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A group of emaciated survivors in the infirmary barracks for Jewish prisoners in the Ebensee concentration camp.

Photograph | Digitized | Photograph Number: 76788

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    A group of emaciated survivors in the infirmary barracks for Jewish prisoners in the Ebensee concentration camp.
    A group of emaciated survivors in the infirmary barracks for Jewish prisoners in the Ebensee concentration camp.

Among those pictured is George Havas (front row, second from the right).


    A group of emaciated survivors in the infirmary barracks for Jewish prisoners in the Ebensee concentration camp.

    Among those pictured is George Havas (front row, second from the right).
    J Malan Heslop
    1945 May 08
    Ebensee, Austria
    Photo Credit
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of National Archives and Records Administration, College Park

    Rights & Restrictions

    Photo Source
    National Archives and Records Administration, College Park
    Copyright: Public Domain
    Source Record ID: 111-SC-207890 (Album 3218)
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
    Copyright: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
    Provenance: Bud Tullin
    Source Record ID: U.S. Army Signal Corps Photograph
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
    Copyright: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
    Provenance: Ilona Shechter
    Second Provenance: Defense Audiovisual Agency

    Keywords & Subjects

    Administrative Notes

    Gyorgy (now George) Havas is the son of Leo and Ruzena Havas. He was born in 1929 in Mukacevo (part of Czechoslovakia between 1919 and 1938), where his father was a physician who catered to patients from the surrounding villages. Gyorgy had one sibling, a younger brother named Robert (b. 1931). The Havas boys grew up in a home that was identifiably Jewish but not religiously observant. Gyorgy had a bar mitzvah at a local temple but attended a Czech school. He lived a rather divided existence. He had Czech friends at school and Hungarian-speaking Jewish friends at home. His parents spoke to him in Hungarian, but tried to orient him toward the dominant Czech culture. Already as a child of five or six Gyorgy understood that many people hated Jews simply for being Jewish. Through conversations at home, radio broadcasts and newsreels at the local cinema, he learned about Nazism early on, and sensed the foreboding of his community after the German annexation of Austria in March 1938. At this time, the Havas' considered emigrating to America, where Gyorgy's mother had four brothers, who had moved there in the 1920s. The brothers, in fact, arranged for visas to be sent to Mukacevo, but Leo was reluctant to leave his home and his medical practice. Gyorgy witnessed the build-up of fortifications along the Czech-Hungarian border in the summer of 1938, the Czech mobilization that took place in September, and finally the Hungarian annexation of southwest Carpathia in November of that year. Because his father was known to have been friendly toward the Czechs and sent his children to Czech schools, local Hungarian authorities took revenge on him by refusing to re-certify his medical license. He continued to practice secretly, but was under great stress, which he often took out on his family. Immediately following the Hungarian takeover, new anti-Jewish legislation was enacted that severely restricted Jewish employment, ownership of property, and access to higher education. Gyorgy's Czech school was closed, and he was transferred to a Hungarian gymnasium. Two years later, when Jews were prohibited from attending the state-run gymnasium, Gyorgy was compelled to move to the Hebrew gymnasium, for which he had to learn modern Hebrew from scratch. For a time Gyorgy and his classmates were compelled to join the Hungarian paramilitary youth movement, which involved weekly patriotic lectures and calisthenics. When this "privilege" was withdrawn for Jews, the students of the Hebrew gymnasium were made to serve once a week in labor units for which they donned yellow armbands and performed menial tasks at a local agricultural school. In 1941 Gyorgy's father was drafted into the Hungarian labor service. Fortunately, he had a sympathetic commander who did not make him work, and he was soon discharged. With the help of a colleague, Leo was able to continue practicing medicine to a limited extent. In January of 1944 he had a heart attack. He was still recuperating when the Germans occupied Hungary in March. On April 19 the Jews of Mukacevo were rounded up. While most were taken to the newly designated ghetto, others, including the Havas family, were marched to a local brick factory, which had been established as an assembly camp for Jews from the neighboring villages. Leo was desperate to get his family out of the factory and into the ghetto, and to this end tried to ingratiate himself with an SS officer. On May 11 he saw a chance for them to get out and quickly got his wife and boys to jump onto a truck that was headed to the ghetto. Leo remained behind. However, on May 15 they were picked up in the ghetto and driven, along with Leo, to a second brick factory on the outskirts of town. There they were beaten by a Hungarian policeman and an SS man and then were loaded onto an empty freight train at an adjacent railroad siding. Several hours later a large group of Jews was boarded onto the boxcars and the deportation train departed for Auschwitz. When the train reached Slovakia, the Hungarian guards were replaced by German SS. Immediately upon their arrival in Auschwitz on May 17, Leo and the boys were separated from Ruzena, but they all passed the selection process and were sent to the prison camp. A few days later when the men were divided between those over the age of 18 and those below, Gyorgy and Robert were separated from their father, who they never saw again. On May 26 the boys were included in a transport going to Mauthausen. Despite Gyorgy's efforts to stay with his brother, they were forcibly separated during their initial processing in the camp. Gyorgy remained in Mauthausen only five days before being transferred to the sub-camp of Ebensee. Robert, too, remained only a short time before being sent to the Gusen sub-camp, where he died on December 2, 1944. Gyorgy was among the first Jews sent to Ebensee, which was a camp still under construction when he arrived on June 2, 1944. During the 11 months he spent in Ebensee Gyorgy worked in many jobs, including tunnel construction, erecting prefabricated barracks, and excavating pits for the storage of potatoes for the winter. On February 28 Gyorgy had an accident at his work site and broke his wrist. He was then sent to the separate Jewish hospital barracks, where he got virtually nothing to eat. He was still in the hospital when the Americans liberated the camp on May 6, 1945. On May 8 an American photographer ventured into the hospital barracks and started taking pictures of the emaciated prisoners. That same day Gyorgy was moved to the Czech barracks in the camp, where his health continued to deteriorate because his body couldn't digest the bread and soup he was getting. On June 6, he left the camp with a repatriation transport to Czechoslovakia. As he was in a very weak condition, he was urged to get off in Prague and seek help from the Red Cross. This he did and was finally admitted to a real hospital, where he remained for several months. During his convalescence he was reunited with his mother. Ruzena had been sent from Auschwitz to Germany, where she was put to work first in the Gelsenkirchen labor camp and later, in Essen. In the early spring of 1945 she was evacuated to Bergen-Belsen, where she was liberated on April 15. Several weeks later she too joined a repatriation transport to Czechoslovakia. When she arrived in Prague she met someone from Mukacevo who informed her that Gyorgy was in town and took her to the hospital. With the assistance of Ruzena's brothers, she and Gyorgy received new American visas in November 1945. It was another two years, however, before they left Prague by plane for the U.S. Two years after the liberation Gyorgy learned that his father had been a member of the Sonderkommando in Auschwitz and that he had died in the Sonderkommando uprising of October 7, 1944, that resulted in the destruction of one of the gas chambers.

    [Source: Havas, George. "Interview with George Havas," August 26, 1996, U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum Oral History Project.]

    J Malan Heslop (b. 1923), U.S. Army Signal Corps photographer, who took pictures of the advance of American troops through France, Belgium, Germany and Austria, including the liberation of the Ebensee concentration camp. Born in Taylor, Utah, Heslop was the son of Jesse and Zella Malan Heslop. He was raised as a Mormon in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on a farm in West Weber, Utah, where his parents moved when he was still an infant. Heslop became interested in photography as a young boy. His father, who had taught himself photography after purchasing his first camera in 1912, showed him how to develop film when he was still in middle school. Subsequently, Heslop learned the art of photography on his own. While in high school he worked part time as a free lance family photographer and as an assistant photographer at the Ogden Standard Examiner, a local newspaper. Upon graduating from high school in 1941, Heslop bought himself a press camera. The following autumn he moved to Los Angeles to study photography at the Los Angeles City College. There, he learned that a new photography company was being organized within the U.S. Army Signal Corps with the assistance of professional photographers from the Hollywood movie industry. Heslop was advised to enlist in the National Guard, from which he would be assigned to one of the new companies. He did so in October 1942 and was assigned to the 167th Signal Corps company. While he was waiting to be called to active duty, Heslop was sent for several sessions of photographic training at Paramount Studios in Hollywood. In 1943 he was sent to Signal Corps training at Camp Crowder, MO, where he received little in the way of photography instruction. In July 1944 Heslop's company was shipped out to England, and two months later, on September 5, was on its way to Normandy with the 12th Army Group. For much of the fall and winter of 1944-45 Heslop operated out of company headquarters in Verdun. He was sent on assignments all over France, and occasionally into western Germany and Luxembourg. When the Germans launched their mid-December counteroffensive in the Ardennes Forest, Heslop was immediately dispatched to photograph what came to be called the Battle of the Bulge. In March 1945 Heslop was assigned to the 123rd combat unit. This unit consisted of two motion picture photographers: John O'Brian and Edward Urban, two still photographers: Walter McDonald and J Heslop, and the commanding officer, Lt. Arnold Samuelson. The unit was attached to the 9th Armored Division and crossed with it into Germany on March 20. Heslop and McDonald were issued both Speed Graphic and Leica cameras. The Speed Graphic, which used 4x5 inch sheet film, was employed for all official combat photography, while the 35mm Leica was used for less official purposes, including photographing fellow soldiers at their bases between assignments. While taking pictures, the still photographers were required to fill out photo identification cards with information about the place, date, event, and the names of individuals photographed (including their hometowns). These cards were dispatched with the sheet film by courier to England (via France), where the film was processed and the identifications stenciled onto the versos of the prints. Often copies of the developed prints were sent back to the photographers in the field, but not always. The Leica film was sent for processing to the lab at company headquarters, and the prints were returned to the photographers, who generally mailed them home for safekeeping. Heslop and the 123rd Combat Unit followed the 9th Armored Division across Germany through Naumberg, Leipzig, and Nuremberg. On April 28 the unit was transferred to the 80th Infantry Division, and the next day crossed into Austria. The 123rd Combat Unit was near Linz on May 7, V-E Day. The following day it entered the newly liberated Ebensee concentration camp, where Heslop took photographs of the starving survivors, many too weak to leave their barracks. As Heslop later wrote: "Men took the posture of thankful prayer as I entered some of the crowded barracks. I took many pictures. I did not have the capacity to fathom how terrible the situation was. The pictures tell the story. But the smell, sounds, and the gratitude must be experienced first hand." Heslop returned to the U.S. in late June 1945 and was discharged from the army on September 6. He then rejoined his wife, Fae Stokes Heslop, whom he had married during a furlough on May 1, 1944. After graduating from Utah State Agricultural School in 1948 Heslop went to work as a news photographer for the Deseret News in Salt Lake City. He remained there for the next 40 years, retiring as managing editor of the newspaper in 1988. Throughout this period he pursued a second career as an agricultural photographer for a leading advertising agency.

    [Source: Telephone interview with J Malan Heslop, February 26-27, 2004.]
    Record last modified:
    2004-05-06 00:00:00
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