Thursday, April 7, 2016

We were treated worse than animals. My name was 177153

Reddit recently had an AMA with a 92-year old Holocaust survivor.  There is another group that is fading away as we lose our World War II veterans- Holocaust survivors.  The grandson of Henry Flescher helped him answer questions on Reddit as he confessed he understandably did not know how to use Reddit or a computer.  Link to AMA session.  It is a riveting story.  Here are some highlights:

 Bio: My name is Henry Flescher. I was born in Vienna, Austria on March 14, 1924. I am a Survivor and I'm now living in Aventura, Florida. I spend time volunteering at the Miami Holocaust Memorial and also speak at schools in the Miami area. I have two wonderful daughters, three grandchildren (one of whom is helping me with this AMA today), and one great grandchild. I'm happy to be alive today, and more than happy to answer any questions you may have!

* I have watched most of them. I don't find it difficult to watch because I went through it. I've seen it all. I still remember a friend of mine who was hanged because he was using a telephone wire as a belt to hold up his pants. They hung him and he fell back down. They put him back up and hung him again.

*Hey Mr. Flescher. What did your moment of liberation feel like? The day you got to leave the camps and start a normal life again. Did you ever feel like that day would come? My great grandfather was one of the soldiers who liberated the camps after the war was lost and I've always been curious what emotions the prisoners felt.EDIT: I meant to write when the war was won, not lost. I had a brain fart and I'm sorry

I didn't know it. I didn't understand. I was on another death march at the time from Altenburg to Waldenburg. I managed to slip away and hide in a chicken coop along the way and at that time the American convoy was advancing. I saw an American tank and an American soldier and thought he was going to kill me because I didn't know the uniform. I still left the coop and went up to them, because at that time I could barely stand up and weighed about 70 pounds. I was liberated on April 11.

I didn't know that day would come. I was very sick when I was liberated and could barely eat, talk, or walk

*I was first sent to Drancy, a transit camp. I was then transported in a cattle car packed with people with no food or water and one bucket in the middle to use as a toilet. I was 16 18 at the time. The smell was unfathomable.

After six days in the train the train came to stop. The guards started to count men. They selected 300 men. I was number 298. We were taken off the train. The train then continued on its way to Auschwitz and everyone was killed. I will never forget the number 298.

 I cannot recall anyone dying during that journey. But everyone was killed soon thereafter.

*They took 300 men off the train to work in a shoe factory in Ohrdruf. After about four weeks I was transferred to Peiskretscham where I helped build bridges. After a few months there I was then transferred to Blechhammer. It was there that my name became 177153. Blechhammer was hell. Punishments were a daily routine and my front teeth were knocked out here. I was there during the winter. One time we had to stand for several hours and one person couldn't contain their urine and peed on himself. The man was hanged. After about two years at Blechhammer we went on a death march to Gross Rosen. Buchenwald was the next camp. Then altenberg and waldenburg. This is a brief timeline!

*My grandfather was in Ohrdruf, he didn't speak much about it. Around Ohrdruf he was liberated after escaping the camp and running in to an American tank and soldiers, similar to yourself. He said he didn't believe the Americans were there until some Polish workers showed him a pack of American cigarettes prior to the encounter. They were Chesterfields, and he forever remembered that.
Thank you for your stories, they are very much appreciated.

*What was the transition back to civilian life like, after spending three years in concentration camps?

I wanted to travel and see the world. I went forwards, not backwards. It was a very difficult transition back into real life. I had 3/4 of my stomach taken out from an infection I got while at the camps. This was painful.
 
*I used to go out at night risking my life to steal some raw potatoes from the kitchen at Peiskretscham and at Blechhammer. I took chances. At Blechhammer some inmates caught a dog, a German Shepard, and cooked it. It was a feast. Tasted like rabbit. That was the only time I've eaten dog, and it was the best meal I had in a long time. These days I prefer steak.
 
* Were you consumed by hate towards those who did it to you? Have you ever managed to forgive them?
 
 I cannot forgive. But I was never consumed by hate. Hate doesn't improve anything. 
 
* Everyday you think of living. We are born to die, but I appreciate life. We live day by day, and I always say: yesterday is history, today's reality, and tomorrow's a dream. 
 
*Did average people anywhere realize at any point exactly what Hitler was doing when he had Jews and other outlying members of society taken from the populace? Was there a clear idea to people
 
Most people had no idea. Anyone who knew what was going on was already at the gas chamber or in the camps
 
*I lived for tomorrow. I was always positive. They told us if Germany won the war you'd work until you die, and if they lost the war they'd kill everyone. We are born to die, but I always kept my mind positive. I'm lucky I made it out, but I lost many family members and friends during this time.
It's important to remember the past. If I removed the tattoo it's removing a part of history. The Germans wanted to remove tattoo's from survivors afterwards, and I'm sure many people did. But it's a testament to the past. It shows I survived. And I'm here, and loving life!

* My brother moved to the US right before things got ugly in Europe, so I wanted to move where he was. He was in Providence, RI. Itzik's. It's definitely my favorite.

*There was many times I almost lost hope. It was difficult to get the stamina to keep going. I just hoped I would survive and lived day by day. I returned to Drancy where I was deported from. My name is on a wall in Paris with 76,000 names of people who got deported from there. I don't think many survived.

* I cannot take back anything, and I cannot regret anything. We were treated worse than animals. My name was 177153.

* I was captured in France. While trying to buy grapes at a market. They asked for my papers and that was it

*My brother was very relieved to know that I made it out alive. My parents and sister and her child were all sent to Auschwitz. It would have been tough on him to know that his entire family was killed. But that was the reality many people faced.

*Usually at night we got a piece of bread and some watery soup. In the morning sometimes we got a cup of coffee. I used to scrape and eat the coffee grinds from barrels and in the morning to get a little sustenance. We would also break the piece of bread we got at night in two, and save the other half for the morning. That is what i remember.

 *If you have a desire to live, you will do what it takes to exist for the next day.

*We worked 12 hours from 6 to 6 everyday. We were not treated well, as you can imagine. I helped build bridges in Peiskretscham, I also worked in a shoe factory in the beginning in Ottmuth. Nothing is exaggerated. When the war broke out, I moved to Brussels with my parents. My brother got a visa in 1939 and moved to the United States. I was too young to obtain a visa, being only 14 at the time, and stayed in Brussels until I was about 16. In 1942 I received a letter to go to labor camp, and at that time my parents tried to smuggle me out of Brussels to go to Spain. While I was being smuggled out, I was caught in Lyon while buying grapes at a market along the way. Somebody asked to see my passport and right away they saw a big "J" in my passport and I was arrested. This was in 1942. I was liberated April 11, 1945. I also had a sister who was older than me, and she had a young child. She was caught around the same time as me, and was immediately sent to Auschwitz.

When people compare things today to the Holocaust they cannot understand. People live normal lives. Most people do not understand the meaning of being hungry or being cold. I was on a death march from Blechhammer to Gross Rosen and we didn't know where we were going, didn't have anything to eat, and marched in the freezing cold for two weeks. Anyone who fell was immediately shot and killed. Being hungry and cold was an afterthought when all you're trying to do was survive.

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

A vivid portrait of Devilish evil that emanates straight out of the bowels of Hell.

Anonymous said...

Damn. Makes you want to hate Germany all over again.

Anonymous said...

That logic is warped. That's like saying I hate America because I hate Donald Trump. Not all Germans were horrible animals like the Nazis.

Anonymous said...

It's a good thing this gentleman wasn't subjected to the obnoxious smarm of r/atheism.

Hey Mr. Flescher, why do you worship a magical sky fairy and believe a book of bronze age myths? I'm 21 and know everything there is to know about religion. I'm an atheist and I'm so much smarter than you. Where was your god in Buchenwald? Should have worshiped the Flying Spaghetti Monster, dude.

You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy than r/atheism.

Anonymous said...

12:29,

Your reading is poor - I wrote "Germany," not "Germans." However, your logic is worse.

I submit that IF we elected a presidential candidate, AND he tortured then slaughtered 6 million Jews, AND Americans didn't stop it, the peaceful world would logically hate (read this next word slowly) America and wonder how (read this next word slowly) Americans came to allow it.

Johnny Weir said...

Stalin killed more people than Hitler ever did.
But, threw the fog of history he is given a pass.
Yet it more political correct to hate Germany.
I think Germany could really care less how the US feels about them.

Anonymous said...

2:33 what the hell are you talking about?
Have some respect for this man.

Anonymous said...

My Dad was in the army in WWII. They liberated a death camp. He had a small degree of what we now call PTS for many years after the war.

Anonymous said...

11:25, bless your heart. You obviously know as much about Reddit as does the 95 year old Holocaust survivor. 2:33 was not offending this gentleman. He was making a point, lost on you, about the media forum itself and certain users thereof.

Anonymous said...

Hey 4:30pm, the liberal agenda doesn't like exposing the truth of communism, so the horrors of Stalin, Mao, and Castro are generally ignored given. They also didn't really discriminate in their slaughter, so it doesn't serve an agenda of prejudice leading to death camps. What is most amazing is how they have managed to paint Hitler as "right wing extremist", when he was nothing of the sort. Last I checked, national socialism is on the other side of the spectrum.

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Wrestling returns, except this time it will be a Battle Royal with Othor Cain, Ben Allen, Kim Wade, Haley Fisackerly, Alan Lange, and “Big Cat” Donna Ladd all in the ring at the same time. The Battle Royal will be in a steel cage, no time limit, no referee, and the losers must leave town. Marshand Crisler will be the honorary referee (as it gives him a title without actually having to do anything).


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In the spirit of helping those who are less fortunate, Trollfest '09 adopts a cause for which a portion of the proceeds and donations will be donated: Keeping Frank Melton in his home. The “Keep Frank Melton From Being Homeless” booth will sell chances for five dollars to pin the tail on the jackass. John Reeves has graciously volunteered to be the jackass for this honorable excursion into saving Frank's ass. What's an ass between two friends after all? If Mr. Reeves is unable to um, perform, Speaker Billy McCoy has also volunteered as when the word “jackass” was mentioned he immediately ran as fast as he could to sign up.


In order to help clean up the legal profession, Adam Kilgore of the Mississippi Bar will be giving away free, round-trip plane tickets to the North Pole where they keep their bar complaint forms (which are NOT available online). If you don't want to go to the North Pole, you can enjoy Brant Brantley's (of the Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance) free guided tours of the quicksand field over by High Street where all complaints against judges disappear. If for some reason you are unable to control yourself, never fear; Judge Houston Patton will operate his jail where no lawyers are needed or allowed as you just sit there for minutes... hours.... months...years until he decides he is tired of you sitting in his jail. Do not think Judge Patton is a bad judge however as he plans to serve free Mad Dog 20/20 to all inmates.

Trollfest '09 is a pet-friendly event as well. Feel free to bring your dog with you and do not worry if your pet gets hungry, as employees of the Jackson Zoo will be on hand to provide some of their animals as food when it gets to be feeding time for your little loved one.

Relax at the Fox News Tent. Since there are only three blonde reporters in Jackson (being blonde is a requirement for working at Fox News), Megan and Kathryn from WAPT and Wendy from WLBT will be on loan to Fox. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both and a torn-up Obama yard sign will entitle you to free drinks served by Megan, Wendy, and Kathryn. Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required. Just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '09 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.


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Jackson Jambalaya is the home of Trollfest '07. Catch this great event which promises to leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Sonjay Poontang and his band headline the night with a special steel cage, no time limit "loser must leave town" bout between Alan Lange and "Big Cat"Donna Ladd following afterwards. Kamikaze will perform his new song F*** Bush, he's still a _____. Did I mention there was no referee? Dr. Heddy Matthias and Lori Gregory will face off in the undercard dueling with dangling participles and other um, devices. Robbie Bell will perform Her two latest songs: My Best Friends are in the Media and Mama's, Don't Let Your Babies Grow up to be George Bell. Sid Salter of The Clarion-Ledger will host "Pin the Tail on the Trial Lawyer", sponsored by State Farm.

There will be a hugging booth where in exchange for your young son, Frank Melton will give you a loooong hug. Trollfest will have a dunking booth where Muhammed the terrorist will curse you to Allah as you try to hit a target that will drop him into a vat of pig grease. However, in the true spirit of Separate But Equal, Don Imus and someone from NE Jackson will also sit in the dunking booth for an equal amount of time. Tom Head will give a reading for two hours on why he can't figure out who the hell he is. Cliff Cargill will give lessons with his .80 caliber desert eagle, using Frank Melton photos as targets. Tackleberry will be on hand for an autograph session. KIM Waaaaaade will be passing out free titles and deeds to crackhouses formerly owned by The Wood Street Players.

If you get tired come relax at the Fox News Tent. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both will entitle you to free drinks.Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required, just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '07 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

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