< iSurvived.org >

Birkenau-Auschwitz and Dachau Holocaust Survivor

1      2      3      4      5      6      7      8      9      10      11      12      13      14      15      16



Dolmetscher (Interpreter)


Dringend! Kriegsmaterial! (Urgent! War Material!)

Durch den Kamin (Through the Chimney)

Durchgangsghetto (Transit Ghetto)

Durst (Thirst)

Dysenterie (Dysentery)









Detainees from all countries of Europe entered the gates of Birkenau-Auschwitz. In barracks and on the Appelplatz you could all the languages spoken on the continent.

Nevertheless, from the first moment of our arrival the SS-men spoken to us exclusively in German. From that Alle heraus! Everybody out! Shouted when the locked wagon doors were opened and till that einsteigen! Los... einsteigen! Get on! Quickly... Get on! When the exhausted Häftlings -- some after several weeks, others after months or even years -- were urged with riding whips and automatic rifles to get on the vans of crematoria, at Birkenau-Auschwitz all orders were given exclusively in German. The Häftlings who did not understand German and did not carry out an SS-man's order immediately payee with his life for his lack of knowledge of the Übermensch's Language.

During my whole ordeal as a Häftling, it was only once and barely for 15-20 minutes that I saw and heard a Dolmetscher, an interpreter.

In happened on June 1944, on the day my arrival at Birkenau-Auschwitz. Four hounded sixty-five of the men a 3.000 deportees transport from Cluj escaped the gas chambers. After we were deprived of all our belongings, of all objects that could have reminded us of our past, and after we put on the streaked clothes, we were herded to camp E, barrack No. 5. The barrack was empty. We waited for a while, and then they brought in a table, which was placed in front of us. On the table there were tongs, hammers, scissors, knives. A group of SS-men came in and a civilian followed them a step behind.

 An SS-officer raised the riding whip and ordered threateningly: "Dolmetscher, translator!" The Dolmetscher, the interpreter a tall, obese man stepped forward.

The officer commanded: "Stillstand" and in that position we listened, petrified with fear, to the speech made the SS-man, which the interpreter translated, speaking in a tone as harsh and threatening.

"Do you know where you are now?" he first question was yelled, and a deadly silence followed. "You are in an extermination camp!" the answer was rasped out with arrogance and deep satisfaction. "Do you know what does that mean?" the second question was bawled out with sadistically pleasure and the same deadly silence followed that. "This means that starting this very second you no longer have any right, you only have duties. Not even the clothes on you are yours. They belong to the German State! You don't have the right to report anything to anyone, but only to obey and carry out the orders. The chief of the camp and the barrack chief have the right of life and death over you!"

The SS-man became hoarse with shouting and began to cough. He took a break to calm down, and went on unctuously: "Perhaps, there's some of you who did not hand over their valuables. If you hid them in your boot's sole, you can take them out with the tools you have on the table. Take out everything you hid. If you swallowed gold or diamonds or you introduced them into your body, you'd better declare it right now. I warn you that in a quarter of an hour you will be checked with a special apparatus. If we find any valuables on somebody, he will be hanged directly. If you don't believe me go out and look into the neighboring camp. Those five men hanging in the wind were hanged yesterday for not declaring, from the very beginning, what they had hidden and where.

Nobody had the courage to verify if the SS-man had told the truth.

Some of us tottered towards the table. They took a knife or some tongues, took off their shoes and pulled out their heels or split their belts. And thus, event those who during round up and detection in the ghetto had endured so many threats and tortures. Who nerved up not to give way when they were searched or when their baggage and body and soul were checked and rummaged, there in barrack No. 5 they parted with the pendant or engagement ring they cherished so much because they recalled the memory of happy days. For one single moment courage had failed them. Soon, they realized that they should not have yielded this time either, because without memories and dreams one cannot live. But it was too late. They could no longer do anything about it.







Squeezed into each other on the Appelplatz we stared with goggled eyes at the alley stretching before us. Any moment now the Häftling with the barrels was due to appear. Food was brought in barrels, everyday the same meal, some sort of dehydrated vegetable hodgepodge which was called Dörrgemüse.

We were over one thousand detainees in Kinderblock No. 21. On fortunate days we got five or even sin barrels, 80-100 liters each. But there was also days when we got only three, depending on the whims of the Küche-Kapo1.

Waiting for the barrels to appear we talked about food.

 "What day is today, fells?"

"It's Tuesday."

"Do you know what we used to have on Tuesdays?" And he began to describe in detail the most appetizing dishes."

"You'd better stop all this nonsense, one said angrily. A potato peeling would do better than all you're fancy meals taken together."

Then somebody saw the first barrel, jumped to his feet and started shouting:

"From column! The food is coming!"

We stood up and ran towards the head of the column ceaselessly repeating "From column! The food is coming! " The sick and exhausted resigned themselves to going to the end of the column from the very beginning.

Finally, the column was made on the left side of the platform. The barrels were put in a line at the end of the Appelplatz and a stretcher with dishes was placed beside it -- some 35 three and four liter's pans and pots. A fifteen year's old boy was standing by the first barrel, holding a larder in his hand. This meant that the Lamppost, the Blockälteste of barrack No. 21 had not sobered down after the last night's drinking bout.

The kid emptied some larder fouls of Dörrgemüse in a pot or pan and shouted out the number of those supposed to stand out of the column. He established the portions at random, and without filling up a three liters' pan he yelled:

"Fünf!" Five!

One of the Häftlings dared to complain:

 "It's too little for..."

The kid hit him with the larder over the face and shouted:

"Noch zwei" Another two!

Now the same quantity would be shared out among seven.

Groups of five-seven Häftlings are scattered on the right side of the platform, and a pan of Dörrgemüse is passed round. As there are no spoons, the inmates gulp down, in turns, their or four mouthfuls of food, as it was agreed up in the beginning. While one of them takes the pan to his mouth, the others in the group stare at the movement of his Adam's apple, so cheating is out of the questions. There are no longer dishes available. The detainees in the column urge their inmates to eat faster and beg or threaten them to finish their meal:

"Hurry up, fells! Think of us! It's high time for roll call and we haven't eaten yet!"

There are inmates who lose their patience and come to a group begging for a gulp of food.

"Only one gulp, I can no longer endure."

Others crowd towards the head of the column, which is gradually thrown into disorder, as those who had eaten, join the column again, because people do not know each other and no one could tell who had eaten and who had not. The inmates at the end of column, fearing that they will not get their portion begin to fret. Suddenly, a Häftlings shouts desperately.

--- There is only half a barrel left!

Over 300 Häftlings who had not received their food rush towards the barrel, and try to get hold of a pan or pot to get a portion.

The kid is striking with the larder at random then; he suddenly gets border and throws the larder away shouting:

--- "Have it your way, lousy pigs!"

In a few moments the last barrel is empty.

Almost 300 Häftlings are left without food. Some of them were left without food yesterday too, and now they are crying with hunger, with rage and despair...

The (kitchen) chef.




Dringend! Kriegsmaterial!


In all times murderers knew they were detested and despised, so they committed their crimes in utter secrecy, trying to disguise their intentions, resorting to most "ingenuous" methods to cover their traces and tracks, so that neither the crime itself, nor its motive could be discovered.

The Nazis were an exception to that rule, distinguishing themselves in the series of common assassins throughout history. After gaining the upper hand in the Reich they cynically and sadistically called their horrible crimes "actions taken to the benefit of mankind." And they used all their meticulousness, perseverance and spirit of organization they were endowed with to "scientifically" prove that they, the Nazis, were doing a great favor to mankind, to the future generations, by depopulating large territories, exterminating whole peoples and races!

 Hauptsturmführer SS Dr. Josef Mengele was of the most fervent advocates of the degeneracy theory. While selecting those to be sent from the death platform of Birkenau directly to the gas chambers, he also picked out from among the millions of deportees arriving from all over Europe anyone who had the smallest physical malformations. They were ordered to step out of the column; they were not going to be gassed alongside the others, but killed with phenol injections in the heart and their bodies sent for dissections. Then the parts of the body with malformations were cut off and show to Mengele and only then the corpses were burnt in the crematory. If Captain SS -- Dr. Mengele considered that they were of some "scientific interest" they were preserved in special packages and sent by mail to the Anthropologic Institute of Berlin -- Dahlem. In order to prevent any delay or trouble (on behalf of the post office) the respective parcels bore the stamp "Dringend! Kriegsmaterial!" Urgent! War material!

The Anthropologic Institute of Berlin &emdash; Dahlem was sent not only certain parts of the human body but also whole skeletons in packages labeled Dringend! Kriegsmaterial! Nazis theoreticians, anthropologists and physicians imagined that in the huge halls of the museum in Berlin the Ubermenschs, the Arians of pure blood, the masters of Europe would look at the indubitable proofs of the Jew and Slav races' degeneracy, exterminated to a man in order to ensure the purity of blood of the northern Arians. Till then, all dwarves, hump-backed, crippled men spotted in the column on the death platform of Birkenau were killed, dissected, their skeletons carefully fixed on socles and their name, nationality and age recorder with Nazi exactness.

One day Mangele saw two deportees, very much resembling each other, father and son one would have instantly said. The father was hump-backed; the son had a lame leg. Mengele sent a note to forensic doctor Nyiszli Miklós: "The autopsy room, Crematory No. 1. They will be examined and both measured accurately. Medical records with detailed and complete clinical data will be draw up with special reference to the causes of the in deficiencies." Nyiszli Miklós would note in his memories: "Father and son, two livid creatures after years of misery in the ghetto of Litzmannstadt watch me with inquiring eyes, full of evil forbidding and petrified lips." In the evening when Mengele read their medical record he decided: "They should not be burnt, their skeletons should be sent to the Anthropological Museum of Berlin!"

Professor Dr. SS August Hirt had espoused the theory of degeneracy as a new creed endeavoring to turn the University of Strassburg into a SS-University, a true world center for documentation on inferior races, to which purpose he submitted a report to Reichsführer Himmler himself.

After complaining that science has a small number of Jewish skulls at its disposal, Hirst added: "The war in the east is offering now the occasion to improve the situation. We have the possibility to be provided with this scientific material, obtaining the skulls of the Jewish Bolshevic commissars, which represent an inferior race." Then he further suggested: "Practically, the unhindered obtaining and supply with skulls can be most usefully done by asking the Wehrmacht to hand over, in the future, all Jewish Bolshevic commissars to the military police."

Hirt was extremely meticulous, particularly when "the interests of science were at stake." He felt it was his duty to specify in detail the tasks of the special commissioner that was to deal with "the material at his disposal." First, according to SS-anatomist Hirt, he had to take " a series of photos and make anthropological measurements." Then, after inducing death without injuring the head, he would cut the head off and send it in a hermetically closed box specially devised for the purpose, filled with preserver liquid.

Nobody knows how many of the parcels sent to the Anthropological Institute of Berlin&emdash;Dahlem or the University of Strassburg and labeled "Dringend!" "Kriegsmaterial!" "Urgent! War material!" contained skulls, but it is known for sure that at a certain moment a transport of about 80 detainees was sent from Auschwitz to Natzweiler (a concentration camp in the vicinity of Strassburg) to serve as research material for professor SS Dr. Hirt.

 Josef Kramer, the all-powerful master of Natzweiler admitted at his trial, before being sentences and executed: "In August 1943 I was ordered by the SS Commander-in-Chief in Berlin to take over some eighty detainees from Auschwitz. I had to get in touch with professor Dr. Hirt from the Strassburg medical faculty. The latter informed me that the respective people had to be executed in the gas chamber of Struthof with poisonous gas and their corpses taken to the Anatomy Institute and put at his disposal."

After giving a detailed account of how he had killed the eighty detainees, according to Hirt's instructions, Joseph Kramer concluded: "When I did it, I felt nothing, because I was ordered to kill the eighty detainees as I reported. Say what you will, but I was educated in this way."

As Henri Henrypierre, one of Hirt's assistants testified in front of the Nürnberg Tribunal, the "donation" was anxiously waited for in Strassburg. When the transport arrived, the women's bodies were "still warm, their eyes wide-open, bright, blood-shot and popped out of their sockets." The assistant had remained dumb bounded in front of the open door, not knowing what to do, when Prof. Hirst came in and shouted: "Pierre, if you don't take them in and shut the door you'll be one of them." The corpses were put into tubs with 53o methyl alcohol.

When the fall of the Reich was impending the contents of the parcels stamped Dringend, Kriegsmaterial! Urgent! War material! Had to disappear most urgently, not to be seen by anybody, by the future generations, not to be ever discovered.

Professor SS -- Dr. August Hirt ordered his assistants to cut into pieces the corpses of the whole collection and burn them. The order was not carried out "Dringend!" enough and when Strassburg was liberated fifteen corpses were found still in the tubs. 




Durch den Kamin


I arrived at Birkenau-Auschvitz on June 9, 1944, around 11. It was already dark when I entered barrack No. 19 of camp E, deprived of my own clothes and dressed in the streaked clothes of a Häftling, no longer having anything that could have testified to my former existence. Over 800 people were lying on the bare cement on either side of a long passage which cult the barrack into two. We were 465 and we crowded the passageway, standing erect, as there was not even room to squat down and rest a little.

One of us, a nervous, restless youngster, kept tossing about, staring with imploring eyes at those around, as if waiting for an answer to a question he did not dare to ask. Finally, he managed to squeeze though to the people who were sleeping and started to shake, shyly in the beginning, then more resolutely, one of the sleeping Häftlings near by. The Häftling woke up with a start.

"What is it?"

"Excuse me, I beg you -- the young man uttered the words with difficulty, he was very excited and besides he was not familiar with German -- tell me, tell us, please where are our brothers, our parents, all those we have parted with? What happened with them?… When shall we see them again?…"

The detainee, an old Pole, raised his head and leaned on his elbow, stared and then looked around, at us… fastened his glances at us without uttering a word. Neither the youngster nor we dared to ask him again. We were hanging upon his lips. At long last the Pole answered:

"Don't mourn the ones you have parted with… They are safe from suffering… They left the camp. Go out and look up in the sky… You will see black wreaths of smoke bursting out through the crematory chimney… They escaped from the camp. They left it durch den Kamin, through the chimney."

"That's not true! You're lying. You miserable bastard! That's impossible!"

The mass of 465 Häftlings were clamoring beyond control. Everybody was shouting, crying, moaning, swearing, and praying desperately.

One single Häftling from the newcomers was standing still, silent and petrified. He was glaring with eyes popped out of their sockets at the Pole and from time to time his body was shaking a little, but then he again got it under control and stood motionless as if he were a statue. All of a sudden he began to elbow his way, with surprising force towards the door. When he reached it he looked out through a slit between two boards, and then the barrack was filled with hysterical laughter.

"The miserable is lying!… He talked our heads off with his whopping lies. My son is alive, come and see him. He is up, above the clouds of smoke riding a horse. All children are going on horseback in the skies… They are racing with the smoke wreaths… ha… ha… ha…

He suddenly turned to us and his crazy laughter died away. Then he again started to laugh but after a few minutes he collapsed and fell asleep,, exhausted.

I did not believe what the old Pole had said.

Starting the next day the SS-men and the Kapos, the Lagerältestes and Blockältestes and the Vertreters kept repeating: "I have told you are neither in a sanatorium, nor in some health resort, you are in a German concentration camp, wherefrom you can get out only durch den Kamin, through the chimney…"

But I still did not believe. I was 18 and the eldest in a group of youngsters from Cluj who, for the time being, managed to stay alive. I felt it was my duty to keep up their spirits, to encourage them. Trying tow persuade them I myself came to believe that building we kept staring at day and night was not a crematorium, where people were burnt but maybe the camp bakery or the wash room, or…

And we kept deluding ourselves till that hot summer of 1944 when our camp, camp E started being liquidated.

The first to be exterminated were the gypsies. They were burn to a man during one single night.

It was only then, after that night in mid summer 1944 that I admitted, I was compelled to admit that what I had heard on my first day at Birkenau was true: from the Nazi concentration camps there was but one single way out: durch den Kamin, through the chimney...







It is quite difficult to say where and how many hundred year's ago the first ghetto was set up. It is common knowledge however, that it meant the isolation, on resist grounds, of a population which was assigned a certain area of a town where it was allowed to live. The ghettoes and the terrifying pogroms organized against their inhabitants are one of the stigmas of the Middle Ages. In our century, when in Europe they had become just a sinister remembrance, they were "rediscovered" by the Nazis and set up in a new manner and according to new methods which surpassed in atrocity everything that the Middle Ages had devised or perpetrated.

The Wannsee plan for the Endlösung1 stipulated in a special paragraph: "The evacuated Jews (to be read: destined to be liquidated -- a.n.) are to be gradually to sogenannte Durchgangsghettos, the so-called transit ghettoes, to be later transported farther, to the East."

Therefore, those were no more old time ghettoes, delimited zones or districts in which the Jews were allowed to live &emdash; but Durchgangsghettos, in which people were transiting from life to death. During this last journey, the new type of ghetto invented by the Hitlerites was the first halt. The second and last one was Birkenau-Auschwitz.

The days and weeks spent in the first halt were so few that in some towns the Gestapo no longer bothered to evacuate district of the town to turn them into Durchgangsghettos, transit ghettoes.

In a series of towns in northern Transylvania the Horthyst authorities in agreement with the Gestapo turned the precincts of some brickyards into Durchgangsghettos, transit ghettoes. All Jews in the respective towns or regions were crowded in brick-drying sleds.

A survivor of the ghetto of Tirgu Mures, Berner Mór, recollects: "A few thousand of us were packed in the brickyard house itself, were the rain freely penetrating through the roof mingled with the brick powder on the ground turning it into a red clay mud. Along the halls there were narrow gauge rails with hundreds of trucks that had once served for the transportation of bricks and which now narrowed even more the space left for us to arrange a couch. There were no windows and the wind blew harder inside that it did outside. Nevertheless, there were quite many who trough that it was better inside, under a roof full of holes. Then outside in the rain. Some people took possession of the completely dark caves that were the ovens, for their inside was dry. A few thousand people remained outside, in the yard, because, on the one hand there was not more place inside the building and on the other they could not bear the unspeakable jumble there. It was utterly appalling -- and there were many women who broke down because of it -- to see hundreds of men, women and children laying their belongings next to one another on the clayey, damp, filthy ground, forced to sleep, eat an relieve nature one next to the other, with no separating wall in-between. That continuous clamor -- women and children crying almost ceaselessly -- the halter-shelter of dirty linen, all of it offered the image of ravaging disaster."

At Regin, too, the ghetto was arranged in an inadequate, rundown brickyard. The mayor of the town at that time, Dr. Schmidt Imre, would later declare at his crooss-extamination: "I knew the brickyard was a wreck... I never went there as I couldn't stand seeing such a dreadful view which I imagined."

In 1946 the People's Tribunal of Cluj concluded: at Regin, the same as in Tirgu Mures, there had been no toilets at the beginning and it was only much later that a few ditches were dug for the purpose. At Simleu, too latrines were two parallel ditches, with no walls in-between, were the internees, irrespective of sex and age, were compelled to relieve themselves in most promiscuous conditions. Dr. Krásznai László, the ghetto commander, and Lazar Jozsef, a member of Szalasi's party, took lots or fun in watching such degrading scenes. They went so far as to take photos witch Lazar Jozsef later exhibited in window of his bookshop, accompanied by the following comment: "That's what Jewish morality is like in the ghetto."

After the first night spent in the ghetto of Oradea, Eva Heyman, a true Anna Frank from northern Transylvania wrote down in her diary which came to us2:

"May 5. I haven't managed to count all residents in the house, as they were lying on mattresses everywhere, even on the stairs, and could hardly move for fear you might step on someone's feet. Later on it started to rain and Aunt Nushi's nice furniture was outside, in the garden (Where it had been taken to, to make room for the mattresses -- a.n.). Aunt Nushi said she wouldn't care even if it rotted off piece by piece, as it wasn't here any longer! I share a room with mother and Uncle Béla, Maricica and her parents, grandpa and grandma Retz, doctor Samuel Meer, who is very old and a good friend of grandpa's, Aunt Lilly, Uncle Samuel Meer's daughter and her husband, Pista Marton, a journalist. Then there is Ernest Marcovitz, a journalist himself, who is past his prime, too. Poor he! He is alone in the ghetto: his wife had remained at home, for she is an Aryan. Sleeping in the room are also Uncle Lustig and his wife, and an elder childless couple. According to the regulations there should have been sixteen people in the room, but as the room is small we are just fourteen."

Survivor Dora Ferencz provided us with a description of the first halt of the Jews in Cluj on their way to Auschwitz: "The brickyard precincts enclosed by a few kilometers' barbed wire fence -- and puarded all around by policemen brought over from Koice -- is the area assignees to the Jews (those in the Clue country -- a.n.). <Small rooms'> delimited by blankets and sheets are improvised under the roof of the barracks for brick drying. The indiscreet spring wind plays with the thin cloth walls.

"The brick drying barracks on the outskirts of Cluj, fenced in with barbed-wire and declared a ghetto, had been filled up since the very first days, but convoys kept pouring in. I used to get closer to the gate watching them for hours on end. Even now, after so many years, I wonder where and how could over 18.000 people find room there!

Another witness, Nicholas Hevesi, recalled: e had been brought together within the precincts of the brickyard in the IRIS district. There was no house proper, just sheds without walls for brick drying. It was there that they quartered some 18.000 people -- children, women, old people who were either drowned in dust or mud, or lashed by wind and rain. Hygienic conditions were deplorable. Latrines were dug only after a week or so. Relieving nature was a real torment and misery."

Round up and internment in Durchgangsghetto in the transit ghetto of Cluj started on May 3, 1944 at daybreak and May 26, 1944 the first transport of 3000 deportees was bound to our last halt: Birkenau-Auschwitz.

I remember the day F.M. a teenager, entered the ghetto. At that time nobody knew that after having gone through the ordeal; of ghettoization and deportation she would become a writer. Much later, when F.M. committed suicide, writer and publicist Danos Miklos was fright when saying that she had actually begun to die on that May morning when Horthyst policemen brought her in the brickyard, the Durchgangsghetto, the transit ghetto of Cluj, one of those hundreds of ghettoes up by the Nazis as an intermediate station on the way ending on the death platform at Birkenau-Auschwitz.

The Final Solution.
Eva Heyman's diary had been smuggeled out of the ghetto by Szabo Mariska, her grandpartents' maid, a day before Eva was deported to Birkenau-Auschwitz. After liberation, the diary was published in Romanian, Hungarian, English and Hebrew.







Durst, thirst, had been torturing me since the first day of deportation till the day I was set free.

On June 6, 1944, when we left the ghetto, the sun was shining brightly. We were dressed in most of the clothes we had, with a winter overeats on top of them. Bent under the burden of backpacks and trunks, we arrived at the station all of a sweat. Crowded by 80-90 in wagons together with everything we had on and whit as, before even taking off at least some of our clothes or wipe the perspiration dripping on our faces, we graded the bottle of water to quench our thirst. During our journey of no return we fearfully realized that little by little our water supplies were running out. We started to put restrains on our selves.

The following day was hotter and sultrier and yet we drank less water. On the third only children and the sick were given water.

 Der Durst, thirst, began to torture me in a way I had never experienced before. And yet, later on I realized that the thirst I felt in the wagon was human. It was at Birkenau-Auschwitz that I knew what the beastly thirst meant, the long, terrible thirst experienced by all detainees in concentration camps.

During the long summer days of 1944 we lay paralyzed with thirst on the burning hot platforms between the barracks of camp E-Birkenau, under the hot rays of the fiery sun. With scorched lips we gaped at the sky, waiting for a miracle. Sometimes we were lucky, the miracle did happen and it started to rain, so we could quench our thirst. The next day we drank water from the small puddles on the platform. Some of us only managed to dip their lips. On the third all we could do was lick the humid mud. And then, the days and weeks of torment, when the only liquid we had at our disposal were our own perspiration, started anew.

On that sunny day of April 27, 1945 when the liberation hour struck in the camp of Landsberg, in the camp there were only sick detainees whom the SS-men retreating to Dachau could not take along. The American tanks took a roundabout way in following the enemy. The barbed-wire fences and the barracks were set ablaze. The detainees were free. But when the grand moment of liberation that they had been waiting for with relentless, desperate stubbornness arrived, they were laying on rags in the barracks or in the mud on the platform struggling in the jaws of the terrible fever of typhus and from all the beauties and miracles of the world they thought they would be masters of in that luminous and unforgettable moment there was one thing, one single thing, the most ordinary and wide-spread, the readiest at hand that they asked for: water! And there was no one to hear them. At long last they were free and they died imploring, begging for a drop of water. Just as the world had closed its ears to the cries of help of those travelling in locked wagons from all corners of Europe to Auschwitz, just as the cries of pain of the tortured could not be heard through the thickness of the Polish woods, and the curses of those gassed were scattered in the wind together with the smoke of crematoria, the word "water" uttered with the last drop of energy was heard by no one and those people died after the liberation as defeated and helpless as their fellow-inmates before the liberation, unable to realize that the great and extraordinary moment for which they had endured and suffered immensely had arrived.







The bunks of the Revier were crowded with diseased. They were placed at random, consumptive patients side by side those suffering of erysipelas, persons suffering of heart diseases near people with broken legs, bodies plagued with itch near others covered with bleeding wounds. One was talking incoherently, burning with typhus fever; another one was suffocating because of asthma. The most numerous were those covered by all sorts of edemas and phlegmons whose bodies seemed to have been turned into some strange sponges from which pus was gushing forth at every touch.

But the most miserable, the most humiliated and mocked at of all those suffering of dysentery. It was easy to recognize them. Dehydrated, emancipated, worn out people staggering between the bunks, with traces of excrements on their feet.

Usually they were grouped at the back of the barrack. Those still able to walk, naked or dressed in a shirt barely covering their navel. Hurried between the bunks (towards the buckets in front of the barrack) holding their finger in their anus. The Kapo of the Revier beaded them black and blue if they stained the interval between the bunks. And it so happened that almost nobody escaped the Kapo's cudgel, because those suffering from dysentery went 40-50 times to stool a day. They pissed away the excrements in their feet.

Six on a bunk, covered with a blanket soiled with excrements and swarming with lice, they moaned and whimpered waiting for their end. After several days those on the upper bunks were too exhausted to get down, and those underneath had no way to protect themselves from the excrements mixed with urine trickling down between the boards.

In his book entitled "Doctors of the Impossible", Christian Bernadac gives us a description of how the dysenteric' barrack looked like:

"It was such a terrible place that I did not want to send Frenchmen there. I would have rather seen my dysenteric conation's die in any other place, even at work, but not there. In that little room which was fit for thee persons, there were crowded at least fifty people, moaning, talking incoherently, not understanding each other, quarreling and fighting to lie a little more comfortably in the detriment of a weaker fellow-inmate, and suffering horribly. They were naked, lying by threes on coarse boards, covered with a blanket soiled with excrements, urine, blood, and soup. Quite often those on the upper bunk no longer had strength to get down. The floor, the boards, the blankets, the people's bodies were all smeared with dirt. The fetid atmosphere was unbearable to those who entered the room. Very few of the sick came out of that room alive. Everybody knew that. There is no harder death than to be left alone, smeared with excrements, covered all over with sores, eczema's, abscesses, permanently tortured by painful colic's, faint with hunger and moreover fully aware that every day without food is a step towards death. And to no longer have power to get up or move your hand, to reject the leg hitting you in the chest or laying heavy on you, each protracted step towards death bringing new sufferings. The most terrible thing of all was that death came extremely slow, the pain lasted for whole days and sometimes weeks. There are sufferings more spectacles but not harder. Hundreds of my fellow inmates died that way."

From time to time the SS doctor happened to enter the dysentery's barracks too. The stifling, nauseating pestilential smell made him sick. He covered his nose with an immaculate handkerchief and yelled:

"Don't you dirty pigs eves air this room? Take down the windows immediately! And take the doors out of their hinges! And do not put them back till midnight!"

The biting frost and the snowstorm from the outside freely entered the room and before midnight almost all dysenteric had caught pneumonia. And just as they were crowded on the bunks -- people suffering from dysentery or consumption, or itching, people with broken legs or bodies covered with bleeding wounds or sores -- they were hearted all together towards death by the same disease: pneumonia brought about -- in the logic's of the Nazi camps -- by Dysenterie.


To Oliver Lustig's Biographical Sketch

1      2      3      4      5      6      7      8      9      10      11      12      13      14      15      16