Auschwitz: True Tales from a Grotesque Land

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

TRANSLATOR'S FOREWORD

The original Polish typescript of this book, dated 1966, is on deposit in the Yad Vashem Archive, where it was discovered by Eli Pfefferkorn. When I first undertook to translate a forty-page segment of typescript, supported by a generous grant from Mr. Sigmund Strochlitz, I knew nothing about the author, not even whether she was still alive. It took no more than a few minutes of reading for me to recognize that I was dealing with an author of unusual talent. It was not that the manuscript broke new ground on the general nature of the Auschwitz-Birkenau death factory, for by the time I started translating, in September 1981, the horrors had already been docu0mented many times over. What struck me about this manuscript was the author's ability to make the characters in the camp emerge as unique individuals, even against the backdrop of camp depersonalization and imminent extermination. Here was a readable, dramatically compelling account, not simply of the author's consciousness, but of the people in the camp who were caught in the meatgrinder of history -- not only prisoners but captors as well.

In May 1982, aided by a travel grant from the American Philosophical Society, I was able to go to Jerusalem and, with the kind assistance of Danuta Dombrowska and Shalmi Barmore of Yad Vashem, obtain a copy of the entire typescript of about two hundred pages. My next step, on returning to the United States, was to determine whether the manuscript had been published in any form. A check of the British Museum Catalogue and of the NUC of the Library of Congress revealed that a Sara Nomberg-Przytyk had published a book entitled Columny Samsona (The Pillars of Samson) in Lublin, Poland, in 1966. After obtaining one of the few copies available in this country, via interlibrary loan, I soon discovered that The Pillars of Samson narrated events in the Bialystok Ghetto up to the time of its liquidation, at which point the author had been transported to the Stutthof concentration camp. Since Auschwitz: True Tales from a Grotesque Land starts with the author's being transported from Stutthof to Auschwitz, and since

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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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