The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Shofar FTP Archive File: places/poland/zwodau/zwodau.01

Newsgroups: alt.revisionism,soc.history
Subject: Holocaust Almanac: Arrival at Zwodau
Followup-To: alt.revisionism
Organization: The Nizkor Project
Keywords: Zwodau

Archive/File: places/poland zwodau.01
Last-Modified: 1994/02/15

"Finally the truck came to a stop in the grey-green winter snow. We entered
the gate of a camp. We were counted and recounted again. When we had gotten
off the truck, we could hardly stand on our frozen feet. The whole world
seemed to be dominated by the cold glow of the winter sun. Barely noticing
anything, a few tumbled to the ground. ...

A group of women took charge of us. Well, the Germans were running out of
men, we hoped. We were taken to a barrack where two hundred women were
sleeping. There was a completely different atmosphere here, and the place
itself was entirely different from any concentration camp we had seen
before, but we didn't know why. First, we realized that the bunks which
were three stories high were single. That frightened me a little, for I
always like to have my sisters near me. But this place was somehow
different. ... The most important discovery, however, was that none of
these inmates was Jewish.

They all surrounded us asking out of curiosity where we had come from, why
we had been arrested. When we explained that we were there because we were
Jewish, they couldn't understand and insisted that we must have done
something against the law, for this particular camp was for criminals only.

... There was a group of so-called politicals. They were from Poland. They
had participated in the Warsaw undergound, and the Germans had caught them
and imprisoned them. ...

Soon, we learned something else about Zwodau. There were two thousand
women, and nearly all of the food was running out. At first, we received a
slice of bread in the morning and a pot of cold black liquid that looked
like coffee. In the evening, we each were given a bowl of soup. Very soon,
the bread disappeared, and after that, we had only the bowl of soup, once a
day, that is, if we were lucky. All day long, we waited for the soup. We
rushed to get into line. If we got lucky in front then we ended up with a
bowl of warm water with nothing it it. The next time, we tried to stand at
the end of the line; perhaps the soup would be thickest there. But by the
time our turn came, there was no soup left. The supervisor rolled the
barrel over; we reached for it with our hands; we tried to find something
there, some little piece of potato, anything to stop our hunger. We licked
our fingers, but there was nothing there. Of course, when it was one only
of the four of us who managed to receive some morsel, we would share
whatever we had with each other. But what of those others?

Hunger pains kept us awake at night; and in the morning, when the whistle
blew and we had to go to the factory to work, we rolled off our beds and
went to work automatically. Day by day, we were getting weaker. Something I
had never experienced before was coming clear to me now. How did people die
of starvation? How did it feel, and how could one possibly live without

Was it just a physical agony or did the body and soul die together? I know
now that is was something nobody could understand without experiencing
fully to comprehend the anguish one is subjected to. The death which comes
by starvation is a prolonged death of unutterable torment. 


How did we live through this death? Was it because we were young, or was it
because we were determined to survive? Was it simply a miracle? To the four
of us it was all these things and even more. It was a feeling of
togetherness, of belonging, and of the great love we had for each other,
and an even greater love of life."

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  pp.164-165


Helen Fein's "Accounting for Genocide" includes an extensive bibliography,
including ten citations which deal specifically with the effects of
extermination and concentration camps on survivors. Those interested in
this subject are invited to examine Fein, page 420, for sources of study.

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