Auschwitz: True Tales from a Grotesque Land

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

OLD WOMEN

Toward the end of 1944 Russian planes used to fly over Auschwitz more frequently, and the wailing of the air-raid sirens could be heard not only at night but also during the day. I remember especially one alarm that sounded at noon time. A young SS man came to hide in our infirmary, a little embarrassed by the fact that he was seeking safety among us, "because," as he explained it, "the Russians won't drop any bombs on you." He was frightened to death, but we had to hide the joy we felt to hear the Russians bombing. That day a few women who had been working outside the camp perished during the attack. In the evening the returning komando brought their corpses with them.

In October that year the women's camp was moved to the former gypsy camp. The infirmary was located in a large barrack, with a large comfortable furnished room in the back for us. Instead of Magda there was now a young Russian girl who did the cleaning. She was bright and happy. The German doctors did not bother much with us. We felt the taste of freedom, and maybe the taste of death.

Marusia, Mancy, Kwieta, and Helena received packages from the free side, so we did not lack for food. Sometimes our friends came to visit us. They brought us linen, bandages, and sometimes they would sit with us for a few hours in our room. The SS men who came with them did not bother us. We started to see the future in rosy colors.

One afternoon toward the end of November 1944, after checking the sick into the hospital, we were sitting around in our room eating lunch. Completely unexpectedly, Mengele came to the infirmary. We became very frightened when we saw him, since he was an ill wind that never blew any good and since we were totally unprepared for his visit.

"Women from the new transport will be brought here very soon. Receive all of them into the area, and keep them waiting in the infirmary until I get here to take a look at them. I'll be back in a few hours."

-118-

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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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