Jews from Wolomin, Otwock, and other settlements in the vicinity of Warsaw, who had been wandering in the forests like wild animals, came, tortured by hunger and cold, to the greatest despair and reported of their own will to the gendarmerie stations to be “sentenced to be shot.” In one such case, a whole group came forth saying, “Kill us, death is better than this kind of life.” The Jews were shot. In another case an old Jew appeared with his daughter, a young and beautiful girl. They were once rich and still carried a quantity of jewels with them. They apathetically gave them to the gendarme who, according to procedure, ordered them to strip. In an honorable and calm manner the girl placed parts of her clothing on the ground one after the other. Wearing only an undergarment, barefoot, tall and proud she faced the killers. “Is this good?” she asked. “You have to kneel,” they said. They both kneeled. There was a blast of shots and the end came. “She was always before my eyes,” confessed our informer, a German sergeant who was a platoon commander. “I get completely drunk and cannot forget.”

THE WAR OF THE DOOMED
By Shmuel Krakowski

 

Toward the end of June 1941, following a fierce engagement during its brief spell as a front-line formation, the 221st Security Division captured the city of Bialystok. On 27 June, with Bialystok almost completely in German hands, 2,000 to 3,000 Jewish men, women, and children were massacred by Reserve Police Battalion 309 of the Order Police…It was that company’s commander, Captain Behrens, who now ordered Jews to be arrested en masse: “The arrested were taken to the market place, where Behrens separated out the orthodox Jews and ordered them shot a dozen at a time…” Then came the crescendo. The policemen herded another 500 to 700 Jews into the synagogue. “Among the last were women and children… [A]fter setting fire to the synagogue with the aid of gasoline and a bundle of hand grenades thrown through the window, battalion personnel gunned down anyone trying to escape. A group of men who had managed to break the synagogue door down were shot. Later, some Jewish men appeared at the windows. Holding up children pleading with the Germans to spare them at least. But the policemen standing guard fired on the women and children also.”

WAR IN THE WILD EAST
By Ben Shepherd

 

“Gestapo Chief Thomas picked some of us for shipment to Treblinka. The trip was a nightmare. We crouched in the cars, crowded together, children crying, women going mad. We arrived toward three o’clock the next afternoon. There was a big sign at the railroad station: ‘Treblinka Labor Camp.’ The train was shunted to a siding which led into the woods for two or three miles. A ghastly scene greeted us at the end. Hundreds of bodies lay about, together with scattered luggage and clothes, all in wild confusion. We were herded out of the carriages, as German and Ukrainian SS men mounted to the roofs and began to shoot indiscriminately into the crowd. Men, women and children writhed in their own blood; screams and sobs rent the air. Those who were not shot down were ultimately driven across the mounds of dead and wounded through an open gate into a barbed-wire enclosure.”

THE THEORY AND PRACTICE OF HELL
By Eugen Kogon

 

Within the [Warsaw] ghetto, life had been reduced to vegetation. Hunger and disease took their unremitting toll each day. As they wept over their dead, the families in the ghetto murmured a strange new prayer: “Thanks be to God for having permitted him to die in his own bed.” Those who remained alive looked more like starving animals than human beings. Solid citizens of the Jewish community who had enjoyed prestige and even a measure of affluence before the war dragged themselves through the ghetto alleys, their bodies shrunken to skin and bones, the cracked skin of their swollen feet oozing puss and blood. “Help me get up, somebody, please, I haven’t any strength left! Please, somebody, throw down a crust of bread – just a little moldy bread!” These were the street cries of the Warsaw ghetto.

AMONG MEN AND BEASTS
By Paul Trepman

 

More than 50,000 Jews fled to the forests in the four districts of the General Government [district in Poland that includes Warsaw, Cracow, and Lublin]. The majority of these were killed during the numerous hunts carried out against them by the Nazis. In this way 4,000 runaway Jews were murdered in the region of Parczew, 2,000 in the counties of Pulawy and Lubartow, 15,000 in the south of the Lublin district, a few thousand in other regions of the Lublin district, 14,000 in the district of Radom, 4,000 in Mazovia and Podlasie, and 8,500 in the district of Cracow.

THE WAR OF THE DOOMED
By Shmuel Krakowski

 

Dr. Schuhmann got hold of able-bodied Jews, aged twenty to twenty-four, and exposed their sexual organs to X-rays for fifteen minutes. Subsequently, the men had to go straight back to work. Those who could not keep the pace because of the ensuing burns and abscesses were gassed. Two to four weeks later the remaining victims were castrated, so that their testicles could be dissected and examined under the microscope.

THE THEORY AND PRACTICE OF HELL
By Eugen Kogon

 

In 1943 I was to see Dr. Schipper again – in Camp No. 3 at Maidanek. We looked at each other in silence – he with the yellow Star of David on his tattered, filthy prison uniform, and I, his former student… By that time Dr. Schipper no longer looked like a human being. I took to watching him without his noticing it. He was working in the camp kitchen, peeling potatoes. One day the Kapo caught him trying to hide a couple of potatoes on his person. For this crime the Kapo hit him savagely over the head, threw him to the ground and kicked him in the chest and stomach. Then he sent him off to hard labor. From that day on, Dr. Schipper deteriorated rapidly. The last of his strength left him so that his legs could no longer carry him. The underworld characters who ran the camp made fun of the “Herr Professor;” they shoved him about, pulled down his pants and whipped his naked flesh. These tortures stripped him of the last vestige of human dignity. He dragged himself from barrack to barrack, begging for a little soup, and rummaging through garbage cans for scraps of food. He could be heard all day long alternating laughing and crying, mumbling incoherent phrases. He had become the camp madman. One night, after roll call, I stole into his barrack, tiptoed to his pallet and slipped half a ration of bread into his hand. He devoured it in one bite. I wanted to take him outside and show him a place where I could meet him every evening and bring him some soup and bread, but he would not go with me. He was afraid that I was trying to play a trick on him, for by that time he no longer recognized me – or anyone else for that matter. A few days later, he was taken away to the camp infirmary, where he died. Thus ended the life of Ignatz Schipper, teacher, scholar, Zionist, man of wisdom and vision.

AMONG MEN AND BEASTS
By Paul Trepman

 

Execution by hanging of Jews from Lvov

 

The “simplest” death [Sergeant] Sommer would pick for a prisoner was to hang him with his own hands from the window frame or radiator. Many prisoners however, were simply beaten to death by Sommer with an iron bar. One case has become known, in which he applied an iron clamp to his victims temples, screwing it shut until the skull was crushed… One of the cells [in Buchenwald] held seven Jews. One day Sommers appeared with a tin pail with which he beat two of the prisoners to death. He then ripped a piece of iron from the radiator and used it to kill the others.

THE THEORY AND PRACTICE OF HELL
By Eugen Kogon

 

“And you know,” one guard, a Polish-Volksdeutsche, told us, “some of those Jew women in that batch were really good-looking, and the commanding officer let us take home any one of them we wanted – to clean our rooms, you know. So we had a good time with them. And if any of them objected – well, we finished them off right then and there.”

AMONG MEN AND BEASTS
By Paul Trepman

 

I saw two of my friends get caught up in the sweeps. Samuel and Benjamin, both nearly my age, had come through Majdanek with me. They had been in my construction crew. They had carried the walls with me. When I had still been able to march out to work, Samuel would say, “Joe, you look good.” It hurt to hear that. I knew they looked ten times worse. They were ragged and dirty skeletons. That day, both of them were so sick, so tired of trying to survive for another couple days, they could do nothing but prop each other up. I watched as the sweep line forced them nearer and nearer to the hospital and the death trucks. As they rounded a corner, I could see them holding on to each other, limping, crying, but determined not to crawl or beg. They were treated as animals, but they, like many others, chose to die as men.

DEFY THE DARKNESS
By Joe Rosenblum with David Kohn

 

Men were separated from women. The men were told to undress before they were forced straight through the ‘tube’ to the gas chambers. The women were taken to a barracks where their hair was cut. The Germans used the women’s hair after their deaths in a variety of industrial processes – for example, in the making of felt. It was as their heads were shaved, says Reder, that the women realized that they were to die, and ‘there were laments and shrieks. Once their hair had been cut, the women followed the men into the gas chambers. Just like death in the back of a gas van, death in the gas chambers of Belzec was not quick. Reder remembers hearing the ‘moans’ and ‘screams’ of those trapped inside the gas chambers for up to fifteen minutes.

THE HOLOCAUST
By Laurence Rees

 

“When an expectant woman came to the camp in 1942,” writes Anna Palarczyk, “neither she nor the child remained alive. I frequently saw newborn babies in the outpatient clinic. They continued to lie there until they died.”

PEOPLE IN AUSCHWITZ
By Hermann Langbein

 

Ravensbrück not only furnished cheap labor for nearby factories, it also sent prisoner workers throughout Germany. Once a price was agreed upon, the businessman or industrialist received 500 to 1,000 women, along with wardwomen equipped with dogs and clubs. They could force twelve hours of work out of exhausted and starving women. Dead and dying slaves were replaced with fresh slaves at no additional cost to the client: the perfect cycle with no waste. The work assignment offices counted fifty-five factories.

HITLER’S DEATH CAMPS
By Konnilyn G. Feig

 

The first camp to be equipped with permanent gas chambers, Belzec used primarily six carbon monoxide chambers with a capacity of 15,000 a day to reach its final death number – as many as 600,000 Jews. As no crematorium existed, the disposal process centered on open-pit burning. After one and a half years of operation, in fall 1943 the authorities ordered all traces of the camp destroyed. They leveled the premises and planted the area with pine trees. Belzec’s functions had been replaced by the new modern killing facilities in Auschwitz.

HITLER’S DEATH CAMPS
By Konnilyn G. Feig

 

Since mass deportations of Jews had started in summer 1942, the German Authorities in the east relied on closed, windowless freight trains, which quickly filled with the stench of the sick, urine, and excrement on the floor. Lejb Langfus and the others were standing upright, pressed together so tightly that they could not sit, kneel, or lie down, or reach the provisions in their bags. Soon, everyone in the stifling car was desperate for something to drink. “Thirst rulled everything,” Langfus later wrote in secret notes in Auschwitz. An eerie silence settled over his car. Most people were only half-conscious, too drained to talk. The children were listless, too, with their “cracked lips and completely dried-out throats.” There was only one moment of respite: when the train briefly stopped, two policemen appeared at the door and gave prisoners some water, in exchange for their wedding rings. In addition to hunger and thirst, there was crippling fear.

KL – A HISTORY OF THE NAZI CONCENTRATION CAMPS
By Nicolaus Wachsmann

 

In February 1942, Himmler received a report from Professor August Hirt, the leading physician of the Ahnenerbe and recently appointed as professor of anatomy in Strasbourg. Hurt’s report included a proposal for killing “Jewish-Bolshevik commissars” to fill gaps in existing “skull collections.” Himmler agreed, and the plan soon expanded: by murdering selected prisoners in Auschwitz, an entire racial-anthropological skeleton collection would be created… Commandant Josef Kramer then personally inserted prussic acid and watched the prisoners die. The corpses were sent to the Anatomical Institute in Strasbourg, about forty miles away. As the Allies approached Alsace in autumn 1944, Hirt and his colleagues tried to cover their tracks. But they failed to destroy all the evidence and when the soldiers entered the basement of the Strasbourg institute, they found vats full of corpses, sawn-off legs, and torsos, which had been preserved for Hirt’s skeleton collection.

KL – A HISTORY OF THE NAZI CONCENTRATION CAMPS
By Nicolaus Wachsmann

 

“Jews from Poland in striped clothing came aboard our cattle car at Birkenau concentration camp. They emptied all the luggage we were not allowed to take with us. One of them said to tell them my brother and I were eighteen, when I was only fourteen and he was eleven. We didn’t know what the inmate meant. Germans screamed ‘Raus! Raus!’ The German asked how old we were and we said eighteen. So we went with my father in one line and my mother with two more sisters and another younger brother in the other direction. They were sent immediately to the crematorium. There was no time to say anything to my mother. Nothing, nothing, nothing, nothing. We were just like animals driven into the slaughterhouse. We were in hell.”

OUR CRIME WAS BEING JEWISH
By Anthony S. Pitch

 

Jews from the Lodz ghetto board deportation trains for the Chelmno death camp.

 

Over a frenzied few weeks in spring 1944, Camp SS men murdered several thousand boys and girls; in the Kovno main camp, the action was preceded by a children’s party, organized as camouflage by the local commandant. The enduing deportations were accompanied by dreadful scenes. Parents screamed and pleaded, as the SS dragged the children away. Some joined their children on the trucks, holding hands as they drove to their deaths; other families committed suicide before the SS could part them. Parents left behind were inconsolable.

KL – A HISTORY OF THE NAZI CONCENTRATION CAMPS
By Nicolaus Wachsmann

 

“In Auschwitz, we had septic tanks for the big latrines. While I was there, they put a fellow in it whom I knew very well. He was a cantor. They put him sitting up to here in the septic tank. Catholic priests, ministers, they put all of them in. Respect was tremendous for these people, and here you see them sitting in the septic tanks, forgive me for the expression, with all this crap up to their necks, and we had to walk by every day to see them. They made a point of doing this to break our spirits. After six or seven days in there, they died.”

OUR CRIME WAS BEING JEWISH
By Anthony S. Pitch

 

Anna Stepanova Sklyarenko lived with her husband, a mechanic, in the village of Saragol, three kilometers from Feodosia. She received a stern summons from the Gestapo to appear and pay a tax on her dog. Anna Stepanovna hurries into Feodosia to answer the summons; she knows better than to get involved with “them.” In the city, a crying little girl runs up to her at an intersection. Anna Stepanovna takes her by the hand: “What is it?” Then a woman comes running up. The Little girl presses herself up against Anna Stepanovna holds on to her, and screams: “This lady wants to hand me over to the Gestapo!” “Why’s that, then?” The woman explains that the child had been left with her by the child’s mother, who was then killed. Now the Germans are shooting anyone who hides Jewish children in their home. So, she was on her way to hand the child over to the Gestapo, but the little imp broke free. Anna Stepanovna was indignant. “What’s all this, then? Is nothing sacred anymore?” she said, rebuking the woman. And she took the little girl by the hand and hurried back to Saragol… The little girl… said that her name was Roza, and that her grandfather, a Krimchak named Abram Brazgol, lived in Feodosia with her grandmother Stera and with her and her mother, who was named Riva. The Germans had shot them all and chopped down her grandfather’s garden. Anna Stepanovna embraced the child: “My children aren’t with me, and you’ve no family, so we’ll live together.”

THE UNKNOWN BLACK BOOK
By Joshua Rubenstein and Ilya Altman

 

“A poor Jewish, handicapped woman said she learned that the Germans had demanded twenty thousand children, and the sick and elderly, be sent out of the ghetto. The essence of the speech was ‘Mothers and fathers, give me your children so the rest of you may live and survive.’”

OUR CRIME WAS BEING JEWISH
By Anthony S. Pitch

 

“Together with several other men [at Treblinka], including a certain Gottlieb of Kielce, I was chosen to clean the cars, to pick up the bodies of the new arrivals and take them to great pits that had been dug by steam shovels. Into these the bodies were flung, regardless of whether they were dead or still twitching. The work was supervised by SS men who held pistol or truncheon in one hand, whisky bottle in the other. Even now my memory stands aghast at the picture of small children seized by their feet and dashed against tree trunks.”

THE THEORY AND PRACTICE OF HELL
By Eugen Kogon

 

During the winter months, the people in the [Warsaw] ghetto stayed in bed all day because it was even colder indoors than it was in the street. There was no wood left to burn; every bit of wooden furniture in the ghetto had long since been chopped up for firewood. To be sure, firewood could be bought, but no one could afford the prices.

AMONG MEN AND BEASTS
By Paul Trepman

 

Of all the concentration camps I personally experienced – Maidanek, Gross-Rosen, Sachsenhausen, Retzow, Ellrich and Bergen-Belsen – Ellrich was the most horrible. People died there like flies. We got no bread at all. The soup was made from water and half-rotten, unpeeled mashed potatoes. Even when the weather was ice cold, we went about half-naked because our prison uniforms had been worn to shreds and new uniforms were not available. Ellrich had no crematorium; the bodies of the dead were piled up in huge funeral pyres and burned. The lice were so abundant that we were convinced they had come from all over the world to Ellrich just to torture us. Ellrich was small and almost unknown but far more gruesome than the larger notorious death camps that have become bywords in the history of human barbarism.

AMONG MEN AND BEASTS
By Paul Trepman

 

“When I was fourteen, I saw another mother talking to her daughter. She held the child protectively in her arms as a German soldier came forward, took out his gun, and shot the little girl.”

OUR CRIME WAS BEING JEWISH
By Anthony S. Pitch

 

Heidenreich of the 354th Infantry Regiment described a mass shooting… “October 5th, in the evening our Second Lieutenant selected fifteen men with strong nerves…We waited for the morning in tense expectation. We were ready at 5 o’clock prompt, and the First Lieutenant explained what we were to do. There were approximately 1,000 Jews in the village of Krupka, and these all needed to be shot today… After our names were read out, the column marched to the nearest swamp… A second lieutenant and a company sergeant-major were with us. Ten shots sounded, then ten Jews were blown away. This went on until all were taken care of. Only a few of them kept their composure. The children clung to their mothers, women to their men… A couple of days later a similarly large number was shot in Kholoponichi. I was involved there too.”

WAR IN THE WILD EAST
By Ben Shepherd

 

“Chaim was married with a beautiful little boy. When he came to Auschwitz he found out that his wife and child were dead. He spoke to me about it. He didn’t get mad. He explained to me that I was a young man who didn’t have children and that life for me could be pretty good if we were ever liberated. But he told me very calmly that even if we were liberated, and that was a big if, he didn’t want to live. He suffered a lot. He worked on construction and was freezing, but he didn’t fight it. You could tell that he was losing his health and his strength, and he made it very clear to me that this was what he was going to do. He jumped from a very tall building and killed himself.”

OUR CRIME WAS BEING JEWISH
By Anthony S. Pitch

 

German soldiers beat Polish Jews in the vicinity of Lodz during the invasion of Poland.

 

[At Buchenwald, Master Sergeant] Sommer would, for example, force the stripped prisoner to immerse his testicles in ice-cold and boiling water in turn, painting them with iodine when the skin came off in strips. Naturally this caused the most agonizing pain.

THE THEORY AND PRACTICE OF HELL
By Eugen Kogon

 

Jewish life in Galicia was in ruins. Trails of smoke from the burned-out ghettos darkened the skies over the Jewish townlets and villages where the Germans had not yet come. Lwow was smoldering: Horodenka lay deserted, and death and destruction reigned supreme in Stanislawow. Boarded-up windows, shattered doors, broken furniture and other pitiful remnants of once-happy homes lay in the streets like refuse, like wreaths of thorns upon the mass grave of Polish Jewry. Nearly all the ghettos in the Chodorow district had been liquidated. The isolated few who had managed to escape a mass deportation or a pogrom by fleeing to another ghetto spread bloodcurdling tales which served only to heighten the terror in the hearts of the other Jews they encountered. Strong, brave men committed suicide. Almost every Jewish family arranged to procure vials of poison for themselves to use when the Nazis came. Jewish mothers tearfully begged the Gentile neighbors to take their children, promising in return to sign over them their houses or businesses, or to give them some other handsome reward once the good times would come back. The Jews who still survived in Galicia felt that their end was near.

AMONG MEN AND BEASTS
By Paul Trepman

 

On one occasion he [Sergeant Moll at Auschwitz] found a prisoner from the service squad in possession of a ring. He had the man drenched with gasoline and then set afire. Another man he suspended by the hands, shooting at him until the arm parted. He then repeated the process with the man’s feet.

THE THEORY AND PRACTICE OF HELL
By Eugen Kogon

 

“Stutthof was probably the worst concentration camp ever. If you weren’t killed beforehand, then you would get a thin slice of bread and dirty water. Hunger is a terrible, terrible thing. I mean hunger. I don’t mean just being hunger, but hunger. It can change you no matter what your principles or morality. It means I don’t care about you.”

OUR CRIME WAS BEING JEWISH
By Anthony S. Pitch

 

It was also customary to feed the prisoners cathartics in their food, until they fell sick with bloody stools. Of course there were no antidotes. There were two toilets in the bunker, one for the prisoners, the other for the SS. Whenever a prisoner received his twenty-five lashes, he had to bend over and immerse his head into the excrement-filled toilet bowl. When the punishment had been administered, he was not permitted to wipe the excrement from his face.

THE THEORY AND PRACTICE OF HELL
By Eugen Kogon

 

“Once a day, they allowed us to run to the latrine. You learn things from an older inmate, telling you to pick up a pebble on the way to the latrine so you have something to wipe yourself with.”

OUR CRIME WAS BEING JEWISH
By Anthony S. Pitch

 

 “All day long [in Ukraine] I helped gather up the dead from the homes of the Jews, innocent human beings who had been shot in their beds; old people, sick people and little babies. The trench near the Chomow Mountain was filled with the bodies of Jews. Later, Jews who had been spared came and covered the bodies with soil and lime. One Ukrainian woman who lived near the mass grave went out of her mind and had to be committed to the mental hospital of Kolomyja. In one day, 600 Jews had died in Zoblotow alone.”

AMONG MEN AND BEASTS
By Paul Trepman

 

“We had a very large wooden barrel in the barrack used as a latrine. Whoever was in charge at night would wake us up with truncheon whacks on the legs. Those selected would have to carry out the barrel. It was a big wine barrel, carried by two, three, or four inmates. If they spilled it, they were beaten. If nothing spilled, they were still beaten. Some people were so weak or deranged that they couldn’t lift it. There were two brothers with us who spoke only Dutch and knew no German. One of the brothers wasn’t able to carry the barrel, so they beat him to a pulp. His older brother had to watch it. This wasn’t an isolated case. It happened hourly. It never stopped. It didn’t get better. It just got worse.”

OUR CRIME WAS BEING JEWISH
By Anthony S. Pitch

 

“I was in Stutthof concentration camp when three women escaped. I don’t know how, because there were electrified wires, but they did. We were punished as a group by having to stand naked for twelve hours in cold weather. Then the Germans took four or five women and raped them in front of everybody. My mother was next to me and shielded my eyes with her hands so I shouldn’t see sexual intercourse for the first time. Probably she thought if I saw it, I would be forever difficult with men. But the Germans saw what she did with her hands and beat her so much that all her front teeth were knocked out.”

OUR CRIME WAS BEING JEWISH
By Anthony S. Pitch

 

This is the time to recall what happened on September 3, 1943. On that September day, all the Jews in Maidanek, Lipowa and Camp Piasky were done to death – except one: Pinkhas Lazarovitch Trepman, alias Pawel Kolodziejczyk. Perhaps Providence intended that I, with my false “Aryan” identity and non-Jewish appearance, should be spared from that slaughter so that I alone, having witnessed it, should live to record this one event which otherwise might have been omitted from mankind’s testimony against Adolf Hitler… The day began like any other, but somehow the mood was different. Roll call had been completed, but the Camp Elder had not yet given the usual order for the labor details to line up… And then the charged silence was broken by the Camp Elder’s sharp command: “All Jews report at once to the camp office!”… Deathly pale, like living corpses, the Jews stood massed in front of the camp office. Every few moments they were joined by other Jews who had been pulled out from their stations in the office, in the “political division” and in the camp commander’s suite. There were to be no “exceptions,” no “privileged characters;” all these people no matter what their special skills or work classification, were Jews and therefore had been marked for death…I felt as if my head were about to fall off from my shoulders; my heart stood still as I watched these women – my sisters from Warsaw, Lodz, Vilno, Paris, Vienna, Budapest and Bratislava – march up the road to their death, separated from me only by a quirk of fate. They walked quietly, their heads lowered, accompanied by obscenities, guffaws and blows from their torturers… The death march and mass slaughter of Jews on September 3, 1943 was the largest single operation of its kind at Maidanek. It began at seven o’clock in the morning and continued without pause until six o’clock that evening. All that day we saw Jews march away to a place from which there was no return. It was a breathtakingly beautiful day on God’s earth but we did not see the beauty… The next morning the chimney of the crematorium began to belch smoke. It smoked for a long time, scattering the ashes of 22,000 Jewish men, women and children across the face of the smiling golden sun and the cloudless blue sky so that both sun and sky turned black.

AMONG MEN AND BEASTS
By Paul Trepman

 

The Bodies of sixty Limanowa [Poland] Jews who were executed in the Jewish cemetery, are prepared for burial.

 

“When the Nazis came to my hometown of Krzepice in occupied Poland, the first thing they did was grab religious Jews with beards and cut the beards off with a knife. You’ve seen the picture of my father with a beard. Either they beat you to death or took a knife and cut off the beard. They did anything they wanted with the Jews. At night the soldiers broke into the homes and raped the women. If there was any little incident against them, they would take out a bunch of people, put them up against a wall, and shoot them down like dogs. It was nothing to them. It was like killing a fly today. My two brothers were very religious. One had a nervous breakdown and could barely walk on the outbreak of war, so they took him and my mother in the backyard and shot them. They took the other brother away. He wouldn’t touch the soup. The only thing he ate was a piece of bread. He didn’t last long. People told me my father died in a concentration camp.”

OUR CRIME WAS BEING JEWISH
By Anthony S. Pitch

 

“After the Nazis murdered thousands of people in the Sarny ghetto in Poland, we wound up with thousands of others at Ufa labor camp in the Ural Mountains. I was six, but my mother worked at least ten hours a day making ammunition and came back exhausted with icicle son her eyebrows. She was shivering, with her hands so frozen that one of her frostbitten fingers had to be amputated. My major memories are of cold and hunger. My mother searched for roots and leaves and made pancakes out of them.”

OUR CRIME WAS BEING JEWISH
By Anthony S. Pitch

 

The coming of Anton Tuman, acting commander at Maidanek, foretold the most extreme and long-drawn tortures ever to be devised by human cruelty…One night, a battalion of slave laborers returned to the camp, bringing back with them the bodies of six men who had been beaten to death during the day… The entire group had to stand naked in the biting cold, without a morsel of food, for three days and three nights. At the end of the three days, Tuman ordered the camp pool be filled up with water. After this had been done, he drove the “criminals” – twenty-six men in all – into the freezing water for “a bath.” They jumped in, naked, prodded by the blows and kicks from Tuman and his men. They froze to death almost at once. Meanwhile, Tuman, bundled in a warm fur coat, stood at the edge of the pool, pushing the heads of the prisoners under the water with a long pole. When all the heads had vanished from sight, he called over the Camp Elder and ordered him to “clean the filth out of the pool and drain off all that crappy water.”

AMONG MEN AND BEASTS
By Paul Trepman

 

“Mauthausen was completely choked, so when seventeen hundred survivors arrived from Sachsenhausen, the commandant encouraged the sick, old, and weak to come forward. These four hundred men, who had either come forward of their own free will or been arbitrarily selected, were stripped naked and left for eighteen hours in weather eighteen degrees below zero, between the laundry building and the camp wall. I witnessed this. Several rapidly got congestion of the lungs, but that did not seem fast enough for the SS. Three times during the night, these men were drenched for half an hour in freezing water and forced to come out of the showers without being dried. When gangs went to work in the morning, the corpses were strewn on the ground. The last of them were finished off with blows from an ax.”

OUR CRIME WAS BEING JEWISH
By Anthony S. Pitch

 

“During air raids at Buna, the young man sharing a bunk with me would run to the Germans’ trash to look for anything they’d thrown away from their kitchen. Sometimes he would come back with food, like old sour soup. I told him not to do it; otherwise, he’d get hurt, but he said he was hungry. I told him I was also hungry, but I wouldn’t do it. Well, he went, and finally he was caught. His punishment was hanging. I had tried to warn him, but he wouldn’t listen. We were forced to watch him hang with three others.”

OUR CRIME WAS BEING JEWISH
By Anthony S. Pitch

 

One of the prisoners started pulling up blades of grass from the ground, cutting them into small pieces and dropping them into his soup to make it thicker. At first, we thought the very idea was nauseating. We upbraided the man for his lack of self-control, for acting like an animal instead of endeavoring to keep up his human image until the end. But eventually, alas, we, too, forgot about our human image and started adding grass to our soup also. We did not care that we had to run to the latrine all night long and that our bodies were covered with pus-filled blisters; all that mattered was that the grass made our bowl of soup more filling. We stuffed ourselves with the sharp green liquid and, in fact, grew so accustomed to eating quantities of grass each day that we worried what would happen if we would still be there at the end of the summer, when the grass would wither and die.

AMONG MEN AND BEASTS
By Paul Trepman

 

“The commandant of Plaszow concentration camp, Amon Goeth, was walking toward my cousin, Jankek, when the teenager whistled, which he always did when upset, even though he was unaware of it. They arrested him, built the gallows overnight, and brought him out to hang. They made his father, Uncle Henek, watch from the front row. The rope broke and they sent for another. My poor little cousin, then fourteen or fifteen, was scared to death. He crawled up to Goeth and kissed his boot, but the commandant just hissed. My uncle had to watch; then he had a stroke. He was a vegetable.”

OUR CRIME WAS BEING JEWISH
By Anthony S. Pitch

 

Go to page 23

Show Buttons
Hide Buttons