Auschwitz: True Tales from a Grotesque Land

By Sara Nomberg-Przytyk; Eli Pefferkorn et al. | Go to book overview
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During the summer of 1944 the transports used to arrive at Auschwitz at night as well as in the daytime. We often woke up because of the shouting of the SS men, the barking of dogs, the whistling of trainmen, the stamping of hundreds of feet, and the cries of desperation in different languages. At night the atrocities combined with our sleeplessness to give us a very vivid sense of existing in a factory of death. And yet, it all appeared unreal.

This particular July night it was the shouting of the SS men and the barking of the dogs that awakened me. I was lying on my narrow mattress thinking of those unfamiliar people going on their last trip. Suddenly the air was shattered by a series of shots, and then you could hear the sound of someone running. Then more shots, more shouts, and lamentations. It lasted a long time, almost the whole of a short summer night. Something was going on at the train station. Someone had fouled up an order given by the Germans.

According to my usual custom, I went to the infirmary before roll call, not yet dressed. Since there was running water in the infirmary it was possible for me to wash up. At the gate of the infirmary I met Marusia.

"Come quickly to the infirmary," she said. "We have to figure what we should do."

Except for the two of us, everybody was already in the infirmary. There was a young girl wearing Mancy's sweater. She sat there hunched over, so frightened that she did not know what she was saying. We knew we had to get all the information immediately in order to help her. She spoke French and a little German. Marusia ran to get Masha, who was French, in the hope that the girl would trust her more than she trusted us and would tell us how she managed to get here so early in the morning with practically no clothes on.

When Marusia had arrived that morning she found the girl, who had barely managed to cover herself with a rag that had been


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Auschwitz: True Tales from a Grotesque Land


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