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“A man who has no shoes is a fool”: The Salonikan Jews in the Concentration Camps

The deportation

'In 'The Truce' Primo Levi remembers what Mordo Nahum, his 'super Greek' from Salonika, told him about the importance of having shoes.1 The 2 were facing their labyrinthic journey back home, after being liberated from Auschwitz. Mordo was respected by Levi as a wise, resourceful helper, who shared with him his skills and abilities, and whose superiority was undoubted.

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Sonderkommando. Interview with Auschwitz Historian Igor Bartosik

Due to the huge success of the film ‘Son of Saul’, a lot has been said about the history of the Sonderkommando in Auschwitz. The Sonderkommando was a group of prisoners, mostly Jewish, who were forced to work at the gas chambers and crematorium by the SS. Only a few survived. Their stories tell about one of the darkest chapters in the history of Auschwitz. We invited Auschwitz Study Group members to ask their questions and then Paweł Sawicki, of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Museum Press Office, kindly delivered them do Igor Bartosik. He is the historian working in the Research Centre of the Museum and he is a dedicated Sonderkommando researcher.

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The Saga of Cecylja Derbaum

Neil Kaplan, a collector of old passports and documents has turned his passion into a mission to collect and save as many samples he can to learn about the stories behind each item. The subtle markings engraved in passports over time can reveal so much about a person, where they have travelled, the route taken to a destination and even political markings of the country passed through. An understanding of the history surrounding stamped dates can almost paint an entire picture of the person at the given moment in time. Some of the most astonishing stories of World War II relate to the survival of individuals. During the very dark and cold moments of that horrific war that spanned for 6 years people fought to stay alive, to survive and continue living. That eternal burning flame, the flame of life, drove a few to fight against all odds and not give up. Be it in the camps, ghettos or in hiding, there are those who managed to come out of the ashes in Europe and tell their story. This can be in the form of verbal recordings or in the form of preserved documents. In this article, Neil spoke with Michael Challoner, the head editor of ‘Reflections’ about 2 women caught up in occupied Poland and their subsequent journey to freedom and how their documents provide invaluable information.

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The Unwanted Auschwitz

A reader may regard the title of the article as a paradox or provocation. Especially from the perspective of 70 years that have passed since the end of World War II. Considering the numerous debates emphasising the documentary and educational importance of the Auschwitz-Birkenau memorial, the numerous conservatory activities to preserve the postcamp relics - the unwanted Auschwitz is something incomprehensible. It is a superficial feeling, though, as the real space of Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum is merely a small part of what Auschwitz in fact was.

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