Every day of that macabre last summer of Hitler's reign twenty thousand people were killed in Auschwitz. The crematoria were unable to burn all of the dead who were being gassed in Auschwitz. Large ravines were excavated next to the crematoria. The dead bodies were thrown into them, and then they were doused with benzine and set aflame. The flames leaped upwards, and the sky was turned red by the gigantic fire. At night the entire scene looked grotesque. We would go out to the front of the block and stare at the reddened sky. We were not so much mesmerized by the flames as by the sea of human blood. Burning human flesh gives off a sweet, choking odor that makes you feel faint. That summer we were saturated with that indescribable choking odor. All summer we groped our way around in the smoke that belched from the chimneys of the crematoria above and from the burning bodies in the ravines below. That July and August the weather was very hot and stuffy. It was a terrible summer. Looking back, now, it is difficult for me to say how we were able to live through those times, conscious of human life oozing out of existence everywhere. How is it that we did not all go crazy? How is it that we were able to vegetate, keeping our composure in this unbearable world? The time arrived when a scream tore itself involuntarily out of one's throat.
We were standing, as was our wont, in front of the block, watching the sky turn to a deeper red. All around us was quiet that night, because there was no transport. Apparently there was a large backlog of corpses that had to be burned before the new raw material essential to the functioning of the death factory could be brought in. Suddenly, the stillness was broken by the screaming of children, as if a single scream had been torn out of hundreds of mouths, a single scream of fear and unusual pain, a scream repeated a thousand times in the single word, "Mama" a scream that increased in intensity every second, enveloping the whole camp and every inmate.
Our lips parted without our being conscious of what we were