Day 22: der Kinder Transporten!

1939 August 31st. 60 German Jewish Children escape to Britain. Buchenwald Concentration Camp has more than 8,500 inmates by the time Germany commences War while Sachsenhausen holds more than 8,000 prisoners and France opens its own Concentration Camp at Gurs.

That any Jewish Child manages to escape is a victory in itself! That the containment of more and more opponents of Hitler’s regime hints at the levels to which Hitler is prepared to quash all and any dissent. When that containment is levelled at the Jews of Europe, it is in relation to the staging post en-route toward annihilation!

1941 August 31st. Over 160,000 Jews are murdered in Bessarabia in an 8 week killing spree. Over 3,600 of Vilna’s Jews are murdered in Ponary Woods and over an 18 day period, 233 of Alytus’s Jews and other Jews from local environs are all murdered.

“..Another driver was with me ..a man from Berlin named Orel or something like that. We then drove this vehicle to Kiev. ..gas van was deployed for ..first time in Kiev. My job was just to drive ..vehicle. ..van was loaded by ..local staff. About forty people were loaded inside. There were men women and children. I was supposed to tell ..people they were going to be put to work. ..people were pushed up a short ladder ..into ..van. ..van door was then bolted shut ..hose was attached. It was already in place ..I did that was cold at ..time. I drove through to ..antitank ditches. ..bodies were thrown into ..antitank ditches. I am sure that it was in Kiev ..I ..took part in this operation.” Wilhelm Findeisen.

Ponary has crept into the dialogue of The Holocaust and it has a resonance that is both brutal and chilling in its strategic proximity to Vilna. In excess of 70,000 Jews were marched there and shot, Murdered in the pits of this Killing Site. Nothing can prepare the mind for having to deal with a comprehension of such a murderous dimension. While the World looks to Auschwitz and even Birkenau as a banner for Holocaust Remembrance, let us not forget the tragedy that is added to that banner in places like Babi Yar, Bickernicki, Borki, Liepaja, Palmnicken, Ponary and Rumbuli.

“..Jewish population ..led out. became known Ponar ..where they were shot.” Yitzhak Rudashevski.

1944 August 31st. Russians capture Bucharest.

The Capital of Romania is out of Hitler’s reach and Romanian Oil will no longer feed the War effort of Hitler’s endless retreat. The Russians are closing down all German routes of escape as the Allied US, British, Canadian, Free French and Commonwealth Forces throw Hitler’s legions back into Germany. Hitler is running out of options and the gambit will be played out while what is remaining of European Jewry will be frog marched across expanses of bombed and debris strewn German Towns and Cities in a further attempt to add a newer dimension to The Holocaust.

A Book a Day, or so of suggested reading!

25. Steinbacher, Sybille: Auschwitz.