Several days ago, I received a new essay, written by Dr. Wolf Murmelstein, which I have put up on my website here. Dr. Wolf Murmelstein is defending his father against the slander of Vienna Jewish Community Secretary General Raimund Fastenbauer [who] thought it right to speak of Benjamin Murmelstein as a “Collaborateur” called “Murmelschwein.”
To make a long story short, Dr. Benjamin Murmelstein was the last Jewish Elder of the Theresienstadt concentration camp. He was arrested in June 1945 and accused of collaborating with the Nazis, but after a pre-trial investigation, the charge was dropped. (In December 1946, after eighteen months of investigation, the prosecutor had not found enough evidence for the case and Murmelstein was released.)
In 1947, Murmelstein was a witness in the trial of Karl Rahm, the last Commandant of Theresienstadt, who was convicted of Crimes against Humanity and executed.
This quote from Dr. Wolf Murmelstein’s essay is the most interesting part, as far as I am concerned:
H.G. Adler, in his very important history of Theresienstadt acknowledged that, in November and December 1944, there were many amazing improvements of conditions but failed to mention how those were due to the strong action of Benjamin Murmelstein.
It had been established in the People’s Court that Benjamin Murmelstein had the first alarming information about things going on when the first group of Slovakian Jews reached Theresienstadt at end of December 1944. So he could fully evaluate the danger connected to a strange building project as the work had to be done only following oral instructions without any written schemes and drawings.
Benjamin Murmelstein – after having given instructions in the event that he might be arrested – faced the Commander, reporting that inmates were startled and a mass escape would be difficult to avoid. Commander Rahm replied that he was following instructions to set up bombproof stores for the provisions (a version he held even when on trial in People’s Court in 1947!) and the Jews had to work instead gathering on the main square. But: the following day he left for Prague, returning after three days with the order to stop that work.
Such an order could be given only by SS General K.H. Frank High SS and Police Commander and Reich Minister for the Bohemia-Moravia Protectorate. Indeed Frank considered the Ghetto a good trump card in order to reach a deal with Allied Commanders.
After an order from Himmler, the Auschwitz Gas Chambers had ceased the murder of Jews. Eichmann wanted to go on with the killing and, like some other Lager Commander, he thought to set up his own Gas Chamber. This fact, which proves Eichmann’s own wide power, never had been cleared.
It is very clear, in the quote above, that Dr. Wolf Murmelstein is writing about a Gas Chamber, that was being built in Theresienstadt in the last days of World War II, because Adolf Eichmann wanted to continue the killing of the Jews after the gassing had stopped in Auschwitz-Birkenau in November 1944. The inmates were “startled” by this new development and Dr. Benjamin Murmelstein took it upon himself to save the inmates from a mass slaughter in case of an attempted mass escape.
I previously blogged about the Theresienstadt gas chamber here. Now Dr. Wolf Murmelstein seems to be confirming that there was a gas chamber being built at Theresienstadt and that the inmates knew about it. (more…)