Monday, September 24, 2012

A Soup-Story of Auschwitz

Where Mengele (יש''ו) did his "experiments"
My dear mother, ע‫''‬ה, hardly ever answered my questions as to what happened in Auschwitz, the concentration camp she eventually was liberated from. Sometimes she'd try, but then the hairs on her arm would stand on end, which she'd sometimes show me - her way to get me to back off. Other times she'd just politely say "No".

Nevertheless, from childhood into adulthood, once in a blue moon I'd give that question a try. On occasion she'd respond with a "safe" story, one for which she'd feel no surge of anxiety. (Like the time she worked, as seamstress, sewing clothes in a German officers' barrack, where German soldiers, male and female, drank heavily and fell asleep, and she sewed a huge hem into her "skirt", into which she stuffed many sugar cubes she took out of a large barrel, then shared her "treasure" with the other inmates in her "bunk" that night.)

But then, once, in my adult life, she did tell me a story she'd witnessed. She was in the kitchen, busy making chicken soup on a Friday afternoon, getting it ready for Shabbos, and I was sitting at the kitchen table behind her. (She was, by the way, an outstanding cook, never needing a recipe to prepare mouth-watering, aroma-savoring Hungarian dishes.) One of the ingredients she used in her chicken soup was large slices of cow bones, those with marrow in them. This triggered a memory she decided firmly to share with me on the spur of the moment.

She turned around, said "You want to hear a story of Auschwitz?", sat down across from me and began telling me.

Railways into Auschwitz
My mother often saw transports of Jews coming into Auschwitz behind wire fences that separated her camp ground from the transport platform. As I understood it, Auschwitz had two sets of rails that hugged either side of a platform onto which the Jews, transported there in cattle-cars, were unloaded. Both sides of this platform were last stops for this railway system.

The far end of the train's offload platform was fenced off; This was a "one-way" platform. At the other end, towards which Jews were prodded to "line up" and navigate to, sat the nefarious "Doctor" Josef Mengele, may his name be blotted out forever. Here this monster decided the fate of over 1.5 million Jews. On his hand he wore a white glove. With his little finger, he pointed right or left as each Jew passed him by, then and there determining this Jew's fate to live or die.

A unique, obsessive hobby of this fiend was to make "experiments" on twins.

She related: One particular day, this barbarian noticed in the crowd making their way towards him a father and son, both hunchbacks. Mengele suddenly was seized with excited frenzy.

With wicked delight he took the father and son into the "kitchen", where stood two huge pots used to make "soup" for the enslaved inmates. This soup was nothing more that hot water and some peels of potato thrown in. He had the father placed in one pot and the son placed in the other, and boiled them until their flesh simply could come away from the bone with minimal effort. He did this just so he could compare the bones of father and son.

Surprisingly, she got through the whole story under full composure. That's my memory of it, which I here record, for the first time since about 30 years ago, when I first heard it. (I saw a picture of that demon on the web and decided to write up this short story I'll never forget.)

UPDATE (Jun 9/15): Just read this article regarding Auschwitz, where it also makes mention of father and son hunchbacks, and what happened to them. Not that my mom's story needed corroboration, but the proof is overwhelming.
"Above all, the Lilliputs dreaded suffering the same fate as two male dwarfs — a hunchback and his son — who’d arrived in the camp three months after them.

Having decided to send their skeletons to a museum in Berlin, Mengele had ordered his staff to boil their bodies over a fire until the flesh separated from the bones."

1 comment:

  1. Oh, my gosh, that was ghastly. What a fiend!
    Not that there weren't other ghastly events ...