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Author Topic: Former Nazi testifies on Auschwitz
lagatta
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posted 18 January 2005 07:13 AM      Profile for lagatta     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
A grimly fascinating look at the "banality of evil"http://www.guardian.co.uk/secondworldwar/story/0,14058,1386675,00.html
From: Se non ora, quando? | Registered: Apr 2002  |  IP: Logged
miles
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posted 18 January 2005 08:23 AM      Profile for miles     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
lagatta thank you for posting that link. It is an amazing story. As we are about a week away from the anniversary of the liberation it could not be more timely.

Just yesterday I was talking with a survivor who told me that her greatest fear today is that once she and the other survivors have gone that the words of the deniers will be listened to more than the words of those that were there.

I can only hope that more Oskar Gröning will come forward to publish there stories to add them to those of the survivors. That way we can ensure that the world can hear the stories of those who were there and maybe just maybe that will finally shut up the deniers of the world.


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lagatta
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posted 18 January 2005 10:34 AM      Profile for lagatta     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Yes, it is a very upsetting story, because it is one of the perpetrators telling it - perhaps that is why it is so effective.

If you scroll back in time on this category, I started two other threads on related topics pertaining to the 60th anniversary of Auschwitz liberation. One was memories of survivors from different countries, another was on Music as memorial. Some countries take Auschwitz liberation day as their Holocaust Memorial Day (I know that the UK and Italy are among them). France has chosen the Vel d'Hiv roundup day - as a way of facing up to French complicity as well. I attended the 60th anniversary commemoration in Paris that summer, along with a friend who had worn a yellow star as a girl - she was not deported as her Italian-Jewish family fled to ... Italy. A nominally fascist official signed the papers transforming them into Aryans...


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miles
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posted 18 January 2005 10:40 AM      Profile for miles     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
lagatta I have read the other threads and remember well the story that you posted about the twins. It is a similar story to one that I heard as a youngster from a survivor who lived in my neighbourhood.

As far as memorial days go I remember when Ontario passed a Holocaust Memorial Day act in the mid '90s. It was introduced as a private members bill by a PC (Ted Chudleigh) and received all party support. At that time I believe it made Ontario one of the few jurisdictions outside of Israel to have a Holocaust Memorial Day recognized officially by act of law by a government.

Bills like these and acts of rememberance are important reminders to the citizenry of the world that first we must never forget the Holocaust. Second that we must do all in our power to prevent other acts of ruthless genocide.


From: vaughan | Registered: Oct 2004  |  IP: Logged
skdadl
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posted 18 January 2005 10:58 AM      Profile for skdadl     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
"It was a shock that you cannot take in at the first moment," he says. But once he had been at Auschwitz for several months, the work, he says, had become "routine". "The propaganda had for us such an effect that you assumed that to exterminate them was basically something that happened in war. And, to that extent, a feeling of sympathy or empathy didn't come up."

Chilling. And a bit of a challenge to one's faith in humanity, isn't it.

Forgetfulness is one thing, and I don't exactly believe that the memory is in danger of dying as the last survivors pass on. The testaments are too many and too eloquent, and live on in too many people of later generations already.

What frightens me is testimony to that apparently common ability of human beings, to accustom themselves to ... anything?


From: gone | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Bobolink
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posted 18 January 2005 11:09 AM      Profile for Bobolink   Author's Homepage        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Unfortunately, that is part of the human condition. Dictatorships never have a problem recruiting for the secret police.
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Bacchus
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posted 18 January 2005 12:16 PM      Profile for Bacchus     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
This is rgeat! Thanks Lagatta. I just finished reading a book about the children of Nazis (himmler, frank, borman, goering, schirach, saur) and its important that these sort of things be documented for when none of those present at the time remain.

One author I remember interviewed camp commandants and allowed them to remain hidden in order to get their stories. It was riveting


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Cougyr
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posted 18 January 2005 01:49 PM      Profile for Cougyr     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
The big disservice that we do to history is to pretend that evil doers, such as Auschwitz guards, were monsters. They were normal people responding to extraordinary circumstances. To understand Auschwitz, we have to understand it as run by normal people. The man in that article was a bank clerk. He counted money. Auschwitz operated like a dog food factory, an abbatoir, with similar problems. The Nazis kept good records. We know that the operators of Auschwitz, and other extermination camps, were consumed with the day to day tasks of operation. They routinely sent dispatches to Berlin with procurement requests for barbed wire, railway cars, trucks, cyclon-B gas, etc. This was normal.

What was not normal was that they were killing people. But once passed that leap, everything else was quite normal. We are all capable of doing evil. That's why we have to protest evil doings, even when the perpetrators are our friends, or even ourselves.


From: over the mountain | Registered: Nov 2002  |  IP: Logged
Fidel
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posted 18 January 2005 03:12 PM      Profile for Fidel     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
IG Farben made zyklon b pellets for the Nazis. I think that company splintered into Bayer, BASF and Dupont Chemicals after the war.
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Cougyr
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posted 18 January 2005 06:13 PM      Profile for Cougyr     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Fidel:
IG Farben made zyklon b pellets for the Nazis.

And Ford made German tanks, Granddaddy Bush was Hitler's banker, American oil companies sold fuel to Germany as late as 1942. It was all just business.

I think you spelled zyklon better than I.


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DrConway
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posted 18 January 2005 08:18 PM      Profile for DrConway     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Indeed. It is surprising how ordinary the man was. I think his statements are a strong testimony in favor of the (unsettling) notion that anyone, anywhere, could theoretically do something brutal or take part in it, and not think anything unusual of it because one has been so acclimatized to the concept. (Notice the rather conspicuous lack of widespread utter moral disgust over the Abu Ghraib revelations in the USA)

I'm reminded of how the people running Auschwitz could well have been engineers or technicians in an ordinary production plant, ordering materials and encountering bottlenecks of all kinds. I remember reading, years ago, a book about the Sonderkommandos in Auschwitz and other camps, and how German technicians constantly tried to figure out more efficient ways to burn bodies, both in crematoria and in open pits.

says it all, I think.


From: You shall not side with the great against the powerless. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
lagatta
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posted 18 January 2005 08:52 PM      Profile for lagatta     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Doc, on the other side, as a scientist, you should read chemist Primo Levi's account of his internment in Auschwitz , Se questo è un uomo translated in English both literally "If this is a man" (his poem by that title talks just as much about women: se questo è una donna) and the more pedestrian title "Survival in Auschwitz. Levi owed his survival to many factors: his knowledge of chemistry was among them.
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Bacchus
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posted 18 January 2005 11:16 PM      Profile for Bacchus     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
They also created Auschwitz 3 (remember auschwitz was actually camp #2, Birkenau was #1) for producing rubber and other things and they ran many other slave plants as well. And were actively involved in the running of the death camps.

IG Farben did indeed become Bayer and BASF after the war, with the original directors and board members


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al-Qa'bong
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posted 19 January 2005 12:26 AM      Profile for al-Qa'bong   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by DrConway:
Indeed. It is surprising how ordinary the man was.


I disagree.

quote:
All there is to know about Adoph Eichmann

Eyes: Medium
Hair: Medium
Weight: Medium
Height: Medium
Distinguishing Features: None
Number of fingers: Ten
Number of toes: Ten
Intelligence: Medium

What did you expect?
Talons?
Oversize incisors:
Green saliva?
Madness?


Our Leonard.


I found this passage interesting:

quote:
As Gröning began his task of counting the prisoners' money, he was told that valuables taken from Jews would not be returned. When he asked why, his colleagues replied: "Well, don't you know? That's the way it is here. Jewish transports arrive, and as far as they're not able to work, they're got rid of." Until that moment, Gröning had thought Auschwitz functioned as a "normal" concentration camp.

An SS member, working in Auschwitz, and even HE didn't know what was going on? Maybe Albert Speer was telling the truth?


From: Saskatchistan | Registered: Feb 2003  |  IP: Logged
Fidel
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posted 19 January 2005 05:37 AM      Profile for Fidel     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Oh well, I do enjoy saurkraut and sausage on a bun once in a while. Ever have a "tight Max", anyone ?.
From: Viva La Revolución | Registered: Apr 2004  |  IP: Logged
Cueball
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posted 19 January 2005 08:54 AM      Profile for Cueball   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
And Ford made German tanks, Granddaddy Bush was Hitler's banker, American oil companies sold fuel to Germany as late as 1942. It was all just business.


I had never heard that Ford made German tanks, GM made OPEL trucks, used to deliver combat soliders hither and thither, also tank transport and towing equipment. Why would the Germans want to run their tanks on a Ford engine, they had Daimler Benz after all.


From: Out from under the bridge and out for a stroll | Registered: Dec 2003  |  IP: Logged
DrConway
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posted 19 January 2005 10:21 AM      Profile for DrConway     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Probably cheaper to buy than make. Remember, the USA had large steel deposits back then and a thriving steel-works industry. The Soviets and the British both later got to appreciate the might of American industrial power when Lend-Lease came their way.

So who is to say the Germans didn't also get to appreciate it before the Pearl Harbor attack of 1941?


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nister
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posted 19 January 2005 12:04 PM      Profile for nister     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
The people of Cologne knew the huge Ford plant there was never targeted by US or British bombs. I have often wondered if the Germans were tempted to increase capacity there, or install living quarters for bomb-shelterers.
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Fidel
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posted 30 January 2005 03:56 AM      Profile for Fidel     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
At some point, Hitler ordered an expansion of the military, and particularly in the area of Panzer divisions. The Panzers were effective for the Nazis. But the big tanks were taking too long to manufacture, too much steel was going into making them. Steel and resources were needed that the Nazis were running low on as was gasoline to fuel them. They were fractioning off coal to make synthetic fuel and oil in several plants across Europe. One of those plants was located at Auschwitz.

In short, Hitler's ordering an expansion of the army was what watered down what were wickedly effective Panzer battalions with their longer range 88mm guns. The Nazis started cranking out smaller tanks with lighter armour. The ratio of light tanks to Panzers became higher, and fewer battles were won towards the end.


From: Viva La Revolución | Registered: Apr 2004  |  IP: Logged
lagatta
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posted 30 January 2005 02:07 PM      Profile for lagatta     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Here is more chilling testimony from another concentration camp guard in more recent times, a Bosnian Serb.
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the grey
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posted 30 January 2005 03:03 PM      Profile for the grey     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Read Hitler's Willing Executioners: Ordinary German's and the Holocaust by Daniel Jonah Goldhagen in second year Intro to Comparative Politics. (Don't want to think about how long ago that was.) It certainly provided some interesting insight, and I've been meaning to read through it again since.
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lagatta
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posted 30 January 2005 03:51 PM      Profile for lagatta     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Well, the folks I know who write on the Holocaust and the jolly subject of comparative genocide think Goldhagen is full of shit, obscuring the crushing of the workers' and socialist movement and making all Germans equally guilty in the Nazi judeocide. Enzo Traverso said he actually managed to write Rosa Luxemburg and the many other Jewish revolutionaries out of early 20th century German history. In other words, a neocon shit, whose anti-German prejudice is no better than any other bigotry.
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Fidel
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posted 30 January 2005 04:10 PM      Profile for Fidel     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Yes, and to do it again might only entail rounding up a few socialists, communists and Jews in laying the groundwork for another purge. Silence the voices who would speak out the loudest, and there you have it. There are things they'd rather we forget on November eleventh, for sure.
From: Viva La Revolución | Registered: Apr 2004  |  IP: Logged

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