Scroll to Day 1 (Blog 1 for Introduction of Louis' story!)
"...it was the Coup de Grace to finish it off. Somehow, with all the effort and excitement this seemed to have taken the breath away from the S.S. officer and it appeared that he had enough of it; a pause for us!
The burly, younger, hooligan, S.S. soldiers took over from here and from their corners, mumbled obscene, blistering ghoulish remarks such as, "Funeral March". An open van had now arrived with senior inmates and they began gathering the well expected harvest of cut down bodies. They threw them casually into the van like they were sacks of potatoes - in a very similar way to harvest time done as if this was a usual occurrence.
We were then pushed and bullied around until we formed ranks of five and had to give each other an arm, this made it easier for them to watch us.
After this the march started with the van and victims leading.
I noticed Janeck just behind me in the next row, a bit too close for safety. A bully of an S.S. Officer and his mate were marching alongside us now and we were also too near to the front for my liking. The bulky soldier said to his companion, "I think one is going to break free from here", and he put his hand on his hip ready to pull out his pistol. Luckily, for us nothing happened!
As we marched down we passed by an electrical barbed wire fence and made our way toward a group of small trees where Carrion Crows were sitting, the crows were making a din and screeching which reminded me of vultures gathering. Some, circled around and swooped down in erratic, long, swift glides, croaking and fluttering, making a remarkable spectacle for the approaching column. No other birds were present in the pale sky and one was aware of an atmosphere of disaster and utter despair all around us!
It was quiet and noiseless. The column of death kept marching on relentlessly, moving along that muddy dirt ride in Poland. Coming out of the woods, the first thing we saw in the distance was the foothills of Karpathes. I started dreaming of reaching those hills at the first opportunity. Still very thirsty and dry now but at the back of my mind was the image of the gruesome reception that the "Welcome Committee" had laid on for us. At this moment, I got the illusion of babbling, cool, mountain streams around us with dark green meadows that I could drop into and be cajoled into lusty frolicking games.
In the meantime, the S.S. officer and soldier had moved forward, giving Janeck the opportunity to talk - Janeck now moved closer to me to do so. On our left and behind the barbed wire fence a couple of weird, grotesque looking buildings appeared, quite large in size. They were at least thirty to fifty feet long and about twenty five feet wide, these loomed up in our wide eyed view. One side had barred windows and the other side had small rectangular openings that could be hermatically sealed - the walls looked like they were as thick as a safe. The side which had the windows also had long bars.
I now said to Janeck, "Is that where we are going to work?" Janeck who was more with it and up-to-date than I, quickly responded, "Don't be silly, those are gas chambers and crematoriums, all in one system, newly constructed and a maximum of one year old at the most".
As a matter of fact, this was still hard for us to swallow but there it was in all its glory. It could not be more clear to us now as it unfolded itself perfectly before our open eyes. Since our arrival, one shock had followed the other in rapid succession, from this one to the next as we kept on marching...
We were still alive less 25 people. Our mood which was very down now became more and more somber by the minute ...."
To be continued ....