Page 35 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 22

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and very strong coffee from their flasks, they opened their
butter-dishes, sniffed at the contents and spread the butter
thick on the bread before putting large slabs of sausage on
it. The sausage was red and moist and full of pepper-corns.
The men were eating heartily. Their grey and tired faces
became animated and the man who now sat on the left
and had finished first lit a cigarette and took a letter out
of his pocket; he unfolded it and produced a snapshot; on
it was a delightful small child playing with a rabbit in the
grass. He showed the photo to his companion and said
“Have a gander, nice isn’t it—my little one.” He laughed.
“Result of a week’s leave.” The other one was chewing. He
stared at the photo and mumbled, “A leave-child, eh? Nice.
How old is she?”
“Three years.”
“Haven’t you got a snapshot of the wife?”
“Oh yes.”
The one sitting on the left took out his wallet, but stopped
suddenly and said. “Listen; they must have gone mad. . .
Out of the green furniture-van’s interior came an insistent
dark murmuring and the shrill screams of a woman.
“Go on, make them shut up,” said the one sitting at the
The people inside the van were Hungarian Jews being trans­
orted to a camp where they were to be liquidated.
When they eventually arrived at this camp they encountered
s commander, Filskeit, a typical example of the demoniac typ e -
eat intellectual or artistic ability coupled with total inhumanity
which has kept on recurring in German history from Luther
It was his ambition to carry out all orders correctly. He
had soon discovered the immense innate musical talent of
his prisoners; this rather surprised him in the case of Jews
and he applied the principle of selection by giving every
new prisoner a singing test. For this he awarded marks
ranging from nought to ten which were entered on the
prisoner’s file. The few who got nought joined the camp-
choir at once—those with ten had less than two days to live.
When selecting transports he always arranged it so that a
nucleus of good male and female voices remained intact.
He was proud of the choir which was regularly supplemented
by new arrivals, very proud. With this choir he could have
held his own against any competitor but unfortunately the
only remaining audiences consisted of dying prisoners and
the camp-guards.