What happened to my grandfather, Karl Breslau, A"H
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What happened to my grandfather, Karl Breslau, A"H

'Incomprehensible cruelty'

Following are excerpts from “The Deportation of November 22, 1941″ by Monica Kingreen and published in her 1999 book, “Nach der Kristallnacht. Judisches Leben und antijudische Politik in Frankfurt in Frankfurt am Main 1938-1945″ (“After Kristallnacht. Jewish Life and anti-Jewish Politics in Frankfurt and Frankfurt on the Main 1938-1945″). The translation is by Sid Haarburger.

“The Frankfurt group arrived a few days after those from Berlin and Munich. They walked 6 kilometers (about 3 3/4 miles) along the way from the railroad station through the city along the edge of the Jewish ghetto to Fort IX, which was on a hill on the southeast part of town. The fort was built in the 19th century as part of a military wall to fend off Czarist Russia attacks against Prussia. After World War I, it was rebuilt as jail.

“This large building complex consisted of cells and administrative personnel housing for guards in a trapeze-like yard surrounded by 6-meter- (about 20-foot-) high walls. The transport coming from Frankfurt was separated from the other deportees from Berlin and Munich and they were put in cells at Fort IX to stay there for the night. Behind the high fort wall, outside of the inner courtyard, which new arrivals were unable to see, were already pre-dug huge pits. According to an eyewitness report, the following happened: ‘The responsible Germans and Lithuanians assembled, on the following day, the deportees in groups of 80 people. They first performed a type of calisthenics in the fort courtyard. Then they were forced to double-time toward the crater outside of the wall. As they were running separately, they were whipped so that they would fall into the crater. [According to other reports, the crater was about 45 wide and 12 feet deep. ““ F.B.] As the people landed at the bottom of the crater, they were shot. The shooting was done by machine guns that were camouflaged in the woods in the hills above the pits. Even those who didn’t run or ran in a different direction were shot by the Germans and Lithuanians. The Jews were fooled until the last moment as to what their final destiny was; no one survived.’

“All those in the Munich, Frankfurt, and Berlin transports, were shot on November 25, 1941 in or around Fort IX. It was the first systematic destruction of whole transports of deported Jews from Germany. Four days later, the transports from Vienna and Berlin befell the same fate.

“SS Major Jaeger noted about the shootings in his official logbook detailing executions until December 1, 1941: “A total of 137,346 people were killed. In the town of Kaunas on November 25, 1941, 1,159 males, 1,600 females, and 175 children – 2,934 from Berlin, Munich, and Frankfurt ‘were resettled.’ These figures tally exactly with the number of people on the three transport manifest lists.

“On November 30, 1941, Himmler declared a temporary stoppage of the shooting of deported German Jews. [I was told that he was uneasy about having any dead corpses buried that could be later shown to be the result of mass-murdering – hence the crematoriums at the concentration camps. ““ F.B.] For those of the first five transports to Kaunas, as well as for those previously sent to Riga, this decision came too late.

“One year later, by order of the Germans, these corpses were, under great secrecy, exhumed by Jewish prisoners and were burned in order to hide this crime. A few of these prisoners, after two months of work, were able to escape from Fort IX. The day after their escape, they declared that, among the 12,000 burnt corpses, were 5,000 Jews from Vienna, Frankfurt, Dusseldorf, Hamburg, and other German cities. The Jews from Germany were shot fully dressed; all others were forced, before execution, to undress down to their underwear. The way the corpses were lying in the ditch indicated that they were forced into them by groups. There they had to lie down and then were shot. This resulted in that [of] many of them that were buried, some were only lightly or not at all wounded. Documents were found by the disinterred corpses from Frankfurt. Also from the luggage packages that were confiscated at the railroad station were remnants such as luggage identification tags. Among them was the ID card of Meier Horowitz, who lived in the Jewish Old Age Home in Rechneigraben. His passport photo shows a likeble old gentleman.”

The article ends here.

I hope that, somewhere, there is a Meier who carries his grandfather’s name. Thousands upon thousands of grandparents were never to know their grandchildren. Thousands upon thousands of families ripped apart. Millions senselessly killed. Incomprehensible cruelty.

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