The Holocaust and the Neo-Nazi Mythomania
© 1978, The Beate Klarsfeld Foundation
 
 
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certainly did not enter the imagination of even the mad among the Jews.

The four following accounts were uncovered in the course of the excavations effected on the territory of Birkenau where, before dying, their authors, all members of the Sonderkommandos, buried them at different periods. All of these missives from beyond the tomb present a very great documentary interest, but as sources of information concerning our subject – the gas chambers – their importance, as we shall see, is uneven.

The oldest find was made in February 1945, shortly after the liberation of the camps of Auschwitz on January 27, 1945. It is a letter in French dated November 6, 1944, that a certain Chaim Herman wrote for his wife and his daughter (22). This letter was found buried in a bottle near a crematorium at Birkenau. The author, of Polish origin, indicated that he was deported from Drancy on March 2, 1943; and his name does in fact appear on the deportation list n° 49 of March 2, 1943. This husband and father was worried about the dangers which menaced his family who remained in France and wrote that he himself could only count on a miracle to survive. Nevertheless, he obviously avoided unduly traumatizing his wife and his daughter by the description of his misfortunes and limited himself only to saying that upon the arrival of his convoy a hundred persons were selected to remain in the camp and the rest went sent "to the gases and then to the ovens" (" . ..der Rest kam ins Gas und dann in die Ofen"). The author was attached to the Sonderkommando as a bearer of corpses.

A little later, March 5, 1945, an aluminum bottle was dug up on the grounds of Crematorium II at Birkenau. It contained a letter dated September 6, 1944, signed by a certain Salmen Gradowski and a notebook the pages of which were covered with the same writing as the letter and the text of which stops in the middle of a sentence (22). Gradowski was a Jew of Polish origin who was deported to Birkenau in the beginning of January 1943 with six members of his family, all of whom were dead after the selection upon arrival. He described with precision and details the extreme difficulty of the conditions of the long journey as well as the selection, the meaning of which completely escaped those concerned. He himself was part of the Sonderkommando, and he mentioned the four modern crematoriums.

Much richer in information concerning the gas chambers at Birkenau is the text dug up in the summer of 1952 on the grounds of Crematory II. It is a notebook twenty one pages of which are covered with text. The first four are devoted to events of the camp of Belzec, whereas the seventeen others relate to Auschwitz. The whole was written in 1943-44 at Birkenau. The last date figuring in the text is November 26, 1944. The author of this highly readable account is unknown, but it is evident that he had been at Auschwitz for a long time and that he was part of a Sonderkommando (22). The author described not without
    
   

 
The Holocaust and the Neo-Nazi Mythomania
© 1978, The Beate Klarsfeld Foundation
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