German SIG #Germany Re: Visiting Theresienstadt #germany


Daniel Kester <djkester@...>
 

The moderator had asked why (in my post >from yesterday) I referred to
Theresienstadt as a "ghetto" rather than as a "concentration camp".
Interesting question. I have seen it referred to in both ways. I
guess that I would classify Theresienstadt in the same category as
the Warsaw Ghetto or the Lodz Ghetto: a place where Jews were forced
to live before being sent to the death camps. A place where the Nazis
could have control of the Jewish population, but where the goal of
the Nazis was neither immediate extermination nor slave labor, but
simply a place to house the Jews separate >from the non-Jewish
population (as were the medieval ghettos).

The fact that Theresienstadt was an existing town with existing buildings
into which the Jews were put (like Warsaw and Lodz) rather than an
artifically created camp of barracks, differentiates it >from other
concentration camps. However, if a concentration camp is defined as
a place where large groups of people are imprisoned due to who they
are (rather than for what they have done), Theresienstadt is
definitely a concentration camp. But then Warsaw and Lodz would also
be concentration camps (although I have never seen them referred to
that way). A difference is that in Warsaw and Lodz a large part of
the population came >from Warsaw or Lodz. But later, both of those
ghettos also received a large amount of people >from surrounding towns
and villages, as the Polish countryside was cleared of Jews. I guess
that the characteristics of Theresienstadt fall somewhere between the
characteristics of the "Ghettos" (Warsaw, Lodz, etc.) and the
"concentration camps" such as Dachau, Buchenwald, etc., leading to
both terms being used to describe it.

How the different camps are referred to is of more than just
linguistic interest. The general population doesn't realize that out
of the hundreds of Nazi concentration camps, only 6-8 were death
camps (extermination camps) with the specific purpose of killing the
prisoners soon after their arrival. This confusion is put to use by
Holocaust deniers. They point to the non-death camps like Dachau or
Buchenwald, show that Jews were not systematically murdered there,
but rather died >from disease, hunger, and hard labor, and conclude
that the mass extermination did not happen.

Daniel Kester Buffalo, NY, USA <djkester@adelphia.net>

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