of those who did not survive."
The two girls eventually made their way to a convent and then to Denmark. When Denmark was liberated in 1945, Meisel spent more than two years in a sanitarium in Denmark recuperating.
"Tak for Alt," (which means "Thanks for Everything in Danish) follows Meisel as she retraces her steps back to Eastern Europe through the Kovno ghetto, to the concentration camp where she was transferred and to Denmark, where she escaped and recovered from her harrowing ordeal.
Other members of her family in Lithuania did not survive. She counts 146 members of her family as victims who were shot. She emigrated to Canada in 1949 and eventually moved to Philadelphia. She now lives in California.
Meisel worked in the civil rights movement in the 1960s. She now takes the film about her life and travels to high schools and colleges across the country. "I speak in memory of those who did not survive," she says in her press biography.
Rescue of Stutthof Victims in Denmark
The rescue of Stutthof victims in Denmark took place on 5 May 1945 at Klintholm Havn, a small fishing village on the south coast of the island of Møn, when a barge full of famished Nazi concentration camp prisoners was towed into harbour.
The landing in Klintholm Havn
On 5 May 1945, the day Denmark was liberated from German occupation during World War II, a barge with 370 starving prisoners from theStutthof concentration camp near Danzig (now Gdansk) was brought into Klintholm Havn. When Russian forces moved into the areas close to Stutthof on 25 April 1945, those in control of the concentration camp forced the remaining prisoners to march to the coast and then commanded them to board river barges. After a few days, they were taken ashore in Rügen, Germany, but then were again forced onto another barge on 3 May. This was allowed to drift across the Baltic Sea until it was finally towed into the harbour at Klintholm Havn by a German tug two days later.
Fortunately the local inhabitants managed to rescue 351 of the prisoners. The other 19 could not be saved and died of disease or starvation during the next few days. Some of them are buried in nearby Magleby churchyard.
Many different nationalities
The prisoners on the barge were nearly all political prisoners, most of whom had been involved in resistance operations. There were also several members of Jehovas Witnesses which had been banned by the Nazi regime. Danish Red Cross archives, which draw on an analysis undertaken by Zygmunt Szatkowski (one of the prisoners), show that the majority of the prisoners were Polesfollowed by a large number of Russians. There were also small numbers of Czechoslovakians,Germans, Estonians, Latvians, Lithuanians, Turks and Frenchmen as well as a few citizens from theFree State of Danzig. One of the Poles had a U.S. passport.
Shortly after the barge was towed into the harbour, Rasmus Fenger, the local doctor, boarded the vessel and assessed the health of the prisoners. They were nearly all suffering from diseases such as dysentry, typhus, tuberculosis and the effects of malnutrition. In addition, they all had fleas. The top priority the first day was to find emergency food supplies for them all. Bread, milk and butter were found in the surrounding area and large quantities of fresh water were provided. A rescue committee was then set up consisting of members of the Red Cross and the Danish resistance movement. The most critical prisoners were moved to Stege hospital or to Hotel Søbad, a few hundred meters from the harbour. The remainder stayed on the barge for up to 10 days until accommodation could be found for them in community centres or hostels. The local Red Cross organised the rescue operation assisted by Danish doctors and nurses and by those prisoners who were fit enough to help. Within a few days, the spirits of the prisoners improved as they received nutrition and medical care.
A memorial stone now stands on the shore of Klinthom Havn at the point where the barge came in. It was erected on 5 May 1995, commemorating the 50th anniversary of the event.
The Danish inscription on the stone reads:
Fra sult og nød, tortur og død__De mødte på en fremmed kyst__I hjælpsom ånd, en udstrakt hånd.
which, roughly translated, means:
From hunger and peril, torture and death,They encountered on a foreign shoreIn helping vein, an outstretched hand.
The board beside the stone carries explanations in four languages including English. The English reads:
On the day of the Liberation of Denmark, 5 May 1945, a barge was washed up on this spot, carrying 370 prisoners from the Nazi concentration camp of Stutthof near Danzig. Close to death from starvation and illness, they had been ordered by their captors to their fate on the Baltic Sea. On the 50th anniversary of the landing, this memorial was erected to commemorate those people who, with no thought for their own safety, saved the lives of 351 of the prisoners. This memorial also honours the memory of those victims who never reached the outstretched hands of the rescuers of Klintholm. A personal testimony
In her autobiography Unfettered Joy, Hermine Schmidt, a German woman who had been a prisoner at Stutthof because of her religious beliefs as a member of Jehovah's Witnesses, tells her own story of the desperate voyage across the Baltic Sea.
She recounts how on 25 April 1945 she and 370 other inmates from Stutthof were pushed out into the Baltic in a derelict barge. For 10 days the barge drifted around the sea north of Germany and south of Denmark. But on the 10th day the vessel was sighted from a little Danish island. It was soon brought into Klitholm Havn harbour on Møn. The date was 5 May 1945, Denmark's liberation day.
"It was unbelievable how they welcomed us. We had lice and fleas and looked like walking skeletons but they came down to the harbour and hugged us. The following day you could read in the local paper: Go down to the harbour and see the floating coffin
Nesse Godin (Galperin) (born March 28, 1928 in Šiauliai, Lithuania) is a Holocaust survivor. She has dedicated her adult life to teaching and sharing memories of the Holocaust. Nesse has the ability to translate the Holocaust into a personal glimpse of this enormous and horrifying history.
1933-1939 "My family was very religious and observed all the Jewish laws. I attended Hebrew school and was raised in a loving household, where the values of community and caring always were stressed. After the Germans invaded Poland in 1939, we heard from relatives in ?ód? that Jews there were being treated horribly. We could not believe it; how could your neighbors denounce you and not stand up to help you?" 940-1944
These were the years of German occupation in Lithuania, as well as numerous other places and regions throughout Europe.
"On June 26, 1941, the Germans occupied our city, just four days after the invasion of the USSR. In the weeks that followed, SS killing units and Lithuanian collaborators shot about 1,000 Jews in the nearby Kuziai forest. In August, we were forced to move into a ghetto, where we lived in constant hunger and fear. There I witnessed many “selections,” during which men, women, and children were taken to their deaths. My father was among them. In 1944 as the Soviet army approached, the remaining Jews were deported to the Stutthof concentration camp. There I was given the number 54015." 1945-1950
From Stutthof, Nesse was transported to several camps, and was sent on a death march in January 1945. In the freezing cold winter weather and with little food, many of the prisoners died. On March 10, 1945, she was liberated by Soviet troops. As she was still a minor then, she was given a random minder, but soon afterwards she got re-united with her mother. In 1950 after spending five years in the displaced persons camp in Feldafing, Germany, she and her husband Jack (also a survivor), along with their two children, Pnina and Edward, came to the U.S. and settled in the Washington D.C. area.
In 1954, Nesse and Jack saw the birth of their third and final child, Rochelle. Holding blue-collar jobs, Nesse and Jack worked hard and diligently to support their family, which included Nesse's mother, Sara. She has seven grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
She was born in Trutnov, Czechoslovakia, in 1916, and attended Mil?a Mayerová’s School of Dance in Prague after leaving school. In 1942 she was deported to the Jewish Ghetto in Terezin with her husband Paul. From there, they were sent to Auschwitz and separated. Paul was later to die in Schwarzheide concentration camp, while Helen was eventually sent to Stutthof in northern Poland. After the liberation she returned to Prague and met up with Harry, an old friend whose family had emigrated to Belfast. They married in 1947, and lived in Belfast, where they had two sons, Michael and Robin.
Helen began teaching modern dance and choreographing for theatre and opera, and was a founder member of the Belfast Modern Dance Group.
In 1992 she wrote a book about her experiences before and during the war (A Time To Speak, ISBN 0786704861), which was adapted by Sam McCready as a play and performed at the Lyric Theatre in Belfast. In 2001 she was awarded an MBE for her services to contemporary dance. Helen died on 31 December 2009
On 22 June 1941, just hours after the commencement of Operation Barbarossa, Danish police arrested Martin Nielsen and other known communists. In December 1942, the Danish authorities handed him and his file over to the Gestapo for interrogation.
On 25 January 1945, Nielsen was marched from Stutthof.
Mother After Liberation
an Excerpt from her new book
Part of a chapter describing her time at the Stutthof Concentration Camp.
Transports with new arrivals came into camp daily. The new arrivals were mostly Hungarians. To our surprise, their hair wasn't shaved, their clothes fit well and seemed to be their own, and their faces were more full and robust-looking. They must have come directly from their homes and weren't at all used to being in the camps like we were. Lice and disease quickly and mercilessly ravaged their bodies. They couldn't stand the hunger and filth. At night, their screams and cries were nonstop. They died in the hundreds within weeks of their arrival. If they complained, they were shot or sent to the crematoria.
I never thought that such conditions like those I experienced first in the ghetto, then at Auschwitz, then at Stutthof, could exist or that they could get progressively worse. We went from one state of inhuman conditions to a further state of inhuman conditions. It was like going from one level of hell to a deeper level of hell. The stench, the crowding, the disease, the hunger, the cold was unbearable, but I kept the challenge of survival foremost in my mind and did my best to endure.
People started dying more frequently; the death toll went up daily. Every night we lay shoulder-to-shoulder with the dead and dying. We listened to the sobs and the earnest prayers to God and other mutterings for somebody to help, somebody to stay close. The dying people always wanted somebody to be there with them, to hold them as they went. They were scared. Each morning there were new dead bodies. Mother and Etka and others would take them outside or, after the doors were locked, place them in the rear of the barracks. As the days passed, those of us still alive grew ever more withdrawn. The pain and suffering continued on its endless path and it was like we had given up on words. Talking could do nothing. Our bodies had been tortured by hunger and disease, deprived to their very limits. With this torture, more and more people began to lose their minds.
There was a young woman I slept next to. She was one of those people touching on madness. She told me she was married to a wonderful young man, a dentist, who put in gold teeth for her. She said she loved him more than anything. They had been married for a year and were planning to start a family. They had a bright future planned. She spoke about him as if he were there with her even though he was not. One night, as the young woman was telling me about her husband the dentist, she suddenly started shivering wildly. She said, "I feel so cold and alone," and then the shivering stopped. She died. I wondered if she was telling me about the gold teeth so that I could salvage the gold, but I wouldn't think of it.
We were transferred to a third barrack on a block called the 31stblock. It was known as the worst in the camp. Illness, hallucination-inducing fever, and death were rampant. Not even the Germans wanted to come near this place. It was no surprise when typhus took hold. It had already taken hold of the entire camp and people were suffering unimaginable pain. It was the middle of winter. Snow was lining the frozen ground of our barracks. Our bodies were ridden with lice and crowded together. The disease spread like wildfire from person to person and the order came to quarantine our block. We couldn't leave and nobody outside could come in. Food and water distribution was halted. People died in the hundreds and were left to lie where they died. Nobody came anymore to remove the dead in order to burn or bury them. Outside and inside the barracks, it became an open graveyard of corpses.
We lived in this open graveyard for months. It got so that the only way you could tell the difference between the living and the dead was that the living moved occasionally. But the living were also the dying. All of us who had been struck with the infectious disease were feverish and delirious. We had nothing to warm us and shivered constantly from the cold. There was madness in people's eyes and incoherent muttering all around. Often, somebody would reach up, breathe deeply and beg, "Please give me some water."
The misery of that time took a total and complete effect on our lives. In this extreme absence of food, I began to long for the watery soup I had earlier so despised. My only solace was that, in quarantine, there were no daily counts, no pistol shots at people. There was still, though, always the threat that maybe they would come eliminate the typhus problem by eliminating us. Etka had always been resilient in the midst of these conditions. But one morning after waking, she was smiling and unusually excited. She seemed delusional and Mother and I thought she had lost her mind.
Mother asked, "Etka, why are you smiling? What could you be happy about?"
Etka said, "Listen to me, I saw Father sitting on a white horse that was slung with huge packs filled with all kinds of food. I have never seen so much food before in my life. He gave me the food and I ate and ate and ate until I couldn't eat anymore."
"Etka, there is nobody here on a white horse," Mother said.
But she continued, "Then Dad told me not to worry because we would be okay."
It was her dream that had given her joy enough to smile. Her fever broke that day. To her, our Father really was there, really did visit. He brought her food and talked with her. You couldn't convince her otherwise. She held onto that dream and wasn't hungry for a long time afterwards.
Weeks passed and conditions grew ever more appalling. The air smelled of decaying bodies and dried urine. The starvation worsened. Our bodies became skin and bones continually ravaged by lice that no longer pretended to hide and now crawled openly all over us–little black specks jumping across clothes, blanketing the floor. I tried desperately to disconnect, to separate myself from my body so that I could separate from the pain and suffering. But my eyes never let me disconnect. If I turned to one side, there was the misery and suffering. If I turned to another side, there it was too. I felt forgotten, disembodied, like an observer watching my own death. I was trapped between life and death and the life part had the more difficult burden. Death would have been kinder at that point. "Is life better than death?" I asked myself. I battled back and forth with life and with death until I became obsessed with holding onto life until its very last breath was taken away from me. As long as I stayed alive, there was promise; death meant silence.
Mother knew that if she didn't do something we would all die like the others dying among us. Though weak and feverish, she managed to crawl to a closed window and push it open a little. The cold air rushed in. She reached out and grabbed a handful of snow. It was falling mercifully and filled up her tiny palm. She brought the snow in and put it to her burning lips. Then she reached out for more snow, which she brought around to others in the barrack and put gently to their lips, cooling the ever-present burning.
Mother wanted to get outside the barrack. She knew she had to do something for her own and for her children's sake. But because of the quarantine, the door had been locked. So Mother tried to open the window wide, but it too was jammed. Watching her was like watching a shadow. Just bones, her body was barely visible. She hit on the window and managed to knock it open. Then, unafraid and with all her strength, she managed to climb out. She went around to the door and forced it open. She came back and retrieved her bowl. With her bowl in hand, she made her way outside in the snow to a nearby faucet. She filled the bowl with water and started to make her way back when a German supervisor, a female SS, stopped her.
The SS woman yelled, "Die verflüchte Jüde! What are you doing outside?"
Mother didn't respond. She just stood still while the supervisor picked up a stone and threw it. It struck Mother square on the front-side of the forehead and she fell to the ground, dropping the bowl. The supervisor watched her fall and then abruptly left. Blood was gushing from Mother's head as she rose up and went back to the faucet. She filled the bowl with water and dropped suddenly to her knees, crawling back to the barrack entrance. Seeing her enter, bloody and injured, I cried bitterly. Mother stayed strong and made her way over to me to give me two spoonfuls of water like it was medicine.
"I would rather have you give me poison than to have to watch you suffer that way," I told her. But she didn't want to hear it. The point was that we had water. As I spoke, she was already moving on to my sister, giving her a few spoonfuls of water. She continued down the line of people, spooning out tiny pools of water to every thirsty mouth.
Hardly a body was left alive in that dark, rotting space. The starvation prevailed. The graveyard of fallen bodies around us remained. But it wasn't our time to die. God breathed new life into us. Miraculously, Etka, Mother and I recovered from the illness.Mother summoned what was left of her strength and exited the barrack, telling us she would be back soon. She was headed to another barrack in a block not too far away and moved with much difficulty. She would fall then get up and walk, fall then get up and walk. I watched her go from the doorway until she disappeared around a bend. She reached the other barrack and upon entering, collapsed. The women inside the barrack rushed to her aid. They held her up and sat her down in a chair. She was barely able to keep her head up. Her chin sank to her chest. A woman named Regina came near. When Mother looked up, they recognized each other.
Regina had lived in the ód ghetto. She had some family in the apartment next door to ours and often came to visit them. Regina was excited to see Mother but worried about her weakened state. She immediately brought Mother some water and helped her to drink.
"Cypa, what is happening?" she asked.
Mother told her everything: that there was practically nobody left alive in our barrack, that Etka and I were alive and waiting for her to return, that those remaining alive would not stay that way for long. Regina told Mother that there was nobody left in charge of her barrack anymore so she had taken the position. Regina gathered two women and returned to us with a wagon that had been used to haul garbage. They came back to help us get out of the open graveyard. They entered, lifted us under our arms, and carried us out. I had not been outside for months. The winter air was bitterly refreshing. Upon feeling it, a crisp bolt of energy rushed through my body, awakening me to life again. I took as deep a breath as my lungs would allow.
We scrambled into the wagon. Regina and the two women began to pull us toward their barrack. I watched the camp pass as we went and was horrified by what I saw: more dead bodies, just skin and skeleton, masses of twisted gaping faces, wide, screaming eyes, bony elbows and knees broken, tossed onto each other until you could barely make out where one body stopped and the other started. Skin pale yellow and brown, ravaged by unhealed wounds and decay, they rose up like a sick sculpture, their souls banded together to ascend and be received by the Almighty. They were still, motionless, silent, unmarked, unnamed, unknown. I asked then of death what is death, and death was silent and motionless.
There was a blanket of deep winter white snow on the ground and covering some of the frozen bodies. Cold, dry, hungry and weak, we arrived at Regina's barrack. My gums were in terrible pain and my teeth were shifting back and forth as I unconsciously ground them against each other. Etka too was grinding her teeth. Regina looked at us in this miserable state and said "I'll try all I can to help you."
She brought us inside and sat us down on an empty bunk. This barrack was much warmer and smaller. Regina told us to lie down and said she would go to find something to help us. I could barely swallow and everything in my body hurt when I lay back on the hard bed-boards. I fell asleep briefly and when I awoke Regina was standing near, waiting with some purple antiseptic water. She gave it to us and told us to gargle a few times a day saying that it would help our gums. The next day, she brought us some bread that had been soaked in hot water to make it easier to swallow. She also found some blankets for us to use to cover up and stay warm. She was like an angel bringing us blessings and gifts from heaven. I thanked God and gradually started to feel better.
We stayed in this barrack for the rest of our time at Stutthof. Eventually, the weather started to warm up, though it was still cold, and the camp started to be emptied. The Germans came around ordering, "All who can walk or are strong must go." Those who felt they could go were transported to other camps at Gdansk or Gdynia. Those who were weak stayed behind. We were in the group that stayed behind. Soon, we started to hear mumblings that the Germans were losing the war, that the camp was being emptied in order to flee the approaching Russians.
Nuremberg Trials did not include staff of the Stutthof concentration camp. However, the Polish held four trials in Gda?sk against former guards and kapos of Stutthof, charging them with crimes of war and crimes against humanity. The first trial was held against 30 ex-officials and kapos of the camp, from April 25, 1946, to May 31, 1946. The Soviet/Polish Special Criminal Court found all of them guilty of the charges. Eleven of them, including the former commander, Johann Pauls, were sentenced to death. The rest were sentenced to various terms of imprisonment.
Some of the sentences of the first trial:
- Johann Pauls: death sentence (executed on July 4, 1946)
- Gerda Steinhoff: death sentence (executed on July 4, 1946)
- Kapo Josef Reiter: death sentence (executed on July 4, 1946)
- Wanda Klaff: death sentence (executed on July 4, 1946)
- Erna Beilhardt: 5 years imprisonment
- Kapo Waclaw Kozlowski: death sentence (executed on July 4, 1946)
- Jenny-Wanda Barkmann: death sentence (executed on July 4, 1946)
- Kapo Fanciszek Szopinski: death sentence (executed on July 4, 1946)
- Ewa Paradies: death sentence (executed on July 4, 1946)
- Kapo Kazimierz Kowalski: 3 years imprisonment
- Jan Breit: death sentence (executed on July 4, 1946)
- Kapo Tadeusz Kopczynski: death sentence (executed on July 4, 1946)
- Elisabeth Becker: death sentence (executed on July 4, 1946)
- Werner Hoppe: 9 years imprisonment
The second trial was held from January 8, 1947, to January 31, 1947, before a Polish Special Criminal Court. 24 ex-officials and guards of the Stutthof concentration camp were judged and found guilty. Ten were sentenced to death.
The sentences of the second trial:
- Theodor Meyer: death sentence (executed on October 10, 1947)
- Ewald Foth: death sentence (executed on October 10, 1947)
- Karl Reger: 8 years imprisonment
- Eduard Zerlin: 12 years imprisonment
- Emil Wenzel: 10 years imprisonment
- Adalbert Wolter: 8 years imprisonment
- Karl Eggert: death sentence (executed on October 10, 1947)
- Wilhelm Vogler: 15 years imprisonment
- Paul Wellnitz: death sentence (executed on October 10, 1947)
- Kapo Alfred Nikolaysen: death sentence (executed on October 10, 1947)
- Hans Rach: death sentence (executed on October 10, 1947)
- Adolf Grams: 10 years imprisonment
- Josef Wennhardt: 8 years imprisonment
- Fritz Peters: death sentence (executed on October 10, 1947)
- Kurt Dietrich: death sentencee (executed on October 10, 1947)
- Hugo Ziehm: 3 years imprisonment
- Erich Thun: life imprisonment
- Albert Paulitz: death sentence (executed on October 10, 1947)
- Werner Wöllnitz: 10 years imprisonment
- Martin Stage: 8 years imprisonment
- Oskar Gottchau: 10 years imprisonment
- Karl Zurell: death sentence (executed on October 10, 1947)
- Walter Englert: 3 years imprisonment
- Johannes Görtz: 8 years imprisonment
The third trial was held from November 5, 1947, to November 10, 1947, before a Polish Special Criminal Court. 20 ex-officials and guards were judged. 19 were found guilty, and one was acquitted.
The sentences of the third trial:
- Karl Meinck: 12 years imprisonment
- Gustav Eberle: 10 years imprisonment
- Harry Müller: 4 years imprisonment
- Alfred Tissler: 5 years imprisonment
- Otto Schneider: 10 years imprisonment
- Johann Lichtner: 5 years imprisonment
- Ernst Thulke: 5 years imprisonment
- Otto Welke: 10 years imprisonment
- Willy Witt: 10 years imprisonment
- Heinz Löwen: 5 years imprisonment
- Erich Stampniok: 5 years imprisonment
- Richard Timm: 4 years imprisonment
- Adolf Klaffke: 10 years imprisonment
- Hans Möhrke: 4 years imprisonment
- Hans Tolksdorf: acquitted and released
- Nikolaus Dirnberger: 4 years imprisonment
- Friedrich Tessmer: 4 years imprisonment
- Erich Jassen: 10 years imprisonment
- Johann Sporer: 4 years imprisonment
- Nikolai Klawan: 3 years imprisonment
The fourth and final trial was also held before a Polish Special Criminal Court, from November 19, 1947, to November 29, 1947. 27 ex-officials and guards were judged, 26 were found guilty, and one was acquitted.
Sentences of the fourth trial:
- Christof Schwarz: 3 years imprisonment
- Albert Weckmüller: 15 years imprisonment
- Kurt Reduhn: 10 years imprisonment
- Walter Ringewald: 7 months imprisonment
- Hermann Link: 5 years imprisonment
- Richard Wohlfeil: 7 months imprisonment
- Waldemar Henke: 5 years imprisonment
- Anton Kniffke: 3 years imprisonment
- Kapo Franz Spillmann: acquitted and released
- Gustav Brodowski: 7 months imprisonment
- Johann Wrobel: 7 months imprisonment
- Ernst Knappert: 7 months imprisonment
- Martin Pentz: 5 years imprisonment
- Horst Köpke: 10 years imprisonment
- Bernard Eckermann: 7 months imprisonment
- Rudolf Berg: 10 years imprisonment
- Josef Stahl: 10 years imprisonment
- Johann Pfister: 5 years imprisonment
- Johannes Wall: 5 years imprisonment
- Leopold Baumgartner: 7 months imprisonment
- Willi Buth: life imprisonment
- Richard Akolt: 3 years imprisonment
- Fritz Glawe: 10 years imprisonment
- Emil Lascheit: 10 years imprisonment
- Gustav Kautz: 5 years imprisonment
- Emil Paul: 7 months imprisonment
- Erich Mertens: 5 years imprisonment
Otto Schneider was a Hauptsturmführer (Captain) in the Waffen SS during World War II who was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross, which was awarded to recognize extreme battlefield bravery or successful military leadership by Nazi Germany during World War II. Schneider was awarded the Knight's Cross during the battle of Kovel, while in command of the 7th Company, 5th SS Panzer Regiment, 5th SS Panzer Division_Wiking_. He was reported missing in action in April 1945 near Steiermark, Austria, and was in Soviet captivity until 1949, he died on 6 November, 2001 in Cranston Rhode Island.
Himmler speaking with Stuffhof Staff
Map of the Stuffhof Camp
Werner Hoppe (SS officer)
Paul Werner Hoppe
(February 28, 1910 - July 15, 1974)
Hoppe was assigned to the Inspectorate of the Concentration Camps under SS Obergruppenführer Theodor Eicke. He was instrumental in helping Eicke form the Totenkopf Division of the Waffen SS in September 1939 and served as Eicke's adjutant. While leading an infantry company he received a severe leg wound in early 1942 in fighting the Red Army near Lake Ilmen in the Demyansk Pocket in Novgorod Oblast, U.S.S.R. After convalescing he was assigned to the SS-Totenkopfverbändethen sent to Auschwitz as head of a guard detachment in July, 1942. He was recommended for the position of camp commandant of Stutthof concentration camp near Danzig by SS Gruppenführer Richard Glucks, Eickes successor as Inspector of Concentration Camps. A promotion to Sturmbannführer and Commandant of Stutthof were approved and he arrived at Stutthof in September 1942 to take up his new position.
As the Russians advanced westward it was decided by Albert Forster, Gauleiter of Danzig and the SS Higher and Police Leader Fritz Katzmann of military district XX, headquartered in Danzig to evacuate Stutthof.
The formal evacuation order "Einsatzbefehl No 3" was signed by Hoppe on January 25, 1945 at 0500. The evacuation began an hour later under the command of SSHauptsturmfuhrer Teodor Meyer.
After the mass evacuation Hoppe became commandant of Wöbbelin concentration camp, a temporary camp set up to take prisoners evacuated from camps about to be overrun by the Red Army. Wobbelin was only in existence from February 12, 1945 to 2 May 1945 when it was liberated by the American army.
Hoppe was captured by the British in April 1946 in Holstein and sent to Camp 165 in Watten, Scotland in August 1947 until January 1948 when he was sent to a P.O.W. camp in Saxony which was in the British zone of occupation in West Germany.
While awaiting extradition to Poland he escaped and made his way to Switzerland where he worked as a landscape gardener under a false identity for 3 years before returning to West Germany. He was arrested by the West German authorities on April 17, 1953 in Witten, West Germany. He was tried and convicted as an accessory to murder in 1955. On June 4, 1957 the district court in Bochumresentenced him to 9 years, he was released in 1960.
(June 1, 1907 – October 8, 1946)
was an SS Sturmbannführer who was the commandant of Stutthof concentration camp from September, 1939 to August 1942 and commandant of Neuengamme concentration camp and the associated subcamps from September 1942 until liberation in May 1945.
During his tenure as commandant of Neuengamme numerous atrocities occurred including medical experimentation. In 1944 Kurt Heissmeyer conducted experiments on 20 Jewish children in an effort to develop new drugs to treat tuberculosis. The children were brought fromAuschwitz specifically for this purpose. The children and their four Jewish caregivers were murdered by being hanged from hooks on the wall in April 1945 in the basement of theBullenhuser Damm School in Hamburg which had been used as a subcamp.
Pauly was tried by the British for war crimes with thirteen others in the Curio Haus in Hamburgwhich was located in the British occupied sector of Germany. The trial lasted from March 18, 1946 to May 13, 1946. He was found guilty and sentenced to death with 11 other defendants. He was executed by hanging (Tod durch den Strang) by Albert Pierrepoint in Hamelin prison on October 8, 1946.
27.5 kg of Hair Collected
The report testifies that in January 1943 total amount of 27.5 kg of hair were collected
Wall Carvings made by prisoners at Stutthof
Wall carvings made by prisoners at Stutthof
Skulls & Zyklob B
Skulls of inmates and Zyklon B cannisters displayed at Stutthof after the war
The 'soap factory' of Rudolf Spanner
Professor Rudolf Spanner, an SS officer and "scientist," was owner of a small soap factory located in Danzig. In 1940, he invented a process to produce soap from human fat. This "product" was called R.J.S. - "Reines Judische Fett" - which means "Pure Jewish Fat." Hundreds of inmates were allegedly executed for the "production" of soap. Rudolf Spanner was very proud of his invention. Following testimonies of some survivors, he used to spend hours and hours just to admire his "invention." At liberation, the Allies discovered chambers full of corpses used for the production of soap. After the war, Rudolf Spanner was not arrested and continued his "research."
He was a candidate for the Nobel Prize. But the memory of Poles, mainly due to "medallions" Sophia Nalkowska, enrolled as one who produced soap in Gdansk with people.
It was late autumn 1939, when prof. Rudolf Spanner arrived to Gdansk. He came to give a lecture on anatomy. But the main purpose of trip was different - Erich Grossman, president of the Medical University of Gdansk, offered him a job. Spanner wanted to know the university and the conditions for eventual employment. Negotiated a full professor salary, housing allowance and a salary for teaching hours. In effect 1 January 1940 was appointed director and head of the Institute of Anatomy, head of the chair of anatomy and embryology.
Born in 1895, Spanner had experience behind the front of the First World War (awarded the Iron Cross Second Class) and, at the side of the family - married in 1922 his wife Johanna, and one 15-year-old son, Karl Reinhard.
Professionally, he was at the peak. Appointed associate professor received in autumn 1929, at the age of 34 years. Further years brought him much recognition. The best proof of the fact that in 1939 was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his research on renal physiology. Ultimately, however, a German award went to another doctor - Gerhard Domagkowi.
Moving to Gdansk meant for the family Spannerów improved material conditions and housing (allocated to the ground floor villa with a garden at Gralathstrasse 12). For the same Rudolf closely associated with promotion to full professor. Gdansk Medical University, founded in 1935, until April 1940, was authorized to conduct complete medical studies.
Prior to acquire the required practice here, those who have received appropriate theoretical studies on one of the German universities. For such a young university personnel Spanner was a valuable reinforcement. His ideological stance did not raise doubts: now 25 September 1933, he joined the SA in 1936, after three years of a candidate, he was a member of the NSDAP.
Request for delay
Was war. Front need doctors. Medical Academy students were coming. Preparations were needed as illustrative material. Like the skeletons. Spanner in the institute as a result of contracts and agreements were placed corpse sentenced to death and executed in prison in Gdansk and Elblag and Konigsberg, body Stutthof concentration camp prisoners and Soviet prisoners of war, and finally, patients in a psychiatric hospital near Starogard Kocborowie, dead or killed as less valuable in the light of Nazi eugenics.
"Kocborowie Hospital has become one of the major suppliers - write Monika Semkow Tomkiewicz and Peter in the book yet unreleased" Professor Rudolf Spanner 1895-1960 "(see box). - A specific trade corpses as objects of gratification was associated with the financial support for people involved in this procederze ". Initially, the Institute paid for the delay of 15 brands, of which 5 come into the plant kocborowskiego employees. After payment has been reduced to 9 brands, of which the staff has received four brands, and the rest of the money flowed into the hospital.
The authors of the publication asking whether mentally ill could be put to death on the orders of the Director of the Institute of Anatomy? Let's look for correspondence with Waldemar Schimanskim Spanner-Siemens, director of the hospital in Kocborowie. July 19, 1941, the Spanner wrote:
"Dear Schimanski! I appeal to you with a great request. Just last month Your bet optimally supplied me with sufficient material. From about 6 to 8 weeks I completely lack the material. So I found myself in big trouble in connection with the preparation of the course preparacyjnego winter. I would be extremely grateful to you if you supported me again soon supply the material. Or maybe you are so reassuringly high state of health? I wish you a good rest during these short holidays and sending you best regards. Heil Hitler! Spanner ".
July 22, 1941, the Schimanski wrote: "My Dear Spanner! I allow myself to respond to the letter dated 19.7.1941 was that I ordered here to fit all the corpses were put at your disposal. In recent years the number of corpses dropped because a decreased number of patients, and also improved overall health. Also, relatives of the dead are concerned much in recent times for their dead. Despite this, I will transmit any suitable material. Heil Hitler. " November 6, 1941, the Spanner urged: "In three weeks comes 400 students who are on leave of absence from Russia, to study. Please (...) about undertaking efforts in this direction, we can again count on a greater supply of material. "
After the war, long dominated the conviction that the primary source "material" was the Stutthof concentration camp. According to researchers from the IPN (see box) to the Anatomical Institute of delay there is provided at least once. Eduard von Bargen, chief preparator Anatomicum, after the war claimed that there remains a terrible impression made so that later resorted to all possible excuses to the Stutthof offer no benefit. Was it really? Von Bargen stated that the record received and noted the body, whence came. But those records could not be found.
In preparation for the winter semester 1944/1945 Anatomical Institute brought together about 140 bodies. But the approaching front. January 30, 1945, Professor. Spanner left, leaving the preparations had been working, test results, the book. The war also experienced it personally - 20 October 1944 in Hungary killed his only son, 19-year-old Corporal Karl Reinhard. Apparently after this loss Spanner for a time he lost enthusiasm for scientific work.
April 17, 1945, the inspection of the premises of the Institute of Anatomy, made a few employees of the National Institute of Hygiene in Lodz. Besides the bones, skulls, corpses, human heads, skin flaps wypreparowanej, they found a few pieces of what looked like raw soap. The discovery told authorities. What happened next, everyone knows who has read "Medallions". Visits, committees, including that involving the writer Zofia Nalkowska.
Former lab Spanner, Sigmund Mazur testified that the Institute produced soap from human fat. In his apartment a few blocks secured that had come from the production. He himself, placed in the custody of Gdansk, died of typhus shortly. In autumn 1945 the Institute of Forensic Research in Krakow has confirmed that the samples of the substance of the Anatomical Institute in Gdansk are soap - a raw, finished second. But with the current state of science it proved impossible to determine from what made them fat - animals or people.
When the victorious country decided to punish war criminals, Spanner's name was placed on the wanted list by the Military Prosecutor General in London. On the following characteristics: "Weight 63 kg, height 167 cm, dark brown hair, graying, brown eyes, sallow complexion, broken and rotten teeth, a large crooked nose, large and protruding ears, a loud voice, pensive look, had a habit of silent whistle". But eventually British prosecutors estimated that there was insufficient grounds for prosecution - Institute used the delay, not living people, as was the case in criminal medical experiments.
Nevertheless, the topic of Gdansk soap was raised before the tribunal at Nuremberg. It presented the Soviet prosecutor, General Rudenko, Roman. Joined evidence, including these two types of samples and laboratory evidence Mazur, who claimed that the work of those interested in the German government. This issue at Nuremberg was not fully explained.
Spanner himself after his departure from Danzig is not hiding. Initially he worked as a doctor in Ostenfeld (Schleswig-Holstein). Then he moved to Hamburg. Lived with mother in law in the district of Bergedorf. In May 1947, after newspaper articles of the Nuremberg trials, was identified by neighbors of the building. Police questioned him and the court. He claimed that a substance similar to soap was a byproduct of maceration (Latin maceratio - soften), that the laity have drawn hasty conclusions from what they saw.
December 12, 1948, the department in Kiel scored denazyfikacyjny Spanner category entlastet (purified). This allowed him to return to college. He first worked in Freiburg, and from mid-1949 in Cologne, at the local university hospital. "He was - write Tomkiewicz and Semkow - a very good rapport with students, which often met in a small cafe situated near Anatomicum and a glass of wine and a good cigar on the topics discussed professional and private. In the fifties, this cafe was even referred to as Cafe Spanner.
Students remember him as a perpetually pensive professor who dressed in a long apron hovered between laboratory dissection hall and library. It was characterized by the fact that often when making the section did not put on gloves. "
From the correspondence, which led, that he weighed the environmental discussions and publications in which his name appeared in the context of human soap. He considered the reports lies (fully confirmed) on the use of human hair for making rope and raising the dead dental crowns made of precious metals.
In 1957 he became director of the Institute of Anatomy in Cologne. Perfected the highly acclaimed Werner Spalteholza anatomical atlas. This Atlas, bearing the names of Spalteholza and Spanner, is used today. Work on the second volume of Spanner not finished, he died of a heart attack on August 31, 1960 His body was cremated, the ashes made in the cemetery in Hamburg Bergerdorf.
Proof of soap
After 1945, thanks to the development of biochemistry, research capabilities have changed. When the IPN in 2002 resumed the investigation, it was decided to re-examine a sample of soap. Because those two kinds of substances included as evidence in the Nuremberg trials, are still preserved in the archives of the International Court of Justice in The Hague. An examination was also notorious RIF soap, which surrounded by an aura of suspicion.
Expert opinions made by prof. Andrew Sto?yhwo from Gdansk University of Technology have shown that the production of RIF soap was used fish fats. Contrast, the two substances, from The Hague and unmarked cube, which - as derived from the Institute of Anatomy - Tadeusz released Skutnik (see box), could be made from human fat. In fact contain fats found in butter and beef. A thesis that during the war pigs were fed butter and beef is quite untenable.
20 November 2006, prosecutor Peter Niesyn of IPN discontinued the investigation for lack of evidence that were made at the Institute of Anatomy killings. Also found no basis to conclude that Spanner incited to murder, to gain a further delay for the Institute. He found, however, that in the years 1944 and 1945 there was obtained from human fat, "constituting a chemical in its essence soap." Did not believe the testimony of Spanner in 1947 and 1948, that is something he used to impregnate the moving bone and joint preparations.
Monica Tomkiewicz and Peter Semkowowi who trace the entire career and life stories Na?kowska hero, it seems unlikely that the anatomist of the class, constantly seeking new and better solutions in their field, could be attracted by a home recipe for soap, which brought his assistant. Queries confirmed their belief that the authorities of the Reich for any work on the production of soap from people they did not know. Therefore more inclined toward the idea that human fat was saponified product of maceration. Other hand, are inclined to assume that at the end of the war, in the era of big deficits of soap, one might be tempted to use this substance for cleaning equipment in the Institute, he could make it on the black market. They think that if they did, "is as the director of the Institute Spannerowi could plead insufficient security preparations, therefore, a breach of duty". He may also assign "responsibility because niewpojenia subordinate respect for a very specific research material, which is man." The issue of "corpses on request" leave open.
Knowledge is now larger, less emotion. But the extraordinary appeal will not be. Corrigenda to "medallions" as well.
**Rudolf Spanner** (born 17 April 1895 in Metternich bei Koblenz; died 1960) was Director of the [Danzig Anatomical Institute](http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Danzig_Anatomical_Institute&action=edit&redlink=1) during [World War II](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_War_II). On his own initiative, he set up a process to [produce soap from human fat](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soap_made_from_human_corpses) in 1943-44 and a limited quantity of the soap was produced on his order to clean autopsy rooms. In his book "Russia at War 1941 to 1945", [Alexander Werth](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexander_Werth) reported that while visiting[Gdansk](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gdansk) in 1945 shortly after its liberation by the Red Army, he saw an experimental factory outside the city for making soap from human corpses. According to Werth it had been run by "a German professor called Spanner" and "was a nightmarish sight, with its vats full of human heads and torsoes pickled in some liquid, and its pails full of a flakey substance - human soap". During the [Nuremberg Trials](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuremberg_Trials), Sigmund Mazur, a laboratory assistant at the Danzig Anatomical Institute, testified that soap had been made from corpse fat, and claimed that 70 to 80 kg of fat collected from 40 bodies could produce more than 25 kg of soap, and that the finished soap was retained by Professor Rudolf Spanner. Eyewitnesses included British POWs who were part of the forced labor that constructed the camp, and Dr. Stanislaw Byczkowski, head of the Department of Toxicology at the Gdansk School of Medicine.Suggested sources for the fat include [Stutthof concentration camp](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stutthof_concentration_camp), Gdansk Municipal Jail, and a Gdansk psychiatric hospital. Allegations of large scale human soap production is a myth with origins dating back to [World War I](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_War_I). Holocaust survivor [Thomas Blatt](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Blatt), who investigated the subject, found little concrete documentation and no evidence of mass production of soap from human fat, but concluded that there was indeed evidence of experimental soap making. In 1946, he returned to Cologne to work as a guest professor.
Dr. Johan Hendrik Weidner
Dr. Johan Hendrik Weidner, Born Brussels, Belgium, October 22, 1912
Johan was the eldest of four children born to Dutch parents. His father was a minister in the Seventh-Day Adventist Church. Johan grew up in Collonges, France, where his father served as a pastor. After attending French public schools, Johan graduated from the Seventh-Day Adventist Seminary in Collonges, and went on to study law and business at the universities of Geneva and Paris.
Dutch Seventh-day Adventist Johan Weidner headed the rescue organization “Dutch-Paris,” which smuggled Jewish refugees into Switzerland and Spain. France, ca. 1940
_1933-39: _After completing my studies in 1935, I opened an import/export textile business in Paris. Business prospered and three years later, I also opened a shop in Collonges. The town was near the Swiss border, and I liked to go mountain climbing. Around this time, I went to Geneva to attend sessions of the League of Nations, and I saw firsthand how ineffective that body was in preventing the outbreak of war in 1939.
Germany invaded France in May 1940. I moved to Lyon to help organize the “Dutch-Paris” underground network to help Dutch Jews and political refugees to escape to Switzerland and Spain. In February 1943, I was arrested. During my interrogation by the Gestapo, a guard repeatedly held my head in water until I almost drowned. Then I was forced to kneel on the edges of steel rulers. I was released, but was later caught in a roundup of men to be sent to Germany as slave laborers. I jumped off the train and hiked to Switzerland.
Johan fought in the Dutch army during the final months of the war. After the war, he served in the Dutch diplomatic service. In 1955, he emigrated to the United States.
Source: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
Nun Helps Survivor Tell Tale of Horror
In 1944, at Camp Stutthof in northeast Germany, SS commanders forced a 16-year-old Polish captive to hold the heads of Jewish parents steady so they would see their children mutilated in so-called medical experiments.
Maria Haluschkewych literally was sickened by the task, but would have been shot had she refused. Other prisoners, even more cursed, were compelled to hold down the children while doctors plunged scalpels into the young bellies and chests, removing beating hearts and warm livers.
When she remembers it, Maria Haluschkewych Gascon, now 80, feels cold all over. Even today, when she hears fretful children during Mass, the horrid, gory scene flashes back and again she feels the urge to vomit. To survive, Gascon has let go of the hate she felt during those moments 64 years ago. She has turned the experience over to God. But she’s also had it written down so no one will forget.
With the help of Holy Names Sister Mary Steinkamp, Gascon has published a 63-page book that tells her remarkable life story with clarity.
Born in 1928 in Poland, Gascon is the daughter of a kindly and deeply religious Catholic farmer. When she was an infant, the family moved to a village in Ukraine near the Black Sea.
She grew up on a 200-acre farm and played in the fields and barns with her neighbor friend. The girls sometimes got into mischief, like the time they swiped a warm loaf of bread meant to feed the farm workers. She had a pet pig named Pinky.
But the halcyon days were about to end.
In 1937, Stalinist police raided the farm, claiming it for the Communist state. Maria’s father was arrested because of his Catholic writing and was never heard from again. “I would never hear his hearty laugh or feel him swing me up on his strong shoulders,” Maria writes.
Religion disappeared from the family, for fear of punishment. But in 1939, young Maria found a secret stash of her brother’s Catholic books and had a spiritual awakening, feeling that Jesus and Mary were offering their love to her. She began praying every day and even snuck out to early services at the local Orthodox church. She had dreams that included crosses and snakes.
Meantime, Nazi ambitions were building pressure in Europe. Jews were executed in the Ukrainian village or carted off. Villagers were brought out to watch the killing as a lesson. It was all too much for young Maria. She decided that she must “forgive on the spot” and let God take care of matters.
By 1941, young Maria had been pressed into service as a cook for Czech soldiers, the first of many jobs she would be forced to perform over the next four years. German and Russian troops waged horrendous battles in the region.
When the Germans gained the upper hand, they seized Maria and a friend and put them on a cattle train to Poland to work in the wheat fields. She later became a cook again and saved the life of her mother, slated to be executed, by cooking the commander’s favorite dinner and making a personal appeal. But Maria gives credit to Mary.
Transported to Auschwitz, the family was in line for the gas chamber when new orders came through and German soldiers broke in and took them to another work camp in Poland. Next, they were taken to Camp Stutthof. While most of the prisoners at Stutthof were non-Jews like Maria, there were some Polish Jews interned there. “We prayed more than we ate,” Maria writes of the place.
She spoke German, Russian and Polish, so the SS often called upon her to translate.
The lice grew almost an inch long because they had so much to eat. Soldiers shaved the prisoners’ hair and doused them with DDT to control the vermin. As Maria walked back from the apple orchards, where she picked food to aid the Nazi army, she often came across starving prisoners, cast on the roadside to die. She is still haunted by the eyes of one starving man.
She once tried to sneak a piece of bread to a starving 30-year-old Jewess in the next cell block. But other prisoners rushed in, beat the rail-thin woman and took the bread for themselves. She did meet some kindly soldiers, like the German who gave her portions of his sandwiches. But mostly, she says, life in the camps was “upside down,” with human dignity buried below brutality.
Reportedly, Stutthoff began to process human remains into soap, leather and book covers. Stutthof was also known for horrific medical procedures and experiments, something Maria can verify.
After an Allied bombing in 1945, American troops came to liberate Stutthof and brought food, including candy. The chocolate made Maria ill, but the freedom brought incomparable joy.
She ended up marrying a G.I., a slim brown-eyed farm boy from Walla Walla named Herbert Gascon. The pair moved back to the Northwest and had four children.
Over the years, Maria has reported dreams in which Mary gives comfort or warning. The night before her husband died, she had a dream with Mary dressed in black. She warned her husband not to set off in his truck toward Bend that day, but he did and died in an accident.
She raised her teen children alone after that, fixing up a house just across the street from The Madeleine Church in Northeast Portland. Going to Mass has become the height of her existence, along with raising grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Gascon’s life, faith profiled in book
Several hundred copies of the book Maria: A True Story of Faith and Forgiveness (Guardian Books, 64 pages) have sold, with $10 of the price going to fund missions of the Holy Names Sisters in Lesotho in southern Africa. The author, Sister Mary Steinkamp, met Maria Gascon at The Madeleine Parish and was taken by the story of the Nazi work camp survivor.
The book is now available for sale at The Madeleine, Holy Rosary and St. Sharbel parishes in Portland. In her scrubbed-clean prose, Sister Mary has also written about her choice to remain in religious life when many others departed. One Who Stayed is published by Essence Publishing. She is now working on a book about a family that adopted three children and only later discovered the youngsters had been born to a drug-using mother and bore some ill effects.
Chaje Katz nee Budgor
Was born in Swir in 1905 to Motl and Henie. She was a knitting worker and married. Prior to WWII she lived in Michaliszki, Poland. During the war she was in Ziezmariai, Camp. Chaje perished in 1944 in Lithuania. This information is based on a Page of Testimony (displayed on left) submitted on 01-Dec-2007 by her daughter Esther Livingston of Encino, a Shoah survivor.
Was born in Osmiana in 1870 to Leizer and Golda. He was a butcher and married to Khaia. Prior to WWII he lived in Osmiana, Poland. During the war he was in Osmiana, Poland. Bendet perished in 1941 in Osmiana, Poland. This information is based on a Page of Testimony (displayed on left) submitted on 07-Jun-1957 by his daughter Etl Zacharovitz of Ashkelon.
Was born in Oszmiana in 1895 to Bendet and Khaia. He was a butcher and married to Pesia. Prior to WWII he lived in Oszmiana, Poland. During the war he was in Oszmiana, Poland. Lozer perished in 1941 in Oszmiana, Poland. This information is based on a Page of Testimony (displayed on left) submitted on 17-Jun-1957 by his sister
Was born in Olesno in 1895. She was married to Eliezer. Prior to WWII she lived in Oszmiana, Poland. During the war she was in Oszmiana, Poland. Basl perished in 1941 in Stutthof, Camp. This information is based on a Page of Testimony (displayed on left) submitted on 07-Jun-1957 by her sister-in-law.
Jochel Saper nee Budgor
Was born in Osmiana in 1901 to Bendet and Khaia Reyzl. She was a merchant and married to Ila Saper and had 2 sons( Yizhak and Chaim) who also perished. Prior to WWII she lived in Osmiana, Poland. During the war she was in Osmiana, Poland. Jochel perished in 1944 in Stutthof, Danzig. This information is based on a Page of Testimony (displayed on left) submitted on 07-Jun-1957 by her sister.
Merl Szwirski nee Budgor
Was born in Oszmiana in 1896 to Bendet and Khaia Reyzel. She was a merchant and married to Feive. Prior to WWII she lived in Oszmiana, Poland. During the war she was in Oszmiana, Poland. Merl perished in 1941 in Stutthof, Camp. This information is based on a Page of Testimony (displayed on left) submitted on 17-Jun-1957 by her sister, a Shoah survivor.
Was born in Oszmiana in 1922 to Nusen and Golda nee Budgor. She was single. Prior to WWII she lived in Oszmiana, Poland. During the war she was in Oszmiana, Poland. Fradl perished in 1941 in Stutthof, Danzig at the age of 19. This information is based on a Page of Testimony (displayed on left) submitted by her aunt.
Golda Olanski nee Budgor
Was born to Bendet and Khaia. She was a merchant and married to Natan. Prior to WWII she lived in Oszmiana, Poland. During the war she was in Poland. Golda perished in 1944 in Stutthof, Camp. This information is based on a Page of Testimony (displayed on left) submitted on 26-Sep-1999 by her daughter Leah Rozenovitz, a Shoah survivor.
Was born in Osmiana in 1919 to Natan Olanski and Golda nee Budgor. She was a housewife and married to Shmuel. Chana perished in 1944 in Majdanek, Camp. This information is based on a Page of Testimony (displayed on left) submitted on 09-Jul-1956 by her sister Leah Rozenovitz.
Was born in Osmiana in 1930 to Natan and Golda nee Budgor. She was a pupil. Prior to WWII she lived in Osmiana, Poland. During the war she was in Osmiana, Poland. Etka perished in 1945 in the Shoah at the age of 15. This information is based on a Page of Testimony (displayed on left) submitted on 26-Sep-1999 by her sister, a Shoah survivor. ...
Was born in Oszmiana in 1935 to Natan and Golda nee Budgor. He was a child. Prior to WWII he lived in Oszmiana, Poland. During the war he was in Oszmiana, Poland. Hirsh perished in 1944 in Stutthof, Camp at the age of 9. This information is based on a Page of Testimony (displayed on left) submitted on 26-Sep-1999 by his sister, a Shoah survivor
Was born in 1933 to Natan and Golda. She was a child. Prior to WWII she lived in Oszmiana, Poland. During the war she was in Oszmiana, Poland. Freida perished in 1944 in the Shoah at the age of 12.
Yokheved Sofer nee Budgor
Was born in Oszmiana to Bendet and Khaia. She was a housewife. Prior to WWII she lived in Oszmiana, Poland. Yokheved perished in the Shoah at the age of 42. This information is based on a Page of Testimony (displayed on left) submitted on 26-Sep-1999 by her niece, a Shoah survivor.
Was born in Osmiana in 1887 to Bendet and Reizl nee Zeltzer. He was a merchant and married to Batia nee ??????. Prior to WWII he lived in Osmiana, Poland. During the war he was in Osmiana, Poland. Eliezer perished in 1941 in Osmiana, Poland at the age of 43. This information is based on a Page of Testimony submitted on 14-Apr-1999 by his daughter Tzvia Shefer of Hedera.
Batia Budgor nee ??????
Was born in Oszmiana in 1900 to Avraham and Etel. She was a housewife and married to Eliezer. Prior to WWII she lived in Oszmiana, Poland. During the war she was in Oszmiana, Poland. Batia perished in 1945 in Stutthof, Camp at the age of 45. This information is based on a Page of Testimony submitted on 14-Apr-1999 by her daughter, a Shoah survivor
Dzhilda Alanski nee Budgor
Was born in Osmiany in 1892 to Bendet and Khaia. She was a butcher and married to Natan. Prior to WWII she lived in Osmiany, Poland. During the war she was in Osmiany, Poland. Dzhilda perished in 1941 in Stutthof, Danzig. This information is based on a Page of Testimony (displayed on left) submitted on 07-Jun-1957 by her sister Budgor Rubin.
Was born in Soly to Khaim and Shoshana. He was a tailor and married to Lifsha nee Zodiski. Prior to WWII he lived in Soly, Poland. During the war he was in Soly, Poland. Rubin perished in Ponary, Poland at the age of 60. This information is based on a Page of Testimony (displayed on left) submitted by his daughter Rivka Vinehouse of Petach Tikvah.
Chana Gorodyszcz nee Budgor
Was born in Soly in 1910 to Khaim and Shoshana. She was married to Moshe. Prior to WWII she lived in Wilamowice, Poland. During the war she was in Soly, Poland. Chana perished in Ponary, Poland. This information is based on a Page of Testimony submitted by her niece.
Batia Ravich nee Budgar
Was born in Swir to Lea. She was a housewife and married to Yaakov. Prior to WWII she lived in Swir, Poland. Batia perished in the Shoah at the age of 60. This information is based on a Page of Testimony (displayed on left) submitted on 01-Jun-1999 by her son David Ravich of Holon, a Shoah survivor ( was in the Red Army)
Ite Chodosh nee Budgor
Was born in Svir to Motl Budgor and Henie nee Patashnik. She was married. Prior to WWII she lived in Kurnic, Poland. During the war she was in Ghetto. Ite perished in the Shoah. This information is based on a Page of Testimony (displayed on left) submitted on 01-Dec-2007 by her niece Esther, a Shoah survivor.
As a survivor of the Stutthof concentration camp, Fanny Gelernter still becomes distraught at certain sights and sounds: trains, crying children, the large smokestacks at the Waterfront.
But she is no shrinking violet. After more than 40 years of teaching Hebrew and Judaics to countless youth through- out the area, she will be ascending the bima next month at Rodef Shalom Congregation for the first time as a bat mitzva.
“I’m kind of getting cold feet,” she admitted with a slight grin. “But I’m sure it will be fine.”
Gelernter was liberated from Stutthof, near Gdansk, Poland, when she was 13 years old.
Although a bit nervous about her aliyah and Torah reading, she is mostly excited to have the opportunity to finally celebrate becoming a bat mitzva.
“In my youth, I didn’t have a chance to do it,” she said.
Gelernter was born in Kovno, Lithuania to an “influential” Jewish family, she said. When the Nazis invaded their town during World War II, her father was sent to Siberia. She never saw him again.
Gelernter’s older sister escaped to Mongolia, where she lived until her death in 2004, but Gelernter and her mother were eventually rounded up and sent to a ghetto near the Slobotka yeshiva. She lived for two years in a bunker alongside the president of the ghetto, but when Nazis threw a grenade into the bunker, everyone was forced out. Men were taken to the Dachau concentration camp, and women were sent to Stutthof.
Once in Stutthof, “they lined us up,” Gelernter recalled. “It was not pleasant. We had to give away our suitcases. They shaved our hair. They took our clothes and gave us striped uniforms. Then they separated the children from the adults.” While many prisoners of the camp were sent to Auschwitz to be murdered, Gelernter and her mother were lucky.
Though separated from each other, they lived at Stutthof for three years, until they were liberated in 1945. They were then sent onaboatto Germany, where they remained until 1950, when they were finally permitted to immigrate to the United States.
Gelernter has been an important part of the Pittsburgh Jewish community for many years, taking 7th and 8th grade students from local synagogues to the Holocaust Center of Greater Pittsburgh, as well as teaching religious school.
When her youngest grandson, Eli, became a bar mitzva three years ago, Gelernter was inspired to get busy planning her own.
“I was going to wait until I was 80,” Gelernter said, “but then my daughter-in-law (Jacki Savage Gelernter) said, ‘Why wait?’ I know about my friends — some are starting to get infirm. Some have passed away. Who knows what a year will bring? We never know our expiration date.”
Although Gelernter’s birthday is February 1, she decided to wait to have her celebration in June, hoping for better weather. She will be hosting an oneg Friday night, June 3, at Rodef Shalom, a kiddish lunch on Saturday, June 4, and a private party Saturday night at LeMont.
But Gelernter’s celebration will not end after the parties are over. On July 26, she and several family members will embark on what has become known as “the Fanny tour.”
“Fanny hasn’t been back to Lithuania since pre-war,” said Savage Gelernter. “I asked her, ‘do you want to visit Kovno?’ She told me she didn’t think she would recognize it, but said she would like to visit her family’s summer home in Palanga, a beach resort on the Baltic Sea in Lithuania.” The itinerary of the trip soon fell into place. The family will begin its trip in Israel, and will continue to Kovno and Palanga, as well as the concentration camp where Gelernter was imprisoned—a special request by Gelernter.
“I will say kaddish there,” Gelernter said. “I will bring stones. And I want to take some earth back and bury it at Tem- ple Sinai Cemetery.”
Despite her horrific memories, Gelernter recognizes the importance of keeping her story, and those of other Holocaust victims, alive, so that such a travesty will never happen again.
“What I do now is talk to young people,” she said. “Not just Jewish people. Last time, I talked to 40 young people in grades 10 and 11. I ask them to be tolerant and not to judge people by their religion, or how they look.”
(Toby Tabachnick can be reached at [email protected])
HOLOCAUST SURVIVOR PETER LOTH
How much suffering man endures? The question applies to the Holocaust survivor Peter Loth. After he has experienced healing from his emotional wounds, he is now himself an ambassador for forgiveness on the road.
Peter Loth is the son of a half-Jew and a German. Under pressure from the Nazis left Loth's father divorced his mother when she was pregnant. A little later - Helen Loth was three months - she was arrested with her family.
In a place of unspeakable atrocities in the concentration camp Stutthof near Danzig, Peter came in 1943 with the world. Transported to Auschwitz in 1945 when the two were attacked partisans of the train. Helena did not have the strength to flee with the baby, she entrusted him to a Polish woman. "My 'Matka' (mother) loved me and did everything to get to food and shelter for us."
For a while Peter lived and his Matka in underground sewers of western Polish city of Torun / Thorn. "My earliest memories are those of men who have separated me from my Matka with violence. I was taken to an orphanage, where 30-40 German children were kept in a room.
The Russians and Poles were so full of hatred against the Germans, that they left out their anger on the kids. In the orphanage there was a lack of everything. The boys were forced to work day and night repeatedly molested. The brother of Matka, an officer in the Polish army, took Peter out several times; weeks later he was again caught in the horror. "I've seen orphans raped, abused and executed."
Peter Loth and his Matka.
Little friend - shot
Because Matka, a circus artist, lent everything, even her body, escaped the shooting of Peter, a Jewish girl friends with him perished. "I saw my little friend, the girl with the yellow star -. She lay dead on the pile of corpses" At the age of six years Peter felt a pain so intense that he wanted to kill himself. He often was mistreated. Later he was able to live with Matka.
A little more tolerable shock met him when she told him she was not his real mother. This they had done over the Red Cross identified. Helen Loth had reached West Germany and in the meantime married a U.S. soldier. Because her letter came from a U.S. base, Peter came under suspicion of espionage. Over eight months, he was interrogated and abused: "Why do you Americans?" It was finally allowed to emigrate from Poland - Peter came over the Berlin Checkpoint Charlie in the West.
Peter Loth, about two years old.
For his mother, with whom he was living now, he felt one anticipated - hatred.Because she had once left to the torturers. Now they met. "She spoke German and English and I spoke Polish and Russian. How could she leave me alone, to be released by itself?
My mother had to have noticed the pain and all the questions in my eyes. She unbuttoned her blouse and showed me her back, She was scarred. She showed me her breast and she was mutilated. Her arm was tattooed with a number "Peter did -. She had suffered unspeakably, they also. "But I did not know who had done all these things and why. I hugged my mom crying. "
Peter Loth from the gas chamber in Stutthof, where his Grandmother and his aunt were gassed.
Key to healing
The move to the United States in 1959 brought new problems. Only many years later succeeded Peter Loth, to keep his internal injuries God and to experience healing. It was not easy:
"God brought me to my knees. He said, 'Forgive, and I forgive you your transgressions. " , I realized that I should forgive everyone who had done me harm: Nazis, Russians, Poles, Germans, Americans ... "Today is the man who looted the family and childhood, as ambassadors of reconciliation on the road - and increasingly also in German-speaking countries.
Even Civilians Killed Concentration Camp Survivors
Germany - A new book about the closing days of WW2 chronicles how German civilians murdered many concentration camp survivors as they moved through their towns and villages on infamous ‘death marches’ back into the shrinking Reich.
The violence shows how even with their nation in ruins, the Allies advancing on all fronts and the war hopeless, ordinary people were so indoctrinated with Nazi hate they were prepared to kill defenceless people in cold blood.
‘The Death Marches: The Final Phase of Nazi Genocide,’ by Daniel Blatman, is the first book to research what drove these civilians to acts of savage murder.
Some 500,000 prisoners from the concentration camp gulag both within and without Germany were on the move in the first months of 1945. As the Allies advanced, the shocking fate of approximately half of them became all too apparent. ‘..as was the case in Gardelegen, a town in east-central Germany, where US soldiers found hundreds of charred and mangled bodies in a barn in mid-April 1945.
They were the bodies of prisoners from various camps who had been forced inside’ writes Blatman, an Israeli, whose book is published this week and goes on sale in Germany.‘It was later discovered that people had volunteered to guard the prisoners, including ordinary civilians, some of them armed with hunting rifles, who mutated into prison guards of their own volition.
‘We’re going hunting, to shoot down the zebras!’’ cries youths, in reference to the striped uniforms of the inmates. ‘Men from the Volkssturm militia, police officers, soldiers from a paratrooper division barracked nearby, guards and civilians helped drive the doomed prisoners into the barn. ‘Then they locked the doors, lit gasoline-soaked straw on the ground and tossed hand grenades into the building. Anyone who attempted to escape the inferno ran into a hail of bullets. ‘Some 25 prisoners survived, while about 1,000 died.’
‘Some will say that the Nazis were responsible for this crime,’ said Colonel George P. Lynch, of the 102nd US Infantry Division. ‘Others will point to the Gestapo. The responsibility rests with neither. It is the responsibility of the entire German people.’
The same thing happened in Celle, not far from the terrible, disease riddled concentration camp of Belsen. Prisoners were ‘killed like animals’ in a forest according to a British military report. Some 300 died in April 1945 massacre, a Hitler Youth leader aged just 17 accounting for 20 alone.
Blatman, a historian at The Hebrew University in Jerusalem, said; ‘The more the war approached its end, and the more obvious the prisoners’ presence in the midst of the German population became, the more regularly German civilians participated.’
In Palmnicken near the former East Prussian city of Königsberg some 3,000 prisoners from the Stutthof concentration camp were herded by civilians on to beach of the frozen Baltic Sea to be mowed down by S.S. men. Along the country roads of a huge swathe of Germany can be found the little memorials to terrible acts where people were killed in ones and twos and sometimes tens and hundreds.
Blatman believes tens of thousands of ‘ordinary Germans’ became killers despite no documentary evidence whatsoever that any of the S.S. or Nazi party hierarchy had ever ordered them to behave in such a fashion. Blatman says that the mentality of the prisoners’ sadistic guards - that they were defending their homeland from ‘subhumans’ - somehow resonated with the civilian population as they saw this ‘enemy’ passing by their homes.
A decade of indoctrination, a genocidal mentality that had systematically dehumanized the Jews and the Slavs, led to the collective hunt,’ he said.
Edith JACOBOVIC #56724
She was born in Kosice, Czechoslovakia on 25 August 1926, the daughter of Eugen JACOBOVIC and his wife Rozalia nee KLEIN.
"in 1944 Edith arrived in Stutthof concentration camp and since then all contact with her was lost" Sadly this is one of those searches for which there will never be a full answer. All we can establish, because records are incomplete, is that Edith was one of the many who perished, and probably in Stutthof.
Edith Jacobovic and Edit Jakubovics are one and the same person.
Edith/Edit was initially sent to Auschwitz, then Stutthof, then Riga and then back to Stutthof again. The records for prisoner #56724 fall into a gap in Stutthof records --so I cannot establish her fate.
ITS records are based on the Stutthof material and thus have nothing. As a small consolation I did find two Stutthof cards relating to Edith when she ARRIVED from Riga.(below)
If you can help or provide any further information about this particulr Jacobovic family [ however the name is spelled], please e-mail us at <a>davidlewin [at] btinternet [dot] com</a>
Francine Gelernter, a Holocaust Survivor
After five years of being held prisoner in the Stutthof Concentration Camp in Poland, Francine Gelernter knew she had found her mother when a woman began to sing her childhood lullaby to her. In May of 1945, Stutthof was the last liberated concentration camp of World War II, and Gelernter was still a child when she was freed and reunited with her mother. Gelernter’s discussion, entitled “1940-1945: My Lost Childhood” was sponsored by the Jewish Studies Program and was located in 104 Thomas. Before being ripped away from her father, mother, grandmother and two aunts, Gelernter said she and her family were in the bourgeoisie class and lived in a happy environment. Gelernter said when the Soviet Union invaded her hometown of Kovno, Lithuania in 1940, her father was taken to Siberia. She would never see him again. With only the clothing on her back, Gelernter and her family were put on a train, where they would soon by separated. One vivid memory Gelernter has of being at the train station was the Germans’ “helpers,” which were German Shepherds. “Many times a German soldier would throw a baby in the air and the dog would catch the baby,” Gelernter said. “The mother was forced to see it.” When she reached Stutthof, Gelernter said she was taken from her mother, which meant any future contact with her would not be allowed. Any attempt to see each other could have led to death, she said. Gelernter’s grandmother was a “senior” and because of her age, was one of the prisoners forced to the left, which meant they would be killed. Her two aunts later passed away from a fever, while still imprisoned. Disease, starvation and pain were everyday sights for Gelernter and would be until 1945, when the Soviet Union soldiers liberated the camp in 1945. Gelernter said she never lost the will to live, and the world had to still go on. Gelernter’s said if it were not for the war, she would have never met her late-husband Simon Gelernter, who was a Holocaust survivor and a prisoner in Auschwitz-Birkenau. Max Gelernter (sophomore-political science) is the grandson of Francine and was able to travel to Stutthof with his grandmother and family. Gelernter said his grandmother’s life story is an inspiration and she has taught him tolerance and acceptance of all. Lecturer in Jewish Studies Linda Short teaches Jewish Studies 121: History of the Holocaust 1933-1945, and many of her students were in the audience. “History is more than just facts, figures, dates and statistics,” Short said. “We have a very special honor and delight now to learn about this time period from someone who was there.”
Source/credit: Danae Blasso/Collegian Staff Writer
(Lith. Kaunas) a city in central Lithuania which was the capital of independent Lithuania between 1920 and 1940. In 1940, all of Lithuania was incorporated into the Soviet Union.
On June 24, 1941, the third day of the invasion of the Soviet Union Kovno was occupied by the Germans. Even before the Germans began entering the city, Lithuanian gangs went on a rampage of murder. Thousands of Jews were moved to the Seventh Fort and other locations where they were mistreated then murdered by Lithuanian guards. A total of 10,000 Jews were murdered in June and July of 1941.
The Kovno ghetto was sealed off in August 1941. The killings continued. On October 28, 1941, the date of the "big Aktion" 9,000 Jews, half of them children, were taken to the Ninth Fort and murdered.
A period of relative calm ensued. Most of the 17,412 Jews left in the ghetto were put to forced labor. Like in most other large ghettos life was administered by a community organization headed by an elderly Jew. Welfare and educational organizations sprang up.
In June 1943, it was decided to impose a concentration camp regime on the ghetto. Young Jews organized resistance groups. At the end of 1943, 170 members of a resistance organization made off for partisan bases in the Rudninkai forest, south of Vilna.
On July 8, 1944 as the Red Army approached Kovno the remaining Jews were transferred to concentration camps inside Germany, to Kaufering or Stutthof concentration camps. Ninety Jews were able to hold out in bunkers and lived to see the Red Army enter the city.
Dora (Zalmonovich) Niederman was born in October 1928 at Bhuce, a town in the Carpathian Mountains of the Czechoslovak Republic, which was established at the end of World War I. Her region was called ‘Carpatho-Ukraine’ (located in present-day Ukraine). Dora’s town was inhabited by about five hundred families - both Christian and Jewish. The Jews lived in town, and the Christians on the outskirts. She described the relationship between Christians and Jews as good.
Her mother Chaya Pearl (Berkovich) was “the nicest person in the world.” Her father David Zalmonovich died of tuberculosis a few months before Dora was born. Her mother married Israel Schlomovich, who moved the family to Nagaf (Yargof). Dora’s step-father was in the importexport business involving fruit and grain. Dora had a step-brother named Martin Israel and three step-sisters. Aunt Fiegel (“my daddy’s sister”) was with Dora on the cattle train to AuschwitzBirkenau. In the documentary, when Dora speaks of being separated from her aunt on the ‘ramp’ at Birkenau, she means Fiegel. Aunt Fiegel, her six year old son, and her infant girl were murdered in the gas chamber on arrival.
In 1938, Dora’s region was annexed by Hungary, a Nazi ally.
As Dora tells us in the documentary, her step-father was terribly
beaten by Hungarian police. Dora’s teacher was murdered and his
body left for three days in a ravine (for public ‘viewing’). The Germans occupied Dora’s town in April 1944. She was
sixteen (in the documentary she mistakenly says eleven). Dora tells us that nobody knew about the mass murder of Jews. The ‘final chapter’ of the Holocaust was acted out with lightning speed.
With the assistance of Hungarian policemen (local collaborators), the Nazis concentrated the Jewish community in a ghetto, robbed Jews of their valuables, and (several weeks later) ordered them onto cattle cars whence a tortuous three day journey to Auschwitz-Birkenau in Nazi occupied Poland. German records show that 147 cattle trains departed fifty-five Nazi ghettoes in Hungary and Romania between May 15 and July 9, 1944, and carried 434,351 Jews to Auschwitz-Birkenau.
By early summer, 12,000 Jews were being gassed daily at Birkenau, the main extermination center of the Auschwitz complex. Two hundred thousand Jews remained in Budapest, the
Hungarian capital. In October 1944, the Nazis began deporting these Jews to Auschwitz-Birkenau. In all, 565,000 Hungarian and Romanian Jews were murdered in the Holocaust. As Dora tells us in the documentary, she was separated from her family during the “selection” at Birkenau (Auschwitz II). Along with other young and healthy Jews, she was sent to ‘work.’ Her family (too old or too young to work) was sent to the gas chamber (disguised as showers). The victims included Dora’s 100 year old grandmother. Dora and seven girls from her village survived the initial “selection.”
T: The eight girls, including Dora, remained together during the rest of the war - and derived strength from one another.
When U. S. Air Force bombers flew over AuschwitzBirkenau en route to bomb nearby German factories, Dora hoped (futilely) that the planes would bomb the camp. Historian David Wyman has written, “To kill the Jews, the
Nazis were willing to weaken their capacity to fight the war. The U. S. and its allies, however, were willing to attempt nothing to save them.”
See: Wyman’s The Abandonment of the Jews: America and the Holocaust, 1941-1945.
Nazi doctors played leading roles in the camp’s operation. Many members of the German medical community lent themselves to Nazi racist theories. Mengele described Auschwitz-Birkenau as “applied biology.” He believed that, by murdering the Jews, he was saving the German people from ‘infection’ and demise.
As Dora explains in the documentary, Mengele noticed rashes on her body and dispatched her to the so-called hospital at Birkenau. This place was not really a hospital but an ante-room to the gas chambers. Dora escaped from the ‘hospital’ and rejoined her friends in the barrack (‘block’). That same night, her group was packed up and sent to Stutthof, a Nazi death camp on the Baltic Sea.
In the documentary, Dora describes Nazi preparations for a Red Cross ‘inspection’ at Stutthof. The Nazis tried to convince the Red Cross that reports of ‘death camps’ were not true. For example, a Red Cross delegation inspected the Jewish ‘model ghetto’ at Theresienstadt, near Prague, in June 1944 and (presumably) fell for the Nazi subterfuge.
After arriving at Stutthof, Dora and her friends were sent to work on a German farm – to help with the harvest. The German farmer treated the girls humanely and nourished them. With the approach of the Red Army in late 1944, the SS returned the girls to Stutthof.
Stutthof was ‘evacuated’ by the Nazis in January 1945. Many Jews were shot on the shores of the Baltic. Others were forced on a ‘death march’ in the direction of Germany. Dora and the girls escaped and found refuge with a Polish family. The girls spoke Ukrainian and pretended to be Ukrainians, but the Polish farmer knew they were Jewish. He hid them in the attic – first from the Nazis and then from the Soviets. Dora and her friends were ‘liberated’ by the Red Army - a painful chapter in itself. One nightmare replaced another. Red Army soldiers raped many women – of all nationalities. Five hundred and sixty five thousand Hungarian and Romanian Jews were murdered in the Holocaust.
Dora took a train to Budapest. As she tells us in the documentary, Dora passed her step-brother on the street and neither recognized the other. Dora traveled (illegally) from Hungary to a ‘Displaced Persons’ camp at Santa Maria del Lauca, Italy.
There she met Isaac Niederman, a Holocaust survivor from Romania. Isaac’s experiences are recounted in a separate video in this documentary series. He and Dora married in 1948.
Berihah means ‘escape’ in Hebrew. In 1944-’45, Jewish survivors met in Lublin, Poland, and began organizing an escape route from Central and Eastern Europe to Palestine. The first leader was Abba Kovner (of the Vilna ghetto). The Berihah group established a network that smuggled 250,000 Jewish survivors to British controlled Palestine. The British attempted to prevent Jewish emigration to Palestine.
Dora and Isaac attempted several times to travel illegally to Palestine but were turned back by British troops. The state of Israel was established in May 1948. By that time Dora and Isaac had obtained U. S. visas. In 1950, they arrived in New Orleans. For fifty years Isaac worked as a silver polisher in a jewelry store; Dora operated a dry cleaning business. They have no children.
Dora began speaking about the Holocaust in 1989, when David Duke, neo-Nazi, Holocaust-denier, and former Klansman, was elected to the Louisiana legislature. He subsequently ran for governor (lost) and U. S. senator (dropped out). Dora’s region was annexed by the Soviet Union after the war and is today in Ukraine.
Chana Weismann was born in 1929 in Kovno, Lithuania to a family of two children. In June 1941, German forces began bombing Kovno and Chana's family fled in the direction of the Vilna Bridge. Discovering that the bridge had been bombed, they had no other choice but to return to Kovno.
On their way back to Kovno, the family members separated, in order to draw less attention to themselves. Chana and her father were caught by the Lithuanians and were taken to the Seventh Fort, a fortress in the adjacent city.
Chana was separated from her father, but soon after met with her mother, who had arrived at the Seventh Fort after having realized that her husband and daughter had been captured. A few days later, Chana saw a group of men, her father among them, being led in the direction of the killing pits. During the night, Chana heard the echo of shots from the direction of the pits and understood immediately that her father was no longer among the living.
A few days later, Chana and her mother were transferred to the Ninth Fort where they were held for two days before being released along with the other women and children. In 1941, Chana, along with her mother, brother and their extended family were transferred to the ghetto in the Slovodca neighborhood. In one of the actions in October 1943, Chana and her family were deported to Estonia, to a camp where they suffered from freezing cold, extreme hunger, and extremely poor sanitary conditions.
After half a year the family was transferred to the Kivioli labor camp. During one of the actions in the camp Chana's mother was taken away, along with many others, and was shot to death in the forest.
A few months later, Chana was deported with her brother to the Stutthof camp in Germany. There, Chana managed to survive two children's actions, the first time by escaping and the second time due overcrowding of the crematorium. Following Stutthof, Chana was transferred to several camps, of which the last was Bergen-Belsen, where she remained until the camp was liberated in May 1945. Her brother was sent from Stutthof camp to Steinberg camp, also ending up at Bergen-Belsen, but died shortly before the camp was liberated.
In 1947, Chana immigrated to Israel. She is married and has two children and three grandchildren.
Holocaust survivor Dora Love spoke in front of a packed lecture theatre in the Beattie Building on Thursday 30 August.
Love was invited to speak at a History and Current Affairs (HCA) society meeting while on holiday visiting her grandchildren in South Africa, and was welcomed by a warm round of applause after being introduced by Chairman Michael Moss.
“I don’t know why you applaud, it might be awkward,” she grinned. Students were captivated by Love’s subtle sense of humour and astounding lucidity in sharing the experiences of her life.
Originally Lithuanian, Love was 16 years old when Nazi troops occupied her hometown of Memel (now Klaipeda). Her family fled to the Shaulen ghetto in northern Lithuania. With over a hundred others, they were taken to Elbe and forced to dig peat. Eventually she and her family were sent to the Stutthof concentration camp.
“In Stutthof, my brother was shot on the second day, my mother died a week later and my little sister died a few months later from the typhus epidemic,” Love recounted. Her father and other brother had been separated from them and were presumed dead.
Stutthof was the last concentration camp to be liberated by Allied forces. This occurred on 9 May 1945. Following the camp’s liberation, Love crossed the Baltic to reach Neustadt in the Rhineland. She was treated for severe tuberculosis and years of maltreatment in the camp.
Shortly after she met her future husband, Frank Love, who worked for the British Army. Six months after the end of the war, Love was reunited with her father, who had escaped to Italy. However, it was to be another 16 years before she reconnected with her brother in Russia.
After the Holocaust, Love had a range of jobs, including a translator for the Nuremburg Trials and work for the United Nations. However she is most proud of the home for Jewish children in Hamburg that she helped establish. In 1946, they took care of over 700 destitute children, reuniting them with their families where possible.
In the 1960s Love immigrated to South Africa with her husband, where she gave birth to their two children. She learned to speak Afrikaans within the first six months. For her, South Africa is like a second home. “Ek kan Afrikaans praat; ek het dit nie vergeet nie!” (“I can speak Afrikaans; I haven’t forgotten it!”), she exclaimed. The couple lived in Johannesburg until 1978.
The University of Essex recently bestowed an honorary doctorate on Love, recognising a life of compassion, kindness and grace. She now resides in Colchester, England, keeping active in the lives of her children and grandchildren.
Moss shared some of his thoughts after the talk. “Dr Love’s message about encouraging the youth to capitalise on every opportunity to recognise other people’s humanity resonated strongly with me,” he said.
“Somebody has to survive to tell the tale,” said Love. “Unless you hear it from somebody who was there, how you could believe it?”
Anton BAUMANN, Defendant/Appellant
United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit.
Submitted March 3, 1992.*
Decided March 23, 1992.
As Modified March 31, 1992.
Before BAUER, Chief Judge, MANION, Circuit Judge, and ESCHBACH, Senior Circuit Judge.
In a judgment rendered on May 17, 1991 the district court revoked Anton Baumann's citizenship and cancelled his naturalization pursuant to 8 U.S.C. § 1451(a). Section 1541(a) allows for revocation of citizenship that was "illegally procured" or "procured by concealment of a material fact or by willful misrepresentation. The district court found that because of Baumann's service as an armed guard at a Nazi concentration camp during World War II, he was not lawfully admitted into the United States. In addition, because he gave false testimony for the purpose of obtaining immigration benefits, he lacked the moral character required for naturalization. We affirm.
The critical facts in this case involve Baumann's alleged service in the Waffen-SS and his failure to note this service when applying for an immigrant visa and later naturalization. Baumann, of ethnic German origin, was born on May 17, 1911 in Such Borova, Yugoslavia. After four years of schooling in Such-Borova he worked there as a carpenter's apprentice and then as a carpenter. In 1936 he married and in 1941 he had a child. He served in the Yugoslavian army from November 1937 through May 1941.
The Waffen -SS ("SS") was the elite guard and intelligence unit of the Nazi Party. The SS-Totenkopf Sturmbann ("Death's Head Batallion") was the section of the armed SS formed for the purpose of guarding the Nazi concentration camps. Baumann's history with the SS Death's Head Battalion was documented by an SS Personnel Data Card and a roster of the SS Death's Head Battalion at Stutthof Concentration Camp ("Stutthof"). Baumann stipulated to the authenticity of these documents.
The SS Personel Data Card includes a picture of Baumann in the Death's Head Batallion uniform and identifies Baumann by his correct date and place of birth, profession, spouse, ethnic German origin, the number and sex of his children and prior military service. The roster identifies Baumann by place and date of birth and by his spouse's name and place of birth.
According to these documents, Baumann began service with the SS on November 18, 1942 and was a member of the Death's Head Battallion. From November 18, 1942 until September 1943, he served as an armed guard at Stutthof, near Danzig Germany. The parties stipulated that the operation of Stutthof constituted activity or conduct contrary to civilization and human decency on behalf of the Axis countries during World War II. In September 1943, he was transferred to Buchenwald Concentration Camp.
Baumann entered the United States under the Displaced Persons Act of 1941 ("DPA"), Pub.L. No. 80-774, § 2, 62 Stat. 1009, amended by Pub.L. No. 81-555, 64 Stat. 219 which authorized European refugees to emigrate to the United States after World War II. The DPA excluded individuals who "assisted the enemy in persecuting civilians."
On June 15, 1950, Baumann applied for and was granted an Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration at the U.S. Consulate in Salzburg, Austria. On his Application for Immigrant Visa, he responded that his place of residence from 1925-1944 was Such-Borova, Yugoslavia. He did not disclose his membership in the SS, his tenure at Stuffhof or the nature of his duties there. Baumann swore under oath to the truth of the statements on his application. His was admitted to the United States at the Port of New York City on July 5, 1950.
In 1957, Baumann filed an "Application to File Petition for Naturalization" and a "statement of Facts for Preparation of Petition" (collectively "INS Form N-400) with the Immigration and Naturalization Service. Question 9 of Form N-400 asked him to list every organization, association or group in which he had been a member and Baumann responded "None." Provision 19 of the form provided that "no person shall be regarded as a person of good moral character who ... has given false testimony for the purpose of obtaining any benefits under the Immigration and Naturalization laws." He swore under oath before a naturalization examiner that all his answers were true and then filed his Petition for Naturalization. On May 14, 1957, his Petition for Naturalization was granted and he was issued a Certificate of Naturalization.
District Court Proceedings
Bauman made no attempts to rebut the Government's case. He refused to answer questions at his deposition, asserting a Fifth Amendment privilege. He did not testify at trial and presented no witnesses on his behalf. The Government presented two survivors of the Stutthof camp who described the conditions during the November 1942 to December 1943 time period, including vivid descriptions of brutal atrocities committed by members of the Death's Head Batallion. The Government also presented testimony of Dr. Charles Snydor, a recognized expert on the SS and Frank Walters who was a visa analyst with the State Department during the time Bauman applied for his visa.
The government was required to prove its case by clear and convincing evidence. The district court found that the government had met this burden by proving that Baumann served as an armed guard at Stutthof. Therefore he was ineligible for a visa under the 1924 Act. Moreover, by giving false testimony for the purpose of obtaining immigration benefits, he lacked the statutorily required good moral character prerequisite to becoming an American citizen.
Baumann does not dispute the contents of his visa and petition for naturalization. He does not dispute the fact that service as an armed concentration guard would have barred him from obtaining his visa under the 1924 Act. Nor does he dispute that giving false information on his visa application and petition for naturalization constitutes lack of requisite moral character required for naturalization.
Therefore, the only issue on appeal is the factual determination that he was an armed guard at Stutthof. Baumann argues that because there was no testimony that anyone saw him at Stutthof and no testimony that he was seen with a gun, there is insufficient evidence to revoke his citizenship. He also argues that the testimony of Snydor was insufficient to meet the government's burden of proof. Finally, Baumann argues that because there was no proof of particular conduct by him, under the rationale of the recent Sixth Circuit decision in Petkiewytsch v. INS, 945 F.2d 871 (6th Cir.1991), he cannot be deported. All of these arguments are without merit.
We review the factual findings of the district court under the clearly erroneous standard. Fed.R.Civ.P. 52(a); United States v. Kairys, 782 F.2d 1374, 1379 (7th Cir.1986). Although the government bears a heavy burden in a denaturalization proceeding, there must be strict compliance with congressionally imposed prerequisites to citizenship. Fedorenko v. United States, 449 U.S. 490, 506 (1980). As a matter of law, disclosure of the fact that a petitioner served as an armed guard at a concentration camp makes him ineligible for a visa. Id. at 509. United States v. Kairys, 782 F.2d 1374 (7th Cir.1986).
Baumann's contention that the government had to prove personal involvement is erroneous. If the government proved his service as an armed uniformed guard, it sufficiently established that he assisted in persecution of persons. U.S. v. Schmidt, 923 F.2d 1253, 1259 (7th Cir.1991) (by proving that that petitioner was a member of "Death's Head Battalion" at Sachsenhausen concentration camp, government met its burden).
The district court was not clearly erroneous when it determined that Baumann served as an armed guard at Stutthof. Contrary to Baumann's contention, the district court did not rely on Dr. Snydor's testimony or the underlying exhibits introduced as part of his testimony. It relied instead on the documents which Baumann stipulated to as authentic--the SS Personnel Card which contains his photo and accurate identifying information, a photograph of Baumann in a Death's Head Batallion uniform, and the SS roster from Stutthof. In addition, the court relied on Walters' uncontroverted testimony that all concentration camp guards were ineligible for United States' visas at the time the defendant filed his application.
In his reply brief, Baumann argues disingenuously that the stipulation as to authenticity is not as broad as the government contends and that he did not waive his right to challenge the accuracy of the information contained therein. This argument ignores the fact that at no point in this proceeding has Baumann attempted to rebut the government's allegations or challenged the veracity of the information contained in his Personnel Card, the SS Roster or the visa application. He does not claim that this is a case of mistaken identity. What little information he has provided during the proceeding includes his birth date, birthplace, marital information, ethnic origin, and occupation, all of which comport with the information contained on his SS Personnel Card. There is nothing in the record challenging the accuracy of these documents, and therefore the district court decision was not clearly erroneous.
Petkiewytsch v. INS, 945 F.2d 871 (6th Cir.1991) does not change the result. It is a decision under the Holtzman Amendment and in fact recognizes that neither voluntariness nor proof of actual participation in atrocities are considerations under the DPA. Petkiewytsch stands for the narrow proposition that under the Holtzman Amendment, where it is undisputed that a permanent resident alien 1) served as an armed guard at a Nazi "labor education" camp involuntarily and under duress, and 2) did not personally commit acts of abuse, deportation is not required.
Petkiewytsch does not, as Baumann suggests, hold that under the DPA or the Holtzman Act, the government must prove that an individual served voluntarily and actually committed acts of persecution. Moreover, to the extent that it holds that personal involvement in atrocities is required for deportation under the Holtzman Amendment, Petkiewytsch conflicts with the law in this circuit. See Schellong v. INS, 805 F.2d 655, 661 (7th Cir.1986) (purposes of DPA and Holtzman Act identical; insofar as cases from other jurisdictions hold that personal involvement is necessary to have assisted in persecution for purposes of the DPA or the Holtzman act, they conflict with Fedorenko ).
By relying on Petkiewytsch, Baumann is grasping at straws. The undisputed evidence shows that he was a member of the SS who served as an armed guard at a concentration camp. As a matter of law, he was ineligible for a visa under the 1924 Act.
For the foregoing reasons, the decision of the district court is
Hannah Rigler was born in Shavli (Siauliai), Lithuania, in 1928.
Her father was murdered shortly after the German invasion, and she was put in the ghetto with her mother and elder sister. In summer 1944, when the ghetto was liquidated they were taken to Stutthof camp. From there they were taken on a death march westwards. Hannah managed to escape and collapsed totally exhausted in a barn. She was found by a group of British POWs, who despite the great risk nursed her back to health.
Sarah (later took her sister’s name, Hanna) and her sister Hanna before the war
The Matuson Family, 1937
Hanna Matuson, 1940. Hanna perished during the death march
**British POWs **
This is the extraordinary story of how British prisoners of war saved the life of one 16-year-old girl. Sarah Matuson (later Hannah Sarah Rigler) was among the inmates of Stutthof concentration camp who in January 1945 were taken on a death march headed towards the Baltic coast.
The group of 1,200 women, including her sister, Hannah, and her mother, Gita, was staggering in the snow, dressed in rags, with only wooden clogs on their feet, with no food and under the heavy blows of the SS guards. Hundreds of women perished on the way and only about 300 reached the village of Gross Golmkau (Golebiewo in Polish) 30 kilometers south of Gdansk.
Sarah's family was from Lithuania. Before she was born, her parents had gone to Palestine, where her sister Hanna was born in 1925. But their immigration to Palestine did not work out for them and the family moved back to Lithuania. Not knowing what the future had in store for them and for Europe’s Jews, they settled in Shavli (Siauliai), where their second daughter, Sarah was born in 1928.
Sarah's father was arrested with a group of other Jews soon after the German occupation in the end of June 1941. He was never seen again. The mother and two daughters were forced into the Shavli ghetto. Despite the difficult conditions and the continued killing operations, they managed to survive until summer 1944, when they were taken with the remaining Jews of Shavli to the Stutthof concentration camp. As the Soviet army approached, they were taken on the death march.
Seeing the hopelessness of their situation, Sarah’s mother pleaded with her daughter to try and escape. It was a painful decision to leave her mother, but finally Sarah decided to try and find some food for them. She succeeded to leave the line of prisoners unnoticed and found refuge in a barn where she collapsed.
It was here that she was found by a group of British prisoners of war. Stan Wells was working on Mrs. Miller’s barn. He belonged to a group of British prisoners of war who had been captured in 1940 in France, and who were transferred to the east, interned in a camp close to the Baltic coast, where they were engaged in various tasks in the German farms of the area.
Finding Sarah who was starved and totally exhausted, Wells first gave her some food and then brought her to the other prisoners wrapped in an old army coat. Shocked by her poor physical condition, they decided to help her. They smuggled Sarah into their prisoner of war camp – Stalag 20B in Gross-Golmkau, where they hid her in a hayloft.
In 1985 Alan Edwards visited the barn in Gross Golmkau (Golebiewo) where Sarah had been hidden
In view fragile state, they took turns in caring for her. They brought food, tended her frostbite, applied paraffin to her hair against lice, bathed her and nursed her back to health. The danger of discovery was great: just outside their living quarters was a police station. The horses used by the police were housed in the very same barn, and Sarah was hidden in the hayloft above the horses.
However soon the British POWs were also to be moved. On the eve of their evacuation into Germany, Sarah’s British benefactors arranged for a local woman to take care of Sarah until the arrival of the Red Army. After liberation Sarah found out that she was the only survivor of her family. She eventually settled in the United States. In memory of her sister she added the name Hannah to her own. For many years she tried to find her rescuers, but only 25 years after the end of the war was she able to locate them and renew the contact.
On November 2, 1988, Yad Vashem recognized Stan Wells, George Hammond, Tommy Noble and Alan Edwards as Righteous Among the Nations.
On March 15, 1989, Yad Vashem recognized Roger Letchford as Righteous Among the Nations.
_In 1972 Sarah Hanna Rigler was reunited with her rescuers in London _
Saga of Clotilde Lehmann
"Clotilde Lehmann and her husband, Hugo, were part of the first transport of 512 Jews that left Nüernberg, Germany by train, on 27 November 1941, destination Riga, Latvia. Only 15 of that number were eventually to survive.
The torturous journey took 3 days and 3 nights. Upon arrival the deportees were confined in the concentration camp Kaiserwald, located near Riga, as well as the KZ camps Spilwe and Jungfernhof, as well as the Riga Ghetto. They performed hard labor in forests, construction and other projects under the Wehrmacht supervision until May 1944. With the approach of the Soviet armies the Germans abandoned these camps, transporting the inmate population by ship (see map below) to KZ Stutthof (Sztutowo), near the port city of Danzig.
Stutthof was originally established in August 1939 as a small crudely erected penal and detainment facility for Polish "undesirables". Its population grew from 200 to 110,000 prisoners by mid 1942, having been expanded and rebuilt.
At full capacity it had also become an extermination camp with gas chambers and crematoriums. During this time a large number of Jewish prisoners had arrived there and also at the more than 60 labor camps in this area. Stutthof became overcrowded and notorious for its indescribable barbaric conditions. Tens of thousands of inmates died of disease and starvation.
Beginning on 25 January 1945 the Germans began its evacuation of the inmate population in the face of Soviet forces approach. This was to continue for some time, until 25 April 1945, by boats, by train and on foot. Only 3,000 were to survive, out of 30,000 that were involved in this evacuation phase.
Clotilde Lehmann, after several months of confinement in Stutthof, together with a small group of other women prisoners, was transferred to subsidiary camps in Korben and Thorn nearby, where they performed hard labor, mostly road repair work. As the German retreat from this area accelerated due to the Soviet continued advance in January 1945, the evacuation of the prisoners was sped up as well.
The forced marches, rightfully often referred to as death marches, exacted heavy prices in casualties. Clotilde Lehmann's ordeal culminated in the vicinity of Bromberg (Bydgoszcz), where on 27 January 1945 the German guard troops abandoned their charges and fled. The former inmates were left to their own devices, utterly exhausted, starving, and suffering terribly from the cold winter weather."
Below is a thumbnail of a map from Martin Gilbert's, Atlas of the Holocaust, (1982), which shows the route of the evacuation from the Riga area to Danzig. Please click on the thumbnail to see the full image, and then click your back key or "Evacuation Map" in the left frame to return.
Below are thumbnails of the front and back of a postcard written by Clotilde to Martin Lehmann in Lucerne, Switzerland. The postcard is dated and postmarked Bydgoscz (Bromberg), February 10, 1945, which was two weeks after the city was liberated by the Soviet army. The card is franked with new postwar Polish stamps and cancelled with with a German type circular which was still in use.
The return address is "Hauptpostlagernd" (general delivery) Bromberg with Clotilde's birthdate which was required of camp inmates. The card bears Polish military and British censor marks. It reached Lucerne on August 25, 1945, after being routed through the Soviet Union, Turkey and Gibralter. Please click on the thumbnail to see the full image, and then click your back key or "February, 1945 Postcard" in the left frame to return. The translation of the postcard is as follows:
Can you believe it, I am alive and I am free. Do you have news where my children are? Three years and three months I survived in the Concentration camps, and only the hope to see my children again has kept me alive. I still hope to find my dear husband again. Our dear mother regretfully is no more. Dear Martin, please send me news at once, and if you can, continue to help me. I am together with Beryl Seiferheld, born August 20, 1912. Perhaps you can help us so that I can get to my children, or rather to Ilse and Louis.
With love, your, Clotilde Lehmann
<a></a>Below are thumbnails of a letter written by Clotilde to her sister in New Jersey. Her handwritten two page letter was written March 4, 1945, and details the story of her confinement. Please click on the thumbnail to see the full image, and then click your back key or "March, 1945 Letter" in the left frame to return.
<a></a>To give one an idea as to how slim Clotilde's chances were for survival, below are thumbnails of two pages from the official list of deportees on Clotilde's transport from Nüernberg to Riga in November, 1941. Of the 147 persons listed on these two pages, only 5 survived. Please click on the thumbnail to see the full image, and then click your back key or "List of Deportees" in the left frame to return.
From the outset, Clotilde's goals were (1) to get information about her two children who had been sent to England in July, 1939, and (2) to get back to her hometown, Füerth in Bavaria. Her first stop on this journey was Bromberg (Bydgoszcz).
Below are thumbnails of various documents pertaining to her time in Bromberg (Bydgoszcz).
The first document is an ID issued by local authorities on March 30, 1945.
The second document is from the Bydgosz Employment Office, dated April 11, 1945, and certifies that Clotilde resides at Welniany Rynek 11 and is employed through their office.
The third document is a prescription dated April 22, 1945.
The fourth document is a temporary certificate from the Polish Army dated May 5, 1945, certifying that Clotilde has been employed at the Army hospital as a nurse since May 1, 1945. The certificate was valid until May 20, 1945.
The fifth document is the front and back of an ID issued May 22, 1945. This ID was written on the back of SS stationery, probably due to a paper shortage.
The sixth document is a travel permit dated May 29, 1945, from the Jewish Committee in Bromberg. The last document is an ID dated May 30, 1945. Please click on the thumbnail to see the full image, and then click your back key or "Bromberg (Bydgoszcz)," in the left frame to return.
The next stop on Clotilde's journey was Berlin. Below are thumbnails of various documents pertaining to her stay in Berlin.
The first document is an ID paper issued June 4, 1945, by the office of the Mayor of Berlin, District Wedding. The document requests that every consideration be given to the holder, especially lodging, meals and transportation to enable her to reach her place of origin.
The second document is an ID dated June 12, 1945, by the Jewish Committee in Berlin and bears a rubber stamped cachet "Reichsvereingung Der Juden" which was used during the war by the Nazis.
The third document is the front and back of a certificate dated June 22, 1945, by the Civil Administration of Berlin attesting to the fact that Clotilde is on the way to Füerth and asking all military and civilian authorities to assist her. The document is in English, French, Russian and German.
The fourth document is the front and back of a Certificate dated June 26, 1945, by the district administration of Berlin-Lichtenberg permitting Clotilde to travel to Füerth by railway and to pass the line of demarcation. The document is in English, Polish, Russian and German.
The last document is the front and back of a ID dated June 30, 1945, issued by the District Mayor, Wedding District, Berlin. Please click on the thumbnail to see the full image, and then click your back key or "Berlin" in the left frame to return.
The next stop on Clotilde's journey was Erlangen, a city in Bavaria just north of Nüernberg. Below are thumbnails of the front and back of an ID form issued by a Berlin Magistrate on June 28, 1945.
The back of the form contains rubber stamps from authorities in Erlangen, dated July 31, 1945, indicating that the holder of the ID is eligible and should be supplied with food stamps and travel passes for two days in the city of Erlangen.
Clotilde finally reached Nüernberg in early August, 1945.
Below are thumbnails of various items pertaining to Nüernberg.
The first is the front and back of an attestation from the Civil Administration of Berlin, Wedding District, dated June 30, 1945, requesting that Clotilde receive assistance in connection with her travels. The back of the form contains an authorization from Nüernberg officials for food stamps for the period of August 8, 1945, to August 10, 1945.
The next item is the front and back of a photograph of Clotilde in Füerth. The back is dated Füerth, October 15, 1945, and inscribed "Greetings From Freedom".
The last item is the front and back of a letter from Clotilde's sister in Newark postmarked October 22, 1941, to Paula Lindo (Clotilde's mother) in care of the Lehmanns in Nüernberg. The letter was intercepted by British postal censors and held throughout the entire war until released in 1946. The card was returned on September 5, 1946.
The cover bears two rubber stamps: (1) "Haus zerstoert- Adresse unbekannt" (house destroyed, address unkown); and (2) "Weitere Wohnung...unbekannt" (further address unknown). Also below is a thumbnail of the letter contained in the cover.
<a></a>Reunion With Family
Clotilde was reunited finally with her two children when she arrived in New York in July, 1946. Below are excerpts from an article in the July 19, 1946, issue of the Newark Evening News, headlined Peacetime Reunion--- After Seven Years:
"New York-- A language more basic that words spoke volumes as two Newark children were reunited with their mother here yesterday after seven years separation.
Mrs. Clotilde Lehman, 39, of Nuremberg, Germany, survivor of 10 Nazi concentration camps put her arms around her children, Henry, 17, and Erica, 14, and wept.
They met outside Pier 95 after docking of the S.S. Marine Flasher which brought 832 refugees from Bremerhaven.
The youngsters speak only English. Henry, a South Side High School student, and Erica who attends Bergen Street School, have forgotten German, the language of their mother. 'We'll have to teach mother English,' the youth explained.
The reunion ended a wartime odyssey that began in Nuremberg in July, 1939, when the family parted. The father was killed in a concentration camp in December, 1944.
Henry remembers his mother giving him and Erica wrist watches and farewell advice. 'Be good. Be truthful and luck will be yours, ' Mrs. Lehmann had said.
At their reunion, she told them through an interpreter of her years in concentration camps in Latvia, Danzig and Germany where she did heavy labor building Nazi airfields. 'There we were as dead,' she said. 'We had no hope, no things of our own, no letters, no pictures. I did not know what had become of my children. I tried not to think of them. I was sure I would never see them and that, I, too, would die.'
Meanwhile, the children lived in foster homes in England. In 1943 they arrived in Newark, at the home of their aunt, Mrs. Louis Lauer....
Mrs. Lehman, a cheerful, robust woman after a year's freedom, is joyful about the future. 'I have worked hard.' she said. 'I am strong and I will work and make a home for my children'."
Clotilde Lehmann died in 1987 at the age of 91.
A MEMORIAL TO THE NAZI VICTIMS OF STUTTOF
Gdansk, Poland, May 9
** ----- In order to fix the memory of some 60,000 political prisoners from twenty-five nations and twenty-eight ethnic groups, the sounds of a trumpet and a triple volley echoed in Balys Sruoga's novel, In the Forest of the Gods, a scene set in the former Stutthof concentration camp, now converted to a museum not far from Gdansk, Poland.**
** There came from Warsaw, Ambassador Antanas Valionis, General Counsul Sarunas Adomavivius, and about fifty former prisoners and relatives of prisoners who perished, along with representatives of Lithuanian television and the press.**
** Leading the religious portion of the commemoration were Metropolitan Archbishop Tadeusz Gotzlowsky, Bishop Andrziej Szlivinski of Elbing, along with Orthodox and Lutheran clergy, and Rabbi Chackel Zak from Kaunas.**
** The first wreath was carried by political prisoners representing the nations of all those who died at Stutthof. Pilypas Naruits represented Lithuania.**
** The Lithuanian ambassador laid a floral wreath at the monument and set a memorial plaque at the crematorium. In the plaza of the crematorium, a short silence for meditation was arranged for all the Lithuanians. **
At this point, Lithuanian Ambassador A. Valionis offered remarks and Pilypas Narutis, former Stutthof prisoner, read a special declaration on behalf of the Lithuanian groups of hostages. ** In his comments, Pilypas Narutis recalled that victory over the Nazis was not the end of genocide. Rather "the Soviet Union, with a deeper level of brutality, brought terror to occupied nations, and with that occuaption a greater and prolonged slavery, annihilating one third of the Lithuanian people in Siberian gulags."**