Block 31: The Children’s Block in the Family Camp at Birkenau
In September–December 1943, several transports brought 17,500 Jews from Theresienstadt to Birkenau. The Nazis established a special “privileged” family camp in Birkenau to serve as a “show camp,” and within its framework the children’s block was created. In July 1944, this block, as well as the whole “family camp,” was annihilated. However, during the ten months of the block’s existence, a semblance of “normal life” was preserved, mainly due to the endeavors of Freddy Hirsch, the prisoners’ leader. In some cases, informal relations were even established between child inmates and men of the SS guard. This submission is based on and includes quotations from testimonies of both Nazi staff members and Jewish survivors. The role played by Josef Mengele in the life of the block, which was adjacent to and became part of the health complex, is noted.