Posts tagged ‘Belzec’

The Real Son Of Saul

I see that Son of Saul, the Hungarian film about a Jewish slave worker in Auschwitz is about to be released in the UK. I’m sure it will be a gruelling experience, but I am looking forward to seeing the film. This film is fictional, but my book I Survived a Secret Nazi Extermination Camp contains the real story of a Jewish slave worker in Belzec, one of the Operation Reinhard extermination factories. Rudolf Reder was the only post-war survivor of this hell hole, where 650,000 Jews and Gypsies were murdered. In 1946 he gave an account of his experiences to a Jewish Historical Commission which was gathering testimonies for use in future war crimes trials of the Nazis.  Reder’s witness statement, which runs to 40 pages, is a highly detailed, graphic and horrific account of what he saw and experienced. It is not easy to read the painful incidents that he recounts. When people ask me if I plan to make a film of the book, my response is that if the story were told truthfully, it would be the most painful horror film which would force all viewers to avert their eyes. So I am interested to see how the director in Son of Saul manages to show the unbelievable cruelties that occurred in Auschwitz  to innocent men, women and children.

Advertisements

April 13, 2016 at 9:11 am 1 comment

A Review of I Survived a Secret Nazi Extermination Camp

Rudolf Reder- Belzec Survivor and Witness

Rudolf Reder- Belzec Survivor and Witness


JC review I Survived

September 28, 2015 at 10:38 am Leave a comment

PRESS RELEASE- I Survived A Secret Nazi Extermination Camp

It’s taken a long time, but at last we are launching the new book:

BOOK LAUNCH

DEATH CAMP SURVIVOR’S STORY
LIVES ON OVER 70 YEARS LATER

Title: I Survived a Secret Nazi Extermination Camp

Author: Rudolf Reder, with a memoir by Mark Forstater

Genre: Second World War/ The Holocaust

Publisher: Psychology News Press

ISBN: 978-090-763337-2

SRP: £8.99

Date of
Publication: 26th March 2015

I Survived a Secret Nazi Extermination Camp

TIME: 1942

PLACE: Belzec, occupied Poland

It was March 1942. The Second World War had been going on for already twoand a half years. Across Europe, there had been a continual rounding-up of communists, gypsies, Jews, homosexuals and other so-called ‘undesirables’ for even longer. The term ‘concentration camp’ had become a byword for the ruthless efficiency of the German Nazi machine.

But nothing could have prepared the world for the process that was about to get underway in South-East Poland. The concentration camp at Belzec was to become the very first Nazi death camp. This was the world that Rudolf Reder, a Polish Jew from the nearby town of Lvov, found himself thrust into.

I Survived a Secret Nazi Extermination Camp is the harrowing and extraordinary story of the extermination camp at Belzec, Poland. Belzec is not an instantly recognisable name like Auschwitz or Dachau, and yet some 650,000 Jews and gypsies perished there in just a few months.

Numbers easily become blurs. Six million dead in the Holocaust – impossible to imagine. To give some grasp of reality: the number of those murdered in Belzec exceeds the number of people who live in Glasgow. It is more or less the number of football fans who go to Premier League matches every week; everyone at Old Trafford, the Emirates, Stamford Bridge, Anfield and more….. gassed to death……

One man, however – Rudolf Reder – escaped from Belzec and gave an account of the camp. Mark Forstater has tracked it down and it is the centrepiece of his book, a detailed and horrifying description of a truly dark death machine.

I Survived a Secret Nazi Extermination Camp presents Reder’s account of everyday life and death in Belzec and his miraculous escape. Forstater explains how he found the story, why it matters – and why it matters to him.

Nearly every Jew and gypsy who ended up in Belzec died in the gas chambers within two hours of their arrival.

Reder managed to survive for four months for an ironic and macabre reason.He was an engineer and useful to the Nazis in and around the camp. Moreover, he was the only man with the skills needed to repair the tank engine which produced the lethal carbon monoxide gas that was responsible for the brutal deaths of so many. After four months of incarceration Reder was taken to visit his home town of Lvov nearby to collect spare parts for the camp. Fortuitously, three of his guards went for a drink and the fourth fell asleep in the truck. Reder seized his opportunity to escape and was hidden by his former housekeeper who he eventually went on to marry.

Mark Forstater introduces Reder’s account and adds a personal memoir. He tells how he learned about the Holocaust growing up in America and how, in his search for his Grandfather’s roots in Poland, he discovered Reder’s witness statement and through it the fate of his own long lost relatives.

With comparatively little known about Belzec, unlike the other two death camps in Eastern Poland at Sobibor and Treblinka, but with the enormity of the crimes committed there in mind, Forstater increasingly believed that Rudolf Reder’s story, harrowing though it is, should be heard in the outside world. And his own heart-rending reflections, brought to life in his engaging and poignant memoir, go a long way to helping square the circle and humanise what is a story of dehumanisation.

I Survived a Secret Nazi Extermination Camp is an important addition to the literature of the Holocaust.

Mark Forstater is best known for his work as a film producer on some thirty films, including Monty Python and the Holy Grail. He is also an author, having published books on philosophy and spirituality that include The Spiritual Teachings of Yoga, The Spiritual Teachings of Marcus Aurelius, The Spiritual Teachings of the Tao, The Spiritual Teachings of Seneca and The Living Wisdom of Socrates.

An American originally from Philadelphia, Mark lives in London. He has been married twice, has four daughters and three grandsons.

I Survived a Secret Nazi Extermination Camp is published by Psychology News Press and is available at £8.99 from reputable bookshops, online at http://www.amazon.co.uk , from the dedicated website http://www.isurvived.org.uk/ or direct from the publisher at http://www.psychologynews.org.uk .

For further information please contact: Nigel Passingham
+44 7795 02 42 72

Nigelpas@live.com

February 26, 2015 at 10:32 pm Leave a comment

Standing On Others’ Shoulders – Part 1- (don’t hold your breath for Part 2)

I think it’s time that I started standing on my own creative feet and stop standing on the shoulders of others. In my case that means old philosophers – both east and west.  My first 5 books were all about philosophies or philosophers: Marcus Aurelius, Seneca, Taoism, Yoga and Socrates. I explained the ideas behind the philosophy, followed by key texts I had referred to.

My latest book – I Survived A Secret Nazi Extermination Camp – is entirely different. The first part of the new book is a short introduction to  the little known but infamous Nazi death camp called Belzec. In this isolated, forested camp in SE Poland,  the Nazis killed an estimated 650,00 Jews and Gypsies.  The time between arrival by freight train to death in a gas chamber was only two hours. Rudolf Reder, a Polish Jew, managed to stay alive for four months as a worker in the camp, before making a miraculous escape. By the end of the war, Reder was the only survivor of the camp, and he gave a Witness Statement recounting his experiences.

It is this Witness Statement of Reder’s that forms part two of the book. He recounts the horrific, pathetic and harrowing events that took place in Belzec, and the cruel and criminal acts of the Nazi and Ukrainian guards.  It is a difficult account to read – one man recounting the hell that the Nazis’ madness had created, and which he saw first-hand.

Part three is an account by me ( a kind of memoir ) about how and why I came across this Statement of Reder’s. It’s partly about my family and partly about my relationship to the holocaust, and its victims.  A few years ago, I decided to search for my Grandparents’ roots online via JewishGen which led me to discover hundreds of ancestors. This search ultimately led me to Lublin, and it was on a visit to the Majdanek Concentration Camp that I found Reder’s Statement. At the same time I learned the fate of my grandfather’s family – those who he left behind had been sent from their homes in Lublin to be killed in Belzec .

How is this book different to the other 5? Of course it’s much more personal. I am not writing about dead philosophers but about the terrible fate of my own (newly discovered) family. It’s about history, but told in a personal way. I’ve set out my reflections on what I was learning, and my own memories were part of this discovery.   Obviously I am not a survivor of the camps and no known relative of mine had been one either. We were Americans, not Europeans. All my grandparents emigrated to the USA in the early 1900s, and my parents and all of our family had been born in America. Growing up, I never realised that my grandparents had left family behind – parents, sisters, cousins, aunts and uncles. It is the fate of those family members that my search revealed, and my memoir reflects how I came to terms with this dark knowledge.

June 28, 2013 at 9:26 pm 1 comment

When Did You First Learn about the Holocaust?

A friend of mine read the manuscript of my new book, I Survived A Nazi Extermination Camp, and said that three things struck him most forcefully. One was the sheer grimness of Rudolf Reder’s first hand account of the death factory that was Belzec. He couldn’t understand why the Nazis felt it necessary to so degrade and dehumanise the people that they were about to kill. They planned to kill them, they knew the victims would be dead in a couple of hours, and yet they had the need to make these last hours as unpleasant and gruesome as possible. The level of cruelty really shocked him. Secondly, he hadn’t realised that the Nazis knew that their action in killing the Jews was a totally criminal activity, and that they had made so many efforts to hide and obliterate the evidence of these atrocities. He thought that they would cover this with ideology, but in fact it was clear they knew themselves to be practising criminality on a grand scale, a crime against humanity. Finally, the book reminded him about when he had first heard about the Holocaust, and the first book he read about it. He recognised one of the photos in my book, one of women prisoners running naked through a concentration camp, watched by uniformed SS guards. I’m sure many people must have a strong memory of when and where they first learned about this atrocity. I was quite young, maybe 5 or 6, when I became aware that ‘Hitler killed 6 million Jews’. How he killed them I did not know at the time, and the word Holocaust was not then in common use, although I was aware that there had been concentrations camp where Jews were gassed to death.

March 1, 2013 at 12:29 pm 2 comments

I Survived A Secret Nazi Extermination Camp

That’s the title of my new book. It didn’t happen to me, I wasn’t even born when Rudolf Reder lived through those terrible times. He was the only post-war survivor of a death camp in Poland called Belzec. Most people have never heard of it, but in just 18 months 700,000 people (almost all Jews) died there. We only know what happened in this death factory because Reder managed an incredible escape, and after the war told his story to a Jewish Historical Commission in Cracow who were trying to gather evidence against the Nazi criminals.

The victims who arrived by freight train to Belzec were killed in the gas chambers within two hours. The Nazi system processed these people like cargo. The only people who survived longer were Jews who were selected to work at the camp, and they only lasted a few months at most. Reder lasted for 4 months because he was an engineer and could fix the tank engine which produced the carbon monoxide which was the killer gas.

I found out about Belzec and Reder’s story when I made a trip to Lublin in Eastern Poland to research my Granfdfather’s roots. While I was there I visited Majdanek Concentration Camp and there I found a slim book called Belzec which contained Reder’s witness statement. My young Polish guides explained to me that Belzec was where the Jews from Lublin were sent to die, so it is very likely that some of my relatives were killed there. I never knew that I had relatives killed in the Holocaust until I made this trip. 

Now I am waiting for the book to come out, and I need to find ways to make it known to potential readers. We are starting first in the UK (I live in London) and hope that if we can make a bit of a splash that we can find a publisher in the US. An ebook will follow in a few months.

I decided that Reder’s statement was so strong and powerful that I needed to make it more widely known. So I decided to make an audio out of it (soon to be on Audible) and wrote an account about how I found the text.  

October 6, 2012 at 11:10 pm 5 comments


The Blog That Fell From The Sky

Reflections on an age of anxiety.

Categories