A compilation of Nazi crimes by witnesses, victims, historians and perpetrators 

taken from hundreds of sources.

​“The ghettos were dissolved in 1943 at the latest.  Of course, many died before it came to that, including my grandparents who were both 80 years old.  After being unloaded in Lublin, all of them were forced to run.  Naturally there was no way my 80-year-old grandmother could keep up and they beat her until she couldn't get up anymore.  She was the first to die.  My grandfather died of natural causes the very next night."

VOICES FROM THE THIRD REICH

Steinhoff, Pechel and Showalter

 

Has anyone ever confessed to you or to one of your fellow priests any atrocities they took part in during the extermination process? 

"No, I can’t think of anyone…though yes, there was one situation, though I’m not sure it’s exactly what you’re looking for. A man came to me shortly before he died. In his confession he told me that in all the years since it had happened, the brown eyes of a six-year-old girl had given him no peace. He had been in the Wehrmacht, he was serving in Warsaw at the time of the uprising in the ghetto. They had been ordered to clear out the bunkers, and one morning a six-year-old girl came running towards him out of one of these bunkers, her arms outstretched. He still remembered the look in her eyes, terrified and full of trust at the same time. Then his NCO ordered him to bayonet her, which he did. He killed her. But the look in her eyes haunted him for the rest of his life."

MY FATHER’S KEEPER
Stephan and Norbert Lebert


 

"When on the way we stayed in a barn for the night, a large number of dead women lay in the barn. One woman screamed that she was freezing. This SS man ordered the woman to lie down on the corpses, saying, “Now you will be warm.” He beat the victim so long 
until she expired."

HITLER’S WILLING EXECUTIONERS
Daniel Jonah Goldhagen


  

In Daugavpils, the second-largest city in Latvia, southeast of Riga and approximately equidistant from Riga, Kaunas and Minsk, Obersturmführer Joachim Hamann of Einsatzkommando 3 directed massacres during August 1941that ended more than nine thousand lives…Among the murdered were four hundred children from a Daugavpils orphanage trucked to a military training ground and shot. At a dinner party later in the war, Viktors Arajs would explain why his experienced killers often threw children up into the air to shoot them: not because of a boyish exuberance, he said, but because the bullets often passed completely through the children’s bodies, so that shooting children on the floor or the street risked dangerous ricochets.

MASTERS OF DEATH
Richard Rhodes


  

"Do you know what it means – to kill Jews, men, women, and children as they stand in a semicircle around the machine guns? I belonged to what is called an Einsatzkommando, an extermination squad – so I know. What do you say when I tell that a little boy, no older than my youngest brother, before such a killing, stood there to attention and asked me ‘Do I stand straight enough, Uncle?’ Yes, he asked that of me; and once, when the circle stood round us, an old man stepped out of the ranks, he had long hair and a beard, a priest of some sort I suppose. Anyway, he came towards us slowly across the grass, slowly step by step, and within a few feet of the guns he stopped and looked at us one after another, a straight, deep, dark and terrible look. ‘My children,’ he said, ‘God is watching what you do.’ He turned from us then, and someone shot him in the back before he had gone more than a few steps.”

WHEN I WAS A GERMAN
Christabel Bielenberg


 

"I went out to the woods alone. The Wehrmacht had already dug a grave. The children were brought along in a tractor [-drawn wagon]. I had nothing to do with this technical procedure. The Ukrainians were standing round trembling. The children were taken down from the tractor. They were lined up along the top of the grave and shot so that they fell into it. The Ukrainians did not aim at any particular part of the body. They fell into the grave. The wailing was indescribable. I shall never forget the scene throughout my life. I find it very hard to bear. I particularly remember a small fair-haired girl who took me by the hand. She too was shot later…The grave was near some woods. It was not near the firing range. The execution must have taken place in the afternoon at about three-thirty or four… many children were hit four or five times before they died."

MASTERS OF DEATH
By Richard Rhodes


 

On a spur off the main rail line to Munich they stumbled on thirty-nine stationary boxcars. Usually they were used for transporting coal. As they neared, they were overwhelmed by the stench of death. All the cars were piled high with rotting human corpses. In total, they contained the bodies of some 2,300 men, women and children. All were either totally naked or clad in their striped blue-and-white concentration camp clothes smeared with blood and excrement. Most had starved to death while being transported from Buchenwald nearly three weeks before. The train had reached the siding only two days prior to the arrival of the Americans, and the few prisoners who had survived the journey had been shot or

clubbed to death by the SS.

ENDGAME, 1945
By David Stafford


 

After entering Bialystock on the twenty-seventh of June, a city which the Germans had captured, like many others, without a fight, the battalion commander, Major Ernst Weis, ordered his men to round up male Jews by combing through Jewish residential areas. Although the purpose of congregating the Jews was to kill them, instructions about the manner in which the Germans would extinguish their lives were not given at that time. The entire battalion participated in the ensuing roundup, which itself proceeded with great brutality and wanton murderousness. These Germans could finally unleash themselves without restraint upon the Jews. One Jew recalls that “the unit had barely driven into the city when the soldiers swarmed out and, without any sensible cause, shot up the entire city, apparently also in order to frighten the people. The incessant shooting was utterly horrible. They shot blindly, in fact, into houses and windows, without regard for whether they hit anyone. The shooting lasted the entire day.” The Germans of this battalion broke into people’s homes who had not lifted a finger in hostility, dragged them out, kicked them, beat them with their rifle butts, and shot them. The streets were strewn with corpses.

HITLER’S WILLING EXECUTIONERS
By Daniel Jonah Goldhagen


 

One witness claimed she had heard prisoners screaming in the punishment cells [at Auschwitz]. These ‘standing cells’ (height: 2 meters; Size: 50 by cm; air vent: 5 by 8 cm) guaranteed a slow death through starvation and lack of air. The bodies of the dead had to be scraped out of the cells with iron pitchforks. Some of the victims had eaten their own fingers.

THE WAGES OF GUILT
By Ian Buruma


 

In 1940, a visitor to the Warsaw ghetto offered the following description of living conditions there: “On the streets children are crying in vain, children who are dying of hunger. They howl, beg, sing, moan, shiver with cold, without underwear, without clothing, without shoes, in rags, sacks, flannel which are bound in strips round the emaciated skeletons, children swollen with hunger, disfigured, half conscious, already completely grown up at the age of five, gloomy and weary of life. They are like old people and are only conscious of one

thing: ‘I’m cold.’ ‘I’m hungry.’”

THE HOLOCAUST: A CONCISE HISTORY
By Doris L. Bergen


 

“The stunning thing about the Bucharest bloodbath,” Sebastian recorded a few days after the events, “is the quite bestial ferocity of it…It is now considered absolutely certain that the Jews butchered at Straulesti abbatoir were hanged by the neck on hooks normally used for beef carcasses. A sheet of paper was stuck to each corpse: ‘Kosher Meat.’ As for those killed in Jilava forest, they were first undressed (it would have been a pity for clothes to remain there), then shot and thrown on top of one another.”

NAZI GERMANY AND THE JEWS 1933-1945
By Saul Friedlander


 

A schoolteacher, Sima Katz, the mother of three children, survived to tell the story of her encounter with ‘the great grave’: “At Lukiszki we were kept outside for two days and then put into cells…at two a.m. the prison square was suddenly illuminated with floodlights. We were put aboard trucks, fifty to sixty women in a truck. In each vehicle there were armed Lithuanian sentries. The trucks headed for Ponary. We came to an area of wooded hillocks and were dumped among them. Still, the mind would not keep pace with reality. We were arranged in rows of ten and prodded toward some spot, from which came the sound of shooting. The Lithuanians then went back for more batches of people.

“Suddenly the truth hit us like an electric shock. The women broke out in piteous pleas to the sentries, offering them rings and watches. Some fell to the ground and kissed the sentries’ boots, others tore their hair and clothes – to no avail. The Lithuanians pushed one group after another to the site of the slaughter. By noon, when it became clear that there was no escaping this fate, the women fell into kind of a stupor, without any pleading or resistance. When their turn came, they went hopelessly to their death.”

MASTERS OF DEATH
By Richard Rhodes


 

One morning, the guards asked all educated Jews [at the Minsk ghetto] – engineers, doctors, accountants – to register for work. Two days later, they were pulled out of the camp and shot. The Jews starved on nettles and potato peels, and lived in terror. “Suddenly, the Gestapo swoop down on the ghetto in trucks and began seizing men,” wrote Mikhail Grichanik, a tailor who worked at a garment factory in Minsk and spent several months in the ghetto before escaping; the Nazis executed his mother, his wife, his three children, and three other relatives. “They go into apartments, beat people with rubber truncheons and lead them out under the guise of sending them off to work: to the peat bogs and such places. No one ever saw any of those taken away alive again.” In September, the patriarch of the Kovarsky family reportedly watched, hidden with one of his sons, while the police stormed into his home and murdered his other two boys, both of his daughters, and their grandmother. The oldest girl was first ordered to take off her clothes and dance for them on the table.

THE DEVIL’S DIARY
By Robert K. Wittman & David Kinney




“I then set out with a friend, and with my own eyes saw how the people were slaughtered; in two days, 25,000 men, women, and children and in the most beastly way. I saw how they had to undress in front of the tank traps and many other things.  And the absolute worst thing I saw was how this man took a screaming baby and beat it headfirst against a wall until it was dead.”

WHAT WE KNEW
By Eric A. Johnson and Karl-Heinz Reuband


  

There was, he said, “every imaginable kind of beating, immersion in bathtubs, squeezing of testicles, hanging, crushing of the head in iron bands, and the torturing of entire families in each other’s sight. I have, in particular, seen a wife tortured before her husband; and children tortured before their mothers.”

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


 

In late October, one company from the Twelfth SS Totenkopfstandarte occupied the town of Owinsk and began the systemic liquidation of the patients in the large psychiatric hospital there. The mentally ill were hauled away from the hospital in truckloads of fifty and shot by SSTV soldiers in groups on the edge of a mass grave. In less than a month, one company of Totenkopf soldiers murdered over 1,000 innocent, helplessly ill men and women.

SOLDIERS OF DESTRUCTION
By Charles W Sydnor, Jr.


 

Two weeks after entering the camp [Bergen-Belsen], the British Army’s medical services were still so overburdened that they called desperately on the help of ninety-six medical students from London…One student left a vivid account of his hut: “It was full of the most emaciated people I have ever seen in my life. There was supposed to be a loo at the far end but they couldn’t get up to go to it. [The hut] was almost up to the top of one’s boots in excreta. One just stumped about in it. People by now were too weak to use [the toilet] and were just lying in their own feces and urine which dripped down from one bunk to the next.” Another student captured a singular moment of horror: “I was standing aghast in the midst of all this filth, trying to get used to the smell which was a mixture of post-mortem room, a sewer, sweat, and foul pus, when I heard a scrabbling on the floor. I looked down in the half light and saw a woman crouching at my feet. She had black matted hair, well-populated [by lice] and her ribs stood out as though there was nothing between them, her arms were so thin that they were horrible. She was defecating, but she was so weak that she could not lift her buttocks from the floor and, as she had diarrhea, the liquid yellow stools bubbled over her thighs.”

ENDGAME, 1945
By David Stafford


 

​So then came the Children’s Hour [their parents had been deported, probably to Auschwitz]. It was decided in the next few days to transfer three thousand, ranging in age from two to twelve (older ones had already been deported) from Pithiviers and Beaune-la-Rolande to Drancy [France]. The buses began arriving at Drancy on August 15, their engines grinding, raising clouds of dust in the courtyard. The children got off the buses and stood there, bewildered. They looked around and saw barbed wire and uniformed guards. They were hostages to the gods of darkness, but where was the God of children? He was not in strict attendance.

In the courtyard, silent and confused, children four and five years old picked through the rows of bags, looking for their baluchon (bundle). The youngest ones did not know their names. One of them said: “I am Pierre’s little brother.” Some of them had cardboard name tags around their necks, but more often they had lost their tags, or the rain had washed out the names. Many were barefoot. Physically, they were in a pitiful state, undernourished and covered with vermin and open sores. Mentally, they were in a state for which childhood does not prepare one. What does a child, who feels life in every limb and breath, know of death?

Drancy was not equipped to receive large numbers of children. They were kept in what was called the escalier de depart (departure stairway), where they slept in large barrackslike rooms, one hundred to a room, on straw mattresses on the floor. Many got diarrhea from the cabbage soup that was served at every meal. It was useless to wash their clothes or their mattresses, for a few hours later they would be soiled again. There were pails on the landing, as there would be pails in the cattle cars. And they waited. And they wept at night. On the day of departure, the children were awakened at five and dressed in the semidarkness. Some refused to move. They lay on the damp straw crying. The gendarmes, who had to carry them downstairs past the overflowing pails, were unnerved. They heard a four-year-old boy addressing his absent mother, repeating, “Maman, je vais avoir peur” (“Mommy, I am going to be afraid”).  The children lined up in the courtyard, where bus engines were already running. It was still dark enough that the camp searchlights were on. Some children were pulling suitcases that seemed bigger than they were, and some were carrying bags made from bed sheets, and some were holding dolls and teddy bears, and it took two and a half hours to process them on the buses…Seven trains with children together with adults left Drancy on August 17, 19, 21, 24, 26, 28, and 31. Their progress from then on is painful to record…Children in the freight cars – like the subway at rush hour – for three days, in a closed and windowless car in the heat of August, with the stink, the lack of air, and the difficulty of relieving oneself. Those who survived the trip arrived ill and dehydrated at Auschwitz and were taken at once to the gas chambers. Not one survived. And some of those children were two years old. And they had been escorted to the border by French police, in the land of Voltaire and The Rights of Man.

AN UNCERTAIN HOUR
By Ted Morgan




“On this day, over 5,000 Jews from the ghetto of Peresika were massacred. Among them was our whole family from Karelitz: my grandmother Gitel Gurevitz, my uncle Yosef Gurevitz, his wife Breine Feigel and their daughters Nachama and Hassia (as mentioned earlier, their eldest daughter Rachel whose name today is Rachel Konigsberg was sent to her uncle in England), and my aunt Malke Kapushevski with her little son Nahum. My cousin Srolik Sucharski who worked at the military barracks didn’t join us at the court-house. He was killed at the barracks while trying to escape.”

SURVIVING THE HOLOCAUST WITH THE RUSSIAN JEWISH PARTISANS
By Jack Kagan and Dov Cohen


 

A Jewish person helping another Jewish person to evade justice constituted a very serious offense …On 6 November 1942, the Gestapo suddenly decided that Helene Krabs should be transported to the notorious Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp in Poland. Paul Krabs begged the Gestapo for mercy on behalf of his wife in two letters in early December 1942. In one letter he writes, “My wife was only acting in a compassionate manner. She simply felt a loyalty to her relative. It was an impossible situation for her. I beg for mercy on her behalf.” The Gestapo refused to change its decision. On 10 December 1942, the Gestapo reported that Helene Krabs had been sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau. Rudolf Hoss, the camp commandant, was informed about her pregnant state.  On 3 January 1943, Helene Krabs was murdered, along with her unborn child, in Auschwitz.

THE GESTAPO: THE MYTH AND REALITY OF HITLER’S SECRET POLICE
By Frank McDonough


 
 
“On the concrete forecourt of the petrol station a blond man of medium height, aged about twenty-five, stood leaning on a wooden club, resting. The club was as thick as his arm and came up to his chest. At his feet lay about fifteen to twenty dead or dying people. Water flowed continuously from a hose washing blood away into the drainage gully. Just a few steps behind this man some twenty men, guarded by armed civilians, stood waiting for their cruel execution in silent submission. In response to a cursory wave the next man stepped forward silently and was then beaten to death with the wooden club in the most bestial manner, each blow accompanied by enthusiastic shouts from the audience.”

“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


 

Five thousand more Jews were forced on to two trains and deported to the south. Crammed on board sealed freight trucks, the Jews found it hard to breath, and the Romanian guards refused to let them drink any water. After several days their thirst was all but unbearable. Nathan Goldstein, a Jew from Iasi, witnessed what happened when his train stopped near a river: “An eleven-year-old child jumped out the window to get a drink of water, but the [deputy of the train’s commander] felled him with a shot aimed at his legs. The child screamed, ‘Water, water!’ Then the adjutant took him by his feet, shouting, ‘You want water? Well, drink all you want!’, lowered him head-first into the water of the Bahlui River until the child drowned, and

then threw him in.”

THE HOLOCAUST: A NEW HISTORY
By Laurence Rees


 

The men of Police Battalion 309’s First and Third Companies [at Bialystok] drove their victims into the synagogue, the less compliant Jews receiving from the Germans liberal blows of encouragement. The Germans packed the large synagogue full. The fearful Jews began to chant and pray loudly. After spreading gasoline around the building, the Germans set it ablaze; one of the men tossed an explosive through a window, to ignite the holocaust. The Jews’ prayers turned into screams. A battalion member later described the scene that he witnessed: “I saw…smoke, that came out of the synagogue and heard there how the incarcerated people cried loudly for help. I was about 70 meters’ distance from the synagogue. I could see the building and observed that people tried to escape through the windows. One shot at them. Circling the synagogue stood the police members who were apparently supposed to cordon it off, in order to ensure that no one emerged.” Between 100 and 150 men of the battalion surrounded the burning synagogue. They collectively ensured that none of the appointed Jews escaped the inferno. They watched as over seven hundred people died this hideous and painful death, listening to screams of agony. Most of the victims were men, though some women and children were among them. Not surprisingly, some of the Jews within spared themselves the fiery death by hanging themselves or severing their arteries. At least six Jews came running out of the synagogue, their clothes and bodies aflame. The Germans shot each one, only to watch these human torches burn themselves out.

HITLER’S WILLING EXECUTIONERS
By Daniel Jonah Goldhagen


 
 
There had been many Jews among the sixty-five thousand men, women, and children who died in the camp. Buchenwald was not a death camp, like Auschwitz or Treblinka, specifically designed to annihilate the Jews. Prisoners at Buchenwald were worked to death or they died of disease, hunger, torture, and executions. All prisoners were treated horribly, but according to the most accounts, the Jews were treated worst of all.

THE WAGES OF GUILT
By Ian Buruma




For Victor Klemperer, professor of French literature in Dresden, routinization of Nazi rule meant an ever-tightening trap. The university dismissed Klemperer in 1935…One insult and deprivation followed another. Klemperer was forbidden to publish. He lost borrowing privileges at the library, and eventually library staff refused even to let him use the reading room. Over the years Nazi regulations robbed Klemperer of his car, his house, his driver’s license, even his pets.

THE HOLOCAUST: A CONCISE HISTORY
By Doris L. Bergen 


 

“On March 31, they started searching for the handicapped and old people, and later several thousand young and healthy people were taken. We were hiding in the attic and through the window I saw the transports of Hungarian Jews…I saw children from the orphanage wrapped in bed sheets. The houses around the ghetto were on fire. I heard some shooting, crying children, mothers calling, and Germans breaking into the neighboring houses.”

SALVAGED PAGES: YOUNG WRITERS’ DIARIES OF THE HOLOCAUST
By Alexandra Zapruder



 
The final year of the war had brought a rapid deterioration in the condition of Thereisenstadt’s inmates. Already in the fall of 1943, Jakob Edelstein had been arrested for having helped some inmates to escape the camp and was sent to Auschwitz with his wife, Miriam, his son, Aryeh, and old Mrs. Olliner, Miriam’s mother. While Edelstein was kept in block 11 of the main camp, his family was kept detained in the ‘family camp’ in Birkenau. On June 20, 1944, they were all reunited in front of crematorium III and shot. Jakob was shot last, after he had witnessed the killing of his son, his wife, and his mother-in-law.

NAZI GERMANY AND THE JEWS 1933-1945
By Saul Friedlander


 
 
A woman in a small town near Minsk saw a young German soldier walking down the street with a year-old baby impaled on his bayonet. “The baby was still crying weakly,” she would remember. “And the German was singing. He was so engrossed in what he was doing

that he did not notice me.”

MASTERS OF DEATH
By Richard Rhodes


 

For Jews in the Reich, Kristallnacht was the event that finally extinguished any hope that they could stay put in Germany. The time for patience had passed. Their countrymen were not going to overthrow Hitler and bring back the age of tolerance. Rosenberg’s diatribes and Goebbels’s speeches could no longer be dismissed as empty words. The Nazis wanted the Jews gone, and if they were not willing to leave on their own, they would be run out of their homes by force. Over the next ten months, more than one hundred thousand Jews would flee the country. Twice as many would be left behind.

THE DEVIL’S DIARY
By Robert K. Wittman & David Kinney


 
 
“On January 18, 1945, they took us on a death march. We were 3,800 prisoners. We walked three days and three nights. There was snow and it was very cold. It is very cold in that part of Poland. The majority of the prisoners were left behind. Those who couldn’t go on were machine-gunned. All five of us friends ended up being wounded. I wasn’t wounded badly, but some of my friends were – one got a bullet in the lung, another in his neck, but I had better luck. We ended up surviving. Out of thirty-eight hundred prisoners, eighteen of us survived.”

WHAT WE KNEW
By Eric A. Johnson and Karl-Heinz Reuband

 
 

[Testimony of Dr. Franz Blaha, Czech prisoner ordered to perform autopsies at Dachau]:

“In 1942 and 1943 experiments on human beings were conducted [at Dachau] by Dr. Sigmund Rascher to determine the effects of changing air pressure. As many as 25 persons were put at one time into a specially constructed van in which pressure could be increased or decreased as required…Most of the prisoners used died from these experiments, from internal hemorrhage of the lungs or brain. The survivors coughed blood when taken out. It was my job to take the bodies out and as soon as they were found to be dead to send the internal organs to Munich for study. About 400 to 500 prisoners were experimented on. The survivors were sent to invalid blocks and liquidated shortly afterwards.

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


 

“At the end of June 1943, we were deported from Berlin. After approximately two days and a night in a freight care, we reached Auschwitz. The stench in these cars, the hysterical screaming and so on, were terrible. Having arrived in Auschwitz-Birkenau, we were driven out of the cars by shouting guards. Our luggage was left behind, and we never saw it again. Next we had to file past a checkpoint, where the SS officers asked our age and occupation. I made myself two years older than I was and told them I was a mechanic. I’d estimate that of us 300 men – there were also 50 to 60 women – maybe 100 were admitted to the camp. The rest were given ‘special treatment.’ In other words, they were gassed. When married couples with children arrived, the man would not even be asked; he automatically went along to be gassed with his family. In practical terms, humans were a commodity, and there was so much of this commodity that they didn’t know what to do with it all.  That was the horror of it. Those SS men who worked at Auschwitz were more or less forced to keep enlarging its capacity for annihilation because the transports were arriving from everywhere.”

VOICES FROM THE THIRD REICH
Steinhoff, Pechel and Showalter


 

In the early afternoon, a column of trucks drove a contingent of Jews from the camp to an empty school building on the northern edge of Hamburg. It contained twenty-two children between the ages of four and twelve, two women and twenty-six men. All had been used for medical experiments. They were taken to the school’s gymnasium and hanged so that none should bear witness to Nazi atrocities.

ENDGAME, 1945
By David Stafford


 

They chose to walk into a hospital [at Josefow, Poland], a house of healing and to shoot the sick, who must have been cowering, begging, and screaming for mercy. They killed babies. None of the Germans has seen fit to recount details of such killings. In all probability, a killer either shot a baby in its mother’s arms, and perhaps the mother for good measure, or, as was sometimes the habit during these years, held it at arm’s length by the leg, shooting it with a pistol. Perhaps the mother looked on in horror. The tiny corpse was then dropped like so

much trash and left to rot.  A life extinguished.

HITLER’S WILLING EXECUTIONERS
By Daniel Jonah Goldhagen


 

By 1943, the Nazis had decided that no Jew was to be spared, and Zeiler’s mother was picked up and sent to Theresienstadt. Soon after, Zeiler, at the age of twenty, was arrested too, for harboring Jews – that is to say, his own mother. He was sent to Buchenwald. Before long, he weighed only ninety pounds.

THE WAGES OF GUILT
By Ian Buruma


  

By the spring and summer of 1942, the area around the Chelmno was filled with the stench of rotting bodies. German officials ordered ovens brought in so that the mass graves could be opened and bodies exhumed and burned. Of course they delegated this gruesome job to members of the Jewish Sonderkommando.  Mordechai Podchlebnik, a man assigned to the task, found the bodies of his wife and two children in a mass grave. He begged the SS guards to shoot him. When they refused, he tried to commit suicide. This time his comrades stopped him. Eventually he escaped. One of very few survivors of the killing center at Chelmno, Podchlebnik later served as a central witness at the postwar Chelmno trial.

THE HOLOCAUST: A CONCISE HISTORY
By Doris L. Bergen

  

After the end of the Babi Yar massacre, a few elderly Jews returned to Kiev and sat by the Old Synagogue. Nobody dared to approach or leave food or water for them, as this could mean immediate execution. One after the other, the Jews died until only two remained. A passerby went to the German sentry standing at the corner of the street and suggested shooting the two old Jews instead of letting them starve to death. “The guard thought for a moment and did it.”

NAZI GERMANY AND THE JEWS 1933-1945
By Saul Friedlander

  

The Jews in the first row were ordered forward to the tables [Uman area, Russia], made to surrender their valuables and belongings, made to undress and pile their clothes to one side. Whereupon the troops menaced the row of naked people to the brink of one of the pits:

“The commandos then marched in behind the line and began to perform the inhuman acts…with automatic pistols…these men mowed down the line with such zealous intent that one could have supposed this activity to have been their life work.

“Even women carrying children a fortnight to three weeks old, sucking at their breasts, were not spared this horrible ordeal. Nor were mothers spared the terrible sight of their children being gripped by their little legs and put to death with one stroke of a pistol butt or club, thereafter to be thrown on the heap of human bodies in the ditch, some of which were not quite dead. Not before these mothers had been exposed to this worst of all tortures did they receive the bullet that released them from this sight.

“The people in the first row thus having been killed in the most inhuman manner, those of the second row were now ordered to step forward. The men in this row were ordered to step out and were handed shovels with which to heap quicklime upon the still partly moving 
bodies in the ditch…

“The air resounded with the cries of the children and the tortured. With senses numbed by what had happened, one could not help thinking of wives and children back home who believed they had good reason to be proud of their husbands and fathers.”

All day, relentlessly, the killing went on, row after row of human beings shot or smashed into the filling pits and dusted with quicklime glaring white in the September sun.

MASTERS OF DEATH
By Richard Rhodes


 

On November 7, 1941, the police rousted the entire population of the Minsk ghetto out onto the street. “The howls of mortal fear and horror, the cries of desperation, the weeping of children, the sobbing of women…could be heard throughout the city.”…The Nazis ordered some of the Jews to don their finest clothes and then, led by a man hoisting a red banner, march through the streets singing patriotic songs. When the parade was over, all the Jews were pushed into trucks and driven off to a nearby camp, where they were herded into granaries to await the end. Over the next few days, they were dragged out to trenches and, one by one by one, shot down. The operation killed twelve thousand people.

Two weeks later, another seven thousand were rounded up and shot. A Jewish barber named Levin, known to some of the Nazi officers and protected as a skilled laborer, frantically begged the commander to also spare his wife and daughter. Instead the German agreed to save one or the other; the man would have to choose. “Levin took his daughter.”

THE DEVIL’S DIARY
By Robert K. Wittman & David Kinney

 


“He told me that…they had rounded up all the people in a Polish village, women and children, locked them up in a church and then shot at them from the church’s gallery before setting the church on fire.  ‘We then lay around the church in radiant sunlight while the church burned. Those who had not gotten out were screaming, and then the door suddenly opened and a small child came out. One guy then got up, rat-a-tat-tat, dead.’…He even told me about things that were still worse. I don’t want to talk about them here. They are that dreadful.”

WHAT WE KNEW
By Eric A. Johnson and Karl-Heinz Reuband


 

They brought an aged woman with her daughter to this building. The latter was in the last stage of pregnancy. She was brought to the “Lazarett,” was put on a grass plot, and several Germans came to watch the delivery. This spectacle lasted two hours. When the child was born, Menz asked the grandmother – that is the mother of this woman – whom she preferred to see killed first. The grandmother begged to be killed. But, of course, they did the opposite; the newborn baby was killed first, then the child’s mother and finally the grandmother.

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


 

On 4 February 1943, the day of the third massacre, all the Jews remaining in the ghetto of Novogrodek at Peresika were killed. The ghetto ceased to exist and only the labor camp in the court buildings remained, with a little over 500 Jews, all that was left of a community of 10,000 Jews from Novogrodek, Karelitz, Lubcz and surrounding areas.

SURVIVING THE HOLOCAUST WITH THE RUSSIAN JEWISH PARTISANS
By Jack Kagan and Dov Cohen


 
 
“I couldn’t pick up a German newspaper anymore. Jews…Jews. It seemed as if there were no other subjects. They exceeded themselves in insults, threats, ridicule.”

THE GESTAPO: THE MYTH AND REALITY OF HITLER’S SECRET POLICE
By Frank McDonough


 
 
A prisoner would be brought in for ‘questioning,’ stripped naked and handcuffed onto a meter-long iron bar that was linked by chains from the ceiling…A guard at one side would shove him – or her – off in a slow arc, while Boger would ask questions, at first quietly, then barking them out loud, or at least bellowing. At each return [as the prisoner swung around on the bar], another guard, armed with a crow bar, would smash the victim across the buttocks. As the swinging went on, and the wailing victim fainted, was then revived, only to faint howling again, the blows continued – until only a mass of bleeding pulp hung before their eyes. Most perished from this ordeal, some sooner, some later; in the end a sack of bones and flayed flesh and fat was swept along the shambles of that concrete floor and dragged away.

THE GESTAPO: THE MYTH AND REALITY OF HITLER’S SECRET POLICE
By Frank McDonough


 

“The third day after the execution we were taken back to the execution area [Babi Yar, Kiev]. On our arrival we saw a woman sitting by a bush who had apparently survived the execution unscathed. This woman was shot by the SD man who was accompanying us. I do not know his name. We also saw someone waving their hand from among the pile of bodies. I don’t know whether it was a man or a woman. I should think that this person was finished off by the SD man as well, though I did not actually see it.”

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


 

Those driven together at the collection point were encircled by the SS and the police. Older people who could not walk were shot on the spot. Screaming women were beaten with rifle butts, and children standing in the way were shot. Only a few Jews had suitcases, blankets, or coats. Watching the moving lips of some, one knew that they were saying their last prayer.

The time at the collection point was our last moment together. Each of us knew that the road to Treblinka led to the gas chambers. We looked into each other’s eyes for the last time. There was not hysteria and hardly anyone cried; the pain seemed to silence our speech. Our quiet glances said everything…That day marked the end of the Jews of Radzyn. It was also the end of my world. Like all others, I had lost my family, my beloved parents, my second and last sister and my brother-in-law.

THE DEAD YEARS: HOLOCAUST MEMOIRS
By Joseph Schupack


 

A prominent member of the Jewish population in Iasi remembered, “I saw the crowd flee in total chaos, fired on from rifles and machine guns. I fell onto the pavement after two bullets hit me. I lay there for several hours, seeing people I knew and strangers dying around me…I saw an old Jewish man, disabled after the war of 1916-1918 and wearing the Barbatie si Credinta [Manhood and Faith] decoration on his chest; he also carried with him papers that officially exempted him from anti-Sematic restrictions. However, bullets had shattered his thorax, and he lived his last moments on a garbage can like a dog.” Further along the street lay the son of a leather merchant who “was dying and sobbing, ‘Mother, Father, where are you? Give me some water, I’m thirsty’…Soldiers…stabbed [the dying] with their bayonets to finish them off.”

When Vlad Marievici of the city’s sanitation department arrived at police headquarters on the morning of 30 June, he found “a pile of corpses stacked high like logs” that made it difficult for his truck to enter the courtyard. So many Jews had been murdered the previous night that “the floor was awash with blood that reached the gate; the blood came up to the soles 
of my shoes.”

THE HOLOCAUST: A NEW HISTORY
By Laurence Rees


 

“I saw them do the killing. At 5:00 p.m. they gave the command, ‘Fill in the pits.’ Screams and groans were coming from the pits. Suddenly I saw my neighbor Ruderman rise under the soil…His eyes were bloody and he was screaming: ‘Finish meoff!’…A murdered woman lay at my feet. A boy of five years crawled out from under her body and began to scream desperately. ‘Mommy!’ That was all I saw, since I fell unconscious.”

DEBUNKING HOLOCAUST DENIAL THEORIES
By James and Lance Morcan


 

“There was a young couple among the hundred Jews in the hiding place. The woman was a pretty, blond haired lady named Malka. They had a baby that was only a few weeks old. The baby’s grandmother was the woman who let my daughter and me stay in her apartment our first night in the ghetto. During the first night in hiding the baby cried often. Every time the baby cried the other people would tell the parents to keep the baby quiet, but the parents could not keep it quiet for long. The more the baby cried the angrier the other people grew and the more frantic the parents became. We knew that the SS would be prowling the streets and buildings looking for the hiding places. We all had to walk slowly and talk only in whispers. The baby’s crying put all of us in danger of being found.  In the morning the noise outside got louder. The SS had come back into the ghetto. This time they had tanks, and the shooting started once again. The noise started the baby crying and the parents just could not stop it. A group of men told the young couple that they had to either leave the hiding place, give them the baby, or put it to sleep themselves. They couldn’t leave the hiding place. We were all sure that going out into the ghetto meant certain death, either from being shot on the street or from being sent to Treblinka. They also couldn’t kill the baby themselves. The couple talked quietly together for a while. Then the husband took the baby from his wife and gave it to one of the other men. The husband sat back down next to his wife, and they started to cry. The men took the baby to the other side of the room. The group of men stood around the baby so the parents could not see what was happening. They laid the baby on a table. One of the men held a pillow over the baby’s face. There was no sound in the room except the muffled crying of the baby’s parents. In a few minutes it was over, and the baby’s body was wrapped in a white tablecloth. By the next morning the baby’s body was gone. I don’t know what was done with it, and nobody talked about it again.”

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


 

In August 1942, 15,000 women were the first to be transferred to the camp. The appearance of these inmates has been described by Desire Haffner: “Their skeletal appearance, their shaved skulls, their blood-streaked bodies, their scaly skin – all this made it hard for an observer to recognize them as women. The lack of any hygiene was even more perceptible among them than in the men’s camp because of the pungent odor that came from their blocks, the smell of thousands of women who had not been able to wash for months. Their work is as hard as the men’s, and as a rule they are even worse dressed. They are usually seen bareheaded and barefoot, and sometimes they are naked.”

PEOPLE IN AUSCHWITZ

By Hermann Langbein

 

“Jews who thought they were welcome in Germany, Jews who were Germans themselves, couldn’t comprehend what was happening to them. They refused to believe it. Once, the best-known gynecologist in Berlin, a good friend of my mother’s, called to ask her to visit him and his wife so they could say good-bye. My mother assumed they had received permission to leave the country. They said their farewells, and two days later the doctor and his wife were found dead. They had committed suicide. That sort of thing was not uncommon.”

VOICES FROM THE THIRD REICH
Steinhoff, Pechel and Showalter


 

Even more remarkable than the fact that the Nazis went on killing people after the end of the war was that this was not discovered until early July, when American medical personnel finally entered the hospital. “What met their eyes was beyond belief,” writes one historian. “Some 1,500 disease-riddled patients confined to the most squalid conditions…and a stifling morgue filled with bodies that had not been buried and that could not be disposed of quickly, as the shining new crematorium, finished in November 1944, had been closed down.…The mortuary, it noted, contained bodies of men and women who had died between twelve and thirty-six hours beforehand and weighed as little as sixty pounds. Among the children still alive was a ten-year-old boy weighing just twenty-two pounds, with calves only two and a half 
inches in diameter.”

ENDGAME, 1945
By David Stafford


 

The fact is that the German personnel’s beating of the prisoners was so routine that a survivor, when describing one of the more outstanding tortures in camp can remark upon the camp’s routine cruelty in passing, as if it had been an ordinary expectation: “Wagner was a sadist. He would not only beat the women; that was done by all the SS men.” Elsewhere, she provides a fuller description of Wagner’s singularity: “He was active not with a gun, but with a whip, and he frequently beat women so terribly that they died of the effects.”

HITLER’S WILLING EXECUTIONERS
By Daniel Jonah Goldhagen




When you drive into Furstenberg, you are greeted by two signs. One reads: “Furstenberg greets its visitors.” The other shows the way to the town’s main attraction, the former Ravensbruck concentration camp, where 130,000 people, mostly women and children, were imprisoned between 1939 and 1945. Half of them died.

THE WAGES OF GUILT
By Ian Buruma


 

In the summer of 1942, Adam Czerniakow was head of the Jewish Council in Warsaw. When the Germans ordered him to hand over the children of the ghetto, he knew that they would be killed. Powerless to stop the slaughter, Czerniakow took the only way out still left to him:

he committed suicide.

THE HOLOCAUST: A CONCISE HISTORY
By Doris L. Bergen


 

Whatever the assessment of the Dutch Council’s early behavior may be, the Germans did not ask for its approval when it came to dispatching the four hundred young Jewish men arrested after the Koco incident to their death. At first they were deported to Buchenwald, then to Mauthausen. They arrived in Mauthausen on June 17, 1941. A batch of fifty was immediately killed: “They were chased naked from the bathhouse to the electrical fence.” The others were murdered in the main quarry of the camp, the ‘Vienna Ditch.’ According to the German witness Eugen Kogon, these Jews were not allowed to use the steps leading to the bottom of the quarry. “They had to slide down the loose stones at the side and even here many died or were severely injured. The survivors had to shoulder hods, and two prisoners were compelled to lead each Jew with an excessively heavy rock. The Jews then had to run up the 186 steps. In some instances the rocks immediately rolled downhill, crushing the feet of those that came behind. Every Jew who lost his rock in that fashion was brutally beaten and the rock was hoisted on his shoulders again. Many of the Jews were driven to despair the very first day and committed suicide by jumping into the pit. On the third day the SS opened the so-called ‘death-gate,’ and with a fearful barrage of blows drove the Jews across the guard line, the guards on the watchtowers shooting them down in heaps with their machine guns. The next day the Jews no longer jumped into the pit individually. They joined hands and one man would pull nine or twelve of his comrades over the lip with him into a gruesome death. The barracks were ‘cleared’ of Jews, not in six but in barely three weeks. Every one of the 348 prisoners perished by suicide, or by shooting, beating, and other forms of torture.”

NAZI GERMANY AND THE JEWS 1933-1945
By Saul Friedlander

 

“I was holding a whip or a pistol [at Slonim, Russia]. I was loading or unloading. The men, children and mothers were pushed into the pits. Children were first beaten to death and then thrown feet [first] into the pits…There were a number of filthy sadists in the extermination commando. For example, pregnant women were shot in the belly for fun and then thrown into the pits…Before the execution the Jews had to undergo a body search, during which…anuses and sex organs were searched for valuables and jewels.”

MASTERS OF DEATH
By Richard Rhodes


 

Villagers, including children from the Hitler Youth and the League of German Girls, stood outside the home of Salomon and Elise Frank, breaking open the shutters and smashing the windows. Nazis rampaged through their house with their axes. They destroyed the furniture and the dishes and shoved the family out onto the street, where they beat Salomon, who

was disabled, with clubs.

THE DEVIL’S DIARY
By Robert K. Wittman & David Kinney




“I attended lectures on anatomy by Professor August Hirt, who later went to Strasbourg. He was a repulsive man. He told us that he went to concentration camps and picked out the skulls of the Jews that he wanted to measure. That was his hobby, measuring skulls. When he found skulls that interested him, the Jews were killed.”

WHAT WE KNEW
By Eric A. Johnson and Karl-Heinz Reuband


 


Hermann Grabe, a German engineer witnessed a massacre in Dubno in the Ukraine

on 2 October 1942:


“I drove to the site…and saw near it great mounds of earth, about 30 meters long and 2 meters high. Several trucks stood in front of the mounds. Armed Ukrainian militia drove the people off the trucks under the supervision of an SS man. The militia men acted as guards on the trucks and drove them to and from the pit. All these people had the regulation yellow patches on the front and back of their clothes, and thus could be recognized as Jews…My foreman and I went directly to the pits. Nobody bothered us. Now I heard rifle shots in quick succession from behind one of the earth mounds. The people who had got off the trucks – men, women and children of all ages – had to undress upon the order of an SS man who carried a riding or dog whip. They had to put down their clothes in fixed places, sorted according to shoes, top clothing and undergarments. I saw heaps of shoes of about 800 to 1,000 pairs, great piles of under-linen and clothing. Without screaming or weeping these people undressed, stood around in family groups, kissed each other, said farewells, and waited for a sign from another SS man, who stood near the pit, also with a whip in his hand. During the fifteen minutes I stood near, I heard no complaint or plea for mercy. I watched a family of about eight persons, a man and a woman both of about fifty, with their children of about twenty to twenty-four, and two grown-up daughters about twenty-eight or twenty-nine. An old woman with snow white hair was holding a one year old child in her arms and singing to it and tickling it. The child was cooing with delight. The parents were looking on with tears in their eyes. The father was holding the hand of a boy about ten years old and speaking to him softly; the boy was fighting back tears. The father pointed to the sky, stroked his head and seemed to explain something to him. At that moment the SS man at the pit started shouting something to his comrade. The latter counted off about twenty persons and instructed them to go behind the earth mound. Among them was the family I have just mentioned. I well remember a girl, slim with black hair, who, as she passed me, pointed to herself and said, ‘Twenty-three years old.’ I walked around the mound and found myself confronted by a tremendous grave. People were closely wedged together lying on top of each other so that only their heads were visible. Nearly all had blood running over their shoulders from their heads. Some of the people shot were still moving. Some were lifting their arms and turning their heads to show that they were still alive. The pit was nearly two-thirds full. I estimated that it already contained about a thousand people. I looked for the man who did the shooting. He was an SS man, who sat at the edge of the narrow end of the pit, his feet dangling into the pit. He had a tommy-gun on his knees and was smoking a cigarette. The people, completely naked, went down some steps, which were cut in the clay wall of the pit, and clambered over the heads of the people lying there to the place to which the SS man directed them. They lay down in front of the dead or wounded people; some caressed those who were still alive and spoke to them in a low voice. Then I heard a series of shots. I looked into the pit and saw that the bodies were twitching or the heads lying were already motionless on top of the bodies that lay beneath them. Blood was running from their necks. The next batch was approaching already. They went down into the pit, lined themselves up against the previous victims and were shot.”

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




“The head of our commando was called the Shef, which meant master or boss. He was a man who drank a lot. He wore a green SS uniform and when he was drunk he was a terror. And he was drunk quite often. At times he would stagger among us drunk and would start beating one of us for no reason at all. Sometimes for fun he would sit himself on a pile of clothing. He would make us line up and march passed him as he hit us. Once he took a liking to one of the girls. He walked up to her, and in front of all of us grabbed her. As he tried to kiss her he put his hands up her dress. She struggled with him until he became angry. He then started beating her. He beat her for so long that when he stopped she was almost dead.”

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


 

“One case I witnessed was that of a female patient at an advanced stage of starvation whose soles were chewed off at night by rats in such a way that on the surface only the carefully preserved tendons were left. The woman did not react at all. After a bandage was applied, she lived for two more days.”

PEOPLE IN AUSCHWITZ
By Hermann Langbein


 

Hundreds of thousands of Jews were imprisoned in more than 100 ghettos and camps in Belorussia. The largest ghetto was in Minsk (100,000 people); others were in Brest (34,000), Bobruisk (20,000), Vitebsk (20,000), Borisov (10,000), Baranovitz Lida Grodno (2,000), Slonim (24,000), Novagrodek (65,000) and so on. During the years of occupation about 
400,000 Jews perished.

SURVIVING THE HOLOCAUST WITH THE RUSSIAN JEWISH PARTISANS
By Jack Kagan and Dov Cohen


 

The local German authorities at Karelitz issued an order: all men over 16 must report to the town square within one hour. Anyone who disobeyed would be shot immediately. I reported to the market-place with my uncle Yankel. All the town’s men were there, we formed straight lines and waited anxiously. We were told that a list would be prepared, in which the residents of Karelitz would be identified by their verified names, and classified according to profession and place of work. I was terrified. I wasn’t a resident of Karelitz, and I knew that if the Germans found out, I would be questioned, tortured and finally shot. A short while later, the SS and gendarmerie men arrived. They brought Rabbi Vernik, the head of the town’s congregation. He was given a list and told to read the names. The Jews whose names were called out were ordered to line up separately. I will never forget this scene. The venerable Rabbi Vernik, with his well-combed beard, stood between two SS officers, bareheaded and without a coat, in a torn shirt. His belt had been removed, and once in a while he pulled up his trousers. With tears streaming down his face, the rabbi read out 105 names. The men whose names had been called, mostly the dignitaries of the congregation, were locked in the cellar of the synagogue. Rabbi Vernik was one of them. Those who remained in the square were sent away with blows and gunshots. The 105 men imprisoned in the cellar were taken to Novogrodek the next day, and shot in pits prepared ahead of time.

SURVIVING THE HOLOCAUST WITH THE RUSSIAN JEWISH PARTISANS
By Jack Kagan and Dov Cohen

 

On our left side an SS officer stood in the company of an attractive woman. Talking and laughing together, he never even gave us a glance. As we ran past him, he motioned with his finger to the left, or to the right – to the left, or to the right – on and on. Some of us ran the distance quickly, while others just managed to limp past the officer. We soon learned that our speed or lack of it didn’t matter at all. Waiting for us at the end were a few capos who, under the watchful eye of SS guards, pushed us to our assigned direction, left or right. Those headed to the left boarded a waiting truck, while the others were steered to a nearby barracks. When it was my turn to run, I remember seeing the SS officer laughing heartily and embracing his female companion with his left arm, while giving signals with his right hand. When I completed my run, a capo immediately pushed me toward the barracks on the right and my immediate fate was determined. As I came through the door, confused and bewildered, an inmate grabbed my left forearm, pushed up my sleeve, and whispered in my ear, “You’re a lucky one, you’ve just passed Dr. Mengele’s inspection.” Still holding my arm, he told me to look at the scene outside the window. “Look at your friends on the truck, look at them well – it will be the last time you’ll ever see them. All those on the trucks,” he said, “are being taken to the gas chambers.” As I looked in horror, I recognized Leo Hirschel and his sons, Benno Mendelsohn, the Klein brothers, Hermman Blumenreich, a former captain in the German army, Felix Gompert and Abram Herschkowitz, and Leon Blumethal, well-known actors of the Yiddish stage in Paris, among this group. Why was I spared from the gas chambers? Why was I selected to be in camp? My friends, now on the truck, didn’t look any different than I did, or the others who stood at my side.

MY DARKEST YEARS
By James Bachner


 

“In Birkenau we didn’t have fleas. Instead we had rats. They gnawed not only at corpses but also at the seriously sick. I have pictures showing women near death being bitten by rats. These animals were bold and impudent; they were not deterred by anything and at night even helped themselves to the bread the prisoners had saved in their pockets from the evening meal because at “breakfast” there was nothing except a coffee-like brew. Then the prisoners would often accuse each other of having stolen bread from each other, but it was the rats.

“One hurried to get to the latrine [at Birkenau]. That was a concrete trough across which lay boards with round holes. There was room for 200 to 300 at one sitting. Latrine details watched to see that no one stayed too long and used sticks to chase the prisoners away. But some couldn’t move so quickly, and others weren’t through, and because of the strain a portion of the rectum would still protrude. When the latrine detail hit them they would run away and then once more get in line. There was no paper. Those who had jackets with linings would tear off a little piece at a time to clean themselves. Or they would steal a piece from somebody during the night to have some in reserve. The waste water in the washrooms was piped into the latrines to wash away the excrement. But again and again there were major stoppages, especially in places where the water pressure wasn’t strong enough. When that happened a terrible stench spread throughout. Then pump details – ‘shit details’ – would come

to pump out the mess.

“The people in the camp [Birkenau] were so hungry that if a bit of soup spilled over, the prisoners would come running from all sides and like a swarm of wasps converge on the spot, dig their spoons into the mud, and stuff the mess into their mouths.  Hunger and extreme want made them into animals.”

CHRONICLES OF THE HOLOCAUST
By Roselle K. Chartock and Jack Spencer

 

“When the last layers of subcutaneous fat had vanished, and we looked like skeletons disguised with skin and rags, we could watch our bodies beginning to devour themselves. The organism digested its own protein, and the muscles disappeared. Then the body had no powers of resistance left. One after another the members of the little community in our hut died. Each of us could calculate with fair accuracy whose turn would be next, and when his 
own would come.”

MAN’S SEARCH FOR MEANING
By Viktor E. Frankl


 

Uncle Nachman, who lives near the Polish border, came to visit us a few days ago. He told us that a Jew who crossed from Poland came to his house covered with blood. The man said he crawled out of a mass grave. Everybody else was shot, but because he fainted as the German SS were shooting, he lived. He said hundreds of people were killed. It’s hard to believe 
that this could happen.

I CARRIED THEM WITH ME
By Sara Lumer


 

One day, I was sweeping the kitchen floor when the German guard who was in charge of us – a tall, ugly man in his forties – began shouting at a young, fourteen year old girl. “Get up, get to work you lazy Jew!” He prodded her with his rubber truncheon and she started crying, at which point he hit her hard in her back, until she really started screaming. I turned away 
and just kept sweeping.

I CARRIED THEM WITH ME
By Sara Lumer


 

One day in the Ghetto, while eating my meager portion of soup, I found a piece of meat in the bowl. I couldn’t believe my eyes, so I picked it up with my spoon and smelled it. In my spoon were part of an ear and a short whisker from a rat. I tried not to throw up since I didn’t know when we would eat again. Some other people with the same experience had the courage to complain the next day. We were told that the previous day’s soup had been prepared with dead rodents; a good joke on us.

OUTCRY: HOLOCAUST MEMOIRS
     By Manny Steinberg


 

In June 1942, Erna Petri arrived with her 3-year-old son in Lwow. They had left their farm in order to join her SS husband, and they took over the former manor house of a Polish noble outside the city. With its white-pillared portico and wide meadows, it looked more like the dwelling of a plantation owner than the modest family farm she had left in Thuringia. True to the precept that the Germans should assert themselves physically over the natives, within two days of her arrival she witnessed her husband flogging his farm laborers. Soon, Erna too was beating the workers. As she served coffee and cake to her husband’s SS and police colleagues on the villa’s balcony overlooking the gardens, talk inevitably turned to the mass shootings of Jews. In the summer of 1943, she was returning from shopping in Lwow when she saw a group of nearly naked children crouching by the side of the road. She stopped the carriage, calmed the six frightened children and took them home, where she gave them some food and waited for her husband to return. When he did not turn up, she took matters into her own hands. Pocketing an old service revolver which her father had given her as a parting gift, Erna Petri led the children through the woods to a pit where she knew other Jews had been shot and buried. There she lined them up in front of the ditch and went along the line firing into the back of each child’s neck. She remembered that after the first two, the others “began to cry,” 
but “not loudly, they whimpered.”

THE GERMAN WAR
By Nicholas Stargardt


 

Here is a woman – she walks quickly, but tries to appear calm. A small child with a pink cherub’s face runs after her and, unable to keep up, stretches out his little arms and cries: “Mama! Mama!” “Pick up your child, woman!” “It’s not mine, sir, not mine!” she shouts hysterically and runs on, covering her face with her hands. She wants to hide, she wants to reach those who will not ride the trucks, those who will go on foot, those who will stay alive. She is young, healthy, good-looking, she wants to live. But the child runs after her, wailing loudly: “Mama, mama, don’t leave me!” “It’s not mine, not mine, no!” Andrzej, a sailor from Sevastopol, grabs hold of her. His eyes are glassy from vodka and the heat. With one powerful blow he knocks her off her feet, then, as she falls, takes her by the hair and pulls her up again. His face twitches with rage. “Ah, you bloody Jewess! So you’re running from your own child! I’ll show you, you whore!” His huge hand chokes her, he lifts her in the air and heaves her on to the truck like a heavy sack of grain. “Here! And take this with you, bitch!” and he throws the child at her feet. “Gut gemacht, good work. That’s the way to deal with degenerate mothers,” says the SS man standing at the foot of the truck. “Gut, gut, Russki.”

WE WERE IN AUSCHWITZ
By Siedlecki, Olszewski, Borowski


 

“I once met a man in Metz who had come back in 1945. He was a Jew and had been in Auschwitz. His duty there was to pull the dead bodies out of the gas chambers and take them to be burned. He had been arrested with his wife and grandchild, and together they had been transported by train to Auschwitz. One day the gas chamber was opened and he pulled out a body. It was his wife. She was still holding the grandchild in her arms. The child must have been terrified because it was still clutching tightly onto its grandmother’s shoulders.”

VOICES FROM THE THIRD REICH
Steinhoff, Pechel and Showalter



 
At the marketplace during the last large deportation from Miedzyrzec, the Germans forced the Jews to sit or squat huddled together.  The Jews were praying and crying, and therefore making much noise. This disturbed their German masters: “Intermittently, Hiwis beat the people with their rifle-butts, in order to enforce silence. The SD men had knotted whips, similar to horse whips. They walked along the rows of the squatting people, sometimes beating them vehemently.” The men of the Police Battalion 101 themselves were not to be outdone by their eastern European minions. Although they also degraded and tortured Jews at Miedzyrzec in the most gratuitous, willful manner, their deeds are entirely absent from their testimony. The accounts of survivors tell a different, more accurate, and revealing story. Survivors are adamant that the Germans were indeed incredibly brutal, that their cruelty that day was wanton, at times turning into sadistic sport. At the marketplace, the Jews, who had been forced to squat for hours, were “mocked” and “kicked,” and some of the Germans organized “a game” of “tossing apples and whoever was struck by the apple was then killed.” This sport was continued at the railway station, this time with empty liquor bottles. “Bottles were tossed over Jewish heads and whoever was struck by a bottle was dragged out of the crowd and beaten murderously amid roaring laughter. Then some of those who were thus mangled were shot.” Afterwards, they loaded the dead together with the living onto freight cars about for Treblinka.

HITLER’S WILLING EXECUTIONERS
By Daniel Jonah Goldhagen


 

One of the largest ghettos was established in Lodz in the incorporated territory in the incorporated territory in the winter of 1939. By April, 1940 it had been sealed off completely from the rest of the city. The Lodz ghetto lasted in part at least until August 1944, when the Jews remaining there were shipped to Auschwitz…The ghetto was disastrously overcrowded. In Lodz, an average of seven people occupied a single room – that is, in 1940 an estimated 230,000 people were crammed into some 30,000 apartments, most of them one room only. Only about 725 of those lodgings had running water. Many had electricity, but it did little good; police forbid those in the ghetto from using their lights most of the time…Food was extremely scarce – potato peels became a prized item. Lice and rats thrived; such diseases as typhus and tuberculosis ran rampant. Nevertheless, hard work was required of everyone in the ghetto who wanted a chance to stay alive. By 1943, ghetto workshops were churning out uniforms, boots, underwear, bed linen for the German military; ghetto workers produced goods of metal, wood, leather, fur, down, and paper, and even electrical telecommunication devices. Children as young as eight slaved away for pathetically small rations of food…Under these conditions it was no surprise that people died in terrible numbers. In 1940, some six thousand Jews died in the Lodz ghetto. By the following year the number had almost doubled, to eleven thousand. In 1942, there would be eighteen thousand dead. Of course, by the end of 1941 the primary cause of Jewish death would no longer be starvation and illness in the Ghettos, but 
deportation to the new killing centers.

THE HOLOCAUST: A CONCISE HISTORY
By Doris L. Bergen


 

According to the historian Jonathan Steinberg, “Serbian and Jewish men, women and children were literally hacked to death. Whole villages were razed to the ground and the people driven to barns to which the Ustasha set fire. There is in the Italian Foreign Ministry archive a collection of photographs of the butcher knives, hooks and axes used to chop up Serbian victims. There are photographs of Serb women with breasts hacked off by pocket knives, men with eyes gouged out, emasculated and mutilated.”

NAZI GERMANY AND THE JEWS 1933-1945
By Saul Friedlander


 

[SS officer] Hesse particularly noticed one young woman in the cellar. “She was a beautiful woman,” he testified, “aged between twenty and thirty.” After the night visit Hesse began to worry that she would fall into the hands of the Untersturmführer. He resolved to protect her. He watched for his chance, and when it was possible to do so he went down into the cellar and ordered her out, telling her that Taubner wished to speak to her. Outside, Hesse mad the woman walk in front of him, heading toward the killing pit, which still gaped empty awaiting its burden. “My only thought was that if I had to do something I should cause the person as little pain as possible. I did not want the Jewess to suffer fear of death.” As she walked ahead of him, he raised his carbine and shot her suddenly in the head from behind. “I was glad to be able to shoot her,” he testified, “but please don’t take that to mean that I enjoyed it.”

MASTERS OF DEATH
By Richard Rhodes


 

The deportations had become routine. On October 22, Frieda and Max arrived at the assembly camp. They registered their remaining assets, which were then confiscated. Their bags were searched for stray valuables. Early in the morning four days later, they walked form the camp to the freight depot two miles north. Along with nearly eight hundred others, including eighty-eight children under fifteen years old, they boarded third-class passenger cars and set off for the East. Their luggage did not make the trip. Back in Berlin, their apartments were in demand. On October 29, Frieda and Max and the rest of the Jews condemned to death arrived at a station on the outskirts of Riga, Latvia, more than seven hundred miles away from Berlin. After they disembarked, they were taken into the forest and shot.

THE DEVIL’S DIARY
By Robert K. Wittman & David Kinney


 

“They [the Jews] were led up to this mound of dirt [Pinsk, Belarus], and there were those guys standing there with the sub-machine guns at the top. And then they were shot down and they simply fell right in. One row of them were crying, especially the children being held in their arms. The little children being held in their arm, they were crying. And then something happened. One of those guys went over to them and snatched a child from [its mother’s] arms and threw it against a wall. Such [awful] things were happening there that one should simply not be allowed to think about them anymore. There were some who were crying, perhaps a hundred, but not very loudly. They were simply resigned to their fate, especially since they had been forced to go up there stark naked and they knew that now it was the end.”

WHAT WE KNEW
By Eric A Johnson and Karl-Heinz Reuband

 

Marie-Claud Vaillant-Couturier had been sent to Auschwitz in 1942. She described a roll call on 5 February 1943:

“In the morning at 3.30 the whole camp was awakened and sent out on the plain, whereas normally the roll call was at 3.30 but inside the camp. We remained out in front of the camp until five in the afternoon, in the snow, without any food. Then when the signal was given we had to go through the door one by one, and we were struck in the back with a cudgel, each one of us, in order to make us run. Those who could not run, either because they were too old or too ill, were caught by a hook and taken to Block 25,  ‘waiting block’ for the gas chamber. On that day, ten of the French women of our convoy were thus caught and taken to Block 25. 

“When all the internees were back in the camp, a party to which I belonged was organized to go and pick up the bodies of the dead which were scattered over the plain as on a battlefield. We carried to the yard of Block 25 the dead and the dying without distinction, and they remained there stacked up in a pile…from time to time a hand or a head would stir among the bodies, trying to free itself… It was a dying woman attempting to get free and live. The rate of mortality in that block was even more terrible than elsewhere because, having been condemned to death, they received food or drink only if there was something left in the cans in the kitchen; which means that very often they went for several days without a drop of water.”

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


 

“You have to remember I would be passing shops that said ‘Jews, Don’t buy here.’  It was all around. I think I was frightened with all these endless brown shirts and black shirts everywhere. All around the town were these little advertising towers on the streets on which they would show terrible pictures of Jews. I thought what a disgusting, horrible time, but we’ll get through this and in a year or two these horrible people will be gone. It then began to be one’s main consciousness that one was Jewish and the sense of danger gradually increased.”

THE GESTAPO: THE MYTH AND REALITY OF HITLER’S SECRET POLICE
By Frank McDonough


 

“At further gassings of the Jewish people in May 1942, Stark often took some Jewish women to one side before the gassing. When the other Jewish people were in the gas-chambers he lined the women against the wall of the yard of the small crematorium. Then he would shoot one or two women in the chest and feet. When the other women were trembling, falling on their knees and begging the accused Stark to let them live, he would shout at them, ‘Sarah, Sarah, come on, stand still!’ Then he would shoot them all, one after the other.”

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


 

Vera Alexander, a Kapo who looked after twins selected by Mengele, recalls how they often returned to the block screaming with pain after his attentions.

THE HOLOCAUST: A NEW HISTORY
By Laurence Rees


 

“Once I was standing outside of our barracks with a woman named Frana. She lived in the same section of the barracks as I did. I never did know her last name. Most of us did not know each other’s last names. I do remember that she was from Lodz. We knew that she had not passed the last selection. She knew that in the morning they would come for her. I asked her if there was anything she wanted. She said, ‘Mala, if you have some extra food I would like to have it. I would like to not feel hungry when they come for me in the morning.’  I had some bread and some margarine. I gave it to her, and she ate it. Eating calmed her down, and in the morning she went without a fuss.”

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


 

In the lingo of the camp this procedure was called Spritzen (injecting). A letter smuggled out to Cracow in November 1942 by the Polish resistance organization in the HKB states that “thirty to forty people, among them four to six Poles, are killed every day by means of injections in to the heart with a ten-cubic-centimeter syringe containing 30 percent phenol.” Most of the victims were Jewish, and according to the letter they were already earmarked for such a death when they were just slightly ill.

PEOPLE IN AUSCHWITZ
By Hermann Langbein




During one roundup in the Kaunas ghetto, an officer named Wilhelm Goecke ordered the Jews to relinquish all children, announcing that severe punishment awaited those who evaded the order. A couple named Zeller was publicly executed for failing to hand over their child to the butchers. The unfortunate parents were beaten, forced to sit on a red hot stove, and had needles shoved under their fingernails. When they lost consciousness, they were carried to the gallows. Holding their victims in the nooses in a way that was calculated not to kill them, the Germans took them down and put off completing the execution until the next day. Then they lashed the father to a stake and lit a fire beneath his feet. They stripped the mother naked and continued to torture her.

THE UNKNOWN BLACK BOOK
By Joshua Rubenstein and Ilya Altman


 

For us women, our fate was much worse than one could imagine. There was a rule that had been laid out by the Nazis, especially when it came to Jewish women. No one was supposed to marry us or have any children with us. There was no room for any babies that carried mixed blood in what was to become the new Germany.  This however, did not stop us from being ‘broken in’ by the soldiers that were in in the camp. The very first day, even before we were taken to the quarters that we were to stay in, Elka and I and most of the other young girls in my group were separated from the rest of the women. We were led into a room, and suddenly, the room filled with soldiers. We were terrified and tried to huddle together, knowing that letting out a scream would result in our death.  The men grabbed one of the girls that was next to us. She struggled which we found out to be her biggest mistake. They took off her striped clothes so that she was in front of us all, completely naked. Then I watched slowly as they took off their own trousers, four of them in total, and proceeded to rape her. Her screams rang out and then the next four soldiers came when the others were spent. They did the same thing, took off their trousers but this time, they sodomized her. She screamed until all that was coming out of her mouth was a rasping and gasping sound. When they were done, they let in what appeared to be a mad dog which mauled her until there was no sound coming from her. After this, they urinated on her and kicked her to the side. We were all completely dumbfounded and

stood and watched.

The soldiers said that if we looked away [from a rape], we would be punished. When they were done with her, they told us that this was a warning. Unless we agreed to intercourse, we would suffer the same fate. Resistance was not permitted, and screaming meant death.  We all had to take off our clothes and lie down, as the soldiers used our bodies as objects for their own satisfaction. By the time I had left the room, I had been used by three soldiers, all with different levels of brutality. As a virgin, I had never experienced anything like this before and words could not describe the pain that I was in.

HOLOCAUST: A JEWISH SURVIVOR TESTIMONY


As Told by Regina Weinkrantz
Edited by Dan Myers


 

Captain Hera and his men burst in to look over our things…Hera commented to one of the soldiers, “Clean, very clean.” The men carted boxes of my father’s books down from the attic and spilled them over the kitchen floor. Hera’s anger at seeing volumes of German poets and a set of Nietzsche in a Jew’s library drove him to a fit of frenzy. He trampled the pages underfoot, ripped covers apart and ordered the books destroyed. My mother faded backwards toward the wall but my father, tears running down his face, stepped toward to retrieve a book. Hera battered him repeatedly with one heavy, torn volume, the jagged edge cutting into my father’s cheeks and forehead. “Jew-pig,” he said, “now it’s losing your books that makes you cry, 
soon it will be your children.”


LOVE IN A WORLD OF SORROW
By Fanya Gottesfeld Heller

 

By the summer of 1941 the conditions in the [Warsaw] ghetto – the overcrowding, the general privation and poor sanitary standards – led to a serious outbreak of typhus that went on unabated until the spring of 1942. According to official statistics, in the winter of 1941-2 200 people died daily. Typhus is spread by lice and the incubation period is 9 to 14 days. The onset of the disease is marked by a high temperature, accompanied by severe headaches and prostration, a feeling of utter physical exhaustion. After three days a rash appears, the patient descends into a stupor and keeps slipping into a coma. Most patients die. Like the lice which carry it, typhus respects no social barriers. We all dreaded the disease.

SAVED BY MY FACE
By Jerzy Lando


 

Every September, at the beginning of the school year, the brass band of the renowned Jewish High School of Bedzin, the Furstenberg Grammar School, would march at the head of a procession of the students and teachers to the Great Synagogue, situated on the hillside below the ancient and dominating castle of Bedzin. There, in a ceremony directed by the Rabbi, the school would receive its blessing for the coming year. But not so in September 1939. Following the German invasion of Poland and the rapid conquest of this border region, the school was closed down. Within days, the Great Synagogue was set on fire, and, locked inside it and the surrounding houses, several hundred Jews were burnt alive, or shot dead as they jumped out of windows and sought to flee their burning homes. Local Polish people could hear the screams as Jews plunged into the water of the nearby river, in a vain effort to put out the flames, but were shot at if their heads popped up to get some air. Others were luckier, and found sanctuary in the nearby Catholic church. For days, the river ran red with blood; and people had to step over dead bodies in the streets between the ruins of the burnt-out houses.

A SMALL TOWN NEAR AUSCHWITZ
By Mary Fulbrook

 

The marching column comes to a sudden halt. An officer in a gray SS uniform [Mengele] stands facing the lines. Dogs strain on leashes held by SS men flanking him on both sides. He stops each line and regroups them, sending some to his right and some to his left. Then he orders each group to march on. Fast. I tremble as I stand before him. He looks at me with friendly eyes. “Goldene Haar!” he exclaims and takes one of my long braids into his hand. I am not certain I heard right. Did he say “golden hair” about my braids? “Bist du Judin?”  Are you Jewish? The question startles me. “Yes, I am Jewish.” “Wie alt bist du?” How old are you? “I am thirteen.” “You’re tall for your age. Is this your mother?” He touches Mommy lightly on the shoulder. “You should go with your mother.” With his riding stick he parts Aunt Serena from Mommy’s embrace and gently shoves Mommy and me to the group moving to the right. “Go. And remember, from now on you’re sixteen.” Aunt Serena’s eyes fill with terror. She runts to Mommy and grabs her arm.  “Don’t leave me, Laura. Don’t leave me!” Mother hugs her fragile older sister and turns to the SS officer, her voice in a shrieking plea, “This is my sister, Herr Offiizier, let me go with her! She is not feeling well. She needs me.” “You go with your daughter. She needs you more. March on! Los!” With an impatient move of his right hand he shoves Mother toward me. Then he glares angrily at Aunt Serena. “Move on! Los! You go that way!”  His stick points menacingly to the left. Aunt Serena, a forlorn, slight figure against the marching multitude, the huge German shepherd dogs, the husky SS men. A savage certainty slashes my bruised insides. I give an insane shriek, “Aunt Serena! Aunt Serena! I will never see you again!” Wild fear floods her hazel eyes. She stretch out her arms to reach me. An SS soldier gives her a brutal thrust, hurling her into the line marching to the left. She turns again, mute dread lending her added fragility. She moves on. I never saw Aunt Serena again.

I HAVE LIVED A THOUSAND YEARS
By Livia Bitton-Jackson



 
One night, around midnight [Langenbilau Camp], we heard screaming.  “Everybody out!” we were instructed. We were lined up. They brought us to a place between the fence and the guards’ barracks where a dog had just defecated. We were sadistically ordered to lick the dog’s feces with our tongues until it was all cleaned up. This kind of mockery went on very often. It was done simply to humiliate us.

MEMOIRS OF A HOLOCAUST SURVIVOR: ICEK KUPERBERG
By Icek Kuperberg

 

I got into line [at Auschwitz] next to Ernst, Max, and Emil Stern – my father’s cousins – and Max Rosenstein from Warburg. Rosenstein was holding a one-year-old child in his arms. We saw nothing unusual about this – until all of a sudden the SS men discovered the child and one of them rushed in our direction yelling at Rosenstein – hadn’t he heard that children were to stay with their mothers? Rosenstein started to excuse himself. “My wife already has to take care of four little children and I just wanted to give her some relief. I…” The SS man didn’t listen to what Rosenstein had to say. He simply went up to him, snatched the child out of his arms, and walked off. Petrified, we saw him smash the child’s head against the nearest pole. Rosenstein let out a scream and was about to rush over to his dead child, but we restrained him – the child was now beyond help…

THE UNWELCOME ONE
By Hans Frankenthal


 

One night in September 1943, I overheard a story about another Jewish family. A couple with a child were caught hiding in an underground grotto in a forest. A Ukrainian family who had previously hidden them reported them to the Ukrainian police in Suchowola. The Jews had run out of ransom money and fled to a hiding place in the woods. Their “friends” promised to supply them with food, but instead betrayed them, never letting on that they had once hidden them. The villagers of Suchowola were called out to witness the Jews’ execution. “Now watch this,” one of the Ukrainian policemen said. “Any Jews, or anyone hiding a Jew, will meet with similar fate.” First they undressed the woman and asked if anyone wanted her. Mrs. Symchuck said she was very pretty. Since no one would lower himself to have sex in public with a Jew, not one person stepped forward. Her eight-year-old daughter stood by her mother’s side. “The child screamed hysterically,” Mrs. Symchuck said. “Most of the people laughed. The police shot the husband first, then the wife, and in the end, the poor child.”

I’M NO HERO
By Henry Friedman

 

“Fifty!” the voice says, much louder and much clearer this time. “Fifty more!” [for the train from Theresienstadt to Auschwitz]. Mother’s hand goes up to her mouth. Suddenly all kinds of horrible noises from down the hall begin pouring into our room. Voices, screaming, and dogs barking viciously. I hurry back to Mother and grab her arm, waiting for the dogs to stop. The boy starts in with his crying again. Mother puts her arm around me and grabs Marietta’s hand with her other hand. She squeezes me much too tightly.

“All of you!” the voice screams, with the dogs barking a split second after he finishes screaming. “No!” a woman shouts, completely terrified. “No, no, no! Please!” Again and again she shouts this, though after a while it’s more a cry than a bunch of words. I break free of Mother’s grip and run back to the door. “Misha!” she shouts at me in a kind of whisper. But I can’t help it. I grab hold of the doorknob and press my ear against the door. “You!” the same voice orders. “Now!” Then more vicious barking and crying and begging. And walking. People from that first room must be walking down the stairs. Someone keeps screaming and begging. “No, no, no,” over and over and over, the dogs answer with their terrifying barks…

Then another door opens. “Twenty-one! Get up! Move!” And now I want to get away from the door, but something won’t let me, even though I can feel my body shaking. “Not him, not him!” a woman shouts begging. A dog’s bark explodes and someone shrieks, bitten probably. The hall fills with children crying and a woman screaming. Their voices are so powerful and so terrified, I feel like I’m hearing them through my skin, like they’re cutting straight through me. A man yells, “Let go of him now!” and then loud footsteps and a deep, hard thud, like a body hitting the wall between our rooms. For a second the screaming stops, only to start up again even louder. Layers and layers of screaming, all of it making my entire body tremble. “Over there, all of you!” a man shouts above the screaming and the barks of the dogs 
cutting through the air.

All of you. Does that mean he’s taking everyone from that room? And if it does, then our room is next, because he’s definitely just down the hall. He’s definitely in the room right by ours. And so if he needs any more, our room is next! He’ll click down the hall and swing our door open, the dogs growling and snapping at us. He’ll say “thirteen” and that will mean all of us. And we’ll beg like those other people begged, but it won’t matter, because they don’t care about begging, they don’t care about anything, because if they’re fine stuffing one hundred people into a boxcar with no seats and no windows, why would they care at all about people begging?


SOMEWHERE THERE IS STILL A SUN
By Michael Gruenbaum


 

I am tired of being vigilant. I am tired of watching the sun rise on despair [at Auschwitz]. The girl-women around me mirror my thoughts; my face must looked as doomed as theirs. The filth, the smell, the sounds of guard dogs barking in the distance – it is too much. The whole night I crouch on the floor, exhausted yet alert. There has been no water for days, no food, not a drop of anything. I don’t fall asleep, but quite a few do. Dropping off into unconsciousness, they collapse on the floor, no longer able to feel the gnawing bites of these terrible bugs.

RENA’S PROMISE
By Rena Korneich Gelissen with Heather Dune Macadam


 

Over the course of time, stories about German atrocities in the East filtered back from German troops. Knowledge about the terrible fate that awaited Jewish deportees became increasingly diffused among both Jews and non-Jews. So too, with the passage of time, did the Nazis’ approach to the deportation of Berlin Jews become more and more openly brutal.

REFUGE IN HELL
By Daniel B. Silver


 

Sometimes, after a transport had already been gassed, some late-arriving cars drove around filled with the sick. It was wasteful to gas them. They were undressed and Oberscharführer Moll either shot them with his rifle or pushed them live into a flaming trench. Once, a car brought a young woman who had refused to part from her mother. Both were forced to undress, the mother led the way. The man who was to guide the daughter stopped, struck by the perfect beauty of her body, and in his awe and admiration he scratched his head. The woman, noticing this coarse, human gesture, relaxed. Blushing, she clutched the man’s arm. “Tell me, what will they do to me?” “Be brave,” said the man not withdrawing his arm. “I am brave! Can’t you see, I’m not even ashamed of you! Tell me!” “Remember, be brave, come. I shall lead you just don’t look.” He took her by the hand and led her on, his other hand covering her eyes. The sizzling and the stench of the burning fat and the heat gushing out of the pit terrified her. She jerked back. But he gently bent her head forward, uncovering her back. At that moment the Oberscharführer fired, almost without aiming. The man pushed the woman into the flaming pit, and as she fell he heard her terrible, broken scream.

WE WERE IN AUSCHWITZ
By Siedlecki, Olszewski, Borowski


 

“On one of the barges, the SS guards called for volunteers to shove people into the sea. According to one eyewitness, a few Ukrainians stepped forward. ‘They picked out some people from among us,’ she recalled, ‘whom they threw overboard. Those selected were undressed, dragged up a steep iron ladder, and thrown through the hatch into the sea. This was their method of relieving congestion.’…The prisoners on the other barge were simply dumped ashore. Most were shot. According to some sources, the killing was carried out by marines from the Neustadt U-boat school.  ‘The beaches for a good few hundred yards were covered with bodies.’… ‘The children had been clubbed to death and judging by the shape of their wounds, rifle butts had been used.’”

ENDGAME, 1945
By David Stafford


 

“Dietrich did not confine himself to old-fashioned cudgeling, however brutal and fatal they might have been. Fischer, with another German, one day followed the trail of ghastly screams, to discover Dietrich ‘once again in one of his tantrums,’ and to witness a scene of this ‘work’ leader’s making that is hard to fathom could occur in an institution devoted to economic productivity: ‘There I saw that Dietrich beat the Jew so long until he lay unconscious on the ground. Then Dietrich ordered other Jews fully to undress the unconscious Jew and to pour water on him. When the Jew regained consciousness, Dietrich grabbed the hands of the Jew, who had defecated all over himself, dunked them in the excrement and forced him the eat the excrement. I walked away, as the spectacle sickened me.’ Fischer found out that evening that this Jewish worker, nourished on his own excrement, was dead.”

HITLER’S WILLING EXECUTIONERS
By Daniel Jonah Goldhagen


 

“Many Jews, terrified by the open attack and acutely aware of their vulnerability, became desperate to leave Germany. So-called Aryans benefited from that desperation as they scooped up Jewish property at bargain-basement prices.”

THE HOLOCAUST: A CONCISE HISTORY
By Doris L. Bergen


 

“The number of deaths from starvation and disease between the closing of the [Warsaw] ghetto in November 1940 and the beginning of the deportations in July 1942 may have been 
as high as one hundred thousand.”


NAZI GERMANY AND THE JEWS 1933-1945
By Saul Friedlander


 

“The men had packed newborn Jewish babies into gunnysacks, like unwanted kittens, and threw the sacks out the second-floor window.” 

MASTERS OF DEATH
By Richard Rhodes


 

On one of my wanderings through the fort I lost my way as I was not sure where the entrances were. On this occasion a Jewish woman of about thirty ran across my path. She had been shot through both cheeks and the wounds had swollen up considerably. Seeing the red cross on my armband she begged me for a bandage, which I wanted to give her. I was just busy getting the pack of dressings I’d brought with me out of my jacket when an SS or SD guard with a rifle came up to me and told me to make myself scarce, saying that the Jewess had no further need of a pack of dressings. The Jewish woman was then pushed back by the uniformed German.

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


 

One day some Gestapo agents came to our neighbor, the hairdresser Mr. Neumann. They claimed that they had smelled burnt fur and therefor proceeded to shoot Mrs. Neumann and her daughter. [In the severe winter of 1941-42 the German requisitioned furs for their troops.]

THE DEAD YEARS
By Joseph Schupack


 

It was one thing to talk about extending the killing in the abstract, quite another for SS men to stand up close and pull the trigger, a few feet away from naked Jewish women and children. Nonetheless, in the summer and autumn of 1941 thousands of SS men became murderers for the first time as they killed in just such an intimate manner. The 1st SS Infantry Brigade, for example, murdered Jews in Ostrog in the west of Ukraine at the start of August 1941. Ostrog was a predominantly Jewish city, with a population of 10,000 Jews, now swelled by several thousand more who had sought refuge in the city from the surrounding area. On 4 August the SS forced Jews out of Ostrog into the countryside. “They treated us as cattle,” says Vasyl Valdeman, then a twelve-year-old Jewish boy. “They [the SS] were armed and had dogs with them. They made strong [Jews] carry the ill people, and those who had beards were beaten, because they thought they were rabbis, and we saw much blood on their faces. They [the Jews] were crying out, I remember their words, ‘They are beating us, beating us as dogs.’”

When the Jews reached a large sandy field the SS ordered them to sit down. The SS had told the Jews that they were needed to dig fortifications, but it soon became clear that they were to be murdered.  “We were looking at our parents,” says Vasyl, “and when we saw our grandmother and mother crying we realized that this was something horrible.” The Jews waited hours in the scorching heat until, one group at a time, they were ordered to undress and all their valuables were stolen. Next they were marched forward to an open pit and shot. But the SS didn’t possess the manpower to kill all the Jews in one day, so in the evening the remaining Jews were marched back to Ostrog. The next day, the killing began again and continued until the military commander of Ostrog said he needed the remaining Jews to act as forced labor. Almost the whole of Vasyl’s family were murdered by the Nazis – including his father, two brothers, two uncles, his grandmother and grandfather. Vasyl and his mother were hidden by non-Jewish neighbors and survived the war. “They even ran risks so that we could survive,” he says. “Nobody told the Germans that we were hiding.”


THE HOLOCAUST
By Laurence Rees


 

“It is horrible to see the women in Birkenau. How they have changed! They are completely bald and barefoot; on their bodies they have nothing but a piece of jute tied together with string. These are not women anymore; they are sexless creatures.”

PEOPLE IN AUSCHWITZ
By Hermann Langbein


 

One night, three young Jewish men were laying the water line to the villa. The ground was frozen so solid that digging was impossible. In order to warm it up, the workers lit a fire. Suddenly the governor, SS officer von Traub, and some of his mates came out of the villa and started shooting, using the Jews as live targets. The three laborers were hit, and the governor ordered the guards to put the bodies on the fire.

SURVIVING THE HOLOCAUST WITH THE RUSSIAN JEWISH PARTISANS
By Jack Kagan and Dov Cohen


 

Another painful incident which I will always remember occurred one afternoon when we were pushing a heavy load of lumber toward the kitchen. Crossing our path was a guard escorting a young girl in her teens, holding on to what could have been her little brother. Judging from their ragged appearance, they must have been hiding someplace inside the ghetto and were found by the Germans. It didn’t take long before I heard gunshots coming from the area to which the two children had been led.

MY DARKEST YEARS
By James Bachner


 

“A German officer, followed by his aids, was walking alongside the Jews and with a thumb pointing to the left or right. Soldiers immediately shoved the people to the side directed by their superior. All the old people, those who looked ill, and small children were being sent to the left. There were desperate cries as families were separated. I saw one woman, sent to the right, bolting out of her line and joining her little girl on the left. An SS guard tried to push her away. ‘I don’t want to live any longer!’ the woman shouted, clinging to the sobbing child, its little arms clutching her mother’s neck. Magnanimously the SS officer waved the guard off.

"Lassen sie da! (Leave her there!)”

CHRONICLES OF THE HOLOCAUST
By Roselle K. Chartock and Jack Spencer


 

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

 

Several men are carrying a small girl with only one leg. They hold her by the arms and the one leg. Tears are running down her face and she whispers faintly: “Sir, it hurts, it hurts.” They throw her on the truck on top of the corpses. She will burn alive along with them.

WE WERE IN AUSCHWITZ
By Siedlecki, Olszewski, Borowski




Within days of the first births at Ravensbruck, Treite received orders to stop the offerings of extra milk and porridge from the kitchen, so from then on the feeding mothers received only the usual diet of watery cabbage soup and a slice of bread. Very quickly none had any milk to speak of in their breasts and the babies began to starve. The deliberate starving of babies was a long-established Nazi technique of killing. Baby starvation was first carried out during the Euthanasia killings in 1939, when physically or mentally handicapped babies were

deliberately left to die…

Mothers had almost no milk, but still they came each day and queued outside in the corridor, sobbing as they waited to see their babies and try to feed them. “The pretty little face the mother had known at first was soon transformed into the face of an old person, the body covered in ulcers and sores. The mother was powerless to do anything.”…

Hanna Wasilczenko, broke in one night to see her baby boy. “It was a dreadful sight. At first it was quite dark but when I managed to turn on a light I saw vermin of all sorts jumping on the beds and inside the noses and ears of the babies. Most of the babies were naked because their blankets had come off. They were crying of hunger and cold, and covered in sores.” In these conditions the babies lived for a few days or perhaps a month. Vitold Georg lived for sixteen days before dying of pneumonia. After thirty days, the first 100 babies were all dead.


RAVENSBRUCK
By Sarah Helm




Dr. Hans Knopp, as a half-Jew, might have escaped deportation, but he decided to take no chances. In 1942 he slipped away and returned to his hometown of Mainz, where he managed to hide until the end of the war. Bruno Blau describes how the radiologist who successfully treated him for cancer disappeared one day along with his assistant. They made it all the way to the Swiss border, where they prepared to sneak across into Switzerland with a group of Jews who were escaping Germany. After successfully getting across the border, the radiologist turned back to help another member of the group who had lagged behind. The result of this act of kindness was that both the radiologist and his assistant were arrested by the border police and taken back to Berlin. At police headquarters in Berlin both swallowed poison. The doctor died immediately; his assistant lingered for a while at the hospital before she died.

REFUGE IN HELL
By Daniel B. Silver

 

“We have about four hundred and fifty reports of death today.” Frinke shouted. “You must finish the records by five o’clock in the morning. Any of you who misspells a name or makes a mistake in the numbers may prepare for block 25. Block 25 faced our office and it contained those destined for the gas chamber. The women in it lay in rags, mud and excrement. Some of them grasped the iron gates of the windows, moaning and yelling. They knew that soon SS men, together with SS Arbeitsfuhrerin Dreschler and three or four of her assistants, would throw them onto a truck headed for the gas chamber and then the crematorium. Every night I would look out of the office. Punctually at half-past eight, a truck would arrive with the SS guard. Shortly after I would hear the cries of the victims, who beaten with guns and truncheons, were pulled by their hair and limbs and flung onto the truck. I would also hear the callous laughter of the SS who were usually given a supplementary ration of two or three liters of brandy to carry out this job. Through the square window of the office, one could see the beams of huge searchlights illuminating the entire camp, the electrical wires with their white poles and the guardhouse with the SS-sentinels.  Truck after truck would leave with its cargo, until Block 25 was empty. In the morning, immediately after roll call and before the prisoners; details left for work, the block would again be crammed with fuel for the chimneys, which operated day and night. There were five such chimneys in Auschwitz. They consumed their innocent victims, transforming them to ashes, which, in conformity with practical Nazi economy, were utilized as fertilizer.

SOURCES OF THE HOLOCAUST
By Steve Hochstadt

 

The little children cried mostly because of the unusual setting in which they were being undressed. But after their mothers or the Sondercommando encouraged them, they calmed down and continued playing, teasing each other, clutching a toy as they went into the gas chamber. Once a woman with her four children, all holding each other by the hand to help the smallest ones over the rough ground, passed by me very slowly. She stepped very close to me and whispered, pointing to her four children. “How can you murder these beautiful, darling children? Don’t you have any heart?”

DEATH DEALER
By Steven Paskuly



The living conditions deteriorated day by day not only in many labor camps, but also in the ghettos. The Warsaw ghetto was formed in October 1940 according to 1939 plans. In May 1941, 500,000 people had to live there. No food was delivered to the ghetto after January 1941…Food had to be obtained by the ghetto. Thus, only 336 calories per person could be distributed.

JEWISH FORCED LABOR UNDER THE NAZIS
Translated by Kathleen M. Dell’Orto

 

Even with the end so near, the Nazis and the Arrow Cross continued to commit unspeakable acts of horror on what Jews they could find. If anything, they now became even more frantic in their Final Solution. Many thousands of Jews were shot against the banks of the Danube by Hungarian fascists that were sometimes only fourteen years old. Their bodies were pushed into the gray waters – but not before they had their gold teeth removed. Those who still lived in the two Ghettos were skating on very thin ice. Daily, their tormentors would come for them, killing and torturing at their whim.

CHILDREN OF SEPARATION AND LOSS
By Gertrude Pollitt

 

In Komarowka Drucker’s Second Platoon of Second Company had two Jewish kitchen workers known as Jutta and Harry. One day Drucker said they could not stay any longer and there was nothing left to do but shoot them. Some of the policemen took Jutta to the woods and engaged her in conversation before she was shot from behind. Shortly thereafter, Harry was shot in the back of the head with a pistol while he was picking berries. The policemen had clearly taken extra pains to shoot unawares victims who had prepared their food for over the past months and whom they knew by name. By 1942 standards of German-Jewish relations, a quick death without the agony of anticipation was considered an example of human compassion!

ORDINARY MEN
By Christopher R. Browning

 

Newspapers, if an internee could get a hold of them, served a new purpose in Dachau; tucked under one’s clothes as insulation, they could provide extra warmth. But there was nothing Pauson could do about the woefully inadequate diet. Like so many Jewish men imprisoned during Kristallnacht, he returned home emaciated, a piercing shock to the family member who opened the door. “My mother,” Eva remembers, “was desperately trying to feed him but he couldn’t eat the food. He had to eat a real [special] diet to get his stomach

system working again.”

EXIT BERLIN
By Charlotte R Bonnelli

 

The November 11 train, the last of 1942, was short, with 745 passengers. To help fill it, the SS raided the Rothschild nursing home and removed thirty-five elderly patients, six of them were over eighty and twenty of them were over seventy. According to Jacques Levy, a survivor of the November 11 transport. There were about seventy to a car with two buckets of water per car to be used as toilets when the buckets were empty. On the second day a man in Levy’s car, went mad and had to be bound and gagged. Levy had never before seen a complete moral and psychological disintegration of a human being.

AN UNCERTAIN HOUR
By Ted Morgan

 

On June 22, 1941, the Germans invaded the Soviet Union with its five million Jews. Four million were concentrated within a few hundred miles of the June 22 border and in the White Russian and the Ukrainian republics, areas that the Nazis overran. Einsatzgruppen followed the troops, seized and killed the Jews, and disposed of their bodies. No more than 3,000 men killed at least 1,000,000 human beings in approximately two years. Those figures mean statistically that four Einsatzgruppen averaged about 1,350 murders per day during the two-year period: 1,350 human beings were slaughtered on the average day, seven days a week, for

more than a hundred weeks.

HITLER’S DEATH CAMPS
By Konnilyn G. Feig

 

Well-informed circles are saying that the number of Jews who have been driven to suicide now exceeds 6,800 [in Austria]. A furniture dealer in the 2nd district [in Vienna] killed himself along with his spouse, son, daughter-in-law, and 5-year-old grandchild. The next day the SA affixed a poster to his shuttered business reading, “We strongly urge others to follow his example.”

JEWISH RESPONSES TO PERSECUTION
By Jurgen Matthaus and Mark Roseman

 

In January 1945, after the SS again took an inventory of the aged and ill prisoners, they sent them to Uckermark and ordered them to undress. That day the women stood naked in the icy snow of a Prussian winter for a roll call that lasted until evening. About fifty died the first day and the process was repeated daily. From the end of January there was constant movement between Uckermark and Ravensbruck. The cold and starvation did not kill quickly enough, so the SS brought in a nine-man shooting team. By April thousands of women from the overcrowded main camp had been killed at Uckermark, at the “sanitarium.”…At one point during the winter [at Uckermark] the SS nailed shut the windows of a block’s washroom, crammed in as many women as possible, and locked the doors. After a few days the SS decided it was time to bring the experiment to a close. They set up a motion-picture camera to film the emerging survivors. “These prisoners had torn awa the chimney bricks to try to get air and ripped off all their clothing; several had died or were unconscious, others had

evidently gone mad.”

HITLER’S DEATH CAMPS
By Konnilyn G. Feig

 

During one roundup in the Kaunas ghetto, an officer named Wilhelm Goecke ordered the Jews to relinquish all children, announcing that severe punishment awaited those who evaded the order. A couple named Zeller was publicly executed for failing to hand over their child to the butchers. The unfortunate parents were beaten, forced to sit on a red hot stove, and had needles shoved under their fingernails. When they lost consciousness, they were carried to the gallows. Holding their victims in the nooses in a way that was calculated not to kill them, the Germans took them down and put off completing the execution until the next day. Then they lashed the father to a stake and lit a fire beneath his feet. They stripped the mother naked and continued to torture her.

THE UNKNOWN BLACK BOOK
By Joshua Rubenstein and Ilya Altman

 

“I have to tell you something you probably won’t believe, but I must tell it anyway. We were deployed to Poland to dig trenches for a fallback position one of the trenches constructed was near a train tunnel. One day a locomotive drove toward it pulling open freight cars. People were crammed into these cars. Apparently – we were not far away – they were all Jews. The locomotive pushed these cars into the tunnel, and then uncoupled. Next time heavy diesel trucks drove up with SS men in them. The trucks were positioned at both ends of the tunnel. They let their motors run, with the exhaust directed into the tunnel. Everything else was sealed off so the gas could take full effect. They let their engines run until everyone in the tunnel was dead. It took over 24 hours. And the people in there, the Jews, must have died a horribly agonizing death. I actually saw this happen, and so did my men.”

VOICES FROM THE THIRD REICH
Steinhoff, Pechel and Showalter

 

“A squad [at Jozefow, Poland] would approach the group of Jews who had just arrived, from which each member would choose his victim – a man, a woman, or a child. The Jews and Germans would then walk in parallel single file so that each killer moved in step with his victim, until they reached a clearing for the killing where they would position themselves and await the firing order from their squad leader. The walk into the woods afforded each perpetrator an opportunity for reflection. Walking side by side with his victim, he was able to imbue the human form beside him with the projections of his mind. Some of the Germans of course, had children walking beside them. It is highly likely that, back in Germany, these men had previously walked through woods with their own children by their sides, marching gaily and inquisitively along. With what thoughts and emotions did each of these men march, gazing sidelong at the form of, say, an eight- or twelve-year-old girl, who to the unideologized mind would have looked like any other girl? In these moments, each killer had a personalized, face-to-face relationship to his victim, to his little girl. Did he see a little girl, and ask himself why he was about to kill this little, delicate human being who, if seen as a little girl by him, would normally have received his compassion, protection and nurturance? Or did they see a Jew, a young one, but a Jew nonetheless? Did he wonder incredulously what could possibly justify his blowing a vulnerable little girl’s brains out? Or did he understand the reasonableness of the order, the necessity of nipping the believed-in Jewish blight in the bud? The ‘Jew-child,’ after all, was mother to the Jew. The killing itself was a gruesome affair. After the walk through the woods, each of the Germans had to raise his gun to the back of the head, face down on the ground, that had bobbed along beside him, pull the trigger and watch the person, sometimes a little girl, twitch and them move no more. The Germans had to remain hardened to the crying of the victims, to the crying of women, to the whimpering of children. At such close range, the Germans often became spattered with human gore. In the words of one man, “the supplementary shot struck the skull with such force that the entire back of the skull was torn off and blood, bone splinters, and brain matter soiled the marksmen.’ Sergeant Anton Bentheim indicates that this was not an isolated episode, but rather the general condition: ‘The executioners were gruesomely soiled with blood, brain matter, and bone splinters. It stuck to their clothes.’ Although this is obviously viscerally unsettling,  capable of disturbing even the most hardened of executioners, these German initiates returned to fetch new victims, new little girls, and to begin the journey back into the woods. They sought unstained locations in the woods for each new batch of Jews.”

HITLER’S WILLING EXECUTIONERS
By Daniel Jonah Goldhagen

 

“Massacring Jews [at Dynow, Poland] may have been considered by the Wehrmacht as demanding disciplinary action, but torturing them was welcome enjoyment for both the soldiers and SS personnel. The choice victims were Orthodox Jews, given their distinctive looks and attire. They were shot at; they were compelled to smear feces on one another; they had to jump, crawl, sing, clean excrement with prayer shawls, and dance around bonfires of burning Torah scrolls. They were whipped, forced to eat pork, or had Jewish stars carved on their foreheads. The ‘beard game’ was the most popular entertainment of all: Beards and sidelocks were shorn, plucked, torn, set afire, hacked off with or without parts of skin, cheeks or jaws, to the amusement of a usually large audience of cheering soldiers.”

NAZI GERMANY AND THE JEWS 1933-1945
By Saul Friedlander

 

“Suddenly we saw a group of men [at Lukiski]. At their head was an aged rabbi, wrapped in his prayer shawl; passing us he called out ‘Comfort ye, comfort ye my people.’ We were seized with trembling. The women broke into moans, and even the Lithuanians took notice. One of the guards ran up and hit the rabbi with the butt of his rifle. My daughters and I were on the ground. Other women did not wait to be led away but broke from the rows and went on. The rows were broken. The women sat down and waited for a miracle to halt the massacre. I had one thought in mind: to be among the last.
 

“Our turn came at five-thirty. The guards rounded up the remaining women. I felt my older daughter’s hand in my own…when I came to, I felt myself crushed by many bodies. Feet were treading on me, and the acrid smell of some chemical filled the air. I opened my eyes; a young man was sprinkling us with quicklime. I was lying in a huge common grave. I held my breath and strained my ears. Moans and sounds of dying people, and from above came the amused laughter of Lithuanians. I wished myself dead so I would not have to hear the sounds. Nothing mattered. It did not dawn on me that I was unhurt. A child was whimpering a short distance away. Nothing came from above.  The Lithuanians were gone. The whimper aroused me from my stupor. I crawled toward the sound. I found a three-year-old girl, unharmed. I knew that if I survived, it would be thanks to her. 

“I waited for the darkness to fall; then, holding the child in my arms, I wriggled up to the surface and headed for the forest. Not far in the interior, I came upon five other women who had managed to survive. Our clothes were smeared with blood and burnt from the quicklime. Some of us had nothing but our underclothes on our skin. We hid for two days in the forest. A peasant came by and was frightened out of his senses. He let out a weird shriek and fled. But he was not decent enough to come back and help us. He was sure that we were ghosts

from another world.”

MASTERS OF DEATH
By Richard Rhodes



During the first year of Nazi rule, more than three hundred new laws and regulations were passed restricting Jewish life in Germany. Jews were fired from government posts. Jewish academics were ousted from their jobs. Jewish lawyers and judges were barred from the courts. Jewish physicians were excluded from the health care system. Businesses were ordered to fire any Jews on their boards. The Berlin Stock Exchange dismissed Jewish brokers; a number reacted by committing suicide.

THE DEVIL’S DIARY
By Robert K. Wittman & David Kinney

 

They had dug it all out and there were all these corpses [at Pinsk, Belarus]. Then they [the Jews] had to undress. Mothers were still carrying their children, usually in one arm. And then they would have to go up there, and they shot them. I saw everything, everything. Afterward I went into the buildings [where the Jews had been kept], and it was horrifying. There were still people who were standing down there in the toilets, in sewer trenches where the feces were. They were hiding, and they had only stuck their heads and peered out and they thought they had gotten away. But then the Poles came along and stole everything they could. This was not like the Germans would do. And then they said, “There’s another one in there. There’s another one down there.” And then they shot them all. It was horrifying. What an experience that was! I just thought to myself, “Something like this just can’t happen.”

WHAT WE KNEW
By Eric A Johnson and Karl-Heinz Reuband

 

Samuel Rajzman, an inmate of the Warsaw ghetto sent to Treblinka, testified that the German guards called the death camp the “Road to Heaven.” He said that an average of three transports totaling 60 car-loads each day arrived at Treblinka. “Immediately after their arrival, the people had to leave the trains in five minutes and line up on the platform,” he said. “All those who were driven from the cars were divided into groups, men, children and women, all separate. They were all forced to strip immediately, and this procedure continued under the lashes of the German guards’ whips. Workers who were employed in this operation immediately picked up all the clothes and carried them away to barracks. Then the people were obliged to walk naked through the street to the gas chambers.” It was called Himmelfahrtstrasse – literally, the “street to heaven.” The whole process, for men, took eight to ten minutes. For women, it took 15 minutes, because their hair had to be cut off to stuff mattresses. Rajzman had been spared because of his language skills.

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



By going up very close to the pit [at Zhitomir, Ukraine] I saw something that to this day I can never forget. Among the bodies in the pit lay an old man with a white beard, who still had a small walking stick hanging over his left arm. It was clear that the old man was still alive as he was panting for breath and so I asked one of the policemen to kill him once and for all, to which he replied in a jocular fashion, “I’ve already shot him seven times in the belly, don’t worry, he’ll snuff it soon enough.”

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

 

My aunt, Chaya Turkeltaub, had hidden out of fear of a forthcoming Aktion against Jews. Her hideout was a polish farm in the village of Zabikow, about 6 kilometers from Radzyn. I do not know whether it happened by accident or during a search, but she was found, recognized as a Jew, and shot immediately. The Gendarmeri continued its search in other houses where they discovered another two older Jewish women, Mrs. Gelibter and Mrs. Steinberg, who they also shot. When we received news of the tragic events, my cousin Mendl Turkeltaub and relatives of the other murdered women hired a polish driver with a horse-drawn wagon and proceeded to the village to retrieve the corpses and bury them at the Jewish cemetery in Radzyn. The same Gendarme stopped the wagon when it approached the village, asked the three passengers what they wanted and then, having identified them as Jews, shot them.

THE DEAD YEARS
By Joseph Schupack

 

“So much happened in Auschwitz. I remember a mother and daughter who lived together in the same barracks. They were from Lodz. When they came to take the mother away, when she did not pass a selection, her daughter grabbed on to her and would not let go. I saw them pulled apart by the soldiers who came for the mother. As the mother was led away the daughter had to be held down. They called each other’s name over and over. All of us who watched couldn’t help but cry.”


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

 

I proceeded on Sunday morning with most of my comrades to the Jewish cemetery [Schwetz, Poland]... We saw then how a group of a women and three children, the children aged about three to 8 years, were led from the bus to a shoveled out grave of about 8 meters width and 8 meters length. The woman had to climb into this grave and took her youngest child on her arm. Both other children were passed to her by two men of the execution Kommando. The woman had to lay on her stomach flat in the grave, that is with the face to the earth, her three children lined up on the left in the same way. Then 4 men similarly climbed into the grave, pointed their guns so that the muzzle was about 30 cm. from the back of the neck, and shot in this way the women with her three children.

SOURCES OF THE HOLOCAUST
By Steve Hochstadt

 

On May 16 the first three trains from Hungary arrived, and the biggest campaign of extermination began… “On some days the arrivals were simply wild,” wrote Oswald Kaduk. “Five transports had already arrived by half past ten one morning.” As had been done in the early period of the camp, the corpses were burned on pyres that were set up in the open air next to the crematoriums, for the capacity of the ovens was insufficient. 

PEOPLE IN AUSCHWITZ
By Hermann Langbein

 

The fourth Novogrodek massacre took place on 7 May 1943. Two hundred of the 500 Jews living in the Arbeitslager (labor camp) were killed. Most of these were women. The killing was done near the forest of Horodzhilovka, quite close to the camp. Those remaining in the camp could hear their loved ones being butchered with machine-guns. My dear aunt Dvore (my cousin Idel’s mother), my aunt Haike Sucharski and my cousin Nachama, Idel’s sister, were murdered that day.

SURVIVING THE HOLOCAUST WITH THE RUSSIAN JEWISH PARTISANS
By Jack Kagan and Dov Cohen

 

“Can a person understand what it means to have a cold without a handkerchief or diarrhea without a piece of paper?”

PEOPLE IN AUSCHWITZ
By Hermann Langbein

 

“Their first task [at the gas chamber] was to remove the blood and defecations before dragging the clawing dead apart with nooses and hooks, the prelude to the ghastly search for gold and the removal of teeth and hair which were regarded by the Germans as strategic materials. Then the journey by lift or rail-wagon to the furnaces, the mill that ground the clinker to fine ash, and the truck that scattered the ashes in the stream of the Sola.”

CHRONICLES OF THE HOLOCAUST
By Roselle K. Chartock and Jack Spencer

 

Celie, Rosie and I filled the women’s tin cups with water. Most were grateful to us, but some had become delirious, calling for their mothers to help. Who knew if their mothers were still alive? Others were very quiet, not talking at all, eyes staring at nothing. Every morning, one or two of the women were no longer there, having died in the night. It seemed like it was always the quiet ones who died. Their bunks were quickly filled by others. One day, a woman from Budapest, about twenty-five years old started ranting about food, about her family, about the war. She somehow got to the top of the roof and simply jumped off.

I CARRIED THEM WITH ME
By Sara Lumer

 

We cried and held each other. There was nothing else said. We had known that this day would eventually come and now it was here. We could hear the heavy footsteps of the soldiers in our building, the bangs of the rifle butts hitting the doors and harsh commands uttered in that guttural language. Then, the knock on our door. “Get out, Jews! We will give you ten minutes!” How generous of them. We stood there, our family, Papa, Mama, Jacob, only six years old, Stanley, thirteen, and myself, just fourteen, with our arms around each other. Our tears were flowing uncontrollably. We kissed each other goodbye for we knew there was little chance of our family remaining together.

OUTCRY: HOLOCAUST MEMOIRS
   By Manny Steinberg

 

Efraim Stiebelmann once observed the following event: “A transport from Lodz arrived, and Mengele chose those who would work and those who were to be gassed. A woman with a daughter aged thirteen or fourteen did not want to be separated from her. Mengele ordered a guard to take the girl away from her by force, whereupon the woman attacked the guard, hit him, and scratched his face. Mengele drew his pistol and shot mother and child.

I saw this clearly.”

PEOPLE IN AUSCHWITZ
By Hermann Langbein

 

Over the course of time, stories about German atrocities in the East filtered back from German troops. Knowledge about the terrible fate that awaited Jewish deportees became increasingly diffused among both Jews and non-Jews. So too, with the passage of time, did the Nazis’ approach to the deportation of Berlin Jews become more and more openly brutal.

REFUGE IN HELL
By Daniel B. Silver

 

As my mother and I walked in [at Auschwitz], hands clasped tightly together as if we were a life line for each other, there were men dressed in stripes everywhere. Together with those who had travelled with us, we stood in a line, confused, hungry and exhausted. One of the Germans who was dressed in uniform was putting us into groups. He took one look at me and then at my mother, and immediately separated us. I screamed, shouted, I begged but it was no use. The last member of my family was taken away from me, and I was powerless to stop it.

I never saw my mother again.

HOLOCAUST: A JEWISH SURVIVOR TESTIMONY
As Told by Regina Weinkrantz
Edited by Dan Myers

 

One rainy night he [non-commissioned officer] and another soldier arrived at our door, pistols in hand. I wasn’t home. He put his gun against my mother’s head and demanded, “Where’s your daughter?” “I don’t know,” she replied and told them to search the house if they didn’t believe her. His pal slapped her, threw her against the stove, and beat her with the broom handle while Gottschalk stood there egging him on.  “He’s from Vienna, a backwater town. Beating is second nature to him,” Gottschalk said. “I myself am from Berlin.” Not finding me at home, Gottschalk and his henchman left and went looking for me at the home of one of my aunts. When I wasn’t there either, they raped my aunt and forced her husband to watch. The rape had to be kept secret because, had the Gestapo found out, they would have killed her immediately: Germans were forbidden to "fraternize" with “subhuman” Jews.

LOVE IN A WORLD OF SORROW
By Fanya Gottesfeld Heller

 

“I go with Ernst to the cellar, where the majority of new arrivals were housed. A capo is talking to them, and we listen. He asks them about Hungary, how things look on the outside. Then a Hungarian asks: ‘Can you tell me where my parents and my wife are? I said farewell to them on our arrival, and they were put on a truck. A gentleman from the SS said older men and women should get on the trucks so they don’t have to walk so far. But I haven’t been able to see them here yet.’  ‘You jackass, you’ll never see them again. Your wife has been singing hallelujahs for quite a while now, and your parents are coughing; you see, they swallowed

a bit too much gas.’”

PEOPLE IN AUSCHWITZ
By Hermann Langbein




From my “observation post” I watched as the “Black Police” whipped columns of women and children along Tankova Street. The screams of the terror-stricken women and children rose to the heavens and chilled the blood…Suddenly I heard shooting inside the hospital itself. Not until later that evening did I learn that the killers – for the first time – had invaded the hospital. Still avoiding the Contagious Diseases Ward, they went straight to the surgical floor, shot the patients and all the medical personnel.

THE MINSK GHETTO
By Hersh Smolar

 

We lived in Poland, in the ghetto of Lvov. My father was always looking for places to hide my little brother, Pavel, and me because the Germans were intent on getting rid of all the Jewish Children. One hiding place was a small, empty space, three feet long and one foot deep, below the window, which my father had camouflaged to look like the wall. I remember having to sit there with Pavel for hours, struggling for air and being so scared! Tears were running down my cheeks, but I didn’t dare make a sound for fear the Germans would find us. But silently I prayed for my father to come and let us out. Each time he came back, I begged him, “Daddy, please let this be the last time.” I didn’t think I could take it anymore.

THE HIDDEN CHILDREN
By Jane Marks

 

With the temperatures hovering far below zero, the Jews [of Novogrudok] were then directed to remove their clothing and stand facing two forty-by-three-meter graves that had been dug days before. The shooters then machine-gunned them to death. The action was repeated throughout the day, as trucks returned to the courthouse to pick up additional victims. As the sun set on the black Monday, more than four thousand Jews had been murdered. Among those lying dead in the ditches were David and Beyle Bielski, Cila Bielski, and her baby

girl. [The Bielski’s were famous Jewish Partisans.]

THE BIELSKI BROTHERS
By Peter Duffy

 

We know about Svidersky, a one-eyed German from Odessa who was known as “Master Hammer” [at Treblinka] because of his supreme expertise in “cold murder” – that is, killing without firearms. It took him only a few minutes – with no weapon but a hammer – to kill fifteen children, aged eight to thirteen, who had been declared unfit for work.

THE HELL OF TREBLINKA
By Vasily Grossman

 

Five more SS officers and doctors came in [at Ravensbruck]… Helena Piasecka was particularly badly mutilated; a liquid had been injected into the bone marrow so that the leg looked as if it was crumbling. When Helena tried to walk on it some weeks later, the shin bone shattered.

RAVENSBRUCK
By Sarah Helm
 


The Germans were still pouring more Jews into our city [Międzyrzec, Poland]… we saw more and more people going door to door begging for food. We knew people slept on the floors… with no food, running water, or heat. We knew people in these buildings were shivering, covering up their faces and heads with only the clothes they had with them for warmth. Many died. There was no heat in those buildings, and the corpses were cast out in front of the doorway, mostly children and old people, hundreds of them. The grave diggers had a small, two-wheeled pushcart on which they loaded eight or ten corpses and took them to the graveyard to be dumped in mass graves. Then they’d go back for more. Most of the corpses were frozen solid… Over and over again, I saw the mass graves, the piles of arms and legs and death-grinning heads, their eyes open in a kind of wide-eyed amazement that they had died such a terrible death. Dead from starvation or freezing to death.

DEFY THE DARKNESS
By Joe Rosenblum with David Kohn

 

Abraham Goldfarb testified about a Treblinka transport in which most of the passengers died en route: “At the end of August 1942, the Germans carried out the expulsion from Mazaritz…When the Jews were brought to the railway station, the Germans forced 150-200 of them into a freight car designed for sixty or seventy. The cars were closed from the outside with boards. Water and food were not provided. People were suffocating; there was no air to breathe. Before we moved off, the Germans sprinkled chlorine in the cars. It burned the eyes. The weaker among us fainted. People climbed on top of each other and banged on the walls with whatever they could find. The children were so thirsty they licked their mothers’ sweat…There were 150 people in our freight car. During the two-day trip to Treblinka, 135 suffocated.”

BELZEC, SOBIBOR, TREBLINKA
By Yitzhak Arad

 


We said good-bye to our families as about one hundred SS with machine guns marched out 250 men. In stalls normally housing horses, a man asked about our wives. The SS commander said, “I’ll tell you about your wife.” He took out his gun and shot him.


OUR CRIME WAS BEING JEWISH
By Anthony S. Pitch

 

During evening roll call in Buchenwald on December 14, 1938, two prisoners were missing. The temperature was thirty-six degrees, but the thinly clad inmates had to stand in the roll-call area for nineteen hours. By the next morning, twenty-five had frozen to death, by noon the number had reached more than seventy.

PERPETRATORS
By Guenter Lewy

 

Romanian forces occupied Odessa, on the Black sea due south of Kiev, on 16 October 1941… On 23 October 1941… some ten thousand Jews were marched outside town the same day and murdered with machine guns. Two days later several thousand more were locked into a large barn, which was then blown up with dynamite… “No matter in which direction you looked [in Odessa] you could see gallows. There were thousands of them. At the feet of the hanged lay the bodies of those who had been tortured, mutilated and shot… Across the Black Sea on the Crimean Peninsula mass murder took a more inventive form. In the course of the war in the Crimea, according to the indictment of the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg, “144,000 peaceful citizens were gathered on barges, taken out to sea and drowned.”

MASTERS OF DEATH
By Richard Rhodes

 
 

In 1941, when the Germans killed all the Jews in Fastov, they left the children. There were about eight hundred of them. They gave the order that every villager had to take one child each and feed it along with bring it up well. And if so much as one child were to die, then the whole family would answer for it. They fed these children for three months. When that period of time was up, when the children were in better health, the Germans gave the following order: “All the children of the Jews are to be returned to a designated place. Refusal will mean death.” The children were brought, then taken to a hospital. There they were tied down to beds and their blood sucked out for wounded Germans.  And the fate of the children was sealed.

THE UNKNOWN BLACK BOOK

By Joshua Rubenstein and Ilya Altman




“I remember there was a really young French girl, maybe 15 or 16 years old. She didn’t understand a word of German. The SS women always gave their commands in German. This girl naturally didn’t understand and was beaten terribly. The girl yowled like a beaten dog.

I can still hear her today.”

VOICES FROM THE THIRD REICH
Steinhoff, Pechel and Showalter

 
 
Another scene saw some of the Germans in this battalion compel old Jewish men to dance before them. In addition to the amusement that they evidently derived from their choreography, the Germans were mocking, denigrating and asserting their mastery over these Jews, particularly since the selected Jews were their elders, people of an age to whom normally regard and respect are due. Apparently, and to their great misfortune, the Jews failed to dance to a sufficiently brisk and pleasing tempo, so the Germans set the Jews' beards on fire.

HITLER’S WILLING EXECUTIONERS
By Daniel Jonah Goldhagen
 

 
During the war the SS separated thousands of children from their parents and sent them to Buchenwald. The first group arrived as early as 1939. Most were Jewish children or the children of executed partisans. In the fall of 1944 the SS suddenly herded together all the Jewish and Gypsy youngsters and shipped the “screaming, sobbing children” to the

Auschwitz gas chambers.

HITLER’S DEATH CAMPS
By Konnilyn G. Feig

 

 
Between 1933 and the outbreak of war in September 1939, approximately half of the Jews in Germany – some three hundred thousand people – left. Much of this exodus took place in the wake of Kristallnacht from what had been Austria and the Sudetenland as well as from all over Germany. For most European Jews it took enormous perseverance and ingenuity to get out, to find somewhere to go, and to figure out ways to start new lives.

THE HOLOCAUST: A CONCISE HISTORY
By Doris L. Bergen

 


The earliest large-scale massacre of Romanian Jews took place in Iasi, the capital of Moldavia. After thousands had been massacred in the city, several thousand more were packed into the hermetically closed cars of two freight trains and sent on an aimless journey lasting several days. In the first train 1,400 Jews suffocated or died of thirst; 1,194 bodies were recovered from the second one. The exact number of the victims of the Iasi program remains in dispute, but it may have exceeded ten thousand.

NAZI GERMANY AND THE JEWS 1933-1945
By Saul Friedlander

 

About ninety children were packed together into two small rooms… in a filthy state [in Belajar Kharkov, Ukraine]. The children lay or sat on the floor which was covered in their feces. There were flies on the legs and abdomens of most of the children, some of whom were only half dressed. Some of the bigger children (two, three, four years old) were scratching the mortar from the wall and eating it. Two men, who looked like Jews, were trying to clean the rooms. The stench was terrible. The small children, especially those who were only a few months old, were crying and whimpering continuously…Groscurth asked the man what would happen to the children, “He informed me that the children’s relatives had been shot and the children

were also to be eliminated.”

MASTERS OF DEATH
By Richard Rhodes

 
 
When the killing was finally ready to commence [at Lomazy, Poland], the men of Second Platoon formed a gauntlet running between the staging ground for the killing and the killing site itself. Successive groups of fifteen to twenty Jews were forced to run to the killing site’s pit to run the German gauntlet, with the Germans shouting at them and beating them with rifle butts as they passed by. As if this general terrorizing and torturing of the victims during their final moments of life were not satisfying enough, Gnade selected Jews of heightened symbolic value for special treatment.


“During these executions I observed still something else which I will never forget. Even before the executions began. Lieutenant Gnade himself had selected about twenty to twenty-five elderly Jews. They were exclusively men with full beards. Gnade made these old men crawl on the ground before the grave. Before he gave them the command to crawl, they had to undress. While the now completely naked Jews were crawling, lieutenant Gnade screamed to those around, ‘Where are my NCOs, don’t you yet have any clubs?’ Thereupon the NCOs went to the edge of the forest, got themselves clubs, and then with these clubs rained mighty blows on the Jews…it is my opinion that all of the NCOs of our company complied with the Lieutenant Gnade’s order and rained blows on the Jews...”

HITLER’S WILLING EXECUTIONERS
By Daniel Jonah Goldhagen

 


When the killing was finally ready to commence [at Lomazy, Poland], the men of Second Platoon formed a gauntlet running between the staging ground for the killing and the killing site itself. Successive groups of fifteen to twenty Jews were forced to run to the killing site’s pit to run the German gauntlet, with the Germans shouting at them and beating them with rifle butts as they passed by. As if this general terrorizing and torturing of the victims during their final moments of life were not satisfying enough, Gnade selected Jews of heightened symbolic value for special treatment.

“During these executions I observed still something else which I will never forget. Even before the executions began. Lieutenant Gnade himself had selected about twenty to twenty-five elderly Jews. They were exclusively men with full beards. Gnade made these old men crawl on the ground before the grave. Before he gave them the command to crawl, they had to undress. While the now completely naked Jews were crawling, lieutenant Gnade screamed to those around, ‘Where are my NCOs, don’t you yet have any clubs?’ Thereupon the NCOs went to the edge of the forest, got themselves clubs, and then with these clubs rained mighty blows on the Jews…it is my opinion that all of the NCOs of our company complied with the Lieutenant Gnade’s order and rained blows on the Jews...”

HITLER’S WILLING EXECUTIONERS
By Daniel Jonah Goldhagen
 


“We have to wear, according to law, the Star of David…and underneath the star it says: Jude,” Max [Reinach] wrote in September 1941. The regulations required that it be sewn onto the clothing on the left side of the chest. Almost a million were produced on rolls of cloth, then clipped and sold to the Jews for ten pfennigs apiece. Wearing the star marked a Jew for questioning by the Gestapo. Not wearing it put a Jew at risk of arrest. Max was horrified: “I would never have thought something like this could happen.”


THE DEVIL’S DIARY
By Robert K. Wittman & David Kinney


 
“We walked through the main gate and saw a fire. I didn’t know what it was, so I said to my mother, ‘Look how beautiful that is.’ She said, ‘Quiet, child! They are burning people over there. First they shoot them, then they throw them in a ditch and then they burn them.’ We had to work in this camp. One day in May 1944, we were all called out to the parade ground. They started picking out people to be gassed in Auschwitz that day. They came and took my mother. I had been allowed to wash and delouse her the day before. She was 42 years old and looked like she was 80. She was a wonderful woman, just wonderful, an angel. And because the best people were taken from us is why I don’t believe there is a God. I volunteered to go along with my mother, but the SS told me, ‘Your turn will come soon! You are still young. You can work!’”

VOICES FROM THE THIRD REICH
Steinhoff, Pechel and Showalter
 

 
[Ribe] was even more sadistic than his predecessors. Jews who had escaped from Slutsk and settled in the Minsk ghetto recognized him as the murderer who had been in charge of liquidating the Slutsk ghetto. People called him ‘the Devil with the White Eyes.’…Ribe never let any Jew he encountered go unscathed, regardless of age or sex. He would look at his victim with his big bulging eyes, his lips would form a smile, he would carefully aim his pistol – and never miss. It was Ribe who organized the ‘beauty contest’ of young Jewish women, selected twelve of the youngest and prettiest, and ordered them to parade through the ghetto until they reached the Jewish cemetery. Here he forced them to undress and then shot them one by one. The last woman to be killed was Lena Neu. He took her brassiere from her and said smugly, “This will be my souvenir of the pretty Jewess.”

MASTERS OF DEATH
By Richard Rhodes
 

 
The mother camp [Mauthausen] utilized a full-scale torture and punishment program with a few variations. The SS developed, as their specialty, murder by drowning. It took several forms: forcing hoses in the prisoner’s mouth until the lungs burst from the water, immersing victims in barrels, and submerging them in ditches. In another torture variation the guards forced prisoners out of their blocks, naked, to stand and walk for hours in an area scattered with “fiercely jagged stones.” Cold weather aided the program. In 1945, 1,700 prisoners arrived from Sachsenhausen. The SS grouped together the sick prisoners and sent them outside – nude. That night the temperature dropped below freezing. The prisoners stood in the square for four hours as they were sprayed alternately with hot and cold water. The groans of the dying rang through the camp as icicles formed all over their bodies.

HITLER’S DEATH CAMPS
By Konnilyn G. Feig
 

 
“There were these three men from Gestapo with us, and they went up to [the old man] and spoke to him. What was said, I don’t know. In any event, they spoke to him, and he shook his head, and then one turned his gun around and struck him dead with the butt.”

WHAT WE KNEW
By Eric A. Johnson and Karl-Heinz Reuband



 
There were some spouses who used the general climate of anti-Semitism to rid themselves of inconvenient Jewish partners. In March 1944, a sixty-three-year-old German ‘Aryan’ man and his sister denounced his estranged Jewish wife to the Gestapo on the grounds she had said Hitler had murdered children and the Jews would seek revenge. The couple had been married since 1908. The gestapo fast-tracked the divorce of the couple. The woman was no longer in a privileged marriage. The gestapo sent her by train to Auschwitz. She died there.

THE GESTAPO: THE MYTH AND REALITY OF HITLER’S SECRET POLICE
By Frank McDonough
 

 
“The Jews were squeezed into very small barracks; they had to sleep on icy floors. Everything was taken from them. They had to weather the winter months dressed only in shirts. We were situated near the barracks and could not sleep for all the wailing, howling, and moaning. It was a terrible torture [Martyruim]. The food for the Jews was still worse; nothing but turnips once a day. If these poor women concealed but a small thing of their possessions, such as a beloved keepsake, photographs, etc., they were beaten bloody by the SS women with truncheons, undressed, and forced to stand long days barefoot on thick gravel in the bitter cold. Their legs were swollen like butter barrels; the ones in the poorest condition collapsed from pain.”

HITLER’S WILLING EXECUTIONERS
By Daniel Jonah Goldhagen

 

 
As the Allies advanced, the SS transferred the prisoners from other camps to Ebensee. The blocks became overcrowded and the dead bodies piled up. Three days before liberation the Germans hanged four starving inmates because they tried to buy bread.  The inmates had “torn the gold teeth from out of their own mouths to get some bread from the overseers for it. For this, they were hanged.

HITLER’S DEATH CAMPS
By Konnilyn G. Feig

 

 
“Many of the people they [the grave-diggers] death with had suffocated to death in the truck. But there were a few exceptions, including babies who were still alive; this was because mothers held the children in blankets and covered them with their hands so the gas would not get them in these cases, the Germans would split the heads of the babies on trees,

killing them on the spot.”

NAZI GERMANY AND THE JEWS 1933-1945
By Saul Friedlander



 
We continued going along the road [Lemberg, Ukraine]. There were hundreds of Jews walking along the street with blood pouring down their faces, holes in their heads, their hands broken and their eyes hanging out of their sockets. They were covered in blood. Some of them were carrying others who had collapsed. We went to the citadel; there we saw things that few people have ever seen. At the entrance of the citadel there were soldiers standing guard. They were holding clubs as thick as a man’s wrist and were lashing out and hitting anyone who crossed their path. The Jews were pouring out of the entrance. There were rows of Jews lying on top of the other like pigs whimpering horribly. The Jews kept streaming out of the citadel

completely covered in blood.

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

  

During July and August of 1943, more and more prisoners were sporadically selected and transferred. Whether to the crematories or other concentration camps, no one knew. It is only natural for a prisoner to try to hide from his captors. But it was unimaginable that there could be a place in the world that was worse than Majdanek. With these thoughts I decided to neither appear for transport nor hide. It did not take long before I was selected…After the war I learned that four to six weeks later, on October 16, 1943, all 18,000 Jews in Majdanek

were shot in one day.

THE DEAD YEARS
By Joseph Schupack
 

 
From the day the camp [Auschwitz] opened a variety of techniques were used to torment the prisoners. Punishments were not just cruel – a common one was to tie a prisoner’s hands behind his back and then suspend him by his wrists from a pole – but often arbitrary. Every inmate knew that they were at permanent risk of a beating, or worse, and there was little

they could do to prevent it.

THE HOLOCAUST
By Laurence Rees

 

 
I stopped with other soldiers and civilians in front of the gate and looked through the railings at the execution area, which was about eighty meters away [at Belaya Tserkov, Ukraine]. I saw nine girls or women kneeling in front of a deep ditch. They were kneeling with their faces towards the ditch. A further nine girls were waiting in front of the little house where the girl who had been guarded by the SS man had relieved herself. What struck me particularly was the calmness and discipline of these people. Behind the kneeling girls stood the marksmen: two for each person. The marksmen were members of the SS.

On the orders of a superior they fired shots at the heads of these people with their carbines. When hit, these people fell forwards into the ditch. Some of them went head over heels. Sometimes the tops of their skulls flew up into the air. Some of the marksmen were sprayed with blood. They were shooting from a distance of about five meters. It was a terrible scene. I remember an SS officer walking along the edge of the ditch firing shots into it with a

sub-machine-gun as he went along.

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



 
Uckermark was an extermination center – but not in the usual sense. The guards transported prisoners by trucks to Uckermark, right down the road [from Ravensbruck]. They sent them there to die. They removed the ill and the sick to the primitive compound – to lie there until they died. They aided the process by long, cold roll calls, poison, beatings, the mixing of women with contagious diseases, absence of food, inadequate water facilities, shooting, suffocating, and allowing victims to freeze to death. Then they trucked the bodies the few blocks back to the camp crematorium, which blazed around the clock from December.

HITLER’S DEATH CAMPS
By Konnilyn G. Feig
 

 
In the early days of the camp’s operation, when a train arrived at Sobibor station, the SS waited until the Jews who were capable of walking unaided had entered the camp and then gathered up those who were left – the old, the disabled and the injured – and put them on to a horse-drawn cart. The SS told these Jews who were unable to walk that they were to be taken to a hospital. This was said in attempt to calm them, but it was also a black joke. Because the “hostpital,” 200 yards into the forest, consisted of a group of executionalrs standing by a pit. All of those who had been taken to the “hospital” on the horse and cart were murdered

in site of each other.

THE HOLOCAUST
By Laurence Rees
 

 
In spring 1943 when a worker prisoner tried to take his own life and was found dying, Frenzel shouted that Jews had no right to kill themselves. Only Germans had the right to kill. Frenzel whipped the dying man and finished him off with a bullet.

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

 


“Anyone acquainted with hunger knows that it is not just a vegetative, animal sensation in the stomach, but a nerve-shattering agony, an attack on the entire personality. Hunger makes a person vicious and corrupts his character.”

PEOPLE IN AUSCHWITZ
By Hermann Langbein



Chief among these sadists was Otto Moll, the SS man who supervised the operation of the crematoria. Dario Gabbai remembers how he liked to kill naked girls by shooting them “on their breasts.” In 1944, when the arrival of enormous numbers of Hungarian Jews meant that bodies had to be burnt to open air in giant pits – since  the crematoria could not cope with the volume – Moll on occasion threw children directly into the flames so that they were burnt alive. Alter Feinsilber, one of the Sonderkommando, witnessed another of Moll’s sadistic acts. Moll ordered a naked woman to jump about and sing on a pile of corpses near the flaming pit while he shot prisoners and threw their bodies into the fire. When he had finished shooting them, he turned his gun on the woman and killed her.

THE HOLOCAUST
By Laurence Rees

 


At Auschwitz on the evening of 28 July 1941, around 500 sick prisoners boarded a train to take them to Dresden. The SS had told them that they were leaving camp so that they could regain their strength elsewhere. “They had some hope,” says Kazimierz Smolen, who watched them leave. “Hope is the last thing that dies.” The sick prisoners were taken to Sonnenstein euthanasia center and murdered by carbon monoxide poisoning. These were the first Auschwitz prisoners to die by gassing. They were chosen not because they were Jews, but because they were sick, and they died not at Auschwitz but in the heart of Germany.

THE HOLOCAUST
By Laurence Rees

 



Gloria Goldreich writes of an inmate who choked to death [at Auschwitz] on a piece of bread. Another inmate had rushed to the dead woman, reached her hand into her throat, “removed the masticated hunk of food, and eaten it hungrily.” In another incident, a dying woman vomited: “Someone picked clots of undigested puke that lay on the floor and swallowed them.”

Almost Every woman had Durchfall – a deadly kind of dysentery, aided by the digestion of saltpeter, a product of the munitions factories. After two or three weeks in the camp “most prisoners had intestinal tracts so stripped of natural lining that terrible epidemics resulted,” called Durchfall or “fall-through.” What was eaten came out quickly in the original form, for the body could absorb nothing. The lack of washing water and the impossibility of changing clothes created a “monstrous trial for the sick woman.” The disease combined many symptoms of typhus and dysentery, and proved deadly in many instances.

Everyone suffered from a swelling in which the body periodically puffed up and the face became like a mask. The eyes could hardly be seen and the thick legs became “heavy loads to drag along.” Dr. Lingens-Reiner worked with cases in which the edema became so bad that the skin could not stand the tension and burst, leaving deep gashes from which liquid poured. Most women’s bodies were covered with sores and abscesses. All women had lice. And most were starving. Every sickness and contagious disease attained epidemic proportions once it occurred in the camp: tuberculosis, malaria, typhus, scarlet fever, measles, diphtheria. Surgical cases included scores of women mauled by dogs and smashed by rifle butts. “One might have thought oneself in a human slaughter house.

HITLER’S DEATH CAMPS
By Konnilyn G. Feig




There were always some ill and frail people on the transports. Sometimes there were also wounded people amongst the arrivals because the transport escorts, SS members, police, Latvians, sometimes shot people during the journey. These ill, frail and wounded people were brought to the hospital by a special Arbeitskommando. These people would be taken to the hospital area and stood or laid down at the edge of the grave. When no more ill or wounded were expected it was my job to shoot these people. I did this by shooting them in the neck with a 9-mm pistol. They then collapsed or fell to one side and were carried down into the grave by the two hospital work-Jews. The bodies were sprinkled with chlorinated lime. Later, on Worth’s instructions, they were burnt in the grave itself. The number of people I shot after the transport arrived varied. Sometimes it was two or three but sometimes it was as many as twenty or perhaps even more. There were men and women of all ages and there

were also children.

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


 

“From Wielun the able bodied Jews were sent to Lodz, to labor in the ghetto. Leipush and Itzhak Moshe were among them. My sister Eudel could have gone with them, but again would not leave my parents. After the war I learned of their fate. My sister, my parents, all my uncles, aunts, their families, and the other Jews from our town were made part of a larger group of Jews from the surrounding towns. On August 22, 1942 that group, almost 10,000 people, were sent to their deaths at a camp called Chelmno. At Chelmno the killing was done by gas van. The people were loaded into the van and the back doors sealed. The engine exhaust was directed into the sealed van as it moved.”

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


A number was written on each victim’s chest with indelible ink. Then I had to lead one after another through the dark curtain that hung in the corridor. Escorted by an inmate, the victim had to sit down, and Klehr, the SDG who did most of the killings, in his white coat injected the victim directly in his heart. The victims died immediately after emitting a soft sound, as though they were exhaling. Their bodies were dragged across the corridor and into the washroom. In the evening the van from the crematorium came, backed up in front of the gate, and the corpses were loaded on it.”

PEOPLE IN AUSCHWITZ
By Hermann Langbein
 

 
Being shoved or getting hit was common in Auschwitz, and I, too, had my share of beatings. Still, I managed to get through many months of their fiendish tortures without being seriously injured. I tried to be especially careful to avoid the ire of the guards or capos, and that became my most important task. Punishment often meant being whipped; five or ten lashes was the smallest amount I had seen, and twenty-five was not unusual. All too often we were made to witness the scene where a man was stretched across a table and pummeled into unconsciousness. It was a horrible experience to stand at attention and watch the agonizing procedure. Making it even worse, many times a friend was made to administer the punishment. If the blows were not forceful enough, the friend was tortured, too. As weak as our men were, I don’t believe any of them ever survived these painful beatings. Besides the extreme pain the men must have felt, their open skin quickly became infected and they had little chance of recovering. The unimaginable brutality was the norm in Auschwitz. I began to think that those sent to the gas chambers when they first arrived were actually better off than us because they were no longer suffering.

MY DARKEST YEARS
By James Bachner
 

 
“One day in 1937, a Nazi storm trooper knocked on my grandparents’ door. My grandmother answered and asked him what he wanted. ‘I’m here to take away all of your cultural objects,’ he said. ‘Is there anything that you would like to keep? Is there anything that you particularly love that you would like to save?’ ‘Yes,’ my grandmother said. ‘I want to save these antique pewter containers. I’m saving them for my son Rolf.’ The pewter containers were the first things that the Nazi took. He had just wanted to find out what my grandmother treasured most, so he could be sure and take them. He took a great many other things as well.”

CHRONICLES OF THE HOLOCAUST
By Roselle K. Chartock and Jack Spencer

 

 
Families were torn apart, literally. I shall never forget the anguished cries from the children: “Mama, Papa don’t leave us.” How could my heart keep breaking when I had

nothing left to feel?

OUTCRY: HOLOCAUST MEMOIRS
      By Manny Steinberg

 
 

It may be estimated that the second stage began when the starveling had lost one-third of his normal weight. In addition to further weight loss, his facial expression began to change. His gaze became clouded, and his face assumed an apathetic, absent, mournful expression. His eyes were veiled and his eyeballs hollow. His skin began to turn a pale gray, had a paper-thin, hard appearance, and started to peel. It was very susceptible to all kinds of infection, particularly scabies. The patient’s hair became shaggy, lusterless, and brittle. His head became elongated, and his cheekbones and eye sockets stood out. The patient breathed slowly and spoke softly with great effort.

PEOPLE IN AUSCHWITZ
By Hermann Langbein


 
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
 

 
After a while, some of the people in front got tired and simply sat or lay down on the side of the road. A soldier would come up to such a person, aim his rifle, and shoot him. If they were lucky, they died right away. Otherwise they were just left bleeding and moaning. In a few hours they would be dead anyway. The Germans never wasted more than one bullet per Jew.

I CARRIED THEM WITH ME
By Sara Lumer
 

 
Two days after Christmas, Judith Newman remembered her joy over a Jewish child born in her block. Three hours after the birth, she saw a small package lying on a bench. Suddenly it moved. It was the baby. A clerk took the infant and submerged its body in cold water. Newman wanted to shout “Murderess!”  The baby swallowed and gurgled, its little voice chittering like a small bird, until its breath became shorter and shorter. The woman held its head in the water. After about eight minutes the breathing stopped. The woman picked it up, wrapped it up again, and put it among the other corpses.

HITLER’S DEATH CAMPS
By Konnilyn G. Feig

 
 
The train has been emptied. A thin, pock-marked SS man peers inside and shakes his head in disgust and motions to our group, pointing his finger at the door. “Rein. Clean it up!”  We climb inside. In the corners amid human excrement and abandoned wrist-watches lie squashed, trampled infants, naked little monsters with enormous heads and bloated bellies. We carry them out like chickens, holding several in each hand [these are children dead of starvation]. “Don’t take them to the trucks, pass them on to the women,” says the SS man, lighting a cigarette. His cigarette lighter is not working properly; he examines it carefully. “Take them, for God’s sake!” I explode as the women run from me in horror, covering their eyes. The name of God sounds strangely pointless, since the women and the infants will go on the trucks [to the gas chambers], every one of them without exception. We all know what this means, and we look at each other with hate and horror. “What, you don’t want to take them?” asks the pockmarked SS man with a note of surprise and reproach in his voice, and reaches for his revolver. “You mustn’t shoot, I’ll carry them.” A tall, gray-haired woman takes the little corpses out of my hands and for an instant gazes straight into my eyes. “My poor boy,” she whispers and smiles at me. Then she walks away, staggering along the path.

WE WERE IN AUSCHWITZ
By Siedlecki, Olszewski, Borowski


 
Stanislawa Leszczynska identifies dysentery as the illness that caused the greatest casualties in the women’s camp. Since the bunk beds were on top of one another, the liquid bowel movement ran down on those lying below the sick women.

PEOPLE IN AUSCHWITZ
By Hermann Langbein



Swaying with fatigue, Inge London stood in the barren garage at the Hermann Gorring Kaserne, an army barracks on the outskirts of Berlin. The unheated structure was painfully cold, and there was nowhere to sit down. Although the space was large, it was full to overflowing with panicked Jews. The fortunate ones had been able to grab their coats before the SS herded them onto the trucks. The others shivered. They had been there for hours without food or water. The garage reeked of urine and feces. Lacking bathroom facilities, even buckets, people had been forced to evacuate on the floor. Over the long hours of the afternoon and evening, the number of corpses had increased. Some people, already weakened by years of grueling forced labor and inadequate rations, now pushed over the edge by the shock and brutality of the arrests, had died of natural causes. Others had killed themselves by slitting their wrists or by ingesting the supply of poison that many Berlin Jews carried with them at all times

against just this eventuality.

REFUGE IN HELL
By Daniel B. Silver
 


Our work [Vilna Lithuania] consisted of opening mass graves and carrying out the corpses, in order to burn them. I was employed digging out these corpses. We dug out 80,000 corpses in total. I know this because two Jews lived with us in the pit we were employed by the Germans in counting these corpses. That was the only task of these tow. The corpses consisted of a mixture of Jews, Polish Priests, and Russian prisoners-of-war. Among those whom I dug out was my own brother. I found his identity cards on him. He was dead for two years, when I dug him out; I know this because he belonged to a mass of Jews who came from the Vilna ghetto and were shot in September 1941.  The burning of the corpses proceeded absolutely methodically. Running parallel, 7 meter long pits were dug out. Boards were laid across them; a layer of corpses were laid on them, oil poured over the corpses, then branches spread over them and over the branches blocks of wood. Altogether 14 layers of corpses and fuel were erected on top of each other into a funeral pyre.

SOURCES OF THE HOLOCAUST
By Steve Hochstadt

 

When the gas chambers were full of adults, the children were not gassed. Instead the SS dug pits and threw many children into them alive. The guards grabbed a child’s arms and legs, and hurled the baby through the air “like a length of wood, to land in the blazing pit. While the murderers watched the results of their bravery with great pleasure.” They also laughed as they threw live children into the pond next to the crematorium. Witnesses testified at the Nuremberg trials that several thousand children were burned alive in Birkenau in 1944. When an SS man felt pity toward children, “He took the child and beat the head against a stone first before putting it on the pile of fire and wood, so that the child lost consciousness.” But most SS killed in the regular manner by simply throwing the children on top of the piles.

HITLER’S DEATH CAMPS
By Konnilyn G. Feig
 

 
“On the ground behind and beside the school building (which housed the penal company), dozens of maimed and blood-encrusted female corpses are lying around helter-skelter, all of them wearing only shabby prisoners’ shirts. Among the dead some half-dead women are writhing. Their moans mingle with the buzzing of huge swarms of flies that circle over sticky pools of blood and smashed skulls.”

PEOPLE IN AUSCHWITZ
By Hermann Langbein
 


Late afternoon on the second day of our march, we crossed a bridge over the river Lowicz near the town of the same name. There was a meadow along the side of the river and we were finally given a period to rest. As some of us were close to the riverbank and desperate for water, a few of us dared to step into the river and fill our dishes with water and satisfy our thirst. The dirt and other things floating around were unimportant to me; quenching my thirst was the only thing that mattered. Others began entering the water, too but every step they took raised more silt and dirt from the bottom of the river. Soon the men had to go deeper into the river to get anything that was drinkable. Suddenly, machine-gun fire from the other side of the river and from the bridge we had crossed earlier filled the air, killing all the unfortunate men still in the water. The river turned red as the dead corpses floated downstream. To make sure that no one could possibly escape, they even shot at the dead bodies floating in the water.

MY DARKEST YEARS
By James Bachner
 

 
There wasn’t a day when we were not subjected to scenes of screaming and sobbing families being separated, and death was always there with us. There was no medicine for the sick, no doctors or milk for the young mothers and their babies. The mothers had so little nourishment that I remember Mama talking about their breasts drying up so that they could not feed their babies. I was almost afraid to think of these things, afraid I would lose my sanity.

OUTCRY: HOLOCAUST MEMOIRS
By Manny Steinberg


 
Occasionally some women would suddenly start screaming in a terrible way while undressing [before entering the gas chamber]. They pulled out their hair and acted as if they had gone crazy. Quickly they were led behind the farmhouse and killed by a bullet in the back of the neck from a small-caliber pistol.

DEATH DEALER
By Steven Paskuly

 

“Six babies were lying on a pallet of straw; they can’t be more than a few days old. What a sight! Scrawny limbs and bloated bellies. On the bunk beds next to them lie the mothers – emaciated and with burning eyes. One of them softly sings to herself. She is best off, she has lost her mind. They lie there wasted away, all skin and bones many of them naked. They were evidently no longer aware of their nudity. ‘Come along, you shall see everything.’ A Polish male nurse whom I know from main camp escorts me out of the barracks. A wooden shed has been built as an extension of the back wall: it is the morgue, which he opens for me. I have already seen many corpses in the KZ, but this makes me recoil. A mountain of dead bodies at least two meters nigh. Almost all of them children, babies, adolescents. Rats scurry back and forth.”

PEOPLE IN AUSCHWITZ
By Hermann Langbein



Before noon, on 7 August 1942, German SS officers and Lithuanian soldiers gathered before the court-house. The Jews were ordered to muster in the courtyard. The Germans passed between the lines and took the children. Babies were torn from their mothers’ arms and thrown into a closed truck. The Latvian soldiers searched the rooms, cellars and attics, and found babies who had been hidden there. In front of our very eyes they tossed the infants from the top floors of the building to the pavement below. Some had their heads smashed against the stone wall. The babies were thrown into sacks and loaded onto the truck. We stood there and watched in silence. Every sound was forbidden. The children in the trucks did not cry. Only some faint whimpering could be heard.

SURVIVING THE HOLOCAUST WITH THE RUSSIAN JEWISH PARTISANS
By Jack Kagan and Dov Cohen



During the war the SS separated thousands of children from their parents and sent them to Buchenwald. The first group arrived as early as 1939. Most were Jewish children or the children of executed partisans. In the fall of 1944 the SS suddenly herded together all the Jewish and Gypsy youngsters and shipped the “screaming, sobbing children” to the

Auschwitz gas chambers.

HITLER’S DEATH CAMPS
By Konnilyn G. Feig
 


Another whistle, another transport. Freight cars emerge out of the darkness, pass under the lamp-posts, and again vanish in the night. The ramp is small, but the circle of lights is smaller. The unloading will have to be done gradually. Somewhere the trucks are growling. They back up against the steps, black, ghostlike, their searchlights flash across the trees. Wasser! Luft! The same all over again, like a late night showing of the same film: a volley of shots, the train falls silent. Only this time a little girl pushes herself halfway through the small window and, losing her balance, falls out onto the gravel. Stunned, she lies still for a moment, then stands up and begins walking around in a circle, faster and faster, waving her rigid arms in the air, breathing loudly and spasmodically, whining in a faint voice. Her mind has given way in the inferno inside the train. The whining is hard on the nerves: an SS man approaches calmly, his heavy boot strikes her shoulders. She falls. Holding her down with his foot, he draws his revolver, fires once, then again. She remains face down, kicking the gravel with her feet, until she stiffens. They proceed to unseal the train.

WE WERE IN AUSCHWITZ
By Siedlecki, Olszewski, Borowski




“A little man who always was a nobody and suddenly had power. This went to Windeck’s head, and he did want to wield it. He was short and weak, and he wanted to compensate for this with brutality. He particularly like to beat up feeble, half-starved, and sick inmates so brutally that they perished. When these miserable fellows lay on the ground before him, he trampled on them, on their faces, their stomachs, all over, with the heel of his boots.”

PEOPLE IN AUSCHWITZ
By Hermann Langbein
 
 

Chelmno is the story of how the Nazis depopulated a corner of Poland of its Jews by the use of a secret but primitive facility for large-scale killing. Chelmno served as a prototype for the huge death factories that followed. The ancient Jewish communities reached back into the thousand-year history of Poland. Chelmno ended that history – permanently.

HITLER’S DEATH CAMPS
By Konnilyn G. Feig
 
 

Sometimes, as the Sonderkommando were leaving the room, the women realized their fate and began hurling all kinds of curses at us. As the doors were being shut, I saw a woman trying to shove her children out of the chamber, crying out, “Why don’t you at least let my

precious children live?”

DEATH DEALER
By Steven Paskuly



Since mid-June 1940 the Lublin Jewish council had only received terrible news, as from Tyszowce camp, where the men were notoriously undernourished, without clothing, often sick, louse-infested, and covered with sores. Sobianowice reported that “a Pole from Pomerania struck the workers without reason. Food is denied, and eating dirt is proposed.”

JEWISH FORCED LABOR UNDER THE NAZIS
Translated by Kathleen M. Dell’Orto

 

On August 31 the First and Third Companies of Police Battalion 322moved into the Minsk ghetto, where they seized some 700 Jews, including 74 women. The following day Riebel’s Ninth Company took part in the execution of more than 900 Jews, including all of those seized the day before. For the first shooting of large numbers of women, the author of the war diary felt the need to provide justification. They were shot, he explained, “because they had been encountered without the Jewish star during the roundup.”

ORDINARY MEN
By Christopher R. Browning
 
 

How does one respond to the truth that an ordinary man can bash a Jewish child’s head against a wall, pick up the child’s apple, eat it, and return home to fondle his own children?

HITLER’S DEATH CAMPS
By Konnilyn G. Feig


 
It was December 1944, and Otto Abramovic had been in Auschwitz for four months, and reflected that it was a place without precedent in the human span of time on earth. He had seen things he would not have believed if someone else had told him… He had seen a woman spot her husband and go up to the fence charged with 60,000 volts that separated the men from the women. Two SS guards told the woman, “Go kiss your husband,” and as she advanced toward the fence, they shot her, and laughed as they did so.

AN UNCERTAIN HOUR
By Ted Morgan



Himmler visited the camp [Treblinka] in March 1943 and ordered the complete destruction and burning of the corpses. After his visit the SS planners and experts put their minds to the difficult but urgent project. Yankel Wiernik was one of the first picked to help with the task. He described it in his usual clear fashion: “Whenever a grave was opened, a terrible stench polluted the air, as the bodies were in an advanced stage of putrefaction.  It turned out that women burned easier than men. Accordingly, corpses of women were used for kindling fires. The sight was terrifying, the worst that human eyes have ever beheld. When corpses of pregnant women were cremated, the abdomen would burst open, and the burning of the fetus inside the mother’s body would become visible.”

HITLER’S DEATH CAMPS
By Konnilyn G. Feig


 
The ever greater panic spreading among the Jews due to the great heat, overloading of the train cars, and stink of dead bodies – when unloading the train cars some 2,000 Jews were found dead in the train – made the transport almost unworkable.

ORDINARY MEN
By Christopher R. Browning

 

Jews suffered from especially harsh and murderous treatment in the Mauthausen quarry. Kapos assigned them the worst tasks and the least food. For example, it was a Jewish job to carry the full toilet buckets on poles and dump them away from the quarry. As the Jews stumbled up the slopes, the bucket contents slopped over and covered them with excrement. The SS pushed so many Jews over the quarry precipice to their deaths that it became known as the “Parachute Jump,” and the victims as “paratroopers.” In 1941 a large group of Dutch Jews arrived at the quarry for special treatment. The SS denied them the use of the 186 steps for their first flight to the bottom, forcing them instead to slide down the loose stones on the side – an action that killed many. Then the SS forced the remaining Jews to load rocks on their backs and run up the steps. Sometimes the rocks rolled down the hill, crushing the feet of those behind. Those who lost their rocks were brutally beaten. For two days the SS drove the Jews up and down the steps. On the third day, driven by despair, the remaining Jews joined hands and leaped over the precipice to their death in the quarry below.

HITLER’S DEATH CAMPS
By Konnilyn G. Feig
 

 
The first murderous onslaught against Lublin Jewry began in mid-March 1942 and continued until mid-April. About 90 percent of the 40,000 inhabitants of the Lublin ghetto were killed either through deportation to the extermination camp at Belzec or execution on the spot, and 11,000 to 12,000 more Jews were sent to Belzec from the nearby towns Izbica, Piaski, Lubartow, Zamosc, and Krasnik during the same period some 36,000 Jews from the neighboring district of Galicia to the east of Lublin were also deported to Belzec.

        ORDINARY MEN     
By Christopher R. Browning




One Sunday [at Langinbilau] I witnessed a horrible scene. A soldier brought in a father and son. He asked the son to lay down on the floor and ordered the father to put his shovel over his son’s throat and step on it. The father refused to do this. He was then ordered to lay down on the floor instead and the solder forced the son to choke the father. When the son also refused to do this, they were shot to death.

MEMOIRS OF A HOLOCAUST SURVIVOR: ICEK KUPERBERG
By Icek Kuperberg

 
 
The midwife reports that until 1943, all newborn babies in Birkenau were drowned in a small barrel. Two midwives sent to the camp for the crime of child murder performed the task. After each delivery loud gurgles and the splashing of water would be heard in the next room. Later the new mother would see her baby’s body thrown outside and torn apart by rats.

The guards tracked down Jewish children with “ruthless severity.” Hiding a Jewish child was impossible, said the midwife. The two midwives under Nazi control watched Jewish mothers in childbirth, and once the child was born, they often drowned it in the barrel. The fate of the infants who survived was worse. “They died a slow hunger death.”

HITLER’S DEATH CAMPS
By Konnilyn G. Feig

 

Some Jews had survived by hiding in town rather than in the woods, but they too were tracked down. The most memorable case was in Kock, where a cellar hiding place was reported by a Polish translator working for the Germans. Four Jews were captured. Under “interrogation,” they revealed another cellar hiding place in a large house on the edge of town. A single German policeman and the Polish translator went to the second hiding place, expecting no difficulties. But this was a rare instance in which the Jews had arms, and the approaching policeman was fired upon. Reinforcements were summoned, and a fire fight broke out. In the end four or five Jews were killed in a breakout attempt, and eight to ten others were found dead or badly wounded in the cellar. Only four or five were captured unwounded; they were likewise “interrogated” and shot that evening. The German police then went to search of the owner of the house, a Polish woman who managed to flee in time. She was tracked to her father’s house in a nearby village. Lieutenant Brand presented the father with a stark choice – his life or his daughters. The man surrendered his daughter, who was shot on the spot.

ORDINARY MEN
By Christopher R. Browning


 

My father…had been arrested along with other Jewish men in town. When I asked him what was going on, all he said was, “They set fire to the synagogue and wrecked our house.” Later we learned that the SA had smashed the window of Uncle Emil’s butcher shop with an ax, taken the meat that was on display and thrown it into the street. They had also plundered Uncle Sally’s home, beating and severely injuring him. And in Duisburg that night, storm troopers ransacked Uncle Ernst’s apartment, slitting open his down-filled bedcovers and tossing his piano out the window. The Nazis euphemistically referred to the pogrom as Kristallnacht.

THE UNWELCOME ONE
By Hans Frankenthal

 


And finally came Treblinka. Learning from the mistakes made at the other three, the Nazis were here able to construct an unusually efficient destruction instrument that managed to destroy the lives and bodies of 1,000,000 human beings in only twelve months – a truly monstrous carnage.

HITLER’S DEATH CAMPS
By Konnilyn G. Feig

 


In our building, at 12 Lenin Street, they killed the old man Stolyarov, and when the residents threw him out into the courtyard, they, Hitler’s men, trampled on the face of the murdered Jew with their dirty, hobnailed boots, gloating and yelling: “Kaput Jude!” The face of the dead man became covered with small holes. They shot him twice more in the mouth and eyes.

THE UNKNOWN BLACK BOOK
By Joshua Rubenstein and Ilya Altman

 


Birkenau was a rat’s paradise. They were everywhere – in the barracks, in the hospitals, running through the camp. It seemed at times to Lewinska that only crows, rats, and mice remained her companions. The hordes of mice hid in her bunk, shared her bread, brushed past her face, waking her during the night. Rats chewed on human cadavers lying on the ground. When night fell, the huge rats scurried from their holes and attacked the women in the bottom bunks. In Block 25 the rats chewed the fingers off the corpses, gnawed at their faces, and even attacked dying bodies. They ran up to the patients in the hospital. Someone called out, “A rat, a rat,” and they raced away. There were so many of them that while hallucinating, some feverish patients saw them as a huge army of bacteria. All night long scurrying, leaping, and squeaking disturbed the women’s sleep. Dr. Lingens-Reiner saw women with toes gnawed by the rats while they were asleep and one whose nose had been bitten. In the hospital the rats crawled up to the third level of bunks where the weakest patients lay, bit into the buttocks, and chewed off pieces of their noses and limbs. The night nurses tried to drive the rats away from the sick women. They took turns sitting up. But the hospital rats had grown fat eating on the corpses until they reached the size of big cats. They were not afraid of people when driven away with sticks, they only hid their heads and drove their claws into the bunks, readying

for the next attack.

HITLER’S DEATH CAMPS
By Konnilyn G. Feig

 


 
We pass the first four blocks [at Auschwitz] before turning into block five. We are so busy trying not to lose our clothing that we do not notice the room we are led into, until the door slams shut and a bolt falls on the other side. Trapped. We stand almost on top of one another in bloody straw. Bedbugs jump, making our bodies black. We hold our clothes up over our faces; they jump on our bare heads, our hands, all over any exposed patch of skin. In the straw, lice crawl hungrily between our toes.

RENA’S PROMISE
By Rena Korneich Gelissen with Heather Dune Macadam

 


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 aside her sickened her.

HITLER’S DEATH CAMPS
By Konnilyn G. Feig

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