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Birkenau-Auschwitz and Dachau Holocaust Survivor

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Wasser (Water)

Wer? (Who?)

Wieder Butter mit Honig ? (Again Butter and Honey?)

Wolkenbrand (Fire cloud)

Wüste (Waste Land)


No entryposted here.


No entryposted here.



Zigeunerlager (Gypsy Camp)

Zu fünf (Columns of Fives)

Zwillinge (Twins)

Zyklon B

Zynismus (Cynicism)








In all concentration camps there was an acute need for water. During the long, hot summer of 1944 in camp E of Birkenau-Auschwitz we did not receive water for several days on end. At Kaufering No. 9 we had no water to be our faces. In none of the camps my destiny took me to there be water to was the rag we had on.

Nevertheless, in all camps there was plenty of water to do the killing.

The SS who had turned each camp into an empire of death also made out of water a means of extermination.

Ramdohr, the chief of the political section of Ravensbrück was surprised at how little water he needed to kill a man. Ramdohr summoned the women detainees to cross-examination, tied their hands behind their backs and ordered them to lay flat on a table, their heads hanging over the edge of the table where there was a stool and a basin full of water on it.

He asked the first question and without waiting for an answer he took the detainee by the hair and dipped her head into Wasser, the water. He pushed it down, trying to overcome the resistance of the detainee who was struggling in the gates of death. When he felt she was at the end of her power, he let recover her senses. He went away nervously pacing the room and bawling out "I'm listening!" But when the confession did not satisfy him he dashed to table, seized the victim by the hair and this time he kept her head under the water till she ceased struggling and she died drowned into the basin with Wasser, water. Ramdohr was always surprised how little water was needed in order to kill a man.

But the most original method of killing by means of Wasser, water, was imagined and put into practice by Unterscharführer-SS Jentzsh Heinz, nicknamed Bademeister, and bathhouse master. He was the one who invented the deadly bath and he put it in practice at Gusen II. Ill and exhausted Häftlings were brought into a makeshift bathroom apparently to have a shower. Some of them had to be carried or supported in order to get from the Revier to the so-called bathroom. There were put under an ice cold shower for thirty minutes. Almost none of them could resist that much, and one after other they collapsed into the basin. In the basin das Wasser, the was not higher than 15-20 centimeters but sufficient drown those miserable, utterly exhausted Häftlings who had fell flat like some limp bodies and who were unable to stand up.






The column of Häftlings was advancing.

We kept marching on our bare feet all sores. The one who lagged behind was shot to death. So we kept marching on faint with hunger, our lips parched with thirst, our red-rimmed eyes dim with sleepiness. If somebody fell to the ground in utter exhaustion and could no longer get back to his feet, he was lost. His head was smashed with the rifle butt.

The column of Häftlings was advancing. Those who lagged behind were shot, one by one. Those who collapsed were smashed.

The column of Häftlings kept advancing. We were marching our feet bleeding, starved, thirstily, fagged out, beaten up, shot at... but still marching on.

 Wer, what was driving us from behind? Fear of death? But death lay also before us! Wer, who was driving us forward?






Wieder Butter mit Honig?


It happened at Theresienstadt, the only camp for children under 15.

One day the visit of a commission of the International Red Cross was announced. Feverish arrangements started. Over one single night alleys were made, trees and flowers were planted, benches were brought and even a stage was set up in the open.

But the camp leadership had one reason to worry. How will the children behave? The grown-ups were quickly made clear that anyone who complained of the slightest possible thing would hang from one of the branches of the trees that has been planted overnight five minutes after the commission had departed.

But to deal with the children another method had to be found, so they were promised that on the day of the visit they would be given a slice of bread and butter and honey. The children, who hardly remember the taste of butter and honey were looking forward eagerly to the visit.

After three days of repeated promises the children were mad with excitement and expectation. And then the condition was started, which they observed strictly and carefully. In the morning, when in the presence of the International red cross members they were given a slice of bread with butter and honey, they all exclaimed, with faint voices, as they had been trained:

 "Wieder Butter mit Hoing!" Again butter and honey!








No matter how malignant the crimes envisaged in the plans, ordinances and operations issued by the Nazi leaders in Berlin, they were put into practice with murder some meticulousness.

There was no escape, no exception. I was one of those who drank to the lee cup of bitterness and suffering planted in the capital of the Nazi Reich. I had the chance to escape death because during the last operation -- Wolkenbrand, fire cloud, the criminal Nazi mechanism finally went out of order.

The Wannsee Protocol signed on January 20, 1942 in Berlin stipulated, as regards the Endlösung, the final solution of the Jews question "the complete extermination of all Jews from Europe", to which effect the whole Europe had to be searched "from EST to east", During that search I was "discovered" -- although thousands kilometers far from Berlin -- and deported to Birkenau-Auschwitz together with my whole family. As establisher in Berlin with utmost concision, Birkenau was set up to ensure Vernichtung durch Vergasung, extermination through asphyxiation. My mother and my three younger brothers were taken from the platform straight to the gas chambers.

I saw sent to a camp in Bavarian, Landsberg, which belonged to the center of Dachau where, just like in all the other camps throughout the Reich the key-word that had been established in Berlin was Vernichtung durch Arbeit, extermination through work, a slogan put into practice unscrupulously and with criminal meticulousness. Month after month Landsberg exceeded the planned morality. And yet, when the American troops penetrated into Bavarian, in Landsberg and in other camps subordinated to Dachau over the thousand detainees were still alive.

Feeling that the collapse of their power was impending, the Nazi leaders in Berlin took energetic steers to do away with all Häftlings in all camps, to the last men. In Dachau, Kaltenbrunner himself ordered the caring into effect of the Wolkenbrand (fire cloud) operation, which envisaged the poisoning of all Häftlings alive. Harfeld, the chief surgeon of Gau, pledged to provide the necessary quantities of poison. As for Landsberg, Giesler, the Gauleiter of Munich, had suggested as early as mid-March 1944 that in case the American advance were pushing forward all detainees should be shot or the whole camp destroyed by air bombing.

However, when the American cannon advanced within hearing distance, the brutes in charge with Landsberg realized that they would be held to account for their crimes and their hands, which had so often pulled the trigger, started to tremble. They suggested surrender. Himmler's answer was categorical: "The enemy must seize no detainee alive!"

When Gaustableiter Gerdes referred to the lack of bombs and petrol, Kaltenbrunner ordered that the Häftlings of Landsberg from columns and March of Dachau to be included in the Wolkenbrand operation, that is poisoned.

On April 24 all inmates of Landsberg who could stand on their feet formed columns and headed for Dachau, guarded by SS-men. I stayed behind, getting lost among the ill who could no longer stand erect, thereby escaping the Wolkenbrand operation.

On the morning of April 27, when in Dachau machine-guns cannon were set into fire emplacements at every 20 meters, I together with several tens of Häftlings were running pass the broken gate of the camp, shouting to make sure we were not dreaming, we are freee... freee...







When camp Gusen II -- Mauthausen was bombed, a splinter pierced my father's abdomen. After that bombardment all wounded, my father among them, and all the other sick people in the camp, several hundred in all, were crowded into wagons and sent to a larger camp as Gusen II there were no crematoria. Somewhere in Germany the train stopped in a railway station for a couple of minutes. The Häftlings able to move near some slits in the walls to look out. After a long time they saw decently dressed people, young lovers embracing.

My father, holding his abdomen dripping with blood was asking whit his last drop of energy: "Water... water..."

But nobody on that platform with people decently dressed, mothers holding their babies in their arms or lovers embracing heard him as if father had cried in einer Wüste, in a desert, in a waste land.







The SS-men took pleasure in killing and never got bored when it was they themselves who did it. But controlling the running of the death conveyor belt of Birkenau, managing the great number of concentration camps scattered throughout Germany, superintending the thousands ok Kommandos (the worked detachments made up of Häftlings), they became bored to death and felt the need for Zerstreuungen, for a little entertainment.

After work, they spent a fully satisfactory time in the brothel, customary in each and every camp. Besides, there were the evening parties, which regularly turned into orgies. Die Aufseherinen, the woman guardians were ready to make love with any SS-man, irrespective of rank or age, with the same frenzy which made them whip the women detainees during the day. The SS-men and women from concentration camps were a perfect blend of cruelty and debauchery.

After orgies the SS-men sobered down while marching together with the Häftlings Kommandos to the places of work, ceaselessly yelling "schneller... schneller..." and striking the detainees with the rife butts or riding whips.

On arrival, the SS-men made up a cordon of sentries and the Häftling who trespassed willingly or by chance the outline perimeter was shot without challenge.

After having breakfast and smoking several cigarettes the SS-men started to get bored, so they invented some Zerstreuungen, entertainment.

The most customary was the so-called "hare-shooting". They called several Häftlings and asked them their names. While the Häftlings stood at attention they took their caps and threw them beyond the cordon. "Go and fetch them, schneller!" And the moment the Häftlings stepped beyond the cordon merciless bullets cut them off. Sometimes the SS-men waited till the Häftlings bent down and reached for their caps. With a little imagination they could really think they were hunting hares.

They also ordered seemingly harmless gym exercises, which gradually turned into tortures. Wieslaw Kielar, who had been detained at Auschwitz for five years recalls: "Whole days we were doing gym exercises: Höpfen1, Rollen2, Tanzen3, and Kniebeugen4". If we had to do Höpfen we had to leap several tens of meters along the platform and back. If we had to do the Rollen we did it where there was the greatest possible dust; Tanzen was for relaxation, had to be done down and up completely, white the SS-men counted: "einz, zwei, drei4".

We were shaking in every limb. After so much staying in the sun our closely cropped heads were swollen and heavy as lead. We were all absolutely parched with thirst… If somebody fainted he was taken near the building and a Kapo brought him back to his senses. A little cold water, a kick and the detainee got back to his place.

"Pipe" was always present. He stood astride in the shadow of a tree, pulling at his pipe or whistling some operatic area. Sometimes he beaked one of the detainees and then a one-man show took places not long through, because the heat of June was tiresome for "Pipe".

"Komm!... komm!... Na, genug! Was bistdu from Beruf5?"

"O, Schüler...? Prima6!"

And he suddenly slapped him over the month. "Hau ab ! Du polnischer Drek!7"

A new order. We have to cut off the grass... with our teeth! I feel the bitter taste of grass in my mouth and sand is grinding between my teeth. My nose gets smeared with mud, my head is burning hot with the fiery sun, my loins ache, my nape gets stiff with the awkward position. This is quite a "sport". The air rings with laughter. It's a group of Kapos noisily expressing their admiration for the SS-man's bright idea! Zerstreuungen, fun...

The edge of a forest in Bavaria. We are carrying heavy cement bags. We can barely stand on our feet. Over twelve hours have elapsed since the cries of Aufstehen made us jump from our beds and there are still two hours till Feierabend! Will be called. We no longer feel our knees. Neither the shoulders. The wind is mercilessly lashing our cheeks, throwing snow into our eyes and blowing so hard as if willing to tear off the streaked rags that we have on. But we are mostly tortured by hunger. We feel like fainting at every step. A bread crust will help us pick up some strength. A small piece of bread crust... only one... Oh, God, what a deluding dream…!

Under a tree several SS-men are putting out the fire after roasting some sausages. They crush the last burning logs under their boots. They have already repeated for the hundredth time the same old filthy jokes and now they are bored. An idea occurs to one of them. He pointed with his riding whip to the Häftling who is just passing by and shouts:

"Du... komm!8"

The Häftling stops to let the cement bag fall into the snow and heads for the group of SS-men at double quick. An SS-man asks him politely to close his eyes and open his mouth. The detainee casts several scared glances around, but seeing the smiling faces around him does what he is told.

The lieutenant crams a whole sandwich into his mouth. "Clench your teeth!" the officer orders and the Häftling shuts his mouth and then starts to chew, his face cleaning up. After he swallows he bends to thank respectfully for the present he was given.

"Once again!" the lieutenant orders. The Häftling immediately closes his eyes and opens his mouth. His face brightens up again the moment he feels the same taste of salami in his mouth.

"Shut your mouth!" the SS-man orders him again. Hardly has the detainee closed his mouth that his face is contorted by a terrible grimace of pain. He throws himself to the ground and starts to roll in the snow giving an endless cry of pain. The sandwich was full of pins and pieces of glass. The SS-men are rearing with laughter. Zerstreuungen, entertainment.

Witness Casimir Climent Sarrion, a former Häftling at Mauthausen gave evidence at the trial in Dachau: "One day in February 1942, a group of Jews were standing naked in front of the barrack of the Political service. Schulz ordered two rabbis be brought into his office and asked them:

"Are you could?"The stove in the room was burning red. Schultz9 took one of the rabbis and put him on the store. The officers around started to shake with laughter". Zerstreuungen, entertainment.

There were SS-men who preferred even more sinister "jokes". The end of the fire extinguish water pomp was put in the anus of a Häftling and water was turned on a maximum pressure. The torn up body was thrown upwards to the delight of the SS-men who laughed at the ludicrous play of the limbs of the miserable body.

A group of Häftlings chosen at random was ordered to climb up a tree. Several tens of Häftlings struggling, pushing one another, trampling on one another tried hard to get as high as possible. Those from the lower branches were torn up by wolf dogs. The detainees' desperate attempts to get higher, to escape the fangs of the wolf-dogs or the strokes of the Kapo's rifle butts or cudgels, the falling of detainees pushed down by their inmates who stepping on their heads tried to climb up onto a higher branch seemed to amuse the SS-men immensely. Zerstreuungen, entertainment...

1 Jumps.
2 Somersaults.
3 Dancing.
4 One, two, three.
5 Come!... Come!... Well, enough! What are you?
6 Oh, a pupil!... Great!
7 Get out of my sight! Polish bullshit!
8 You... come here!
9 Untersturmführer-SS Karl Schultz, former chief of the Political Service in Mauthausen.







The concentration camp of Birkenau was the most terrible of all. And from the tens of concentration camps, which belonged to Birkenau in 1944, camp E, the so-called Zigeunerlager, the gypsy camp was hell broken loose.

From the over 200,000 gypsy who fell prey to Nazism, 22.696 were taken to Birkenau-Auschwitz to camp E which took its name of Zigeunerlager after them. In 1944 when the Jews deported from Hungary arrived at camp E in the Zigeunerlager, only several thousands of gypsies were still alive. We, the ones deported from northern Transylvania occupied by Horthysts were crowded in the barracks on the left side of the alley dividing the camp into two and flanked by barracks on each side. The gypsies were living in the barracks on the opposite side. They lived together with their families and were also masters of the alley. We were afraid to go farther than the platforms between the alleys. Newcomers as we were, we did not even realize what corner of the world we had been thrown into. And, early that summers all Blockältestes and Vertreters; the all-powerful masters over our barracks were recruited from among the gypsies. Not ordinary gypsies, but the most villainous ones, criminals who had killed and robbed many times.

One starry night in mid-summer 1944 Bloksperre the closing of barrack, the camp rang with the din of van engines, the barking of wolf-dogs, the yelling of the SS-men, the screams, swears and curses of the gypsies.

During that endless night all gypsies in camp E of Birkenau were gassed and burnt to a man. Burnt together were children born in the camp and young gypsy girls still dreaming of the day the will run away a lad and ride stallions as quick as lightening through the forest of Bavaria on by-paths that only they knew; burnt were all Blockältertes and Vertreters, the all-powerful masters and chiefs of our barracks together with the gypsy women who could tell your fortune, foretelling that they will live the day when they would return to their caravans that some day their daughters will be again dancing their passionate dances, making up for all the weddings and christenings they could not celebrate since the day their carts, caravans and houses in the plains of Saxony, in the villages of Thuringia, at the outskirts of the Belgian towns and on the roads of Holland were surrounded by lorries and SS-men ready to pull the trigger and they were loaded into lorries and deported.

During that night the descendants of the famous gypsies who had smuggled Lyon silks, of those who had delighted the castle-owners in the Rhine Valley with their dances and songs, people who could not live if they were not free to wander through villages and towns, the mountains and plains whenever they liked, to love and make justice according to their own laws and customs, having as witnesses only the sun and moon, were crammed into pitch black vans, unable to look at the stare-lit sky and were taken directly to the gas chambers.

At dawn we dashed to the platforms between barracks -- we still did not dare to step on the alley running through the middle of the camp -- and we looked at the barracks flanking the opposite side of the alley. Everything was dead still, no movement, no sounds., The barracks with their doors wide open looked like some violated empty graves. The sky above was covered by black, choking smoke. From time to time flames and sparks coming from the crematorium chimney flashed through the dense smoke and faded away like falling stars.

During that night1 nobody had heard the whistle of an engine or the rattling of wheels on the railway track and yet that part of the camp the gypsies had lived in all deserted. Only the think layer of black smoke raising over the deserted barracks, whit doors wide open, looking like empty, violator graves.

In camp E there no longer were gypsies. Although none of them survived, the camp was further called Zigeunerlager, the gypsy camp.





Zu Fünf


From the moment we got off the trains on the platform of Birkenau-Auschwitz we could not even dare make a single step otherwise but grouped in lines of fives in order that our counting and surveillance be thus easier.

Still, there was an exception, and that on the day of our arrival, Mothers and children up to 14, the old and the ill, all those who had gathered on the left side of the platform were not obliged to follow this rule. That column was heading straight to the gas chamber and people were allowed to step into death at walking pace, without restrictions. The press and jostle in the gas chambers was somehow counterbalanced by the perfect order ruling in crematoria. Corpses did not resist and did not struggle, so they could be counted accurately. Five corpses were placed in each container to be introduces into the oven.

The able-bodied people fit for work made columns of fives on the right side of the platform and then the columns of fives, zu fünf entered camp E.

All the time we spent at Birkenau we had to make up columns of fives, zu fünf for roll call... for getting our food... for Läusekontrolle.

We made up rows of fives also for selection with the sole difference that this we were naked. Captain SS Mengele made decisions for a whole row, sending all five people either to the crematorium, or to a labor camp.

At Keufering, Landsberg and in all the other camps I was taken to, the rule was the same as in Birkenau: we could not move a step, but lined in rows of fives, so that each and every SS-men could count us more easily.

We marched in rows of fives from the camp to the Mohl forest where we worked and back to the camp. Those who died during the day were carried back by fellow-inmates on their shoulders. Each corpse was carried by four detainees, thereby making up a group of fives. No matters how hard the journey, particularly in winter when the snow stuck to our clogs and many of us collapsed, one corpse had to be carried by four people and never more. The column made way through the snow, in rows of fives. The closing rows were made up of four living people and a corpse.

The coal for heating, the food, the clothing -- everything was carried in carts. There were no cattle or horses to drive them, and why should they be? There were plenty of Häftlings instead who could do it. Five detainees were assigned to pull each cart. When the road was rough and the load very heavy another five were ordered to push it.

The Häftlings had crossed Europe, from Poland, from Birkenau-Auschwitz to Bavaria, going in the middle of the road in rows of fives, flanked by SS-men holding the machine-gun in one hand and the riding whip in the other.

The SS-men managed to destroy everything beautiful so thoroughly, so completely and radically that even our dreams were oppressive and sad. And yet, one frosty winter night, at Landsberg, I dreamt something beautiful. The shrill whistles and cries of aufstehen... aufsteheen... woke me up suddenly and made me jump to my feet so suddenly that I no longer could remember what my beautiful dream was about, but I knew. I felt, I was certain that a miracle had happened, that for the first time since my deportation I had a beautiful dream. Out in the cold we pressed into one another to stand the lashing wind that tore at our rags. My inmates had gloomy faces, blue with the cold, sleeplessness, and the fear of a new dreadful day which might have been the last for many.

But I was serene, even smiling. The people around instinctively drew back, I had just remembered my dream. It was a lovely summer day and I was walking in the streets of Cluj. There were lost of people in the street and I was walking among them, alone, and not in a row of fives. I stopped and nobody strokes me with the riding whip, or the rifle butt. I broke into a run and no bullet was whistling past me. I was looking on the right and on the left and nobody was following me... I was free... I could walk freely... like all the others around me...

I had not gone mad. I was really smiling. At that moment, the camp rang with the shouts of tens of Kapos: "antrenten zu fünf zum Appelle from columns of fives for roll-call.

My face fell and turned gloomy like all the others faces that were blue with the cold, sleeplessness and the fear if a horrible day that might be the last for many of us.







Long time after my liberation, the shout and cries of the SS-men continued to haunt me. Half asleep in the morning I heard the order aufstehen…! so clearly that I jumped from the bed repeating it aloud, just as I used to in the camp.

Sometimes walking alone a park the swears of my former Kapos and Blockältestes seemed so real that I suddenly gave a start and was all of a sweat.

Years turned into decades and little by little as years went by I freed myself from these hallucinations. During the day I no longer heard and was no longer frightened by the echo of the orders for roll-call... for selection... It was only at night that they continued to ring in my ears.

From that language of death that had become obsessive there is one single command that is still sounding in my ears:

 "Zwillinge!... Zwillinge!... Die Zwillinge vorwärts!..."

We were on the platform of Birkenau-Auschwitz. Those on the left, mothers and children, old and sick, including my mother and my three little brothers, calmly waited for the departure. Neither they, nor we, the ones on the right, selected for work, suspected that the road they were going to take would lead them to the gas chambers.

Although the distance between the two columns was great, the clamor -- sobs, blending with farewells, desperate prayers and bitter curses, hysterical shouts urging calmness -- rendered communication very difficult, almost impossible. And yet, the words of Captain Dr. Joseph Mengele, ceaselessly repeated by tens of detainees running up and down the column were heard distinctly:

 "Zwillinge!... Zwillinge!... Keine Zwillinge mehr?..."

Twins... twins... Aren't there any more twins?...

I heard those words clearly. I looked at the other side of the platform and I saw that my twin brother and sister, Cornel and Cornelia who had not turned 14 yet were further keeping near mother, holding Valentin's hand. They didn't have the slightest idea of German. But I who knew a little German, understood Mengele's words. The through came to my mind that the twins would be taken somewhere else so it would be better for them to stay with mother and my youngest brother.

All this happened on June 9, 1944 around 11 a.m. An hour or two later all the four of them wold be asphyxiated in the gad chamber.

The twins who had stepped outside were not gassed. They were taken to camp F. I was taken to camp E, separated from them by one single row of barbed wire conducting high tension current.

Barrack No. 14 of camp F sheltered over one hundred pairs of twins and was the main laboratory for the experiments carried out by the criminal doctor Mengele. The crowed purpose of his research was to stimulate to the greatest possible extern the proliferation of the "superior Arian race". To put it bluntly, to find a method that would help each German mother of pure blood to give birth to twins.

In order to find out "the secret", incredible experiments were made. The pairs of twins were measured and weighted, photographed from all angles. They were made reciprocal transfusions of blood, lumbar punitions, and gynecological exterminations. Twin sisters were forced to copulate with twin brothers to find out whether they would also give birth to twins.

In order to examine the results the pairs of twins were killed with phenol shots in the heart. Then their bodies were dissected and the respective organs were preserved, packed and sent to the Anthropological Institute of Berlin-Dahlem. In order to give you a complete image I quote from the memoirs of Dr. Nyiszli Miklos, Mengele's forensic doctor at the crematories of Birkenau-Auschvitz: "Here there happens something unique the history of medical science: two twins die at the same moment and their autopsy can be made without delay... During the afternoon doctor Mengele calls on me. I report him on the autopsies that have been made and I hand him over the autopsy reports of ten twins... I carry out the autopsy of the two twins and I draw up the regular autopsy report... Twelve pairs of twins have not been introduced into the ovens... I make the post-mortem examination of the twelve pairs most carefully..."

As long as I lived in the shadow of the crematoria of Birkenau, then in the camps of Kaufering and Landsberg I kept on thinking about the fate of my twin brother and sister. And I kept telling myself that if then were anyhow doomed to die, perhaps it is better that they did not step out of the column thereby escaping at least Mengele's degrading criminal experiments. But after liberation I began to doubt it. I learnt that on January 27, 1945 when units of the Soviet Army entered Birkenau-Auschwitz they found there only 2.819 Häftlings alive. 2.819 men from the millions of Jews who had entered the gate of the camp. Among them, several pairs of twins.

Since that day and up to present I have kept asking myself over again: should I have called to my twin brother and sister to step outside, like the others twins? They might have survived. I don't remember whether it was I myself who took the decision or I took counsel with my father who was by my side in the column on the right. And I can't ask father now, to compose my conscience, as I could not ask him after liberation, because he was killed at Mauthausen. And I cannot tell whether it was eraser for my twin brother and sister to die together with mother and our youngest brother, right after arrival, or whether I should have called to turn to step out and then... they might have survived.

But what if they had become guinea pigs and parts of their bodies would have been extirpated, conserved and sent to Berlin? Even if they had not died in consequence of those experiments, could anyone have called "life" what was to follow? I don't know. I cannot give an answer. Even now, after almost forty-five years I can still hear Mengele's words, repeated by tens of detainees:

 "Zwillinge! Zwillinge! Die Zwillinge vorwärts!"

"Twins! Twins... twins step forward!"  





 Zyklon B


The Nazi obey-executioners, assembled to a meeting in Berlin at 56-58 Grosser Wannsee Street, decided how many million Jews had to be exterminated in a first stage and how many million Slaves had to share the same fate during the stage to follow. Whit the meticulousness they made proof of any time they devised a wide-scale assassination they established the way the Jews were to be rounded up, the places where they were to be transported to, the rate of extermination. They only forgot to specify how they were going to be liquidated.

Rudolf Höss, who was appointed the commander of Birkenau-Auschwitz in 1940, realized soon that the regular execution methods could not ensure the rate and scope of extermination imposed by Berlin.

The idea of mass extermination by gassing appeared spontaneously and at the same time in several camps, but at the beginning it was put into practice with primitive methods, exhaust gas being used in most of the cases.

Under the pressure of the tasks he had to cope with Stanradtenführer-SS Rudolf Höss understood that before building modern gas chambers and crematoria an extremely efficient poisons gas had to be founds. This was the crux of the matter. He knew that the commander of Treblinka, who used monoxide gas in the gas chambers, had a rich experience in this field, but his methods did not strike Höss as particularly efficient. So he began to experiment the effect of various noxious gasses on his own.

Initially, the experiments were made on small groups of Häftlings locked in cells. "I put on a gas mask -- Rudolf Höss testified at his trial -- and I could attend the execution. The detainees, crowded in cells, died immediately after the gas was introduced. Some short, stifled cries and that was all".

As he himself had declared, Zyklon B, a gas obtained from prussic acid gave him great satisfaction, as being fit for the purpose.

The very first experiments produced the expected results and it was decided that Zyklon B had the much looked for "qualities", so that the first wide-scale experiment was organized: the gassing of 900 Soviet war prisoners. The victims were crowed into one room, the door was closed and then crystals of Zyklon B were let fall through the ceiling. The prisoners started to shout and tried to break the door open, but they couldn't. The door was opened only several hours later. "It was the first time -- Rudolf Höss declared -- that I saw so many people who had died by gassing... In spite of that I may say that the gassing of that transport had a reassuring effect on me, because soon we had to start the mass extermination of Jews and neither I nor Eichman had managed that far to found a suitable method. We both were of the option that a gas has to be used, but what gas in particular and how it had to be used was thing that had remained unsettled. Those experiments pointed to both the gas and the way it had to be used..."

Höss was completely satisfied with the results and unhesitatingly decided on the use of Zyklon B, as he himself was to declare: "When we built the extermination room of Auschwitz we restored to Zyklon B a crystallized prussic acid which we introduced through an orifice into the death chamber".

Like a true executioner Rudolf Höss analyzed in cold blood the "advantages" derived from using Zyklon B: "it causes death with absolute certainty and does it quickly, particularly when used in dry rooms... well stuffed wit people [author's underscoring]..."

Millions of deportees entered into the gas chambers of Birkenau, camouflaged into modern bathroom (one of them could take in 2.000 persons if well pressed). Never had a drop of water fell from the showers on their ceilings. Each time small crystals of Zyklon B poured down over the Häftlings.







The SS-men used every possible means for committing crimes ranging from the most trivial ones -- the bullet, the gallows -- to the modern mass asphyxiation facilities; from the most brutal instruments of torture -- the cudgel, the wire whip, the rifle butt -- to the most malignant and refined methods of physical torture. It is almost impossible to imagine the limits to which the SS-men pushed their Zynismus, cynicism., in their horrible endeavor to destroy the Häftlings, to deprive them of their last hope, to kill them mentally before killing them physically.

The new-comers to the concentration camp were told sparingly "You either work or Croak, you are another meant to die, so it's only a matter of time; sooner or later, it will surely happen, you can bank on it. The words were not identical in all camps but the general meaning was the same. Nobody can tell how you will die, but one thins in certain: none of you will come out alive". The key word is Bergen-Belsen was "Let him die". In other camps the idea was the same: "They never die too soon".

Some Lagerführers showed his Zynismus, cynicism not only in word but also in deed. Whenever a new transport of Häftlings arrived he chase two or three of them at random, ordered them to step out the column. He calmly his pistol and shot them without saying a word. Then, putting his pistol back into its case he casually said to those who attended the scene: "Such a ting can happen any time to anyone of you, So you'd better obey completely".

Cynicism turned into real fact was the more unbearable. Detainee André Lettich assigned as bacteriologist to the Hygiene Institute of Auschwitz was in charge with making autopsies to rabbits, hens and ducks from farm of the SS-men's private property to determine the cause of their death. We felt indignant at having to make those autopsies, to make artificial inseminations or draw up reports to determine the cause of a rabbit's death, when we knew that in the same instant the assassins who ordered us to do that were gassing and burning thousands of innocent men, women and children. In July 1944, that is during the period when the Nazi barbarisms gassed 6.000 innocent men, women and children daily, Standartartz1-SS Sturmbannführer Dr. Wirtz, the ill-reputed gynecologist who chose women to use them as guinea-pigs, sent to the lab a little rabbit who had died some five days before and a letter in which we were asked to determine why the poor animal had died... Zynismus, cynicism. On January 3, 1942, Major Rösler, from the 528 Infantry Regiment sent to General Schierwind, the commander of the Ninth Army a report that was found after the end of the was: "A ditch some 7-8 meters' long and perhaps 4 meters wide, the earth undue making up a wave on one its sides. Both the earthen wave and the walls of the ditch were dripping with blood. The ditch was full of human corpses of both sexes, their number impossible to assess -- so I couldn't even appreciate its depth.

Behind the earthen wave there was a police commando commander by a police officer. The soldiers' uniforms were stained with blood. Countless soldiers from other submits, some in bathing suits and many civilians with their wives and children hanged around, watching the scene as spectators. As I drew as close to the ditch as possible I saw an image that I couldn't forget till now. Among the corpses lying there, there was a white-bearded old man, whose left hand was still holding the walking stick.

He was still alive, panting for breath. I showed him to a policeman, asking the latter to kill him. He answered with a snare: "That one? I shot seven bullets into his belly, he will croak for sure now!" Zynismus, cynicism...

The SS-men's impudence in boasting of their criminal actions and intentions borders on insanity. And yet, I think that SS-men reached the acme of the Zynismus of cynicism not when they confessed their assassin thoughts but when they tried to disguise them, writing on the gate of Buchenwald camp, the camp in which they killed tens of thousands of innocent people and prominent antifascist militants: Jedem das seine -- Every man has what he deserves. 

The chief physician of the garrison.


To Oliver Lustig's Biographical Sketch

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