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1944: Desperate Acts
 pg. 539 
The gallows at Vught, Holland, dominate the landscape, symbolic of the harsh turn the transit and work camp took in 1943 when SS-Sturmbannführer Adam Grünewald became commandant. Belgian and Dutch partisans were hanged from the gallows. The number of prisoners at Vught steadily decreased from mid-1943 as the Nazis sought to kill all Jews interned there. From a high of 8684 Jewish prisoners in early May 1943, the camp's Jewish population stood at less than 500 by the early summer of 1944. Most of Vught's Jews were deported through Westerbork to their deaths at Auschwitz and Sobibór.
Photo: Imperial War Museum/Archive Photos
The Red Cross

Despite its commitment to humanitarian initiatives worldwide, the Switzerland-based International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) made only sporadic efforts to aid Europe's Jews during World War II. Red Cross officials feared that public condemnation of Nazi atrocities could backfire and jeopardize the organization's relief work on behalf of POWs and civilian internees.

The ICRC was convinced it could do little to actually rescue Jews. Unable to even learn the fate of most deportees, the ICRC tried to relieve suffering by sending a few parcels of food, clothing, and medicine to camp inmates whose whereabouts were known. The shipments failed to reach those in greatest need. The Nazis blocked most Red Cross attempts to visit concentration and extermination camps. Only after increased pressure in 1944 did the Nazis grudgingly allow the Red Cross to inspect the Theresienstadt, Czechoslovakia, camp/ghetto. The "inspection," however, was a charade, as the Nazis briefly turned the prison into a comfortable "model" ghetto. Deceived Red Cross inspectors wrote a favorable report of conditions.

The ICRC more effectively protected Jews through the work of its representative in Budapest, Friedrich Born, who participated in international efforts to halt the deportations from Hungary in 1944. More than 50 years after the Holocaust, International Red Cross officials acknowledged that more should and could have been done, and that the organization's meager efforts constituted a "moral failure."

 July 4, 1944: One thousand Jewish women are sent from Auschwitz to Hamburg, Germany, to pull down the remains of structures damaged during Allied bombing raids.
 July 4, 1944: 250 inmates, most of them French Jews, from the Alderney camp on the Occupied Channel Islands are killed by fire from British warships while being transported to the mainland.
 July 4-5, 1944: 2565 Jews from Pápa, Hungary, are sent to Auschwitz just as the Hungarian government is poised to defy Germany and halt the deportation. Only 30 of Pápa's 2800 Jews will survive the war.
 July 7, 1944: British Prime Minister Winston Churchill informs Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden that he is in favor of the Royal Air Force bombing Auschwitz. From July 7, 1944, to January 19, 1945, the Allies will bomb industrial targets near Auschwitz at least four times, including one resulting in the accidental bombing of Auschwitz.
 July 8, 1944: The Hungarian government declares to Berlin that it intends to stop deportations of Jews within its borders. Some 300,000 Jews (including more than 170,000 in and around Budapest) are saved, though more than 430,000 have already been murdered.
1944: Desperate Acts
 pg. 539 
The Holocaust Chronicle
© 2009 Publications International, Ltd.