Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
01 August 2013
Dear Mr. Black:
Mr. Johannes Pfaeffle forwarded to CODOH your answer to his request for the name, with proof, of one person gassed at Auschwitz-Birkenau. You gave the name Else Ury and wrote,
"We know that Else Ury went to Auschwitz-Birkenau, because her name appears on a transport list with more than 1100 others deported from Berlin to Auschwitz-Birkenau on January 12, 1943. We know that she did not survive selection upon arrival because her name does not appear in the prisoner registry."
You also wrote, "Else Ury was one of 1,196 German Jews deported from Berlin to Auschwitz on January 13, 1943.”
We at CODOH understand that you receive a great number of inquires ranging from simple to complex. We also believe that the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum has a duty to provide accurate information to the public. We would respectfully share our concerns with your answer regarding the fate of Else Ury.
The Yad Vashem lists Else Ury five times in their Central Database of Shoah Victims' names. Quote: "Else Ury was born in 1877. Prior to WWII she lived in Berlin, Germany. Else was murdered/perished in Auschwitz, Poland. This information is based on a List of murdered Jews from Germany found in Gedenkbuch - Opfer der Verfolgung der Juden unter der nationalsozialistischen Gewaltherrschaft in Deutschland 1933-1945, Bundesarchiv (German National Archives), Koblenz 1986."
First, we note a conflict between your statement that “1196 German Jews (were) deported from Berlin to Auschwitz-Birkenau on January 12, 1943" and the report of Danuta Czech in Auschwitz Chronicle that a transport from Berlin arrived at Auschwitz on January 13, 1943 with one thousand (1,000) men, women and children on it. This suggests that 196 persons may have been taken off of the Auschwitz transport.
We also note that there were numerous transports of Jewish deportees from Berlin to Theresienstadt in 1943. These transports carried thousands of people and oftentimes included prominent older German Jews, like Else Ury. One such transport from Berlin went to Theresienstadt on January 12, 1943, the day that Else Ury was deported. It was transport I/80 and carried 105 people.
On another level, it appears that your claim that all people arriving at Auschwitz-Birkenau who were not entered into the Camp Registry were gassed has been shown to be incorrect. Specific examples are Anne Frank, her mother Edith, and sister Margot. They all arrived at Birkenau on September 5, 1944, were not registered into the camp and were not murdered. Instead, Anne and Margot lived in Birkenau and then were moved to Bergen-Belsen Camp, probably on October 28, 1944. Edith Frank was never registered at Auschwitz but died there in January 1945. This was not an uncommon pattern. There were clearly large numbers of unregistered detainees at Auschwitz-Birkenau.
Danuta Czech writes, "The separate section of Camp B-IIe for unregistered male and female Jews, Camp B-IIc, and Section B-III (Mexico) are referred to in camp documents as the so-called 'Auschwitz II Transit Camp.' Female Jews without numbers are referred to in the camp records as "transit Jews." See: Auschwitz Chronicle, pg. 565
We also know that, starting in February 1943, Camp B-IIe became a Family camp, mainly for Roma but seemingly for other unregistered detainees. Danuta Czech writes: "By the end of 1943 a total of 18,736 men, women, and children are imprisoned here” [Camp B-IIe] Ibid. pg. 295. We also know that tens of thousands of detainees left Auschwitz. The Auschwitz State Museum website states: "About 135,000 Jews were transferred to other camps as part of the distribution of labor resources and the final liquidation of the camp." In fact, the figure of people who were transferred to other camps from Auschwitz may well be closer to 250,000.
These figures seem to eliminate any certainty that arrival at Auschwitz meant death, or that being unregistered meant being gassed. Also relative to your claim that Else Ury was murdered by gas at Auschwitz, it is worth noting that the crematorium buildings at Birkenau (which are alleged to have been gas chambers) were not completed until March 22, 1943—at the earliest.
Else Ury was a prominent and talented writer. It appears certain that she did not survive World War II and it appears she was deported from Berlin on January 12, 1943. For the reasons given above, we feel that it is improper for you to cite her as a "victim of the gas chambers."
David Merlin, CODOH
Post Office Box 439016
San Ysidro, CA 92143
209 682 5327