Auschwitz: True Tales from a Grotesque Land

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

THE LOVERS OF AUSCHWITZ

It was fall 1944. On that cloudy day the roll call dragged on endlessly. Every few minutes we would look through the wires only to see columns of tired women. Rapportführer Taube, who had taken over the roll call that day, was running from one block to the other, checking and counting. The SS women ran in his footsteps, terribly nervous. Apparently not knowing what else to do, the blokowe kept calling out, "Achtung!" The women braced themselves for the worst. Later, all the blokowe were called to the rapportführer and issued some sort of order. They quickly returned to their blocks and, with the clerks, wrote down the numbers of the women who were standing in columns. Every prisoner feared that most of all.

"Why are they writing down the numbers?" we wondered. "Are all the prisoners designated for the gas?" In Auschwitz you could expect the worst every minute. Here you walked arm in arm with death.

Having written down the numbers, the blokowe ran to give them to Taube. Right after that the sirens started wailing. For us the wail of the sirens was the most beautiful music we could hear in the camp, because the sirens sounded only for two reasons: when a prisoner escaped or when an "enemy" plane was spotted overhead. The sound of the sirens in this instance meant that a prisoner had escaped. No sooner had the roll call ended than the whole contingent of SS men and their dogs started on the hunt.

The next day we discovered exactly who had escaped. Mala, a Jewess from Belgium who worked as a läufer in the camp, had escaped from the women's section. Her boyfriend, who was a Polish political prisoner, had escaped from the men's section. For a few days the fugitives remained at large. Among the women in our area there was a holiday atmosphere. Since Mala was a member of the anti-Fascist movement, we figured that, if she escaped, she would spread the news of what was happening in this Hell. Now, every time we met we would greet each other with the same questions: "How is it with Mala? Is she still free?" What pleasure

-100-

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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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