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#155178 - 11/14/08 01:19 AM An Historical Escape Scenario Worth Discussing
wildman800 Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 11/09/06
Posts: 2828
Loc: La-USA
Let's explore the possibilities of apprehended Jews escaping from the Gestapo, the train which transported them, or after their arrival at a Concentration Camp; knowing what we know now about the situations that the Jews faced then.

At the time the Gestapo were arriving would, IMO (& knowing what we know now), would have been the best opportunity to escape being arrested.

While being transported to a camp, would be the second best time to try and escape, IMO.

After arriving at a camp, all prisoners were completely stripped of everything, including the clothes on their backs. Those that weren't killed immediately after their arrival, were worked to death with hard labor, minuscule rations, minimal clothing, and heat in the barracks. All prisoners quickly became too weakened to effect any plans to escape successfully (to the best of my knowledge). Who would have provided support for an escaped Jew??

How would we handle this situation in today's environment, technology level, and where would we get equipment that we needed, to survive in the wilderness, if we weren't able to escape at the "arrest stage", with our BoB's.

I'm sure that my understanding of the Holocaust is grossly incomplete. For that I apologize to all. This seems to me, to be a great time to learn more of that part of history. I do believe that History repeats itself!

What are y'all's views, knowledge, and experiences on such a subject as this????
The best luck is what you make yourself!

#155182 - 11/14/08 02:03 AM Re: An Historical Escape Scenario Worth Discussing [Re: wildman800]
Desperado Offline

Registered: 11/01/08
Posts: 1530
Loc: DFW, Texas
Kinda sounds like E&E 101 for the folks that have had SERE.

Having said that, one would have to be ready for a very violent confrontation to escape at arrest. Given that, it is either get gone just before they get there, which means some form of good intel, or effect an ambush and eliminate the adversary on grounds of your choosing.

Either way, a very iff'y proposition, given the setting and historical context.

In transit, really isn't much better as you lack control over your surroundings and are probably under the tightest control as your captors know this is the best time for escape.

Once at your destination, one will have to get a feel for the routine and see when it can be exploited.

Above all are three items of interest.
1) be ready to go instantly should the chance arise out of the blue.
2) understand that you may only have the skin on your back to take with you.
3) what reprisals will be inflicted on anyone you leave behind.
All of the above assumes you have the blessings of the senior prisoner.
but then you know that.
I do the things that I must, and really regret, are unfortunately necessary.


#155185 - 11/14/08 02:42 AM Re: An Historical Escape Scenario Worth Discussing [Re: ]
nursemike Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 11/09/06
Posts: 869
Loc: wellington, fl
I haven't spent much time thinking about this, but the folks in Israel clearly have, and the consensus seems to be: Never again. No more docile submission. Not ever. That seems to be the most effective answer, and perhaps the most convincing argument for the second amendment.
Dance like you have never been hurt, work like no one is watching,love like you don't need the money.

#155188 - 11/14/08 04:05 AM Re: An Historical Escape Scenario Worth Discussing [Re: nursemike]
Susan Offline

Registered: 01/21/04
Posts: 5163
Loc: W. WA
I've only met two people who were there. I can't even explain the horror I felt when I saw those tattoos.

One of them was a woman who was about eight years old at the time. She was with her mother, in the line immediately after arriving at one of the camps. Quick thinking on her mother's part was the only reason they survived. An officer came to the line of people and said, "Can any of you women cook?" Her mother stepped forward, gripping her hand, and said she was an excellent cook. The officer told her to come with him, but to leave her daughter behind. She said, "My daughter is a very good baker." He hesitated for just a moment, then nodded and lead them to where they cooked and baked for the commandant of the camp. Actually, her mother did most of it, at least in the beginning, and then would position her daughter so it looked like she was doing it when anyone looked in.

So, I suppose you would have to be ready to jump in any direction, to take advantage of any possibility.


#155198 - 11/14/08 06:41 AM Re: An Historical Escape Scenario Worth Discussing [Re: Susan]
Tom_L Offline

Registered: 03/19/07
Posts: 690
Well, as a historian I should point out the reality was a little more complicated than that. The persecutions took place over a long period, basically from 1933 onwards when Hitler rose to power. They involved not only the Jews but also Gypsies, Slavs, many other ethnic minorities, intellectuals, political dissidents, priests, homosexuals and anyone else that was perceived potentially dangerous to the state.

It was a pretty long process from more or else spontaneous anti-semitic incidents to full scale death camps. Most people at the time probably did not or would not realize just where it was all going. Creating a public scapegoat (Jews and all the other "unwanted" groups) was politically convenient for the Nazi party and over time it also became pretty much accepted by the general population.

Just how much the average German knew of death camps is debatable. Officially they were presented as "labor camps", basically prisons were the unwanted elements were supposed to work for the state and "learn new values" so as to become acceptable members of the society once again. In reality, though some of the concentration camps indeed developed very efficient methods of killing and disposing of the weak and elderly inmates they were largely a source of extremely cheap labor, which in great part contributed to the German economy and war effort.

Many theories on what the German and European Jews should have done to prevent the holocaust from happenning are little more than hollow speculation. By the late 30's the Nazi Germany had developed a very complex repressive system. The Gestapo was only part of it. Then there were the SS and the SA, which involved a huge part of the civilian population. Plus the Sicherheitsdienst (SD - Secret Service) and many other, sometimes improvised organizations. For example, the Einsatzgruppen, a huge task force recruited from the SS and the police. The Einsatzgruppen operated in recently conquered territory, particularly in Eastern Europe, right behind the front line. Their job was to exterminate the Jews, communists and all the other enemies of the state.

So what could you do in a situation like that? Not much as experience shows pretty clearly. You can't fight the entire state. Especially if the population at large is against you as well. No safe haven anywhere. SERE from Auschwitz? How are you going to break out? Human waves storming the fence until the guards run out of ammo and the MG 42 overheats? Good luck, there's still the minefield right on the other side of the fence. Plus many thousands of armed, not necessarily uniformed men looking for you with dogs, cars, radios. Besides, just where exactly would you go? It is a long trek to Switzerland. Can you swim to Sweden? How far can you walk starving and dressed in prison clothes? How are you going to get round, let alone cross the border in wartime?

Also, even if the young, able bodied males might resist as long as they are armed and have some means of resupply and support, what about everybody else? Women, children, the infirm? Will you leave your family behind? Waging a guerilla war is tough, especially against an army as powerful as Hitler's. Historically, the only safe way of getting out alive was to move to another country, hopefully on a different continent. Up to about 1938 at least the German Jews were normally allowed to leave the country. By then it was also pretty apparent that the situation would only get a lot worse. Unfortunately, many people either lacked the means to get away or had their heads buried in the sand too deeply.

#155199 - 11/14/08 10:26 AM Re: An Historical Escape Scenario Worth Discussing [Re: nursemike]
Rodion Offline

Registered: 04/29/08
Posts: 285
Loc: Israel
Originally Posted By: nursemike
I haven't spent much time thinking about this, but the folks in Israel clearly have, and the consensus seems to be: Never again. No more docile submission. Not ever. That seems to be the most effective answer, and perhaps the most convincing argument for the second amendment.

Thanks, I don't hear such views often. Interestingly, the Israeli government disagrees - we have no second amendment of our own.
Whenever you rest, someone, somewhere is training to kick your ass.


#155201 - 11/14/08 10:49 AM Re: An Historical Escape Scenario Worth Discussing [Re: Rodion]
Johno Offline

Registered: 01/05/03
Posts: 212
Loc: Scotland
There were only two successful breakouts from death camps, one from Sobibor and the other at Treblinka.

Both I believe were not let by the Jewish inmates, but by Russian prisoners.

As was stated above the Nazi's had a very efficient machine in place for moving prisoners to camps and keeping them weak and docile. By the time they got off the trains the prisoners were already exhausted, starving and severely traumatised and were easily herded to their deaths.

The opportunity for escape was almost negligible mainly due to the fact that the Nazi's had been doing this for so long.

Trying to escape into a basically hostile, occupied area whilst in such a poor physical state was almost impossible.

I find it impossible to put this into a modern prison setting, the nearest example I can find could be the prison camps in the former Yugoslavia in the 90's.

Personally I still believe the best time for escape is soon after capture when the situation is a bit more fluid. Once you get into the sausage machine it becomes progressively harder to run the further you are into the process.



Edited by Johno (11/14/08 10:59 AM)
Follow the Sapper

#155202 - 11/14/08 11:33 AM Re: An Historical Escape Scenario Worth Discussing [Re: wildman800]
Am_Fear_Liath_Mor Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 08/03/07
Posts: 3078

Ray Mears has an episode about Belarus, which deals with this question,


just enter Ray Mears Belarus into the search and you will be able to watch the whole episode s3e1.

#155203 - 11/14/08 12:33 PM Re: An Historical Escape Scenario Worth Discussing [Re: Am_Fear_Liath_Mor]
bws48 Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 08/18/07
Posts: 831
Loc: Anne Arundel County, Maryland
This topic touches on an emotional topic for us. My DW's mother fought with the partisians in (what is now) Belarus, and her father was in the Soviet Army. Both survived the war. Her grandfather and sister (then 1 1/2 years old) died in the Minsk Jewish Ghetto.

There was also a large Jewish Ghetto in Vilnus, (now Lithuania) that managed to form two battalions of self-defense forces, one located in the Ghetto, one of partisians in the forest. A major problem was obtaining weapons under the eyes of the German army. There was an excellent documentary a few years ago called "Partisians of Vilna" the told this story through the testimony on the surviving participants. It was on VHS; don't know if it is still available. Very instructive, especially the need to obtain weapons. Those who remained in the Ghetto mostly died. A lot of those who escaped to the forest and fought lived to tell about it.

There were also a pair of brothers, the Bielski brothers, who organized a Jewish Partisan Brigade in the forests of Belarus. There was a history channel documentary on this, and occasional rumors of a motion picture.

It seems that, despite the hardships and risks, those who fled and fought back had a better chance to survive than those who stayed behind. I think this is the lesson and response to Wildman's query.

+1 on the comments about the attitude of the folks in Israel; they simply do not take any threat as "empty rhetoric." IMO, they tend to look at is as a promise.

Am_Fear_Liath_Mor; thanks for the pointer and link to the Ray Mears video; I will watch it this weekend as soon as I can get done with my pesky earning a living.

If you ever visit Minsk, I suggest a visit to the "Museum of the Great War" that has an extensive area devoted to the Partisans and how they lived in the forests Remember, Russian winters are not to be underestimated. They lived and fought in them.

Edited by bws48 (11/14/08 12:34 PM)
Edit Reason: spelling
"Better is the enemy of good enough."

#155204 - 11/14/08 01:05 PM Re: An Historical Escape Scenario Worth Discussing [Re: bws48]
Tom_L Offline

Registered: 03/19/07
Posts: 690
There was however a key difference between the Nazi persecutions in Germany on one hand and in the territories occupied during WWII on the other hand.

The domestic victims of Nazi regime, especially in the prewar period, had absolutely no effective outside political support. They were being molested, imprisoned, tortured and executed at a time when Europe was still at peace. There was basically no armed resistance against the Nazi regime anywhere. Even after the outbreak of WWII those living in Germany still had nowhere to run.

The occupied territories however - Poland, Soviet Union, Yugoslavia, France, Greece, Norway etc. were either "pacified" or a true war zone. Unlike Germany, the occupied territories were never under total Nazi control. There were always safe havens and there were also groups of organized resistance. In the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia in particular the resistance grew very strong in just a matter of 6 to 12 months. The resistance fighters enjoyed at least partial support of the local population. They also received support of the major combatants - the Soviet Union and the Western Allies kept supplying vital war material, weapons and ammo. Without that kind of help the resistance could not have been sustained. That's also the reason why any attempt at resistance in Germany was doomed from the very beginning.

BTW, Major Hans von Dach contributed an excellent study of guerilla warfare and counterinsurgency measures back in the 1950's, titled Total Resistance. Excellent read if you are seriously interested.

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