Auschwitz: True Tales from a Grotesque Land

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

THE INFIRMARY

I had been in the infirmary for three days. The day after "the chosen" were taken off to the death block, the schreiberka came to see me. She told me to get ready, that she would take me to the infirmary, and that I would be admitted as a hospital patient. "I am not sick" I protested. I was terribly afraid of the hospital. During the selection I had seen what was done to the sick and the weak in Auschwitz.

"I am not asking you whether you want to or not" she answered. "I have an order from Orli, the lagerälteste of the area. So don't talk, just get ready."

When Masha was here she mentioned to me that Orli was a German Communist. Since Hitler had come to power in 1933 she had been in concentration camps. Now, in Auschwitz, she was administrator of the whole area. She had a great deal of power and could use it to help comrades. If Orli told them to bring me, nothing bad would happen to me. Maybe this was the help from my friends that I had been waiting for.

Right after breakfast, which I now received regularly, I went to the clinic along with the sick women who had been chosen by the Sztubowe from among those who had been groaning with pain. The area was adjacent to field "A." All we had to do to get there was to go through the gate. The area was no different from the rest of the camp: the same barracks and the same barren surroundings without a single tree. Nothing but barracks and dirt and trampled snow. The first barracks on the corner was the infirmary. Many women who had been brought from the other blocks were already waiting here. In the area there were blocks and infirmaries, both Aryan and Jewish. I was taken to a Jewish infirmary. We waited outside, frozen and hunched over with the cold. Although they were terribly frightened, these women had decided to report sick. They could barely stand on their feet. Many of them were suffering from dysentery. It was a common camp sickness. The body could not hold a crumb of food and grew progressively weaker. These women were horribly emaciated, with green faces,

-36-

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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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