Concert at Auschwitz
I was sent to Auschwitz late in 1944, when the war in Europe was already five years old. For us, the Jewish people in Poland, those were long, terror-filled years when I learned the paralyzing effect of fear—when my healthy young appetite was replaced by hunger that kept me awake at night, gnawing inside like a worm, and when the only defense against humiliation was our contempt for the tormenters.
I was already then a veteran of two ghettos and had lost trace of my father and two sisters who were sent away and never heard from again. I thought I had seen and lived through the worst. Then I came to Auschwitz. I remember every day and everything that occurred, but some things—fragments and pictures—stand out more sharply in focus.
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One of them is this unbelievable picture of my first day in Auschwitz. There I was, dressed in pitiful rags thrown to me at random after my clothes had been taken away, barefoot, with no undergarments. My freshly shaven head was naked and shamefully exposed. I was sobbing in despair.
I was separated from my mother when we came off the train. I did not know then what was happening to her—that she was being led to the gas chambers to die. I longed to be with her…