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Birkenau-Auschwitz and Dachau Holocaust Survivor

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Nachtschicht (Night Shift)

Nacht und Nebel (Night and Fog)

Nackt (Naked)

Noch einer! (Another One!)


No entryposted here.



Peitsche (The Riding Whip)


Präzision (Accuracy)




Rassismus (Racialism)

Revier (1)

Revier (2)

Ruhe im Block (Quiet In the Barrack)








When we arrived at Landsberg, coming from Birkenau-Auschwitz, we thought that nothing could ever frighten us any more. After our eyes had been burnt by the flames and smoke of crematoria for whole months, after we had helplessly witnessed for months on end how our fellow-inmates and friends were trampled under foot, tortured and killed, after we ourselves had passed hundred of times naked by the feared Captain SS Dr. Mengele during the long selections for gas chambers, what else could frighten us at Landsberg?

And yet, when we were told that the Kommando we were included in would be in Nachtschicht, night shift, on the next day, this curdled our blood in our veins.

In winter 1944 all the 4.ooo Häftlings of Landsberg No.1, of Kaufering No.3 and 4 were working in the Mohl forest, at the building site of an underground factory.

The roll call, with its endless beating protracted into the evening. It took several hours to get to the forest, marching through the knee-high snow on a biting frost. When we reached the forest we were exhausted, shivering with cold, hunger and exhaustion. But the trial was only at the beginning. We worked in the open almost without light. The detainees fell off the scaffolding into the snow where they froze unnoticed by anyone. They were looked for only at dawn when their absence was noticed at the return Appell, and when a desperate rush started. But instead of shedding a tear or thinking well about the dead we all cursed them for we had to look for them in the forest, while the wind hardly let us advance and snow covered all traces.

To carry cement was the hardest job. The halt was far off. Hundreds of people, in a line, curbed under the burden of cement bags, which they carried on their shoulders to the concrete mixer. We halted only when we fell to the ground. The path was slippery, our legs shaky but we collapsed not much because of the slippery path but because we were completely drained of energy. The cement speed over us the snow moistens it and the wind hardened in on our clothes in our hair, in our beards. On the way back we pulled over the empty bags to protect us from the cold. Towards daybreak we looked like some scarecrows.

On our way back we met the column of Häftlings coming to work in the morning. They stopped and stared at us as if they had seen some ghosts.

"Come on, why have you stopped, get going! It's the Nachtschocht, the night shift, coming from the Mohl forest!" one of them explained.




Nacht und Nebel


Tens of thousands deportees found themselves in the Nazi concentration camps, unable to tell how and why they had got there.

They had been rounded up, taken up from their beds at night or arrested in the street, in the factory, in their office or in hospitals during the day, separated from their beloved and taken to the Bunkers of Gestapo. Those who survived the dreadful cross-examinations were loaded in wagons without trial and sent -- from Belgium or Holland, Poland or the USSR, Greece or Czechoslovakia -- straight to Dachau or Buchenwald to Mauthausen or Bergen-Belsen. Their personal records drawn up by the Gestapo were marked with two initials: N.N. When the Gestapo officer was not very hasty, he wrote down the full words: Nacht und Nebel -- night and fog, or in a translation closer to the meaning: night and darkness.

Beside the six million Jews who entered the concentration camps although they had not been tried and no sentence had been passed on them, bearing only the Juderstern, the yellow star on their chest, the largest category of detainees in concentration camps was made up by those who had come there on the basis of a personal record marked N.N., Nacht und Nebel &emdash; night and fog.

 Nacht und Nebel is actually the name of the ill-reputed decree issued by Hitler on December 2, 1941 establishing that in the occupied territories, actually throughout all Europe "death penalty is recommended in principle" against all civilian persons who commit actions against the Reich or the occupation authorities" The indicted persons would be tried at once only in case the guilty were sentenced to death and the death sentence could be executed very quickly". If not, the respective person had to be transported to Germany.

Five days later, on December 12, 1941, Keitel, the chief of General Staff of German Hingher Command explained in a circular the meaning of the decree: "It is the well reasoned will of the Führer to use against persons hostile to the Reich other methods than those resorted to so far".

The new measure, were aimed at ensuring not only the transports to the concentration camps, but also at frightening the population of entire Europe. An "efficient and durable" fear could be achieved according to the Führer: a) by death penalty or b) by "measure to prevent any clarification as to which was the fate of the arrested person". Therefore, in order to grant "the Führer's well-reasoned will", "relatives, friends and acquaintances must not know what happened to the detainee, who will have no contact with the outside world… No outside organization will be provided data regarding the detainees. The death of a detainee will not be announced to his relatives, until further notice".

Keitel also emphasized, in order to avoid any misunderstanding, that detention in concentration camps of persons whose records are marked N.N., Nacht und Nebel, night and fig, "will last as a rule till the end of the war".

The personal records are marked N.N., Nacht und Nebel, night and fog were meaning fog only in beginning of the war. Afterwards, once entered through the gate of an extermination camp -- the reason did not matter any longer Dachau or Buchenwald, Mauthausen or Bergen-Belsen. Everybody -- state prisoners, tramps and gypsies, Jews, war prisoners and homosexuals -- became Häftlings. And for them there was only one escape from the night and fog of concentration camps: durch den Kamin, through the chimney.







From everything that "respect towards man" used to mean throughout centuries, in concentration camps remained nothing. Man was crushed, trampled down with the same nonchalance a piece of glass was smashed under foot. Even the elementary right of all those sentenced to death, to keep their shirt when executed was denied. In the Nazi concentration camps the Häftlings were sent to death nackt -- naked.

 All gas chambers had a vestry where the victims undressed. To tear the clothes off corpses, which during gassing clang to one another, would have been downright impossible. Therefore each Häftling had to enter the gas chamber nackt, naked. This was true not only for Birkenau-Auschwitz, where 2.000 Häftlings entered the gas chambers at a time, but also for the smaller camps. Here is the confession of Hauptsturmführer-SS Josef Kramer: "Around nine I saw 15 women to the gas chamber. I told them we were taking them to the disinfecting room. We undressed them with the help of a few SS-men and when they were naked we pushed them into the gas chamber.

When we closed the door, they started to shout… when I opened the door after ventilation was turned on, they were lying dead on the floor, covered with excrements…"

The clothes of those killed by shooting had to be recuperated before they were pierced by bullets. The Häftlings selected to be shouted were taken to a forest where they had to dig a ditch. Then they had to go some hundreds of meters away where they were to make up a column of fives. The Häftlings in the first row were ordered to undress. Goaded with riding whips from behind, they ran nackt, naked, towards the ditch and stopped on the edge or even got into it. Several rounds of machine-gun fire then the second row was ordered to undress. The orders were repeated till several hundred of small piles of clothes, tidily packed and lined in rows of fives was all that remained in the meadow.

When Genichschluss, shooting in the nape of the neck was chosen and the detainees were shot individually, the Häftling was taken to the place of the execution naked, lest the clothes should be soiled with blood.





Noch einer!


The SS-men, the Blockältestes, the Kapos kept repeating to us: "If you don't like the life in the camp or you are fed up with it… suit yourself and get into the wire."

"To get into wire" meant to throw yourself over the high tension conducting barbed-wire fence which surrounded the camp.

 Noch einer, another one, someone shouted and then everybody in the camp, all Häftlings from the thirty Appellplatzs of the camp suddenly turned to the barbed-wire fence and looked at the carbonized body of a Häftling still struggling in the jaws of death.

The end was always the same. It was only the beginning that each time differed.

A Häftling long and thin like a board heads for the barbed-wire fence coming from the opposite side of the platform. He does not hurry. He stalks resolutely, gazing at the fence with goggled eyes, unable to see anything else. He is not afraid of death. He has taken his decision alone, without having council with anyone and now he is determined.

His fellow inmates know that any attempt to stop him is doomed to failure. They step aside to let him pass and follow him, anxiously. Any activity on the platform ceases. The resolute step of the man heading for death sound in our ears likes the strikes of a huge clock. Soon one of us will cry out: Noch einer! another one and any movement on the thirty platforms will stop for a few moments.

Now, from the jumble of exhausted, hungry people, laying on the Appellplatz a Häftling of middle height jumps to his feet, looking around with frightened eyes. He breathes heavily, like a hunted animal. He looks up for a moment, but all he can see is the wreaths of black-violet smoke. Suddenly he breaks into a run, and runs so determinably as if someone were trying to stop him. He runs so quickly as if a whole pack of wolves were following in his track to eat him up.

Actually it is his own lack of determination that spurs him: he is afraid he might change his mind. Who knows when has he decided that electrocution is the only way out, the only solution to put an end to his ordeal? Who knows how long has he been picking up his nerve to accomplish the last deed of his life? And now, before the roll call he finally made up his mind. But he is still very much afraid of death. If somebody stopped him he would give up immediately. But the hundreds of detainees on the platform are overwhelmed by their own thoughts and pains. They will look up only when the first who sees his carbonized body, hanging on the barbed wire will call out: Noch einer! another one!

The frail detainee walking to an for along the barbed-wire fence is not even 17. His whole family was taken to the gas chamber on the very first day. The idea to follow them has constantly revolved in his mind since. But fear of death always made him put off a final decision. Actually it was not death as such that scared him so, but the unknown suffering one was supposed to endure when passing away. Death was the only topic that interested him. He loved to talk about death particularly with the doctors, trying to find out how cans a man dies instantly, without suffering too much. These talks prompted him to choose electrocution. And yet, he is afraid. "What if it is not so? How can I know? How can a living man fins out what is like when dying?"

Day after day he walked along the barbed-wire fence; in the beginning at a 6-7 meters' distance from it. Now, only two meters separate him from fence. At last he has made his decision. He turns towards the fence, stares at it as if seeing it for the first time. He makes a step forward and chills go down his spine. He is not able to go further, his strength fails him, but he is neither drawing back. He turns to the left and continues his walk along the barbed wire which attracts him terribly.

From the watchtower at the corner of the fence, the SS-men pull the trigger. The shot silences the clamor in the camp. The young Häftling falls to the ground. Some detainee, ignorant of what has actually happened calls Noch einer!, another one! And everybody turns to the barbed-wire fence. The young detainee, some twenty centimeters from the fence, stretches his hands to reach the fence. Blood gushes forth from his mouth. His fellow inmates look dumbfounded at the dying man, his dim eyes imploring help, but not to be saved but to be pushed 30 centimeters to "get into the wire".







The first stroke with the Peitsche witch hurt me most and sometimes I can still feel it burning my back did not actually hit me, but my father. It was on June 9, 1941. Our transport had arrived at Birkenau-Auschwitz around 11. There were eight of us, my parents, five brothers and sisters and I. Towards dusk only four of us stayed alive: my elder sister, Eve, who was 19, was sent to camp B. My farther, my 16 years-old brother Emilian and I, dressed in streaked clothes, were marching in rows of fives in the column of the first day's survivors towards camp E. when we entered the camp an SS-man counted us: five... ten.. 15... In order to count accurately the SS-man hit mit der Peitsche, with the riding whip the back of each fifth detainee on the right flank. When we, the last row passed, the SS-man counted 465! And hit my father mit der Peitsche, with the riding whip, over the back. Ever since, in the camps my ordeal took me to, I saw hundreds of people collapsing, fainting under the Peitsche strokes. I saw SS-men on bicycle, biting Häftlings mit der Peitsche, with the riding whip, just for fun.

I saw detainees laid on the trestle resisting to the thirtieth, fortieth or sixty-eighth stroke mit der Peitsche; I saw naked detainees, with arms tired behind hanging from a tree and hit mit der Peitsche, with the riding whip over their most sensible parts till blood came gushing forth.

 Die Peitsche, the riding whip was never missing from the hand of the Ss-man; it was the symbol of his power and even became one with his arm, its protection.

On April 25, 1945, it was the first time that the detainees of Landsberg were not taken out to work. The commander of the camp himself came in front of us and said: "the healthy ones, who can walk, should from column on the platforms in an hour. The others should stay in barracks". I hid among the sick. The able ones left the camp.

On the next day, towards evening, we were ordered to take out the carts from the stone houses, load the sick into the carts and push them several kilometers to the nearest halt that were in a forest. We reached our destination around midnight. We were told to get back to the camp quickly and fetch to the forest the remaining sick. We were promised a double portion of bread if we ran. We started to run and the SS-men followed us suit. We looked for the sick in all barracks. It was dark. We felt the heaps of rags and sometimes we discovered human bodies. If we heard groans it meant that the sick detainees was still alive. We took him out carefully and carried him to the cart. They were all suffering from typhus with a fever over 400. We pushed the loaded carts to the entrance of the camp. A SS-man rushed towards us, while his comrades in a lorry shouted at him to hurry as they could no longer wait for him. So, the SS-man shouted at us:

"Get back! The operation is postponed for tomorrow!" and turning around to make for the lorry, he dropped his Peitsche. We all gave a start. Something utterly unease al happened.

Throughout the 12 years since Hitler had taken power, the SS-men never parted with the Peitsche, the riding whip. They cherished it more than they're own hands. Every SS-man, however, imbecile, felt he was an almighty Übermensch, wen he raised the riding whip to hit those whom he considered his slaves, as Arian blood was not running through their veins.

The SS-men held the Peitsche, the riding whip tight, as if all their might were concentrated in it.

And now, suddenly, in front of several exhausted Häftlings an SS-man dropped his Peitsche.

Our eyes sparkled with hope. We have seen an SS-man dropping his Peitsche. The end was drawing near. The collapse was impending.

On the next day, April 27, 1945, the Häftlings of Landsberg were free.







From the day we entered the gates of the camp E of Birkenau-Auschwitz and till we left it, the food had always been the same, without exception, It was called Dörrgemüse, some sort of hotchpotch made of dehydrated vegetables.

We spoke quite often of the meals we used to have at home. Each of us loved to describe in detail the courses prepared on various holidays, at parties or weddings. We listened to one another attentively, but the taste of those meals we no longer remembered.

At Kaufering and Landsberg once a week we were given Perlkartoffeln, pearl-potatoes.

When we arrived at Kaufering 4 and got Perlkartoffeln, pearl-potatoes for the first time we couldn't believed our eyes. We put the potatoes to our lips with trembling hands, for fear that once we bite then we should find out a fake. But no, we were wrong. They were potatoes all right.

At Kaufering and Landsberg, as in fact in all the other concentration camps of Bavaria, potatoes were thrown into the pot just as they were taken out from the earth. After they were boiled we went to the kitchen and the potatoes were put in our caps, as we had no mess tin. They still had traces of mud, or little stone or straw on them, but we ate them so greedily, they gave us such joy that no one called them boiled potatoes but in all concentration camps they were called Perlkertoffeln, pearl-potatoes.

In the camp potatoes became hard currency. The unit of measure was the egg-size potatoes witch was equivalent with three nut-size potatoes.

I was in Kaufering 4 when my brother Emilian, the only member of my family I was not separated from, got sick. His strength failed him. It was then that I borrowed several potatoes from friends we had shared our suffering during summer in the shadow of the Birkenau crematoria. Little by little Emilian recovered. When we were given Perlkartoffeln, pearl-potatoes, we ate one portion and paid our debts from the second.

One day in winter 1944 when I got back from work I found that all those who had remained in the camp, including my brother, had been taken to another camp. I continued to pay the debt by myself. To give back the borrowed potatoes was a sacred duty, just as to steal a potato from a sick or dying man was the sing of uttermost degradation.

At Kaufering and Landsberg we were initially given Perlkartoffeln, pearl-potatoes once a week. They once every two weeks and later on only once every three weeks. Towards the end of the winter we were no longer given pearl-potatoes at all.

Those who had borrowed potatoes had to pay their debts in bread. And as the bread portion had been reduced to less than 100 g., to pay back for each Pearlkartoffeln, pearl-potato, meant to giver away a piece of your life.







The Nazi Reich bragged the accuracy and meticulousness of the SS most obvious when mass assassinations were plotted. In such circumstances no mistake, no delay were admitted. The mass assassinations had to be planed, organized and carried through in detail, without omissions or disturbances. Mit Präzision, with accuracy!

 Reichsstadthalter1 Greiser was still engaged in exterminating the 100.000 Jews of the eastern province under his authority when he thought about the liquidation of Polled suffering of pneumonia. He turned directly to Himmler: "Reichsführer! The action you approved regarding the special treatment [that is extermination, o.n.] to be applied to about 100.000 Jews in our province will be completed in the following two or three months. Please allow me, after I have concluded the action against the Jews to deliver the province from another danger, by means of the extant Sonderkommando which is familiar with this job... in the province there are 230.000 of people of Polish nationality suffering from pneumonia... Please give your consent in principle as soon as possible, to enable us to make the necessary prepayments starting right now, during the operation against the Jews, with a view to the subsequent carrying through of the action against the Poles..."

When murder was not committed mit Präzision, with accuracy, according to the established rates and conditions, the higher for a were informed at once to the last detail. At the beginning, when mass extermination had just started and was primitive &emdash; an SS officer, and moreover a doctor Untersturmführer-SS Dr. Becker, meticulous and perseverant and proud of his zeal in serving the "propre progress" of mass extermination, submitted reports to the higher echelons: "Poisoning with gas is not always done properly. Sometimes, in order to finish it quickly, the drivers press down the acceleration pedal to the utmost; for the reason, the executed are stifled instead of being put to quiet sleep, as the instructions stipulate. In consequence of my indication, due to the proper pressing of the pedal, death is inflicted quicker and the detainees fall asleep quickly. There are no longer contorted faces and excrements, as before.

When a state prisoner was executed his relations received a "bill" listing mit Präzision, with utmost precision all expenses they were due to cover: the postage of the sentence of death penalty; maintenance during arrest. The costs of carrying the sentence into effect (the executioner received 30 DM for each execution), postage of the "bill".

 Mit Präzision, with SS accuracy, were drawn up the lists of spoils taken throughout Europe. Let me quote from one of the "Lists of clothes and other worn item sent from the camps of Auschwitz and Lublin" to the Reich: worn clothes for men -- 97.000 sets; silk underwear for women -- 89.000 sets; feather for pillows -- 130 wagons; female hair: 1 wagon; footwear for children -- 22.000 pairs; drawers -- 38.000; petticoats -- 60.000; towels -- 100.000; brassieres -- 25.000… undershirts, header chiefs, handkerchiefs, skirts, mats, scarf's, pants, overcoats, pajamas, pullovers -- sum total: 825 wagons.

 Mit Präzision, whit accuracy were established the categories of all those who were to be executed or deported. A circular to a district of Poland communicating Himmler's dispositions as regards those who had attempted against the authorities read that they had to be executed together with all their male relatives &emdash; and in order to exclude any misunderstanding it further specified: Male relatives include the father, sons (over 16), brothers-in-law, cousins and uncles".

There was only one field in which the SS accuracy and meticulousness was not manifest: In recording those exterminated. Never has been or will be possible to establish the exact number of those killed in the Nazi concentration camps.








In the concentration camps the next most detested people, after the SS-men, were die Prominenten. Some of them were hated even more than were hated the former. According to the dictionary Prominenten means distinguished persons. Indeed, the detainees belonging to that category distinguished themselves through brutality, sadism and bestiality, through the lack of any human features.

The upper layer, the most cruel one, lacking any scruples whatever, was formed by the "army" of those wearing the much coveted armband with the inscription Kapo, Blockälteste, Lagerälteste or Vertreter. To these feared brutes added all those doing a job inside the camp: couriers and copyists, corpses posters and barrack servants, workshop artisans, the physicians, and medical orderlies of the Reviers, depot, kitchen and laundry workers.

They were recruiting for their greatest part from among the detainees with a green badge, that is from among professional thieves and murderers. The abstention of a position in the inner administration of the camp meant a chance of survival, and the "greens" did not care if they survived at the expense of the others. In order to keep their positions of omnipotent masters they proved as zealous as possible and utterly pitiless toward the detainees, surpassing the SS-men in terms of cruelty and bestiality.

In the dispute for such a position nothing matters any more. The contenders used every means, no matter how reprehensible, to obtain or keep such a position. The right to maltreat other people, even to kill them without being made responsible for it simply made the armband wearers go mad.

The portrait made in The Death Factory to Danish, one of the Lagerälteste at Birkenau, is a typical one: "In the concentration camp his dream came true. He had become a great sell. Master over thousands of people. He gave orders and they carried them through. He was saluted the way the SS-men were saluted: when the detainees mat him they took their caps off. He was a freaked man and the power he had acquired so easily and so quickly made him feel really strong. It was the happiest time of his life. He was healthy and robust, and had more food and liquors than he actually needed. He asked to be made adequate clothes, inventing an uniform that should suit his prominent position. He wore black suiting military jacket, riding breeches and brightly polished high boots, which accounts for his nickname of "Dark Mary".

The secret of his so-called organizational skills lay in his unmatched brutality and lack of king-heartedness. The life of one man meant nothing to him. He took the initiative of telling the SS officers that the camp was too crowded and that some of the detainees had to be sent to the gas chambers. He admitted loudly that in his opinion there were only two categories of detainees: healthy ones and dead ones. He never missed any selection made by the SS men with a view to sending to death weakened or sick detainees. He himself assassinated thousands of detainees".

The female armband wearers were even more terrible. "The female detainees wearing a green badge (criminal offenders) formed a distinct category. They surpassed by far their male counterparts in term of callousness, brutality and wickedness. Most of them were prostitutes sentenced to many years of imprisonment. Many of them looked hideous. The fact that those beasts treated the female detainees as they pleased to was an implicit fact and could not be prevented. During the visit Reichführer SS Himmler made to Auschwitz in 1942 he considered them as very suitable to be used as chiefs of the female Jewish detainees. Those who died -- any they were not too many -- died as a result of epidemics. They had no heart at all. Can still see the slaughter of Buddy. I do not think that men could match in terms of bestiality the "green" female chiefs who butchered with axes, tore apart, strangled, in one word massacred the female Jewish deportees from France. It was horrible (Rudolf Höss)".

Concerned as they were with crushing the detainees' morale, the SS-men knew that nothing could have a more destroying effect upon them the brutalities and tortures perpetrated by other detainees, Rudolf Höss sowed in his deposition: "No wickedness, no detestable behavior from the part of the guardians hurts them [the Häftlings -- O.L.] and shatters their mental condition as the tough behavior of their own inmates does. The very fact that the detainees are compelled to witness helplessly the torturing of some of their comrades-in-suffering by a chief detainee, recruited from among them, has a shattering effect upon their morale. And poor he who tries to help or rescue a tortured inmate!"

It is Höss again who correctly grasped the mobile gouverning the behaviour of those belonging to the category of Prominenten: "They want to show themselves in a favorable light when compared with the SS guardians and overseers who behave in the same way, they want to prove how zelous they are. In this way they hope to obtain advantages and ease their detention term. And they are doig this at the expense of the other detainees. The posibility of such an attitude is offered by the SS guardian or oversear who turns and indifferent eye to such thing because either he is too easy-going to prevent them or he favours them himself out of an wicked propensity; at times he provokes such situations as the instigation of some detainees against other detainees fills him with a sort of devilish joy. However, there are mean, brutal, wicked creatures, with criminal tendencies, among the chief detainees as well who torture their inmates out of mere sadism, both physically and mentally, until they die".

Indeed these were exceptions, too. In many camps political detainees meneged to infiltrate the Prominenten and used their positions to help the suffering, check abuses and excesses and quite often, to organize resistance. But leaving aside such exceptions, die Prominenten have remained in the memory of the survivors as brutes who degraded themselves up to self-exclusion from the humane race.







Irrespective of their rank, the SS-men were carefully selected, well paid professional killers. They stood out by the scope and savageness of the crimes perpetrated by those who guarded the concentration camps. Among them, on the lower step of bestiality, were the SS physicians who made experiments on human being. The long train of "accursed doctors" was opened by Hauptsturmführere SS Sigmund Rascher.

A Hitlerite to the backbone, ambitious and devoid of any scruples, in 1939, at the age of 30, he denounced his own father to the Gestapo. Two years lather he married Mimi Diels with whom he had been living for a long time. His wife, who was 15 years older than him, had a great advantage: she was the protégéé of all-powerful Reichsführer SS Heinrich Himmler.

 Rascher was the one to make the first step towards organized experiments upon human being. On May 15, 1941 he formally addressed Himmler to this effect, asking for approval to experiment on human being, while mentioning that during the experiments the victims -- "the object of experiment," as Rascher "scientifically" put it -- "might die". After a week his request was "gladly" approved.

Choosing for headquarters Dachau, Rascher set to work. He began by testing human endurance at high altitude using lower pressure chambers to this purpose. A former detainee, who managed to escape, and who happened to be a doctor himself, described suchlike experiments: "... as one of Rascher assistants I had myself the opportunity to see through the observation window of the chamber how the detainees inside were kept in vacuum until their lungs exploded. During some experiments the pressure was so high that people went mad. In their attempt to remove pressure they pulled out their hair, and excoriated the skin of their heads and faces. They would strike their heads against the walls of the chamber, struggling against the walls and howling in an attempt at easing the pressure hurtling their tympanis".

Then Rascher passed to freezing experiments. He scrupulously informed his protector, Reichsführer SS Himmler, about the results of the experiments: "... generally, death occurs when the temperature goes down to 25,70 -- 24,20". In one of his letters he pathetically exclaimed; "Thanks God, frost is back again at Dachau!" He usually froze his victims in cold water, but he also experimented "dry freezing", forcing his naked victims to stand under the most terrible frosts for 10-14 hours.

In order to text the blood clotting effect of "Polygal" he order that detainees be shot in various parts of their bodies only to leisurely tampon the wounds with "Polygal."

Doctor Rascher not only did not care about the people he killed but he even took pride in his experiments. One day he arrogantly addressed his colleague Rein: "You say you are a physiologist but you only stick to experiments in guinea pigs and mice. I am positively the only one doctor who really know human physiology because I make experiments on people, not on mice".

His fanatical wife Mini Diels, who helped his "ascent", also contributed to his downfall. Despite her relatively advanced age, she contributed to the growth of the "pure race" of masters by one child every year to the admiration and esteem of the hinged SS quarters. At the third child it was discovered that Mrs. Racher's pregnancy had been simulated and the baby had been kidnapped. The possibility that the hundred per cent Aryan blood might be contaminated with some kind of impurity made even Himmler get furious. The Rasches were arrested and put to jail.

When Germany's downfall was imminent the Reichsführer SS himself, Rascher's former protector, ordered that the couple, who knew too much and could have talked, should not fall alive into the hands of the enemy. Mrs. Rascher was hung at Ravensbrück. Mr. Rascher, an SS doctor, was killed at Dachau in late September 1944 with a pistol shot by a guardian while stretching out his hands for the disk of food through the half-open door of the Bunker.







The ideas, plans and actions of the Nazis were terribly savage. They materialized in endless crimes. The most savage among them all the Nazi theory on racialism. It fed and amplified all the other criminal ideas, plans and actions.


Die Rassismus, Nazi racialism, preached the primordial of pure blood, Northern or Aryan blood; the superiority of the German race, a race of masters, the only one capable of bringing übermenschen, supermen, to the word; the mission of that race to impose their will and laws and laws upon Untermenschen, sub-men, the degenerates belonging to crossed, inferior races.

Once told that they were prototypes of a superior race meant to dominate Europe, the Nazis, enlisted in hundreds of divisions, began to trample underfoot, destroy and kill everything that was pure, lofty and great but belonged to allegedly inferior peoples. They destroyed and killed everything they met in their way howling:

"If the whole world goes to ruins
To the hell with it, we don't care;
We'll go on marching,
Cause today we've got Germany
And tomorrow we'll have the whole world".

 Der Rassismus, the racialism promoted by the Nazis, pursued that every German &emdash; feeling the "pure blood of a superior race" running through his veins, aware of the fact that he was an Ubermensch, a superman &emdash; should command with &emdash; out hesitation, kill in cold blood, without any scruples whatsoever. "we want", Hitler declared, "to select a layer of new, asters, who should not knew what pity is, a layer aware of the fact that, due to their belonging to a superior race, they have the right to master, a layer that should know how to install and unhesitatingly maintain their domination upon broad masses of people".

The "pick" of that superior layer of new masters was formed by the SS-men. One man on the submachine gun, the other in the riding whip, they felt indeed like übermenschen, like superman, and, true, they were not moved, as Himmler requested, "neither by the waves of blood nor by the mountains of corpses". The theory of Nazi racialism could not do without professional killers, because in addition to protecting and growing by every means the superior race, of the German übermenschen, it also meant the pitiless mass extermination of those considered to be of an inferior race. Hitler had unequivocally stated: "After centuries of lamentations in defense of the poor and the humble, the time has come to defend the strong against inferior people. One of the main tasks of German State activity will always be prevention by all possible means of the growth of the Slav race. Natural instructs command all living creatures not only to conquer their enemies, but also to destroy them. In the past, one of the victor's prerogatives was to destroy whole tribes and peoples".

Himmler formulated all this in more direct and concise way, so as to be clearly understood by every SS-man: "I'll put it straight: the tense of years to come will not deal with what kind of foreign policy Germany should promote or not; they will mean fight for the extermination of the inferior races throughout the world".

Indeed, to Himmler it was enough if, out of the whole theory of racialism, the common SS-man understood the idea that he belonged to a superior race and he was supposed to ruthlessly kill all those belonging to inferior races.

Addressing the SS generals, Heinrich Himmler tried to be more convincing and impress his audience with his "oratorical skill": "How are the Russians getting on? How are the Czechs getting on? I don't care a bit about it. I don't care whether the other peoples are getting on well or are just starving; what matters is that we should have slaves for our corps. What if, while digging an anti-tank ditch, ten thousand Russian women collapse in exhaustion? The only thing that matters to me is that the ditch be ready to the benefit of Germany".

On propagating racialism the leaders in Berlin lay the main stress on the inoculation of the Germans with contempt for peoples declared to belong to inferior races, on their extermination as a prerequisite for the assertion of the superior race, of the German Ubermenschen!

On October 2, 1940 a meeting took place at Hitler's headquarters. The discussions were written down by Bormann himself. The document read: "There should be no Polish masters; there where they are found they should be destroyed no matter how cruel such a thing may seem [...]". "All Polish intellectuals should be destroyed. This many seem cruel but the law of life rescuers so [...]." "... Priests will be paid by us and in exchange they will have to preach what we ask them to. If a priest is found to act differently we will be pitiless. The mission of the priest is take care that the Poles keep calm, to make them dullard stupid. This is positively to our interest [...]".

Erich Koch, the Reich's commissioner for Ukraine, stated in a public speech held in Kiev: "we are a people of masters, which means that the most insignificant German worker is racially and biologically a thousand more valuable than the population here".

 Der Rassismus, Nazi racialism, showed its must ruthless side towards the Jews. The Slav peoples had to be seriously thinned. He Jews, however, had to be destroyed to the last man. If the Slavs were subject to persecutions and starvation in an arbitrary abusive way, the Jews were being exterminated in an organized way, methodically adopted and made public, and a concrete program envisaging the extermination of some 11.000.000, that is of all Jews living in Europe. During an earlier stage the Nazis set to themselves that only a part of the Slav peoples be destroyed. Himmler referred to that "part" in a speech as amounting to some 30.000.000 Slavs.

Nowhere in the Reich did der Rassismus, Nazi racialism, feel more at home than in the concentration camps. There, in the neighborhood of barbed wire fences, of a gas chambers and crematoria, the SS-men really had the feeling of being Ubermenschen, while those millions of Häftlings just Untermenschen, just sub-men, who could any time be humiliated, beaten, tortured, hung, gassed or simply crushed underfoot like worms.

Also grounded on racialism were the monstrous experiments carried out on living people in the concentration camps. Brought to account for his crimes in front of the tribunal, Dr. Kurt Hessmeyer declared that he did not make any difference "between the animals for experiments and Jewish children. At the time I shared the opinion that the detainees in the concentration camps were worthless as human beings."

During the trial held in Nürenberg, Bach Zelewsky was asked:

"Was Himmler's speech, in which he requested the extermination of 30.000.000 Slavs, a reflection of his personal beliefs, or was it an expression of the national-socialist conceptions?"

Bach Zelewsky answered: "How I am convinced that it was a logical consequence of our conception. When for years on end, for tens of years on end you say that the Slavs are an inferior race, that Jews are not even men., it is natural that such an explosion eventually occurs".





Revier (1)


In all death camps, at Birkenau-Auschwitz included, near the crematoria and the Bunkers or within several hundred meters from them were the Reviers, the sick rooms. Doctor from among the Häftlings provided medical assistance.

The decision to go to the Revier was a matter of life and death. First, because if you asked for a medical examination as a result of a tired heart, damaged lungs or kidney blockage but without any exterior wound you might be considered a malinger by the Lagerälteste, and instead of medical assistance you might be beaten and trampled underfoot on the spot, right in front of the Revier, Second, because in most of the cases stepping into the Reviers was tantamount to sure death.

At least once in a week &emdash; one never knew the exact day beforehand &emdash; the sick were examined by the SS doctor of the camp. Those considered seriously sick or incurable would be administered an injection of phenol right in the heart. If they were just a few. But if they were many, they were sent to the gas chambers of the respective camp or to the nearest camp that had such a facility.

And yet, emaciated Häftlings tortured by illness do report to the Revier to get al least one day's rest and have their unbearable pains alleviated.

The aspect of the Reviers differed from one camp to another. The Reviers at Mauthausen were barracks without floor, windows and toilets. They looked like deserted stable. At Kaufering and Landsberg the Revier had not even beds. Instead, the Reviers at Birkenau had even apparatus for complicated surgical performances. Captain SS Dr. Josef Mengele, the famous Lagerarzt of Birkenau-Auschwitz. Inspected the Revier himself. If he discovered the slightest negligence he would call the Häftling doctors hard names in front of the sick. He would make believe he was highly indignant even at an insufficiently esthetic suture.

"Are you bunglers or doctor? What's this? A Revier or just a butcher's shop? In the German Reich, Sirs, everything is done accurately, thoroughly and faultlessly. It has been decided that there should be a Revier here then a Revier it should be, even if it's a concentration camp Revier".

On hearing him the sick strove to rise their heads and see him. A gleam of hope showed by in their tired sunken eyes.

While leaving the Revier, Mengele would order that one third, one half or three quarters of the sick should be, liquidated starting that very day as, in his opinion, there were too many sick detainees in there.

In all Reviers, from all concentration camps, the saddest sight was the one offered by the sick struggling to look cured when the commission changed with the selection of the seriously sick and incurables for the gas chambers showed up.

The news reached the Revier a few hours or just a few minutes before the inspection. The female detainees rubbed their cheeks and lips with brick power, procured beforehand, just to look full of life. Those of them who were too weakened to do it implored their neighbors to slap them in order to remove death paleness from their faces. The Häftlings wounded in their legs and hands would ask their comrades to come and arrange quickly the ragged blanket so that the wounds should not be seen. Those with a kidney stone made superhuman efforts not to howl of pain, and when the commission passed by they managed even to put on a feeble smile.

The SS doctors impassible surveyed the sick. A slightly perceptible sign was tantamount to a death penalty. Sometimes, after the review was over, they would simply change their minds: "There is a danger of contamination. Terminate them all!"

The consequences of such a "second thought" occurred after a survey of the Reviers at Birkenau-Auschwitz are most touchingly tribunal of Nürnberg:

"The seriously sick detainees from the surgical section, their wounds still dressed, and whole lines of weakened, terribly emaciated sick, some of them almost curved, were loaded in lorries. They were all naked, and the scene was appalling: lorries stationed outside the Revier and the miserable victims were simply thrown into the lorries or pushed up by orderlies. Sometimes some one hundred people into just one small lorry [...] They all knew what would come next. All around the lorries the SS-men pushed back the shouting crowd trying to jump down from the lorries [...]. One detainee had killed his own brother in order to spare him this awful drive".





 Revier (2)


The Nazi concentration camps, although thousands in number, had all been built according to the same pattern. The barracks were all alike, surrounded by the same barbed wire fence conducting high voltage current. SS-men watching from watch towers, the same extermination system everywhere, The death rate, however, differed from one camp to another. Contempt for man, bestiality, crime were prevalent and ever-present in each camp. Nowhere were they more violent than in the Reviers, the sick room, where one might have expected to find at least a trace of humane behavior, of compassion, of pity. But those were notions unknown to the SS-men, notions that were completely ruled out from the camp, the Reviers included. Given below are a few accounts about the best known camps.

The Reviers at Birkenau according to the description given in the volume The Death Factory:

"The sick room, called Revier in all concentration camps, was initially located in barrack No. 7, camp B I b.

Going to the Revier was not an easy thing. For this one had to have high temperature. But going to the sick room meant almost sure death.

There had been tens of thousands of detainees who passed through the gates of Birkenau. Most of those who passed through barrack No. 7 ended in the crematorium.

Barrack No. 7 was a brick barrack, without floor, with small windows that never opened, which accounted for the unbearable stink inside. Next to the walls and in the middle of the barrack there were built "beds" full of lice. The pallets were soaked with excrements. On the pallets there were so many sick that it was only with much difficulty that they could turn from one side into the other. The neighbor might have a catching disease, but nobody cared about this.

The sick lay next to dying or dead detainees. Lying in this hole next to all kind of human wrecks did nothing but enhance suffering before dying. Only one who has gone through all this can understand the tragedy of the situation.

There was no medical assistance. Nor were there medicines, lavatories, water, soap or towels".

"There was no floor1. No window. No water. No toilet. They looked like deserted stables. This is how the barracks of the hospital at Mauthausen, inaugurated on April 14, 1943, looked like.

For the physiological necessities of the sick there were three tubs in each barrack that spread an undesirable foul smell. The sick would drag himself to the tub and then sit on it in a precarious equilibrium. One moment of dizziness or weakness and he might fall inside the tub, which actually happened to some of the sick detainees.

The beds, arranged in three tiers, were 80 cm wide and 180 cm long. The mattresses were paper-made, filled with straw Both the mattresses and the blankets had not been changed since the inauguration of the Revier.

When the Revier was very crowded, then were six persons who sleep in each bed; three of them slept with their head a one end of the bed, while the other three the other way round. The lack of space led to strong quarrels. Many a time the props of the beds gave way under the weight, reduced as it was of the occupants. If the uppermost bed fell then the beds beneath it went down, too, and a dozen of bodies rolled down on the ground accompanied by the hoarse laughter of the other.

For the sick it was difficult to walk from the barrack to the latrine only in one's shirt and drawers. Towards the end of the war many of the sick in the Revier did not have even as much as that. It was particularly the case of the newcomers who, after the medical examination, were sent to the Revier naked or with a blanket on their backs at the most. Some of the sick were so weakened that they collapsed and died on the short way from the barrack to the latrine".

The most terrible thing for a sick detainees at Mauthausen was to be sent to barrack No. 7, also called Isolierblock, isolated barrack, a barrack for sick detainees from the special commandos. The sick Häftlings in barrack No. 7 were not allowed, nor did they have the possibility, to communicate with detainees from the neighboring barracks. They were taken to the lavatory after the lights were out, like plague-stricken persons.

In this way, unlike in other cases, in barrack No. 7 there were people suffering from the most various and unexpected diseases. On the other hand, nothing of what happened there was ever known outside.

Here is a description of that barrack belonging to Professor Gilbert Dreyfus: "What first struck you when you entered barrack No. 7 was the smell. A dense, indefinite smell that had penetrated the separating walls, the clothes, the human skin and even the air, which made you feel a scratching in your throat. The smell was not the same everywhere; zones of discrete fetidness alternated with zones of maximal fetidness, where various kinds of emanations intermingled".

A kingdom of portends and filth, the barrack had been meant for the accommodation of two hundred sick, but it usually quartered four to five hundred sick on pallets arranged in the tiers. Four or five hundred hairless heads lying crosswise. Arms and legs crossed in all directions. Four of five hundred samples from the main European nations. A bustling throng. Some were grouped according to the disease they suffered from. The row of phlegm's and gangrenes spread a putrid smell. The corner of scale-stricken detainees smelt musty. In the corner of the dysenteric you literally choked. The phthisis corner already smelt of decaying flesh. Most of the other patients lay in a hodge-podge of bodies: those with edema, swollen, from head to toe like balloons, and the immense mass of emaciated detainees knocked on by overwork who formed the generic category of those suffering from allgemeine Körperschwäche1.

"It was the empire of pus", Cecile Goldet, who worked as a nurse in the surgical section of the Revier of Ravensbrück, remembers. "We were three nurses supposed to attend one hundred and fifty female sick. There were two women lying on one pallet. They moaned. The sight was horrible [...]. All wounds suppurated, the dress did not hold, the pus leaked everywhere [...] on blankets, on the neighboring patients.

On Tuesday and Fridays, when the dressings were changed, the sight turned nightmarish. Dressings were changed in front of the doctor, on the table in the surgical room. There were very few women who could walk all way to the surgical room. So two nurses had to carry, actually drag a patient to the table. To me it was an ordeal each time. All those bodies of moaning, emaciated women with suppurating wounds you were afraid to touch for fear it might hurt, at times suffering from such a violent diarrhea that you had to carry a basin in one hand while supporting them with the other! Then there were those dressing changed in a hurry, by calling a number, without any preliminary examination, to creatures who were going to die after one hot! There were times when I struggled to carry, between the many too close rows of beds, patients who were so weakened that they could not even moan any longer. Sometimes, the female patients I carried were naked. We did not have enough body linen, and their gowns were so dirty that we had to take them off".

A shoaling image of the Revier of Bergen-Belsen is offered by the volume Doctors of The Impossible: "The sight seems to belong to a different age. The Doctor2, accompanied by predrilled, passes by the beds. One can hear desperate calls and implorations; emaciated arms stretch out from the dark to draw his attention, hands with cramped fingers cling to his clothes trying to show him the boxes full of blood and expectoration's. He enters a dark partition to blindly palpate a body, but he is drawn back by some other patient; a leg is hanging from an upper bee, the doctor stoops to pass beneath it, slips on dedications, climbs up a bunk to examine a patient "at the top", then gets down to look at a motionless body: is he still alive or is he dead? Then he turns to a youth who chokes, makes an injection one foot on the edge of a bed, the other one on the edge of another bed; and again those shouts and implorations in all languages: "Docteur! Doktor! Medico!"

Recovery was impossible because hygienic conditions in the camp were deliberately scandalous. The sick spent 5-6 months in the Revier dressed in the same miserable clothes, without the possibility to take a shower as access to lavatories in other barracks was forbidden; the pallets soaked through by the dejection's of the dying were never replaced; the thin ragged blankets that passed from one patients to another were stained with dried expectoration's; the floor of the barracks was black with filth; the detainees were kept for hours on end in a room as air-tight as a grave, where foul smells and viruses mingled in spite of the doctors' efforts.

Recovery was impossible because medicines, besides being of a common type, were very scarce. It was practically impossible to cure dysentery with just a few grams of anthray, or consumption with an injection of calcium once in a week...

Recovery was impossible because the food rations of the "non-workers" were less than half of what was considered to be a "vital minimum".






Ruhe im Block!

 Ruhe! Ruhe, verfluchte Hunde! Quiet! Quiet you accursed dogs! It was the most heard yell at Birkenau and in all the other concentration camps.

The SS-men, all-might masters, posing as indifferent and contemptuous Ubermensch, were however afraid of a revolt, of an open confrontation with the millions of Häftlings in the camps. They were frightened by any movement, by any noise. They would have preferred that everything be dead, stone still. That no breath be heard in the camps. The only movement be their steps. The only noise: the horsewhips rhythmically striking the tops of the boots or the heads of the Häftlings.

The Lager -- and Blockältestes also yelled continuously. Ruhe! Ruhe, verfluchte Hunde! Quiet! Quiet you accursed dogs!

Especially during the night, in the barracks, there had to be complete silence. And, that was what it was impossible to achieve.

In barrack number 21, as in fact in all the barracks at Birkenau, on four of the supporting beams was written in large letters, Ruhe im Block! Silence in the barrack!

During the day, in rain, in wind, in heat, we were standing outside, in the Appellplatz. We were not allowed to enter the barrack but in the evening. When the signal for lights out was given, we rushed to the door, pushing each other, treading on each other's feet, shouting to one another: "Keep a place for me!"

The Blockälteste, with the two Vertreters, were waiting for us in the barrack. Beating us with their bent cudgels, they were shouting continuously: Ruhe im Block! Ruhe, verfluchte Hunde! Silence in the barrack! Quiet you accursed dogs! Without giving a thought to the blows we were receiving, all those more than 1.000 youth, between 14 and 20 years of age, in barrack number 21, called Kinderblock, the children's barrack, struggled to be the first to enter, to get a place near one of the walls. Those who succeeded lied down quickly side by side, on the cement floor. Placing their heads next to the board wall, they would stretch their legs towards the opposite one. By lying down on one's side, there of us would crowd in one meter. The barrack having 40 meters in length, 120 could find a place in the first row. But they could not afford to keep their legs straight. Up to the passage that divided the barrack into two there would have been place for their rows. Or, in order that all may lie down, we had to form five rows on each side of the passage. Therefore, those in the first row had to coil them selves. And they coiled themselves. Their things served as pillows for those in the second row and it went on like this up to the fifth row. The Häftlings who could not find a place in any of the rows lied down equally crowded in the passage.

Each square centimeter of cement was occupied. There was no space left even for a needle. Even for the sabots there was no place. We were leaping with them on. Only those in the first row would take them off. They used the sabots as pillows. In any case, wood was less hard than cement.

It was taking hours until we would all settle down in a way or another. Even the Blockältestes and his Vertreters, would get tired of so much yelling and beating. They would yell once more Ruhe im Block, verfluchte Hunde! Silence in the barrack, you accursed dogs! And would retire to their rooms at the end of the barrack. If you stood up and looked around (the bulb was on throughout the night), you got the strange feeling that the barrack was parquet with human bodies. The striped clothes covering the uniformly coiled bodies strengthened that impression.

In our barrack number 22, Die Ruhe, the silence, was lasting for a short time. A Häftling would extract with difficulty his feet from under the body of his neighbor and would desperately stand up. The pails for relieving the nature were by the door. How would one reach there? Slowly, carefully, he would place his foot between two bodies. After the second or the third step he would feel a blow at the knee. Someone was trying to activate his leg. The Häftling, losing his balance, would fall over the bodies lying in front of himer 22, Die Ruhe, the silence, was lasting for a short time. A Häftling would extract with difficulty his feet from under the body of his neighbor and would desperately stand up. The pails for relieving the nature were by the door. How would one reach there? Slowly, carefully, he would place his foot between two bodies. After the second or the third step he would feel a blow at the knee. Someone was trying to activate his leg. The Häftling, losing his balance, would fall over the bodies lying in front of himtart to deal terrible blows, at random, as if against a herd of cattle, yelling continuously: Ruhe! Ruhe im Block, verfluchte Hunde! Quiet! Silence in the barrack, you accursed dogs!

Silence was restored with difficulty. Exhausted, the Blockältestes and the two Vertreters, would with draw with the cudgels under arms. The lull would last 30-40 minutes. Then a shrill cry would be heard… a sole that would stop suddenly, as it had started… deep sighs… desperate cries: "Mother! Mother, don't leave me!… I am afraid, help… help! No, not yet! A day, only one!… Mother! Mother, were are you?…" the children Häftling in barrack number 21 were dreaming. But their dreams were too noisy and the SS-men were afraid of noise, especially at night, when they wanted everything to be dead, stone still, and only the steps of the guards and the horsewhips rhythmically striking the top of the boots are heard.

The Blockältestes and the two Vertreters knew that and when the shouts of mother! Or help! Were too loud awakened them, they would rush again into the barrack, mad with fury. That time no one would escape from his or her bent cudgels. The most unprecedented hubbub of screams of paint and yells would be heard until dawn. Ruhe! Ruhe im Block, verfluchte Hunde! Quiet! Silence in the barrack, you accursed dogs!



To Oliver Lustig's Biographical Sketch

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