Auschwitz: True Tales from a Grotesque Land

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

A PECULIAR ROLL CALL

There were no roll calls in our area, but morning and evening we could see the roll calls taking place on the other side of the hospital wire, and we were glad that we did not have to stand for hours in the cold and the rain. So we were very surprised when one day the blokowa told us that we were going to have a roll call and that all the functionaries, doctors, and nurses would have to gather in front of the infirmary.

In Auschwitz we were panicked by any change in the routine. We knew from experience that change brought nothing good, and we accepted innovation only with the greatest trepidation. A few hundred people, everybody who worked on both the Jewish and Aryan blocks, gathered in front of the infirmary. The blokowe and Sztubowe on one side, the doctors and nurses on the other.

"Achtung," shouted one of the blokowe, whereupon we all straightened up and stood at attention, waiting for the SS men. Orli walked slowly past the first row. She was alone. This was my first opportunity to get a close look at her. She was slight but powerful. She was wearing pants and a light sports jacket. She had brown hair, cut short in a masculine style. She walked deliberately along the length of the line, with her head hung low. Later she situated herself in front of the group and pulled a card out of her pocket.

"There won't be roll calls in this area. Don't be frightened. Today I gathered you all together because I want to read to you a complaint that the functionaries in the area wrote about me. The complaint is addressed to Dr. Mengele. This is it: ' Orli, our camp elder, surrounds herself with Communists and Jews. She gives all the jobs in the area to Communists. We do not want this situation to continue, and, therefore, we do not want Orli.' Are you curious as to what Mengele did with that letter? As you can see, he handed it over to me, and he asked me what the whole thing is all about. I told him that I am a Communist and that it is difficult for me to be friendly with whores. He told me to tear up the complaint, but I wanted to read it to you first. Now, I am going to tear it up. You are

-51-

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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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