Auschwitz: True Tales from a Grotesque Land

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

In the afternoon we descended on Ravensbrück* like a swarm of locusts. Even here the word "Auschwitz" caused anxiety and fear. The prisoners here looked at us with fear in their eyes, because we were terrifying to see. The days of marching without rest, the terrible trip standing in the open railway car, hunger and thirst, the stink that hovered over our column -- all this made us seem like shadows swaying down the road to Hell.

I searched the column for acquaintances, and I staggered along the side of the column like a wounded bird. It was impossible to recognize anybody. It struck me, then, that we had come to Ravensbrück only to die. They pushed us into a barrack. Nine women were assigned to one three-decker bed. The camp was in a state of total disarray. The evacuation of Auschwitz had unnerved the SS men. It took their minds off us. First of all, sleep. The need for sleep is stronger than hunger. We threw ourselves onto the beds, the floor, any place, like dead souls. I remember that the blokowa tried to count us. She kept yelling repeatedly, "Achtung!" The sztubowe were beating the sleeping faces, and we kept on sleeping. Finally they let us alone. After all, it was January 1945.

From the very first moment that we arrived in Ravensbrück, they were already talking about a transport that would take us further. There was no place to put us here. Everyone wanted to stay a little longer, to rest and to eat, even though the food was even worse here than in Auschwitz. We received a crumb of pasty bread in the morning, and then we waited for the soup that we received for lunch and supper. The soup had no fat in it, and you could sip endlessly without feeling even a dent in your hunger.

"What do you think?" asked Irka. "How many plates of this soup

____________________
*
A concentration camp in eastern Germany, about fifty miles north of Berlin and twenty miles north of Sachsenhausen. It became a way station and dumping ground for dying captives on death marches as the Nazis tried desperately to finish their attempted genocide.

-137-

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