Art can be a powerful medium when expressing emotions or illustrating life as experienced. Artist Bedřich Fritta who was born Fritz Taussig expressed his experiences of the Holocaust via art.
Fritta was captured and deported on 4 December 1941 to the Theresienstadt ghetto. His wife and son followed in 1942. Fritta and other illustrators in the ghetto worked as technical artists. Because of their access to the tools, they illegally drew expressionist sketches of life in the overcrowded ghetto. Leo Haas, Otto Ungar and Ferdinand Bloch were arrested and interrogated. The artists hid their drawings before the arrest.
The Gestapo convicted Bedřich Fritta and his colleagues Leo Haas, Otto Ungar, and Ferdinand Bloch of atrocity propaganda. 17 July, the artists and their families were delivered and incarcerated in the Small Fortress—the Gestapo Jail. Soon after, Fritta’s wife, Johanna, died of typhus in February 1945. Next stop, Bedřich Fritta and Leo Haas went to Auschwitz. Fritta died of exhaustion there in November 1944. Leo Haas survived the war, and he and his wife, Ema, adopted Fritta’s son Tomáš.
For his son, Tomáš’s third birthday, Fritta had made an album of colour drawings. Cheerfully illustrated moments of the little boy’s life inside Terezín in a more dynamic and pleasant as well as colourful style.
To me, the drawings below are the most heartbreaking because it is about a father desperately trying to keep his son happy and to try to create a level of normality in a crazy world.
Victory in Europe Day referred to as VE Day, was the formal acceptance by the Allies of World War II of Germany’s unconditional surrender of its armed forces on Tuesday, 8 May 1945. It marks the official end of World War II in Europe.
For many, that day came too late. Some died that day because of the evil inflicted on them by the Nazis. One of those was Isaac Davids.
Isaac Davids, the twin brother of Joseph Davids, was the son of Louis Davids and Jetje Moscoviter. He was born on 2 October 1915 in Rotterdam. On 24 May 1939, the 23-year-old Isaac married the non-Jewish Wilhelmina Cornelia Waaijer, the 16-year-old daughter of Franciscus Waaijer and Johanna Elisabeth Pons, in Rotterdam. They had two children, Franciska in 1938 and Jettie in 1940.
Not much else is known about the Davids-Waaijer family, nor whether the family had to move to The Hague after the bombing of Rotterdam on 14 May 1940. The archives of the Jewish Council do show that Isaac Davids lived in 1944 at 75 Poeldijkschestraat in The Hague. Apparently, he was arrested there on 29 March 1944 for an offence and taken to Westerbork, where he was locked up in the penal barrack 67. A few days later, on 5 April, Isaac Davids was put on a penal transport to Theresienstadt, possibly because of his mixed marriage, he was not sent to Auschwitz.
On 5 April 1944, a train departed from Westerbork to five different destinations. 240 Jews were in freight wagons to Auschwitz, 101 Jews were in two passenger carriages headed to Bergen-Belsen, and 289 Jews were in two carriages to Theresienstadt. In addition, one wagon containing 41 women and children went to Ravensbrück, and another wagon of 28 men, mostly Romanian Jews went to Buchenwald. In Assen, freight wagons were coupled with 625 Jews from Belgium for Auschwitz.
Isaac Davids finally lost his life on 8 May 1945 in Theresienstadt. His twin brother Joseph survived the war.
It is quite hard to describe this story because it is a tragedy and a miracle at the same time.
It isn’t clear when baby Ruben was born, some sources say he was born on 6 April 1943, while other sources say it was 9 April 1943. On his grave’s headstone, it says 9 April. The one thing we do know for certain is that he only lived for 4 days. However, most sources give April 9th as the date of birth.
Ruben Simon Hendrik Baer (aka Ruben Sally Hendrik Baer), was born on 9 April 1943. He did not grow old died four days later, on 13 April.
He was the son of the Jewish couple Leo Baer and Flora Baer-Salomon. They fled Germany after the rise of Hitler and settled in Roermond, the Netherlands, at the end of 1939.
Ruben’s brother Rolf Helmut Baer and his father Leo Baer were summoned to report on 9 April 1943, and then deported to Westerbork. From there Rolf and his father were deported to Auschwitz, where they were gassed on 26 October 1944.
His mother Flora Baer-Salomon was, at the time of their deportation, in the Laurentius Hospital in Roermond, to give birth to her son Ruben Sally Hendrik he died four days after birth.
His early death indicates that little Ruben may have been born too early. That seems to have saved his mother’s life.
Although Flora Baer lost her baby, she remained alive. Hospital staff kept Flora out of the hands of the Germans by taking her to a hiding place in the nearby village of Wessem. She was safe with the Van Rosendaal family until an NSB (Dutch Nazi party) member gave the address to the Germans in 1944.
On 8 August 1944, around 11 a.m., the German Sicherheitsdienst raided the house in Wessem. There was a pounding on the front door, after which Mrs Rosendaal opened the door and saw that the house was surrounded by German soldiers with rifles and machine guns at the ready. An NSB member from Roermond, named Gerrit Holla, was also involved in the robbery, he had forcefully entered through the back door and ran through the house with a gun drawn in his hand. Mother Rosendaal, her daughter Ria and Flora Baer-Salomon were present in the kitchen, among others. Mrs Rosendaal was then interrogated by Holla and a German officer in a brutal manner and at gunpoint. During this penetrating interrogation, she continued to deny that any other Jewish people in hiding were housed in the building. Flora Baer-Salomon was arrested on 17 August 1944, together with the Roermond couple Herz-Löb, who also stayed at this hiding place. She was then transferred to Westerbork and deported to Theresienstadt on 4 September 1944. Her husband and her son were there too at that time. However, she survived the hardships suffered and, after the liberation, returned nearly emaciated to her ‘Mietchen’, as she called Mrs Rosendaal.
In 1947 she moved to her mother in New York where she married Siegfried Schild on 11 December 1948, and died in March 1987. Whether Flora saw her husband and son Rolf in Theresienstadt is not known.
I wish I could tell you the story of Rolf Dirk Ullmann’s long life. I wish I could tell you about all his children and grandchildren, visiting him today for his 80th birthday.
But I can’t. I can’t tell you about Rolf’s first experience eating an ice cream or chocolate bar or anything about his first day in school. You see Rolf Dirk Ullmann was perceived to be a threat to the state, as were his mother and sister. Rolf Dirk Ullmann was born in captivity in Westerbork, on 31 March 1943.
He was put on a train to Theresienstadt on 18 January 1944. He was not alone on that transport 552 persons were with him. Some like him that were also born in Westerbork. Frank Werner was born on 21 October 1943, Regine Elizabeth Thekla Guthmann’s date of birth was 30 September 1943, and Marianne Pekel was born on 5 September 1943. Also on that train were Rolf Dirk Ullmann’s mother, Ellen Wilhelmina Ullmann and his older sister.
The transport to Theresienstadt wasn’t the family’s last journey. In early October 1944, a transport took them to Auschwitz. There they on 8 October 1944, they were murdered upon arrival.
It is sad that Rolf Dirk Ullmann’s life story is on a single registration card.
Heroes don’t always wear capes, or are dressed in uniforms, sometimes they are just ordinary people. I say ordinary but more often than not they are anything but ordinary, as was the case with Fredy Hirsch.
I first heard of Fredy a few years ago. I got the book, The Librarian of Auschwitz, as a birthday gift. Although it is based on the story of Dita Kraus, Fredy features prominently in the book.
Alfred Hirsch, known as Fredy, was born in Aachen, Germany on 11 February 1916. In Aachen, he began his career as a teacher and educator in various Jewish youth organizations. An enthusiastic and talented athlete, Fredy also worked with Jewish sports associations. After the Nazis came to power in Germany, he fled to Czechoslovakia, where he believed he would be safe.
In October 1939, after having moved to Prague, Hirsch helped a group of kids he had been working with go to Denmark for pre-aliyah training(Pronounced: a-LEE-yuh for synagogue use, ah-lee-YAH for immigration to Israel, Origin: Hebrew, literally, “to go up.” This can mean the honour of saying a blessing before and after the Torah reading during a worship service, or immigrating to Israel). They later went to Israel.
Following the Nazi conquest of Czechoslovakia in March 1939, strict restrictions were placed on the country’s Jews. Despite this, Hirsch continued his work with children, organizing sports activities, camping trips and study groups.
When he was deported to Theresienstadt in December 1941, Fredy organized activities for the children there. He set up games, including soccer and track and field events, in the grassy areas of the camp.
Fredy was described as athletic, attractive, and extremely caring. He made sure that the children kept themselves as clean as possible despite the lack of hot water and soap, even running cleanliness competitions. Survivors remember him as a kind and reassuring presence to the children.
“Every group had a counsellor, and above all the counsellors—was Fredy. Fredy was admired by everyone” Dita Kraus, Auschwitz survivor who knew Hirsch from Prague and Theresienstadt.
Fredy Hirsch arrived in Terezín on 4 December 1941 as part of a team called the Aufbaukommando II, consisting of Hirsch and 22 other employees of the Jewish community who had been given the task of organising life in the newly-created ghetto. From the start of the ghetto’s existence, special rooms were created for children, who lived apart from their parents. Later they were transformed into the heims [homes] around 11 children’s houses where several carers and teachers devoted themselves to the children’s semi-legal education. Fredy Hirsch, Egon Redlich and Bedřich Prager were in charge of looking after the young people. Hirsch and the other carers tried to improve the living conditions of the children in the ghetto in whatever way they could. Hirsch insisted that the children must exercise every day and pay attention to personal hygiene to maintain their psychological and physical condition, for in this lay their only hope of survival. The fact that Hirsch came from Germany, and his self-confident manner, meant that some SS members had a certain degree of respect for him. He thus managed to gain space for a playground, where in May 1943, the Terezín Maccabi Games took place.
The Maccabiah Games (a.k.a. the World Maccabiah Games; Hebrew: משחקי המכביה, or משחקי המכביה העולמית; sometimes referred to as the Jewish Olympics), was first held in 1932, are an international Jewish and Israeli multi-sport event held quadrennially in Israel.
Fredy Hirsch also gained the ability to have individuals taken off the planned transports to the east, and often made use of this to benefit children. When a group of 1,200 children from the recently liquidated Bialystok ghetto arrived in August 1943, Hirsch went to see them in defiance of German orders to stay away. He was caught and his connections did not prevent him from being sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau in transport along with 5,006 other people before the visit of representatives from the International Red Cross.
Unlike most arrivals to Auschwitz, Hirsch’s group did not have to go through the selection process and was instead moved to a newly built family camp. (BIIb)
They also did not have to wear uniforms or have their heads shaved. Men and women were allowed to interact and the group was allowed to receive packages from relatives. Hirsch took responsibility for the 274 children under 14 years of age from his transport, and another 353 who came later.
The children slept with their mothers, fathers or counsellors and during the day, were brought to a building Hirsch convinced the SS to set aside for them. The children’s block was under the supervision of Josef Mengele.
Hirsch once again organized classes, scout activities, plays and physical fitness courses. Two artists drew cheerful pictures that were put on the walls. He forbade counsellors from talking about the gas chambers and crematoria and his insistence on maintaining hygiene was critical to the survival of children, especially as adults began to die from the disease. Hirsch again made friends with guards who allowed the children to receive better food and to stay indoors for twice-daily roll calls.
Children in the block had secret, improvised lessons, taught in small groups according to age. If an SS patrol was approaching, the lessons quickly turned into games, or the children started to sing German songs, which were allowed. For the carers, too, working in the children’s block had a certain advantage: an intellectual environment, and under a roof too, which made it easier for them to keep themselves in relatively good psychological and physical condition. The teachers would tell the children the content of books that they remembered. They taught them geography and history, played games with them, and sang with them. In late 1943 and early 1944, the children also rehearsed and performed a production of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. It was attended by SS men, including Dr Mengele, who applauded the children enthusiastically, had them sit on his knee and asked them to call him Uncle.
As the September transport neared the end of its six-month quarantine period towards the end of February 1944, members of the camp’s resistance movement contacted Fredy Hirsch. They knew that the word Sonderbehandlung, written on the identity card of each prisoner in the family camp, actually meant death in the gas chamber. In Fredy Hirsch, who enjoyed natural authority among the prisoners, they saw a potential leader of the planned uprising. Hirsch found himself facing a difficult decision: a rebellion would mean the chance to kill several SS men and a slim chance of possible escape for a handful of prisoners, but also certain death for the great majority of prisoners in the family camp, and without a doubt, certain death for all the children. On the morning of 8 March, he discussed the issue again with Rudolf Vrba, who was connected to the Auschwitz resistance movement. Vrba visited him and told him there was no doubt that the whole transport was heading for the gas chambers. Hirsch asked for an hour to decide. An hour later, Vrba found him unconscious. A doctor stated that he had taken an overdose of tranquillizers. That evening, Fredy Hirsch’s body was burned in the Birkenau crematorium, together with the remains of the 3,792 murdered prisoners of the Terezín family camp.
There is still speculation as to what happened in the final minutes of his life. It is not entirely clear how he managed to obtain a fatal dose of medicine, nor whether it was truly suicide. Before his death, Hirsch appointed his successors as the heads of the children’s block—Seppl Lichtenstern and Jan Brammer.
In Rubi Gat’s 2017 documentary, Dear Fredy, the subject of Hirsch’s sexuality comes up as early as the film’s first two minutes, in an animated segment in which we are told, “Hirsch couldn’t fall in love. That was the gossip in the ghetto.” And it is raised again in questions asked of the interviewees. In an interview by Dr Michal Aharony, Gat, who is himself gay, and lives with his partner and their three children, was asked why he put such an emphasis on Hirsch’s sexual orientation. “It’s part of who he was,” Gat said. “I tried to tell his story without omissions or prettifying things. He didn’t hide it, so I’m certainly not going to hide it.”
Indeed, it was well-known in Prague that Hirsch was gay. Nor did he hide it at Theresienstadt, Terezin in Czechoslovakia, or Auschwitz. “We’d heard that Fredy was gay,” Kraus told me in an interview, “but we didn’t care about that at all. It wasn’t an issue anywhere.”
Unfortunately, it was an issue in the city of Harish in Israel.
They had set a location and date, Thursday, 26 January, the evening before the start of International Holocaust Remembrance Day—and Gat had even approved promotional materials for the event.
Suddenly, ten days before the event, the head of Harish’s youth services called Gat and told him they had to call off the event. During the call, which Gat recorded, she told him that it was because of a fuss within the municipality, that there had been “explosions” between different officials in city hall. She explained that the cancellation of his screening was part of a broad cancellation of LGBTQ-focused events in the city due to opposition from Haredi leaders. “There’s a crisis about the [LGBTQ] program in general because we’re a mixed city and it’s a new program and a new city,” she told Gat, referring to the secular and religious communities that share the city.
“Music has charms to soothe a savage breast,” is a famous line which was used by a character in William Congreve’s 1697 play The Mourning Bride. And sometimes music does soothe the savage beast, but during the Holocaust, some of these ‘beasts’ were so evil that nothing could soothe them.
However, music did play an important role during the Holocaust and not always for the people in the camps or the ghettos. On occasion, it was also used to relay a universal message of tolerance
A Child of Our Time is a secular oratorio (a usually sacred musical work for soloists, chorus and orchestra intended for concert performance) by the British composer Michael Tippett, who also wrote the libretto(the text of an opera or musical). He composed it between 1939 and 1941, it was first performed at the Adelphi Theatre in London on 19 March 1944. The work was inspired by events that affected Tippett profoundly: the assassination in 1938 of a German diplomat by a young Jewish refugee, and the Nazi government’s reaction in the form of a violent pogrom against its Jewish population: Kristallnacht.
Tippett’s oratorio deals with these incidents in the context of the experiences of oppressed people generally and carries a strong pacifist message of ultimate understanding and reconciliation. The text’s recurrent themes of shadow and light reflect the Jungian psychoanalysis that Tippett underwent in the years immediately before writing the work. A Child of Our Time was named after a novel by anti-Nazi writer Odon von Horwath.
This is an excerpt of the text:
A star rises in mid-winter. Behold the man! Behold the man! The scapegoat! The scapegoat! The child of our time.”
Erich Frost was a musician and devout Jehovah’s Witness, he was active in the religious resistance to Hitler’s authority. Caught smuggling pamphlets from Switzerland to Germany, he was imprisoned in the Sachsenhausen concentration camp near Berlin where he composed the song “Steht Fest” (Stand Fast) in 1942. Later deported to a labour camp at Alderney, Channel Islands, Frost survived the war and returned to Germany to serve the Watchtower Society. “Fest steht,” reworked in English as “Forward, You Witnesses,” is among the most popular Jehovah’s Witness hymns. This performance, evoking some of the song’s original spirit, took place under Frost’s direction at an event held in Wiesbaden, Germany, during the 1960s.
“Standing firm in a great and difficult time Is a people dedicated to the struggle for their King? He teaches us to fight and win, He teaches us to fight and win. Bright is the eye and calm the blood; Their sword is the truth; they wield it well: What serves the enemy all its lies? What serves the enemy all its lies?
refrain: Jehovah’s Witnesses, undeterred! The struggle is fierce, The battle rages wild. The fetters too are binding, The chains are heavy, But mighty the arm which shields you! Jehovah’s Witnesses in enemy land And far from the homeland, exiled from loved ones; Lift up your gazes to Him, Whose hand is already extended to you!
2. Truth and justice, perverted by men; The name of Jehovah, debased by devils: These must reign once again! These must reign once again! Holy war–from the Highest Mouth– It is called at the right hour For the weak, which, it makes heroes, For the weak, which, it makes heroes.
3. Innocent in their cells, robbed of their freedom! Scornfully the enemies raise up their heads: They would like to rule over us, They would like to rule over us. Yet we, we hear in every place Only the commandments of our King. Only he can safely guide us. Only he can safely guide us!
4. Enemies’ threats, friends’ supplications To desist from the struggle: They can never shake our resolve. They can never shake our resolve. Hunger and beatings and harsh slavery Are the cruel reward for our constancy, And many are they that must grow pale. And many are they that must grow pale!
5. But one day the day will come which liberates All those who are dedicated to the Highest Glory From Satan’s dreary fetters, From Satan’s dreary fetters! Jubilation and singing prevail through the land, Echoing from every mountain. The Kingdom of our Lord has risen, The Kingdom of our Lord has risen.
Gideon Klein was a Czech pianist and composer and was a prize-winning student at the Prague Conservatory. Klein organized the cultural life in the Theresienstadt concentration camp. In 1940 he was offered a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music in London, but by that time, anti-Jewish legislation prevented his emigration. In Theresienstadt, he wrote works for a string quartet, a string trio, and a piano sonata. He died in unclear circumstances during the liquidation of the Fürstengrube camp in January 1945. In December 1941, deported by the Nazis to the Terezín concentration camp, Gideon Klein, along with Leoš Janáček’s pupils, Pavel Haas, Hans Krása, and Schoenberg’s pupil Viktor Ullmann, he became one of the major composers at that camp.
About a dozen of Gideon Klein’s Terezín compositions and arrangements survived the war. Of these, the brief choral piece “Spruch” (Verdict) has come to light only relatively recently. It was written for and dedicated to Freizeitgestaltung Chairman Moritz Henschel for his 65th birthday, 21 February 1944.
I once wrote a piece about Klara Borstel-Engelsman. Today is the 78th anniversary of her murder, and I felt compelled to do another one, just to show how utterly cruel, insane and absurd the Nazi regime was. Klara was murdered at age 102. She was the oldest Dutch person to be murdered by the Nazis.
Klara Engelsman was born on April 30, 1842 in Amsterdam as daughter of Salomon (also known as Samuel) Abraham Engelsman and Saartje Hartog Cosman. Klara Engelsman married Daniel Brush on 24 May 1865. As far as is known, the couple had no children. Daniel Brush died at the age of 76 on 9 July 1918 in Amsterdam.
At the time of her 100th birthday, Mrs. Klara Brush-Engelsman lived at the home of the Morpurgo family at 18-II Jonas Daniël Meijerplein. Later she stayed in the Jewish care home. In March 1944 she arrived in camp Westerbork, where she was nursed in the camp hospital. There she still experienced her 102th birthday. She was taken on a stretcher to the train on September 4, 1944, which went to Theresienstadt, where she was murdered on October 12, 1944.
Taking away the emotions, what was the actual point of putting a 102 year old on a train to be murdered. I know many will say she wasn’t murdered, that she just died, but if you put someone that age on a cattle train, of course it is murder.
It makes no sense on a human sense, economical sense, military sense none whatsoever, it would have benefited no one, yet she was put on that train.
I am probably the most a-technical person on the planet. Fixing things is just something I am not equipped to do, that’s why I admire people that can repair things. I love a show on the BBC called the Repair Shop. It is a British television show that aired on BBC Two for series 1 to 3 and on BBC One for series 4 onwards, in which family heirlooms are restored for their owners by numerous experts with a broad range of specialisms.
Last night they had Gary Fisher as a guest who brought in the prayer book he inherited from his grandparents Emanuel and Gisela Fisher.
They had been unable to leave Austria after it was annexed by Germany in 1938 and were eventually sent to Theresienstadt concentration camp. They had been able to put their son, Gary’s father Harry, on the Kindertransport to England. Though many of Gary’s family didn’t survive the camps, at the end of the war Emanuel and Gisela were liberated along with the book. Signed by many of the camp’s other residents, it’s an important record of the era and a treasured family possession.
The book was in some disrepair when it was first brought to Jay Blades and his team at The Repair Shop, with the pages falling apart and faded and torn in some places. Repair Shop’s book binder Chris Shaw was tasked with fixing the item, brought in by Gary Fisher.
“My grandparents, they were in a concentration camp and they never knew when their time was going to be up, but they had their religion, they had their faith and that must have been a real comfort to them to never give up,” said Gary.
In 1942, Emanuel and Gisela Fisher and other family members were taken to Theresienstadt concentration camp in Czechoslovakia . Gary Fisher explained that Theresienstadt was a “show” camp, often shown to foreigners as proof of fair treatment of Jewish people. Because of this, his grandparents were allowed to keep the prayer book with them rather than have it confiscated, as would have happened in other concentration camps.
“But it was only a mile and a half up the road where people were murdered in a gas chamber, like there were in many other Nazi death camps”. Mr. Fischer was clearly very emotional and his eyes filled as he described how his great-grandparents, his grandfather’s sister and a 10-year-old nephew were all murdered in the gas chamber. “My grandparents were very lucky,” he added.
Mr. Fisher wanted to get the book fixed so it could be shared in a proper place for others to see it too. While at the camp, Mr. Fischer’s grandfather wrote a poem and drew a picture of the Jewish star hidden behind a drawing of the camp. He read the poem to the experts at The Repair Shop, stopping halfway as emotion got to him.
Below is an extract of the poem read by Mr Fischer that his grandfather wrote in his treasured prayer book, translated into English:
” Do you know we were also there,
We stood together through summer and winter,
Bind our arms and legs together and ease the pain of sleepless hours,
And soon a new day will come when we will part from one another,
But you will be prepared for when we see each other again,
And on that day we will all be free from tyranny.”
Bookbinder Shaw got to work fixing the book. He was clearly nervous because it was such an important book, Shaw said it was the most important book he ever repaired. When the final reveal was made, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house. Mr Fischer said, ahead of the unveiling: “I feel like my grandparents are here with me.” Once the beautiful, renewed cover was revealed, Mr. Fischer broke down in tears. “Welcome back,” he said, adding, “It’s amazing – it’s just a complete work of art.”
Uniquely, the prayer book was signed by the other survivors who were liberated at the same time, with over fifty signatures immortalised in the book’s pages,including a German phrase from one prisoner: ” So it’s finally over.”
It is stories like this that indicate that the Holocaust is still near to so many people, and will be for years to come. It is still living history for many.
When Westerbork was built in 1939 as a refugee center for Jewish refugees from Germany and Austria, it also included a hospital.
The hospital grounds were originally known as Centraal Vluchtelingenkamp Westerbork, a camp for refugees arriving mainly from the neighboring country, Germany. It was those refugees themselves who in 1939 built Barrack No.12 and converted it into a hospital equipped with little more than tweezers and scissors.From May 1940 to July 1942, the camp stayed under Dutch administration. Under the Dutch, conditions were still reasonably good.
When the Nazis took it over in 1942 however things changed. Westerbork became a transit camp, an stop over as such, before the prisoners were deported to the extermination camps. But it was important for the Nazis to keep the illusion going that things were still fairly normal. Therefor the Hospital played an important role.
While the doctors and managers had their heads in the sand, the harsh reality finally hit home in October 1942. A tsunami of new patients, including their doctors and nurses, inundated the camp. Jewish hospitals and nursing homes had been emptied straight into Westerbork’s hospital. This flooded the hospital’s capacity, created shortages, chaos, and one disease outbreak after the other. Both patients and personnel who fell ill found it hard to recover. Chronic fatigue was endemic. Camp disease and relentless diarrhea were common. Tuberculosis, measles, diphtheria, yellow fever, whooping cough, scarlet fever, and lice all reigned supreme. Quarantine measures became necessary, and provided one last reason to delay transport. Escape was now virtually impossible. Suicide attempts increased to around four a week, and though the medical staff again managed to save most, the psychiatric ward in Barrack No. 3 exploded.
The disturbing thing is that people who were too sick to travel to the death camps, first had to be nursed back to a reasonable level of health, in order to be send to the extermination camps.
No one was safe in Westerbork and it didn’t matter what age you were. Whether you were an infant, like the children in the picture above, or a 102 year old woman. You eventually would be send to your death.
The photo aboveshows Mrs. Klara Brush-Engelsman. She was born in Amsterdam on April 30, 1842 and was to be murdered in Theresienstadt(although some sources say Auschwitz)at the age of 102, on October 12, 1944. The oldest Dutch victim of the Nazi terror
Of course, the question was then also why these elderly people had to be deported for the ‘Arbeitseinsatz’. Statements by Nazis that older women could still change diapers were, of course, inhumane.
On May 10, 1945, probably knowing that he was close to being captured, by swallowing a capsule of potassium cyanide at the Mürwik naval base in Flensburg-Mürwik, Richard Glücks ended his own life. Although the lack of official records or photos gave rise to speculation about his ultimate fate.
There are many biographies about this man, but I decided to stick with the facts that matter. No matter how you twist or turn it, Richard Glücks was an evil man.
Glücks was a major contributor to the execution of the “Final Solution,” the destruction of European Jewry. He established Auschwitz, where millions of Jews were exterminated; he was in charge of the construction of gas chambers, and he helped develop the program of medical experiments that were carried out in the concentration camps.
In 1942, Glucks was made responsible for a unit of the Economic-Administrative Main Office (Wirtschafts-Verwaltungshauptamt), which dealt with industrial companies regarding the use of concentration camp prisoners as slave laborers in their factories.
Some might say that Glücks was the worst of them and that he eased some of the sufferings in the camps.
Due to the extremely high mortality rate in the camps around 1942, which of course, had a negative effect on the deployment of prisoners as slave laborers, Glücks sent the following memo to all camp commanders on December 28, 1942:
“The first camp physicians are to do their utmost with all the means available to them, to considerably lower the mortality rate in the various camps [..] The physicians are to supervise the feeding of prisoners more than ever and submit proposals for improvement to the camp commanders according to policy. These are not to be just put on paper but must frequently be checked by the physicians. [..] The Reichsführer-SS has ordered the death rate be lowered considerably.”
But this was not because he felt sorry for the inmates in the camps, but it was solely for economic reasons.
From 1942 onward, he was responsible for slave labour and death by work.
In July 1942, he participated in a planning meeting with Himmler on the topic of medical experiments on camp inmates. From several visits to the Auschwitz concentration camps, Glücks was well aware of the mass murders and other atrocities committed there.
On July 8, 1942, Glücks had a meeting with Himmler, Professor Carl Clauberg, and others about the intended mass sterilization of Jewish women in the concentration camps. Auschwitz was designated as the camp where Clauberg was to start experimenting with various means of sterilization. Numerous prisoners succumbed to the consequences of these experiments; others endured excruciating pains and were maimed for the rest of their lives. Glücks was also ordered to develop gas chambers in certain camps, to kill the sick and weakened prisoners speedily and efficiently.
Glucks was one of the key figures of the concentration camp system. Together with Himmler and Pohl, he decided how many of the deported Jews were to be killed and determined that the hair of the murdered people was to be collected and made into “hair-yarn stockings for U-boat crews and hair-felt stockings for the railroad.”
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