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Brooke Whitaker
Brooke Whitaker • 1 year ago

A rather innocuous picture of Dutch Jews arriving at Theresienstadt. Though technically a Concentration and Transport Camp, tens of thousands of people died at Theresienstadt of disease, starvation, and brutality. Unlike other camps, Theresienstadt held mostly political prisoners of Dutch, Polish, Russian, Czech, and other nationalities. Most Jews were at Theresienstadt for only a short time before being transported to an Extermination Camp.

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Jews board a train in Siedlce that will take them to Treblinka. Not a Konzentrationslager or Concentration Camp, Treblinka was a Vernichtungslager, or Extermination Camp. The sole purpose of the camp was the destruction of human life.

An emaciated Jew from the Lodz ghetto awaits deportation to the Chelmno death camp.

German concentration camp chart of prisoner markings

This mass grave of murdered Jews was the handiwork of an Einsatzgruppen der Sicherheitspolizei, a group of SS whose sole purpose was the extermination of Jews and other "undesirables". Overseen by Reinhardt Heydrich, the four Einsatzgruppen were comprised of units of Einsatzkommandos which traveled with the Wermacht in order to "purify" newly conquered territories. Each group contained 500 to 800 men. It is estimated that they were responsible for over one million deaths.

prisoners carry large stones up the "stairs of death" from the quarry at the mauthausen concentration camp

Affidavit signed by Rudolf Hoess, former commandant of Auschwitz, attesting to the gassing of Jews at the killing center during his tenure. The text reads: "I declare herewith under oath that in the years 1941 to 1943 during my tenure in office as commandant of Auschwitz Concentration Camp 2 million Jews were put to death by gassing and a 1/2 million by other means. Rudolf Hoess. May 14, 1946."

On 2 July 1942, most of the children of Lidice, a small village in what was then Czechoslovakia, were handed over to the Łódź Gestapo office. Those 82 children were then transported to the extermination camp at Chełmno 70 kilometers away. There they were gassed to death. This remarkable sculpture by by Marie Uchytilová commemorates them.

A young German soldier tries to humiliate an elderly Polish Jew by cutting his beard. Beard-cutting was a method of humiliation favored by many Germans. As it is with all bullies and their victims, the strong bear the real shame for preying on the weak. The Jews of Europe bore such petty torments with exceptional dignity and fortitude. If this soldier were still alive to look back at this picture, would he feel ashamed? If he retained any humanity, he would.

  • Erin Bourassa

    This makes me so so so sad! My heart aches for this old man!

  • Mercury Marten

    I know how you feel. It makes me sad, too. It also makes me burn with rage that a pious, inoffensive man had lived a long, long life only to have it ended in debasement and horror by cruel young monsters like this soldier.

  • mark Kut

    Cruel nazis

  • Erin Bourassa

    Revisiting this photo a year later still evokes the same physical reaction in me now as it did then; a deep, guttural sadness. This photo says nothing, yet it says everything! It.hurts.me. to.the.core. I agree with you Mercury, just as you said. " A pious, inoffensive man had lived a long, long life only to have it ended in debasement and horror by cruel young monsters like this soldier." Utterly devastating and tragic.

U.S. Two children of the Mochida family awaiting bus to take them to an internment camp in 1942 // Dorothea Lange

Primo Michele Levi was an Italian Jewish chemist and writer "If This Is a Man", his account of the year he spent as a prisoner in the Auschwitz concentration camp in Nazi-occupied Poland. It was really a study on how you survived and who didn't, almost a psychological, physical and emotional survivor study. It's a fascinating book.

Amon Goeth. One of the most bestial and corrupt men produced by the Nazi state, Goeth's excesses were notorious even among a culture of excess. As overseer of a forced labor camp at Płaszów, he routinely tortured and murdered inmates, amassing a fortune in stolen valuables. He was found guilty by a post war court of the deaths of tens of thousands and hanged (three times; twice the rope length was miscalculated) in 1946. Ralph Fiennes' character in the film Schindler's List was based on Goeth.