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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Eric Lamar
13 @ 45 / Houston, We Have A Problem
Thank you, sir.
2015-04-20 15:07:31
cortez lawrence
13 @ 45 / Houston, We Have A Problem
Eric: Good history lesson. For some reason I thought you were getting ready to get into the Texas City explosions. I think I saw that anniversary is upon us as well. Thanks for your kind work about Glenn. I have repeated them often as the most fitting obituarial words I ever have heard, i.e. "he…
2015-04-19 16:11:36
Charlie Dickinson
Remembering Glenn
When you were around Chief Gaines for any length of time you realized that notwithstanding his long and distinguished career in the active fire service, that just because he retired didn't mean he was no longer engaged learning and sharing on many different subjects and issues of the fire service! Oh no...if anything he "dove…
2015-04-16 00:46:35
Smitty
Lincoln (and Liberty), Captive
Thanks for your big-picture perspective, Eric. I think that when we most need to keep our wits about us and keep in mind a larger context is when we are least likely to do so. Maybe this is why we're all told to count to 10 before responding when we're upset.
2015-04-15 19:21:20
Steve Deutsch
Remembering Glenn
I had never met Chief Gaines until just last month at the National Fire Academy, but having heard much about him in previous classes, it was nice to hear him in person. What strikes you almost immediately is a sense of pride he had, mixed with a passion for the fire service that instills that…
2015-04-15 02:20:15
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