Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Secret Annex Online

I just discovered, through a blog link, that the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam has just created an online 3D tour of The Secret Annex. It's quite amazing - you can enter every room of the building, both those where Anne Frank and her family and the other Jews live in hiding, and in the rest of the building.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Northern Lights appear above ash plume in Iceland

The Daily Mail online has posted some spectacular photos of the Iceland volcano with the aurora borealis shimmering above it: Iceland volcano: Northern Lights appear above ash plume.

A sample:


From Reuters

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Police State in Arizona

Scary Crooks and Liars headline: Gov. Jan Brewer makes it official: Arizona is now nation's first police state for immigrants

Actually, it's worse than that. It's a police state for everyone in Arizona now.

Media Matters reports:

AZ Bill "Requires Police" To Determine A "Person's Immigration Status." The Los Angeles Times reported that the newly passed Arizona immigration "bill, known as SB 1070, makes it a misdemeanor to lack proper immigration paperwork in Arizona. It also requires police officers, if they form a 'reasonable suspicion' that someone is an illegal immigrant, to determine the person's immigration status." The legislation passed 35 to 21. [Los Angeles Times, 4/14/10, emphasis added]

Those "Unable To Produce Documents Showing They Are Allowed To Be In The United States Could Be Arrested, Jailed For Up To Six Months And Fined $2,500." According to the Seattle Times, under the Arizona immigration bill "the police would be authorized to arrest immigrants unable to show documents allowing them to be in the country and the legislation would leave drivers open to sanctions, in some cases for knowingly transporting an illegal immigrant, even a relative. Immigrants unable to produce documents showing they are allowed to be in the United States could be arrested, jailed for up to six months and fined $2,500. Currently, officers can inquire about someone's immigration status only if the person is a suspect in another crime. The bill would allow officers to avoid the immigration issue if it would be impractical or hinder another investigation." [Seattle Times, 4/14/10, emphasis added]

AZ Bill "Makes It Illegal For Anyone To Transport An Illegal Immigrant, Even A Family Member." ABC News reported that the Arizona immigration "measure allows police to detain people on the suspicion that they are illegal immigrants, outlaws citizens from employing day laborers, and makes it illegal for anyone to transport an illegal immigrant, even a family member, anywhere in the state." [ABC News, 3/26/10, emphasis added]

So if the police don't like something about me (I'm white, not Latino), they can lie about forming a "reasonable suspicion" and also require me to prove that I'm an American citizen or legally able to stay in the U.S. And if I happen to pick up a hitchhiker who is an illegal immigrant, and the police stop my car, I get to spend time in jail along with the person I picked up. Obviously, this law will be used to harass Latinos in general and immigrants, legal or otherwise, in particular, but it could be used against anyone. Say, for example, white-looking people at a pro-immigration rally. Or white-looking people handing out leaflets supporting immigrants. Or someone who gets angry at a police officer's high-handedness at a traffic stop.

And what are the documents that will satisfy the requirement of proving that one is legally in the U.S.? Is a driver's license from another state enough? A birth certificate? A social security card? If I ever have the misfortune of going to Arizona while this law is still on the books, I'll make sure to bring my passport with me.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Volcano in Iceland

The Fimmvoruhald volcano erupting at Iceland's Eyjafjallajökull glacier, earlier this week. (Don't ask me to pronounce either name - when I listen to Eyjafjallajökull being pronounced via Slate or Wikipedia, it sounds very little like what it looks like).

I was living in Seattle in 1980 when Mount St. Helens blew (see the website for the Mount St. Helens National Volcano Monument for more information).

The winds never blew the ash cloud into Seattle, but Portland was hit several times by the ash when the wind blew in the right direction. It was still very dramatic - you could see the huge column of ash for a long time from Seattle. I never did visit the volcano, but one of the tourist souvenirs one could buy soon afterwards were little glass vials of volcano ash. I bought one but have no idea what happened to it.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

"Among the Righteous" updated

I just finished watching "Among the Righteous" - it's a very interesting film, not only telling the stories of some Arabs who saved Jews in North Africa, but also asking the question of why this has not been researched and remembered. These are my notes on the film:

Among the Righteous

More than one hundred concentration camps were set up in North Africa, by the Vichy French, the Nazis, and the Italians. A camp in Libya named Giado was where the most Jews died of all of the camps. An interesting point made by Satloff is that even though knowledge of these camps had been forgotten for a long time, the movie Casablanca (made during the war) mentions concentration camps at a couple of points, so their existence was certainly known at the time.

One example of a righteous person whom Satloff found was an Arab nobleman named Ali Sikkat, in Tunisia. During fighting in 1943, sixty Jews were being kept in a labor camp fled the camp in the middle of a battle between the Allies and the Axis. Their lives were saved by Ali Sikkat, whose story was published already fifty years ago.

Satloff said that his search for a righteous Arab was politically loaded: why don’t we know these stories? Arabs don’t want to be found – it became toxic in many Arab countries to let it be known that you’d helped Jews. The problem is that Arab sympathy for the Palestinian people has prevented these stories from being unearthed and told, in order not to give support to Israel.

Historically speaking, Jews in Muslim lands lived as second class citizens (admittedly, usually better than the situation of Jews living in Christian countries). Jews were under legal prescriptions (as dhimmis who had to pay the jizya to gain legal protection), and from time to time there was violence against them. In the 1930s, the Jews of North Africa faced a new threat – fascism and antisemitism.

The only Holocaust memorial monument in all of North Africa commemorates a group of Tunisian Jews who were deported and killed in Europe – Joseph, Gilbert, Jean Scemla. Gilbert went to the Ecole Polytechnique (highest French university), and fought with the French against the Nazis in 1940.

France’s Vichy government was almost as antisemitic as the German government. After the fall of France, Gilbert rejoined his family in Tunis, since he was no longer at home in France. But North Africa was becoming less hospitable to Jews – the film shows images of Petain, and the fascist salute.
The strict quotas of France’s antisemitic laws were imposed in French North Africa. Jewish businesses were confiscated, Jews were barred from the professions, Jewish children were kicked out of schools, and Jews were stripped of their citizenship.

The Vichy government established harsh internment camps in Algeria and Morocco, in the Sahara. The
Jewish prisoners were mostly from central Europe, people who had fled to North Africa from the Nazis in Europe. Satloff relays testimonies from Polish Jewish survivors who were liberated by the British. One of the tasks laid upon the prisoners was to build the trans-Sahara railway. A couple of the camps in Morocco were in Bergen and Tendrara, where people died of starvation, insects, exposure, and illness.

In beginning of 1942, Rommel (general of the Afrika Korps) entered Egypt. Hitler ordered him to hold North Africa. Operation Torch, the beginning of the Allied counteroffensive against the Nazis, landed American and British troops in North Africa. The video shows the war cemetery in Tunis, with the graves of 6,000 American troops (I never knew this).

German troops invaded Tunisia - it was the only Arab country to be occupied by the Nazis. Once the Germans entered Tunisia, they began the usual routine of persecuting the Jews. The SS commander in Tunis was Walter Rauf, the Nazi commander who had been involved in organizing the mobile gas killing vans in eastern Europe. In December, 1942, Rauf rounded up Jews in Tunis. Jewish laborers were forced to wear the yellow star.

How did Arabs react to the persecution of their Jewish neighbors? Most were bystanders, a few made their hatred heard – “you Jews, you Yids, will all have your throats cut.” Some Arabs enlisted in the German army, others volunteered to guard the camps, and a few rescued Jews from Nazi persecution.

Joseph Naccache said that his neighbors had shielded him. Satloff found his house and the hammam (bathhouse) where he had been protected. Why did they protect the Jews? Because Jews and Muslims were like brothers (speaking to the son of the man who protected Naccacche).

Satloff showed the marble mausoleum of King Mohammed V of Morocco, who was king during WWII. He defied the Vichy authorities and said that in his kingdom there were no Jews or Muslims – only Moroccan citizens. The Vichy authorities wanted Moroccan Jews to wear the yellow star, but the king refused, saying that he too would wear the yellow star. In Algeria there were Muslim religious objections to Vichy laws against the Jews. An announcement was made in the mosques forbidding any Muslim believer from serving as a custodian of confiscated Jewish property. The newly crowned king of Tunisia under Nazi rule told the Jews he thought of them as part of his family.

To return to the Scemla family. They moved to the seaside town of Hammamat. Gilbert and Jean decided to fight with the French resistance. They then tried to escape, with the help of Hassan Vergany, who was a friend of the family. Vergany turned them into the Germans, and they were arrested outside of the German headquarters of Rommel himself. Joseph Scemla and his two sons were sent to the old Turkish prison in Tunis. In April 1943 they were sent to Dachau in Germany with 50 other prisoners.
It was a year before the Germans decided on their fate.

Satloff then recounted the story of Khaled Abdul Wahad, who owned a farm in Tunisia. Annie Bouqris told of this Arab landowner who saved her life and the life of her family. His daughter is still alive, and she said that at that time she knew that there were some Jewish families on the farm.

Edmee Masliah was told that her family’s home was being taken by the Nazis. Her family took refuge in an abandoned olive oil factory along with other Jewish families. Khaled wined and dined the German soldiers and learned that one of them had his eye on a Jewish girl. Khaled went to the oil press factory and told the Jews they had to leave immediately, and he led them to his farm, where they stayed in the stables. This should have been a perfect hiding place for the Jews, but soon after they arrived, a German regiment pitched its tents right on the edge of his property. Khaled told them not to wear their Jewish stars, so no one would know they were Jewish. One night when the men were away doing forced labor, the women and children almost came to grief. Khaled was still entertaining Germans to keep informed; a drunken German wandered off into the Bouqris family’s bedroom and threatened to rape one of the girls. He told them he was going to kill them that night. At that moment Khaled showed up and led away the German from the Jews.

That spring the German army was caught in a pincer between the British and American armies. Hundreds of thousands of German soldiers were captured. The ordeal of North African Jews was almost over. Satloff showed a film clip of Jews in Tunisia taking off the yellow stars.

To return to Joseph Scemla and his sons: they were transferred to the prison at Halle, Germany, and all were condemned to death. (Vergany was also condemned to 14 years in jail when the Free French took over Tunisia after the defeat of the Germans in 1943).

When Satloff lectures in Arab countries about the Holocaust, some Arabs yell at him, and say why are we talking about the Holocaust of 60 years ago instead of the Holocaust of the Palestinian Arabs today (he shows a clip of man who left his lecture yelling at him). A Palestinian Arab woman says we can now make a choice for peace, but many Arabs don’t want to recognize the Holocaust out of the fear that it means the acceptance of Israel.

In Israel – Satloff asks why haven’t we looked for Arab rescuers? He presents more stories from Tunisian survivors – about how they were saved from Germans by Arab neighbors. Satloff is trying to get Khaled Abdul Wahad recognized as one of the Righteous – but Yad Vashem has refused, out of doubt that he risked his life for Jews (which is required to declare someone a Righteous Gentile).

Yom HaShoah

Yesterday I went to two events for Yom HaShoah (Holocaust remembrance day). My synagogue, Temple Beth El of Ithaca, hosted a speaker, Professor Marc Dennis (who teaches art at Elmira College). The topic of his presentation was "Under the Floorboards – Hidden Art from the Holocaust." (The image at left is one that he showed; it is a drawing by Josef Szajna, “Waiting to be Called for Execution," 1944, Buchenwald, pencil on paper, 8 x 12).

To quote from the Temple website:
Inmates of concentration camps made thousands of clandestine drawings and paintings. In fact some 5,000 drawings and paintings survived the war – each one revealing a human dimension – providing us with a rare glimpse of the daily existence in the camps.... It reveals the little-known work of artists who left expressive evidence of what they witnessed. Mr. Dennis states, "We cannot understand it and appreciate it say in the same way we might a Rembrandt…. Victims of the Holocaust risked their lives to make art so that others may understand what they had to endure. There are very few situations where so much art can offer this unique perspective on history. It should always be a priority to study how others have suffered and survived, sacrificed and endured, and left their creative mark on history." Marc Dennis is an award winning professor and nationally recognized artist and Holocaust researcher. He teaches drawing, painting and digital imaging, as well as a course on the history of the Holocaust with a specific focus on the art of Europe from 1933-1945.
In the evening, I went to a staged reading of the play "Kindertransport," written by Diane Samuels. It was performed by On the Verge, a joint effort by the English and Theater Departments at Ithaca College, which puts on staged readings once or twice a year. The New York Times review of the performance in New York City in 1994 said of the play:
Yet another investigation of the Holocaust and its continuing reverberations, "Kindertransport," which opened last night, approaches the subject from the unusual perspective of a child who escaped the immediate horrors but paid a heavy price anyway. Kindertransport was the plan formed in 1938, in reaction to Kristallnacht and the rising Nazi threat, to evacuate children from Germany and Eastern Europe. Before World War II erupted, nearly 10,000 youngsters, most of them Jewish, had made it to England.

Ms. Samuels, an Englishwoman, has set her play in the attic of a suburban London house in the 1980's. Evelyn (Dana Ivey), a brusque middle-aged housewife, and her daughter, Faith (Mary Mara), are sorting through the cardboard boxes and steamer trunks. Theirs is a touchy relationship, although we're not to find out why for a while, and the air is charged with animosity.

At the same time, in a series of flashbacks, we follow the progress of Eva, a frightened 9-year-old Jewish girl (Alanna Ubach). Tagged like a piece of luggage, she leaves her mother in Hamburg and travels to England, where the well-meaning Lil (Patricia Kilgarriff) takes over her upbringing. Little by little, the distraught child grows into a reserved young woman. Her accent fades. And so, presumably, do the old traumas.
The performance was excellent, I thought - even though the actors had only rehearsed twice, they did very well, and I found it moving.

When I got home from the performance, I watched the latest staging of the life of Anne Frank, produced in Britain and broadcast on Masterpiece Theater (PBS). The show had the same effect that the story always does on me - it makes the life of Anne Frank vivid and real, and then at the end we discover what happened to her - she died in Bergen Belsen only two months before the war ended.

Tonight I'll be watching another PBS production - Among the Righteous: Lost Stories from the Holocaust in Arab Lands. From the website:
Did any Arabs save Jews during the Holocaust? That's the question author Robert Satloff had in mind when he set out to discover the lost, true stories of survival, courage and betrayal in Arab lands during World War II. The history of the Holocaust in Europe is well-documented, but the history of what happened to the Jewish people of North Africa has been mostly forgotten, even in the very towns and cities where it occurred. The truth is remarkable: not only did Jews in Arab lands suffer many of the same elements of persecution as Jews in Europe -- arrests, deportations, confiscations and forced labor -- but there were also hopeful stories of "righteous" Arabs reaching out to protect them.
I'm glad that this film has been made - most American Jews (or for that matter, American non-Jews) don't know anything about what happened to the Jews in North Africa during WWII. I think it's important for people to know this history, so that they don't imagine the Holocaust was simply a European story. If the Germans had succeeded in holding North Africa and then conquering Palestine, the Jews there would also have been killed like those in Europe. (The Nazi advance towards Egypt was halted at the first battle of El Alamein in July, 1942; the second battle of El Alamein in October-November 1942 was the first significant Allied victory against Axis forces and the beginning of the retaking of North Africa). We can see from how thoroughly the Nazis killed the Sephardic Jews of Greece, the Greek islands, and the Balkans, how they would also have killed the Sephardic and Middle Eastern Jews.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Hanan Eshel has passed away

I just learned from Paleojudaica (Jim Davila's blog) that Hanan Eshel, the great Israeli scholar of the Dead Sea Scrolls and other early Jewish literature, has just died. I saw him last summer when I was in Jerusalem and learned then that he was ill with cancer. He and his wife Esti spoke about his hopes at that point that he would recover from the disease. I first met him, I think, in 1987 or 1988 when I was a graduate student studying at the Hebrew University. I can't remember if we took a class together or not (or if he was already teaching at that point). He was always gracious, helpful, and often quite funny. May his memory be for a blessing.

An obituary on him can be found at: http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/136903

Gila Swirsky on the Anat Kam story

Gila Swirsky, whom I first met in Israel in 1987 as we were both protesting against the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza in the weekly "Women in Black" demonstrations at Paris Square in Jerusalem, has sent a letter to her mailing list about the latest big scandal to hit Israel, which you can read about in all of the Israeli newspapers today.
Friends,

This story is a testament to the Internet. And to Anat Kam, the whistleblower, who is widely regarded in Israeli security circles as a traitor and will probably soon be charged with treason.

Anat (I’ll use her first name, though I don’t know her) is a 23-year old journalist who wrote for the popular Israeli portal Walla. Some months ago, Anat did the unthinkable: she passed on information that was decidedly newsworthy, but that the Shin Bet – Israel’s security services – did not want outsiders to have. It was a”hit list” – the names of Palestinians living in the West Bank who were on the Shin Bet’s “wanted” list. And it was a copy of the Shin Bet protocol stating that if these “wanted” figures are identified during the course of a military action, permission is granted to carry out “an interception”. Nice language for execution without trial. Reports are that Anat photocopied this classified information while serving in the IDF.

Anat allegedly passed on this classified information to Uri Blau, a journalist, who published it months ago as a major scoop in Ha’aretz. Now Ha’aretz has whisked Uri away to London to protect him from the Israeli authorities, who would love to interrogate him about his informant. Meanwhile, Anat has been under house arrest and held incommunicado for at least three months.

This is a big story, but until today no Israeli newspapers could publish it because a judge issued a gag order at the Shin Bet’s request. But go ask Henry Miller about banned books. Thanks to the ban and Israel’s inability to control cyberspace, the story has taken on vastly greater proportions. Every news outlet in Israel – newspapers, radio, TV, news portals – has front-paged the story now that the gag order was lifted. It would never have received such widespread attention had the Israeli authorities not tried to hide it in the first place. And had the Internet not cloned the story through every webpage eager to expose state secrets.

This is not the first time the Israeli authorities have arrested suspects and held them incommunicado for extended periods. It happens to Palestinians all the time. The best known case of an Israeli is Mordechai Vanunu, who blew the whistle on Israel’s nuclear warfare capabilities 24 years ago and was tried behind closed doors. More recently, Brig. Gen. Yitzhak Yaakov, an Israeli citizen now living in the U.S., was arrested on a visit to Israel in 2002, and a gag order placed on news of his month-long detention and interrogation. Yaakov, a key scientist in the development of Israel’s nuclear weapons program, was suspected of divulging some of Israel’s secrets, but eventually released without charge.

So Israel has managed to draw widespread international attention to a story it wanted to hush up. But why conceal the fact that the Shin Bet has a “hit list” and gives license to its commando units to carry out field executions? After all, doesn’t the U.S. do the same thing in its own so-called war against terror?

Israel, in my view, wanted to hide this information to avoid the legal and diplomatic ramifications of disclosures that its soldiers were once again breaking international law. Israel has been playing defense ever since the Gaza Campaign, trying to keep its senior politicians and officers out of European courts on charges of war crimes. Most recently (December 2009), opposition leader Zipi Livni cancelled a trip to London out of fear she would be arrested, thanks to universal jurisdiction of human rights violations. Similar arrest orders were deflected by other senior Israelis (Barak, Mofaz, and Almog). Publicity about a hit list and hit squads could only add fuel to the growing criticism of Israel and the fear among its leaders of being arrested on a visit to Europe. Not to mention the fact that Israel’s own Supreme Court outlawed such unprovoked assassinations just months ago.

But really, isn’t Israel still the “only democracy in the Middle East”? Concealing someone’s arrest and the charges against her are clearly pages from the annals of dark regimes. And the broader context is the growing McCarthyite culture inside Israel – the silencing of its critics, the squirreling away of its whistleblowers. We see this in the hate campaign against Israeli human rights organizations, which has now reached a new peak – a bill before the Knesset that would severely hamper these organizations from receiving funds from foreign states, one of their only sources of support as the Israeli government is not about to fund human rights activity.

What’s not to love about secrecy, lies, and human rights violations? Praise the whistleblowers and all those who turned on the Internet lights, making it impossible for the authorities to turn them off again.

Gila Svirsky
Jerusalem / Nahariya

___________________
Gila Svirsky
http://www.GilaSvirsky.com

Monday, April 05, 2010

New York Times on the establishment of Dachau, March, 1933.

In my Jews in the Contemporary World course we are discussing the Holocaust this week, and I took a look at some New York Times articles, first about the establishment of Dachau as a concentration camp for political prisoners in March 1933, then about how it was freed by the American Seventh Army on April 30, 1945, and then another article which seems to give one of the first estimates of the numbers of Jews killed in the Holocaust. I think it would be appropriate to reproduce these articles, as Yom Ha'Shoah is coming up in a week.

The first one is a report by a Times reporter about Dachau a couple of months after it had been established, when most of the prisoners were Communists who had been rounded up by the Nazis soon after their takeover of Germany. When compared with the article about the liberation of the camp in 1945, the camp seems to have become a much more harsh and dreadful place in the ensuing twelve years.
TIMES WRITER VISITS REICH PRISON CAMP
Taken through entire place at Dachau in Bavaria except possibly disciplinary cells
2,000 inmates gloomy
Incautious word has landed many there – machine guns and rifles bar escape

From a special correspondent
Wireless to the NEW YORK TIMES

DACHAU, Bavaria, July 25. The name of this idyllic little town, situated about a half-hour’s automobile ride from Munich, has become a word of dread throughout Bavaria.

All the Bavarians, noted for their racy unreservedness of speech, pray these days with a mock drollery designed to beguile genuine apprehension:
“Please, Lord, make me dumb,
So I won’t to Dachau come.”

For high on the edge of Dachau is the big Bavarian concentration camp for political prisoners. Many a man has landed there, because of an incautious word or too much confidence in supposed comrades or friends. The Nazi Secret State Police, like the Cheka of Russia, has agents everywhere, and any criticism of the new regime and even lack of proper enthusiasm for it are punished as “sabotage” of the Nazi up-building program.

Sentences Indefinite

Such “saboteurs and killjoys” are sentenced to an indefinite period of training and education in the new and only true dogma of national salvation and for this purpose are sent to what are euphemistically called “educational camps,” where in rigid discipline and hard labor they are converted from egotistical Marxists or liberals to good Nazis who place service to the State above service to themselves.

Your correspondent spent a day at the “educational camp” at Dachau, where there is a steady coming and going, but where the average number of prisoners remains around 2,000. He inspected the whole camp, except possibly the disciplinary cells, of which he got a hint; he talked with them and heard their grievances, at least in so far as they dared express them in the presence of the camp’s deputy commander, who showed the correspondent around.

It is necessary to distinguish between a system that imprisons men for their political opinions and the methods with which the imprisonment is administered. In the latter respect the prisoners might have repeated the famous saying of the man about to be hanged that he was as well off as could be expected under the circumstances.

Clashes at the outset

This, both the prisoners and the camp’s commander, Herr Eicke, agreed, was truer now than before; when the concentration camps were first opened, the political passions still aflame led to numerous clashes between the prisoners and guards in which the guards naturally had the advantage.
Now camp life has settled into the organized routine of any penal institution, the guards consist of approximately 275 men, and Chancellor Hitler’s black-uniformed elite guards and not the ordinary brown-shirted storm troops perform this duty. It is somewhat boring but not much different from regular army life.

The prisoners accept their confinement as a blow of revolutionary fate against which it is futile to rave. The older prisoners and “trusties” soon break in the new ones and the latter quickly learn that, in view of the indefiniteness of their stay, good behavior and the quickest possible conversion to Nazism are their only chance of release. The intellectually honest are out of luck.

The camp is located on the site of huge war-time munition works. The machine shops and machinery were blown up on the orders of the Allies. Scattered remnants of these are mute testimony of Germany’s defeat and additional confirmation to the Nazis that they are right.

Assails destruction of works

“The senseless destruction of such tremendous values belonging to the German people is a shame,” exclaimed Deputy Commander Michael Lippert, the correspondent’s guide. “It is an object lesson for our Communists which they quickly comprehend.”

Some of the sheds of the administration building, especially the concrete one-story barracks which formerly housed the munition workers, were left standing and they constitute the concentration camp. In this respect the Dachau prisoners are probably better off than in most camps.

Surrounding the camp is a seen-foot wall topped off with barbed wire and a short distance beyond have been placed barbed-wire entanglements. Between the wall and the entanglements there are patrols of guards clad in gray green service denim. They are armed with rifles while machine guns are strategically placed and manned by alert crews with fingers at the triggers ready to mow down the rebellious or check any flight.

Asked whether there had been many escapes the guide said: “No, only one that was staged from a workshop outside the camp.”

Labor gangs repair road

Dachau is ruled by both prison regulations and rules of military discipline. That is apparent on every hand. On approaching the camp, after satisfying the challenging patrols with a pass obtained from the secret State Police, the correspondent saw labor gangs at work repairing a road under the supervision of armed guards and under the muzzles of machine guns. It was a blazing hot day and the men were stripped to the waist. Most of them were sunburned a dark brown, but the red of some betrayed recent arrivals.

They seemed to work with a sort of fury within them, betrayed in part by the vehemence with which they dug up the earth, but most of all by the tortured looks on their faces, which ranged all the way from rage and bitterness to bewildered hopelessness.

Later your correspondent learned that most of them had been put to work under the burning sun as a disciplinary measure, for the day was so hot that most of the prisoners had been relieved of all outside work. This was evident as soon as the camp gates were passed. Stretched out over the entire campground were about 1,500 idling men. They ranged from boys of 17 to white-haired old men.
All types were represented – sturdy peasants, manual laborers and bespectacled intellectuals, and there were also faces usually attributed to a city’s underworld. All were clad only in grey trousers or just in bathing suits, having taken off as much of the grey prison uniform as possible.

Most Do Nothing

Most of them were lying in the grass and some were in the shade of the few available trees. A few were bathing in a makeshift swimming pool. The rest were visible between the rows of barracks, some playing chess, a few reading books, most simply doing nothing. It was an almost idyllic picture of a rest camp. That it was not a rest camp, however, was evident very soon.

The disillusioning thing, besides the grim, efficient-looking guards and their rifles, was in the faces of the prisoners. Under a smiling sky, there was not a smile in the 2,000. They looked sour, grim, sullen, sad or merely apathetic. Thoughts of other things than the beauty of nature and the peacefulness of scene obviously engaged their minds. And dark were the looks which greeted the Deputy Commander accompanying the correspondent.

Nevertheless, as soon as they were approached, all groups quickly sprang to attention. Caps were whipped off the many heads and heels clicked. When the correspondent and his guide entered a barracks room, corporals bawled out, just as in the army, “Attention!” Then reported “Corporalship So-and-So. Twelve men. Everything in order.”

Herr Lippert explained that the prisoners were organized in companies and corporalships, each under a leader selected among the prisoners themselves, who were responsible for the order of the men and the cleanliness of the barracks.

“For their own comfort, the men see that any pig among them is cleaned up and stays clean,” Herr Lippert asserted.

Barracks are clean

Indeed, the barracks were as clean as a whistle. Each room contained four tiers of three bunks each, one atop another, crude wooden affairs filled with straw, but covered by clean, blue-white bedclothes neatly folded.

The correspondent found the guards had precisely the same accommodations. In fact, their quarters were more cramped, the rooms smaller and lower, allowing only two bunks atop each other.
Both prisoners and guards eat the same kind of food. That is a principle Chancellor Hitler is enforcing for himself as well as his men, namely, that all Germans are comrades, even if political enemies, and should live more or less alike. Some of Herr Hitler’s lieutenants are less meticulous than others in carrying out the principle, but it is certainly enforced at Dachau.

All was not idleness within the camp. Some sheds had been converted into artisan shops, and here the skilled prisoners worked. Tailors sewed grey prisoners uniforms, bootmakers built boots, carpenters made doors and windows and locksmiths made the necessary fastenings. Even an arts shop was created where woodcarvers and sculptors were busy and a studio with a proper skylight housed an artist making crayon sketches. But all the art work had reference to the Nazi movement – there were Hitler and Goering medallions, swastika cross emblems and Hitler and Goering pictures, sold at fifty pfennings apiece. Other art work apparently is prohibited as contrary to Nazi pedagogics. Yet the artist was among the most satisfied-looking in the entire camp.

The Order of the Day

Following is the order of the day: 5 A.M. arising time, 5:30 coffee, 7 to 10:30 work, including a twenty-minute pause; then the midday meal and a rest; 2 P.M. to 5 work, including a twenty-minute pause; 6 supper, 8 counting assembly when every prisoner must be accounted for, and 9 lights out and bed.

The prisoners may write two letters a month, although there is no limit on letters addressed to the prisoners and they may receive two parcels a month, but only clothes and laundry. Food shipments, except sweets, are prohibited because of the danger of smuggling arms. The prisoners may also receive money from home, but only up to 5 marks a week, with which they may buy additional food from the canteen. This sells everything, including near beer, but no alcohol. Finally, good work is rewarded by an additional allotment of bread.

April 30, 1945 - liberation of Dachau (New York Times)

This second New York Times article is about the liberation of Dachau.
Dachau captured by Americans who kill guards, liberate 32,000
DACHAU, Germany, April 30 - Dachau, Germany's most dreaded extermination camp, has been captured and its surviving 32,000 tortured inmates have been freed by outraged American troops who killed or captured its brutal garrison in a furious battle....

Prisoners with access to records said that 9,000 captives had died of hunger and disease or been shot in the past three months, and 14,000 more had perished during the winter. Typhus was prevalent in the camp and the city's water supply was reported to have been contaminated by drainage from 6,000 graves near the prison.

39 Cars Full of Bodies

A short time after the battle there was a train of thirty-nine coal cars on a siding. The cars were loaded with hundreds of bodies and from them was removed at least one pitiful human wreck that still clung to life. These victims were mostly Poles and most of them had starved to death as the train stood there idle for several days. Lying alongside a busy road near by were the murdered bodies of those who had tried to escape.

Bavarian peasants - who traveled this road daily - ignored both the bodies and the horrors inside the camp to turn the American seizure of their city into an orgy of looting. Even German children rode by the bodies without a glance, carrying stolen clothing....

The camp held 32,000 emaciated, unshaven men and 350 women, jammed in the wooden barracks. Prisoners said that 7,000 others had been marched away on foot during the past few days. The survivors went wild with joy as the Americans broke open their pens, smothering their liberators with embraces.

Bodies were found in many places. Here also were the gas chambers - camouflaged as "showers" into which prisoners were herded under the pretext of bathing - and the cremation ovens. Huge stacks of clothing bore mute testimony to the fate of their owners.

A French general was slain last week as he walked toward a truck, believing that he was to be evacuated, prisoners reported. They said that Elite Guards [SS] had shot him in the back.

The Americans stormed through the camp with tornadic fury. Not a stone's throw from a trainload of corpses lay the bleeding bodies of sixteen guards shot down as they fled....

When Lieut. Col. Will Cowling of Leavenworth, Kan., slipped the lock in the main gate, there was still no sign of life inside this area. He looked around for a few seconds and then a tremendous human cry roared forth. A flood of humanity poured across the flat yard - which would hold a half dozen baseball diamonds - and Colonel Cowling was all but mobbed.

Rescued by soldiers

He was hoisted to the shoulders of the seething, swaying crowd of Russians, Poles, Frenchmen, Czechs, and Austrians, cheering the Americans in their native tongues. The American colonel was rescued by soldiers, but the din kept up.

Flags appeared and waved from the barracks. There was even an American flag, although only one American was held there. He is a major from Chicago captured behind the German lines when he was on special assignment for the Office of Strategic Services [predecessor of the CIA during WWII - RL].

New York Times, June 10, 1945 - Estimate of number of Jews murdered

The New York Times reported on June 10, 1945, about the number of Jews killed by the Nazis. Since this is such an early report, some of the information in this article was later known to be inaccurate, but this is the first version of what happened to the Jews of Europe under the Nazis.
80% OF REICH JEWS MURDERED BY NAZIS
All Those Left in Europe were Marked for Death by 1946, AMG [Allied Military Government] Investigation Shows
Only 150,000 Survived
Extermination Plan Revealed - Russians Estimate Several Million Died in East

FRANKFURT ON MAIN, Germany, June 8 (Delayed) (U.P.) - The Nazis exterminated at least 80 percent of Germany's Jews, and every remaining Jew in occupied Europe was marked for murder before the summer of 1946, it was revealed today.

It now is possible to give the full story of the Nazis' plan to wipe out all of Europe's 12,000,000 Jews. Allied Military Government authorities, after a painstaking study, reported that a majority of the Jews in Germany met death between 1939 and 1942. Russian officials estimate several million Jews were exterminated at concentration camps in Poland and White Russia during the German occupation.

On the basis of this information, it is believed that less than 20 percent, or about 150,000 of the original group in the Reich, survived the reign of terror. These survivors are being returned to their homes as soon as possible. Germans who dispossessed them are being ousted. In most cases, this is done without serious friction, despite the years of intensive anti-Semitic propaganda.

Synagogues Reopened

In several cities, including Aachen, Cologne, and Frankfort on Main, synagogues have been reopened and Jewish services conducted for the first time since November, 1938.

Some homeless Jews are cared for by the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration. Included are 500 Jewish children, mostly between the ages of 15 and 17, but some as young as 10. They were rescued from the Buchenwald camp and now are at Thionville in Lorraine, in the French zone.

The Nazis' master plan was engineered by Dr. Alfred Rosenberg, reportedly an Allied prisoner. He was aided by Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels and Gestapo Chief Heinrich Himmler. The plan originally called for a "Jew-free Reich" by April 1, 1942, as a birthday present to Adolf Hitler, but it was slowed down by transportation difficulties.

Its first stage began after Poland fell in 1939. Jews were to be used as slave laborers in war factories built in that country. They were to die gradually of starvation,  disease and cold. The first contingent of Jews from Germany was rounded up in Stettin, Cologne and Frankfort on Main - about 50,000 in all. They were shipped to Lublin in October and November, 1939. Transportation trouble set in and only a few thousand were deported eastward during the next two years.

Few left unmolested

The drive began in earnest in September, 1941. It continued full blast until scarcely a Jew was left unmolested in Germany or any occupied country. In Berlin the Nazis began in 1941 to deport about 20,000 persons eastward each month. They were stripped, searched, robbed and then packed in trucks and rail cars. Some worked in airplane and textile plants. Others were thrown into ghettos. Thousands went straight to extermination camps.

Relatives and friends in the Reich seldom if ever heard of them again. More than once the trains were stopped and all Jews were ordered out and massacred.

The third stage of the program was launched early in 1943, well after the original deadline for the whole plan. The Nazis rounded up and deported Jews from France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Hungary, Romania, and Yugoslavia. Some were sent to Poland and others to concentration camps in Germany. Tens of thousands were killed monthly in these camps. The Nazis in 1943 began emptying the ghettos of Warsaw, Riga, Lublin and other large cities, and started systematic extermination by gas.

UNRRA officials expressed the belief that if the war had lasted another year, the Nazis might have come very close to their objective of wiping out all Jews in Europe.

Starvation Still Reported

The Vaad Hatzala Emergency Committee, with headquarters at 32 Nassau Street, disclosed yesterday that Jewish survivors of Nazi horror camps, freed but temporarily residing there until they can be repatriated or emigrated, "are living under conditions bordering upon starvation." The committee said that it had received word of the plight of the Jewish survivors from Isaac Sternbuch, its representative in Switzerland, who made a cabled plea for relief funds.

Mr. Sternbuch said all available food stocks purchased abroad with Vaad Hatzala funds already had been dispatched on International Red Cross trucks to concentration camps at Landsberg, Dachau, Mauthausen and Theresienstadt.