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The Holocaust was the systematic annihilation of six million Jews by the Nazis during World War 2. In 1933 approximately nine million Jews lived in the 21 countries of Europe that would be occupied by Nazi Germany during the war. By 1945 two out of every three European Jews had been killed.

But Jews were not the only group singled out for persecution by Hitler’s Nazi regime. As many as one-half million Gypsies, at least 250,000 mentally or physically disabled persons, and more than three million Soviet prisoners-of-war also fell victim to Nazi genocide. Jehovah’s Witnesses, homosexuals, Social Democrats, Communists, partisans, trade unionists, Polish intelligentsia and other undesirables were also victims of the hate and aggression carried out by the Nazis.

The number of children killed during the Holocaust is not fathomable and full statistics for the tragic fate of children who died will never be known. Some estimates range as high as 1.5 million murdered children. This figure includes more than 1.2 million Jewish children, tens of thousands of Gypsy children and thousands of institutionalized handicapped children.

The world outside Nazi Europe received numerous press reports in the 1930s about the persecution of Jews. By 1942 the governments of the United States and Great Britain had confirmed reports about the Final Solution - Germany's intent to kill all the Jews of Europe. However, influenced by anti-Semitism and fear of a massive influx of refugees, neither country modified their refugee politics. No specific attempts to stop or slow the genocide were made until mounting pressure eventually forced the United States to undertake limited rescue efforts in 1944.

In Europe, rampant anti-Semitism
incited citizens of many German-occupied countries to collaborate with the Nazis in their genocidal policies. There were, however, individuals and groups in every occupied nation who, at great personal risk, helped hide those targeted by the Nazis.

One nation, Denmark, saved most of its Jews in a nighttime rescue operation in 1943 in which Jews were ferried in fishing boats to safety in neutral Sweden.




Holocaust Deaths:

Country/Region

Estimate

Germany (1938 Borders)

130,000

Austria

65,000

Belgium & Luxembourg

29,000

Bulgaria

7,000

Czechoslovakia

277,000

France

83,000

Greece

65,000

Hungary & Ukraine

402,000

Italy

8,000

Netherlands

106,000

Norway

760

Poland & USSR

4,565,000

Romania

220,000

Yugoslavia

60,000

TOTAL

6,017,760


Source:
Nizkor Project statistics derived from Yad Vashem and Fleming, Hitler and the Final Solution.

 

 



Testimony of Hans Stark, registrar of new arrivals in the death camp Auschwitz. Quoted in The Good Old Days - E. Klee, W. Dressen, V. Riess, The Free Press, NY, 1988, p. 255:

"At another, later gassing - also in autumn 1941- Grabner ordered me to pour Zyklon B into the opening because only one medical orderly had shown up. During a gassing Zyklon B had to be poured through both openings of the gas-chamber room at the same time. This gassing was also a transport of 200-250 Jews, once again men, women and children.

As the Zyklon B - as already mentioned - was in granular form, it trickled down over the people as it was being poured in. They then started to cry out terribly for they now knew what was happening to them. I did not look through the opening because it had to be closed as soon as the Zyklon B had been poured in. After a few minutes there was silence. After some time had passed, it may have been ten to fifteen minutes, the gas chamber was opened. The dead lay higgledy-piggedly all over the place. It was a dreadful sight."



Testimony of SS private Hoeblinger. Extracted from Der Auschwitz Prozess by Hermann Langbein, Vol. I. Quoted in Auschwitz: Technique and operation of the gas chambers - J.C Pressac, the Beate Klarsfeld Foundation, NY, 1989, p. 174:

"I was detailed to the transport service and I drove the Sanka which was to carry the prisoners .. Then we drove to the gas chambers. The medical orderlies climbed a ladder, they had gas masks up there, and emptied the cans. I was able to observe the prisoners while they were undressing. It always proceeded quietly and without them suspecting anything. It happened very quickly ..."


 

Testimony of SS private Boeck. Extracted from Der Auschwitz Prozess by Hermann Langbein, Vol. I. Quoted in Auschwitz: Technique and operation of the gas chambers - J.C Pressac, the Beate Klarsfeld Foundation, NY, 1989, p. 181:

"Q: were you present at a gassing operation one day?

A: Yes, it was one evening. I accompanied the driver Hoeblinger. A transport had arrived from Holland and the prisoners had to jump from the wagons. They were well-off Jews. There were women with Persian furs. They arrived by express train. The trucks were already there, with wooden steps before them, and the people climbed aboard. Then they all started off. In the place Birkenau once stood, there was only a long farmhouse (Bunker 2) and beside it four or five big huts. Inside, the people were standing on clothes which were building up on the floor. The block leader and the sergeant, carrying a cane, were there. Hoeblinger said to me 'lets go over there now'. There was a sign 'to disinfection'. He said 'you see, they are bringing children now'. They opened the door, threw the children in and closed the door. There was a terrible cry. A member of the SS climbed on the roof. The people went on crying for about ten minutes. Then the prisoners opened the doors. Everything was in disorder and contorted. Heat was given off. The bodies were loaded on a rough wagon and taken to a ditch. The next batch were already undressing in the huts. After that I didn't look at my wife for four weeks."


 

Testimony of SS-Unterscharführer Perry Broad, describing gassing in Krema I in Auschwitz. Quoted in KL Auschwitz as Seen by the SS, p. 176:

" The disinfectors were at work. One of them was SS-Unterscharführer Teuer, decorated with the Cross of War Merit. With a chisel and a hammer they opened a few innocuously looking tins which bore the inscription "Cyclon, to be used against vermin. Attention, poison! to be opened by trained personnel only!". The tins were filled to the brim with blue granules the size of peas. Immediately after opening the tins, their contents was thrown into the holes which were then quickly covered.

Meanwhile Grabner gave a sign to the driver of a lorry, which had stopped close to the crematorium. The driver started the motor and its deafening noise was louder than the death cries of the hundreds of people inside, being gassed to death."

 

Testimony of SS-Unterscharführer Schluch in the Belzec-Oberhauser trial. Quoted in Belzec, Sobibor, Treblinka - the Operation Reinhard Death Camps, Indiana University Press - Yitzhak Arad, 1987, p. 70-71:

"After leaving the undressing barracks, I had to show the Jews the way to the gas chambers. I believe that when I showed the Jews the way they were convinced that they were really going to the baths. After the Jews entered the gas chambers, the doors were closed by Hackenholt himself or by the Ukrainians subordinated to him. Then Hackenholt switched on the engine which supplied the gas ...

I could see that the lips and tips of the noses were a bluish color. Some of them had their closed, other's eyes rolled. The bodies were dragged out of the gas chambers and inspected by a dentist, who removed finger rings and gold teeth ..."

 

Testimony of SS-Oberscharführer Kurt Bolender in the Belzec-Oberhauser trial. Quoted in Belzec, Sobibor, Treblinka - the Operation Reinhard Death Camps, Indiana University Press - Yitzhak Arad, 1987, p. 76:

"Before the Jews undressed, Oberscharführer Michel made a speech to them. On these occasions, he used to wear a white coat to give the impression that he was a physician. Michel announced to the Jews that they would be sent to work, but before this they would have to take baths and undergo disinfection so as to prevent the spread of diseases ... After undressing, the Jews were taken through the so-called Schlauch. They were led to the gas chambers not by the Germans but by the Ukrainians ...

After the Jews entered the gas chambers, the Ukrainians closed the doors. The motor which supplied the gas was switched on by a Ukrainian named Emil and by a German driver called Erich Bauer from Berlin. After the gassing, the door were opened and the corpses removed ..."

 

Testimony of SS-Untersturmführer Oberhauser on the death camp at Belzec. Quoted in The Good Old Days - E. Klee, W. Dressen, V. Riess, The Free Press, NY, 1988., p. 228-230:

"The camp of Belzec was situated north-east of the Tomaszow to Lemberg road beyond the village of Belzec. As the camp needed a siding for the arriving transports the camp was built about 400 meters from Belzec station. The camp itself was divided into two sections: section 1 and section 2. The siding led directly from Belzec station into section 2 of the camp, in which the undressing barracks as well as the gas installations and the burial field were situated ...

The gassing of Jews which took place in Belzec camp up till 1 August 1942 can be divided into two phases. During the first series of experiments there were two to three transports consisting of four to six freight cars each holding twenty to forty persons. On the average 150 Jews were delivered and killed per transport. At that stage the gassings were not yet part of a systematic eradication action but were carried out to test and study closely the camp's capacity and the technical problems involved in carrying out a gassing ...

At the beginning of May 1942 SS-Oberführer Brack from the Führer's chancellery suddenly came to Lublin. With Globocnik he discussed resuming the extermination of the Jews. Globocnik said he had too few people to carry out this program. Brack stated that the euthanasia program had stopped and that the people from T4 would from now on be detailed to him on a regular basis so that the decisions taken at the Wannsee conference could be implemented. As it appeared that it would not be possible for the Einsatzgruppen to clear individual areas of Jews and the people in the large ghettos of Warsaw and Lemberg by shooting them, the decision had been taken to set up two further extermination camps which would be ready by 1 August 1942, namely Treblinka and Sobibor. The large-scale extermination program was due to start on 1 August 1942.

About a week after Brack had come to Globocnik, Wirth and his staff returned to Belzec. The second series of experiments went on until 1 August 1942. During this period a total of five to six transports (as far as I am aware) consisting of five to seven freight cars containing thirty to forty people came to Belzec. The Jews from two of these transports were gassed in the small chamber, but then Wirth had the gas huts pulled down and built a massive new building with a much larger capacity. It was here that the Jews from the rest of the transport were gassed.

During the first experiments and the first set of transports in the second series of experiments bottled gas was still used for gassing; however, for the last transports of the second series of experiments the Jews were killed with the exhaust gases from a tank or lorry engine which was operated by Hackenholt."

 

Testimony of Treblinka's second commandant, Franz Stangl. Quoted in Belzec, Sobibor, Treblinka - the Operation Reinhard Death Camps. Indiana University Press - Yitzhak Arad, 1987, p. 184:

"Michel told me later that Wirth suddenly appeared, looked around on the gas chambers on which they were still working, and said: 'right, we'll try it out right now with those twenty-five working Jews. Get them up here'. They marched our twenty-five Jews up there and just pushed them in and gassed them. Michel said Wirth behaved like a lunatic, hitting at his own staff with his whip to drive them on ..."

 

Testimony of Willi Mentz about Treblinka. Quoted in The Good Old Days - E. Klee, W. Dressen, V. Riess, The Free Press, NY, 1988, p. 245-247:

"When I came to Treblinka the camp commandant was a doctor named Dr. Eberl. He was very ambitious. It was said that he ordered more transports than could be "processed" in the camp. That meant that trains had to wait outside the camp because the occupants of the previous transport had not yet all been killed. At the time it was very hot and as a result of the long wait inside the transport trains in the intense heat many people died. At the time whole mountains of bodies lay on the platform. The Hauptsturmführer Christian Wirth came to Treblinka and kicked up a terrific row. And then one day Dr. Eberl was no longer there ...

For about two months I worked in the upper section of the camp and then after Eberl had gone everything in the camp was reorganized. The two parts of the camp were separated by barbed wire fences. Pine branches were used so that you could not see through the fences. The same thing was done along the route from the "transfer" area to the gas chambers ...

Finally, new and larger gas chambers were built. I think that there were now five or six larger gas chambers. I cannot say exactly how many people these large gas chambers held. If the small gas chambers could hold 80-100 people, the large ones could probably hold twice that number ...

Following the arrival of a transport, six to eight cars would be shunted into the camp, coming to a halt at the platform there. The commandant, his deputy Franz, Kuettner and Stadie or Maetzig would be here waiting as the transport came in. Further SS members were also present to supervise the unloading: for example, Genz and Belitz had to make absolutely sure that there was no one left in the car after the occupants had been ordered to get out.

When the Jews had got off, Stadie or Maetzig would have a short word with them. They were told something to the effect that they were a resettlement transport, that they would be given a bath and that they would receive new clothes. They were also instructed to maintain quiet and discipline. They would continue their journey the following day.

Then the transports were taken off to the so-called "transfer" area. The women had to undress in huts and the men out in the open. The women were than led through a passageway, known as the "tube", to the gas chambers. On the way they had to pass a hut where they had to hand in their jewelry and valuables ..."

 

Testimony of Kurt Franz on Treblinka. Quoted in The Good Old Days - E. Klee, W. Dressen, V. Riess, The Free Press, NY, 1988., p. 247-249:

"I cannot say how many Jews in total were gassed in Treblinka. On average each day a large train arrived. Sometimes there were even two. This however was not so common.

In Treblinka I was commander of the Ukrainian guard unit as I had been in Belzec. In Treblinka as in Belzec the unit consisted of sixty to eighty men. The Ukrainians' main task was to man the guard posts around the camp perimeter. After the uprising in August 1943 I ran the camp more or less single-handedly for a month; however, during that period no gassings were undertaken.

It was during that period that the original camp was demolished. Everything was leveled off off and lupines were planted ..."

 

Testimony of SS Oberscharführer Heinrich Matthes about Treblinka. Quoted in Belzec, Sobibor, Treblinka - the Operation Reinhard Death Camps. Indiana University Press - Yitzhak Arad, 1987, p. 121:

"During the entire time I was in Treblinka, I served in the upper camp. The upper camp was that part of Treblinka with the gas chambers, where the Jews were killed and their corpses laid in large pits and later burned.

About fourteen Germans carried out services in the upper camp. There were two Ukrainians permanently in the upper camp. One of them was called Nikolai, the other was a short man, I don't remember his name ... These two Ukrainians who lived in the upper camp served in the gas chambers. They also took care of the engine room when Fritz Schmidt was absent. Usually this Schmidt was in charge of the engine room. In my opinion, as a civilian he was either a mechanic or a driver ...

All together, six gas chambers were active. According to my estimate, about 300 people could enter each gas chamber. The people went into the gas chamber without resistance. Those who were at the end, the Ukrainian guards had to push inside. I personally saw how the Ukrainians pushed the people with their rifle butts ...

The gas chambers were closed for about thirty minutes. Then Schmidt stopped the gassing, and the two Ukrainians who were in the engine room opened the gas chambers from the other side."

 

Testimony of SS Scharführer Erich Fuchs, in the Sobibor-Bolender trial, Dusseldorf. Quoted in Belzec, Sobibor, Treblinka - the Operation Reinhard Death Camps. Indiana University Press - Yitzhak Arad, 1987, p. 31-32:

"We unloaded the motor. It was a heavy Russian benzene engine, at least 200 horsepower. We installed the engine on a concrete foundation and set up the connection between the exhaust and the tube.

I then tested the motor. It did not work. I was able to repair the ignition and the valves, and the motor finally started running. The chemist, who I knew from Belzec, entered the gas chamber with measuring instruments to test the concentration of the gas.

Following this, a gassing experiment was carried out. If my memory serves me right, about thirty to forty women were gassed in one gas chamber. The Jewish women were forced to undress in an open place close to the gas chamber, and were driven into the gas chamber by the above mentioned SS members and the Ukrainian auxiliaries. when the women were shut up in the gas chamber I and Bolender set the motor in motion.

The motor functioned first in neutral. Both of us stood by the motor and switched from "Neutral" to "Cell", so that the gas was conveyed to the chamber. At the suggestion of the chemist, I fixed the motor on a definite speed so that it was unnecessary henceforth to press on the gas. About ten minutes later the thirty to forty women were dead."

 

 

   

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