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Meals at Auschwitz

Re: The Sonderkommando and the process of learning

Author: Richard Prystowsky <rprystowsky@ivc.cc.ca.us> Date: Wed, 10 Feb 1999 19:14:20 +0000

Reply-To: H-NET List for History of the Holocaust <H-HOLOCAUST@H-NET.MSU.EDU>
Sender: H-NET List for History of the Holocaust <H-HOLOCAUST@H-NET.MSU.EDU>

I recall one survivor telling one of my classes that there was no living or dying in Auschwitz (he survived Birkenau), because there was no life or death there as we know it.

He also mentioned that, at one point, he had heard a rumor that, before going into the gas chamber, the victim was given a good meal (in light of current practices involving state executions in this country, this rumor is quite provocative and frightening). He presented himself at the next selection as someone unfit for further work. He asked to be taken away. Fortunately--or unfortunately, as he might well say, depending upon how on a given day he thinks about his survival (I know him rather well and have discussed this topic with him a number of times)--the doctor refused to send him to the gas chamber.

Paraphrase, with some exact quotes here:

"You mean that you wanted to die?" asked a student.

"You see? You just can't possibly hope to understand--and that's not your fault. It isn't that I wanted to die. I just wanted to have a good meal."

"You cannot imagine how it feels to be so hungry," this survivor told me once during an "official" interview.

He's right. So how do I hear his words? I begin by trying to hear them.

Richard J. Prystowsky
Acting Dean, School of Humanities and Languages
Irvine Valley College
5500 Irvine Center Drive
Irvine, CA 92620 949-451-5336

From: John Freund <jonora@compuserve.com>

February 11, 1999

I do not believe the story of a meal being served to those to die in the gaschamber. This is utter nonsense. And even those terribly hungry, never would prefer death. Besides, those working Sonderkommandos always had enough to eat. I was "living" in a barrack next to the SK in Birkenau, with about 80 boys my age ( 14 ) and we sneaked into their barrack at night to get some food. This was strictly forbidden.

Does anyone have an idea, how the thousands could have been fed a meal before dying?

John Freund.


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