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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