Total anarchy reigned in the camp. They said that the whole camp was mined and that they were going to blow it up after they left. We wrote down the things they told us. When the Soviet soldiers realized what our situation was like, they supplied us with food of the highest quality (excellent army bread baked in pans, melba toast, and natural fats). From an account by Polish Red Cross volunteer Maria Rogoż, registered nurse, who lived in Krakow after the war: "I had been staying in Krakow since 1939 as a refugee from Volhynia, living at the Home for Expelled Persons and Refugees run by a social welfare organization, probably the M[ain] W[elfare] C[ouncil]17. Crematorium Four failed completely after a short time and Crematoria Five had to be shut down repeatedly. Nevertheless, they signed me up immediately as a nurse. The published manuscripts and documents relate to the specific process of extermination at Birkenau, and provide detailed descriptions of the crematoria and gas chambers.). I learned, walking along beside her and supporting her, that she didn’t have anyone at all in the world. She had a huge pack on her back. In a later period, this mortality diminished considerably, until in the end there were hardly any deaths at all. ... 1995, because today is my 50th anniversary of my liberation from Auschwitz. The severe physical exhaustion of the former prisoners limited the possibilities for giving them injections. Edited by Michael Declan Dunn, 25 Apr. The pits had indentations at one end from which human fat drained off. Of course we spoke with them. Three to four bodies were burned at a time, and different kinds of coke were used, then the results were recorded: Afterwards, all corpses were divided into the above-mentioned categories, the criterion being the amount of coke required to reduce them to ashes. One of the prisoners, a stranger, oriented herself in the situation, grabbed me by the arm, and pulled me along with her. There were no longer any shortages of medicine. In the end, I forbade her to talk or moan. I’ll walk with you and I’ll share it with you. The Italian whom I mentioned above, Aldo Ragazzi, gave me a personal invitation, as did his two Yugoslavian colleagues. “Get rid of that, it’ll be lighter”, I urged her. She was breathing heavily and whimpering like a baby. The PRC Camp Hospital in Ooewięcim was independent, but cooperated closely with the Soviet army field hospital for former prisoners that was operating at the same time. Above all, the patients had to become accustomed to food. Debate the Holocaust? It took an hour a day to clean them out. How could they survive this hell? Among the Soviet personnel, I remember Major Doctor Polakov and Dr. Zhilinska... Major Dr. Polakov came to the buildings from time to time. In August the total cremation reached a peak one day of 24,000, but still a bottleneck occurred. On January 21 Polish Foreign Minister Grzegorz Schetyna sparked controversy with the claim Auschwitz was liberated by Ukrainians — a statement that … Statement by Alexander Vorontsov of Moscow, camera operator in the Soviet military film crew that recorded the liberation of Auschwitz: "A ghastly sight arose before our eyes: a vast number of barracks (in Birkenau)... People lay in bunks inside many of them. I walked and walked until I came to a village – I did not even notice that I was going back towards Pszczyna. I’ve got bread in there. She had stopped suffering... the echo of that shot still rings in my memory... ". For a month, my place of work was Block No. She calmed down, and went on for a while with a regular gait, and then she fell again. I picked her up. The multi-tiered bunks were removed and the prisoners placed in regular single beds with clean sheets. There was no one to help me. Liberation is often imagined as a time of celebration. On one occasion, I received orders to give a sick former prisoner an intramuscular injection of camphochina. It has not squeezed all the horrible things I saw and filmed out of my mind...". He moved to London in 1947. When she fell for the final time, and I no longer had the strength to lift her up, I called for help, and somebody’s hand took hold of me and pulled me forward. 53, pp. shares art, discussion, photos, poems, and facts to preserve powerful memories. She was deported to Auschwitz concentration camp, Poland in … Dunn, M. D. The result was an extraordinary testimony and one of the first accounts of the extermination camps ever written. I found a good hiding place in some dried rushes near a pond. If you'd like to share your story on, let us know, all we ask is that you give permission to students and teachers to use the materials in a non-commercial setting. I helped her up. Of course we spoke with them. I went up to a house where a woman was standing in the doorway. Liberating Auschwitz was not in their orders, but when a group of scouts stumbled into Birkenau on January 27, 1945, they knew they had found something terrible. In essence, well-nourished corpses were burned with emaciated ones in order to determine the most efficient combination. At first, we carried out demolition work in Crematorium I [II], and went back to Crematorium II [III] for the night. (95, April 25). When the Soviet Red Army rolled into the camp, only about 7,000 prisoners remained. © Copyright 1995-2020 Images from may be used only in publications relating to the history of the German Nazi concentration and extermination camp Auschwitz-Birkenau or the activities of the Auschwitz Memorial. To keep the pits burning, the stokers poured oil, alcohol, and large quantities of boiling human fat over the bodies. They were suffering from starvation, and they were exhausted and sick. There were many difficulties associated with caring for the ex-prisoners. So I spent all my time giving them the bedpan. They were skeletons clad in skin, with vacant gazes. Liberation from genocide takes many forms. I slept in the second tier of a camp bunk. Coffee?” She invited me inside. They were in two-person rooms on the second floor... During the last two–three months before I left Ooewięcim, the conditions for the ex-prisoner patients improved radically. THEY EXPECTED THE WORST - NOT THE UNTHINKABLE. You haven’t got the strength to carry anything”. Some of the sinks in the buildings were already serviceable. The women wept, and – this cannot be concealed – the men wept as well. I was very tired, and did not realize that I was not going to save that girl, and that I myself could die with her. The Soviet soldiers attempted to help the survivors and were shocked at the scale of Nazi crimes. I told them that I was staying, because, if I was going to die, I wanted to die on Polish soil, but that they had to make up their own minds. Not far from the home, as it turned out later, was a street where the prisoners had passed by in the “death march” – there were still corpses lying everywhere. When he saw what bad shape she was in, he apologized to me. However, these were brief conversations, because these people who remained alive were totally devoid of strength, and it was hard for them to say much about their time in the camp. There were no more SS guard posts to be seen, only individual SS men who came into the grounds of the camp. Thus, late in 1944, pit burning became the chief method of corpse disposal. The truck stopped frequently, since there were bottlenecks of Soviet military transports on the road, and, coming in the opposite direction, crowds of people returning from the camps in the West. The results of the work by the PRC doctors and nurses are indicated by the proofs of gratitude shown to them by those... who left the hospital. She used up a good deal of energy in her lamentation. For this reason, everyone continued to make use of the primitive latrines located between the blocks. It is extremely important for Liberators and any other witnesses to the atrocities of the Holocaust to document their testimonies. I remember that there were personal confrontations between some of the women during the days of the “interregnum”. Podcast: Surviving Auschwitz. However, survivors in this section, paint a rather different picture. I know that a fair number of prisoners left the camp during the “interregnum” period and set off for home on foot. The bridges were out, and this made it necessary to take a roundabout route. They don’t even know how to give injections…! The sight of the rooms full of patients made a shocking impression on me... when I went in there for the first time. I avoided evacuation by lying down alongside a sick prisoner on the top tier of one of the camp bunks. Thus it was decreed that the most economical and fuel-saving procedure would be to burn the bodies of a well-nourished man and an emaciated woman, or vice versa, together with that of a child, because, as the experiments had established, in this combination, once they had caught fire, the dead would continue to burn without any further coke being required. All of this was the most moving and most terrible thing that I saw and filmed during the war. I said: “Give me something to drink!” The woman asked, “What do you want to drink? All night, from various corners of the room, I heard calls: “Schwester! Account by former prisoner Dr. Irena Konieczna, a doctor in the camp hospital, on the last days of Auschwitz and liberation: The final evacuation on foot of women from Birkenau began on January 18, 1945. Their use must not tarnish the good reputation of the victims of KL Auschwitz. It was written in Dutch and published in 1946 as “Eindstation Auschwitz. I declared that she would come back with me to my home, and that I wouldn’t leave her. All Rights Reserved. The prisoners required treatment and food, but there was a lack of willing hands to look after them. Any interference in the integrity of the images – including cropping or graphic processing – is prohibited. Many women asked me: should they go with the transport or stay there? Prisoners barely able to stay on their feet were passing us. Their words are our heritage. Pokaż menu niższego poziomu dla Liberation of KL Auschwitz. I woke up freezing cold. (Ed.). The … “Do you know anyone in these parts?” “No”, I answered. They managed to survive because they were wanted for medical research, instead of mice and rabbits. After liberation in 1945, my comrades in the organization suggested that I go to work on the grounds of Auschwitz Concentration Camp, in the hospital for former prisoners. Himmler soon became dissatisfied. Several Soviet soldiers-scouts with their rifles ready to fire-entered the grounds of the women’s camp hospital on January 27, 1945. But it soon evidenced crumbling; and the extermination process, never very effective, began to disintegrate. The Holocaust History – A People's and Survivor History –, Holocaust Picture Book – The Story of Granny Girl as a Child, Anne Frank: The Biography | 1998 Holocaust Book, Holocaust history and stories from Holocaust Photos, Survivors, Liberators, Books and Art, Witnesses to the Holocaust – Liberators, Resistance, Nazis, and Rescuers, The following is a series of concentration camp photos taken by Josh C, Joseph Weismann – Remembering with After the Roundup, After the Roundup by Joseph Weismann – Part 1 of Chapter 3, Liberation of Auschwitz 75 years later – a poem, Forever Alert German Child Survivors in Action Before 1945 and Beyond by Philipp Sonntag, Holocaust Curriculum for Middle School and High School 7-12 (Part 2). I begged her to gather up her strength, to hold out until dawn, because the sun would come up in the morning and that would make things easier. I even talked one of my fellow prisoners, who was in danger, into leaving the camp immediately. I reported on February 24 to the appointed place, where a dozen or so people were waiting to travel to Ooewięcim. Dr. Bellert lost his temper and chastised me, telling me that I did not know how to work. Time has no sway over these recollections. We have dug up a lot of graves, but there are still two open graves on the grounds of the second and third crematoria. She was a tiny girl, totally exhausted and as completely alone as I was. A moment later, there was a shot. I walked around in circles all night, unable to get out of the woods. Out of fear of being rearrested, I feigned indifference and said, “Do you really want to know? Survivors of the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp gathered for commemorations marking the 75th anniversary of the Soviet army's liberation of the … In Block No. All my strength was gone. They were skeletons clad in skin, with vacant gazes. In 1945, soon after the liberation of Auschwitz, Soviet authorities in control of the Kattowitz (Katowice) camp in Poland asked Primo Levi and his fellow captive Leonardo De Benedetti to compile a detailed report on the sanitary conditions they witnessed in Auschwitz. Henryk Mandelbaum, former prisoner of Sonderommando, testified in March 1947: “...They set about dismantling the crematoria. But the well-constructed crematoria fell far behind at a number of camps, and especially at Auschwitz in 1944. During World War II, for prisoners and Allied troops alike, liberation from the death camps of the Holocaust was a shock to the senses – at once a … These were open holes. On top of that, military patrols stopped the truck in many places. When their Red Army liberators threw open the gates of Auschwitz 65 years ago this week, the survivors thought their nightmare had ended. Nobody helped me. In this effort, they had the assistance of the firm of Topf and Sons, who had built the crematoria. Despite open tubercular lesions, one of the Yugoslavians performed all sorts of duties with exceptional zeal. “Don’t cry. Excerpt from Elizer Eisenschmidt’s account of his escape and the way the Tender family of Radostowice near Pszczyna helped him: "I walked towards the artillery fire, but that was not a good decision. Survivors of the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp gathered Monday for commemorations marking the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the camp, using the testimony of survivors to … In each block, there were one or two (seldom three) PRC nurses, and several Soviet nurses. He did so, however, because of his forced work assignment as a stoker in the Auschwitz crematorium and then as a jack-of- all-trades in the Birkenau extermination plant squad, the Sonderkommando. I immediately went on duty in a room with eighty women in it. We went to work in the hospital without delay. The toilets, however, continued to be closed, probably because they were damaged. Between 1941 and 1945, an estimated 1.1 million people were murdered there, mostly European Jews but also prisoners of war, gay people, and Roma. While the corpses burned, the stokers stripped the waiting bodies. The memory has stayed with me my whole life long. Załmen Gradowski, prisoner of Sonderkommando, wrote in notes dug up after the war on the grounds of Crematorium III: “Lately, they have started clearing away the traces, and wherever there were a lot of ashes, they have ordered them to be ground fine, taken to the Vistula, and released with the current. This online exhibit explores the themes of liberation, ranging from the joys of freedom to the perils people faced in the aftermath, whether they were refugees in a strange land or felt like strangers in their own countries. I’ll drink this and be on my way”. We placed the fire-clay and bricks in neat piles. I did not personally possess adequate preparation for that work, since all I had done before the war was to serve as a hygienist at a Scouts’ unit run by Olga Małkowska in Sromowce Wyżne (Dworek Cisowy). However, the peasant was obstinate: “I want to know who you are”. This week, we commemorate the 75th Anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, one of Nazi Germany's largest concentration and extermination camps. APMAB, Scenario Fond, vol. They lay in multi-tiered camp bunks, covered in blankets of a very good sort that came from the so-called “Kanada”, the camp storehouses. Forced to dig mass graves and exhume corpses. I had lost so much strength, I was all sweaty from the effort, but I was past the point where I could have left her. In general, special transports were organized for the discharged. I replied dryly, “What does it matter to you who I am? In the difficult nutritional conditions, the only food available for the patients was grated potato soup, which was administered to them almost like medicine, one tablespoon per person, three times a day. - The Holocaust History - A People's and Survivors' History. He did so, however, because of his forced work assignment as a stoker in the Auschwitz crematorium and then as a jack-of- all-trades in the Birkenau extermination plant squad, the … I’ve got bread. In 1941 she entered the Lodz ghetto, Poland. Then her husband appeared and wanted to know who I was. Dov Paisikovic, former prisoner of Sonderkommando, stated in 1964: “The SS ordered the dismantling of the crematoria in November 1944. More than 15,000 died during the death marches from Auschwitz. The father had offered his children to Josef Mengele, the Nazi officer known as the Angel of Death for his inhumane genetic … 24, the prisoners had better conditions. You could say that there were pyramids on the grounds of the camp. Sister! 95AD, The SS men were going around trying to talk women into joining the transport. “No. From there he was sent to the Mauthausen concentration camp in Austria, where he was forced into slave labour and subjected to medical experimentation.