Remembering: Holocaust Memorial Day

 

Now is the Time

Sixty eight years ago today allied troops liberatedAuschwitz-Birkenau, the largest of the death camps operated by the Nazis.

The Arrival

Hitler was obsessed with the notion of gainingLebensraum or living space in Europe for his chosen race. As the Nazis invaded Czechoslovakia and Poland, tens of thousands were arrested, detained and shot.

On January 20, 1942, Nazi leaders met at Wannsee, outside of Berlin to discuss the plan whereby European Jewry would be systematically detained and then exterminated.Reinhard Heydrich, the chief of the security police gave the briefing and the minutes were taken by none other thanAdolf Eichmann who would later be caught in Argentina.

The West, including the US, was slow to understand what was occurring. Indeed, the US did little to intervene and even refused safe haven to fleeing Jews, most famously aboard the MS St. Louis, a German ocean liner with937 German Jewish refugees. The ship was forced to return to Europe where as many as 25% of the passengers died in death camps.

Jews were a primary target but millions of others were murdered, as well. They includedGypsies, gays and lesbians, Catholics and Jehovah Witnesses.

 

 

Stacked Corpses at Ohrdruf

On April 4, 1945, the US4th Armored Divisionand the89th Infantry Division liberated the death camp at Ohrdruf. They were the first Americans to do so. Soldiers found piles of bodies covered in lime while others were partially burned in makeshift pyres. The fleeing Nazis were attempting to cover their tracks by destroying evidence but their mayhem was of such a magnitude that discovery was inevitable.

 

 

 

The “Big Guns” at Ohrdruf

Word quickly spread up the chain and Generals Eisenhower, Patton and Bradley made an immediate trip to witness the slaughter and the conditions.”Tough as Nails” Patton would not view some of the atrocities as he said he would vomit were he to do so.

Eisenhower went specifically in order to be a personal witness and to give testimony on what he had seen. To General George C. Marshall, head of the US Armed Forces Joint Chiefs, he wrote:

“I made the visit deliberately, in order to be in a position to give first-hand evidence of these things if ever, in the future, there develops a tendency to charge these allegations merely to propaganda.”

 

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Comments
Eric Lamar
Does It Really Matter Department
J- Thanks very much for writing. You, of course, are the REAL voice of experience. Eric
2014-08-29 23:24:46
John Davids
Does It Really Matter Department
Eric, I am a Second Ammendment guy. But I am very disappointed with some on my side, we are fighting for a way of life, the life that you so eloquently described. I have used UZI's in my government employment, and a grown law enforcement agent cannot control this weapon's rise on fully auto. We…
2014-08-29 22:53:12
James Walsh
Ethics: Reg Wants to Know
As I sit here and read the various issues surrounding our International I find it interesting the various positions my union brothers and sisters take based on competing influences. Whether it's the issue of ethics or the vote on the conference floor, I would hope our brothers and sisters across the International would want the…
2014-08-27 17:40:54
Mike
Firehouse Culture: “Say You Want To Be My Bitch”
How and why are you comparing this to slavery? You do a disservice to every hard-working firefighter in FDNY, both white and especially black. It sounds like typical locker room crap. You think they did that because he's black? I'll bet they would have done it to the covering guy regardless of his color. Try…
2014-08-26 02:37:53
Eric Lamar
Firehouse Culture: “Say You Want To Be My Bitch”
Hi, Greg. Not sure where you are from. New York has a population that is at least 50% non-white. FDNY is about 95% white. Something is amiss and you don't have to be a rocket scientist to figure it out. Thanks. Eric
2014-08-26 01:16:42
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