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1943: Death and Resistance
 pg. 461 
The initial success of Operation Barbarossa generated huge numbers of Soviet prisoners-of-war, whom the Nazis treated as subhuman. Many were executed or died on long death marches; all suffered extreme hunger and deprivation. If their identities were discovered, Jewish soldiers were singled out for death or sent to stalags and extermination camps such as Sobibór. This emaciated Jewish POW is identified by the Star of David he was forced to wear.
Photo: Main Commission for the Investigation of Nazi War Crimes / United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Photo Archive
A footbridge over Paneriu Street connected the large and small ghettos of Kovno, Lithuania. In June 1943 the Kovno Ghetto was converted to a concentration camp, and the 4000 inhabitants were transferred to small camps situated outside Kovno. At the same time, a Resistance group known as the Jewish Fighting Organization was formed to facilitate the departure of Jews from the ghetto and train them for partisan activities.
Photo: YIVO / United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Photo Archive
Initiation at the Camps

Transition to life inside a Nazi concentration camp was a jarring and disorienting experience. From the moment one entered the Lager, life's every routine had to be renegotiated. Failure to adapt was lethal.

Deprived of food, water, and sanitary facilities for days on end, new arrivals were momentarily relieved when the doors to their rail wagons were thrown open and they were ordered to disembark. Their relief, however, was short-lived.

At some camps, SS officers dressed in crisply pressed black uniforms ordered new arrivals to move left or right, toward life or death. Guards welcomed prisoners with blows from their rifle butts and truncheons, while emaciated figures in striped uniforms herded the new prisoners to their destinations.

Once inside the camp, new arrivals were shaved, tattooed (in some camps), and discarded into a completely alien environment. To survive, prisoners had to forget that they had ever lived in a civilized society, and learn the ways of the Lager. They had to move with the crowd, avoid being singled out, and, whenever possible, secure an extra ration of food. Inmates had precious little time to learn the routines of their new surroundings. Within days they were transformed from human beings to nameless victims of the Nazi regime
Photo: AKG London

 June 21, 1943: All Jewish workers at municipal factories in Drogobych, Ukraine, are killed.
 June 21, 1943: German Professor August Hirt chooses 103 Jewish men and women at Auschwitz to be transported to the Natzweiler-Struthof camp near Strasbourg, France. There they are gassed. The soft tissues of their bodies are removed, and their skeletons are strung up as exhibits in the Reich Anatomical Institute of Strasbourg for the study of the Jewish race; See October 25, 1943.
 June 23, 1943: Ukrainian police surround a Jewish school at Czortków, Ukraine, where 534 Jewish slave laborers are housed. The camp commandant, Thomanek, shoots several prisoners and orders others carted off for execution. A local gentile, Jan Nakonieczny, successfully hides five Jews in his tiny henhouse.
 June 25, 1943: Armed Jewish resistance occurs at Lvov, Ukraine, and at Czestochowa, Poland.
 June 25, 1943: A new crematorium opens at Auschwitz-Birkenau.
1943: Death and Resistance
 pg. 461 
The Holocaust Chronicle
© 2009 Publications International, Ltd.