AuschwitzPage 1234 BirkenauPage 123 Other Plaszów
The main watchtower, Birkenau
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View of the main gate of Birkenau taken from the ramp where numerous selections were made.

The SS used prisoners to assist with the arrivals. Their job was to help keep them calm, take away the baggage, to unload any dead bodies, and in general to clear the area so that people arriving on the next transport would have no idea what was awaiting them when they disembarked from the train.

"The heaps grow. Suitcases, bundles, blankets, coats, handbags that open as they fall, spilling coins, gold, watches; mountains of bread pile up at the exits, heaps of marmalade, jams, masses of meat, sausages; sugar spills on the gravel. Trucks, loaded with people, start up with a deafening roar and drive off amidst the wailing and screaming of the women separated from their children, and the stupefied silence of the men left behind. They are the ones who had been ordered to step to the right--the healthy and the young who will go to the camp. In the end, they too will not escape death, but first they must work....

Here is a woman--she walks quickly, but tries to appear calm. A small child with a pink cherub's face runs after her, and, unable to keep up, stretches out his little arms and cries:'Mama! Mama!'

'Pick up your child, woman!'

'Its not mine, sir, not mine!' she shouts hysterically and runs on, covering her faced with her hands. She wants to hide, she wants to reach those who will not ride the trucks, those who will go on foot, those who will stay alive. She is young, healthy, good-looking, she wants to live...

Andrei, a sailor from Sevastopol, grabs hold of her. His eyes are glassy from vodka and the heat. With one powerful blow he knocks her off her feet, then, as she falls, takes her by the hair and pulls her up again....

'Ah, you bloody Jewess! So you're running from your own child! I'll show you, you whore!' His huge hand chokes her, he lifts her in the air and heaves her on to the truck like a sack of grain.

'Here! And take this with you, bitch!" and he throws the child at her feet...

Several other men are carrying a small girl with only one leg. They hold her by the arms and the one leg. Tears are running down her face and she whispers faintly: 'Sir, it hurts, it hurts....' They throw her on the truck on top of the corpses. She will burn alive along with them."