Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Children of Bialystok Murdered at Auschwitz

Below I present two sources of primary documentation showing that the Jewish children of Bialystok were transported to Auschwitz and underwent selection.

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Firstly there is the telegram from Mueller to Himmler, 16 December 1942, Nuremberg ref. 1472-PS. This made clear that deportees from Bialystok were to undergo selection, with only a minority preserved for labour:
4. Breakdown: The 45,000 Jews consist of 30,000 Jews from the Bialystock district, 10,000 Jews from the Theresienstadt Ghetto. Among those are 5,000 able-bodied Jews who, so far, have been utilized in the Ghetto for necessary minor jobs, and 5,000 Jews who are generally incapacitated; also Jews over sixty years of age, in order to reduce in the interest of the extension of the Ghetto the excessive number of inmates to slightly below 48,000. I request special permission for this. As heretofore, only the Jews who have no special connections and relations, and who have no important decorations, have been earmarked for deportation; 3,000 Jews from the occupied areas in the Netherlands, 2,000 Jews from Berlin which equals 45,000. In the total of 45,000 are included physically handicapped [underlined] and others (old Jews and children). In making a distribution for this purpose, at least 10,000 to 15,000 laborers [underlined], will be available when the Jews arriving at Auschwitz are assigned.
Secondly, there is documentation relating to the 1,196 children from Bialystok who were held as hostages at the Crete camp in Theresienstadt before being sent to Auschwitz after the hostage negotiations failed. This documentation has been studied by Bronka Klibanski, a former archivist at Yad Vashem. In 2000, Klibanski published "the transport list Dn/a [which] was prepared by the SS in Theresienstadt". Klibanski reveals that "after the decision was made to transfer the children to their deaths, this list was transferred to the Auschwitz administration." In addition, "copies of the list were transmitted by the SS to the Reichssicherheits Hauptaunt in Berlin and to the Auswärtiges Amt". The list had been preserved, among many others to and from Theresienstadt, by Hermann Weiss, and was donated to Yad Vashem (file 064/318) after Weiss's death in 1980:
"Herman Weiss was born in 1917 in Czechoslovakia and was a lawyer, and starting in the late thirties was active in a Zionist organization in Prague which arranged illegal immigration to Palestine. On November 30, 1941 he was deported to Theresienstadt, where he was appointed by the Altestenrat (Council of Elders) to found the statistical department, which he in fact did found and head.

One of the jobs of the department was to record all deportations which arrived and left Theresienstatdt. Hermann Weiss carefully made extra, underground copies of all the lists. In this undertaking he was joined by other workers in the department, who were conscious of the danger in doing so. When the Gestapo sent an order to destroy all documentation, the extra copies were already ready to be hidden until liberation. Hermann Weiss took the documentation with him to Paris, and then to Canada. He died in 1979. In 1980 the documentation was found by Dr. Stephen Barber, and brought to the Yad Vashem archive."
Klibanski states that "Only after the war did it become known that the children were brought to Auschwitz and sent straight to the gas chambers." Her sources for this are:
8. Testimony of Noah Zabludowitz, Yad

Vashem Archive no. 03.1187, as well as:

Danuta Czech: Kalendarium der Ereignisse

im KZ Auschwitz-Birkenau 1939-1945,

Rowohlt 1989, p.623.
Bialystok is thus a good starting-point for identifying lists of children from ghettoes in the East who were gassed at Auschwitz

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