Why Jewish girls were crying in Auschwitz (Birkenau) ?

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Last week I had a chance to visit Auschwitz 1 and Auschwitz Birkenau concentration camps, I was sad like anyone would be on visiting such place, however, I saw something that made me even sadder.

In one of the barracks in Auschwitz Birkenau there was what looked like an organized school trip. Young Jewish girls (mostly between 16-22 year old) along with their teachers which included few men as well. This barrack was where Nazis kept pregnant women and young children. In that barrack there were 2 rows of 3 story small open cabins. These Jewish girls were spread in the room and were crying while reading some letters. After sometime one of their teacher would come and give each of them a new envelope, they would open it and start crying again. These envelopes had copies of some hand written letters (in English).

I didn't want to disturb them so I just left after some time and was not able to ask their teacher what was it all about as I thought that might not be the right time to ask.

Now I am wondering if those were the letters from prisoners of that barracks? If so, were they that touching that made them cry so loud that I could hear them crying even from outside the barrack, or was that a something else.

Is there a Jew here on TT who can put some light on it? Thank you.

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Do you really even have to ask?
 

Yes, those were copies of letters written by the prisoners. Auschwitz is where Joseph "Dr. Death" Mengele conducted his barbaric experiments on the concentration camp victims. It's likely these atrocities - which were committed on the young children and pregnant women in this case - were described in great detail.

 

Good on you for not interrupting their grieving, but if you think you have to be Jewish to feel sympathy for their plight, I have to question your humanity.

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4 minutes ago, El Jeffo said:

Do you really even have to ask?
 

Yes, those were copies of letters written by the prisoners. Auschwitz is where Joseph "Dr. Death" Mengele conducted his barbaric experiments on the concentration camp victims. It's likely these atrocities - which were committed on the young children and pregnant women in this case - were described in great detail.

 

Good on you for not interrupting their grieving, but if you think you have to be Jewish to feel sympathy for their plight, I have to question your humanity.

Thank you for your answer. I think you got me wrong. I feel sympathy their's no doubt about it. I wasn't sure about those letters, that's all.

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8 minutes ago, El Jeffo said:

Do you really even have to ask?

 

...but if you think you have to be Jewish to feel sympathy for their plight, I have to question your humanity.

Geez. Was your over-the-top dramatic and idiotic response really necessary? (Rolls eyes). You're reading way too much into his post.   

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13 minutes ago, El Jeffo said:

Do you really even have to ask?

 

Well apparently, yes. The OP is Nepali. It is actually possible for some people not to be familiar with the details of the Shoah. Education starts at the beginning. No-one is born knowing. Frankly, until you are confronted with the awful details of what men are capable of you cannot make them up.

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48 minutes ago, fredadi said:

If so, were they that touching that made them cry so loud that I could hear them crying even from outside the barrack, or was that a something else.

Is there a Jew here on TT who can put some light on it? Thank you.

 

 

Hello fredadi,

 

The short answer is 'yes'. We could use up all of the Internet talking about why that is, but there are many very good pieces of writing on the topic. I have always found the comic book 'Maus' a very good introductory read, but there are lots of other good choices.

 

I don't think you need to be Jewish to understand the topic, although my family is Jewish, and we certainly lost members of our extended family to it. But it may well be even more powerful to stand in one of the camps and remember that there could be entire parts of their family lost in that place. Especially because some of the people who went to the camps didn't believe that the camps even existed until they reached them, were separated from their loved ones, and were never heard from again. Lots of Jewish people thought that the camps were a myth, or exaggerated, or that they'd be able to get out of the reach of the Third Reich "before things got that bad". Finding out the truth only when they were imprisoned and in line to be executed is not the only sad thing, but I would expect it to be very, very upsetting indeed, because you can perhaps imagine for yourself how it would be.

 

It may also be worth reading about something called 'Survivor guilt' - people who escaped the camps, or who were never in a position to go to one, sometimes feel or felt bad for being alive while others died. People who lived through the era often felt that they did not deserve to survive, and that the unfairness of that was extremely hard to live with. Even future generations can sometimes feel the same, I think.

 

A lot of this information is passing out of living memory as we speak. And, as it happens, the number of people who want to pretend that this suffering never really happened seems to grow. This is a great tragedy too.

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44 minutes ago, fredadi said:

Thank you for your answer. I think you got me wrong. I feel sympathy their's no doubt about it. I wasn't sure about those letters, that's all.

My apologies. I was thrown by your question and your phrasing.

 

I, too, lost many extended family members in the camps. The Shtetl in Poland where my grandfather was born was wiped out completely, for example.

 

I found it difficult to parse that someone who had visited not one, but two concentration camps might not realize that it would be a very moving experience for visitors and would need "a Jew" to explain it to him. Again, my apologies.

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34 minutes ago, El Jeffo said:

My apologies. I was thrown by your question and your phrasing.

 

I, too, lost many extended family members in the camps. The Shtetl in Poland where my grandfather was born was wiped out completely, for example.

 

I found it difficult to parse that someone who had visited not one, but two concentration camps might not realize that it would be a very moving experience for visitors and would need "a Jew" to explain it to him. Again, my apologies.

English is not my first language so yes it might be the the phrasing of my question. I'm sad to hear about your loss. Do you know where can I find those letters online to read few of them myself.

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1 hour ago, El Jeffo said:

My apologies. I was thrown by your question and your phrasing.

 

I, too, lost many extended family members in the camps. The Shtetl in Poland where my grandfather was born was wiped out completely, for example.

 

I found it difficult to parse that someone who had visited not one, but two concentration camps might not realize that it would be a very moving experience for visitors and would need "a Jew" to explain it to him. Again, my apologies.

 

Thanks for sharing @El Jeffo

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The most important thing is how Jews were defined. They were defined not by their religion, but by their origin. If someone in family at some time was Jewish, you were also considered Jewish even if you were Catholic priest. After all German churched were gleichgeschaltet into one state church, all "jewish" priests were fired. And ended in KZs then.

 

This is more or less like arresting everyone whose parents ever used Apple products. Totally random choice of those who was destined to die...

 

This makes Holocaust particularly scary.

 

In Israel itself the Holocaust is commemorated by bomb alarm siren every year. All traffic in the country stops when the siren is on:

 

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8 minutes ago, Starshollow said:

I bear the terrible burden that these past generations put on US by committing the terrible cromes and atrocities ... while I deny any personal "guilt" as someone born in 1967, I do admit to and adher to a personal shame for what my ancestors did. Period.

 

The way I see this is: No one is responsible for the crimes of their ancestors. And no one deserves credit for any good their ancestors made. Keeping history true and passing it on, in the hope the same mistakes are not repeated, is enough.

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1 minute ago, yourkeau said:

The most important thing is how Jews were defined. They were defined not by their religion, but by their origin. If someone in family at some time was Jewish, you were also considered Jewish

 

That's more or less how Jews define themselves nowadays as well: if your mother was a Jew, so are you (some communities accept the father's side as well)

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6 minutes ago, msam said:

No one is responsible for the crimes of their ancestors.

Nuremberg Trials (highly recommended to attend the museum and the court place) was about individual crime liability. The London Statute which was created to try the main war criminals, was a foundation of the modern international crime law. In contrast to crime liability, monetary liability is like with any heritage: you accept it, you pay all the debts of your deceased ancestor.

 

However, the point is about remembering so that will not ever repeat. Whatever Gauland says, he will not be able to repeat all this "great service" he is so proud of.

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53 minutes ago, yourkeau said:

Nuremberg Trials (highly recommended to attend the museum and the court place) was about individual crime liability. The London Statute which was created to try the main war criminals, was a foundation of the modern international crime law. In contrast to crime liability, monetary liability is like with any heritage: you accept it, you pay all the debts of your deceased ancestor.

 

However, the point is about remembering so that will not ever repeat. Whatever Gauland says, he will not be able to repeat all this "great service" he is so proud of.

Nuerenberg Trials was also about responsibility for one's own actions. I find that lesson very important, that you can't hide behind some other people giving you orders or something...

 

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20 hours ago, Starshollow said:

you can't hide behind some other people giving you orders or something...

the irony is that soldiers who disobeyed orders were shot and after the war, those who did obey were hanged.

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11 minutes ago, catjones said:

the irony is that soldiers who disobeyed orders were shot and after the war, those who did obey were hanged.

 

there is actually a lot of evidence that it is not entirely accurate to claim that you would have been shot if you rejected to kill Jews or civilians during that time. It was even often on a volunteer-base.  though I would not allow myself to pass judgment on the simple soldier who followed orders in such a situation. Hanged were those mainly who played a major role in the atrocities, like those in charge of the KZs or members of the Nazi-government and administration, like Eichmann.

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23 hours ago, msam said:

 

That's more or less how Jews define themselves nowadays as well: if your mother was a Jew, so are you (some communities accept the father's side as well)

The Nazi definition of Jew was way more broad than Halacha. More inclusive, if we take this term with a grain of black humour.

 

If you mean Israeli law of return, of course it is based on Nuremberg Nazi laws and is quite inclusive as well: the idea is that State of Israel is not a state for Jews. It is a state for everyone who can be persecuted or discriminated for being Jewish or being considered by others as Jewish.

 

Soviet Union had quite a comprehensive records on who was Jewish and who wasn't despite religion being basically banned there. You could have been an atheist for many generations, but your passport still said "Jew". That was used to limit access to top Universities and get to the position of power (it was unwritten law and like all unwritten laws it had exceptions).

 

For this reason there is a special provision on both Israeli law of return and Germsn Jewish immigration program for citizens of former USSR. Although the Germans require you to attend synagogue here, while Israelis don't. Before fall of the Iron Curtain there were like 5 Jews in my town, now there are about 500 of them. Those are economic migrants, of course, were all atheists before 1990. But they play by the rules of the game, so not targeted by AfD and other populists.

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8 minutes ago, yourkeau said:

The Nazi definition of Jew was way more broad than Halacha. More inclusive, if we take this term with a grain of black humour.

 

The Nazi definition was a contrived mess. In some cases it would have considered "non-jew" people who would nowadays be classfied as jew (someone whose only jewish grandparent is his mother's mother). In other cases it would consider a jew someone who is not necessarily a jew by modern standards (both of the father's parents and the mother's father are jewish) 

 

27 minutes ago, yourkeau said:

If you mean Israeli law of return

 

The israeli law of return has yet another definition of jew, which is different from both the nazi definition and the "classical" definition

 

 

I think the only importance of these definitions is to show how stupid it is to discriminate, be it based on religion, race, or some arbitrary and not well-defined trait like being jew 

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