Auschwitz: True Tales from a Grotesque Land

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

NATASHA'S TRIUMPH

Every day deathly undernourished women and hundreds of mortally sick people came through the doors of the infirmary to which was attached a little cottage that housed the personnel who worked in the infirmary. Actually, it was not really a cottage but a little shack without windows. The total area of the shack was about two by six meters. Inside there were two three-decker beds and a small table. We thought that it was the most wonderful habitation in the world. It was our corner, different from the terrible barracks.

One sunny day we received a notice that hit us like a clap of thunder. It was a summer evening in 1944 when Orli brought us the news that we would have to move out of our little shack because Mengele had decided to create a ward for mentally disturbed women. At night we removed our meager possessions. The next morning we waited for the patients. The whole affair looked very suspicious to me. It was difficult to understand why Mengele would create a ward for the mentally sick in the infirmary. Until now there had been no such ward. We had a feeling that Mengele must have a new trick up his sleeve.

First thing in the morning they brought the first patient. Her name was Natasha. The blokowa brought her in.

"She has to stay here with you in the infirmary," the blokowa said and left.

Before me stood a young girl, straight as a tree, with a gloomy, rebellious face. She was nineteen years old and from Leningrad. She would not tell us anything else. Our Jewish doctors were not invited to examine her, since their findings were set at no value. Natasha immediately took an upper bunk. She lay there quietly, saying nothing, but when we brought her some soup she came to life, and a big smile brightened up her face. She ate while she continued to lie there without saying a word.

The same afternoon, five new patients were brought in, including two German, one Dutch, and two French women. They were all very young and very sad. At first we were afraid of them. We

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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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