I received an email about this “true story” of Herman Rosenblat soon to be made into a movie entitled “The Fence.” An informed friend told me “It can’t be true because Theresianstadt was not a death camp. There was no gas chamber there. It was the model show camp and no one was sent from Buchenwald to Theresianstadt. They were sent the other way. That is just one of the many inaccuracies in this story.” What is the truth?
A quick read of the Wikipedia article on the subject indicates it was certainly a death camp, but was also used to fool the Red Cross into thinking everything was hunky dory. Holocaust deniers will happily claim the opposite.
I didn’t see any mention of gas chambers at Theresienstadt in the Wiki article, and it seems to imply that there were none. Am I missing something? Is Wiki inaccurate here? (Wouldn’t be the first time.)
It wasn’t a extermination camp where actively and systematically killed, so there weren’t gas chambers. The method of death means little, though; it was still a death camp.
Here’s a more in-depth article that’s not Wikipedia.
There weren’t any gas chambers at either Buchenwald or Thereseinstadt, but Rosenblatt’s never said there were. And, near the end of the war,there were transports from Buchenwald to Thereseinstadt.
Composite nouns do not necessarily mean the exact same thing as the sum of their parts.
There was an underground gas chamber at Theresienstadt, built at the beginning of 1945, but never used. This page says a little about it.
By this late stage of the war, the original role of the camp as a “model ghetto” was irrelevant - the time of pulling the wool over the Red Cross’s eyes was well past and it had essentially become just another concentration camp.
Looking at Rosenblat’s story, it appears that he was transferred from Schlieben/Buchenwald to Theresienstadt in about February 1945. There’s nothing particularly suspicious about that. Concentration camp prisoners were being moved about in vast numbers during this period to avoid them being liberated by the Allies. As noted, the latter had ceased to act as any sort of “model ghetto” and was out of the direct line of advance on Berlin. Nor is it particularly difficult to find examples of just such displacements; thus Martin Gilbert’s Holocaust Journey (1997; Pheonix, 2001, p96-8) quotes at some length from a survivor’s memories of the arrival of a trainload of prisoners from Buchenwald at the camp in April 1945. (Gilbert’s map of the camp in the book shows the location of the gas chamber = or see here.)
Rosenblat does say that he was expected to have been executed in the gas chamber on May 10th. That actually broadly accords with what Karl Rahm, the commendant at the time, claimed afterwards. In his - undoubtedly self-serving - account, the chamber was there to kill all the remaining prisoners immediately before the Soviets arrived and they were only spared because he disobeyed his orders.
Surely there were no concentration camps where large numbers of deaths did not occur? Or do you use “death camp” as a synonym for concentration camp?
Thank you all for contributing your time and information. I love and appreciate truth. It’s a beautiful thing.