“Arbeit macht frei” = “work sets you free”
“Jedem das Seine” = “to each what he deserves”
The immediate reaction of German POWs upon being forced by the US Army to watch to the uncensored footage of the concentration camps shot by the US Signal Corps.
A German boy walks past a pile of corpses of inmates of Bergen-Belsen concentration camp
Mala Zimetbaum and Edward (Edek) Galinski - also known as Romeo and Juliet from Birkenau.
Most romantic and tragic history of love ever:
Jewish woman (of Polish origin) and Polish political prisoner – both arrested and sent to Auschwitz concentration camp ( built and operated by Nazis in Polish areas annexed by Nazi Germany during World War II) – Mala in 1942, Edek in 1940. They met, they fall in love in a place which was all about death and destruction.
Edward planned to escape from the camp with his friend Wieslaw Kielar, The plan fell through when Kielar lost a pair of SS guard’s uniform pants needed as a disguise for their escape. Edek told his friend that he would escape with Mala instead.
The plan was as follows: Edek would dress up as the SS guard and escort Mala through the perimeter gate, pretending that he was escorting a prisoner to install a washbasin.
The plan was put into action in June 1944, and the couple succeeded in escaping to a nearby town. After their escape, Edek hid nearby as Mala went into a store to try to buy some bread with gold she and Edek had stolen from the camp. The passing German patrol became suspicious and arrested Mala. Edek watched from a distance as Mala was arrested.
Knowing she would be killed for the escape, he turned himself in to the German patrol since they had promised not to separate.
Edek and Mala were taken out to be executed at the same time, in the men’s and women’s camp respectively.
June 14, 1940: Auschwitz Opens
On this day in 1940, the Nazis opened the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland.
Nazi records show that tens of thousands of Jews from German-occupied territories were sent to Auschwitz to be executed each month.
Two Auschwitz prisoners, Rudolph Vrba and Alfred Wetzler, were determined to expose the horrors of the Nazi genocide and stop the killing factories forever. To do that, they became the first to escape from the heavily-guarded camp. Read about their escape path and watch Secrets of the Dead’s “Escape from Auschwitz.”
Above Image: This map, drawn from Rudolf Vrba’s own account of his escape, traces the two friends’ journey, from Auschwitz to the safety of Slovakia, where they finally revealed the secret purpose of Auschwitz.
My dearest Kitty,
‘This is D-Day,’ the BBC announced at twelve. ‘This is the day.’ The invasion has begun!…
…A huge commotion in the Annex! Is this really the beginning of the long-awaited liberation? The liberation we’ve all talked so much about, which stil seems too good, too much of a fairy tale ever to come true? Will this year, 1944, bring us victory? We don’t know yet. But where there’s hope, there’s life."
Excerpt from Anne Frank’s diary entry on June 6, 1944
(Just under two months after this entry the Frank family was arrested by German police.)
Adolf Eichmann is sentenced to death - December 1961.
The first Memorial Day-type commemorations were observed during and after the Civil War. In 1866, the Grand Army of the Republic organization proclaimed that May 30 of that year should be observed as Decoration Day, and by 1890, Decoration Day was an official holiday in every northern state. In 1967, Decoration Day became Memorial Day by Federal law.
From Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr’s 1884 Memorial Day Address - In Our Youth Our Hearts Were Touched with Fire:
So to the indifferent inquirer who asks why Memorial Day is still kept up we may answer, it celebrates and solemnly reaffirms from year to year a national act of enthusiasm and faith. It embodies in the most impressive form our belief that to act with enthusiam and faith is the condition of acting greatly. To fight out a war, you must believe something and want something with all your might… More than that, you must be willing to commit yourself to a course, perhaps a long and hard one, without being able to foresee exactly where you will come out. All that is required of you is that you should go somewhither as hard as ever you can. The rest belongs to fate.
May 23, 1945: Heinrich Himmler commits suicide.
As Reichsführer-SS, HeinrichHimmler was, for a time, one of Hitler’s most powerful, most trusted officials, but as the war neared its end, even he began to see the futility of Germany’s faltering war effort. In April of 1945, Himmler approached the Allies and proposed to surrender all of Germany’s troops in the West, perhaps in the hope that he might be spared (or at least, shown mercy) when the inevitable war crimes trials came along. By now, however, many of the major concentration camps had been uncovered and liberated by Allied forces, and Himmler, as head of the SS, was now irrevocably associated with these newly-discovered atrocities.
Hitler, upon receiving the news of his treue Heinrich’s betrayal, was enraged. In his last will and testament, he stripped Himmler of all his titles and expelled him from the party, claiming that he and Hermann Göring, by negotiating with the enemy, had “done immeasurable harm to the country and the whole nation”.
Rejected by both the Allied leaders and by his own colleagues, Himmler attempted one last time to avoid prosecution by contacting General Eisenhower (also apparently thinking that he might somehow secure a position in Germany’s postwar government). Naturally, this offer was also rejected - Himmler, to the Allies, was now nothing more than a desperate war criminal. He wandered for several weeks in disguise near the Danish border before being apprehended by Allied soldiers, who recognized him, though his papers gave his name as “Heinrich Hitzinger”. Himmler would have stood trial at the Nuremberg, which would have undoubtedly ended in his hanging, but he committed suicide with a cyanide capsule just a day after his capture. Supposedly, his last words were “Ich bin Heinrich Himmler!”