Auschwitz: True Tales from a Grotesque Land

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

ILYA EHRENBURG ADDRESSES US

One day late in November of 1944 we received a visit from Hans, an Austrian comrade. This summer the resistance had arranged to get him assigned to the komando working on the train ramp. They wanted him to inform the new prisoners arriving in Auschwitz what was awaiting them in the showers. He barely escaped the gas chamber himself, because the skeptical prisoners began to question the SS men in order to corroborate the information he had given them. Having succeeded in eluding the SS, he had come, now, to visit us, cheerful and full of positive thoughts, as ever. He brought me as a present a beautiful winter coat, which I sold in April of 1945 in Rostock for a loaf of soggy bread and half a box of margarine.

As so often happened, we got into a discussion on the future of the camp. Hans had brought us interesting news. The Red Army had crossed the Prussian frontier and the fighting was taking place on German soil.

"That's why they stopped the gassing in Auschwitz," Hans said. "They are afraid that the Germans may suffer the same fate. It seems that the Russians have given them an ultimatum about that."

Now I understood why Mengele had not sent those decrepit old people to the gas. The rulers of the world were afraid, those same rulers who, as early as July 1941, had painted signs in big white letters on their trucks: "Berlin-Moscow." Although the war was not yet over, they were being forced to yield and to make an attempt to placate the winners.

It was in the waning hours of a short fall day that Orli came into the infirmary. "Have somebody stand at the gate and guard the entrance," she said. "I will give you a copy of the latest issue of Goebbels's newspaper, Das Reich, in which a speech by Ilya Ehrenburg is reprinted."

At first I thought that I must have heard it wrong. How could that be? Goebbels printing an article by Ehrenburg? Maybe he had printed it as a provocation.

-121-

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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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