Why wasn't the Holocaust stopped?
Holocaust - The lie of the unsuspecting Germans
There is a place in Germany that immediately arouses controversy, immediately arouses rejection or feelings of guilt, a place that one might assume that everyone knows: Auschwitz. But every fifth young person between the ages of 14 and 17 has never heard of it. That's one part of reality. The other: Many of those who definitely knew something about the extermination of the roughly six million Jews and the deadly terror against other minorities claim to this day that they have not heard of it at the time. Auschwitz was far away, somewhere in the east. But here, too, the reality is different. Most of the people were not killed in Auschwitz, but in one of the many other camps. There were thousands of them in Germany too. So the murder also happened in the neighborhood.
The concentration camp in Neuengamme near Hamburg, the site of a bestial crime almost sixty years ago. The Nazis murdered over 50,000 people here, right next to the village. Wladimir Ostapenko, a survivor of Neuengamme concentration camp, remembers: "Every cloud from the crematorium is a human life. The smoke came out there around the clock, 24 hours. Of course the people of Neuengamme saw that. There was always a farmer who came fetched the ashes from the crematorium as fertilizer. "
The village at the concentration camp, still very rural, as it was then. The mass murder happened right behind the gardens. We meet a resident who can hardly remember: "Yes, as a child, you suppressed that, as a child you forget it again."
The former concentration camp today: part of it is a memorial, the rest is still used as a prison. Neuengammer farmers also find the old concentration camp posts very practical. Many do not want to know what happened here earlier. There are photos of the Neuengammers going for a walk in the concentration camp on Sundays, also with prams. So they could see what became apparent to the world after the war. But the horror was not limited to the concentration camp. Every day prisoners ran through Dort Neuengamme to do forced labor on the Elbe. Not all of them came back alive in the evening.
Herbert Schemmel, another survivor of Neuengamme concentration camp, reports: "When Elbe 1 moved in in the evening, the people of Neuengamme knew exactly how many corpses they brought in on wheelbarrows, or on the front of their hands and back of their feet, two men carried it next dead person then in there, in the column there. They saw that, this narrow thoroughfare through Neuengamme there, this long street. "
But the repression persists to this day. Many want to remain silent. Like some of the residents we interviewed.
Displacement also in Hersbruck near Nuremberg. The concentration camp was located directly behind the swimming pool fence. Alfred Nerlich, a survivor of the Hersbruck concentration camp, says: "I was in the Hersbruck concentration camp on block 20. If you looked over at the fence, you saw them, went in, took a bath. The changing rooms were here."
While the Hersbruckers splashed around, the Nazis murdered behind the changing rooms, sometimes fifty people in a day. In total, they killed over 4,000 people.
While filming at the concentration camp, an older Hersbrucker is interested in our research:
Local resident: "What are you doing here? Certainly not good as I look at you."
Local resident: "Yes, if I am to judge you that way, the whole question and the formulation of the whole matter."
Interviewer: "Do you know that many thousands of people died here?"
Local residents: "People died elsewhere, not just here. Ask some who were in Russia, they will tell you where the people died and where they are. Not just here."
The Hersbruck concentration camp prisoners had to go into the tunnels every day. Often they died doing this work - from exhaustion. The survivors then had to carry the bodies. The footpath back to the concentration camp led right through the town of Hersbruck. So also Alfred Nerlich, who is also of the opinion that the citizens of Hersbruck should also have seen that at the time.
We ask - along the death route from back then. Again nobody wants to have known anything. Displacement, not just in Hersbruck. There were thirty concentration camps and extermination camps in Germany, plus 1,300 satellite camps. Another 2,300 camps, such as labor education camps and extermination camps for the disabled. The camps for slave labor are not on this map: another 20,000. Almost 24,000 warehouses in total. So many Germans were neighbors and say today: We didn't know anything.
The American professor Prof. Robert Gellately has now refuted the lie about the unsuspecting Germans. After years of research in German archives, he published a book: "Backing Hitler", in German for example: Support for Hitler. The book author: "The Germans should know about the concentration camps. The regime hoped for approval not despite the concentration camps, but precisely because of the concentration camps."
Gellately also evaluated the press from back then. The concentration camps were not hidden here, but presented in photo reports. There was even an open day in Dachau.
Gellately explains: "The residents of the concentration camps, for example in Dachau, were proud of their concentration camp. The headline of a local newspaper says that the concentration camp was the turning point for Dachau's business world."
And then again and again: reports about concentration camps. They were extremely popular - for fighting alleged criminals. The Nazis by no means hid mass killings in the 1930s. Executions often took place in the middle of the town, like in Cologne, so that more people could watch. And some Germans asked for even more deaths - for whatever reason.
Gellately knows: "There were demands for the death penalty. Some even offered themselves as honorary executioners. In war, for example, it was often about: What to do with women who had sex with Poles? The locals wanted to hang them right away. But Hitler and Himmler didn't want to hear about it. "
The persecution of the Jews was not only ordered from above. Henny Brenner, a Holocaust survivor, grew up in Dresden and had to wear the Jewish star at the time. Her nightmare was not just the Nazis, but normal Germans: "Whole school classes ran after them: Jewish pig, Jewish pig, look. There was a woman on Bosbergstrasse - I can show you the corner - always waiting for me, regularly, and spat at me: Get off the sidewalk. " Many others felt like her. Most of them did not survive the wickedness of their fellow citizens.
Wurzburg. The Canadian Gellately did research there, in one of the last surviving archives of the Gestapo, the central apparatus of repression of the Nazis. Herbert Schott from the Würzburg State Archives reports: "Before the Canadian Gellately there was no German scientist here who specifically looked for informers or something similar in the Gestapo files."
We want to know from him why there is so little interest among the Germans. Schott: "It was assumed that it was a small group of perpetrators who were responsible for the crimes in the Third Reich. But you probably didn't want to see the informers either. That would give you yourself, your people, your ancestors, your own Families, perhaps, brought complicity themselves. "
Gellately found many accomplices: countless informers from among the population. Employees denounced their bosses, husbands denounced their wives. And neighbors denounced anyone who wasn't stuffy enough. The Gestapo found only twelve percent of its victims itself.
Schott: "The Gestapo had relatively few employees and no informal employees like the Stasi later in the GDR, that is: without informers from outside, they would have been completely powerless if they hadn't been able to do anything."
One case of many: Ilse Sonja Totzke, a music student. She was denounced 15 times by neighbors - to the Secret State Police. She is ".... suspected of espionage ..." because she speaks French well. Another complains that she has "....... no normal disposition (and is) hostile to men". Another neighbor complains that she "... sleeps until midday".
Totzke is summoned and warned by the Gestapo. But no arrest yet. A dear neighbor comes up with something new: "I want to say in advance that Totzke never returns the German greeting. In contrast, she has always sympathized for France and also for Jews."
Schott quotes: "'I noticed the named because it has a Jewish touch.' Or a little later: 'Now and then a lady comes around 36 years old who looks like a Jew.' Such accusations were also made, of a completely unfounded nature. Ms. Totzke was not Jewish. " But in the end she was also killed for helping Jews.
Gellately: "Sometimes the population was more radical than the Nazis. There were so many denunciations that in the end the Gestapo couldn't keep up."
Hitler's willing helpers did not act only for political reasons. Many Germans promoted the extermination of the Jews out of selfish interests. This is also the case in Hamburg. Ships with so-called "Judenkisten", the stolen belongings of the deported Jews, came in here every day. A shopping frenzy broke out at the harbor. Over 100,000 Hamburgers took part in the robbery. Everyone was afraid of falling short in the bargain hunt. After a wave of deportations, a Hamburg resident wrote to the Gestapo: "I would like to inquire whether some of the furniture can be purchased."
Gertrud Seydelmann, a contemporary witness, remembers: "If I knew you a little better and what attitude you had, I told you: Look, I'm not going there. 'This is blood money, this is household effects from evacuated Jews, that is sheer theft, with the use of force. ' And then they looked a little puzzled, but they continued to wear their coats. "
Racial madness and mass murder. Many still assert today: We didn't know anything. The truth is another Gellately knows: "The Germans knew a lot, they knew it very early, and they learned a lot more than we might sometimes think."
So there is no more evasion - a painful realization for some. The German edition of Robert Gellately's book will be available from the Deutsche Verlagsanstalt from the beginning of next year. It will force a difficult discussion on many.
Literature on the subject:
Robert Gellately: Backing Hitler
Oxford University Press, 2001
February 2002 at the Deutsche Verlagsanstalt (DVA)
Contact: [email protected]
Robert Gellately: The Gestapo and German Society. The Enforcement of Racial Policy 1933-1945
Henny Brenner: "The song is over" - A Jewish fate in Dresden
Pendo, Zurich, 2001
Frank Bajohr: 'Aryanization' in Hamburg
Christians Verlag, Hamburg 1997
Wolfgang Dreßen: Subject: 'Action 3' - Germans exploit Jewish neighbors
Aufbau-Verlag, Berlin 1998
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