talent several moving scenes which took place at
different periods in the "undressing room" (Auskleideraum" or
"Entkleidungsraum") and in the "Bunker" or the "Gasbunker" or the "Gaskammer"
and which reveal the courageous attitudes of the victims confronted with death.
These scenes recall certain descriptions which appear in the autobiography of
Hoess and in the memoir of Broad in 1945. The author specified, moreover, that
the walls of Crematory III (damaged at the time of the revolt of the
Sonderkommando on October 7, 1944, G.W.) were knocked down on October 14; that
on October 20 the documents, the collections of maps, the death certificates,
etc., were taken away in two little taxis and a camp vehicule [sic] to be
burnt; that "today," November 25, the dismantlement of Crematory I was begun,
followed by that of Crematory II carefully conserving the material used "zum
Vergasen von Menschen;" he mentioned the two other crematories and said that he
had buried other manuscripts on the grounds of Crematories I and II. He ended
by saying that one hundred and seventy last men of his Sonderkommando were to
leave their quarters, and he added that "we are sure that they will lead us to
Finally, on October 17, 1962, a glass jar was found in the
vicinity of Crematorium II of Birkenau. It contained sixty-five sheets of paper
covered with writing, a part of which was more or less damaged and thus
difficult to read.
The author of this text is a certain Salme Lewental,
of Polish origin, who arrived at Auschwitz on December 10, 1942, and was
immediately attached to the Sonderkommando taking care of Bunkers I and II and
the pits for incineration of the bodies, as that was done before the
construction of perfected crematoriums (22). The author
spoke numerous times of the "Bunkers," where the men, women and children
"vergast wurden" or "kommen im Gas" or "in der Todesbunker führen und si
mit Gas ersticken" or "ins Gas kam" or "Alle Menschen aus dem Gasbunker waren
herausgeschleppt," "vergasene Menschen," etc.; of the manner in which "Zyklon
B" was introduced into the gas chambers, the state of mind of the members of
the Sonderkommandos and of the bloody revolt of October 7, 1944. Concerning the
latter, he gave the names of his comrades among whom was Salmen Gradowski, the
author of the manuscript of which we have spoken above.
After the end
of the war, a few rare survivors among the members of the Sonderkommandos
testified confirming the written documents known following the excavations.
They were Janowski as of April 13, 1945; Bacon, Buki, Filip and Don Paisikovic,
Filip Mueller, the brothers Shlomo and Avram Dragon, Rosemblum, Silbergerg,
Drs. S. Bentlel, M. Nyiszli and A. Lettich. Each of them gave numerous
supplementary and precious details. There probably is not a single account of a
former prisoner of Auschwitz which does not speak of the gas chambers of
Birkenau, for their existence was notorious.