3. Statements of Former Prisoners at Auschwitz
We are currently in possession of at least nine declarations
written prior to the end of the war. They were therefore made before even the
maddest minds could have conceived of the so-called "Jewish world conspiracy,"
the objective of which was to extort fabulous sums of money from Germany.
These statements are those of five persons who escaped from the camp of
Auschwitz and of four others who died there before its liberation in January
The escapees are two Slovak Jews who got away from Birkenau on
April 7, 1944, two others escaped on May 27, 1944, and a non Jewish Polish
officer who had arrived at Auschwitz on March 25, 1942, and remained there for
nearly two years. After having left Auschwitz, these five former prisoners were
able to transmit to the United States accounts of what they had seen and
personally experienced. In November 1944 (five months before the end of the
war), the Executive Office of the War Refugee Board of the President of the
United States published them, adding that their "names will not momentarily be
revealed in the interest of their own security" and that "the Office has every
reason to believe that these reports provide an exact picture of the horrible
things which are going on in these camps" (5).
It is known today that the first two escapees are
Rudolf Vrba and Fred Wetzler. The former now lives in Canada and related the
details of his escape and the story of his report, published anonymously in
1944, in a book which appeared in 1963 (51). The latter now lives in Slovakia. The two escapees of
May 1944 are Czeslaw Mordowiz and Ernst Rosin. On the other hand, I ignore the
name of the Polish commandant. Wetzler was deported on April 13, 1942, from
Sered in Slovakia directly to Auschwitz. Vrba was deported from Novaky in
Slovakia to Maidanek and was then transferred on June 27, 1942, to Auschwitz.
They thus were familiar with Auschwitz-Birkenau for nearly two years, as was
the Polish officer. The date of the arrival at Auschwitz of the two escapees of
May 27 is not given, but it is certainly prior to April 7, 1944. Their report
was received in Switzerland via Slovakia. then sent to the USA.
five reports are very rich in information of all kinds. We shall, however,
retain from this mass of particulars only what is directly relevant to the
problem of the gas chambers. Each report speaks of them.
knew Birkenau at its beginnings, described the first systematic selections upon
arrival of the convoys, after which those selected were sent without other
formality from the siding directly to the birch wood forest (at Birkenau, G.W.)
where they were administered the gas and where they were incinerated" (5, p. 14). He spoke of the first
"Sonderkommando" (5, p. 15). "At the end
of February 1943, a new modern establishment of crematory ovens and gas
chambers was inaugurated at Birkenau," he wrote. "The administration of the gas