Confessions Of An Auschwitz Guard

January 3, 2018 | 1 Comment » | Topics: Life Experiences, main

 Jakob manned the watchtowers of Auschwitz. He believes that even though he was a cog in the Nazi machine that committed some of history’s worst crimes, he is not a criminal.

When did you first hear about the gas chambers?

When you see that so many trains are coming, people arriving, then nobody can say anything. Everyone knew about it.

Were you ever inside a gas chamber?

Just once. It was with a surveyor team. I was charged with guarding them. That was in 1943 or 1944.

How big was the chamber?

Maybe as big as my entire house, which is 90 square meters (970 square feet). I mean, when one of the trains arrived, with 200 or 300 people, then they, if there were too many, had to wait outside.

You could see that from above?

They had to wait in front of the gas chamber for an hour. And then they were led inside. They also heard the screams, but they, the SS people, the … I mean, that’s how it was. That’s how it … happened.

What was going through your mind when you were standing with the surveyors in the gas chamber?

You can imagine it must have been a big room. It was pretty much a concrete bunker. There were pipes on the outside; I don’t know any more if there were four or six. Then they threw a can inside.

 You saw SS troops throwing Zyklon B in from the outside?

Yes, of course. Standing on the tower, you could see them coming. It was always a vehicle with two men inside. And then they drove directly there and did a little operation and then you knew: That is the death squad.

Were you alone in the tower during your shifts?

Yes, but at night there were two of us for the 12-hour shift, swapping out every three hours. In between, you could get some sleep. In the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp, there is that famous gate through which the trains drove into the camp. Up above in the building was our break room for night shifts.

What do you remember about your service on the towers?

Twelve hours is a long time. When it was hot, you had to stand the whole day in the sun. When it was cold, you had to constantly hop from one foot to the other. There you are, six meters (19 feet) up and you aren’t allowed to go down, not even to pee.

What did you think about when you were up there?

In the morning, all the prisoners had to go to work, somewhere to build roads. In the evenings, they came back in. In between times, there was nobody to be seen in the camp. During those times, we would read. I had a Bible with me, or a newspaper. That wasn’t forbidden.

You read the Bible on the guard towers?

I am an Protestant Christian. And I believe it was God’s will that I was just a guard. And not in a firing squad.

Did you ever shoot a prisoner in Auschwitz?

I never shot anybody.

From the towers, you had a view of the entire camp. Did you ever see another SS soldier shoot a prisoner?

No.

Did you ever see a prisoner trying to escape?

No, but it happened. They were mostly acting out of desperation. They jumped onto the fence and were shot to death.

But you never saw such a thing?

I never shot anybody.

Did you have any contact with the prisoners?

Yes, but it was mostly the German ones.

And you talked with them?

They only spoke to us if we spoke to them first. Because many of us would say things like “shit Jews” or “stinking Jews,” it’s their fault that we are here. I would almost say that the majority blamed the Jews for the fact that we had to stand guard there. We used the informal “du” (you) when speaking to them and they had to use the formal “Sie” (you) when they replied.

What did you talk about with them?

One time we had this women’s labor squad, a couple of really young ones. And so I asked: “Why are you here?” Then she answered: “Because I’m Jewish.” And what are you supposed to say then?

Did you see the corpses being burned?

The crematorium chimneys weren’t very tall. Depending on the wind direction, it stunk badly. And starting in 1944, the crematoria weren’t able to keep up. Next to them was a ditch, perhaps three or four meters across. A fire was burning in the trench day and night. Two men were always carrying straps that they used to pull them (Eds. note: the corpses) out of the gas chamber, removed the straps and threw them into the fire. If you were standing in the area, it was impossible to look away.

So you were on a tower near the gas chambers?

We always changed. The fence was right behind the gas chambers and the towers were behind that. You could see it. A huge fire was burning.

A huge fire of corpses?

It never went out. Day and night. You get used to everything. Nobody could leave. And you couldn’t complain, it wouldn’t have changed anything.

How did you get to Auschwitz?

We were told that the train would leave from Indija, a village next door to Beška, at 9 a.m. on Sept. 19, 1942. SS people there received us. They told us that we weren’t allowed to get off the train anywhere. We traveled in a passenger train to Vienna, where the last car was separated from the train. It went to Auschwitz.

You were sitting in the last car, in other words?

Yes. We were seated according to last name. “S” to “Z” were sitting in the last car and had to go to Auschwitz. It was by chance. When a train arrived in Vienna, the SS divided up the passengers. Names were called out alphabetically. And when one car filled up, they started with the next one.

How did the journey continue?

When we arrived in the Auschwitz train station, we immediately marched the two kilometers to the Birkenau camp. First, they cut our hair short, vaccinated us and gave us tattoos. Mine was an upside-down “A,” which stood for my blood type. We initially received three months of training, including on a firing range. Lying down, standing, everything you can imagine.

Where were the others from?

Our group was mostly made up of Germans from abroad, from Romania, Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia.

So you would leave the camp during the evenings?

Yes, yes, of course. There were many bars. Most played skat and drank beer.

What did people talk about?

People weren’t enthused about the leadership. We of course knew and everybody almost felt that it couldn’t end well, that it couldn’t been good when trains were being brought here full of people who were then getting killed. We all had that feeling. But, I mean, when you’re a soldier …

What was it like when you received the train full of prisoners?

There would be a whistle to duty and they would call “step up”. Then you would move into position, about 20 meters from the train, which had already arrived. They would open the doors from the outside and we had to encircle the train until the people had been unloaded. They would then be taken into the camp by the guards responsible for internal camp supervision.

Did the people arriving attempt to flee?

They were so intimidated. Before their departure, they were told they were being taken to a labor camp and that nothing would happen to anyone unless they tried to run away. In the gas chambers, they saw the nozzles and thought they were going to take a shower. Before entering, they had to stack their clothing in neat piles.

Do you bear any guilt for what happened?

No, I don’t have that feeling. We gave the Jews what was left of our bread, which otherwise would have been thrown away. We set it on their toolboxes near the place where they got water. I never did harm to any Jew. But I also wasn’t able to help any of them.

Do you feel a something like a sense of moral guilt?

No. I spoke to them in a friendly manner; I never hit, kicked or killed any. I do not feel like a criminal just because I had to guard them. Germany had invaded Yugoslavia and that was a crime against humanity and international law. Then the Nazis conscripted me and brought me to Auschwitz. And how was I supposed to get away from there? If I had deserted, they would have shot me.

What happened to you once the war ended?

As an SS member, I was placed in an American camp for prisoners of war. At the end of 1946, I was in Dachau along with perhaps 6,000 prisoners. We were housed in three-story barracks and wore our old uniforms. My great coat was still torn up from the injury. Then, one morning, we were told that the Jews from Auschwitz would be coming today as witnesses.

They were supposed to identify you?

There were around 20 men. They were from a special unit that led their own people to the gas chambers and they had to take them from there to the crematorium in wagons. They were all young people.

How was the encounter?

They all had the right to spit on and denounce us. Instead they went past us, looked at us and said: “You poor pigs. Where are your officers and Blockführer?”

 

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  • Like it is

    The Group Mentality is a terrible thing. If you stepped outside of what THEY told you to be and say, you were a ‘racist’, a ‘bigot’, ‘wrong’, ‘dangerous’, selfish’, and so on.

    This is exactly what the LEFT is going today: group politics, yet they claim to be ‘anti-fascist’, but they are fascists themselves. They attack anyone who says or believes different. The political left, the liberals, and their terrorists factions, like antifa, are the most like pre-WW2 naizis compared to anyone, yet they call those on the right who chose for themselves nazis. They hypocrisy is dangerous.

    The political left is the enemy of freedom and civilization, and if they get their way, they might not believe it, but they will cause the next holocaust…