Title: Sonder. An Interview with Sonderkommando Member Henryk Mandelbaum
Author: Jan Południak

Oświęcim 2008
Number of pages: 109   +  16 illustrations

Availability: In stock
Size: 14 cm x 21 cm

ISBN: 978-83-921567-3-4

Price: 5.90 EUR

The German word "Sonder" is part of the name "Sonderkommando" (Special Squad). At Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp this was the name of the work group employed to burn bodies (killed people in gas chambers). The subject of this book is the account of one of the few surviving members of the KL Auschwitz Sonderkommando.

This book is an interview with Sonderkommando member Henryk Mandelbaum. He tells of his terrible experiences in the camp. This interview conducted a Polish journalist Jan Południak.

Excerpts from the book

Let us dwell a little on the organizational aspect of the Sonderkommando. Who was put into this Kommando and what criteria did they have in selecting members?

These were young people, around 18, 19, 20 years of age. They had to be strong and healthy... They selected those who were healthy because there you had to... there you had to... This was work, terrible work. (...)

How many hours did such a shift last?

Usually eight or nine hours. More or less when you were finishing work the others started work, and then we went back to the barracks. We?d wash... (...)

Do you remember your first day in the Sonderkommando? What did you see?

(...) Well, I thought I was in hell. When I came there, the people were already in gas chamber, they had already been gassed. When they opened the chamber and I saw these people, all entangled and standing there, dead... In this mass of bodies they were holding hands; that was how in families they had arrived; that was how theyhad entered that chamber; that was how they had been gassed. I saw this, and one had never before seen the dead bodies of humans, you see.. healthy bodies. This was something unbelievable to me. For as a normal, young person I could never have imagined something like this. The first time it made an incredible impression on me. Shocking. I was broken by what I saw, for never in my life had I seen, had I even thought that people could be murdered in such a way. (...)


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