By now we’re fully aware of the terrible things the Jews experienced while they were in the Nazi concentration camps. From being tortured, killed inhumanely and even experimented on. But did you know when the international community got wind of the horrific news, the Nazis were able to fool them?
When the Red Cross got suspicious about the activities in the Nazi camps, they demanded to see what was going on inside. The Nazis developed a nice model camp and the prisoners were made to pretend they were doing fine.
Why Did the Red Cross Want to Visit the Concentration Camps?
In 1943, the international community got news about how poorly the concentration camps were run. The Jews were being tortured and killed. This was according to 476 Danish Jews who have been deported. The Danish government pressured the Nazis to allow them to inspect the conditions of the camps.
The Nazis agreed to the inspection to prevent more news about their camps from leaking. The visit from the International Red Cross was scheduled on June 23, 1944. (Source: The Holocaust Explained)
How Did the Nazis Prepare for the Inspection?
To make sure that the Red Cross would speak positively about Theresienstadt, the Nazis masked the true conditions of the camp. They prepared a specific route for the inspection. There, they planted gardens, repainting the buildings, and even added recreation. About 7,500 Jews were transferred from Theresienstadt to Auschwitz before the Red Cross arrived. (Source: The Holocaust Explained)
How Did The Inspection Go?
Since the Red Cross was only allowed to tour a specific route, they only saw the modified facade of the camp. The Nazis staged a football match to make it seem like the prisoners were treated humanely. The inspectors even got the chance to speak to some of the prisoners, but they have already been briefed on what to say. They did as they were told since they were promised freedom if they cooperated.
In short, the Red Cross was duped into believing that there was nothing wrong. By the time they left, several other camps started across Eastern Europe and the Auschwitz camp was in full operation. (Source: The Holocaust Explained)
What Happened at Theresienstadt After the Inspection?
When the coast was clear, the Nazis began to empty the ghettos from Eastern Europe. The prisoners were made to march all the way to Germany. About 15,000 prisoners arrived at Theresienstadt in April 1945 bringing the total population of the camp to over 30,000. (Source: The Holocaust Explained)
Did the International Red Cross Ever Revisit Theresienstadt?
Yes, the Red Cross visited the camp again in 1945. On February 5, 1945 a Swiss Politician by the name of Jean-Marie Musy negotiated to release 1,200 Jews from Theresienstadt to Switzerland. Then the Danish king had 423 Danish Jews released with the help of the Swedish Red Cross.
Adolf Eichmann, a Nazi officer, denied that any of the Jews were being killed. He also denied the fact that the inspection conducted was staged.
By May 2, 1945 Red Cross took over the management of Theresienstadt. A week later the Soviet forces liberated the ghettos. (Source: The Holocaust Explained)