Auschwitz: True Tales from a Grotesque Land

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

THE PLAGUES OF EGYPT

A large military airport with underground hangars. Next to it stood about fifteen barracks buildings that once housed French workers who had been brought to Germany to do forced labor. They had worked as maintenance personnel. Later the workers had been sent elsewhere, because the German military was afraid of sabotage. The barracks had been standing empty for a year. They brought our transport from Ravensbrück to this barracks in Rostock.

When we entered the gates of the new camp in the middle of February, we were greeted not only by the camp officers and the SS hierarchy but also by the grim faces of the Auschwitz functionaries: the blokowe, the clerks, and the sztubowe. When I first saw them I thought that my exhausted mind must be hallucinating, but that was not the case at all. They were the same well-dressed, fully rested, attractive Auschwitz functionaries. They looked at us not only with contempt but with anger.

"Would you believe it?" one of them said to me later. "They brought us here a week before you arrived. We cleaned the barracks. We made the place look like a model camp. And then they go and bring in old, miserable, stinking women. In a word, old sick women. It's just not right to bring them to an ideal German camp, which is what they were going to create here in Rostock. All the old functionaries -- the blokowe, the kapos, the clerks -- took the nice, cozy rooms for themselves."

The barracks were all built the same. A narrow corridor ran down the middle of the building for its entire length. Stalls were on both sides. At the end of the corridor was a toilet and a wash room. In the main room there were twenty-four three-decker beds, twelve on each side of the corridor. In the corridor stood a table and two benches. Two women slept in each of the narrow beds. The room had windows, but they were blocked by the beds so that they could not be opened, and they did not admit any light. Seventy-two women slept in this overcrowded room. Is it any won-

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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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