Children among the victims of death camps
The Children cried: ,,Mummy!
But I have been good!
It’s dark here! It’s dark!”
Probably the best known child, who had been the victim of the death camp, is Anne Frank. She was born in 1929 in Frankfurt am Main in Germany as a daughter of Otto and Edith Franks. When she was four – year – old girl, her whole family moved to Amsterdam, the Netherlands. It was after taking the German’s Chancellor office by Adolf Hitler. The Franks were Jews, so Otto Frank decided to change place of residence from Germany to Holland. The Frank family moved to Amsterdam in 1933 (from Aachen, where they had lived earlier) and their house had been placed in Merwedeplein (this is the area in south Amsterdam), where Anne was a pupil of Montessori School.
When the Second World War had been started, Anne was ten years old. But she felt a growing danger in 1938, when her mother’s brother – Walter Holländer – had been arrested after the ,,November pogrom’’, which had been called by historians as ,,Night of the Crystals’’. After his arrest Walter Holländer became a prisoner of Sachsenchausen – one of the first concentrations camps. After the ,,Night of the Crystals’’ many Jews from Germany moved to Amsterdam. Otto Frank, his wife and their two daughters – Anne and her older sister Margot – started to feel growing intolerance as Germans (as Jews they didn’t feel this intolerance). Edith and Otto Franks thought about possibility of an emigration to United States, but they decided to stay in Holland. The German occupation of Holland began in 1940. On July 16 1940 the German government of Holland decided, that everyone of Jews, who had lived there from 1933 – had to register himself in the Office for Resident Foreigners. Otto Frank registered his whole family as ,,German Jews’’.
,,The Secret Annex’’ – as Anne had written about their hiding place. It was a part of a house located on a canal called Prinsengracht in Amsterdam. The Franks moved there on December 1 1940. The whole area of this Annex was 46 m². During her hiding, Anne had written a diary – it was between 1942 and 1944. If you read this diary, you see a great horror of whom, who have to hide themselves. They are trying to live normal, but it is very hard, of course, and also – sometimes – impossible. The whole diary has an epistolary form, because Anne writes her all letters to her imaginary friend named Kitty. Nobody knows, who was this Kitty in a realty. It is possible, it was Hanneli Goslar, Anne’s best friend. The last note in Anne’s diary is from August 1 1944. Three days later she and her whole family had been arrested by Grüne Polizei and moved to Westerbork transit camp. The next camp, which the Franks were jailed, was Auschwitz - Birkenau and Anne’s mother died there. Anne and Margot Frank died in Bergen – Belsen concentration camp in 1945. One of Franks family, who survived the Second World War, was Anne’s father, Otto Frank. He published her diary in 1947, he created her museum in Amsterdam and also her foundation in Basel, Switzerland. Otto Frank died in 1980 in Switzerland at age 91.
Many, many children had been murdered in Auschwitz – Birkenau. And, if they hadn’t been murdered – they had passed away of starvation, they had died from typhus and many other illnesses. Sometimes they had been victims of dr. Josef Mengele pseudo – medical experiences. Josef Mengele (1912 – 1979) was a pre – war doctor, an alumnus of medical studies at Munich University (with a PhD degree). He had been called the ,,Angel of Death’’, who made his horrific experiences in Auschwitz concentration camp. Generally, Mengele had his three favorites areas of researches: similarities between twins, a cheek gangrene (Noma Faciei in Latin language) and a dwarfism. His assistant had memorized in his book ,,I was an assistant of dr. Mengele’’, that Mengele was really happy, when he found among prisoners the twins – two small boys, where one of whom was hump – backed. Mengele decided to sew these twins together by their backs. He was also really interested in eye – color – similarities between twins. He collected the corpses of dead people, who were twins, and changed eyeballs between them. A dwarfism – his next interest. Mengele had made his experiences also on whole family of Czechoslovakian dwarfs, whom moved to Auschwitz in one of transports. Those of the people, who had survived Auschwitz camp, had written in their memories, that Mengele offered sweets for crying children from new transports. Nobody knows, how many children had been murdered in Auschwitz gas chambers. The whole amount of victims of all concentration camps is practically impossible for counting.
“The Children cried: Mummy! / But I have been good, / it’s dark here! It’s dark!” – this is the part of Tadeusz Różewicz’s poem, which title is ,,Massacre of the Boys’’. Whole this poem is absolutely shocking view of children, who knows, that all of them will be killed in a few minutes. Quoted part of Różewicz’s poem had been used in the Museum of Concentration Camp in Bełżec. It shows the tragedy of innocent children, bestially murdered by Nazis in death camps.
Frank A., The Diary of a young Girl, London 1997.
Müller M., Anne Frank. The Biography, London 2013.
Nyiszli M., Byłem asystentem doktora Mengele, Oświęcim 2000.
Pressler M., Treasures from the Attic, London 2012.