The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Shofar FTP Archive File: camps/theresienstadt/theresien.07

Newsgroups: alt.revisionism
Subject: Holocaust Almanac: Theresienstadt - A "Change of Address"
Summary: Elderly deportees from the Reich receive a shock upon 
         arrival, when they discover that their dreams of retirement
         in orderly, peaceful surroundings had become nightmares.
Followup-To: alt.revisionism
Keywords: theresienstadt

Archive/File: holocaust/czechoslovakia/theresienstadt theresien.07
Last-Modified: 1994/09/22

   "The Jews of the Reich were neither expelled nor transported to
   Theresienstadt; they simply 'changed their address,' as official
   terminology put it. Most of them came to the ghetto on the basis of
   a 'residence contract,' apparently signed by both the Jewish
   Federation in Germany and the candidate for the old-age home. The
   candidate turned over all his liquid assests - cash, pension
   rights, life insurance, stocks - in return for lifelong residence
   at the home, food, laundry service, medical treatment and drugs,
   and hospital care if needed. The assets were ostensibly deposited
   in the Jewish Federation's account; however, it was a blocked
   account, which was transferred in its entirety to the Reich
   Security Head Office. In this manner the elderly paid the Germans
   thousands of marks for the right to spend the remainder of their
   days in a rest home, referred to sometimes as Theresienbad and
   sometimes as Theresienstadt am See (on the lake). True, further
   down the contract the management absolved itself of all
   responsibility, including the obligation to provide a permanent
   residence, but the elderly read what they wanted: a place of rest
   and recreation at last. Many imagined a health spa such as they had
   known in good times, a sort of Carlsbad or Bad Nauheim with
   carefully tended accommodations nestling in greenery, and with this
   image in mind they selected the articles they thought appropriate
   for their new home: a black suit, a velvet gown, parasols, hats,
   momentos for the dressing table. They broght no spoons, no pots, no
   towels - life's basis essentials; the management would no doubt
   supply those. Upon arrival they asked for a room facing the lake, a
   window facing south, sunny accommodation. Many rejoiced at the
   thought of common recreation with friends who had preceded them,
   and looked forward to the reunion. For by all accounts, in Berlin
   and elsewhere, Theresienstadt's hospitals were excellent, the
   region was fertile, the farms were run by Jews, and the first
   postcards to be sent back from people who had left the Reich were
   very positive indeed.

   Some of the candidates for the old-age home were never given a
   contract, or had it taken from them at the assembly point for
   transports. Others, however, guarded it with their lives and used
   to produce it as proof that their claims were justified. An
   astounded Edelstein notified Seidl of the fraudulent nature of the
   residence contracts and Seidl promised to 'report the matter to
   Berlin and get back to him.'

   The shock was twofold, both because of the all too terrible
   reality, and because of the fraud and deception. After all, most
   Reich Jews had been raised in the best German traditions of order,
   fairness, and the value of one's word. Many were still proud of the
   metals they had earned in the First World War and were careful
   about former titles - Herr Doktor, Herr Professor, Herr
   Kommerzialrat, Herr General. Most of the suitcases, packed with
   care and attention to every detail, never arrived. Others arrived
   empty or half-empty, and what had not been stolen on the way was
   confiscated at Theresienstadt. From the absorption depot the
   elderly were moved to residences, at first in every corner, every
   roomlet, every storeroom of the evacuated homes. Later, when it
   became impossible to accommodate the surging tide of transports,
   they were housed in barracks attics with no insulation against heat
   or cold, no toilets, no faucets. In the summer heat the attics were
   like furnaces, the dust in the air stood still, and the heavy
   wooden beams impeded movement."(Bondy, 297-8)
                             Work Cited

   Bondy, Ruth.  Elder of the Jews.  New York: Grove Press, 1989.
   (Translated from "Edelshtain neged had-zeman".  Zmora, Bitan,
   Modan, publishers, 1981

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