• Darkest page in the history of mankind

    Holocaust or Shoah

    Told by those who were there...

In honor of the victims of WWII

The genocide of the European Jews

The Holocaust, also known as the Shoah, was a genocide of the European Jews during World War II. Between 1941 and 1945, across German-occupied Europe, Nazi Germany and its collaborators systematically murdered some six million Jews, around two-thirds of Europe's Jewish population.
The murders on the Jewish population were first carried out by so called "Einsatzgruppen" or Death squads during pogroms and mass shootings (also know as the Holocaust by bullets) throughout Eastern Europe. Under the direction of Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler and the supervision of SS-Obergruppenführer Reinhard Heydrich, the Einsatzgruppen operated in territories occupied by the Wehrmacht (German armed forces) following the invasion of Poland in September 1939 and the invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941.

Himmler found that the killing methods used by the Einsatzgruppen became inefficient: they were costly, demoralising for the troops, and sometimes did not kill the victims quickly enough. Many of the troops found the massacres to be difficult if not impossible to perform. Some of the perpetrators suffered physical and mental health problems, and many turned to alcohol. Therfor they came up with a industrial way of killing through concentration- and death or extermination camps such as Auschwitz, Bełżec, Chełmno, Majdanek, Sobibór, and Treblinka which were located in occupied Poland.

So far 4 stories have been listed. More to come.

The list is layed out up in such a way that the stories that are on top are the new or updated stories.

Wannsee Conference

The Wannsee Conference was a meeting of senior government officials of Nazi Germany and Schutzstaffel (SS) leaders, held in the Berlin suburb of Wannsee on 20 January 1942. The purpose of the conference, called by the director of the Reich Main Security Office SS-Obergruppenführer Reinhard Heydrich, was to ensure the co-operation of administrative leaders of various government departments in the implementation of the Final solution to the Jewish question, whereby most of the Jews of German-occupied Europe would be deported to occupied Poland and murdered. Conference participants included representatives from several government ministries, including state secretaries from the Foreign Office, the justice, interior, and state ministries, and representatives from the SS. In the course of the meeting, Heydrich outlined how European Jews would be rounded up and sent to extermination camps in the General Government (the occupied part of Poland), where they would be killed.
  • Wannsee Conference

    The villa Am Großen Wannsee 56–58, is now a memorial and museum.
  • Wannsee Conference

    Chart showing racial classifications under the Nuremberg Laws
  • Wannsee Conference

    Letter from Heydrich to Martin Luther, Undersecretary at the Foreign Office, notifying him that the conference would be delayed.
  • Wannsee Conference

    Reinhard Tristan Eugen Heydrich (7 March 1904 – 4 June 1942)
  • Wannsee Conference

    Otto Adolf Eichmann (19 March 1906 – 1 June 1962)

Discrimination against Jews began immediately after the Nazi seizure of power on 30 January 1933. Violence and economic pressure were used by the Nazi regime to encourage Jews to voluntarily leave the country. After the invasion of Poland in September 1939, the extermination of European Jewry began, and the killings continued and accelerated after the invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941. On 31 July 1941, Hermann Göring gave written authorization to Heydrich to prepare and submit a plan for a "total solution of the Jewish question" in territories under German control and to coordinate the participation of all involved government organisations. At the Wannsee Conference, Heydrich emphasised that once the deportation process was complete, the fate of the deportees would become an internal matter under the purview of the SS. A secondary goal was to arrive at a definition of who was Jewish.

At the conclusion of the meeting Heydrich gave Eichmann firm instructions about what was to appear in the minutes. They were not to be verbatim: Eichmann ensured that nothing too explicit appeared in them. He said at his trial: "How shall I put it – certain over-plain talk and jargon expressions had to be rendered into office language by me".

Eichmann condensed his records into a document outlining the purpose of the meeting and the intentions of the regime moving forward. He stated at his trial that it was personally edited by Heydrich, and thus reflected the message he intended the participants to take away from the meeting. Copies of the minutes (known from the German word for "minutes" as the "Wannsee Protocol") were sent by Eichmann to all the participants after the meeting.

Most of these copies were destroyed at the end of the war as participants and other officials sought to cover their tracks. It was not until 1947 that Luther's copy (number 16 out of 30 copies prepared) was found by Robert Kempner, a U.S. prosecutor in the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg, in files that had been seized from the German Foreign Office.

A Star of David, often yellow, was used by the Nazis during the Holocaust to identify Jews.

The SS-Totenkopfverbände was the organization responsible for administering the Nazi concentration camps and extermination camps for Nazi Germany. Among others, the annihilation of the Jews and other so called "Enemies of the Reich"

-.01 Wertkmarke from Mittelbau-Dora Concentration Camp.

From my private collection.

"For evil to flourish, it only requires good men to do nothing."

Simon Wiesenthal

Nazi concentration camp badge

Beginning in 1937, the SS created a system of tagging prisoners in concentration camps. Sewn onto uniforms, the color-coded badges identified the reason for an individual’s incarceration, with some variation among camps. The Nazis used this chart (in the right bar) as prisoner markings in the Dachau concentration camp. Shape was chosen by analogy with the common triangular road hazard signs in Germany that denote warnings to motorists. Here, a triangle is called inverted because its base is up while one of its angles points down.

Nazi concentration camp badges, primarily triangles, were part of the system of identification in German camps. They were used in the concentration camps in the German-occupied countries to identify the reason the prisoners had been placed there. The triangles were made of fabric and were sewn on jackets and trousers of the prisoners.

These mandatory badges of shame had specific meanings indicated by their colour and shape. Such emblems helped guards assign tasks to the detainees. For example, a guard at a glance could see if someone were a convicted criminal (green patch) and thus likely of a tough temperament suitable for kapo duty.

Someone with an escape suspect mark usually would not be assigned to work squads operating outside the camp fence. Someone wearing an F could be called upon to help translate guards' spoken instructions to a trainload of new arrivals from France. Some historical monuments quote the badge-imagery, with the use of a triangle being a sort of visual shorthand to symbolize all camp victims.

The system of badges varied between the camps and in the later stages of World War II the use of badges dwindled in some camps and became increasingly accidental in others. The following description is based on the badge coding system used before and during the early stages of the war in the Dachau concentration camp, which had one of the more elaborate coding systems.

Red triangle was for "political" prisoners.

Transit camp Westerbork (The Netherlands)

Established by the Dutch government in the summer of 1939, Camp Westerbork was meant to serve as a refugee camp for Jews who had illegally entered the Netherlands. Camp Westerbork was utilized as a staging ground for the deportation of Jews. Only one-half square kilometer (119 acres) in area, the camp was not built for the purpose of industrial murder as were Nazi extermination camps. Westerbork was considered by Nazi standards as “humane”. Jewish inmates with families were housed in 200 interconnected cottages that contained two rooms, a toilet, a hot plate for cooking, and a small yard. Single inmates were placed in oblong barracks which contained a bathroom for each sex.

Transport trains arrived at Westerbork every Tuesday from July 1942 to September 1944, and deported an estimated 97.776 Jews during the period. Jewish inmates were deported in waves to Auschwitz concentration camp (65 train-loads totaling 60.330 people), Sobibor (19 train-loads; 34.313 people), Theresienstadt ghetto, and Bergen-Belsen concentration camp (9 train-loads; 4.894 people). Almost all of the 94.643 persons deported to Auschwitz and Sobibor in German-occupied Poland were killed upon arrival.

Camp Westerbork also had a school, orchestra, hairdresser, and even restaurants designed by SS officials to give inmates a false sense of hope for survival and to aid in avoiding problems during transportation. Cultural activities provided by the Nazis for designated deportees included metalwork, jobs in health services, and other cultural activities. A special, separate work cadre of 2.000 “permanent” Jewish inmates was used as a camp labor force. Within this group was a sub-group constituting a camp police force which was required to assist with transports and keep order. The SS actually had very little to do with selecting transferees; this job fell to another class of inmates that made up a sort of security service. Most of these 2.000 "permanent" inmates were eventually sent to concentration or death camps themselves.
Westerbork camp "vouchers"

Transit Camp Westerbork

One the plaques of the transport trains...

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