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Here is the first of two parts:
Session No. 69
23 Sivan 5721 (7 June 1961)
[The first part of the Session - testimonies on sterilization - was heard in camera.]
Attorney General: I call Dr. Aharon Beilin.
Presiding Judge: Do you speak Hebrew?
Witness Beilin: Yes.
[The witness is sworn.]
Presiding Judge: What is your full name?
Witness: Dr. Aharon Beilin.
Attorney General: Dr. Beilin, you live in Tel Aviv, at 33 Louis Marshall Street?
Witness Beilin: Yes.
Q. You are a doctor?
Q. In February 1943 you were deported from Bialystok, which at that time was incorporated into the Third Reich, to Auschwitz?
Q. How many people were there in this transport, together with you?
A. About five thousand. I should like to point out that there were two transports, one following the other. There were ten thousand people at the assembly place; on one train there were five thousand of us, and the next day, the other five thousand arrived on the second train. And they were added to the block where we were, in Auschwitz - in Birkenau.
Q. Were they all Jews?
A. They were all Jews from the ghetto.
Q. Did you try to hide yourself at the time of the round up?
A. A child’s crying revealed our hiding-place.
Q. And then you were caught, together with your mother?
A. Yes. My wife went to another bunker since we were afraid that if many of us were together
the danger would be greater, so we decided to separate. I remained with my mother, and my wife went to another bunker.
Q. Did your wife and your mother survive?
Q. You reached Auschwitz and underwent a selection?
A. Yes. The doctor who conducted the selection was Dr. Rohde.
Q. What unit did he belong to?
A. He was an SS doctor, with the Death’s Head symbol on his cap, and Schwartzhuber - both of them. Perhaps it would be of interest to point out that while the selection was going on, he had a dog at his side, and he whistled the aria from “Rigoletto” - “La Donna e mobile.” About one hundred and fifty men and one hundred and fifty women were selected from the first rows. The remainder were sent off in a group without undergoing selection. Large trucks came to take them away - amongst them my mother as well.
Q. Where were they sent to?
A. They were sent along the road which as I subsequently learned when I was in Auschwitz, led to Birkenau, which was the road leading to the crematorium - but I had a better sign. Three or four hours after I entered the camp, I saw these trucks through the barbed-wire fence - we were then still on the other side of the barbed-wire fence, we had not yet gone inside the camp - I saw these trucks returning with coats, and I saw my mother’s coat. I then understood that she was no longer alive.
There is one other matter I want to mention here. When I was with my mother, she said to me - she was an observant Jewess - she said that she would pray for my survival, but, she told me, I would have to promise to take an oath, that was how she put it to me - she said it in Russian so that the SS men should not understand, because there were some of them who understood a little Yiddish - that if I should remain alive, I should go to Palestine. And I promised her, and I kept my promise, I fulfilled this obligation. And I think I owe this observation to all the mothers who were taken before their time and to all the children who were snatched from their mothers for destruction, for annihilation.
Q. What happened to those who were left alive?
A. All of us, the one hundred and fifty men - and I amongst them - waited three to four hours in front of the barbed- wire fence. After that we entered the camp and waited there until the evening. We had actually arrived in the morning, and there was frost - it was at the height of winter, in February 1943. And they made us do the famous gymnastics of Auschwitz, the “knee-bend” and “roll.” And the guard who accompanied us remained with us until the commander of this division came and said: “I have brought 150 figures from the transport of the RSHA from Bialystok.”
Q. You heard that with your own ears?
A. I heard it with my own ears. And I asked the old-timers who were around there what this RSHA stood for - I had heard these initial letters for the first time. One of them told me they stood for Reichsicherheitshauptamt.
Q. Can you tell us how it was said in German?
A. Yes. “150 Figuren aus dem RSHA-Abtransport Bialystok.” The block into which we were placed was supposedly a quarantine block. There we came across people who had arrived on another transport from Plonsk and Mlawa. Since at the time of our arrival there were no Jews there from Eastern Europe, only from Western Europe, and since Plonsk, Mlawa and Bialystok had been annexed to the Reich, they brought us there as “Reichsdeutsche Jews.” I took advantage of this, later, and I was the only one also who wrote a postcard to the ghetto in Bialystok, and the postcard was received.
Q. We shall come to the episode of the postcard later. You wrote it to your wife, I understand?
A. Yes, I wrote it to my wife.
Q. We shall come to that. You were transferred to a certain block and there you were divided up according to occupations?
A. They had a standard list there, in which as a rule all the prominent functions - as they were called in Auschwitz - were in the hands of “S. Ver. und B. Ver.,” that is to say, the Berufsverbrecher und Schwerverbrecher (professional criminals and men guilty of serious crimes). They were Germans who had been in gaol, who had been sentenced to imprisonment, and who had been released for concentration camp duties. They had a prepared list, and classified the new arrivals (der frische Zugang) according to this list into members of the liberal professions, on the one hand, and criminal elements arriving there, on the other hand.
Those who were not members of the liberal professions and who were not criminals were divided equally into two groups. Those who were criminals and were able to prove that they had spent some time in prison, who, for example, had broken into safes or stolen, were given these duties. What were these duties? Distributors of food, room-attendants (Stubendienst) and so on. I did not know about that and I said that I was a doctor - this served to my disadvantage, together with the whole group of teachers, of writers, and actors; apparently there was a whole standard list and we always received the worst tasks, hard labour, for example, cleaning the toilets or carrying food.
Carrying food in Birkenau involved mortal danger, for there was no meal where the Essen-Kommando (the unit for bringing food) reported to the kitchen and where its Rapportfuehrer (the man in charge), whose name was Schillinger, did not kill two or three people with a huge wooden spoon used to stir the food in the pots; he would pull it out and strike people on the head. This work was given to us.
Q. How long did you remain in this block?
A. Four weeks.
Q. What were your living quarters like?
A. It was terribly overcrowded, sixteen of us lay on a ledge which was intended, more or less, for six people. We could only lie on our side, for, if one of us wanted to turn over, everyone had to turn over. If someone got down during the night in order to relieve himself, he could not come back, and had to lie down on the concrete floor of the block.
Presiding Judge: Why could he not come back?
Witness Beilin: Since it was too crowded, and he would annoy all the others because he would be disturbing their sleep. I remember a case where - since it was winter and the block was not heated, it was cold - a man got down and froze. This crowded condition also had an advantage - we kept each other warm. That man lay the whole night on the concrete - he had diarrhoea. I must point out that seventy per cent of the people in this block died in the course of these four weeks.
Q. Dr. Beilin, are you a physician?
Q. And you were a physician at that time?
A. Yes. I completed my university studies in 1934.
After the cold shower we were given, and after we were made to run naked, both in order to be tattooed and be registered, and thereafter in order to receive clothing, naked all the time, it was obvious that pneumonia and all other kinds of sicknesses arising out of exposure to cold developed rapidly. In the course of four weeks seventy per cent died.
Attorney General: Was it a procedure in this block that anyone whose temperature rose above a certain degree was taken away from there?
Witness Beilin: Yes. That was the famous temperature-taking; in every block there were groups of medical orderlies under the control of the “SDGH” - he was an SS lance-sergeant, the assistant of the SS doctor, and it was under his supervision that temperatures were taken. He himself checked the thermometer reading and supervised the registration, and if anyone had a temperature of over 37.5, and it did not matter whether the temperature was due to a cold or to a throat infection, he was considered as a potential carrier of germs and was put to death the next day by being loaded, together with all those who had been recorded for this the previous day, on to the trucks, naked and wrapped in blankets. And for us this was a sign that they were on their way to the gas chambers.
Q. When you came to Auschwitz did you encounter people from various countries?
A. Yes. As I said earlier, these were Jews from Western and Central Europe. There were no Jews from Eastern Europe. These Jews were from Czechoslovakia, Holland, from France - all had foreign, not French citizenship, that is to say they were Polish and Romanian Jews who had been brought from France; later on there were Jews from Belgium and from Luxembourg, and amongst them also one German Aryan who said that he was from Luxembourg and that he was a political prisoner.
Q. Did you also see people from Greece?
A. Yes, they began arriving in March-April 1943. When the Greek Jews arrived, I saw yellow cheques in their hands; at that time I did not know the value of the drachma, but they came to the veterans - we were the old-timers, as it were - and asked when they would be receiving their money from the bank, for “we deposited our drachmas over there and were given these cheques to be redeemed at the Polish banks to enable us to live here.” Obviously our answer was: Nil. This I remember, I remember what the cheques looked like; they were yellow and it said in German: “The Jewish bearer deposited such-and-such a number of drachmas in the bank.” And the amount was written both in figures and in words.
Q. Were there also Jews from Zagreb?
A. Yes, there were Jews from Zagreb. I know this from the fact that on this transport a doctor arrived whose name was Bier; he possessed two diplomas - in medicine and in chemistry. One fine day Dr. Bier was taken away as a chemist, and rumour had it - the rumour reached the camp in some way or other - that the chemists were taken to forge Allied banknotes.
Q. Were there also Soviet prisoners?
A. Yes, there were twelve thousand Soviet prisoners, including privates, but there were also officers amongst them, some officers with academic training, despite the fact that in Auschwitz, until the Gypsies were gathered together and exterminated in the gas chambers, Aryans were not generally brought to be gassed, but they died a so-called natural death, from diseases. Of these twelve thousand Russians, many - the majority - died of tuberculosis.
Q. Which they contracted in Auschwitz?
A. In Auschwitz, for most of them were from rural and not from urban populations, and apparently for this reason, owing to the crowding and the starvation, tuberculosis spread amongst them with greater intensity than in the case of an urban population.
Q. Were there Germans in charge of the clinic on behalf of the SS?
Q. Who were they?
A. I remember three doctors in the clinic - apart from those who used to come for short periods and then disappear. I remember Dr. Rohde - he was the first to make the selection, also when I reached the camp. There was Dr. Helmersen - again, as it was rumoured, Dr. Helmersen was the son of the police commander of Berlin.
Q. Let us talk of facts, not rumours.
A. Afterwards, of course, there was Dr. Mengele, who used to come there - he was one of the last - and I had already got to know him in the Gypsies’ camp.
Q. What was the fate of the Jewish doctors, including your own?
A. Generally speaking, in Auschwitz, in Birkenau, we were not doctors. Our official title was “Pfleger” - male nurses. They said of us: “A Jew is not a doctor, a Jew performs abortions and is a pharmacist, thirsty for poison.” We were the Pfleger - and these male nurses did not only administer medical treatment, which was virtually useless since we had neither medicines nor bandages; the bandaging material which we received was made of paper only. Hence if we applied this kind of bandage in the clinic, both because of the discharge from the wound and also for the reason that if, for example, the bandage was on the foot, the patient would immediately put on this shoe and the bandage would disintegrate.
Presiding Judge: What kind of shoes were they?
Witness Beilin: I also received a pair; they were wooden clogs which were called “Holz-Pantinen.” But we were obliged to perform all the work, that is to say, moving the mattresses and distributing the Muselmannn, the under- nourished.
* * * * *
Attorney General: We shall come to that later. You provided medical treatment...
Witness Beilin: And para-medical, as they called it in the good times....
Q. ....to people entrusted to your care?
A. That is correct.
Q. How many were there in your group of doctors?
A. Where, in the clinic?
Q. Yes, in the clinic.
A. In the clinic, we were about twelve to fifteen doctors, in the B-II-D, that is to say, in the Abschnitt I (Section 1), where I worked in Birkenau.
Q. Did diseases, epidemics, occur? If so, which ones?
A. In B-II-D, first of all there was typhus. This plague was never suppressed. There were merely chance fluctuations, as manifested in the decline or increase in the number of those stricken. But this plague, I would say, was endemic - it was never completely eliminated. There were instances of diarrhoea; the diarrhoea was the outcome of undernourishment and of pollution. We could not make any laboratory tests and we were unable to distinguish whether any case of diarrhoea was due to pollution or undernourishment. But opium, which was the most valuable drug in Auschwitz, in Birkenau, since it immediately halted the diarrhoea and enabled the infected patient to absorb some food and liquids - this remedy was not available. It was more costly than life itself - opium, twenty drops of opium.
After that there was scabies. Obviously there, too, was a radical cure - rubbing the body twice or three times with this medicament would cause the scabies to disappear, but this medicament, the well-known preparation “Mitigal” made by I.G. Farben, of Bayer, was not obtainable.
Q. Were there cases of suicide amongst the prisoners?
A. Yes; here, again, I have to distinguish between one group and the other. West European Jewry, which was not immunized against hatred, had enjoyed complete equality of rights - the Dutch, for example. They could not understand, at all, what was happening here - people were being killed simply because of there being Jews? “I have not done anything.”
Q. Do you recall a particular conversation with a Dutch Jewish doctor?
Presiding Judge: Are you a general practitioner, Dr. Beilin?
Witness Beilin: I am a specialist for infectious diseases. I was the deputy director of the department of infectious diseases in the Bialystok hospital - afterwards in the Bialystok Ghetto. I was transferred with the same title and the same function. Once a Dutch doctor came to us.
Attorney General: A Jew?
Witness Beilin: Yes. A Jew. This Doctor was a newcomer. In other words he had just arrived, from Westerbork, I believe, and he asked me: “Tell me, colleague, when will I see my wife and children?” I asked him: “What is the reason for asking this question?” He replied to me: “Those who were on the ramp at Birkenau told me that persons who were fit for work were going to a separate camp, and the women and children were going to a separate camp where they would receive better treatment. Two weeks later there would be a meeting to enable them to be reunited for a certain period with their families.” And he asked me when this meeting would take place and how it would be arranged.
Q. And you told him that there would be no meetings with families?
A. I told him the truth and afterwards I was sorry.
Q. What did he say to you?
A. He said to me: “No wonder the Germans accuse the Jews of spreading atrocity tales. What you have told me is quite impossible.” I showed him the crematorium which was about three hundred meters from our camp, and I asked him: “Do you see that building? What is it?” He said to me: “That is a bakery.” It was a building constructed of red bricks.
Q. Did he consequently commit suicide?
A. I met him by chance about a fortnight later. He called me. I wanted to avoid this encounter - I saw him from a distance. When he approached me it was most unpleasant for me. He said to me: “Colleague - you were right. This is murder.” Afterwards I learned from his Dutch friends that he committed suicide by thrusting himself - and this was the typical method in the Birkenau camp - on to the barbed-wire fence with its high tension electrical current.
Q. They used to run to the barbed-wire fence?
A. Yes. They used to say “Er ging auf den Draht” (“He went on to the barbed-wire”). That was the technical term for these suicides.
Q. Were the Jews of Eastern Europe more conditioned and less inclined to suicide?
A. Yes. They had a powerful urge to live - whoever could at least cope with the physical suffering, such as hunger, beatings and the diseases. I noticed that where you had the same types of Jew, in the same physical circumstances, under the same physical conditions, in other words, of the same age, with the same external appearance and in a similar state of nourishment, if the two of them contracted the same illness with the same virulence, you could see that if one of them was a West European Jew and the other a East European Jew, the one did not want to live and fled. We called it “Die Flucht in den Tod” (“The flight into death”). At the same time the second one would recover, he would miraculously recover; he was endowed with a powerful will to live and the quintessence of this will to live was to be able one day to take vengeance. I must say this here, explicitly. In the “Sauna” when I was still in quarantine and when we were taken to do all sorts of work, I discovered - in the “Sauna” - all kinds of sentences, verses from the Bible, on the walls. I remember these sayings, and they were in various languages, I remember a saying from Dante: “Abandon hope - all ye that enter here.” I remember the Hebrew sentence: “Avenge ye the blood of your brothers that has been spilt.” I remember a sentence in Yiddish: “Yidden, fargest nisht - nekome” (Jews, do not forget - revenge). I remember a phrase which must have been written either by an educated Polish Jew, or by a Polish prisoner. It was a quotation from Mickiewicz from the “Improvisation”. There is a passage there: “Vengeance, vengeance, vengeance on the enemy - with God and even without God.” This I saw in Polish; since I had graduated from a Polish gymnasium and university, this was close to my heart. When I was in the Gypsies’ camp - and we shall come to that later on, but there is a link with it here - a poem was smuggled to me. For me that was a sign that a group existed which was still capable of writing poems, an organized, underground group. This poem was in Polish. Only the last verse and the title I retain in my memory. It was a long poem. The title was: “They send us out to work and to death.” It referred to the Aussenkommandos (external units) those who went out from the camp to labour, and each time brought back with them dead bodies with the pretext “Auf der Flucht erschossen” (shot while trying to escape).
Your Honours, please forgive me, perhaps I am disgressing from the subject, but I want it to be known, for I myself have never published it and I have never come across this poem in any book that has been published, so far, about the Holocaust. I shall translate this into Hebrew, as it is written in Polish. The title was “To death - people are being deported from the camp, to the field, to the field.” (That is the literal translation.)
The last verse says the following: “Monsters and Barbarians, so that the world might forget you, we shall remove all traces of you. And on your graves we shall erect a sphinx that will eternally cry out: “Links, Links, Links.” Because in the march in Auschwitz, from morning to evening, it was always “Links, zwei, drei, vier, links, zwei, drei, vier, links, links, links” (left, two, three four, left, two, three, four, left, left, left). That was the verse that referred to “links”.
Naturally this poem was exceedingly popular. The Political Department searched and apparently somehow got hold of a copy of this poem and searched for those responsible, but could not find them.
Presiding Judge: What was this “Political Department”?
Witness Beilin: The Political Department was - I can talk of two commandos. There was the Kommando der politischen Aufnahmeschreiber (The Political Unit for the Registration of Arrivals) - those who carried out the work of tattooing and registration when a new transport arrived at Birkenau. These were prisoners who worked under the supervision of one of the SS. And he was always a non-commissioned officer, an Unteroffizier. The Political Department - not the “Kommando der politischen Aufnahmeschreiber” was the department that kept watch in the camps, searched for communists, for propaganda, and on the pretext of this search they sought out all kinds of victims.
Q. That is to say an investigation department?
A. Yes. They had female or male clerks, but these clerks were prisoners who did forced labour. I even remember two of the names of people of the Political Department in the Gypsies’ camp. There was one whose name was Peter Braut who was born in the Argentine, joined the Nazis and came to Germany. He was of German origin. The other was Hofmann. Hofmann was a German from Belgrade. These two sat in the Gypsies’ camp, in the Political Department, and I remember them as if it were today.
Attorney General: Dr. Beilin, what was this manifestation of Muselmannn from the medical and psychological point of view?
Witness Beilin: “Muselmannn” was a word that originated in Auschwitz. It was the stage...
Presiding Judge: I think we have already heard about this from the Kovno Ghetto, if I am not mistaken. Dr. Peretz told us about it, if I remember correctly.
Witness Beilin: The condition of Muselmannn was the final stage of malnutrition. It is interesting that the first symptom of such a man, when he begins to enter the stage of being a Muselmann - and that is a psychological manifestation - is when he begins to talk about food. There were two things about which prisoners did not talk about amongst themselves in Auschwitz - it was a kind of taboo: the crematorium and food. Food, because as a conditioned reflex, it caused the discharge of oxygen in the stomach and increased the appetite. So one had to exercise self-control and not speak about food.
The moment a man lost his self-control and began remembering the good food he used to get at home in better times, this kind of talk was called Muselmann talk. And that was the first stage - we knew that in a day or two he would already be entering the second stage. In other words, there was not such a sharp division - at any rate he would stop reacting, he would stop taking an interest in his surroundings, he would also stop receiving orders and responding to them. His movements would be slow, his face would be like a mask, he would have no control over his bowels. That meant that he would relieve himself wherever he was. He would not even turn himself over from side to side of his own accord. He would lie there.
And in this way he entered the state of being a Muselmann. He was simply a skeleton on swollen legs. And when they wanted to drag such a person from the block to the parade-ground, so that he should stand there, they would place him forcibly against the wall, with upraised arms, with his face to the wall for him to lean on. He was simply a skeleton with a grey face who was standing against the wall, swaying from side to side, since he had no sense of equilibrium. That was the typical Muselmann who was subsequently taken away by the Leichenkommando (Dead Bodies Unit) together with the dead bodies.
Attorney General: when some disease, taking on the form of an epidemic, broke out, what happened to the block?
Witness Beilin: That was the famous “Epidemie-Bekaempfung” (Combatting Epidemics) in Birkenau. The SS doctors were not familiar - generally speaking they evidently did not even recognize - the infectious diseases connected with a rash, with eczema. Nor were they always able to diagnose them. For them this rash was either scarlatina or typhus. And the moment it broke out in the block - and there were six to eight hundred men in this block - this determined the fate of the entire block. And this was called the Epidemie- Bekaempfung, that is a campaign, a war against epidemics. And this whole block was put to death, since it was a carrier of potential germs, that is to say the germs together with their potential carriers.
Q. When did the first Gypsies arrive at Auschwitz?
A. In September 1944, we, eighteen Jewish doctors were chosen by Dr. Helmersen; thereafter one hundred and eighty Poles were added to our number - amongst them thirty to thirty-five doctors, the remainder were medical orderlies and administrative personnel. We were sent out from B-II-D to an empty camp, the purpose of which we did not know.
Q. In what year was this?
A. In 1943, September. In the evening transports of Gypsies began arriving in civilian clothing, with children, women and elderly persons, in their coloured scarfs and with musical instruments. They entered the camp to the sound of music, singing and chanting. And in the course of three to four days the camp filled up to its full capacity, that is to say, eighteen thousand people.
Presiding Judge: All of them Gypsies?
Witness Beilin: All of them Gypsies. Naturally amongst these Gypsies there were also blond types with blue eyes. Either they were offspring of mixed marriages, where the wife did not want to part from her husband, or they were the second generation. At any rate we had blond gypsy men and women.
Attorney General: What country did they come from?
Witness Beilin: They came from Czechoslovakia, Poland, Belgium, France and Luxembourg.
A. And Germany. They did not come from Romania or Hungary.
Presiding Judge: Why was that? These were actually Gypsy countries?
Witness Beilin: There was an explanation for that. I do not know if it was a fact, but the Gypsies themselves said that in Hungary, the Hungarian nobility was very much mixed up with the Gypsies and hence the Hungarian Government did not agree to deport the Gypsies. This was, of course, only a conjecture; I don’t know how much truth there was in that.
Attorney General: You were entrusted, together with other doctors, with the medical treatment of the Gypsies?
Witness Beilin: Yes. Together with Polish doctors and eighteen Jewish doctors, eight of whom died in the course of time. Amongst them was one woman doctor who now lives in New York, a German Jewess, who was brought from Holland, from Westerbork.
Q. Amongst the Gypsies there were also some who were brought from German military service - is that correct?
A. They came to the camp and did not know what it was. They arrived and greeted us, these German Gypsies, with “Heil Hitler.” Amongst them were young people in the uniform of the Hitler Youth and the B.D.M., the German Girls’ Union. My first patient - a woman - did not want to be examined by a Jewish doctor, after she glanced at my badge indicating that I was a Jew, I was wearing a white coat, and when I wanted to reach for my stethoscope which I had in my pocket, I was obliged to open the coat and then she noticed my Juedischer Winkel - the Jewish badge - she asked “Are you a Jew?” I said: “Yes.” Then she said: “I will not permit a Jewish doctor to examine me.”
That was the first patient in the tuberculosis block which was still empty. She was a tubercular patient and was to be examined as to whether she needed an additional injection of air, a pneumothorax (injection of air into the pleural cavity). I was in the company of a Polish medical colleague, who was incidentally a Polish friend of mine from the university. He asked me: “What is she saying?” He did not speak German. I told him she was saying that she did not want to allow a Jewish doctor to examine her. He laughed and said to me: “Tell her that three hundred meters from here there is a crematorium.” Naturally I was afraid and did not tell her that. I was afraid that she might, in her present mood, go straight to the Political Department and inform on us for carrying out atrocity propaganda.
Six weeks after this I saw this same Gypsy woman - I was working in another block. I heard that I was being called. “Herr Doktor, Herr Doktor” from the top bunk of the block, which had meanwhile been filled to capacity with tuberculosis patients. I looked at her and I saw before me a very emaciated face. I asked: “Do you mean me?” And she replied: “Yes - you don’t recognize me - I was your first patient in the tuberculosis block.” I remembered the affair and asked her how she felt. In reply she said: “Herr Doktor, this is murder - we did not know that.”
Q. Were there also Gypsies who arrived from Germany in military uniform?
Q. How did they get there?
A. They came on the same transports; they said they had been registered in the Gypsies’ department, the department of registration of Gypsies. This is what they claimed and since they came with all their possessions, they had photographs and pictures - they arrived in uniform. I saw one of them who showed me a photograph of himself participating in the Polish campaign, and said that he had bombed Warsaw. He was in army uniform without signs of rank and without a belt. I also saw lance-sergeants and not only officers. They were embittered and did not know what was happening. One said that he had been so loyal to the German fatherland, to the “great German Reich” and suddenly this was what they were doing to him.
Q. How did the Gypsies live in Auschwitz? Were they in a family camp?
Q. Was that something exceptional in Auschwitz?
A. Yes. After the Czech camp in Theresienstadt, there was this family camp in Auschwitz and that was the last; we actually had a maternity home, where babies were born, and they received their tattoo mark on the day of their birth, on their little arms. A Politischer Aufnahmeschreiber would come under SS supervision and made the tattoo mark. For Gypsies there was a special numbering method with the letter “Z” (for Zigeuner) Z1, Z2, 2000. When they made a tattoo mark on me, I asked: “What is this for? I do not understand.” And then they told me: “So that your body can be identified.”
Q. What was your number?