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Dr. Catherine Chatterley



Dr. Catherine Chatterley, posted here Feb 26, 2015

Reprinted from The Huffington Post

The Antisemitism Institute I direct in Canada received several inquiries about the accuracy of an article published under the provocative title Ukrainians Forgotten Heroes of Auschwitz, in the local daily, the Winnipeg Free Press. The questions centered on the following paragraph: "My father spent nearly two years in Auschwitz for opposing the German Reich's occupation of Ukraine. More than a million Ukrainians were incarcerated there. I was brought up on his stories about those historic times." 

The author is not a historian or a scholar and appears to have imbibed this wild invention of "one million Ukrainians incarcerated in Auschwitz" from her father.

One might expect after so many years of public Holocaust education and memorialization in Western societies that the facts about Auschwitz would be clear, and that newspaper editors printing so-called "analysis" on the very anniversary of Auschwitz's liberation might recognize such distortions, and maybe fact check their opinion writers.

Readers may wonder: what exactly was Auschwitz? Who was murdered there and how many people were actually incarcerated there? Was it a prison or a death camp?

The Germans called Auschwitz Anus Mundi, or Arschloch Der Welt, meaning "asshole of the world," which should give one an idea of the type of place we are discussing.

Between May 1940 and February 1945, 1.3 million people were deported to Auschwitz, which was located about 50 km west of Krakow in Oswiecim, Poland. Auschwitz consisted of three main camps: Auschwitz I was a prison, built largely to house Polish prisoners; Auschwitz II, known as Birkenau, was a killing center built specifically to gas and burn Jews, which also housed a small number of forced laborers; and Auschwitz III, a synthetic rubber factory known as Monowitz.

Just over 1.1 million people were murdered at Auschwitz and one million of those people were Jews, accounting for 91 percent of the people murdered there. 

The remaining 100,000 or so people killed include approximately 64,000 Poles; 21,000 Roma (better known as Gypsies); 14,000 Soviet prisoners of war; and over 10,000 members of other European nationalities (Soviet civilians, Czechs, Yugoslavs, French, Germans, and Austrians). 

Of the 200,000 people incarcerated in Auschwitz: 140,000 were Poles; 21,000 were Roma; 12,000 were Soviet captives; 9,000 Czechs; 6,000 Belarusians; 4,000 Germans; 4,000 French; 1,500 Russians; Yugoslavians (mostly Slovenians, but also Croatians and Serbs), and Ukrainians. As well, dozens of Albanians, Belgians, Danes, Greeks, Hungarians, Italians, Latvians, Lithuanians, Luxembourgians, Dutch, Norwegians, Romanians, Slovakians, Spaniards, and Swiss were held as prisoners in the camp.

Due to the meticulous record keeping of the Germans, historians have been able to reconstruct the victim groups in the Nazi concentration and death camps, which clearly illustrate the specific targeting of Jews, and Jews alone, for total destruction across Europe. 

The numbers from Auschwitz also clearly demonstrate the fact that Ukrainians had one of the smallest rates of incarceration in the camp, even if there were Ukrainians included in the general Soviet numbers, which scholars believe is the case.

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