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Monday, 26 March 2012

Day 54 - "Tell the World", Please!

"We were given better bunks than our Jewish inmates.  We were also given one blanket and running though the centre of our barracks was a heated floor constructed with bricks - it looked like an ancient Roman drain.  We also had more drips of water than in Compiegne but nevertheless our accommodation was cold and spartan.  On a regular basis, the same food/brew was brought to us in barrels carried by their Hebrew slaves.

During morning and evening roll call we were made to watch how they mistreated our Jewish inmates who stood opposite and a bit further along from us.  On one occasion, we saw the Commandant, Mengele and also his beautiful camp companion about fifty yards away.  It was a show for our benefit!  With whips in their hands they gave orders to Capa prisoners or supervisors to beat up fellow prisoners - they would point out some made-up disorderly conduct issue that they imagined to be fit for punishment with a horse whip.

They told one prisoner to lay down and expose his back.  They then beat him up and gave him a final last kick to indicate that he should join the ranks again.  This was the order of the day the other prisoners told us.

We were now at the eleventh day, doing nothing and not knowing what would happen to us. We had a weekend over with and were still alive. We suddenly heard music from some sort of band floating on a feeble wind - it was the music for the marching to the gas chambers by the old stables. We came to know this from other inmates.

More and more of us became very sick, very ill actually, maybe from the drinking of the dirty water and maybe other diseases were starting to take their toll. We also heard shooting further away, we couldn't see too much as we were kept well away from the scene. 

I couldn't actually tell you whether we had been at the stables exactly either but we thought we had been somewhere in that area when we first arrived.  So, even being there in the camp we found ourselves always in doubt at any given moment.

We were then told we were due for transport and when the moment came we were led out to the other side of the camp. There we saw more crematoriums with gas chambers which we hadn't seen before.  All in all there must have been five chimneys.

As we turned the corner we saw some Jewish girls near their own circled fence.A bit further away were lots of Jewish children playing like on any other school ground or playing fields.  They even started throwing bread to us and speaking in French saying they came from Lille, northern France.

Somehow, somebody put the question to them, "What do you think will  happen to you?"  In unison, they looked at the crematoriums and chimneys and pointed to them and said, "That's where we are going soon", shaking their heads up and down in one accord, they knew and had no doubts, even smiling in a sure way well aware of the short time that they had left to live.  We looked more frightened and worried than them  - as anybody would have.

We were shouted at to move on and quickly they cried to us hanging on with their little hands on the fence, "Tell the world, please, what happened to us".
Again, tears streamed down our faces, to what use!  We rubbed our hands over our faces and took off now moved by force, departing with drooping heads.

We arrived at the rail tracks at what looked like the construction of the inside of a station.  There were lots of Jewish labourers working as slaves looking at us with vacant eyes.  They were on their six month reprieve, still working or labouring away whilst barely alive. This was still in the camp, one can just imagine the enormous size of it all.  

Of course, selfish humans that we were, we were pleased to get away from there with the feeling of being given a hard green apple and then probably getting an apple less green later for being such good boys.

A lanky officer asked us if we were Arians and now told us that we were going to work in the most organized camp in Germany, namely, Buchenwald"!

To be continued ...

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