Auschwitz: True Tales from a Grotesque Land

By Sara Nomberg-Przytyk; Eli Pefferkorn et al. | Go to book overview

SALVATION

Suddenly a young girl appeared in front of me. Dressed in a sports coat, with a hood on her head, she went down the line asking, in a hushed voice, "Who is a friend of Sonia?" I became proud. Could they mean me? "That's me," I said, not completely sure that they really meant me.

She looked at me quickly, as though she could read me completely with this one look. That is how people looked at each other in Auschwitz, as though they undressed each other with a glance. "Come with me," she whispered. "How can I?" I replied. "The sztubowe." I was afraid of their blows. "Don't ask" she said. "Just come." I stepped out of the line. The hands of the sztubowe parted before my guide. We stepped outside the chain that surrounded the people condemned to death. Eva (that was the stranger's name) led me along a narrow path. She took me to the rear of the bath house, where those who had lived through the selection were waiting. I was saved.

We stood there for a long time, shifting from leg to leg, oppressed by cold and fatigue. We waited for the rest of those who were not going to the gas this time. When the selection was finished, we returned to the block. Without a word we lay down on the beds, unable to exert any effort. The sztubowe also sat motionless, dejected and silent. Even those who were familiar with death and with the crimes of Auschwitz saw in the selections the uncertainty of their own existence.

The first day after the selection our block looked terrible. Everyone returned, even those whose number had been written down in the book of death. They had a few days respite from the gas. The little Greek girl was lying on her bunk, injured from her desperate jump through the window. She was inscribed for the gas. Because of some scabs a young beautiful girl would be cut off from life. I did not talk to her, though she lay no more than an arm's length from me. I was ashamed that I was to live.

There were some other people from Bialystok on the block with me: Sojkow and her two daughters. Mrs. Sojkow was written down

-27-

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Auschwitz: True Tales from a Grotesque Land
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Translator's Foreword ix
  • Alienation 3
  • Exchange 8
  • New Arrivals 13
  • Without Pity 17
  • Death of the Zugang 22
  • Salvation 27
  • The Roar of the Beast 31
  • The Infirmary 36
  • What Kind of a Person Was Orli Reichert? 41
  • The Fight for Masha's Life 43
  • A Plate of Soup 45
  • Erika's Red Triangle 48
  • A Peculiar Roll Call 51
  • The Block of Death 53
  • Morituri Te Salutant 58
  • Marie and Odette 63
  • Esther's First Born 67
  • Old Words -- New Meanings 72
  • Children 79
  • A Living Torch 81
  • The Little Gypsy 83
  • Taut as a String 85
  • The Extermination of the Midgets 89
  • Natasha's Triumph 94
  • The Price of Life 98
  • The Lovers of Auschwitz 100
  • The Dance of the Rabbis 105
  • Revenge of a Dancer 107
  • The Verdict 110
  • Friendly Meetings 114
  • Old Women 118
  • Ilya Ehrenburg Addresses Us 121
  • The New Year's Celebration 123
  • The Bewitched Sleigh 127
  • The Camp Blanket 132
  • In Pursuit of Life 137
  • The Plagues of Egypt 142
  • Without the Escorts 146
  • The First Days of Freedom 151
  • The Road Back 155
  • Editors' Afterword 163
  • Glossary 183
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