Knowing How to Shoot
Jews For The Preservation of Firearms Ownership, Inc.
P.O. Box 270143
Hartford, WI 53027
Phone (800) 869-1884
Fax (425) 451-3959
Knowing How to Shoot
The following interview was conducted with H.L. Cahn, an Israeli, through the mail by Aaron Zelman, executive director of Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership (JPFO, P.O. Box 270143, Hartford, WI 53027; 262-673-9745. Membership $20 annually, open to Jews and non Jews concerned with preserving the inalienable right to keep and bear arms). Cahn, an inmate of one of the Auschwitz concentration camps when his SS guards abandoned it as American troops advanced toward it near the end of World War II, managed to save himself and many other ailing inmates from Nazi extermination squads because he knew how to handle guns and had the will to use them in self defense. He has survived other wars in Israel and has had a lifelong interest in firearms. He is understandably highly critical of gun control efforts in America and Israel -- The editors.
Q.) What is your background in guns and how did you come to be an inmate in the camps?
A.) I learned to shoot at age 6, passed through the stages of air rifles, .22 caliber, Schuetzen rifles to Mauser 98 and was well tutored in their operation. I was born in 1920. My family emigrated from Germany to Holland in 1932. We had the German nationality until canceled by the Nuremberg race laws, when we were declared Stabelen. By the way, the Germans considered us to be Dutch Jews and we wore the red and yellow star of David with a fat black "H" for Holland. Before the summer of 1942, Jews were deported from Holland only as personal punishment. Our family was called up on the very first transport from the south. My parents were first deported to Theresienstadt, where my mother remained, surviving the war. When Theresienstadt became crowded, my father was transported to Auschwitz and there gassed on arrival.
I was arrested in August 1942 in Holland. I landed in one of the Auschwitz camps and was a survivor of the infamous evacuation under pressure of the Russian winter offensive in January 1945. After my arrest in 1942 and a couple of months of hard work, insufficient food and clothing in a Polish winter, I felt the end approaching for myself. And then, one evening an SS sergeant appeared on the "Appellplats" and called that a man was required who could draw maps. There were three applicants and I was the only one who spoke German fluently. That particular job occupied me next morning from 8 to 11am, but the SS found my presence so useful that they kept me busy until the evacuation of Auschwitz in January 1945. We were the first Jews to arrive in K.Z. Mittelbau or Dora near Nordhausen in Thuringia where we were put to work in an underground factory producing V-1 and V-2 missiles. When the camp was to be evacuated in early April 1945, this time under pressure of the U.S. Army, I had the good fortune to be in the hospital and managed to fake sufficient weakness to be left behind. The 15,000 detainees, evacuated by the SS, drowned in the Baltic. Some 900 hospital patients stayed in the camp. After what I had witnessed on the way from Auschwitz, I was under no illusion that the Nazis would let us wait quietly for the liberation but rather expected imminent execution.
As soon as the SS were gone, I hastened to the armory, where I discovered hundreds of heavily damaged rifles of many types and thousands of rounds of ammunition. By a process of cannibalization, I managed to assemble threeCarcano carbines and a couple of hundred rounds for each. Among the many ex-soldiers it was not difficult to find a number of volunteers prepared to try my plan of defense. This "plan" was based on the topography of our camp, situated in a crater like depression, accessible only by a single road from the heavily bombed Nordhausen. When two days later a number of armed characters approached on this road, we opened fire, and had the satisfaction to see some fall and others flee. In fact, by force of our arms, we remained alive -- though weak and hungry -- until after a week a U.S. Army patrol informed us that the Nazis were gone from that vicinity.
That the suspicious armed characters intended to murder our 900 sick and wounded was proved when U.S. forces discovered in the nearby camp of Ollerich 90 corpses, all lying in hospital beds and all killed by the so called "Genick-Schuss." Gasoline and paint had been poured over them and ignited, but a heavy rainstorm extinguished the flames. Members of the "Vollessturm" later testified that they had been ordered to execute all detainees remaining in Dora. They were, however, received at the gate by a storm of fire and had losses. Most important, the unfamiliar sound of the Italian rifles had given the impression that our camp was already in Allied hands. Life or death of some 900 human beings had been decided by three firearms and a handful of people who "knew how to handle them."
Q.) What message would you like to share with the American Jewish community on the issue of gun ownership?
A.) A month's visit to the States recently gave me the impression that the land of the free is becoming less and less free, certainly in the area of firearms ownership. How a victimized minority (practically everywhere in the world) like the Jews can object to have their natural weakness bolstered by firearms is beyond me. Look at Israel, where 4 million Jews had and have to use arms to first win independence and eventually, until this day, to just survive in a sea of hundreds of millions of enemies. My advice to anyone, but particularly to all minorities is to consider firearms as an equalizer; as a protector of the few and the physically weak from the many and the strong.
Unfortunately, many Jews are prepared to die on other people's barricades. Those who feel like that, should hurry up, before they manage to infect the "normal" ones. If the history of the U.S.A. in connection with firearms is not enough for them, perhaps the history of Israel or rather Palestine before the proclamation of the State will convince them that firearms give a chance to survive. Without them, one is as helpless as we were 50 years ago under Nazi rule.
Q.) Do you still own guns? What kinds? Are you active in shooting?
A.) After the murder of an unarmed Jewish engineer by Arab infiltrators in 1955 I obtained a license and bought my first pistol, a second-hand Walther p-38; it accompanied me in the Sinai campaign and the Six Day War. In late 1967 I transferred it to my older son who needed a weapon he could operate with one hand. I ordered a S&W 29 that I carried for years. Our stupid gun laws authorize the purchase of only 100 (yes, one hundred) rounds of centerfire ammo per year, but 1,000 rounds of rifle ammo. So, for keeping in training, I purchased a High Standard Sentinel in .22 WMR. When the .44 Mag became a bit too heavy I sold it and turned to the wonder-nines, first an Astra-80 and later a S&W 659. Early this year I sold it to a friend and purchased a Glock 19. That accompanies me whenever I leave the house. Wearing it in an inside-the-pants holster with a jacket or safari shirt, it is practically unnoticeable.
In 1955 the Army sent me on a scout sniper course. To keep in training afterwards I bought an Anschutz carbine, also in .22 WMR as well as an air pistol in .17. After my discharge from the Army in 1975 I joined the Civilian Guard, an auxiliary police organization. In addition with the usual M1 Carbine, they gave me a modified Mauser 98k with telescope. For years I spent every Friday afternoon in a 1200 yards police range with this sniper rifle. Although I wore ear protectors I noticed that my hearing was getting worse and shortly before my 70th birthday, the doctors warned me that continuous shooting would destroy my hearing completely in less than half a year. So, today, my guns are for a lot of defensive prevention and very little exercise.
Q.) How do you urge others to learn the skill of shooting?
A.) Guns should be at least as accessible and accepted socially as motor cars. As long as polite society places guns on a level with drugs and prostitution, only danger will induce the average citizen civilian to buy them and carry them constantly, discuss them freely and to use them in case of desperate necessity. People should be made aware that motor cars are much more dangerous tools than firearms. In Israel, it is a recognized fact that traffic accidents have killed and maimed more people than enemy action in our unending wars!
It looks like to me that American gun owners are fighting a purely defensive rearguard action, that they keep withdrawing and that the Second Amendment is getting full of holes. Stop the defense and begin the counter-attack by the motto "No GUN control, buy GUNNER control!" And of course, long prison terms for those who abuse gun ownership.
Entrance to Auschwitz Death Camp Sign Reads: "Work makes one Free." Gun Control Advocates are Guilty of the
Blood of Millions of unarmed citizens.
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