Chapter XXXI

AFTER SEVERAL DAYS OF SILENCE, THE customary noises of the crematorium began again. The motors of the big ventilators purred once again, reawakening the furnace flames. The arrival of the Theresienstadt ghetto had been announced.

Since the founding of the Czechoslovakian Republic, Theresienstadt had been primarily a garrison town. The Germans, however, changed the appearance of the city completely, to the point of moving the civilian population away and setting up a model ghetto there. This ghetto housed Jews deported from Austria, Holland and Czechoslovakia itself, about 60,000 in all. The living conditions of the inhabitants were relatively good. They could exercise their professions freely, receive and send mail, and they were aided by the Red Cross. In fact, teams from the International Red Cross paid periodic visits to the little city and, on each occasion, made favorable reports concerning the living conditions and treatment of prisoners.

Thus the Germans got what they wanted from the creation of this model ghetto, for these reports by the International Red Cross had the effect of neutralizing, or better yet, of qualifying as evil slander the rumors going round concerning the horrors of the KZ and the crematoriums.

But now, on the eve of its collapse, the Third Reich ceased to worry any longer about world opinion, and rejected even the mask of its shady humanism. It began to liquidate without delay the Jews still in its custody.

So it was that the turn of the model ghetto at Theresienstadt arrived. When they reached Auschwitz, the still healthy men of this ghetto had the following convocation in their possession:

GOVERNMENTAL SS COMMITTEE OF THE 

REICH FOR THE RECRUITING 

AND EMPLOYMENT OF SLAVE LABORERS



Notice: The Jew X Y of the Reich protectorate is hereby advised that by order of the above-mentioned authority, he has been designated for the Service of Obligatory Labor. The draftee shall, before his departure, deposit his instruments, the tools necessary to the exercise of his profession, a supply of winter clothing, and food enough for one week, with the authority’s representative. The date of departure will be announced by public notice.



THERESIENSTADT, THE DATE 

Signature

The whole story of obligatory labor was of course an infamous lie, merely a pretext to carry out the liquidation without interruption and to recoup some sorely needed instruments, scarce tools and winter clothing needed by the German populace. Twenty thousand men, fully capable of working and in the full flush of their youth, died in the gas chambers and were incinerated in the crematory ovens. It took 48 hours to exterminate them all. For several days afterwards, silence again reigned in the crematorium.

Two weeks later, still more deportee trains began arriving, in endless succession, at the Jewish ramp. Women and children scrambled out of the box cars. There was no selection. All were directed to the left.

On the floor of the undressing room lay hundreds of tracts, which read:

GOVERNMENTAL SS COMMITTEE OF THE 

REICH FOR THE RECRUITING 

AND EMPLOYMENT OF SLAVE LABORERS



Notice: The above-mentioned authority hereby authorizes the wife and children of Jew X Y of the Reich protectorate, called for Obligatory Labor, to join the above-named Jew and to live together with him for the duration of his employment. Suitable lodgings are anticipated. Winter clothing, bedding, and provisions for a week will be furnished by the travelers.

THERESIENSTADT, THE DATE 

Signature

As a result of this diabolically conceived notice, twenty thousand women and children who wanted only to ease their husbands’ lot, to join their fathers, followed them into the gas chambers and crematory ovens.

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