On the Eve of Yom Kippur

KnowledgeNews
September 20, 2007

World Tour:
Pictures of Auschwitz

The graphic pictures still chill the heart. Now, a
different kind of picture will chill the heart. This week,
in the midst of the Jewish High Holy Days between Rosh
Hashanah and Yom Kippur, the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum
announced that it has been given an album of 116
preliberation pictures of Auschwitz–the death camp in
southern Poland that, more than any other, carried out
Hitler’s “final solution.”

It is only the second such album known to exist. This one
shows SS officers dining, singing, and sunning in relaxing
breaks from their work–the work of killing 1.1 million
people.

Most of the murdered, about 90 percent, were Jews. All
told, the Nazis murdered six million Jews, about one third
of Jewish people worldwide. Today, we’ll link you to a
slideshow of the album’s pictures, narrated by an archivist
at the Holocaust museum. But first, we’ll let four
Auschwitz survivors recount what happened when the SS
weren’t on break.

Monty Burgerman,
taken to Auschwitz as a teenager

“When we arrived, the SS guards marched us to the left or
to the right. If you went one way it meant you were going
to the gas chambers, and if you went the other way it meant
you would be kept alive to work. My dad, who was 47 at the
time, was sent to the side for the gas chambers. . . .”

“My brother’s wife had a two-year-old baby with her but the
SS would not let them stay together. When she tried to hold
on to it, they grabbed the baby off her and threw it on the
ground. An hour after our arrival we could feel the heat
and smell the fumes from the gas chambers. It’s impossible
to describe the evil at Auschwitz.”

Elisabeth De Jong,
taken to Auschwitz as a young woman

“In a short while a number of SS men came to see us with
some papers. They explained that ‘In Block 10 We Do
Experiments on Women.’ You will have to sign this paper
that you understand this and will be submitting to this out
of your own free will. But you have a choice. If you do not
want to sign up you will be taken down to the trucks and
off to the gas chambers to be gassed. . . .”

“Later on we looked around in Block 10 and saw all these
women with all sorts of burns, wounds, and holes on their
bodies or limbs missing. . . . We were shaking with fear
and crying. The experiments started two or three days
later.”

Dora Niederman,
taken to Auschwitz as a teenager

“They told us, See right there? There are your parents.
There. All burning. The chimney burned all days, 24 hours a
day. You could see and smell the smoke all day. . . our
parents, sisters, and brothers . . . my whole family.”

“You couldn’t do anything because Auschwitz was wired.
Electric wiring. All around electric wiring. Lots of people
threw themselves on the wires. I saw two girls throw
themselves on the wires. And got instantly burned. And they
took them off and they were dead.”

Judith Jaegermann,
taken to Auschwitz as a girl

“On Mama’s birthday, Mengele personally carried out the
selection. Again we were standing in line, four rows deep,
and had of course not the faintest idea what was going to
happen to us next. We always stayed together and rubbed
each other’s cheeks, so that we would look healthier and
more capable to work.”

“While we were standing there to wait for our destiny, I
saw Papa standing at a distance watching the selection
process. At that very moment I knew that I would never see
my dear Papa again, no matter where we would be going now.”

“I tore myself away from my row and ran to him, not
listening to the shouts of the women, that all would be
punished or killed because of my leaving the row. I hugged
Papa with all my strength and knew instinctively that this
was our farewell forever. Then I walked calmly back to my
row, feeling that I had said goodbye to Papa, who was
standing there crying.”

–Michael Himick

http://www.nytimes.com/packages/html/arts/20070919_ALBUM_FEATURE/index.html

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