The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Shofar FTP Archive File: camps/plaszow/plaszow.001

Newsgroups: alt.revisionism
Subject: Holocaust Almanac: Hangings at Plaszow
Followup-To: alt.revisionism
Organization: The Nizkor Project, Vancouver Island, CANADA
Keywords: Plaszow

"One Sunday morning, we were summoned to the Appellplatz [ed. note: this
was the central square at Plaszow concentration camp. knm]. This was an
unusual call, and we didn't know what to expect. We lined up in fives
according to working groups as we did every morning and every evening, and
waited. The number of SS men watching us was greater than usual, and the
Jewish policemen, in particular, had a gloomy look. We noticed something
that looked like a gallows in the middle of the Appellplatz.

`Why would the Germans go to the trouble of hanging people when they can
shoot them instantly?' someone asked.

`They must add some color to the killing,' Pola snapped. 

Three young people, a girl and two boys, were brought in front of the
gallows. A stillness, terrible, frightening, covered the Appellplatz. No
one moved; even the guards and the Jewish policemen were motionless.

I didn't want to look up. I could scarcely breathe the air was so heavy. In
spite of myself, my eyes rested on the girl. It was Hela, a school friend
of mine. She seemed taller than she was, for she was so slender, and there
was a haunting beauty in her large, clear eyes. She was self-controlled as
she stood there in front of the gallows. The voice of the Commander

`These three tried to escape from work; they are charged with treason and
sabotage! For this, they will hang!'

As the guard finished, the hangman tied ropes around the necks of the three
and pulled up. My friend fell. A hissing sound went through the crowd. My
heart was beating fast. Maybe they would let her live. I remember reading
somewhere that there was such a law; if someone was hanged and fell, he
would be allowed to live.

For the Germans, however, there were no laws. Again, the noose was placed
around Hela's neck, and this time there was no fumbling. We all had to
watch. The guards were walking around our columns and making us look. Those
who looked away were pushed with the guns; those who fainted, and many did,
were poked with guns until they came to. I stood there and watched, trying
to imagine that it was just another nightmare that would soon be forgotten.

We were slowly learning to live with horror, tragedy, and cruelty. We were
becoming immune to it, or so we thought. Not long after the first hanging,
we were called to the Appellplatz again on a Sunday. This time we knew we
had to witness another spectacle the Germans had prepared for us."

Excerpted from----------------------------------------------------------
"The Survivor in Us All - A Memoir of the Holocaust," Erna F. Rubinstein
(Hamden, Connecticut: Archon Books, 1983) ISBN 0-208-02025-X

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