Day 351: ‘When Chelmno, Auschwitz and Hitler Changes Who You Are’ 2018

Day 351
Saturday 16 June 2018  11.51pm

‘When Chelmno, Auschwitz and Hitler Changes Who You Are’   2018

Tonight I changed my plan from watching Apocalypse Now because I hadn’t sent out invitations. I hadn’t taken the opportunity to invite anyone. Time just ran out before I knew that it was Friday and that tomorrow was going to be Apocalypse Now. I decided to reschedule for one of the two remaining Friday evenings.  I’ll work out which one, later.

Ali and I agreed to watch Shoah, Part 3, instead.

Shoah, Part 3, fills in more of the picture of what was happening in the Chelmno and Auschwitz camps and how the Nazis were able to orchestrate the coming and going of the trains. They carted thousands of people to a destination, the dropped off the passengers/cargo/tour-group, then the train turned around and came back – empty. It happened week after week. The original documents from the Transport Department show that train went to Treblinka full, and left Treblinka empty. All of the major stations they passed through were notified of these Special Services to Treblinka. Hard facts on a cold piece of paper, which a man in the 1970s holds in his hand, was held – in his hand – by a different man in the 1940s.

Part 3 also shows how these orders from Hitler, to collect and murder the Jews, weren’t specifically referred to in letters and memorandums. There was a deliberate decision to not refer to what was actually happening – to put it in writing – because, it was a criminal act to gather together one race and gas and burn every last one you could find.

There was a collective conspiracy of people who knew what they were doing, who knew that Hitler didn’t like Jews from what was reported in the media, who knew that he was transporting them to POW camps, and who knew that it wasn’t conceivable that hundreds of thousands of Jews could be taken to these remote camps which could’t possibly cope with this number of prisoners. Because of the war was the reason people accepted it. Because no one dared utter a word of what they knew was happening, was another.

The implication is that, as my wife said, people “are putting their heads in the sand.”

Because, obviously, they’re ignoring the calculable number of people arriving on Special Trains at Treblink and Auschwitz and the absurdity that those camps could handle those kind of numbers.

Again, as my wife said, “People are putting their head in the sand so they don’t have to see what is really happening.”

I said, “They’re choosing not to accept the implications of what the paperwork shows. They’ve got to survive as well. They’re transporting groups of people who could be going on a vacation together, or going to the gas chamber.”

“Exactly! They’ve buried their head in the sand,” she reiterated.

In addition to more information from Nazis who were interviewed (and filmed without their knowledge or approval), there are more insights from people who were part of the ‘Work Detail’ – men like Abraham Bomba and Filip Muller and Richard Glazer.

There’s also a completely new angle from Corfu, where the Nazis, armed with machine-guns, collected 1,650 Jews and shipped them across the seas, and transported them to a camp where they’d be either eliminated, exterminated, killed, incinerated or murdered – Only 122 survived.

There’s also more detail about the layout of the ovens at Auschwitz and the number of people that could be incinerated simultaneously. A train could arrive, and every Jew that was delivered could be dead within three of four hours, and the train, washed-out, cleaned, could depart, just 4 or 5 hours after it arrived.

There’s also interesting glimpses from interviews with certain survivors that some of the Jews who were part of the ‘Work Detail’ were planning an uprising, a ‘Resistance’ movement.

Again, Shoah is disturbing.

It, literally, boggles my mind. It simultaneously astounds, overwhelms, amazes, shocks and startles me – all of which stands alongside a person with a newly found, terribly deep, sadness that is now pervading my being – my ability to exist – which, with seven consecutive days of writing notes about it, is affecting my ability to handle my day-to-day life in all my roles, as husband, father, friend, musician, and just being: my being human and writing about what it is like to hear stories of people who are inhuman.