August 4th, 1942,
I have been here two months. The SS came and took our village. All of us. I have been forced to work. I have not seen my wife, or my children, since I came here. Though I think I know where they are. The "red house", as it is known, was alight all that day, the smell of burning flesh stretching right across the camp. I had heard rumours of Auschwitz-Birkenau, but nothing could have prepared me for the real thing. The tracks leading to the imposing front gate, barbed wire, guards with guns at every turn, mines in the fields if you survive the guards, and the smell… rotting flesh. Not just in the chambers, but now, in the height of summer, in the pits where the bodies are thrown before incineration. The sun heats them up, burns them. Every single body, melded together in a big knot. When we open the doors… the pyramid…the youngest at the top, trying to reach for air… It's a horrible sight. The soldiers…the soldiers frighten me… they tell us we have to do our jobs, but I can't, I can't! The soldiers, the G…G… I can't say it. I am one too, but I cannot say it! The thought scares me. The flag, oh the flag! What a terrifying sight! My own nationality, my country! I should be proud, but I am scared!
Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler came to visit the camp last month. Three weeks ago. He scares me the most! The Führer orders the killings, but never comes to see them. Himmler ordered the camp be built. Himmler grinned when he saw the dead bodies! He frightens me! He wears our colours with pride! The G…G… I cannot say it. Don't make me say it! The flag he bears on his uniform, a symbolism of out "great nation", strikes fear into my heart! Yellow reminds me of the heat of the furnaces we throw the bodies into! The heat, I threw a neighbour into just yesterday! The black, the black hearts of the men, the 'warriors', who order these merciless exterminations. The red…of the red… blood. Blood running through the streets. Blood that every night haunts my dreams!
Every night, I wake up terrified. Sweating, short of breath, dry mouth. My nightmares haunt my sleep. I fear insomnia. The other men in my bunker believe me to be mad. Maybe I am. Tomorrow, I go back to work. I wake up each night, never wanting to work. I want to die. But the soldiers say I am good for work. They threaten me…they beat me. They scare me. I cannot beat them. I feel my fear getting stronger every day. I dread going up to see them, up to the office. I have panic attacks before I go. I don't want to go. I don't want to carry on. Somebody help!
March 18th, 1946,
I have been called to court. To Nuremberg. They want me to give evidence on my time at Auschwitz-Birkenau. They are trying Ernst Kaltenbrunner. An SS leader. He visited the camp once. He frightened me. Not as much as Himmler, but he did. None of them, none of the G…G… leaders had any humanity.
I have been having panic attacks all day. I cannot stop sweating. I feel sick. I cannot speak, only write things down. My whole body shakes. I cannot breathe. I have been like it all day. I do not want to go. But I have been summoned by the Allies. They rescued me, I must answer their call. My brother, the one I am staying with here in Frankreich, tells me I must go. He tries to help me, but he thinks, like everybody else, that I am mad. I suffer with nightmares, I relive my time in the camp. I am not mad! I am scared! Why can nobody understand that?
November 1st, 2002,
They've finally diagnosed me. At 90 years of age, 60 years after all the suffering, they've finally diagnosed me. PTSD. Posttraumatic stress disorder. That's what they say I have. They say it spans from my time in the camp, and that it also comes from my phobia. Yes, I have a phobia. Fear of the G…G… my own race. My own people, my own culture. Every time I see anything to do with it, it scares me. It makes me relive my time in the camp. I see them still, in my dreams. The bodies. Oh, the bodies, all piled up. The soldiers, the leaders, Himmler… no! I have said enough. The thought alone scares me. Here, in England where I live now, it is safe. They say that my country is safe now. The Berlin is down, people live in harmony. But it still terrifies me. I am terrified of my own race, my own blood. Thanks to one mad man who I, like all else, believed in and voted for. I am scared, and scarred, by that now. I will forever be scared of them. Forever, scared.