From the Publisher
"Beautifully written...a welcome addition to the study of human degradation in the Nazi concentration camps. What makes this book especially important is that it is the eyewitness story of Daniel Bennahmias, who was a member of the Sonderkommandopeople relegated to the most horrible duty of any concentration camp inmates, that of removing freshly gassed bodies from the gas chambers at Auschwitz, where four gas chambers often exterminated 10,000 people per day."
International Society for Yad Vashem
"The horrors that a young Sephardic Jew named Daniel Bennahmias was forced to endure seem incomprehensible...his story and the saga of the others in the special command have long been shrouded in mystery. The work of the Sonderkommando was a closely guarded secret."
Bennahmias is a Greek Jew of Italian citizenship who served in Birkenau as a Sonderkommando, dealing with the bodies of those killed in the gas chambers; he is one of only 11 Greeks who performed that job to survive. His account of the years from 1942 to 1945 has been recorded by Fromer, a specialist on the Holocaust memoirs of Sephardic Jews. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Read an Excerpt
The Shock Recognition
You cannot imagine bow terrible
Danny looked when be got home. I fed
him and I fed him. "Here, eat," I
said, and I fed him again. What
stories we told in those days!
We are friends, and we have talked about getting this story down for about a year. When we meet for the first time with this specific objective in mind, however, neither of us suspects how long it will take. We are in earnest as we begin, and Danny is the first to speak.
"One day, as I was on my way home from schoolthis was in SalonikaI ran into an old friend. After a while, he asked me if I had ever heard of Beethoven. I told him that I had not. `Here, take this,' he said. Before I knew it, he had thrust a recording of Beethoven's Second Symphony into my hands. When I got home, I played it on our VictrolaI'm sure you know the kind I meanand I went wild. That day, I must have lost my mind and driven my mother crazy. I could not hear this music enough, and I played it over and over again. Beethoven was a discovery for me. Later on, when I was in Auschwitzwalking from crematorium I to crematorium III heard the first few bars of Beethoven's Fifth emanating out of a room occupied by a German officer. The door was ajar, and the radio was on. Pom-pom-pom-pom; pom-pom-pom-pom; pom-pom-pom-pom.... I convulsedviolently and doubled over. In the galleys of hell, I had been reminded of a life that was no more and could never be again.
THIS WAR SO HORRIBLE
The Civil War Diary of Hiram Smith Williams
Edited by LEWIS N. WYNNE AND ROBERT A. TAYLOR
The University of Alabama Press
Copyright © 1993 The University of Alabama Press. All rights reserved.