camp inmates

IRAQ. Basra governorate. Near Umm Qasr. March 16, 2009. Detainees walk after prayer at Camp Bucca, a U.S. military detention centre. At its peak, the prison located 340 miles southeast of Baghdad held 26,000 detainees.

Camp Bucca has been described as playing an important role in shaping ISIS. The detention of large numbers of Jihadists and ex-Ba’athists during the Iraqi insurgency provided them with the opportunity to forge alliances and learn from each other, combining the ideological fervour of the former with the organisational skills of the latter. Former Camp Bucca detainees who went on to become leaders in the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant include Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of Daesh; Abu Muslim al-Turkmani, al-Baghdadi’s deputy; Haji Bakr, who spearheaded ISIL’s expansion into Syria; Abu Abdulrahman al-Bilawi, the military leader responsible for planning the seizure of Mosul; and Abu Ayman al-Iraqi, another senior military leader. Abu Mohammad al-Julani, who founded the Syrian Al Qaeda affiliate al-Nusra Front, was also a Camp Bucca detainee.

Photograph: Yuri Kozyrev/Noor


Heart-wrenching photos mark the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz

Tuesday is International Holocaust Remembrance Day, marking the passage of 70 years since the Jan. 27, 1945, liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camps built and operated in occupied Poland by Nazi Germany. As many as 1.1 million people, mostly Jews from across Europe, were killed there in gas chambers or by systematic starvation, forced labor and disease.

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Letter, written for Purim during Holocaust, surfaces.

Handwritten document, which chronicles the lives of Jews in a concentration camp and contains passages from the Book of Esther.

A letter written at a concentration camp on the eve of Purim in 1943 was recently donated to the Yad Vashem Holocaust museum.

Written by Zvi Herschel Weiss in an effort to lift the spirits of fellow prisoners at Ilioara Concentration Camp in Transylvania, the letter includes passages from the Book of Esther, or Megillat Esther.

Weiss’ son, Shmuel Yitzhak, donated the letter to the museum. In a testimony to Yad Vashem, he said that camp inmates had no Book of Esther to read during the holiday and that his father, who had a sense of humor and liked to joke around, decided to write a feuilleton in Yiddish that combined stories from the Book of Esther with the stories of the camp inmates.

“The feuilleton is dear to me and I had a hard time parting with it,” Shmuel Yithak Weiss said. “My wife pushed me to give it to Yad Vashem and ultimately I decided it was important for the Jewish people that more people know about its existence.”

“I made a copy of the feuilleton and gave the original to Yad Vashem,” he added.


The Liberation of Buchenwald.

On 11th April 1945, American forces liberated the prison camp at Buchenwald, Germany. 

It was estimated that nearly 57,000 prisoners (mostly Jews) perished in Buchenwald during its eight-year existence as a Nazi concentration camp.

  •  Free Inmates of the concentration camp Buchenwald near Weimar, Germany, march to receive treatment at an American hospital after the camp is liberated by General Patton’s 3rd U.S. Army troops, in April 1945.
  •  Survivors gaze at photographer Margaret Bourke-White and rescuers from the United States Third Army during the liberation of Buchenwald, April 1945.

Friedrich “Fritz” Honka was a German serial killer who killed at least four sex workers between 1971 and 1975. He picked up most of his victims in Hamburg’s red-light district, at a pub close to the infamous Reeperbahn called “Zum goldenen Handschuh” (‘the golden glove’). The women were lured to his flat, where he would later kill them in his small attic room.

Fritz Honka was born in Leipzig as the third of ten children to Fritz Honka Sr., a carpenter, and Elsa Honka who worked as a cleaning lady. His father was arrested and deported to a concentration camp due to his involvement in the KPD. As a consequence, the boy spent his childhood in a children’s home for children of concentration camp inmates, and later in an orphanage. He grew up to be a very unconfident, cross-eyed man with speech impediments, low self-esteem and a bad alcohol habit. At five foot five, Fritz Honka was extremely sensitive about his height. He liked his women shorter, and he also liked them toothless, to alleviate his fears of mutilation during oral sex.

Honka’s first victim was Gertraud Bräuer, a 42-year old hairdresser and part-time prostitute. According to Honka, he killed her because she didn’t want to have sex with him. He strangled Gertraud, dismembered her and hid the body parts at several places around Hamburg. Four years later, Honka started killing again. His next three victims were also sex workers, and they were all strangled as well, but Honka didn’t bother much to dispose of the bodies no more and kept them inside his flat - Which would eventually lead to his arrest.

On July 15 1975, firemen discovered the mummified remains after a fire broke out in the apartment complex. They were later identified as those of Anna Beuschel, Frieda Roblick and Ruth Schult.

Honka was tried for murder in one case and manslaughter in three cases, due to diminished responsibility. He was sentenced to 15 years imprisonment and accommodation in a psychiatric hospital. In 1993, Honka was released from prison and spent his last years in a nursing home, under the name of “Peter Jensen”.

Dita Kurschner was born in Vienna in 1930; her family fled to Hungary in 1939. In April 1944, they were moved into a ghetto and in June 1944, deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau. In Auschwitz, Dita’s mother, Hedy, adopted fifteen-year-old Zsuzsana (Zsuzsi) Weber, whose family had been murdered. They were sent from Auschwitz to Gelsenkirchen and on to Sommerda. It was at this camp that Dita stole stickers from ammunition boxes, on which she recorded the prayers recited by a woman named Klari Kahna. Convinced that no Jew would survive the Holocaust, Dita considered it imperative to record Jewish prayers. With no knowledge of Hebrew, she phonetically transcribed prayers, as she heard them, into Latin characters.

As the war neared its end, the camp inmates were taken on a death march. Klari Kahna was killed in a shelling on liberation day. Dita’s father, Lajos, was murdered. Dita, her mother, and Zsuzsi were liberated in Reinholdshain and immigrated to Israel.