Holocaust Remembrance Day – April 16
Jews, Catholics, Lutherans and others were buried side by side without the benefit of clergy in mass graves in concentration camps in Germany. 60 million people died in the Holocaust during the Second World War, and that is why we take a moment for prayer and reflection on April 16, Holocaust Remembrance Day, so the world will never forget.
300 camps were found all around Germany. Civil rights were suspended so the Nazis could arbitrarily imprison anyone they wished and send them in trucks and trains to these camps.
When the Americans, British and Russians, and other Allied soldiers arrived, they found a barbarity and brutality that mankind had never known or would even believe. Russians filmed the better equipped camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau where 4 million souls were murdered.
Dachau – had its own brothel where Polish women were taken for sexual slavery for German guards, and as the women died a new group were trucked in.
Poison gas was used on helpless victims who died and were thrown in to the nearby crematorium. Thousands of prisoners: Poles, Rumanians, Belgians, Africans, humans of every race, homosexuals and children arrived in railroad cars starving and frozen and left to die in the snow. What crimes had these innocent children committed?
Prisoners were tortured in gruesome ways and their skins made into lampshades. Barbed wire, often electrified prevented their escape, and in some cases prisoners were made to sleep on barbed wire on wooden cots. The commandant at Dachau wanted 600 Jews a day, every day, exterminated to impress his superiors.
Corruption was fostered in these concentration camps as food gave prisoners an excuse to kill each other and convert into beasts just for a piece of bread.
Ebense – a quiet holiday retreat where an SS Panzer officer could relax near a concentration camp which was used for their economic system. Daily collection of corpses deposited in the crematorium kept a large chimney billowing black smoke.
Ohrdruf – where hunger, desolation, despair and torture grew daily. As the Americans approached, prisoners were locked in a wooden shed and the straw set on fire for suffocation. Then the guards poured petrol around the hut to try to camouflage the carnage they had created. The must have felt some guilt if they tried to cover up their crimes.
Gardelege – 1800 prisoners were set on fire in wooden huts, as the Americans arrived to see smouldering huts and burned out corpses. They took films to record the atrocities as they knew nobody would believe the horror they saw.
Belsen – men were starved, got weak and died. 72 deaths in 24 hours was a normal occurrence there.
General Eisenhower ordered the German people to arrive at these camps and walk past the dead bodies to witness the cruelty their ambition had done. They were made to carry the skeletons and throw them in to mass graves. The Germans could no longer say, “we did not know.” Dachau had been advertised in films as the “model camp.” But when the Red Cross inspected it, they had been duped with a theatre manufactured to deceive them, for the Germans were masters of deception.
My step-dad had some of these photos which as a child I was not allowed to see, but which I saw anyway and wondered why naked corpses were piled high all the way up to the roof of a building.
FBI Director James Comey’s insensitive and cruel remark stating that “some in Poland were accomplices in the Holocaust,” struck a raw nerve in me. Not only was it a poor choice of words but mistakes like this don’t always disappear with an apology. President Obama also caused an outrage in my beloved Poland in 2012 when he referred to a Nazi facility in German-occupied Poland where Jews were sent for extermination as a “Polish death camp.” He later apologized.
These concentration camps were never “Polish,” but constructed by Nazi Germany using forced Polish slaves.
My father fought for three valiant weeks against the Nazi incursion into Poland. In the Warsaw Ghetto uprising Poles fought with rifles against tanks, and millions of Poles were tortured and killed by the Nazis. Not only does Mr. Comey owe Poland an apology but he has a lot of genuflecting to do as we still feel raw and hurt at what Nazi Germany did to us Poles.
Mr. Comey and Mr. Obama, should be made to read books on Polish history before they start shooting off their mouths and spreading falsehoods about Poland.
Stephen Mull, the US Ambassador to Poland has a lot of work to do to correct this grave insult.
There were some Catholic people in Poland who believed the Jews killed Jesus and there might have been an anti-Semitic attitude,
but from there to collaborating in the death camps is like saying all Americans supported slavery. Poland was under fierce German occupation and was never a friend of the Nazis; they despised them.
When top officials say that the concentration camps were Polish, and not German not only does this indicate a complete lack of historical knowledge but a total disregard for the truth, and it leaves writers like me the difficult task of trying to rectify hurtful lies.
No! The world must never forget this inhumanity and that is why we must take a moment for a silent prayer for these millions of victims and remember the Holocaust on April 16. Never again!
In memory of my father, Sgt. Edward Zyrmont, a tank commander in the 1st Polish Armoured Division, who died fighting so this genocide would never happen again. Killed in action in France 1944, at the Battle of the Falaise Gap.
I cannot forget nor forgive.