Auschwitz: True Tales from a Grotesque Land

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

THE BEWITCHED SLEIGH

We were awakened by the sounds of rifle butts banging on the gates of the infirmary and by the yelling of the Germans.

"Open! Quick!"

We jumped out of bed. We put on whatever was at hand. We were so nervous that everything flew out of our hands.

"Open up quickly!" they screamed from the other side of the gate.

Dr. Koenig and a few SS men burst into the infirmary. They were dressed as if for a trip, with hats and rucksacks, and they were armed.

"Give us all the documents! Sick charts, the admissions books, everything! Don't hide anything," Koenig said threateningly.

We dragged out everything. An SS man was loading the papers into a big sack, which he would tie with a thick rope. Koenig was looking through all the cards. Then he looked at us as though he was considering something. He noticed our nervousness. It was simply too difficult for us to cover it up.

"Don't be afraid of anything," he said. "We won't leave you to the Bolsheviks."

Finally they left. They took the sack with them.

"He really comforted us," Kwieta joked.

We came out to the front of the infirmary. The snow and frost crunched underfoot. Echoes of artillery fire reached our ears from a distance. Every few minutes rockets illuminated the sky. The Germans were running from the camp. You could hear the murmur of the cars departing.

It was 17 January 1945. Hope tore at our hearts. Maybe the Germans really are fleeing, and maybe they are going to abandon us prisoners. That would have been the best solution.

"Don't delude yourselves," Orli tried to convince us. "The Germans won't leave us to the Bolsheviks. Either they will blow up the camp at the last minute or they will force us into other concentration camps. I know them very well. They will not let

-127-

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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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