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1944: Desperate Acts
 pg. 519 
This SS Death's Head emblem found at the Dachau, Germany, concentration camp exemplifies the deadly cruelty of those who chose to wear it. In the last months of the war, Dachau expanded with thousands of inmates from the camps of the East. Disease and death ruled the camp, turning skulls and bones into the dominating reality of the camp.
Photo: Philip Drell
One of the most articulate and forceful voices in the Jewish community, Rabbi Abba Hillel Silver immigrated to the United States from Lithuania at the age of nine. After his ordination from Hebrew Union College in 1915, Silver accepted a call to a congregation in Cleveland, Ohio, where he remained for his entire career. A Zionist, Silver was a fervent and vocal spokesman for a Jewish homeland. In 1938 he became head of the United Palestine Appeal. Later, with Rabbi Stephen Wise, he became co-chair of the American Zionist Emergency Council.
Massacre at the Caves

The Ardeatine Caves just outside of Rome were the site of the murder of 335 Italian hostages, 78 of whom were Jews. The slaughter was in retaliation for a partisan attack that had resulted in the deaths of 33 German troops on Via Rasella in Rome. Lieutenant Colonel Herbert Kappler ordered the massacre on March 24, 1944.

Five months earlier, on October 16, 1943 ("Black Saturday"), Kappler had ordered the roundup of Roman Jews. More than 1000 were deported to Auschwitz, where over 800 were murdered. After the war, Kappler was tried by an Italian military court and sentenced to life imprisonment. He escaped in the trunk of his wife's car in 1977 but died shortly thereafter in Germany.

SS Captain Erik Priebke, who led the Caves massacres, was extradited from Argentina to Italy in 1996. An Italian court martial tried but refused to convict him of war crimes, arguing that he was only following orders and that the statute of limitations had run out. Retried by another Italian court martial in 1996, Priebke was sentenced to five years but served only six months.
Photo: AP / Wide World Photos

 March 31, 1944: SS functionary Adolf Eichmann assures leading Hungarian Jews that German-Jewish relations will be normalized after the war.
 April 1944: At burial pits at Ponary, Lithuania, Isaac Dogim, one of the Jews ordered to exhume and burn the corpses of murdered Jews, uncovers the moldering bodies of his wife, his three sisters, and his three nieces.
 April 1944: Former Pripet Marshes, Ukraine, partisan leader Berl Lopatyn, by now a member of the Soviet Army, is killed while negotiating a minefield.
 April 1944: Nine hundred Jewish orphans from the Transnistria region of Romania are given safe passage to Palestine.
 April 1944: Max Josef Metzger, a German-Catholic priest whose 1942 plea for a new German government had been intercepted by the Gestapo, is executed at Brandenburg, Germany.
 April 1944: A synthetic fuel plant at Blechhammer, Poland, staffed with 5500 Jewish slave laborers when it opened in 1942, now has just 4000 left alive. This month, Blechhammer is designated Auschwitz IV.
1944: Desperate Acts
 pg. 519 
The Holocaust Chronicle
© 2009 Publications International, Ltd.