The Human Cost: 27 Stark Facts About the Holocaust

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1Mel Mermelstein

Mel Mermelstein

A holocaust denial group offered $50,000 to anyone who could prove that gas chambers were used to intentionally kill people at Auschwitz. They were forced by a judge to pay that money, and an additional $40,000, to Auschwitz survivor Mel Mermelstein who provided proof of that very fact.

2. Gay male victims of the Holocaust, who wore the downward-facing pink triangle, were still considered to be criminals when they were freed from concentration camps. They were often sent back to prison to serve out their terms.

3. The leader of the SS, Heinrich Himmler ordered the construction of gas chambers because he was concerned of the effect that firing squads had on his men.

4. In 1943 Jewish ballerina Franceska Mann while being forced to disrobe at Auschwitz for delousing, distracted a SS guard, stole his pistol and shot him dead.

5. Just a day before the German government surrendered in 1945, the British Royal Air Force mistakenly believed that the ocean liner SS Cap Arcona was a war ship and sank it. The ship was carrying 7,000 women, children and prisoners who were Holocaust survivors.

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6Maximilian Kolbe

Maximilian Kolbe

Maximilian Kolbe was a Polish priest who volunteered to die in the place of a man in Auschwitz after he overheard him cry out for his wife and children. The man he saved, Mr. Gajowniczek, died in 1995 at the age of 93.

7. When Adolf Eichmann, also known as "the architect of the Holocaust", was on trial for his war crimes, he couldn't afford the attorney he wanted. Not wanting any reason to question the legitimacy of the trial, the Israeli government paid for Eichmann to be represented by the lawyer of his choosing.

8. In 1945, Dwight D. Eisenhower predicted that people would try to dispel the holocaust as a falsehood, and ordered innumerable pictures to be taken of the Nazi crimes to hinder any such attempts.

9. English actress Helena Bonham Carter's maternal grandfather Eduardo Propper DE Callejon saved thousands of Jews from the Holocaust during World War 2.

10. After World War 2, a group of Jewish group who named themselves “Avengers” formulated a Holocaust revenge plan to kill 6 million Germans by poisoning the water supply of many German cities. However, the plan was foiled by British police while the poison was in transit.

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11Sonderkommando photographs

Sonderkommando photographs

Sonderkommando photographs are four blurred photographs which were taken secretly in August 1944 by an inmate in Auschwitz. They are the only ones known to exist of events around the gas chambers.

12. When surrealist poet Robert Desnos started reading palms of fellow prisoners on their way to the Nazi gas chambers, his excitement was so contagious as he predicted longevity, more children, and abundant joy that the guards were unable to go through with the executions.

13. Holocaust denial is illegal in 16 countries, in particular, Hungary, where it is punishable by up to 3 years imprisonment.

14. Some Holocaust survivors died within their first week of freedom due to overeating chocolates and sweets given to them by liberating soldiers.

15. Heinz Heydrich, brother of SS General Reinhard Heydrich (a main architect of the Holocaust), helped Jews escape the Holocaust after reading his brother's SS and Gestapo files after Reinhard's death.

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16Tibor Rubin

Tibor Rubin

A Hungarian Jew named who survived Mathausen concentration camp enlisted in the U.S. Army. During the Korean War he was deliberately given dangerous assignments by an anti-Semitic sergeant and was later taken P.O.W. For 30 months he kept himself and his unit alive by sneaking out and stealing food, a skill he learned while in the German concentration camp.

17. During the Holocaust, a Jewish woman named Stella Kübler exposed between 600 and 3000 hiding Jews to the Gestapo to prevent her family from being sent to a concentration camp. Even after the Nazis sent her parents and husband to Auschwitz anyway in 1943, she continued to work for the Gestapo until 1945.

18. Pregnant women in Auschwitz were told they would receive double portions of food but were sent to gas chambers instead.

19. Polish social worker Irena Sendler smuggled approximately 2,500 Jewish children out of the Warsaw Ghetto and then provided them with false identity documents and shelter outside the Ghetto, saving those children from the Holocaust.

20. The Holocaust in Belarus killed up to 40% of its population. 100,000 Jews lived in the Minsk ghetto, with 1.5 meters of allotted space each and none for children. The Nazis planned to kill 75% of Belorussians and those with blonde hair/blue eyes would be allowed to live as slaves for Germans.

21Holocaust Memorial

Holocaust Memorial

The Holocaust Memorial in Berlin contains an anti-graffiti chemical, which turned out to be manufactured by the same company that made the Zyklonn B gas used in concentration camp gas chambers during World War 2.

22. The Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust, the first of its kind in the United States was formed in 1961 by a group of Holocaust survivors who met during ESL classes at Hollywood High School. Their personal artifacts, photographs, and memories became the museum's initial primary collection.

23. The screams of those being gassed during the Holocaust were so disturbing that in order to stifle them, SS Officers would rev motorcycles. This proved to be futile, so they built gas chambers offsite.

24. Treblinka gas chambers were so overcrowded that the bodies of the victims were found standing and kneeling rather than lying down.

25. When Holocaust survivor Mila Pfefferberg (from second left in the figure) was introduced to Ralph Fiennes on the set of 'Schindler's List', she began shaking uncontrollably, as he reminded her too much of the real Amon Goeth.

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