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I have below, two current articles regarding Holocaust tattoos, but first a brief history and background on the tattooing that took place during that time.

Auschwitz was the only death camp that tattooed the Jews and non-Germans that entered the camp.  

The act of tattooing the Jews was not only dehumanizing, it was a grievous insult as the Torah prohibits the act: "You shall not make gashes in your flesh for the dead, or incise any marks on yourselves: I am the Lord" (Leviticus 19:28).

The issuing of numbers to prisoners began in 1941 when 12,000 Soviet prisoners of war arrived at Auschwitz.  These men retained their army uniforms which were painted with a stripe and the letters SU (Soviet Union) for identification.  In the beginning the numbers were written on the prisoners' chest with indelible ink, but it wore off rather quickly.  Soon the practice began of tattooing the number onto the prisoner's upper left forearm using pen and ink.  A Jewish prisoner's number would be preceded by a triangle, most likely to identify them as Jews. (Further information can be found at the link at the end of the diary.)

During my research I stumbled across a fascinating article (to which I link at the end of this diary) outlining how the Nazis utilized an IBM numbering systems at all their camps including Auschwitz.  

[...] the Labor Assignment Office and assigned a characteristic five-digit IBM Hollerith number, 44673. The five-digit Hollerith number was part of a custom punch card system devised by IBM to track prisoners in Nazi concentration camps, including the slave labor at Auschwitz.

Some descendants of Auschwitz survivors have found a way to eternally bond themselves to their survivor relative, something that would be a permanent reminder to "Never forget" the horror of the Holocaust -- they are having their loved one's concentration camp identification number tattooed on their own body, most often in the same location as their family member.

Yosef Diamant, who had the number 157622 tattooed on his arm at Auschwitz, has been memorialized in similar fashion by, from left, his daughter Yona Diamant and his grand children Arik Diamant and Eli Sagir.
Yosef Diamant, who had the number 157622 tattooed on his arm at Auschwitz, has been memorialized in similar fashion by, from left, his daughter Yona Diamant and his grand children Arik Diamant and Eli Sagir.
Eli Sagir was in Poland on a high school trip about four years ago and made the decision to go into a hip downtown tattoo parlor.  Instead of the standard teenage tattoo designs, Eli opted instead for the number 157622, the number that had been tattooed nearly 70 years earlier on her grandfather, Yosef Diamant's, forearm by the Nazis at Auschwitz.  

When Eli Sagir showed her grandfather, Yosef Diamant, the new tattoo on her left forearm, he bent his head to kiss it.

Shortly after, her mother, brother and uncle have had those same six digits tattooed on their arms as well.

“All my generation knows nothing about the Holocaust,” said Ms. Sagir, 21, who has had the tattoo for five years. “You talk with people and they think it’s like the Exodus from Egypt, ancient history. I decided to do it to remind my generation: I want to tell them my grandfather’s story and the Holocaust story.”
Fifteen years ago, Ron Folman who had been a fighter pilot in the Israeli army and is a long time human rights activist, did the unthinkable.  He walked with his father, Yeshayahu, an Auschwitz survivor, into a Tel Aviv tattoo parlor and requested an exact duplicate of the faded green numbers on his father's arm "B-1367".  
“I was one hundred percent sure I was doing the right thing,” Ron said. “It was emotional, pure in my heart.”
Dana Doron, a 31 year old doctor and daughter of an Auschwitz survivor grew interested in the numbering while drawing blood from a tattooed arm in the emergency room.  She felt that the fact that young people are choosing to get the tattoos is a sign that we are still carrying the scar of the Holocaust.  She was inspired to interview about 50 survivors and along with Uriel Sinai, a photojournalist, directed the documentary "Numbered".

"Numbered", which premiered at the Chicago Film festival in October 2012, follows Hanna Rabinowitz, a middle-aged woman who puts her father’s number on her ankle after his death as well as the story of Ayal Gelles, a 28-year-old computer programmer, and his grandfather, Avraham Nachshon, 86, both of whom bear the number A-15510 on their arms.

Here is a trailer for the film "Numbered":

Choosing to share a loved one's number tattoo has sometimes provoked ugly interactions with those who view it in a very negative way.  The fact that tattoos are prohibited by Jewish law and knowing some survivors were afraid, incorrectly, that having the numbers would bar them from burial in Jewish cemeteries, makes it that much more unsettling to some.


Holocaust survivors Menachem Shulovitz, 80, right, Anshel Szieradzki, 81 center, and Yaakov Zeretzki, 82 display their concentration camp number at the Yad Vashem memorial in Jerusalem Sunday, April 19, 2009. As terrified teenagers 65 years ago, Menachem Sholowicz and Anshel Sieradzki stood one ahead of the other in Auschwitz, having serial numbers tattooed on their arms. Sholowicz was B-14594; Sieradzki was B-14595. Zeretzki was B-14597 and his brother, not seen in the picture, was B-14596. (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)
Holocaust survivors Menachem Shulovitz, 80, right, Anshel Szieradzki, 81 center, and Yaakov Zeretzki, 82 display their concentration camp number at the Yad Vashem memorial in Jerusalem Sunday, April 19, 2009. As terrified teenagers 65 years ago, Menachem Sholowicz and Anshel Sieradzki stood one ahead of the other in Auschwitz, having serial numbers tattooed on their arms. Sholowicz was B-14594; Sieradzki was B-14595. Zeretzki was B-14597 and his brother, not seen in the picture, was B-14596.
Terrified and shaking, teenaged Menachem Sholowicz and Anshel Sieradzki stood in line together waiting to be tattooed.  It was over 68 years ago and they were in Auschwitz.  Neither boy spoke to the other and when they walked away and were quickly separated,  Sholowicz had B-14594 on his arm and Sieradzki had B-14595 on his.

These two Polish Jews survived the horrors of the death camp, moved to Israel, married and became grandfathers.  In 2009 they stumbled across one another on the Internet, then met in person that same year in Israel at the annual Holocaust Remembrance Day.  

"We are blood brothers," said Sieradzki, 81. "The moment I meet someone who was there with me, who went through what I went though, who saw what I saw, who felt what I felt — at that moment we are brothers."
Incredibly, two brothers, Shaul and Yaakov Zawadski, heard the story and realized they had been behind the two men and bore numbers B-14596 and B-14597.  They to survived Auschwitz and made it to Israel.

A few months later, Yaakov Zawadski with number B-14597 was able to meet Sholowicz and Sieradzki at Israel's Holocaust memorial Yad Vashem and are in the photo above.  The three warmly embraced and caught up on those painful memories.

Sieradzki says it is astounding that both survived the Holocaust and lived this long.  He said he would never forget arriving at Auschwitz and seeing Mengele, who with a simple and careless flick of the wrist would decide the fates of so many.  He says he never even took notice of those in line with him at the time.

"At that moment, everyone was busy with their own thoughts," he said. "I don't remember who was in front of me and who was behind me."
Yaakov Zawdski, who was 82 in 2009, said his brother could not make the meeting because he had to care for his ailing wife and because he felt he could not bear the emotional burden the old memories would bring up.  Zawadzki was still reeling at the improbability of the four men with consecutive number connecting this many years later.
"It's unfathomable that something like this could happen. I'm still in shock," a shaking Yaakov Zawadzki, 82, said at Sunday's reunion.

The Evolution of tattooing in the Auschwitz Concentration Camp Complex

Infamous Auschwitz Tattoo Began as an IBM Number

With Tattoos, Young Israelis Bear Holocaust Scars of Relatives

A Tattoo to Remember - Audio & Photos

Auschwitz Concentration Camp Tattoo Shared by Father and Son

know productions - "Numbered" official web site

Tattoos From Auschwitz Horror Reunite Lost Inmates

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Comment Preferences

  •  Good Sunday Morning, MOTleys! (24+ / 0-)


    Have a great day, everybuddy ;~D

    As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them. John F. Kennedy

    by JaxDem on Sat Jan 19, 2013 at 05:52:04 PM PST

  •  So unmellow.... (9+ / 0-)

    I had a dream last night about a populist movement gelling in backlash against SS and Medicare cuts.

    Although I believe it when I see it in real life.

    There's probably no real answer to this, but why the hell was the Left so insular and self defeating in the icky '80s? "Why is your generation soooo unmellow?" "Instead of being an alternative to the party of the Moral Majority, let's do Moral Majority lite things like PMRC!"

    OTOH, I'm giggling myself silly over the "I Just F*cking Shot Myself: the Musical" that's been popping up in some of the gun show threads last night. It's like a South Park skit in real life. Although, those Libertarian cartoonists are just too too ruggedly independent to break from their herd and lampoon their freedomly guns....

    "If this Studebaker had anymore Atomic Space-Age Style, you'd have to be an astronaut with a geiger counter!"

    by Stude Dude on Sun Jan 20, 2013 at 03:55:38 AM PST

  •  In this morning's paper... (13+ / 0-)

    I spotted this story: NC man getting Purple Heart back, 70 years later

    While serving in WWII, Army Cpl George Hemphill mailed home his Purple Heart for safekeeping and never gave it another thought.  Turns out the medal never made it home and Hemphill was completely unaware until he was notified that a Florida man had purchased the medal in 200 at an antique store in SC with the hope of one day retuning it to its owner.  

    "I'm just flabbergasted," said Hemphill, 90, of Union Mills. "I don't know what to think. They're just going out of their way to give it back to me. I'm just grateful to them for all the work they're doing. And the expense, it's just something. I don't know how to describe it."

    Hemphill will get his Purple Heart in a ceremony Sunday afternoon at the Rutherfordton Community Center. Capt. Zachariah Fike of Burlington, Vt., who runs the nonprofit Purple Hearts Reunited, will present the award to Hemphill, along with a Bronze Star that Hemphill never knew the military had granted him.

    The reason this jumped out at me was that I wrote a piece on Veterans Day about Zachariah Fike and his nonprofit:

    MOT: Veteran's Day Edition

    As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them. John F. Kennedy

    by JaxDem on Sun Jan 20, 2013 at 03:57:25 AM PST

    •  Important point about the military (6+ / 0-)

      Your mail is not secure!!! And neither are your belongings

      Happy just to be alive

      by exlrrp on Sun Jan 20, 2013 at 04:50:41 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I would add a second point (8+ / 0-)

        Time and again, I see reports of a guy recommended for a medal or award and it's approved all the way up the line but somehow SNAFU sets in and it is never awarded.  Later a researcher may discover that the commendation or award or medal may have never been actually bestowed.
        It never hurts to get copies of your service records just to double check (another reason is that service records do disappear and are destroyed; this is the most famous example:  Short of story is your copy of your DD214 and other records could be invaluable in claiming benefits later in life)

        •  OK now I got to tell my CIB story (6+ / 0-)

          When I left Vietnam I was wearing the CIB--Combat Infntryman's BAdge. EVERYBODY I was with wore one and I fully deserved it---I had no reason to think otherwise---it was a freebie for Army grunts in Vietnm. I wore it ll the time at Ft Bragg, so did everyone else that had done thethings I'd done. I never saw the orders for it but no one else ever saw their orders for it.
          A year later and I'm getting discharged. They said to me: where's your oers for that CIB. I'm like: HUH?? WTF are you talking about???!!!
          It was true: there were no orders for it . I took it off and slammed it down on the fucking table!!! Take it and you know what you can do with it!!!
          I just wanted out, I wanted it over, I wanted never to remember the whole fucking thing again.  Shove it up your ass, America, I'm outta here! was the feeling I had when discharged.
          Sometimees when people thank me for my service I think of that.

          Flash forward 30 years and I have a claim in to the VA for disability. I felt like I had some unfinished business: I wanted the CIB!
          So I applied fo it, with orders, witness statements, pictures (this is when Istarted collecting wartime pictures of my lrrp unit, now over 240)  I had it all!
           One of my fantasies all those years ws that I would apply for it and they'd say there was no evidence to back that up and I'd go in and start throwing the freaking furniture around.  And thats exactly what they did---twice!  I had to apply 3 times to get my CIB but I was nt going to quit
          it made me SO mad all over again and I vowed rright then I would nt quit utill I got everything I wanted out of them. was going to slamdunk them (and i did!)
          After the 2d time I went to my Congressman, george Miller, and told them the same story.  4 weeks later the Congresman awarded it to me---bet I'n the only Vietnam vet you know, or will ever know, who got his CIB awarded to him by a Congressman inthe 21st Century.

          but thats not where the story ended.

          few years later I ws telling a lrrp buddy of mine that story and he says wait a minute. he goes and gets his orders for hs CIB an I'M ON IT!!! Those are my orders too!! It was dated 6 weeks after I left counntry so I never got it, they never bothered to send it on.
          And there were 2 other people I know on it who never got theirs either!! I made sure they got a copy of them too.

          But THATS not where the story ends either!!  I have a friend I was in the 101st with and I told HIM the story---and he got out HIS orders and I was on them too (written afer I left th 101)

          Still following this? the army told me TWICE that I was not eligible to achieve and award THA THEY HAD ALREADY TWICE AWARDED ME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
          And that I ultimateely got again!!
          So noww I got 3 CIBs after walking away from the Army without one!! I still look at thiss with mixed feelings, inluding a great sense of accomplishment. Its hard to think its much of an honor when I had to apply for it 3 times and were turned down the first two.

          Youre Welcome, youre welcome, youre welcome America.

          Everything I do is a story

          Happy just to be alive

          by exlrrp on Sun Jan 20, 2013 at 06:47:35 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  AND!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (5+ / 0-)

            I now have a complete set of my military records.
            There's plenty of evidence in them to make the award.
            they just flatout lied to me...........again

            Happy just to be alive

            by exlrrp on Sun Jan 20, 2013 at 06:58:41 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Also re: spitting hippies (6+ / 0-)

              No one ever, EVER insulted me like the US Army did

              Happy just to be alive

              by exlrrp on Sun Jan 20, 2013 at 07:01:57 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

            •  That is why the term (4+ / 0-)

              "military intelligence" is an oxymoron!

              My husband got turned down for Chief the first time - no surprise as very few get it the first time, but when he was turned down the second time it made him and lots of his contemporaries wonder.   I had seen and heard several times that you should send for your military records - check them for errors just like you would do for your credit report.  Sure enough there it was -- a claim that he'd turned down an invite into the  LDO (Limited Duty Officer) program.  Heh.

              Seems years earlier he'd applied and (we thought) never heard back.  Not so.  They approved him and sent the paperwork to his last command who never forwarded it to him.  

              Got that error corrected and he made CPO the next go round.

              Always check those records and you can't have enough DD214s.  (I heard that so much that over the years that I'm not surprised that in the 18 months since he died, I'm still finding copies of the DD214 in different places - I probably have 15 copies of it).

              As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them. John F. Kennedy

              by JaxDem on Sun Jan 20, 2013 at 07:11:03 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

            •  yep you are living proof and you are not the (4+ / 0-)

              only vet; in the short time I was at the VA in the 70's I found plenty of WWII and Korea vets who were having the same troubles as the military yoyoed the numbers you needed to have been a combat vet or needed to be considered a vet.  In those days, eligibility tended to be a moving target.

              Heck I even have my grandfather's records now (and his uniform) in case they decide to rescind the flag he had draped on his coffin

  •  Good Morning (10+ / 0-)

    Very interesting topic JD

    Getting ready to leave the cabin at David's 93 yo Grandmothers home in Henderson, Ga.

    Hope everyone has a decent Sunday.

  •  I work as a network admin and (9+ / 0-)

    do a lot of support work at employees' desktop which sometimes takes a long time.

    I get to talking to folks while something or other installs or updates... many times starting the conversation asking about pictures they have in their space.

    One old woman, Lenka, has pictures of her parents and aunts... some had been murdered in the camps. She and her sister and mother had survived.

    As she told me about it, she got tearful at times. Like talking about seeing her brother for the last time as he was taken away.

    It was very moving and as I got ready to leave I thanked her. I asked if she didn't mind, could I see her number.

    She smiled and said oh, I never got one. She said that she was so petrified of needles, when they would be lined up to get them, she and her sister and mom would keep moving to the back. Somehow they never caught up with them.

    Hers was a pretty amazing story. I am so glad she shared it with me.

    Thanks for the incredible stories told here... brought tears.

    And the poeple bowed and prayed To the neon god they made...

    by third Party please on Sun Jan 20, 2013 at 04:05:48 AM PST

  •  Too much wind, here in the Northeast. (7+ / 0-)

    I must have woke up a dozen times. This old house is noisy. Supposed to be one of those days where it gets colder instead of warmer. Have a good one.

    We're fools whether we dance or not, so we might as well dance.

    by PowWowPollock on Sun Jan 20, 2013 at 04:22:51 AM PST

  •  My friend Kirby Cowan (8+ / 0-)

    was one of the "Lost Airmen of Buchenwald."  He was captured after bailing out of his B-17 and instead of being sent to a Luftwaffe run POW camp, was sent to Buchenwald along with 162 other Allied airmen.  His is a chilling tale, and I am going to have to write a diary about Kirby.  There was a TV documentary about the lost airmen just a few days ago.  It is a largely untold and unheard of story.  Kirby's story has to be told.

    The general who wins the battle makes many calculations in his temple before the battle is fought. The general who loses makes but few calculations beforehand. - Sun Tzu

    by Otteray Scribe on Sun Jan 20, 2013 at 04:33:24 AM PST

  •  I had my tattoos removed (8+ / 0-)

    I had two tatoos, on my forearms. I got the naked woman in Panama and tthe Ariborne Tattoo in Oakland, just before I went to Vietnam. I had it in mind it would make IDing my body easier.
    if your ever dumb enough to get a tattoo, get it where it doesn't show. I tok shit bout those tats all my life.
    Finally, early 90s, my dad came to me and said: "I know you were wasted when you got those and if you wantt to get them removed, I'll split the cost."
    I jumped on it. It was about $2400, took 4 sessions
    OOOOOYYYEEEOOOOOWWWWW!  It was worse than getting them put on, every session was about 45 minutes. The laser sets the ink under your skin to boiling so then it dissipates. Think how great that feels.

    Boy Am I glad I did this---my mama didn't raise me to be a walking comic book.


    Happy just to be alive

    by exlrrp on Sun Jan 20, 2013 at 05:01:00 AM PST

  •  morning MOTers. Nother day, nother dollar (6+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JaxDem, exlrrp, Fineena, worldlotus, Aunt Pat, bumbi

    literally for those of us on SS

  •  Happy Inauguration Day! (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JaxDem, Aunt Pat, bumbi

    Celebration in my Etsy shop Willie Ru Designs.  20% everything in the shop thru Monday, January 21.  Use code "obama2013" at checkout.

    Lots of pretty new scarves & cowls like this one.


    Also, please accept my thanks for your kindness & support to me.  I don't know what I would have done without your purchases last year & your help is appreciated more than you know.  I hope you will continue to help me build my business.


  •  Tattoos that would not be visible... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    ...if you plan a professional career are fine.

    Tattoos that would be?  I would assume that you're just too fucking stupid to go for a professional career to begin with.

    I'm generalizing.  I'm sure there are exceptional cases.

    Boehner Just Wants Wife To Listen, Not Come Up With Alternative Debt-Reduction Ideas

    by dov12348 on Sun Jan 20, 2013 at 06:23:03 AM PST

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