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Two "feel-good" Holocaust stories?... I did Nazi that coming.

That history podcast I do every week has been pretty dark lately.

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The Twisted History of Obesity, Genocide, Gangs, Prostitution, and Death have all hit within the last month or so, and I just didn't want to go into the new year with such a negative pallor cast across the face of the franchise.

So this week, I lightened things up.  I recorded the Twisted History of Feel Good Stories.  Little tales from throughout the ages that hopefully prove that we're not all that bad and that this earth isn't just some meaningless rock hurtling towards the abyss.

I pulled 2 stories in particular from a time that is universally considered a stain on our history as civilized people… Nazi Germany.  It was like looking for 2 small diamonds in a swimming pool filled with blood-stained shit… But I found them, and they're both fucking extraordinary.  I am going to share them now, and you can decide if you'd like to hear more.

NUMBER 1- Following his actions in WWII, Dr. Eugene Lazowski was dubbed "The Polish Schindler" after he risked his life by saving thousands of Jews in Poland.

When the Germans invaded Poland, Lazowski was a young doctor who served as a Polish Army Second Lieutenant on a Red Cross train.

While experimenting with bacterial injections, he discovered that if a person was given a vaccine containing dead typhus bacteria, they would in fact test positive for the disease BUT suffer no adverse effects. 

Kinda like Brad Pitt at the end of World War Z, but not nearly as sexy…

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And because Nazi soldiers deporting Jews wouldn't want to suffer a deadly outbreak at any of their camps, they wouldn't bother taking those afflicted. So Lazowski injected this vaccine into as many people as he could find, triggering a quarantine for the area that the Germans steered clear of, and saving about 8,000 people from the concentration camps. 

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(In this case, Pitt is a Polish Jew and the zombie is a Nazi.)

For decades he never took any credit for his heroism.  However, once he moved to the US, his story became more well-known and Eugene received the praise he so rightfully deserved… Including this blog.

Lazowski passed away at age 92 on December 16, 2006.

NUMBER 2- Gerda Weissmann Klein was one of only 120 women (out of a group of 4,000) to survive a 350-mile death march to flee the advances of the Allied forces.

In all, Gerda managed to survive in 3 different concentration camps during WWII, although both of her parents and her older brother Arthur died during the Holocaust.

However, Gerda was one day shy of her 21st birthday when she was rescued by American soldiers. Weighing only 68 lbs, Gerda’s hair was nearly white and her clothes were tattered and crawling with lice. She hadn’t taken a bath in three years.

She later recalled seeing the soldier who saved her life:

“I stood in the doorway of that factory, and I knew that I was free. I saw a strange car coming down the hill, with the white star of the American army on its hood. Two men in strange uniforms sat in it, we gathered them to be Americans. One of the men came towards me, and I looked at him with incredible awe and disbelief that I was looking at someone who fought for us. Of course, I was terribly frightened. I looked at him and said, ‘we are Jewish.’ There was a long pause, then he said, ‘so am I.’ It was the greatest moment of my life. He asked me to come with him, and he held the door open for me. He has now been holding the door open for 50 years as my husband.”

Gerda married that soldier, Kurt Klein, in Paris and moved to scenic* Buffalo, New York where they eventually had three children and eight grandchildren… She is still alive today at age 97.

Happy New Year, everyone… If I can find love and heroism in the Holocaust, I am sure you can find something to feel good about while you sit through yet another terrible meal with your in-laws.

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Take a report.


*scenic… I happen to enjoy the town of Buffalo immensely, but even the biggest Buffalo hater can admit it is scenic compared to a concentration camp in Nazi Germany.