Flares of Memory: Stories of Childhood during the Holocaust

By Anita Brostoff; Sheila Chamovitz | Go to book overview

Dachau Arnold Blum
b. Nuremberg, Germany, 1922

After three hours of travel on the Autobahn, our bus turned into the town of Dachau, fifteen miles from Munich. The date was Friday, the 11th of November,

1938. A few minutes later we pulled up along a railroad siding where other buses were parked. SS men approached. The driver opened the door.

Stiff-limbed from our trip, we had some difficulty obeying the shouted orders of the SS to get off the bus and line up.

While standing in formation I observed other buses being unloaded. One man, who had apparently lost consciousness on the trip, was removed from his bus by an SS man pulling him by the ankles. This caused the man's head to hit each of the steps leading down from the bus. The shock and pain revived him. After being dumped on the ground he flailed his arms and legs through the air, thereby inadvertently kicking his tormentor. The latter, in a blind rage, jumped on his victim, stomping and kicking him into submission with his hobnailed boots. The other Jews from this bus also bore marks of abuse. Black eyes and raised welts on their faces were commonplace. I learned later that these people came from Vienna, where the treatment accorded them had been particularly brutal.

After being counted we were marched in the direction of the camp. I saw a large quadrangle, surrounded by an electrified barbed-wire fence, perhaps ten feet high. Machine gun towers were manned by helmeted SS. We approached a gate house with a tall double gate made of steel. One of these bore the legend: arbeit macht frei, Work Makes Free. The gate was opened and closed again after we entered.

Our guard escort marched us onto a large field we would soon learn to call Appellplatz, the drill field. It separated the prisoner barracks on our left from the administration complex on our right. The prisoners were housed in wooden, one-story huts, arranged evenly on both sides of the Lagerstrasse, the Camp Street—eighteen huts on each side.

We were marched to the barrack side of the field and were ordered to stand at attention facing the barracks. It was about mid-afternoon. We were cold and hungry. Worse yet, we had not been able to relieve ourselves since a foul-smelling pail in the Stuttgart cell had been available to us, many hours ago.

As far as I could tell out of the corners of my eyes, there were thousands of Jews standing at attention on the Appellplatz, to our left, our right and our rear.

-50-

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