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The Holocaust: Period Written Account

Article about: In 1980, the discovery of a hidden thermos wrapped in leather and buried in the woods at the crematoria complex in Auschwitz-II Birkenau made the news. Now, some decades later, the blurred t

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    Default The Holocaust: Period Written Account

    In 1980, the discovery of a hidden thermos wrapped in leather and buried in the woods at the crematoria complex in Auschwitz-II Birkenau made the news. Now, some decades later, the blurred text of pages written by a Greek member of the Sonderkommando at Birkenau, has finally been made public, almost in its entirety. A student, working on an excavation project at the site, made the discovery but due to the conditions - the papers, although concealed in a thermos wrapped in leather, had spent decades in the dank soil, unfortunately only cca 10-15% of the text, written in Greek, was legible. Previously, hidden documents had been found at the site but they were always written in Yiddish. The Greek document, written by Marcel Nadjari, has painstakingly been deciphered using a digital scanner and the skills of a Russian born IT expert, Aleksandr Nikitjaev. Pavel Polian, a Russian historian who helped restore the letter, described the accounts as "the central documents of the Holocaust". Patently, the historical importance of the material concerned should not be underestimated.

    Around 90% of the text is now legible. Below, the translation in full:

    NOTE: The letter opens with requests in German, Polish and French for the reader to immediately deliver the package to the nearest Greek consulate.


    Please send this
    letter to the
    nearest Greek
    Consulate

    I request that the enclosed
    letter be delivered to the next
    Greek Consul.

    […] ces quelques mots
    par[s?] un condamne [?] a mort […]
    […] le remettre en plus prochain
    Consulat de la Grece

    Dimitrios A. Stefanides
    Rue Kroussovo No 4
    Thessaloniki
    GRECE

    To my dear Dimitris Athan.[asius] Stefanidis, Ilias Koen,- Georgios Gounaris.
    To my beloved companion, Smaro Efraimidou and so many more, of whom I will always think, and finally, to my beloved fatherland: “ELLAS,” to whom I was always a good citizen. –

    On April, 1944 we were transported from our Athens, after I suffered through a month in the camp Chaidari where I always [word crossed out] received good Smaro’s packages, and his efforts on my behalf remain unforgettable in these terrible days I am going through. …always, that you … search … for her.
    Dear Misko and at sometime … get her address for me … our Ilias and that you always look after him … and that Manolis (an alias Nadjary used for himself) has not forgotten them.

    But also that it looks like we will unfortunately not see one another again. –

    After a journey of ten days we arrived at Auschwitz on April 11 where they brought us to the camp Birkenau, we stayed approximately one month in quarantine and from there they relocated us, both the healthy and the sick. Where? Where, dear Misko? To a crematorium, I will explain for you below our lovely work that the Almighty wanted to have us perform. –

    It is a large building with a wide chimney with 15 ovens. Underneath a garden there are two huge endless cellars. The one serves as a place to undress and the other as a death chamber, where the people enter naked and after the room is filled with approximately 3000 people, it is locked and they are gassed, where they breathe their last after 6 to 7 minutes of martyrdom. Our work consisted of first receiving them; most did not know the reason … breaking down or sobbing they were told that … this was for a bath … and they went to their deaths suspecting nothing. –

    Until today… I said that each … (fragments of words that cannot be deciphered) … I said to them, that I didn’t understand the language in which they spoke to me, and to those people, men and women, where I could see that their fate was sealed, I told the truth. –

    After … all naked, they went further into the death chamber in which the Germans had affixed pipes on the ceiling … so they would believe, that the bath was being prepared, with whips in their hands the Germans drove them closer and closer together, so that the largest number possible would fit, a real sardine tin of people, after which they hermetically sealed the door. The boxes of gas always came in cars from the German Red Cross with two SS people … It was the gas people that then poured the gas through the openings. –

    After a half hour we opened the doors and our work began. We carried the corpses of these innocent women and children to the elevator, which transported them to the room with the ovens, and there they put them in the ovens, where they burnt without the aid of fuel because of the fat that they had. –

    A person produced only about half an okka (640 grams) of ashes, bones that the Germans forced us to crush, to then press through a coarse sieve, and then a car picked it up and poured it into the Vistula River (actually the River Sola), which flows by in the area and thus they eliminate all traces. –

    The dramas my eyes have seen are indescribable. About 600 000 Jews from Hungary have passed by my eyes, – French – Poles from Litzmannstadt, roughly 80 000, and now most recently about 10 000 Jews from Theresienstadt in Czechoslovakia arrived. –

    Today a transport came from Theresienstadt, but thank God they were not brought to us, they kept them in camps, which means that the order was given not to kill any more Jews, and that appears to be the case, they changed their minds at the last moment – now that there isn’t a single Jew left in Europe, but for us things are different, we must disappear from the face of the earth, because we know so much about the unimaginable methods of their abuses and reprisals. –

    Our unit is called the special unit, it included at the beginning about 1000 people, of these 200 Greeks and the rest Poles and Hungarians, and after heroic resistance, because they wanted to only remove 800, because all one hundred outside of the camp and the others inside. My good friends Viko Brudo and Minis Aaron from Thess/niki were killed in action. They will eliminate us too, now that this command has been given, we are 26 Greeks overall and the remaining ones are Polish. At least we Greeks are determined to die like true Greeks, just like every Greek knows how to leave life, by showing until the very last moment, despite the dominance of the criminals, that Greek blood is flowing through our veins, like we have also shown in the war against Italy

    My dearests, when you are reading what work I have done, you will say: how could I, Manolis, or anybody else, do this work and burn fellow believers. At the beginning I told myself the same thing, many times, I thought about joining them, in order to end everything. However, the thing that kept me from doing so was revenge; I wanted and I want to live, to revenge the deaths of Dad and Mum, and that of my beloved little sister Nelli.

    I am not afraid of dying, after all, how could I fear it, after everything that my eyes have seen? Because of this, dear Ilias, my beloved little cousin, you, and all my friends, should know your duty, once I am no longer. From my little cousin Sarrika Chouli you remember her, the small one that was at my house back then? Who still lives, I learned, that Nellika was together with your little sister Errika, until their very last moment. My only wish is that what I am writing reaches your hands. My family’s property, I leave for you, Misko, with the request that you will take in Ilias, my cousin. Ilias is a Koen and you should view him as if he were myself, you should always look out for him, and in case my cousin Sarika Chouli comes back, you should treat her, dear Misko, like your beloved niece Smaragda, since here we are all experiencing things that the human mind isn’t able to imagine. –

    Remember me from time to time, like I am remembering you. –

    Fate doesn’t want me to see our Greece as a free man, as I experienced it on 12.10.43. Whenever someone asks after me, simply say that I no longer exist, and that I have gone as a true Greek. –

    Help all those, dear Miskos, who come back from the Birkenau camp. –

    I am not sad, dear Misko, that I will die, but that I won’t be able to avenge myself the way I would like to. If you receive a letter from my relatives abroad, please give the fitting answer that the family A. Nadjari is annihilated, killed off by the cultivated Germans, do you remember, dear Giorgos? Please pick up, Misko, the piano of my Nelli from the Sionidou family and give it to Ilias, so that he always has it with him in commemoration, he loved her so much and she loved him, too. –

    Almost always, when they kill, I ask myself, if God exists, and nevertheless, I have always believed in Him and I still believe, that God wants His will to be done. I’m dying happy, because I know that at this moment our Greece is free. My last words will be: Long live Greece.
    Marcel Nadjari
    For about four years now they have been killing the Jews … they killed Poles, Czechs, French, Hungarians, Slovaks, Dutch, Belgians, Russians und all Thess/nikis, except the 300 who are still alive today, (in) Athens, Arta, Kerkyra (Corfu), Kos and Rhodes. –

    A total of around 1,400,000
    The honored Greek Embassy which will receive this note is asked by a good Greek citizen called Emmanouil or Marcel Nadjari from Thess/niki, previously resident in Odos Italias No. 9 in Thess/niki, to send this note to the following address.
    Dimitrios Athanassiou Stefanidis
    Odos Krousovou No. 4
    Thess/niki
    Greece

    This is my last wish. Condemned to death by the Germans because I am Jewish.

    Thank you.
    Nadjaris



    Images and credits:


    1) Marcel Nadjary (credit: The Jewish Museum of Greece)

    2) Thermos and leather case the documents were found in (credit: Auschwitz-Birkenau Museum)

    3) Pages of the letter showing how the manuscript was reconstructed. To the right, the original page displaying heavy water damage. To the left, a version made legible through digital image correction (credit: Pavel Polian / Institut für Zeitgeschichte)

    4) An image I took during an extensive study visit to the site, some years ago. The area shown is part of the massive crematoria complex, located at the far end of the Auschwitz-II Birkenau site. Note that this area is cca 1km from the main gate and entrance to the Birkenau camp and this, is the shortest of the camp's dimensions. In the foreground, one of the numerous pits used to dump ashes of the murdered prisoners. The woods behind this pit are the location where the documents were discovered. In the distance, the sewage treatment area is visible. Beyond that lay the sauna complex, the huge Kanada Effektenlager (see this thread: Effektenkammer in Konzentrationslager ), then Krematorium-IV, Krematorium-V, more woods, mass burial pits and also the site of the first temporary gas chamber.

    Carl
    Click to enlarge the picture Click to enlarge the picture The Holocaust: Period Written Account   The Holocaust: Period Written Account  

    The Holocaust: Period Written Account   The Holocaust: Period Written Account  

    Experienced guide and published author leading detailed study trips to the former KZ sites of Nazi Germany. Contact for further details.

    www.concentrationcamptours.com

    www.concentrationcampmoney.com


    "maka akaŋl oyate maŋi pi ki le, tuweŋi wíyópeya oki hi sni"

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    Thank you for posting this!

    Mart

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    Another record left behind by a member of the Sonderkommando at Birkenau, this time a Polish language example, details the numbers of prisoners gassed during the month of October 1944. Note that some days are missing - the page documents the mass murders from October 6th - 24th, so the total figure of over 42,000 victims is actually some way short of the actual death toll...for that month alone. Also note that this record does not include Krematorium-IV, which had just been put out of action due to the Sonderkommando revolt. Krematorium-IV had similar capacity to that of Krematorium-V, in itself responsible for cca 4,000 victims during the recorded dates. The statistics, which cannot be ignored nor debated, detail the nationalities, number of people, date of the action, whether the victims were men/women/children, their place of origin and the designated Krematorium that they were sent to to be murdered.

    Using this record, below follows a breakdown of how each Krematorium (II-V) was utilised for the time period (October 6th - October 24th, 1944)

    Note that the designations (I-IV) relate to Krematoria II-V - the Sonderkommando member who wrote this did not include Krematorium-I, which was located at the Stammlager (Main Camp), Auschwitz-I. Officially, the Krematoria at Birkenau were numbered II-V.

    1 (Krematorium II) 23,500 victims
    2 (Krematorium III) 14,335 victims
    3 (Krematorium IV) none - out of action due to Sonderkommando revolt
    4 (Krematorium V) 3,800 victims
    5) Illegible 1,000 victims

    The attachment below shows the surviving record, hand written in pencil. Credit: Auschwitz-Birkenau State Memorial Museum

    Carl
    Click to enlarge the picture Click to enlarge the picture The Holocaust: Period Written Account  
    Experienced guide and published author leading detailed study trips to the former KZ sites of Nazi Germany. Contact for further details.

    www.concentrationcamptours.com

    www.concentrationcampmoney.com


    "maka akaŋl oyate maŋi pi ki le, tuweŋi wíyópeya oki hi sni"

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    That's amazing Carl. A first hand account from inside the death camp by a man determined that the truth would escape, even if he didn't.

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    The Witold Pilecki report was the first comprehensive report about Auschwitz that reached Allies. Rotmistrz Witold Pilecki , Polish Cavalry Captain volunteered to go to Auschwitz. Polish Underground needed to know what was going on in Auschwitz first hand. He escaped in 1943 and wrote a report on what was going on in Auschwitz. He was there from September 1940 to April 1943. For all his deeds Rotmistzr Pilecki was executed by communist traitors in Poland in 1948.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Witold%27s_Report
    NIE ZAPOMNIJMY O KRESACH.

    TAK BEDZIE JAK BOG DA.

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    And as link to the actual Report. Its not for weak hearted.
    Witold Pilecki | Auschwitz Report
    NIE ZAPOMNIJMY O KRESACH.

    TAK BEDZIE JAK BOG DA.

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    Quote by Krakow1 View Post
    The Witold Pilecki report was the first comprehensive report about Auschwitz that reached Allies. Rotmistrz Witold Pilecki , Polish Cavalry Captain volunteered to go to Auschwitz. Polish Underground needed to know what was going on in Auschwitz first hand. He escaped in 1943 and wrote a report on what was going on in Auschwitz. He was there from September 1940 to April 1943. For all his deeds Rotmistzr Pilecki was executed by communist traitors in Poland in 1948.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Witold%27s_Report
    An excellent book was published - featuring some fine work by Stefan, a member here, on the story of Pilecki. Anybody who wishes to study the KZ system needs to have this book in their library.
    Experienced guide and published author leading detailed study trips to the former KZ sites of Nazi Germany. Contact for further details.

    www.concentrationcamptours.com

    www.concentrationcampmoney.com


    "maka akaŋl oyate maŋi pi ki le, tuweŋi wíyópeya oki hi sni"

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