By EMERSON VERMAAT
May 9, 2011 - San Francisco, CA - PipeLineNews.org - If you do not believe that the German Nazis killed six million Jews during the Second World War you are well advised to pay a visit to the former Nazi capital of Berlin, today's capital of a free and democratic Germany. Berlin is also an interesting destination for tourists interested in history. The city is certainly not as expensive as other European capitals, public transport is cheap and very good.
Holocaust denial is a dangerous international and anti-Semitic movement. Most of those who deny the Holocaust (or Shoa) live in the Middle East, Iran (in Iran Holocaust denial is even government policy) and North Africa. Hamas, Hezbollah and Palestinian media outlets controlled by the Palestinian Authority (PA) also espouse this strange idea. But you will also find Holocaust deniers in France, Switzerland, Germany, Sweden, Belgium, Holland, Britain, Russia, Australia and North America – most of them being Muslim immigrants or neo-Nazis. Fortunately, there are a limited number of Muslim immigrants who initially believed the Holocaust was "a Zionist myth," but who changed their minds after having visited the Auschwitz-Birkenau memorial in Poland. Other Muslim visitors were equally deeply impressed. One of them was Mohamed Magid, imam and executive director of the All Dulles Area Muslim Society. After having visited Auschwitz and the former Nazi concentration camp of Dachau in 2010, he commented: "No Muslim in his right mind, female or male, should deny the Holocaust. When you walk the walk of the people who have been taken to be gassed, to be killed, how can a person deny physical evidence, something that's beyond doubt." A number of Dutch-Moroccans and imams also visited Auschwitz-Birkenau in 2005; some 40,000 Dutch Jews have been gassed at Auschwitz.
Resurgent anti-Semitism in Holland and Germany
It is absolutely vital that such visits take place on a more regular basis. Too many Moroccan youths in the Netherlands are embracing anti-Semitism. Last April, at a conference on anti-Semitism in the Dutch city of Nijkerk, Amsterdam rabbi Lody van der Kamp showed film footage of young Moroccan males who gave the Hitler salute as he walked past them. A hidden camera had been used to film these teen-agers. Other Dutch rabbis, especially those who are recognizable as Jews, have been subjected to similar harassment – and the Dutch police usually fails to take action. Last February, a young and probably Moroccan male, gave the Hitler salute and cried "Kankerjoden!" ('Dirty Jews") as he saw orthodox rabbi Raphael Evers in the company other religious leaders walking through the streets of Amsterdam-West – where about half the population consists of Moroccan immigrants. This incident was also filmed by a camera and the young male's face is clearly recognizable. Although this incident had been reported to the police, no arrests have been made so far.
Visiting places such as Auschwitz and Dachau do help to counter anti-Semitism, and to take away doubts or correct the misleading view that the Holocaust was just a myth.
A trip Berlin would also help, by the way. It is in today's Berlin that one can see least five important places: the recently opened documentation center "Topography of Terror," the nearby "Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe" with its own documentation center and bookshop, the "House of the Wannsee Conference" in Berlin-Wannsee (about one hour from the city center by "S-Bahn" and bus), the "Jewish Museum" where you can explore two millennia of German Jewish history, and, last but not least, the "New Synagogue" or "Neue Synagoge," not far from the city center. For Jews there are also a number of kosher restaurants and a Jewish Community Center. See the site: www.berlin-judentum.de (English).
Unfortunately, in some parts of Berlin, neo-Nazis and Muslim immigrants still harass Jews if they wear a kippa, but other parts of Berlin are fairly safe. Whereas displaying Palestinian or Turkish flags poses no problem, displaying the Israeli flag is seen as a kind a kind of "provocation," especially by Arab and Turkish immigrants in the Berlin quarters of Neuköln and Kreuzberg. In Kreuzberg, for example, anti-Semitic books on the so-called "Zionist world government" and even Henry Ford's notorious "The International Jew" are still for sale. Jews wearing "star of David" jewelry or a kippa have been harassed on the subway or the bus. This is also happening in "multicultural" Amsterdam, Brussels, Antwerp, Paris, Malmö (Sweden) and London. Recent official German police statistics show that nearly thirty percent of the crimes in Berlin are committed by immigrants.
"Topography of Terror": 363,00O Jews executed in Southern Russia, Ukraine and Bialystok in just three months (1942)
The new Berlin site "Topography of Terror" is a must for those who want to acquaint themselves with the terrors of the brutal Nazi dictatorship whose fundamental objective was to exterminate all of Europe's Jews – the Shoa or Holocaust. This huge exhibition is located on the very spot where the former Nazi apparatus of terror and persecution – the SS, the German "Secret State Police" (Gestapo) and the so-called "Reich Security Main Office" (RSHA) were located. It was here that SS-chief Heinrich Himmler and his deputy Reinhard Heydrich had their offices. Both had been ordered by Hitler to exterminate the Jews. A highly interesting 430-page catalogue (both in German and English) shows most of the documents and photographs currently on display and comments on them. (There is also an exhibition on the Eichmann Trial in Jerusalem and an accompanying catalogue to the exhibition.)
There is an important report from Himmler, the so-called "Reichsführer-SS" ("Reich leader"), to Hitler, the highest "Führer" or Supreme Leader of Nazi Germany. At the end of 1942, Himmler reported on "successes in combating gangs" (Jews, Communists, etc.) in the region of "Russia-South, Ukraine, Bialystok" in the period from September 1 to December 1, 1942. Jews are among the so-called "Gang abettors and suspected gang members." The number executed Jews was 363,211.
In just three months more than 363,000 Jews had been executed in Southern Russia, the Ukraine and Bialystok (currently in Poland). Himmler then makes an important observation: "Since the Russians take away their fallen or bury them immediately, actual casualties are likely to be far higher, as also attested to by prisoners."
Not only were three to four million Jews gassed in the gas chambers of the Nazi extermination camps, also were an additional two-and-a-half million shot by the so-called "SS-Special Mobile Units" or "SS-Einsatzgruppen." These mass murders have also been described as "the Holocaust by bullets." At least one million perished otherwise (starvation, exhaustion, infectious diseases, etc.).
Special Mobile Units frequently and proudly reported on their "achievements." According to just one "Operational Situation Report" Special Mobile Unit D, killed 17,645 Jews in the Crimea between November 16 and December 15, 1941. An "Activity Report" on Minsk, said: "On July 28 (1942): large-scale operation in the Russian ghetto of Minsk. 6,000 Jews are taken to the pit. On July 29: 3,000 Jews are taken to the pit." "Special Mobile Commando 3 (Lithuania) reported on February 9, 1942, that 136,412 Jews had been executed. Many of them were women and children. Before World War II, the total number of Lithuanian Jews was some 160,000.
There were about 3,2 million Jews in Poland before the Second World War. The Nazis killed 3 million them. Part of the Nazi occupied Poland was referred to by the Nazis as the "Generalgouvernement." Nazi governor Hans Frank noted in his diary in 1941: "The Führer has promised me that the Generalgouvernement will be completely free of Jews in the foreseeable future. It has also been clearly determined that in the future, the Generalgouvernement will be a German region."
And Himmler said in 1940: "Purging all persons of alien race is the cardinal ethnic policy task the Reich SS Leader, Reich Commissioner for the Strengthening of Germanendom, will have to cope with in the annexed eastern territories." Extermination camps were set up on former Polish territory: Auschwitz (near Cracow) in the south, and in the east Belzec, Sobibor and Treblinka. At Belzec, Sobibor and Treblinka alone approximately two million Jews were murdered. On December 31, 1942, a secret message ("Geheime Reichssache!") to Adolf Eichmann in Berlin reported on the total number of deaths in Belzec, Treblinka, Sobibor and Lublin in 1942. It was 1.274,166 (nearly 1.3 million!).
Nazi documents rarely referred to extermination, but instead used less offensive language, notably "Final Solution," "evacuation," "work deployment in the East, "etc. For example, on April 28, 1943, after rumors had been circulating about mass killings of Jews in Auschwitz, Section IV B 4 (the "Jewish Affairs" section led by Adolf Eichmann) of the Reich Security Main Office sent a message by teletype, stating, among other things, that "for understandable reasons, the camp at Auschwitz has asked us once again to make no disquieting disclosures whatsoever about the location and nature of the impending deployment to the Jews destined for evacuation before their transport." Because of urgent work projects, the "camp at Auschwitz" places great emphasis on a "smooth" takeover.
102,893 Dutch Jews were deported to the death camps between July 15, 1942 and September 13, 1944. (The Nazis kept fairly accurate records of these deportations.) Most of these Jews were first interned in a remote camp called "Westerbork" where the camp commander, an SS officer named Albert Gemmeker, deluded his Jewish victims into believing that all of them would be deployed to work in the East. Gemmeker did not want the smooth and efficient deportation process to be disrupted. In individual cases, deportation could be postponed but never indefinitely and few really resisted deportation. Many of those who were deported went to the gas chambers straightaway.
The "House of the Wannsee Conference": a unique exhibition
The so-called "House of the Wannsee Conference" is the location where an ill-famous event called the "Wannsee Conference took place on January 20, 1942. An interesting and well documented catalogue of the permanent exhibition, "The Wannsee Conference and the Genocide of the European Jews," has been published by the "House of the Wannsee Conference Memorial and Educational Site." It was here back in January 1942 that fifteen high-ranking representatives of the SS, the Nazi Party (NSDAP) and various ministries met to discuss their cooperation in the planned deportation and murder of the European Jews.
The conference was chaired by "SS-Obergruppenführer" (general) Reinhard Heydrich, head of the Reich Security Main Office. Adolf Eichmann, Heydrich's expert on Jewish affairs and deportations, drew up a protocol of the meeting which carefully avoided crude references to mass murder – which was in fact what those present were planning. Instead, the protocol referred to "evacuation to the East," and "final solution of the Jewish question": "A further possible solution, and with the appropriate prior authorization of the Führer (=Hitler), emigration has now been replaced by evacuation to the East. However, these operations should be regarded only as a provisional option, though in view of the coming final solution of the Jewish question they are already supplying practical experience of vital importance." The latter refers to the "practical experience" gained by the Special Mobile Units; apart from executing Jews, other Jews had already been gassed. The plan was to kill all European Jews, also those living in countries not yet occupied by the Nazis (Britain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, etc.): "In connection with this final solution of the Jewish question, roughly eleven million Jews will have to be taken into consideration." By the end of 1944, about six million Jews had been killed. In three death camps, namely Auschwitz, Majdanek and Sachsenhausen, the SS used the highly effective poison gas "Zyklon-B" – now a symbol of the Holocaust.
It was at the end of 1941 that Hitler personally authorized the operation to murder millions of Jews. However, as early as January 1939 – nine months before the outbreak of the Second World War, that is – Hitler told the German "Reichstag" (the Nazi fake parliament): "Today I will be a prophet again: If the international Jewish financiers in and outside Europe again succeed in plunging the nations into a world war, then the result will not be the Bolshevization of the earth and thus the victory of Jewry but the annihilation of the Jewish race in Europe." What followed was a hysterical applause. Hitler blamed the Jews for planning to plunge the nations into another world war – an outright lie, of course. It was Hitler's Nazi Germany which attacked Poland on September 1, 1939, it was Nazi Germany which attacked Stalin's Soviet Union on June 22, 1941.
SS-leader Heinrich Himmler's own work diary ("Dienstkalender") says on December 12, 1941: "16.00: Meeting of Reichsleiter and Gauleiter at the Führer's apartment." "At this meeting Hitler announced the extermination of the European Jews to fulfil his prophesy in the event of another world war," the Wannsee Conference Exhibition Catalogue says. "The day before Germany and Italy had declared war on the United States of America and thus the European war had turned into the Second World War."
Nazi Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels, who was also "Gauleiter" (most senior party official) of Berlin, was present at this meeting, too. The next day he noted in his personal diary: "With regard to the Jewish question, the Führer is determined to settle the matter entirely. He prophesied to the Jews that if they again brought about a world war they would be annihilated. That was not just an empty phrase. The world war is here; the extermination of the Jews must be the necessary consequence."
Hitler had reminded those present in his apartment of his January 1939 speech "prophesying" the annihilation of "the Jewish race in Europe."
Just three days later, Dr. Hans Frank, the governor of "Generalgouvernement" (part of Nazi occupied Poland), announced in a speech in Cracow that there would be "an important meeting in Berlin in January" which will be chaired by SS-Obergruppenführer Heydrich. (This was a reference to the forthcoming Wannsee Conference.) Frank, who had just returned from Berlin, then unequivocably announced the destruction of the European Jews: "I'll be quite frank with you – an end has to be put to the Jews in one way or another. The Führer once said: if united Jewry again succeeds in unleashing a world war then the result will not just be the bloodshed of the nations forced into a war by the Jews, but European Jewry will come to an end." "There will definitely be a major wave of Jewish migration. But what should happen to the Jews? Do you think that they will be housed in villages in the East? We were told in Berlin: why all the bother, we cannot do anything with them in the Eastern territories or in the Reich Commissariat: liquidate them yourselves! Gentlemen, I must ask you to rid yourselves of any feelings of pity. We must exterminate the Jews whereever we find them and whereever it is possible to preserve the overall structure of the Reich here." "It is estimated that we have 2.5 million Jews in the Generalgouvernement; with those related to Jews by marriage and all that are associated with them perhabs now 3.5 million. We cannot shoot or poison these 3.5 Jews, but we will be able yo take action which will somehow lead to their successful extermination. This action will be connected with the major measures discussed in the Reich." (The first experiments with Zyklon-B had already begun in Auschwitz, and Eichmann, Heydrich and Auschwitz camp commander Rudolf Höss were very much in favor of this method.) Frank, therefore, was quite open about the real purpose of the future Wannsee Conference: extermination ("Vernichtung"), "liquidate them."
There was another meeting in December 1941 where Hitler further authorized mass murder and genocide. This meeting took place in Hitler's Headquarters "Wolfsschanze" ('Führerhauptquartier") on December 18. Himmler's work diary says: "Jewish question, to be eradicated as partisans" ("als Partizanen auszurotten").
Half a year after the Wannsee Conference, on July 28, 1942, that is, Himmler wrote a secret letter to his confidant SS-Obergruppenführer Gottlob Berger. He referred to the implementation of "a very difficult order" from Hitler himself: to make the occupied territories in the East "Jew-free." "The Führer has placed the responsibility for implementing this very difficult order on my shoulders. No one can take away this responsibility from me," Himmler wrote to Berger. Heydrich was no longer alive then. He died in hospital early June 1942, after Czech partizans had attacked his car in Prague. Shortly before he died, Heydrich had paid a visit to the Netherlands to pave the way for the successful deportation of more than 100,000 Dutch Jews. The first deportations started in the summer of 1942. As a matter of fact, the first Dutch Jews left Holland on July 15, 1942, and arrived in Auschwitz on July 17 or 18, just as Heinrich Himmler was making an inspection tour of the camp.
The Berlin "Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe": a triumph over anti-Semitism
It is not coincidental that "The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe" is located near the "Brandenburger Gate" and the representative avenue "Unter den Linden" where the Nazis once held their arrogant military parades assuming that their "Thousand Year Greater German Reich" would be invincible. Nor is it coincidental that Berlin's Holocaust Memorial is located near the former "Reich Chancellery" and Hitler's former underground bunker. The former bunker of Goebbels' office villa is located in the northeastern corner of the site.
It is, perhabs, the revenge of history – justice will eventually prevail over demonic evil and human destructiveness. Indeed, the memorial is a triumph over anti-Semitism and (neo-)Nazism, and over all those anti-Semitic fools who claim the Holocaust is a myth.
What one sees above ground is a 19,000 square metres site covered with 2,711 concrete slabs or stelae – the so-called "Field of Stelae." There is an additional underground Information Center which provides information on the victims, the places of extermination and today's memorial sites. There is also a bookshop with an excellent selection of books.
There are five rooms. The "Room of Dimensions" contains fifteen personal testimonials, including diary pages. The individual level is supplemented by a tape stating the numbers of victims in the occupied European countries. The "Room of Families" shows different social, national and religious Jewish milieus, based on the fates of fifteen Jewish families. Photographs and personal documents report on the dissolution, expulsion and extermination of these familes and their members. In the "Room of Names and Pages of Testimony from Yad Vashem" names and short biographies of Jews across Europe who were murdered or presumed dead are read out. At the same time, the name, year of birth and year of death of the victims appear on all four walls. Reading out the names and biographies of all the victims in the form presented here would take approximately six years, seven months and 27 days. In an adjoining foyer area visitors can research for victims' names in the database of names from Yad Vashem. The "Room of Sites" documents the geographic spread of the genocide of the Jews across Europe. 200 sites are presented as examples where European Jews were persecuted and exterminated using historical film and photographic material. They include sites of mass execution, extermination and concentration camps, ghettos, deportation routes and death marches. Finally, there is the "Holocaust Memorials Database" – computer terminals providing information on current events at historical sites and on reseach institutions throughout Europe. There is another terminal in the lobby's exit area documenting the debates on the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe.
The New Synagogue and the Jewish Museum Berlin
Berlin's New Synagogue or "Neue Synagoge," not very far from "Unter den Linden," was built between 1859-1866. During the night of November, 9-10, 1938 – the infamous "Night of the Broken Glass" or "Kristallnacht" – Wilhelm Krützfeld, chief of the responsible police precint No. 16 at "Hackescher Markt" (near the city center), saved the New Synagogue from serious damage. The "Sturmabteilung" or SA, a fanatical and violent paramilitary Nazi organization also referred to as the "Brownshirts," had set fire to the synagogue. Clearly well informed, Krützfeld appeared with his colleagues at the scene of the crime, and with his pistol drawn, forced the SA to leave the synagogue. At the same time he alerted the fire brigade who extinguished the flames. This was an extraordinary incident during the night, when nearly everywhere the fire brigade was not allowed to intervene.
Most of Berlin's 14 synagogues fell victim to systematically organized arson. (Nazi Propaganda Minister Goebbels and the Gestapo or Secret State Police incited the SA-mobs to commit their hideous crimes.) The next day, Krützfeld, a Lutheran believer, was ordered to appear before the Chief of Police, but his action was not especially punished. In 1943, he opted for early retirement. It is not clear whether this was a voluntary decision or not. He died in 1953. He received a tomb of honor from the Senate of Berlin. On November 9, 1993, the State Police Academy of Schlesweg-Holstein was named after him.
However, during the Second World War the New Synagogue burnt out completely in November 1943 after allied bombings. The façade, the beautiful dome and some rooms behind were restored between 1988 and 1995. It is certainly worthwhile to pay a visit to this location. Of Berlin's 160,000 Jews, only 7,000 survived the war and the Holocaust.
One should also not forget to pay a visit to the "Jewish Museum Berlin." There is an excellent bookshop. (It was here that I bought an interesting American study on Holocaust denial.) Part of the exhibition deals with the Holocaust, but you will also find exhibitions on German Jewish history from before the Nazi period.
Emerson Vermaat is an investigative reporter in the Netherlands. He is author of a Dutch biography on Heinrich Himmler: "Heinrich Himmler en de Cultus van de Dood" (Aspekt Publishers, Soesterberg, Netherlands, 2010). Website: emersonvermaat.com.
Stephen E. Atkins, Holocaust Denial as an International Movement (Westport, Connecticut/London: Praeger, 2009), p. 53-141 (Europe), p. 145-207 (North America), p. 211-220 (Muslim world), p. 221-232 (Australia and other countries).
Hillel Fendel, Response to A'jad's (=Ahmadinejad's) Holocaust Denial: Imams' Tears at Auschwitz, in: israelnationalnews.com, December 8, 2010.
Oudere Marokkanen bezoeken Auschwitz, in: forums.marokko.nl, May 12, 2005.
Polizeiliche Kriminalitätsstatistik Berlin 2010 (official police statistics on crime in Berlin: "foreigners" or "Ausländer": 29,6 percent); Berliner Zeitung (Berlin), April 11, 2011, p. 3. The same applies to other major European cities.
Topography of Terror. Gestapo, SS and Reich Security Main Office on Wilhelm and Prinz-Albrechtstrasse. A Documentation (Berlin: Stiftung Topographie des Terrors, 2010), p. 139 ("…make no disquieting disclosures to the Jews…"), p. 293 (quote from Hans Frank), p. 299 (quote from Himmler), p. 300, 304 (Belzec, Sobibor and Treblinka), p. 314 ("Special Mobile Unit D"), p. 314 (Minsk), p. 319 (Lithuania), p. 321 (Reports to the Führer on Anti-Gang Warfare, December 29, 1942). "Prinz-Albrechtstrasse" no longer exists. The current streetname is "Niederkirchnerstrasse 8". It is quite near the former Berlin Wall.
Emerson Vermaat, Heinrich Himmler en de Cultus van de Dood (Soesterberg: Aspekt Publishers, Netherlands, 2010), p. 382 (secret message to Eichmann).
Documenten van de Jodenvervolging in Nederland 1940-1945, p. 114-120 (Amsterdam: Joods Historisch Museum, 1975), p. 114-120 Number of Dutch Jews deported to the death camps.
The Wannsee Conference and the Genocide of the European Jews. Catalogue of the Permanent Exhibition (Berlin: House of the Wannsee Conference Memorial and Educational Site, 2009), p. 139 (Hitler quote from his 1939 Reichstag speech), p. 151 (quotes from Himmler's work diary, Goebbels and Hans Frank; letter from Himmler to Gottlob Berger), p. 205 ("evacuation to the East"); Die Wannsee-Konferenz und der Völkermord an den europäischen Juden. Katalog der ständigen Ausstellung (Berlin: Gedenk- und Bildungsstätte Haus der Wannsee-Konferenz, 2008), p. 82 (reprinted pages from Himmler's work diary, December 12, 1941 and December 18, 1941), p. 83 (reprinted copy of Himmler's letter to Gottlob Berger).
Der Dienstkalender Heinrich Himmlers 1941/42 (Hamburg: Hans Christians Verlag, 1999), p. 289, footnote 47 ("Richtlinien zur Ermordung aller Juden"), p. 294, footnote 60 ("Judenfrage: als partisanen auszurotten").
Information The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe (Berlin: Stiftung Denkmal für die ermordeten Juden europas, 2009).
©2011 Emerson Vermaat. All rights reserved.