Newsgroups: alt.revisionism Subject: Terezin: "All were gassed there in the morning." Summary: Background information about Terezin Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org Followup-To: alt.revisionism Organization: The Nizkor Project http://www,nizkor.org Archive/File: holocaust/czechoslovakia/theresienstadt theresien.011 holocaust/germany/euthanasia program.010 Last-Modified: 1995/02/13 "On November 24 ... a ghetto was set up in the eighteenth-century fortress of the Bohemian town of Theresienstadt, to which Jews were to be sent from throughout the Old Reich, and in particular from Vienna, Prague and Berlin. Uprooted from their homes, penniless, deprived of their belongings, ill-fed, overcrowded, thirty-two thousand were to die there of hunger and disease.<66> Many of the deportees to Theresienstadt were to be old people. But that November morning it was 342 young men who were brought, from Prague, to work at a construction camp, preparing Theresienstadt for its new occupants.<67> The first deportees reached Theresienstadt on November 30, from Prague. They consisted mostly of women, children and old people. A second train arrived on December 2, from Brno.<68> Neither deportation to the eastern ghettos nor deportation to Theresienstadt was the 'final solution'. That was still being prepared, brought one step nearer that October, at Buchenwald, when twelve hundred Jews had been medically examined by Dr Fritz Mennecke, a euthanasia expert, and then subjected to 'Action 14 f 13' in a clinic at Bernburg, one hundred miles away.<69> 'Action 14 f 13' was death by gassing: a method in use since 1939 in the mass murder of tens of thousands of mentally defective Germans in more than a dozen special institutions. The origin of the euthanasia killings of 1939, as of these subsequent killings, was an order issued by Hitler, backdated to I September 1939, the day of the German invasion of Poland. In this order, Hitler empowered the chief of his Chancellery, as well as his own personal physician, 'to widen the authority of individual doctors with a view to enabling them, after the most critical examination, in the realm of human knowledge, to administer incurably sick persons to a mercy death'.<70> The qualifying phrases had quickly been abandoned. In Germany, the chief of the Criminal Police Office in Stuttgart, Christian Wirth, an expert in tracking down criminals - took charge of the technical side of a more 'humane' method of killing, constructing gas-chambers in which the victim was exposed to carbon monoxide gas, 'a device', one SS officer later explained, 'which overwhelmed its victims without their apprehension and which caused them no pain'.<71> Between January 1940 and August 194I, more than several thousand Germans had been killed by gas in five separate euthanasia institutions, by what was called sonderbehandlung, 'special treatment - The principal victims were the chronically sick, gypsies, people judged 'unworthy of life' because of mental disorders, and, after June 1941, Soviet prisoners-of-war. On 3 September 1941, at Auschwitz Main Camp, hitherto used principally for the imprisonment and torture of Polish opponents Nazism, an experiment had been carried out against six hundred Soviet prisoners-of-war, and three hundred Jews, brought specially to the camp. There, in the cellar of Block II, a gas called Cyclon B prussic acid initially in crystal form, was used to murder the chosen victims. The experiment was judged a success.<72> At Buchenwald, Dr Mennecke had continued with his own experiments. 'Our second batch', he wrote to his wife Mathilde on November 25 from the Zum Elefant hotel in nearby Weimar 'consisted of 1,200 Jews who do not have to be "examined"; for them it was enough to pull from their files the reasons for their arrest and write them down on the questionnaires.'<73> Five days after Dr Mennecke's second experimental selection Buchenwald, Reinhard Heydrich decided that, considering 'the enormous importance which had to be given to these questions', and in the interest 'of achieving the same point of view by the central agencies concerned with the remaining work connected with the final solution', that a 'joint conversation' should be held by all concerned. Such a discussion was especially needed, he wrote on November 29, 'since Jews have been undergoing evacuation in continuous transports from the Reich territory, including Bohemia and Moravia, to the East, since 15 October 1941'.<74> Heydrich's conference was called for 2 January 1942. Before met, one further experiment was to be tried, near the remote Polish Vlllage of Chelmno. There, on the evening of 7 December 1941, seven hundred Jews arrived in lorries. They had come from the nearby town of Kolo, having been told that they were being taken to a railway station at Barlogi, ten kilometres from Kolo, and thence to work in 'the East.' Michael Podklebnik, one of the Jews assembled by the SS at the Jewish Council building in Kolo, but himself registered as a resident nearby Bugaj, later recalled how 'I brought to the lorry my own father, my mother, sister with five children, my brother and his wife and three children. I volunteered to go with them, but was not allowed.' Podklebnik also saw how a Jew by the name of Goldberg, the owner of a saw-mill, 'approached the Germans with a request to be appointed manager of a Jewish camp in the East. His application was accepted and he was promised the requested position.<75> It was not to Barlogi railway station, however, but to a small villa known as the 'Palace' or the 'Mansion', on the road to Chelmno, that the seven hundred Kolo deportees were brought; and kept there overnight. On the following morning, December 8, eighty of the Kolo Jews were transferred to a special van. The van set off towards a clearing in the Chelmno woods, a few miles away, on the River Ner. By the time the journey was over, the eighty Jews were dead, gassed by exhaust fumes channelled back into the van. Their bodies were thrown out the back of the van, and it returned to the Mansion. After eight or nine journeys, all seven hundred Jews from this first day's deportation from Kolo had been gassed.<76> For four more days, until December 11, the lorries came to Kolo. Each day up to a thousand Jews were deported, as they believed, to the 'East' to agricultural work, or to work in factories. Michael Podklebnik later recalled how, on the last day, when it was the turn of the sick Jews of Kolo to be deported, the drivers were advised 'to drive carefully and slowly.'<77> All went to Chelmno, the sick and the able-bodied alike, men and women; and all were gassed there on the morning after their arrival. The new scheme was now in being: the deportation of whole communities 'to work' in the so-called 'East', a deception which was followed by the immediate murder of the community by gas." (Gilbert, 238-240) Gilbert's Notes: <67> Zdenek Lederer, Ghetto Theresienstadt, London, 1953, page 14. <68> Ibid., page 15 <69> International Military Tribunal, Nuremberg, documents NO-426 and NO-429. <70> International Military Tribunal, Nuremberg, document PS-630. <71> International Military Tribunal, Nuremberg, affidavit by Dr. Konrad Morgen, 19 July 1946 (Morgen was an SS officer who had investigated SS corruption). See Raul Hilberg, The Destruction of the European Jews, New York 1961 (Harper-Colophon edition, 1979, page 561. <72> Information provided by Dr. Kazimierz Smolen, Auschwitz Museum and Archive. <73> Letter of 25 November 1941: International Military Tribunal, Nuremberg, document NO-3060. <74> Heydrich letter of 29 November 1941: International Military Tribunal, Nuremberg, document PS-709. <75> Testimony of Michael Podklebnik (Michael Podchlebnik): Wladyslaw Bednarz, Das Vernichtungslager zu Chelmno am Ner, Warsaw 1946, pages 46-53. <76> Testimony of Andrzej Miszczak, Kolo, 26 June 1946: Ibid., pages 46-53. Work Cited Gilbert, Martin. The Holocaust: A History of the Jews of Europe during the Second World War. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1985.
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