Auschwitz Controversies Persist


EXPLANATION. Sixty thousand Auschwitz prisoners survived the horrors of the camp, and wre marched westward. Many prisoners had been given the choice: stay behind, or stay with the Nazis.

Unedited reader's letter as published in The Miami Herald, USA, January 20, 1990


January 22, 1990

Remember the Holocaust &emdash; Never Again!

To The Editor:

Jan. 18, 1945, entered the annals of the Holocaust as the beginning of the so-called Death March of Auschwitz When the last roll call was held in Auschwitz main camp, over 60,000 inmates were or-dered to evacuate all concentration camps in the Auschwitz region before the fast-advancing Russian Army reached them.

When in November 1944, the S.S. High Command stopped all selections to the gas chambers to save the dwindling manpower of forced labor, and the crema-toriums were destroyed to cover up the extermination procedure of the Nazi murder machine, thousands of us believed that we had survived. We did not know that the most dreadful period of our mis-ery and imprisonment was just to begin.

And so, the columns of over 60,000 prisoners were dragged by their S.S. guards through knee-deep snow over the icy roads of Poland and Upper Silesia to-ward the West. Without food or shelter, wearing only light garb, and exposed to the elements, thousands perished of ex-haustion or starvation, while those too tired to follow the march tempo were shot or massacred by the S.S. guards.

The trails of these wandering funeral processions -- as they are called by histo-rians and documentaries -- were easy to follow. Every half a mile or so, piles of stiff-frozen or shot corpses were passed in agony and despair by us remaining survivors, who after weeks of marching ar-rived at Gross Rosen camp to be shipped in open boxcars and bitter cold to other horror camps in the West.

More than 30 years after the death march, 75 survivors with a vivid memory of these horrible days and nights were summoned in 1978 and in 1982-83 by a regional criminal court in Hannover, West Germany, to testify against one of the S.S. guards, Heinrich Niemeyer. He was ac-cused of killing exhausted prisoners dur-ing the death march. Again, this year, the court will hold more hearings in Yugosla-via. One of the most expensive postwar trials in Germany is dragging on, without coming a bit closer to the truth.

Our voices and stories have to be heard as a legacy to further generations, so that they can remember the lessons of the Ho-locaust and ensure that it never happens again.

Fred Sarne
Miami Beach

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