Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Still gassing right up to the end : Ravensbruck

Since the Russians were hard into eastern Poland by the end of 1944, it has always seemed believable to most people that Himmler himself ordering the gas chambers to stop working as of November 1944 and for the SS to destroy all evidence of their existence.

No evidence of this 'order' has ever come to light, but clearly with the Russian front lines only a few dozen kilometres away, the local camp commanders and SS staff knew they had to stop, quickly destroy all the chambers (and the remaining prisoners) and then move back West pronto.

But forgotten in all this was the fact that there were still many many concentration (cum work cum elimination) camps still in Germany itself.

(Because only a handful camps were entirely about the quick elimination of as many Jews as possible - most freely mixed their activities up).

Ravensbruck was Hitler's only all women concentration camp ,home to women from two dozen nations and where at least 50,000 died.

(Lots of children and babies died there too - usually by being quickly deliberately murdered rather than by being worked to death like their mothers.)

Most women died by overwork and underfeeding -  but many also by executions for any small or imaginary infraction ---- or in ghastly medical experiments.

And after November 1944, death came in a new form - via a brand new gas chamber.

It ran on and on and on until just before the camp was overrun near the very end of the war.

For some reason, any mention of Ravensbruck and its gas chamber (maybe due to its extremely late start up date, who knows?) brings the Holocaust deniers out of the woodwork, as any Google search on the two words will reveal.

But the story of Ravensbruck is real and it needs to be much better known : and I think Sarah Helm has done it, in her book "If this were a Woman".....

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