One of the constant search terms which attracts transient visitors to this blog are terms relating to Lazar Wiesel, Elie Wiesel and his missing tattoo.
On this blog I have given a brief overview of the facts and documents collected by Auschwitz survivor Niklos Grüner here, but these are essentially available elsewhere on the web. What I want to do here is propose a possible solution to this mystery. The reasons for believing Elie Wiesel may have taken the identity of another older Auschwitz survivor, Lazar Wiesel, can be summarised as follows
1. The fact that Auschwitz survivor Niklos Grüner knew Lazar Wiesel and his brother Abraham in Auschwitz and failed to recognise the Nobel Prize Winner on meeting him. The description of his surprise as he writes it sounds credible
2. Mr Grüner then went through the Buchenwald archives and uncovered a number of documents that confirmed his memory of an older Lazar and Abraham Wiesel A-7713 and A-7712 respectively
3. Despite testifying under in court that he possesses a tattoo, A-7713, numerous footages and public photos of a bare-armed Elie Wiesel fails to reveal a tattoo.
To this might be added a fourth reason: there seems to be long-standing suspicion of Elie Wiesel in the Survivor community, to the extent that as far back in the 1980s survivor of the Mengele twins experiment and founder of the Candles museum Eva Kor wrote privately to the Auschwitz museum seeking the registration details of A-7713 and then, years later, privately supplied that information to Mr Grüner by fax.
Mr Grüner believed that his friend Lazar Wiesel wrote Un di Velt Hot Geshvign and this text was changed and adapted by the younger Elie Wiesel and re-released as Nuit. And although there are some significant differences in text and tone between the two to make this plausible, it also leaves some problems. The first is why did Lazar Wiesel write his 1954 memoir from the point of view of a teenager not exactly Elie Wiesel’s age but close to it, and why did Lazar Wiesel not object when his work was plagiarised. As to the first, I have no idea; as to the second, one possibility is that there is familial connection between Lazar Wiesel and Elie Wiesel and permission to use of Lazar Wiesel’s work were freely gifted.
Elie Wiesel is the offspring of two well-established and multi-branched Sighet’s families, the Wiesels and the Feigs. Survivors of these two families (which I am happy to report seem numerous) have loaded extensive geneaologies on Rootsweb. A sample output can be seen here. (The database seems to be the responsibility of a one Leslie Gyi, email: firstname.lastname@example.org). What interests us is the appearance of 3 nameless living Wiesels in this listing – children of Mendel and Golda Wiesel (allegedly Elie Wiesel’s Uncle and Aunt).
Recently my attention was drawn to an overall excellent article regarding Anton Pacholegg, a rather incredible witness from Dachau, and his testimony regarding human skin leather production at Dachau, which can be read here. Overall the biographical detail and the subsequent career of Anton Pacholegg makes Dr Joachim Neander’s article fascinating, although I would disagree with some points of interpretation.
Anton Pacholegg was also heavily involved with one of Dr Sigismund Rascher’s more infamous projects, the development of an anti-coagulant for the pre-surgical treatment of wounded soldiers, Polygal. The concept being that given this drug would greatly reduce bleeding and thereby improve survival prospects. Without doubt a worthwhile concept, a typical summary of this aspect of Rascher’s career might be as follows:
Another of Rascher’s major research efforts focused on the introduction of a pectin-based preparation, Polygal, to promte blood clotting. He predicted that the prophylactic use of Polygal tablets would reduce bleeding from wounds sustained in combat or during surgical procedures. The agent was also recommended for the control of spontaneous gastrointestinal and pulmonary hemorrhages. Combat woulds were simulated by the amputation of the viable extremities of camp prisoners without anesthesia or by shooting the prisoners through the neck and chest.
Rascher also claimed that oral premedication with Polygal minimized bleeding during major surgical procedures, rendering hemostatic clips or ligatures unnecessary and shortening operating times. He published an enthusiastic article about his clinical experiece with Polygal, withou specifying the nature of some of the trial in humans. The paper concluded. “The tests of this medicine “Polygal 10″ showed no failures under the most varied circumstances.” Rascher also formed a company to manufacture Polygal and used prisoners to work in the factory. (more…)
Prominent amongst oral testimonies from Birkenau in 1944, particularly of Hungarian Jews, is the role of the Weaving Mill or Weberei of Birkenau in camp employment. Although the literature tends to be vague as to where the Weberei was actually located, inmates employed there seemed, according to extensive oral testimony, mostly to spend their time producing fuses for armaments out of old rags. Locations suggested in the literature the Weberei range from BIII to the Familienlager Theresienstadt sector BIIb, to BIIc. No Weberei building exists in any of the available lists of building projects for Birkenau (which all mention BW 30, BW 30a, BW 30b, BW 30c – allegedly the codes for the various crematoria). Yet according to the documents of the Frankfurt trial a DAW Weberei opened in March 1943. Coincidently or not, March 1943 more or less the date that Krema IV is supposed to have been finished. From the wealth of oral testimony and camp employment lists we know a Weberei was in Birkenau. My suggestion will be the Weberei was one or both of the building sites we today know as Krema IV and V, that is next to the Effeketen lager – a convenient source of textiles.
Some time back I posted about some odd features of one of the corpses at the liberation of Buchenwald : We are the Hollow Men. The gist of which was that one of the corpses presented seemed anatomically impossible in as much it appeared to have a hollow head. I would not claim enormous expertise in this subject, although I do possess an excellently functioning head of my own and also somehow managed to pass an undergraduate course in anatomy. There is, however, another liberation set of photos that has provoked my puzzlement and that is the Strasbourg Anatomical Institute skeletonn collection alleged procured by Professor August Hirt.
I posted recently about a visit to the Mauthausen memorial center where I raised the possibility that one of the ovens there may have been constructed after liberation. Surprising confirmation of this possibility came recently when someon uploaded onto the Internet a description of visiting Mauthausen on May 9 1945, only a couple of days post liberation. I have post the entire description and below I discuss the parts of the testimony that seem to confirm the presence of only a single oven.
Immediately after the liberation of Auschwitz, the Soviets sent a film crew in to make an extensive newsreel documentary. This documentary was later shown at the Nuremberg Trials. In the last few years it has been released on DVD (and can be downloaded in various places on the Internet by googling the terms “The Liberation of Auschwitz” avi). Curiously, although there was extensive coverage of clearing away the ruins of Krema V, it appears on first viewing to contain no images of Krema II and III (allegedly the main gassing facilities) or Krema IV at all.
The thought occurs that given Krema II and III were supposedly the epicenter of the extermination program, perhaps the reason they did not appear on film is because they were not ready yet to be shown to the public.
Curiously, shortly after I made this claim regarding the lack of Krema II and III images in the Liberation footage, the following still from the DVD was pointed out to me which was claimed to represent either Krema II or III. It is footage that appears for a few seconds only, immediately after the Krema V section is shown, so the suggestion that it represents Krema II or Krema III is quite reasonable. However it represents a view of Krema II or III that it is impossible to find today at the memorial site. In the background there is a building that is obviously in ruins – limiting the number of sites it could be at Auschwitz-Birkenau to one of the demolished crematoriums.
The presence on the blueprints of Krema II and III of a stairway from an external door has lead to claims that this demonstrates that these two buildings must have had a homicidal function. This argument, chiefly run by JC Pressac and later Professor Robert van Pelt goes somewhat along the lines that the original design had a chute to be implemented at this location which would be consistent with a normal morgue but the later addition of a stairway in this location implies that victims were intended to walk down this structure into a lethal gas chamber.
From the Judgement of Justice Grey at the trial of Deboral Lipstadt, the significance was summed up as follows:
“Meanwhile, Professor van Pelt also explained that when the plans of crematoria II and III were redesigned in late 1942 and early 1943, the corpse-slides or chutes appearing on the original plans were removed, and the entrance to the basement moved to the other side of the building. Thus, if the re-design was intended to facilitate the gassing of corpses, people who are already dead, it had only succeeded in compelling those who were carrying the corpses to negotiate a series of small rooms, narrow passages, and staircases to reach the gassing-space.”
At best it is a fairly weak argument, and rather a side issue because Krema Denial holds that these two buildings were most likely bakeries – and hence by definition these blueprints cannot be genuine – but lets examine what we can find out about this feature in more detail.
This is a post that I will use both to illustrate the odd behaviour of people who see it as their duty to “defend history” and also to show some rather odd features of the Topf ovens at Mauthausen and the questions it raises about the politicised nature of these memorial sites.
People get all kinds of strange ideas that these was something uniquely brilliant in the design of Topf ovens. Comments range from “a special oven designed to run on human fat” to JC Pressac’s “a technological little marvel.” Partly this is to justify the absurdly inflated corpses they were supposed to have processed every hour of every day. In fact, they were very basic and unsophisticated designs. In one online discussion I had, a person claiming engineering and physics expertise said that Topf ovens possessed a “gasifier unit” where producer gas was collected and piped off to be combusted in jets beneath the corpse. To prove his point he circled on the Mauthausen Topf diagram of 1940 where he believed this unit was.
Lets look further. (more…)