The Last Letter

Just a week earlier, a police officer in Cologne had raised Theodor Babilon’s hopes of being released. When the Gestapo put together a transport in mid-January, however, those hopes were dashed. The 45-year-old family man was also on the list.

A devout Catholic, Babilon had been through five months in Gestapo custody by the time he reached Buchenwald on 17 January with more than 260 other prisoners. It was in his capacity as executive director of the Kolpinghaus in Cologne that he had come under the watchful eye of the Gestapo. In the railway waggon en route to Buchenwald, he wrote a letter to his family: “Keep praying hard that everything will go well and we will all be happily reunited. I’m writing from the transport because I don’t know whether I’ll have the opportunity in B[uchenwald].

At the end of January, the SS sent Theodor Babilon to the infamous S III subcamp near Ohrdruf. It was not long before he succumbed to the conditions there: his death was registered on 11 February. The letter “from the transport” proved to be his last sign of life.

(Michael Löffelsender)

Source: Letter from Theodor Babilon, 16 January 1945 (Historisches Archiv des Erzbistums Köln).