Children walking to the gas chambers at Auschwitz.

In the Jewish section [at Birkenau] the latrine was simply a large ditch bisected by a narrow board. Filth covered the two-sided perch, and the women often soiled each other. Lewinska believes that the Germans purposefully condemned the Jewish women to drown in their excrement. One day Olga Lengyel was assigned to the latrine-cleaning squad. In the morning each woman took her two buckets to the pits. They pulled up full pails of excrement and carried them a few hundred meters to another pit. They did that all day – day after day for two weeks. In the evenings they tried to clean themselves and went to bed. The odor reeking from Lengyel’s co-worker sleeping beside her sickened her.

By Konnilyn G. Feig


“I will never forget the scene: pillows, blankets, overcoats, boots, saucepans, fur coats, and other objects were strewn the length of the platform. Freezing old men were unable to stand up and were moaning quietly and pitifully, mothers were losing children, children their mothers, there were cries, wails, and shots. A mother was wringing her hands, tearing her hair out and crying out: ‘Where are you, darling?’ A child is running back and forth on the platform in tears: ‘Mama!’ She is freezing and falls.”

By Joshua Rubenstein and Ilya Altman


Morris Danziger, who lived with his parents and three sisters in Plebanska Street, close to the Great Synagogue, recalled… “the shooting went on and on then they [men with guns] went to the next house.” There were he remembers soldiers all along the street with guns. Danziger himself jumped out of the ground-floor window of the apartment house in which he and his family ran, while soldiers kept shooting; those who escaped survived the night as best they could in other parts of the town. In the morning Danziger returned to his neighborhood “and I saw too many killed people, my friends and my neighbors stretched out like dogs.” There were also, as he put it, no houses anymore: “We had no place where to go”: their house had burned down.

By Mary Fulbrook


“We heard them throwing people out of the neighboring cars. Wails, weeping, shouts. It was dreadful, taking people against their will. What would happen? Suddenly, the doors open with a scraping sound, there is a glow from a fire, the flames of a bonfire. I see people, the elderly, women, and children, running around enveloped in flames. How the children’s screams cut to the heart! I see piles of objects, bodies, frozen people. The sharp smell of gas. The immense glow of a bonfire. The faces of the killers set in stone. They were burning people here. It is easy to say ‘they were burning.’ They were burning children alive, burning people alive!”

By Joshua Rubenstein and Ilya Altman


“Between January 10 and 15, 1942, around 52,000 people were shot, and within two weeks after that approximately 2,000 more people died from the cold and exhaustion. In all, no fewer than 54,000 people were destroyed [at Bogdanovka].”

By Joshua Rubenstein and Ilya Altman


“In the autumn of 1942, there were more than three thousand Jewish families from Ukraine, Bukovina, and Bessarabia in the Tulchin ghetto…Every day in the ghetto, some fifteen or twenty people would die from hunger, typhus, bleeding ulcers, and other illnesses. On top of that, Antonescu’s bandits, day in, day out, would shoot on the job anyone who, as a result of total exhaustion, could barely drag themselves along. Corpses would lie there untouched, often for a whole week.

“Fifteen kilometers or so from the ghetto, there were Italian and Hungarian reserve units. At the demand of the commanders of these units, the chief of the Romanian gendarmes in Tulchin would select healthy young girls from the ghetto and send them, according to the official version, to serve the kitchens and bakeries of the Italian and Hungarian detachments. The girls usually returned after being raped and infected with all kinds of venereal diseases. The majority of the girls committed suicide while still at the barracks, or on their way home; some of them were shot while resisting rape or while attempting to escape.”

By Joshua Rubenstein and Ilya Altman


“Our friend, David Lerner from Yedintsy, along with his wife, his six-year-old daughter, and some of his wife’s relatives, the Axelrods, were in the village of Chukov, four kilometers from our camp. During the killing of children in September, they managed to hide the little girl in a sack. The girl was clever and quiet, and she was saved. Over the course of three weeks, the father took the little girl to work with him, and the child lived in the sack the whole time. After three weeks, that beast Genig came to their place to steal some valuables. He went up to the bag and gave it a kick; the little girl shrieked and was discovered. Vicious spite took hold of the murderer. He beat the father, beat the child, and took all their belongings, leaving the whole family with almost no clothes. Still, he did not kill the little girl. She remained in the camp and spent the whole winter in mortal fear, expecting death any day. On February 5, during a second Aktion, the little girl was taken along with her grandmother. The child was seized by a mad fear. She screamed so much on the sled along the way that her little child’s heart could not take it and gave out. The child was carried to the common grave already dead in the arms of her grandmother…The mother lost her mind after finding out what happened. She was shot. The father and the rest of the family were killed shortly after.”

By Joshua Rubenstein and Ilya Altman


After being in Monowitz for about a month, we ran into Rolf Goldschmidt after the evening roll call. He was sitting on his bunk in the row next to ours. He seemed very despondent and was mumbling to himself. “I can’t stand it anymore. I don’t want to live.” We tried to cheer him up, but it was hopeless. We heard him get up at night. We were quite concerned. “Where are you going, Rolf?” we asked. “To the latrine.” “Are you really going to the latrine?” “Yes!” I heard him call out to the guard and walk down the wooden steps. Half a minute later I heard gunfire. Rolf Goldschmidt had been shot dead while trying to throw himself into the
electrified barbed-wire fence.

By Hans Frankenthal


When we arrived in Brody, I was shocked to find none of our relatives. When I was in hiding, I had feared that I would be the only Jew who survived…Then we found my cousin Pepe, the only one of my father’s relatives to survive the Nazi terror. It was like finding a priceless treasure. Pepe was the daughter of my father’s sister, Freda Strouse… She told us that the German and Ukrainian police came to take my cousin Anschul away, but Grandma Klara poured scalding water from the upstairs window onto the police and told Anschul to run. They killed my cousin Anschul and burned my grandma to death in her own house. Pepe survived the 1941 pogrom in Zlotchiw, during the first week of the Nazi occupation. She fell beneath the bodies of other Jews as they were machine-gunned by the edge of a mass grave in a ravine bordering the city. That night, after the shooting had stopped, she dug herself out and fled.

By Henry Friedman


These first few weeks [after transferring to Birkenau] we were barely surviving. The food is less than it was, which means it has gone from a crust to a half of a crust. The soup is so thin there is no use to wait at the end of the line for a piece of turnip or meat, and the tea is practically clear. Every morning that we wake up at least one girl has died in our block. There are no exceptions. We are dropping like flies. You have to have a brain to figure out all that is going on, the tricks to being camp smart: where it’s warmest, who’s the most dangerous, who doles out a bit more soup. The new arrivals barely have time to figure out how to survive before they die.

By Rena Kornreich Gelissen with Heather Dune Macadam


A German policeman prepares to complete a mass execution by shooting two Jewish children.

That same evening [at Langinbilau], a soldier picked a man out of the line. The man’s name was Auerbach. He did not have the Star of David sewn in front of his lapel. Instead, he had it behind his lapel. The soldier called the foreman, saying “This man plans to escape; he should be severely punished.” The soldier kicked him in the groin and he fell to the ground. He kicked him again and again until he was dead.

By Icek Kuperberg


We were made to stand for hours on end in the Appellplatz [Auschwitz], where the SS took one head count after another, adding and reading the figures. So long as the number of inmates didn’t tally with the numbers on their lists, we were issued the following order: “Camp inmates will remain standing at attention!” Standing motionless while it was cold and rainy was an indescribable torture. The hunger that gnawed at our exhausted bodies inspired the SS to devise a unique form of villainy. They ordered an uncovered kettle of soup to be brought up and had it placed two meters in front of us. Even if the soup was watery, the aroma still assailed our nostrils. As soon as the soup was cold, they would have the kettle hauled away. We would often have to stand for the roll call all night long until we received the usual order in the morning: “Kommandos, move out!” Deprived of sleep, food, and drink, we were forced to go back to the construction site. After roll call like these there would be countless bodies lying on the ground. Many inmates simply had collapsed, and those who were too exhausted to go on tried to make a dash for the electrified barbed wire fence [suicide].

By Hans Frankenthal


We have started putting two or three bodies in each grave. Our strength is failing fast with the lack of food and the terrible conditions in camp. Pushing the cart up the hill is a chore we can barely accomplish…The lower the pile of bodies gets, the worse it gets for us, because it is spring and the bodies are beginning to decompose. And there are fresh bodies on top now, too, so it’s hard to tell until you touch one how long it’s been lying there. Some of them we have to leave or they will fall apart.  We’re very careful not to disturb the very old, decaying bodies.

By Rena Kornreich Gelissen with Heather Dune Macadam


From the scorching sun [at Auschwitz] our faces blister and crack. Brownish discharge oozes from the cracks and forms large crusts around the edges. Our faces look ridiculous and repulsive. I definitely look more ridiculous than most girls. My extremely fair complexion responded to the fierce sun by sprouting large blisters ringed with red on my nose, my cheekbones, and the back of my neck. My ears look enormous because of towering blisters on my earlobes. I look like a clown. A mass of pus sores around my cracked lips make me look as if I’m wearing a perpetual grin stretching to my ears.

By Livia Bitton-Jackson


Max Stern, my father’s cousin, was assigned to the cable Kommando. Within three to four weeks he had already become a Muselmann [close to death by starvation]. At the end of one working day as we were preparing to march back to the camp, inmates in Max’s Kommando informed us that SS men had beaten him half to death. Instead of surrendering his food bowl during work as ordered, he had hidden it under his coat. Coats had to be folded and laid on the ground and the SS would subsequently inspect them. They called out Max’s identification number, beat him up, and tortured him for the next few hours while he was slaving away, until he finally collapsed. Even though Max Stern wasn’t in our Kommando, we carried him back to the camp with us. He was barely able to speak but somehow managed to show up for roll call. After that we had no alternative but to take him to the infirmary. The next day we tried in vain to find out if he was still alive – but we never heard from him again.

By Hans Frankenthal


Nearly every prominent Jewish man in the area around Brody had been accounted for, except Father. Even the baby had been found, her burial ground on our former property having been uncovered by a pair of dogs. We were all shocked. I was so upset by the image of dogs dragging my baby sister along the ground that I vomited.

By Henry Friedman


“As a column of Jews was being led into the camp [Stavki], a young girl hid behind a bush to relieve herself. Pirozhenko saw this. He took aim and fired. The wounded girl summoned up all her strength, got to her feet and, covered in blood, cried out, ‘Mama, they’ve killed me!’ The butcher, not wasting any time, finished her off with a bayonet.”

By Joshua Rubenstein and Ilya Altman


“I was stationed in Poland [Mielec] during the severe winter of 1941. I heard gunshots coming from a group of buildings that had been used by the Polish gliding club. I grabbed my pistol, got out of the car, and ran to find out what was going on. When I entered the courtyard, I saw young Jews digging graves – large, deep graves. The older Jews were being shot in the back of the neck… An old woman turned around when her executioner’s gun clicked empty. With clasped hands she begged the Polish, ‘Please help me!’ The Pole kicked her in the back, loaded his gun, and shot her. When a person is shot at close range in the head from behind, everything is blown away, a part of the face falls to the ground. Even now, the masks worn during carnival season remind me of those shootings.”

Steinhoff, Pechel and Showalter


“Bergen-Belsen was in reality two camps within one. In Camp 1 were crammed up to fifty thousand inmates, half of them women… Here, crammed into a hundred single-story wooden huts, or lying around the compound exposed to the elements, lay tens of thousands of sick and emaciated prisoners… The sanitation, always primitive at best, was now non-existent. The inmates were dying at the rate of five hundred a day. Outside one of the women’s huts lay a pile of unburied bodies. Inside, dead women were lying in the passage, and in the main room was a mass of bodies blocking any further access. The place stank of rotting flesh, feces and urine.”

By David Stafford


“On July 5, 1941, the enemy occupied the shtetl of Yedintsy in Khotin County. The people were caught unawares, having neither the time nor the opportunity to get away. Until July 28, savage terror reigned in the shtetl, during which eight hundred people were shot and numerous young girls, practically children, were raped.

“Tens of thousands of people were driven out like cattle, struck with whips and rifle butts, and very often hit by bullets. They drove them without any rest, cruelly, not giving them anything to drink or allowing them to stop to help a dying mother or child. They drove them over hundreds of kilometers from Bessarabia to Ukraine, back to Bessarabia, then back to Ukraine. The whole way was strewn with corpses. Convoy after convoy walked along and left behind dying children, the elderly, the sick, and those who simply lost the will to live from the madness they ​had been through.

“My mother, Tseytel Fradis, fell; she dislocated her knee and was seen lying frozen to death along the road. My healthy, vivacious, active mother who had dedicated her whole life to helping the sick and the indigent, who was an ideal mother, had to end her life in this way.

“The children of my brother went down. His two beautiful little daughters and his wife, Pesya Bronshteyn. They told me that she asked God, when the children fell asleep, that they should no longer wake up, that she should not be the first to die and the children left alone to go through these horrors. My father’s two sisters fell with their husbands.”

By Joshua Rubenstein and Ilya Altman


Camp guards beat and kick a prisoner at the Cieszanow labor camp. There were hundreds of concentration and labor camps where frequent, painful beatings were administered for minor infractions. Note the group of prisoners on the right who are required to watch this atrocity. 


“Dehumanizing each person by robbing him of his individuality, by rendering each, to the German eye, but another body in an undifferentiated mass, was but the first step towards fashioning their ‘subhumans.’ The Germans plunged the camp systems inhabitants into deprived and desperate physical, mental, and emotional conditions far worse than anything Europe had seen for centuries. By denying the camp system’s populace adequate nutrition, indeed by subjecting many to starvation, by forcing them to perform backbreaking labor for unmanageably long hours, by providing them with grossly inadequate clothing and shelter, not to mention medical care, and by perpetrating steady violence on their bodies and minds, the Germans succeeded in making the camp system’s inhabitants take on the appearance – including festering, open wounds, and the marks of diseases and illness – and behavioral attributes of the ‘subhumans’ that the Germans imagined them to be.”

By Daniel Jonah Goldhagen


“The killing in the [Latvian] provinces began in late July and was almost completed by the end of September…Some towns…lost more than half of their population in a weekend…Police Battalions 309 and 316, based in Bialystok, invaded Tykocin on 5 August 1941. They drove Jewish men, women and children screaming from their home, killed laggards in the streets, loaded the living onto trucks… In the center of the Lopuchowo forest, men dug pits, piling up the sandy yellow soil, and then Police Battalions 309 and 316, out for the morning on excursion from Bialystok, murdered the Jews of Tykocin, man, woman and child. For months the forest buzzed and stank of death.”

By Richard Rhodes


SA men stood in front of the smeared display windows carrying large signs which read “Don’t buy from Jews.” My mother, who didn’t look Jewish at all, was stopped by an SA guard after leaving one of the shops. He said: “You can see the sign, but you go in anyway. We’ll remember your face.”

By Frank McDonough


We also had a Jew in our building who was supposed to be deported to Theresinstadt, a simple, modest man. But he took his own life by turning on the gas faucet. When the Jews who lived on our street were taken away, their midday meals were still lying on the table. After that, their apartments remained empty for months before they were rented again. They never ​came back.

By Eric A. Johnson and Karl-Heinz Reuband



[September and October 1941 kill sheets from Nazis in Lithuania]

Total Carried forward          99,804

9/12/1941   City of Wilna       993 Jews, 1670 Jewesses, 771 Jewish Children         3,334

9/17/1941  City of Wilna      337 Jews, 687 Jewesses, 247 Jewish Children,          1,271
4 Lith. Communists

  9/20/1941    Nemencing       128 Jews, 176 Jewesses, 99 Jewish Children        403

9/22/1941    Novo-Wilejka    468 Jews, 495 Jewesses, 196 Jewish Children         1,159

9/24/1941     Riesa        512 Jews, 744 Jewesses, 511 Jewish Children          1,767

9/25/1941   Jahiunai      215 Jews, 229 Jewesses, 131 Jewish Children           575

9/27/1941    Eysisky       989 Jews, 1,636 Jewesses, 821 Jewish Children        3,446

9/30/1941     Trakai          366 Jews, 483 Jewesses, 597 Jewish Children         1,446

10/4/1941   City of Wilna     432 Jews, 1,115 Jewesses, 436 Jewish Children        1,983

10/6/1941    Semiliski        213 Jews, 359 Jewesses, 390 Jewish Children           962

10/9/1941    Svenciany      1,169 Jews, 1,840 Jewesses, 717 Jewish Children     3,726

10/16/1941    City of Wilna      382 Jews, 507 Jewesses, 257 Jewish Children       1,146

10/21/1941  City of Wilna      718 Jews, 1,063 Jewesses, 586 Jewish Children        2,367

10/25/1941  City of Wilna        – Jews, 1,766 Jewesses, 812 Jewish Children         2,578

10/27/1941   City of Wilna     946 Jews, 184 Jewesses, 73 Jewish Children        1,203

10/30/1941   City of Wilna       382 Jews, 789 Jewesses, 362 Jewish Children       1,341

[Total murdered from July 1941 to October 31, 1941 – 133,346]

By Ernst Klee, Willi Dressen, and Volker Riess


“Dr. Rascher conducted experiments on the effect of cold water and human beings [at Dachau]. This was done to find a way for reviving airmen who had fallen into the ocean.  The subject was placed in ice cold water and kept there until he was unconscious…Some men stood it as long as 24 to 36 hours. The lowest body temperature reached was 19 degrees Centigrade, but most men died at 25 or 26 degrees. When the men were removed from the ice water attempts were made to revive them by artificial sunshine, with hot water, by electro-therapy, or by animal warmth. For this last experiment prostitutes were used and the body of the unconscious man was placed between the bodies of two women. Himmler was present at one such experiment…About 300 persons were used in these experiments. The majority died. Of those who survived, many became mentally deranged. Those who did not die were sent to invalid blocks and were killed.”

By Alexander MacDonald


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