In Block 20 of the main camp, Jews were forced to help SS medic Klehr and his colleagues when he was killing the sick and the weak with injections of poison. “I had to remove the murdered men,” said Weil. “I had to take the dead from the injection room in Block 20 past the hallway to the washroom. Often I was only a half meter or a meter from Klehr when he was injecting. On September 29, 1942, Klehr murdered my father right in front of my eyes…My father was laid up in Block 21 with cellulitis in his left hand, and I frequently visited him. On that day my father was suddenly taken to Block 20. Two men were always taken to Klehr’s room together, and one of these was my father. Klehr spoke to both of them. ‘Have a seat. You’ll now be inoculated against typhus.’ I began to cry. He injected my father, and I carried him to the washroom.” Weil also explained why he remained mute: “I didn’t tell Klehr at the time that this was my father because I was afraid he would tell me to take a seat next to him.”

By Hermann Langbein


In her block there was another seasonal occurrence when one of the recently arrived Hungarian women gave birth to a baby girl with blond hair and big brown eyes. The mother had no milk so the block “organized” some milk to feed it, keeping it out of sight. But Dr. Mengele got wind of it. He arrived at the block one day, found the baby, and took it away. An hour later he came back and threw the baby’s clothes at her mother. Lisette thought, It’s not enough to have blood circulating in your veins to qualify as human.

By Ted Morgan


Others testifying at the Auschwitz trial remembered seeing SS men killing children by bending them over their knees like sticks of wood and breaking their spines, then throwing them into ditches. Often, when the Sonderkommando pulled the dead from the chambers, the hearts of some children were still beating. The SS shot those. SS Sergeant Moll tore a baby away from its mother, took him over to the crematorium, and threw him into the boiling fat of recently cremated victims.

By Konnilyn G. Feig


Szmaglewska described her first days in the clinic: “Here is an emaciated woman with legs so swollen that the skin over them is taut and shiny. The face is so puffed up that all the features are lost. White, unhealthy flesh like a batch of raised dough effaces the features, hides the eyes.” In another bunk huddles a woman whose bony knees and legs are covered with gray skin and “at each slight move a terrible odor emanates from her. The dirty clothes sticking to her body bear irrefutable evidence that this patient probably fainted over an open latrine pit and fell into it…Here is a beautiful Russian girl racked by fits which make her limbs shudder convulsively. A dark face, eyes wild with fear, blackened lips, from which issues a whine, bay, giggle or sob? It may be Malaria.” In a corner a young girl suffers from dysentery with her face greenish white and every now and then down her legs “trickles a stream of black parched blood or of foul greenish excrement.” Over in another corner “large beautiful eyes luminous with fever lighten a skeleton-thin face. The sharp features, fallen chin, prolonged nose, almost transparent skin, blue shadows under eyes tell too plainly of rampant t.b.” Other women are scratching and tearing at their skin. Blood oozes through the filthy rags bandaging hands, feet, and a head of a woman who had been mauled by a dog.

By Konnilyn G. Feig


SS Major Kraus received orders from SS General Schmauser at SS Headquarters in Wroclaw to kill all the remaining prisoners who could not be evacuated. The SS, who were now plundering the camp at Birkenau, led about two hundred women outside the camp and shot them all to death. Just before leaving they set explosive charges and blew up crematories II and III.

By Rudolf HossEdited by Steve Paskuly


Lieutenant Messmann formed a flying squadron that systematically eliminated small batches of Jewish workers in a fifty- to sixty-kilometer radius of Pulawy. Messman’s driver, Alfred Sperlich, recalled the procedure: “In cases where they farmyard and the Jewish lodgings could be reached quickly, I drove into the farmyard at high speed, and the police sprang out and immediately rushed to the Jewish lodgings. Then all the Jews present at that time were driven out and shot in the farmyard near a haystack, potato pit, or dung heap.”

By Christopher R. Browning


View from atop the train of Jews lined up for selection on the ramp at Auschwitz-Birkenau. Many would be gassed and cremated within hours. 


German guards with huge, vicious police dogs would keep watch along the fences. Although these dogs were on leashes, the guards would drop the leather straps and let the dogs attack at any given time. They would yell “Jew” and the poor soul wouldn’t stand a chance. I saw a little Jewish boy, maybe five or six years old, a friend of Jacob, murdered this way, when he asked a Polish man on the other side of the fence for a piece of bread.

By Manny Steinberg


“The first to die were the children. They cried for bread day and night, and soon all of them starved to death.”

By Hermann Langbein


When prisoners became unfit for work in the factories, the industries requested that they be returned to Buchenwald, a move that almost inevitably meant the crematorium. Out of 15,000 prisoners shipped to Dora during two months in the fall of 1943, for example, at least a hundred bodies were returned every day, each weighing less than forty kilograms [88 pounds].

By Konnilyn G. Feig


The wife of Yankel Freydl was killed along with her three innocent children. I was told that Freydl, her head wrapped in a white kerchief, carried one infant and led her five-year-old daughter by the hand, while eight-year-old Fima clutched at her skirts. The executioner pushed her in the shoulder to make her go faster, and she said: “Well, I’m going.” And so she and her children walked their last journey. [Zhitomir]

By Joshua Rubenstein and Ilya Altman


When Jakob Rosenbaum and his family, along with the rest of the Jewish community of Osqiecim, were deported to Bedzin, a lot of older people were simply shot dead on the spot rather than “resettled.” Those killed included his own grandfather, who was shot in front of everybody in the middle of a public square.

By Mary Fulbrook


Who could have imagined then that practically all the Jews of Schmallenberg would end up being buried in a place called Auschwitz? We composed the following inscription for Aunt Hedwig’s headstone: “Having survived three and a half years of suffering in a concentration camp, you died of heartache because your husband Julius Goldschmidt, your son Heinz Goldschmidt, and your daughters Ruth and Lore Goldschmidt were caught in the Nazis’ clutches, never to return.”

By Hans Frankenthal


Taube marches along our rows, but he is not counting us today…He cracks his whip across a girl’s shoulder blade. She sinks into the mud. “Lie down! Heads down!” …Taube stomps towards our row. Noses touching dirt, eyes staring into the ground. His black boots pass us. His boots stop. Trying not to breathe. A girl nearby raises her head. I can see from the corner of my eye her upturned face gasping for breath. The boot falling into her face, pushing it deep into the earth. The crunching of skull bones sickens the air. I want to vomit. He moves on. I cannot help but listen for the sound. A few rows away it rises from our ranks – the crunch, the silence…

By Rena Kornreich Gelissen with Heather Dune Macadam


On 3 February 1944, about 900 selected women were finally gathered together on the Lagerplatz. Most had no idea that they had been chosen for the black transport, or why…In the weeks that followed, news reached Ravensbrück about the fate of the departed women. Two guards who had travelled with the prisoners returned soon after and reported that the journey had taken at least three days and the train had to stop several times due to heavy snow. When the wagons were opened at Majdanek, scores were already dead, some of them frozen to the wagon floors…One prisoner learned what happened to her mother… “The worst of all for my mother and the other women was the journey. All through the journey snow had blown into the carriages. When the trains had to stop the women had to march on foot in the deep snow. There was nothing to eat. After a long and awful march they arrived at Lublin. My mother was at her end. They killed her straight away with an injection.”

By Sarah Helm


“I was born in Floceow, in the eastern part of Poland in 1935…My grandpa was my dearest friend. One morning I climbed into his bed and pinched his earlobes. Laughing he said, ‘pinch as hard as you want because there are no nerve endings in the lobe.’ When the pogroms began, my grandfather was one of the first to be taken. He was rounded up in the street with some other men, marched to the zamuk, a big stone building in the center of town and shot. We learned about it later that day, when one man who had managed to escape came and told us the sad news. I was shocked, but as a child I don’t think I grasped that he was gone for good. A few days later two Nazi soldiers came barging into our apartment, on a search for whatever. My grandmother, who was heartbroken, started to question them: ‘Why did you take my husband?’ she asked in perfect German. She still had trouble believing that people who spoke the same cultured language as Goethe and Schiller could behave so brutally. Instead of answering, one of the soldiers raised his gun and he shot her, right in the chest. I just stood there, unable to believe what I’d just seen.”

By Jane Marks


German police and auxiliaries in civilian clothes look at a group of Jewish women who have been forced to undress before their execution.  


Several SS men entered the courthouse and one of them grabbed a woman from Lodz, Poland. When she tried to fight the soldier off, he grabbed her by the hair and dragged her to the ditch, where she was killed. When the woman’s five-year-old girl cried for her mother, the other SS soldiers called out to her. “Come, come, your mother is here.” The little girl was lured outside and taken to the ditch, where she, too, was killed.

By Peter Duffy


Winters [in the Warsaw ghetto], with their frequent snow and sub-zero temperatures round the clock, brought even more hardships to the population who were largely deprived of fuel. Beggars covered themselves for warmth with rags or newspapers, but deaths from cold were getting more and more common. The appalling living conditions, disease and starvation were only the prologue to the systematic extermination of people whose only crime was to be Jewish. We had been issued with ration cards, but the nutritional value of the ration was ridiculously below survival level, roughly a tenth of what could be considered adequate. It consisted of about two pounds of bread and two ounces of sugar a week. Other foodstuffs, such as potatoes, flour or fat, were distributed from time to time in insignificant quantities. Contemporary records show that from November 1940 till July 1942, of the 400,000 inhabitants of the ghetto some 80,000 died of hunger and disease. To quote from a note on the margin of Governor Hans Frank’s diary of 24 August 1941: “I confirm that we are sentencing 1.2 million Jews to death by hunger. It is clear that if the Jews do not die of hunger, anti-Jewish edicts will have to be intensified.”

By Jerzy Lando


“The Zarudnitsky camp. Jews from Pechora were taken there. It was also a death camp, but from hunger and disease. The healthier and younger ones were taken from there, while the remainder stayed in Pechora. In this way, they tore mothers away from their infant children, children away from their aging parents, wives from their husbands, and so on. These people, who had already spent a year in the camp, were in a dreadful state…People with dull faces that had lost all human expression, who were covered by rags, barefoot, with bodies tormented by scabies and with the most varied kinds of sores that medicine never meets with in normal times, who were sitting on the floor in some tatters or other, anxiously picking off lice.”

By Joshua Rubenstein and Ilya Altman


There was a woman, Ruth, who was pregnant at the time that she was taken from her home and to the concentration camps. For some reason, they kept her alive which was odd at the time. She explained how she was kept in a room with other pregnant women, and they were given the most basic care possible until they would deliver their babies. They helped each other with the deliveries and were only allowed to breastfeed their babies for a few days. After this, their babies were taken away from them. They then had to watch as their babies would die of starvation. Apparently, there was an experiment being carried out to find out how long a new-born baby could live without having any food

As Told by Regina Weinkrantz
Edited by Dan Myers


There is dead silence. Suddenly a girl screams, “Mommy! Mommy! They are killing my mother!” another shot rings out. “Rube. Quiet. Or you’ll be shot.”  But her shrieks grow more frantic. “Mommyyy! Where are you? Mommyyy…They are killing my mother. Everybody listen. Hear the shots? Oh, Mommy. Oh, God, they are killing her!” The silhouette of a body sitting upright is outlined in the middle of the room. Someone places an arm around her shoulders, trying to sooth her: “Shush. Quiet. You had a nightmare. Lie down here, next to me. Lie down. Here.” The hand gently draws her down on the blanket, but the body jerks away, springs up, and begins to scream again, a bloodcurdling scream: “Let me go! Let me go to my mother!” The door opens, and two German guards enter, their guns drawn. “Who’s shouting?” Flashlights train on the lone standing figure. “Komm mit.” Come Along. “Los!” Each guard holds on to an arm, and the young girl, still screaming, is led out of the barrack. Seconds later, a shot rings out. I sit up with alarm. “They Shot her?”

By Livia Bitton-Jackson


Lena Donat, who managed to survive the Warsaw ghetto, Majdanek, and Auschwitz, described the sadism and perversity of the SS wardresses in Majdanek. During roll call, for example, a typical wardress would select an inmate with a shapely figure. She then savagely whipped the woman on the breasts and abdomen and kicked her in the pelvis with her boots. “The girl, howling like nothing human, would crawl away on hands and knees, leaving a trail of blood behind her. The victim usually died.

By Konnilyn G. Feig


The lice plagued the women [at Birkenau] so mercilessly that they resorted to desperate scratching for relief, an action that created ugly sores. As they did not have enough water to wash themselves, every woman contracted scabies. Vermin filled their unwashed garments. They invented special methods to kill the lice, but all their work was undone the moment new inmates arrived. The women were helpless in the face of such infestations. They had neither the time nor the means to free themselves of the parasites. Delousing did no good. The gas was too weak. It is hard to imagine how overwhelmed the women were by lice – not only by their bites, which carried typhus and death, but by the way, night and day, they irritated the skin and kept the body full of sores and pus. Thousands of inmates died from the lice.

By Konnilyn G. Feig


“Before we got to the camp the older people were separated from us and led away. I saw my neighbor from Warsaw, Mrs. Bshostek, and her six children. The Germans sent Mrs. Bshostek and two of her younger children, her 10 and 12-year old daughters, off with the other old people. As they were being led away the oldest daughter and one of her sons left our group and ran after them. We all cried as we watched them walk off huddled together to what we were sure was to be their death.”

By Louis Brandsdorfer


“And it’s no use that the child is clinging with both little arms to the mother’s neck,” wrote Josef Zelkowicz in his diary. “It’s no use that the father throws himself down before the threshold and howls like a dying ox: “Only over my dead body will you take my child.” It’s no use that the old man clings with his bony arms to the cold walls and bed: “Let me die here quietly.”… It’s no [use] that the old woman falls at their feet, kisses their boots, and pleads: “I have grown grandchildren just [as old as you].”…The German security forces, who worked alongside the Jewish police in organizing the deportations, were extremely brutal during the action. When one mother refused to give up her four year-old daughter she was given three minutes to reconsider her decision. When she still refused, both she and her daughter were shot. Estera Frenkiel, a young woman who worked in the ghetto administration, remembers that as the children were snatched from their parents “Their screams reached the sky.”

By Laurence Rees


German police and auxiliaries in civilian clothing prepare to execute naked Jewish men and boys who were being lined up at the edge of a mass grave.


“The Germans [at Jozefow, Poland] were incredibly brutal, carrying out with abandon their orders not to bother transporting the non-ambulatory to the roundup point and instead to kill them on the spot. ‘ I saw about six Jewish corpses, who had, according to orders, been shot by my comrades where they found them. Among others I saw an old woman, who lay dead in her bed.’ When the Germans’ work was completed, Jewish corpses lay strewn throughout the ghetto, as one of the Germans put it, in the ‘front yards, doorways, and streets all the way to the market square.’ A member of the Third Company describes the handiwork: ‘…I also know that this order was carried out, because as I walked through the Jewish district during the evacuation all patients of a Jewish hospital were shot by the troops combing the district.’”

By Daniel Jonah Goldhagen


Under the command of Sergeant Bekemeier we had to convey a transport of Jews to some place. He had the Jews crawl through ta water hole and sing as they did it. When an old man could not walk anymore, which was when the crawling episode was finished, he shot him at close range in the mouth.  After Bekemeier had shot the Jew, the latter raised his hand as if to appeal to God and then collapsed. The corpse of the Jew was simply left lying. We did not concern ourselves with it.”

By Daniel Jonah Goldhagen


The Jewish women who arrived [at Stutthof] in the 1944 transports from Hungary lived in horrible sanitary conditions with few beds, mattresses, or blankets, and little water or food. A witness mentions that one SS man “selected Jewish female victims personally, and when the gas chambers failed to work, killed them with his own hands. During August to November, 1944, some 1,500 were killed in this way, most of them women.”

By Konnilyn G. Feig


“In Kovno in early October some sporadic ‘actions’ targeted the hospital and the orphanage which the Germans burned with their inmates.”

By Saul Friedlander


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