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Birkenau-Auschwitz and Dachau Holocaust Survivor

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Mensch (Man)

Menschlichkeit (Humanness)

Mitled (Pity)

Moll (1)

Moll (2)

Musik (Music)

Muslim (1)

Muslim (2)

Mutter (1) [Mother (1)]

Mutter (2) [Mother (2)]










At Birkenau-Auschwitz there were hundreds of executioners who were involved in killing in a direct way, so to say, who personally strangled detainees, shot latter in the beachhead, tortured them and injected their heart with phenol, who selected people for the gas chambers or pushed them into the novenas of the crematoria.

There was some other helping them with the extermination. Some other many hundreds stood on guard, hand on the machine-gun, day and night, so that everything should go smoothly.

I didn't know their names. It was only after liberation that I was able to learn about a few, extremely few of them from published documents.

Yet, I knew the name of one executioner while I was There, at Birkenau. He was the biggest of them all: Hauptstrurmführer-SS Dr. Josef Mengele. The Lagerarzt. The chief physician of the camp.

The executioners could not be known by all Häftlings. The victims asphyxiated and then gassed in crematorium No 1 could not see the executioners of crematoria No 2, 3 and 4.

One executioner, however, Ws seen by and known to all over four million Häftlings exterminated at Birkenau-Auschwitz, by all the survivors of the camp: Captain-SS dr. Josef Mengele.

He was born in Günzburg, Bavaria, on March 16, 1911.

If he were caught and put to trial, then the over one million Häftlings who had been killed and burnt at Birkenau-Auschwitz would arise out of their ashes and point their fingers at him. Over one million fingers, in a stone-still gesture for ever, would attest to the fact that he is former Hauptsturmführer-SS Dr. Josef Mengele, former Lagerarzt at Birkenau-Auschvitz.

Steam-engines coming from towns of all European countries that had been overrun by the Nazis stopped puffing by the platform at Birkenau. The unlocked wagons had poured over five million deportees on that terminus platform for four years. Some three-quarters of the newcomers were exterminated within a few hours from their arrival. Irrespective of how many trains arrived during one day or one night, the man who decided how many people were to go straight into the gas chambers was always the same: Captain SS Dr. Josef Mengele.

During the selection for the crematorium, we stood naked in line. Someone would review us, then his gloved right hand, with four of the five fingers slightly bent, would move almost imperceptibly pointing the forefinger at one detainee, who was supposed to step out of the line, actually out of life, and step into the death column the gas chambers waited for with widely opened doors.

That someone was Hauptsturmführer-SS Dr. Josef Mengele.

In the vigor of life (he was past 30), a tall, supple and imposing man, SS Captain Dr. Mengele would always dress for the selection review as if he were to attend a ceremony: freshly shaved, an impeccably ironed uniform, shining boots, and fine chamois leather gloves. He was never in a hurry: humming a tune, hiss face serene, one may say almost smiling, he would imperceptibly point his right forefinger at one of us, who was supposed to step out of line, actually out of life. He moved his forefinger in a natural, calm, off-hand way, like a director asking an actor to leave the stage.







Mensch &emdash; man?! At Birkenau-Auschwitz there was no such word. Nobody ever lettered it. There or in any other concentration camp. It had been replaced by Hund. Dog.

There was one exception though. The camp at Sobibor. Häftling Freiberg, a survivor from that camp, remembers that there was an SS officer there who was being heard saying Mensch! Very often. Mensch was the name of his dog. He kept calling it: Mensch! Man! And then incited it to tear off the Hunde, the dogs, that is the Häftlings.







Killers of unprecedented ferocity, aces in mass extermination, the SS of concentration camps had the impudence of trying to justify their crimes by Menschlichkeit, humanness.

They had disregarded and trampled underfoot everything human, they had tortured with hatred and delight, they had killed in cold blood, grinning at the sight of heaps of corpses pilling up, and when brought to account they had the impudence to talk about Menschlichkeit, about humanness.

Their insolence went so far that even the gassing of millions of people -- the most horrible crime mankind has ever know -- was presented as a gesture of Menschlichkeit, of humanness.

 Standardenführer-SS Franz Ziereis, commander of the Mauthausen camp, was unequivocal about it: "The gassing facility at Mauthausen had been built following an order of Glücks1, in whose option it was menschlicher, more humane, that the detainees be gassed rather than shot".

When asked by prosecutor, during the trial, whether he had introduced the gas chamber as a means of mass extermination out of his own initiative, Standartenführer-SS Anton Kaindl, former commander of Sachsenhausen answered in the affirmative, using almost the same words: "[...] I have considered the installation of gas chambers for mass extermination as useful and even more humane".

 Standartenführer-SS Rudolf Höss, former commander of Birkenau-Auschwitz, thought in his turn to have been menschlicher, more humane than others by the perfected way in which he had organized gassing as compared to his comrades at Treblinka, where he had been sent on an exchange of experience: "[...] while at Treblinka the victims almost always knew that they would be exterminated, at Auschwitz we tried to mislead them, letting them believe that they would be subject to disinfestation".

Admitting his crimes -- "I have personally shot 300 people... gassed 172... hanged some 40" -- SS August Höhn, former deputy commander of a concentration camp, tried, too, to display his Menschlichkeit, his humanness. "Widam was the first detainee I had to publicly hang in the camp", he declared in front of the court. "During the hanging the rope broke and then I shot him, as he was still alive, lying on the ground". Emphasized with terrible clarity by an SS man himself, that was the kind of Menschlichkeit, of humanness, the members of the Totenkopf-einheiten, of the "Death's Head" units, were able to evince.

A Lieutenant-General in the SS.







Death Is My Profession is the title of book Robert Merle dedicated to the biography of Rudolf Höss, former commander of Birkenau-Auschwitz. But death was the profession of all SS men, particularly of the Totenkopf units, entrusted with the command and security of the concentration camps.

The leadership of the Reich tried hard to turn each SS-ist into an unscrupulous man, a ruthless sadist who would not know such thing as mercy, or Mitleid, pity.

The famous regulations of the Dachau camp, that served as a guide to all concentration camps, stipulated as a fundamental principle the following maxim: "Tolerance means wackiness". And the tense of thousands of SS-men in the famous Totenkopfeinheiten, "Death's Head" units, proved intolerant towards everything human. Das Mitleid, pity, had been removed from their souls.

Hitler had unequivocally decreed: "We want to select a layer of new masters, who should not yield to pity /.../". Das Mitleid, pity, was completely ruled out particularly from the extermination camps. Inside the barbed wire enclosures there was no place for anything humane. The SS would not start at the sight of detainees struggling in the claws of death, or of heaps of corpses. They would not be impressed by the blood gushing from the wounds of a beaten detainee, or by the blood puddle reaching their boots during a mass execution.

Summoned in front of the court, Hans Schmehling, Kapo of the gravediggers at Mauthausen, declared: "One afternoon there arrived two lorries full of corpses. A comrade showed me that three of them were still alive. I covered them with a blanket. One of them raised and asked for water".

Schmehling reported to Scharführer-SS Andreas Trum, chief of the working department, asking his permission to take the three survivors back to the camp.

Trum slapped Schmehling in the face, angry at the latter's letting himself softened by pity, and roared: "Don't you know what you're supposed to do in such cases?"

Zutter, Trum's deputy, heard the roaring of his boss and came in a hurry. When he saw what was all about, he called an SS in the guard and gave him a short order: "Take car of the three. Shoot them in the backhand. We've no time to lose".

Three short stifled snaps and in the two lorries full of corpses there was no move any more. Indeed, in the concentration camps das Mitleid, pity, was completely ruled out.





Moll (1)


A member of the SS, Moll cups a conspicuous figure due to the zeal he evinced since the first days of his promotion as chief of crematorium No. 4. When the ovens of the crematorium were unable to cope with the great number of corpses, he would have the corpses burnt in pits in order to prevent them from pilling up. During peak moments he would roll up his sleeves and give a helping hand himself by throwing the corpses on the pyre. He was not a lazy man by all means. His greatest delight was to see human blood gushing out. His favorite job -- to shoot children in the backhand.

At times, in spite of the steps he had taken thousands of people -- women and children, sick and old -- brought over straightly from the wagons, were waiting for their turn in front of the gas chambers. Because whenever several transports arrived at the selection platform during one and the same day or night, people crowded in front of the crematoria that proved too small to engulf them all at the same time.


Moll used to walk among all those people, talking to them in an attempt at reassuring them and at preventing panic.

"Be patient a Your turn will come soon. It won't take long... One can't do without a bath. Cleanliness before anything else!" Moll, the chief of the crematoria, would unctuously say pointing at the door of the gas chambers. People read again the inscription (in four languages) Waschraum, bathroom, and got themselves reassured.

If a little child cried, Moll would take a candy or a piece of chocolate out of his pocket and offer it to him or her smilingly. Then he would tell the child's mother:

"Give him (her) to me. I'm going to find a toy for him".

He would gently take the child from his (her) mother's arms and, while stroking the little one's hair, would take him (her) into the building. There he would enter straightly into the ovens hall, take out his pistol, shoot the child in his (her) backhand and then throw him (her) on the other corpses burning in the crematorium.





Moll (2)


In the summer of 1944, when transports of Jews deported from Hungary around at Birkenau day and night, the gas chambers and crematoria were under such great strain that SS-men Forest, chief of crematorium No. 4, was replaced for lack of energy and the required organizational skills. His place at Crematorium No. 4, and later at all crematoria of that camp, was taken by Oberscharführer-SS Moll, who showed remarkable zeal in the service of Death since the very beginning.

 Oberscharführer-SS Moll was not only chief of the crematoria, but also of the Scheiterhaufen, of the pyres. In this latter "capacity", he had come fort with an invention he was very proud of: he ordered that ditches meant to drain the fat leaking from thousands of corpses sputtering in the flames be dug on the bottom of the pits, along the heaps of corpses. By spilling the fat thus collected over the pyre of corpses he obtained a "more complete and rapid burning". The commander of Birkenau camp himself, Josef Kramer, distinguished Moll, for the seal he was evincing, with the title of Chef der Verbrennung, chief of burning. In that particular "capacity" Moll surpassed him self in terms of cruelty. Doctor Nyiszli Miklos, who knew him well and saw him in the "doing of his job" many a time says, in his capacity as a physician and eye-witness of the crimes perpetrated inside the crematoria, that Oberscharführer-SS Moll was undoubtedly the most wicked, most fierce and most cynical criminal throughout the Third Reich. Here is his account about Moll: "During the selection made on the platform he often happened to see a young strong woman stubbornly wanting to pass along with her mother into the left column. Then he would shout at her and order her to stay in the right column (the one meant for the gas chambers -- O. L.). Oberscharführer Mussfeld, chief gun of Crematoria No. 1, used to soot a second bullet in the beachhead of a victim if the latter would not die from the first bullet. Oberscharführer-SS Moll did not lose time with such trifles. In his case most of the victims are thrown into the fire alive. And woe to the Sonder-ist through whose fault the victims1 "conveyor" between the changing room and the pyres stops, making some gunman on the edge of the ditch stand jobless for a few moments while waiting for his next victim.

 Moll is ubiquitous. He runs tirelessly from the changing room to the pyres and around the burning ditches. Most of the victims put up no resistance, letting themselves to be dragged to the pyre. They are paralyzed with terror and probably unaware of what is going on. It is particularly the case of old people and children. But there are also young people who put up resistance out of an instinct of self-preservation that has reached the paroxysm of despair. If Moll notices such a scene on the human conveyor, he takes his pistol out of the ever-open bag he carries at his belt. One shot, usually from a distance of 30-40 meters, and the recalcitrant victim falls to the ground".

Janda Weiss from Brn contributes to the rounding off of this portrait by adding: "Moll took a great pleasure in having neked women sit on the edge of the pit, and then watching how, shot in the abdomen, they rolled down into the fire. Once Moll killed a family of six persons: he began by shooting the youngest child, then, one by one, the other children, and finally the parents who had witnessee the whole scene".

 Moll spelt terror to the Sonderkommando as well. He would squeeze his victim with the oven door or would throw him waist high into the fire, leaving his upper half outside, threatening with the same punishment all those who would not promptly fulfil his orders. On other occasions, he would spill gasoline over the clothiers of some Häftling and then chase him with a whip through the yard of the crematorium until the miserable man "ran into the wire"1.

 Oberscharführer-SS Moll, proudly boasted that he would have thrown his wife and into the oven had the Führer asked him to do so.







In camp E at Birkenau there was nothing that might remind one of his previous life. Nothing that might reassure you that a different life from that of a Häftling had existed before and still existed. In the camp there was no tree. No blade of grass. The sky, covered by a thick black smoke screen day and night, was not crossed by any bird. No bell ringing, horse neighing or child shriek ever reached us.

In camp E at Birkenau, like as a matter of fact in all Nazi concentration camps, contacts with the outside world were forbidden. Out of billions of proofs of human civilization, out of billions of beautiful thing pertaining to it only one was allowed by the SS-men to enter the camp: die Musik, music.

While selecting the detainees for the crematorium Captain SS Dr. Mengele used to hum arias from Tosca. At times from the Merry Widow.

At Buchenwald it was a pleasure for Dr. Hoven Waldemar to enter the Rivier and send a dozen of Häftlings to the "other world" by injecting them with Evipan sodium. He would leave the Revier cheerfully whistling the tune: "Another beautiful day is gone".

At Sachsenhausen, to quote from the deposition of Standführer-SS Anton Kaindl, former commander of the camp, "During the fictitious measurement of a detainee's height, the victim was shot in the backhoe through a shot made in the measurement plank. In the adjoining room, where the bullet was shot from, a gramophone was playing". Asked by the prosecutor why they needed music in the adjoining room, Heinz Baunkötter, former chief physician of the camp, answered: "The gramophone there played a march so that the next detainee should not hear the shot killing the inmate who had preceded him".

 Standartenführer-SS Ziereis, former commander of the Mauthausen concentration camp, admitted in his deposition: "The commissars and political deputies were gathered in the back of an isolated barrack and from there, against the background of a roaring radio, they were taken, one by one, through a dark corridor into the execution room".

When the exhausted labor detachments returned to the camp in the evening, caring along that day's dead, they were welcomed at the camp gates -- this happened in almost every concentration camp -- by a small band mounted on an improvised platform who played either a military march or a funeral one, according to the commander's whims.

During the earlier years of Birkenau-Auschwitz, the transports of detainees and deportees arriving at the death platform were welcomed with music. As Mrs. Vaillant-Couturier, a former deportee from France, stated before the international military tribunal in Nürnberg, that as date as in 1944, "in order to atmosphere during selection, a band consisting of young beautiful deportees wearing white blouses and dark blue skirts played gay arias from the Merry Widow, the barcarole from Hoffmann's Tales, etc".

Of June 9, 1944, when I arrived at Birkenau-Auschwitz, along with my family, the selection for the gas chamber was done without musical accompaniment. At the time trains kept arriving at the death platform day and night, and the camp had only one band.

Or was it because the SS-men had began to realize that die Musik, music, would not cover the sobbing, shouts and curses of the huge columns going from the platform straightly into the gas chambers.





Musulman (1)


All Häftlings in concentration camps looked indeed frightful. Dirty rags hanging on emaciated bodies, livid faces, red-rimmed, sleepless eyes, sunken cheeks smeared with mud and blood. Because or the lack co water, we did not wash ourselves for whole months, our clothes -- never. Our gate was heavy, our looks blank. The official designation Todeskandidaten -- candidates to death -- suited us to perfection.

And yet, there still was some way to go in order to reach the limit of human degradation. In all concentration camps the Häftlings who reached it were called Muslims. The only exception was the women's camp of Ravensbrück where the women in the most deplorable state were mockingly called Schmuckstücke -- jewels. Germany Tillon, a former detainee at Ravensbrück described in her recollection memoirs the "frightful digression" of these Schmuckstücke, "jewels", "looking like skeletons, in rags, covered with suppurating wounds, itch and gazing pointlessly, blankly".

After several years of hunger, of hard labor, helplessly enduring the cold and the diseases, the beating and torturing which sometimes lasted for whole days and nights on end, broken down nervously, the detainee lost some 30-35% of his weight and finally reached the state of Muslim, weighing no more than 30 kilos, sometimes even less, looking like a mere skeleton. From the sunken eyes all traces of life withered away: the eyes were blank, dim. The Muslim looked like a living corpse with open eyes.

Professor Robert Waitz, a former deportee to Auschwitz, makes a description of a Muslim: "He was fagged out, both physically and mentally. He walked slowly, with a blank or sometimes anxious look in his eyes. His thoughts were utterly confused. The poor miserable no longer washed him self, no longer sew his buttons. He passively endured everything, unable to fight, unable to help anybody. He gathered the spilt food from the ground eating the soup spilt over the soil and turned into mud. He looked for a potato peeling, cabbage leaf into the dust bin and when he found one he ate it, dirty and raw as it was. No one could ever forget the image of some Muslims fighting for such food. He soon turned into a thief, stealing bread, or shirts or shoes. But, as he was an unskilled their he was found out quite often.

Once in the sick room, he tried to get near a dying man whose death he concealed in order to get his ration of food, too.

He had his golden crown or golden teeth pulled out to exchange them for a piece of bread; more often than not he was cheated.

Unable to resist his desire to smoke he bargained his bread for tobacco..."

At Birkenau-Auschwitz, the Muslim lay all day long on the Appellplatz in front of his barrack. Weak as he was, he could hardly drag himself out of the barrack, each step begging a real torture. Most often it was death that saved him from standing at attention during the endless Appells.

His physical decay was matched by his mental degradation. After he had lost all hope, physical degradation followed.

The Muslim lost his power to think, to reason, to react. From all feelings and impulses he had experienced during his life, there was only one he was actuated by: fear.

No matter how much the Muslim tried to get out of the way, no matter how much he isolated himself, all Blockältestes and Vertreters all SS-men hit or kicked him whenever they came across him. He felt neither hunger, nor thirsts any longer, he only felt the pains and burns of the riding whips and kicks and was actuated only by fear, fear of the Blockältestes and Vertreters and SS-men. Out of everything that is human, when he stepped into death only fear accompanied him.





 Musulman (2)

Once you entered concentration camps a long ordeal began. It was absurd to believe that you could come out alive when a professional killer was watching your every step. And yet, you had to believe, to hope, to fight for your own life. When hunger, thirst, diseases, lice and cold curbed down your strength and you began to no longer fight them, death was looming ahead.

The Muslim starved and weak beyond all limits -- autopsy showed that all his organs, including the heart and liver, shrank -- had given up the struggle for life. He no longer cared even about the lice swarming over his body, covered with infected wounds. He was no longer able to ascratch. Friendless and abandoned by the other Häftlings who considered him altogether lost, he wandered in his mind speaking senselessly. Sometimes he imagined himself free and called his parents and brothers, to come to him, as he is tired and can no longer move.

No longer completely alive, the Muslim was dead yet. Neither a human being, nor a corpse, but somewhere in-between, in a state unknown elsewhere outside the concentration camp, impossible to understand or image by anyone who did not go through a concentration camp.

The moment when a Häftling became a Muslim he irreversibly left the living and headed for death. Recovery was unconceivable. The only question was long the road to death will take. I saw hundreds, thousands of Muslims lingering between life and death: friends, fellow-inmates, acquaintances, Häftlings coming from all the countries of Europe. They died, all of them. Even those, extremely few, who survived till liberation, died during the following days. There was none to help them immediately. They did not have any chance.

There is only one exception that I know of: my cousin H... I was in Birkenau, in camp E, barrack No. 21. My cousin was ill, he had pneumonia. It was summertime. The sun was burning hot during the day the nights were cold. We were sleeping on the bare cement, as in barrack No. 21, the famous Kinderblock, the block of the children, there were no bunks. During the day he lay in the mud as closer to the barrack wall as possible, not to be trampled under foot by the hundreds of Häftlings who crossed the Appellplatz. He coughed awfully and had unbearable pains. He could no longer go to the Waschraum -- lavatory1. Dust and perspiration mingled turning into black crusts covering his emaciated face and body. His friends had abandoned him considering him utterly lost. They not even talked to him as his morbid ideas either frightened or annoyed them, the more so as they had to admit that his logic was perfect. My cousin no longer cared if he was listened to or not. When his cough forsook him for a few minutes he expressed his thoughts aloud: "What's the use of enduring all this? We shall not come out alive. Our stubbornness to live one more day, one more week or one more month is nothing but stubbornness to prolong the pain which we shall escape only in the crematory". He slowly raised his hand and pointed to the chimney of the crematorium, but he did not have enough strength and let it drop.

I was the only one who continued to talk to him for hours on end. I was four years his elder, he was one of the youngest in the barrack. I used all my imagination to find all sorts of destinations -- bakery, washroom, workshop-factory -- to that building which sent forth through its chimney huge flames that terrorized him all day long and made him cry in his sleep. I had the feeling that he was not listening to me, that he followed his own thoughts. However, sometimes he cut me short: "O.K. Let's admit that you are right. That they are not crematoria, that my mother was not gassed, that my sisters are still alive, that all our relatives, our uncles and aunts, out cousins are living in other camps..., but tell me how do you think we would meet after the war?" "The Red Cross will organize an exchange of lists among the camps". "Do you think that the Red Cross which is abandoning us completely without even giving us aspirin, would care if I don't find my mother?" "It will be different after the war". "And then, what lists when we have never been registered, not even assigned a number". "The complete lists will be drawn up on the day of liberation:" "What about the dead? Do you know, does anyone in the barrack know who they were, what was their name, where did they come from? Does anyone know who died yesterday, who was killed the day before yesterday, who ran into the barbwire fence on Sunday, those who had been killed in early summer in bur barrack, in all barracks and in all camps?... If I don't wake up tomorrow and after the Appell I am carried away by the Leichenträger, how will my relatives find out when, where and how I died?"

It was very difficult to answer the questions of my cousin whose sharp insight and accusing lucidity, whenever he talked about our destiny confounded me.

His end seemed to be near when one late evening a Dutch Häftling doctor entered the barrack. Something like that had never happened before. As we were not working but waiting to be selected for work or crematorium, our sick were no longer taken to the Riever but directly sent to the gas chamber, so it was quite unusual for a doctor to enter our barrack. The Dutch doctor was given the cold shoulder and looked with suspicion. But I, who knew that my cousin did not have any chance, asked the doctor to see him. The doctor examined him and after a moment of reflection took two pills out of his pocket and told me: "Give him one now and the other in the morning. If you want him to live take off your rags and lay him on them. Hide him during the day not to be taken to the Rivier. Tomorrow I shall come again". And the Durch kept his promise. He came to see him every evening for a whole week, bringing two pills each time. Soon afterwards H... recovered. We left Birkenau with the last but one transport. We parted at Lansberg. We met after the liberation. He had become a doctor himself, had a family and everybody considered him happy. Nobody knew the traces left on his mind and body by those nights when hungry, deserted and brining of a fever of 400 he lay on the bare cement of barrack E of Birkenau.

All of a sudden H... got sick. He turned despondent, reserved and lonely. He was interned into a sanatorium. The doctors argued that the treatment must be applied under strict medical surveillance, an ambulatory treatment was out of the question. But he contended that he wanted to go home by all means, that he couldn't bear to stay in hospital for another day. His family appealed to me to persuade him stay in hospital. I did not know he had got sick, and as soon as possible I went the hospital to take to him. His first arguments sent chills down my spine. His state of mind was similar to that in the camp. "There's no use in giving trouble to my family... I shall never recover... you know it as well as I do, but they don't know it cause I have never told them what I had gone through. The truth is, and you don't know it, that I have survived but never recovered completely. Then, there something irreversible happened to me. The doctors tell me that if I remain in hospital I shall recover. But I am a doctor myself and know I shall never get well. Certainly, with great efforts I would drag on for some time but I shall be a burden to my family, I shall give them trouble and I see how they worry over me trying to understand my inner struggle which I can no longer hide".

Trying to hold my feelings under control, to be calm and patient, I started to talk to him. After a couple of hours -- probably the conversation made him weary or he did not want to hurt me -- he gave in. "All right. I shall stay in hospital, I listen to you".

Two days later, my cousin put on his dressing gown over his pyjamas and went to have a walk in the garden of the sanatorium. He climb the fence and made for the first block, he climbed the stairs to the 11th floor and threw himself down.

The broken body of my cousin confirmed me with several decades' delay that a Musliem cannot come back to a normal life. It was a summer day, like then... there..., at Birkenau-Auschwitz.





Mutter (1)


The word Mutter, mother, had nothing to do with the language of the concentration camps, the language of death. The SS was decided to destroy not only the word as such, but the very essence of what Mutter, mother, meant. For that reason pregnant women and mothers with little children were sent without exception to the gas chambers, on the very day or night of their arrival at Birkenau.

Nevertheless, I made up my mind to include the word in my Camp Dictionary, because during my four months' stay in Birkenau, in barrack No. 21 surnamed Kinderblock, the children's barrack or camp E, comprising teen-agers who had escaped death during the great selection on the platform, "mother" was the word uttered most often at night. I heard it told in almost all the languages of Europe. Children beaten black and blue by Kapos and Blockälteste, children tortured by hunger, fever or disease, children who were dreaming beautiful dreams or were heaving nightmares, all children in barrack No. 21 cried "mother" in the night stroked through by the flames of crematoria.

Some cried it out loud to banish their overwhelming fear, others murmured it softly like a prayer, begging for pity. None of us said "I'm hungry", or "I'm cold" or 'It hurts", or "I can't breathe", or 'I can't stand it any more". We all cried "Mother", … "Mother…".

I decided to introduce the word mother in this dictionary also because during the carrying into effect of the "Final Solution" it was they, the mothers who suffered the most.

In Horthyst Hungary, therefore in Northern Transylvania conquered by the Horthysts as well, prior to ghettoization and deportation, Jewish men between 20 and 45 years of age were rounded up in forced labor and punishment detachments and sent to Ukraine where six out of seven died.

Therefore it was mothers who during the night of April 4-5 1944, alone, white with fear, with no comfort from their husbands sewed with trembling hands the yellow star on the coats of their children, filled with the sing of death. It was they, mothers who on May 3, 1944 at daybreak jumped out of their beds when the Hortyst gendarmes hit with rifle butts in the doors of all Jewish houses throughout the villages and towns of Northern Transylvania. It was they, mothers who raised their infants from the cradle, who awoke the children, helped them to dress and make their bundle, leaving everything behind and setting out towards the ghetto in less than an hour.

In the ghetto of Cluj, along the brick drying sheds "arranged" for sheltering 18.000 people ("rooms" were separated by some sheets substituting the walls) one could hear the mothers' heart-rending outbursts of despair:

"Oh, Lord! What shall I give them to eat tomorrow?"

"Why do we bring children into the world if we cannot help them live?"

"Isaac told me to treasure our daughter as the apple of my eye. What shall I do? How could I protect her?"

"Doctor, please, I beg you, I beseech you, give me some poison, some of the strongest, I need it for my daughter… In case of need… I don't want to let them rape her…"

It was mothers who had to get on wagon with their whole families, children, sick and helpless old and set out to the unknown. In the over packed wagon in which 80-90 persons were crammed with bag and baggage -- blankets and dishes, trunks and toys, umbrellas and pegs, buckets and food -- the air was hot and stifling, the reek unbearable and people clamored like mad. And in that hell on wheels, for four days and three nights, mothers kept in asking, begging for air… water… a piece of bread for their children.

And it was still they, mothers, who getting off the train on the platform of Birkenau after such hellish four days and three nights, took their infants in their arms and the older children by the hand and stumbling with fatigue joined the column on the left looking with scared and sleepless eyes at the endless rows of garbed-wire fences, at the sea of people in streaked clothes, at the SS-men in the watch towers, holding guns in their hands, ready to pull the trigger at the children helplessly dragging themselves towards the gas chambers. While moving away, those in the left column -- men and women selected for work. Then, feeling that their end is drawing near, they started to cry, to pray or to curse.

In that unusual atmosphere -- Rudolf Höss, the commander the Birkenau-Auschwitz camp was to say at his trial -- the children of early age started to whine. But when their mothers or the men in the Kommando hushed or caressed them, they stopped crying and walked towards the gas chambers playing with some toy, or playing pranks.

"Sometimes I noticed women who were filly aware of the fate they had in store and although you could see the fear of death lurking in their eyes, they still had strength to make jokes with their children and to reassure them".

Not once have I heard young people blaming the Jews herbed towards gas chambers for lack of courage, inadmissible passiveness. As one who saw with his own eyes for days and nights on end the endless dragging of always another left column towards the crematorium precincts, I maintain in all earnestness that in the vestry of the gas chamber a mother threatened with the riding whip or cudgel to strip naked and to undress her children alongside another two thousand mothers, children's, old and sick men, needed far more courage when entering the gas chamber to control herself and not burst out into hysterical crying, but take the children in her arms, caress them and sop in together smiling in defiance of death, than to face some Kapos or SS-man which would have trigged off their instant slaughtering in the vestry itself.

Those mothers who had the strength of entering the gas chambers suckling their babies or huddling their children although their bodies were shaking and their eyes were wide with fear would always remain in my mind as matchless heroines.

There also were mothers whose children went to the gas chambers together with their grandparents while they were selected for work. Tens of thousand women of northern Transylvania over packed in summer 1944 the barracks of camp B. II C. One thousand two hundred were crammed into each barrack. The women at Birkenau had always been maltreated with unimaginable cruelty, as shown by the authors of "The Factory of Death":

"The SS women guardians often punished the women ordering them to stand by the gate. The woman found guilty had to stay motionless near the camp gate in the close vicinity of the watchtower, wherefrom they could control her. In case she moved, her punishment became more severe. She had to kneel on the grovel holding stone in her hands stretched forward. If she dropped them she was given a severe beating. Women were usually punished after the Appell, after they came back from work. They had to stay by the gate till late at night, no longer being given food".

Whit their close-cropped heads and emaciated bodies women moved among blocks like some ghosts. The heavy clogs on their sore feet often stuck into the soft earth. Then, those women dressed in rags used their last drop of energy helplessly trying to pull out their foot. Beaten and humiliated by the SS women guardians or the other detainees, who held various functions, they fell into the mud, and were left in the ditches along the road. There they lay, till roll call and there they expired, unable and unwilling to cry for help.

But above all, mothers selected for work were tortured by remorse, by the thought that they had left their children with their grandparents while they themselves escaped the gas chambers. They felt guilty.

Doctor Anna Köpich, a deportee of the ghetto in Cluj was one of the thousands mother whose husband had been taken away in a forced labor detachment. On the platform of Birkenau their child, Gyuri, took his grandma by the hand and together they went to the gas chamber, while Anna was selected for work. She was lucky to be assigned to a Revier and survive. During her few spare moments there, in the Rivier, she committed to paper her thoughts, writing to her husband of whom she did not know whether he was still living or not: "Believe me, my darling, that I cannot hear it any more. My strength has failed me. I feel like crying out my whole pain, everything I have stifled month after month, hour after hour, for two years since we parted… The mere thought that I'll pour out my suffering and you'll understand me it's already comforting me. Because I must tell you something from the very beginning. Beside the agony I have gone through everyday, here, in the shadow of the crematorium, there is one pain that exceeds all the others, lying heavy on me, crushing and choking me. Yes, I feel guilty and I keep asking myself: Have I done everything to save our child's life? The thought that you will not understand, that as you haven't been here, at Birkenau-Auschwitz, you will not be able to understand what and how things happened gnaws at me, torments me, breaks my heart. I don't want to defend myself, I don't want to beg you, I only want to retell the events as they happened, without reasons, justifications, leaving it with you to judge as husband and father…"

I think, I fully believe that those mothers who did not yield, did not grow mad, did not commit suicide, but plucked up all their courage to sew the yellow star on their children's clothes, to enter with them the ghetto and fight there for their survival, without despairing and without crying in front of them, to go together with them through that ordeal of the journey of no return from the ghettoes of northern Transylvania to Birkenau-Auschwitz, to enter with them the gas chambers, shaking all over and with a deadly scared look in their eyes, but still stroking and smiling to their children, indeed, these mothers can only be appraised as matchless heroines.





Mutter (2)


During the very first night at Birkenau, in camp B II E, I heard an elderly Häftling saying: "You'll never see the ones you have parted with… If you went outside you could still see them rising up to sky, turned into smoke". All that night and many other nights I kept thinking of mother. I remember her face, as she made the first steps towards the gas chamber in the column on the left. He image was blurred because in these last moments when we could still have looked at each other she would only cast a glance at us, hastily turning to the little ones, as if someone were trying to snatch them away. She held tightly Valentin (the youngest, he was only eight) by the hand and as if that weren't enough she looked at him all the time, afraid that she might lose him in that terrible crowd. She also looked after the twins, Cornel and Cornelia, begging them not to move off, although they were walking by her side.

My mother's face was glowing with perspiration. When the wagon doors were slang open and she heard the order "Alles dort lassen!" (Leaves everything on the spot), mother grabbed a backpack, untied it and started to throw out things, angry because of not finding the pullovers. She hastily rummaged for them and kept repeating without looking at us: "Put on as many clothes, even your overcoats!" "But it's summertime now, it's warm outside" Valentin said in amazement and seeing the other children freely moving on the platform no longer had patience to stay in the wagon. "Keep silent and listen to me!" mother told us, although we, the elder ones, astonished at the and less rows of barracks, the thick barbed-wire fences and the sea of people wearing streaked clothes, swarming among the barracks and the barbed-wire fences, did not dare to utter a single word. After a while mother gave up looking for the pullovers and took out a loaf of bread hidden long before in a suit-case and as she no longer had patience or tome -- the order "Alle heraus!" Everybody out! sounded more and more threatening -- she tore it up into seven pieces. She tried to slide one into father's pocket, but he, noticing that she didn't make a portion for herself, did not let her do it. Then mother gave it to Valentin, but he would drop it when jumping off the wagon. We got off the wagon all at a time. The platform was so crowded that to end and look for something lost meant risking to be trampled over.

Families who took out their dead or sick put them under the train, lest they should be trampled underfoot. Mother got off with difficulty -- during the four days and three nights' journey she had often complained that her legs were aching because there was no room to stretch them out -- but she was not whamming, she only tried to wipe perspiration off her face. She fretted for not having managed to take along more of our belongings and she kept asking now one, then the other, how many shirts we got on, or whether we had handkerchiefs, she told us to button up our coats and take care of the piece of bread as who could tell when old we be given something to eat.

I watched her going away together with the twins and Valentin, caught up in that strange column of old people stumbling at every step and able-bodied ones carrying a dying brother or father, of children crying after the toys they had left in the wagons and young women smiling happily because they were allowed to take their babies in their arms. I followed mother with my eyes but I was unable to see whether her face was wet with perspiration or dripping with tears. Some people ran forward not lose, others lagged begin, as if devoid of strength, or to cast a last scared glance at our column, at those they were parting with. Mother's face showed intermittently among those of other faces passing by her. Whenever I lost sight of her I felt tempted to rush towards her and find her in that dreadful throng, having the strange feeling that if I no longer her it would be forever.

But I could follow her white, blue-dotted heater chief, for a while, till squeezed by those around me and overwhelmed by the fatigue of the four days and three nights' journey, from Cluj to Birkenau, I squatted down. I had not seen anything distinctly, I only saw the blurred image of a huge crowed and of a white, blue-dotted header chief fluttering over it. The white, blue-dotted header chief my mother used to wear every Friday evening when she lit the candles1.

I tried to jostle and elbow my way to the barrack door, squeezing through the hundreds of deportees surrounding me. And I kept thinking of mother sitting at the head of the table, in front of the candlesticks, her hands raised in prayer and her face glowing with the light of the seven candles, and radiating love and kindness as if she were as ain't. But one image alone kept obsessively recurring before me eyes: a white blue-dotted header chief appearing now and then among the hundreds of unfamiliar heads jumbled together, appearing and disappearing in that strange column of mothers, children's, sick and old, implacably dragging towards the gas chambers.

After an hour or perhaps two of struggle I managed to get out and I calmed down a little. Lying on my belly I raised my head. The sky was covered with wreaths of black, violet-blue hooking smoke, chasing one another, running into one another and blending, reeking the nauseating smell of burnt flesh. Somewhere, the pitch darkness of the night turned red and that particular red spot where the wreath of black, violet-blue smoke gathered attracted my eyes like a magnet. Now and then the smoke cleared away and huge flames blazed on from that red spot. Fascinated and awe-stricken by the hallucinating dance of the awe-inspiring flames, I stood stone still, gazing at the red spot sending forth flames. And all of a sudden, in their unreal light I saw in a flash my mother's tearful face, her eyes so full of woe as if the grief of the whole world had been gathered in them. My head dashed to the ground as if thunderstruck. And that moment I realized that the elderly Häftling had told the truth, I realized that never would see my mother again…

Jewish ritual.







 I did not hear this word in the camp. Throughout the ordeal I went through, nobody ever asked me Bist du müde? Are you tired? And how tired I was. And how tired was my soul.

First it was my hands that got tired. They got tired by grasping the shovel and loading and unloading sand from the vans. They got tired by hitting the frozen earth with the pickaxe, by removing huge layers of snow from aerodromes and high-ways, by carrying stones, large stone, weighing 30 or 40 kg each, with sharp edges which cut into our hands. And when I was punished and I had to kneel and stretch my hands forward holding a large stone in each hand, I always felt that my end was drawing near.

Then my shoulders got tired, under the burden of cement bags, rails, tree trunks, iron bars and wire, under the burden of my fellow-inmates' corpses. After twelve hours of carrying cement, or tree trunks, or rails or iron bars… on the way back to the camp we had to carry along those who had no longer resisted and collapsed under the weight they had on their shoulders. But perhaps my shoulders got tired mostly because of the strokes. The Kapos had not riding whips but cudgels. And with their heavy cudgels they hit us over the backs and shoulders.

I was scared to death when I felt that my legs started to fail me. When standing at attention at the Appell, when marching or passing with a cement bag on your shoulders in front of a Kapo or SS-man and you felt your legs no longer obeyed you, the only thing you could think of was death. And my legs showed signs of weakness very soon. My knees started to shake as early as the first stage of our ordeal, on that sultry day of June 6, 1944, when wearing I no longer remember how many shirts, pullovers, a suit of clothes and an overcoat, carrying a backpack on my back and other two bales in my hands, I was dragging myself along from the ghetto to the railway station, to set out toward the last halt in our lives. Then, during the endless daily roll-calls which lasted four or six or ten hours in camp E of Birkenau and then particularly in winter 1944 at Kaufering and Landsberg I violently felt how tried my legs were. We marched from the camp to the Mohl forest through the high snow which kept sticking in successive layers to the soles of our wooden clogs and every step was a torture. Trying to pull but my leg from the knee-high frozen snow, the cement bag fell off my shoulders. And when I bent to raise it I instantly felt the burning pain of the cudgel stroke on my back and I collapsed over the cement bag.

My eyes were tried too. Then, there… at Birkenau during the first weeks the over one thousand teen-ages in barrack No. 21 of camp E weeded for all those we had parted with at our arrival on the platform and who were taken, they told us, straight to the gas chambers. We did not believe, we could not believe what the older said about crematoria and yet we cried day and night, we cried our eyes out. we gazed at the flames bursting out through the crematorium chimneys and cried. But soon the black, choking smoke, which rose over the camp, dried up our tears. We had spent our tears in mourning our dead. Our red-rimmed, sleepless eyes burnt by snow gusts in the forests of Bavaria, grew hollow and dim with the suffering and tortures we endured.

My whole body was overwhelmed by exhaustion. Baking under the August sun while standing motionless at attention at Appell or helplessly lying in the mud of Birkenau in wait for a new selection; wet and chilled to the bone by the endless cold autumn rains; covered with but some rags to fight the frost of Bavarian forest which froze our blood, sore with bleeding or festering wounds, sapped by all possible and impossible diseases; lashed, stroke with the cudgel or the rifle butt, beaten black and blue or trampled under the heavy boots of a Kapo or SS-man, the body was worn out.

And yet, it was soul that was most weary. One by one all its strings broke. The first, in spring 1944, when mother sewed the yellow star on our clothes… when we entered the ghetto… when we left the ghetto and made for the railway station carrying all our belongings on our backs. Then, on the way to Auschwitz… then when I parted with my family… when I learnt that they were no longer alive… and then every time a fellow inmate was killed.

Eating my heart out trying to imagine the faintest chance to hold out to the end, tortured by the thought that if a miracle happened and I survived I would be alone in this world, with neither parents, nor brothers and sisters, with no relatives and friends, my soul was so dark and weary that beside that weariness I no longer felt anything.

And yet, during the whole ordeal I went through, nobody had ever asked me "Bist du müde?" Are you tired? And how tired I was, and how tired was my soul.

I cannot even remember now when and how have I learnt that word, müde, tired. I don't remember because we never used it. When a Häftling fell flat to the ground during Appell or marches when he dropped the stone he carried in his arms and he threw himself to the ground to prevent it from rolling down the slope, the others near him asked him "kanst du noch?" Can you still hold out? While he, panting for breath stammered: "Ich kann noch" I can still hold out… but help me fellows, don't let me down. The Häftlings helped him to his feet, supported him for a few moments till he could resume his standing at attention, or marching or climbing the slope with the stone on his back.

But if the Häftling had the ill luck to be seen by an SS-man he could hardly escape death.

--- Auf! Verfluchte Hund!… schneller… weiter machen1 the SS-man yelled accompanying each word with a stoke of his riding whip, then kicking him with his heavy, spiked-boots which torn the detainee's flesh.

Straining himself to rise to his feet or to raise the stone the Häftling begged for mercy: "Herr Scharführer…ich kann noch2…" Although the strokes grew stronger and strength failed him, he still kept on begging: "Herr Scharführer, ich kann noch…" None of the tens, hundreds of Häftlings who had collapsed on the Appellplatz3 or while marching towards or back to the camp carrying cement bags, rails, iron bars or stones on their shoulders ever admitted that they were müde, tired, which would have meant to instantly abandon themselves to death, but straining their every mere to prolong their life by one day, one hour or one moment, they kept repeating till the last breath, to the last drop of blood: "Ich… kann… noch… noch…" I still can…








All words, all phrases of the lethal language I heard, understood and learn at Birkenau-Auschwitz and the other concentration camps my destiny took me to. They are known, without exception to all survivors of the concentration camp. I included in this dictionary only one word, which I learnt in the ghetto before deportation, a word unused in K.Z. but in perfect consonance with the lethal language: Münzkammer, mint.

While in The Reich, in all countries where the Final Solution was carried into effect, the sufferings of the Jews started with the deportation proper, in Hungary, the Horthyst gendarmes had commenced barbaric torturing in the very ghetto, putting the people to incredible tortures in order to find where they had hidden their alleged treasures; as a result there were many victims in all ghettoes, people being thrown half dead into the wagons.

No one will ever be able to tell when and who had first called Münzkammer, mint, the room assigned for tortures. Perhaps some witty brute, who saw how much gold the tortures produced jokingly exclaimed, ignoring the blood-stained walls: "Well this is a true 'mint'." The nickname quickly spread to all ghettoes.

From the very first week of the ghetto in Dej, a famous team arrived from Budapest to work in the 'mint'. The rich and wealthy Jews were taken with their entire family to a building near the ghetto. Parents in front of their children, men in front of their wives were beaten black and blue -- with the riding whip over the soles or with the "good, old, traditional" Hungarian bull's puzzle -- until they declared their hidden valuables. In case they had none, they were beaten all the same, until the brutes got bored.

"Day after day -- Singer Zoltan recalls -- the people in the ghetto watched from behind the barbed-wire fence those returning from the 'mint', their faces pale as death, their eyes dried up of tears, supporting one another. On wounded soles and bleeding feet they dragged themselves along supporting one another lest they should fall to the ground, they should collapse. Who knows witch of them was luckier: the ones who had indeed hidden or entrusted valuables and money to some Christians for safe-keeping -- so they had something to declare -- or the ones who had not hidden anything so in vain did they keep beating them, for hours, days on end, as there was nothing for them to confess.

On their way back from the 'mint' the people were staggering learning over another for support, their faces petrified with horror… Who could ever forget those nightmarish images of tortured parents, dishonored daughters or children frightened to death?"

Recalling the days that she has spent in the ghetto of Satu Mare, Anna Molnar would remember the Münzkammer, the 'mint' with a shudder:

"Blood-curdling things started to happen. A 7, Bathory Street, in a ghetto building that had become famous by now, bandit-like gendarmes brought over from Cluj, had organized a cross-examination room, making use of instruments worthy of the Middle Ages. They took ther4e all those who had presumably not declared all their valuables or had deposited them with some Christian friends.

Savagely beaten, half dead, those who had been interrogated came staggering on shaky legs out of that room of horrors. Quite often they were carried on stretchers.

Horrifying screams broke the silence of the ghetto dumbfounded with terror. Waiting day and night for their turn to come, men and women, their hearts thumping, their nerves strained to the utmost, turned white as a sheet whenever they heard a door creak... In the same building with us, the first summoned to be cross-examined were my cousin and her husband, we were anxiously waiting for them to return. Poor Kato, their daughter, was waiting for them in the street. Suddenly, sobbing desperately, she broke in a run: "They are coming, but they cam hardly walks".

They entered the door staggering, trying to force a smile. My cousin had been shown some mercy: only her arms showed the bruises left by the bull's puzzle, but her husband a been beaten over the soles till he fainted. His body was black and blue all over. But he did not tell them anything.

Alexander Gerö, a factory owner, was beaten to an inch of his life. Back home he poisoned himself.

Engineer Farkas' wife was beaten up so hard that she had to be taken straight to the makeshift hospital in the ghetto. Pains for took her only in the gas chamber of Auschwitz.

A woman in the opposite house went mad. They didn't have where to take her so we heard her inarticulate shrieks all day long. They awoke us at dawn and did not us fall asleep at night".

Berner Mor wrote about the cross-examinations carried carried out in the ghetto of Targu-Mures:

"During the third week of May we were faced with fresh wickedness. A detachment of gendarme cross-examinations arrived at the ghetto. One morning some ten-twelve names were called, people whom the gendarme 'invited' to be "so kind and come together with the members of their families to the police room" specially arranged for that purpose near the ghetto entrance. A few minutes later one could already hear terrifying screams and cries and the dull sound of strokes. We, the doctors, who had our 'consulting room' in an adjoining room, were watching the staggering men, women and even young girls coming out from cross-examination. If a man did not confess, then they summoned his wife and out her to the rack; they summoned even young girls and beaten them up to tell where their parents had hidden their proprieties. There were cases when whole families were tortured seven-eight times. The victims were hit with the bull's puzzle over the soles, hands and stomachs -- men also over their genitals -- till they fainted. Then cold water was thrown over them till they recovered consciousness and they were thrown out only to be called in later on, in the afternoon or the following morning when torturing was resumed. Fear had sneaked in all tents. Women trembled for their husbands; men were afraid in all their wives.

In the ghetto of Satu Mare torturing had gained such scope that people would rather be included in transports to the unknown than be obsessed with the torture chamber. Mrs. Delman was called in for cross-examination. She entered the 'mint' together with a few others. "I was seized and forced to take off my shoes -- Mrs. Delman, who survived deportation, declared bearing testimony at the trial of Horthyst criminals in the ghettoes of northern Transylvania, held in May 1946. They laid me on a bench, one was pressing my knees while the other with the other with hitting my soles with the cudgel, till he got tired; then he rolled up my dress and started to strike me all over the body. I cried, I screamed with pain, but he kept beating me savagely and then I was forced to run in circles round the walls. Then they ordered me to put on my shoes. As my feet had swollen, the pain was excruciating. Then they resumed the cross-examination. I had nothing to declare this time either. Then they repeated the torturing, taking off my shoes, beating me up, and putting me to the rack. While I was tortured some boss entered and demanded that I should be treated 'more energetically'."

When she was finally sent back to the ghetto, her body was broken, her feet so swollen that two people had to help her back. A few days later, when the investigating commission summoned her again to cross-examination, she was so scared that she volunteered to leave for Auschwitz by the first train.

The brutes' behavior towards women was sadistically beyond all bounds, bordering on insanity. Stripped naked and whipped till red stripes showed all over their bodies, if they still refused to confess they were seized by the hair and their heads smashed against the walls.

The wife of Nandor Weiss, a mill owner, was lashed with the riding whip and the rod and then they pressed her breasts in the door hinge till she lost consciousness and collapsed.

Layer Miksa Géllert's wife was whipped in front of her sobbing children. When the whip coiled around her neck she fell choking to the ground. The children, screaming, rushed to their mother. The gendarmes pushed the children away kicking them with their boots and continued to torture their mother.

There were cases when the husband, hearing his wife's racking screams, dashed into the room shouting:

"Stop it! I'll tell you everything!"

Sometimes, when cross-examinations ended earlier, the brutes called in at random girls between sixteen and twenty. They asked them to take off their clothes and in case the girls hesitated the cross-examinations tore off their dresses and body linen themselves. Then they asked them where had their parents hidden their valuables. The frightened girls told everything they knew. The girl who had nothing to tell was beaten black and blue.

In Cluj, das Münzkammer, the 'mint' was placed beyond the fence surrounding the ghetto. Blood-curdling screams were continuously pouring from those room. Relatives and friends, pale and frightened to death, were waiting for the return of those interrogated. Michael Géllert was summoned by a special messenger. The brutes brought in from Kosice threw themselves on him, putting him to unusually savage tortures to make him tell were he had hidden his valuables. Naked, his hands and legs tried, stroke by the gendarme with the bull's puzzle, kicked by a second, mounted and punched by a third, the man lost consciousness. They stopped beating him only for a few moments. The poured cold water over him till he recovered his senses and then everything was started anew. Three times did they resume their torturing. Then the mutilated victim was carried through the ghetto yard and shown to the internees: "Look, this has been Miksa Géllert! He has been Miksa Géllert, now he is nothing but a rag. Let this be a lesson to you! Anyone who conceals the truth and does not tell where he has hidden his valuables is going to share his fate!"

Randolph L. Braham, the reputed American historian of the Holocaust summoned up the Horthysts' crimes in their search for the proprieties of the interned Jews:

"A special building in the ghetto served as 'mint' -- the place where they (The Jews -- O.L.) were tortured to confess where they had hidden their valuables. The men were often tortured under the eyes of their wives and children, women were beaten in front of their husbands. The methods were unusually cruel and barbaric: the victims were beaten over their soles with rubber rods or cudgels, were snapped or kicked till they fainted. Men were hit over their testicles. Woman, sometimes even young girls were submitted to vaginal checks made by volunteer collaborators and midwives who did not shrink from doing it in the presence of male cross-examinations. Some of the latter, sadistically to the extreme, employed electric devices to make their victims confess. They introduced one end of such a device into the victim's mouth while the other was introduced into her vagina, or attached to his testicles, respectively. Such inhuman tortures made many Jews go mad or commit suicide.



To Oliver Lustig's Biographical Sketch

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