This whole situation started out simple enough. The men and myself first moved into a little town called Sighet. The people there seemed so naive. None of them realized what was about to happen; none of them realized what happened when the Germans move into town. We first started by imprisoning the officials and made all the Jews were yellow stars. The Jews were then moved into a very small ghetto and cramped quarters. It was obvious that none of them had heard of the horror of the concentration camps and what awaited them once they left the safety of their homes.
Some of the officers and I tried to be nice to the Jews because I, personally, hated carrying around this gun. Once you were in the camp the site of these officers holding these weapons struck fear into the hearts of all in the camp. We had finally gotten all of the people of the town of Sighet onto the train and had started the journey towards Auschwitz. The condition on the train is something I don’t think I could have stood for. The Germans were put in charge of the train in the middle of the journey.
The officers were told to collect any valuables from the people on the train and if they refused to yield their valuables, they were to be shot. As I have said I hated carrying around this gun but I did have a job to do and I was willing to follow orders if need be. Luckily I never had to unload a single shot on that train. Some people on the train were in very bad shape. They were hallucinating and many of them simply couldn’t take the heat and the smell any longer. They were beginning to go crazy. The officers had a meeting and we were told to tell them that they were all just going to a labor camp and the families would be kept together.
The lying was also a normal part of my job. Little did they know that they were going to a terrible place in which the males and females would be separated and all of the people had a slim chance of even making past the inspections. Before arriving at Auschwitz we came to a “filtering” camp called Birkenau. The men and women were separated and taken to separated and taken to the barracks. I hear the prisoners talking sometimes. Some of them have been in this camp for a while and some of them are friends to those who are just arriving. These prisoners know that only the youngest and strongest survive.
I know some of them have to be lying about their age. Boys that are barely 15 claiming they are 18, but they only want what everybody else at the camps want; to stay alive. Some prisoners and myself were transferred to a camp named Buna. It was a four-hour walk to the camp and once we got there the prisoners were required to undergo more medical exams to make sure they are still fit to work. The dentist even went as far as to remove the gold crowns in prisoners’ teeth. Things were going well for a few months although the officers and myself would take nothing less than hard work and cooperation from everyone.
One day we had an unexpected air raid on Buna. The planes showered the camp with bombs and that is when things started to get out of control. People were trying to get away, stealing items, and trying to sneak some extra rations of soup. The officers were told to publicly hang anyone who broke the rules during this attack. We were made to do it in front of the entire camp so they could see what would happen if a person disobeyed. I was put in charge of supervising the hanging, but I couldn’t let morals get in the way. I was put here to do a job and that is what I had to do.
We executed 4 people in total, including a small child just for trying to get food. I was aware that the Jewish holidays were approaching and it required them to fast. The rations that were given to the prisoners were hardly enough to keep a full stomach so I was very interested to see if any prisoners would comply with their religion and fast. Know one I saw even thought about fasting. When the holiday came about the prisoners picked up their spoons and started eating like any other day. Winter came very harsh that year.
Just as it started to get unbearable, there were threats of a Russian invasion into the Buna camp. The officers had a meeting and decided to evacuate the camp at once. We were planning to run to the next camp. I knew there would be no way of avoiding the tragedies that could happen on this trip. We were given strict instructions to kill every person who fell behind the pack. The prisoners were running straight ahead not even thinking. I heard shots and screams ringing out all over the vast, snowy plain. Ahead of me I saw a young man bending over and complaining of cramps.
I had to follow instructions and shot the man. It was not something I like to remember. We finally stopped at a small shack and people were falling all over each other to just sit down. Just as many people died there as they did on the trip. They would fall asleep, but never wake up. We had to press forward because we still had to get to the camp. People were still falling out who couldn’t keep up with the rigorous pace we were taking. Once we got to the camp people piled in on top of each other just to sit down. There were men screaming for air and still yet more people died.
There was still yet another selection where the weak were eliminated. Once we got to the camp everyone was put on the train to what turned out to be the last torture test. In my opinion, if you survived everything up to and including this train ride, you deserved to live. In a very uncivilized some the other S. S. officers threw bread into the trains just to watch the men kill their own fathers’ just to get a morsel of bread. Buchenwald was very cold and miserable. The same treatment went on for days. The Americans were said to be getting close to the camp.
I had to make a hard decision, stay and follow orders to kill every Jew in the camp, or flee and save my own life. Every officer chose to stay. Very many Jews were killed and one day, when the Americans were getting very close all of the S. S. officers left the camp, leaving the Jews behind. I never heard what happened to the Jews in Buchenwald. I also never forgave myself for the heartless murders my officers and I committed. That time was one of the worse times in history just because of the millions of Jews that were killed and I regret to say, I had a part in it.