Auschwitz: True Tales from a Grotesque Land

By Sara Nomberg-Przytyk; Eli Pefferkorn et al. | Go to book overview
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WITHOUT PITY

By now I had been on the block of the Jewish zugangi for a whole week. During this entire period I doubt that I had managed to get even as much as two bowls of soup for lunch. As soon as I would get close to the soup can I would be pushed away brutally. Those who were stronger took my portion. When I tried to object I was hit over the head with my own bowl. In the block with me was a young beautiful girl from Bialystok named Karola. Every crumb of bread that she could get hold of, and every spoonful of soup she could grab she shared with me. If not for her I doubt whether I would have survived the hard lot of a zugang.

January 1944 was unusually cold. The stars were still glittering in the frosty sky when they chased us out to the front of the block for roll call. As the cliché would have it, "the stars winked at us happily." I trembled from cold in my long, black silk dress dotted with holes. To me the stars looked vengeful and pitiless. They lined us up in ranks of five. Every row had to be straight and was formed according to height, from tallest to shortest. The poor old women did not understand what those crazed blokowe required of them. Without scruple, young, well-dressed, well-fed women beat the faces of women old enough to be their mothers. Standing in front of the ranks of taut women, the sztubowa shouted, "Achtung!" which brought out the blokowa. She was a young, Jewish girl from Slovakia, about twenty years of age, beautiful, elegant, and slightly pink from sleep and frost. She was beautifully dressed. I remember that she had on a blue rain cape with a hood which was tossed over her winter coat. It seemed to me at the time that she was unusually beautiful, almost an unearthly being. She floated through the rows of taut bodies with dignity. Apparently she liked the way we stood, because she stood aside without saying a word. We had to wait a long time for the SS men to appear so that we could have a proper roll call that would ascertain that not even one prisoner might be hiding and that all the prisoners were standing there ready to welcome the angel of death.

-17-

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