Friday, February 17, 2012

The Reconstruction of Belzec

Of the tragedies that played out at the three Action Reinhard camps, Belzec is the most mute. There are only two known survivors of Belzec to describe what they saw and experienced. One of the men, R. Reder, wrote a book published in Crakow in 1946. the second, named Chaim Herszman, was a witness before a Polish commission set up to investigate German war crimes. Herszmen had escaped from a train transporting him and last Jewish workers to Sobibor for execution Thet were being carried from from Belzec after the demolition of that camp. Hirszman lived to see the end of Nazism and had completed part of his deposition beore the Polish commission when it adjourned. He was to return the next day to complete his testimony. He never made it; he was murdered by Polish anti-Semites. Other first hand testimony exists from Polish and German Sources. The former were very restricted in the time and place they had to observe. The latter suffer from the obvious interest they had had in limiting their culpability.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Photographs Documenting the Holocaust in Hungary

When the Soviet Army captured Budapest on January 17-18, 1945, it was too late to save the lives of 564,500 Jews who had been sent to the various death-camps run by the Nazis. The Budapest SS headquarters, however, was over-run by the Soviets before the Nazis were able to destroy a huge number of papers which documented their efforts to annihilate the Hungarian Jews. These documents, together with many of the photographs that are part of this essay, were bundled up by the Soviets and stored in the basement of the Hungarian Ministry of the Interior where they remained unseen for over forty years. When Hungary regained its independence from the Soviet block, the new Minister of the Interior discovered these documents and gave them to the Jewish Museum and Archives of Hungary where Dr. László Karsai is presently cataloging and scanning them. We are pleased that the Museum has selected The Holocaust History Project as the site in the United States where eventually all of the tens of thousands of documents may be viewed. The small sampling at the Holocaust History Project  bears witness to those dreadful years.