Following on from my Last post here are a selection of photos taken with my Fujifilm X100S :
In July 2013 my family and I undertook a trip to Poland, Latvia and Kaliningrad (previously konigsberg) to trace the places where our ancestors had lived until the 1930’s. With numerous pogroms taking place in the first half of the twentieth century, some had already made the journey to Britain before the rise of the Nazis.
All our family members who remained in mainland Europe had perished either in massacres in Riga or were rounded up and transported away from their homes in Poland to the Warsaw Ghetto. Residents of the Ghetto who hadn’t succumbed to the appalling conditions or died in the uprising were killed at Treblinka.
Visiting the Warsaw Ghetto and our ancestral residences was extremely enlightening. After the trip I felt that I needed to visit a concentration camp in order to complete the journey. When the opportunity arose in November 2014, I joined a CST trip to Auschwitz.
The camp has been incredibly well preserved apart from the gas chambers reduced to rubble by the SS in January 1945 in an attempt to hide their crimes against humanity. In 1947, Poland founded a museum on the site of Auschwitz I and II, and in 1979, it was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Auschwitz concentration camp was a network of German Nazi concentration camps and extermination camps built and operated by the Third Reich in Polish areas annexed by Nazi Germany during World War II. It consisted of Auschwitz I (the original camp), Auschwitz II–Birkenau (a combination concentration/extermination camp), Auschwitz III–Monowitz (a labour camp to staff an IG Farben factory), and 45 satellite camps.
Auschwitz I was first constructed to hold Polish political prisoners, who began to arrive in May 1940. The first extermination of prisoners took place in September 1941, and Auschwitz II–Birkenau went on to become a major site of the Nazi “Final Solution to the Jewish question”. From early 1942 until late 1944, transport trains delivered Jews to the camp’s gas chambers from all over German-occupied Europe, where they were killed with the pesticide Zyklon B (manufactured by IG Farben).
At least 1.1 million prisoners died at Auschwitz, around 90 percent of them Jewish; approximately 1 in 6 Jews killed in the Holocaust died at the camp. Others deported to Auschwitz included 150,000 Poles, 23,000 Romani and Sinti, 15,000 Soviet prisoners of war, 400 Jehovah’s Witnesses, homosexuals, and tens of thousands of people of diverse nationalities. Many of those not killed in the gas chambers died of starvation, forced labour, infectious diseases, individual executions, and medical experiments.
In the course of the war, the camp was staffed by 6,500 to 7,000 members of the German Schutzstaffel (SS), approximately 15 percent of whom were later convicted of war crimes. Some, including camp commandant Rudolf Höss, were executed. The Allied Powers refused to believe early reports of the atrocities at the camp, and their failure to bomb the camp or its railways remains controversial.
As Soviet troops approached Auschwitz in January 1945, most of its population was evacuated and sent on a death march. The prisoners remaining at the camp were liberated on January 27, 1945, a day now commemorated as International Holocaust Remembrance Day. In the following decades, survivors such as Primo Levi, Viktor Frankl, and Elie Wiesel wrote memoirs of their experiences in Auschwitz, and the camp became a dominant symbol of the Holocaust.
The IG Farben Trial, was the sixth of the twelve trials for war crimes the U.S. authorities held in Nuremberg after the end of World War II, against leading industrialists of Nazi Germany for their conduct during the Nazi regime. The defendants in this case had all been directors of IG Farben. Of the 24 defendants arraigned, 13 were found guilty. The indictment was filed on May 3, 1947; the trial lasted from August 27, 1947 until July 30, 1948.
All defendants who were sentenced to prison received early release. Most were quickly restored to their directorships, and some were awarded the Federal Cross of Merit.
The trial included German directors of American I G Farben: Max Ilgner, F. Ter Meer, and Hermann Schmitz. Not tried or even questioned were the American directors: Edsel Ford, C. E. Mitchell, Walter Teagle, and Paul Warburg (all Wall Street elite).