The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Shofar FTP Archive File: people/n/nyiszli.miklos/gassing-survivor


From rbi.com!mvanalst  Mon Apr  1 23:54:47 1996
Message-Id: <199604020751.XAA02543@rbi.rbi.com>
Date: Mon, 01 Apr 1996 23:56:02 -0700
From: mvanalst@rbi.com (Mark Van Alstine)
To: kmcvay@nizkor.almanac.bc.ca (Ken McVay OBC)
Subject: gassing survivor
Newsgroups: alt.revisionism

(A copy of this message has also been posted to the following newsgroups:
alt.revisionism)

Source: _Auschwitz: a doctor's eyewitness account_, Dr. Miklos Nyiszli; 
ISBN 1-55970-202-8; pp. 114-120.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------

In number one's crematorium's gas chamber 3,000 dead bodies were piled up.
The Sonderkommando had already begun to untangle the lattice of flesh. The
noise of the elevators and the sound of their clanging doors reached my
room. The work moved ahead double-time. The gas chambers had to be
cleared, for the arrival of a new convoy had been announced. 

The chief of the gas chamber kommando almost tore the hinges off the door
to my room as he arrived out of breath, his eyes wide with fear or
suprise.

"Doctor," he said, "come quickly. We just found a girl alive at the bottom
of a pile of corpses."

I grabbed my intrument case, which was always ready, and dashed to the gas
chamber. Against the wall, near the entrance to the immense room, half
covered with other bodies, I saw a girl in the throes of a death rattle,
her body seized with convulsions. The gas kommando men around me were in a
state of panic. Nothing like this had ever happened in the course of their
horrible career.

We moved the still-living body from the corpses pressing against it. I
gathered the tiny adolescent body into my arms and carried it back to the
room adjoining the gas chamber, where normally the gas kommando men change
clothes for work. I laid the body on a bench. A frail young girl, almost a
child, she could have been no more than fifteen. I took out my syringe
and, taking her arm--she had not yet recovered consciousness and was
breathing with difficulty--I administered three intravenous injections. My
companions covered her body which was as cold as ice with a heavy
overcoat. One ran to the kitchen to fetch some tea and warm broth.
Everybody wanted to help as if she were his own child. 

The reaction was swift. The child was seized by a fit of coughing which
brought up a thick globule of phlegm from her lungs. She opened her eyes
and looked fixedly at the ceiling. I kept a close watch for every sign of
life. Her breathing became deeper and more and more regular. Her lungs,
tortured by the gas, inhaled the fresh air avidly. Her pulse became
perceptible, the result of the injections. I waited impatiently. I saw
that within a few minutes she was going to regain consciousness: her
circulation began to bring color back into her cheeks, and her delicate
face became human again. 

...I made a sign for my companions to withdraw. I was going to attempt
something I knew without saying was doomed to failure. Three months in the
same camp and in the same milieu had created, in spite of everything, a
certain intimacy between us, Besides, the Germans generally appreciate
capable people, and, as long they need them, respect them to a certain
extent, even in the KZ. Such was the case for cobblers, tailors, joiners,
and locksmiths. From our numerous contacts, I had been able to ascertain
that Mussfeld had a high esteem for the medical expert's professional
qualities. He knew that my superior was Dr. Mengele, the KZ's most dreaded
figure, who, goaded by racial pride, took himself to be one of the most
important representatives of German medical science. He considered the
dispatch of hundreds of thousands of Jews to the gas chambers as a
patriotic duty. The work carried out in the dissecting room was for the
futherance of German medical science. As Dr, Mengele's pathological
expert, I also had a hand in this progress, and therein lay the
explination for a certain form of respect that Mussfeld paid me. He often
came to see me in the dissecting room, and we conversed on politics, the
military situation and various other subjects. It appeared that his
respect also arose from the fact that he considered the dissection of
bodies and his bloody job of killing to be allied activities. He was the
commandant and ace shot of number one crematorium. Three other SS acted as
his lieutenants. Together they carried out the "liquidation" by a bullet
in the back of the neck....

And this was the man I had to deal with, the man I had to talk into
allowing a single life to be spared. I calmly related the terrible case we
found ourselves confronted with. I described for his benifit what pains
the child must have suffered in the undressing room, and the horrible
scenes that preceded death in the gas chamber. When the room had been
plunged into darkness, she had breathed in a few lungfuls of cyclon gas.
Only a few, though, for her fragile body had given way under the pushing
and shoving of the mass as they fought against death. By chance she had
fallen with her fce against the wet concrete floor. That bit of humidity
had kept her from being asphyxiated, for cyclon gas does not react under
humid conditions.

These were my arguments, and I asked him to do something for the child. He
listened to me attentively then asked me exactly what I proposed doing. I
saw by his expression that I had put him face to face with a practically
impossible problem. It was obvious that the child could not remain in the
crematorium. One solution would have been to put her in front of the
crematorium gate. A kommando of women always worked there. She could have
slipped back to the camp barracks after they had finished work. She would
never relate what had happened to her. The presence of one new face among
so many thousands would never be detected, for no one in the camp knew all
the other inmates.

If she had been three or four years older that might have worked. A girl
of twenty would have been able to understand clearly the miraculous
circumstances of her survival, and have enough foresight not to tell
anyone about them. She would wait for better times, like so many other
thousands were waiting, to recount what she had lived through. But
Mussfeld thought that a young girl of sixteen would in all nai"vete' tell
the first person she had met where she had just come from, what she had
seen and what she had lived through. The news would spread like wildfire,
and we would all be forced to pay for it with our lives.

"There's no way of getting round it," he said, "the child will have to die."

Half an hour later the young girl was led, or rather carried, into the
furnace room hallway, and there Mussfeld sent another in his place to do
the job. A bullet in the back of the neck.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------

As a Postscript, it is worth noting that Dr. Nysiszli's recounting of a
gassing survivor is a direct eyewitness account and not repeated from
hearsay. It is also worth noting that the _Auschwitz Chronicles 1939-1945_
mentions both Dr. Nysiszli and a SS Staff Segeant Erich Muhsfeld
(Mussfeld). 

Dr. Nysiszli, a prisoner at Auschwitz (No. A-8450), worked for Dr.
Mengele. (p. 691) and Muhsfeld was mentioned as being a Krema director
(p.729) and again as being the Head of Krema V (p.773). The date than Dr.
Nysiszli was mentioned was August 19, 1944 and Muhsfeld October 10, 1944
and January 1, 1945. 

Mark

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
"Gradually it was disclosed to me that the line separating good and evil passes 
not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties--but
right through every human heart--and all human hearts." 

-- Alexander Solzhenitsyn, "The Gulag Archipelago"
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Home ·  Site Map ·  What's New? ·  Search Nizkor

© The Nizkor Project, 1991-2012

This site is intended for educational purposes to teach about the Holocaust and to combat hatred. Any statements or excerpts found on this site are for educational purposes only.

As part of these educational purposes, Nizkor may include on this website materials, such as excerpts from the writings of racists and antisemites. Far from approving these writings, Nizkor condemns them and provides them so that its readers can learn the nature and extent of hate and antisemitic discourse. Nizkor urges the readers of these pages to condemn racist and hate speech in all of its forms and manifestations.