Every two years, Jewish youths, led by Holocaust survivors, visit the death camps. They burn memorial candles, often leaving messages. Then they travel to Israel, to commemorate the loss and the re-birth of life and hope. Many of the youths are grandchildren of survivors. In the camps was a slogan, "We are the victims. We are the witnesses. Never forget! Never again!"
A child at the Holocaust Memorial in Miami Beach touches the face of a child. At least one and one-half million Jewish children were murdered in the Holocaust.
A visitor to Treblinka mourns at one of the long pits where Germans threw the bodies of camp prisoners. Yankel Wiernik was a prisoner who had to dig up and burn some of the hundreds of thousands of corpses that had been dumped in vast pits behind the gas chambers. "The sight was terrifying, the worst that human eyes have ever beheld," he said in "A Year in Treblinka."
A trio mourns among rocks and stones at Treblinka that symbolize the Jewish towns that were annihilated by the Nazis in Poland. The Germans had given the road to the Treblinka gas chambers a name, Himmelfahrstrasse, the street to heaven. Technology permitted 150 people to kill 900,000 others in 18 months at a cost of 5-cents per person. Fewer than 40 Jews escaped from Treblinka.
A boy demonstrates at the Holocaust Memorial in Miami Beach to counter a rally one block away by the Ku Klux Klan, skinheads and neo-Nazis. Survivors tales are heard more widely now than they were after the war. Post-war, survivors were an embarrassment to the churches, governments and Jews in the free world that had done little to save them.
The trunk of another Friedman was photographed at Auschwitz by APF Fellow Jill Freedman
Jelena Mezei, from Subotica, Yugoslavia, survived one year in Auschwitz. She lost her parents, four grandparents, and 30 uncles, aunts and cousins there. "I remember the inhuman treatment of the transports. There is a railway bridge in Subotica for trains, and even today I can't look at these wagons. It makes me sick to see them, even though they are transporting animals. Such a big hurt will never be healed. I lost my friends, my generation."
Shoes from death camp victims at Majdanek. The Germans sent clothes, shoes, stolen gold and money back to Germany. Free use was made of the human body, in what Primo Levi called "stupid and symbolic violence," using the body as an anonymous thing disposed of in an arbitrary manner. Crematoria ashes were used as fill for swamp land, as building insulation, as fertilizer, and to cover paths in villages. Hair was used in mattresses, fishnets and riding crops.
Overturned headstones and neglected graves fill the Jewish Cemetery in Warsaw. In 1945, Feigele Peltel looked for her father's grave in the cemetery. She was quoted in "On Both Sides of the Wall," as saying "Although I knew that these atrocities were the handiwork of the so-called 'dentists' - Polish ghouls who searched the mouths of the Jewish corpses to extract their gold-capped teeth, I nevertheless felt strangely guilty and ashamed. Yes, Jews were persecuted, even in their graves."
A cannister of Zyklon-B (prussic acid) remains at Auschwitz. One gallon of the pesticide could kill more than 1,000 people in minutes. It was more efficient than carbon monoxide, which was used in other death camps and in the gas vans, the portable gas chambers. Topf and Son, of Erfurt, built the crematoria; four in Birkanau, one in Auschwitz. The firm now builds brewery equipment.
To survive in Auschwitz you needed a good inside job. Blue-eyed Artur Radvanski, of Prague, was lucky. He was chief of the doctors' bathroom in the SS hospital in Auschwitz. He was only 17 and had already survived Buchenwald, Ravensbruck, and Sachsenhausen. He cleaned the bathrooms and massaged the doctors, including Josef Mengele. "I was not a person, I was a thing to him, a dog, cat, pig," Artur said of Mengele. "To him I was not a man."
Chaim Goldberg, born in Poland and now living in Boca Raton, Florida, paints scenes of the Holocaust and of life in the Jewish towns that were obliterated. At 17, he was the youngest student accepted to the Academy of Fine Art in Warsaw. Chargall bought two of his paintings, told him to come to Paris, he'd help him. The war intervened and he joined the Polish Army. He was unable to save his parents from the Holocaust.