Terezin's primary purpose in the Nazi scheme was one of deception. Hitler, the world was told, had built a city for the Jews in Terezin, to protect them from the stresses of the war. A film was made to show this mythic, idyllic city. In the film, newly-transferred Jews (so they had not yet been visibly starved) were shown playing soccer, attending classes, engaging in artistic activities, and otherwise living a normal life. In reality, Jews who would not enthusiastically participate in the filming were summarily executed. On June 23, 1944, the Nazis permitted a visit to Terezin by representatives from the International Red Cross in order to dispel rumors about the extermination camps. To minimize the appearance of overcrowding in Terezin, the Nazis deported many Jews to Auschwitz. Also deported were most of the Czechoslovakian workers assigned to 'Operation Embellishment,' which spruced up the concentration camp to look like a functioning town. (The photo above shows the main town square, which looks similar to how it did when the Red Cross visited.) They erected fake shops and cafes to imply that the Jews lived in relative comfort.
Prisoners were transported from all over German-occupied Europe by rail, arriving in daily convoys. The SS forced an orchestra to play as new inmates walked towards their "selection" and possible extermination. (The musicians had one of the highest suicide rates of anyone in the camps.) The group selected to die, about three-quarters of the total, included almost all children, women with children, all the elderly, and all those who appeared on brief inspection by an SS doctor not to be completely fit. SS officers told the victims they were to take a shower and undergo delousing. The victims would undress in an outer chamber and walk into the gas chamber, which was disguised as a shower facility, complete with dummy shower heads. After the doors were shut, SS men would dump in the cyanide pellets via holes in the roof or windows on the side. In Auschwitz, more than 20,000 people could be gassed and cremated each day. Approximately 1.3 million people were killed in Auschwitz; 90% were Jewish, and the rest included Poles, Soviet prisoners of war, Roma gypsies, homosexuals, the disabled, and Jehovah's Witnesses. In total, approximately six million European Jews (including one million children) were killed in the Nazi genocide; approximately 5-11 million people in other groups (primarily Soviet and Polish civilians) were also killed by the Nazis in non-combat deaths.
The above photos were taken at the factory which was owned by Oskar Schindler, a German businessman who is credited with saving over 1,100 Jews during the Holocaust by employing them in his enamelware and munitions factories, which were located in Poland. As detailed in the movie, Schindler's List, Schindler first joined the Nazi party and sought to profit from the German invasion of Poland, but later worked with his Jewish account, Itzhak Stern, to shield as many Jews (including women, children and the handicapped) as possible from the Nazi death camps by claiming that they were essential to his business. As a businessman, Schindler was an abject failure--he went bankrupt repeatedly before and after the war and died penniless--but he succeeded when it mattered the most. At his request, Schindler was buried in Jerusalem. The above photos show Schindler's and Stern's desks at the factory during the war, and a list of the names of the people Schindler saved.