For the Benefit of Judy Cohen
Based upon all that has been written about her, a reasonable individual might best describe Judy Cohen as a 78 year old "Holocaust activist," a mother of two, a feminist, a Zionist apologist and a survivor of two Nazi concentration camps: Auschwitz-Birkenau in the east, and Bergen-Belsen in the west.
According to information obtained through the Internet, Judy is also the Chairman of the Speakers bureau of the Toronto Holocaust Education Centre of UJA (United Jewish Appeal) Federation Canada, an active Holocaust and Anti-Racism educator and editor of the website: www.womenandtheholocaust.com
Mrs. Cohen was also a featured speaker at the 3rd Annual Holocaust and Human Rights Symposium "Women in Resistance" which took place on May 12, 2004 in the Duckworth Center at the University of Winnipeg.
The highly prolific Mrs. Cohen is also variously described on Holocaust-related Internet sites as an "expert" on the "Holocaust," or an "expert on the Holocaust and women" apparently by virtue of her having survived incarceration in two Nazi concentration camps in Europe during the years 1944-1945. Nonetheless, and with all due respect to Mrs. Cohen, the fact of her having survived the "Holocaust" does not necessarily make her an "expert" on the "Holocaust" anymore than surviving a car wreck makes one an expert on automobiles.
That being said, the announced Winnipeg event appears to have been a rather festive affair rivaling former Beatle John Lennon's "For the Benefit of Mr. Kite," which included a candle-lighting ceremony, morning and afternoon vocal performances by the Sisler High School Choir, and a vocal and instrumental performance by well-known Winnipeg Chilean folksinger Hugo Torresant, concluding with a "drama performance by Grant Park High School." Major funding for the event was provided by the Jewish Foundation of Manitoba and the Province of Manitoba Department of Education and Youth.
On 28 March 2007, Mrs. Cohen delivered the keynote address to High School Students and other groups gathered together at the Cedar Point Center Auditorium in Winnipeg, Canada. The theme of her talk, "A Survivor Remembers," was sponsored by Kate Dailey, an assistant professor of English and "Women's Studies."
Journalist Wayne Baker of the Sandusky Register covered the story in a subsequent article entitled, "Holocaust Survivor shares the horrors of Nazi death camps." While perusing through it, I encountered this statement:
"Judy Cohen survived the smell of burning flesh, the death stare of Dr. Josef Mengele and the fear she could be put to death in a gas chamber. She's no victim, however, and she tells her story to inspire hope in others so they may avoid the pitfalls of the past."
I must confess that when I read that statement, I wondered whether Mr. Baker had any idea at all as to what he was writing about.
Although I for one do not begrudge Mrs. Cohen's right to tell her tale, I do take exception to obvious hyperbole and embellishments of fact, as in the following, where Mrs. Cohen declares:
"During these 12 years the Nazis also targeted other groups because of their perceived disabilities. By May 8, 1945, all the camps were liberated by Allied Forces in Nazi-occupied Europe. Ironically, some of the liberators were African-American units, which were still segregated."
Now, unless I am missing something here, I fail to perceive what is so "ironic" about Black soldiers participating in the liberation of concentration camp inmates. Mrs. Cohen's remark appears to be a completely gratuitous inclusion in her address designed to arouse the interest and support of African-Americans. Am I being overly critical, or does Mrs. Cohen appear to be pursuing a political agenda here?
More serious are the numerous contradictions between Mrs. Cohen's statements before her Winnipeg audience and her written account, as posted on her website. These contradictions shall be addressed presently.
Returning for the moment to Sandusky journalist Wayne Baker, I was struck by the conviction that he did not take the time to read through Mrs. Cohen's written account of her life in Hungary before composing his article. A few illustrative examples ought to suffice to underscore the point. Mr. Baker quotes Mrs. Cohen as saying,
"Debrecen is where I was a precocious, relatively happy child…It is where we celebrated our many strictly observed Jewish holy days with prayers and delicious meals due to my mother's culinary talents."
But according to Mrs. Cohen's written account, her life was absolutely "miserable" while living in Hungary. According to this version of Mrs. Cohen life, she writes:
"Life for us Jews in Hungary in general and for my family in particular wasn't exactly a bed of roses even before the Nazi occupation."
I wondered why Mrs. Cohen should use the expression, "my family in particular," but more on that later.
Baker quotes Cohen reciting a litany of grievances directed against the former Hungarian government and their perceived anti-Semitism, culminating in the statement:
"We didn't know it then, but in hindsight we can see how imperceptibly the road to the gas chambers started here by the basic deprivation of human and civil rights."
While not entirely disagreeing with this statement, I could not help but wonder if Mrs. Cohen supports the basic human and civil rights of revisionist historians to disagree with her expertise on the subject of the "Holocaust?" The answer to this question was revealed shortly after Judy was scheduled to appear as a guest on a Canadian television program aired on the 22 Jan. 2005, entitled, "Remembering Auschwitz."
Judy's usual exhortations to "tolerance" rapidly disappeared after she learned that Norman Finkelstein, the author of "The Holocaust Industry," was also invited to appear on the program. After being subjected to a furious harangue from Judy Cohen, the producers of the program released the following statement:
One of the Auschwitz survivors who shared her experiences with us last Sunday now says she wished she hadn't. Judy Cohen was furious that we included her in the same segment as controversial writer Norman Finkelstein. Had she known, she says she would not have participated. She'll explain why.
But why should Judy Cohen be permitted to voice the last word in this matter where she and Mr. Finkelstein disagree? Indeed, Finkelstein's criticisms of the "Holocaust Industry" have proved to be sound, as conveyed in the following recently published story:
Official: Little support for Holocaust survivors
Most Holocaust survivors in Israel do not receive special state benefits, a government official revealed. The Finance Ministry's Rafi Pinto told a special government panel on the issue Sunday that around 70 percent of Holocaust survivors in Israel — some 180,000 people — do not receive stipends specific to their historical travails.
Social Affairs Minister Isaac Herzog, who chaired the meeting, ordered government team to come up with ways of addressing the issue within a month. Herzog also is considering taking over responsibility for Holocaust survivors' welfare, which is currently under the Finance Ministry's aegis.
Neither was Judy prepared to practice what she preaches to others by way of "tolerance" when she participated at the 60th Anniversary Ceremony held at Bergen-Belsen in April 2005, when Judy was quoted as saying,
"It was my first trip to Germany since I left it 60 years ago. I had qualms, I didn't know how I would react. For sure the German government treated us better than 60 years ago. I was impressed with the number of young Germans I met, who are working on the new Documentation Centre. It is presently being built for both the concentration camp and for the Belsen DP camp."
All traces of tolerance are conspicuously absent in Judy's overall opinion of the German people, as the following citation demonstrates:
"Judy recounted a "curious experience" in one of Hanover's Historische Museums, where she explored a new temporary exhibit there on her own. "Briefly, the Germans have not yet made up their minds if they were occupied or liberated in April-May 1945," she said. "But the tendency is, as expressed by the Prime Minister of Lower Saxony in his keynote speech: 'We the German people were also victims of Nazism and we needed outside forces to liberate us. We are grateful.' "Judy correctly describes this as "falsifying history" and adds that "soon, soon, in a few more years nobody will be able to discern who were the victims and who were the victimizers."
Thus, Judy seemingly wishes to promote the repugnant idea of collective guilt for all Germans, conveniently overlooking the fact that Germans were the first to be interned in concentration camps such as Dachau and Oranienburg.
In respect to "falsifying history," as my eyes fell upon the following statement cited by Wayne Baker, I arrived at the inescapable conclusion that Mrs. Cohen's "expertise" re the "Holocaust" simply isn't to be trusted, even if motivated by the noblest intentions. Mr. Baker writes:
"Cohen also spoke of a 23-year old female Nazi concentration camp guard, Irma Grese, who was found to have lampshades made from human skins in her quarters…"
In order to be absolutely sure that Mrs. Cohen was not misquoted on this point, I personally contacted Mr. Baker via email in order to ascertain whether this statement was accurately cited, and he obligingly replied in the affirmative.
That being said, Mrs. Cohen's statement is incorrect. Irma Grese was 'never' even accused, much less "found" to be in possession of grisly artifacts such as "lampshades made from human skins" in her quarters or anywhere else. Neither was Ms. Grese 23 years of age at the time she was charged during the so-called "Belsen Trial." She was 19. Ms. Grese was in fact an "SS-Aufseherin," or female overseer in Auschwitz who was later transferred to Belsen during the closing months of the Second World War. Clearly, Mrs. Cohen was misinformed re Irma Grese.
As I have always believed in giving people the benefit of the doubt, it may be that Mrs. Cohen simply was confused or otherwise mistaken, but the question arises as to whether she shouldn't be more careful when making public statements that misrepresent another individual before repeating them to impressionable High School Students?
Similarly, it is highly doubtful whether Mrs. Cohen ever encountered Josef Mengele, for in her written account she alludes to the latter, et. al., as selecting people for the gas chambers by a turn of the thumbs, writing,
"As we disembarked, we were instantly separated from the men, and that was the last time I saw my father. Children 14 and under regardless of their gender, were ordered to go with their mothers. Then came the infamous selection, by the "thumbs." High ranking SS officers using their thumbs only to indicate who goes where."
But in her highly stylized presentation for youngsters from Huron High, she refers to Mengele in different terms, remarking, "He was known as the Angel of Death, as he sent thousands to the gas chambers with a cold nod."
In making this statement, was Mrs. Cohen carried away by the emotion of the moment? Who knows? Perhaps in a subsequent version, Mengele will send victims off with a twist of the thumbs and a "cold nod," or perhaps a flick of the wrist. The point here being that Mrs. Cohen, for reasons known only to herself, has obviously embellished the story somewhat.
How is it possible that such a widely acclaimed 'expert' on the Holocaust is capable of making so many egregious, contradictory errors? As I see it, Mrs. Cohen is merely parroting what she has previously read on the subject, after improperly digesting the material. It is certainly not my intention to impugn Mrs. Cohen's character, or otherwise encourage or engender disrespect for her and all she and her family suffered during the Second World War. But what is an intelligent person to make of such statements as the following, as cited by Mr. Baker in his article:
"Eva (Mrs. Cohen's elder sister) weighed only 37 pounds when Cohen met up with her."
Thirty-seven pounds? Is it possible for an adult human being to be reduced to thirty-seven pounds and still survive? I had no answer to that question, and I wasn't really qualified to answer it, so I contacted a physician and posed the question to him. He replied:
"Not unless she had a preexisting problem such as dwarfism."
Evi's picture may be viewed on Judy Cohen's website:
Clearly, she was not a dwarf.
Moreover, this reference to Eva's alleged weight is never mentioned in Cohen's more detailed written account. Was the inaccurate description just an instantaneous inspiration Judy received during the course of her address? I suppose we shall never know.
By their very nature, survivor accounts tend to be subjective and highly personal – and understandably so – and we should not be insensitive to their tragedies and experiences. However, part of the problem in attempting to unravel the facts attendant to the "Holocaust" is that the crime involves mass transfers of entire ethnic groups, uprooted from their native soil, split apart and shunted about throughout Europe under the most adverse conditions imaginable. Historians and criminologists might encounter similar problems attempting to sort through the facts in respect to the mass expulsion of three million Germans from Central and Eastern Europe during the period 1945-1946.
Nevertheless, it is the task of responsible historians and criminologists not to accept these stories on their face value, but to sort through all, examining them for similarities and contradictions, extracting that which may be independently verified and documented, separating the wheat from the chaff.
In the case of eyewitness testimony, courts are restricted to examining only what the witnesses declare they themselves directly observed or experienced. Subjective feelings, intuition and hearsay evidence is legally inadmissible:
A rule of evidence that generally prohibits a person from providing testimony based upon what that person has been told or learned secondhand. Instead, the rules of evidence favor testimony based upon a person's own observations.
Thus, when Judy Cohen declares that members of her family were gassed in Auschwitz, her observation based upon what she claims to have heard from other inmates of the camp, rather than direct knowledge or observation.
For an event 'forever etched in her memory,' Judy's account is riddled throughout with factual errors, numerous contradictions and inconsistencies. Assuming that Judy's account is true to the best of her knowledge, I will now seek to recount all the highlights in her past experience as she herself relates it.
Judy Cohen tells the story of a Jewish family torn apart and uprooted by the vicissitudes of war, as happened to so many other millions of victims and their families in countries throughout war ravaged Europe during and shortly after the Second World War.
Judy was the youngest child out of seven born to Sandor and Margit Weiszenberg -two Orthodox Jews who raised their family in the traditions and religious beliefs of their ancestors.
Judy declares that she was fifteen years old when she and her family were deported to Auschwitz in sealed cattle cars.
It may be remembered that I found myself wondering why life was so difficult for Judy's family "in particular." Judy's explanation is that her father owned his own business in pre-war Hungary – "a metal and scrap iron yard" which the Hungarian authorities shut down at the beginning of the war in 1939 by revoking his business license because "iron and metal became war material and Jews were no longer permitted to handle it."
From this one may conclude that the Hungarian government was distrustful of its Jewish citizens, for reasons never made entirely clear by Mrs. Cohen.
For her part, Judy simply writes that in Hungary "Nobody in authority cared how a family of nine could exist without any income."
But surely this is an unfair statement. Hungary was a nation of some 15 million people and of course many families, Jews and non-Jews alike, didn't have an easy time subsisting during the war. Non-Jews in particular continued to suffer enormous hardships even after the war while languishing under the harsh administration of the Communists, and when the nation arose in rebellion against their Communist overlords in 1955, the nations of the world stood by and did nothing to assist them. All in all, Jews appear to have fared much better than non-Jews under the pre-war administration of the Communist Bela Kuhn, and again under the post war administrations of Matyas Rakosi and Janos Kadar.
Although Judy declares that no one cared how a family of nine could survive without income, they nevertheless 'did' survive for a full five years after the outbreak of the war to the day of their deportation in June 1944. From 1939 until 1944 they survived without any loss of life or property. Perhaps Judy will one day proffer an explanation as to how this family of nine continued to exist for five full years without any income? In fact, Judy's family was more fortunate than most, for they owned their own home. Judy writes that Jews in Hungary had been 'stripped of their civil and human rights," and this may be true, but clearly, they were not stripped of their property, and Judy's family was never so strapped for finances that they were compelled to sell their home.
Yet even Judy concedes the point that although Jews faced certain restrictions in Hungary, their lives were not yet threatened and somehow they continued to survive – "against all odds," as she did later in Auschwitz and Belsen.
Often, in writing of her past experiences, Judy will indulge in hyperbole.
Judy recounts that prior to the German invasion, her three brothers had already gone, after being conscripted by the Hungarian government for forced labor attached to the Hungarian army, which Judy describes as 'slavery.' Perhaps the real reason for their conscription was far more prosaic: their country was at war, and as they were citizens of Hungary, they were expected to contribute to the nations' war effort.
But for Judy, her brothers were mere 'cannon fodder' men who wore no uniform and carried no gun. Judy appears to be well informed on the subject and states that of the 50,000 Jewish men who were sent to the Ukrainian front, only 7,000 returned. This is certainly very tragic and may very well be true, but I found myself wondering how many non-Jewish Hungarians fought in that terrible conflict and how many of them were fortunate enough to return home with all their limbs intact. Unfortunately Judy offers no answers to that question, for she only sees life in Hungary from a strictly subjective, personal "Jewish" perspective.
Leaving such questions aside, life for the Jews of Hungary perceptibly worsened after the arrival of the Nazis, whose first official act was to form a Judenrat or "Jewish Council" to oversee Jewish affairs and act as a liaison between the Gestapo and the Jewish Community. Jews were obligated to wear a badge of identification on their persons, and according to Judy, "Jews had to give up all their valuables, furniture, rugs, money, gold, silver items and anything else that the insatiable Nazi "appetite" desired to hoard or ship to Germany."
But what was there left for the Nazis or anyone else to rob or covet? Hasn't Mrs. Cohen already informed us that the Jews were deprived of all civil rights and had been the victims of economic persecution at the hands of the Hungarian authorities years before the first German soldier ever set foot on Hungarian soil? Hasn't she informed us that her own family had it 'worse' than nearly everyone else in the country and that they had been living "without any income" for five full years? On such a meager diet, even the 'insatiable Nazi appetite' would starve!
Judy informs us of the ill treatment her father received at the hands of the Gestapo, who somehow became convinced he was hoarding gold and valuables. How else to account for the family of nine's survival for a full five years without any income? Obviously, Mrs. Cohen's account is incomplete, and even with the best of intentions, I cannot accept her story at face value, but deplore and condemn the physical mistreatment meted out to her father.
According to Judy, the Nazis next created two ghettos, a small ghetto and a larger ghetto designed to contain some 12,000 people. Nevertheless, life could not have been unbearable, for Judy admits:
"We lived in the area of the city that became part of the ghetto. There were three dwellings situated around a courtyard and we had to open a huge iron door from the street to enter. One house was ours, one belonged to my Uncle Vilmos, my father's oldest brother and his wife Sarolta…In the third dwelling lived Aunt Roszi and Uncle Herman with their two grown daughters. "All these were simple dwellings," Judy writes, "because we were not so rich, but the many potted plants in the courtyard, my mother's favorites, made it colourful and scented the air, during the spring and the summer."
But they were habitable dwellings, and probably much better than the housing obtainable to the average Hungarian. Indeed, Judy was from a family of nine, and as such, her home must have been somewhat spacious to accommodate such a large family.
In fact, Judy herself seems to prove the point when she writes:
"When the ghettos were established, all members of our extended family moved in with us and into my two uncle's homes. There seemed to be people everywhere. We were terribly overcrowded, especially at night when we all had to lie down somewhere to sleep. Wall to wall people."
People have been living like this in Los Angeles for years! With the addition of so many new arrivals, it was inevitable that their once spacious home should become cramped.
Nevertheless, the Jews in the ghetto were still permitted to leave in the afternoon for grocery shopping but Judy quickly adds, "This was for the late afternoon when most of the stores were empty of goods." Nevertheless, they still shopped anyway in the hope of obtaining food to ensure their survival and keep the family unit intact insofar as that was possible.
The cramped living made Judy's life miserable but her life was idyllic compared to what would ensue after their deportation to Auschwitz.
Unexpected help arrived in the form of unidentified persons who gave Judy's family extra food, especially for the children. Judy supposes these kind souls were Jehovah's witnesses without one shred of evidence to support it. She writes:
"I believe they were Jehovah's Witnesses. They dared to follow their conscience and refused to be bullied into indifference or hatred."
I, on the other hand, have reason to suspect that Judy invented this gratuitous story, apparently designed to bring others alleged to have suffered persecution by the Nazis, such as homosexuals and gypsies, aboard the "Holocaust bandwagon." Curiously, one rarely or ever reads of the vicissitudes endured by native Poles or Hungarians or any other ethnicity since they are accused of "hating the Jews."
When the dreaded day of deportation became a reality, Judy writes:
"I still see many of our neighbours lining the streets watching and laughing (there was an odd tear shed here and there) as we were led through the city to the brick factory. People with whom our parents were friendly for some thirty some odd years how could they turn adversaries in a mere couple of years, some in a few months?"
Indeed, how could they? Judy offers no convincing answer to her own question. What was it that prompted otherwise good people to applaud the deportation of the Jews from their midst?
Sometime in June 1944, Judy, who was 15 years old at the time, is deported with other members of her family to Auschwitz. Among them is her mother, Margit, her father Sandor, ages unknown, her three elder sisters, (Erzsebet, age 18, Klari, age 22, Evi), her sister-in-law, Magda Weiss, and Magda's 18-month old son, Peter, who at the time was seriously ill with dysentery.
The train arrived in Auschwitz four days later. Although I attempted to do so, tracing the train's departure and arrival proved impossible for a number of reasons:
- Judy never provides a specific date for either her departure or her arrival, and checking the Auschwitz Chronicle for traces of her transport proved impossible, since dozens of RSHA [Reich Sicherheit Hauptamt – Reich Security Main Office] transports arrived at Auschwitz during the month of June 1944. In fact, thousands of Hungarians were subsequently shipped out to other camps shortly after their arrival at Auschwitz, as is indicated in the following representative Chronicle entries:
- June 1 – 1000 Hungarian Jews transferred to Buchenwald
- June 5 – 2,000 Hungarian Jews transferred to Buchenwald.
- June 6 – 2000 Hungarian Jews are transferred from Auschwitz to Mauthausen.
- Judy never discloses her Auschwitz inmate number, which was tattooed on the arms of all individuals admitted into the camp. The sole exception to this rule would apply to those who were only temporarily housed there, pending transfer to other work or concentration camps, as the evidence above corroborates.
Thus, evidentially speaking, Judy may or may not have been on any of these trains. Judy may or may not have been admitted to Auschwitz. In the absence of any corroborating facts and documentation, we simply take it on good faith that she is telling the truth, but self-proclaimed 'survivors' have been known to deliberately falsify stories in the past.
I do not claim that Judy Cohen is one of them, but simply use the case to underscore the point that each account must be weighed and considered separately.
Returning to Mrs. Cohen's account of her experiences, she relates that after arrival in Auschwitz, the men were separated from the women.
Her vivid account of those last moments before their separation is quite moving-
"…two men, prisoners themselves in striped clothing, whose job it was to get us all out of the cattle cars, kept shouting "los, los, heraus, schneller," were also telling the young women, who were with children, in a whisper: "give the children to the grandmothers" and kept repeating it. There was no time to explain why, just this urging to heed their warning. I didn't notice any woman, including my sister-in-law who was holding her infant son, handing them over to their own mothers.
As we disembarked, we were instantly separated from the men, and that was the last time I saw my father. Children 14 and under, regardless of their gender, were ordered to go with their mothers.
High ranking SS officers using their thumbs only to indicate who goes where. To the left: women with children, pregnant women, older women (45 and up). To the right only the young women like my three sisters and myself.
In a split second I was torn from my mother without understanding what was happening or having a chance to say good bye. We didn't know we had to say good bye. At 15 1/2 this was pretty devastating and there is still a void in my life not having had that last hug and kiss."
Judy and her sisters were thereafter escorted to the Auschwitz Sauna for routine processing, where the new arrivals were shaved clean of bodily hair, allowed to shower, and then smeared with an "ugly smelling liquid."
Although the fumigation experience was degrading and humiliating, it was necessary to preserve lives, as the 'ugly smelling' unguent was administered to kill lice, which were the major cause of death-dealing epidemics in Auschwitz.
Judy is thereafter admitted into the portion of the camp compound B/III, or "Mexico" with her three elder sisters.
Her mother, sister-in-law Magda and her little son, Peter, had been sent "to the left" and were never seen again. Judy also lost all trace of her father, Sandor.
What happened next is poignantly described in Judy's written account:
"I remember we, my sisters: Évi, Klári, Erzsébet (Böshke) and I, cried through that first night along with all the others. I cannot recall crying again till after the war. In Birkenau, even though we learned the next day, that all those who went to the left at our arrival, my parents; my sister-in-law with her infant son; all my female relatives with their young children, were murdered in the gas chambers, and then their bodies were burned in the adjacent crematoria. Even though, we lived with the constant stench of burning flesh, there was no time to mourn. Every ounce of our being was needed for survival and survival alone.
We also realized, albeit too late, that those men who urged the mothers to hand over their children to the grandmothers, were really trying to save the lives of the young mothers. For they knew that the elderly and the very young will be murdered by gas anyway, regardless who held their little hands or carried their tiny bodies.
In hindsight, I can see that in Birkenau being a father didn't automatically sentenced [sic] a man to death. But being a mother with a child or pregnant, or just holding the little hand of a child, meant instant death.
My dearly beloved oldest sister, Erzsébet, 27 by that time a seasoned Socialist-Zionist, (Hashomer Hatzair) politically aware, understood clearly that here a genocide was taking place and tried to make sure we'll survive. The first thing she did was: she borrowed a knife and got hold of a piece of wood somehow and made four 'spoons'. With these spoons she force-fed us younger siblings by instructing us to hold our noses and try to swallow that awful looking and tasting 'dörrgemüse' soup that was dished up to us as something edible. I still hear her voice: 'we must survive – eat, eat and eat.'"
It is at this point that Judy's narrative becomes somewhat confusing, for if the intent of the Germans had been "genocide" there was nothing Erzsebet could have done that would have saved the doomed from their inevitable fate. To this day, Judy frequently encounters difficulties trying to answer the question as to how she managed to survive. When asked this question recently, Judy managed to stammer,
"It's interesting, and I'm always asked this but it's a basic instinct in humans to survive… and you know frankly, I can survive whether the all my older siblings for sure can have survived… [sic], I think it was a basic instinct – just a little tiny bit of hope that I want to live. The basic instinct to want to live is always there."
One may view Judy's tongue-tied response to the question of how she survived at the following website:
In respect to the assumed deaths of her mother, father, sister-in-law and nephew, it is entirely possible that they were never admitted to the camp and shipped off to another location, or simply perished as a result of typhus in Birkenau. In the case of Judy's little nephew, it is entirely possible that he succumbed to dysentery, and contrary to Judy's experience, who 'had no time to mourn,' Peter's mother, grief-stricken, lost all 'hope to survive.' An alternate view is that the rumors were true and they were murdered. A tragedy of enormous proportions, in either event.
The problem of what actually happened to the thousands of Jews deported from Hungary is no easy question to resolve, as revisionist author Juergen Graf concedes:.
"The problem of the Hungarian Jews deported to Auschwitz between May and June 1944, of whom but 28.000 where registered, is also largely unsolved…the destination of most of them remains unknown."
The official, complete listing of deaths in Auschwitz, from all causes, may be examined at the following site:
Such evidence, however, is hardly a source of consolation to survivors of Auschwitz who lost members of their families. Neither does it provide proof of the fate and destination of those tens or even hundreds of thousands who were unable to work.
For Judy Cohen, the "Holocaust" is primarily perceived and defined as the Nazi extermination of Jewish children and their mothers, the elderly and the physically disabled – a crime so horrendous that it cries out for universal condemnation.
Numerous survivor accounts all seem to repeat the same general theme as Judy, nearly every one based upon hearsay evidence.
For example, during the course of an interview with a former Auschwitz inmate three years ago, I was told by the non-Jewish Polish survivor that he had arrived at Auschwitz with his mother in 1944. He too, had been sent off to the sauna for delousing and ended up spending the night there. His final recollection of his mother was to look back at her standing in the powerful glare of the searchlights, moments before she was escorted off towards the 'left.' At this point, according to his account, a kapo [camp overseer] remarked to him that his mother would be "leaving through the chimney," or words to that effect. He, too, never saw his mother again. His story intrigued me because I had never before heard of non-Jewish Polish citizens being transported to Birkenau in order to gas them to death.
Judy repeatedly affirms and underscores the charge that pregnant women were immediately sent to the gas chambers.
Ella Lingens-Reiner, another former Auschwitz survivor and one-time assistant to Dr. Josef Mengele, agrees with her to a certain extent, as is evidenced by the following excerpt culled from her post-war account:
"After a few months the happiness was over. The ward was cleared of our patients and no further cases for operation were admitted. Instead, it was reserved for operations on pregnant Jewish women from Hungary; an abortion was carried out on each of them, whatever her stage of pregnancy, and then they were sent to work in a munition factory. Later the ward proved too small for the purpose, and the abortions were carried out in the gynecological station which in the meantime had been set up in our compound. I asked one of my colleagues – a deeply religious Polish woman who worked there together with two Jewish women surgeons – how she could bring herself thus to operate on healthy women. She said that those women themselves begged to be relieved of their unborn children, and that the only way to save the mothers from death in the gas-chamber was to sacrifice the children. Indeed this treatment was lenient compared with the earlier procedure, when nearly all pregnant Jewish women were gassed. If one of them happened to give birth in the camp, the child was immediately drowned…Yet it was even more frightful to see nursing mothers kill their three -or four-month old babies, by choking them or giving them twenty sleeping tablets, so as not to be sent to the gas chamber with the child."
As might be surmised, survivor accounts are somewhat similar, each agreeing and disagreeing at the same time and often highly contradictory. In Reiner's account, pregnant Jewish women were initially gassed and abortions were later performed on female inmates to supposedly save pregnant women from the gas chambers. Nonetheless, Reiner's account describes women with children three and four-months old living in the camp, while with Cohen, the pregnant Jewish women are 'always' gassed. Lingen-Reiner's knowledge of the gas chambers was not based upon personal observation or knowledge, but via hearsay.
Gisela Perl: Abortionist in Auschwitz
Abortion turned out to be a thriving business for Gisela Perl, the author of "I was a Doctor in Auschwitz." Perl was the subject of an HBO movie billed as a "docudrama." According to various accounts authored by former inmates of Auschwitz, Perl was the envy of her former associates, due to her leading role in aborting Jewish infants in Auschwitz, thus assisting the Nazis in their attempted genocide of Jewish children – for a profit.
In order to maintain a standard of living higher than the average inmate in Birkenau, Perl devoted her energies to performing abortions on women who became pregnant after sordid trysts in the latrine – a service for which the abortionist lived in rather luxurious style while at the camp, and for which she was paid rather handsomely in food and material goods.
Here is what Olga Lengyel, another Auschwitz survivor has to say about Gisella Perl in her book, "Five Chimneys." In chapter eighteen, under the heading, "Our Private Lives", she writes:
"For six months I shared the minute space of Room 13 with five persons. Dr. 'G.' (Perl) was, perhaps, the most interesting of my companions. She was a doctor from Transylvania who, to an extent that was positively unhealthy, refused to reconcile herself to the fact that she was no longer living her old life of pre-Auschwitz days. Every evening she informed us that the blocova had invited her to tea, and described the incident as though it were one of those elegant tea parties she had known before the war… she lived in a separate dreamworld of her own creation… G., and the dentist, who were the richest, always complained about thefts… Dr. G., who was a good doctor, tried to make her dreamworld real. She kept a 'maid,' a luxury only the blocovas were offered. Every morning, before Dr. G got up, one of her patients came in, cleaned the doctor's shoes, tidied her clothes, and made her bed. Dr. G. even had a silk coverlet. To avoid our jealousy, she later got one for each of us, but they were ragged and of inferior quality. She was the only one of our group who did no washing, even in camp. Her white smock was washed by her 'maid,' and the blocova allowed her to have it pressed with her own iron. Dr. G. was always trying on dresses. She got them on the black market as gifts, and she had them altered. Toward the end of our captivity, when we could hear the Russian guns, Dr. G. remarked, 'Well, girls, the time has come for me to have a traveling costume made.' The pessimist said, 'But my dear, they'll kill us.' 'Suppose they don't?' the doctor returned. 'Then here I'll be, without a traveling suit.' We laughed… G's dressed grew in number, and [X] built us a closet from three planks. It was actually for Dr. G., for we needed no closet for our few miserable rags. Of course, each prisoner was permitted only one dress. G. was therefore in a constant state to find new hiding places for her clothes. Poor thing, she was completely broken up when her pleated skirt, the best article in her wardrobe, was stolen from her straw mattress. Her blue raincoat, which she was saving for 'going away' also disappeared. She could not eat all day from grief. Officially, Dr. G. was the camp obstetrician and Dr. S. was the surgeon. G. took some of the surgical cases, and a dispute arose between the two physicians. Dr. S. asked for no thanks for her work. But Dr. G. needed praise to keep her dream world going."
By way of contrast, Yankel Wiernik's account of Treblinka opens with a confession that he helped to participate in the murder of countless thousands of children:
"Time and again I wake up in the middle of the night moaning pitifully. Ghastly nightmares break up the sleep I so badly need. I see thousands of skeletons extending their bony arms towards me, as if begging for mercy and life, but I, drenched with sweat, feel incapable of giving any help. And then I jump up, rub my eyes and actually rejoice over it all being but a dream. My life is embittered. Phantoms of death haunt me, specters of children, little children, nothing but children.
I sacrificed all those nearest and dearest to me. I myself took them to the place of execution. I built their death-chambers for them."
I leave it to the readers to form their own opinions as to the character and testimony of Mr. Wiernik – whether he ought to be viewed with sympathy or as the most contemptible of human beings.
Before I attempted to critically examine Judy Cohen's account, it was necessary to ask myself:
How does one critically examine such a person's testimony without appearing to be a complete cad in the eyes of one's fellow human beings? I considered this question for a long while and the answer finally came to me: through human empathy for what she truly suffered.
Accepting her story at face value, Judy's losses were enormous. Nearly her entire family was deported to Auschwitz. Of her six siblings, three died as a direct result of their deportation and incarceration. She lost one sister and two brothers, although the latter did not die in a concentration camp or in German custody. Her parents, her Aunt and Uncle and their two daughters who accompanied them, her sister-in-law Magda, and her infant son Peter, entered Auschwitz in June 1944 and within a short period of time perished, never to be seen or heard from again. Shunted from one horrendous camp to another Judy was a physical and emotional wreck after her ordeal, and left an orphan at the age of sixteen. Naturally, if they had never been deported to Auschwitz in the first place, the odds are overwhelmingly high that the entire family would have survived, and this constitutes a tragedy of monumental proportions for any human being, and as such I can only empathize with her.
This remarkably energetic woman has also authored numerous poems, which she uses as a form of emotional catharsis relating to her past experiences at the hands of the Nazis.
When Judy Cohen writes:
Let us create a society
Free of hatred and hunger
Where respect for each other
Glows like a beautiful ember
I can't help but agree with her.
- The entire article, along with a video tape, may be accessed at: www.sanduskyregister.com/articles/2007/03/29/front/225850.txt
- Ibid, "Auschwitz Outrage."
- http://www.jta. org/cgi-bin/ iowa/breaking/ 101193.html
- Ibid, "Judy Cohen at Bergen-Belson [sic] 60th Anniversary Ceremonies."
- At the official website of the "Holocaust Education E-Learning Center" they write: "Judy Cohen, a Hungarian who survived Auschwitz, spoke to high school students at the Holocaust Education Symposium 2000 in Victoria, BC, Canada. She was five years old when the Nazis marched into Poland." For those who do not know, the Nazis marched into Poland on September 1, 1939. Assuming that the people cited above received their information directly from Judy – if she was 'five years old' in 1939, that would have made her ten years old and not 15, when she was interned at Auschwitz. See: http://www.hopesite.ca/elearn/lesson_survival/lesson_two.html
- The reference to Peter's affliction with dysentery is unmentioned in Judy's written autobiographical sketch, but may be heard during a recorded portion of her address at Cedar Point Center Auditorium, which may be accessed here: www.sanduskyregister.com/articles/2007/03/29/front/225850.txt
- Danuta Czech, Auschwitz Chronicle, (New York) Henry Holt, N. Y., 1990, pp. 639, 642.
- The false claims of "Binjamin Wilkomirski" is one such case that comes readily to mind. See: http://www.fpp.co.uk/Auschwitz/Wilkomirski/index.html
- See: http://www.gnosticliberationfront.com/juergen_graf.htm
- Aside from the testimony of alleged former Sonderkommandos, the singular exception to this general rule is Ada Bimko, [Hadassah Rosensaft] who, to my knowledge, is the only female inmate of Birkenau ever to testify before a court that she had been given a unique glimpse into a homicidal gas chamber by an SS man.
- Ella Lingens-Reiner, Prisoners of Fear, Victor Gollancz Ltd., (London), 1948, pp. 61, 62.
- Compare Perl's own account in her autobiography with that of Olga Lengyel in her book, "Five Chimneys."
Additional information about this document
|Author(s):||Joseph P. Bellinger|
|Title:||For the Benefit of Judy Cohen|
|First posted on CODOH:||March 28, 2007, 7 p.m.|