The Jewish Holocaust
In 1933, darkness fell over Germany. The Nazi Party had come to power in a nation that for years had been the scene of street brawls, rallies filled with hatred, racist attacks and loud calls for war. Hitler, the Nazis' leader, had won the highest vote in the election and been declared chancellor. He was soon to become Germany's undisputed dictator.
The 13 difficult years from 1933 to 1945 brought ever-increasing savagery. The Nazis began by killing their political opponents, then set about murdering all those innocent handicapped and the mentally ill, whom they saw as being "harmful" according to their twisted theories of eugenics. They began oppressing and torturing Jews and other minorities living in Germany and then, in 1939, turned it into mass killings. The Nazis killed 11 million people in their terrible concentration camps, which turned into genocide machines where technology was systematically employed to sadistically murder babies, the elderly and the sick. Throughout the World War II, which the Nazis began for the sake of their sick ideology, they carried out countless mass killings in the countries they occupied, particularly in eastern nations whose members they perceived as belonging to "inferior races." A total of 55 million people died during that war, at least 30 million of them were innocent civilians killed by the Nazis. In short, between 1933 and 1945 the world was a place of hitherto unseen savagery.
All of mankind has a responsibility to ensure that such murders and genocide never happen again, and that such sick ideas are never again allowed to spread. It is therefore essential that the Nazi barbarities be remembered everywhere in the world, at every available opportunity, that their innocent victims not be forgotten and, of course, that the stupidity and rottenness of the concepts that gave rise to that savagery be fully exposed—as we shall be doing in this chapter.
Nazi Ideology and Its Enemies
The Nazi Party was founded and grew in the 1920s, during which period Hitler and the other senior Nazis came to prominence. Yet the party's ideology definitely had a number of influential predecessors.
The deception of racism was Nazism's basic teaching. Its whole ideology rested on the premise of the superiority of the German race, which was threatened by "inferior races," and in order for that threat to be eliminated, a racist formula needed to be applied. The source of that ideology, in turn, was a 19th-century invention known as "social Darwinism"—nothing other than Darwin's theory of evolution applied to the social sciences. In The Origin of Species, published in 1859, and The Descent of Man, published in 1871, Darwin suggested that living things developed as the result of a "racial struggle," and that nature made strong races superior to others. Darwin rejected the existence of any divine order and harmony in nature, instead advancing the lie that all living things and races were in a constant state of conflict. He also maintained the irrational and illogical idea that the white race, being superior to all others, would soon wipe them off the face of the Earth. Certain circles duly supported that idea for their own ideological reasons, despite the lack of any scientific proof.
Social Darwinism's perverted teachings, which regard human races as different species of animals, consider the use of the tooth-and-claw force seen among animals as entirely legitimate among human beings
In Europe, Darwin's theory led to a sudden resurgence of racism among some intellectual circles, who were generally opposed to people living by religious moral values. The British thinker Herbert Spencer adopted Darwin's theory—which had been expressed in more strictly biological terms—to the social sciences, thus giving rise to "social Darwinism." The most ardent supporters of this mistaken idea were the French writer Arthur Gobineau, widely regarded as the father of modern racism, and the British writer Houston Stewart Chamberlain, who took Gobineau's racist theories to an even higher level of fanaticism. Despite his being a British subject, Chamberlain was a great admirer of all things German. Also an avowed enemy of the Jews, he maintained the deception that the white Aryan race of Indo-European origin was superior to the Middle Eastern Semitic peoples such as Jews and Arabs. He hated the people of Israel, and saw them as inferior to the Germans' pagan ancestors.
Chamberlain died in 1927, but on his death bed, he had a famous visitor: Adolf Hitler, who had formulated his Nazi ideology under the influence of the mistaken ideas of Chamberlain and of similar social-Darwinist ideologues. He took the title of his book Mein Kampf, in which he set out his racist views, from social Darwinism's thesis of "the fight between the races." In Hitler's wicked logic, all of world history had shaped itself around the German race:
1) He believed in the lie that the German race was physically, mentally and culturally superior to all others, and held the idea that the Semitic and Slavic races were particularly inferior. In his view, the German race needed more room to live, which it needed to acquire by eliminating the Semitic and Slavic peoples to the east of Germany—Jews, Poles, and Russians, among others.
2) Hitler attached great importance to the "purity" of the German race. In his perverse thinking, he thought that to maintain that so-called purity, physical precautions were essential (by preventing Germans from marrying people from other races), as well as cultural ones (all "non-German" ideas and beliefs had to be destroyed).
3) His concept of racial purity included such inhumane acts as "improving" the German race, as if it were a breed of animal. To that end, people suffering from inherited diseases needed to be weeded out of society.
4) The destruction of "non-German ideas" meant, in effect, the elimination of all thoughts and beliefs that failed to conform to Nazi ideology. According to the Nazis' beliefs, devout Christians, liberals and members of other religious sects were elements that needed to be disposed of.
Thus the ruthless, racist ideology of social Darwinism gave birth to the worst genocide and slaughter the world had ever seen.
In the following pages, we shall examine the innocent victims of Nazi savagery—first the Jews, the Nazis' main target, and then those other victims of "forgotten genocides," whose sufferings were no less than those of the Jews, but have been largely ignored.
The Footsteps of the Jewish Holocaust
Children in Hitler's Germany were brought up with anti-Semitic teachings. Above: Children learning anti-Jewish slogans.
The Nazis systematically repressed those sections of society they regarded as enemies. At the top of their list came the Jews, whom Nazi ideology described as "the source of all evils in the world."
Even before they came to power, the Nazis' street gangs, known as the SA storm-troopers, had already staged attacks on Jewish homes and businesses. Once the Nazis came to power, the SA lost all restraint. An elderly Jew walking on the street or a little Jewish child going to school could easily be assaulted by the SA and other Nazi gangs. That same year, the Nazis initiated a boycott aimed at Jewish shops and businesses. All over Germany went up posters portraying Jews as terrible and ugly monsters, and carrying slogans reading, "Don't buy Jewish goods." In September that same year, a law was passed prohibiting Jews from owning land. In November, Jews were banned from being newspaper editors.
Further laws were passed in 1934, excluding Jews from trade unions and health insurance, and banning them from working as lawyers or judges. In 1935, all Jews were expelled from the army.
Under the Nürnberg Laws of 1935, Jews were no longer able to work in many areas of German society. Jews were prohibited from marrying Germans. In 1937, Jews were no longer permitted to be teachers, doctors or dentists, on the pretext that "They will physically or spiritually poison the German people." In November that year, the anti-Semitic film The Eternal Jew began to be shown in cinemas all over Germany.
In schools, teachers warned their students of the so-called "Jewish menace." During lessons, Jews were insulted and maligned. The quotation below is a thought-provoking reflection of how Germany's society was brainwashed:
Mr. Birgmann's 7th form is very lively today. The teacher is talking about the Jews. Mr. Birgmann has drawn a number of shapes on the board, and everyone finds these unbelievably fascinating. Mr. Birgmann looks at his watch? "It is mid-day, children. We must now sum up what we have learnt. What were we last speaking about?"
Everyone puts their hand up, and Mr. Birgmann nods to Karl Scholtz, who is sitting in the front row.
"We were learning how to recognise Jews."
"Excellent! Can you tell us a bit more?"
Little Karl rises to his feet and points to the shapes on the blackboard: "It is easy to recognise Jews by their noses. Their noses look like a number '6,' and are called a 'Jewish six.' Some people who are not Jews have big noses, but theirs point upwards, not down. Such noses are called 'hooked' or 'eagle.' They are nothing like Jewish noses."
"Well done!" says the teacher. "Richard, come up and tell us more about how to recognise Jews."
The blond, cheerful Richard approaches the blackboard. "You can tell a Jew by his movements and behaviour. Jews always nod their heads forward. They also have a funny way of walking. They waddle. They move their hands when they talk. They have odd voices, as if they are talking through their noses. They have a nasty, sweet smell. You can always tell a Jew if you have a good sense of smell."
The teacher was quite satisfied.
"There you are, children. Watch out! If you remember all that when you leave school, the Jews will never be able to take you in!"
He turns the blackboard round, and one of the students reads out the poem written on it:
The Devil talks to us
From the face of a Jew.
Let us be free of the Jews,
Who are a plague in every land.
Let us be happy and joyful again.
All young people must fight.
These devils are deceitful!107
Enmity of Jews increased rapidly in a society educated along such lines. Every Nazi act of repression against the Jews met with society's approval. 1938 saw all Jewish-owned goods, property and money being registered, and new sanctions being imposed.
The Fasanenstrasse Synagogue, one of the hundreds of synagogues demolished during Kristallnacht, when Jewish homes and shops were looted.
A new chapter in the oppression of the Jews opened on the night of November 9-10, 1938. The incidents were sparked off on November 7, when a 17-year-old Jewish Pole, Herschel Grynszpan, whose family the Nazis had mistreated, shot an official at the German Embassy in Paris. The Nazis used the incident as an act of provocation, and staged attacks on Jewish places of worship, houses and businesses all over Germany.
In one single night, 1,350 synagogues were destroyed. More than 90 Jews were killed, and some 30,000 were sent to concentration camps. 7,000 Jewish businesses were looted, and thousands of homes damaged. That night was called "Kristallnacht" (Night of Broken Glass) because of all the windows smashed in the looted buildings. The German government then managed to hold the Jews responsible for all that had gone on, and raised the amazing sum of 1 billion marks from Jews to pay for all the glass that had been broken.
In the wake of Kristallnacht, the oppression increased. When Germany united with Austria in 1938, some 200,000 Austrian Jews continued living in fear along with the 55,000 or so living in Germany. Yet the real savagery started with the outbreak of the war.
The War Years and the Start of the Genocide
On March 15, 1936, Nazi armies invaded Czechoslovakia. On September 1, they invaded Poland. Great Britain and France declared war, and World War II had begun. The invasion of Poland brought a new dimension to the twisted Nazi ideas known as "the Jewish problem." That part of the country under German occupation (the rest was occupied by the Soviet Union) contained more than 1 million Jews. Successive decrees published by the Nazis confined these Jews to ghettoes, or in newly built concentration camps. All Jews were ordered to wear yellow stars of David on their clothes so they could be immediately identified.
Jews in Nazi Germany were forced to sew this symbol onto their clothing, proclaiming their Jewish identity.
Reinhard Heydrich, head of the Gestapo, gave orders for death squads known as SS Einsatzgruppen (SS Special Action Units) to search out Jews in the occupied territories. Death or worse awaited Jews in the ghettoes and the camps.
Toward the autumn of 1940, the Nazi armies occupied Denmark, Norway, France, Belgium, Holland, Luxembourg, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia and Greece. In addition to Italy and Japan—which had already formed an alliance with Germany—Hungary, Romania and Slovakia also declared themselves allies of Germany. The Nazi armies' largest invasion was of the Soviet Union, which began on June 22, 1941. Within 12 weeks, the Germans had taken Kiev, and a month later had approached the outskirts of Moscow.
To sum up, in the first two years of the World War II, Hitler or his allies had captured most of the continent of Europe, from the French coast to Moscow, from Denmark to Greece. Shortly before their collapse in 1945, the Nazis initiated a ruthless genocide campaign in all their occupied regions. First Jews in particular and then—as we shall see—other ethnic and religious groups began to be systematically wiped out. Even after 1944, when it had become clear that Germany would lose the war, the Nazis continued their genocide. During that final stage of the conflict, in fact, the elimination of the Jews—and also of gypsies, Poles and Slavs, all members of the so-called "inferior race"—became the Nazis' principal aim. Hitler knew that he would lose the war, but wanted to eliminate all the Jews first. This genocide had several main "areas of implementation:"
1) Ghettoes: These open-air prisons where Jews were kept were used to kill by degrees.
2) Concentration camps were first established as places where Jews and others were kept as "slave laborers." In early 1942, however, the mass extermination of detainees began. A total of 11 million people (5.5 million Jews, 500,000 gypsies, 3 million Poles, 400,000 handicapped and hundreds of thousands of Russian, Slav and other prisoners of war) were systematically exterminated in these camps.
3) Mass killings in occupied regions: Special German Army units, and particularly the SS Einsatzgruppen responsible for "finding and killing Jews," executed civilians in a great many places.
Life and Death in the Ghettoes
The largest of the ghettoes was that in Warsaw.
Before the Nazis' arrival, Jews made up approximately a third of Warsaw's 1 million inhabitants. Following the Nazi occupation, Jews were transferred in from other areas, increasing their numbers from 330,000 to 450,000. But the Nazis crammed this huge number into a walled area that represented only 2.3 percent of the city. The poorest district was set aside for the Jews, and Jewish residents from all the other parts of the city were moved there forcibly. Before they were put inside, all their money and valuables were taken from them.
Life in the ghetto went on under terrible conditions. An average of seven families were crammed into one room. Very little food was given, and everyone lived on the edge of starvation. The buildings were crawling with rodents and insects. Every day, those living in the ghetto could be subjected to slaps, mockery and abuse from the Nazis, who made elderly Jews so weakened that they could barely walk wash the streets with soap and water and laughed at their suffering. People living in the ghettoes were beaten at random, and the Nazis would merrily yank the beards and ringlets of the elderly, which they let grow as a religious obligation. An average of 100 people a day died from hunger, sickness or maltreatment. The photographs of wretched children in the Warsaw ghetto clearly reveal the suffering of these innocents.
Jews who took part in the 1943 Warsaw Ghetto uprising were all put to death en masse. These Jews were murdered shortly after leaving the ghetto. Jews rounded up in the camps were stripped of everything they possessed, including their money .
The memories of one Jew who lived in the Warsaw ghetto reveal the true situation in the city:
The oppression began as soon as the Germans entered the city, with the killing of 34 innocent Jews. The German SS were just looking for excuses to kill Jews. The SS asked a gentile where the Jews were living. He indicated Itzhak Goldfliess' house. The SS entered my friend's house and killed his parents, wife and two children. On the first Sabbath of the occupation, the Germans rounded up all the Jews and ordered them to dig a long, wide ditch in the city centre. They were then told to go home, put their Sabbath clothes on and come back. To the great surprise of everyone, the Jews were then made to line up in that filthy trench. They were made to spend a whole day in it, which was full of sewage. The Germans beat them with sticks, and sometimes allowed the Ukrainians to attack them with sticks and pieces of wood. Whenever anyone tried to get out of the ditch, they would be beaten by German SS officers or Ukrainian civilians and made to get back in.108
Hundreds of thousands of innocent Jews were slaughtered in the Warsaw Ghetto, a place of starvation and poverty.
In 1942, some 300,000 people from the ghetto died, some from hunger and disease, others in the concentration camps where they were sent. In April 1943, some of the 60,000 or so Jews remaining in the ghetto began a doomed uprising. Even though they had almost no weapons, they fought the Nazis for exactly three weeks. In the end, the Nazis regained control and killed all the Jews they could find. Of the original 500,000 in the ghetto, only a handful of Jews remained alive.
In other ghettos set up by the Nazis, hundreds of thousands of Jews were killed after suffering fear, terrible starvation, and torture.
In 1943, the last Jews remaining in the Warsaw Ghetto initiated an uprising against Nazi oppression, which the Nazis suppressed with terrible bloodshed.
"Final Solution": Setting Up the Concentration Camps
At the beginning of 1942, Hitler and his staff decided on a "Final Solution" to the Jewish problem. That meant the systematic extermination of all Jews, and leaving not one Jew alive in territory controlled by the Nazis.
The Nazis carried out mass slaughters in nearly all the lands they occupied.
In accordance with that decision, the concentration camps were turned into extermination camps. Starting with the Jews in Germany, Jews from all the countries occupied by the Nazis began to be transferred to those camps by SS units specially assigned to the task. The official story was that the camps were to employ them as workers. But when they arrived, most were killed at once, and the rest later, after having been used as forced labor.
Even the process of transporting the Jews to the camps reveals the inhuman cruelty the Nazis inflicted. Jewish families were rounded up from their homes or the ghettos at gunpoint, with blows and abuse, and crammed into railway cars that had earlier carried animals or goods. Photographs of the time clearly show the terror on the faces of those forced onto the trains, and the hatred on the faces of the Nazis screaming orders at them. Small children, elderly men barely able to walk and pregnant women were all ruthlessly dragged about with kicks, guns and even whips.
One Jew who escaped the genocide reveals the horror of the transfer process:
They rounded us up at nine in the morning. When we arrived at Chortkow, it was evening. We had spent the whole day walking in the snow, hungry and with no rest at all. Everyone was dropping from fatigue.
Then they took us to the prison. There we had to pass in front of a SS officer and Ukrainian police officers. Every one had a stick in his hand and was just waiting to hit a Jewish head. There were about 80 of them, and it took a long time for a Jew to pass in front of 80 people, being beaten all the time. I was black and blue and covered in blood by the time I was thrown into my cell. Did the Germans want to kill us, or were they just enjoying themselves?
After that incident, I was squeezed into a tiny cell containing 60 other people. There was no room to sit or lie down. We had to remain standing, crammed together, dripping with blood, hungry, thirsty and in pain …
We were sure they would take us out in the morning and give us something to eat. But we were mistaken. Nothing changed in the morning. We spent the whole of the second day, and even that night, standing and packed together …
Many people began to murmur the Shema Israel prayer, that is recited before death. At that moment the Germans opened the door and took us all out of the cells. Everyone was trying to move his body and breathe deeply... Later, one of the German soldiers began throwing us bits of bread, as if he were throwing food to stay dogs. People threw themselves on the bread like animals, cramming it into their mouths before anyone else could get hold of it. They had filled a trough full of water, and we all drank out of it like cattle. Just when we had started drinking, a soldier came and started beating us: "Come on, move it!" …
They made us run from the prison to the train station about a kilometre away. The Germans did what they wanted with the sticks in their hands. You could find yourself on the ground at any moment, from a blow to the back of the neck or a kick to the stomach. That is why, weak as we were, we tried to run as fast as we could. When we reached the train station, we saw cattle trucks on the line. There were no steps or ramps leading up to the doors. The SS troopers therefore beat the first arrivals and told them "Bend down! Bend down!" in order to form steps for those coming behind to use as steps and board the wagons …
When the Germans thought they had filled the wagons with enough people, they threw a few loaves of bread in and shut the doors. We heard them locking us in from the outside. At that time, we had heard nothing about the death camps of Auschwitz or Majdanek in my town. We had no idea what the "Final Solution" was. We thought the Germans wanted to use the Jews as beasts of burden. We knew nothing about their extermination plans.109
Jews expelled from their homes en masse were transported to the death camps in packed trains.
To carry detainees to the concentration camps, dozens of men, women, children and old people were packed into small freight cars, locked in without even the chance to breathe any fresh air, and left without food and water for days during the journey. Many died of hunger, thirst or being unable to breathe in those terrible conditions, of which even a few minutes would be unbearable. The others had to carry on with their journey, even though the corpses of their loved ones were lying right beside them.
One who experienced those dreadful conditions gives eyewitness details of the Nazi savagery:
The police were waving their guns about and firing into the air, forcing more people to cram themselves into the already packed wagons. The gunfire continued, and the whole crowd was pushed forward. Those nearest the train were being crushed under the unbelievable pressure from behind... There was nothing those people in the front could do about it, and they responded with painful moaning to those people who were pulling their hair and clothes for support, biting their shoulders, necks and faces, breaking bones and screaming. Despite the fact that the wagons were much fuller than their normal capacity, a few men, women and children were still able to get in. Then, the police came and closed the gates in the faces of people who were almost being squeezed back through the bars.
Before cramming 120 Jews like sardines into the cattle wagons, the Germans covered the floors with 7 cm of burning lime. That was usually used in construction work, and burned if it touched the skin. That resulted in hundreds of Jews dying before they even got to Belzec …
Before even reaching the camps, many people on the trains died, either from being crushed or suffocated.
The floor of the wagons was covered in a thick, white powder. That was burning lime. Bare skin that came into contact with it immediately dried up and burned. The people inside were literally burning to death. The flesh on their bones was melting away. The lime was meant to stop the spread of disease.
There were two buckets in each component. One contained water, the other was to be used as a toilet, if that was possible in all the pushing and shoving.110
After days of travel in such terrible conditions, the final destination was death camps such as Auschwitz, Treblinka, Majdanek and Belsen:
The Germans were shouting "Los schnell, Quick!" They were hitting us with sticks and rifles. Since there were no steps or ramps, we had to jump off the trains from a height of a metre, or a metre and a half. We tried to get up as quickly as we could in order to avoid being kicked by the German soldiers waiting there. We were starving, thirsty and weakened. Even so, we were made to run the 2 kilometres to the labour camp once the wagons had been emptied. Some people were weeping from fear, others from relief. We were so caught up we took no notice of our surroundings. When we reached the camp, the whole group fell silent. We looked and listened with great care. The whole area was unbelievably quiet. The silence of death hung over the camp in front of us.111
The Death Camps
In the camps where the worst Nazi savagery was carried out, some 11 million people lost their lives, proving how monstrous and ruthless people who turn away from religious moral values and silence the voice of their consciences can be.
They were first set up as "labor camps." Almost all, and Auschwitz in particular, were opened alongside major industrial complexes, and detainees brought there were forced to serve the German war industry as slave labor. Yet the malignant Nazi ideology did not restrict itself to that "pragmatic" oppression, but also turned them into sites for "the elimination of unwanted races." During the three years or so between the last months of 1941 and the end of 1944, a total of 11 million people, of whom 5.5 million were Jews, were killed in gas chambers and by other means, or else died of starvation, disease and mistreatment. The Nazis had not the slightest compassion for infants, innocent children, the old and wretched, the handicapped and the sick, but set about their extermination with sadistic brutality.
There is still a debate as to whether or not Zyklon B gas was used in the camps, but how these innocent people were slaughtered changes nothing. Whatever method was employed, millions of innocent people were ruthlessly put to death. Nazi savagery and the Jewish holocaust are facts. The human corpses and living skeletons observed when the camps were liberated by Allied troops are sufficient proof of the unbelievable tragedy that occurred.
The cruelty and oppression in death camps such as Auschwitz, to be found all over Europe, had seldom been equaled in history.
This genocide began when detainees set foot in the camps. The "life" considered fitting for these people was actually a slow death. In his memoirs, one Jewish prisoner who survived the Kamionka camp describes the "living standards":
In the Belsen camp, some 10,000 unburied bodies were found.
When I walked through the camp gates, I saw some terrible sights. German soldiers were watching us from the towers with machine guns in their hands. Everyone inside, up to 50 Russians, 100 Poles and maybe 1,000 Jews, were all in a terrible condition. Everyone wore a 5 x 5 cm piece of cloth. Those of the Russians and Poles were red, and the Jews' ones yellow. They were all so emaciated, they were half dead. They wandered about the filthy garden as if sleep-walking.
With most of them, their bodies were still alive, but their souls were dead. Our group halted at the entrance. There was a tall German soldier in front of us. He kept watching us. He cleared his throat before addressing us: "Hand over your watches, valuables and jewelry! You will be shot at once if anything is found on you." Looking at his filthy face and powerful weapon, I realized I had no alternative but to comply. I took my watch off, and as I was looking for loose change in my pockets, the Germans began slapping us, or hitting us in the stomach with their sticks. They never stopped that sadistic form of entertainment …
That first night, we were taken to the barracks after drinking a mug of "soup." It is hard to describe the wretchedness of that place. It had actually been built for animals, and the only concession made for human beings was that unfinished bunk-beds of two to three rows had been added. The wind came in through cracks in the walls. Everywhere was jumping with fleas, and they were all over us within a few days! I soon got used to living with them. Even though they carried typhus, the fleas were of little importance compared to the other problems in the camp …
After being awoken at five, they gave us two minutes to get dressed. Anyone who was not ready was beaten. Once everybody was ready, we could join the queue for a mug of coffee. Actually, what they called water was just a disgusting hot water. They gave us a slice of bread, too. A hard, stale bread, made of flour and sand that was difficult to eat... Since that was all we were given to eat all day, some people concealed part of their bread for "lunch," although others were unable to resist, and ate it all at once. I used to keep part back for the rest of the day. I knew that we would be worked all day, that all my physical strength would go, and that my hunger would get even worse.112
In the death camps, Josef Mengele (right) performed barbaric experiments on people he selected as guinea pigs (left)..
In any of the other concentration camps, living standards were no different. Those forced to work were shown no pity or compassion, and lived like slaves, suffering the threats and whims of sadistic Nazi officers, worn out by hunger, exhaustion, and torture.
In some camps, even worse things were done to prisoners, such as the experiments carried out by the monster Josef Mengele, the doctor at Auschwitz, the largest camp, where some 1.5 million people were killed. Mengele performed terrible experiments on adult and children "guinea pigs" chosen from among the prisoners, to see how much pain or cold the human body could withstand. People were forced into water full of chunks of ice on freezing winter days, to see how long they could survive. Mengele is also known to have carried out surgical operations with no anesthetic, amputating his subjects' arms and legs and opening their abdomens.
Mengele's cruelest experiments were those performed on twins who arrived at the camp. He used to separate them from the other prisoners, and perform unbelievably ghastly experiments on them to estimate the effects of inherited features. He injected twins with each others' blood and measured the effects, as one or both would generally suffer terrible pains and high temperatures. Mengele wanted to determine whether inherited eye color could be altered or not, and injected ink into twins' eyes. Almost all of them suffered terribly, and many went blind. Small children were injected with various diseases, to see how long they could survive. Many innocent children were tortured by Mengele, and were left crippled or dead.
The dreadful barbarity in the camps came to light only at the end of the war when the Allies defeated the Nazis and took control of the areas containing the camps. The British, American and Soviet units were shocked by the sights that greeted them. One record from the British unit that liberated the Bergen-Belsen camp reads:
This is the famous Belsen concentration camp,
liberated by the British on April 15, 1945.
10,000 unburied corpses were found here.
13,000 people died between then and now.
They were all victims of the German "New Order" in Europe,
And each one an example of Nazi culture.
Einsatzgruppen: The Nazi Death Squads
Apart from the ghettoes and the concentration camps, another element of the holocaust was the Einsatzgruppen teams, or death squads set up by Reinhard Heydrich, head of the Gestapo, by authority Hitler gave him in the wake of the invasion of Poland. These special units moved into occupied territory behind the regular army, to seek out groups to be exterminated. The Jews headed that list. After Poland, Einsatzgruppen teams conducted house-to-house searches for Jews in occupied Soviet territory, and executed anyone they found, making no exceptions for women or children.
The "success rates" sent by Einsatzgruppen commanders to Berlin reveal the scale of the slaughter. According to their own figures, they shot more than 1 million Jews in Nazi-occupied regions, particularly Poland and Ukraine. When it entered a town, an Einsatzgruppe (the singular form of the noun) rounded up all the Jews, then moved them all out and made them dig a huge hole that would become their mass grave. They then shot all the prisoners and threw them in. Some who were not yet dead suffocated when earth was piled on top of them.
Following the occupation of Kiev on September 19, 1941, the slaughter of the Jews there may give an idea of the barbarity that the Einsatzgruppen practiced. On September 29, they called the Jews to a cemetery in the outskirts of the city, and announced that they were to be "resettled." They were ordered to bring with them food, warm clothing, documents, money and valuables—which prevented any from realizing this was to be a massacre. A Ukrainian officer who collaborated with the Nazis and was later tried described the incident stating, "It was like a mass migration… The Jews sang religious songs on the way.” At the railroad siding their food and belongings were taken from them and:
Then the Germans began shoving the Jews into new, narrower lines. They moved very slowly. After a long walk, they came to a passageway formed by German soldiers with truncheons and police dogs. The Jews were whipped through. The dogs went at those who fell but the pressure of the surging lines behind was irresistible, and the weak and injured were trod underfoot.
Bruised and bloodied, … the Jews emerged onto a grassy clearing. They had arrived at Babi Yar; ahead of them lay the ravine. The ground was strewn with clothing. Ukrainian militiamen, supervised by Germans, ordered the Jews to undress. Those who balked, who resisted, were assaulted, their clothes ripped off… Screams and hysterical laughter filled the air.113
The first thing that German units invading Poland did was to hunt down Jews in every village, town and city.
Then the Jews were all shot, and their bodies flung into the valley. Records show that some 33,700 people were killed that day.
The executions by the Einsatzgruppen teams are generally ignored by those "revisionists" who deny that the Holocaust ever happened. They tend to focus their claims on the technical capacities of the gas chambers or on the function of Zyklon B, and ignore what went on in the ghettoes and the Einsatzgruppen's murders. Yet the very existence of such teams is sufficient to demonstrate that the Nazis planned to exterminate the Jews, and actually set about doing so. Any regime that executes innocents, even women and children, and sets up special teams to carry out those killings, is quite clearly capable of doing similar things in concentration camps.
The Nazis' Hatred of Religion
When evaluating the Jewish Holocaust, one important question begs to be asked: Why did the Nazis hate the Jews so much?
The answer lies in their wicked ideology. As pointed out in this book's introduction, Nazism can be described as an imprudent neo-pagan movement. Nazi leaders such as Hitler and Rosenberg felt great nostalgia for Germany's pre-Christian pagan culture, whose basic feature was the admiration of pride, violence and war. The moral concept of Christianity, which stressed humility, peace and compassion—was diametrically opposed to that culture. Their hatred of Christianity was born with Nietzsche, continued with his disciple Martin Heidegger, and reached a peak with Hitler and Rosenberg, who inherited their false ideas.
One natural consequence of hatred of Christianity was enmity towards Jews, because Christianity is a religion born out of Judaism, and the Nazis regarded Christianity as "the invasion of Europe by Jewish culture." The Old Testament of the Christian Bible begins with the Torah, the holy book of Judaism. Christians love and respect all the Jewish prophets; and Prophet Jesus and his disciples were ethnically Jewish. All these elements led to the Nazis viewing Christianity as "a Jewish conspiracy." In addition to that ethnic hatred, the Nazis added a social-Darwinist perspective that regarded the Jews as an inferior race, that formulated an implacably fanatical loathing.
The memoirs of Jews subjected to Nazi fanaticism contain passages that show the Nazis' "hatred of religion." The best examples are how the Nazis attacked the Jews' religious symbols, distinctive garments, and long hair and beards, which they allowed to grow out of religious belief. Members of the SS and other Nazi groups stopped many devout Jews, especially the elderly, in the streets and cut off their beards and ringlets, symbols of their faith. They burned and tore up Jewish holy books. A Jewish eyewitness described one incident in the Warsaw ghetto:
As I was returning home one afternoon, I saw a group of young men lined up along a wall with the hands in the air. What was happening? I drew a bit closer. What had those boys done? Why had the Germans lined them up in that manner?
An SS officer with black boots and a riding crop was standing there. He reminded me of a dog trainer getting his kicks from watching the suffering of the creature in front of him. Another SS man had scissors in his hand, and was trying to cut the beards of those bleeding, pain-filled faces.114
Particularly noteworthy is the following account from a Jew who worked in the concentration camps:
… We plunged our rakes into the mud, and were astonished at their weight as we tried to pull them out again. The mud dropped from between the teeth of the rakes as we approached the handcart, and very little was left. We would bend down again to get another thick bit of mud. Again very little remained by the time we got to the cart. Again and again we strained our weakened bodies. I observed my companions as we performed that disgusting, illogical and hopeless task, and a tragic scene came to my mind: The Jewish slaves who built the city of Pharaoh in Egypt …
The Nazis, hostile to religious moral values, targeted Jewish religious values in particular. Right: A Torah scroll, the sacred text of Judaism. Hundreds of scriptural texts were burned during the Nazi regime.
It is significant that some Jews who survived these atrocities compared the Nazis to Pharaoh. The Nazis' hatred of religion was actually a new example of the savagery demonstrated by many atheist despots throughout history, such as Pharaoh, Nimrod and Nero. The Nazis tried to eliminate everyone who refused to accept their ideology, particularly devout individuals including Catholics and Jehovah's Witnesses, as well as Jews. (In the pages that follow, we shall look at these in more detail.)
The account continues:
Jews condemned to death in Poland
Jews were forced to work at the edge of starvation. Their daily food intake consisted of a slice of black bread the size of a man's thumb, a small pat of margarine, and a bowl of liquid alleged to be soup. Sometime there might be a few bits of something floating on the surface. That is all they got for 24 hours.
Primitive gallows were set up. Six young men were standing on the platform. The hangman was putting the nooses around their necks. I thought I recognised two of the young men. Were they not the Spielman brothers? Yes, it was really them! This was their "lighter" punishment.
Orders for everyone to look were coming from all sides. "This is what happens to those who try to escape!" I shuddered.
One of the Spielman brothers suddenly started talking. He was defying the Nazis, and proudly looking death in the face: "You can kill us, and eliminate thousands of Jews. But you will never destroy the Jewish nation. They will survive as always…"
They then began to say the Shema Israel prayer, and were able to murmur "There is one God …" before they died.115