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1944: Desperate Acts
 pg. 536 
These children, who seem to have been treated well, were photographed in a park in Theresienstadt. The Nazis established this "model" ghetto and concentration camp in Czechoslovakia partly as a propaganda ploy to create the impression that the Nazi camps were pleasant places. It was the only camp that the Nazis permitted foreigners to visit, including representatives of the International Red Cross. Of the 15,000 children who were interned at the camp, only about 100 survived the war.
Photo: Comite International De La Croix Rouge/United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Photo Archive
This photo from the German propaganda film about Theresienstadt, The Führer Gives the Jews a Town, shows women and children reading in their barracks early in 1944. Several social agencies, including the Red Cross, were escorted through Theresienstadt. The Nazis insisted that the Jews were living well, even though most of the inmates would be executed. Of the 140,000 prisoners who passed through Theresienstadt, 90,000 were shipped to death camps, primarily Auschwitz.
Photo: Bildarchiv Preussischer Kulturbesitz

On June 4, 1942, Pavel Friedmann, 21, finished a poem about the last butterfly he ever saw. "Butterflies," the Jewish writer concluded, "don't live in here, in the ghetto."

A few weeks earlier, the Germans had deported Friedmann to Terezín (Theresienstadt in German), the walled military town in Czechoslovakia where they began to ghettoize Czech Jews in the autumn of 1941. A year later 50,000 Jews were struggling to survive in Theresienstadt's deteriorating conditions.

Theresienstadt also became a concentration and transit camp for German and Western European Jews who were eventually deported to Auschwitz. In mid-1944 the Nazis temporarily beautified Theresienstadt to deceive the visiting Red Cross and to make a propaganda film that pictured the ghetto as Hitler's gift to the Jews. The facts were very different. Of the more than 140,000 Jews who were sent to Theresienstadt, over 33,000 died and about 88,000 were deported and killed. Only about 20,000 survived.

Theresienstadt's Jews included many prominent artists, writers, scientists, musicians, scholars, and teachers from Czechoslovakia, Germany, and Austria. While in Theresienstadt, children and young people wrote poetry about their feelings and drew pictures about their experiences. Pavel Friedmann died in Auschwitz on September 29, 1944, but his poem, "I Never Saw Another Butterfly," exemplifies the artistic expressions from Theresienstadt.
Photo: Comite International de la Croix Rouge / United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Photo Archive

 June 28, 1944: As the Red Army approaches the concentration camp at Maly Trostinets, Belorussia, near Minsk, regular SS troops replace the non-German SS-auxiliary guards. All surviving prisoners--Jews and non-Jewish Russian civilians--are herded into a barracks that is set ablaze. Any prisoners who manage to exit the burning building are shot. About 20 Jews who had come to Maly Trostinets from the camp/ghetto at Theresienstadt, Czechoslovakia, escape to the woods; See July 4, 1944.
 June 28, 1944: The concentration camp for Soviet POWs at Vaivara, Estonia, is closed.
 June 30, 1944: The crematoria at Auschwitz are working at full capacity when 2044 Jews from Corfu and Athens, Greece, arrive. At day's end, lightning rods on crematoria chimneys are warped from the heat generated by the furnaces.
1944: Desperate Acts
 pg. 536 
The Holocaust Chronicle
© 2009 Publications International, Ltd.