Matt's Reviews > Five Chimneys: The Story of Auschwitz
Five Chimneys: The Story of Auschwitz
by Olga Lengyel
by Olga Lengyel
Five Chimneys is about a woman who survived Birkenau-Auschwitz. Needless to say it was fairly disturbing. I had a fever and some book inspired nightmares the night before last and I think it goes without saying that they weren't pleasant. I feel the following excerpt sums up the story better than I could:
The most poignant problem that faced us in caring for our companions was that of the accouchements. As soon as a baby was delivered at the infirmary, mother and child were both sent to the gas chamber. That was the unrelenting decision of our masters. Only when the infant was not likely to survive or when it was stillborn was the mother ever spared and allowed to return to her barrack. The conclusion we drew from this was simple: the Germans did not want the newborn to live; if they did, the mother, too, must die.(hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>
We five whose responsibility it was to bring these infants into the world -- the world of Birkenau-Auschwitz -- felt the burden of this monstrous conclusion which defied all human and moral law. That it was also nonsensical from a medical point of view, did not matter for the moment. How many sleepless nights we spent turning this tragic dilemma over in our minds. And in the morning the mothers and their babies both went to their deaths.
One day we decided we had been weak long enough. We must at least save the mothers. To carry out our plan, we would have to make the infants pass for stillborn. Even so, many precautions must be taken, for if the Germans were ever to suspect it, we, too, would be sent to the gas chambers -- and probably to the torture chamber first.
Now when we were notified that a woman's labor pains had started during the day, we did not take the patient to the infirmary. We stretched her out on a blanket in one of the bottom koias of the barrack in the presence of her neighbours.
When the pains began during the night we ventured to take the woman to the infirmary, for at least in the dark we might proceed comparatively unobserved. In the koia we could hardly make a decent examination. In the infirmary we had our examination table. Still we lacked antisepsis, and the danger of infection was enormous, for this was the same room in which we treated purulent wounds!
Unfortunately, the fate of the baby always had to be the same. After taking every precaution, we pinched and closed the little tike's nostrils and when it opened it's mouth to breathe, we gave it a dose of a lethal product. An injection might have been quicker, but that would have left a trace and we dared not let the Germans suspect the truth.
We placed the dead infant in the same box which had brought it from the barrack, if the accouchement had taken place there. As far as the administration was concerned, this was a stillbirth.
And so, the Germans succeeded in making murderers of even us.
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