Heartbreaking Discoveries Inside the Shoes of Children Sent to Concentration Camps

The horrors of the Holocaust at the hands of German Nazis will never be forgotten. But, lest we dismiss the events of World War II as mere footnotes in history, we must evaluate the fresh findings regarding concentration camps and the Third Reich that are being made on a daily basis. One latest discovery comes from the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum in Poland and sheds light on a devastating aspect of life and death in a Nazi concentration camp.Auschwitz killed at least 1.1 million people between 1940 and 1944.

As a cog in the machinery of the Holocaust, concentration camps were part of the “Final Solution to the Jewish Question”- the Nazi program to systematically disenfranchise Jews across Europe, first by seizing their property, then by using them as slave labor, and finally by murdering anyone who did not serve a purpose for them.

Auschwitz, located in Oswiecim, Poland, was a repurposed army barracks that was later expanded for the purpose of imprisoning and killing enormous numbers of Jews. The camp included 40 structures during its peak of extermination, including a rubber and chemical plant as well as other production buildings.While some convicts were given job assignments or even control over other detainees, many were slain shortly after arriving at the camp. Over 865,000 victims were transferred to the gas chambers and burned as soon as they arrived at the camp.

Piles of shoes, coats, glasses, and rings were collected from the victims, forming a visual representation of the departed souls. These murders were subsequently covered up with incineration. Men, women, and children were all targeted for annihilation upon arrival. Approximately 230,000 children were deported to Auschwitz.

According to a disturbing revelation from the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum, several mothers at the camp attempted to memorialize their children before death. Researchers discovered data on Amos Steinberg, a Jewish youngster of only six years old, inside a little leather shoe. His mother wished for someone to remember his name even after he died.Knowing what their fates would be, Ida Steinberg placed a written record of who wore the shoes inside her son’s shoe.

According to Hanna Kubik of the Museum Collections, “from surviving documents, it follows that the mother and her son were deported to Auschwitz in the same transport on 4 October 1944.” They were most likely both murdered in the gas chamber after being chosen. We can assume that she was the one who made sure her child’s sneaker was signed. The father was deported in a different vehicle. On October 10, 1944, he was moved from Auschwitz to Dachau. He was released from the Kaufering subcamp.”

The family had been imprisoned in the Theresienstadt Ghetto outside Prague for two years before being taken to the execution camps. The Steinbergs were not the first family to see the terrible doom that lay ahead of them and try to right their children’s wrongs. Museum officials have discovered shards of official papers, letters, and even ripped sections of pamphlets inside children’s shoes- anything that could assist identify who these youngsters were after their terrible deaths.

It is both heartbreaking and touching that these families, in the face of their own mortality, had the foresight to retain a small bit of their children’s identity. Even in the face of the Nazis’ inhumane deeds, the caring parents did their best to ensure their children were remembered.

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