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“In the early morning, as once again we trudged back and forth in front of the barracks in the freezing cold, a Kapo approached us. “Who wants to come with to carry food?” he called out. “The soup kettles must to be carried to a factory outside the camp.” From the Kapo’s assistant we discovered that a transport of women who had been evacuated from other camps had arrived at a factory a few  kilometres away. Naturally, I immediately thought of my sisters, who had been at Auschwitz. This concentration camp had been evacuated, and I hoped to meet friends or relatives who would be able to tell me about the fate of my sisters. It was for this reason alone that I freely volunteered for this arduous task, even though I knew I was unlikely to receive any reward.”

…“The meadows and hills around Flossenbürg lay quietly and peacefully before us. It was as if we were immersed in another world. I turned to look back towards the camp a few times. I wanted to see what it looked like from afar. What picture did those who lived freely in the vicinity have of it? Do they think human beings live there, or is our camp an isolated island whose sounds and wailing are swallowed up by the landscape, where humans are forcibly marooned to wait and become beasts of prey, where the strong beat the weak and subsequently burn them to destroy the traces of their murder? What are the thoughts and feelings that stir in the minds of those people who look upon our camp from a safe distance? What do they think when they see us pass by, wretched figures in concentration camp garb, pushing our carts, accompanied by armed SS soldiers? What is the purpose of this barbaric island in the thoughts and feelings of the outsiders? How much do they know and understand about life behind the watchtowers and barbed wire, where day and night on both sides of the enclosed camp unbroken columns of burnt human corpses ascend incessantly, leaving no trace? Do the people that we encounter en route suspect anything of the blood-curdling events happening close by? As we briefly glanced at them their silent faces betrayed nothing, neither that they recognised our fate, nor did they waste any thought or emotion upon it.”

Map of Flossenbürg Concentration Camp [United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of Charles Shillingburg]

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