More Auschwitz: The Sonderkommando Thread

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More Auschwitz: The Sonderkommando Thread

Postby Statistical Mechanic » Sat Feb 18, 2017 12:43 am

Jeffk's phone is giving him fits, so I volunteered to open a thread to continue the Sonderkommando discussion going on in the Hunt thread. Jeffk will add to this when he has wrestled his phone to the floor.

To start, I am copying the relevant posts from the Hunt thread:
Balsamo wrote:Kleon,
Considering all these, it stayed in my mind that the SK sensitivity issue is a logical thing and a true case.


It is...
Contrary to others here, i have very little indulgence as during this war some scarified their lives for what they believed was their duty, that is to fight the beast. I think of all those who faced torture and fought hard NOT to to spit out, to confess and betray , those who volunteered for suicidal mission...
So sorry, surviving does not justify everything. There are limits, and those limits were clearly broken in this case.
Who among you would kill his/her loved ones just because someone put a gun on your head.
Well, not me, i will try to kick this {!#%@} or die trying. and i bet not you neither...well maybe Monstrous...

Regarding those three men on the picture, one can only speculates, and that should be kept in mind.
It is sensitive because those guys could very well be victims as well.

But i must admit that i have some doubts...Just the way they are holding the lady...right under the armpits, this is a "cop manner" to neutralize, more than a gesture to help an old person. Not only the one on the left, but also the one on the right...right under the armpit...So yes the lady is holding his hand, but with the arm straight open wide...and with a closer look, it is not clear who is holding each other's hand.

The look on their face does not seem really full of compassion, neither.
Those are the elements that bother me.

But then, maybe the rest of the groups are still lining up, and there is no real panic within the hidden group...Maybe she is not even afraid to be gassed at this stage but only had a nervous breakdown and wanted to go back to his husband, sons, who were taken away... And maybe those three men are just pissed off because the lady's behavior put the whole group at risk of reprisal by the surrounding guards...

But again, that is making the picture speaks too much. All these, whatever we interpret the picture, is pure speculation. And it is not really important.
What i am trying to ask to our fellow deniers on codoh - with no result yet - is why those people are on that spot in the first place?
We are clearly oustide the standard procedure of the admission to the camp.
Faurisson has clearly written that the men were separated from the women and children right at the platform, and that then selections were made among the two already separated group. Their "narrative" is just unable to explain the situation...
If those three were indeed Sonderkommando, the deniers thesis is in an even worse situation.
This is the reason they are placing their last bet on the forgery scam.

And:
scrmbldggs wrote:@ Balsamo

Regarding the image, there are so many possibilities, and one of the men might even have been her husband... and the men protecting her (and others) from unnecessary maltreatment before certain death.

As to "So sorry, surviving does not justify everything. There are limits, and those limits were clearly broken in this case.
Who among you would kill his/her loved ones just because someone put a gun on your head." ... We don't know how many did not go along, how many were deeply concerned about others threatened with harm if they would not obey, and some seem to have had only one goal left - to survive to speak up and out.

And:
Jeffk 1970 wrote:
Balsamo wrote:So sorry, surviving does not justify everything. There are limits, and those limits were clearly broken in this case.
Who among you would kill his/her loved ones just because someone put a gun on your head.
Well, not me, i will try to kick this {!#%@} or die trying. and i bet not you neither...well maybe Monstrous...

Hhhhmmmm.....could you please clarify this a bit? Are you attaching blame? Who are you attaching blame to?

And:
Statistical Mechanic wrote:I would not have guessed that the men were SK and Pressac wrote that they were Hungarians about to be murdered. So I still don't see the cause for sensitivity about this photo. How many photos are online vs in the book?

As to "I will try to kick this {!#%@} or die trying" - I think you mean "and die."

And:
Balsamo wrote:Yes...indeed, die...
Honorable death is better than a disgraceful life.

Pressac also wrote that she had probably witnessed a gassing at Krema IV...
But you are right, Stat, those speculations are not important...What the picture shows is enough and in fact should not be isolated, it speaks even more when seen among the others (those of women, kids, and old waiting the wood nearby...

And:
Statistical Mechanic wrote:
Balsamo wrote:So sorry, surviving does not justify everything. There are limits, and those limits were clearly broken in this case.
Who among you would kill his/her loved ones just because someone put a gun on your head.
Well, not me, i will try to kick this {!#%@} or die trying.

In this case, those limits, whatever they are, were not clearly broken; in fact, you write also, to the contrary, that "Regarding those three men on the picture, one can only speculates, and that should be kept in mind. It is sensitive because those guys could very well be victims as well."

It is also important to keep in mind that Sonderkommando members didn't kill their loved ones. AFAIK saying so is a calumny.

Not to get all trite and hackneyed, but there are grey areas all along the way here: Kanada prisoners "greeting" the transports and compelled to keep arriving prisoners calm; the Kanada Kommando members cleaning up belongings left on the ramp; the SKs helping to keep order in the Kremas and disposing of bodies, cleaning and prepping the gas chambers, etc. All with overwhelming force against them and virtually no change of successful disobedience.

SK duty itself was compelled, and dying uselessly by kicking at an SS man meant that one's entire family would perish . . . some SK "volunteers" decided to end their lives, some didn't. Theirs were calculations made under pressures and situations I can reproduce for myself to know what I would do or even what was the best, or right, choice.

And:
Kleon_I XYZ Contagion wrote:I can't speak on what's the situation with collaborators and collaboration is, in Israel or among the Jewish communities in the world.
I only know in what way this issue was dealt with in Greece, pertaining the Greek collaborators.

Greeks Christians collaborators were never punished. In other countries, they were shot the day after the Liberation. In Greece is a whole different story, because of the civil war 1946-1949.
Greece is the only country in the world that i.e. military collaborators (army officers on the German pay-roll) managed to become MPs, ministers, or even 'vice-presidents' and 'presidents' and Papadopoulos even a 'PM' during the colonels regime (dictatorship or junta 1967-1974).
Collaboration was a taboo in Greece, before the restoration of Democracy in 1974 and it is an extremely difficult subject to deal with after 1974 till today.
Collaborators and their families are hiding the past, but many of their grandchildren are political figures today.

The 56.000 persons Jewish community of Thessaloniki was exterminated, as you probably know.
Among them, there were a few dozens of collaborators (Jews), who some of them managed to escape with the gold and the money, some of them were tried post-war after law-suits against them by their community boards.

Maybe this is why in my mind collaboration is a very important issue and I thought maybe this is somehow the situation in Israel or among the Jewish communities as well.
This is why it wouldn't be a surprise for me (and probably every other Greek) if the Yad Vashem didn't want to bring such sensitive matters in plain sight, if it doesn't know with a great certainty if the three men were SK or not
I say only I think I can understand it, that's all.

But I can't judge any person who was in a camp.
These are very grey areas, and I don't have a single idea about them.
I don't have the knowledge, and I can't take a moral point to view, to discuss such issues.
And I don't want to.
I can only read their testimonies and memoirs, with my ultimate goal just to understand the one tenth of 1/1.000.000.000 of what happened to these people, no matter kapos, SK or ordinary inmates.
They were put in a situation by decisions of others, and in one day their whole world fell apart.
I can't imagine it.
Survivors say that the only thing that mattered was to stay alive for the next day, or for the next morning or evening, or for the next couple of hours.
They were taken from their families and suddenly found themselves in a place where a kapo would ask for one's newcomer's golden teeth, and if he didn't want to give them, the kapo would kill him with a shovel. And if someone complained, the kapo would kill him too with the same shovel.
OK, this kapo was a criminal, in or out of the camp it would be probably the same, but bad people exist everywhere.
He could be one of the very first camp inmates who were transferred from the German prisons, a real criminal before his days in the camps.

We're talking about the average, decent citizen here, who was taken from his everyday life and was put in a place of death, hunger, disaster, oppression and again death.
Next, the same person in his first day in the camp saw an SS ordered a prisoner to go down in a pit to do some work. he couldn't climb up, and the SS pulled his gun and shot him in cold blood because he was late on climbing.
And this was the first day. In the evening, he said, they have to carried 12 bodies only from their barrack.
They only saw death near them, death reaching them, every moment of the day in every possible way.
A wrong look, 50 grams of bread, looking ill, be late in marching, saying something wrong to a kapo or an SS, anything could mean death at the spot.
Survivors say they had to forget everything, if they wanted to survive.
Everything, what happened to their parents, siblings, relatives, what happened to themselves the day before, their previous lives, everything.
They had no other option than to forget, and try to stay alive for some hours more.
This is an extremely important statement, and an unthinkable unknown territory for all of us, today in 2017.

How can we understand events like those?
I think we can't.
The closest I have ever been was when I was doing my military service (in Greece is obligatory, back then for 18 months).
I wasn't hurt, I just had to be in an environment that I didn't like.
There was no threat for my life.
This is not one tenth of a billion trillions of what camps inmates had experienced.
How can I judge what a random person would do in the camps?

I can only read their accounts with great respect.
I just feel things, like awe and shock.
And say 'never again', the very thing that these brainless stupid kids in CODOH forums leave outside everything in their 'CSI cases'.
I can't judge, I can only spread the word.

And:
Statistical Mechanic wrote:The one point I want to add is that SKs were not Kapos or like Kapos; thinking of SKs as collaborators, IMO, creates a false equivalence. Both groups, though, suffered from some of the same pressures. Even so, Kapos exercised daily control over prisoners and could (and did sometimes) abuse prisoners, foster inequality and differential chances for survival. There were thus gradations of grey among the Kapos. But, like you, I don't know how to judge either group. This -
Survivors say they had to forget everything, if they wanted to survive.
Everything, what happened to their parents, siblings, relatives, what happened to themselves the day before, their previous lives, everything.
They had no other option than to forget, and try to stay alive for some hours more.

combined with what you say about the series of shocks inmates received, from arrival and continuing, must be kept in mind. Inmates in the camps - and not only Jews - were subjected to extreme conditions (abuse, atrocities, labor, sleep deprivation, insufficient water, appalling hygienic conditions, lack of nourishment, what they witnessed) that in my mind fall outside an even broad range of normal experiences. Also, these shocks and extremes were intentional - and meant to destroy the defenses of individuals, prevent groups from forming, and terrorize prisoners. Water, e.g., was withheld in the transports so that prisoners arrived weakened and unable to resist. Maybe if I sometime went three days without food or water, watching friends and family perish, enduring physical punishment, on a journey to an unknown place under armed guard, stripped of all my belongings, I could feel better about my suitability to make judgments about how people reacted . . .

And:
Statistical Mechanic wrote:Another point about SK needing to kick their SS guards and dying in the process is that they more or less did; in Auschwitz the prisoners in Birkenau and the Stammlager decided against staging a rebellion at a time that was critical for the SK, when the members of the SK in October 1944 saw that they were likely to die soon. At that point, however, it was members of the SK in IIRC Kremas II, IV and V, slated for death, who attacked the SS, going ahead with the camp revolt which had stalled in the wider camp. 450 or so SKs died in or after the rebellion. So arguing that these doomed people were somehow not like us, beneath us, worthy of contempt and moral condemnation, because, for one thing, they didn't fight back, is also in contradiction to the historical record.

Also, kicking/dying is not the only mode of resistance. In the main camp, e.g., among other acts, prisoners organized escapes so that escapees could provide first-hand testimonies about the camp. The SK didn't have ways to escape; instead, they recorded their testimonies and buried them in hopes they they'd be gotten at some time to "the world." Like prisoner status, responses also came in shades.

And:
Kleon_I XYZ Contagion wrote:
Statistical Mechanic wrote:Another point about SK needing to kick their SS guards and dying in the process is that they more or less did; in Auschwitz the prisoners in Birkenau and the Stammlager decided against staging a rebellion at a time that was critical for the SK, when the members of the SK in October 1944 saw that they were likely to die soon. At that point, however, it was members of the SK in IIRC Kremas II, IV and V, slated for death, who attacked the SS, going ahead with the camp revolt which had stalled in the wider camp. 450 or so SKs died in or after the rebellion. So arguing that these doomed people were somehow not like us, beneath us, worthy of contempt and moral condemnation, because, for one thing, they didn't fight back, is also in contradiction to the historical record.

Also, kicking/dying is not the only mode of resistance. In the main camp, e.g., among other acts, prisoners organized escapes so that escapees could provide first-hand testimonies about the camp. The SK didn't have ways to escape; instead, they recorded their testimonies and buried them in hopes they they'd be gotten at some time to "the world." Like prisoner status, responses also came in shades.


I've studied this revolt, and I think I can say it, I studied it deep.
Because there were many Greeks among them.
The father of a person I know in Greece wrote about it in his memoirs, and perhaps if things will get better, there will be a new documentary about the rebellion (because there is one, see at the end, but not so good and not well researched).

I'll post some links if anyone wants to see:

- The Eleventh Sonderkommando functioned from late spring through October 1944. Of the 663 who serviced the five crematoria, at least one-third were Greek Jews. A number of them are known by name, and in fact eleven of them survived not only the revolt but even Auschwitz itself.
(Steven Bowman, The agony of Greek Jews 1940-1945, Stanford University Press 2009, σ. 96)
https://books.google.gr/books?id=rP1QOk ... tz&f=false

# Auschwitz II Birkenau Sonderkommando Testimony Clips
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5SoTJ9cv028

- The killing of the SS men, the destruction of crematoria 4 and the reduction of of the largest part of the crematoria detail were the result of the Sonderkommando revolt. The incident was - for example - described by SS men Josef Erber, Stefan Baretzki, Karl Broch, Pery Broad and prisoners Maximilian Sternol, Eliezer Eisenschmidt, Milton Buki, Shaul Chasan, Jiri Beranovsky, Filip Muller, Leon Cohen (see appendix S here) and in the 1944 buried handwriting of Salmen Lewenthal (Inmitten des grauenvollen Verbrechens, p. 240 f.).
https://books.google.de/books?id=oFIJwg ... &q&f=false

- The only survivor talks to CBC, 1994
http://www.cbc.ca/player/Digital+Archiv ... 771755102/

- Polish military resistance movement at Auschwitz’ του Google Cultural Institute:
https://www.google.com/culturalinstitut ... -holocaust

# Werner Renz - Vernichtung und Uberleben, Der Aufstand des Sonderkommandos in Auschwitz-Birkenau, 1944
http://www.fritz-bauer-institut.de/file ... 1_renz.pdf

# Auschwitz-Birkenau: The Revolt at Auschwitz-Birkenau (October 7, 1944)
http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jso ... evolt.html

- Some more sources
Ainsztein, Reuben. Jewish Resistance In Nazi-Occupied Eastern Europe. London: Elek, 1974.

Encyclopedia of the Holocaust, Auschwitz

Jewish Virtual Library. 2008.
http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jso ... evolt.html

Resistance Movement At KL Auschwitz-Birkenau, in The International Forum In Commemoration of the 60th Anniversary of Auschwitz-Birkenau Liberation. 2005.
http://web.archive.org/web/200604070525 ... ruch_oporu

Shields, Jacqueline. 'Sonderkommando,' in Jewish Virtual Library. 2008.
http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jso ... mando.html


The legendary Unknown Greek Alex
- Alex in Webber, Auschwitz: A History in Photographs
http://x2t.com/alex-in-weber-for-dim-papanikolaou

- Alex in Didi-Huberman, Images in spite of all
http://x2t.com/alex-in-Didi-Huberman-Im ... ite-of-all

- Alex (Webber, Auschwitz:A History in Photographs, Warsaw and Bloomington, IN, 1993, 42 κ.ε., 172 κ.ε.)
http://x2t.com/alex-in-weber-for-dim-papanikolaou


And here's a documentary in Greek ('The unknown rebellion, October, 1994'), plus my work: I've discovered 60 names of Greek Jews that took part in the rebellion
https://xyzcontagion.wordpress.com/2012 ... s-ebraioi/

- «More than three hundred Greek Jews were among the Sonderkommando preparing for revolt, [...]».
Martin Gilbert, The Holocaust, p. 743
http://cohen.gr/new/index.php?option=co ... &Itemid=59

And:
Darren Wilshak wrote:They laid something down for the record to bear witness to suffering and to a terrible crime having been committed. To defy what seemed like total obliteration. That was their key resistance when they could not fight back with their bodies or with any arms as was the case at Sobibor or Treblinka or AB or anywhere else where SS lost control of the situation.

Burying material, or getting material proof out of the Extermination program was an act of resistance to a crime against Judaism as a community under destruction and to humanity itself. If the German Nazis had won, the extermination program would have continued taking in more and more condemned to SB. Bearing witness too the people condemned to this apocalypse left traces and saving remnants to aid historians in explaining what had occurred to them in - as we can all well imagine - was pretty much a World completely turned upside down! Those archives that were lost and were not recovered and we know nothing of we can only wonder at. But also those that were found safe after the terrible uproar had to all intents and purposes in Europe, ceased. They are a link.

You can see why Anti Semitic deniers would ignore the Acts of rebellion. Deep down they ALL every one of them fear the Jews that would dare to fight back against the Master Race's God given born to rule superiority, so they call them cowards. But in doing so they only expose the deep flaws and the seething forms of hatred and insecurity and ignorance and fear in their own consciousness.

"What a coward!" indeed...

"We have seen the enemy and it is ourselves."

And:
Statistical Mechanic wrote:Well said. The preamble to Gradowksi's manuscript was a single line: Take interest in this document, which conveys very important material for the historian. Which conveys a doubt about "outside" interest in the fate of the Jews and the ordeal of the SK along with his determination to help create a historical record. The SK members also buried teeth, a tooth each from many victims.

Most of those chosen to be SKs, by far, did so, without resisting, not committing suicide: which makes me think that most of us, by far, would also. Which is also a connection to these men.

edits: apparently I can no longer type for {!#%@}

And:
Balsamo wrote:
Statistical Mechanic wrote:
Balsamo wrote:So sorry, surviving does not justify everything. There are limits, and those limits were clearly broken in this case.
Who among you would kill his/her loved ones just because someone put a gun on your head.
Well, not me, i will try to kick this {!#%@} or die trying.

In this case, those limits, whatever they are, were not clearly broken; in fact, you write also, to the contrary, that "Regarding those three men on the picture, one can only speculates, and that should be kept in mind. It is sensitive because those guys could very well be victims as well."

It is also important to keep in mind that Sonderkommando members didn't kill their loved ones. AFAIK saying so is a calumny.

Not to get all trite and hackneyed, but there are grey areas all along the way here: Kanada prisoners "greeting" the transports and compelled to keep arriving prisoners calm; the Kanada Kommando members cleaning up belongings left on the ramp; the SKs helping to keep order in the Kremas and disposing of bodies, cleaning and prepping the gas chambers, etc. All with overwhelming force against them and virtually no change of successful disobedience.

SK duty itself was compelled, and dying uselessly by kicking at an SS man meant that one's entire family would perish . . . some SK "volunteers" decided to end their lives, some didn't. Theirs were calculations made under pressures and situations I can reproduce for myself to know what I would do or even what was the best, or right, choice.



Well, i was not speaking specifically of the three men on the picture - as you said, they could have been SK or they could have been victims sharing the lady's fate - but as for the SK in general, well killing loved ones was the only comparison that came to my mind of participating to the genocide of their own people.

My question was to be understood as "would you do the unthinkable, just to save your life?"

Of course, i agree that there are nuances: working at the Kanada is not the same as leading fellows to their deaths, and even within the SK, again leading and deceiving the victims into the chamber is not the same as being forced to clean the mess or to burn the bodies.

Just the same with the Kapos, the job had to be done, but you could be a "good" one or a "criminal piece of {!#%@}" doing that job.

Are we so sure that those agreeing to work on the SK were promised their family would be spared? Strange, i was not aware of that. If that was the case, i could be less severe.
But i have read about an awful Kapo whose father had been killed...so i am not sure.

Some chosed to end their lives, but so did other inmates, most just died. Some died for having tried to help, some died after having helped to kill...Well sorry, but i make a distinction.

As most of you know by now, three members of my family had their Nacht un nabel experience, and only one came back, his wife was killed at Ravensbruck in march 1945 because she was trying to prevent a old lady to be "transported", according to the witness who brought the story home, she almost convinced the guards when other old women condemned seeing the chance graped her arm as well...The guard panicked an put all the group in the truck, my aunt with the old ladies. She had been arrested in november 1943, so closed to the liberation, she died because she did the good thing.
My uncle survived 17 months at Dachau, he saw "human nature" as it is. But this does not mean that all recounced their inner strength and values.
Also at Dachau were two Austrian imperial prinses from the Habsburg family. They had been given the task to maintain the Latrines, they did it with such dignity, he told, that even the Nazis started to admire them, well kind of...They too survived. Along with inhumanity - among and between the inmates (corruption, robberies, blackmails, extortion, beating and torture, murder - there was also humanity, solidarity and courrage.
I am not saying it must have been easy to fight the "dark side", but it happened, and therefore there was no fatality.
My father's cousin was also arrested in 1943, and went through many KZ, he died from exhaustion some times in 1945...he was in his early 30's.
I will stop there. 3 others young men gave their lives to fight Nazism, one in action saving RAF pilots, the two other volunteer in the RAF (fighters) shot above Germany.
And it is a good thing that tens and tens of thousands European chose the same way from day one.
They all put their family at risk as the Nazis had nothing against "collective punishment", killing hostages,

So, i am sorry, "need to survive" does not justify everything.
I respect your opinion, Stat, but i just cannot agree with you on that.

There is always a choice, even if the only other option is death.
I have heard that very same excuse from Germans, you know the usual, " Had you disobey your orders, you would have been executed and your family sent to KZ"...I don't agree with this either.

Most of the members of the resistance were arrested because they have been denounced. Unfortunately, there is a point where torture is just unbearable, and as a matter of fact, some arrested and tortured for days if not weeks or months, well they gave up and talked. My uncle never blamed them. But how many "anonymous" denounciation letters have been written during the occupation? These were treators not victims.
And those, he had difficulty to forgive. But eventually, he did.

And it is something too often forgotten, the whole continent did forgive eventually, as my father eventually married a German...

Sorry to have been a little bit too personal on this one. I will end on this good note.
We have already addressed this issue, and well we do not agree.
But i accept your stance, it is just not mine...
;)

And:
Statistical Mechanic wrote:
Balsamo wrote:Are we so sure that those agreeing to work on the SK were promised their family would be spared? Strange, i was not aware of that. If that was the case, i could be less severe.

For sure, I've never heard this. Where does it come from?

Balsamo wrote:Well sorry, but i make a distinction.

Not following . . .

Balsamo wrote:this does not mean that all recounced their inner strength and values.

But these aren't the same situations - and my point is that people express their inner strength and values in different ways in different contexts, not all in the same way according to your expectations. Or mine. A close examination of the SK, how they reacted, what they did, what choice they made gives a picture that isn't recognizable to me in what you posted. Which sounded like a blanket condemnation. Which included a false charge that the SKs operated the murder apparatus . . . they didn't, they weren't there by choice, and they (many of them) took steps to resist.

Balsamo wrote:And it is a good thing that tens and tens of thousands European chose the same way from day one.
They all put their family at risk as the Nazis had nothing against "collective punishment", killing hostages,

So, i am sorry, "need to survive" does not justify everything.
I respect your opinion, Stat, but i just cannot agree with you on that.

But that's not what I wrote, either.

Balsamo wrote:I have heard that very same excuse from Germans, you know the usual, " Had you disobey your orders, you would have been executed and your family sent to KZ"...I don't agree with this either.

This is a very poor analogy. First and foremost, because ordinary Germans were not in a situation anything like that of prisoners in KLs in general or SKs in particular. In most situations this pleading of Germans "as victims" doesn't stand up to examination, either. Whereas, yes, SKs who refused to work faced imminent death.

A comparison of SKs to the resistance ignores the different material conditions - just to write their letters and manuscripts was a Herculean labor for SK members. But they somehow found the wherewithal and means to revolt as well. You seem to forget that.
"World peace is certainly an ideal worth striving for; in Hitler's opinion it will be realizable only when one power, the racially best one, has attained complete and uncontested supremacy. That can then provide a sort of world police, seeing to it at the same time that the most valuable race is guaranteed the necessary living space. And if no other way is open to them, the lower races will have to restrict themselves accordingly."

- Rudolf Hess, letter, 1927

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Re: More Auschwitz: The Sonderkommando Thread

Postby Statistical Mechanic » Sat Feb 18, 2017 2:12 am

Copying one more post from the Hunt thread:
Denying-History wrote:
Statistical Mechanic wrote:
Balsamo wrote:Are we so sure that those agreeing to work on the SK were promised their family would be spared? Strange, i was not aware of that. If that was the case, i could be less severe.

For sure, I've never heard this. Where does it come from?
Hoess in his memoir recounts a SK who had found out their wife had died through gassing. They had only paused for a moment and continued on working normally, which should explain some detachment and give a bit more light into the situation. I cannot remember the passage at the moment but I will try and locate it.
"World peace is certainly an ideal worth striving for; in Hitler's opinion it will be realizable only when one power, the racially best one, has attained complete and uncontested supremacy. That can then provide a sort of world police, seeing to it at the same time that the most valuable race is guaranteed the necessary living space. And if no other way is open to them, the lower races will have to restrict themselves accordingly."

- Rudolf Hess, letter, 1927

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Re: More Auschwitz: The Sonderkommando Thread

Postby Jeffk 1970 » Sat Feb 18, 2017 4:22 am

My phone ran away and hid under the couch, sulking because I made it spend some time on RODOH today.

:lol:

Now that we have that out of the way.........

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Re: More Auschwitz: The Sonderkommando Thread

Postby Jeffk 1970 » Sat Feb 18, 2017 4:29 am

One of the things that struck me as poignant was the fact that the SK's at the Birkenau Kremas wrote notes and buried them.

Here are some examples:

http://auschwitz.org/en/museum/news/voices-of-memory-6-the-crematoria-and-gas-chambers-of-auschwitza-new-publication,814.html

I always thought of these as a form of resistance on their own.

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Re: More Auschwitz: The Sonderkommando Thread

Postby NathanC » Sat Feb 18, 2017 4:58 am

Statistical Mechanic wrote:Copying one more post from the Hunt thread:
Denying-History wrote:
Statistical Mechanic wrote:
Balsamo wrote:Are we so sure that those agreeing to work on the SK were promised their family would be spared? Strange, i was not aware of that. If that was the case, i could be less severe.

For sure, I've never heard this. Where does it come from?
Hoess in his memoir recounts a SK who had found out their wife had died through gassing. They had only paused for a moment and continued on working normally, which should explain some detachment and give a bit more light into the situation. I cannot remember the passage at the moment but I will try and locate it.


As I mentioned elsewhere, Primo Levi has problems with Hoess's recollection, especially regarding the Sonderkommando. He doesn't agree with Hoess's description, especially about how the SK allegedly kept on eating or smoking even while dragging the corpses. Levi's interpretation was that Hoess depicted them the way that he did because he wanted to make his own situation (A "soldier" following orders) similar to that of the SK, and arouse sympathy. Given that he doesn't mention either the SK revolt or his own affair in his memoirs, I'm inclined to agree with Levi.

We like to talk about how Hoess's memoirs could not have been "coerced" or forged because there are details that ran counter to the alleged "forgers'" agenda. It is true that no one coerced Hoess and he wrote his memoirs of his own will, but that doesn't mean he was completely honest. He had an agenda, which was to make people feel sorry for him and his own self admitted antisemitism. We should trust his "recollections" about Jews as much as we trust any run of the mill Antisemite's.

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Re: More Auschwitz: The Sonderkommando Thread

Postby Kleon_I XYZ Contagion » Sat Feb 18, 2017 11:39 am

Jeffk 1970 wrote:One of the things that struck me as poignant was the fact that the SK's at the Birkenau Kremas wrote notes and buried them.

Here are some examples:

http://auschwitz.org/en/museum/news/voices-of-memory-6-the-crematoria-and-gas-chambers-of-auschwitza-new-publication,814.html

I always thought of these as a form of resistance on their own.


There was also Greek Jew Marcel Nadjari, a former ELAS partizan, and then, after his arrest on late December 1943 in Athens, a SK in Block 13.
In 1980, in the soil of Birkenau, a (I don't know the English word for it, anyway something like a) bottle for heating coffee was discovered. Inside, there were 12 pages of Nadjari's writings. Nadjari survived. In 1947 he wrote a 40 pages account with his whole story from 1940 to 1947. He also made some sketches. Both manuscripts, the 12 pages found in 1980 in the soil, and the 40 pages that Nadjari wrote in 1947, some pictures of Nadjari, a scanned page of 'Manuscript A' and the sketches of 'Manuscript B' and an introduction by a historian were published in a 108 pages book, 'Chronicle 1941-1945', Thessaloniki, Etz Haim 1991
According to experts and scholars, the 10 stages of every genocide are
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Denial
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Re: More Auschwitz: The Sonderkommando Thread

Postby nickterry » Sat Feb 18, 2017 12:06 pm

Kleon_I XYZ Contagion wrote: a (I don't know the English word for it, anyway something like a) bottle for heating coffee was discovered.


thermos flask - we didn't even bother to translate this fully from Greek!

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Re: More Auschwitz: The Sonderkommando Thread

Postby Statistical Mechanic » Sat Feb 18, 2017 12:16 pm

Jeffk 1970 wrote:One of the things that struck me as poignant was the fact that the SK's at the Birkenau Kremas wrote notes and buried them.

Here are some examples:

http://auschwitz.org/en/museum/news/voices-of-memory-6-the-crematoria-and-gas-chambers-of-auschwitza-new-publication,814.html

I always thought of these as a form of resistance on their own.

As mentioned above, exactly, and they buried victims' teeth along with their writings, to "prove" the crime. The Greek Nadjary, mentioned by Kleon, was one of these writers; others were Chaim Herman, from France, Zalman Gradowski, Zalman Lewenthal, and Leyb Langfus. Gradowski was murdered by the Camp SS in the wake of the SK uprising in fall 1944.

Another IMO valuable source, better even than Levi, on the SKs is Gideon Greif's book of interviews with survivors of the Kommando, We Wept without Tears. The introduction is excellent, too. One point he footnotes IIRC is the regular murder of the SK forces and thus changing membership - OTOH the Camp SS seems to have curtailed that practice around the end of 1942/beginning of 1943 in favor of keeping "skilled laborers" on the job; a number of those SK members alive in 1944, and taking part in the revolt, had been added to the SK in early 1943.
Last edited by Statistical Mechanic on Sat Feb 18, 2017 1:54 pm, edited 3 times in total.
"World peace is certainly an ideal worth striving for; in Hitler's opinion it will be realizable only when one power, the racially best one, has attained complete and uncontested supremacy. That can then provide a sort of world police, seeing to it at the same time that the most valuable race is guaranteed the necessary living space. And if no other way is open to them, the lower races will have to restrict themselves accordingly."

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Re: More Auschwitz: The Sonderkommando Thread

Postby Statistical Mechanic » Sat Feb 18, 2017 1:28 pm

NathanC wrote:
Statistical Mechanic wrote:Copying one more post from the Hunt thread:
Denying-History wrote:
Statistical Mechanic wrote:
Balsamo wrote:Are we so sure that those agreeing to work on the SK were promised their family would be spared? Strange, i was not aware of that. If that was the case, i could be less severe.

For sure, I've never heard this. Where does it come from?
Hoess in his memoir recounts a SK who had found out their wife had died through gassing. They had only paused for a moment and continued on working normally, which should explain some detachment and give a bit more light into the situation. I cannot remember the passage at the moment but I will try and locate it.


As I mentioned elsewhere, Primo Levi has problems with Hoess's recollection, especially regarding the Sonderkommando. He doesn't agree with Hoess's description, especially about how the SK allegedly kept on eating or smoking even while dragging the corpses. Levi's interpretation was that Hoess depicted them the way that he did because he wanted to make his own situation (A "soldier" following orders) similar to that of the SK, and arouse sympathy. Given that he doesn't mention either the SK revolt or his own affair in his memoirs, I'm inclined to agree with Levi.

We like to talk about how Hoess's memoirs could not have been "coerced" or forged because there are details that ran counter to the alleged "forgers'" agenda. It is true that no one coerced Hoess and he wrote his memoirs of his own will, but that doesn't mean he was completely honest. He had an agenda, which was to make people feel sorry for him and his own self admitted antisemitism. We should trust his "recollections" about Jews as much as we trust any run of the mill Antisemite's.

This is a really good point. In this case Höss's depiction of Auschwitz inmates was similar to the description offered by Morgen about inmates in the Lublin camps. Reading the Sonderkommando manuscripts, interviews like those in Greif, and a variety of other sources is critical to putting into perspective Nazi, and even IMO some early postwar, accounts of the SKs.
"World peace is certainly an ideal worth striving for; in Hitler's opinion it will be realizable only when one power, the racially best one, has attained complete and uncontested supremacy. That can then provide a sort of world police, seeing to it at the same time that the most valuable race is guaranteed the necessary living space. And if no other way is open to them, the lower races will have to restrict themselves accordingly."

- Rudolf Hess, letter, 1927

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Re: More Auschwitz: The Sonderkommando Thread

Postby Balsamo » Sat Feb 18, 2017 3:53 pm

Jeffk 1970 wrote:One of the things that struck me as poignant was the fact that the SK's at the Birkenau Kremas wrote notes and buried them.

Here are some examples:

http://auschwitz.org/en/museum/news/voices-of-memory-6-the-crematoria-and-gas-chambers-of-auschwitza-new-publication,814.html

I always thought of these as a form of resistance on their own.


Just to say that those testimonies do not concern the crematoria at Birkenau, but the one at the main camp...

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Re: More Auschwitz: The Sonderkommando Thread

Postby Balsamo » Sat Feb 18, 2017 3:57 pm

NathanC wrote:
Statistical Mechanic wrote:Copying one more post from the Hunt thread:
Denying-History wrote:
Statistical Mechanic wrote:
Balsamo wrote:Are we so sure that those agreeing to work on the SK were promised their family would be spared? Strange, i was not aware of that. If that was the case, i could be less severe.

For sure, I've never heard this. Where does it come from?
Hoess in his memoir recounts a SK who had found out their wife had died through gassing. They had only paused for a moment and continued on working normally, which should explain some detachment and give a bit more light into the situation. I cannot remember the passage at the moment but I will try and locate it.


As I mentioned elsewhere, Primo Levi has problems with Hoess's recollection, especially regarding the Sonderkommando. He doesn't agree with Hoess's description, especially about how the SK allegedly kept on eating or smoking even while dragging the corpses. Levi's interpretation was that Hoess depicted them the way that he did because he wanted to make his own situation (A "soldier" following orders) similar to that of the SK, and arouse sympathy. Given that he doesn't mention either the SK revolt or his own affair in his memoirs, I'm inclined to agree with Levi.

We like to talk about how Hoess's memoirs could not have been "coerced" or forged because there are details that ran counter to the alleged "forgers'" agenda. It is true that no one coerced Hoess and he wrote his memoirs of his own will, but that doesn't mean he was completely honest. He had an agenda, which was to make people feel sorry for him and his own self admitted antisemitism. We should trust his "recollections" about Jews as much as we trust any run of the mill Antisemite's.


Not that i take Hoess recollection for granted in this case and i kind of agree with your analyzis in the last paragraph, but Primo Levi only expressed an opinion as he was unaware of the gas chambers until after the war. He suffered at Auschwitz 3, quite far away from the Krema's of Birkenau.

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Re: More Auschwitz: The Sonderkommando Thread

Postby Statistical Mechanic » Sat Feb 18, 2017 4:33 pm

Balsamo wrote:
Jeffk 1970 wrote:One of the things that struck me as poignant was the fact that the SK's at the Birkenau Kremas wrote notes and buried them.

Here are some examples:

http://auschwitz.org/en/museum/news/voices-of-memory-6-the-crematoria-and-gas-chambers-of-auschwitza-new-publication,814.html

I always thought of these as a form of resistance on their own.


Just to say that those testimonies do not concern the crematoria at Birkenau, but the one at the main camp...

Hunh? From Jeffk's link:
A fragment of handwritten note Zalmen Lewental, a Polish Jew, and a member of the Sonderkommando. The note was found near the ruins of Crematorium III at Birkenau in October 1962 (part of the document is barely legible, because it was heavily damaged by moisture).

“[…] the Sonderkommando hurried […] [there was no way to] to get out of this, when a bullet in head was the threat for only looking around […] rushed the rest of the people […] [from the barrack?] to the bunker, where they are gassed. The same could be heard […] and screams like in the night. Equally tragic and horrifying was the sight – when it happened after […] the same people, who had to pull out the bodies and [burn them] […] this made them think about the fact that in the barracks they had their families; one had a father, another a wife and children. As it later turned out, after starting this work, each recognized their own family members. In the newly created Kommando that day were people who had just arrived in the camp along with the rest of the transport and they were immediately herded into [this work]. In this manner, our whole community was wiped out, the entire Jewish population of our city, our dear parents, wives, children, sisters, and brothers. And this was on December 10, 1942, late at night –and including the next morning.”

Source: “Wśród koszmarnej zbrodni. Notatki więźniów Sonderkommando” [English: In the Midst of a Terrible Crime. Notes of the Sonderkommando Prisoners], Oświęcim 1975, p. 196.

The SK writings which Kleon and I cited - one of my citations was to Lewent(h)al - all came from SK squad members working in the Birkenau Kremas.
"World peace is certainly an ideal worth striving for; in Hitler's opinion it will be realizable only when one power, the racially best one, has attained complete and uncontested supremacy. That can then provide a sort of world police, seeing to it at the same time that the most valuable race is guaranteed the necessary living space. And if no other way is open to them, the lower races will have to restrict themselves accordingly."

- Rudolf Hess, letter, 1927

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Re: More Auschwitz: The Sonderkommando Thread

Postby Statistical Mechanic » Sat Feb 18, 2017 4:35 pm

Balsamo wrote:
NathanC wrote:
Statistical Mechanic wrote:Copying one more post from the Hunt thread:
Denying-History wrote:
Statistical Mechanic wrote:
Balsamo wrote:Are we so sure that those agreeing to work on the SK were promised their family would be spared? Strange, i was not aware of that. If that was the case, i could be less severe.

For sure, I've never heard this. Where does it come from?
Hoess in his memoir recounts a SK who had found out their wife had died through gassing. They had only paused for a moment and continued on working normally, which should explain some detachment and give a bit more light into the situation. I cannot remember the passage at the moment but I will try and locate it.


As I mentioned elsewhere, Primo Levi has problems with Hoess's recollection, especially regarding the Sonderkommando. He doesn't agree with Hoess's description, especially about how the SK allegedly kept on eating or smoking even while dragging the corpses. Levi's interpretation was that Hoess depicted them the way that he did because he wanted to make his own situation (A "soldier" following orders) similar to that of the SK, and arouse sympathy. Given that he doesn't mention either the SK revolt or his own affair in his memoirs, I'm inclined to agree with Levi.

We like to talk about how Hoess's memoirs could not have been "coerced" or forged because there are details that ran counter to the alleged "forgers'" agenda. It is true that no one coerced Hoess and he wrote his memoirs of his own will, but that doesn't mean he was completely honest. He had an agenda, which was to make people feel sorry for him and his own self admitted antisemitism. We should trust his "recollections" about Jews as much as we trust any run of the mill Antisemite's.


Not that i take Hoess recollection for granted in this case and i kind of agree with your analyzis in the last paragraph, but Primo Levi only expressed an opinion as he was unaware of the gas chambers until after the war. He suffered at Auschwitz 3, quite far away from the Krema's of Birkenau.

Also kind of a strange point: Levi relied on Nyiszli and fit the squads into his model (grey zones) of collaboration. IMO Levi's treatment of the SKs is ambiguous.
"World peace is certainly an ideal worth striving for; in Hitler's opinion it will be realizable only when one power, the racially best one, has attained complete and uncontested supremacy. That can then provide a sort of world police, seeing to it at the same time that the most valuable race is guaranteed the necessary living space. And if no other way is open to them, the lower races will have to restrict themselves accordingly."

- Rudolf Hess, letter, 1927

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Re: More Auschwitz: The Sonderkommando Thread

Postby Balsamo » Sat Feb 18, 2017 9:43 pm

Statistical Mechanic wrote:
Balsamo wrote:
Jeffk 1970 wrote:One of the things that struck me as poignant was the fact that the SK's at the Birkenau Kremas wrote notes and buried them.

Here are some examples:

http://auschwitz.org/en/museum/news/voices-of-memory-6-the-crematoria-and-gas-chambers-of-auschwitza-new-publication,814.html

I always thought of these as a form of resistance on their own.


Just to say that those testimonies do not concern the crematoria at Birkenau, but the one at the main camp...

Hunh? From Jeffk's link:
A fragment of handwritten note Zalmen Lewental, a Polish Jew, and a member of the Sonderkommando. The note was found near the ruins of Crematorium III at Birkenau in October 1962 (part of the document is barely legible, because it was heavily damaged by moisture).

“[…] the Sonderkommando hurried […] [there was no way to] to get out of this, when a bullet in head was the threat for only looking around […] rushed the rest of the people […] [from the barrack?] to the bunker, where they are gassed. The same could be heard […] and screams like in the night. Equally tragic and horrifying was the sight – when it happened after […] the same people, who had to pull out the bodies and [burn them] […] this made them think about the fact that in the barracks they had their families; one had a father, another a wife and children. As it later turned out, after starting this work, each recognized their own family members. In the newly created Kommando that day were people who had just arrived in the camp along with the rest of the transport and they were immediately herded into [this work]. In this manner, our whole community was wiped out, the entire Jewish population of our city, our dear parents, wives, children, sisters, and brothers. And this was on December 10, 1942, late at night –and including the next morning.”

Source: “Wśród koszmarnej zbrodni. Notatki więźniów Sonderkommando” [English: In the Midst of a Terrible Crime. Notes of the Sonderkommando Prisoners], Oświęcim 1975, p. 196.

The SK writings which Kleon and I cited - one of my citations was to Lewent(h)al - all came from SK squad members working in the Birkenau Kremas.


My confusion...influenced by the first testimony...Bloc 17 is Auschwitz 1.

IRCC, Lewenthal mauscript was one of those found at Krema 3...Nevertheless, unless i am mistaken there was no Krema 3 on December 10 1942...so it must be the one of the " little farmhouses"...When my mind is in the middle of the Hungarian Jews pictures taken in 1944.

But then, i can only repeat that i do not agree with the "there was no way out of it" when there was "the bullet in the head".

Also kind of a strange point: Levi relied on Nyiszli and fit the squads into his model (grey zones) of collaboration. IMO Levi's treatment of the SKs is ambiguous.


I am not trying to downplay Levi's contribution, just noting that as he heard about the gas chambers only after the war, he expressed an opinion.
Now Nyizli is a prime example: criminal or victim? At least he was in a position to save his family...but does that justify what he has done?

Maybe i should try to find my copy of "des voix sous la cendre" if it survived my movings...although it is really not the part of the Holocaust that interests me.

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Re: More Auschwitz: The Sonderkommando Thread

Postby Statistical Mechanic » Sat Feb 18, 2017 10:08 pm

Balsamo wrote:My confusion...influenced by the first testimony...Bloc 17 is Auschwitz 1.

IRCC, Lewenthal mauscript was one of those found at Krema 3...Nevertheless, unless i am mistaken there was no Krema 3 on December 10 1942...so it must be the one of the " little farmhouses"...When my mind is in the middle of the Hungarian Jews pictures taken in 1944.

Not my understanding - Lewental's manuscripts were found in 1961 and 1962, I thought, on the grounds of Krema III and were written in 1944, including when the last Łódź transports came to the camp. His writing does circle back to his deportation and first months in the camp, thus his reference to December 1942, but is not restricted to, or mostly about the period you describe.

Balsamo wrote:But then, i can only repeat that i do not agree with the "there was no way out of it" when there was "the bullet in the head".

As many times as you repeat this, it does not become an explanation of who these men were, what their worldview and formative influences were, how they perceived themselves and their plight, and their situation and response to it.

Balsamo wrote:I am not trying to downplay Levi's contribution, just noting that as he heard about the gas chambers only after the war, he expressed an opinion.
Now Nyizli is a prime example: criminal or victim? At least he was in a position to save his family...but does that justify what he has done?

That wasn't my point, as we were discussing SKs - and nothing I've written is a blanket endorsement of every individual and all the behavior of individuals. Sheesh. Plus, the point I was making is that Levi's writing on the Kremas was based on accounts from an eyewitness, AFAIK, which your post didn't allude to. That was all.
Last edited by Statistical Mechanic on Sat Feb 18, 2017 10:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.
"World peace is certainly an ideal worth striving for; in Hitler's opinion it will be realizable only when one power, the racially best one, has attained complete and uncontested supremacy. That can then provide a sort of world police, seeing to it at the same time that the most valuable race is guaranteed the necessary living space. And if no other way is open to them, the lower races will have to restrict themselves accordingly."

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Re: More Auschwitz: The Sonderkommando Thread

Postby Upton_O_Goode » Sat Feb 18, 2017 10:11 pm

I'm just lurking here. You guys are doing a GREAT job. Keep on educating me!
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Re: More Auschwitz: The Sonderkommando Thread

Postby Statistical Mechanic » Sat Feb 18, 2017 10:25 pm

By the way, Levi wasn't in Łódź ghetto either, but somehow was able to write about Rumkowski and the Judenrate of Poland as another exemplar of his concept of the grey zone; Levi's most famous writing on the SK wasn't autobiographical, or intended to appear to be. In that remarkable piece he observes btw that a few Russian POWs were SKs, and he also underscores that the revolt in 1944 was staged by the SK.
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"World peace is certainly an ideal worth striving for; in Hitler's opinion it will be realizable only when one power, the racially best one, has attained complete and uncontested supremacy. That can then provide a sort of world police, seeing to it at the same time that the most valuable race is guaranteed the necessary living space. And if no other way is open to them, the lower races will have to restrict themselves accordingly."

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Re: More Auschwitz: The Sonderkommando Thread

Postby Jeffk 1970 » Sat Feb 18, 2017 10:26 pm

Balsamo wrote:But then, i can only repeat that i do not agree with the "there was no way out of it" when there was "the bullet in the head".


I think it's easy to say that safely viewing the situation 70 years later. Some did take that option, refusing to work and dying or committing suicide later.

But, some looked at this as a way to revenge or wanting to survive to tell the world. Some simply wanted to live.

Balsamo, I cannot judge these men for what they did. It's easy to be brave when it's not your life on the line. It's also easy to judge for the same reason. Remember, this was not a choice, this was coercion. I look at these men the same way I look at the Judenrat or the workers at the ARC. None of them collaborated by choice, the Germans forced this on them. Without the Germans none of these men would have been involved in anything like this.

I look at them as victims because that's what they were.

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Re: More Auschwitz: The Sonderkommando Thread

Postby scrmbldggs » Sun Feb 19, 2017 1:21 am

Statistical Mechanic wrote:...Levi's most famous writing on the SK wasn't autobiographical, or intended to appear to be. In that remarkable piece he observes btw that a few Russian POWs were SKs, and he also underscores that the revolt in 1944 was staged by the SK.

I'd guess those Russian SK were those transferred from Lublin-Majdanek?

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Re: More Auschwitz: The Sonderkommando Thread

Postby Statistical Mechanic » Sun Feb 19, 2017 2:51 pm

scrmbldggs wrote:
Statistical Mechanic wrote:...Levi's most famous writing on the SK wasn't autobiographical, or intended to appear to be. In that remarkable piece he observes btw that a few Russian POWs were SKs, and he also underscores that the revolt in 1944 was staged by the SK.

I'd guess those Russian SK were those transferred from Lublin-Majdanek?

Sorry to take so long on this, I looked in a lot of places, from notes to books to web searches, to find an answer. My inclination was to say probably but not certainly. I seem to have been mistaken.

On p 249 of We Wept Without Tears, we read where Greif asks Eliezer Eisenschmidt (a Lithuanian Jew, born in Belorussia, who was in the SK) "Were there non-Jews in the Sonderkommando?" Eisenschmidt's reply is one I had recalled when writing above the Greif's book has non-Jews in the SK: "Apart from the two Germans whom we've already discussed [assigned as Kapos IIRC], I remember four Poles and three Russians who were in the Sonderkommando. They slept in different barracks. One Pole worked at Crematorium III [we know this Krema as IV]. He came from a town near Auschwitz. His number was 1200. . . . The Russians worked with us for a very short time, because they were murdered. I don't remember exactly where they came from, maybe also from Auschwitz."

Grief footnotes this (p 372) as follows, correcting information as to number and where the Russians came from: "These nineteen Soviet POWs were brought from Majdanek to Auschwitz on April 16, 1944."

So . . . yes.
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Re: More Auschwitz: The Sonderkommando Thread

Postby Balsamo » Sun Feb 19, 2017 3:46 pm

Statmec:
Not my understanding - Lewental's manuscripts were found in 1961 and 1962, I thought, on the grounds of Krema III and were written in 1944, including when the last Łódź transports came to the camp. His writing does circle back to his deportation and first months in the camp, thus his reference to December 1942, but is not restricted to, or mostly about the period you describe.


Let's say i got confused by this sentence:
And this was on December 10, 1942, late at night –and including the next morning.”


Just read the article on HC
http://holocaustcontroversies.blogspot.com/2015/01/the-contemporary-sonderkommando.html


There is another extract, here it is:
"In the mean time the infamous Sonderkommando is coming and emptying the bunker [...] the corpses were carried 800 m further and were thrown on a pyre
...
150 m further was a seemingly innocent farm house with windows, covered with thick [...] a SS man threw through a little window [...] closed the little window and after some [moments] all were suffocated
...
All the people were dragged from the gas bunker, on the platform to the [pyres?], where the gassed people were burned already yesterday and the day before yesterday, the corpses were thrown into the fire.


I have not read the whole manuscript or if i did, it was decades ago in "Des voix sous la cendre".

I am more tempted to read Levi's "The saved and the drowned" actually, but i doubt it will influence my stance.


Jeffk:
I think it's easy to say that safely viewing the situation 70 years later.


I disagree. I say, and assume my position, this thinking of all those who did not do it. All those who agree to put their life at risk to fight without being forced to, those who were beaten up and did not talk, those who faced the dead squad with their head straight, actually to all who died for not having collaborated in any way.

It's easy to be brave when it's not your life on the line. It's also easy to judge for the same reason.


It is not about being brave or weak. It is about participating to mass killing or not.
I am not judging every individual behavior within the camp, but a specific action. As i said, i do not consider the same way those who put the bodies in the ovens as those who participate to leading the people inside the Krematorium on the same level.
You sentence is way to theoretical or one could dismissed every form of trials.
Or if it is "principle", then it should apply to all criminal cases.
Of course, it does not mean that one should not take some "attenuating circumstances" if one wants to use legal terms, but it does not or should not change the fact that leading innocent people into their death, by lying or by use of force, does constitute a criminal act, coerced or not.

As many times as you repeat this, it does not become an explanation of who these men were, what their worldview and formative influences were, how they perceived themselves and their plight, and their situation and response to it.


Because it is what is repeated over and over again:
LEWENTHAL:
[there was no way to] to get out of this, when a
bullet in head
was the threat for only looking around

Gradowski /Dragon
"performing a terrible work" for which they are "forced to under death threats".



Of course, it does not explain what those people were, the why's and their worldview. And i don't deny the interests of such research as it was and still is done to explain all kind of behavior, including the Nazi's ones.
I support such studies, as long as they are done in a historical way.
But if the sole purpose of those is to somehow, justify, whitewashing, or dininish their personal responsibilities, as any Defense lawyer would do (that would be their job), well then it goes beyond historical considerations, as it clearly bears the risk of "double standards".

I do not attack anyone by saying that, so please do not take any thing personally. And as i wrote before, i do respect everyone's stance on it.

By the way, Levi wasn't in Łódź ghetto either, but somehow was able to write about Rumkowski


Yes, but then this is a well documented case. There is a whole bibliograhy about Rumkowski who "ruled over The Lodz ghetto for 4 years...Every Lodz ghetto survivors can testify. Besides, one can also compared the way he ruled his ghetto with how other Elders ruled theirs and reacted in 1942. Not all Elders were Rumakowski and some - faced with the unthinkable - chose death or just refused to participate at the prize of their lives.

You can guess my feelings toward Rumkowski.

I have a great admiration for Primo Levi and am re-reading the drowned and the Saved...

Concerning our habilities to really grasp the why and the how's, i fear there is some lacks of sources to really work on. To have those manuscripts is a great thing, but i have not read all of them in full. From the extract often quoted, i see that the first part, that is the introduction of those people into the gas chamber, is often neglected while the details start after the gassing took place. It also seems that those witnesses often speak at the third person, speaking of "the SK arrived" instead of "We arrived". If we only have the testimonies of those who took part of it and of those who ordered it...we cannot conclude that we have unbiased sources.


To sum up once and for all:
Image

Whoever participàted actively in misleading this sweety pie and those who are around her ( and in the end tens of thousands of them) to their deadly fate - because this is the part that matters to me - the way the SK participated to the first part, that is persuading those people to follow instructions and to enter the Krematorium - well, sorry, i have not enough compassion to find any excuses as it does constitute "complicity of the crime of genocide" - wether coerced or not.
That is it.

Sorry late EDIT...shitty connection where i am right now.
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Re: More Auschwitz: The Sonderkommando Thread

Postby Statistical Mechanic » Sun Feb 19, 2017 4:33 pm

Balsamo,

Levi: Whlist it is true that he wasn't an eyewitness, and that there were more sources available to him re Lodz than he had for the Birkenau SK, that doesn't change the fact that both passages rely on sources, not his own observations. On the other hand, some of Levi's grey zone concept did come from his experiences. The Lodz and SK material is introduced, however, from his source reading to expand the concept, not report what Levi saw. Nowhere does Levi imply that he witnessed everything in this piece, nor did NathanC imply that. That was all I was trying to correct for.

My two cents: Greif's work is far more challenging to your view than Levi's. Greif's material has the benefit of using long first hand interviews with SK members. It has the drawback that those interviews came many years after the events. Grief partly compensates for the drawback by his deep scholarship and knowledge of the SK which were not available to Levi.

The long portions of the SK manuscripts I've read, written on the scene, likewise are more challenging to your view than Levi.

Frankly, what I know of the SK is highly divergent from the picture you paint here.

Gun at head: I'm highly aware of the compulsion, which included a death threat as I've written above; what you're not convincing me of is your conclusions - and that your repetition of this undeniable fact explains anything.

More later ...
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"World peace is certainly an ideal worth striving for; in Hitler's opinion it will be realizable only when one power, the racially best one, has attained complete and uncontested supremacy. That can then provide a sort of world police, seeing to it at the same time that the most valuable race is guaranteed the necessary living space. And if no other way is open to them, the lower races will have to restrict themselves accordingly."

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Re: More Auschwitz: The Sonderkommando Thread

Postby scrmbldggs » Sun Feb 19, 2017 5:32 pm

A bullet... a quick and clean death that some preferred over ongoing misery. But that doesn't seem to have been the only reward offered to those who disobeyed. Those, who already had been weakened by so much and, as mere humans, responded as such. And as I stated earlier, some found a single goal in all of which they had no power to stop on their own - to survive and somehow make known what was happening. It might sound crazy, but I do not believe that - other than the few who perhaps did not care, maybe even did not mind their activity much (like so many Kapos and perps) - many of them were not "insane" during their confinement and forced labor.

ETA I might be wrong about this, but it would seem that in the beginning they took newcomers to the job. Utterly terrified and confused people, who perhaps hoped their (shocking surprise) work was a one-time thing, horrible and devastating, but not the norm. For many it seems to have been, since they themselves were also killed soon.

But then the training/conditioning of those who would be kept began. I once read a short account of how a group of them was handled outside their gruesome work: like dogs, with their eyes trained on their master at all times, because otherwise it would have meant pain, if not death. I haven't found that passage yet, but will share it if I find it.

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Re: More Auschwitz: The Sonderkommando Thread

Postby Statistical Mechanic » Sun Feb 19, 2017 6:16 pm

Balsamo wrote:I have not read the whole manuscript . . .

What I don't understand is why, in the context of the points you responded to, what sounded like a correction and implied that these men weren't in the Birkenau Kremas (II-V), was made at all. Especially when you now say you have seen only snippets of the manuscripts being discussed.

Balsamo wrote: It is about participating to mass killing or not.
I am not judging every individual behavior within the camp, but a specific action. As i said, i do not consider the same way those who put the bodies in the ovens as those who participate to leading the people inside the Krematorium on the same level.
You sentence is way to theoretical or one could dismissed every form of trials.
Or if it is "principle", then it should apply to all criminal cases.
Of course, it does not mean that one should not take some "attenuating circumstances" if one wants to use legal terms, but it does not or should not change the fact that leading innocent people into their death, by lying or by use of force, does constitute a criminal act, coerced or not.

Or some of these men could have come to a very different conclusion than you do: that the murders would occur in any event, and that rather than making the murders possible, they might serve as witnesses/making a record of the crimes (the "scrolls" are replete with statements to this effect, whether from guilt or not it is hard to say) and/or find ways to ameliorate the victims' last moments (ditto). Or they could see their duty as serving as mourners for the victims. Which is not to argue that there were not survival reflexes going on too. But the manuscripts and later testimonies make clear that the SK members were fighting through potential trauma from their incarceration and what they witnessed/were forced to do (e.g., handling corpses) - and wrote of some level of desensitized, even robotic (see below) response. Caused by what the Nazis subjected them to, not some inner flaw these men had. This is not an excuse or defense but a way to characterize the situation of the SK that makes more sense to me than what you've written.

Balsamo wrote: But if the sole purpose of those is to somehow, justify, whitewashing, or dininish their personal responsibilities, as any Defense lawyer would do (that would be their job), well then it goes beyond historical considerations, as it clearly bears the risk of "double standards".

There are indications of guilt feelings in the "scrolls" and testimonies, but guilt feelings are not necessarily a sign of legal guilt, of course. These indications are not pervasive or primary in what I've read of/about the "scrolls," or in Greif's interviews, and there is much else in these sources about the effort to fight through a dehumanizing process and remain human, be responsible to the victims, tell the world, and find some means of vengeance. Death might have been easier than what these men endured. And, again, these men were the ones who revolted in Auschwitz.

Balsamo wrote: You can guess my feelings toward Rumkowski.

Not too helpful to this discussion in the sense that his situation and behavior differed to the situation and behavior of the men we're discussing. Rumkowski, though, should not be taken as a surrogate or sign for "Jewish council leaders," without some further assessment. I would hope that your feelings towards Elkes in Kaunas, who served as head of the Jewish Council there and abetted the ghetto underground would not be the same as your feelings about Rumkowski. Gens is even more complex and controversial, in that he and his police from Vilnius carried out murder actions at the Germans' behest but he too leant some aide to the Jewish underground. But a black-and-white statement that any and all obedience by members of the Judenrate is to be condemned strikes me as ahistorical.

Balsamo wrote: I have a great admiration for Primo Levi and am re-reading the drowned and the Saved...

Again, Grief is a more pertinent source, certainly for this discussion, IMO.

Balsamo wrote: introduction of those people into the gas chamber, is often neglected

The topic of the SK as a whole was often neglected, it is extremely painful all around, but I am not sure where you are going here? The author wrote the section that is neglected, after all.

Balsamo wrote: It also seems that those witnesses often speak at the third person, speaking of "the SK arrived" instead of "We arrived". If we only have the testimonies of those who took part of it and of those who ordered it...we cannot conclude that we have unbiased sources.

Yes and no, and this isn't necessarily pertinent to your argument. One reason for the third person might be almost to enable the writing, given the painful situations, by lessening the personal aspect. It might be to "report" in a more objective way and to make the text less personal. Gradowski's language is almost poetical, not in a style of courtroom testimony ("should apply to all criminal cases").

Gradowski wrote in sections I've read in the first person plural, which emphasizes the SK as a whole and serves as a defense mechanism, not IMO a way to escape criminal liability. A truck with women to be gassed arrives: "We take them, our beloved sisters, our dear tender ones, we take their arms, we walk silently step by step, our hearts beat in time. We suffer and bleed along with them, and we feel that each step we take is a step further from life, and approaches death." Gradowski describes how these men functioned like this: "We must turn into robots, which see nothing, feel nothing, understand nothing." Clearly, judging from his text, Gradowski found turning himself completely into a robot impossible.

Another example: Langfus, who did use "I" quite a bit, writing of one gassing procedure, "I quickly disappeared, and what happened next I didn't observe," that is, he made sure not to be present for the murder. But Langfus also wrote in the third person, which extended to his account of the deportation action, not only the work in the Kremas. One of Langfus's writings was "Particulars" which was entirely made up of observations he made at various times of elements of the murder process, the reactions of victims, how the SS behaved, etc.

Balsamo wrote: sorry, i have not enough compassion to find any excuses as it does constitute "complicity of the crime of genocide" - wether coerced or not.
That is it.

You misunderstand, I think. My comments are not - and I read NathanC's and Jeffk's to be like mine in this - a search for excuses but rather for comprehension.
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"World peace is certainly an ideal worth striving for; in Hitler's opinion it will be realizable only when one power, the racially best one, has attained complete and uncontested supremacy. That can then provide a sort of world police, seeing to it at the same time that the most valuable race is guaranteed the necessary living space. And if no other way is open to them, the lower races will have to restrict themselves accordingly."

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Re: More Auschwitz: The Sonderkommando Thread

Postby Statistical Mechanic » Sun Feb 19, 2017 7:00 pm

Here's another scene described by Langfus.

The manuscripts attributed to Langfus that were discovered in 1962 contain a passage on the gassing of 3,000 women presumably in 1944 (it was this gassing I mentioned above, where Langfus said that he didn't observe the process past a certain point, to separate himself from the crimes being committed). In this passage he writes of statements to the men of the SK made by several of the women before their deaths. Whether these statements were recorded accurately, or even whether they were made, we cannot know. As written by Langfus, the statements explain how these women, brought from Block 25 in Birkenau, faced their deaths; the narrative may as well be telling us how Langfus and the other SK members understood the murders.

In one case Langfus wrote about how the women searched the faces of the men of the SK for sympathy. One of the men at that point, Langfus wrote, began to sob. On noticing the SK member crying,
One young girl said, Ah! That I have lived to see before my death an expression of sympathy, a tear shed for our terrible fate, here in this murderers' camp . . . where we've seen our fill of savage murders and wrongdoings without limit, where we become dulled and hardened to the greatest suffering, where every human feeling withers, where a brother or sister falls before your eyes, and you don't even mark it with a sigh. That there should be a person who is moved by our bitter misfortune, who expresses his sympathy through tears. Oh! What wonderful vision is this? Something unnatural? My death will be marked by a sigh, a tear from a living Jew. There is still someone who will mourn us . . . I find in this young man some small consolation . . . I have lived to see before my death a man who feels.

Langfus here, regardless of what verbal exchange actually took place, describes a - in his view necessary - mourning/empathic role of the SK members in wrenching detail. In this view, within Birkenau, feelings have become as unexpected and "unnatural" as a "living Jew"; human sympathy, nearly impossible. But the SK, in Langfus's telling, can at least mourn the victims and serve some positive, human role in the Hell of the gas chambers.
"World peace is certainly an ideal worth striving for; in Hitler's opinion it will be realizable only when one power, the racially best one, has attained complete and uncontested supremacy. That can then provide a sort of world police, seeing to it at the same time that the most valuable race is guaranteed the necessary living space. And if no other way is open to them, the lower races will have to restrict themselves accordingly."

- Rudolf Hess, letter, 1927

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Re: More Auschwitz: The Sonderkommando Thread

Postby Statistical Mechanic » Sun Feb 19, 2017 8:02 pm

Another factoid re: Lewental, it is thought that his long manuscript, discovered in 1962, was written entirely in October 1944, not before; of the first 92 pages, about 9 page deal with arrival and the farmhouses; a full 71 pages cover the revolt, including the planning for it. At page 92, Lewental cycled back and gave an account of his deportation and then the gassing of those arriving in late 1942 (15 pages). The final 15 pages offer some general reflections and a hard-to-decipher description of the arrival of a transport.

And an observation: for the men in the SK writing itself - aside from intended audience and content, but as an activity - was not a passive response; it was fraught with risk, and the act required significant effort: not only were the men writing in available "free" time - when they were able to, after hard labor - but organizing paper, ink, pen - and finally burial containers - called for planning, ingenuity, and commitment.
"World peace is certainly an ideal worth striving for; in Hitler's opinion it will be realizable only when one power, the racially best one, has attained complete and uncontested supremacy. That can then provide a sort of world police, seeing to it at the same time that the most valuable race is guaranteed the necessary living space. And if no other way is open to them, the lower races will have to restrict themselves accordingly."

- Rudolf Hess, letter, 1927

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Re: More Auschwitz: The Sonderkommando Thread

Postby Statistical Mechanic » Sun Feb 19, 2017 8:14 pm

Another point on the third person: its use tends to make the writing in the "scrolls" an effort at historical narrative/writing albeit from inside the events themselves; it presumes a future audience - in a number of passages the SK writers make this explicit and "instruct" this audience on expected and desired responses - and positions the writing as contributing to a future history of Auschwitz. Something more than a person, individual experience.
"World peace is certainly an ideal worth striving for; in Hitler's opinion it will be realizable only when one power, the racially best one, has attained complete and uncontested supremacy. That can then provide a sort of world police, seeing to it at the same time that the most valuable race is guaranteed the necessary living space. And if no other way is open to them, the lower races will have to restrict themselves accordingly."

- Rudolf Hess, letter, 1927

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Re: More Auschwitz: The Sonderkommando Thread

Postby Statistical Mechanic » Sun Feb 19, 2017 8:42 pm

Back to the Russian POWs from Lublin: Lewental characterizes them as rash, fierce and strong, ready for action: "just act, and that's all! whether thought out or not, with a chance or without . . ." He accuses them of lacking "political maturity," that is, the ability to weight consequences, adjust action accordingly.

He describes how, after 300 SK members were to be sent for execution, one of these Russians got drunk and, when a Camp SS man tried to beat him, fought back and was killed. The result was a decision by the Camp SS to include the Russians among those being sent for liquidation.

At the same time, Lewental says that it was this same headstrong and devil-may-care spirit that led the Russians to be boldest, and strike first, when the revolt occurred.
"World peace is certainly an ideal worth striving for; in Hitler's opinion it will be realizable only when one power, the racially best one, has attained complete and uncontested supremacy. That can then provide a sort of world police, seeing to it at the same time that the most valuable race is guaranteed the necessary living space. And if no other way is open to them, the lower races will have to restrict themselves accordingly."

- Rudolf Hess, letter, 1927

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Re: More Auschwitz: The Sonderkommando Thread

Postby Statistical Mechanic » Sun Feb 19, 2017 8:43 pm

In contrast to the Russian POWs, the Jews in the Sonderkommando show more variety in Lewental's account. Religious men among them, like Langfus, were instrumental in fostering the spirit of resistance - which first manifested itself in escape plots, unsuccessful ones; but the religious men were less bold in action - Langfus himself is said to be strategically constrained because of his adherence to Jewish law, and it fell to younger Jews in the SK to push for a showdown with the SS. Part of this more strategic view of the Jews, as Lewental presents it, is their sustained attempt at coordination with the main body of the underground in the camp.

Lewental gives character sketches of several of the Jewish members of the SK; one interpretation of these sketches is that, for Lewental, they are a way to memorialize those whom he was bound and whom he knew would die with him.

Lewental at one point characterizes the planned revolt - writing of one abortive effort among others over many months - as "the minute when we made an end to everything of our own choosing. Nevertheless, no one held the illusion that we were going to save ourselves. On the contrary, we clearly made the assessment that it was a certain death, but everyone was happy with this." That containment came, presumably, from the ability which the SK plotters believed they had found to end things on their terms.

Later, Lewental explains how "the political situation on the outside," most likely with the war and with the camp underground, "compelled us to wait." During this particular waiting period, Lewental laments, "half a million Hungarian Jews were burnt."
"World peace is certainly an ideal worth striving for; in Hitler's opinion it will be realizable only when one power, the racially best one, has attained complete and uncontested supremacy. That can then provide a sort of world police, seeing to it at the same time that the most valuable race is guaranteed the necessary living space. And if no other way is open to them, the lower races will have to restrict themselves accordingly."

- Rudolf Hess, letter, 1927

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Re: More Auschwitz: The Sonderkommando Thread

Postby Balsamo » Mon Feb 20, 2017 12:50 am

Well, Stat,

First thank you for all you posts and inputs, i have just come back home - and have lost internet since saterday, so let me digest all that.

But as a first observation, which is one of my basic reason i do not agree with the logic, is that it seems that the whole approach of the problem posed by the SK is based on those 6 or 7 "scrolls" and the couple of testimonies, and that it should be enough to apprehend the actions of the many thousands of members of SK that were involved at Birkenau.
It seems that it is taken for granted that a few of those thousands were speaking for all of many thousands of them.

It seems to me like a strange premise.

And speaking of Leventhal, now i maybe naive or unaware, but as the SK were killed and renew every three months, how is it he was part of this mess for over two years. Did he witness all he wrote, or did he based part of his manuscript on what he was told...?
Sincere question... :?:

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Re: More Auschwitz: The Sonderkommando Thread

Postby Statistical Mechanic » Mon Feb 20, 2017 1:12 am

Balsamo wrote:Well, Stat,

First thank you for all you posts and inputs, i have just come back home - and have lost internet since saterday, so let me digest all that.

But as a first observation, which is one of my basic reason i do not agree with the logic, is that it seems that the whole approach of the problem posed by the SK is based on those 6 or 7 "scrolls" and the couple of testimonies,

Let me correct this: there are more than a couple of testimonies. E.g., books by Venezia, Müller, Nadjary, Bennahmias, etc (along with Nyiszli''s account); comments from Nazi personnel like Höss and Morgen, and various other readings (here's Kleon's earlier posted list). I really recommend Greif's book.

Balsamo wrote:that it should be enough to apprehend the actions of the many thousands of members of SK that were involved at Birkenau.

Not at all: but you raise the question - on what are your calumnies based then?

Balsamo wrote:It seems that it is taken for granted that a few of those thousands were speaking for all of many thousands of them.

No, for one thing, from these testimonies and "scrolls" we know that the SK had cliques and that its members evaluated some of their number quite negatively. So not speaking for all of them, although sometimes generalizing based on what they knew, heard, saw . . . writing about the members as a group, as made up of groups, as individuals. But, pray tell, what are we to use to evaluate these men if not, along with methodological and comparative literature, the evidence available about them?

Balsamo wrote:It seems to me like a strange premise.

What is yours? I assume we’re all working with approximately the same range of sources, which are what enable discussion of this topic.

Balsamo wrote:And speaking of Leventhal, now i maybe naive or unaware, but as the SK were killed and renew every three months,

As I posted above, this is not correct. The last major elimination of SKs, in the sense of turning over the entire Kommando, took place around the end of 1942 / beginning of 1943. The well-known wisdom, according to what I've read, is this case mistaken. We know this because, er, testimonies and "scrolls" provide evidence that enables us to see this.

Balsamo wrote:how is it he was part of this mess for over two years. Did he witness all he wrote, or did he based part of his manuscript on what he was told...?
Sincere question... :?:

Lewental's manuscript mostly deals with what he observed. In 6 pages he devoted to a 2nd transport arriving around the end of 1942, it is possible (the manuscript is largely not decipherable in this section) that he was describing a transport which he was told about.

OTOH, the men, including the authors of the "scrolls," clearly discussed together what they observed - Langfus was known among and was known among SK members as someone who related events he heard about or saw - so it is very likely that elements of the accounts came from such discussions, the common knowledge of the Kommando. I am pretty sure he recorded what he heard from those arriving on transports, for example, about the course of the war. But, for the most part, AFAIK Lewental made what he observed the centerpiece of his writing, e.g., his deportation and arrival at the camp; resistance efforts - beginning with escape ideas; arriving transports; the revolt itself.
"World peace is certainly an ideal worth striving for; in Hitler's opinion it will be realizable only when one power, the racially best one, has attained complete and uncontested supremacy. That can then provide a sort of world police, seeing to it at the same time that the most valuable race is guaranteed the necessary living space. And if no other way is open to them, the lower races will have to restrict themselves accordingly."

- Rudolf Hess, letter, 1927

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Re: More Auschwitz: The Sonderkommando Thread

Postby Balsamo » Mon Feb 20, 2017 3:39 am

on what are your calumnies based then?


What do you mean by calumnies?

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Re: More Auschwitz: The Sonderkommando Thread

Postby Statistical Mechanic » Mon Feb 20, 2017 4:13 am

defamatory statements, vilification, character attacks
"World peace is certainly an ideal worth striving for; in Hitler's opinion it will be realizable only when one power, the racially best one, has attained complete and uncontested supremacy. That can then provide a sort of world police, seeing to it at the same time that the most valuable race is guaranteed the necessary living space. And if no other way is open to them, the lower races will have to restrict themselves accordingly."

- Rudolf Hess, letter, 1927

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Re: More Auschwitz: The Sonderkommando Thread

Postby Jeff_36 » Mon Feb 20, 2017 4:31 am

My two cents: the buried SK writings were dicovered at varying dates, the last of them was discovered in 1980. That disproves any forgery allegation.

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Re: More Auschwitz: The Sonderkommando Thread

Postby Balsamo » Mon Feb 20, 2017 12:17 pm

Statistical Mechanic wrote:defamatory statements, vilification, character attacks


Could you quote the parts of my post you consider defamatory?

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Re: More Auschwitz: The Sonderkommando Thread

Postby Balsamo » Mon Feb 20, 2017 12:42 pm

Jeff_36 wrote:My two cents: the buried SK writings were dicovered at varying dates, the last of them was discovered in 1980. That disproves any forgery allegation.


Of course,
No one here allege that those terstimonies are forgeries... ;) unless David, monstrous or Mary steps in

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Re: More Auschwitz: The Sonderkommando Thread

Postby Statistical Mechanic » Mon Feb 20, 2017 12:55 pm

Balsamo wrote:
Statistical Mechanic wrote:defamatory statements, vilification, character attacks


Could you quote the parts of my post you consider defamatory?

For starters:
- "There are limits, and those limits were clearly broken in this case.
Who among you would kill his/her loved ones just because someone put a gun on your head."
- "a disgraceful life."
- "as for the SK in general . . . participating to the genocide of their own people"; "It is about participating to mass killing or not." - "having collaborated"
- analogizing the situation of the SK to that of ordinary Germans
- "well, sorry, i have not enough compassion to find any excuses as it does constitute 'complicity of the crime of genocide'"
- What members of the SK did 'does constitute a criminal act, coerced or not."
"World peace is certainly an ideal worth striving for; in Hitler's opinion it will be realizable only when one power, the racially best one, has attained complete and uncontested supremacy. That can then provide a sort of world police, seeing to it at the same time that the most valuable race is guaranteed the necessary living space. And if no other way is open to them, the lower races will have to restrict themselves accordingly."

- Rudolf Hess, letter, 1927

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Re: More Auschwitz: The Sonderkommando Thread

Postby Balsamo » Mon Feb 20, 2017 8:54 pm

Statistical Mechanic wrote:
Balsamo wrote:
Statistical Mechanic wrote:defamatory statements, vilification, character attacks


Could you quote the parts of my post you consider defamatory?

For starters:
- "There are limits, and those limits were clearly broken in this case.
Who among you would kill his/her loved ones just because someone put a gun on your head."
- "a disgraceful life."
- "as for the SK in general . . . participating to the genocide of their own people"; "It is about participating to mass killing or not." - "having collaborated"
- analogizing the situation of the SK to that of ordinary Germans
- "well, sorry, i have not enough compassion to find any excuses as it does constitute 'complicity of the crime of genocide'"
- What members of the SK did 'does constitute a criminal act, coerced or not."


Ok Stat, not really nice from you, especially since i wrote that i did accept your stance, but a quick reminder:

DEFAMATION: intentional false communication, either written or spoken, that harms a person's reputation.

CALUMNY: A false statement maliciously made to injure another's reputation

So in order to prove that i defamed or issue calumnies, you must prove that my statement are false.
Let's take this last one:
What members of the SK did 'does constitute a criminal act, coerced or not.


Does the fact of undressing young children and put them in a gas chamber constitue ot not a criminal act?
If you can prove that it does not, you can accuse me of having defamed.

it does constitute 'complicity of the crime of genocide'"


I am not going to insult your intelligence by asking if the crime in question is a genocide. But let's take the definition of complicity:

COMPLICITY: Involvement as an accomplice in a questionable act or a crime.

ACCOMPLICE: One who participates in the commission of a crime without being the principal actor.

Were the SonderKommando "involved" in the accomplishment of the murderous operation - that is the mass gassing of innocent victims in the Krematoria - i called in my statement a "genocide"? Yes or no.
The hell if you manage to prove that the SonderKommando were NOT INVOLVED!


"having collaborated"

Again here is the definition:
TO COOPERATE: To work or act together toward a common end or purpose.

Did the SK act together - with the SS - toward a commend end which was in the case the mass killing of innocent people?

analogizing the situation of the SK to that of ordinary Germans


This is not what i did, nor did i say that.
I said that if one established "principles" in order to attenuate the level of responsibility - and i don't mind you doing that, by the way - those principles get kind of "universal value" and that poses the risks of being used as a "excuse" or "justification" of other crimes.
And it is true that i had once a fight with a German who was trying to excuses the exactions done by the Wehrmacht - we were not even talking about the EG here - by such principles " we cannot imagine what the Eastern Front really was and we cannot imagine what the soldiers went through at Stalingrad". True i cannot imagine, it does not influenced my opinion that the exactions were were talking about were indeed criminal.

There is nothing "false" in what i wrote, and while you are of course free not to share how i consider the fact, you cannot say that what i wrote is false.

You make the confustion between the ACT or ACTION - which criminal nature CANNOT be contested - and the CONTEXCT and CONDITION that - and i agree with the principle - can attenuate the criminal nature of the ACT or ACTION. I have written many times that you all had all liberty to attenuate as much as you wanted the criminal nature of the Actions in questions. But Both are very different in nature and don't eliminate themselves.
Where i do disagree is when those limits are blurred in such a way that the ACT - which is obvious and not denied - lose its criminal nature to a point where the ones who committed the ACT becomes more victims that the ones who suffered from it.
And this is what i consider INSANE!

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Re: More Auschwitz: The Sonderkommando Thread

Postby Statistical Mechanic » Mon Feb 20, 2017 9:25 pm

Balsamo wrote:
Statistical Mechanic wrote:
Balsamo wrote:
Statistical Mechanic wrote:defamatory statements, vilification, character attacks


Could you quote the parts of my post you consider defamatory?

For starters:
- "There are limits, and those limits were clearly broken in this case.
Who among you would kill his/her loved ones just because someone put a gun on your head."
- "a disgraceful life."
- "as for the SK in general . . . participating to the genocide of their own people"; "It is about participating to mass killing or not." - "having collaborated"
- analogizing the situation of the SK to that of ordinary Germans
- "well, sorry, i have not enough compassion to find any excuses as it does constitute 'complicity of the crime of genocide'"
- What members of the SK did 'does constitute a criminal act, coerced or not."


Ok Stat, not really nice from you, especially since i wrote that i did accept your stance, but a quick reminder:

DEFAMATION: intentional false communication, either written or spoken, that harms a person's reputation.

CALUMNY: A false statement maliciously made to injure another's reputation

So in order to prove that i defamed or issue calumnies, you must prove that my statement are false.

You stated that these men murdered their loved ones, and you described their compelled participation as "collaboration," using the words participation and collaboration interchangeably. I don't know what to say. I am not trying to use charged language but call things as I see them. You called people whom I think were not criminals not only criminals but collaborators in genocide. That's a defamation, for sure.

Throughout, I've pointed out where I disagree with you on the facts and how you interpret them. "Maliciously" was not in my mind when I used the word "calumny," and I didn't consult dictionaries before typing it (I did now - and "maliciously" is not always used) - but I do think that you mischaracterize, for whatever reason, the situation and actions of these men, generally, to cast them as criminals. The misrepresentation I've mentioned is not, either, this or that fact but your overall depiction - albeit with somewhat (to me) obscure restatements of factual information.

Balsamo wrote:Let's take this last one:
What members of the SK did 'does constitute a criminal act, coerced or not.


Does the fact of undressing young children and put them in a gas chamber constitue ot not a criminal act?
If you can prove that it does not, you can accuse me of having defamed.

As I've argued throughout, the context and power relations are critical here. Just now, you write as though these men simply decided to kill children. I've shown that this isn't the case - and I didn't have to, because it is well known that this isn't the case.

An accurate description/representation of how the SK members, by and large, behaved in the undressing rooms, for example, would show that they tried to care for the victims of the SS - offering them a moment of humanity and solace and trying to spare them pain and agony. Consistent with their values, they played the role of mourners, too. All this has nothing to do with collaboration.

Balsamo wrote:Were the SonderKommando "involved" in the accomplishment of the murderous operation - that is the mass gassing of innocent victims in the Krematoria - i called in my statement a "genocide"? Yes or no.

I am not going to play word games with you - you used "collaboration" as an alternative for "participate" - and I am definitely not going to play Gerdesian yes/no games either.

Balsamo wrote:The hell if you manage to prove that the SonderKommando were NOT INVOLVED!

Please. "Participated" and "involved" do not equate to criminal collaboration under the set of facts we know about the SK members In general.

Balsamo wrote:
"having collaborated"

Again here is the definition:
TO COOPERATE: To work or act together toward a common end or purpose.

You're joking? This is how you expect people to read "collaboration" in the context of WWII and criminal acts you say were undertaken with the Nazis?

Balsamo wrote:
analogizing the situation of the SK to that of ordinary Germans


This is not what i did, nor did i say that.

Of course you did, and I wrote why I felt that it was an unfortunate thing when you did it.

Balsamo wrote:There is nothing "false" in what i wrote, and while you are of course free not to share how i consider the fact, you cannot say that what i wrote is false.

It is false to say that these men killed their loved ones, and that they collaborated. In the normal usage for this period in relation to German goals, actions, and crimes.

Balsamo wrote:You make the confustion between the ACT or ACTION - which criminal nature CANNOT be contested - and the CONTEXCT and CONDITION that - and i agree with the principle - can attenuate the criminal nature of the ACT or ACTION.

No, I disagree that the action itself is a crime. Because of the situation these men were in. In my opinion, to call these men criminals, given the situation they were in, is to slander them and defame them. That's just my assessment. Nothing you've written has shaken it.

Balsamo wrote:I have written many times that you all had all liberty to attenuate as much as you wanted the criminal nature of the Actions in questions.

Perhaps we - I can't speak for others but perhaps I disagree that I am attenuating anything. You say you're happy to respect all opinions but you're mischaracterizing mine. It's fine that you're willing to "allow" me the liberty to "attenuate" a crime which IMO wasn't committed by these men - but your benevolence on this is a bit beside the point since I don't agree that these men were criminals.

Balsamo wrote:And this is what i consider INSANE!

And I am happy to be considered INSANE and to ignore challenges to participate in Gerdesian sweepstakes. I've stated my views, and provided support for them, and you've stated yours. We disagree. What I cannot abide is ALL CAPS SHOUTING.
"World peace is certainly an ideal worth striving for; in Hitler's opinion it will be realizable only when one power, the racially best one, has attained complete and uncontested supremacy. That can then provide a sort of world police, seeing to it at the same time that the most valuable race is guaranteed the necessary living space. And if no other way is open to them, the lower races will have to restrict themselves accordingly."

- Rudolf Hess, letter, 1927

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Re: More Auschwitz: The Sonderkommando Thread

Postby Balsamo » Mon Feb 20, 2017 11:12 pm

Statmec:
You stated that these men murdered their loved ones, and you described their compelled participation as "collaboration," using the words participation and collaboration interchangeably.


Actually it is levental that said that among the victims they had to handle, there were family members.

I used an analogy - contemporary - asking who among us would be able to shoot his/her loved ones even under the threat of being killed, because that is the only analogy i could think off.

I did and do use participation and collaboration interchangeably.
If you are compelled to do it one time, you are being forced to participate.
If after being forced to participate, you made up you mind and accept to do it for a long period of time, every day, then there is no other word than "collaboration" - not to be understood purely as those who collaborate to the occupier policy, just the normal definition of collaboration.

I am not trying to use charged language but call things as I see them. You called people whom I think were not criminals not only criminals but collaborators in genocide.


And this is where we disagree.
You have used the context and conditions in which they were compelled to do what they did to the maximum extent...to a point that a couple of men can undress 12 years old children, lead them in a fake shower room, close the doors, and wait for the killing to proceed, then reopen the door, and dispose of those tiny bodies, and conclude that there was nothing really criminal in that.
And for the only reason, or so it seems, that "they were compelled to do so".
I just cannot agree with this concept, sorry. I am not willing to convince you, as - as i said - you are free to digest this enormity - what i did call the "unthinkable - the way you want.

But the conclusion would be that there is a monster inside each of every single human being, that basically, everyone would have just done the same thing under similar conditions...compelled or coerced...And i consider that as NOT TRUE, and i do not want to see human nature like this in the first place.
I just do not agree with the premise, and never will, just for the reason that other human being did the greatest sacrifice fully aware of what they were doing. Just for them, and not only those family members of mine.
We just do not have the same perspective from the start.

Throughout, I've pointed out where I disagree with you on the facts and how you interpret them. "Maliciously" was not in my mind when I used the word "calumny," and I didn't consult dictionaries before typing it (I did now - and "maliciously" is not always used) - but I do think that you mischaracterize, for whatever reason, the situation and actions of these men, generally, to cast them as criminals. The misrepresentation I've mentioned is not, either, this or that fact but your overall depiction - albeit with somewhat (to me) obscure restatements of factual information.


Do not worry, Stat...
Beside, i consider "ressentment" as the 8th sin. ;)
But i do think you over interpreted what you call "my view".
I never said that i consider those SK AS guilty as the Nazi. And indeed, i would have favored to put them on trial, not hoping that they would all be sentence to death...not at all...but to gather more information, contradictory points of view, which would have helped us to understand better.
I am reading Grief right now...and reserve my opinion for now.
But i do not like my reading, that is for sure.

No, i do not think i i have mischaracterize anything. I just do not extend the concept of "attenuating circrumstances" as you do. But that does not mean i reject them as a whole.

I have read your former posts i could to reply to, as my connection let me down on Sunday...There are indeed sources of misunderstanding i would have liked to lift, but could not.

As I've argued throughout, the context and power relations are critical here. Just now, you write as though these men simply decided to kill children. I've shown that this isn't the case - and I didn't have to, because it is well known that this isn't the case. We don't have to get into mens rea and legal principles to understand this, IMO.


That is the point. for me the "context and power relations" - although important, just does not absolve everything, whatever the degree, there is a bit of responsibility that always remains.
Or if one holds this as a principle, it should be applied to comparable situation, without just rejecting this concept by saying "there have never been a comparable situation", it is too absolute, and just would be understood as a pretext to create a "case of exception".
"Context and power relations" as well as the "gray zone" developped by Levi (i do think he does a better job than Grief, lol)...help to understand, to explain, maybe...but not to absolve.
And this is the point where you and I will never agree.

of course they did not decide to kill those child!
As Grief irritatingly puts it, " the job had to be done". ( No it HAD NOT to be done, the SS wanted it to be done, and they did it).
So they in fine participated/collaborated in killing those child...that is a fact.
If those SK would have agreed to make the greatest sacrifice, and say "{!#%@} off, kill us fist, then them, and clean the mess yourself", well there would have been a crisis meeting in Hoss office. But they did not.

So yes, "context and power relations" can explain why "they did not", but it does not absolve them from the fact that "they actually did it".

Please. "Participated" and "involved" do not equate to criminal collaboration under the set of facts we know about the SK members In general.


It is the action to what you participate or is involved with that determine the "criminal" nature of the overall behavior/action/participation whatever word you want to chose.
They were coerced/compelled accomplice, i agree, but they did took part in the process of killing. the process was criminal, hence, they took part in an action that does have a "criminal nature".
Quite simple actually.
They just were "involved", there nothing that can change that fact.

You're joking? This is how you expect people to read "collaboration" in the context of WWII and criminal acts you say were undertaken with the Nazis?


I am not joking at all. The term "collaboration" - being the coorperation with the occupier's policy is so out of context, that, on this forum at least, given the context, I thought the the term collaboration would have been understood in its primary meaning...just the word as it means, from the latin...CO ...labor...
This topic is not about Marechal Petain, or any form of politcal regime,or is it?.
So sorry for not using paraphrases.

Of course you did, and I wrote why I felt that it was an unfortunate thing when you did it


No i did not, and i would guess that is part of you reaction i did not reply to (hence did not clarify)
Frankly, i would rather chose to be a "defamator" than someone suspected who would put a Jew at the same level of guilt than a Nazi's. This why i warned about edicting specific "principles" only valid for SK.
But well, glad to see you can react emotionally too.

It is false to say that these men killed their loved ones, and that they collaborated. In the normal usage for this period in relation to German goals, actions, and crimes.


Answered above.
In their case, i speak of "their own people", now i read in Grief that they all recognized family members among the corpses...

They did collaborated in the primary sense of the term, not in the one you chose to follow.

No, I disagree that the action itself is a crime. Because of the situation these men were in. In my opinion, to call these men criminals, given the situation they were in, is to slander them and defame them. That's just my assessment. Nothing you've written has shaken it.


you are reacting again, sorry...Being a criminal has never meant being a "Hitler" or a "Nazi SS of Birkenau",
Being a criminal simply means to commit an action that can be considered as a crime.
Now you can consider that undressing people and putting them in a room, close the doors, and let the Nazi throw in pellet of lethal poison, not being a criminal action...
but then i would give up as i probably lack the english vocabulary to make my point clearer.

Perhaps we - I can't speak for others but perhaps I disagree that I am attenuating anything. You say you're happy to respect all opinions but you're mischaracterizing mine. It's fine that you're willing to "allow" me the liberty to "attenuate" a crime which IMO wasn't committed by these men - but your benevolence on this is a bit beside the point since I don't agree that these men were criminals.


Please, there is nothing wrong to attenuate a crime.
But how else should i interpret that your are doing. I am not mischaracterizing anything - not that when you make stunning interpretation of what i am writing, i call that misunderstanding - natural thing as our native tongue as well as our culture and background are quite different - hey, i am not sure i used the word "allow" in any condescend way, i just mean it is your liberty.

I did understand that you consider you don't consider those men "criminals" despite having committed "criminal things", but in order for me not to "mischaracterizing" you any further, please explain me why the actions they participate to, or to put even more simplier, what each of them did before the gas chambers doors closes, is not criminal by nature....

I don't have the feelings that anyone - including you - has addressed the fundamental point i made.
Nor did anyone explain why people who lead people into a room, undressed them, lead them into the next room, wait the time it takes, then cut the hair, threw the gold teeth, sorted out the bodies, cremated them the best they could so that the room would be ready for the next load of victims...all this over a extended period of time... were the "victims among the victims" to quote Grief...

But you are probably right.
It is me that must be insane thinking that what they did was no good, and that such a reaction to whatever "context and power relations" is NOT a fatality, thinking that not every human would do what they did...


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