Life in the Holocaust
My mother and I finally arrived after forty days in a packed cattle car. There were eighty of us in the car with a little bit of bread, a few pails of water and a bucket for a urinal (Laqueur 203). There was little air and most of us had to stand or take turns sitting (Wiesel 22). All we could do was hope our situation would improve after we reached our destination, Auschwitz Birkenau.
Many of the passengers did not survive this ordeal; the only hope we held on to was that when we finally arrived at the camp we would have better conditions.
As we entered the camp I can still remember the horrible smell of something burning, I asked my mother what the smell was but she would not tell me. I later learned that the smell was of charred flesh and burning hair (Next 1). I noticed a sign on the top of the gate that read: “Arbeit Macht Frei” (work leads to freedom) (“Auschwitz” 17).
This made us think that hard work would result in freedom, but the sad truth was that death was the only real escape. We thought that we would temporarily stay at this work camp until we were allowed back home but little did we know, Auschwitz was not built to be a work camp, its sole purpose was the speedy and cost effective production of mass death (Bresheeth 90). Auschwitz was the largest extermination camp of the two thousand that existed in 1943; there were three parts to the camp, Auschwitz I, The main base and smallest part of the camp. Auschwitz II was the largest section; it contained the gas chambers and crematories. Auschwitz III consisted of synthetic fuel and rubber factories and was also used for holding prisoners (“Auschwitz” 29). After studying the camp for a bit our thoughts were broken by a loud shout and we were directed to form lines, one for men and the other for women and children. A senior SS officer stood at the beginning of the line and then directed us to the left or to the right (Meltzer 48). Your life depended on a wave of...