Page 101. " the gas chambers and the ovens become ordinary scenery "

 Gas chambers were first used by the Nazis in the 1930s as part of ‘Action T4’, a euthanasia programme used to kill members of the population deemed ‘undesirable’.  At this stage, carbon monoxide was used, much of the time from the exhaust fumes of designated vehicles (known as ‘gaswagen’).  Later, in the camps, hydrogen cyanide, better known by its trade name of Zyklon B, was normally used as it was viewed as more ‘efficient’.  Designated gas chambers were built, some of which could murder 2,000 people at once; at Auschwitz, it was said that 20,000 people could be killed in a single day.  Made to look like showers, victims were led into them upon their arrival at the camp on the pretext of being ‘disinfected’.  This included children, as the only people likely to be spared at this stage were adults capable of slave labour.  As the war progressed, rumours ensured that many prisoners knew what was going to happen to them.  Once inside the chamber, it could take up to twenty minutes for all the victims to die; afterwards, work units of Jewish inmates had to check the corpses for gold fillings, which would then be removed.  The bodies were then burnt, initially in deep pits until crematoria were built at the major camps.  At Auschwitz, there were five, and even these were not sufficient during April-July 1944 during the massacre of Hungarian Jews.

Page 102. " What should our second generation have done? "

It has been suggested that much of the time, the formerly Nazi population rejected feelings of guilt and shame, with the result that these emotions were passed onto their offspring.  Interest in this ‘second generation’ became heightened during the 1980s when some of them began creating support groups and writing books about their difficulties in living with this inherited identity.  Two examples are ‘Die Kinder der Tater’ by Dorte von Westernhagen (1987) ‘The Boy from Gimle’ by Eystein Eggen (1993); various collections of interviews and testimonies were also published.  Most wrote and spoke of the desire to distance themselves from the actions of the previous generation, although one famous exception was Wolf Rüdiger Hess, the son of Rudolf Hess

A review can be read here of the book 'My Father's Keeper' by Stephen and Norbert Lebert, which consists of a series of interviews with the children of prominent Nazis, some of which echo the younger Hess' denial about the extent of their parents' actions.  The niece of a Nazi accused of bearing responsibility for the deaths of 30,000 Jews decribes the effects of this on herself and her family in this article.

A recent attempt to show healing and reconciliation was the 2008 documentary ‘Inheritance’, which showed a survivor of Płaszów and former maid of Amon Göth, Helen Jonas-Rosenzweig, meet with Göth’s daughter, Monika Hertwig, at the memorial site in Poland. 


Monica's book is on the German Amazon site here.   

Page 104. " had not survived the bombing raid "

The strategic bombing raids on German cities towards the end of the war resulted in significant destruction, and contributed greatly to bringing the conflict to a close.  Like the Blitz, the raids were intended to destroy the morale of the civilian population.  In Britain, this was resisted, but the German people did not have the same level of preparation or protection.  Well known bombing campaigns were those of Dresden, Hamburg and Berlin.  The International Military Tribunal decided that German personnel would face no reprisals for their bombing of Allied cities (such as London), partly because it would highlight the attacks they had received in turn.

Page 119. " 'Death march?' asks the daughter in the book "

Memorial in Krailling for the victims of a death march from Dachau.
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeMemorial in Krailling for the victims of a death march from Dachau. - Credit: Furukama
By 1944, Allied troops were approaching Germany from both the East and West.  This advance caused the SS to order that all camps close to the borders should be vacated, and evidence of the genocide which had taken place destroyed.  Many prisoners were killed immediately, but thousands of others were forced to march dozens of miles to railway stations or other camps.  Many collapsed and died of sickness and exhaustion on the way; people showing signs of extreme fatigue were shot.  Although some prisoners survived to give testimony, most were killed upon arrival at their destination. 

This clip shows a lady who survived a death march describing her experiences.