It's cold here, and the other children are very poorly;
But I think I'm ever so lucky
To have my Uncle Mengele looking after me;
He gives me lots of smiles and things to eat;
He makes sure my bed is warm when I sleep;
In the winter, I have shoes on my feet.
I'm only six years old, like my brother Christi;
He looked at us and said 'you are so sweet'
When we arrived here; he came along to meet
Me and my brother, so he could complete
His studies. He said that we looked a little green,
So he'd change that to his liking.
Sometimes, he likes to things that are quite silly
To other boys and girls that are naughty:
He keeps them outside at night when it's freezing --
But not me, 'cause Uncle Mengele loves me;
He's almost like an Angel, or so it would seem;
He's not like the other men -- they're just mean.
He took us to a room, and talked to a baldy
Man in a language that was quite funny.
He said me and my brother were sick, and need
Treatment that would be over quite quickly;
And because we both miss our mother quite dearly,
He said he won't hurt my brother and me.
Uncle Mengele has just gave me bad news: sadly
My brother died just after surgery.
This is even worse than the pain I feel in my tummy.
Uncle Mengele said 'you must forgive me.
I'll make all your problems go away with Zyklon-B.
We'll take you to the shower to be cleaned'.
Its A Monetary Thing Its Never Fate
When There Is No Plan To Resuscitate
Just Junior Doctors With Bodies To
Being Taken On By Age Concern
Their Fighting With A Fascist Regime
That's Taken On The Mengele Theme
Trek my siel uit met swart onlogiese krapmerke op my pick n pay strokie.
Breek my fingers af op n hout skryf blad
en hou die honde naby vir die bene wat spat.
Vermergel dan my vellies
en gooi dit op n graf
en se dis vir al die girlys
-dis van papers wat smag.
Edel en opreg is die regter se kaf.
Heilig is die helde van die bars van die nag.
Ons onthou die spoke van Oranje stad,
Ons kleef aan hulle woorde soos n tros vol kak.
Ons hou van die serries en die doef van Jak,
En moenie met my stry nie ek sal jou in pak.
Melodie jou wysie met ewige tone,
mengel mooi jou woordtjies met jou oulike drome.
Hou die fort van veiligheid en nasionalisme,
Wees n patriot en vermoor Anglisisme.
Beskerm jou mother language teen n kombuis taal.
Daar is niks in hierdie wereld wat die taal mag vaal.
evil found a new name
during the third reich
a reich to last a thousand years
so thought the impotent sociopath
when he decided on his final solution
to the Jewish problem
inferior beings, less than human
the Jews, the blacks, the gypsies
and the mentally ill
so he set loose upon
the subjugated, the weak
and the meek
his angel of death
dr josef mengele
at first, the people did not see
but you did.....nazi
a killing field
for cruel and painful experimentation
for a time, brief to us
but not to his victims
even god held his breath
in abject terror and disgust
at what evil had unleashed
upon an unsuspecting and peaceful
in the end, all were victims
and no death could have been
too painful or too cruel
for the perpetrators of this holocaust
and the world trembles at the memory
but must never forget
that humanity almost died
at the hands of a maniac
rot in hell
are condemned to repeat it
When Van Gogh cut off his ear
It was for reassurance that the rest of him could disappear
That illusion of ownership that nerves create
Should have faded with each baby tooth I lost
It didn't though, contrariwise I worried I would extend
Into roads or trees and then feel the tire's friction or the elm's blight
Empathy is a bitch of its own
I pray I never wake up with a Siamese twin
I'd have to care, lest we lapse into mutual sadomasochism
That hilarious territory of bored lovers
The Thalidomide kids might get a kick
out of feeling new arms attached to other people
but that's the exception that proves the rule
After the Vietnam war, some men believed Agent Orange
Had followed them home, alive in newly discovered nerves
Now what odd god must be behind that shit!
Mengele often awoke from dreams sweating and sure
That his patients would learn a trick to generate biological anesthetics
He needed the feedback of sound to really understand the human body
“Prayer or pleading” he used to say with a wink to his bartender after work
Sometimes I worry that my nervous system
Might have a Mengelian agenda of its own
That I am woven into a potential torture chamber seems clear
but then I remember that I can always pull the tooth or cut off the ear
One amongst the other side of six million,
She was forced to survive the hell of Auschwitz
A patient of Mengele, as was dear Grandma,
they shared a Shepard, Dr. McDreary
In their cell, she colored my grandmother healthy
with every slap, she hit brutal life on its face.
Pain splashed red-hot on the cold cheeks
and hid the pale shade of despair,
saved both from Zyklon-B selection.
A rotten pear, for the Grünberg pair,
she smuggled food from trash trucks,
A ride that risked her life,
to save her sister’s.
She did rescue and gave life to old Israel,
married a faithful man, cooked for Passover,
cried for her children’s well-being
and won over life with her jokes.
She was a little woman, Doda Tova,
thorny red rose watered by humor,
fragile flower from central Europe,
A heroine, A mother, Aunty.
Death took her family in WWII,
Death took her sister with cancer,
Death took her husband 12 years later,
Death took her sanity,
Didn’t look at her, until now.
And I hope she’s well rested,
under the wings of her god,
hand in hand with dear grandma Deborah,
while telling each other tales
soon to be forgotten.
For little are all people
tiny identities float on political skies,
fame fumes underneath fiery arts,
and history washes every grain of sand away.
I will remember, until my last dying breath.
The Lobotomizer honed his dark art,
by using great patience and a cold heart.
First, he earned a fancy Masters degree,
a quite secretive, hush-hush diploma,
in psychological advertising.
Then, covertly sponsored by Henry Ford,
the Lobotomizer flew overseas,
where he became good friends with the Nazis.
Mengele offered a welcoming wing -
when it came to experimentation,
the Angel of Death, was the reigning king.
After the Allied Forces came on strong,
the Lobotomizer slipped further east,
becoming a student of the Red Beast.
The iron-curtained, cold-war, Frankenstein,
taught the Lobotomizer many tricks,
including high-frequency hypnotics,
how to travel through electrical lines,
and even surf the waves of satellites.
Yet his travels were not close to finished,
for the Lobotomizer knew no bounds,
and his appetite was insatiable.
He bounced around the globe for many years,
gaining more insightful experience.
He passed through many laboratories,
leaving behind countless horror stories;
leaving behind legions of empty minds.
Finally, in the fall of Sixty-Nine,
the Lobotomizer returned back home,
returned to the land of the brave and free,
to commence his lobotomizing spree.
By the hundreds, thousands, millions and more,
the Lobotomizer plied his ill trade,
beaming himself via optic fiber,
satellite dish, cable, and antenna,
right between the eyes of his audience,
until the nation's vast majority,
was left drooling, dull-eyed, slack-jawed and blank.
Nowadays, nearly the whole broken globe,
can feel his dark probe in the frontal lobe.
The blue light flickers off the walls at night,
as most people have given up the fight,
trading in their brains for mere empty dreams.
But the Lobotomizer isn't done,
for he pushes his trade even further,
to the final frontier of the jungles.
to add to the snore-fest of it all :D
chapter seven: blizyn
We women who had been chosen for work that day were put in trucks and taken to Blizyn. This was an arbeitslager, a labor camp, near Radom. When we arrived, we were again taken to showers. They gave us decent clothes here because they had a lot of the dresses, shirts, and underwear from the people that they had already killed. The guards brought us the clothes in piles from the lumpiarni.
When we arrived in Blizyn there was already a large group of Jewish people imprisoned there. These people were for-tunate. The Germans had let them bring packages and possessions from their homes. Things like pillows, blankets, and clothing. They had been held there, in the barracks, for some time.
But when we arrived, we didn’t have anything except the clothes they gave us and the preczes, the wooden bunks, with straw pillows and straw mattresses. The barracks were built without foundations and were filled with rats. It was difficult to sleep. At night, when I ran to the low barrels to urinate, big rats jumped up at us like cats.
The day after we arrived, we were sent to work. I was put in a factory to make and fix uniforms for the Nazi soldiers. Some girls mended shoes. Some worked in hospitals.
One hundred women slept in a block, fifty women up, and fifty women down. I was in block one, with Sonia and Elka. Everybody knew that Elka, Sonia, and Sara were close friends, like the three musketeers. We fought for our lives with masks of faith, hope, and courage. We prayed to G-d, and shared with each other our pain, our misery, our fear.
We started as three beautiful, young, strong, and healthy girls, but the Nazis destroyed our minds, and our bodies. We lost weight from starvation and overwork. Although I, too, was de-pressed and hungry, I told them, "Don’t give the Nazis the satisfaction. Don’t make it so easy: be a fighter, be strong. Don’t lose your hope and with G-d’s help, by a miracle, we’ll survive." Just as my father had told me.
One day after work, as I left the factory building, from a distance I recognized a friend of my brother Moishele. We hugged, both happy to see a familiar face. I asked him if he knew what had happened to Moishele and my father. He said that the day that I was taken, when they needed 150 seamstresses, they also needed 150 tailors.
“I told them that I was a tailor and they picked me. But your brother said, ‘I don’t know how to put a thread in a needle’. Today, they take the tailors. Tomorrow, maybe they’ll need me-chanics or engineers."
My poor brother, Moishele, was waiting for a next day. But with the Germans there was no next day. If you were needed, you had to go immediately. If you didn’t go, you didn’t survive.
“You have to run from death to life,” I thought. You can never wait for tomorrow, because tomorrow may never come.” Moishele lost his young life to the Nazis in Auschwitz. He perished with so many others.
Hearing this, I was destroyed. Moishele—too too young, too innocent—I had hoped he had survived, but it was only a dream. He was just a memory, like the rest of my family.
My life was not worth a penny, but I pulled myself together and fought anyway.
In Blizyn, it was hard to survive. You had to have a strong heart and a will to live. If you gave up, you were finished. The delicate died immediately, broken hearted. I would be strong.
At Blizyn, they lined us up twice a day. We awoke early in the morning to wash our bodies with ice water. Then we stood in the lines to be counted. And after they counted us we were sent to work.
Young women lost their periods from malnutrition. Many died from boils on their bodies. I had big boils under one arm. Another prisoner cut open my boils to let out the pus. My body was weak and it took a long time to heal.
One morning, the Nazis sent two barbers to shave off the women’s hair with a razor. This was supposed to stop sickness. When I saw the beautiful women after they’d lost their beautiful hair, I was scared and sick. The young women, after their hair was shaved, put towels over their heads. Their heads were cold without hair. So I put a towel over my hair as if it was shaved. By now my hair was past my waist.
The Germans starved us so that a crust of bread was like a million dollars. Everyday, the hunger became worse. I was lucky because I still held my mother’s fifty-gram gold chain inside me; I’d never told anyone about it because I didn’t want it stolen.
When I discovered that there was a small black market, I asked some men, “If somebody had a golden chain, what could she get for the chain?” They said, “She could sell it and get 500 zlotys.”
With such money, you could buy a slice of bread and a piece of onion. I didn’t tell them that the chain was mine. I told them that I would get it from my friend. When I brought over the chain, they gave me the zlotys, which I slipped into the bottom hem of my skirt.
Every time I was hungry, I took out a couple of zlotys to buy an extra piece of bread. I ate in the middle of the night when no one could see me. When I slept I kept my skirt with the “zlotys” under my head. If anyone knew, they would take everything from me.
The men also worked in the factories. They would sit at the sewing machines, working on uniforms. Most were half dead from hunger. When one fainted, others working nearby tried to revive him to keep him alive so the guards wouldn’t notice.
I often gave them pieces of bread. They were so weak that they didn’t even have the strength to say thank you. With a little piece of bread I could save someone’s life.
Some of the men were so hungry that they ate the skins of the potatoes from the garbage. If the German commander caught the Jews in the garbage, they put the guilty person against the wall and whipped them with a whip, 50 or 100 times until their body was covered with blood or until they fell down almost dead.
I don’t think you can understand what the Nazis did. They were without souls. They were murderers who should never have grown up. It would have been better if they’d died in their mothers’ bellies.
I had the Polish zlotys from my mother’s chain for a while, but eventually I ran out so I couldn’t buy any more bread. I had helped many and shared with the unfortunate. But now I had to figure out a way to get more bread, and a way to survive.
There were a lot of Ukrainians working in the camp, guarding us so that we could not escape. Many times in the evening after work I took a chance and talked to one of the guards in a very nice way. I tried to win his heart by telling him he was a very charming young man, that he was good-natured.
“If you help me with a piece of bread,” I said, “you’ll help a human soul to survive. And if you do, I pray to G-d to bless you with a long life and everything that you desire."
The young man was won over, and he said, “Of course. I’ll bring you a piece of bread.”
Not all of the guards were good, but he was He was spe-cial and, for a while, he would help me and bring me pieces of bread.
A while after I’d been in Blizyn, we received very bad news. An epidemic of lice had broken out in the camp. Our young men and women were working in the factories to fix the old German uniforms and socks, and these clothes were full of lice. That’s how the epidemic started; people were falling like flies. They had very high temperatures, like 104 degrees Fahrenheit.
The wooden stretchers in the camp hospitals filled up quickly with two girls on each stretcher while many more slept on the floors. There were no more beds for them, no more places to sleep. I too became ill with the fever. I was put on the floor between another young woman and a stretcher. My temperature was 105. I only drank water. They gave us rancid coffee which made us vomit, more ill than before. They called the disease shlecht typhus. We were afraid to drink unboiled water. The water would cause stomach typhus.
The sickness killed you eventually if your temperature lasted for seven days without going down. We were between death and life. If the temperature went down you’d survive, if not, you’d die. My temperature retreated on the eighth day and I miraculously survived.
When I left the hospital I couldn’t walk. I was so weak that I lost my memory, though it returned, slowly. When I finally returned to work, I was still weak and more hungry than before. When I ate, I was still hungry. I knew that if I didn’t do something soon I would die from hunger alone. I wanted to survive, so I set to planning.
I again met the young prisoner Karl. We started to talk. I told him I was hungry, and that if I didn’t have food I would die. He had talked to a farmer outside the camp while working, and said that if I could bring some shamattes, some clothing to him, he would wrap them around himself, hiding them, and trade them with the farmer for food. If I gave him clothing, he would bring me bread, a hard boiled egg, and a piece of onion.
This sounded like a feast to me, but I told him that I didn’t have anything to give, that I only had what I was wearing. But then I had an idea and decided to take a chance with my life, but the only chance I had.
One day, when I was free from work, I went over to the lumpiarni, the place where the Germans kept the clothing of all the people that they’d killed in the concentration camps, where we’d received our clothes when we arrived. I stood around and watched the woman who worked there. When I saw her go away for a second, I ran in, grabbed some clothes, hid them so that nobody could see, and I ran away. When I found the young man, Karl, again, I gave the clothing to him. The next day he brought me a piece of bread and some onion with a hard boiled egg. It was like he was giving life back to me.
For a while after that, I took many chances and brought him dresses, socks, underwear, anything I could take. Karl also took chances for me and we became friends. One day he told me to stop taking these chances.
"Don’t go to the lumpiarni anymore, because it is very dangerous. If they catch you, they’ll kill you. I like you very much and I don’t want anything to happen to you."
From that time on, he shared anything he got from the farmer with me. Every time he had the opportunity, he brought me a little package with the bread, hard boiled egg, and onion. For me, this was a miracle. He told me that if by some miracle we survived, we would stick together and we would get married. I was about eighteen years old and Karl was in his twenties; I liked him very much.
Karl brought more than enough food so I could share it with my girlfriends, Sonia and Elka. Whenever we had some-thing, we shared it amongst ourselves. We couldn’t be selfish at a time like this. You’re not only supposed to take care of yourself, but you have to help somebody else, too. I’ve never forgotten this.
One time, Sonia, Elka and I sat down on the bunk that Sonia and I shared, eating the food Karl had given me. He had brought two pieces of bread, two eggs, and a bit of onion. We were sitting, eating our little feast and I took the shell off one of the eggs and put it down next to me while I peeled the other one. When I went to pick up the first egg, it was gone. I couldn’t be-lieve it. Then I saw a huge rat running away with my food. He was so big and so hungry. The rats always watched you, and this one stole my egg.
One night a rat bit Sonia’s little finger. The rats even slept with us.
The next time I saw Karl, he gave me a hug and a kiss. We talked for a while and then he said, “If we survive, we will never be apart.” He was so good to me and I started to like him even more.
In Blizyn I was staying alive, fighting to survive all of the misery, hunger, pain, and fear, that I forgot for a while that the Nazis had destroyed, shot and burned my family, my dear father and my dear mother, my brother, my uncles, my aunts, and my cousins. I missed them so much, my close, loving family. So many times I sat down in a corner and cried and cried and nobody was there to hear me. I wished I was with them, I was so lonely, so miserable. Then I would say to myself, “Sara, you have to survive. You have to be strong and have hope, pray to G-d and not give up. Don’t quit. Somebody must survive and tell the world what the German Nazis did to our people.”
The misery in Blizyn lasted almost a year. It was so wretched, but we survived because it was not a wernichtungslager, a death camp, it was an arbeitslager, a work camp. There was no radio and no newspaper, but the rumored news was always the same: pain, horror, and fear—until one morning when we heard that the Russians were too near to Blizyn and had the Nazis worried.
chapter eight: auschwitz
That same morning we heard about the Russians, as we stood in line, the commander told us to be ready because they were taking us to another camp. That day they took the men and the women and separated them into different trucks and took all of us to Auschwitz.
Auschwitz was like Majdanek, a wernichtungslager, a death camp. All around the camp was electric wire so that if someone tried to run away, he was electrocuted. And, the camp was divided by electric wire too, the women on one side and the men on the other.
Not long after we arrived, I went to this fence by the men’s side, looking to see if, by a miracle, I could see my good friend Karl, who had brought packages and food to me, and who had saved my life and had fallen in love with me. Yes, I saw him from far away, and he saw me, and he came closer to the fence by where I stood. I began to cry; tears ran from my eyes were like rivers. He cried also. We couldn’t get too close because we had to be careful of the electric wire. He said that he loved me very much and that I should be strong and not give up, that as long as our eyes were open there could still be a miracle, that we could survive by G-d’s will. He threw me a kiss from far away, and his sad eyes spoke to me.
“Goodbye my darling, my love.”
I never saw him again in Auschwitz.
Auschwitz was a new place with new troubles. New hor-rors. New fears.
Again, I was in barracks number one with a lot of women from Blizyn, including my ‘sisters’ Sonia and Elka. In these bar-racks, the bunks were attached with boards on which the girls slept--ten girls in a line like sardines, without mattresses, pillows or blankets. We went to sleep hungry, broken, and miserable, wondering if we would see another morning.
Everyday there were new problems. Again, the Nazis made us stand in lines three times a day to count us. All of us were weak, but if you have the will to pull through, a drive for life, you can make it. On certain days, you can become strong like iron or like an animal. You’ll steal anything, even from your friends, so long as you could survive Auschwitz.
The Nazis expected the impossible from us. There was no soap, but we had to be clean; no clothing, but we had to look decent; no food, but we had to be strong. They picked some of the stronger women and made them managers, police women. And the rest of us were busy with surviving.
Sometimes, when we were very hungry and miserable and blue, we’d sit down on the bunks with Jetta, one of our friends. She had a sweet, beautiful voice and we would sing together; the melodies swept us away for a moment from the hunger and misery.
On the other side of the electric wire, near the entrance, was the ampe, the train station where new transports arrived from Europe. Once, I saw a train arrive from Budapest, with families. Jewish men were walking with the Nazis. The officers told the men to take away all valises and bags from the people, to take away all of their belongings. The people panicked and started screaming, not knowing what to expect.
The Germans wasted no time separating the men, women, and children, putting them into lines. They started to pick through them, to “select” them. There was a line for those who would survive, to go into the camp, and one for those to go into the crematorium. Immediately after the transports had arrived, the beautiful blue skies turned to black shadows of smoke. Many vomited as they breathed the charred remains of their loved ones.
The women with me in Auschwitz, in the lager, were hungry like beasts. Another day when the transports came, we went over to where the men were on the other side of the fence. They were unloading supplies, the food and clothing for the camp. We screamed and begged for a piece of bread or for whatever food they had. We didn’t care so much about clothing at this point, we wanted just a piece of bread so we could survive.
Some of the men had sympathy and when the German commander went away, they threw over bread and sardines for us. Everybody was scrambling to catch a piece, and one girl lunged too close to the electric wire and was electrocuted and died before she got her piece of bread.
Auschwitz was not a working camp. It was a death camp, and everyday that passed, that I survived, was a miracle from G--d. The guards gave us very little food, because they didn’t care whether or not we survived. They wanted to make us into musselmen, skeletons, so that it would be easy for Mengele to choose candidates for the crematorium. Skeletons were easier to burn and bury. Why waste bread on the dead?
One day a chill went through us. Mengele was supposed to come to our block soon. To even mention his name was terri-ble. He was an Angel of Death. I was very aggressive. I was trying only to survive, to do whatever I could to make it out alive. You had to look good, because if you looked very skinny and pale, you were a candidate for Mengele to take you and incinerate you.
The food that they gave us was not enough to live on, so I was always thinking about where I could get some more. One day I saw a woman carrying pails of soup to the barracks. I found a rusted can and hid myself in a corner and when she went away, when she passed me, I ran back and pushed the rusted can into the barrel, took some soup, and ran away very quickly.
If they’d caught me, they would have killed me. I had to take chances, because life was not worth a penny there anyway. If I died from hunger or I died from incineration, it was the same thing. I had to look for some way to survive.
I took the soup and sat down in a corner like a dog, so that nobody saw me, and I ate. For a while, I was plunging the rusted can in the barrel of soup every chance I could, and I didn’t tell anyone. Then the woman told the guards that someone was stealing soup. The next time I went, there were two guards by the door. The woman was in the front, and the guards were in the back. No more soup for me; no more soup for Sara.
One day, in the morning, we heard that Mengele, the murderer, had arrived in our block; the smell of fear and death spread around us. It seemed like the last minutes of our lives had arrived. We were numb and couldn’t talk; the blood froze in our veins. Before our eyes, Mengele told the commanders of our block to line up all the women. When the girls were ready and standing in the lines, Mengele came forward.
He looked tall and handsome in his uniform. He wore white gloves. He was handsome on the outside, but inside he was rotten and festering, without a soul, without conscience or pity for another human being. He was the worst thing you could imagine.
He stood near the lines of the women and pointed his white-gloved finger, “You and you, come out from the line.” With these people that he selected, he made a different line, a death line.
A few of the younger girls had mothers with them. This was very sad, because Dr. Mengele first looked for the older, mid-dle-aged women. The young women covered their mothers with their own bodies hoping somehow to protect them. Of course, he made special efforts to take these mothers out of the lines. Then he pointed at the undernourished girls who were pale and sick.
I stood in the back of the line this time, shivering with fear; as far away from him as possible. I didn’t want to face him, didn’t want to see his hateful face. I pinched my cheeks to have some color and not look pale. I needed to look healthy. I prayed every second to G-d that He should protect me from the Nazi murderers. A little voice spoke in my head and said, “Sara, do anything to survive. In a crisis G-d will be with you and protect you from the murderers.” I repeated this and Mengele went away, and I stayed alive.
One morning, not long after Mengele’s visit, one of the commanders told us that they needed to choose women to send to work in a munitions factory. It was hard to believe them but we didn’t have a choice. Me and my friends, Elka and Sonia, were among the women chosen to go. They told us to be ready for the transport the next morning. Liberation from the death camp was the best thing that happened to us.
Before we left, I met a landsman, someone from my hometown named Zelig Plutt. I was so happy to see him and he was happy to see me too. He was working on the other side of the electric wires, unloading supplies from a transport that had just arrived. I asked him if it was possible to get a pair of shoes for me, because the next morning we had to leave for the factories and I was wearing broken wooden shoes.
He told me to wait, then risked his life for me. He brought over a pair of shoes, looked around to see that nobody was watching, and threw them over to me. I was so happy to have the shoes to cover my feet, I thanked him so much. I wished him good luck, that he should survive, and that we should see each other in better times.
But my happiness with my shoes did not even last until the morning. When I went to sleep, I took off my shoes and I put them under my head. This was a big mistake, for when I woke up in the morning and I went to put them on, my shoes were gone; they had been stolen overnight. I was so upset that I cried and couldn’t help myself. I nearly broke down. By a miracle, I got my old broken shoes back (someone must have heard my cries), put them on, then went over to the transport.
It was cold that morning and the women were already huddled together in lines waiting for the train. The trucks came and they loaded us in and took us away to Czechoslovakia, they called it Sudetenland. The name of the town was Crazow.
When we arrived in Crazow, they put us in barracks where we slept through the night, seven to ten of us in a bunk. The next day we went to work. They lined us up (three girls in a line) like soldiers, with two women commanders in the front and two in the back, armed with whips and guns, taking us to craft ammunitions in the huge menacing factory.
There were many men working in this factory from all over. Someone came to show us what to do, working on the wheels of the tanks. Elka welded and Sonia and I picked the wheels up. The wheels were very heavy for us, even for two peo-ple. I also had the job of drilling holes in the wheels and the work was very complicated. Once the drill caught on a piece of iron, it became very hot and broke off into two pieces. I was afraid to tell the foreman because, if I said that I broke the drill, they would say that it was sabotage. If they suspected you of sabotage, you were a traitor. They would kill you in an instant.
The drill broke a few times. The first couple of times there were replacements, but the last time it broke I became scared to death, crazy. But, I had an idea. Near my workplace was a Frenchman who worked as a welder. I went over to him, even though I couldn’t speak French, took the two pieces of the drill in my hand, and showed them to him. I dragged my finger across my neck to show him that if he didn’t help me they would kill me. He smiled and nodded his head. He was very nice to me; he took the broken drill and welded it together for me. I was so happy, and thanked him very much.
Because of poor nutrition, I became weaker and weaker--and everyday it was harder to pick up the tank wheels. After a while, they became too heavy for me. One day, I went over to the German foreman and I took a chance. I told him that I worked very hard and that it was difficult to pick up the drills and the wheels. I told him that he should give me a little more soup.
It was another miracle—he listened to me! He gave me a piece of paper to show in the kitchen that said I should receive more of a soup ration. It was like winning a lottery, a one-in-a-million-chance.
Some of the women found a room in the basement of the factory near where the bathrooms were. They opened the doorto find a root cellar full of potatoes and carrots. They stole the potatoes, hiding them in their brassieres, in their dresses, in their bloomers. Later that night, in our barracks, we ate the raw pota-toes with the skins still on them. The German commanders caught the women who were stealing the potatoes, and whipped them until they fainted.
So much hell we went through, so much pain. The only thing we had was hope. One girl kept the other girl alive. We told each other that the end of this horror was coming soon, that we couldn’t give up, that we would be free again. And this kept us alive, caring and sharing; one young woman to another. This kept us going.
In loving memory. We miss you mom!
Sara Lew, 1922-2010
Please read her entire memoir:
Sara: From Bialystok to Brooklyn, A Survivor's Memoir (Chapter 1-3/My Family-Bialystok)
Sara: From Bialystok to Brooklyn, A Survivor's Memoir (Chapter 4-6/Nazi Occupation-Majdanek)
Sara: From Bialystok to Brooklyn, A Survivor's Memoir (Chapter 7-8/Blizyn-Auschwitz)
Sara: From Bialystok to Brooklyn, A Survivor's Memoir (Chapter 9-10/Liberation)
Sara: From Bialystok to Brooklyn, A Survivor's Memoir (Chapter 11-End/Brooklyn)
Winnie the Pooh is trying to think
As are Plato and Socrates
While The Little Rascals get rambunctious
And The Marx Brothers cause calamities
Jim Jones stirs the Kool-Aid
And Georgie Porgie makes his move
Bo Peep and Miss Muffett start to blush
Red Ridding hood just swoons
The Muffin Man does a deal
With Johnny Apple seed
These beings and people our real
In our Surreal Reality
Pollock lets the paint splatter
And Moses parts the sea
Belushi buys an eight-ball
Bruce is on trial for obscenity
Rorschach is on the case
Right behind Sherlock Holmes
John the baptist goes for a swim
Along with Brian Jones
Jack and Jill meet Hansel and Gretel
They're hungry, they're thirsty
These figments of imagination do exist
In our Surreal Reality
Rasputin was so evil
As bad as Captain Hook
Now was it Ho Chi Minh or Nixon
Who said "I am not a crook?"
Mao Zedong looked at Stalin
With a shared murderous grin
Booth stormed the Ford theater
And shot President Lincoln
Kennedy and King we're both casualties
Of the process of the deciphering
Of our Surreal Reality
Zeus said to Aphrodite
"Wow, you look real good tonight"
And Handel says "Hallelujah!"
As the Wright Brothers take flight
Baby Face Nelson
Teams up with Dillinger
Moe, Larry and Curly
Mengele, Mussolini and Adolf Hitler
Three bears, three little pigs
Along with three blind mice
Sit together, while Maurice Sendack
Cooks them chicken soup with rice
Charlie Bucket had a buy out
Wonka gave up his factory
Fiction or nonfiction it's all a apart
Of our Surreal Reality
Chicken Little tried his best
To warm The Little Red Hen
Of the sly trickster
They call Rumpelstiltskin
Rimbaud applauds Leonidas
And his 300's final stand
Da vinci paved the way
For both Newton and Edison
Folklore and war heroes
And those with intellectual mentality
Are all just pieces
Of our Surreal Reality
Wee Willie Winkie's scream
Wakes up Rip Van Winkle
But not Sleeping Beauty who's been asleep for thirty years
But has no acquired a single wrinkle
Caligula has lost his mind
And Nero's lost his fiddle
What does Beethoven's hearing aid
Have to do the March Hare's riddle?
Abbie Hoffman fights for civil rights
Thomas Jefferson for democracy
Products of the conceptual
In our Surreal Reality
Berryman writes an ode
To Washington's wooden teeth
Manson speaks of Helter Skelter
Neruda damns the fruit company
Charles Schultz frames the story
And Seuss gives it rhyme
Some where far, far away
Taking place once upon a time
And the villagers all had omelettes
Thanks to clumsy Humpty Dumpty
It's all food for thought
In our Surreal Reality
Santa brings us presents
And Cupid bring us love
But we can never get back
The members of the 27 Club
Warhol makes his movies
And Buddha meditates
Joseph Smith reads the golden plates
Mohammed and Jesus save
Theses figures bring people hope
In life's dualities
And our Surreal Reality
Han Solo is in carbon freeze
Don Juan's preoccupied
Sinbad sets his sails
Simple Simon didn't get his pie
Caesar looked at Brutus
Brutus looked at Saddam Hussein
Hussein looked at L. Ron Hubbard
Who prayed to Eloheim
Dionysus can out drink us all
We cringe at Achilles fatality
As Ra soars through the skies
Of our Surreal Reality
Aristotle says to Shakespeare
"Well Billy you old bard"
Frodo trades the ring of power
To Fidel Castro for a Babe Ruth Baseball card
Biggie and Tupac write their lyrics on paper
Ted Bundy is put in jail
They're making another skyscraper
For King Kong to scale
Hemingway is too far gone
Kant's take on morality
Einstein says it's all relative
In our Surreal Reality
Churchill said victory
John Lennon said peace
Judas gave back the silver
Then hung himself in a tree
Tojo and Kim Jong-il
Wanna be as cool as Brando and Dean
George Carlin warned us all
Now Hermes leaves the scene
So do the butcher, the baker and the candle stick maker
Followed by Old King Cole and his Fiddlers Three
As they make their way to find
A sense or Surreal Reality
Odysseus pines for Ithaca
Paul Bunyan chops the trees
The Jersey Devil has not been found
Noah herds the animals by twos not threes
Anubis wraps the mummies
And Augustus leads Rome
Bugs Bunny laughs with Pryor
All at the expense of Job
So what can we all make of this
Is this all actuality?
Symbolism or nonsense?
Realistic Surrealism or Surreal Realty?
Scene: February 6, 1944. A cell at Plötzensee Prison near Berlin. Most of the prisoners here were sentenced by the Nazi People’s Court (Volksgerichtshof) as being ‘enemies of the state’. The play breaks the ‘4th wall’ as Josef Schwantz,sitting in his cell alone on the bottom mattress of a double-decker bed, addresses the audience directly.
Schwantz: I was minding my own business in the middle of cooking a scrumptious rat using my spit-polished glasses as a magnifier and the unhinged arm as a spit when, to my dismay, two new prisoners were bounced into my already crowded cell, occupied by me and half the starving rodents of Berlin. Whoever said there was ‘no free lunch’ knew nothing about the art of bait and capture. When that skill failed me I just put on the charm. When that failed me I just started stomping the floor until I heard a squeak and a death rattle. After we exchanged a few pleasantries about the weather and dead Jews, I told my new cellmates they will have to share the top bunk and I had dibs on the shmatah and pail. Then came the third degree…
Baker: What are you in here for?
Schwantz: The answer may be obvious to Arthur Koestler, Franz Kafka and the People’s Court, but I haven’t a fucking clue. And you?”
Baker: I was the Führer’s personal baker almost 20 years since he himself was a prisoner at Landsberg Castle and wrote his masterpiece, Mein Kampf. Last week, he downed a dozen of my pastries in one sitting and blamed me for farting in front of Goering at meeting with the Luftwaffe.
Schwantz: I predict that the pages of that schweinhund shit trainer will be a bestseller in the Arab work in 30 years!
Tailor: What’s the ‘Arab world’?
Schwantz: I predict the Arab nations are sitting on the biggest reserves of oil in the world, which will fuel the world’s transportation for the next seventy years. However, in 2020 cars will shift to sugar cane as their primary fuel and the global economy will be ruled by Haiti. And who are you may I ask?”
Tailor: You may.
Schwantz: And who are you?
Tailor: I was Hitler’s personal tailor for 18 years. Last week, after watching Charlie Chaplain’s The Great Dictator, the Führer went into a rage and threw himself on the rug in his office. But before he could take a good bite out of the antique Persian, his trousers split down the center. He blamed me, and here I am. Are you some kind of fortune teller, may I ask?
Schwantz: You may.
Tailor: Are you some kind of fortune teller?
Schwantz: Well, some people would say I have that gift. Unfortunately, most of those people have all been arrested. The others went into hiding.
Baker: Do you interpret dreams? I needn’t ask.
Schwantz: You needn’t ask, but it’s only polite, considering we’ve only just met at rehearsal.
Baker: I ask because the Tailor and I both had puzzling dreams on the same night before we were jailed. There is no one to help us understand their meaning. Perhaps, you…
Schwantz: I’ll give it a shot. Tailor, what was your dream.
Tailor: I dreamed that I was sewing a red swastika armband on to the Führer’s right arm. The band was wide, but I seamed it with only three stitches. The Führer then raised his arm and saluted me.
Schwantz: It means in three days you will be released from this jail and get your job back as Hitler’s tailor. You are his right hand man, because without his costume and Nazi regalia, Hitler appears to be just another common thug with a bad haircut. And was your dream, Baker?
Baker: I dreamed I was I put three donuts in the oven. When the timer rang I opened the oven and the donuts were gone. There wasn’t even a munchkin to be found.
Schwantz: I am sorry but I have bad news. The donuts, circular like clocks, represent days. It means in three days you will be released from jail, but you will disappear. Hitler has already ordered your execution.
Schwantz: Tailor, I have but one request. Should my interpretation come to fruition and you are released, please mention the unjustness of my incarceration to Herr Hitler. A kind word from his right hand man can make all the difference.
(addresses the audience) Well, I hit both those nails squarely on the head. The tailor got his position back and the baker was put on a transport to Auschwitz. I stood in jail another three months with only God and my rats to keep me company until, miraculously, Herr Hitler personally summoned me to his bunker. I was kept in the dark, given no clue why I was there. When I stood before Herr Hitler, he was silent.
Schwantz: Herr Hitler, sir, perhaps you have been perturbed by some dream couched in exotic symbolism, an enigma wrapped in a riddle like the questionable meat in a burrito. I can help you. I will interpret your dream the aplomb of Fred Astaire and the finesse of Sigmund Freud.
Hitler: Freud! Did we burn that Jew’s books? Nonetheless, I have nothing to lose as all my psychics have left me empty. My tea reader said my dream meant the English Earl of Grey will die in our next blitz of London. My astrologer told me that it symbolized the dawning of the Age of Aquarius, filled with free love, long haired students and strange smoke. My Tarot Card reader disappointed me the most by saying I am on the threshold of a ‘great transformation’, but was at a loss for words when I demanded specifics. None of these sheisse interpretations resonates as true. These sycophantic frauds are either licking my ass or shoving their heads so far up my ass that only their boots hang out.
Schwantz: Please tell me your dream, Herr Hitler, and I promise I will be both frank and forthright.
Hitler: I dreamed I baked a perfect seven layer German chocolate cake using only the finest chocolate from Belgium, France, Holland, Italy, England, America and Russia. I brought it to a picnic to surprise Eva and when I bit into it, it tasted like rotting flesh. I vomited and from my putrid puke emerged seven giant ants which proceeded to consume my perfect cake. What does it mean?
Schwantz: It means that from now on you should leave the baking to Eva. Just kidding. I thought I’d toss in a little humor to brighten up the drabness of this bunker. Moving along, the seven layer cake symbolizes the Third Reich you meticulously built. The smell of rotting flesh represents the Nazi underbelly, its ruthlessness, the torture and the concentration camps. The picnic grounds are Europe. The seven giant ants are the armies put together by the Allies who have united to destroy your empire.
Von Rippentrousers: Treasonous talk. Let me take this traitor to the back and put a bullet through his head.
Hitler: No, General Von Rippentrousers, let him be. I admit it is indeed unpleasant to hear so grim a future being forecast, but it has the impartial ring of truth. The future is not written in stone. What do you suggest I do, Schwantz?
Schwantz: Try and stop these armies of the seven ants. I predict the Allies are now preparing an invading armada scheduled for June 6, 1944. They will be landing at Deauville St Vaast with secondary landings in Norway and Belgium.
Von Rippentrousers: What about Normandy?
Schwantz: Ahh, Normandy’s Omaha Beach is good for skinny dipping but has little strategic value for the Allies. The Allies will make a small landing there as a feint, a diversionary attack. Don’t be fooled. If you want to defeat the Allies, focus on Deauville St Vaast, Norway and Belgium, not on the decoy they have spoon-fed your intelligence through calculated leaks.
Hitler: I like this guy. I see a future for you, Schwantz. Here, please take this ring from my hand. With it I hereby bestow upon you the title of…
Schwantz: Tzafnat Paneach?
Schwantz: Sorry, I’m great at augury, counting cards and dream interpretation. I suck at second guessing. You were saying, Herr Hitler.
Hitler: I hereby bestow upon you the title of Psychic General of the Third Reich.
Schwantz: I’m so honored, Herr Hitler. Not only will I cherish it, I will put it to good use by melting it down and casting it into two gold teeth to replace the ones your guards accidentally knocked out of my mouth with a shovel at Plötzensee Prison. If we’re done here, Herr Hitler, gentleman, I’ll just grab my hat and coat and take a little shpatzir in the park. I’m pale as a ghost after spending two years in a dark cell.
Hitler: Not so fast, Schwantz. You will stay here with me in the bunker. General Von Rippentrousers, please inform Field Marshall Goering to evacuate his room but to leave behind the Da Vinci’s drawings on his refrigerator. Then, be so kind as to show the Reich’s new Psychic General to his accommodations.
Schwantz: (addresses the audience directly) Needless to say, over the next few months I diverted most of Hitler’s troops away from the successful D-Day invasion at Normandy. He eagerly took my misdirection on dozens of other strategic decisions that accelerated the end of his regime of terror. When the Allies came into Berlin, Hitler committed suicide. The last words he ever spoke were to me asking, “Josef, will I be forgotten?” I answered, “No, Herr Hitler. The History Channel will celebrate you and your Reich for a thousand years.” After I explained to him the future invention of television and its moving images on glass, interrupted every few minutes by commercials selling tampons and diet pills, Hitler shook my hand and eagerly bit into a cyanide capsule.
I craved neither notoriety nor celebrity. I did not want to be tried as a war criminal nor paraded as a hero, so I left Germany on a Vatican Passport for Buenos Aires. There, I married a lovely local woman, Maria, who bore me two beautiful children, Menashe, which in Hebrew means ‘to forget’, and Ephraim, which means ‘to be fruitful’. Those are the mandates we survivors must live by – to forget and to be fruitful. Today, Menashe is an Orhtodox Jew and successful businessman. Ephraim prefers to be a goy and teaches dance. I call my kids ‘Tango & Cash’ and they give me equal amounts of nachas and aggravation. That is the only recipe for a full life. We have six grandchildren, so far. Menashe breeds like a rabbit trying to replenish the Jews lost in the Holocaust. Maria and I own a bakery-café-bookstore on the bustling, tree-lined Plaza Armenia. You must try Maria’s crescent shaped medialunas. I predictyou will fall in love with her doughier version of the French croissant and it will add two inches to your waistline before returning home. My real name is not Josef Schwantz. It is Yoiseph Schwartz. So, my friends, I must bid you hasta la vista, auf wieder sein and Shalom. Josef Mengele just walked in and is already complaining that Maria’s medialunas are a day old. What chutzpah! Now where did I put my Luger? Aha, I have a hunch it’s under the German rye.