“When I regained consciousness, it was already twilight [Mariupol, Ukraine]. The bodies lying on top of me were still shuddering; the Germans were shooting them again to make doubly sure that the wounded would not be able to leave. At any rate, I understood the Germans to say that. They were afraid that there were many who had not been finished off, and they were right; there were many like that. These people were buried alive, since no one could help them even though they screamed and called for help. Somewhere above the corpses babies were crying. Most of them had been carried by their mothers and, since we were shot in the backs, they had fallen protected by their mothers’ bodies. Not wounded by the bullets, they were covered up and buried alive under the corpses. I began to crawl out from underneath the corpses…When I had crawled out, I looked around: the wounded were writhing, groaning, attempting to get up and falling again…By chance I over took [an acquaintance]. She had been separated from her group. The two of us undressed except for our slips and smeared with blood from head to toe, set off to seek refuge for the night, starting in the direction from which we could hear dogs barking. We knocked at one hut, but no one answered. Then we knocked at another, and we were driven away. At a third, we were given some rags with which to cover ourselves and advised to go into the steppe. We did precisely that. In the darkness we found a haystack and sat in it until dawn. In the morning we returned to the farmstead…It was not far from the trench, but on the far side. We could hear the screams of women and children until the end of the day.”

MASTERS OF DEATH
By Richard Rhodes

 

The Germans’ eagerness to kill was manifest in one killing operation after the next, as it was in Uścilug on the Ukrainian side of the Polish border. After the Germans had deported to death or shot all the Jews whom they easily rounded up, in the words of one survivor:

“[They started] the hunt for those who had gone into hiding. It was a hunt the likes of which mankind had never seen. Whole families would hide out in skrytkas as we had in Wlodzimierz, and they would be hunted down inexorably, relentlessly. Street by street, house by house, inch by inch, from attic to cellar. The Germans became expert at finding these hiding places. When they searched a house, they went tapping the walls, listening for the hollow sound that indicated a double wall. They punched holes in ceilings or floors…These were no longer limited ‘actions;’ this was total annihilation. Teams of SS men roamed the streets, searching ditches, outhouses, bushes, barns, stables, pigsties. And they caught and killed Jews by the thousands; then by the hundreds; then by tens; and finally one by one.”

HITLER’S WILLING EXECUTIONERS
By Daniel Jonah Goldhagen

 

But still the inmates did not die quickly enough [at Stutthof] to satisfy the SS. For a variety of errors, the SS hanged them in the trees, drowned them in the mud, killed them by hitting them with sticks on the head, broke their ribs, and jumped on their breasts “until the mouth of the tortured was full of blood.” Inmates remember the Germans drowning prisoners in sinks and burning them alive in wood furnaces. “Legal” executions usually took place in the crematorium.

HITLER’S DEATH CAMPS
By Konnilyn G. Feig

 

Forty-seven British, American and Dutch airmen were made to undress. One American officer asked that he should be allowed to meet his death as a soldier. He was beaten with a whip. They were then marched to a quarry. ‘At the bottom of the steps they loaded stone on the backs of these poor men and they had to carry them to the top,’ said [French inmate Maurice] Lampe. ‘The first journey was made with stones weighing 25 to 30 kilos and was accompanied by blows. Then they were made to run down. For the second journey the stones were still heavier; and whenever the poor wretches sank under their burden, they were kicked and hit with a bludgeon, even stones were hurled at them. This went on for several days.  In the evening when I returned from the gang with which I was then working, the road which led to the camp was a bath of blood. I almost stepped on the lower jaw of a man. Twenty-one bodies were strewn along the road. Twenty-one had died on the first day. The twenty-six others died the following morning.’

THE NUREMBERG TRIALS: THE NAZIS BROUGHT TO JUSTICE
By Alexander MacDonald

 

As the Jews [at Paneriai, Lithuania] were being led in groups into the pit an elderly man stopped in front of the entrance for a moment and said in good German, “What do you want from me? I’m only a poor composer.” The two civilians standing at the entrance started pummeling him with blows so that he literally flew into the pit.

“THE GOOD OLD DAYS”
By Ernst Klee, Willi Dressen, and Volker Riess

 

At the collection point I could see many acquaintances from Radzyn. I also saw my child with her aunt and uncle. Apparently all Jews had been caught during the raid. The ghetto was to be destroyed and all the Jews liquidated. Terrible scenes took place. Most people sat there apathetically for hours, others had already been shot. Children cried; mothers who tried to console them, thereby attracting attention, were worked over with rifle butts. As we lined up in rows of five, the Nazis noticed that some children without parents remained in the marketplace. They were probably lost in the chaos or their parents had been shot. The SS men would hold their pistols against the children’s necks and fire.

Many Jews grasped each other’s hands tightly so as not to be lost. There were men and women, sisters and brothers, friends, lovers, sons and daughters who did not want to leave their feeble parents in their hour of need. Small children in the arms of their mothers, who clasped them to their chests. One often heard muted crying, then shots and silence. In great disarray, accompanied by shouted commands, we were beaten and shoved by rifle butts into waiting cattle cars. Families and friends were mercilessly torn from each other. Those who managed to stay together felt like they had won. Dogs were let loose to bite us and tear our clothing to shreds.

THE DEAD YEARS: HOLOCAUST MEMOIRS
By Joseph Schupack

 

Corpses stacked outside the Dachau concentration camp crematorium. 

 

Our strength declined rapidly; many prisoners were pulled out of their rows and never seen again, taken directly to the crematory in Auschwitz…I also felt as if all my strength had gone. Extremely hard labor under the eyes of the SS officials, insufficient food, no communication with fellow sufferers – all this and more that I cannot even begin to describe could not be endured by any human being for longer than one or two months.

THE DEAD YEARS: HOLOCAUST MEMOIRS
By Joseph Schupack

 

Jerzy Bielecki, a Polish political prisoner, was on the first transport into the camp in June 1940. He remembers how the SS guards beat the prisoners all the way from the railway station to the gate of the camp: “There was a young boy standing next to me, maybe he was sixteen – fifteen even – and he was crying, tears were falling. And his head was cracked and blood was dripping on his face…we were afraid, we didn’t know where we were. It seemed to me that we found ourselves in hell. You cannot describe it any other way. And it turned out that this was hell.”

THE HOLOCAUST: A NEW HISTORY
By Laurence Rees

 

“The people stand on each other’s feet. 700-800 people in an area of twenty-five square meters, in forty-five cubic meters! The SS literally cram them together as much as possible. – The doors close. Meanwhile the others are waiting outside naked in the open air. Someone said to me: ‘It’s like this in winter as well!’ ‘Yes, but they could catch their death,’ I say. ‘Well, that’s exactly what they’re there for,’ said an SS man to me.”

“THE GOOD OLD DAYS”: The Holocaust as Seen by its Perpetrators and Bystanders
By Ernst Klee, Willi Dressen, and Volker Riess

 

“I also remember that during the extermination of Jews in the forest, one of the Gestapo men snatched a small child from its mother’s hands and smashed its head before her very eyes on the edge of his car. When the mother cried out, he lashed out with the body of the child so that the head hit her on the mouth and brain tissue stuck to it. Then he took something from his car – lime or plaster of paris – and stopped her mouth. But given the volume of material at hand for the experiment, who can doubt that the substance the SS man stuffed into the mother’s mouth to stop her screaming was quicklime?”

MASTERS OF DEATH
By Richard Rhodes

 

One group received an early consignment of death on January 31, 1945. The Germans took those Stutthof prisoners to the beach… Then a Jewish prisoner came and said under his breath: “You do not know what they are doing with us…we are being separated off into groups and thrown into ice holes…” Then a German ran up to me, took me by the collar and threw me into the sea. Our whole group was already inside the water. Several women were shot…I lay on a block of frozen ice and the body of a woman who had been shot was thrown on top of me…It turned out that the people were being thrown into the sea, alive…At shallow spots along the shore there was a cover of ice…but people screamed, begging to be shot.

HITLER’S DEATH CAMPS
By Konnilyn G. Feig

 

Among the condemned was a Polish woman who, once she reached the crematorium, told the SS that everyone knew they were about to die in the gas chambers so the secrecy that had once surrounded this crime was no more. The Germans, she said, would one day be called to account for what they had done. As they entered the gas chamber, the Poles sang “Poland Is Not Yet Lost” and “To the Barricades.” It was a reminder, both of the bravery of these individuals when faced with certain death, and that not only Jews perished in the gas chambers of Birkenau.

THE HOLOCAUST: A NEW HISTORY
By Laurence Rees

 

Immediately I was tied to Wania’s torture table, with my feet in the raised block. He quickly grabbed my head and squeezed it between his legs. I heard my own cries of pain accompanied by Wania’s laughter in rhythm with the blows of the whip. Thousands of prisoners counted: “One, two, three…” The pain was unbearable; I cried as loudly as I could. After 10-20 blows my cries were stilled and my pains were somehow different. I could not scream anymore; the blows seemed as if they were falling on a wooden board. I did not even notice when they stopped. I only knew it was over when Wania dismounted from my head. I saw the SS men whipping the sweat from their faces. And rolling up their whips. They had beaten me with the thick part of the whip; the thin part was reserved for horses, the thick for Jews.

THE DEAD YEARS: HOLOCAUST MEMOIRS
By Joseph Schupack

 

Despite the desire of the Nazis to keep their activities a secret, there were rumors about “what was going on in Belzec.” On board the train en route to the camp, “No one said a word. We were aware that we were headed for death, that nothing could save us; apathetic, not a single moan.” Once they arrived at Belzec they were ordered to jump down from the trucks – more than 3 feet off the ground – in one huge mass. Some, particularly the elderly and young children, “broke arms and legs.”

THE HOLOCAUST: A NEW HISTORY
By Laurence Rees

 

“Another young man from our town, named Prince, was killed as he worked as a forced laborer in a field. He was picking vegetables and tried to hide a carrot for himself. He was spotted by a German guard and shot on the spot.”

THE BLEEDING SKY: MY MOTHER’S JOURNEY THROUGH THE FIRE
By Louis Brandsdorfer

 

German soldiers pose as if the corpses of two recently executed people are trophies.

 

The greatest shock…was caused by the tearing asunder of families at the ramp: “At first my husband and I were still together. People did and said senseless things – a last clinging to something real and familiar. A female friend of mine passed some chocolates around: my husband took a piece and said: ‘I’ll be right back, I’m going back to the train to take this chocolate to my sick friend.’ This was the last time I saw my husband, and these were the last words I heard from him.”

PEOPLE IN AUSCHWITZ
By Hermann Langbein

 

With thousands of prisoners packed together in impossible conditions, dysentery, tuberculosis, and other diseases ran rampant. The death rate of Dora rapidly accelerated, but because so much labor was available from Buchenwald, it scarcely mattered. The SS simply shipped the dead bodies back to the Buchenwald crematorium. Buchenwald received at least fifty bodies daily from Dora. “The bodies were filthy, louse-infected, neglected. Their weight was seldom as much as ninety pounds. They were intertwined into knots that could hardly be separated.”

HITLER’S DEATH CAMPS
By Konnilyn G. Feig

 

The very last ones coming through the door [for roll call] were the men who had come to Auschwitz-Birkenau at an earlier time. Eyes, void of any expression, and emaciated bodies were proof of starvation and inhumane treatment that was routine in Auschwitz. With their strength and speed gone, they were the ones who suffered the most. The SS guards at the door ordered them to get down on the floor and do ten pushups. The men tried to obey as best they could, but too weak to lift their bodies off the ground, they were trampled and hit with rifle butts. It was simply awful to see. Many of my comrades were injured and bleeding badly by the time they joined us in formation. No one dared make a sound or help anyone because we knew that we, too, would then be subjected to the same punishment.

MY DARKEST YEARS
By James Bachner

 

“The Muselmanner [starving inmates] showed some signs of life only when they saw food, or when their eyes or ears received some impression that evoked thoughts of food.” Every day strong inmates had to carry the soup kettles from the kitchen to the infirmary. On one occasion dozens of Muselmanner flung themselves at the soup carriers “like locusts,” overturning the kettles. “Starving attackers laid into the mixture of soup and earth and slurped it up while lying on their bellies. After a short time the camp road had been licked clean; both the soup and dirt were gone.” In the women’s camp: “Some soup had been spilled during transport. The inmates stretched out on the ground and licked the spilled soup from the dirty ground. Others rummaged around in the garbage for potato peels.”

PEOPLE IN AUSCHWITZ
By Hermann Langbein

 

The day my friend Itzrock and his parents disappeared was very sad for me. One day we had been talking together and the next day he was gone. The German soldiers came into their room at night, and the next day we learned that he had been sent to one Ghetto and his parents to another…I could well imagine the struggle that took place as Itzrock was taken away from his mother and father. He was the only reason they continued to live.

OUTCRY: HOLOCAUST MEMOIRS
By Manny Steinberg

 

I close my eyes. The air is filled with ghastly cries, the earth trembles beneath me, I can feel sticky moisture on my eyelids. My throat is completely dry. The morbid procession streams on and on – trucks growl like mad dogs. I shut my eyes tight, but I can still see corpses dragged from the train, trampled infants, cripples piled on top of the dead, wave after wave…freight cars roll in, the heaps of clothing, suitcases and bundles grow, people climb out, look at the sun, take a few breaths, beg for water, get into the trucks, drive away. And again freight cars roll in, again people…The scenes become confused in my mind – I am not sure if all of this is actually happening, or if I am dreaming. There is a humming inside my head, I feel that I must vomit.

WE WERE IN AUSCHWITZ
By Siedlecki, Olszewski, Borowski

 

“Dr. Beck from Ungarisch-Brod is lying in the lowest bed with a high fever. We drag him out and prop him up for the roll call. The next day he is at death’s door, and two inmates try to take the dying man’s shoes off. He has good ones, and shoes mean a lot in this cold and mud. The inmates scuffle and the stronger wins. A few minutes later Dr. Beck is no longer alive. We say Kaddish. His body is put outside the block, and he is counted at the roll call. He is not the only one. For several corpses are delivered from other blocks, and a work detail that deals with the dead arrives.”

PEOPLE IN AUSCHWITZ
By Hermann Langbein

 

The camp administration [at Theresienstadt] reduced individual dwelling space, separated married couples, and segregated the sexes. They introduced three-tier bunks and converted lofts into rooms. Old and sick people, the primary inhabitants of the lofts, lay on the bare floors in misery and squalor. Many died of pneumonia, diarrhea, and undernourishment. In November 1942, 988 lavatories were available for 53,000 people – that is 54 persons to one lavatory.

HITLER’S DEATH CAMPS
By Konnilyn G. Feig

 

The Ukrainian guards, drunk and bored, often selected the best-looking Jewish women from the transports, dragged them to their barrack, raped them, and then delivered them to the death chambers.

HITLER’S DEATH CAMPS
By Konnilyn G. Feig

 

All of the roundups [of Jews to be murdered] on February 27 were carried out by SS men from the elite Leibstandarte division, Hitler’s corps of personal body guards. These were the hardest of all Germany’s troops, men chosen for their strength and heartlessness, especially toward Jews. Armed with bayonets and whips when they arrived at the factories, they brutally herded the Jews onto trucks, shouting at them to move faster, beating people indiscriminately. While the SS raided the factories, the Berlin police and the Gestapo fanned out across the city, arresting wearers of the yellow star on the streets and raiding Jewish apartments to pick up the elderly and the children who were too young to work. Although the raids on the factories all took place on February 27, the arrests on the streets, in apartments, and at Jewish institutions continued for twelve days.

REFUGE IN HELL
By Daniel B. Silver

 

Germans execute a group of civilians by the side of a mass grave.

 

In another labor area, the SS assigned prisoners the task of providing manure for the gardens near the SS quarters. One guard pushed thirty inmates into the cesspool and let them die.

HITLER’S DEATH CAMPS
By Konnilyn G. Feig

 

Between 1942 and 1945, 15,000 children passed through Theresienstadt.

One hundred survived.

HITLER’S DEATH CAMPS
By Konnilyn G. Feig

 

When I reached home, there was no need to tell my parents what I had seen. They had watched the soldiers from our window and were grief-stricken. Both were pale and trembled with fear, not knowing what to expect. The Nazi beasts had not finished with our small town. There was much more horror to inflict… A chilling scream caused me to jump out of my seat. We ran to the window and witnessed the most savage and cruel act I thought could ever be seen. I was nauseous as I watched young Polish girls with their legs tied apart, their bodies exposed in the most humiliating and degrading way. The soldiers were raping, mutilating and subjecting these women to unbelievable acts of sadistic torture.

OUTCRY: HOLOCAUST MEMOIRS
By Manny Steinberg

 

“When we arrived, there was only one faucet for 12,000 inmates. The water was not potable and flowed only intermittently. This faucet was located in the washrooms for Germans, and the only access was past guards, German criminals who beat us unmercifully. Hence it was almost impossible to wash or to clean one’s underwear. When there was snow, we let it melt so we could wash it, and in the spring we used, on our way to work, the same puddle of water at the edge of the road for drinking and washing our shirts and pants. Then we washed our hands in the dirty water.”

PEOPLE IN AUSCHWITZ
By Hermann Langbein

 

As the selection process continued at the unloading ramps [at Auschwitz], there were an increasing number of incidences. Tearing apart families, separating the men from the women and children, caused great unrest and excitement in the entire transport. Separating those who were able to work only increased the seriousness of the situation. No matter what, the families wanted to stay together. So it happened that even those selected to work ran back to the other members of their family, or the mothers with their children tried to get back to their husbands, or to the older children. Often there was such chaos and confusion that the selection process had to be started all over again. The limited amount of standing room did not permit better ways to separate them. There was no way to calm down these overly excited masses. Oftentimes order was restored by sheer force.

DEATH DEALER: THE MEMOIRS OF THE SS KOMMANDANT AT AUSCHWITZ
By Rudolf Hoss
Edited by Steve Paskuly

 

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