The Fifth Diamond: A Special Jewel in the Genre of Holocaust Horror Stories, part 4 (of 5)

Published: 2010-01-15

Irene Weisberg Zisblatt writes of swallowing the same diamonds over and over again for a year in order to save all she has left of her family. What else does she say—and why is it not believable?

Apophenia: the phenomenon of seeing things that aren't there. People will see, and believe, what they expect to see, what they want to see, or even what they are told they are seeing, as often as they will see, and believe, what they are actually seeing.

By Carolyn Yeager

Part Four

(ST=Shoah Testimony, FD=The Fifth Diamond, LD=The Last Days, RI=Radio Interview. See Part One for further explanation.)

Went to gas chamber with gypsy families, or 1500 women?

(ST) “They selected me with the gypsies.” (@2hr11min) “I think it was in December, because it was cold, snow … and the gypsy camp was not too far from the C lager; it was a family camp. I was just taken out of my (roll call) all by myself.” Then, as if she suddenly remembered [19], she says, “I think that it was Mengele that took me outta there.” (This is first mention of Mengele since saying she didn’t know if he was the doctor who selected her for her first experiment.) She was put on a truck transport of Gypsy families on their way to the “gas chamber.”
Remarks: The last “gassing” at Birkenau, according to the official narrative, took place on October 30, 1944. But Zisblatt has no idea of this when she recalls it being in December. This may be the strongest “evidence” of fraud in her narrative. Surely one wouldn’t forget the exact time one was sent to die in a “gas chamber.” If she decided on December, so that she could claim the longest time possible at Birkenau—May to December (7 months max, although she claims 8 months)—she has fallen into a trap. May to October would be only 5 months.
(FD) “Suddenly,” at mid-morning, she was selected with 1500 other women to leave the camp (p. 74). Mengele is not present. The women were ordered to remove their clothes and marched naked until they were forced into a narrow passageway. At this point she realizes she’s in the #3 gas chamber.
(LD) Nothing about her gas chamber experience is brought up in the film.

How she escaped the gas chamber

(ST) “As everybody (Gypsy families) was being pushed into the gas chamber” -after removing their clothing- “I was goin’ backwards and I got stuck in the door.” She hung on to the edge of the metal door and the big strong SS man couldn’t manage to push this starving child in, so he threw her out! She ran away and hid under the “eave” of the crematorium.
(FD) Basically the same unbelievable story with the 1500 women, only this time she “dug her fingernails” into the doorframe and wouldn’t let go. (With her inadequate diet and deprivation, could she have such strong fingernails?) When the big SS guard “threw her out onto the ramp” (there is no ramp) and walked away (!) she ran up the non-existent ramp and climbed under the roof.
Remarks: Being unfamiliar with the crematoriums apart from the rubble she first visited in 1994, Zisblatt doesn’t know that there was no place “under the roof” to hide and there were no eaves.

The Sonderkommando – friend or stranger?

(ST) Very shortly, a boy wearing a Jewish star came along to clear out the dead bodies from the chamber, saw her under the eave, gave her his jacket and said, “When I’m finished, I will be back. I know who you are.” She then tells a long story about how they met before in the camp and she had done him a favor which he was now going to repay. (@2hr18min)
(FD) The Sonderkommando boy sees her, gives her his jacket and speaks to her in Hungarian. They have never seen each other before.

Sonderkommando has 3 months or 3 days to live?

ST) “Within five minutes he was back. It doesn’t take long for a crew to exterminate God knows how many hundreds of gypsies and bodies, you know?” He told her, “As soon as they turn off the electricity in the wires, there is a train going to a labor camp. If I find an open cart, I will throw you over the wires into the cart.” Zisblatt says he risked his life because, “He had 3 months more to live, if that.” Immediately, he rolled her in a blanket he had brought, threw her over the high wire fence, and she landed in an open wagon with other women in it.
Remark: The fences were almost 10 ft. high and the side track around Crematorium #3 was at least 100 ft. away—not close enough for this to be at all possible.
(FD) He said, “I’m going to throw you on a train that is waiting on the tracks. There are open cars on the train […] women going to a work camp.” Immediately, he tossed her (no blanket) and she landed in an open cattle car with other women (none ever spoke to her!). She had asked his name; he said it didn’t matter, he had only 3 more days to live.
Remark: The Germans did not transport women in open train cars in freezing cold weather, if ever, and even more so if they were valuable labor.

Train took her to Gross Rosen in former Czechoslovakia or Neuengamme, Germany?

(ST) The train car carried female “machine mechanics” to a small labor camp with one factory. She couldn’t remember the name of the town or camp (how could she forget?), but said it was in Sudeten Deutschland (former Czechoslovakia).
Remarks: This could be a sub-camp of Gross Rosen, which was located directly on a rail line not that far from Auschwitz. About 10 of the subcamps were for women and were reportedly at peak activity in 1944. It’s not believable that she couldn’t “remember” the name of the place—it’s more likely she doesn’t want to bring attention to it because she is telling a different story than the one she actually lived. [20]
(FD) The train took her to Neuengamme concentration camp in the city of Hamburg in Northeastern Germany (p. 77)—many days travel from Auschwitz. (In an open cattle car, wearing only a jacket?) On page 79, she writes she “wasn’t sure of the exact dates” though by 2008 she had plenty of time to figure it out.
Remarks: It’s reported that some women prisoners from Auschwitz were transferred to the sub-camps of Neuengamme in the summer of 1944, not in October or December.
(LD) Nothing about leaving Auschwitz is brought up.

Map showing Neuengamme far up in northwest Germany. Gross Rosen is closer to Auschwitz, with Flossenbuerg west of G.R., and Pilsen directly east of Fl. It makes no sense for Zisblatt to say she was in Neuengamme, so why does she? (credit:

Her job was to repair machines or pack ammunition?

(ST) Unbelievably, she re-discovered “Sabka,” who had been sent away after their tattoo-removal, in the bunk below hers in the morning. Her job in this camp was to repair machines that Czech men operated. Of course, she didn’t know how, but she tells an elaborate story about the Czech machine operator who helped her out.
(FD) Again, she finds “Sabka” in the bunk below hers, but here they both have the job of packing ammunition for the front lines. No Czechs in this camp.

Different routes for the “Death March”

(ST) The first week in January, the “couple of hundred” camp inmates were ordered on a march. (@2hr36min) Prisoners from outside came into their camp and 5000 were assembled. They wore their normal shoes and clothing, and were given a blanket. Zisblatt claims they walked from January until April with only snow to eat. When asked if she remembered the route: “I remember passing Breslau and Dresden […] I remember the signs as we were going.” Then, “The factory was deep, deep Germany … Dresden was below where we were, so … we didn’t pay attention where we were going cause we didn’t have no choice anyway. But by April we were somewhere in the Pilsen area and we knew we were close to Czechoslovakia.”
Remarks: They were in Czechoslovakia when they left! If Dresden was below the factory/camp, it was not in Sudetenland as she said it was. She has poor understanding of geography or she is just making it up as she goes along.
(FD) In January, the 5000 prisoners of Neuengamme (in Northern Germany) were assembled, each given a thin blanket, a pair of wooden shoes, an “article of clothing” and told to march. (p 79) They marched in the snow, which was their only food, tearing strips from their blanket to wrap their feet. Many died along the way; by April only a few hundred marchers were left. We are not told of any landmarks or towns to indicate where they were.
Remarks: The only march from Neuengamme was northwards to the Baltic Sea in the last weeks of the war, according to USHMM website [21].
(LD) All she said was, “The Nazis didn’t want anyone to get liberated, so they were herding the people away from the camp.”
Remarks: She fancies herself an expert on Nazis, as well as Dr. Mengele.

Liberation: with or without General Patton?

(ST) In April, Allied planes shot at their convoy; in the confusion the two girls managed to drop out of the march. They walked about “all night long,” and fell asleep next to a stream. In the morning, they were awakened by an American soldier wearing a Jewish mezuzah around his neck. She heard “loud rumblings, noise, cars and footsteps—the whole Army was here! They came and found the two of us and they had an interpreter, so we communicated. This was General Patton’s Third Army that came through there […] This one guy was always screamin’ and that was General Patton, he was screamin’ and yelling, and then the Red Cross truck came down and they put us in the truck.”
Remarks: Part of Patton’s army was in that area then, but not Patton himself.
(FD) They dropped out of the marching column after a bombing raid and wandered “for several more days,” sleeping at night under their now half-blanket. “One morning,” two soldiers, one wearing the mezuzah, wake them. Other soldiers came and spent all day talking with them, cooking for them, holding her in their arms, and one was able to speak with her in German. They were taken to the soldier’s camp and put into a Red Cross truck, with beds, for the night. But no mention of General Patton screamin’ and yelling this time.
(LD) “Planes came out from behind the mountains and bombed our convoy; none of us were hurt. That’s when I found out the first time the US was at war.”

Bread or crackers?

(ST) When asked what they wanted to eat, she only wanted a whole loaf of bread all to herself, so they gave her a loaf of bread.
(FD) They had no bread to give her, only crackers in little cardboard boxes.
Remarks: Zisblatt obviously learned that soldiers have rations; they don’t carry around loaves of bread. In addition to this, she claims they cooked scrambled eggs for “Sabka.”

April or May?

(ST) In the morning, “they (soldiers) wanted to know where we lived.” The girls said, “We would like to go to a hospital, maybe … somewheres where it’s safe. They decided the hospital was the best place to take us.” It was April 1945, white flags were out but still a lot of fighting going on.
(FD) She learned from her soldier-liberators the day before that it was May 7, 1945.

“Sabka’s” death and burial

(ST) Even though Zisblatt just said what she did above, she then said, “When we got up in the morning, my friend “Sabka” was dead. She died in her sleep.” They bury her in the woods wrapped in her old blanket because “Chana” didn’t want “Sabka’s” body to be autopsied at the hospital.
Remarks: The interviewer didn’t question Zisblatt on how Sabka could be talking in the morning and then have died in her sleep. Zisblatt had remembered that an imaginary person cannot be registered in a hospital.
(FD) In the morning, the soldiers bring them breakfast, but she can’t wake “Sabka”;
a medic finally tells her she is dead. The medic, the Jewish soldier Bob and another soldier spend the entire morning consoling her, then spend the rest of the day digging the grave. They tell her they would come back with her after the war to give “Sabka” a “proper burial.”

Hospitalized in Pilsen or Volary?

(ST) She made the statement @2hr54m40s, “They took us into the hospital at Pilsen.” At 3hr1m40s, she said she was in an American Army hospital in the Pilsen area that was formerly a German hospital. “From the hospital, at the end of that summer […] they took us to Salzburg, Austria to a Displaced Persons camp. And this was close to 1946.”
Remarks: According to the World Jewish Congress, Irene Siegelstein, age 16, born in Poleno, Hungary, father’s name Moshe, was on the list of Jewish girls now at the civilian hospital in Volary, Czechoslovakia, on April 25, 1946 [22]. This would mean Zisblatt was in the hospital for an entire year, which is not credible, and contradicts what she herself says. Yet the list exists, so when did she actually enter the hospital?
(FD) She was taken to an American Army hospital in the “Pilsen area” where “all the other residents were young military men.” (p. 98) She is treated for typhus and malnutrition. “One day” a general, who she later learned was George Patton himself, came to the hospital and made “a special visit to my bedside.” He asked her questions through an interpreter, then pulled four buttons from his sleeve and took the purple scarf from around his neck and gave them to her. Yet she has never produced these gifts as she does the diamonds, which can’t be traced to any particular person or time. She “spent two months in the hospital in Pilsen.”
Remarks: In her ST, she sees Patton in the field; now in FD she just sees him in the hospital—she is determined to have him in her story. Zisblatt refuses to say the word Volary, yet everything indicates that’s where she was. Pilsen is approximately 40 miles from Volary. Many of the evacuated female camp inmates from Poland who were set out on foot marches in January ended up in Volary, very possibly because there was a German hospital there. [23].

To be continued

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[19] I think it’s very likely that her interviewer, Jennifer Resnick, encouraged her during one of the breaks to remember if she ever saw or had any interaction with Dr. Mengele. It was Resnick who asked her earlier if she knew who the doctor was during her first selection for experiments, and Zisblatt said no.

[20] A Red Cross Tracing Service document that Zisblatt holds up during her videotaped Shoah testimony shows Irene Segelstern, born 12-28-1929, was transferred from concentration camp Gross Rosen, prisoner #61397, to concentration camp Flossenbeurg/Commando Helmbrechts, prisoner #63941, on 6 March 1945. This was when she was, according to her testimony, in the middle of a death march! The first number was, according to her, removed from her arm at Auschwitz, deleted from the records, and she got a new number and a new name. Yet this is the number she has at Gross Rosen, which does not necessarily correspond to a tattoo. Helmbrechts was a women's subcamp of Flossenbuerg in Bavaria, founded in the summer of 1944. The document also says that Irene Segelstern was incarcerated at Auschwitz-Birkenau on Sept. 28, 1944—not April or May.

[21] “…and from Sachsenhausen and Neuengamme northwards to the Baltic Sea in the last weeks of the war.”



For the other parts of this article please click on the links below

Part One

Part Two

Part Three

Part Five

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Author(s): Carolyn Yeager
Title: The Fifth Diamond: A Special Jewel in the Genre of Holocaust Horror Stories, part 4 (of 5)
Published: 2010-01-15
First posted on CODOH: Jan. 15, 2010, 9:14 a.m.
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