Okay, hope everyone enjoyed the reading this time. Grab a seat and a coffee, water, or juice. Let's have some fun.
So, we have gotten into more descriptions of the "ghettos" and Auschwitz, as well as other camps and the organization of them.
Actually, in spite of sounding very ignorant about history, I didn't realize that Jewish people were classified then as Polish Jews or German Jews. I just thought that they thought Jewish was Jewish and they were all grouped together when it came to the gathering up and concentration camps.
At the ghetto, it is weird how it is said that the German Jews looked down on the Polish Jews. When they got to the "ghetto" they were not seen as being capable of surviving the conditions well, and even selling their things to the Polish Jews. To me it is very strange how, even in these ghettos, they have a class system. And I guess that is what the author strikes upon when talking about the unpredictability of people and their actions when put into certain situations. It is a shame that they, as oppressed people at the time, could not somehow come together rather than focus on their differences.
There is some discrepancy about how the architects designed the plans for Auschwitz and Birkenau. The discreptancy of Zyklon B being a plan for an increase of exterminations at Auschwitz. I just have to believe, and this is just me, that there was a plan for greater exterminations and that it just was not written into any plan or archetectural designs. What backs this up for me are Hitler's own words, "if the Jews succeed in causing world war......extermination of the Jews of Europe." Goebbels's diary substantiated it further, at least for me. I believe that there was a plan, that no matter how little, big, or to what extent, a war should break out or problem arise, then the Jews would be rounded up and exterminated. Also, to put them into camps, break them down, and starve them to death and let disease run rampant.
What else doesn't make sense, not that any of it did to me, that shootings in one location were acceptable, but unacceptable in another; and yet it provided the perfect excuse (in their eyes and minds)of senseless and ruthless killing on whims.
At the big meeting of 15 people, the biggest concern seemed to be about the problem of half Jewish persons, not the killing of people. Also, nothing seemed to be kept in writing as it was but edited several times. For trying to make it all seem like the right thing to do, they certainly were making a whole hearted attempt to cover any direct order or plan for exterminations.
Well, I will be back later to discuss more...
This should get us started and boy, it sure is getting more emotional as I read. Angry, I should say.
Post by Blossom/Jackie W. on Apr 19, 2010 18:30:31 GMT -5
WOW! Another great summation Antoinette!
I've read ahead so..... if you don't mind I've gotta go back and glance over the previous chapter...... However; in my thinking; not much has changed.... just my anger and new/acquired historical knowledge. But; that's what this book is about!
Yep, definitely incorporating more history here. But, I do believe that in this chapter, the attempts at covering up the paper trail and top down mandates for the exterminations are being discovered, or at least delved into with more depth. The descriptions that are given of the screaming during the gassings and the smells of the crematorium are so heart wrenching.
I have to agree with both of you, this book is a hard read and I do know most of the history but reading the details is very hard and makes me so angry. I think most of this information has come to light now because the privacy laws period has passed and more factual information is available. I remember Dad had said that there were constantly photographers with them 'recording' what was happening. He was in the heavy artillery in France and Germany from '39 to '45 and had to have seen alot, though he rarely spoke of it. Now to the book. I don't think there was a 'specific' plan to elemenate all the Jews, in the beginning but there was a definite hatered toward them, and a desire to 'blame' them for all the worlds ills. This way Hitlers need to provide a scapegoat to blame for the countries problems ramped up step by step, from the ill, the gypsys, the unemployable, to the Jews, to half Jews, to quarter Jews to any trace of Jewish blood. It has come out that the 'normal' German really knew that 'something terrible' was happening to the Jews, many of whom they knew and were friends with before this madness, but fed into the 'maddness' that the Jews were to blame for everything that was wrong with their lives, and thus fair game. It was interesting to read that the Soviet POWs were the first to have numbered tatoos, this was something I didn't know before, I had thought it was something that was reserved for the Jews. Another interesting tidbit was how Hitler used the Jappanese bombing of Pearl Harbor to declare that this was proof that Internationsl Jewry has orchestrated a world conflict and his prophecy in '39 had come to pass and the result would be the "extermination of all the Jews of Europe" I believe this is the point that Hitlers underdogs took the reins and outdid themselve trying to find ways to kill masses of people effecently. One reflection by Paczynski, a prisoner of Auschwitz who worked in the SS administrative building next to the creamatorium, on feeling no emotion to the people he saw go to their deaths: One becomes indiferent. Today you go, tomorrow I will go. You become indifferent. A human being can become used to anything." Also with this goes the need to belive that there is always hope and thus the beliving by the Jews when they were told by the SS that they were merely taking disinfectant showers. On the other side, those that were in the camps and being worked to death, were able to jockey for 'better' jobs that would give them a better chance at surviving. Being lucky enough to work inside, in factorys, in the homes of the SS, in thier gardens, wherever even unfortunately being used sexually they believed would help with their survival. I'm sure that for a few this did happen but for most it was a false belief and they in turn were killed too. The descriptions of the streamlineing of the whole process of killing millions of people is mind numbing. It shows the trial and error path to a very efficent method devoid of human emotion that became the Death Camps. The lining up into 5 groups, seperating young from old male and female and children (though they soon learned to leave the mothers with the children, to save themselves from scenes) The stripping off of clothes and the leaving of suitcases, to go to the 'disinfection showers' all with little or no emotion from anyone. Even the other prisoners didn't 'tell' the newcomers what awaited them, as one said " why tell them, it would only be worse for them to know". Then the process of disposing of the bodies, first by mass burials, then learning the need to use lyme to keep the gasses from fermenting. Then by creamatoria, which again was a way to take the emotion out of having to deal with looking at and having to handle so many bodies. This whole process became very efficient, very numbing to everyone involved. One thing I didn't know was that Auschwitz and Birkenau were only 3 km.s from each other, yet so far apart in original intent. Auschwitz was originally a work camp while Birkenau was desingned to be a killing camp. As I said this book is very enlightening, but I will be glad to be done with it.
Post by Blossom/Jackie W. on Apr 21, 2010 7:42:34 GMT -5
Very good Mary. You're right in that the Germans were (and had been) blaming the Jews for e'thing that went wrong for years. When later they started murdering them; the justification was already ingrained in the general population.
I've been "rereading" Chapter 2. It doesn't get easier that's for sure.
You know...... one of the things I was thinking about was the desensitizing to the death and violence. It's only natural that once you've been exposed to so much, day after day after day...... everything becomes more acceptable. Anyway; I couldn't help but think..... you know; that's what happens to people even today; though in a different way. And the biggest culprit; is TV, movies, the news, these violent video games..... We watch and see, and participate in more violence than in years gone by (especially the games).
The Germans didn't strike me as too bright; and there certainly wasn't a "master plan". Almost e'thing they did was a "knee jerk" reaction. Yet they were causing their own problems.... Not enough space to accomodate all the Jews and Soviet POW's; certainly not enough food. And then; as you mentioned Aero; they started to cover their tracks ...... This was evidenced by the number of Soviet POW's that died in one month from starvation. Something tells me it was 6oo or 900 of the 1,000. What did they do? They put it down as heart attacks or something....
I think the other thing too was that you also had a number of individuals with a small stature (both physically and mentally). Sort of like a small man's complex. Many of these officials were not accustomed to having power or authority. They were just ordinary individuals; until Hitler. Then they literally got to play GOD. They were allowed to run rampant; there was no rules per se that they were to follow. They became drunk on power. A good example is Farmer Hoss.... And no one was hauling them up on the carpet for anything! Ignorance was bliss.
When the war ended and the people (that were still alive) were liberated..... I can only imagine, considering the attitudes of the population at the time, how it must have been. Let's face it.... many of their "friends" and I use that word loosley, had turned their backs on them when all the deportations etc began. How sad for e'one.
I read a small piece in the newspaper the other day; I can't remember all the details but...... there was a minister in the U.K. recently fined by the German Govt. He gave an interview, denouncing or down playing the holocaust or something. It wasn't to be shown or aired in Germany BUT it was. He was fined. Apparently nowadays it's against the law in Germany these days to speak out (refute) the Holocaust ever happened. Obviously Germany is very ashamed of that time.
Like Mary; from an historical sense; I'm learning a great deal. But I too will be glad to finish it. Perhaps we should complete the book then have our next discussion thereafter?
Jackie, either way I will have to finish and return the book next Tues. 27th. and am now in the last chapter. There is a lot to take in, in each chapter. A lot of truely horrid people and a lot of truely humbling survivors. Even through this maddness humanity shone out.
Jackie, finishing the book sounds good, especially since Mary has to return it.
Mary, you were talking about the "disinfecting showers" and the declothing of the people. When I was reading this, I thought about the movie I watched not long ago called, "The Boy In The Striped Pajamas". Some things in this book are parallel with that movie. So heartwrenching.
Desensitizing happens with not only the visual media, but also in very poor neighborhoods. The children see abuse and drugs and shootings, and it just becomes normal occurences to them.
Yep, they wrote down that the deaths were heartattacks, and then this began to become too obvious.
Mary, you mentioned the tattoos on the arms... I had always thought they were on the arms to begin with and have learned that they were not.