Different Voices: Women and the Holocaust

By Carol Rittner; John K. Roth | Go to book overview

Part One
VOICES OF EXPERIENCE

The murderers are loose! They search the world
All through the night, oh God, all through the night!
To find the fire kindled in me now,
This child so like a light, so still and mild
.

GERTRUD KOLMAR

She called the poem "Murder." It comes from a series titled Weibliches Bildnis (Image of Woman). World War II had not yet begun, Hermann Göring had not yet told Reinhard Heydrich to prepare plans for the "Final Solution" when Gertrud Kolmar wrote "The murderers are loose!" Those words said more than she knew, but she was right. The murderers were loose. Searching the world night and day, they would find and kill their prey in ghettos, ravines, and camps.

If human history is divided into chapters, none has proved more brutal than the one burdened by the name Holocaust. Of all the places where the Holocaust's murderers were loose, none was worse than Auschwitz. Even the Nazis said so. Consider, for example, the testimony of Dr. Johann Paul Kremer. A man in his late fifties with doctorates in biology and medicine, this professor of anatomy at the University of Münster had joined the Nazi party in 1929 and the SS in 1935. Kremer kept a diary. It reports that on August 29, 1942, he received orders that sent him to Auschwitz, where he would spend the next three months replacing a surgeon who was said to be ill.

Arriving from Prague on August 30, Kremer took a room in the SS hotel that was situated near the town railway station in Oswiecim. His diary notes the poor climate--hot, humid weather, over 80 degrees in the shade. It remarks that there were "innumerable flies" in the area but also describes the good food

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