||Click on the cover image to return to the music page.
To download the files, right-click on the track title and choose "Save As..."
Here is a pdf file of the accompanying text and the list of names. Please download it before listening.
This is an audio document of a visit I made to Auschwitz Birkenau on October 28th, 2007. I can't, of course, dictate what people should do with this material, but I would like to think listeners will read, listen, and reflect.
18 minutes is not a lot to give.
This work is licenced under a Creative Commons Licence.
1. The Ramp
"And we got off the train; of course, there were some people that couldn't get off the train. And then they started separating us. At once, as we found out later, the ones that they deemed strong enough for labour went on one side. If I recall, we went on the left side of the track. And the other people, the older people, the mothers for the young children and the young children and the sick, they all went on the right side. My father had secured a little food and we still had some food left. And we found that my mother and my two youngest brothers and my sister, the youngest, were separated from us without any food. So my father, my third brother, his name would have been Sander, he happened to be right next to my father and so my father took some--a part of the food out of this little knapsack that he had and he told him to take that over to mom and come right back. Of course, once you got over on the other side there was no way to come back. This is how ignorant we were of the fact as to what was going on. And as, as a matter of fact, all these years my father lived with this horrible thing on his mind that he sent one of his children to his death." John Mandel.
Two thirds to three quarters of all arrivals at Birkenau went straight to the gas chambers. The average life expectancy for the remainder was three months.
2. The Children's Barrack B1a Block 16
"Then, and there, 'Kinder' was an abstract noun as there were no children in the camps at Birkenau. When I arrived at Birkenau in 1944 all children under 14 were being taken from the death platform, located at some tens of metres from camps A, B, C, D, E, F..., straight into the gas chambers. Not a single child under that age had been allowed to live. We uttered the word 'Kinder', but there were no children there, children who could laugh or cry, children who lived." Oliver Lustig.
3. Latrine Block - Women's Barrack B1b
"There was one latrine for thirty to thirty-two thousand women and we were allowed to use it at only certain hours of the day. We stood in line to get in to this tiny building, knee deep in human excrement. As we all suffered from dysentery, we could rarely wait until our turn came and soiled our ragged clothes, which never came off our bodies, thus adding to the horror of our existence by the terrible smell which surrounded us like a cloud." Gisella Pearl.
4. Women's Barrack B1b
Block 2 had 234 triple bunks and 702 mattresses; 1193 prisoners "lived" in it.
"A brick has come loose from the low wall separating our cell from the next where other larvae sleep, moan and dream under the blankets that cover them - these are shrouds covering them for they are dead, today or tomorrow what does it matter... We feel that we teeter on the edge of a dark pit, a bottomless void-it is the hole of the night where we struggle furiously, struggle against another nightmare, that of our real death." Charlotte Delbo.
5. Krema II
"You see, once the gas was poured in, it worked like this: it rose from the ground upwards. And in the terrible struggle that followed, because it was struggle. The lights were switched off in the gas-chambers. lt was dark, no one could see. So the strongest people tried to climb higher. Because they probably realized that the higher they got, the more air there was. They could breathe better. That caused the struggle. lt was instinctive - a death struggle. Which is why children... and weaker people, and the aged, always wound up at the bottom. The strongest were on top. Because in the death struggle... a father didn't realize his son lay beneath him. "But near the Zyklon gas, there was a void. There was no one where the gas crystals went in. An empty space. Probably the victims realized that the gas worked strongest there. The people were battered. They struggled and fought in the darkness. They were covered in excrement, in blood, from ears and noses. One also sometimes saw that the people lying on the ground, because of the pressure of the others, were unrecognizable. Children had their skulls crushed. lt was awful. Vomit. There was everything in that struggle for life; that death struggle." Rudolf Vrba.