Death camp equipment up for auction
A collection of surgical equipment with a possibly gruesome Nazi past in the hands of a concentration camp commandant is being put up for auction.
A wooden box of instruments belonging to SS Major Anton Burger, commandant of the Theresienstadt camp in what was then Czechoslovakia, is being sold off by the widow of a Jewish man whose parents were Holocaust survivors.
Known as the "paradise camp", Theresienstadt was used as a propaganda tool during the Second World War.
Burger was the man who hid the death and destruction during stage-managed visits by the Red Cross which were used to help conceal the sickening purpose behind it and other camps from the watching world.
Disturbingly, given the contents of the box, there is no evidence that Sturmbannfuhrer Burger, who was in charge of the camp from July 1943 to February 1944, ever received medical training.
The mostly monogrammed equipment has been put up for sale at a small auction house in Bude, Cornwall, by an anonymous seller.
Grace Cloke, from Villa Hall Auctions, which is handling the sale, said information about the memorabilia was scarce, as the seller's husband rarely talked about his family when he was alive because he had become estranged from them.
"It was always in the house on the shelf. His father used to deal during the war in the black market so we don't know whether they were in the camp and were able to take it or whether it came through the black market somehow," she said. "It is something we are never going to know."
The camp, near what is now the town of Terezin in the Czech Republic, acted as a ghetto for 140,000 Jews, with 33,000 dying there during the war and 88,000 taken from it to extermination camps like Auschwitz and murdered. Just 1,900 were still alive when the ghetto was liberated by Soviet troops on May 7 1945.
Austrian-born Burger was sentenced to death after the war but fled and lived under an assumed name, eventually dying in Germany in 1991 at the age of 80. It was only three years after his death, in 1994, that anyone found out who the dead man really was.