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Saturday, 31 March 2012

Day 58 - "Caracho Weg", Good Road or Paradise Way!!

"Our files followed us everywhere and while in Buchenwald our deaths would come about by hard labour in the quarry or strassen-bau, firing squad, machine gun, hanging, injection, torture and chopping off of heads -  which was the privilege of another outside department, you were specially sent for on this occasion!

There were also a number of on-demand applications performed by the S.S. doctors such as garotting! with piano wires or meat hooks and dissecting, as well as other medicinal and scientific experiments.  The human guinea pigs were there in ample supply and always available at any time.

There was a tower too, the Bismarck Tower, I could now faintly see the silhouette of the tower though the mist.  Under this tower were the broken bodies of so many buried in mass graves.

Towards the direction of Weimer, beyond the work places, was Goethe's tree house.  This stood near to a double gate with more fences.  Goethe wrote many of his best works here and spent many hours relaxing at this spot. We couldn't see the tree house as we were walking but could see an indictor/sign that pointed to Wiemar. 

The road for the prisoners in the camp was nicely captioned too and was written in Russian and read as,  "Caracho Weg",  meaning the Good Road or Paradise Way - so Buchenwald might as well have been called Shangri-la too!  The sarcasm of it all had just begun!

At this point, we were just reaching two guard houses, one on each side of the road when we encountered two representatives from this "mock paradise", with weapons pointed they ordered us to; Mutzen ab" (caps off).

Perched on a pillar, in the middle of the road was an enormous eagle, carved in stone, hewn from the quarry.

On a wooden board, above the guardhouse entrance was inscribed, in Goethe script,  "Recht oder Unrecht mein Vaterland" , meaning, "Right or Wrong my Country".

To be continued ... 

Thursday, 29 March 2012

Day 57 - First Impressions of Buchenwald!

"We were on our way back to Weimar, the old republic of Saxony and Goethe's paradise and home region.  There was no attempt at anything like escaping, it was out of the question - our brains could only absorb so much!  We now wondered what Buchenwald would be like!

As usual, the railway ran on time and gradually we mounted the slope leading up to the wooded area of Eisenberg - all nicely tucked away so that nobody could see too much.   Near the bottom of the hill was a massive cordon of tank corps situated at the outer circle.  On top of the hill was a full, S.S. training camp and then there were the guards and the electrical fence circling the entire concentration camp.  Buchenwald had started out as a rehabilitation camp for dissidents and from thereon had gone from bad to worse.

We came to the camp station just next to and outside the fence and were greeted by the usual welcome party - ferocious dogs.  Some of us were bitten straight away, pieces of flesh were bitten right out of our buttocks leaving bleeding and large open wounds.  In this situation one just had to run for your life.

On my left side I noticed that there were newly built factories. I was walked or rather I should say rushed around with those dogs behind me, panting and drooling and trying to get a  bite.  At this point it was us against the dogs.  Then suddenly the human "Welcome Society",  came into view - they seemed to be as obedient as the dogs.  They were armed with whips and comprised of the underdog, slave drivers or camp elders and CAPO's.  Everybody had badges with red triangles.  

Some of the guards were Germans who had survived the rise of the Reich with Hitler as Fuhrer - they had extra Rights and Privileges because according to the Nazi's they were not considered to be, "ordinary criminals". They were mostly just a bit left-wing, communist or socialist.  There were also some religious representatives - mostly protestants.  In addition, there were  deserters and people considered to be abnormal.

They all wore ordinary civilian suits and berets usually of typical European origin.  The suits had been altered using dye or by the addition of squares that had been sewn in so one could clearly see the markings and they also had the white-blue stripes of galley prisoners.  There was a number under the triangle and a stripped ribbon with block and wing marks as well as armbands with the word "Capo" on.  These camp guards now took charge of us instead of the S.S. standing beside us. 

I remember all the details clearly.  Auschwitz had looked like a forest with dead/death trees sticking out of a bog, very bare in comparison with this camp, which in contrast, had a a superb view, similar to what I would expect to see in a holiday camp.

At a four point crossroads elevated on a green, grass patch was a pole, very much like a totem pole. The pole had planks jutting out that were being used as sign posts.  On one was a clearly drawn and painted caricature of S.S. marching figures.  They were drawn in groups of four in full regalia with weapons.  This particular plank pointed towards the S.S. quarters which stuck  out in the distance.  The buildings resembled high rise flats and were of a somber grey colour.

The rest of the planks at the crossroads had the following images: an affluent Jewish capitalist with the yellow star of King David, a political prisoner with a red triangle, a criminal with a green triangle and a purple, black and blue triangle representing: religions, homosexuals, saboteurs and deserters.

Lastly, was "Gouzloff Werke", which represented factory installations. These factories were next to the thick woods by the station and on the other side of the train tracks. Gouzloff was a German capitalist or industralist and a major shareholder in the company."

To be continued ...

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Day 56A

After having just finished blogging my Dad's memoirs, I logged onto facebook and liked this quote posted today, by the Dalai Lama;

"Peace has a great deal to do with warm-heartedness and respect for the lives of others, avoiding doing them harm and regarding their lives as being as precious as our own.

If on that basis, we can also be of help to others, so much the better".

Day 55 - Leaving Auschwitz for Buchenwald!

"We noticed the smaller and cozier looking goods wagons in which we started entering now with S.S. all around us - they appeared to be in a jovial mood.  The insides of the wagons were whitewashed and spread all over with disinfectant.  There was also newly made, wooden latrines, neatly constructed and painted light blue.  Ample rations of bread were available to us in the form of what looked like a long and consistent loaf, lots of water and lots of room to sit and lay down.

Our fellow comrades left behind were considered to be too sick to come with us.  Over two hundred were now going to get the "proper treatment" and we all knew what that meant!  Of course, we would never hear of them again! They were very likely, very quickly, all made to join the throngs in the gas and crematorium queues.  In fact, probably right at this moment, as I am talking to you!

We were told that they would be hospitalized - that is something we didn't ever see in the camp, for sure, a hospital.  Soon the oils, fat and ashes of our comrades would be mixed Arian and Semite and used for the same purposes, then to fertilization, of no difference or consequence but as a handy use for the living in an unadulterated form.

We were thinking gravely now, speaking for myself and others we had never seen mass grave pits while we were there but they were there just like everything else - we would hear about it in a similar camp.

The only thing the S.S. didn't have to do now was to use too many bullets to tire their arms.  To them and their helpers, conscious or not of all that was happening, with their mind set and the continuous, drummed indoctrination the events happening were probably similar to a butcher slaughtering animals and that's all it probably felt like for them.  For us, it had all become a daily routine and for the time being we all had to accept that unless some force could change it.

There were gallows and injections but we didn't see that either.  Like myself and others, you have got to believe that it all happened and then make logical deductions from the facts and the whole picture.  If one thing was there then the other things had to be told by the survivors.

I believe that the horror that we witnessed was mostly produced by a variety of multiple actions.  The inflicting of pain and suffering in this super-imposed hatred campaign, worthy of a deep primitive background was perpetuated with a ferocity common, at that time, to the Nazi's.  It was made to be so painful and quickly executed for speed's sake, the pattern plus the revenge.

Finally, our lanky S.S. announced the usual, rehearsed, "Bon Voyage", we felt very apprehensive as the wagons were softly closed.  Off we went onto the next voyage into the unknown.  Glad to be still alive on the eleventh day since our arrival in Auschwitz".

To be continued ...

Monday, 26 March 2012

Day 54 - "Tell the World", Please!

"We were given better bunks than our Jewish inmates.  We were also given one blanket and running though the centre of our barracks was a heated floor constructed with bricks - it looked like an ancient Roman drain.  We also had more drips of water than in Compiegne but nevertheless our accommodation was cold and spartan.  On a regular basis, the same food/brew was brought to us in barrels carried by their Hebrew slaves.

During morning and evening roll call we were made to watch how they mistreated our Jewish inmates who stood opposite and a bit further along from us.  On one occasion, we saw the Commandant, Mengele and also his beautiful camp companion about fifty yards away.  It was a show for our benefit!  With whips in their hands they gave orders to Capa prisoners or supervisors to beat up fellow prisoners - they would point out some made-up disorderly conduct issue that they imagined to be fit for punishment with a horse whip.

They told one prisoner to lay down and expose his back.  They then beat him up and gave him a final last kick to indicate that he should join the ranks again.  This was the order of the day the other prisoners told us.

We were now at the eleventh day, doing nothing and not knowing what would happen to us. We had a weekend over with and were still alive. We suddenly heard music from some sort of band floating on a feeble wind - it was the music for the marching to the gas chambers by the old stables. We came to know this from other inmates.

More and more of us became very sick, very ill actually, maybe from the drinking of the dirty water and maybe other diseases were starting to take their toll. We also heard shooting further away, we couldn't see too much as we were kept well away from the scene. 

I couldn't actually tell you whether we had been at the stables exactly either but we thought we had been somewhere in that area when we first arrived.  So, even being there in the camp we found ourselves always in doubt at any given moment.

We were then told we were due for transport and when the moment came we were led out to the other side of the camp. There we saw more crematoriums with gas chambers which we hadn't seen before.  All in all there must have been five chimneys.

As we turned the corner we saw some Jewish girls near their own circled fence.A bit further away were lots of Jewish children playing like on any other school ground or playing fields.  They even started throwing bread to us and speaking in French saying they came from Lille, northern France.

Somehow, somebody put the question to them, "What do you think will  happen to you?"  In unison, they looked at the crematoriums and chimneys and pointed to them and said, "That's where we are going soon", shaking their heads up and down in one accord, they knew and had no doubts, even smiling in a sure way well aware of the short time that they had left to live.  We looked more frightened and worried than them  - as anybody would have.

We were shouted at to move on and quickly they cried to us hanging on with their little hands on the fence, "Tell the world, please, what happened to us".
Again, tears streamed down our faces, to what use!  We rubbed our hands over our faces and took off now moved by force, departing with drooping heads.

We arrived at the rail tracks at what looked like the construction of the inside of a station.  There were lots of Jewish labourers working as slaves looking at us with vacant eyes.  They were on their six month reprieve, still working or labouring away whilst barely alive. This was still in the camp, one can just imagine the enormous size of it all.  

Of course, selfish humans that we were, we were pleased to get away from there with the feeling of being given a hard green apple and then probably getting an apple less green later for being such good boys.

A lanky officer asked us if we were Arians and now told us that we were going to work in the most organized camp in Germany, namely, Buchenwald"!

To be continued ...

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Day 53 - Just us and Nothingness!

Recently, got back from a vacation in San Diego, Australia and Hawaii so back to blogging my Dad's story!

"Later in the evening we had our first glimpse of the new arrivals who came in two big transports similar to what ours had been.  In great haste, men, women and children all Jews from Hungary were placed in the barracks opposite to us.  The Eichman program had started on the Reichs declaration of the final solution - which was direct and total dissemination with no pause at all!

The fires were waiting and stoked to the full for all the human fat, hair and ashes. Everything had a use in the camp!

We were put in our barracks again, safely out of view, with a 24 hour guard.  Not the slightest movement was allowed not even a quick peek near the doors was permitted - many of our deceased inmates had learned their lesson the hard way and therefore nobody disobeyed the rules now!

All though the night we heard shuffling, muffled cries and weeping, interrupted by the shouting of the S.S. here and there.  Death itself was among us, it was  walking the perimeter in whatever form or shape you may wish to imagine. It was all around us, you could hear it, think it, and feel it, almost see it, mostly by using your senses just like animals.

Death was ever present that night, just like a thick, dirty bog full of skeletons and there was the ever present stench of human flesh.  Already the column for mass slaughter was being moved towards the fires, an endless ribbon of human misery and tragedy.

At last, after an uneasy sleep, in which nightmares were unnecessary as reality was even worse! Our guards left, their mission completed and now they walked out into the sunlight and we followed them into the blinding sunlight and "Oh my God"! we looked at the chimney stacks - they were smoking! 

The stacks were belching big fires close to the top.  The smoke, driven by the wind, rose high into the sky and then tailed off into a thick, fat, oily looking,  ball-like formation.  The shape then curled off in one direction, spreading far out over the damp landscape and dissipated into nothingness.

This is what had become of the people we had heard during the night.  All that remained were ashes.  Believe me, this time there were tears in our eyes! In our incapacity and feeling complete desolation we stood there watching and there was nothing we could do about it - not even one grey uniform to be seen around us now, just us!

We stood there clenched fists, lost in our own thoughts, hopeless.  We looked at the empty billets and again a terrible feeling of desolation swept over us! No life at all, not the slightest sign, absolutely nothing, just us!

On the double gates of the barracks were big boards on which notices were posted indicating that there had been cholera and typhus fumigations, the great lie, and so what, we knew that the Jewish Hungarians had come in alive.  The notices were for our benefit to make us believe that we had imagined things and had not seen or heard anything.

It is beyond me how this action could be explained away like that by the S.S.  They must have been half mad themselves to go though with such a procedure!  It aggravates ones thinking of "justice", when one has witnessed a massacre of such magnitude and injustice.

We have failed abysmally, we are not capable of running things right, the wisdom is awfully lacking if what we witnessed was made possible!

We were now moving away from this gory sight, always moving further inside the camp but separate from the Jewish sections which we could see all around us.

We still had about 30 Jewish people hidden among us, nobody had squealed or showed they noticed". 

To be continued ...

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Day 52 - Good Day!

Will start blogging again on March 27 - am half way though my Dad's memoirs - have lots more material for future blogs.   Have a great day! Keep good and happy!  Paula

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Day 51 - Sullen Sheep

Suddenly, our camp had come alive!  There was a lot of movement and the short, snappy noises of shooting, mostly pistol shots were heard from all over and especially from the direction between the barracks.

Some of our group chose to explore a bit further and they didn't return apart from one who came back to  us with wild staring eyes.  He told us that the S.S. were placing infants and babies on chairs and shooting them non-stop.  I don't think we could envisage anything any worse anymore.  Our feeling and emotions at this time were of utter disbelief and non-comprehension.  Because of this I was determined to make a last stand.  When I looked around I could find no similar response from my fellow prisoners.  What was the matter with them I thought, they were not like comrades in arms at all, they were just like sullen sheep to become shot or put to the sword.