A Day In The Life Of A Kommandent Of Auschwitz
“Days to me are meaningless - A Day In The Life Of A Kommandent Of Auschwitz introduction. A day in itself is simply a time expression. A day is made individual or different by what happens, or the course of action you take. To kill or cure. To heal or hold.
Each morning, I do the very same. Each morning, I wake at approximately five am, a time programmed into me from childhood. And each day I eat a sumptuous breakfast of bacon and eggs. I do not consider for one moment the luxury that this is. I kiss my three children goodbye and leave my house, a mansion which sits approximately sixteen miles from the most notorious establishment on earth. My driver, Mr. Hans Guttenburg drives me to work; a place where today I will ruin lives and tear families apart- it’s written in the job description. I do not however regret my actions. I protect myself and my family and I swore an oath to the Fuhrer. To some measure, I agree that he is right. To every other measure, I regret my actions-however I am acutely aware that in order to live, I must steal the breath away from another.
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To live, I must kill.
I arrive at work at approximately 6.45 am. Every man, woman and child who is allowed to live is standing in a military precision line before me. Each person here is no longer considered a person at all. They are in fact the very opposite; they are numbers, they are statistics. They will die nameless and faceless. Simple numbers.
The only task I must do each morning is stand before this line of thousands. I must then select numbers from a sheet of thousands and command them to stand to my right. Those to my left live to die another day.
The ones on my right follow me down a set of concrete steps which echo with cold and reek of the scent of death. I do not register it. I instruct in viciously sharp German that they undress and enter the small concrete basement directly to my right. It is when everyone is in, and the door is bolted, that the screaming begins. It dawns on the numbers that they will die. What they do not realise is that they are lucky; lucky that they will not suffer any longer. Lucky that they will rejoin the God, the above power which mein Fuhrer despises so often. I believe that it is his own lack of faith which makes him despise others so.
Approximately thirty minutes later, I wrench open the doors. The room carries the stench of faeces and urine and fear which no amount of cleaning product will ever be able to erase. I command again, in my sharpest, most severe voice, to clear the room. Search it. Bury the bodies. Do not consider what you have done and the lives you have lost. Do not consider them as people at all. They are numbers.
There are of course those who believe devoutly in the cause. Those who do not think, for a second, that there is a higher power than Hitler. I myself do not fall into that category. I believe that there is indeed retribution. I believe that there is, that by all means and ends, that there should be a higher power. Something to comfort us when there appears to be nothing more tasteful than a room crammed with bodies, with corpses which do not for a second cloud our sleep. That do not for a second matter. That somewhere, in that room are mothers and children and wives and friends.
The most striking thing, as you smell the despair, desolation and destruction, is the love. The love that somehow encompasses the room, almost disguising the horror and terror of it. The way that every person in the self constructed hell, finds someone to hold. How every corpse, every number, is holding a hand. There is far more unity and love in that one room, that the entire, war torn damned world.
The day moves onto the afternoon. Every day, at approximately four pm when the sun sets, a few prisoners try to escape. Through delirium or hunger or desperation or perhaps all three, they are driven to scaling the fences- the two thousand volt fencing. Trying to run through the treacherous, iron gate, where a sniper will instantly deconstruct the victim’s anatomy without a second thought. The blood stains the dirt beneath the glassy eyed, lifeless body. The reality of this influx of escapees is that every day, I shoot. I pick up my rifle, a 550 Springfield, and I pull the trigger. There is a detachment about the shooting of someone. There is an even larger detachment of filling a concrete bunker with poisonous gas. It does not take man courage to pull a trigger. It shows more than anything, cowardice; you do not see the look in their eyes as their heart beats for one, final time. You do not see.
This line of work is inhumane. It is necessary though, for those who wish to survive. When the day nears its end, and I have “selected” more prisoners to walk down those stairs, I think of my children. I wonder if what they are taught to believe, and what their hearts tell them to believe are worlds apart. And then I pray; I pray for their innocence, I pray that those who are doomed to survive another day do survive. I pray that soon, we will be allowed to let them walk through the Iron Gate; the iron gate which only a very select few will pass through twice.
When we opened this “camp” we were given the explicit order to never, let a prisoner leave the camp. Not alive, not dead. Never. The order has been enforced.
Arbeit macht frei; Three words which contradict everything, that contradict all which I do in my profession. What is my profession exactly? A serial killer? A man doing what he believes is right? A man doing what he believes is necessary? All three. Except I do not believe that the ‘final solution’ is a solution at all. I believe that there is no faith, nothing to hold onto in Hitler’s world. I believe that this will be his ultimate undoing. Except at this very moment, there are people dying; people who are wishing that they were closer to dying- anything, anything to escape. And all the while, mein Fuhrer speaks and the world listens. He fights on. He shows no weakness, no remorse, no mercy. He shows nothing.
At seven pm, I walk through the iron gates; the gates which precious few walk through twice. Mr. Hans Guttenburg drives me the sixteen miles back to my luxurious home. I stop on the way to purchase chocolates for my three Aryan children; children which in Hitler’s world will survive. I purchase roses for my wife, as a token of love. I do not think of the man whose life I stole today; I do not think of the thousands I will steal. I think of my family, and remember that this is the way to survive.
When I arrive home, there is a hot bath waiting for me. I climb in a shred the skin- the putrid smell of the crematorium, the pungent smell of the gas chambers. I scrub the smell of death from my skin, as though it was simply a hair shirt. I pour myself a glass of whiskey from a crystal decanter before joining my family at a sumptuous meal around my dinner table. We say grace.
To survive, I must kill. This is not right. This is not just. However this keeps me safe; keeps my family safe. And for that, I thank God. I thank God knowing that tomorrow, I will rise. And I will do exactly the same thing again. I will know that every time I do, I pave my way faster to hell. But I still thank God.”