Rudolf Reder: Belzec's one escapee, the one survivor

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Dave.g
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Postby Dave.g » 1 decade 2 years ago (Mon Apr 07, 2008 7:42 pm)

The general German population and those in occupied countries was aware of the presence of concentration camps, both before and during the war. Why do you think it would have been so unusual for civilians to see someone in such a uniform and think it strange? There was a case a few years ago in Ireland where a kidnapper fell asleep with his hostage in the car, his colleagues used the victim's key to rob the bank he worked in, that's when he escaped and raised the alarm. Why is this so far fetched?

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Postby KostasL » 1 decade 2 years ago (Tue Apr 08, 2008 3:49 am)

Dave.g wrote:The general German population and those in occupied countries was aware of the presence of concentration camps, both before and during the war. Why do you think it would have been so unusual for civilians to see someone in such a uniform and think it strange?


If you see someone walking in your city dressed in a prisoner's uniform you will not find it strange ? :lol:


Dave.g wrote:There was a case a few years ago in Ireland where a kidnapper fell asleep with his hostage in the car, his colleagues used the victim's key to rob the bank he worked in, that's when he escaped and raised the alarm. Why is this so far fetched?


There are many more details about this escape that make it seem odd and not so possible to have happened as described. 8)

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Postby Laurentz Dahl » 1 decade 2 years ago (Tue Apr 08, 2008 9:30 am)

It should be noted that prisoners of the Reinhardt camps did not wear any kind of prison uniform, but rather civilian clothes. They were identified with armbands or patches identifying them as members of a certain work commando. Photos of prisoners in front of the "sorting barracks" in Belzec shows this clearly.

Image

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Postby Greg Gerdes » 1 decade 2 years ago (Tue Apr 08, 2008 11:10 am)

I believe both Michael Tregenza and Robin O'Neil claim that there were 7 "survivors / eyewitnesses," though I think O'Neil is just parroting Tregenza.

Laurentz Dahl:

If someone could help me locate Hirzman's full testimony I would be most grateful.


I have somethig somewhere, but I recall that the last time I looked for it on the WWW, it was no where to be found. I will let you know more later, remind me if I forget.

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Postby Dave.g » 1 decade 2 years ago (Tue Apr 08, 2008 12:07 pm)

I may find it strange or I may not, depending on my situation/political persuasion. Remind me again where this camp was, what country and how friendly would it's inhabitants have truely been to the German occupiers? If it was Berlin, I would think it odd, but anywhere else, outside of Germany, I'd think it possible. And an interesting post below stating that certain people wore civilian clothes. I don't k now either way really but your attempts to debunk this man's testimony fall very short of the mark.

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Postby Hannover » 1 decade 2 years ago (Tue Apr 08, 2008 12:19 pm)

Dave.g wrote:I don't know either way really but your attempts to debunk this man's testimony fall very short of the mark.

On really? Please tell us specifically how debunking this man's testimony falls "very short of the mark".

I also challenge you to start a thread, or post to an existing one, on Belzec, and why you believe in the standard storyline. Could be interesting.

Welcome to the forum.

- Hannover
If it can't happen as alleged, then it didn't.

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Postby Laurentz Dahl » 1 decade 2 years ago (Tue Apr 08, 2008 12:35 pm)

Dave.g wrote: I don't k now either way really but your attempts to debunk this man's testimony fall very short of the mark.


Hi Dave,

I wrote more thorough comments on Rudolf Reder's published Belzec account (or more exactly the translation of it which appeared in the journal Polin) in another thread:

http://forum.codoh.com/viewtopic.php?t=3759

Maybe you could post some comments of yours to it?

Regards,

Laurentz

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Postby KostasL » 1 decade 2 years ago (Tue Apr 08, 2008 7:41 pm)

Dave.g wrote:I may find it strange or I may not, depending on my situation/political persuasion. Remind me again where this camp was, what country and how friendly would it's inhabitants have truely been to the German occupiers? If it was Berlin, I would think it odd, but anywhere else, outside of Germany, I'd think it possible. And an interesting post below stating that certain people wore civilian clothes. I don't k now either way really but your attempts to debunk this man's testimony fall very short of the mark.


I posted a direct reply to your initial post.

I still find it odd that you claim :

1. Dressed in jail uniforms is not suspicious and wouldn't make an escape more difficult. What happened in this case is irrelevant. I comment on your initial claim.

2. You have no doubt that this man's testimony is 100% true.

Do you really ignore the shocking truths revealed and the lies exposed or you assume ignorance ?
Talking about revisionist enlightening work done by brave men seeking the truth.
Or about lies admitted by established history proponents.

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Postby Greg Gerdes » 1 decade 2 years ago (Tue Apr 08, 2008 8:25 pm)

To clarify my earlier post, Robin O'Neil say's "only two lived to tell the courts their story."

However, Tregenza does claim that Kurt Gerstein was an "eyewitness" as well as "three sisters of the J family" and "the jew Mojezs Hellman" as well as a Demitri N, Mieczyslaw K, Waclaw O and Michal K. There was also Wilhelm Pfannenstiel. There were also the 13 "defendants" in the Belzec trial.

I also found this on the Axis History forum:

ESCAPES FROM BELZEC

Very few Jews escaped from Belzec. Only two lived to tell the tale in court (Rudolf Reder and Chaim Herszman). After the war Reder went to live in Canada but came back to Germany to give evidence in the Belzec trial. Out of the nine SS, only one (Oberhauser), was convicted of crimes committed at Belzec (in Lanzmann`s film `Shoah`, Lanzmann interviews Oberhauser in a Munich beer hall.

Reder is the author of the best account and the most important of what happened in Belzec. His book, "Belzec," was published 1946 in Krakow (in Polish).

Those others that managed to escape were very often caught shortly after and immediately shot. If they were more fortunate and managed to return to their communities, they were either caught-up in the next round- up and found themselves back in Belzec, or befell some other action.

The first recorded escape from inside the camp was by a young lad, about 17 years old, who came into Belzec on a road transport from Lubycza Krolewska in February, 1942. He was one of a group of Jews rounded-up to work in the final construction of the camp. After his escape, the boy met the village blacksmith and related his story:

One Jew from this group told me that he had been employed for a few days in the camp cutting down trees. A few days later, these Jews were taken into a barrack while the boy hid himself and later escaped. While he was in hiding he heard how the Jews locked inside the barrack had cried out for several seconds. I heard that this Jew who escaped was later re-captured by the Germans and shot.

The second recorded escape from Belzec, as it happened, was from one of the first transports that arrived from the town of Zolkiew in March, 1942: two women, Mina Astman and Malka Talenfeld, had taken advantage of the inexperience and confusion in the early transports and secreted themselves in a ditch and waited. During the night they crept through the perimeter wire and made their way back home to Zolkiew where they reported what they had seen.

Another escape that didn't quite succeed was by a Jew fromPiaski who arrived in March, 1942, and was part of the Sondokommando in the gas chamber area. This Jew, no doubt horrified at the scene around him, suddenly broke away and forced himself through the surrounding barbed-wire fencing and ran off. He was quickly hunted down, brought back to the camp and shot.

On the 11 April, 1942, in Zamosc, the Welsztein family, including their 18 year-old daughter and 13 year-old son were transported to Belzec. 2 days later, on 13 April, 1942, the boy returned to Zamosc where he told the Judenrat what he had seen:

The journey in the terribly overcrowded wagons to Belzec - 44 km. from Zamosc - lasted the whole night. On Sunday morning they arrived. After unloading they were arranged in 4 rows - men and women separated -whereupon some sort of SS officer gave a speech that they were to be resettled in the east and because of this they had to take a bath and be disinfected. It was necessary for them to undress and then they were requested to hand over their valuables before being taken to the barracks. At this moment, the boy had the idea of hiding in the communal latrines, where he sat in the pit until evening. He then fled from the camp and hid with a local peasant who helped him and showed him the way to Zamosc. During the few hours he was hiding in the camp he saw how the doors in another barrack opened onto a ramp and SS-men as well as 50-60 young Jews who had probably been chosen earlier, took away naked corpses on dumper trucks.

Another escape was from the latrine in Belzec by a dentist from Krakow in June, 1942. Bachner was part of a large transport from Krakow of several thousand Jews. At the assembly point, Bachner hid in the latrine waste pit. Up to his eyes in human waste and flies, he remained there for two days before escaping from the camp. After two weeks he returned to the Krakow ghetto where he told the Judenrat of what he had seen. There is no record of what happened to Bachner after his return, but one of the indictments against Amon Goeth (Commandant of Plaszow) was the shooting of the family Bachner in Plaszow in 1943.

Three other escapes which have already been discussed were of course, Rudolf Reder, who escaped by stealth when he was taken to Lvov to collect building materials, and Chaim Hirszman, one of the last prisoners in Belzec, who with over 300 other work-Jews were taken to Sobibor where they were shot on arrival. Hirszman broke out of the transport wagon and survived the war. On 19 March 1946, the day after Hirszman had given evidence to the Jewish Historical Commission in Lublin he was shot down by anti-semites believed to be the AKW (Armia Krakowa).

In October, 1942, the Rabbi of Blazowa, Israel Spira, was transported from Janowska to Belzec and was fortunate to be selected for the clothing work kommando. After a few days he attached himself to the escort that was taking a train load of clothing back to the Janowska camp. In Janowska, Rabbi Spira (much like Reder ) detached himself from the escort and mingled with the other Jews. When he loitered near a coffee stall he was recognised by other Jews who protected him. Rabbi Spira survived Janowska and subsequent deportations to Belzec. His wife, Pearl, was murdered in Belzec 18 October, 1942.

The only other known escape was again by stealth: the 4 year-old child of Sara Ritterbrand who was spirited away in a bread basket by her uncle (Sarah's brother living in Belzec as an aryan) from the camp. Hewas later caught and shot in the presence of Sarah. The child survived in the care of local Ukrainians until after the war. Sarah survived and returned to Belzec after the war and was re-united with her daughter , The child grew up, married, and now lives in Israel with children of her own.

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Postby Greg Gerdes » 1 decade 2 years ago (Tue Apr 08, 2008 8:27 pm)

And I also found this at the Axis History forum, which is what I told Laurentz that I had about Chaim Hirszman:

The gray suit Chaim Hirszman wore fit him poorly. It hung from his thin arms as loosely as the skin that sagged about his jaw. His face was worn; the skin white and brittle. It showed signs of redness—irritation from the first close shave he had had in years. His expression as he spoke was flat.

“His name was Johannes. I’m sorry, I can not remember his family name. I cannot even recall what letter it began with. I think he was from around here, actually. Yes, yes, I’m sure he was Polish but I don’t remember his last name.”

“That’s alright, Mr. Hirszman,” one of the four men sitting at a table before him answered. All four wore spectacles and made occasional notes on documents lying before them while he spoke. A portly woman with a stenography machine sat just to his left, recording everything. The rest of the chairs in the old school room were empty. “Please, continue.”

“You understand, there was no point during this ordeal where you saw a man break under the strain. We were all broken, from the first moments. Each man lost his soul as soon as he gave thanks for being led to the line that meant life even as he watched others being led straight to their deaths. So it was not as if Johannes ‘broke.’ We were already broken. What he did seems insane, but perhaps he meant it to be suicidal. Maybe he had given up hope—or whatever it was—and just decided to let it end,” he paused as he reviewed the matter in his mind. “No, I suppose that’s not very realistic. There were better ways to die. He could have run to the fences. One could probably have just walked up to one of the SS and asked to be shot. Perhaps Johannes was just that hungry that he could think of nothing else. Maybe it’s possible he just forgot where he was. I don’t know.

“I remember the guard’s name, which is what I imagine you want most. He was Lt. Bruckner. He had a dog that he cared deeply for, though it was the mangiest German shepherd I had ever seen. We speculated at times that it must not have been purebred. Of course, not even his superiors would have suggested this to Bruckner; he was so fond of that animal. Bruckner was eating an apple. One of the Kapos came up to him and started discussing something. Did I mention the dog was well-trained? Yes, I must admit that animal had tremendous discipline. So the Kapo came up to Lt. Bruckner and asked him something. Bruckner sliced off a last piece of the apple and dropped the core to the ground for his dog. As I said he was now distracted by the Kapo and so he did not notice that the apple core had rolled just out of the animal’s reach. The dog, being so well mannered, did not move for it until his master gave him permission.

“This is when our work detail was returning from digging graves outside of the camp. I was standing just beside Johannes when he spotted the apple core. He just did it. In my memory I see it as a natural motion, like someone picking up a coin off the street. Something one would do in the outside world...but the camps weren’t like that. What was amazing was that Bruckner, even the Kapo, didn’t seem to notice Johannes walking up right beside him. Johannes probably could have pulled the man’s gun he was so close. But he didn’t want the gun, all he wanted was the apple core. He stooped over and actually laid his hand on it. I was so in shock that I stopped walking with the rest of the group and watched him. He actually touched it.

“Then the dog let out a little whimper, because it saw someone was helping himself to its snack. That was all it took for Bruckner to turn around. He gave a look of revulsion to Johannes and let go of the dog’s leash. The dog didn’t just go for the apple, though. Bruckner also gave the dog its ‘attack’ command and it jumped at Johannes’s throat and bit at his face. Bruckner and the Kapo started laughing heartily. I was fairly stupid. I had been standing there the whole time watching. Bruckner noticed me. As soon as I saw his eyes light on me I tried to turn, but I was too late. He had drawn out his baton before I could blink and had landed a blow right against my face while ordering me back in line. I fell and the pain was incredible, but I didn’t dare stay down. I got to my feet at once and headed after my work group.

“I didn’t have the courage to look back at Johannes. He wasn’t screaming. The dog might already have bitten his throat out. It was still snarling at him, though.” Hirszman rubbed his jaw. “I think that blow Bruckner gave me must have broken my jaw. It still aches to this day. It hurt me terribly for months after that. I could hardly talk. But then, one didn’t need to speak much to dig pits. I never went to the infirmary of course. In my block, we were all terrified of the infirmary. We were sure they killed every Jew who went in there. It wasn’t that harsh, though. I think maybe…” He paused to think. “Maybe one in three who went there came back. The ones who survived were those with the most insignificant of complaints. Anything serious,” he said with a bob of his head. “And we did not see them again.”

“Poor Johannes…I remember he said once he was the father of six—all boys. All sons, can you imagine? He once joked with me that it was good he had only sons, because he would never have known what to do with girls…then he realized that all his sons had been killed and was quiet. I wish I could remember his name.”

There was a pause as Hirszman rubbed his aching jaw.

“Thank you, Mr. Hirszman,” one of the four men said.

“No,” the weathered man cried out suddenly. “No, no, I have much more to tell.” His blank tired face was suddenly animated, as if from fear. “I have much more to say.”

One of the men rose from the table and walked forward to him with a kindly smile.

“Yes, yes,” he said. “We know.”

“We only meant that it is quite late, Mr. Hirszman,” another offered.

“But I have so much more to tell!”

“Yes, Mr. Hirszman. But you should rest as well, sir. This board of enquiry will meet again tomorrow to continue your testimony.”

“We want to hear it all,” the man standing before him—Hirszman thought he must be from England—said in stilted German. “But you should rest.”

He nodded.

The stenographer packed her equipment in a black case. Hirszman rose slowly and retrieved his coat from a hook by the door.

“Tomorrow, then?” he said back to them.

“Yes, sir. Whenever you are ready. We will be here at eight.”

“I will be here at eight,” he answered.

“Good night, Mr. Hirszman,” the English man said, adding, “and thank you.”

He nodded one more time to them before going out into the hallway. Involuntarily, he found himself walking in a march down the empty hallway of the school building. The spring air was pleasant as he stepped outside. He struggled out of his overcoat. He found it difficult to leave his new coat behind, always remembering the past winter in the camps, when he would have cut off an arm to have one. Two Russian soldiers were smoking together at the base of the steps leading to the street. One nodded as he passed them. He heard them erupt in laughter behind him as one of them finished an amusing story.

It was strange to be alone. The curfew had passed and the streets were empty. It was an unaccustomed feeling. In the camp he had slept with almost a hundred other men. He marched with dozens to the work sites. There were few moments alone. But since the end, he had been forced to face solitude. Ever since the SS had liquidated the camp and he had survived by chance, by God’s inscrutable blessing.

“Only to bear witness,” he said to himself, walking on toward the building where he had been given a room just ahead of him.

“Jew!”

Hirszman spun around. Three young men had approached behind him unheard. For a flash in the shaky light of the street lamp, he thought they were Russian soldiers. Then his mind reeled as he thought—for an instant—they were SS. Then he shook his head, seeing they were only boys. Three boys.

“Jew!” the tallest repeated.

Hirszman looked from face to face, seeing something familiar in their grimaces.

“Think you can just buy your way into our neighborhood, Jew?”

“But—“

“Think you can just buy a room and take over our streets, eh?”

“But I have no money. I have no money.”

They laughed.

“I only have a room because—“

“Think you can just come back and live among us?”

He was silent with fear.

“Think you can come back and all is forgotten?”

“Think we’d forgive did you?”

“You forgive?” Hirszman said in disbelief.

They had encircled him. They started pushing at him.

“Who are you?” he gasped.

“Just because the Germans are gone, don’t think we don’t remember.”

“Oh yes, we remember.”

“We haven’t forgotten you.”

One of them tore his jacket from his arms and threw it to the pavement. As he tried to break away from them and retrieve it, the boy gripped him by his shirt. “We’re going to keep Hitler’s promise, eh?” He felt a fist land in the small of his back. He spun around but more blows landed from all sides. Soon he had crumpled and they began kicking him.

“Help!” he cried out, suddenly realizing that it was a public street and someone might hear him. Someone might come.

“Shut up, you dog!”

Another kick against his ribs.

“Help!”

A boot heel crashed into his head.

He coughed up foamy blood.

The kicks grew more furious, cracking bone with each impact.

“Dirty Jew!” they hissed together.

“You there!” a woman’s voice called out. “What are you doing! You’re not supposed to be out here!”

The boys looked up. They saw not only a matronly figure emerging from the doorway of the boarding house, but also the shape of a Russian military vehicle on the crest of a nearby hill. The three figures darted off into the night with clacking footfalls on the pavement.

“Oh Mr. Hirszman, is that you?” the woman asked as she knelt beside the beaten figure stretched out on the walk. The Russian transport came to halt. One of the soldiers jumped down.

“What-has-happened-here?” he inquired in awkward Polish.

“Three men…they beat him and ran off that way,” she cried out, pointing in the direction of the boys’ retreat. “Please, he needs help.”

The soldier pointed up the street and gave some command in Russian, to which four other soldiers started running up the street with rifles in hand. He then yelled something to the driver of the truck, who immediately picked up the truck’s radio and called for assistance.

The Russian knelt beside the woman, who cradled Hirszman’s crushed skull in her hands.

“Hold on, Mr. Hirszman,” she said while patting back his bloodied hair. “Help is coming.”

A rib had pierced his lung and blood was pouring in, making each breath a tremendous, painful labor.

“Hold on, Mr. Hirszman,” she consoled.

The last sign of life was when he wretched and sent a spray of blood into the air.

The woman looked to the Russian, who bowed his head and reached out to force Hirszman’s eyes closed

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Postby Laurentz Dahl » 1 decade 2 years ago (Fri Apr 11, 2008 12:45 am)

Greg Gerdes wrote:And I also found this at the Axis History forum, which is what I told Laurentz that I had about Chaim Hirszman:


I actually found that too, but forgot to post about it.

What on earth is this? It reads like a fictionalized account. The account of Hirszman's death is pure fiction, completely burying the fact that Hirszman was a communist secret police, as Mills points out in the Axis History Forum thread. It's most definately not an affidavit or any other kind of court document. It does not contain the quotes I posted earlier. So what is it? Nothing in the posting at AHF clarifies this.

And where on earth can Hirszman's actual testimony be found?

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Postby Laurentz Dahl » 1 decade 2 years ago (Fri Apr 11, 2008 5:48 am)

Here's another Hirszman quote, from Robin O'Neil's online book on Belzec:

There were cases when the 'death brigade' were so starved that they ate pieces of flesh from the legs of corpses.”

http://www.jewishgen.org/Yizkor/belzec1/bel100.html

As a reference, O'Neil gives "TAL/JHIW: Statement of Hirszman, 19 March 1946." I haven't found any legend for the acronyms used. Can anyone identify the archives?

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Postby Wahrheit » 1 decade 2 years ago (Fri Apr 11, 2008 1:57 pm)

Laurentz,

Have you emailed your questions to Yizkor Book Project Manager Joyce Field?

[email protected]

She might be worth reaching to assist you in your research.

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Postby Laurentz Dahl » 1 decade 2 years ago (Fri Apr 11, 2008 2:47 pm)

Without providing any references, Robin O'Neil claims that three Jews of the cremation commando besides Hirszman managed to escape Belzec and testified in Israel in 1961. Funny. I have not seen any reference to those supposed witnesses anywhere else. Where is the ZStL references btw?

Three Jews of of the 'death brigade' escaped from Belzec during the cremation period: Birder, Bracht and Velser. All three emigrated to Israel after the war and in 1961 wrote testimonies for the Belzec investigation conducted by the ZStL. The last gassings at Belzec took place in early December 1942.

http://www.jewishgen.org/Yizkor/belzec1/bel100.html


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