The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)


"...their arms and legs snapped off in the unloading."

[Speaking of the liberation of Buchenwald, and the death of the American president, Franklin Roosevelt, author Abram Sachar paints a surrealistic picture of an American officer, requesting that the freed prisoners at Buchenwald participate in a tribute/memorial to FDR...]

"The moment was most confusing for the Polish Jews. The tribute to the President called up every reserve of remaining strength, but the plea for `understanding and reconciliation,' at such a point, left them bewhildered. Even as they attempted to raise their voices they must have remembered the day when a train had arrived at Buchenwald from Poland with only 300 living beings of the 4,000 who had been packed into the cars. Removing the corpses had been unusually laborious since most of the bodies had been frozen together; their arms and legs snapped off in the unloading.

"Some of the Hungarian prisoners must have remembered the 2,000 Hungarian girls aged between fifteen and twenty-five who had shared the miseries of camp life since the Budapest mass deportations of 1944. More than five hundred of them had been indentured as slave labor in the Krupp munitions works in neaby Essen. Their heads shaven, garbed in burlap sacks, housed in unheated barracks through the winter, set upon by dogs to prod them in their work, they had performed like robots until the intensive Allied bombardment began. They were forbidden access to the air-raid shelters and huddled together in terror in open trenches. The plants destroyed, Krupp officials herded the survivors into freight cars and returned them to Buchenwald, for the girls had been merely `on loan.' The German camp commandant could not accept them since he had already received thousands of other prisoners from camps also under fire. The girls were not even unloaded for bodily relief before being shipped on to dreaded Bergen Belsen. On the parade ground now, it would have been understandable if the Hungarian prisoners let their attention lapse to wonder about the fate of these exhausted girls. [Some of the women survived Belsen to give testimony against the Krupps and the German armaments tycoons and their slave labor practices.]

"Half listening ... was a solitary Dutchman, Max Nabig, the last of hundreds of his countrymen who had been deported to Buchenwald. The others in the Nabig group had perished in the Mauthausen death camp. He, a Jew from Amsterdam, had been assigned to Dr. Hans Eysele, an SS `research' physician who needed human bodies on which to test reactions to pain during operations performed without anesthesia. Nabig had undergone stomach resection under such conditions. After the operation he escaped being discarded like a laboratory animal when a compassionate nurse substituted some benign substance for the usual lethal injection. Other prisoners had kept Nabig hidden and he lived to testify at the international trials <4>. Nabig's thoughts, as he stood in tribute to Roosevelt, have not been recorded. In his testimony, however, he implied that the American officer who conducted the memorial appeared to regard the whole war effort as a sports competition in which the winners, in a show of civilized chivalry, were to shake hands with the losers.

"Dr. Eysele was arrested when the camp was captured, stood trial, and was given the death penalty. But the sentence was commuted to an eight-year prison term, of which he served five. Released in 1952, the province of Bavaria loaned him, as a `homecomer,' 10,000 marks `for losses due to the war.' He practiced medicine for a time in Munich. He was about to be rearrested in 1955 when fresh evidence of many other inhuman experiments became available. Warned, perhaps by the police, he fled and was granted asylum in Nasser's Egypt, where he settled down to a lucrative practice in Cairo."

4. Kogon, Eugene. "The Theory and Practice of Hell: The Concentration Camps and the Theory Behind Them" pp. 28-29

Work Cited

Sachar, Abram L. The Redemption of the Unwanted. New York: St. Martin's/Marek, 1983.

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