These days you'll often come across people saying that there's too much stuff about the Holocaust. I wonder if they know of Karl Jaspers, who wrote: 'That which has happened is a warning... It must be continually remembered.'
62. Gisella Perl:
Every time Dr. Gisella Perl enters a delivery room, she stops first to pray: "God, you owe me a life, a living baby." That debt was incurred in Auschwitz in World War II, when the Hungarian gynecologist, who was both inmate and physician at the concentration camp, realized that to save the lives of hundreds of pregnant women, she would have to prevent them from giving birth.
"The greatest crime in Auschwitz was to be pregnant," she said in an interview the other day, recalling the edicts of Josef Mengele. The so-called doctor of death of Auschwitz performed savage medical experiments on prisoners, in particular, women, the physically handicapped and twins, and was in charge of deciding who would go to the gas chambers.
"Dr. Mengele told me that it was my duty to report every pregnant woman to him," Dr. Perl said. "He said that they would go to another camp for better nutrition, even for milk. So women began to run directly to him, telling him, 'I am pregnant.' I learned that they were all taken to the research block to be used as guinea pigs, and then two lives would be thrown into the crematorium. I decided that never again would there be a pregnant woman in Auschwitz."
She interrupted the pregnancies, she said, "in the night, on a dirty floor, using only my dirty hands."
63. Adam Paluch:
In 1942 the Gestapo stormed into his family's home in Poland. His mother fled to a nearby building and jumped to her death from a second-floor window. She left behind Adam and Ida, 3-year-old twins who were quickly split up and led separate lives for the next five decades.
In 1995 his sister, now Ida Kersz and living in Skokie, saw a picture of her long-lost brother in a Jewish publication. The man pictured was living in Poland and had a different name, Jerzy Dolebski. But Kersz immediately recognized some of his physical features - he resembled her maternal grandfather - and got in contact with him.
64. Otto Dov Kulka (£):
In the cattle truck from the Theresienstadt ghetto to Auschwitz, Otto Dov Kulka and his mother managed to push their way to a window. It was covered with barbed wire. His mother scribbled messages in a notebook and scattered the pages onto the passing fields of Bohemia. On each note was scribbled the address of Kulka's aunt and these words: "We are travelling to the east. We do not know to where. Please, anyone who finds this note, send it to the address above." After the war, Kulka learnt that his aunt had received the messages and, probably wisely, destroyed them. His mother did not survive, dying of typhoid fever in a German village in 1945, after escaping from Stutthof camp.
65. The figure 100,000:
In total, nearly 100,000 Jews, or 70 percent of Holland's pre-Holocaust Jewish population, were transported from Westerbork to Nazi extermination and concentration camps, including Auschwitz, Sobibor, Bergen-Belsen, and Theresienstadt, according to Yad Vashem. The premises of the former Nazi camp have been made a national memorial.
66. Daniel Finkelstein's grandmother (£):
By the time my grandmother boarded the train from Belsen she was close to death. For a year she had given every scrap of food she had to her little girls, to my mother and her two sisters. Now starvation meant that she could scarcely stand. But somehow she managed to hold herself upright and stumble on board.
She had to, for this train was the only chance of liberty. A prisoner exchange had been arranged and somehow, using false passports, my family was on it. But the Nazis were excluding anyone whose illness might disclose to the Allies the hunger and disease in the camps. My grandmother knew that, starved though she was, she would have to walk to freedom. If she did not, her girls would die, as so many, many more had died and were still to die.
On board she collapsed as the train made its winter way through frozen countryside to safety in Switzerland. And then, stranded in the middle of nowhere, the train stopped. A guard appeared. He waved his hands at my family and told them that there were too many people on the train. They would have to get off. They would be left to die in the snow.
My aunt, the eldest child, protested. My grandmother was too ill to be moved, she said. The Nazi guard looked. He shrugged. OK, he said. And he moved on.
My grandmother lived just long enough to see her little girls through their ordeal, to deliver them from the camps to safety. She crossed the border to Switzerland and before the day was done, she died.
(For an index to the whole series, see here)