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Friday, January 26, 2018

On January 27, 1945, the Soviet Army liberated Auschwitz

On this date (January 27) in 1945, the Soviet Army liberated Auschwitz (wiki). Below are two documentaries (one short, one full length) and links to a few articles. Do the world a favor and educate your kids and grandkids about this - the schools don't do much with it anymore.

Auschwitz, also known as Auschwitz-Birkenau, opened in 1940 and was the largest of the Nazi concentration and death camps (wiki). Located in southern Poland, Auschwitz initially served as a detention center for political prisoners. However, it evolved into a network of camps where Jewish people and other perceived enemies of the Nazi state were exterminated, often in gas chambers, or used as slave labor. Some prisoners were also subjected to barbaric medical experiments led by Josef Mengele (1911-79). During World War II (1939-45), more than 1 million people, by some accounts, lost their lives at Auschwitz. In January 1945, with the Soviet army approaching, Nazi officials ordered the camp abandoned and sent an estimated 60,000 prisoners on a forced march to other locations. When the Soviets entered Auschwitz, they found thousands of emaciated detainees and piles of corpses left behind.

How do you describe the sorting out on arriving at Auschwitz, the separation of children who see a father or mother going away, never to be seen again? How do you express the dumb grief of a little girl and the endless lines of women, children, and rabbis being driven across the Polish or Ukrainian landscapes to their deaths? No, I can't do it. And because I'm a writer and a teacher, I don't understand how Europe's most cultured nation could have done that. For these men who killed with submachine-guns in the Ukraine were university graduates. Afterwards they would go home and read a poem by Heine. So what happened?

~  Elie Wiesel (wiki) (b. 1928) (quoted in Le Monde, Paris, 4 June 1987)

Further reading:

I highly recommend the 2015 KL: A History of the Nazi Concentration Camps (KL is the Nazi abbreviation of Konzentrationslager, or concentration camp) by Nikolaus Wachsmann.

For an exhaustive and comprehensive account of the Third Reich that explores in depth the questions raised by Elie Wiesel above, read Richard J. Evans' masterful three-volume history, completed in 2009 with The Third Reich at War

Disturbing content warning for these videos:

A short documentary about the liberation:

CONTENT WARNING: This longer (21 minute) documentary
"contains all of the film footage of Auschwitz which was filmed by Soviet camermen between January 27 and February 28, 1945, shortly after the camp was liberated.
In the interest of preserving the original character of the material, even the most shocking pictures have been left unedited, and neither sound nor music has been added."

Related posts and links:

Tales from Auschwitz: survivor stories

Powerful Portraits Of Auschwitz Survivors Mark Anniversary Of Their Liberation.

Auschwitz Survivor Gena Turgel Walked Out of Gas Chamber Alive.

Spielberg highlights anniversary of Auschwitz liberation.

1 comment:

  1. "Hitler will emerge from the hatred that surrounds him now as one of the most significant figures who ever lived.. He had in him the stuff of which legends are made." (John F. Kennedy)

    "I have killed many Mexicans; I do not know how many, for frequently I did not count them. Some of them were not worth counting. It has been a long time since then, but still I have no love for the Mexicans. With me they were always treacherous and malicious." (Geronimo)

    "I have been just as furious as you at the compilation of lies which the communist and Semitic elements of our government have leveled against me and practically every other commander. In my opinion it is a deliberate attempt to alienate the soldier vote from the commanders, because the communists know that soldiers are not communistic, and they fear what eleven million votes (of veterans) would do." (George Patton)

    "The Jewish doctrine of Marxism rejects the aristocratic principle of Nature and replaces the eternal privilege of power and strength by the mass of numbers and their dead weight." (Adolf Hitler)

    "Among the many misdeeds of the British rule in India, history will look upon the act of depriving a whole nation of arms as the blackest." (Mahatma Ghandi)