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Newsgroups: alt.revisionism
Subject: Holocaust Almanac - Eyewitness Auschwitz: "Any Complaints?"
Summary: Nazi brutality described by Auschwitz survivor 
Reply-To: kmcvay@oneb.almanac.bc.ca
Followup-To: alt.revisionism
Organization: The Old Frog's Almanac, Vancouver Island, CANADA
Keywords: Auschwitz,

Archive/File: holocaust/poland/auschwitz muller.001
Last-modified: 1994/10/30
XRef: index auschwitz

In his forward to Filip Mu"ller's "Eyewitness Auschwitz," Yahuda Bauer, a
renowned Holocaust scholar, tells us of Mu"ller's experience as a prisoner
at the infamous death camp. He notes that 'Mu"ller is neither an historian
nor a psychologist; he does not analyse or dissect.' Bauer also relates how
Mu"ller included a summary of his testimony in a book (published in 1966 as
'The Death Factory,' by Kraus and Kulka) written in his native Czechoslovakia
in 1946, when his horrible memories were fresh and uncluttered by the
energies of time.

Clearly, then, Mu"ller's work does not lend itself to paleo-Nazi charges of
"failing memory," a label commonly applied by Holocaust deniers to accounts
from survivors - all survivors, in fact, except those who might lend some
small scrap of credence to their "revisionist" agenda. Mu"ller begins his
story by describing the brutal treatment so commonplace at the camp:

   It was a Sunday in May 1942.  Struggling through the early morning
   mist, a fitful spring sun shone on the yard of Block 11 where some
   500 prisoners had lined up in rows of ten so that they might enjoy
   their Sunday rest according to established Auschwitz tradition.  The
   sound of a hoarse voice barking orders rang across the yard: it
   belonged to Vacek, the block clerk [A type of bookkeeper recording
   data on and movements of all prisoners in the block.  He was deputy
   to, the Rapportfu"hrer, or roll-call leader, an NCO responsible for
   order, discipline in a particular section of the camp, who reported
   to the camp administration.] who was standing at the top of a flight
   of stairs.  From this vantage point he was able to survey every
   corner of the yard below and bellow out his commands: ' Shun !  Caps
   on !  Caps off!  Get a move on !  ' According to the green triangle
   on his uniform Vacek was a former professional criminal: in this
   microcosm of absolute evil he ruled supreme.  

   With eagle eyes he watched to see that his orders were carried out
   meticulously.  At the command 'Caps off!' we whipped our flat caps
   from our shaven heads and slapped them against our right thighs with
   the flat of our hands.  Unless this produced the whip-cracking sound
   envisaged by Vacek, the exercise would be repeated until he was
   satisfied.  On this occasion it had already been repeated more than a
   hundred times.  At first glance this tedious drill, not unlike the
   drilling of army recruits, might appear to be perfectly harmless and
   nothing out of the ordinary.  In fact, it merely served to provide
   Vacek with the desired pretext for putting prisoners to death.  

   On this particular Sunday his first victim was a father of four whose
   right hand was paralysed.  Before he became an inmate of Auschwitz he
   had scraped a living by reciting the Kaddish, the prayer for the
   dead, in the synagogue of his native town.  It was, of course, quite
   ludicrous to expect a man with his handicap to execute the ' Caps
   off!  Caps on !  ' drill correctly.  Vacek flung himself on the
   disabled man and dragged him across the yard.  There he stood him
   with his face to the wall.  His next victim was a deaf tailor who had
   been a fraction of a second late in snapping to attention.  The drill
   continued.  Everybody was longing for this monotonous exercise to
   stop, especially since at long last everything was going like
   clock-work.  But Vacek was not satisfied with only two victims.  From
   out of the ranks of slaves he fetched several more, no longer
   bothering to look for pretexts.  Anything trivial that displeased or
   irritated him, such as a man's long nose, a pair of spectacles with
   thick lenses, an ill-fitting cap, was sufficient reason for him to
   pounce on one unfortunate prisoner after another and line him up
   against the wall.  

   For in this place the lame, the blind and the weak would look in vain
   for mercy or pity.  The Ten Commandments, those principles of human
   conduct, did not prevail here: Auschwitz had its own laws and macabre
   values.  At Auschwitz gold teeth might buy a bowl of turnip soup; at
   Auschwitz a camp orchestra would play cheerful military music, not
   only in the morning when the prisoners marched out to work, but also
   at night when, bruised and battered, they struggled back carrying
   their dead comrades.  

   At Auschwitz Kapos [Prisoners of a concentration camp in charge of a
   working party]  were given rewards and privileges for reducing
   the number of men in their working party; how they did this was their
   own affair.  At Auschwitz, in Block 10, women were sterilized while
   in another block men were castrated.  Auschwitz was a place where
   every European language was spoken; it was also a place where people
   died, not only from starvation, sickness and epidemics, but from
   being battered to death, killed by having phenol injected into their
   heart, or driven into the gas chamber.  This wretched piece of land
   in eastern Europe was under the sway of the SS whose members regarded
   themselves as the elite of the German nation, a nation which had
   given to the world not only great writers and composers, but also men
   like Adolf Hitler.  The little Polish town of Oswieczim, which the
   Nazis called Auschwitz, had been turned into an inferno, and anyone
   taken there by an unkind fate might regard himself truly forsaken by
   God and his fellow men.  

   By now thirty unfortunates had been stood against the wall.  Vacek
   and his underlings ordered them to line up in ranks of five.  And
   now, behind our backs, began what in Auschwitz went under the name of
   sport.  At the double!  Lie Down!  Get up!  Lie down!  Crawl!  Get
   up!  Jump!  At the double!  About turn!  ' Like hunted animals the
   wretched prisoners were harried and chased across the yard They flung
   themselves on the ground; crawled on their bellies; leapt up; jumped
   with arms held out in front; ran about panting and pushing each other
   in a vain attempt to avoid the blows which were hailing down on them
   non-stop.  They were flushed with exertion, sweat mixed with blood
   streaming down their faces and necks.  Anyone who failed to get up
   was lost.  A blow from a truncheon, followed by several more if
   necessary, finished him off.  Many had already given up: more than
   half the prisoners were lying motionless on the ground although only
   twenty minutes had gone by.  'At the double!  Lie down!  Get up!
   Jump!  Lie down!  Get up!  Crawl!  ' Remorselessly command followed
   command.  On the point of complete exhaustion, the remaining
   prisoners still tried to carry out the orders shouted at them.  But
   before long they too lay still in their zebra-striped uniforms; and
   were then bludgeoned to death with truncheons.  Vacek's bloodthirsty
   gaze surveyed his harvest of death.  Then he wiped the sweat from his
   forehead, his face distorted by a terrible sneer, his eyes still
   flashing menacingly.  He was visibly pleased with his achievement.
   No doubt he would have enjoyed finishing off the rest of us in the
   same way.  

   Meanwhile the dead bodies had been collected and laid on their backs
   side by side.  Their hands were crossed on their chests and their
   unseeing eyes seemed to stare questioningly up into the sky.  Vacek
   and his block orderlies turned away, their job well done.  

   All this time Schlage, the SS-Rottenfu"hrer [Lance Corporal] on duty,
   behaved as though the whole gory proceedings did not concern him.  A
   few times he disappeared into the building only to take up his place
   at the top of the stairs again from where he watched to make quite
   sure that his block clerk was not flagging in the execution of his
   duty.  In that event he would have abandoned his seeming non-
   intervention in order to give a demonstration of the true meaning of
   sport, as practised in Auschwitz.  

   From somewhere among the ranks I could hear the sound of muttering.
   Somehow I only half-registered it because I was wholly preoccupied
   with trying not to attract attention.  I was then still sufficiently
   naive to believe that prompt execution of commands would help to
   reduce the diabolical torment we were made to  No return No return
   undergo.  The mumbling now became a clearly audible monologue: 'My
   God, what on earth is going on here?  Prisoners are being killed by
   fellow prisoners!  I'm sure the people in charge know nothing
   whatever about this.  I protest....' 

   There came a fresh flood of commands: ' Shun!  Caps on!  Caps off!
   Get a move on !' Vacek collected another four prisoners.  This time
   it did not take long before they, too, were laid out with the other
   corpses.  

   'This is intolerable!  These are innocent people who are being put to
   death !'

   Surreptitiously I tried to find out who the speaker was.  The man who
   was talking to himself was in fact from my home town of Sered where
   he had been known as a respected citizen, an excellent lawyer, an
   authority on Jewish writing, and a man who had consistently sought to
   soften the harshness of the law for the weak.  Like myself he had
   come to Auschwitz about a month earlier, but unlike me he was one of
   those who were too slow in coming to terms with the harsh realities
   of life in a concentration camp.  He had failed to realize that in
   Auschwitz the values and laws which formed the basis of civilization
   were obsolete.  He was firmly convinced that murders were committed
   by prisoners put in charge of their fellows without the knowledge of
   SS leaders.  It simply did not fit in with his concept of the law
   that prisoners should be allowed to kill fellow prisoners, and to do
   this for no reason whatever.  He still had not grasped the fact that
   we were now in a place where there were no laws for prisoners.  

   At long last this Sunday's drill was coming to an end.  We began to
   fall in for counting.  Vacek came down the stairs, barking commands.
   Then he proceeded to count, first the prisoners who were standing in
   line, and then the dead who were Iying in a corner of the yard.  He
   wrote the result on a slip of paper which he handed to the block
   senior* at whose command 'Caps off!' we whopped off our filthy caps
   and clapped them against our right side.  For Vacek the simultaneous
   whip-crack sound which followed was proof that his murderous
   rehearsal had been well worth while.  

   Rottenfu"hrer Schlage, who all this time was standing in the doorway,
   now descended the steps with dignity.  He received the block senior's
   report and began to check the figures by stepping up to the left
   flank of prisoners who were lined up in perfectly straight rows and
   counting them.  There was utter silence, broken only by the
   twitterings of the swallows darting back and forth above our heads.
   Suddenly, accompanied by a wave of whispering, the lawyer pushed his
   way through the ranks and stopped three paces in front of Schlage.
   Standing smartly to attention, he looked the SS man straight in the
   eye and declared with sincere indignation: ' Herr Kommandant, as a
   human being and a lawyer I wish to report that the block clerk' -
   pointing at Vacek - 'has arbitrarily killed several innocent people.
   Their corpses are laid out over there.  I am convinced that the block
   clerk has killed these prisoners without the knowledge of either his
   immediate superiors or the authorities.' We have been sent here to
   work and not to be killed.  Monsignor Tiso, President of Slovakia,
   has himself vouched for our safety.  I would therefore request you to
   have this morning's events investigated and to see that the guilty
   are duly punished.' 

   When he had finished making his complaint, one could have heard a pin
   drop.  Astounded at his courage and determination, the prisoners
   caught their breath and stared at Schlage.  He, too, was so surprised
   by the unexpected conduct of this prisoner that for a time he stood
   rooted to the spot facing the lawyer.  His neck and face grew livid
   with rage and agitation.  The muscles in his face were twitching as
   he tried to speak.  It took a few seconds before he was able to bawl:
   'Vacek, come here!' 

   'At once, HerrRottenfuhrer!' replied Vacek and stood to attention
   before his master.  

   'Did you hear what this fucking Jew has been blathering about?' 

   'I did, Herr Rottenfuhrer!' Vacek replied eagerly.  

   'Then give him what he deserves !' ordered Schlage.  

   Vacek ran to pick up his truncheon from where he had left it and
   rushed up to the lawyer.  He began to batter him with the truncheon
   and continued until finally the man dropped dead.  Then he hurriedly
   dragged the body over to the heap of corpses in the corner.  As the
   result of this morning's sporting activities, thirty five bludgeoned
   bodies now lay in the yard of Block It.  Schlage, who had observed
   Vacek's action with satisfaction, now turned to us and asked
   cynically: 'Anyone else want to make a complaint ?' (Mu"ller, 1-5)

                              Work Cited

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

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