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    Moderator Peter U's Avatar
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    Mar 2010

    Default "Briefaktion" Auschwitz postcard

    Last week was the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz so it seems a good time to show you all an important relic of this gruesom episode in world history from my collection, it is a postcard from the so called “Briefaktion”, the “letter action” which was set up to camouflage the murder of the Jews population in the Auschwitz gas chambers.

    Once the deportations to the death camps started Jewish societies became of course suspicious when they didn’t hear anything from their friends and relatives that according to the Germans were deported to the “East” to be resettled in work camps, to counter the rumors that they were being murdered the SS from time to time forced Jews just before they were gassed to write a postcard to their family to tell them they arrived well and everything was safe, this camouflage operation was called “Briefaktion”.
    The largest “Briefaktion” was set up from the family camp in Auschwitz-Birkenau from September 1943 till the spring of 1944; it was part of the bigger set up to fool the international red cross organization that nothing bad happened to the Jews, the first part of this set up was to show the representatives of the IRC a cleaned up version of the Theresianstadt ghetto, the second part was to keep several big transports from this ghetto to Auschwitz-Birkenau separated in a so called family camp for six months, so in case that the IRC demanded to inspect one of the resettlement transports the SS could show them a carefully orchestrated fake representation of how Auschwitz-Birkenau operated. (The IRC never inspected Auschwitz-Birkenau.)
    This family camp was set up in the large Birkenau camp and was known as section BIIb, the Jews didn’t go through selection upon arrival and families were kept together, they weren’t shaven or put in inmate uniforms, also they didn’t have to work; they were kept in this what one can almost call a privileged situation for exactly six months, after those six months there time was literally up and they went through selection, which for most of them was a death sentence.
    The Jews in the family camp were encouraged to write postcards to their friends and family, the postcards the had written were carefully scripted and heavily censored, also they weren’t mailed directly from the camp itself but first sent to the RSHA in Berlin, where they were mailed in batches.
    All “Briefaktion” postcards had a the fake name Neu-Berun camp on them, together with a stamp that return mail had to be sent to Berlin.

    The postcard which is in my collection is from doctor Hanus Herzog (1907) from Chlumec (Czechoslovakia), he was deported from his hometown to the Theresianstadt ghetto in June 1942, on December 15 1943 he was part of the second “family” transport to Auschwitz.
    He is listed as being murdered in Auschwitz, details aren’t known but we can presume he was gassed in June 1944 when he had spend his mandatory six months in camp BIIb.
    The card has been dated April 15 1944, if this date is real or fake I don’t know, the postage stamp is from June 23 1944, most likely this card was mailed a bit more then a week after his death.
    The text on it is one of the short standard texts:
    I’am in good health and am working hard in my profession.
    I worry why you don’t write me back.
    Please write me back quickly;
    Kind regards, Hans Herzog
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