Survival in Auschwitz Questions

Survival in Auschwitz Questions

    1. Why were those who were ill not just sent to the gas chambers?
    2. Do you think Primo Levi would have survived if he did not work as a chemist?
    3. Why was there such a tight bond between Primo and Alberto?


Survival in Auschwitz

Survival in Auschwitz has by far been my favorite book. It was different because it told a story of one person. It told the story of Primo Levi who was an Italian jew. He had evaded the Nazis for a long time but was eventually caught and taken to Auschwitz. He was taken with a group of other Italians. He tells the reader about his experience there. He started as a newbie and very naive. He believed that there was hope of survival and freedom and was constantly asking people questions about what was going on, when they would be leaving, etc. He came to learn as the years went on that he would not leave, and that there was no point in asking questions. He made a few acquaintances along the way but was careful to not build extremely close relationships with anyone. He became closest with a fellow Italian named Alberto. They would split their rations together and helped each other survive. The work was terrible, and everyone was worked until they could physically not work anymore. Many were either injured or became sick. A majority of his group that he came with ended up dying, among many others. He was lucky to survive selection even though it was most likely due to a mistake where he and the person before him had their cards mixed up. He was among a select few to have specialized work. He worked as a chemist and therefore got commodities that others didn’t. His work became much easier physically, and he was no longer always hungry and cold. This was a great contrast to his previous work where he was always hungry, cold, and physically exhausted. He also talked about the market and trading that went on within Auschwitz. It was very interesting to hear how everything was traded and how valued certain things were. Towards the end of his time in Auschwitz, he got scarlet fever. He was able to stay in the health ward which was a lot more comfortable than his old bunk. When the camp started to deteriorate and those who were healthy fled, Primo Levi had to stay. He was not healthy enough to make the journey. Eventually, the Russians got to the camp and freed him. I thought this was an amazing book. It was so cool to hear right from a survivor rather than just reading about experiences from a textbook. It gave a great insight into what really happened. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this book.

Genocide: A World History Chapter Six Questions

Genocide: A World History Chapter Six Questions

  1. Why is the Holocaust so well known but not the Soviet Union, Chinese, or Cambodian genocide?
  2. Why didn’t foreign powers step in to stop Mao or Pol Pot?
  3. Is there an aspect of communism that makes genocide more likely to occur?

Genocide: A World History Chapter Six

Chapter six of Genocide: A World History went over the communist genocides.  They were the genocide carried out by Stalin, the genocide carried out by Mao Zedong, and the genocide carried out by Pol Pot. It started off with discussing Stalin and the genocide in the Soviet Union and Soviet regions. This was an easy part to read because it summarized what Bloodlands, another book we are reading, went over. New information that I learned was Stalin was in power from the 1920s to 1953 when he passed away. On March 15, 1931, the OGPU issued an order to totally cleanse the Kulaks. In July of 1937, order 00447 ordered the removal of former people of the previous party in power and social elements like prostitutes. The famine that took place because of collectivization was particularly severe in Ukraine because of the grain crisis and Stalin’s attempt to deprive them of the capability to function as an independent unit. The Great Terror was a movement against people who were possible political threats or opponents. Then the book moved on to Mao, beginning with his Hundred Flowers campaign. In 1958, Mao instituted collectivization which led to famine just like in the Soviet Union. Mao also intensified anti-right campaigns to stop any criticism and anti-hiding campaigns because he believed that peasants were hiding food. Peasants suffered extreme violence from cadres because of this. In Cambodia, Lon Nol engaged in a civil war against Khmer Rouge which was the communist party. Khmer Rouge and Pol Pot came into power. Because of the U.S.’s continuous carpet bombing, the peasants began to support the Khmer Rouge. Pol Pot took over Phnom Penh and forced all inhabitants out. He wanted to kill anyone who had any typed of western education. He also had the Cham population wiped out which were Muslims. He also forced other groups to give up their culture. He wanted to have Cambodia be absolutely self-sufficient. I thought this chapter was very interesting because I have heard little to nothing about these genocides. I only knew about the Stalin genocide because of Bloodlands. I had never even heard of the Mao genocide until reading this. I only knew about the Pol Pot genocide because I have heard his name before, so I just looked him up and read a little bit about it on Wikipedia. It was fascinating to learn about these genocides and see all of the commonalities that they had.

Second Movie Viewing

The second movie we watched was called Pheonix. It may have been one of the most frustrating movies I have ever watched. It started off with two women, Lene and Nelly. Nelly was in Auschwitz but was released when it was liberated. For some reason that the movie never really hit on, or maybe I missed it because it was in German with English subtitles, she had to have reconstructive surgery done to her face. After she had that done, she did not look like herself. She lived in an apartment with Lene, who I think was a friend/mentor/someone who was supposed to help her recover. Nelly was determined to find her husband who she knew was still alive. Lene told her the awful fact that her husband had turned her into the Nazis and on top of that, he divorced her. Nelly was still determined to find him and eventually did at a nightclub. He didn’t recognize her because of her surgery, but for some reason, he decided that he wanted her to pretend to be his wife, so he could collect her inheritance money. He thought his wife was dead, so he was using this random woman. Unfortunately for him, that random woman happened to be his actual wife. For a majority of the movie, he was training her to be exactly like his wife. This, of course, was easy because she was, in fact, his wife. When Nelly told Lene what was going on, Lene shot herself. Then it was time for Nelly to make her grand appearance back into the real world. She got on a train and then came off like it was her first time. All of the people from her old apartment were there to welcome her including her husband. Then they all went back to hang out. Nelly has her husband play the piano while she sings along for everybody. That is when he begins to realize who Nelly really is. Then when he sees her number from Auschwitz, he knows it’s his wife, and he knows how screwed he is. Then Nelly just walks off. Can I tell you how infuriating it was that that was the big ending. She literally just walked away. I was so mad. She should have done something to him to put him in his place. Of course, that didn’t happen though because movies never go how you want them to. At least the movie was entertaining for the most part. I can’t complain too much about it.

Bloodlands Chapter one through five

The book Bloodlands by Timothy Snyder discusses Europe and the Soviet Union during the rise of Stalin and Hitler. It begins by discussing what was going on in the Soviet Union. In 1933, Ukrainians were starving and many, especially peasants, were dying. Stalin established his Five-Year plan which was disastrous for the Soviet Union. Collectivization created conflict between peasants and the Soviet state. In 1929, Stalin ordered the liquidation of all Kulaks. Gulag was set up which was a system of concentration camps. Many Ukrainians fled to Poland to seek refuge. The first collectivization harvest eas very unsuccessful. Stalin thought Poland and Japan had a secret agreement and were going to rise up against the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union reached out to Poland, and they signed a non-aggression pact in July 1932. Stalin began to carry out mass murder, particularly in Ukraine. Then the book brings Hitler into the mix. Both Hitler and Stalin portrayed themselves as the victims. They both carried out social cleansing from 1937 to 1938. Hitler’s killings were on a more public scale, while Stalin tried to keep his killings discrete. Stalin and Hitler both wanted to destroy Poland, so they signed the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact on August 23, 1939. Adolf Eichmann of Germany created ghettos and moved Poles into them. The Soviet Politburo ordered the removal of certain groups of Polish citizens. The Soviet Union removed the entire educated class of Eastern Poland. On June 22, 1941, Germany invaded the Soviet Union. Hitler’s plan was to establish an eastern colony. The Germans took farmland, killed farmers, and settled it with Germans. They copied Stalin’s collectivization but gave all of the food to Germans and only gave the extra to the Soviets. Germany’s policy was starvation and colonization. The issue was that systematic starvation was not easily feasible. On September 27, 1940, Tokyo, Berlin, and Rome signed the Tripartite Pact. Japan hoped that Germany would help gain control over the Suez canal and the Indian Ocean, making Japan the new superpower in the Pacific rather than Great Britain. I thought that these chapters were very interesting. This has definitely been my favorite book so far. It is unfortunate that I have to skim read it and don’t have the time to fully read it. I wish this book was assigned earlier on, so I could really get to read it word for word. Overall, I have been pleasantly surprised with this book.

First Movie Viewing

Our first movie viewing was The Seven Dwarfs of Auschwitz. The Ovitz family was a family of seven dwarf brother and sisters who lived in Transylvania. In order to make money, they began performing. They were able to become famous not only because of their size but also because of how talented they were. When the Nazis came into Transylvania, they forced Jews, including the Ovitz family, into a ghetto. After they lived in the ghetto, they were moved to Auschwitz. When they arrived they met Doctor Mengele. He added them to what was called the Mengele Zoo. He did experiments on them like pouring ice water into their ears followed by boiling water and drawing their blood. They knew that they wouldn’t be able to survive unless they did something that made them desirable. They began to perform for the Nazis. They were never killed because they were a source of entertainment now too. The whole family was alive when Auschwitz was liberated. I think it is so tragic that they were the only family to make it out whole. I thought it was interesting to learn about how the Nazis would not kill people who had musical talents. I had never heard of that before. It was very cool to hear first hand from the youngest Ovitz. It was difficult seeing how upsetting remembering her time in Auschwitz was. I thought this was a great choice for our first movie. It was very different from anything I have watched before, and it was very, very interesting.

Holocaust Museum Trip

A couple Saturdays ago my FSEM class took a trip to the Holocaust Museum. I personally loved it. I thought it was extremely well done and was in very good taste. I wish that my class took more time to go through the museum. I felt rushed when going through it, and I feel like I definitely missed a lot. My favorite part of the exhibit was a very small section that I think a lot of people missed. It was a video showing all of the different experiments that were being done to inmates in concentration camps. It was extremely hard to watch, and I came very close to tears. It was so graphic and upsetting but at the same time infuriating. I was angry that people were able to do this to the innocent. Seeing the experiments actually being done really showed how truly awful the camps were. Watching that made me realize how inhumane things had become. I also loved the talk from a survivor. It was interesting because I was expecting him to have been in a concentration camp. Hearing his story about being a refugee and the struggles that his family went through was amazing because it allowed me to see a new side of the Holocaust. It was nice because it is so relatable to the present day. There are so many people today that are refugees and are going through the same thing that he had to go through. It was so nice hearing a new side of a story that I have heard multiple times and being able to relate what happened to him to the present day. I know that I will go back to the Holocaust museum because it was so interesting, and I want to be able to learn more and delve deeper into what happened during the holocaust.

Genocide: A World History Chapter Five Questions

Genocide: A World History Chapter Five Questions

    1. Why were Germans latecomers to the scramble for colonial possessions?
    2. What similarities are there between the Herero genocide and the Holocaust?
    3. Has there ever been a genocide that has occurred that hasn’t stemmed from a government?