Alma Rose: Vienna to Auschwitz

By Richard Newman; Karen Kirtley | Go to book overview

16

Instant Nightmare

Auschwitz -- a wound in the order of being. -- Martin Buber Here we are in the anus mundi. -- SS Dr. Heinz Thilo

Convoy 57 hurtled toward the East under tight security. A thousand captives were crowded into the train -- 522 men and boys, 430 women and girls, and 48 of unspecified sex. Of this number, 59 would survive until the war ended in 1945. 1

The commander of the train was an officer of the Metz Schutzpolizei Kommando, and there were twenty male guards. An entry in the train's manifest detailed the contents of possibly two freight cars: 6,500 kilograms of early potatoes, 3,500 kg. flour, 80 kg. ersatz coffee, 275 kg. dried vegetables, 275 kg. pasta, 500 kg. and 540 dozen cans vegetables, 250 kg. lard, 195 kg. sugar, 350 kg. salt, two barrels red wine, 95 dozen tins preserved tomatoes, 195 dozen milk, 371 dozen tins sardines and canned fish, 1,306 dozen tins canned meat and pâté, and about 12 kg. chocolate. The destination for this mountain of conqueror's spoils was not specified, although the manifest included a notation by Brunner than none of the provisions should go to the concentration camp. 2 By July of 1943, these provisions were luxuries throughout Europe; even highly privileged Germans would have found it hard to acquire such delicacies. There is no record of the train's passengers' receiving any food at all during the journey.

Henry Bulawko, among the prisoners on Convoy 57, described the experience of spending two nights and three days in sealed boxcars:

We were loaded 60 (the manifest required 50) people where 30 would have had difficulty fitting. There wasn't enough room for all to lie down at the same time. A big pail in the corner of the car took care of our needs. For modesty's sake, we encircled it with blankets.

-211-

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