Theresienstadt, Czechoslovakia (May. 17)
Long-time Jewish inmates of this ghetto city today gave the first detailed account of what has been going on in the three-and-a-half years since the Germans first established a concentration center here for Jews from Czechoslovakia, Germany and Austria.
The Germans purchased the town with money seized from Czechoslovak Jews. Only central European Jews were sent here until a few months ago when remnants of Hungarian and Polish Jews from other camps were brought in. Living quarters were slightly better than those at Buchenwald or Dachau, but the starvation was as widespread as in other camps.
About 150,000 Jews passed through Theresienstadt since its establishment. Transports left regularly for the Oswiecim death camp and for Dechau, Flossenberg and other labor camps. The population reached its peak in 1942 when 65,000 were confined here. It was cut down to 30,000 by September 1944, after which more than 15,000 were sent to Oswiecim.
In January, 1945, a transport of 6,000 central European Jews, who had previously not been molested because they were married to non-Jews, arrived. In April, more than 15,000 evacuated from concentration camps arrived, among whom were an estimated 7,000 Hungarians and 5,000 Poles. A transport from Buchenwald arrived on May 5, after travelling for three weeks, during which time the prisoners had not been fed. When they were unloaded here they tried to smatch leaves off the trees to eat.
The new arrivals brought typhus, which spread rapidly in the crowded barracks, which were without sanitation or medical facilities. About a week-and-half ago, the 200 Nazis who were guarding the camp fled when they learned that the Russians were war, pausing only to throw hand grenades over the ghetto walls, which killed two people.
Within the walled ghetto area there is one hospital moderately well equipped with instruments salvaged from Berlin and Prague hospitals by Jewis doctors sent here. The hospital has 200 beds, while, at the moment, there are 2,600 sick and 4,000 aged persons requiring attention. Two synagogues were maintained with torahs smuggled in from all over Europe.
Marriages were permitted within the ghetto, but Jewish women were not allowed to bear children unless they had conceived before they were sent to Theresienstadt. Other pregnancies were aborted. There are 400 children here, of whom 60 are orphans, some so young that they do not know their own names. Schools were not permitted.