Death Certificate of Gabriel Frankl from the Terezín (Theresienstadt) Ghetto

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The death certificate (Todesfallanzeige) of Gabriel Frankl, like 20,000 other death certificates, offers an important insight into life and death in the Terezín Ghetto. Each certificate issued between December 1941 and September 1943 has a number, issued sequentially.

These documents contain a great deal of information, like a person’s date of birth, the place of birth, the status, the person’s occupationand religion as well as the person’s sex, citizenship, the last place of residence, the names of their parents, the number of children, and the transport number they arrived on.

The death certificates often detail the deceased’s "place of residence” within the ghetto. In this case it refers to E IIIa, the so-called “Geniekaserne” (“Genius barracks”). This information might offer more insight into living conditions and further circumstances.

Unlike most other documents from the Ghetto, the death certificate also mentions the names of relatives in the ghetto as well as in the “Protectorate Bohemia and Moravia”. In Gabriel Frankl’s case his son, psychotherapist Viktor Frankl is mentioned as well as Gabriel Frankl’s wife, Elsa Frankl and her place of residence within the ghetto.

Death certificates were completed by the doctor working in the barrack at the time of death. The doctor who signed this death certificate is Josef Weil.

Most importantly, next to the date of death and time of death the certificates detail both the disease and the cause of death, giving valuable information about living conditions and health in the ghetto. However, the cause of death should be considered with some scepticism; infectious diseases and other such causes were often masked using euphemistic terms relating to malnutrition and poor conditions. Sometimes the number categorising the disease or illness doesn’t completely fit the written cause of death, again, offering some extra insight into individual cases.

A much later autobiographical account by Gabriel Frankl’s son, Viktor Frankl, details how he used morphine he had smuggled into the ghetto to hasten his father’s death and spare him further suffering.

Each certificate was checked and countersigned by other physicians. In this case, Erich Munk who was head of the Medical Department in Terezín, was the countersignature.

For further information on Czech victims of the Holocaust, see the database of the Terezín Initiative Institute.