Eda de Botton-Siakki and her husband, Alvertos Siakkis, a lawyer, were a young Jewish couple living in Thessaloniki when the Germans occupied the city in 1941. Shortly afterwards, in April 1942, Eda gave birth to the couple’s first child, Reina.
With conditions imposed by the Nazis making life increasingly difficult for the city’s Jewish population, Eda and Alvertos had to act fast to ensure their – and their newborn daughter’s – safety.
Eda had Spanish citizenship, which gave her a chance of escaping, but only if she was no longer married to Alvertos, so the couple made the heartbreaking decision to divorce, and Eda reverted to her original surname, De Botton. Once divorced, Alvertos fled to the mountains where he joined the resistance movement. By that point, however, time had run out for Eda, and she was confined in the Thessaloniki ghetto despite her desperate efforts to flee.
For Eda, time had run out, and she was confined in the ghetto despite her desperate efforts to flee
To ensure her baby had the best chance of survival, the only option Eda had was to give her to a family friend, who in turn handed her over to a Catholic convent, where she could be looked after safely by nuns. In 1944, Eda was deported to Bergen-Belsen concentration camp.
Amazingly, Eda, Alvertos and Reina all survived. At the end of the war, in 1945, Eda was in a hospital, Alvertos was in Palestine, and Reina was still in the convent.
While they had all survived physically, the emotional trauma of the Holocaust never left Eda, and she struggled to cope with the lasting effects of her experiences. She and Reina were reunited in Paris in 1946 after a prolonged search, but having been separated from her mother at a such an early age, Reina had no recollection of Eda and took a long time to accept her.The rift the Holocaust created between them was never repaired.
Το στρατόπεδο Μπέργκεν-Μπέλσεν στη βόρεια Γερμανία ιδρύθηκε το 1940 ως στρατόπεδο αιχμαλώτων πολέμου. Το 1943 παραδόθηκε στα SS και έγινε «στρατόπεδο κράτησης», κυρίως για Εβραίους κρατούμενους, αν και φυλακίστηκαν επίσης Ρομά, Μάρτυρες του Ιεχωβά, ομοφυλόφιλοι, πολιτικοί κρατούμενοι και εγκληματίες. Λόγω των συμμαχικών δυνάμεων που πλησίαζαν τα στρατόπεδα, ο πληθυσμός του Μπέργκεν-Μπέλσεν αυξήθηκε από περίπου 7.300 σε πάνω από 90.000 μεταξύ Ιουλίου 1944 και Απριλίου 1945. Οι ήδη απάνθρωπες συνθήκες επιδεινώθηκαν, με τις ασθένειες να εξαπλώνονται γρήγορα. Όταν τα βρετανικά στρατεύματα απελευθέρωσαν το Μπέργκεν-Μπέλσεν στις 15 Απριλίου, βρήκαν 53.000 αιχμαλώτους, η πλειονότητα των οποίων ήταν αδυνατισμένοι και υπέφεραν από ασθένειες. Όπως τεκμηριώνεται στη διάσημη εκπομπή του Richard Dimbleby, χιλιάδες νεκρά σώματα κείτονταν άταφα στο έδαφος. Άλλοι 13.000 πέθαναν τις ημέρες μετά την απελευθέρωση. Τελικά, περισσότεροι από 70.000 άνθρωποι δολοφονήθηκαν εκεί.
Τα γκέτο ήταν ειδικά επιλεγμένες περιοχές, όπου οι Εβραίοι αναγκάζονταν να ζήσουν. Με αυτό τον τρόπο διαχωρίζονταν από το κοινωνικό σύνολο και ελέγχονταν. Ο αρχικός στόχος των Ναζί να οδηγήσουν τους Εβραίους έξω από τη Γερμανία έπρεπε να επανεκτιμηθεί μετά την εισβολή στην Πολωνία και το ξέσπασμα του πολέμου. Εκατομμύρια Εβραίων που ζούσαν στις κατεχόμενες από τους Ναζί περιοχές συγκεντρώθηκαν σε γκέτο. Την άνοιξη του 1940 οι Ναζί ίδρυσαν γκέτο στις μεγαλύτερες πόλεις της Πολωνίας. Η ίδρυση των γκέτο ήταν ένα προσωρινό μέτρο για τον έλεγχο και τον διαχωρισμό των Εβραίων από το κοινωνικό σύνολο, ενώ η ναζιστική ηγεσία στο Βερολίνο εξέταζε επιλογές για να πραγματοποιήσει την οριστική απομάκρυνση του εβραϊκού πληθυσμού από τη Γερμανία.
Η αντίσταση στον ναζισμό περιελάμβανε την αντίσταση από άτομα και ομάδες σε κάθε χώρα της κατεχόμενης Ευρώπης. Ποικίλλει από την ενεργό αντίσταση έως την πνευματική αντίσταση ακόμη και την τεκμηρίωση των εγκλημάτων.
The Bergen-Belsen camp in the north of Germany was established in 1940 as a prisoner of war camp. In 1943 it was handed to the SS, and it became a ‘detention camp’, primarily for Jewish prisoners, although Roma people, Jehovah’s Witnesses, gay men, ‘asocials’ and criminals were also imprisoned. Due to the Allied forces approaching other camps, the population of Bergen-Belsen grew from approximately 7,300 to over 90,000 between July 1944 and April 1945. Already inhumane conditions deteriorated, with diseases spreading rapidly. When British troops liberated Bergen-Belsen on 15 April, they found 53,000 prisoners, the majority of whom were emaciated and suffering from disease. As documented in Richard Dimbleby’s famous broadcast, thousands of dead bodies lay unburied on the ground. Another 13,000 died over the days following the liberation. Ultimately, more than 70,000 people were murdered there.
Ghettos were specially selected areas where Jews were forced to live; where they were segregated, controlled, and dehumanised. The Nazis’ original aim to force Jewish emigration from Germany had to be reassessed after the invasion of Poland and outbreak of war. The millions of Jews living in Nazi-occupied areas were instead concentrated into ghettos. In spring 1940 the Nazis established ghettos in the larger towns and cities across Poland. The establishment of ghettos was a provisional measure to control and segregate Jews while the Nazi leadership in Berlin deliberated upon options to realise their goal of removing the Jewish population form Germany.
Resistance to Nazism included opposition by individuals and groups in every country in Nazi-occupied Europe and varied from active resistance to spiritual resistance to documenting what was happening.
Buchenwald Concentration Camp was established by the Nazis in 1937 and was one of the largest camps in Germany. Jews, Roma people, political prisoners, gay men Jehovah’s Witnesses and prisoners of war were imprisoned at Buchenwald, as well as ‘asocial’ prisoners who were incarcerated due to their inability to find work. Between 1937 and 1945 approximately 250,000 people were imprisoned at Buchenwald, over 56,000 of whom were killed. Many prisoners died due to illness, malnutrition, executions, medical experimentation, and the hardships of slave labour. In January 1945 approximately 10,000 prisoners – mostly Jewish – arrived at the camp after being forced to endure death marches. In early April, as US forces approached the camp, the Nazi paramilitary group SS began to force inmates on further marches out of Buchenwald. The US Army liberated 21,000 prisoners from Buchenwald on 11 April 1945.
Ravensbrück Concentration Camp was built in 1939 and was the largest women’s concentration camp. A small men’s camp was added in April 1941 and a youth camp, Uckermark, became part of Ravensbrück in June 1942. In total around 120,000 women and children and 20,000 men from over 30 different countries were imprisoned at Ravensbrück, including Jewish and Sinti and Roma people. Around 20,000 to 30,000 prisoners died in Ravensbrück, through starvation, from having been experimented on, from being worked to death, or selected for death for being considered too weak to work. A gas chamber was built in January 1945 and approximately 6,000 prisoners were gassed here. Shortly before the end of the war, the International, Danish and Swedish Red Cross evacuated around 7,500 prisoners to Sweden, Switzerland and France. Around 20,000 prisoners were taken on death marches. The Soviet Troops liberated the camp on 30 April 1945 and found around 2,000 prisoners who had been too sick to go on the death marches.
Auschwitz-Birkenau is the most infamous of all Nazi camps and consisted of three main camps, known as Auschwitz I, Auschwitz II – Birkenau and Auschwitz III – Monowitz-Buna. There were also around 45 sub-camps around these sites. Over 1.1 million people were murdered at this site, and over 90% of them were Jewish.
In early 1940, Hartheim Castle in Austria was converted to be used as a killing centre for those with physical or mental disabilities (or those perceived to have these). From May 1940, people were killed using carbon dioxide in gas chambers. It is estimated that around 30,000 people were murdered in Hartheim Castle.
Historians estimate that between 200,000 and 500,000 Roma and Sinti (historically often labelled as ‘Gypsies’) people were murdered by the Nazis and their collaborators in what is now called the Roma genocide. Many more were imprisoned, used for forced labour or subject to forced sterilisation and medical experimentation. Roma and Sinti men, women and children were already being targeted for persecution and imprisonment before the Second World War. As the Second World War began, the genocide of Roma and Sinti people intensified – including in occupied territories such as Austria. The persecution of Roma and Sinti and the Roma genocide took place alongside the Holocaust that saw the murder of six million Jews.
Dachau Concentration Camp was established in March 1933, initially to house political opponents. Dachau was used as a model for all later concentration camps. In the 12 years of its existence, over 200,000 people from all over Europe were imprisoned in Dachau, including gay men, Sinti and Roma, ‘asocials’, criminals, Jews and, later, Soviet prisoners of war. Once the Second World War started, living conditions in Dachau drastically worsened. Approximately 41,500 people were murdered in Dachau; one third of these died in the final six months of the war. Approximately 25,000 prisoners were sent on death marches as Allied troops approached. The camp was liberated by American troops in April 1945.
The Nazis planned the mass-deporation of European Jews to extermination camps in German-occupied Poland. The Jews were forced to gather at local sites, such as a synagogue or town square, and then crammed onto freight or passenger trains, with limited or no food or sanitary conditions. Journeys often lasted several days, and sometimes they took a few weeks. Many of those packed onto these trains died during the journey to the camps through starvation or overcrowding.