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Sunday, 12 February 2012

Day 47 - Kramer: The Bully of Sacksenhausen!

Scroll to  Day 1 (Blog 1) for Introduction

"To our further amazement an S.S. was going over our files with our numbers again, contemplating the order of our fate.  Later, I realized that the big, round faced S.S. officer going over our files was Kramer, the well known bully of Sacksenhausen.  He had his dog with him and was continuously shaking his head at some of the Jewish helpers called, "der sonder-commando" or the sin commando.  They were named this way because they survived by doing the burning, hard labour and dirty work. 

If they were lucky, they could get a further six months extension on their lifes and then they would eventually be replaced and in turn become candidates for the gas chambers.  They helped put their own families into the gas chambers as well as other people and then would pull them out to be cremated in the powerful ovens.  All this was told to us by their own people as we were waiting.

All around us there seemed to be a lot of complications, orders and counter orders were going back and forth in a somewhat oversubscribed, communication system. It was even suggested that we shouldn't be there at all.  Apparently, we were in the wrong place and accommodation needed to be found for us as soon as possible - they wanted to move us along so that we wouldn't see too much of what was going on whilst we were there.  We were still designated under N.N., the disappearing number or "Nacht und Nebel".

We were to be shot directly if we went slightly out of line.  This turned out to be very much so.  I had gone inside and lost track of Janeck.  Everybody had been busy looking after themselves and some of us had still been contemplating how to attack as a last resort.  I had decided that the middle of the pack would be best as nobody would move from the forward position.

I was half-way down, sitting against what we were told were showers but the concrete boxes looked like old contraptions to me - big thick doors again, dark cellular looking insides with a pipe sticking out from the ceiling.  At first, I thought that maybe they were disinfecting chambers for clothes but foremost we were told that they were old gas chambers.  This was the first old building they had used for this - the stable they called it.  I worked out that they could take maybe ten or more people and there were about three or four of them as far as I could see.  I didn't look too closely, don't forget we were still in a state of dehydration which was getting worse by the minute.  Some had drunk from the water on the ground which was dirty and disease ridden.

Rushed orders came suddenly and we started moving!  I left the damned doors quickly and hurried into the queue to be shaven.  On an elevated platform were prisoner barbers - shaving us crudely on every hair that they could find with blunt and rusty razors.  We came out of this ordeal scratched and bleeding.

A fairly large Jew, from Antwerp, better dressed than the others, explained to us the ins and outs, the daily routine of the camp and what we should keep.
Every batch was then assembled in a larger place with security at both ends and big sliding doors.  One S.S. was waiting inside the doors, controlling valves, which was for the water, lucky for us!  He let about twenty of us in at a time.  After he had opened some valves a few drips came out from the pipes above us which we drank eagerly, looking stupidly at each other whilst waiting for more and then we looked at towards the S.S. soldier hoping for more!

At that moment, a tumult arose on my left and near the corner closest to me, approaching it I saw there were already some people near.  The S.S. were coming too, swearing like hell now, I kept my distance..."

To be continued ...

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