“On December 17 or 18, 1941, the police, acting on orders [at Bogdanovka], set fire to two barracks in which there were more than 2,000 people. They were all burned; only a tiny number managed to save themselves.”

THE UNKNOWN BLACK BOOK
By Joshua Rubenstein and Ilya Altman

 

Mindzia Schickman was only 7 years old when the war started. Her memory of her loss of the family home and possessions was traumatic. The SS came initially, she thought, just to take all the furniture: “There was no power and there was no saying no, we were really helpless.” One SS man started playing with her mother’s hair, then physically grasped her mother, at which point Mindzia’s father became very angry. The SS officer too his pistol out, and continued to take Mindzia’s mother towards the bedroom, but Mindzia’s father grabbed and lifted the SS officer and threw him down the steps, while her mother started shaking she was not the only one: “We were all shaking, we didn’t know from where [my father had] the courage…but this policeman stood up and took his gun and walked away. The next day they came and took all the furniture’s [sic], and a few days later they came and took my mother away.” Mindzia was not home when her mother was taken away, “but when I came home I was told it’s okay, that she was taken to work.” This was a common experience: “From every family they took one or two people out and they sent them away to work…it was something that we accept, we had to accept that, you cry, you wipe your ears, you have to accept, those are the facts, but nobody knew where they were taking them.” She never heard from her mother again. “No. Never. Never never.”

A SMALL TOWN NEAR AUSCHWITZ
By Mary Fulbrook

 

Seventy-eight people from New Chudnov are lying there. Not far from the center, on the rock, lies Moyshe-Pamp, who, with a cry of: “Listen to me, listen, I have ten children!” jumped from the moving truck and made for the rock where he was killed on the run.

THE UNKNOWN BLACK BOOK
By Joshua Rubenstein and Ilya Altman

 

On the following day, the…execution commandos traveled to nearby Zheludok…killing at least eleven hundred Jews. Eighty-two skilled workers were spared. On May 10, the executioners went to Vasiliski and organized the deaths of eighteen hundred more Jews. About two hundred Jews were allowed to live. In Voronovo, on May 11, about two thousand Jews were killed. “We, the noble German race and our Führer, will not rest until we do away with you,” Vindisch told the small group of Voronovo survivors. “In the meantime, Jews, the select few among you are still alive. If you disobey our laws and rules, not a trace of you will remain.” On May 12, in Ivye, twenty-three hundred Jews were killed. After the executions were completed, Windisch watched as a Jewish burial squad covered the graves with calcium oxide (quickline) and dirt. “Quick, quick, away with the Jewish shit!” he shouted.

THE BIELSKI BROTHERS
By Peter Duffy

 

By the end of the year, the death rates [at Ravensbrück] were rising not only in the Revier but throughout the camp. A woman in the sandpit who could no longer work was shot and killed on the spot. Tuberculosis was rampant; many in the sewing shop were afflicted, but it spread especially fast at the Siemens camp. Prisoners said that the five stretchers kept at Siemens and used to transport sick women from the plant to the main camp were not enough. Richard Mertinkat, a new civilian manager, was shocked by the “pitiable” and “lamentable” state of the women’s health. “Siemens could have intervened to insist on better food and decent barracks for the women. But these good gentlemen of Siemens didn’t bother counting the number of dead.”

RAVENSBRÜCK
By Sarah Helm

 

Starvation victims in the Warsaw ghetto, May 25th, 1941.

 

“Around December 27, I was drawing water from the well when a Jewish woman from the camp approached to draw water. At the same time, a cart came by in which there were three Romanians. One of them jumped down from the cart and began to draw his gun and shoot her. She did not beg him to have mercy on her, but asked him to let her go back to the camp; evidently she had children there. She was killed there and then, however, and her body lay beside the well for five days.”

THE UNKNOWN BLACK BOOK
By Joshua Rubenstein and Ilya Altman

 

The Soviets found only 156 children when they evacuated Birkenau in January 1945. Historians estimate the number of murdered young people below the age of eighteen at one million.

HITLER’S DEATH CAMPS
By Konnilyn G. Feig

 

During this early period, before mid-August, 5,000 to 7,000 Jews arrived in Treblinka every day. Then the situation changed, the pace of transports increased, and there were days when 10,000 to 12,000 deportees arrived, including thousands who had died en route and others in a state of exhaustion. This state of affairs disrupted the “quiet welcome” designed to deceive the deportees into believing they had arrived at a transit station and that before continuing their journey to a labor camp they must be disinfected. Blows and shooting were needed to force those still alive but too exhausted to descend from the freight cars and proceed to the square and the undressing barracks. Abraham Goldfarb, who arrived at the camp on August 25, relates: “When we reached Treblinka and the Germans opened the freight car doors, the scene was ghastly. The cars were full of corpses. The bodies had been partially consumed by chlorine. The stench from the cars caused those still alive to choke. The Germans ordered everyone to disembark from the cars; those who could were half dead. SS and Ukrainians waiting nearby beat us and shot at us.”

BELZEC, SOBIBOR, TREBLINKA
By Yitzhak Arad

 

Some people couldn’t wait for the Germans to kill them. One morning I was lying on my bunk, feeling both legs pounding with pain because they were swollen a fourth larger than normal. I turned around to talk with some of my friends about it. I looked up and down the rows of beds, and I saw a number of my friends missing. Inside myself, I felt more despair than I had ever felt before. I knew what had happened, even before I saw their bodies dangling on the electrified fences right outside the barracks door.

DEFY THE DARKNESS
By Joe Rosenblum with David Kohn

 

“I had occasion to witness a horrific scene of bestial conduct toward Jewish soldiers. One day, for their own amusement, some drunken Nazi prison guards led out two Jewish prisoners and forced them at gunpoint to crawl on all fours and to bark like dogs or meow like cats. The Germans were standing right there, laughing sadistically, and forcing other prisoners to watch this inhumane scene. The next day, they forced two exhausted Jews half dead from their sufferings to fight each other, and when they began to resist, the butchers beat them up and then shot them.”

THE UNKNOWN BLACK BOOK
By Joshua Rubenstein and Ilya Altman

 

I had known that the ghetto order was coming [at Szatmar, Hungary] and had dreaded it, but how I felt when the gates closed behind me is difficult to describe. There is no word to express the heartache of being wronged in one’s human dignity…The next day, in the pouring rain, the transport of Jews to the ghetto began. The first ones arrived from the surrounding villages, broken and wretched men, women, children with bundles on their backs. Their faces were full of fear, their eyes full of pain.

AS THE LILACS BLOOMED
By Anna Molnar Hegedus

 

The number of incoming transports [at Theresienstadt] kept growing throughout July. “People arrive by the thousands,” Redlich wrote on August 1, “the aged that do not have the strength to get the food. Fifty die daily.” Indeed, the mortality rate in the ‘old people’s ghetto’ shot up, and in September 1942 alone, some 3,900 people from a total population of 58,000 died.

NAZI GERMANY AND THE JEWS 1933-1945
By Saul Friedlander

 

The Kovarsky family had met with an agonizing death. They were done away with in the third month of the city’s occupation [Minsk]. The father and one son survived. The father managed to hide in the attic and the son beneath a bed. They told the story of how this savagery had taken place. Late one autumn night, the police burst into the house. They got the unfortunates out of bed. They stripped down their grown daughter naked. They put her up on the table and forced her to dance, then killed her. The grandmother and grandson were killed in their beds. Two children, a boy and a girl, who had been killed in their beds lay with their arms around each other. Malka, a little girl, was badly wounded. She died the next day.

THE UNKNOWN BLACK BOOK
Edited by Joshua Rubenstein and Ilya Altman

 

“I was twelve on the morning in 1942 when the police in Zabno, Poland, where we lived, stuck a gun to me and asked me where my father was. I said I didn’t know. The police ran down to the basement where my father was hiding, and they shot him to death. My mother and my sister Rachel, and I had to flee to a nearby farm… we stayed for two and a half years… We lived in an open hayloft with nothing but a single goose down cover for the three of us to huddle under. We froze! Our fingers were swollen stiff from the cold…At one point I got jaundice and I almost died, but there was not a cup of warm water, much less medicine. As I was gradually recovering, Rachel got very sick. Then my mother got sick, too, so I had to go out alone to steal food…I would go to this terrible lake, which had moss in it. I can still taste the dirty water. Sometimes I would milk a cow. I would steal potatoes from the pigs. Anything, because we were starving. There wasn’t a moment without hunger pain.  We had to whisper – for two and a half years we never spoke above a whisper! Nor could we go out in the daytime. The farmers’ children would be playing outside in the field, and I would want so badly to go out and play with them, but I knew that was impossible. We were hanging on to life by a thin thread, always cold, scared of shadows, running, listening. Each day, each night, brought fresh terror. It was a terrible existence in so many ways, but as frightened as I was, I never even thought of giving up. I would look at pictures and see how fortunate and loved I was as a little girl before the war, and that gave me strength.”

THE HIDDEN CHILDREN
By Jane Marks

 

“One afternoon as I was walking towards the washhouse, I noticed some strange-looking lorries that had arrived at the camp [Poznan region of Poland]. These vehicles were all enclosed and were manned by soldiers who had their sleeves rolled up and carried sticks in their hands. These soldiers had SS on their collars, and a skull and crossbones insignia on their hats. The lorries were driven to the block that housed the boys and men waiting to go home. They stopped, and the SS men ordered the prisoners out of the barrack and told them to undress, but to leave their underpants on. The prisoners obeyed immediately and the backs of the lorries were then opened up. The SS then proceeded to beat the boys and men onto the lorries.  The screams and panic which broke out at this treatment were just too terrible. Many were bleeding from the blows that had rained down on them. When everybody was inside the lorries, the doors were closed…As the engine started running it began to pump the exhaust fumes into the back of the lorry. As the vehicle was airtight, this meant that all inside were slowly gassed.”

A DETAIL OF HISTORY
By Arek Hersh, MBW

 

Autopsy photo of a Jewish prisoner in Dachau on May 16, 1933. Even at this early date prisoners were beaten so severely they died. 

 

“[There was a boy] in Sieradz called Beniek who was my age. He had an elder brother, Shymek, who had been caught begging for a potato. We were ordered to watch Shymek being hanged in the washhouse. Twice those brutes hanged him and twice the rope snapped, and each time, in a dreadful state of shock, he begged for his life. However, those barbarians succeeded the third time…I was heartbroken as I watched this terrible scene, and afterwards I helped bury him. He was only twenty years of age, a very intelligent person and one of the nicest young men anybody could wish to know.”

A DETAIL OF HISTORY
By Arek Hersh, MBW

 

Soldiers and local police burst into the buildings almost every night, looting and killing entire Jewish Families [at Minsk]. One day in the autumn, Perla Aginnskaya went to see what was happening in one of the houses on Zeleny Ln. The following scene met her eyes like a mirage: a little room, a table, a bed. An oil lamp flickering. A girl of about eighteen was lying by the table. She was completely naked. Blood was streaming down the girl’s body from deep, blackish wounds in her chest. It was quite clear that the girl had been raped and killed. There were gunshot wounds around her genitals. Not far from the girl lay a man who had been strangled. Behind him was the bed. In the bed was a woman who had been stabbed, beside her lay the small bodies of children, shot to death.

THE UNKNOWN BLACK BOOK
Edited by Joshua Rubenstein and Ilya Altman

 

“A few minutes before seven, I was told: ‘Ten minutes the first train will arrive!’ Indeed, a few minutes later a train arrived from Lvov, with 45 cars holding 6,700 people, of whom 1,450 were already dead on arrival… then the march began. To the left and right, barbed wire; behind, two dozen Ukrainians, guns in hand. They approached. Wirth and I were standing on the ramp in front of the death chambers. Completely nude men, women, young girls, children, babies, cripples, filed by. At the corner stood a heavy SS man, who told the poor people, in a pastoral voice: “No harm will come to you. You just have to breathe very deeply, that strengthens the lungs, inhaling is a means of preventing contagious diseases. It’s a good disinfection!’ They asked what was going to happen to them. He told them: ‘The men will have to work, building roads and houses. But the women won’t be obliged to do so; they’ll do housework, cooking.’ For some of these poor creatures, this was a last small hope, enough to carry them, unresisting, as far as the death chambers.

BELZEC, SOBIBOR, TREBLINKA
By Yitzhak Arad

 

Many of those destined for deportation naturally sought refuge by hiding, but the [Lublin] ghetto was slowly searched house by house and block by block. Many were killed on the spot. Cleansed blocks were later searched again to ensure they were clear of Jews. From 24 March 1942 onward similar actions were conducted, that is, daily deportations to Belzec, each on average affecting about 1,400 people. In the course of just one week over 10,000 people had reached Belzec’s gates to be murdered. The action briefly slowed, though on the outskirts of Lublin – at Majdan Tatarski – 320 children and orphanage personnel from Grodzkiej Street were shot, and three days later the liquidation of the hospitals commenced. Over 400 sick people were transported in heavy vehicles to a forest at Niemce, where they were murdered.

HITLER’S MAN IN THE EAST – ODILO GLOBOCNIK
By Joseph Poprzeczy

 

“The Germans killed anyone who concealed Jews with the greatest barbarity. They wiped out the entire village of Skirmuntovo in the Kaydanov Region, where they found ten Jews living with peasants. There was a transshipping point in the village of Skirmuntovo through which one passed to get to the partisans. They hid Jews here in large barns. Every night, scores of Jews would come here from the ghetto. The Germans learned of this and surrounded the ghetto. Ten Jews whom they found in a barn they killed right away. Then they herded all the inhabitants of the village, upward of 280 people, into that barn and set it on fire from all sides.”

THE UNKNOWN BLACK BOOK
Edited by Joshua Rubenstein and Ilya Altman

 

From all the women prisoners at Treblinka, only two survived…No women survived the Belzec death camp.

BELZEC, SIBIBOR, TREBLINKA
By Yitzhak Arad

 

Schchorbatov, a Belorussian and inhabitant of the town of Starye Dorogi who escaped from the German hell to the Soviet side, tells of the mass shooting of Jewish families in his town: in one day the SS killed 363 families. Shchorbatov tells of the terrible acts of vengeance directed at those Russian and Belorussian people whom the Germans suspected of concealing Jews. An old doctor named Shapelko lived in Starye Dorogi. In one of the sections of the hospital in which he worked, two ill Jewish women were concealed in great secrecy. In the end, the Gestapo learned of this “crime.” They dragged the sick women from their beds and shot them, then hanged the doctor.

THE UNKNOWN BLACK BOOK
By Joshua Rubenstein and Ilya Altman

 

There was a long concrete ramp leading from the station into the camp, along which streamed an endless line of people. We had to wait in a queue for our turn to ascend the ramp, all of us nervous, terrified, trying to keep out of the way of the German soldiers. I saw one young mother screaming and clinging to her children as the SS tried to take them away from her. A number of SS waded in and began to thump and kick her, smashing her nose, knocking her to the ground. She lay there, screaming horribly with pain, but even then they didn’t stop their beating and kicking.

A DETAIL OF HISTORY
By Arek Hersh, MBW

 

When the enormous crowd of Jews condemned to death by the Nazis [at Minsk] had been assembled beside the trenches, the German soldiers began throwing them in while they were still alive. The children first (suckling infants pulled from their mothers’ arms were torn in two by the fascists and flung into the ditches) then the women on top of the children; and finally the men. Then they began blazing away with machine guns into this half-dead human mass writhing in the convulsions preceding death. Sunset was already approaching when the chatter of the machine guns ceased.

THE UNKNOWN BLACK BOOK
Edited by Joshua Rubenstein and Ilya Altman

 

On the platform where the women undressed [at Treblinka], three babies were discovered after one of the transports had arrived in the beginning of 1943. Their mothers had lost them in the mayhem as they were made to run to the gas chambers. Franz, who was on that platform, picked up one of the babies, tossed him up with his foot, and hurled him through the air and watched as the baby’s head shattered against the wall. Another time, on that same platform, underneath the pile of clothing that the women had left behind were two babies, one six months and the other a year old. Franz and another SS man kicked and killed them in the same way.

BELZEC, SIBIBOR, TREBLINKA
By Yitzhak Arad

 

The bodies of former prisoners are stacked outside the crematorium in the newly liberated Buchenwald concentration camp. 

 

A Russian resident named Sipnov, who was captured by the Germans and escaped tells the following story:  “When I was captured, they sent me and several others like me to a camp for prisoners on the banks of the Druch River. One day, through the barbed wire fence, we saw the German guards chase several dozen completely naked Jewish women and children into the river, yelling at them ‘Wash up, you dirty kikes!’ When the poor unfortunates tried to swim, the Germans opened fire on them. Not one of them came back from the river.”

THE UNKNOWN BLACK BOOK
By Joshua Rubenstein and Ilya Altman

 

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