Chilling testimony from an Auschwitz inmate forced to help the Nazi murder squads has finally been deciphered, thanks to painstaking detective work and digital imaging.
On scraps of notepaper Marcel Nadjari, a Greek Jew, described how thousands of Jews were herded into the gas chambers daily. He saw them “packed in like sardines”.
In 1944 the 26-year-old was burning with a desire for revenge. He had heard from fellow Greek Jews that his mother, father and sister Nelli had died at Auschwitz-Birkenau camp, in southern Poland, the year before.
“Often I thought of going in with the others, to put an end to this. But always revenge prevented me doing so. I wanted and want to live, to avenge the death of Dad, Mum and my dear little sister,” he wrote.
He was among about 2,200 members of the Sonderkommando – Jewish slaves of the SS who had to escort fellow Jews to the gas chambers. Then they had to burn the bodies, collect gold fillings and women’s hair, and throw the ashes into a nearby river.
Having witnessed Nazi Germany’s killing machine close up they knew it was only a matter of time before the SS exterminated them too.
So in November 1944 Nadjari stuffed his 13-page manuscript into a thermos flask, which he sealed with a plastic top, placed in a leather pouch and buried near Crematorium III.
“The crematorium is a big building with a wide chimney and 15 ovens. Under a garden there are two enormous cellars. One is where people undress and the other is the death chamber. People enter it naked and once about 3,000 are inside it is locked and they are gassed. After six or seven minutes of suffering they die,” he wrote.
He described how the Germans had installed pipes to make the gas chamber look like a shower room.
“The gas canisters were always delivered in a German Red Cross vehicle with two SS men. They then dropped the gas through openings – and half an hour later our work began. We dragged the bodies of those innocent women and children to the lift, which took them to the ovens.”
The ashes from each adult victim weighed about 640 grams (1.4 pounds), he notes.
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SOURCE: BBC News