EXCERPT FROM THE LONG NIGHT
“22 June 1941 marked not only the day on which the Germans marched eastward and invaded Russia, but also heralded the introduction of new and even more stringent measures. The guards were reinforced. The watchmen in the Appellplatz loudly cocked theirguns in our faces to intimidate and terrify us. This was accompanied by an order to sew a yellow star on our shoulder and trousers, which until this time we had worn only on our chest, to make it more difficult for us to escape.
One summer’s day, when we returned from work, we were assembled for counting as usual on the Appellplatz. We noticed the concern and anxiety on the faces of the camp personnel and the Judenältester. During the count we noticed that the sick were not present and were not included in the count. The medical orderly who normally loudly announced how many were bedridden and how many were unable to work was silent. We did not know what these strange changes and the unprecedented tension signified.
Only when we left the Appellplatz to line up for our soup did we hear quiet murmurings that there had been an “important visit” to the camp that day by Major Lindner, Chief of SS and Police of Upper Silesia. He had inspected the barracks and counted the sick. They were ordered to step into a waiting vehicle and were taken away. This caused tremendous speculation, where had the sick been taken? One of the camp personnel let it be known that Lindner did not want useless mouths in the camp, and they had probably been sent to Auschwitz to be exterminated.”
It was common for senior SS officials to visit Nazi camps. In this picture SS General Oswald Pohl pays an official visit to Auschwitz. [United States Holocaust Memorial Museum]