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Buried Days Starved Dreams: Auschwitz Memory: Journal Excerpt

The Oakland Museum
Oakland, California 1994

(Hundreds of pages of first person accounts from Auschwitz victims were copied by my friends from books into journals that were later buried in the ground).


When the transports from Bedzin, Sosnowiec had arrived, there was a rabbi of advanced years. A select group knew they were traveling to die. The rabbi entered the undressing-room and then the bunker, dancing and singing. He had attained the honour of dying for his faith.

Two Hungarian Jews asked a member of the Sonderkommando, “Shall we recite the Vidduy?” That one said, yes. Then they took out a bottle of vodka, drank with great joy “lechaim”, their health and next insistently began compelling one of the Sonderkommando’s members to drink with them. He declined, deeply ashamed, and did not want to drink. But they persisted, “You must revenge our blood, you must live, therefore — “your health” — we understand you”…And he drank being meanwhile so deeply moved that he violently burst into tears. Greatly perturbed he ran out into the terrain in front of the crematorium and kept weeping bitterly for a long time. “We have waited too long, comrades, a sufficient number of Jews have been burnt, let us demolish everything and die for our faith!”

Meanwhile there arrived one more group of Jews from Tarnów. A certain young man stood on a bench and asked everybody present to listen to him attentively. A deathly silence ensued. Brother Jews — he cried — do not believe that your are led to death. The thought that something of that kind could happen to us is not at all admissible, innocent people cannot be led to such a dreadful death all at once, it is out of the question, no such cruel crimes can be committed in the world, those that told you so have certainly been induced by some bias, etc….And only when the gas was thrown in, did this moralizer comprehend the credulity of his argumentation…

It was Passover 1944. A transport from Vittel in France had arrived. There were many worthy Jewish notables in it and among others the Rabbi of Bayonne, Rabbi Mosh Friedman of blessed memory, one of the greatest authorities in science of the Polish Jewry, a rare example of a patriarch. He undressed together with the others. Then a certain Obersturmführer came. the Rabbi approached him and taking hold of the lapels of his uniform said in German, “You common, cruel murderers of mankind, do not think you will succeed in extinguishing our nation, the Jewish nations will live forever and will not disappear form the world’s arena. And you, villainous murderers, will pay very dearly, for every innocent Jew you will pay with ten Germans, you will disappear not only as a separate power but even as a separate nation.”


It happened towards the end of 1943. A transport was brought consisting entirely of children. They came from Shaulen in Lithuania, region of Kaunas, where they were seized from their mothers’ homes and were put into lorries during their fathers’ absence, who were working. the Kommandofuhrer sent them to the undressing-room to undress the little children And there a girl of five stood and undressed her brother who was one year old. One from the Kommando came to take off the boy’s clothes. The girl shouted loudly, “Be gone, you Jewish murderer! Don’t lay your hand, dripping with Jewish blood, upon my lovely brother! I am his good mummy, he will die in my arms, together with me.” A boy of seven or eight stood beside her and spoke thus, “Why, you are a Jew and you lead such dear children to the gas — only in order to live? Is your life among the band of murders really dearer to you than the lives of so many Jewish victims?”

This happened at the beginning of 1943. The gas chamber was crowded with Jews and one Jewish boy remained outside. A certain Unterscharführer came to him and wanted to kill him with a stick. He mangled him in a brutish manner, blood was dripping on all sides, when all of a sudden the maltreated boy, who had been lying motionless, jumped to his feet and began to regard, quietly and silently, his cruel murderer with his childish gaze. The Unterscharführer burst into loud, cynical laughter, took out his revolver and shot the boy.

Hauptsharführer Mohl aligned four persons, one behind the other in a straight line and with one series of shots transfixed them all. Should anybody turn the head aside, (Moll) threw him alive into the flaming grave of dead men. If somebody refused to get into the chamber (Moll) seized his hands, twisted them, threw the person to the ground and trampled him to death.

Or Scharführer Forst. This one stood at the gate of the undressing-room in the case of many transports and felt the sexual organ of each young woman that was passing naked to the gas chamber. There were also cases when German SS men of all ranks put fingers into the sexual organs of pretty young girls.

I asked to collect all my various relations and notes, buried once upon a time and signed J.A.R.A. They are to be found in various boxes and jars on the terrain of the yard of crematorium III, also two more comprehensive descriptions, one of them entitled “Displacement”, which is lying in the grave under the mound of bones on the site near crematorium II and also the description entitled “Auschwitz” which is lying amidst leveled bones on the west-southern side of the same yard. Later, I had rewritten and supplemented it and have buried it separately among ashes on the site of crematorium III. I ask to have them all jointly put in order and publish them under the title “Amidst a Nightmare of Crime”. We are going to the zone. 170 remaining men. We are sure that we are being led to die. They selected 30 persons who will remain in crematorium V.

Today, November 26, 1944.

By unknown author, a member of the Sonderkommando at Auschwitz. This is a portion of his manuscript written in Yiddish that was disinterred in the summer of 1952.