The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Shofar FTP Archive File: people/m/mueller.filip/muller.012

Newsgroups: alt.revisionism
Subject: Holocaust Almanac - Eyewitness Auschwitz: Poles, Soviets shot
Summary: Birkenau shootings described by survivor
Followup-To: alt.revisionism
Organization: The Old Frog's Almanac, Vancouver Island, CANADA
Keywords: Auschwitz,Birkenau

Archive/File: holocaust/poland/auschwitz muller.012
Last-modified: 1993/09/20
XRef: index auschwitz

   "Among those whom the Gestapo took to the Birkenau crematorium were
   large numbers of Polish soldiers who had fought as partisans, Russian
   prisoners of war, and also Polish civilians transferred from prisons.
   It happened not infrequently that the SS doctor on duty who was
   required to be present at executions was not immediately available.
   While we were waiting for him to arrive I occasionally managed to
   talk to the prisoners.  Many of them had been newly arrested, and the
   majority were strong, well-nourished men in their prime.  Not a few
   had bruises, an indication that they had been beaten or tortured.
   When asked to undress they realized at once what fate awaited them.
   Impotence and fear, but also defiance, could be read in their eyes
   when from the execution room they heard the muffled sounds of shots
   and the dull thud of falling bodies.  But at the last moment even
   hardened old soldiers and partisans began to tremble.  Many shook
   hands or embraced, others crossed themselves and prayed, although
   they had not believed in God for a long time.  Now, forsaken and with
   nothing left to cling to, they turned to God and prayed to him.

   Five victims at a time were led into the execution room, pushed in
   front of the wall and held fast.  Then, one by one, they were shot in
   the base of the skull.  A few seconds later five dead bodies lay in
   front of the execution wall.  From the bullet wound spurted small
   fountains of blood.  As the corpses were dragged behind the wall the
   concrete floor swam in blood.  Before the next batch of victims was
   let in the floor was hosed down.  Sometimes things became so hectic
   that we had no time to remove all traces of blood.  And then the
   wretched victims had to stand in the blood of those who had preceded

   After some time we came to regard anybody arriving at the crematorium
   as doomed to die.  Once the crematorium gate was shut behind them
   there was no way out and no miracle that could have saved them.  It
   was constant confrontation with atrocities, the thousandfold murders
   we witnessed daily, and our own impotence to prevent them which led
   us to adopt this cynical attitude.

   At the same time, we of the Sonderkommando thought increasingly about
   ways of freeing ourselves from our seemingly hopeless situation.  We
   realized that we must find allies willing to join us, and we
   considered people about to go to the gas chamber to be most suitable
   for this purpose.  For their fate was as sealed as ours with the one
   difference that their liquidation was imminent.  They no longer had
   anything to lose: it is in moments like these that men are determined
   to do anything and capable of achieving the impossible, the more so
   when they reckon that there is a chance of survival.  It was
   considerations such as these which led us to believe that, in the
   face of inexorable and brutal death by gassing, their instinct of
   self-preservation would make people defend their lives tooth and nail
   to their dying breath.

   So we worked out a plan whereby we would inform members of one of the
   nocturnal transports of Polish Jews of what awaited them.  With their
   help we would overwhelm the guards and then break out of the
   crematorium.  We thought of Polish Jews because they, having lived
   inside a ghetto for some time, would have seen and heard things and
   would therefore be prepared to believe us.  Moreover, their Polish
   mother tongue and their thorough knowledge of the area where, after
   all, they had grown up, so we reasoned, might help our escape into
   the mountains.  We were firmly determined to put this plan into
   effect.  Our experience so far had taught us that there was no point
   in suddenly confronting completely ignorant and unsuspecting people
   with the news that they were about to be gassed without, at the same
   time, showing them a way out.  The effect of such warnings was to put
   people into a state of fear and panic without a single life being
   saved." (Mu"ller, 73-75)

                              Work Cited

Mu"ller, Filip. Eyewitness Auschwitz: Three Years in the Gas Chambers.
New York: Stein and Day, 1979

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