tv Reading of Elie Wiesels Night Part 1 CSPAN April 16, 2017 8:30am-10:21am EDT
>> booktv is on twitter and facebook, and we want to hear from you. tweet us, twitter.com/booktv, or post a comment on our facebook page, facebook.com/booktv. >> starting now on booktv the first of a three-part program in which authors, journalists, actors, politicians and other figures read from the late elie wiesel's "night." part two will air this afternoon at 1:30 p.m. eastern followed by part three at 5 p.m. eastern. for more information visit booktv.org.
>> good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to the museum of jewish heritage. may we remind you that taking a flash photography is strictly prohibited. as a courtesy please silence your cell phones and mobile devices. there will be two, ten minute at during the presentation. finally, we ask that you hold your applause until the start of intermission. thank you for your attention. and now the museum of jewish heritage and the national yiddish theater present and international tribute to elie wiesel, i can be reading of "night" -- a community reading of "night." >> into this place and meet
those who survived the nightmare. meet them and learn from them how they built on ruins. where did they find the courage to renew a covenant with society and invoke hope for humana's future? i look at their children. i moved to tears. i think of the killers. i moved to anchor. i think of the victims and i moved to despair. but then i think of our children and i move to hope. those were the words delivered by elie wiesel on september 11, 1997, when the museum of jewish heritage, and living memorial to the holocaust was dedicated. he served as honorary chairman of this institution and remains an inspiration for our work. good afternoon. on behalf of the museum of jewish heritage, a living more to the holocaust, i name is michael glickman and i'm the
president and ceo of this magnificent institution. this years international holocaust remembered today is our first without elie wiesel. even as we feel his absence, we are more grateful than ever for his gift to us, his words. so we have gathered today for international tribute to elie wiesel and a commuting reading of "night", one of his most important and meaningful works. we are gathered here in this extraordinary location at the tip of manhattan because the museum of jewish heritage is new york's contribution to the global responsibility to never forget. on this day and every day the museum shares the voices of those who perished, and those who survived. so that we the living can gather around their words. as a living memorial, the museum urges us not only to remember the holocaust but also to carry
its painful lessons into our civic and communal lives. the museum answers ignorance with education, stands with a moldable and continues to promote understanding in the face of recent surges in hate speech and hate crimes. i hope we can welcome you back to the museum many times to participate in programs, explore exhibitions, learn, contemplate and engage with the richness, complexity and magnitude that is our community. you will find that while stories and artifacts are core to who we are, even more important is the opportunity to work alongside holocaust survivors. each willing to help us educate and empower the hundreds of thousands of visitors who passed through our doors each year. joining us today are a number of these outstanding individuals whose experiences change the
world. each day survivors work with us to make certain that schoolchildren and adults understand that ignorance comes before hatred and intent. they share in our obligation to tell the stories of their mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, friends and neighbors. these men and women deserve our thanks, our praise and our gratitude for continuing to tell their stories as well as to educate others on the history of the holocaust and help make connections to today. as we recognize those survivors independence and we thank them for being with us this afternoon, i would also like to extend a special thanks to elie wiesel family. i would also like to thank the museum of jewish heritage, board of trustees led by our chairman bruce ratner will read with this later today. and, of course, the program is been offered because of the tremendous dedication and effort
of our staff, both here at the museum and also -- fin i would e to thank the claims conference and battery park city authority for making today possible. it is now my great pleasure to introduce a member of the museums board of trustees and chairman and director of our center for the study of anti-semitism abraham foxman who will introduce today's program. ladies and gentlemen, abe foxman. [applause] >> elie -- [speaking in native tongue] elie, we gather here today with love and appreciation. not only to remember you, but to
thank you. to thank you for that so many gifts that you have bestowed upon us. thank you, thank you for teaching us the importance of memory, and teaching us how to remember. thank you for taking our -- specifically, jewish tragedy, and placing it on the world's stage, on the universal stage without losing that jewish uniqueness. and as you put it, and as you put it so very succinctly, not all victims were jews, but all
the jews were victims. something we hope that the white house in washington will understand next time it commemorates this tragedy. thank you, thank you for giving the victims a voice. and thank you for giving the surviving survivors the courage, the inspiration to bear witness and to speak. and thank you for being so often the conscious of the world, of constantly, constantly setting a moral standard by raising your voice. thank you, thank you for being
such a strong and constant defender of the jewish people and the state of israel and jerusalem, whether you appeared in washington, at united nations, or throughout the capitals of the world. and thank you, elie, for focusing attention on the freedom for soviet jewry, and with marion for the education of the ethiopian jewish children. thank you for standing up to the prejudice, racism, bigotry, directed against anyone anywhere, and especially against anti-semitism, and raising your voice against holocaust denial and holocaust trivialization thanthank you, elie, for raising your jewish survivor voice on behalf of all those who were singled out because of the race, religion, ethnicity, or whatever marked them as the other.
we will never forget your visit to bosnia and serbia, nor your voice at international forums, dedicated to raise the voice for decency and justice for all. thank youthank you, elie, for ts to speak truth to power, as you so frequently did, be it on bitburg or on iran. thank you for being our teacher, a teacher who never forgot the horrors, but became a profit of hope. thank you for giving us marion and elisha and his helmet, and thank you for being my mentor -- his family. my mentor and his friend. yesterday, yesterday we witnessed the statue of liberty
being blindfolded. we know that had you been here the world would have heard your voice of moral outrage. and it reminds me of the admonition you gave on an difference, which i will quote. you said, the opposite of love is not hate. it is an difference. the opposite of beauty is not ugliness. it is indifference. the opposite of sacred is not profane. it is indifference. the opposite of life is not death. it is indifference. elie, we pledge to you today that we will not be indifferent, that we will listen to your words, and your words will continue to inspire us to stand
against injustice and unfairness and indecency. and, elie, as we pledge this to you, we ask you, we ask you to continue to be a good, better -- [speaking in native tongue] -- continue to be for us in the heavens above, the advocate for good, for decency, for fairness and justice. [speaking in native tongue] may your soul be bound to our souls forever. thank you. [applause]
>> they called him moshe the beadle, as though if in his tire life yet never had a surname. he was the jack of all trades in a house of prayer. the jews of little town and transylvania where i spent my childhood were fond of him. he was a and lived humbly. as a result our townspeople while it did help the needy did not particularly like them. moshe however was exception. he stayed out of peoples way. his presence bothered to pick it mastered the art of rendering himself insignificant,
invisible. physically he was as awkward as a clown. he made people smile. as for me, i like his wide, dreamy eyes gazing off in the distance. he spoke a little. he saying, are rather he chanted. and a few snatches i caught you in their spoke of divine suffering, of the exile where it awaits its redemption link to that of anger i met him in 1941. i was almost 13 and deeply observant. by day i studied and by night i would run to the synagogue to weep over the destruction of the temple. when gas my father to buy me a master who could guide me in my studies. you are too young for that. they want us to be 30 before venturing into the world of mysticism. a world fraught with you.
you must study the basic subjects, those are able to comprehend. my father was a cultured man, rather unsentimental. he rarely displayed his feelings, even within his family. and with more involved with welfare of others than that of his own family. that jewish community held him in highest esteem. his advice on public and even private matters was frequently sought. there were four of us children, hilda, the eldest, then bea. i was in the third and the only son. my parents ran a store. hilda and bea help with the work. for me my place was in the house of study, or so they said. there were no -- he wanted to drive the idea of studying. i succeeded and my own and find a master for myself in the person of moshe debris to pick
it watched me one day as i prayed. why do you cry when you pray, he asked? sop knew me well. i don't know, i answered, troubled. i again asked myself that question. i cried because something inside me felt the need to cry. that was all i knew. why do you pray? he asked after a moment. why do i pray? strange question. why do i live? why do i breed? i don't know, i told him. even more troubled and ill at ease. i don't know. from that day on i saw them often. he explained to me with great emphasis that every question possessed a power that was lost in the answer. man comes closer to god through the questions that he asked him. there in lies to dialogue. man asks and god replies. but we don't understand his replies.
we cannot understand them because they dwell in the depths of our souls and remained there until we die. the real answers, eliezer, you will find only within yourself. why do you pray, moshe? i prayed to the god within me for the strength to ask him the real questions. we spoke that we almost every evening. remaining in the synagogue long after the faithful had gone, sitting in the semi darkness were only a few half burned candles provided a flickering light. >> one evening i told them how unhappy i was not to be able to find in sighet a master to teach me the works, the secrets of jewish mysticism. he smiled indulgently. after a long silence he said, there are a thousand and one
gates allowing entry into the orchard of mystical truth. every human being has his own gate. he must not air and wish to enter the orchard through a gate other than his own. that would present a danger not only for the one entering but also for those who are already inside. and moshe the beadle, the poorest of the poor of bea spoke to me for hours on end about the revelations and its mysteries, thus began my initiation. together we would read over and over again the same page of the zohar. not too learned by heart but to discover within the very essence of divinity. and in the course of those evenings i became convinced that moshe the visa would help me enter eternity, internet time when question and answer would
become one. and then one day all foreign jews were expelled from sighet, and moshe the beadle was a foreigner. crammed into cattle cars by the hungarian police, they cried silently. stand on the station platform we, too, were crying. the train disappeared over the horizon. all that was left was sick, dirty smoke. behind me someone said, what do you expect? that's war. the deportees were quickly forgotten. a few days after they left it was rumored that they were working and even that they were content with their fate. days went by. then weeks and months. life was normal again. a calm reassuring wind blew through our homes. the shopkeepers were doing good business.
the students lived among their books, and the children played in the streets. one day as i was about to enter the synagogue i saw moshe the beadle sitting on a bench near the entrance. he told me what had happened to him and his companions. that train with the deportees had crossed the hungarian border and once in polish territory had been taken over by the gestapo picked the train had stopped. the jews were ordered to get off and on to waiting trucks. the trucks headed towards a forest. there everybody was ordered to get out. they were forced to dig huge trenches. when they finished their work, the man from the gestapo begin theirs. without passion or haste they shot their prisoners were forced to approach of the trench one by one and offer their necks. infants were tossed into the air and used as targets for the machine guns. this took place in the collation of forest.
how had moshe the beadle been able to escape? by a miracle. he was wounded in the leg and left for dead. >> day after day, night after night he went from one jewish house to the next telling his story and that of a young girl who laid dying for three days and that of toby, that taylor who begged to die before his sons were killed. moshe was not the same. the joy in his eyes was gone. he no longer saying. he no longer mentioned either god or cabbala. he spoke only of what he had seen. the people not only refuse to believe his tales. they refused to listen.
some even insinuated that he only wanted their pity, that he was imagining things. others flatly said he had gone mad. as for moshe, he wept and pleaded. jews, listen to me. that's all i ask of you. no money, no pd. just listen to me. he kept shouting in synagogue between the prayer at dusk and the evening prayer. even i did not believe him. i often set within after services and listen to his tales, trying to understand his grief, but all i felt was pity. they think i am mad, he whispered, and tears, like drops of wax, flowed from his eyes. once i asked him the question, why do you want people to believe you so much? in your place i would not care whether they believe me or not. he closed his eyes as if to
escape time. you don't understand, he said in despair. you cannot understand. i was saved miraculously. i succeeded in coming back. where did i get my strength? i wanted to return to sighet to describe it to you my des deatho that you might ready yourself while there is still time. life? i no longer care to live. i am alone. but i wanted to come back to warn you. only no one is listening to me. this was toward the end of 1942. thereafter, life seemed to normal once again. london radio, which we listen to every evening, announced encouraging news. the daily bombings of the germany and stalingrad, the preparation of the second front. and so we, the jews of sighet waited for better days that
surely were soon to come. i continue to devote myself to my studies. talmud during the day and cabbala at night. my father took care of his business in the community. my grandfather came to spend rosh hashanah with us. so as to attend the services of the celebrated rabbi of borchert. my mother was beginning to think it was high time to find an appropriate match for hilda. thus passed the year 1943. [speaking in native tongue]
anguish, chairman soldiers with her steel helmets and emblem still our first impressions of the germans were rather reassuring. the offices were billeted in private homes, even in jewish homes. their attitude toward other hosts was distant but polite. they never demanded the impossible, made no offensive remarks and sometimes even smiled at the lady of the house. a german officer lodged in the house across the street from us, we're told he was a charming man, likable and polite. three did after he moved in he bought mrs. con a box of chocolates. the optimist were jubilant. well, what did we tell you? you wouldn't believe us. there you are. you are germans. what you say now? where is their famous cruelty? the germans were already in our town of ashes were already in
power, the breed was already out and the jews of sighet was still smiling. .. the curtain finally rose, the germans rescued the leaders of the jewish community, from that moment on, everything happened very quickly, the race toward death had begun. first jews were prohibited for leaving residences for three dais under penalty of death. i warned you, he shouted and left without waiting for a response.
the same day the hungarian police burst into jewish home in town, a jew was henceforth forbidden to own gold, jewelry or any valuables. everything had to be handed over, my father went out and buried our savings. as for my mother, she went on attending to the many chores on the house. every jew had to wear a yellow star. they wanted to know what they thought of the situation. my father's view was that it was not -- he did not want to encourage others to throw salt on the wounds. the yellow star, so what, it's not lethal. poor father, of what then did you die but they were already
being issued. we had no longer right to frequent restaurants or coffees to travel by rail or synagogue or be on the streets after 6:00 o'clock in the evening. then came the ghettos. >> two getos were created in sigat, the large one in the center of town occupied and they're not the smaller one extended over several ally ways
in the outskirts of town. we life down street and was in the firstghetto. we therefore could remain in our house, but as it occupied a corner, the windows facing the street outside the ghetto had to be sealed. we gave some of our rooms to relatives who had been driven out of their homes. little by little life returned to normal. the barber wire that circled us like a wool did not feel real fear. in fact, we felt it was not a bad thing.
we were entirely among ourselves . a small jewish republic, a jewish consul was appointed as well as jewish police force, a welfare agency, a labor committee, a healthy agency, a whole government of apparatus. people thought that was a good thing. we would no longer have to look at all those hostile faces and endure those hate-feared stars, no more fear. no more fear and no more anguish. we would live amongjews, among brothers. of course, there's still unpleasant moments, every day
the germans came looking for men to load coal into voluntary trains volunteers for this kind of work were few. but apart from that,the atmosphere was oddly peaceful and reassuring. most people thought that we would remain in the ghetto until the end of the war, until the arrival of the red army, afterwards, everything would be as before. the geto was not ruled by neither tberman norjew. it was ruled by delusion.
>> some two weeks before sunny spring day, people strolled seemingly care-free through the crowded streets. they exchanged cheerful greetings, children played games, rolling hazel nuts on the sidewalks, some school schoolmates and i were in garden studying. night fell, some 20 people had gathered in our courtyard, my father was sharing some anecdotes and holding forth on his opinion of the situation. he was a good storyteller. suddenly, the gate opened and a former shop keeper who is now a policeman entered and took my father's side, despite the growing darkness, i could see my father turn pail.
what's wrong, we asked? i don't know. i have been summoned with special meeting of the council, something must have happened. the story had interrupted would remain unfinished. i'm going right now he said, i will return as soon as possible. i will tell you everything, wait for me. we were ready to wait as long as necessary. the courtyard turned into something like an antichamber to an operating room. we stood waiting for the door to open. neighbors hearing the rumors had joined us. we staired at our watches, time had slowed down. what was the meaning of stuch -- such a long session. i have a bad feeling said my mother. this afternoon i saw new faces in the ghetto, two german
officers, since we have been here we have not seen a single officer who was close to midnight, nobody felt like going to sleep. though some people briefly went to check on their homes, others left but asked to be called as soon as my father returned. at last, the door opened and he appeared. his face was drained of color. he was quickly surrounded. tell us, tell us what's happening, say something. at that moment we were so anxious to hear something encouraging, a few words telling us that there was nothing to worry about, that the meeting had been routine, just a review of welfare and health problems but one glance at my father's face left no doubt, the news is terrible he said at last and thenone word, transports.
the ghetto was to be liquidated entirely, departures were to take street by street starting the next day. we we wanted to know everything, every detail, we were stunned yet we wanted to fully absorb the bitter news. where would they take us? that was a secret. a secret for all except one, the president of the jewish council, but he would not tell or could not tell that gustavo had threatened to shoot him if he talked. there were rumors my father said his voice breaking, that we are being taken somewhere in hungary to work in the brit factories. it seems that here we are too close to the front after a moment of silence he added, each of us will be allowed to bring his personal belongs, a backpack, some food, a few items
of clothing, nothing else. again, heavy silence. go and wake the neighbors said my father, they must get ready. the shadows around me rouse themselves as from a deep sweep and left silently in every direction. >> for a moment, we remained alone, suddenly a relative who lived with us entered the room, someone is knocking, someone is knocking on the sealed window, the one that faces outside. it was only after the war that i found out who had knocked that night. it was an inspector of the hungarian police, a friend of my father's, before we entered the ghetto, he told us don't worry, i will warn you if there is danger.
had he been able to speak to us that night, we might still have been able to flea but by the time we succeeded in opening the window it was too late, there was nobody outside. the ghetto was awake, one after the other the lights were going on behind the windows. i went into the house of one of my father's friends, i woke the head of the household, a man with a gray beard and a gaze of a dreamer. his back was hunched over from untold nights spentstudying. get up, get up, sir. you must ready yourself for the journey, tomorrow you will be expelled you and your family, you and all the other jews, where to, where to you ask, please, please don't ask me, sir, don't ask questions, god alone could answer you, for heaven sake's gets up, he had no idea what i was talking about,
he probably thought that i had lost my mind. what are you saying, get ready for the journey, what journey, what is happening? have you gone mad? half a sleep he was staring at me, his eyes were filled with terror as though he expected me to burst out laughing and telling him to go back to bed, to sleep, to dream, to dream that nothing had happened. itwas all in just. my throat was dry and the words were joking me paralyzing my lips, there was nothing else to say. at last, he understood, he got out of bed, he began to dress automatically and he went over to the bed where his wife lay sleeping and with infinite tenderness he touched her fore head. she opened her eyes and it seem today me that a smile crossed her lips and he went to wake his
two children that woke with a start torn from their dreams and i fled. time went by quickly, it was already 4:00 o'clock in the morning. my father was running right and left exhausted consoling friends, checking with the jewish council just in case the order had been reascended, to the last moment people clung to hope. the women were boiling eggs, roasting meat, sowing backpacks. our backyard looked like a marketplace, valuable objects, precious rug, silver candle stick, visible objects were through the dusty ground, relics that seem never to have had a home. all this under a magnificent blue sky, by 8:00 in the
morning, weariness had settled into our vains, our limbs, brains like molten lead. i was in the midst of prayer, i ran to the window, hung hungarian police had entered the ghetto and were yelling in the street nearby, jews outside, hurry. they were followed by jewish police who their voices breaking told us the time has come. you must all leave this. the hungarians police used their rifle butts, their club to strike old men and women, children and cripples and one by one the house is emptied in the streets filled with people carrying bundles, by 10:00 o'clock everyone was outside. the police weretaking roll calls once, twice, 20 times, the
heat was oppressive, sweat was screaming down from people's faces, children were crying out for water, water, there was water. there was water close by inside the houses backyard but it was forbidden to break rank, water, water, i'm thirsty. some of the jewish police went to fill a few jugs, my sisters and i were still allowed to move about as we were destined for the last convoy and so we helped as best we could. >> at last, at 1:00 o'clock in the afternoon came the signal to leave. there was joy. people must have thought there could be no greater torment in god's help than that of being
stranded here on the sidewalk among the bundles in the middle of the street under ablazing sun. anything seemed preferable to that. they began to walk without another glance at the abandoned streets, the dead, empty houses, the gardens, the tombstones. on everyone's back there was a sack and everyone's eyes tears andy stress, -- distress and there i was watching them unable to move. here came the chief rabbi hunched over. his face strange looking without a bear, a bundle on his back. his very presence in the procession was enough to make the scene surreal.
they passed me by one after the other. some of whom i found love and some whom i found ridiculous, there they went, defeated, their bundles, their lives in toe, having left behind their homes, their childhood, they passed me by like beaten dogs with never a glance in my direction, they must have enviedme. the procession disappeared around the corner, a few steps more and they were beyond the ghetto walls. the street resembled fairgrounds deserted in haste. there was a little bit of everything, suitcases, knives dishes. all the things taken along and left behind, they ceased to
matter. looked out into the void, it all belonged to everyone since it no longer belong today anyone. it was there for the taking and open tomb, a summer sun. were we had spent the day without food but we were not really hungry, we were exhausted. my father had accompaniedthe deep as far as the ghetto's gate. they first had been hurted through main synagogue where they were thoroughly searched to make sure they were not carrying gold, silver or other valuables. when will it be our turn, i asked my father, the day after tomorrow unless things work out, a miracle, perhaps. where were the people being taken? did anyone know yet? >> no.
the secret was well kept. night had fallen, that evening we went to bed early. my father said, sleep peacefully, children, nothing will happen until the day after tomorrow, tuesday. monday went by like a small summer cloud, like a dream in the first hours of dawn, on preparing our backpacks on baking breads and cakes, we no long internal revenue thought about anything, the verdict had been delivered. that meaning our mother made us go to bed early to conserve our strength, she said. it was to be the last night spent in our house. i was up at dawn, i wanted to have time to pray before leaving. my father had risen before all of us to seek information in town. he returned around 8:00 o'clock. good news, we were not leaving down -- town today, we were only moving to the small ghetto. that's where we were to wait for
the last transport. we were the last to leave. policemen wielding clubs were shouting, all jews outside, we were ready. i went out first. i did not want to look at my parents' faces, i did not within the to break into tears, we remained in the middle of the street like the others two days earlier, the same hellish sun, the same thirst, only there was no one left to bring us water. i looked at my house in which i had spent years fasting from the coming to have messaiah imagining what my life would be like later, yet i felt little saddens, my mind was empty, get up, roll call. we stood. we were counted. we sat down. we got up again over and over, we waited impatiently to be taken away. what were they waiting for, finally, the order came. forward, march. my father was crying.
it was the first time i saw him cry. i had never thought it possible. as for my mother, she was walking, her face masked without a word, deep in thought. i looked at my little sister, her blond hair neatly combed, her red coat over her arm, a little girl of 7 on her back, a bag too heavy for her. she was clinching her teeth. she knew it was useless to complain. police were lashing out with their clubs, faster. i had no strength left. the journey had just begun and i already felt so weak. faster, faster, move you lazy good for nothings. that's when i began to hate them. our hatred remained the hatred today. they were the first oppressors and they ordered us to run, we began to run. who would have thought that we
were so strong, from behind their windows, from behind shutters our fellow citizens watched as we passed. we finally arrived at our destination throwing down the bundles we dropped to the ground, oh, god, master of the universe, in your infinite compassion have mercy on us. >> the small ghetto, only three days ago people were living here, people who owned the things that we were using now. they had been expelled and we had already forgotten all about them. the chaos was even greater here
than in the large ghetto. it's inhabitants evidently had been caught by surprise. i visited the rooms that had been occupied by my uncle mindle's family, on the table a half finished bowl of soup, a platter of dough waiting to be baked. we settled in, what a word. i went looking for wood, my sisters lit a fire and despite fatigue my mother began to prepare a meal, we cannot give up. we cannot give up, she kept repeating. people's moral was not so bad. we were begin to go get used of the situation, there were those who even voiced optimism. the germans were running out of time to expel us, they argued, tragically for those who had already been deported, it would be too late but as for us, chances were that we would be allowed to go on with our miserable little lives until the end of the war.
the ghetto was not guarded, one could enter, would could leave as they pleased. maria, our former maid came to see us, sobbing, she begged us to come to her village where she had prepared a safe shelter. my father wouldn't hear of it. he told me and my big sisters, if you wish, go there, but i shall stay here with your mother and little one. naturally, we refused to be separated. night, no one was praying for the night to pass quickly, the stars were butt sparks in the immense that was consuming us. nothing would be left in the sky but extinct stars and unseeing eyes. there was nothing else to do but go back to bed in the beds of those who had moved on. we did need to rest to gather our strength.
a daybreak the gloom lifted, the the mood was confident, there were those who said, who knows, maybe they're sending us away for our own good but the front is getting closer and soon we shall hear the guns and then surely the civilian population will be evacuated. they worry we join partisans, as far as i'm concerned the whole business of deportation is nothing but a big farce. don't laugh, they just want to steal our valuables, our jewelry, they know that it's all been buried, they will to dig to find it. so much easier to do when the owners are on vacation, on vacation. this kind of talk that nobody believed helped pass the time, the few days we spent here went by pleasantly enough in relative calm, people got along, no longer any distinction between rich and poor, notables and all the others. we were all people condemned to
do the same fate. still unknown. >> saturday the day of rest was the day chosen for our esm -- expulsion. the customary blessings over the bread and wine and followed with silence. we sensed that we were gathered on the table for the last time. i spent the night going over memories and ideas. at dawn, we were ready to leave. this time there were no hungarian police. it had been agree that had the jewish consul would handle everything by itself. our convoy -- the town seemed
deserted. but behind the chatters our friends of yesterday were probably waiting for the moment when they could lose our homes. the synagogue resembled a large load station, baggage, the wall covering and the walls themselves bare, there were so many of us, we could hardly breathe. the 21 hours we spent there were horrendous, the men were downstairs and the women upstairs, it was saturday. the sabbath and it was there to attend services, people relieved themselves in a corner. the next morning, we woke to and the hungarian police made us
climb into the stairs, 80 persons into each one. they handed us some bread, a few pails of water. they checked the bars in the window and the cars were sealed. one person was placed in charge of every car. if someone managed to escape, that person would be shot. two gestapo officers were all smiles. it had gone very smoothly. the wheels began to grind. we are are on our way. >> lying down was not an option nor could we all sit down. we decided to take turns
sitting, there was little air, the lucky ones found themselves near a window, they could watch the blooming country side flee by. after two days of trouble, thirst became intolerable as did the heat. freed of normalconstraints some of the young let go of their inhibitions and under cover of darkness caressed one another without any thought of others in the world. the others pretended not to notice. there was still some food left but we never ate enough to satisfy our hunger. our principle was to save for tomorrow. tomorrow could be worst yet. the train stopped in a small
town on the border. we realized then that we were not staying in hungary, our eyes opened, too late. the door of the car sleet -- slid aside, the german officer stepped inside by hungarian lieutenant acting as interpreter. from this moment on, you are under the authority of the german army. anyone who still owns gold, silver or watches must hand them over now. anyone who will be found to have kept any of these will be shot on the spot. secondly, anyone who is ill should report to the hospital car, that's all. the hungarian lieutenant went around with a basket and retrieved the last possessions
from those who chose not to go on tasting the bitterness of fear. there are 80 of you in the car, the german officer added. if anyone goes missing, you will all be shot like dogs. the two disappeared, the doors clang shut. we had fallen into the trap as to our next. the doors were nailed, the way back, the world had become sealed kettle -- cattle car. [inaudible] >> there was a woman among us, a certain mrs. schakter. >> she was in her 50's.
her husband and two older sons had been transported by mistake. >> the separation had totally shattered her. >> i knew her well. >> a quiet tense woman with piercing eyes. >> she had been a frequent guest in our house. her husband was a man who spent most of his days an night in the house of study. it was she who supported the family. >> she had lost her mind. >> on the first day of her journey she had begun to moan. >> later sobs an screams became hysterical. on the third night as we were sleeping, some of us sitting huddled against each other, some of us standing, a piercing cry broke the silence. >> fire, i see a fire, i see a fire. >> a moment of panic, who had screamed. standing in the mid ofl -- middle of the car.
>> she was howling pointing through window. >> look, look at this fire, the terrible fire, have mercy on me. >> some pressed against the bars to see. there was nothing. only the darkness of night. it took a long time to recover from this harsh awakening, we were still trembling and every screech of the wheels we felt opening beneath us, unable to steal our anguish we try today reassure each other. she's mad, poor woman. >> someone had placed a damp rag on her fore head. >> she? a. no, sir continued to scream. >> fire, i see a fire. >> a little boy was crying clinging to her skirt trying to hold her hand. >> there's nothing, mother, please sit down. >> it pained me more than even his mother's cries, some of the women try to calm her.
>> you'll see you will find your husband and sons in a few days. >> she continue today scream and sob. >> jews, listen to me, i see a fire, i see flames, huge flames. >> as though she was processed by evil spirit, we try today reason with her more to calm ourselves to catch our breath and to soothe her. she's hallucinating because she's thirty, poor woman, that's why she peaks of flames devouring her. a terror could no longer be contained. >> maddens has infacted all of us. >> we gave up. >> a few young men forced her to sit down and bound and tbagged her. silence fell again. >> the small boy sat next to his mother crying.
>> we could begin to dose again. the woman was shouting longer than before. >> the young men bound and gagged her, when they actually struck her people shouted their approval. keep her quiet. >> make that mad woman shut up. >> she's not the only one here. >> she received several blows to the head, blows that could have been lethal, her son was clinging desperately to her not uttering a word. he was no longer crying. >> the night seemed endless. by daybreak mrs. shactar had settled down, her blank gazed fixed on some far away place, she no longer saw us. >> she remained like that all
day, mute, absent, alone in the midst of us. >> toward the evening, she began to shout again. >> the fire, over there. >> she was pointing somewhere in the distance, always the same place. no one felt like beating her anymore. the heat. >> the thirst. >> the stint. >> the lack of air. >> were suffocating all of us. yet all of that was nothing compared to her screams which tore us apart. a few more days and all of us would have started to scream. but we were pulling in to a station, someone near a window read to us. >> ashwitz. >> never had ever heard the name .
>> the train did not move again. the afternoon went by slowly. then the doors to have wagon slid open. two men were given permission to fetch water. when they came back, they told us that they had learned in exchange for gold watch that this was a final destination. we were to leave the train here. there was a labor camp on the site. the conditions were good, families were not to be separated only the young who work in the factories, will find work in the fields. confidence soared. we gave thanks to god. mrs. shaktar remained huddled in her corner, mute, untouched by the optimism around her. her little one was stroking her hand.
[inaudible] >> at 10:00 o'clock in the evening we were all trying to find a position for a quick nap and as soon as we were dosing suddenly, look at the fire incident look at the fire, look at the flames, over there, we are rushed to the window yet again. we had to believe her, but there was nothing outside but darkness. we returned to our places, shame in our souls. as she went on howling, she was struck again only with great difficulty did we succeed in quieting her down. the man in charge of our wagon called out to a german officer strolling down the platform asking him to have this sick woman move to a hospital car, patience the girman replied, patience. she will be taken there soon.
around 11:00 o'clock the train began to move again. we pressed against the windows. convoy was rolling slowly. a quarter of an hour later it began to slow down even more. through the windows we saw barbed wire, we understood that this was a camp. we had forgotten mrs. shaktar's existences, suddenly terrible scream, jews, look at the fire, look at the flames, as the train stopped, this time we saw flames rising from a chimney into a black sky. she had fallen silent on her own mute again, indifferent, absent, she had return today her corner. flames in the darkness. abruptly our doors opened, strange-lookingra chuirs dressed
in stripe jackets and black pants jump intoed the wagon holding flashlights and sticks began striking at us, everybody out, leave everything inside. hurry up. we jumped out. in front of us those flames. in the air the smell of burning flesh. you must have been around midnight. we had arrived. >> the beloved object that is we had carried with us from place
to place were now left behind in the wagon and with them finally our illusions. every 3 yards there stood an assessment, machine gun trained on us hand in hand we followed. he commended, men to the left, women to the right. eight words spoken quietly indifferently without emotion. eight simple short words yet that was the moment when i left my mother. there was no time to think and i already felt my father's hand pressed against me. we were alone. in the fraction of a second i could see my mother, my sisters move to the right.
saproa was holding mother's hand. i saw them walk get away farther and farther away. mother was stroking my sister's blond hair as to protect her and i walked on with my father with the men. i didn't know that this was the moment in time and the place where i was leaving my mother in sapora forever. i kept walking. my father holding my hand. behind me an old man fell to the ground, nearby an assessment replaced his revolver in his holster. my hand tightened grip to my father. all i can think was not to lose him, not to remain alone. the officers gave the order, ranks of five. it was imperative to stay together. hey, kid, how old are you? the men interrogating me was an inmate, i could not see his face
but his voice was weary and warm. 15. no. you're 18. but i'm not, i said i'm 15. fool, listen to what i say. then he asked my father who answered i am 15, no, the man sounded angry. not 15. you're 40, do you hear, 18 and 40. he disappeared into the darkness. another inmate appeared, sons of bitches what have you come here, tell me why? someone dare to reply. what do you think that we came here on our own free will, that we asked to come here? the others seemed ready to kill him. shut up youmoron, you should have hanged yourself rather than come here. didn't you know what was in store for you here in auchwitz, true, we didn't know, nobody had
told us. he couldn't believe his ears. over there, do you see the chimney over there. do you see it and the flames, do you see them? yes. we saw the flames. over there, that's where they will take you, over there will be your grave, you still don't understand? you sons of a bitches, don't you understand anything, you will be burned, burned and turned into ashes. his anger turned into fury, we stood stunned. i heard whispers around me. we must do something, we can't let them kill us like that, like cattle in the slaughter house, we must revolt. there were among us a few tough young men, they actually had knives, let the world learn
-- [inaudible] >> constantly sometimes to the right, sometimes to the left. i stood before him. your age, he asked i'm 18, my voice was trembling. in good health? yes, your profession? tell them that i was a student. farmer, i heard myself say. this conversation no -- lasted no more than a few second, seems like e terpty. i took half a step forward and first one to see where there would send my father.
[inaudible] >> there's no -- which was the better side. [inaudible] >> the right or the left. still i was happy i was near my father. our procession continued slowly. another inmate came over to ask, satisfied, he said. yes. poor, devils, you're heading to the crematories. something was being burned there
. small children, babies. i saw it with my own eyes. children thrown into the flames. [inaudible] >> so that was where we were going, a little farther and there was another larger pit for adults. i pinched myself, was it still there, was i alive, was i awake or was it possible that men, women and children were being burned and that the world kept silence. no, that could not be real. soon i would wake up. i was back in my room in my childhood with my books. my father's voice told me wake
me up from my day's dream. what a shame that you didn't go with your mother. i saw many children go with your mothers. his voice was remember terribly sad. he did not want to see his only son go up in flames. my fore harnd was covered with cold sweat. i still told him that human beings were being burned. the world would never tolerate such times. the world, the world is not interested in us. today everything is possible. even the crematory, his voice broke. father, i said, if that is true, then i don't want to wait.
>> the all mighty, eternal and terrible master of the universe to be silent. what was there to thank him for. we continued our march, we were coming closer to the pit internal pit. if i was going to kill myself, this was the time. we were walking slowly as one followed the herself, hearst. i gathered all that remained in my strength in order to break rank and throw myself into the barbed wire.
my heart was about to burst, there, i was face to face with the ángel of death. no. two steps from the pit, we were ordered to turn left and i squeezed my father's hand, he said turned my life into a seal. never shall i forget the smoke, never shall i forget the bodies that i saw transformed into smoke. never shall i forget those flames that consumed my face forever. never shall i forget the nocturnal silence that deprived me for all eternity of the desire to live. never shall i forget those
moment that is murdered my god and my soul and turned my dreams to ashes. never shall i forget those things even where i condemn to live as long as god himself, never. >> in the new a few bluish skylights, i thought, that is what the antichamber of hell must look like, so many crazed men, so much shouting, so much brutality, dozens of inmates were there to receive us, sticks in hand striking anywhere, anyone without reason who orderers came strip, hurry up, hold on only to your belt and your shows.
our clothes were to be thrown on the floor at the back of the barrick, there was a pile already, new suits, coats, for as it meant truly quality, nakedness, we trembled in the cold. a few ss officers wandered through the room looking for strong men. if vigor was that appreciated, perhaps one should try to appear sturdy. my father thought the opposite. better not to draw attention. we later found out that he had been right. those who were selected that day were incorporated into the commando, the commando working in the crematoria. when he found out that we were there he succeeded in slipping us a note, he told us that
having been chosen because of his strength he had been forced to place his own father's body into the furnace. the blows continue to rain on us, to the barber, belt and show shoes and hand, i let myself be dragged to the barbers. their clippers tore out our hair, shaved every hair on our bodies. my head was buzzing. the same thought surfacing over and over not to be separated from my father, freed from the barber's clutches, we began to wonder about the crowd finding friends, acquaintances, every encounter filled us with joy, yes, joy. thank god, you are still alive, some were crying. they used whatever strength they had left to cry. why had they left themselves be brought here, why they didn't die in their beds, their birds
-- words were with sobs. somebody through their arms around with me and a hug. he was weeping bitterly. i thought he was crying with joy at still being alive. don't cry, i said, don't waste your tears, do not cry, we are on the threshold of death. soon we shall be inside, do you understand? inside, how could i not cry? i watched darkness fade through the bluish skylights in the roof. i no longer was afraid. i was overcome by fatigue. the absent no longer entered our thoughts. when spoke of them, who knows what happened to them but their fate was not on our minds. we were incapable of thinking, our senses were numbed and everything was fading into a fog. we no longer clunged to anything, the i think --
instincts of self-deprivation and pride had all deserted us in one terrifying moment of lucidityi thought of ourselves of damn souls, souls condemned to wander through space until the end of time seeking redemption without any hope of finding either. >> around 5:00 o'clock in the morning we were expelled from the barrics, i no longer felt the pain. we were holding our shows and belt and order and run, and we began, after a few minutes of running, a barrel of foul smelling liquid stood by the door.
this infection, everybody soaked in it. then came a hot shower all very fast as we left the showers we were chased outside and ordered to run some more and another, the storeroom, very long tables, prison guards and threw clothes at us, in a few seconds, we had seized to be men had this situation might not been tragic, we might have left. we looked pretty strange. stern a skinny little fellow was in a huge jacket. we immediately start today switch. i glanced over at my father. how changed he looked. his eyes revealed and we wanted to tell him something but i don't know what. the night had passed completely, the morning star shown in the sky, tie had become a different person.
the student, the child i was had been consumed by flames. all that was left was a shape that resembled me. my soul had been invaded by a black flame. the night had so many events had taken place in so many hours that i had completely lost notion of time. when had we left the homes, when had we left the ghetto, and the train only a week ago, one night, one single night? how long had we been standing in the freezing wind an hour, a single hour, 60 minutes, surely it was a dream. >> not far from us prisoners were at work, some were digging
holes, other were carrying sand, none as much as glanced at us. behind me people were talking, i had no desire to listen to what they were saying or to know who was speaking about what. nobody dared raise voice even though there was no guard around. we whispered because of the thick smoke that poisoned the air and stung the throat. we were hurted into yet another and now stop moving, there was no floor, a roof and four walls, our feet sank into the mud and again the waiting. ..
one still had to hand them over. i had no issues myself but as they were covered with thick coat of mud, they had not been noticed. i think to god and improvise prayer for having created mud in its infinite and wonderful universe. suddenly the silence became oppressive. an ss officer had come in, and within the smell of the angel of death. we stared at his fleshly lips. he harangued us from the center of the baruch. you're in a concentration camp. in short. a politic use observing the effects his words had produced. his face remains in my memory to this day. a tall man in his 30s, crime written all over this for him.
he looked at us as if one would a pack of leprosy dogs clinging to life. remember it always. let it be graven in your members. you are in auschwitz. auschwitz is not a convalescent home. it is a concentration camp. you must work. if you don't you go straight to the chimney. to the crematorium. work or crematorium, the choice is yours. we had already lived through a lot that night. we thought that nothing could frighten us anymore. but his harsh words sent shivers through us. the word chimney was not an abstraction. it floated in the air, mingled with the smoke. it was perhaps the only word that had a real meaning in this place. he left the baruch. all specialists, locksmiths, carpenters and electricians, watchmakers, one step forward. the rest of us were transferred to yet another baruch, this one of stone. we had permission to sit down. a gypsy inmate was in charge. my father had a call at a tactic
he got up and asked politely in german excuse me, could you please tell me where the toilets are located? >> the gypsy stared at him for a long time, from head to toe. as if he wished to ascertain that the person addressing them was actually a creature of fleh and bone, a human being with a body and a belly. then, as if waking from a deep sleep, he slapped my father with such force that he fell down and then crawled back to his place on all fours. i stood petrified. what had happened to me? my father had just been struck in front of me, and i had not even blinked. i had watched and kept silent. only yesterday i would've dug my nails into this criminals flesh.
had i changed that much? so fast. remorse begin to gnaw at me. all i could think was, i shall never forgive them for this. my father must have guessed my thoughts, because he whispered in my ear. it doesn't hurt. his cheek still bore the red mark of the hand. everybody outside. dozens of gypsies had come to join our guard. the clubs and whips were cracking around me. my feet were running on their own. i try to protect myself from the blows by hiding behind others. it was spring. the sun was shining. paul lynn, five by five -- fall in. the prisoners i glimpsed that morning were working nearby. no guard inside, only the chimneys shadow.
lulled by the sunshine and my dreams, i felt someone pulling my sleeve. it was my father. come on, son. we marched. gates open and closed. we continue to march between the barbed wire. at every step, white signs with black skulls looked down on us. the inscription, warning, danger of death. what irony. was there here a single place where one was not in danger of death? the gypsies had stopped next to a baruch. they were replaced by ss man who encircled us with machine guns and police dogs. the march had lasted half an hour. looking around me i noticed that the barbed wire was behind us. we had left the camp. it was a beautiful day in may. the fragrances of spring were in
the air. the sun was setting. but no sooner had we taken at the more steps than we saw the barbed wire of another camp. this one had an iron gate with the overhead inscription arbeit macht frei. work makes you free. auschwitz. >> first impression. better than birkenau. cement buildings with two stories rather than wooden barracks. little gardens here and there. we were led toward one of those blocks. seated on the ground by the entrance we began to wait again. from time to time somebody was allowed to go in. these were the showers, a compulsory routine. going from one camp to the other, several times a day, we
had each time to go through them. after the hot shower we stood shivering in the darkness. our close had been left behind. we had been promised at the close. around midnight we were told to run. faster, yield our guards. the faster you run the faster you will get to sleep. after a few minutes of racing madly, we came to a new block. the man in charge was waiting. he was a young paul who was smiling at us. he began to talk to us and despite wariness we listened attentively. comrades, you are now in the concentration camp auschwitz. ahead of your life a long road paved with suffering. don't lose hope. you've already alluded the worst danger, the selection. therefore, master your strength and keep your faith. we shall all see the day of liberation. have faith in life, a thousand times faith. i driving out to spare you move
away from death. hell does not last forever. and now, here is a prayer, rather a piece of advice. let there be camaraderie among you. we are all brothers and share the same fate. the same smoke covers over all our heads. help each other. that is the only way to survive. and now, enough said, you are tired. listen, you are in block 17. i am responsible for keeping order here. anyone with the complaint may come see me. that is all. go to sleep. two people to a bunk. good night. those were the first human words. no sooner had we climbed into our bunks then we fell into a deep sleep. the next morning, the veteran inmates treated us without brutality. we went to wash. we were given new clothing. they brought us black coffee.
we left the block around 10:00 so that it could be cleaned. outside the sun warmed us. our morale was much improved. a good nights sleep had done its work. friends met, exchanged a few sentences. we spoke of everything without ever mentioning those who had disappeared. the prevailing opinion was that the war was about to end. at about noon we were brought some soup. one bowl of the soup for each of us. i was terribly hungry, yet i i refuse to touch it. i was still the spoiled child of long ago. my father swallowed my ration. we then had a short nap in the shade of the block. that ss officer in the muddy barrack must've been line. auschwitz was, after all, a convalescent home. in the afternoon they made us line up. three prisoners brought a table and some medical instruments.
we were told to roll up our left sleeves and file past the table. the three veteran prisoners, needles in hand, tattooed numbers on our left arms. i became a-7713. a-7713. from then on i had no other name. at dusk, or local, the work had returned. the orchestra played military marches near the camp entrance. tens of thousands of inmates stood in rose while the ss check their numbers. after the roll call the pressures from all the blocks dispersed looking for friends, relatives or neighbors among the arrivals of the latest convoy. >> days went by. in the mornings black coffee. at midday, soup. by the third day i was eagerly
eating any kind of soup. at 6:00 in the afternoon roll call followed by bread with something. at 9:00 bedtime. we had already been an auschwitz for eight days. it was after roll call. we stood waiting for the bell announcing its end. suddenly i noticed someone passing between the rows. i heard them ask, who among you is wiesel from sighet? the person was a file -- small fellow spectacles in the weiss and pasted my father answered that's me, wiesel from sighet. the fellows isner kopecky took a long look at my father. you don't know me? you don't recognize me. on your relative, stein. already forgotten? stein. stein from antwerp, rachels husband.
your wife was her aunt. she often wrote to us, and such letters. my father had not recognized him. he must have barely known him,, always being up to his neck in communal affairs and not knowledgeable in family matters. he was always elsewhere, lost in thought. once, a cousin came to see us in sighet. she had stated -- state at her house and eaten at her table for two weeks before my father noticed her presence for the first time. no, he did not remember stein. i recognized him right away. i had no his wife before she left for belgium. he told us that he had been deported in 1942. he said, i heard people say that a transport had arrived from your region and they came to look for you. i thought you might have some news of rachel and my two small boys who stayed in antwerp.
i knew nothing about them. since 1940, my mother had not received a single letter from them. but i lied. yes, my mother did hear from them. reizel is fine. so are the children. he was weeping with joy. he would've liked to stay longer, to learn more details, to soak up the good news, but an ss was heading in our direction and he had to go, telling us that he would come back the next day. the bell announced that we were dismissed. we went to fetch the evening meal, bread and margarine. i was terribly hungry and swallowed my ration on the spot. my father told me, you mustn't eat all at once. tomorrow is another day. but saying that his advice had come too late and that there was nothing left of my ration, he didn't even start his own. me, i'm not hungry, he said.
>> will remain in auschwitz for three weeks. we had nothing to do. we slept a lot in the afternoon and at night are one goal was to avoid the transports, to stay here as long as possible. it wasn't difficult. it was enough never to sign up as a skilled worker. the unskilled work capped until the end. at the start of the third week, our blackalteste was removed. he was judged to humane. the new one was ferocious and his aides were veritable monsters. the good days were over. we began to wonder if it would
be better to let ourselves be chosen for the next transport. stein, our relative from antwerp, continued to visit us and come from time to time, he would bring a half portion of bread. here, this is for you, eliezer. every time he came, tears would roll down his icy cheeks. he would often say to my father, take care of your son. he is very weak, very dehydrated. take care of yourselves. you must avoid selection. eat. anything, anytime. eat all you can. the week don't last very long around here. and he himself was so thin, so withered, so week. the only thing that keeps me alive, he kept saying, is to
know that reizel and the little ones are still alive. were it not for them, i would give up. one evening he came to see us, his face radiant. i transport just arrived from antwerp. i should go to see them tomorrow. surely they will have news. he left. we never saw him again. he had been given the news. the real news. evenings, as a light and a cots can we sometimes tried to sing a few hasidic melodies. it would break our hearts with his deep, great voice. some of the men spoke of god, his mysterious ways, the sins of the jewish people and redemption two. as for me, i had ceased to pray.
i concurred with the job. i was not denying his existence, but i doubted his absolute justice. aiba drumer said, god is testing us. he wants to see whether we are capable of overcoming our base instincts, of killing the satan within ourselves. we have no right to despair. and if he punishes us mercilessly, it's a sign that he loves us. that much more. hersh genud spoke of the beginning of the world and the coming of the messiah. from time to time in the middle of all that talk, i thought crossed my mind, where is mother right now, and tzipora?
mother is still a young woman, my father once said. she must be in a labor camp. and tzipora, she's a big girl now. she too must be in a camp. how we would've liked to believe that. we pretended, from what if one of us still believe? all the skilled workers had already been sent to other camps. only about a hundred of us, simple laborers, were left. today, it's your turn, announced a block secretary. you are leaving with the next transport. at 10 o'clock we were handed our daily ration of bread. a dozen or so ss surrounded us. advocate the sign proclaimed that work meant freedom.
we were counted, and there we were in the countryside on a sunny road. in the sky, a few small white clouds. we were walking slowly. the guards were in no hurry. we were glad of it. as we were passing through some of the villages, many germans watched us, showing no surprise. no doubt they had seen quite a few of these processions. on the way we saw some young german girls. the guards began to tease event. the girls giggled. they allow themselves to be kissed and tickled, bursting with laughter. they all were laughing and joking and passing love notes to one another.