My name is Arthur Fulman and I am a member of the Concord Board of Selectmen and I would like to welcome all of you this evening on behalf of the Board of Selectmen who for the sixteenth year is sponsoring this Holocaust Memorial Observance. The Board takes very seriously the undertaking of this event. It is important for us to reflect on the past even on a beautiful day such as today and to think about the future and what we can learn from the Holocaust. We have with us today a very interesting group of people. I've known Rosalie for a number of years and I'm familiar with the work she has done with One by One. Earlier this evening I met a number of the people who are here this evening as participants. I think you will find the program very interesting. I want to thank the Concord-Carlisle Human Rights Organization for the undertaking of this program and all of the participants, and I thank you all for coming this evening.
Patricia Ellis - Thank you all for coming tonight and joining with us for what I think will be a very special evening. We thank the Concord Board of Selectmen for their support of their yearly remembrance of the Holocaust. They have worked with us sixteen years and have shown, and it is not only unusual but enormously important, cooperation. We have a special program tonight. In a world that's literally awash in various brutalities, just look at a paper or watch your news station, we remember tonight one of the most brutal crimes in recorded history. We are very fortunate to have with us an organization whose name, One by One, tells us all what they really are about. The children of Holocaust survivors, children of the Third Reich working together with conversation, bit by bit, one by one, to work toward a more creative view of the future. How much we all need that sort of approach in 1996. Their president, Rosalie Gerut, Cantor at Congregation Kerem Shalom, and herself the daughter of Holocaust survivors, will continue this program.
Rosalie Gerut - We have a number of our members here tonight available to talk with you after the program. Andy Shapiro and I played together in Germany, and we chose a song tonight in English called Denmark 1943 written by Fred Small, and it is self-explanatory. (Lyrics on videotape)
Curtis Whiteway - Good evening. I'm going to try to give you a little bit of a feeling of what it was like for the liberators over in Germany in the concentration camps during World War II. There is so much to tell in such a very short time. I was over there for 19 months and went to the front lines on my 19th birthday. We were on the north corner of the Battle of the Bulge. It was called Hell's Corner and we were pretty well wiped out. We were replaced with new men, and we began pushing into the heart of Germany to the Siegfried line, Cologne plains, Cologne.
We were very innocent as to what war was really like. We had been trained very thoroughly, but our people didn't tell us anything at all about the concentration camps. We were very innocent about that. We began to overrun camps. In Cologne we overran a Gestapo prison. The horrors in there were just unbelievable. Normally anyone taken in by the Gestapo and kept in a Gestapo prison did not survive. We know we managed to save quite a few people in this four-story prison where they tortured men, women and children because they were simply accused of doing something wrong or being different. We continued on after we opened up those steel doors and those small cells and released people from all over Europe. We began to push into the Louve pocket and to overrun other camps such as Hadamar, and I'll describe a little bit about that in a few minutes. We began to push through the heart of Germany heading south after we left Hadamar, in particular. My own squad, my own men, overran what we already verified 11 different types of camps and prisons.We got quite an education.
We pushed down into Bavaria and finally we overran our last camp called Dachau 3-B. There was a whole series of camps there -- there were 10 of them. They were smaller than the master camp of Dachau. Dachau was incidentally 209 camps all over Bavaria. Each of these concentration camps such as Buchenwald was 134 camps, Auschwitz was 38 camps and Mauthausen and some of the very worst camps in Austria, 42 camps. They were absolutely incredible for the inhumanity and the barbarianism that I would not ever describe to you, but I will try to describe a little bit.
In pushing into a place called Hadamar, my men were on top of a column of tanks and we stopped
when we came to this city that was totally destroyed by the bombings. On the far side was a hill and here
was a series of buildings untouched by the bombs, totally surrounded by a high stone wall, barbed wire, a
big Red Cross flag flying or laying on the roof of the main building. There was something very strange
about this place though because coming out of the main building was a big chimney and coming out of that
chimney was this very heavy brown smoke that settled all over the city. The odor from that was so
appalling, so bad that as we approached it, we had to find heavy cloth in the buildings that were blown apart and hold them over our faces so we could breathe. We'd been in combat for a long period of time
and we thought we'd seen all the inhumanity, the human misery, the smell of war, the smell of death, but
this was something very different. We charged up the hillside and blew open the door. I'll only describe a
little bit of it. This place was a huge hospital under what the Nazis called the T4 program. The K4
program was to cleanse the German nation in the early '30s of all those who dissented or disagreed with the
new teachings of the Nazis, but the T4 program was to select people all over Germany, and by this time all over Europe, who were undesirable. Subhuman was what they were calling them by the time we were
overrunning Germany -- people who were Jews, gypsies, invalids, mentally ill and then we learned even the
German soldier who was wounded and was not usable for the war effort as they said. They put them in the
T4 program and brought them to Hadamar, and they had two different programs there -- a hospital and a
huge camp with barbed wire on the outside. We young soldiers called everybody that was a prisoner a
slave for lack of any other word. We had not learned to say survivor until the last few years. Here they
were bringing all undesirables, people who were different from all over Europe, and bringing them into the
hospital. One system was to give them a bed with doctors and nurses and make them think they were
actually patients in a hospital, then the nurses and doctors would come through the ward and they would
choose who they wanted. Then a little while later the nurses would come back with a cart full of
hypodermic needles with either, when they had a supply, massive doses of morphine or most of the time
they used benzene or gasoline. They put benzene into the hypodermic needles and injected it into the artery
and killed men, women, children, babies that way. They were bringing people from all the hospitals in
Germany down to Hadamar to be exterminated or euthanized as the term they used.
One of my men came to me immediately and said I should come with him and he brought me downstairs into the basement of the main building. Here it was appalling. There were doors all the way down the hall -- big, wooden doors but one door was a steel door. It could only be opened from the outside. It had a small glass peephole so you could look in. We opened that door and there was nobody in there, but there was human waste, urine, and vomit all over the room. It was a shower room with black and white ceramic tile all over the floor, white ceramic on the walls, and a concrete ceiling with shower heads. We could not understand at first what we were seeing. The next room had benches and tables and there were compartments. Somebody had been in there counting and separating thousands of wedding rings, diamond rings, and human teeth with gold fillings. Another man came to me and we went down the hall and everywhere on that lower floor were bodies thrown in piles to one side and the other, but when we came into this room, there were bodies thrown in piles all over, and there was a battery of ovens on the far end. We never counted the ovens. They were eliminating under the T4 program all undesirable people who could not fit the super race at that period of time.
We pushed on into other camps and we began to overrun camp after camp, Hadamar, etc. There were so many of them. We pushed down into Bavaria. I'm not going to tell you about the horrors of this camp because they were ten times the horrors of the master camp of Dachau. The master camp of Dachau was much larger of course. This camp was so brutal it was beyond human imagination. I'm going to try to describe something else for you. We began to release people who were chained in the bunks and all food and water shut off to them, and told them they were freed. We heard an awful ruckus out in the yard. We looked out there and there was a sea of humanity, thousands of people, and there were 20 German women guards that my men had found in another building and taken prisoner. They brought them across the yard and the crowd of prisoners tried to kill them and tear them apart with their bare hands. We got between them and we held them back. I ordered one of my men to take the guards out and then I put my hands up and said there's not going to be any more killing. It's all over. You're free. Do you understand? You're free. We went through quite a thing talking to people who could speak English and translate to me and vice versa which happened in every town. They described some of the horrors and finally after they had described many things that had happened, I told them I don't want to hear any more, I've heard enough. It's all over -- you're free.
A little Frenchman down in the crowd in front of me began to sing the Marseillaise and others from the crowd began to sing with him. Now at this moment suddenly the slaves as we called them for lack of any other word then, looked around and began to look at each other and some of them had tears coming down their face and some of them started to smile, and they began to reach out and hug each other and kiss each other and some of them would start shaking hands and others were singing. It was the first moment that they actually realized that it was over. It was a very emotional thing. There's no way I can describe it. They began to sing other European songs that I didn't recognize and suddenly without any given signal that I could see, the whole crowd just stopped. There were sixteen of my men standing in a line wondering what happened. All of a sudden that crowd just ran and charged us and they surrounded us and they all began to kiss us and hug us and shake hands all at the same time -- the liberators. Many of them were carrying others that could not walk between them. They tried to let them reach out and touch the American soldiers. It was the most emotional thing. As I can say, there is no way I can really describe that to you, but I can never forget it.
In 1983 I went to Israel. I was honored by President Herzog and many of the other world renown men
as a liberator of concentration camps and declared Righteous Gentile. I was there for 10 days. They've
said there was anywhere from 12,000 to 20,000 survivors from all over the world in all the camps.
Everywhere I was going with them I would be standing in a middle of a crowd and somebody would be
holding both of my hands and if I was standing there for a while, all of a sudden, I would feel one hand slip out of my hand and another cold hand slip in there with nobody saying a word. Every once in a while I
would feel somebody reach out and touch me on my back, just like the day of liberation. I got that same
feeling all over again. Something I can never, ever forget. Since then, I began to talk about it. I had
nightmares for 37 years and like all the GIs, the Army nurses and the people who went into the camps after
to help, we all had nightmares. Then I was put in the position that I had to begin speaking to schools, to
synagogues, and so on, and then I realized the phenomenon that the nightmares had stopped. It was an
incredible thing. I tried to tell some of my buddies that I've located since the war, please, talk it out with
somebody or write down everything you remember about going in those camps, but get it out from being
buried back there for 50 years or so. Many of them can't talk about it.
Now I've go on and I've become a military historian and I'm studying all about the different camps. I have a vast knowledge of all the camps. The Nazis built approximately 5000 camps in all of Europe. This is all different types of camps from the slave labor camps to the concentration camps or the Gestapo prisons. But I learned that there is all kinds of human misery. We must learn and teach against prejudice. At the same time that I am teaching the students, I tell them and warn them very carefully that I'm talking about something that happened 50 years ago. I'm not talking about teaching hatred against the German people because a great many German people were in those concentration camps especially the Dachaus because they would not go along with it. The doctors and nurses in Germany in the early days were told by the Nazis that it was acceptable among their peers to now do exactly the opposite of what you were trained to do. You're now to kill your patients. A great many German doctors and nurses left Germany then and went to Palestine and they began the Hadassah Hospital there in Jerusalem. We must teach the young that they can do something against prejudice and hatred and this kind of thing. It is very important what One by One has accomplished. That is what has impressed me so much about them. I could not as a combat man understand for so many years how could a Jew and a German speak with each other and yet they have done this. They have begun to talk it out, and on top of that the most important thing to me is that they have broken that cycle of father passing hatred down to the younger generation such as in Bosnia today. That, I pray will happen around the world that this movement will continue and grow. Thank you.
Otto-Ernst Duscheleit [translated through an interpreter] - It might be very difficult for you to be confronted by someone like me at this special memorial. The first thing I remember about these terrible things was in 1939 when I was 13 years old and the synagogues were burning. When my father came home, he said the synagogues were not only burning here but everywhere. I was 14 when the German troops overran Poland and 16 when the war with the Soviet Union began.
At age 17 I entered the Labor Service, the service that every young person had to join. It was at the time of Stalingrad when an S.S. officer came to us young people telling us about the wonderful heroic deeds we could do for our leader and Fuehrer. And he said that we should be proud to live in such an important time. And then he said volunteers who wanted to join such an elite group come forward. We were 200 Labor Service soldiers and not one stepped forward. And then he began to yell, "If you don't want to join voluntarily as German soldiers, you will be sent to the punishment battalion," and we all knew the punishment battalion meant death.
We had to strip naked and in a side room everything was prepared for the draft. I stood naked in the harsh light before this man who said, "Here are the papers, sign that you have voluntarily entered the Waffen S.S." I didn't want to sign this because when I was a leader in the Hitler Youth, the people who trained us were S.S. people. I had experienced them in their brutal education and I didn't want to become an S.S. man myself. But I was afraid and thought of the punishment battalion, the death battalion, and I signed it.
I was on leave for three days and told my mother. My mother said, "You should never have signed even if they put you in prison." My mother was an active member in the Confessing Church, the part of the Protestant Lutheran Church which opposed Hitler. I tried to get away from the Waffen S.S. and change over to the ordinary army but this was denied, and I was told in war everyone has to do his duty wherever he is put. I said to myself at least I tried, and again I was afraid.
I was assigned to the S.S. division which was supposed to stop the march of the Russians towards Germany. Already at the first night we began moving backwards, and every night I saw the villages burn which were set on fire by both the regular Wehrmach Army and the Waffen S.S. I was also shooting at the homes from the tank that I was on. At that time I did not think of the people who were in the houses and now I read that more than two million people, young people, women, old people, died. A few weeks later my tank was hit and the driver next to me burned alive, but I was saved. With my head and face burned, I said to myself, I finally deserve the silver medal, don't I? That was important to me at that time.
After I came out of the hospital, I could go on leave. My brother who was five years older than I happened to be on leave himself. I was very much astonished at my brother's behavior because I knew him as a convinced member of the Hitler Youth and now he was changed so much that he was making resistance. He told me about mass graves and said, "Listen, you must believe me the war is already lost." And he showed me how I could behave as a soldier, as a human being. When we went for a walk and passed a camp of Russian prisoners of war, he went over to them and gave them cigarettes and talked to them. My brother told me that he had talked to the Russian soldiers, and said, "This is Sunday, you don't have to work. There is a Geneva Convention and it is forbidden for them to make you work on Sundays." And I was so afraid because my brother had told me he had just come out of the punishment camp and I was afraid he would go again to prison.
I had to go back to the front and it was the 20th of July 1944, and we had just heard that an assassination attempt on Hitler had been carried out. My brother had told me that the last name of the chief of his company was Von Schulenburg and now I heard that Von Stauffenburg had been among the people who had tried to assassinate Hitler. Now I mixed those two names up and told my comrade that I think my brother was among those who wanted to kill Hitler. And my S.S. comrade asked me, "If it is true that your brother was among those who wanted to kill our beloved Fuehrer Hitler, would your brother still be your brother?" And I was afraid and said, "No, my brother should no longer be my brother." My mother could never forgive me that I betrayed my brother. Even on her death bed she reminded me of this.
It was a long time before I could talk about my past. It was after a dream that I was at a S.S. meeting that I started to write about it. And then I started to talk about it in schools and in my congregation and gradually it led me to One by One. And it was what my mother and brother had told me, these are milestones which I need to deal with and come to terms with.
Ingrid Rabe - It is not very easy for me to talk in English but I think it's better that I do it with my friend Martina next to me, and if I don't know anything I ask her and she will tell you what I try to tell you. It is not only my life but the life of my whole family. I had a very nice childhood. When I was five my mother put me in the ballet, and I learned to be a dancer. Even later on I made it my profession. I joined ballet school with my friend, a Jewish friend. We were together. We were friends. When Hitler came in power, he says we must not speak to the Jewish people. And my mother said, "It's impossible. These people are our friends. Our whole life they are our friends. Why could one man say we are not allowed to speak to them and not be friends with them?" I had a very, very strong mother and she was a powerful woman, you know -- to say no, we don't do what he says. We tried to help the other people.
She sent me to Switzerland to the ballet that I had to join like Otto had to join the Hitler Youth. She says you go out of Germany. So I was dancing in Switzerland, Holland, Sweden and Denmark and with a English group later on. Then it was harder and harder in our place in Germany to survive. My mother had to leave the factory, she couldn't do it anymore.
Then Hitler put all the Jewish people in the camps and that was really the start of when my mother was hiding Jewish people and different people. But before this time when Hitler says you have to give some money, she says "Yes, I spend some money. I give fifty pennies for my mother and for myself." Two or three times she did this. The man came from the SR and said she must spend for herself and for her mother. My mother says, "OK, I spend 50 pennies for myself', but crossed off the name of my grandma and said, "I can't give any money for my mother. I must look after my mother. Hitler took her pension away, so I have to feed my mother." This money paid was going to the party. They thought my mother was awful. She was always against everything. She always said no.
Then they said people had to put a flag outside. My mother never did put a flag outside. Then the same man who came for the fifty pennies, came and said, "You have to put the flag outside." My mother said, "I have no money. I have to feed my mother." Then he came and brought a little flag. My mother said, "No, I wouldn't put such a little one outside. If I put a flag out, it must be a big one." Then it was 1936 and the Olympic Games were in Berlin, and she bought the biggest flag and put it out of the window.She always got black points on the Nazi party list.
We had a friend who had a friend that could prepare our wireless so we could listen to BBC. My
mother gave the man 20 marks and I think he came three times and she always gave 20 marks. That was a
lot of money at that time. Then they found the name of my mother in his book and she was on this black
list, so the Gestapo came and fetched her. She went to jail and later on she was in court. The court said
she wasn't guilty. I thought I could take her home. But never. The next day she was taken and I didn't
know where she was. I was running to all the prison camps in Berlin and asked if my mother was there. I
brought a skirt and blouse and said I wanted to change her clothes, and if she was in this prison, then she
knows that I found her and I knew that she still was alive. When I came the next day, she was gone. In
November 1944 she came to Ravensbruck the greatest concentration camp for women in Germany and in
all the places where Hitler was marching in the S.S. Army. I couldn't find her there. I wrote a letter saying
I'm so sorry, I don't hear anything about her and I would like to know if she was in the concentration camp. I didn't know how dangerous this was, and she was very ill. I was afraid that something was going
wrong with her. They wrote me back on the same letter, she wasn't there, but really she was in there for
Then we had very much luck. My mother is in the camp and she meets a guard she knows from when we were children. She was a neighbor. This girl said to my mother, "Oh, Auntie Alma, what are you doing in here? How do you come to be in here?" My mother said, "I'd rather ask you what you are doing here?" She said, "I'm here as good German people should be." She also said that they shouldn't say that they know each other. My mother said "I don't know you anyhow, but I want you to go to your mother and she has to go and tell Ingrid that I'm still alive." That was when I knew that my mother was in this camp and that she was still alive. I lived with my grandmother and she died during this time. I had to bury her and it was really an awful, awful bad time for us all.
But in the meantime I had to go to the factory. I couldn't dance any more and I had to work in a factory and make war production. I didn't want to do this but I had to do this. I really didn't think that they would find out that my mother was in a concentration camp and that they would think I would sabotage. I was very lucky that they didn't put me in jail. Then we had to go in the factory for the army to dance for the soldiers. One of the Gestapo men said "We must take the daughter, we must take the daughter." The other one said, "No, the daughter is all right. She works for the Adolph Hitler." You know that was for me a present. I didn't want to go there but I had to.
Later on when the war was over my mother didn't come back and we didn't know. Then we started to dance again. Then one man came and told me my mother was coming back from the concentration camp and so I saw my mother July 1945 for the first time. Berlin was very much damaged. We had a bicycle and we go over bridges and up streets and you couldn't be out on the streets after 10:00 in the evening. At five minutes before 10:00 I find my mother after all these years. She was ill until she died, but she was always talking to school girls and to young people and she always explained how it started in Germany, and she told them to be clever and watch that this time should not come again.
I lived 50 years with all this story and I had the feeling I am a prisoner as well in Ravensbruck, and I belong to a group of old prisoners and now the children and many young people have joined us. We say we can be glad and we can be happy, but we must never forget and we must try that we never have such a bad time again. In this time I meet the people in One by One and I have the feeling I'm really belonging to them, and that's why I am here and that's why I joined them.
Rosalie Gerut - What Ingrid was referring to is this afternoon there was a Holocaust Memorial in Faneuil Hall and they were recognizing "Righteous Gentiles." They had one person there and then I also told them about Ingrid's mother. I think we have to recognize when people have the strength and courage to do things when they faced what they had to face. I don't know what I would have done.
Rev. Gary Smith, Meditation - Six summers ago I had an opportunity to visit a memorial for the
victims of the Holocaust on the outskirts of Hamburg, Germany, site of a concentration camp where 55,000
of its 106,000 inmates died. We took a bus from Hamburg in midmorning and approached the memorial
site from a smaller road off the major highway. There was a lovely line of trees shading it. I remember
along the left was farmland and along the right was an area thick with small trees and a large field, a long
wall and the monument in the distance. It smelled terrific there - the warm sun, the newly cut grass and
then we saw the monument which was a simple concrete slab going up into the heavens. The sculpture of a
grotesque, emaciated human figure contorted and twisted was very chilling. The memorial service followed
on that spot with speeches from the survivors, the friends and families of survivors were part of the
conference I was attending. I remember particularly a Dutch gentleman who was a survivor who tried to
speak and he could not, and his wife made her way through the crowd and she held him until he found his
voice again. A wreath was laid there and tears were shed and then do you know what we did next? After
this service, after we viewed the exhibits, after we walked by memorials to unnamed Jews and others who
died there, memorials placed by all the countries from which the inmates had come to die, do you know
what we did next? We had a picnic. It was a bag lunch, milk, cheeses, meats, rolls, yogurt and fruit. We sat there in the August sun, there in this place of unspeakable cruelty and we had a picnic. We were
pilgrims who had sojourned to such horror that we needed sustenance in order to begin again. I hope that
you find here in Concord tonight listening to these brave people and in the promise of the mid-April
springtime we felt tonight, the sustenance to begin again yourself. Shall we each now in our own way from our own faiths be together in a moment of meditation. In these moments together we have remembered the tragedy of the Holocaust. With words spoken we have remembered this, with these questions asked and answered we have been encouraged to remember, with minds jarred, hearts stirred, we're trying hard to remember, and so we may take a moment now to move away from all that has been said aloud into what is
now speaking within each one of us, that with all the words spoken and sung here still resounding in our souls, may we listen now to the words echoing inside of us. May we join together now in silence, and in so doing, may we remember.
Side by side we sit here in these rows tonight, reaching out from our own private histories, venturing out from our own religious homes, side by side we sit in these rows no matter what our religious label may be. We are Christians and Jews, we are Hindus and Buddhists, Muslims, agnostics, atheists and humanists, and so much more; side by side we sit and we come together on this day of remembrance to honor the victims of the Holocaust. No matter our history or our religious label may we join our spirits together with this prayer - God of history, God of light, help us to remember. May we never forget the horrors of the dark days of the Holocaust. May we never forget to cry out against such devastation. May we never forget that so many of the terrorists are not of your making, that are of human making. In this remembering may we know that what we see in the world is merely a mirror of the human soul at large. May we never forget that it is only by our actions and courage that the reflections of humanity in the world can become those of healing rather than hurting, hope rather than of havoc. Dear God and spirit of light, remember the death and destruction caused by our human hands and enfold in us now to use these hands to fashion a safer and more loving world for all. Side by side we sit in these moments knowing we must never forget and holding its prayer in our hearts. Amen.