|Krystyna Czyz source|
The Brilliant Code Used by Concentration Camp Inmates to Tell the World About Nazi Experiments
'As a sign that you have read this, send me a blue thread in a parcel': The heroic tale of young Ravensbrück inmates whose coded messages to their families were no less than genius
Tens of thousands of women – Germans, Jews, members of the resistance, Gypsies – were incarcerated in the camp, situated north of Berlin. Most of them were ultimately murdered. In the summer of 1942, SS physicians began to conduct medical experiments on them under the direction of Karl Gebhardt, who had the distinction of being the personal physician of SS head Heinrich Himmler. The victims included at least 74 young Polish women, most of them members of the underground. Their legs were gashed with pieces of glass and wood, and bacteria were introduced into the wounds. The ostensible aim of the experiments was to test potential infection-fighting medications. The Germans termed the victims “rabbits.” Czyz and her friends Wanda Wijtasik, Janina Iwaska and Janina’s little sister Krystyna were among them. The physical damage inflicted on them made even the thought of escape pointless.
In January 1943, after months of brutal experiments, Czyz, now 20, and her friends decided to rebel – by reporting secretly about the experiments to the Polish underground. By this means, they thought, the reports would be conveyed to the Polish government in exile, the International Red Cross and foreign governments, and the horrific crimes being committed by the doctors in the camp would be revealed to the world.