Third Party Press

"Briefaktion" Auschwitz postcard

Peter U

Moderator
Staff member
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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Hambone

Community Organizer
Staff member
Incredible and diabolical. That such effort and deception went into industrial genocide; an industry of death, for that purpose. Thanks for posting Peter. Always interesting and fascinating stuff. :happy0180:
 

mrfarb

No War Eagles For You!
Staff member
Sobering reminder of the real history of ww2.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

jack944

Senior Member
Ditto

Incredible and diabolical. That such effort and deception went into industrial genocide; an industry of death, for that purpose. Thanks for posting Peter. Always interesting and fascinating stuff. :happy0180:

Truly shocking.
 

Peter U

Moderator
Staff member
Today another postcard entered my collection, this time from a Jewish men, Erwin Hirsch.
He and his wife, Elfriede Bloch and his daughter Kamilla were deported from the Theresienstadt ghetto with the first transport for the imfamous "Family Camp BIIb" in Auschwitz-Birkenau.
Both perished there, most likely during the mass murder operation of March 8 1944, almost exactly six months after their arrivel in Birkenau.
The first transport for the family camp arrived on September 6 1943, there was no selection and families weren't seperated, also they weren't registered but they got SB6 entered on their file: Sonderbehandelung after 6 months, they were to be murdered six months after their arrivel, they were just kept alive temporarely as a decoy to convince the International Red Cross and the Jewish council in Prague that deportation to Auschwitz wasn't a deathsentence but really a resettlement in a workcamp thus preventing an uprising in the Theresienstadt ghetto, silence the International Red Cross and making the next transports go smoothly.
An important part of this decoy operation was that the victims did sent postcards to their family members and relatives, writing that everything was more then OK and keeping them sending parcels to Birkenau with food and clothing, these parcels were of course confiscated by the SS.

The text on this card ticks all the boxes from the SS script: they are all together and in good health, Elfriede got pneumonia but has recovered (so health care is good), please keep on writing and give our regards so everyone.
 

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heavy_mech

RKI- Reasonably Knowledgable Individual
It's kind of amazing they were able to keep up the deceptions as long as they did. I also just noticed the 'Reply to' address was on Iranishe Strasse in Berlin. Thanks Peter! You're sharing and translation of documents is quite interesting.
 

Peter U

Moderator
Staff member
amazing the records that survived!
If I'am not mistaken, those Czech Holocaust victim files that now are digitalized and easily available online are visa application dossiers, I believe, for visa to immigrate to the USA which were all denied of course.
 

Peter U

Moderator
Staff member
It's kind of amazing they were able to keep up the deceptions as long as they did. I also just noticed the 'Reply to' address was on Iranishe Strasse in Berlin. Thanks Peter! You're sharing and translation of documents is quite interesting.
The Theresienstadt family camp was the biggest deception scam, it was done together with the cleaned up version of the ghetto they showed to the IRC.
And it worked, not only the IRC was fooled but also the Jewish council kept on believing the SS lies.
Even the Jews detained in the BIIb camp believed to the very end they would be kept alive to work for the war effort!
They were warned from the start by the camp resistance that knew of the six month waiting period, they tried to convince them to revolt but it was all in vain.
A wiki page about the story of Freddy Hirsch and the childern in the family camp: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fredy_Hirsch
 

heavy_mech

RKI- Reasonably Knowledgable Individual
The Theresienstadt family camp was the biggest deception scam, it was done together with the cleaned up version of the ghetto they showed to the IRC.
And it worked, not only the IRC was fooled but also the Jewish council kept on believing the SS lies.
Even the Jews detained in the BIIb camp believed to the very end they would be kept alive to work for the war effort!
They were warned from the start by the camp resistance that knew of the six month waiting period, they tried to convince them to revolt but it was all in vain.
A wiki page about the story of Freddy Hirsch and the childern in the family camp: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fredy_Hirsch
I've become somewhat familiar with that fake 'ghetto' and its plot to fool those inspectors. I do wonder how much of the Council and their actions or inactions were based on self-preservation (whether their own or 'as many as we can') opposed to really believing it?
 

Peter U

Moderator
Staff member
I've become somewhat familiar with that fake 'ghetto' and its plot to fool those inspectors. I do wonder how much of the Council and their actions or inactions were based on self-preservation (whether their own or 'as many as we can') opposed to really believing it?
Those Jewish councils were an important part of the scam.
Those councils had no real power, everything was in control of the SS (Eichmann's office) but giving them the illusion that they had power and thus could by collaborating safe their own lives and that of their families worked perfectly, for the SS that is.
It is a fact, that if you want to deport (and murder) an entire population, you can't say: "everyone has to go", then you get an uprising, better to say: "some have to go, others can stay, at least for a while and you decide yourself who has to go", then immediately a sadistic game starts to decide who can stay and who can go.
 

heavy_mech

RKI- Reasonably Knowledgable Individual
Those Jewish councils were an important part of the scam.
Those councils had no real power, everything was in control of the SS (Eichmann's office) but giving them the illusion that they had power and thus could by collaborating safe their own lives and that of their families worked perfectly, for the SS that is.
It is a fact, that if you want to deport (and murder) an entire population, you can't say: "everyone has to go", then you get an uprising, better to say: "some have to go, others can stay, at least for a while and you decide yourself who has to go", then immediately a sadistic game starts to decide who can stay and who can go.
I can only imagine the amount of favoritism, bribery, sexual favors etc. that would go on once people became aware what really happened when you left. People get pretty desperate. Anyone remember about a year ago with all the dudes falling off the C17s?? After the first couple (in broad daylight) you'd think they'd stop? Nope
 

Peter U

Moderator
Staff member
I can only imagine the amount of favoritism, bribery, sexual favors etc. that would go on once people became aware what really happened when you left. People get pretty desperate. Anyone remember about a year ago with all the dudes falling off the C17s?? After the first couple (in broad daylight) you'd think they'd stop? Nope
In Belgium after the war 242 people were executed for warcrimes, two of them were Jews that collaborated with the SS in the Sipo/SD prison Fort Breendonk.



The pages are alas in Dutch.
 

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