From veritas.nizkor.org!veritas.nizkor.org!owner-nizkor-l Fri Aug 28 18:55:42 1998 Return-Path:
Received: from veritas.nizkor.org (5537 bytes) by www.nizkor.org via sendmail with P:uucp/D:dotforward/T:pipe (sender: owner: ) id for nizkor; Fri, 28 Aug 1998 18:55:42 -0400 (EDT) (Smail-126.96.36.199 1997-Oct-16 #1 built 1997-Oct-31) Received: (5158 bytes) by www.nizkor.org via smail with P:stdio/D:dotforward/T:pipe (sender: owner: ) id for nizkor-l-list; Fri, 28 Aug 1998 18:01:18 -0400 (EDT) (Smail-188.8.131.52 1997-Oct-16 #1 built 1997-Oct-31) Received: from mcfs.whowhere.com([184.108.40.206]) (4811 bytes) by www.nizkor.org via sendmail with P:smtp/D:aliases/T:pipe (sender: ) id for ; Fri, 28 Aug 1998 18:01:17 -0400 (EDT) (Smail-220.127.116.11 1997-Oct-16 #1 built 1997-Oct-31) Received: from Unknown/Local ([?.?.?.?]) by my-dejanews.com; Fri Aug 28 14:54:30 1998 To: email@example.com Date: Fri, 28 Aug 1998 14:54:30 -0700 From: [userid suppressed] Message-ID: Mime-Version: 1.0 Cc: Subject: Nizkor-l: Bruno Piazza and Auschwitz Bruno Piazza was a 55-year-old Jewish lawyer from Trieste when he was deported to Auschwitz in 1944. Due to an almost incredible combination of lucky circumstances, he managed to survive until after the liberation. Before his death in 1946 he wrote a book called "Why the others forget" ("Perché gli altri dimenticano"), in which he tells his story from the day of his arrest until January 27, 1945, when Auschwitz was occupied by the Soviets. It is - unjustly - less famous than the books by the other Italian Auschwitz author, Primo Levi; and very different. Levi after all was very young at the time, and didn't speak German very well. Piazza on the other hand was in his mid-fifties, and having grown up in the Habsburg empire (Trieste had only become Italian in 1919) he spoke fluent German and understood much better what was going on around him. Besides being a very well-written book, it provides some useful information. For example on the complete uselessness of the prisoners' work. "The next day an assistant came to take me to the brick carriers' team. I followed him slowly, brooding over the ungrateful work awaiting me. Ungrateful and perfectly useless, since a locomotive and a few carriages were available which could easily have transported thousands and thousands of bricks from the freight yard to the factory in no time. Not even a need to spare fuel could have led the Lager administration to avail itself of the work of thousands of men instead of the power of the steam engine. It is true that human material did not cost anything to the Lager, but it is also true that coal was not worth much in such a region so full of mines. We often saw huge piles of it at the freight yard. That painful work was therfore only a punishment, a means like any other to accelerate our process of dissolution." (p. 112-113) It seems to me that this provides a confirmation of one of Goldhagen's theses: Jewish labour in concentration camps was mostly useless punishment. (It is also interesting to note, by the way, that Jewish labour was not used in great proportion where the results *were* considered important, eg in V2 weapon production [*]). Piazza also provides a confirmation of another thesis of Goldhagen: the marked difference in treatment between Jewish and non-Jewish inmates. Due to a - perhaps deliberate - mistake of the Italian police, Piazza was registered as a "political prisoner", not as a Jew. The difference is noticeable even before they reach the camp. Piazza's carriage, which contained only non-Jews, was opened by the soldiers every time the train stopped. They were not harassed by the soldiers in any way, who even allowed them to get out and wash themselves, or get water to drink. The other carriages instead were kept locked from the beginning of the journey until the end (p.25). Piazza also describes his meeting with Dr Mengele, whose name he mispells as "Mengerle". On one occasion he is selected by Mengele for killing. Together with dozens of others he is sent to the gas chamber, where he waits several hours because - as a member of the Sonderkommando explains - "they are waiting for the powder" (p.130). He is saved at the very last moment, when all the non-Jews are taken out and sent back to the camp. I have no idea whether an English translation of the book exists. The Italian edition is published by Feltrinelli. [userid suppressed] [*] see for example, Wincenty Hein's "Die Lebens- und Arbeitsbedingungen der Häftlingen im Konzentrations- lager Dora-Mittelbau und ihre Konsequenzen", p. 48 and following. Two third of the victims at the camp of Mittelbau-Dora (used for V2 production) were either Russian, Polish or French non-Jewish prisoners. The Jews represented a minority, probably because of the fear that they might engage in sabotage activities.
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