EXCERPT FROM THE LONG NIGHT

Flossenbürg

Crematorium at Flossenbürg [United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of National Archives and Records Administration, College Park]

“Here in Flossenbürg, I had to bring the corpses to the crematoria, and there I stood next to the ovens where I saw the fire, and inhaled the sweet smoke of burning human flesh. We were filled with a mounting dread of death as we watched the burning corpses. Until now, our apparent indifference had enabled us to get on, and to suppress our fears; but we were overwhelmed with fear as we observed this spectacle. “Will I too also end like this?” I asked myself, “And when?” I was terribly emaciated and bore all the external marks of a Muselmann. How long could I live like this? I did not know the answer. The smaller my chance of survival became, the stronger became my will to live, at any price. I suffered more and more dreadfully as I was repeatedly assigned to remove the corpses and witnessed the flames of the crematorium and the gruesome, towering column of smoke. The crematorium lacked the capacity to cope with the continuing flood of corpses, and so they heaped the dead into a mountain in front of the building. They lay in stacked on top of one another, first one way, then the other. When there was no room left for more piles of corpses, a ditch was dug adjacent to the barbed wire at the edge of the camp. It measured about seven to eight metres in width, length and depth. We threw the corpses into this ditch, poured tar over them, and set them on fire. The rising smoke polluted the air throughout the area. Both crematoria burnt day and night.”

BrutalityCrematoriumFlossenbürg campJewish life in campsMuselmannPsychology
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