Children in the Holocaust

Question

I need to know about children under the Nazis during the Holocaust, specially in Auschwitz.Thank you.

Brian Harmon answers:

Hello, I'm one of the question-answerers for the Holocaust History Project.

Children did not fare well in the camps: they were generally too young for manual labor and as such were killed upon arrival. Some children did survive: 400 or so children were found in the camp upon its liberation in early 1945.

Teenagers were sometimes selected for manual work at Auschwitz, but younger children often were not. Children born in the camps were generally killed on the spot, especially if the child was Jewish.

There were some exceptions, beginning in September of 1943 Auschwitz had a 'Family Camp' section where entire families from Theresinstadt (or Terezin) were allowed to live together and were generally afforded better food and living accommodations. This did not last, as the "Family Camp" was liquidated and its inhabitants gassed in May of 1944.

The Gypsy camp at Auschwitz did have children in it, but this camp was later liquidated and the Gypsies gassed as well in 1944.

Twin children often had some chance of survival; Dr. Mengele did a number of twin studies and went to some lengths to keep these twins alive for the duration of the experiment. Twins were usually murdered after the experiment was over, however, and their bodies dissected in a post-mortem autopsy. Despite the possibility of execution, the chances for medical subjects to survive were much higher than a regular inmate.

If you're interested in following this up in more detail I can recommend the book Anatomy of the Auschwitz Death Camp, in particular the chapter written by Helena Kubica entitled "Children."

regards,

- Brian Harmon

Question:

I have recently been asigned a research report for my freshman english class and my topic of choice is "the children of the Holocaust." I am having trouble finding information specifically on the living arrangements, treatment, and effects on the children at that time. I would be extremely grateful if you could provide me with this information or references to location this information. Thank you so much for your time and effort.

Harry Mazal OBE answers:

Thank you for your recent request for information.

I am one of the persons in the Holocaust History Project that responds to questions from our readers. It is possible that you will receive other replies from my colleagues.

One excellent page for information on children in the Holocaust is found on the site of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum's web site:

http://wlc.ushmm.org/wlc/article.jsp?ModuleId=10005142

There is also a site dedicated to documenting the experiences of the approximately one thousand Jewish children who came to the U.S. unaccompanied between 1934 and 1945 and stayed with foster families and in other facilities across America. The name of the organization is, One Thousand Children, Inc. (OTC) and its web site is:

www.onethousandchildren.org

There is an exhibit in San Francisco on children in the Holocaust:

http://www.jewishsf.com/bk980515/1aexhibit.htm

Narrative stories about children who survived the Holocaust can be read at:

http://www.jewishsf.com/bk980515/1aexhibit.htm

Two sites dedicated to Anne Frank with pictures are at:

http://home8.inet.tele.dk/aaaa/Annefrank.htm

http://www.annefrank.com/

I hope that these sites help you find the information you are seeking.

Yours sincerely,

Harry W. Mazal OBE

Related Links

Question:

I just had some questions regarding some subjects of the holocaust, wondering if you could answer them, please.

1.Because young people were the most vulnerable victims of the Nazi persecution, how can the children of the Holocaust teach my generation to value all children, everywhere, and in what ways?

2.Why is it so vital that lessons of the Holocaust be passed to a new generation, like mine for instance? What do you think as a memeber of society can be done to prevent such a tragedy from happening again?

Thanks and hope this isn't too much of a hassle.

Daniel Mittleman answers:

I am one of the volunteers who answer questions to The Holocaust History Project. We are much better situated at addressing factual questions than opinion questions, and the ones you present are excellent opinion questions.

Further, we have a strict policy of not doing homework for students. I presume these are essay questions assigned to you. While we are happy to help you gather facts towards answering those questions, your instructor surely is more interested in what you think than in what we think.

Here are some thoughts that might help you think about the questions...

By "children of the Holocaust" is the question asking about children who actually were in concentration camps, or is it asking about all children from that generation? If it is the second, then think about what their reaction must have been when they first heard about the Holocaust. Think about how this might have impacted their lives and caused them to see the world differently or make different decisions.

You signed your letter with "In Christ". I presume you are religious. Think about how you would react if you found that one country in the world THIS YEAR slaughtered six million people simply because they were Christian. Would you be angry? Would you be hurt? Would you be despondent? What if some of those people killed were your relatives? What if some were people you had met at a church conference? How would you deal with this? Would you want to go fight and punish the people who did the killing? Would it make you more or less religious? Would it make you want to end killing of Christians? Would it make you want to end killing of people of other religions? Would it make you want to do this enough that it would change your life?

There are many American Jews who were children in the 1940s and 1950s who experienced exactly what I described above. They now look at killing going on in Bosnia, in Africa, in Cambodia, and in the middle east. Do you think they see it differently than you do based on their experience?

What should they be doing to pass that experience on to your generation?

I hope this helps.

danny

Daniel Mittleman Assistant Professor DePaul University CTI

back to the list of questions