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[Page 307]

The Experiences of the Żelechów Jews in France


[Page 311]

I Saw the German Cruelty

by Shaya Majster (Paris)

Translated from Yiddish by David Lukowiecki

The 14th of May 1941 I was arrested. 14 months I was in a French camp. In 1942 I was deported to Auschwitz. When I arrived in the place, I saw where I found myself. Clubs fell on our heads from all sides, this was the reception. After the “welcoming” we were put inside a block. We were there for three days without food and without a drink. Later we were sent into another camp, Birkenau, four kilometers from Auschwitz.

Soon in the morning after arriving in the camp I was sent to work among 300 men in a canal. At the job we stood half inside the water. It was a very hard and terrible job, to take the clay out of the water with shovels. Every day a few tens of men fell from exhaustion. I didn't work in that job for long, when I also didn't want to resist. Later I was sent to work over the transports. I will describe here a few shocking scenes that I saw.

In August 1943, 36 thousand Jews were brought from Będzin and Sosnowiec.

The first train that arrived brought 2500 men, among them 1700 were dead. All of the deportees were wholly black and swollen. There were 150 men in each wagon.

The second transport had 3000 people. They also had dead people. When they brought them, there were no cars to take them into the gas chambers, therefore they sat in the ground. The Oberscharführer took out his revolver and shot all the women and children on the place. Later when we were loading the dead on the cars, a little girl was found alive, approximately of 9 years old. The Commander of the S.S. ordered a soldier to shoot the girl.

The child felt the threat of death and ran to the Commander and begged him: Don't shoot me. “Whoever wants to shoot you”, answered the German softly, “wants you go to your parents”. The girl turned and answered: “I know where my parents are, they are already dead”. Therefore the child was left alive.

We gave food to the child. The Commander ordered us to put the child on the car. The girl was taken away.

At night I was interested in what happened to the girl. I asked people that worked on burning the dead. I was told that an S.S. man played with the child, gave her chocolate, they played maybe for 15 minutes because the girl was very pretty and later he told the girl: Go bring me a bottle. When the child went, he took out his revolver and shot her.

In October I was sent to Warszawa to clean out the ghetto. The job consisted in tearing down the walls that remained of the burnt houses and to bury the dead that remained among the ruins. I was 9 months in Warszawa. From Warszawa I was sent to Dachau. The journey from Warszawa to Dachau was terrible. There were a lot of dead because we were taken ten days without water and walked a lot.

The 2nd of May I was liberated in Dachau by the Americans and went home immediately. At home I had the pleasure to find my wife and child.


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