I have been collecting information like crazy since I was in D.C. What started out as a nugget has been a strike on the mother lode. My new source is Myriam. She has been sending me e-mails every couple of days with bits and pieces that are amazing. Each one is more interesting than the last, and I think I have finally gotten the answer as to why my family was in a concentration camp, released, and then re-imprisoned. The basic issue is that the Nazis had two goals:
1) Exterminate the Jews and all others who were not Aryan.
2) Before killing off the Jews steal everything they have.
Hitler promised that the Third Reich would be prosperous. He was making it prosperous by taking everything of value from the areas he invaded. He looted fine art, personal belongings, banks, gold fillings, etc. He left no stone unturned. Once he had everything that he wanted, then he killed off the former inhabitants of the land and owners of the property.
Myriam, my new contact in the Netherlands, summed up this part of history very well in an e-mail the other day. She said:
…behind what I perceived as chaos was a huge amount of planning and implementation down to the smallest details. The Third Reich is seen as a regime based on a despicable ideology, which it is. But I have come to see it as a well prepared and well-organized theft economy, served by the occupation of foreign lands and the exploitation of people. In its extreme expression, slavery, and its most extreme form, the systematic elimination of people stripped of all their possessions. The ideology was the cover-up for the theft. In the case of the metal buyers, in the end, the ideology won over the theft: Eichmann won over Speer. At some point the goals and the figures agreed to at the Wannsee conference became more important than the goal of exploiting occupied Europe to the benefit of the German economy. How else can we explain a high-ranking officer like Eichmann being involved in catching a dozen metal buyers in the Netherlands…?
Albert Speer, the Minister of Armaments and War Production for the Third Reich, was using my grandfather and other metal buyers to obtain the raw materials that he needed to build his war machine. On the other hand, Adolf Eichmann was trying to rid Europe of Jews. Their push and pull led to the capture and release of my mother’s family. My grandfather and the other metal buyers used Speer’s need for raw material as a way to keep over 1000 Jews in Westerbork rather than being deported for several months.
In the end, Eichmann prevailed, and they were deported to the East, but having bought some time, some of them survived.