Wednesday, November 25, 1942
Today, the day before Thanksgiving, The New York Times carried a blood-chilling announcement from Heinrich Himmler. The headline on page 10: “Himmler Program Kills Polish Jews” and below that “Slaughter of 250, 000 in Plan to Wipe Out Half in Country This Year is Reported.”
The “Final Solution” became policy at the Wannsee Conference on January 20, 1942. Now it was being enacted – not yet on the industrial scale of death camps. The methods of the German SS were still crude: firing squads and mass cremation pits, mostly in wooded areas. Visit almost any town or city in Eastern Europe and you will find memorials to these sites. The article described other methods no less barbaric.
There were still many relatives from my mother’s and father’s families in Poland. I can’t imagine the grief and terror in their hearts as they prayed for some good news. The best they could hope for was that those who were young and strong would be spared as slave labor.