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August 15, 2015

Holocaust survivors who were sent from Auschwitz to Theresienstadt to be gassed

Filed under: Buchenwald, Dachau, Germany, Holocaust — Tags: , , , , — furtherglory @ 12:55 pm
Holoaust survivors who were saved when they were sent to the UK

Holoaust survivors who were saved when they were sent to the UK (Click to enlarge)

This quote is from a news story, which you can read in full here. The photo above is included in the news article.

In 1945, a group of Jewish children who came to be known as the “Windermere Boys” were granted refuge at hostels in the Lake District [in the UK].

The youngsters who arrived at the scenic Calgarth Estate near Windermere were orphaned boys and girls aged four to 18 who had somehow managed to survive the unimaginable horror of the Holocaust.

Among them was Samuel Laskier, a Polish Jew who spent seven months in Auschwitz before taking the “worst journey imaginable” to Theresienstadt concentration camp in the Czech Republic, which was liberated by the Russians on May 8, the day Germany surrendered.

Why was going from Auschwitz to Theresienstadt the “worst journey imaginable”?  Auschwitz was a “death camp” where Jews were gassed; Theresienstadt did not have a reputation for gassing Jews. At least not until the very end of the war.

Gate into the Theresienstadt ghetto

Gate into the Theresienstadt ghetto (click to enlarge)

I blogged about the gas chamber at Theresienstadt in this previous blog post:

https://furtherglory.wordpress.com/2010/05/13/gas-chamber-at-theresienstadt/

Toward the end of World War II, there were rumors circulating in all of the major Nazi concentration camps, that Hitler had given the order for all the inmates to be killed before the arrival of the Soviet or American soldiers, who would liberate the camps. This was believed to be the purpose for building a gas chamber at Theresienstadt in 1945 at the tail end of the war.

At Auschwitz, the inmates were given the choice of staying in the camp, or following the Germans on a death march to other camps in the west before the Soviet army arrived. Very few prisoners stayed behind, except those who were too old or too sick to walk; the prisoners believed that they would be killed by the Soviets if they stayed at Auschwitz.

After April 20, 1945, there were 13,454 of these wretched survivors from Auschwitz and other camps who poured into Theresienstadt. Some were housed in the Hamburg barracks, right by the railroad tracks. The others were put into temporary wooden barracks outside the ghetto, which were taken down soon after the war.

Some of the people who arrived from the evacuated camps were former inmates of Theresienstadt who were now returning. Others were Jews who had been in the eastern concentration camps for years. On May 3, 1945, the Theresienstadt  ghetto was turned over to the Red Cross by Commandant Karl Rahm.

Some of the newcomers had been evacuated from Buchenwald on April 5th just before the camp was liberated by American troops on April 11, 1945. Before the Americans arrived, Hitler himself had given the order to evacuate the Jews from Buchenwald in an effort to prevent them from exacting revenge on German citizens after they were freed.

Some of the Buchenwald prisoners, who arrived at Theresienstadt, were in terrible condition after they had been traveling by train for two weeks without food.

After the liberation of Buchenwald, some of the prisoners, who had not been evacuated, commandeered American army jeeps and weapons, then drove to the nearby town of Weimar where, in an orgy of revenge, they looted German homes and shot innocent civilians at random. This was the type of thing that the Nazis were trying to prevent by evacuating the concentration camps before they were liberated.

According to Holocaust survivor Ben Helfgott, who was one of the prisoners brought to Theresienstadt in the last days of the war, the inmates of the Theresienstadt ghetto went on a rampage as soon as they were released. They looted homes, beat to death an SS guard from the ghetto, and attacked the ethnic Germans who were now homeless refugees, fleeing to Germany, after being driven out of the Czech provinces of Bohemia and Moravia.

According to Martin Gilbert in his book Holocaust Journey, Commandant Karl Rahm told the Red Cross that he had received orders from Berlin to kill all the inmates in the ghetto before the Russians arrived, but he had disobeyed the order. Because of this, Rahm was allowed to leave the Theresienstadt camp unmolested on the day before the Russians arrived on May 8, 1945. He was later captured and tried in a Special People’s Court in nearby Litomerice; he was convicted and was executed in 1947.

5 Comments »

  1. There are a lot of mistakes here:
    1. To Theresienstadt from April 21 on arrived inmates from Bergen Belsen and other camps; certainly not directly from Auschwitz liberated a January 27.
    2. It seems that from the FUEHRER HEAD QUARTER an order had been iussed in January 1945 to evacuate by forced marches all Theresienstadt inmates which Himmler suspended in order to use the Model Ghetto for his purposes.
    3. About the building of a Gas Chamber at Theresienstadt I had already writeen here. After the Elder reported to Comander of possible mass panic the Comander went to Prague turning with the order to stop the works; only Governor SS General Karl Hermann Frank had the power to iusse this order.
    4. The International Red Cross obtained first to care about us and tool over at MAY 5, 1945 as Comander Rahn left following a regular MARCH ORDER -MARSCH BEFEHL – iussed by Governor and SS General Karl Hermann Frank.
    5. Rahm on trial prefered not to recall his effort to obtain the order to stop building the Gas Chamber and stood firm on the version of a bombsafe warehouse. He had the same attitude when recalling the farce of the revolt at April 17 when he had avoided to order a mass shooting. I believe that he feared reprisals on his family by a secret organization of former SS escaped capture. .
    6. Etnic Germans – Sudetendeutsche – had been harassed by Cech people, even former cooperators. Inmates of Theresienstadt were not allowed to leave the former Ghetto still guarded by Cech gendarms, land policemen.
    7. The tale of harassments at Weimar by former prisioniers of Buchenwald had been told by Himmler as a reason for not hand out just Theresienstadt.
    At this site too much credit is given to nazi tales.

    Comment by Wolf MURMELSTEIN — August 16, 2015 @ 12:09 am

  2. It was the worst train ride,because they didn’t have “Pullman Porters”. So they boosted some jeeps and firearms. “Revenge killing”. Isn’t that against the law? If someone were to kill a loved one of mine,I couldn’t get revenge. John Law would bring me before the judge. I’m sure the judge,prosecutor and jury would be sympathetic toward me,but they’d say I still broke the law. Teachers pets. There again the ruskies go off on an orgy of murder and rape when they roll into Berlin. Nothing happened to them,so I guess I shouldn’t come as a surprise that the hebs walk on this one.
    Jews are chickenshit anyway. Got ol Earl krugel and Irvi Ruben. They thought they were bad asses from hell. Minute ATF and FBI roll up on em,they cry like a couple lil girls. Ol Irv bumps himself off while he’s in the L A County jail. His boyfriend Earl got taken out by an AB at the Phoenix FCI. Oh well. Can’t do the time,don’t do the crime.

    Comment by Tim — August 15, 2015 @ 2:31 pm

  3. From the Wikipedia page on Karl Rahm:

    Rahm was executed on April 30, 1947, four hours after his guilty verdict had been handed down by the Czech court.

    My emphasis.

    Many death sentences from these post-war (partly farcical) trials were quickly carried out; but this must be some kind of record, or close to it.

    Comment by eah — August 15, 2015 @ 1:03 pm

    • Four hours after he was sentenced ? Sorry,but there’s a rat in the woodpile on that one. Even the most despised war criminals were not executed that quick.

      Comment by Tim — August 15, 2015 @ 2:35 pm

      • In another time and another place… Ceausescu and his wife following a 90 minute ‘trial’ were dragged outside immediately after the ‘verdict’ and shot multiple times with machine gun fire.

        Comment by shafarnullifidian — August 15, 2015 @ 9:03 pm


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