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Report by Alfred Wetzler and Rudolf Vrba, two Escapees from Auschwitz (Late April 1944)

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On my first nightshift I had occasion to see how transports coming to Auschwitz were treated. A transport consisting of Polish Jews arrived. They had traveled without water and about a hundred were dead on their arrival. When the doors of the cars were opened, the Jews, completely weakened by the long journey and privations, were driven out wailing. Quick beating by SS men speeded up the unloading. Then the unfortunates were lined up in rows of five. Our task was to remove the corpses, those half dead, and parcels from the railroad cars. We placed the bodies at a collecting point. All those unable to stand on their feet were declared dead. Parcels were thrown into one stack. The cars had to be thoroughly cleaned so that no trace of the transport remained. A commission of the political division then selected ten percent of the men and five percent of the women, who were assigned to camp. The remainder was loaded on trucks and taken to the birchwood, where they were gassed. Corpses and those half dead were also loaded on trucks. These were burned in the birchwood without being gassed first. Small children were often thrown on the truck with the corpses. Parcels were moved by truck to the warehouses, where they were sorted as described above.

Typhus raged during July and September 1942 in the Birkenau and Auschwitz camps, especially among the women. Those who were ill were not treated at all. At first typhus suspects were killed by means of phenol injections, later they were gassed in large numbers. Within two months 15 – 20,000 prisoners perished, most of them Jews. The women's camp suffered particularly. They had no sanitary installations at all and the girls were full of lice. Big "selections” were held weekly. Regardless of the weather, the girls were forced to line up naked for these "selections," and to wait in deadly fear to see whether they would be "selected" on that occasion or would have a week's grace.

Many men and women committed suicide. They simply touched the high-tension wire of the inner guard belt. So many women perished that not more than five percent [sic] of the original number survived. There are 400 girls at Auschwitz and Birkenau at this time, the remainder of the original 7000. The majority of these have secured camp administration jobs for themselves. One of them named Kata (I do not know her family name), from Bystrica n/V., fills the high position of camp clerk. About a hundred Slovak girls are employed in the Auschwitz staff building. They do clerical work for both camps and interpret for interrogators who interview prisoners. Some of the girls work in the kitchen and laundry of the staff building. Lately the Slovak girls are better dressed, as they have been able to complete their wardrobe from the stocks of the Aufräumungskommando. Many even wear silk stockings. They are now letting their hair grow and altogether are much better off than in the past. This does not apply, of course, to the several thousand other prisoners in the women's camp. The Slovak Jewish girls are the oldest inmates of the women's camp and thus have a somewhat privileged position.

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