Skip to main content

tv   Reading of Elie Wiesels Night Part 3  CSPAN  April 16, 2017 5:01pm-6:31pm EDT

5:01 pm
curtains have been drawn tight for 45 years. i want to thank you for an unforgettable conversation. we welcome you to join us for a talk upstairs. >> booktv is on twitter and facebook. and we want to hear from you. tweet us, twitter.com/book or
5:02 pm
post a comment on our facebook page: acebook.com/booktv. and now the final portion of a three-part program. authors, juniorjournalists, actors and other public figures complete a reading from elie wiesel's "night." the first two parts can be seen online at booktv.org. >> good evening, ladies and gentlemen. please check your cellphone and make sure it is set to silent mode. and now the jewish museum of heritage, present the conclusion of an international tribute to elie wiesel, a community reading of "night".
5:03 pm
>> an icy wind was blowing violently. but we marched without faltering. the ss made us increase our pace. "faster, you tramps, you flea-ridden dogs!" why not? moving fast made us a little warmer. the blood flowed more readily in our veins. we had the feeling of being alive "faster, you filthy dogs!" we were no longer marching, we were running. like automatons. the ss were running as well, weapons
5:04 pm
in hand. we looked as though we were running from them. the night was pitch-black. from time to time, a shot exploded in the darkness. they had orders to shoot anyone who could not sustain the pace. their fingers on the triggers, they did not deprive themselves of the pleasure. if one of us stopped for a second, a quick shot eliminated the filthy dog. i was putting one foot in front of the other, like a machine. i was dragging this emaciated body that was still such a weight. if only i could have shed it! though i tried to put it out of my mind, i couldn't help thinking that there were two of us: my body and i. and i hated that body. i kept repeating to myself:
5:05 pm
"don't think, don't stop, run!" near me, men were collapsing into the dirty snow. gunshots. a young boy from poland was marching beside me. his name was zalman. he had worked in the electrical material depot in buna. people mocked him because he was forever praying or meditating on some talmudic question. for him, it was an escape from reality, from feeling the blows all of a sudden, he had terrible stomach cramps. "my stomach aches," he whispered to me. he couldn't go on. he had to stop a moment. i begged him: "wait a little, zalman. soon, we will all come to a halt.
5:06 pm
we cannot run like this to the end of the world." but, while running, he began to undo his buttons and yelled to me: "i can't go on. "make an effort "i can't go on," he groaned. he lowered his pants and fell to the ground. that is the image i have of him. i don't believe that he was finished off by an ss, for nobody had noticed. he must have died, trampled under the feet of the thousands of men who followed us. i soon forgot him. i began to think of myself again. my foot was aching, i shivered with every step. just a few more meters and it will be over.
5:07 pm
a small red flame a shot death enveloped me, it suffocated me. it stuck to me like glue. i felt i could touch it. the idea of dying, of ceasing to be, began to fascinate me. to no longer exist. to no longer feel the excruciating pain of my foot. neither fatigue nor cold, nothing. to break rank, to let myself slide to the side of the road. >> my father's presence was the only thing that stopped me. he was running next to me, out of breath, out of strength, desperate. i had no right to let myself die. what would he do without me? i
5:08 pm
was his sole support. these thoughts were going through my mind as i continued to run, not feeling my numb foot, not even realizing that i was still running, that i still owned a body that galloped down the road among thousands of others. when i became conscious of myself again, i tried to slow my pace somewhat. but there was no way. these human waves were rolling forward and would have crushed me like an ant. by now, i moved like a sleepwalker. i sometimes closed my eyes and it was like running while asleep. now and then, someone kicked me violently from behind and i would wake up. the man in back of me was screaming, "run faster. if you don't want to move, let us pass you. but all i had to do was close my eyes to see a whole world pass before me, to dream of another life.
5:09 pm
the road was endless. by the mob, to be swept away by blind fate. when the ss were tired, they were replaced. but no one replaced us. chilled to the bone, our throats parched, famished, out of breath, we pressed on. we were the masters of nature, the masters of the world. we had transcended everything-death, fatigue, our natural needs. we were stronger than cold and hunger, stronger than the guns and the desire to die, doomed and rootless, nothing but numbers, we were the only men on earth. at last, the morning star appeared in the gray sky. a hesitant light began to hover on the horizon. we were exhausted, we had lost all strength, all illusion.
5:10 pm
the kommandant announced that we had already covered twenty kilometers since we left. long since, we had exceeded the limits of fatigue. our legs moved mechanically, in spite of us, without us. we came to an abandoned village. not a living soul. not a single bark. houses with gaping windows. a few people slipped out of the ranks, hoping to hide in some abandoned building. one more hour of marching and, at last, the order to halt. as one man, we let ourselves sink into the snow. my father shook me. "not here, get up, a farther down. i had neither the desire nor the resolve to get up.
5:11 pm
yet i obeyed. it was not really a shed, but a brick factory whose roof had fallen in. its windowpanes were shattered, its walls covered in soot. it was not easy to get inside. hundreds of prisoners jostled one another at the door. we finally succeeded in entering. inside, too, the snow was thick. i let myself slide to the ground. only now did i feel the full extent of my weakness. the snow seemed to me like a very soft, very warm carpet. i fell asleep. i don't know how long i slept. a few minutes or one hour. when i woke up, a frigid hand was tapping my cheeks. i tried to open my eyes: it was my father.
5:12 pm
how he had aged since last night! his body was completely twisted, shriveled up into himself. his eyes were glazed over, his lips parched, decayed. everything about him expressed total exhaustion. his voice was damp from tears and snow. "don't let yourself be overcome by sleep, eliezer. it's dangerous to fall asleep in snow. one falls asleep forever. come, my son, get up? how could i? how was i to leave this warm blanket? i was hearing my father's words, but their meaning escaped me, as if he had asked me to carry the entire shed on my arms i got up, with clenched teeth. holding on to me with one arm, he led me outside. it was not easy. it was as difficult to go out as to come in. beneath our feet there lay men, crushed, trampled underfoot, dying. nobody paid attention to them. we were outside.
5:13 pm
the icy wind whipped my face. i was constantly biting my lips so that they wouldn't freeze. all around me, what appeared to be a dance of death. my head was reeling. i was walking through a cemetery. among the stiffened corpses, there were logs of wood. not a sound of distress, not a plaintive cry, nothing but mass agony and silence. nobody asked anyone for help. one died because one had to. no point in making trouble. >> i saw myself in every stiffened corpse. soon i wouldn't even be seeing them anymore; i would be one of them.
5:14 pm
a matter of hours. "come, father, let's go back to the shed" he didn't answer. he was not even looking at the dead. "come, father. it's better there. you'll be able to lie down. we'll take turns. i'll watch over you and you'll watch over me. we won't let each other fall asleep. we'll look after each other. he accepted. after trampling over many bodies and corpses, we succeeded in getting inside. we let ourselves fall to the ground. "don't worry, son. go to sleep. i'll watch over you." "you first, father. sleep. he refused. i stretched out and tried to sleep, to doze a little, but in vain. god knows what i would have given to be able to sleep a few moments. but deep inside, i knew that to sleep meant to die. and something in me rebelled against that death. death, which was settling in all
5:15 pm
around me, silently, gently. it would seize upon a sleeping person, steal into him and devour him bit by bit. next to me, someone was trying to awaken his neighbor, his brother, perhaps, or his comrade. defeated he lay down too, next to the corpse, and also fell asleep. who would wake him up? reaching out with my arm, i touched him: "wake up. one mustn't fall asleep h e r e he half opened his eyes. "no advice," he said, his voice a whisper. "i'm exhausted. mind your business, leave me alone. my father too was gently dozing. i couldn't see his eyes his cap was covering his face. "wake up," i whispered in his ear. he awoke with a start.
5:16 pm
he sat up, bewildered, stunned, like an orphan. he looked all around him, taking it all in as if he had suddenly it all in as if he had suddenly decided to make an inventory of his universe, to determine where he was and how and why he was there. then he smiled. i shall always remember that smile. what world did it come from? heavy snow continued to fall over the corpses. the door of the shed opened. an old man appeared. his mustache was covered with ice, his lips were blue. it was rabbi eliahu, who had headed a small congregation in poland.
5:17 pm
a very kind man, beloved by everyone in the camp, even by the kapos and the blockälteste. despite the ordeals and deprivations, his face continued to radiate his innocence. innocence. he was the only rabbi whom nobody ever failed to address as "rabbi" in buna. he looked like one of those prophets of old, always in the midst of his people when they needed to be consoled. and, strangely, his words never provoked anyone. they did bring peace. as he entered the shed, his eyes, brighter than ever, seemed to be searching for someone. "perhaps someone here has seen my son?" he had lost his son in the commotion. he had searched for him among the dying, to no avail. then he had dug through the snow to find his body. in vain.
5:18 pm
for three years, they had stayed close to one another. side by side, they had endured the suffering, the blows; they had waited for their ration of bread and they had prayed. three years, from camp to camp, from selection to selection. and now-when the end seemed near-fate had separated them. when he came near me, rabbi eliahu whispered, "it happened on the road. we lost sight of one another during the journey. i fell behind a little, at the rear of the column. i didn't have the strength to run anymore. and my son didn't notice. that's all i know. where has he disappeared? where can i find him? perhaps you've seen him somewhere?" "no, rabbi eliahu, i haven't seen him. " and so he left, as he had come: a shadow swept away by the
5:19 pm
wind. he had already gone through the door when i remembered that i had noticed his son running beside me. i had forgotten and so had not mentioned it to rabbi eliahu! but then i remembered something else: his son had seen him losing ground, sliding back to the rear of the column. he had seen him. and he had continued to run in front, letting the distance between them become greater. a terrible thought crossed my mind: what if he had wanted to be rid of his father? he had felt his father growing weaker and, believing that the end was near, had thought by this separation to free himself of a burden that could diminish his own chance for survival. it was good that i had forgotten all that. and i was glad that rabbi eliahu continued to search for his beloved son. and in spite of myself, a prayer formed inside me, a prayer to this god in whom i no longer believed. "oh god, master of the universe, give me the strength never to do what rabbi eliahu's son has done. " 91 there was shouting outside, in the courtyard.
5:20 pm
91 there was shouting outside, in the courtyard. night had fallen and the ss were ordering us to form ranks. we started to march once more. the dead remained in the yard, under the snow without even a marker, like fallen guards. no one recited kaddish over them. sons abandoned the remains of their fathers without a tear. on the road, it snowed and snowed, it snowed endlessly.
5:21 pm
were marching more slowly. even the guards seemed tired. my wounded foot no longer hurt, probably frozen. i felt i had lost that foot. it had become detached from me like a wheel fallen off a car. never mind. i had to accept the fact: i would have to live with only one leg. the important thing was not to dwell on it. especially now. leave those thoughts for later. our column had lost all appearance of discipline. everyone walked as he wished, as he could. no more gunshots. our guards surely were tired.
5:22 pm
but death hardly needed their help. the cold was conscientiously doing its work. at every step, somebody fell down and ceased to suffer. from time to time, ss officers on motorcycles drove the length of the column to shake off the growing apathy: "hold on! we're almost there!" "courage! just a few more hours!" "we're arriving in gleiwitz!" these words of encouragement, even coming as they did from the mouths of our assassins, were of great help. nobody wanted to give up now, just before the end, so close to our destination. by now it was night. it had stopped snowing. we marched a few more hours before we arrived. we saw the camp only when we stood right in front of its gate.
5:23 pm
the kapos quickly settled us into the barrack. there was shoving and jostling as if this were the ultimate haven, the gateway to life. people trod over numbed bodies, trampled wounded faces. there were no cries, only a few moans. my father and i were thrown to the ground by this rolling tide. from beneath me came a desperate cry: the voice was familiar. the same faint voice, the same cry i had heard somewhere before. this voice had spoken to me one day. when? years ago? no, it must have been in the camp. "mercy!" knowing that i was crushing him, preventing him from breathing, i wanted to get up and disengage myself to allow him to breathe. but i myself was crushed under the weight of other bodies. i had difficulty breathing.
5:24 pm
i dug my nails into unknown faces. i was biting my way through, searching for air. no one cried out. suddenly i remembered. juliek! the boy from warsaw who played the violin in the buna orchestra "juliek, is that you?" "eliezer the twenty-five whiplashes yes i remember. " he fell silent. a long moment went by. "juliek! can you hear me, juliek?"
5:25 pm
"yes " he said feebly. "what do you want?" he was not dead. "are you all right, juliek?" i asked, less to know his answer than to hear him speak, to know he was alive. i thought he'd lost his mind. his violin? here? "what about your violin?" i could not answer him. someone had lain down on top of me, smothering me. i couldn't breathe through my mouth or my nose. sweat was running down my forehead and my back. this was it; the end of the road. a silent death, suffocation.
5:26 pm
no way to scream, to call for help. i tried to rid myself of my invisible assassin. my whole desire to live became concentrated in my nails. i scratched, i fought for a breath of air. i tore at decaying flesh that did not respond. i could not free myself of that mass weighing down my chest. who knows? was i struggling with a dead man? i shall never know. all i can say is that i prevailed. i succeeded in digging a hole in that wall of dead and dying people, a small hole through which i could drink a little air.
5:27 pm
"father, are you there?" i asked as soon as i was able to utter a word. i knew that he could not be far from me. "yes!" a voice replied from far away, as if from another world. "i am trying to sleep. he was trying to sleep. could one fall asleep here? wasn't it dangerous to lower one's guard, even for a moment, when death could strike at any time? those were my thoughts when i heard the sound of a violin.
5:28 pm
a violin in a dark barrack where the dead were piled on top of the living? who was this madman who played the violin 94 here, at the edge of his own grave? or was it a hallucination? it had to be juliek. he was playing a fragment of a beethoven concerto. never before had i heard such a beautiful sound. in such silence. how had he succeeded in disengaging himself? to slip out from under my body without my feeling it? the darkness enveloped us. all i could hear was the violin, and it was as if juliek's soul had become his bow. he was playing his life. his whole being was gliding over the strings. his unfulfilled hopes. his charred past, his extinguished future. he played that which he would never play again. i shall never forget juliek. how could i forget this concert given before an audience of the dead and dying? even today, when i hear that particular piece by beethoven, my eyes close and out of the darkness emerges the pale and melancholy face of my polish comrade bidding farewell to an audience of dying
5:29 pm
men. i don't know how long he played. i was overcome by sleep. when i awoke at daybreak, i saw juliek facing me, hunched over, dead. next to him lay his violin, trampled, an eerily poignant little corpse. >> we stayed in gleiwitz for three days. days without food or water. we were forbidden to leave the barrack. the door was guarded by the ss. i was hungry and thirsty. i must have been very dirty and disheveled,
5:30 pm
to judge by what the others looked like. the bread we had brought from buna had been devoured long since. and who knew when we would be given another ration? the front followed us. we could again hear the cannons very close by. but we no longer had the strength or the courage to think that the germans would run out of time, that the russians would reach us before we could be evacuated. we learned that we would be moved to the center of germany. on the third day, at dawn, we were driven out of the barrack. we threw blankets over our shoulders, like prayer shawls. we were directed to a gate that divided the camp in two. a group of ss officers stood waiting. a word flew through our ranks: selection! the ss officers were doing the selection: the weak, to the left; those who walked well, to the right. my father was sent to the left. i ran after him. an ss officer shouted at my back: "come back!" i inched my way through the crowd. several ss men rushed to find me, creating such confusion that a number of people were able to switch over to the right-among them my father and i.
5:31 pm
still, there were gunshots and some dead. we were led out of the camp. after a half-hour march, we arrived in the very middle of a field crossed by railroad tracks. this was where we were to wait for the train's arrival. were given bread, the usual ration. we threw ourselves on it. someone had the idea of quenching his thirst by eating snow. the ss men who were watching were greatly amused by the spectacle.
5:32 pm
the hours went by. our eyes were tired from staring at the horizon, waiting for the liberating train to appear. it arrived only very late that evening. an infinitely long train, composed of roofless cattle cars. the ss shoved us inside, a hundred per car: we were so skinny! when everybody was on board, the convoy left.
5:33 pm
pressed tightly against one another, in an effort to resist the cold, our heads empty and heavy, our brains a whirlwind of decaying memories. our minds numb with indifference. here or elsewhere, what did it matter? die today or tomorrow, or later? the night was growing longer, neverending. when at last a grayish light appeared on the horizon, it revealed a tangle of human shapes, heads sunk deeply between the shoulders, crouching, piled one on top of the other, like a cemetery covered with snow. in the early dawn light, i tried to distinguish between the living and those who were no more. but there was barely a difference. my gaze remained fixed on someone who, eyes wide open, stared into space. his colorless face was covered with a layer of frost and snow.
5:34 pm
my father had huddled near me, draped in his blanket, shoulders laden with snow. and what if he were dead, as well? i called out to him. no response. i would have screamed if i could have. he was not moving. suddenly, the evidence overwhelmed me: there was no longer any reason to live, any reason to fight. the train stopped in an empty field. the abrupt halt had wakened a few sleepers. they stood, looking around, startled. outside, the ss walked by, shouting: "throw out all the dead! outside, all the corpses!" the living were glad. they would have more room. volunteers began the task. they touched those who had remained on the ground. "here's one! take him!" the volunteers undressed him and eagerly shared his garments.
5:35 pm
then, two "gravediggers" grabbed him by the head and feet and threw him from the wagon, like a sack of flour. there was shouting all around: "come on! here's another! my neighbor. he's not m o v i n g " i woke from my apathy only when two men approached my father. i threw myself on his body. he was cold. i slapped him. rubbed his hands, crying: "father! father! wake up. they're going to throw you outside the two "gravediggers" had grabbed me by the neck: "leave him alone. can't you see that he's dead?" "no!" i yelled. "he's not dead! not yet!" and i started to hit him harder and harder. at last, my father half opened his eyes. they were glassy. he was breathing faintly. "you see," i cried. the two men went away. twenty corpses were thrown from our wagon. then the train resumed its journey, leaving in its wake, in a snowy field in poland, hundreds of naked orphans without a tomb.
5:36 pm
>> we received no food. we lived on snow; it took the place of bread. the days resembled the nights, and the nights left in our souls the dregs of their darkness. the train rolled slowly, often halted for a few hours, and continued. it never stopped snowing. we remained lying on the floor for days and nights, one on top of the other, never uttering a word. we were nothing but frozen bodies.
5:37 pm
our eyes closed, we merely waited for the next stop, to unload our dead. there followed days and nights of traveling. occasionally, we would pass through german towns. usually, very early in the morning. german laborers were going to work. they would stop and look at us without surprise. one day when we had come to a stop, a worker took a piece of bread out of his bag and threw it into a wagon. there was a stampede. dozens of starving men fought desperately over a few crumbs. the worker watched the spectacle with great interest. years later, i witnessed a similar spectacle in aden. our ship's passengers amused themselves by throwing coins to the "natives," who dove to retrieve them. an elegant parisian lady took great pleasure in this game. when i noticed two children desperately fighting in the water, one trying to strangle the other, i implored the lady: "please, don't throw any more coins!" "why not?" said she. "i like to give charity "
5:38 pm
in the wagon where the bread had landed, a battle had ensued. men were hurling themselves against each other, trampling, tearing at and mauling each other. beasts of prey unleashed, animal hate in their eyes. an extraordinary vitality possessed them, sharpening their teeth and nails. a crowd of workmen and curious passersby had formed all along the train. they had undoubtedly never seen a train with this kind of cargo. soon, pieces of bread were falling into the wagons from all sides. and the spectators observed these emaciated creatures ready to kill for a crust of bread. a piece fell into our wagon. i decided not to move. anyway, i knew that i would not be
5:39 pm
strong enough to fight off dozens of violent men! i saw, not far from me, an old man dragging himself on all fours. he had just detached himself from the struggling mob. he was holding one hand to his heart. at first i thought he had received a blow to his chest. then i understood: he was hiding a piece of bread under his shirt. with lightning speed he pulled it out and put it to his mouth. his eyes lit up, a smile, like a grimace, illuminated his ashen face. and was immediately extinguished. a shadow had lain down beside him. and this shadow threw itself over him. stunned by the blows, the old man was crying:
5:40 pm
don't you recognize me? you are killing your father. i have breed for you too. he collapsed. but his fist was still clutching a small crust. he wanted to raise it to his mouth. but the other threw himself on him. the old man mumbled something, groaned, and died. nobody cared. his son searched him, took the crust of bread, and began to devour it. he didn't get far. two men had been watching 101 him.
5:41 pm
>> in our wagon, there was a friend of my father's, meir katz. he had worked as a gardener in buna and from time to time had brought us some green vegetables. less undernourished than the rest of us, detention had been easier on him. because he was stronger than most of us, he had been put in charge of our wagon. on the third night of our journey, i woke up with a start when i felt two hands on my throat, trying to strangle me. i barely had time to call out: i was suffocating. but my father had awakened and grabbed my aggressor. too weak to overwhelm him, he thought of calling meir katz: "come, come quickly! someone is strangling my son!"
5:42 pm
in a few moments, i was freed. i never did find out why this stranger had wanted to strangle me. but days later, meir katz told my father: "shlomo, i am getting weak. my strength is gone. i won't make it " "don't give in!" my father tried to encourage him. "you must resist! don't lose faith in yourself!" but meir katz only groaned in response: "i can't go on, shlomo! i can't help i t i can't go o n " my father took his arm. and meir katz, the strong one, the sturdiest of us all, began to cry. his son had been taken from him during the first selection but only now was he crying for him. only now did he fall apart. he could not go on. he had reached the end.
5:43 pm
>> on the last day of our journey, a terrible wind began to blow. and the snow kept falling. we sensed that the end was near; the real end. we could not hold out long in this glacial wind, this storm. somebody got up and yelled: "we must not remain sitting. we shall freeze to death! let's get up and move " we all got up. we all pulled our soaked blankets tighter around our shoulders. and we tried to take a few steps, to shuffle back and forth, in place. suddenly, a cry rose in the wagon, the cry of a wounded animal.
5:44 pm
someone had just died. others, close to death, imitated his cry. and their cries seemed to come from beyond the grave. soon everybody was crying. groaning. moaning. cries of distress hurled into the wind and the snow. the lament spread from wagon to wagon. it was contagious. and now hundreds of cries rose at once. the death rattle of an entire convoy with the end approaching. all boundaries had been crossed. nobody had any strength left. and the night seemed endless.
5:45 pm
meir katz was moaning: "why don't they just shoot us now?" that same night, we reached our destination. it was late. the guards came to unload us. the dead were left in the wagons. only those who could stand could leave.
5:46 pm
>> at the entrance to the camp, ss officers were waiting for us. we were counted. then we were directed to the appelplatz. the orders were given over the loudspeakers:
5:47 pm
"form ranks of fives! groups of one hundred! five steps forward!" i tightened my grip on my father's hand. the old, familiar fear: not to lose him. very close to us stood the tall chimney of the crematorium's furnace. it no longer impressed us. it barely drew our attention. a veteran of buchenwald told us that we would be taking a shower and afterward be sent to different blocks. the idea of a hot shower fascinated me. my father didn't say a word. he was breathing heavily beside me. "father," i said, "just another moment. soon, we'll be able to lie down. you'll be able to rest " he didn't answer. i myself was so weary that his silence left me indifferent. my only wish was to take the shower as soon as possible and lie down on a cot. only it wasn't easy to reach the showers.
5:48 pm
hundreds of prisoners crowded the area. the guards seemed unable to restore order. they were lashing out, left and right, to no avail. some prisoners who didn't have the strength to jostle, or even to stand, sat down in the snow. my father wanted to do the same. he was moaning: yb can't any more. it is over. i shall die right here. he dragged me toward a pile of snow from which protruded human shapes, torn blankets. "leave me," he said. i can't go on anymore. have pity on me. i will wait here until we can go into the showers. you will come and get me. i could have screamed in anger. to have lived and endured so much; was i going to let my father die now? now that we would be able to take a good hot shower and lie down? "father!" i howled. "father! get up! right now! you will kill yourself " and i grabbed his arm. he continued to moan: don't yell by son, have pity on your old father.
5:49 pm
let me rest here, a little, i beg of you. i am so tired. no more strength. he had become childlike: weak, frightened, vulnerable. "father," i said, "you cannot stay here." i pointed to the corpses around him; they too had wanted to rest here. "i see, my son. i do see them. let them sleep. they haven'tclosed an eye for so long. they are exhausted. exhausted. his voice was tender. i howled into the wind: "they're dead! they will never wake up! never! do you understand?" this discussion continued for some time. i knew that i was no longer arguing with him but with death itself, with death that
5:50 pm
he had already chosen. 105 the sirens began to wail. alert. the lights went out in the entire camp. the guards chased us toward the blocks. in a flash, there was no one left outside. we were only too glad not to have to stay outside any longer, in the freezing wind. we let ourselves sink into the floor. the cauldrons at the entrance found no takers. there were several tiers of bunks. to sleep was all that mattered.
5:51 pm
>> when i woke up, it was daylight. that is when i remembered that i had a father. during the alert, i had followed the mob, not taking care of him. i knew he was running out of strength, close to death, and yet i had abandoned him. i went to look for him. yet at the same time a thought crept into my mind: if only i didn't find him! if only i were relieved of this responsibility, i could use all my strength to fight for my own survival, to take care only of myself instantly, i felt ashamed, ashamed of myself forever.
5:52 pm
i walked for hours without finding him. then i came to a block where they were distributing black "coffee. " people stood in line, quarreled. i ran toward him. "father! i've been looking for you for so long wher e were you? did you sleep? how are you feeling?" he seemed to be burning with fever. i fought my way to the coffee cauldron like a wild beast. and i succeeded in bringing back a cup. i took one gulp. the rest was for him. i shall never forget the gratitude that shone in his eyes when he swallowed this beverage. the gratitude of a wounded animal. with these few mouthfuls of hot water, i had probably given him more satisfaction than during my entire childhood he was lying on the boards, ashen, his lips pale and dry, shivering. i couldn't stay with him any longer.
5:53 pm
we had been ordered to go outside to allow for cleaning of the blocks. only the sick could remain inside. we stayed outside for five hours. we were given soup. when they allowed us to return to the blocks, i rushed toward my father: "did you eat?" "no. " "why?" "they didn't give us anything they said that we were sick, that we would die soon, and that it would be a waste of food i gave him what was left of my soup. but my heart was heavy. i was aware that i was doing it grudgingly. just like rabbi eliahu's son, i had not passed the test. every day, my father was getting weaker. his eyes were watery, his face the color of dead leaves. on the third day after we arrived in buchenwald, everybody had to go to the showers. even the sick, who were instructed to go last.
5:54 pm
when we returned from the showers, we had to wait outside a long time. the cleaning of the blocks had not been completed. from afar, i saw my father and ran to meet him. he went by me like a shadow, passing me without stopping, without a glance. [speaking native tongue]
5:55 pm
5:56 pm
[speaking in native ongue] >> for a ration of bread i was able to exchange cots to be next to my father. when the doctor arrived in the afternoon, i went to tell him that my father was very ill.
5:57 pm
"bring him here!" i explained that he could not stand up, but the doctor would not listen. and so, with great difficulty, i brought my father to him. he stared at him, then asked curtly: "what do you want?" "my father is sick," i answered in his p l a c e " d y s e n t e r y " "that's not my business. i'm a surgeon. go on. make room for the others!" my protests were in vain. i can't go on my, my son, take me back to the bunk. i took him back and helped him lie down. he was shivering. "try to get some sleep, father. try to fall a s l e e p " his breathing was labored. his eyes were closed. but i was convinced that he was seeing everything. that he was seeing the truth in all things. another doctor came to the block. my father refused to get
5:58 pm
up. he knew that it would be of no use. in fact, that doctor had come only to finish off the patients. i listened to him shouting at them that they were lazy good-fornothings who only wanted to stay in b e d i considered jumping him, strangling him. but i had neither the courage nor the strength. i was riveted to my father's agony. my hands were aching, i was clenching them so hard. to strangle the doctor and the others! to set the whole world on fire! my father's murderers! but even the cry stuck in my throat.
5:59 pm
>> on my return from the bread distribution, i found my father crying like a child: "my son, they are beating me!" "who?" i thought he was delirious. "him, the frenchman and the p o l e t h e y beat m e " one more stab to the heart, one more reason to hate. one less reason to live.
6:00 pm
they beat me again. i can't go on, my son. give me some water. i knew that he must have no
6:01 pm
drink but he pleaded with me so long that i gave in. water was the worst poison for him. what else could i do for him? with or without water it would be over soon anyway. have pity on me and have on him. >> a week went by, like that, that, is this your father asked the book. yes, he's very sick. the doctor won't do anything for him. he looked me straight in the eye, the doctor can't do
6:02 pm
anything more for him and neither can you. he placed his big hairy hand on my shoulder and added. listen to me kid don't forget you're in a concentration camp and if every man for himself. you cannot think of others, not even your father. in this place, there is no such thing as a father, brother, friend. each of us lives and dies alone. let me give you good advice. stop giving your ration of bread to your old father, you can't help it anymore. you're hurting yourself. in fact, you should be getting his rations. i listen to him without interrupting, he was right, i thought deep down. i didn't want to admit it to myself. too late to save your old father. you could have rations of bread, two rations of soup and it was
6:03 pm
only a fraction of a second but it left me feeling guilty. i iran to get some suit and brought it to my father but he didn't want it. all he wanted was water. don't drink water, eat the soup. i'm burning up. why are you so mean to me, my son. water. i brought the water and then i left the block for roll call. i quickly turned back, laid down on the upper bunk in the sink were allowed to stay in the block so, i would be sick. i didn't want to leave my father. >> all around me there was silence now.
6:04 pm
broken only by mooning. pfs was giving orders and an officer passed between the bunk. my father was pleading, my son, water. i'm burning up. my inside. silence over there but the officer. my father continued. water. the officer came closer and shouted to him to be silent. my father did not hear. he continued to call me and the officer wielded his club and dealt him violent blow to the head. i didn't move. i was afraid. my body was afraid of another blow, this time to my head.
6:05 pm
my father groaned once more and i heard please, sir. i could see that he was breathing. he gasped and i didn't move. when i came down from my bunk after roll call, i could see his lips lean. he was murmuring something. i remained more than an hour leaning over him, looking at him , edging his bloodied, broken faith into my mind. then i had to go to sleep. i climbed into my bunk, above my father, who is still alive. the date was january 208, 1945. i woke up at don on january 209
6:06 pm
on my father scott there lay another person. they must have taken him away before daybreak. they had taken him to the crematory. perhaps he was still breathing. no prayers were said over his tomb, no candlelit in his memory , his last word had been my name. he had called out to me, and i had not answered. i did not weep and it pains me that i could not weep. i was out of tears. deep inside me, if i could have searched the recesses of my feeble conscience, i might have found something like, free at
6:07 pm
last. >> i remained at buchenwald until april 11. i shall not describe my life during that period, it no longer mattered. since my father's death, nothing mattered to me anymore. i was transferred to the children's block where there were 600 of us. the front was coming closer. i spent my days in total idleness, with only one desire, to eat. i no longer thought of my father or my mother. from time to time, i would dream
6:08 pm
but only about soup and extra ration of soup. on april 5 the wheel of history turned. it was late afternoon, we were standing inside the block, waiting for and asked us to come and count us. he was late. that lateness was unprecedented in the history of buchenwald. something must have happened. two hours later, the loud speakers transmitted an order from the camp commandant, all jews were to gather in the upper plot. this was the end. hitler was about to keep his promise. the children of our block did as ordered. there was no choice. gustafson, the block call sister, made, made it clear with his club but on our way we met
6:09 pm
some prisoners who whispered to us, go back to your block. the germans plan to shoot you. go back and don't move. we would turn to the block, on our way there we learned that the underground resistance of the camp had made the decision not to abandon the jews and to prevent their liquidation. as it was getting late, and the confusion was great, countless jews had been passing as non-jews. he had decided that the general rollcall would take place the next day. everybody would have to be present. the rollcall took place in the commandant said the buchenwald camp would be liquidated. ten blocks of inmates would be evacuated every day. from that moment on, there was
6:10 pm
no distribution of bread and soup and the evacuation began. every day, a few thousand inmates passed the camp gates and did not return. on april 19, on april 10, there were still some 20000 prisoners in the camp. among them a few hundred children. it was decided to evacuate all of us at once by evening. afterward, they would blow up the camp. so, we were herded onto the upper parts and ranks of five waiting for the gates to open. suddenly the sirens began to scream.
6:11 pm
alert xmas point we went back to the barracks. it was too late to evacuate that evening. the evacuation was postponed to the next day. hunger was tormenting us. we had not eaten for nearly six days. except for a few stocks of grass, some potato potato peelsfound on the grounds of the kitchen. at 10:00 o'clock in the morning the ss took positions throughout the camp and began to heard the last of us toward the upper plot. the resistance movement decided at that point, to act. armed men appeared from everywhere. first of gunshot, grenades exploding, we the children remained flat on the floor of the block. the battle did not last long. around noon everything was calm again. ps had fled the resistance had
6:12 pm
taken charge of the camp. at 6:00 o'clock that afternoon, the first american tank stood at the gate of buchenwald. our first act as free men, was to throw ourselves onto the provisions. that's all we thought about. no thoughts of revenge or of parents, only of bread. even when we were no longer hungry, not one of us thought of revenge. the next day a few of the young men iran into my black to bring back some potatoes, close, and to sleep with girls. still, no trace of revenge. three days after the liberation of buchenwald, i became became very ill. some form of poisoning.
6:13 pm
i was transferred to a hospital spent two weeks between life and death. one day when i was able to get up, i decided to look at myself in the mirror on the opposite wall. i had not seen myself since the ghetto. from the depth of the mirror, a corpse was contemplating me. the look in his eyes as he gazed at me has never left me.
6:14 pm
>> the nobel peace prize acceptance delivered by my father in oslo, decemberdecembe, 1986. your majesty, your your royal highness is, your excellency, chairman and members of the nobel committee, lady sentiment. words of gratitude, first to our common creator. this is what this is what the jewish tradition commands us to do. at special occasions we are duty bound to recite the following prayer. [speaking in native tongue] blessed are you for giving us life and for enabling us to reach state. thank you, chairman for the depth of your eloquence and for the generosity of your downstream. thank you for building bridges between people and generations. thank you, above all, for helping mankind make peace most noble aspiration.
6:15 pm
i am moved, deeply moved, by your words chairman and it is a profound humility that i accept the honor, the highest there is, that you have chosen to bestow upon me. i know your choice transcends my person. do i have the right to represent the multitudes who have perished ? do i have the right to this great honor on their behalf? i do not. no one may speak for the dead, no one may interpret their mutilated dreams and visions and yet i sense their presence. i always do. at this moment, more than ever. the presence of my parents, that of my little sister, the presence presence of my teachers, my friends, my companions. this honor belongs to all the survivors and their children and through us to the jewish people with whose destiny i have always identified.
6:16 pm
i remember, it happened yesterday, or eternity's ago, a, a young jewish boy discovered the kingdom of night. i remember bewilderment, i remember his anguish, it all happened so fast. the ghetto, the deportation, field cattle car, the fiery altar upon the history of our people in the future of mankind were meant to be sacrificed. i remember he asked his father, can this be true, this is the 20th century, not the middle ages. who would allow such crimes to be committed? how could the world remain silent? and now the boy is turning to me. tell me he asks. what have you done with my future? what have you done with your life? i tell him that i have tried. that i've tried to keep memory alive. that i've tried to keep fight
6:17 pm
those who would forget and if we forget, we are guilty, we are accomplices. then i explained to him how naïve we were that the world did know and remained silent. that is why i swore never to be silent, whenever and wherever, human beings and were suffering and affiliation. we must take sides. neutrality helps the author, never the victim. silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormentor. sometimes we must interfere. when human lives are in danger, when human dignity is in danger, national borders and sensitivity become irrelevant. wherever men and women are prosecuted, because of their race, religion or political views, that place must, at that moment, become become the center of the universe.
6:18 pm
of course, since i am am into, profoundly rooted in my people's memory and vision my first response at the two spheres arduous needs and use crises. i belong to a traumatized generation, 11 that experienced the abandonment and solitude of our people. it would be a natural for me to not make it my priorities. jews in arab lands, but others are important to me. apartheid is in my view, as as important as anti-semitism. to me, the isolation is as much a disgrace as the imprisonment and exile. the denial of solidarity and its right dissent. nelson mandela's interminable improvement. there is so much injustice and suffering and crying out for our attention. victims of hunger, racism, and
6:19 pm
political persecution, in chile or ethiopia writers and poets, singers and so many lands governed by the left and right. human rights are being violated on every continent. more people are oppressed and free. how can one not be sensitive to their plight ? human suffering, anywhere, concerns men and women everywhere and that applies to palestinians whose plate i am sensitive but whose method i deplore when they lead to violence. violence is not the answer. terrorism is the most dangerous of answers. we are frustrated and that is understandable but something must be done. the refugees are in their misery, the children in their fear, the, the uprooted and their hopelessness. something must be done about the situation. both the jewish people in the palestinian people have lost
6:20 pm
many sons and daughters and have said too much blood. this must stop and all attempts to stop it must be encouraged. israel will cooperate, i am sure that. i trust israel for a faith in the jewish people. but israel be given a chance let hatred and data removed from their rights in and there will be peace in and around the holy lands. please understand my deep and total commitment to israel. he could remember what i remember, you would understand. israel is the only nation in the world whose existence is threatened. should israel lose one war, it would meet her and and ours as well. but i have faith. faith in the god of abraham, isaac, jacob and in his creation. without it no it no action would be possible. action is the only remedy to indifference. it isn't that the legacy of alfred nobel? there is so much to be done, so much that can be done. one person, raul and albert schweitzer and martin luther king jr. penn make a difference
6:21 pm
life and death. as long as one distant is in prison our freedom will not be true. as long as one child is hungry, our life will be filled with anguish and shame. all these victims need above all is to know that they are not alone. we are not forgetting them. when their voices are stifled, we settled on ours. while their freedom depends on ours, the quality of our freedom depends on theirs. this is what i say to the young jewish boy wondering what i have done with my years. it is in his name to speak to you and express to you my deepest gratitude is one who has emerged from the kingdom of night. we know that every moment is a moment of grace, every hour and offering, not to share them mean to be trade them. our lives no longer belong to us alone and they belong to all of need us differently. think you determine. thank you determine members of
6:22 pm
the nobel committee. our survival has meaning for mankind. [applause] [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations]
6:23 pm
this reading of tran1, knight took place at the museum of jewish heritage in new york city. but tv aired it in three parts today. the entire program can be watched online @booktv .org. but tv is on twitter and facebook. we want to hear from you. tweet us at twitter.com/book tv or book tv or post a comment on our facebook page facebook .com/book tv. screamac i lived in the states for five years and the last two years were in where they grow lots of blueberries. i'm from manchester england and we don't have blueberries. there's nothing wrong with us we just don't have a blueberries. we do now because of international shipping but we didn't when i was going up. i was ridiculously excited about the concept of blueberries.
6:24 pm
i'd always made lots of jam as a kid. i thought it be great when i left to bring home this bright blueberry jam. i thought to be really cool. so, i went blueberry picking and you should all know by the way when you go through picking in england, if you ever come to england, you have to suffer for fruit picking. you have to bend down and really hurt herself, hurt your back picking strawberries. you get scratched pieces by raspberry pickers. here you just brush along in the blueberries fall. i collected gallons because you're in america. i'm not prejudiced or anything. [laughter] then i went to make blueberry jam and i put the sugar and the stuff in the pan and you boil it up. i waited up for this blue jerry jam to mix. you know that that's not what happens. you let the boiling process
6:25 pm
happen, what you put in starts a blue but what comes out is bright fuchsia pink. which is weird. it's not blue, but i picked a blueberries. i wanted blue, blue gem. i took it home and i looked at the recipe. what is wrong. six months later when i was back in the uk, i had a a friend who directed history documentaries. he was making a documentary about wise women in the 16 and 17th century. these women there were one in every village, they were midwives and dealt with people who were ill and picked up the pieces, doing the useful jobs. they wrote things down, they were systematic. he said there are things that keep coming up and i'm sure that it's an actual science.
6:26 pm
they weren't testing for witchcraft which is what they thought they were doing. maybe there was something going on. there were a few things that he showed me. one of them there was nothing that said if you boil the first water of the morning, which is urine, funny. and it goes through all the colors of the rainbow then someone is bewitched. i would think i would be which if i tried it. i deftly be bewitched if it works. one of those things was that if you take this bright colorful flower that we would get in the summer and you put it on some skin that changes color, then they are bewitched. i had to think about this. it turns out that the bright purple and red petals the
6:27 pm
pigments that make them, the bright vivid colors, they're really interesting. they called him lots of things. red cabbage has lots of -- not all but lots are in this plot. the really interesting thing is that they act as ph indicators. if you are ever bored, get some red cabbage, boil it and throw it away. the water is the interesting bit. it will be bright red. you can you can go around the kitchen and putting it on things. this is highly entertaining. if you put it on something alkaline, it goes blue and if you put it on -- if you put on acid things, it goes red, that's right. it all the pens on the pan that you boiled it in.
6:28 pm
i worked out that your sweat can change ph depending on what you're been eating and doing. i put a teacher of the petals boiled in water on my skin, normally they didn't change color but if i came back from a run, then they change color. i looked at what the wise women were testing for and they had a ph indicator, they were testing the ph indicator of people sweat. we did this whole tv segment about that. but i remembered the blueberries from six months before. if you make jam, what goes in the pan is blueberries and water and sugar and lemon juice.
6:29 pm
the reason that blueberry jam is bright pink is that it's basically the entire thing is acting as a litmus paper for the lemon juice and telling you that it's acid. i didn't stand a chance of having blue, blueberry jam. it was worth it because it made me think. that's what i was doomed to fail. >> you can watch this and other programs online epic tv .org. >> this is book tv on c-span two, television for serious readers. here's our primetime lineup. at 6:30 pm eastern, jack davis jack davis provides a history of the gulf. former border representative on the inner workings of congress. on book tvs "after words" at nine pm eastern, the washington times bill gertz talks about how to win the information technology wars. then at ten, major mary jennings hagar shows her experiences and had our with her efforts to eliminate the ground combat exclusion policy. at 11, we wrap up our sunday
6:30 pm
primetime lineup the national correspondent with the atlantic profiles, some of the tens of thousands of people around the world who have to join ices. that all happens tonight on c-span to book tv. first up, here's environmental history professor, jack davis. [applause] good afternoon. no one likes to sit in the front row but there are, one, two, three, six, three, six, seven seats in the front rows. come have a seat. i know you and can call you out to come sit down. i want to begin by thanking, taking mcdonald's and all of those who have made the masses in such a big source of support for gainesville offers in their books. peggy, thank you so much. [applause]

171 Views

info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on