By DOUGAL MACDONALD
On January 27, 1945, the advancing Soviet Red Army entered the Nazis’ Auschwitz II-Birkenau extermination camp, liberating more than 7,000 prisoners, most of whom were ill or dying. The prisoners were liberated as the Red Army was inflicting one defeat after another on the German troops, driving the Hitlerites steadily backward until the final demise of the Third Reich in Berlin on May 9, 1945.
Recognizing the great significance of the liberation of Auschwitz, in 2005 the United Nations General Assembly officially designated January 27 as the International Day of Commemoration in memory of the many millions of people murdered by the Nazis in their bloodthirsty quest for world domination.
Auschwitz, Nazi Germany’s largest concentration camp complex, was built by the Nazis from 1940-42 in annexed Polish areas about 50 km west of Krakow. By 1942, the Nazis had built over 300 concentration camps in Germany and the occupied territories.
The Auschwitz complex consisted of the main camp Auschwitz I, the Auschwitz II-Birkenau extermination camp where 90 per cent of prisoners died, and Auschwitz III-Monowitz which supplied slave labour for German chemical monopoly I.G. Farben (IGF).
Over forty smaller sub-camps exploited prisoners as slave labour in various industrial plants, armaments factories, coal mines, construction sites and farms.
At first only Poles were imprisoned but later Soviet prisoners of war, Romanies (“gypsies”) and people of other nationalities were also incarcerated.
Financed by a loan from the Deutsche Bank, IGF built the Buna Chemical Plant that made synthetic oil and rubber from coal at Auschwitz III-Monowitz. IGF paid 100,000 Reichmarks each year to the Schutzstaffel (SS), the paramilitary organization mainly responsible for Nazi war crimes, to assure a continuous supply of fresh slave labour for the Buna plant while also being “relieved” of unfit inmates.
At its peak, the Auschwitz IGF factory used 83,000 slave labourers and prisoners, of which an estimated 25,000-35,000 died. The “unfit” were shipped to Auschwitz-Birkenau, the extermination camp, where 90 per cent of the prisoners were gassed to death using the pesticide Zyklon B, manufactured by an IGF subsidiary.
Zyklon B was also used to exterminate about 80,000 prisoners at the Majdanek concentration camp near Lublin, Poland, liberated by the Soviet Red Army in July 1944, and thousands of prisoners at Sachsenhausen camp, north of Berlin, liberated by the Soviet Red Army and the Polish 2nd Infantry Division in April 1945.
A Soviet document of May 6, 1945, officially acknowledged by the Nuremberg War Crimes trials (1945-49), established that the Nazis exterminated four million people at Auschwitz alone, through execution, torture, starvation, illness, exhaustion and murderous medical experiments, and from 1948-89 a commemorative monument erected at the camp site honored the four million victims.
Trying to diminish the enormity of Nazi crimes, the imperialists later reduced the Auschwitz deaths to 1.5 million, the “official” number that was inscribed on the new Auschwitz memorial in January 1995. The arbitrary reduction in numbers created a propaganda windfall for the neo-Nazis whose big lie is that the Nazis and their collaborators did not murder anybody.
The Anglo-American forces, well aware of what was taking place at Auschwitz, made no effort to assist the prisoners by, for example, strategically bombing the camp, dropping weapons to the prisoners, providing air cover for an escape, organizing an assault to free the prisoners or even bombing the railway lines that took prisoners to the camp.
The main person who blocked U.S. assistance was banker John J. McCloy, the U.S. Assistant Secretary of War. McCloy, who shared a box at the 1936 Berlin Olympics with Adolf Hitler, was legal counsel for I.G. Farben from 1936-40.
In the 1950s, McCloy pardoned and released all the Nazi war criminals convicted at the Nuremberg Trials, including the I.G. Farben directors. McCloy was also chairman of the Rockefellers’ Chase Manhattan Bank, which, as the Chase National Bank, had helped the Nazi regime exchange marks for dollars. Further, McCloy was a lobbyist for the Rockefellers’ Standard Oil (now Exxon), which had secret wartime agreements with I.G. Farben.
It is not enough just to be concerned with the fact that these industry and banking magnates established Auschwitz and other concentration camps and benefitted from their slave labour and extermination programs.
Today, as we commemorate the victims of the Nazis, we are duty-bound to note the prominence of the same Nazi banking and industrial interests today, as well as the prominence of their Anglo-American collaborators who also profited handsomely from the widespread depredations of the Nazis, even while claiming to oppose them. It is not enough just to be concerned with the fact that these industry and banking magnates established Auschwitz and other concentration camps and benefitted from their slave labour and extermination programs. It is critically important to be aware of what they and their political representatives are up to today, not only in Germany but in the U.S., Canada and other countries, in order to to make sure that Auschwitz and other such brutal events never happen again.
A fitting way for Canadian workers and youth to mark the 69th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz by the Red Army is by taking stock of attempts by current governments, including the Harper dictatorship, to resurrect Nazi war criminals by claiming that they were just ordinary people who fell victim to the “crimes” of so-called totalitarian communism.
Today Harper, Kenney and others of their ilk are arrogantly campaigning to have a national monument built to actually commemorate such war criminals, paid for by the Canadian people. They are also attacking workers, gutting social programs, supporting aggressive war abroad and glorifying it at home, criminalizing dissent, and building more prisons. Why are they doing these things? What aims do they serve today and why should it concern not only the Canadian working class and youth but Canadians from all backgrounds, including all those who sacrificed in the Second World War to rid the world of the Nazi menace? The sinister direction of the Harper dictatorship calls for increased vigilance and for a need to imbue with new life the clarion call of Never Again!
1. Concentration camps were first used by the U.S. colonialists against Native Americans and by the British imperialists in the Second Boer War, 1899-1902.
2. Zyklon B produced deadly hydrocyanic acid, imitating the process used in U.S. prison executions from 1924 to 1999.
Source: TML Weekly Information Project, January 25, 2014 – No. 4