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slide3
This is the famous entrance to Birkenau (Auschwitz II) Concentration Camp.The picture is taken from the outside of the Camp. From May 1944 (but not before), the railroad track was constructed to enter directly into the Camp through its front gate. From that time on, all trains, arriving with deportees from almost entire Europe, would enter directly into the Camp on one of the three (3) railroad tracks constructed (as seen in the next picture).
slide5
The same picture taken from the inside. Now, we can see the entire railroad tracks complex from within the Camp with the space between the tracks known as the "Ramp of Death" because it was from that place that the newly arrivals were selected for who would go straight to the gas chambers.

This railroad tracks complex was built only in early 1944 when it was realized that the deportation of Jews from Hungary, including Northern Transylvania and Subcarpathian Ukraine --both annexed at that time to Hungary, would exceed all previously known quotas. As a result of that, Rudolf Höss, the commander of the Birkenau Camp went two times to Budapest. There, he met with Eichmann (head of Gestapo that was responsible for resolving once and for all the so-called Jewish problem) who, temporarily, had moved his headquarters to the capital of Hungary. Together, they were able to come up with an understanding with the Hortyst authorities whereby they could "adjust" the gassing and burning from the Birkenau crematoria with the rate of arrival of the incoming trains.

slide7
Now we can see the "Ramp of Death" as it looked in 1944. In the Spring and Summer of that year, the 147 freight trains carried (in their over 6000 locked railcars with grated windows) 434,351 mothers and children, women and men. The entire Jewish population from Hungary and Northern Transylvania STOPPED HERE. In here, on this Ramp, the GREAT SELECTION took place. From each transport (consisting of some 3000 people) at least 2000 have been selected for death. From there, from that very Ramp that you see, that looks so peaceful and tranquil, 2000 innocent people were selected, that looked no different than you, TO GO STRAIGHT TO THE GAS CHAMBERS.

The remaining thousand people were selected, temporarily, for slave labor.

In the picture, you see two empty trains. From these trains, only 5 or 6 hours before, the previous transport was disembarked. In the front of the picture, we see small groups of SS-men inspecting the Ramp to see that everything is ready for the "welcoming" of the new transport. Further back in the picture, we can see some prisoners (German "Haftlings) from the so-called Komando "Canada" who are at the end of their work of transporting and sorting all the luggage collected from the previous transport.

slide9
The train stopped. The locked doors of the cars are being opened. Each time, with no exception, in front of each opened door, you would hear over and over again the same two commands:

   The First One: Alle heraus! (Everybody out!)

The words pleased us. We could now breathe with ease.    The Second One: Alles dort lassen!   (Leave everything there!) (All luggage stays in the car.)

That 2nd command stunned us: How come EVERYTHING ... all luggage? ... and the worm winter clothes? ... and the bed linen? ... and the baby diapers? ... and the leftover food? ... and the family pictures and the books? ... and the last water bottle? ... and the pouch with medicine? ... 

But no time existed for such questions much less for answers.

The disembarkation had began.

slide11
On June 9, 1944, in front of an emptied railroad car, exactly as the one seen here, I was there with my family. Squashed one into another, nervously, we were eager to know: Where we are? What they intend to do with us? What fate awaits us? With tremendous apprehension, we were listening to the first words addressed to us since our arrest and forced entry into the ghetto. The monologue that was being addressed to the newcomers sounded like this:

Gentlemen and Ladies,We know that you are very tired, that you had a very long and exhausting journey. Neither food nor water was plentiful. We are sorry, but this is not our fault. Now, that is behind you. We will put you into a Camp. Those who are able will work. All will live in normal conditions.

We are sorry that we have to give you some bad news. To the Camp, where you would live and work, are some 3 km and so happen that just today we do not have transportation. Thus, we are asking now that:

All females, mothers with their children no older than 14, all men sick or disabled to go to the left.The rest that are able to work, and thus able to walk to the Camp, to stay put on the right of the ramp.

After the inhuman crowding in the train, after the hunger and the thirst that tormented us during the journey from the Ghetto to the Birkenau , after the fear and desperation that overwhelmed all of us and in particular our mothers, the surprising "monologue" of "understanding and kindness" gave us some hope.

This is how it happened in less than one hour, in tens of minutes, families were separated forever one from another.

slide13
In spite of the fact that innumerable times the order "Alles dort lassen" (everything stays in the cars) has been given, some, as we can see, have disembarked carrying small pieces of luggage or bags. The SS-men made believe that they were not seeing. The important thing for them was that everything to go as smoothly and, especially, as rapidly as possible so to prevent any panic, yelling, and crying, any altercation or violent confrontation.
slide15
General view of the "Ramp of Death" when the evacuation of an entire train was complete. At the horizon, further back in the picture, we can see two buildings (on the left and on the right of the railroad tracks), each having a tall chimney. Those were the crematoria II and III.
slide17
On June 9, 1944, in front of an emptied railroad car, exactly as the one seen here, I was there with my family. Squashed one into another, nervously, we were eager to know: Where we are? What they intend to do with us? What fate awaits us? With tremendous apprehension, we were listening to the first words addressed to us since our arrest and forced entry into the ghetto. The monologue that was being addressed to the newcomers sounded like this:

Gentlemen and Ladies,We know that you are very tired, that you had a very long and exhausting journey. Neither food nor water was plentiful. We are sorry, but this is not our fault. Now, that is behind you. We will put you into a Camp. Those who are able will work. All will live in normal conditions.

We are sorry that we have to give you some bad news. To the Camp, where you would live and work, are some 3 km and so happen that just today we do not have transportation. Thus, we are asking now that:

All females, mothers with their children no older than 14, all men sick or disabled to go to the left.The rest that are able to work, and thus able to walk to the Camp, to stay put on the right of the ramp.

After the inhuman crowding in the train, after the hunger and the thirst that tormented us during the journey from the Ghetto to the Birkenau , after the fear and desperation that overwhelmed all of us and in particular our mothers, the surprising "monologue" of "understanding and kindness" gave us some hope.

This is how it happened in less than one hour, in tens of minutes, families were separated forever one from another.

slide19
In no time, all mothers with their children had assembled on the left side of the ramp.

Look at the little children at the left of the picture. They look straight at you! Look at their staggering innocence that they irradiate. In a few minutes they will be marching towards their death.

Why all this? Who had the prerogative to negate the right to live of more than ONE MILLION such children that were condemned to such a fate for the sole reason that were Jewish born? What is to be done that similar such barbaric acts that cry to heavens not to repeat themselves nowhere and not ever?

slide21
Here is another group of mothers with their children assembled in front of the railroad boxcars waiting to go, as they were told, to the trucks that will take them to the Camp where they will stay for the duration of the war.

The still picture cannot express, not even by a long shot, the drama that is being immortalized. Think about, if you will please, that those in this picture think that they will be together, in no time, with their families.

I must confess, that today after some 60 years, my deepest wound that I still have, that was not able to heal and will not be able to heal, is the one that was inflicted on the "Ramp of Death" with the break up of my family.

I was separated without kissing my mother ... Without embracing my twin brothers nor the little one, Valentin ... Who could have imagined that everything that the SS-men told us was a big lie of an imaginable cynicism, that when I was looking at my departing mother holding the hand of Valentin and admonishing my twin brothers not to stray away, in fact, I was looking at my mother's last journey.

slide23
Another group of men waiting for their selection. Noticing that they are being photographed, they all look straight into the camera.
slide25
In this group that moves forward towards the Commission of Selection, are some that do not have any chance in being selected for work. They will be taken out and sent directly to the gas chambers. For example, the child from the first row (the second from the left) is without his mother as his father took him in his column with the hope that he will pass. In fact, he has no chance whatsoever as he --with certainty-- will be grabbed from the formation and sent straight to the crematoria.

The same fate was in store --as for many others-- for the two elders from the center of the group that are holding canes.

slide27
The grandfathers and the grandmothers, the invalids, and the sick that could not any longer stay on their feet, were grouped as well in front of the railroad boxcars waiting for the trucks to take them away.

The trucks will come, they will be taken away, but not to be transported to a Family Camp but to go straight to the gas chambers.

slide29
Finally, the groups of men and youngsters over 14 --on one hand, and the women, mothers and children under 14 --on the other hand, are being formed into two distinct columns.

In the front of each of the two columns, the SS-men from the Commission on Selection are congregating.

The "Supreme Selection" for life or death is about to begin.

slide31
Each time, the selection begins with the column composed of women, mothers and children. The younger women who hold no children in their arms are taken out from the line and directed towards a designated place where the able for work females were assembled. The rest, the overwhelming great majority of the column, advances almost non-stop to the gas chambers. When the head of the SS selection committee notes a young woman holding a baby (as seen in this picture), he, in a rather polite tone, would say something like this:

"Madame, I see next to you an elderly woman that could be the child's grandmother or an aunt. Leave the child with her so to be able to get out of this column and join those that will walk to the Camp." Some accepted and conformed with the request, saving temporarily, without realizing, their life. Others, embracing even harder their baby, start crying and shouting hysterically:

" I am not giving up my baby. It is mine! I would rather die than being separate from my baby!" "Madame please do not provoke panic here" responded in a calm voice the SS-man. "I did not order you anything. I just made a suggestion. If you do not want, that is fine. Please continue on your way." And the woman happy of the outcome, holds her baby tight with one hand and, with the other hand wipes her tears on her way to the gas chambers that were not further away than 500 or 600 meters.

slide33
The selection begins in an orderly fashion. The SS-men are calm and their tender words are able to camouflage their unimaginable evilness.

No one, but absolute no one, from the moving column, could have contemplated that with each advancing step, each and every one of them was one step closer to the inescapable end, now less than 500 meters away.

slide34
The selection in the column for women, mothers and children is near completion. After a few minutes, the column for men and boys over 14 will be start moving.
slide38
On the faces and the eyes of these women selected for work, we can see their worry, anxiety, and even fear.

As if they were asking:"When we would see our loved ones from which we have been separated?"

slide41
Mothers, among them one grandmother, walk (some with their children being held in the their arms, others with them being held by hand) along the railroad tracks, towards the gas chambers.

From their looks, it appears that they would think on anything but their imminent death.

slide43
Two mothers (one with a small baby in her arms) are being surrounded by seven more children that are walking on their last journey.

It is truly overwhelming to see the 3 boys in front. The one in the middle --who could not be more than 4 or 5-- holds tight his two little brothers so as to not get lost on the road towards ... Towards what? Towards their death!

How incredible is all this ... and nevertheless, the crude truth is that it did happen.

slide45
This is one of the most circulated and most known photograph. It has become the "symbol" of the journey taken --along the railroad tracks-- from the Death Ramp to the Gas Chambers. It was followed by more than one million Jews, majority mothers with children under 14, the elderly, and the sick.
slide46
What follows are four images that seem to irradiate , finally, the return of a sense of some normalcy. The mothers appear to be calm and more tranquil looking at their children without signs of fear.

And yet ... the images that follow reveal a grisly sequence of unimaginable proportions representing the most dramatic moment from their entire ordeal.

The mothers that you see in the pictures below were told that they do not have much to go but, because they appeared to be tired and saw a nearby greenery they decided to take a short break. Seeing the trees all around and some water fountains, the children began running towards them. Finally, they could drink as much water as they wanted. Others found some leftover food in the their pockets and began gobbling their find. The mothers regained their smiles by watching their children.

No one could foresee the cruel truth. The bunch of trees around them, whose shade was so much appreciated, was planted there on purpose to camouflage the building behind where the gas chambers and the crematoria were located. To there, was no more than 100 feet.

The explanation for this unscheduled break is as follows: notwithstanding the Prussic precision, this time, the extermination process suffered a small snag. The previous lot was not yet completely transformed into smoke and ashes. Or perhaps that was complete, but the disrobing chamber or the gas chamber were not yet enough ventilated. In any event, the new arrival had to wait a few more minutes or even tens of minutes. After that, they will proceed walking their last 90-100 feet to their death.

slide48
The human beings that you are seeing in this picture --the children, and especially the children (as if they were some angels descended on earth), their loving mothers adoring their darlings, the elderly with God's fear in them-- were guilty of one thing, and that was that they were born as Jews. Because of it, they were humiliated and lied upon as never before.

They have been humiliated and lied upon with an unimaginable cynicism, a cynicism that is greater than any barbaric or bestial act.

These human beings, innocent and pure, were told by their captors, portraying themselves as superior beings ("übermensch"), to rest a little bit in the nearby greenery before continuing with their walk towards the promised family camp.

In reality, for each and everyone of this picture, that was to be "the last stay of their lives." Tens of feet apart, after the bushes of trees, the well-ventilated crematoria were awaiting them with an open door of the disrobing room and, with the gas chamber ready to go with a capacity for 2000 people. The 15 ovens built above the gas chamber were on so of not wasting any unnecessary time with restarting them.

slide50
Those in the front row have noticed that they are being photographed and are looking calm and natural towards the photographer.

Those in the back rows continue, in a rather relaxed manner, their conversation. Maybe they express the hope that the hardest part of their ordeal is behind them.

The shocking reality is however this: all of them that you see in this picture, after a very short time, got up, passed the tree from the back, entered into the building, were pushed and shoveled into the gas chamber, and afterwards, their corpses were transformed into smoke and ashes.

slide52
The children wait calmly. What were they waiting for? No one had an answer.

In any event, now they could breathe fresh air, they could lie down, they could sit up, and, if they so wanted, could walk around. The mothers, as well, have regained their peace of mind. The two from the right, as if by magic, were even able to smile. For sure, for the last time!

After a few tens of minutes, they will be disrobed naked, in the gas chamber they will elevate their children towards the ceiling for prolonging their lives for a few more seconds.

slide55
While the selection took place, with two thirds selected for immediate death [pushed into the gas chambers and burned in the ovens] and the rest placed in the Camp to be exterminated through other means [slave labor, inanition, disease, "Experimente an lebendingen Menschen" (medical experiments), executions, etc.], their luggage, left behind in the railroad boxcars, were being combed by the "Häftlings" (the prisoners) from the "Kanada" detachment. The loot was sorted out and placed into various categories such as shoes, bed linen, men clothes, watches, jewelry, etc., and then deposited into one of the existing 30 warehouses not far from the "Ramp of Death." From there, the sorted loot would find its way to Germany.
slide57
Six hours have passed since the deportees that had arrived from the last Birkenau-Auschwitz train left the "Ramp of Death." ... And now, a new train is about to stop carrying another 3000 innocent Jews destined to die.`... And that cycle continued, day and night, with no stop, during the Spring and Summer of 1944.
slide58
Holocaust Survivors and Remembrance Project"Forget You Not"™... preserving the past to protect the future ...From Earth to Heaven:I N   M E M O R I A M   A D   V I T A M   Æ T E R N A M
slide59
And to Them I willgive, withinmywalls,

a Memorial withaneverlastingname

"ForgetYouNot" thatshallnotbecut off.[InspiredfromIsaiah56:5 ]

[ Photo Credit: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum ]

slide61
"Dead Men will have indeed died in vain if Live Men refuse to look at them."

A Mass Grave at Bergen-Belsen Camp

slide63
Allied troops watch a passing cart laden with corpses intended for burial leave the compound of the Dachau Concentration Camp. Allied authorities required local farmers to drive their loaded carts through the town of Dachau as an education for the inhabitants.

(Photo Credit: David G. Briggs Collection, courtesy of USHMM Photo Archives, May 1945, Dachau, Germany. L.B. Cuddy)

slide64
Where on this EarthShall I Put a Gravestone for YouMy People?Your RemainsHave Been ScatteredUpon a Thousand CemeteriesYour MemoryThe Graveyard Wind Blows Like Sand

MONIKA KRAJEWSKA

Who Will Mourn for Us?Those Who Gather Here to RememberWho Will Understand?Those Who Touch These Stones TenderlyWho Will Erect a Monument for Us?Those Who SurvivedAnd Who Will Speak for Us?All Those Who Perished

ITZHAK KATZNELSON

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