Auschwitz: True Tales from a Grotesque Land

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

THE NEW YEAR'S CELEBRATION

There was a line in front of the mirror hanging on the wall. Everyone wanted to look good tonight. We were all excited, as if we were going to a grand ball. We had to make a celebration of greeting the new year, 1945.

In December we had already decided to celebrate the new year merrily. We were sure that the year 1945 would bring with it the defeat of Germany and that the Russian offensive would sweep away the camp in Auschwitz. Of this much we were certain, but it was difficult to foresee what would happen to us. On this day, however, we did not want to think about that. We had decided that today we would have a good time, just like people throughout the world.

We decorated the infirmary to give it a festive look. We set tables covered with white tablecloths in the middle of the room. On the table were all sorts of dainties that Lucy had been preparing for days. She was the superintendent of the kitchen in the area. The girls had brought her whatever they could manage to grab. Some of us had even hoarded our bread just to make sure that there would not be a shortage at the New Year's Eve party. Everyone had an assigned place at the table. On each plate lay a card with the name and next to it a beautifully painted branch of a pine tree. By each plate lay a star intended as a souvenir. In addition to this there were presents that we gave to each other. I remember that I received a keepsake from Orli, and I had also "organized" something for her. It had cost me a great deal of effort, but I finally managed to get her a beautiful, colored silk scarf.

Next to my table lay a beautifully wrapped package: "For dear Sara, from Orli." Finally, we were all assembled, except for one of the girls who had to stand guard duty in front of the infirmary. Lucy performed the function of hostess. With a pleasant smile she conducted each person to her place. She set a bottle of wine in the middle of the table. "Where did she get it?" I thought with amazement. We called Lucy the ambassador from Luxembourg because

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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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