Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
kick it off

A true account of the holocaust.

Recommended Posts

Really good to see that we sent the academy kids (U14s) to Auschwitz this week to learn about the horrors of the holocaust - Great initiative from the Premier League and vitally important. https://www.pinkun.com/norwich-city/premier-league-holocaust-educational-trust-canaries-visit-poland-1-6488220

I deliberated for a while before sharing this but felt it's important to do so.

My grandfather was a Polish Catholic and was incarcerated in Mauthausen for 2.5 years - He was selected by the Nazis as one of 5 people in his village who had the skills to organise a rebellion and they were pre-emptively put on trial and sentenced to imprisonment as political prisoners. He was the manager of the biggest employer in the village, a dairy farm so had the experience of organising and directing people. They put him on trial with the dentist, the doctor, the teacher and the solicitor from the village, accused of the crime of "breeding cattle that would attack Germans but not Poles". They were convicted on the testimony of a solitary witness, a girl from the farm with severe learning difficulties, whose testimony was obviously coerced and scripted.

The 5 made a pact to survive Mauthausen. During his time in the camp, my grandfather had a nail hammered through his stomach, survived Tuberculosis with no treatment (if you were too ill to work, you were stripped, hosed down and left outside to freeze to death) amongst various other atrocities. Mauthausen was nicknamed "The bone mill" by the Nazis and although Auschwitz has a far higher number of victims, Mauthausen had a reputation for being the cruellest camp of the 20. There was 16 hours forced labour every day, much of it in the stone quarry where you would cut 30KG blocks of stone, transport them on your back up 100+ steps to the top of the hill, and then go back down for the next one. Whilst the prisoners were doing this, the guards would be taking pot-shots and murdering prisoners who weren't working hard enough, or even just at random.

Mauthausen had gas chambers which killed about 36,000 and was also the home of Aribert Heim, the camp doctor who was number 3 on the FBI's most wanted war criminals list after the war finished. Aribert Heim was on par with Mengele, and conducted experiments by selecting prisoners at random and injecting their hearts with petrol, orange juice or various other solutions and timing how long it took them to die. He conducted operations for no medical reason, with no anaesthetic, removing organs and leaving patients to die on the table. When the Americans liberated the camp on 5th May 1945 they found his office decorated with human skulls, lampshades and cushion covers made of human skin and various other "trophies" of his victims.

2 days before the Nazis fled Mauthausen, they took everyone to a cave in the quarry and tried to blow it up. The Poles in the camp had caught wind of this plot and sabotaged it leading to a standoff, and then everyone being taken back to the camp. The Kapos (prisoners who helped the Nazis in return for priveleges and were equally as cruel as the guards) did not get to flee with the SS as the Americans approached. They were torn limb from limb, by hand by the other prisoners.

Over 190,000 people walked through the gates of Mauthausen. Only 90,000 came back out alive. Amongst those 90,000 was my grandfather and all 4 others he had been convicted with. They fulfilled their pact. The dentist died 2 weeks after Mauthausen was liberated.

My grandfather was one of 8 siblings. His father and one of his brothers had been killed 6 days after the Nazis invaded Poland. The resistance in the village had blown up a car with 3 SS officers in it. The Nazis didn't know who was responsible, so they made a show of force by taking 11 innocent men at random for each german officer. 33 men in total were taken to the town square, made to dig their own graves and then executed. Another of my grandfathers brothers suffered a similar fate, although he actually was part of the resistance and was caught. Another brother was in the Polish army and was massacred at Katyn by the Soviets. All the women had been repeatedly raped and abused by the end of the war.

So of the 5 boys (plus their dad), my grandfather and his brother were the only 2 to survive. His brother was never spoken to again by the family and although nobody really speaks of it, there seems to be an implication that the reason for his exile was because he was a collaborator.

This is the story of my family, but it is just one family that was torn apart by the holocaust. There were 11 million victims in total. It is largely remembered as part of the Jewish history, because 6 million victims were Jewish but there were 5 million more victims of the holocaust were murdered for their political beliefs, their sexuality, being disabled or simply no reason at all.

I realise this is a few days after Holocaust Memorial Day, because I deliberated on sharing, but I don't necessarily think that this is just something we should remember on one day and forget about for the rest of the year. Equally it is not the only genocide in history, and the point of HMD is not just about the victims who died at the hands of the Nazis but also about the 3 million murdered by the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia 30 years later, and the 800,000 massacred in Rwanda for being born into the wrong tribe in the early 1990s and the 500,000 plus who have been victims of the ongoing genocide in Darfur and countless other atrocities. The point of HMD is to come together as a global community and say NEVER AGAIN. That doesn't need one day in the calendar, it needs people to stand up and speak out against all forms of intolerance and inhumanity, wherever they occur.

"The road to Auschwitz was built by hate, but paved with apathy" - Ian Kershaw.


Edited by kick it off
  • Thanks 2

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks, KIO. You're right that there have been other genocides, but the Holocaust seems at one and the same time uniquely terrible but also uplifting, because of the stories of survival against all odds and the selfless sacrifices people made.

Kershaw talks about apathy, but - sadly - there was also willing collusion in the occupied countries, such as France, to make the Holocaust happen.

With one odd exception. There were more Jews alive in Bulgaria at the end of the war than before because the people simply said they would not allow any deportations to the death camps.

  • Like 1

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

My paternal Grandfather was a Russian Jew who, luckily, came to this country before the Revolution. He married a Catholic so the Jewish faith was not followed as they male cannot, but we still carry the Jewish surname.

The Holocaust remains the worst genocide in my opinion because something could have been done to prevent it, before the outbreak of war. Others such as Mao's and Pol Pots were difficult to know let alone prevent.

But lets not assume that the Holocaust was the beginning of Anti Semitism. As I said about my Grandfather, he lived in Russia where the Jews of the country and those before and after the revolution as Russia absorbed conquered territories, were murdered and persecuted long before the Nazis.

Does it stem from the belief that they sacrificed their saviour for Barrabas? Or just the image always perceived of Fagin like usurers? Just the word Jew is used to describe non Jews as something unpleasant.

My next door neighbour, now dead, was an Austrian whose Father was in the SS. And despite knowing our name, 60 years after the war ended, still would talk about "the filthy Jews" and how her father looked splendid in his uniform.

Why is this anti Semitic hatred still  pervasive among young people who may have never met a Jew?

I have no brief for Israel. I have visited the country and did not like the people I met, and do not like their use of the Holocaust, to in turn, treat their neighbours with contempt. But that is a Country not a Nation. 

  • Like 2

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for sharing. It is imperative that these stories are not forgotten no matter how hard they are to read, hear or watch. 

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

  • Create New...