May 15, 2007

Today in Jewish History - Iyar 27

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In 1945, the Theresienstadt concentration camp was liberated. Theresienstadt was not a death camp by the usual definition. It was the center of a Nazi PR ploy -- a mythic, idyllic city that was supposedly built to protect Jews from the vagaries and stresses of the war. The Red Cross was once allowed to visit Theresienstadt, which was spruced up for the occasion; inmates were dressed up and baked goods suddenly filled the shelves. (The Red Cross concluded that the Jews were being well-treated.) In reality, starvation and disease proved rampant. Of the 200,000 people (mostly Czech Jews) who passed through its gates, thousands died of malnutrition and exposure, and others were sent to Auschwitz.