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Birkenau-Auschwitz and Dachau Holocaust Survivor

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Tee (Tea)


Tod (Death)

Totenkopfeinheiten (Death's Head Units)

Totennummern (Number of Death People)

Totenzuge [Death train (1)]

Träne (Tears)


U.W. (Unerwunschte Wiederkehr) (The Return Is Not Desired)

Unnütze Esser (Unless Mouths)

Unsicherheit (Uncertainly)








In summer 1944, at Birkenau, in camp E we were sometimes given Tee, tea. Actually, it was nothing else but hot brownish water, with no sugar and no taste.

In the sultry heat of July and August, when der Durst, thirst tormented us more than deer Hunger, hunger, deer Tee, that hot slop seemed to us heavenly liquid. We put the pan or pot -- eight to ten Häftlings got our portion in the same vessel -- to our parched lips which the "tea" vaporous seemed to imbue with life, we gulped once or twice, according to our previous agreement and then handed the pot over to the next inmate.

 Der Tee, tea, was brought in huge barrels. Three or four dishes, it's portioning lasted a lot. One afternoon, the Appell as ordered although only two of barrels had been emptied. The Häftlings who had not got their portion crowded around the barrels. Suddenly the Lagerälteste turned up on the platform.

"What's going on here?"

The Vertreter who portioned out the tea could no longer answer as he had been felled to the ground with one stroke by the Lagerälteste. During the following days, we were no longer given tea. As I was one of the oldest in the Kinderblock I asked the Blockälteste together with a group of Häftlings from Cluj to let us distribute the tea ourselves. He consented.

With the help of several youngsters of Oradea and Salgotaryan we kept order in the line so that no one could take two portions. As we were the last to get our portions, everybody listed to us.

After several days an utterly unexpected thing happened. My friend Beker Adam of Cluj, who brought the barrels of tea from the kitchen told me in a whisper: "We got a barrel of sweetened tea", and we decided to let that barrel the last. We started to distribute the tea. There were still about two hounded of Häftlings waiting for their turn when we began to distribute the tea in the last barrel.

"Lads, it's sweet! " the first who tasted the tea shouted in amazement. Everybody crowded around the barrel, shouting "it's sweet, do you hear, sweeet!… even those who had already got their portion. I was pushed aside and the pans were snatched from the stretcher. Tens of Häftlings holding pans and pots in their hands tried to fill them up. Even if one of them managed to fill his pan he could not get our from that dreadful press. My friends, Adam and Iancu, were desperately holding the barrel and shouting:

"Be sensible! Stand in a line! The Appell is drawing near! We'll get in the neck!"

In vain. Nobody seemed to hear, anyone, and the clamor was even greater. I was helplessly looking at the crowd in front of me. Then the signal for the Appell was given. In my mind's eye I saw the Lagerälteste felling down the Vertreter whit one stroke. In fit of fear I shouted:

"Adam, turn over the barrel!"

The clamor was silenced immediately.

The Häftlings were stepping a side in confusion, looking in utter bewilderment at the last drops of tea spilt over the earth. Some of them bit the sweetened earth while the Blockälteste, accompanied by the two Vertreters were hitting them at random with their curbed cudgels and shouted:

"Antreten zum Appell!" Make columns for roll call!

Not then, hot afterwards, during those long sleepless nights next to the crematorium, not even how I couldn't or can answer the question: "Did I have the right to instigate my fellows to spill the sweetened tea?"






At Birkenau-Auschwitz, all children under 14 were taken straight to the gas chamber. At Theresienstadt (near Prague -- a.n.) they were let live till summer 1944 when the camp was dismantled and all detainees, most of whom were children -- were deported to Birkenau-Auschwitz.

Over one decade after the liberation some notebooks, drawings, note and poems belonging to the children-martyrs were unearthed on the territory of the former Theresienstadt camp. In 1957 the item found there were exhibited in one of the halls of the Dimitrov Museum in Leipzig.

Several words written at the entrance synthesized the whole history of the camp: "Theresienstadt was a transit a camp for 15.000 children under 15. Only about one hundred of them survived".

I looked at the first drawing and then at the second… the tents… the twentieth. Some data were written under each drawing: the name of the author, the date of birth, deportation and gassing. I looked at the drawing and tears gleamed in my eye when I read: "Vase with flowers", Jana Polack, born: August 29, 1932; deported: January 26, 1943; gassed: 1944 at Auschwitz; "Football", Jiri Bentler, born: March 9, 1932; deported: July 26, 1942; gassed: October 8, 1944 at Auschwitz; "Theresienstadt", A. Weisskopf, born: January 1, 1932; deported: July 26, 1942; gassed: October 8, 1944 at Auschwitz.

And I continued to read the monotonous but heart-rending notes till the last drawing: born…, deported…, gassed at Auschwitz.

The drawings were graceful in an awe craws way, just as the children's drawing usually are.

The flowers from Vase with flowers were sad and almost black. Kiri Bentler's football grounds were disserted and barren. Theresienstadt was gloomy: just barracks and wooden beds and no tree, no flower, no people in the street. Everything in those drawings was petrified and waste. How could Jana Polack colors her flowers if at the age of ten she were forbidden to run in the field, to pick up flowers? Her thoughts, the thoughts of children of Theresienstadt were expressed by Miroslav Kosek and his sister who were gassed just Jana Polack:

Thirst, a chained living
Endless suffering...
Despair, broken dreams,
That's what the world's been offering.

A. Weiskopf could not paint Theresienstadt in bright colors, because the barbed wire separated him from the world. From the splendors of golden Prague it was only the image of the SS-men arresting his family and of the endless columns heading for the ghetto that was imprinted on his memory. On a sheet of paper the following lines were found:

I see Theresienstadt as if in a dream
It's sad streets and mourning people come to my mind,
The heavy steps of SS-men
Resound in my ears every night.
Or that's the way they seem to me
Here in this dark ghetto where I am
Where all our dreams shattered will be
As we shall perish in this land.

All those children knew they were doomed. Eva Pickova, aged 12 knew too well that she will have the same fate as her friends. Her best friend had died and the fact that she survived for several more days did not bring her any comfort. She noted in her copy-book:

Blood is still running in my veins
My dear girl-friend passed away
I'd rather been with her that day
To meet together our death.







It was hard to live in concentration camps. Famished and suffering from thirst, enduring the daily tortures, having no chance to was yourself or your clothes, wearing heavy wooden clogs on the bare and often sore feet, knowing nothing of your family, working like a slave and being a guinea-pig for all sorts of mad experiments... It was hard to live, it was harder, almost impossible to survive. One thing was easy; to die.

Death, der Tod was the uncontested master.

In the dire uniformity of concentration camps with their barbed-wire fences, guarding towers and the barracks life went on according to tiresome daily routine that never changed: the same orders, swears and punishments, the same miserable food, the same diseases, groans and curses.

Only der Tod, death showed herself under countless faces. You could die: beaten to death, trampled underfoot, or with your head smashed to the walls of the Bunker. You could get killed while carrying stones on your back, thrown off the scaffolding or pushed into the high tension conducting wire. You could be hanged, stifled, or drowned in a pool or in a bucket. You could die while put to the rack, torn up by wolf dogs or buried alive up to the neck. You could be killed with an injection in your arm, your heart or lungs. You could be shot in the nape of the neck, machine-gunned, torn up by grenades or burnt by flame throwers,. You could die locked in the death trains, asphyxiated in primitive vans as in modern gas chambers. You could freeze to death in a tube with icy water or kept naked in the snow while cold water was poured over you. You could be burnt in ditch, at stake or in the crematoria.

And as der Tod, death, was the uncontested rules you could even die of a natural death. And so died hundreds of thousand people: of hunger, of thirst... completely drained of their energy... of diseases or of a broken heart, missing their children, parents, or their beloved, homesick, freedom sick, life sick.







Fascists can be judged according to one single criterion: who were the most bloodthirsty?

The first place is undoubtedly held by the Hitlerisms.

Who slip rivers of blood and raised mountains of corpses? The most vicious and sadistically among them were the Nazis. A distinctive part -- unsurpassed in savagery -- were the SS-men among whom, those in the Totenkopfeinheiten, death-head units distinguished themselves. They counted up to 100,000 -- who accompanied the transport of deportees to the concentration camps and the transports of Häftlings between camps, those who throughout the fascist night ensured the crock functioning of "death factories"..., or crematoria, of gas chambers, those who guarded the camps lest no detainee should escape or get out alive.

They were endowed with to many guns, riding whips and wolf dogs. They had right to hit, to shoot at or howl the wolf dogs at any detainee.

No wonder that young delinquents, people without future, fired or unemployed considered themselves goods once they joined the SS and found themselves Sturmanns, Rottenführers or Sharführers with unlimited powers over some defenseless and disarmed people.

Well-dressed and well-fed, having a brothel near by, with complete powers over the Häftlings, the SS-man of any Totenkopf unit was completely satisfied with his life. The meal on his face showed his belief that he would live for one thousand years eating and beating, carousing and shooting detainees, going to the brothel and then gassing some hundreds of Häftlings.

But they still had one grievance sometimes. They got bored, particularly those who accompanied the Häftling units outside the camp to various work places: to quarries, to building roads, through forests, to digging tunnels. Guarding the detainees they got bored to death, so they tried to have some fun and sometimes they succeeded...

We were climbing the steep slope caring huge fragments of rock in our hands. From the quarry and up to the peak there were two kilometers. The road of death. Anytime you started to climb you took farewell from life. You no longer had time for that during your journey. All your body was trembling with effort. You strained every nerve and looked only forward to see the place where you could step next. The SS-men were aligned on the right, the precipice was gaping on the left. One look and you got dizzy.

Some SS-man raised his ridding whip and slightly touched the Häftling passing by. It was nevertheless enough to make him lose his balance, shout desperately. The huge stone fell down and the Häftling desperately tried to catch at something lest he should fall into the precipice. His disorderly movements seemed to amuse the SS-men immensely. Sometimes the Häftling engaged several of his inmates into his fall. Their struggle among the stones to regain their balance. Their helpless attempts not to fall made the SS-men roar with laughter.

While the Häftlings continued to drag themselves on the road of death the SS-men of the Totenkopfeinheinten, death's head units drove away their boredom by pushing one or sometimes three-four detainees into the precipice.







The names of the people who formed the endless columns that were being pushed from the railway platform at Birkenau-Auschwitz straight into the gas chambers, day and night, in the spring and summer of 1944 were never recorded anywhere. They were not even counted. After the liberation their number was established in relation with the working capacity of the crematoria and the years during which the latter worked.

Nor were the names of those who survived the first selection on the death platform recorded anywhere. At Birkenau there were just quantitative records.

It was only when I reached Landsberg-Dachau, a working camp in Bavaria, that I was given a number. Number 112398.

In all concentration camps, with the exception of Birkenau, the Häftlings were given a number that was either tattooed on the forearm (at Auschwitz) or written on a piece of wood that was attached with a wire to the striped shirt above one's heart.

In larger camps, however, in order to hide the scope of the exterminations, the new Häftlings were not necessarily given new numbers. Some of them were given numbers that had been worn by exterminated detainees. Therefore, they wore, without knowing it, Totennummern, numbers of death people. In this way, three or four detainees were forced to work up to exhaustion, were tortured and killed under one the same number, in one and the same camp.

At Mauthausen, only 71.856 numbers were found after the liberation. To the SS-men it seemed but natural that the Häftlings considered to be living corpses should wear the numbers of buried corpses.

Nobody will ever know how many Häftlings wore the numbers recorded in the Totenbüchern, the dead records, of the Mauthausen camp.







Each Nazi concentration camp had its own extermination rate. Hunger, thirst, exhausting work, beating were scheduled in such a way as to obtain the desired rate, Increasing the rate was hot a difficult job. Each camp had at least one Bunker with hooks to hang the detainees who in the backhand, and special grates on the floor to drain the blood. True, only larger camps had gas chambers. When space and the extermination facilities did not yield the desired rated the camps resorted to extermination means from outside.

Them it was the turn of die Totenzüge, of the death trains.

The thousands of Häftlings who had to be exterminated in addition to the regular average quota would be crowded in cattle wagons. Some 80-120 in one wagon. Such trains some 30-40 wagons each. left for Bergen-Belsen, Dachau, Buchenwald or Mauthausen, for... death. Nobody set a given number of kilometers to be covered or a number of days for the journey. They had to run day and night, until all those selected for the "black transports" or "one way transports", as they were called, died.

The Häftlings did not lose hope. During the first days, they indulged in the illusion that it was a routine transfer from one camp to another. And they were determined to hold on. They kept calm, helped and encouraged each other, struggling with the lack of air, water and food. Then, little by little, they was seized by suspicion. "This is no routine transport, comrades", someone would exclaim. "This is a Totenzüge, a death train".

Suspicion soon turned into panic. People began to quarrel and fight. Then came the delirium, the fainting pits and death. The Häftlings dies quickly. They collapsed, rolled their eyes and over were all sufferings. Some Häftling would instinctively put his hands around the neck, as if someone had tried to strangle him, then would release a guttural shout, his body would toss about in spasmodic convulsions; a reddish foam would show up at the corners of his mouth and them he would go to rest for ever.

At times, during the night, the death trains would stop from their crazy running. The engines had to be feeder. The SS-men would get down and walk along the wagons to take the numbness out of their legs.

The Häftlings hit with their first the doors of the doors of the wagons, shouting as loud as they could:

"We choke! We've got dead people in here..."

"Eat them, make sausages out of them!" the SS-men answered, and the night showered with their insolent laughter.

The trains steamed off and people went on dying. Some of them died quickly., without hurting anyone. Some others called their wife, children or fiancée by name. Actually, it was a whisper. Followed by a short rattle and the ordeal were over.

One detainee would turn violent. He would suddenly jump on his feet, roll his vitreous eyes over the other detainees and then rush upon the Häftling next to him. He snatched the miserable one by his shoulders and then hit his head against the walls of the wagons, trying to bite and strangle him. Not even ten Häftlings could have immobilized him. Quite often, the delirious violent detainee would not let his victim go, whom he strangled with incredible power, until he himself would be strangle by those around him as ultimate and only solution.

Those who kept surviving went through terrible pains. The air, imbued with the stink of pestering wounds and of the crumbling corpses, was undreathable. The sick tampered their temples with urine. Despair reached its acme. An outburst of collective hysteria and mass madness followed. The SS-men shot at the wagons ridding their walls and thereby hushing with bullets those who, in their madness, had dared break the silence.

When at last, der Totenzüg, the death train stopped at the platform of a camp, and the wagon doors were drawn open, thousands of corpses twisted by the last convulsions rolled down on the platform, while the SS-man in charge of the "black transport" casually told the Lagerführer:

"I hand you over 1.800 (or 2.300, or 3.400) Häftlings who... stink".







During the first days after my arrival at Birkenau-Auschwitz I saw so many Träne, tears, that at times I think that had they been put together, they would have been enough to extinguish the fire of the crematoria.

As the right column drew nearer to the gas chambers, the old and sick, mothers and small children began to swim in Träne, in tears, as if they felt the disaster ahead in their bones.

The youth in Kinderblock No. 21, camp E, watched for days and weeks on end, their eyes full of Träne, the flames and smoke of the crematoria in which their parents and brothers had disappeared.

The blank violet-blue smoke wreaths coming out of the crematorium chimneys we kept on watching for days, nights, weeks and months on end dried up by our tears. We continued to look at the crematorium chimneys, our hearts cried, but we had no Träne, any terse any more. Nor were there tears to shed when we were trampled underfoot or tortured. The youth in Kinderblock No. 21, camp E, called their mothers in their dreams and spoke about home-sickness without crying.

Late that autumn I took glimpse of zwei Träne, two tears, on the cheeks of a Häftling, little Gaby; I shall never forgot.

The liquidation of camp E had begun. Selections were more and more frequent, but not to from detachments to be sent to other camps as some might have believed. No. The selections were being made for the gas chambers.

Naked arranged in rows of five detainees each, we were waiting for Captain SS Dr. Mengele. Little Gaby, as we called him for being the youngest of us all &emdash; he had not turned sixteen; he had happened to be the first one in row 63. Short as he was he had no chance to escape selection. The other four detainees behind him were equally short.

But Gaby did not go to yield. Defying fear and despair, he began with amazing energy to scrape the ground with his hands, tying to heap up some dust. The grounds were hard as stone, and Gaby's fingers began to bleed, but he kept on scraping and encouraging himself. "If the commission is late at least half an hour, I will heap up enough dust to be by 3-4 centimeters taller. Maybe there is a chance for me. And maybe there is a chance for the entire row".


We all stood at attention. Gaby, too, seemed stone still. In reality, however, he went on heaping up dust with his foot-fingers.

Mengele told something to an officer from his suite, and an order resounded in the Appellplatz:

"All in a life, in front of the commission…"

Gaby started but went on scraping the ground. It took him several seconds to understand the meaning of the order. Then suddenly stopped. Tears, Träne, sprang out from his eyes, trickled down his sunken cheeks falling in drops on the dust heap.

Without uplifting his eyes, Gaby began to move staggeringly and, by-passing Mengele, he joined the group of Häftlings selected for the crematorium.





U.W. (Unerwünschte Wiederkehr)


The host of camps that studded Nazi Germany received the Häftlings from Birkenau-Auschwitz. They arrived in thousands to Mauthausen or Dachau, to Buchenwald, Neuengamme or Sachsenhausen without any identity papers. At Birkenau there was no nominal evidence. Millions of Häftlings without name, without identity formed the great majority. However, there also arrived detainees sent by the Gestapo in small groups, from all over Europe. Most of them were political detainees. Each was accompanied by a record card specifying the offence and the sentence. In later years only the offence was recorder. But on the record card of some of them even the offence was not entered. Up, in the left hand corner of these cards two letters written in black ink would strike the eye: U.W. The initials of the words Unerwünschete Wiederkehr. The return is not desired.

Cases are known from everywhere in the world when a person with capital sentence was pardoned. Rarely, very rarely, but it happened that the victim placed on a chair to be hanged or with the head on the block to be beheaded was, at the last moment, reprieved.

But no case is known when a detainee came out alive from a concentration camp in which he had entered accompanied by a record card on which was written in black ink U.W. that is, Unerwünschete Wiederkehr. The return in not desired.





Unnütze Esser


The most consistent line of action of Nazi fascism was the enslavement of peoples and individuals; the liquidation of any freedom. Only one "exception" to this constant preoccupation is known. There is a single circumstance in which the Nazi Reich tough of "liberating" someone. By a decree issues on September 1, 1939 -- the day of unleashing the Second World War -- signed by Hitler, it was decide "to grant freedom through death" to there considered unnütze Esser, useless mouths. That is "… of the persons who, within the limits of human mind and after a through medical exclamation will be declared incurable".

The head of the Reich himself argued that the state could not afford the luxury to spend money and material goods to keep alive people "who live without realizing it". They are unnütze Esser, useless mouths. Thus, the famous program of euthanasia was started, known as T-4, after the address of the headquarters of the experts in homicide: Tigerarten &emdash; Strasse &emdash; 4 &emdash; Berlin.

In the year the program was draw up, it was estimated that in the Reich there existed about 500.000 unnütze Esser, of useless mouths, of:"useless consumers", of "worthless lives" or of "empty human husks" as professor doctor Heydl, one of the executives of the euthanasia program nicknamed them; in 1964, when he should have given account to a tribunal, he committed suicide at Limberg, before the opening of the trial.

Officially, the matter concerned the lunatics and the incurables. However, it was soon proved that the notion of unnütze Esser, included &emdash; alongside the lunatics and incurable &emdash; all the Jews who were sick in the hospitals, that T-4 program could be "successfully" used to rid the Reich of various undesirable persons. All the asylums, hospitals and institutions for the care of the mentally ill received printed forms for each of their patients. The more than 50 questions included in the printed from were only vaguely connected to medicine. They referred more to the families of the patients, to those who came to visit them, to various other aspects of interest for the Gestapo.

Doctor Hermann Pfannmüller, one of the experts who analyzed the forms, was told at the trial that between November 12 and December 1, 1940 he had verified 2.058 such forms. Had he exclusively devoted in that interval 10 hours a day to the task, he still could not have allotted more tan five minutes to each from. Awfully little for condemning a man to death!

According to the findings of the Nürenberg International tribunal, the implementation of T-4 program resulted in the murder of 275.000 people.

In order to cover up this horrible assassination, the Home Ministry ordered that the sick people condemned, prior to being taken to an euthanasia center, be successively moved to two-three hospitals in order to leave no trace behind.

In each center, especially set up medical commissions were entrusted with the task to invent causes of death so that the families of the victims, who were sent the funeral urn, "of the late person", could be informed.

In site of the steps taken, due to the proportion of the assassination and the speed with which it was carried out, a series of imprudence were committed which let out the truth. Some received two urns, at different intervals, for the same deceased. Others were informed about the death of people who in the meantime had returned home. Signed or unsigned complaints started pouring in the Home Minister: "A death notification informs me that my son then years ago…" "he sudden death of my two sisters within two days seems unlikely… No one can convince me that it is a coincidence".

In Hadamar, a small town near Limburg, there was a sanatorium on a hillock. Several times a week, overcrowded buses arrived at Hadamar. Shortly after their arrival, the citizens of Hadamer could watch a black, thick, choking smoke from the chimneys of the "sanatorium".

Even the children in the area started recognizing the buses. When they saw one coming, they would shout: "Look, the hearse is coming again". And when they quarreled, they told each other: "You are a fool, You will end at Hadamar, in the oven".

The Hartheim castle, near Linz, was the main center for the implementation of the euthanasia program. In that castle, with superb columns in the Renaissance style, numerous methods of extermination were meticulously experimented; scientifically made gas combinations, injections with different poisons, varied techniques of assassination. Abominable crimes were perpetrated in the basements of the castle. The fascist doctors, diabolic doctors, watched, through peepholes practiced in the doors, with the eyes dilated by curiosity, stop-watches in hand, the death throes and recorded with cold blood, with Nazi precision's, to the second, when death occurred, for how long and in what way the victim waited, depending on the method used to assassinate the respective person. Films were shot which after that were shown in slow motion so that death, more exactly the way to cause it, be meticulously studied by experts.

The need was felt for the rigorous elaboration of methods and modalities that could cause sure death, in mass proportion and as quickly as possible. There was no time to lose. "We" -- Hitler urged the preparations -- "most develop the technique of depopulation. If you ask me what I mean by depopulation, I shall answer that I have in view the elimination of entire racial units".

While in the Hartheim castle, the fascist doctors, diabolic doctors, sear5ches for and experimented on living person's ways of mass extermination, in Berlin, at Wannsee (a suburb of Berlin) a protocol was concluded that provided for the liquidation of 11,000,000 Jews. To be followed, in a first stage, by 20,000,000 Slavs.

A few years later, in the concentration camps there were no longer tens of thousands, but millions of unnütze Esser, of useless mouths, of "Worthless lives", of "empty human husks". The timid experiments of castle Hartheim acquired mass proportions. Through the peephole practiced in once of the doors in the basement of Hartheim castle, the fascism doctors, diabolic doctors, watched how a few people were poisoned by various combinations of gasses,. Through the peephole of the gas chamber of the crematorium number 2 or 3 at Birkenau-Auschwitz, Rudolf Höss, the commander of the camp, and Mengele, the chief medical officer, could show Himmler and the other guests from Berlin, who had come in inspection, how 2.000 people at a time writhe in the throes of death caused by the crystals of "Zyklon B" gas. Then, after a few minutes, a heap of 2.000 "empty human husks", deprived of life, clenching each other.







In ruling over the millions of detainees in concentration camps, the SS-men had as chief ally die Unsicherheit, uncertainty.

Had the deportees from all countries of Europe known for certain that the trains running through the pitch darkness of the night would take them to Birkenau, stopping about one kilometer from the ovens of crematoria, many of the them would have broken down the walls of the wagons, attempting to escape.

Had the detainees in the endless rows on the platform of Birkenau known that they were heading straight to the gas chambers, no SS-man could have ever detained them to move on with all the riding whips or wolf-dogs in the world. Machine-gun fire would have triggered off revolt or stricken panic, a thing that the SS could not afford or transports came in one after the other, sometimes three of them during a single night.

Had all Häftlings in all concentration camps been sure that for them there was no other escape except through the chimney, they wouldn't have resignedly waited for their death without trying to revenge the death of their beloved, they would not have endured their ordeal without trying to fight their executions.

The SS-men knew it too well, so actuated by devilish perseverance and cynicism they tried and succeeded in creating a permanent and maddening atmosphere of Unsicherheit, uncertainly.

Although everything around proved that concentration camps were the realm of death, that we were nothing but some walking corpses, there always was something to edge in the doubt: maybe what was said, what was rumored or what we through was not true.

The millions of deportees taken to the concentration camps deluded themselves to the last moment that they were taken to labor camps.

In camps E of Birkenau nobody worked. From dawn till sunset we looked at the smoke rising from the chimneys of crematoria. If one exclaimed, "soon our turn comes" there instantly were ten to contradict him.

"If they mean to exterminate us, what's the use of feeding us?"

And indeed, at Birkenau food, scarce and miserable as it was, was distributed everyday with scrupulous punctuality. In case an extermination operation was to start at 19.30, food was still distributed at 19.00 as usually. Half an hour later, the detainees from the condemned barrack were ordered to from into columns. Some hundreds of Häftlings continues to swallow down their miserable food, while the others asked anxiously: "What about our food? Shall we get it after all? But who could say who has eaten and who hasn't as there is no nominal record?" After several minutes, when the van of the crematorium stopped in front of the barrack, their questions died on their lips, suddenly turned with fear.

Those selected for work and sent to other concentration camps were said to have been taken to a forest nearby and killed. If people had been certain about it, nobody would have ever presented himself for the respective transports; they would have rather "entered the wire" and die a rapid and easy death. But the SS-men selected the Häftlings according to trades and also checked if they had told the truth; if one lied about his job he was beaten up in front of all the others. "What is the use of all this checks if they weren't going to take us to work?" people wondered and the feeling of Unsicherheit, uncertainty, as to which will be our fate increased.

My father presented himself when Häftlings with highly specialized jobs were summoned to gather. The whole group was transported to Mauthausen and was exterminated in the quarries of Gusen II.

In the Revier of camp F from Birkenau, Doctor Thilo, the debut of Captain SS Doctor Mengele, were making experiments on living people. He told them he gave them some fortifiers to build up their healer. In actual fact he verified the effect of some anesthetics. He also made some very risky operations. But everything was done very carefully. The patient was treated till his wounds healed. After the health records were filled in detail the Häftling was congratulated upon his recovery by doctor Thilo himself, he was given his daily ration of food and accompanied by an SS-man he was sent back seemingly to the camp and barrack he had come from. On his way back the Häftling through of arguments to convince his fellow inmates that after all the devil was not so black as he was painted. But he was never to see his fellow inmates again. After several meters he entered the building of the crematorium. A minute lather he was lying in front of an oven shot in the nape of the neck.


To Oliver Lustig's Biographical Sketch

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