Who Wrote This?

WITHOUT googling the text, can you guess who the author is (not necessarily the name – the setting, role, situation)?

I cannot remember everything. I must have been unconscious most of the time.
I remember only the grandiose moment when they all started to sing, as if prearranged, the old prayer they had neglected for so many years – the forgotten creed!
But I have no recollection how I got underground to live in the sewers of Warsaw for so long a time.
The day began as usual: Reveille when it still was dark. “Get out!” Whether you slept or whether worries kept you awake the whole night. You had been separated from your children, from your wife, from your parents. You don’t know what happened to them… How could you sleep?
The trumpets again – “Get out! The sergeant will be furious!” They came out; some very slowly, the old ones, the sick ones; some with nervous agility. They fear the sergeant. They hurry as much as they can. In vain! Much too much noise, much too much commotion! And not fast enough! The Feldwebel shouts: “Achtung! Stilljestanden! Na wird’s mal! Oder soll ich mit dem Jewehrkolben nachhelfen? Na jut; wenn ihrs durchaus haben wollt!”
The sergeant and his subordinates hit (everyone): young or old, (strong or sick), quiet, guilty or innocent …
It was painful to hear them groaning and moaning.
I heard it though I had been hit very hard, so hard that I could not help falling down. We all on the (ground) who could not stand up were (then) beaten over the head…
I must have been unconscious. The next thing I heard was a soldier saying: “They are all dead!” Whereupon the sergeant ordered to do away with us.
There I lay aside half conscious. I had become very still – fear and pain. Then I heard the sergeant shouting: „Abzählen!“
They start slowly and irregularly: one, two, three, four – “Achtung!” The sergeant shouted again, “Rascher! Nochmals von vorn anfange! In einer Minute will ich wissen, wieviele ich zur Gaskammer abliefere! Abzählen!“
They began again, first slowly: one, two, three, four, became faster and faster, so fast that it finally sounded like a stampede of wild horses, and (all) of a sudden, in the middle of it, they began singing the Shema Yisroel.


3 thoughts on “Who Wrote This?

  1. Hi G,

    Happy Hanukah!

    Short answer to your query is that it was written about the Warsaw Ghetto sometime before or during WW2.

    When I went to HS many of the parents had fled Europe before or during that war. Of course that dates me but I’m sure you already know that I am a bit older than you are. But not quite half a century.

    • Bingo! It’s the text from Schönberg’s Survivor from Warsaw. Do you feel it accurately represents the situation in the Warsaw ghetto/the Holocaust/the politics of representation? And who is the speaker? Is he a ‘resident’ of the ghetto?

  2. Yes, I would think it a resident of the ghetto. As to the accuracy I was not there, so one never knows for sure. I do know that whenever the war monster is let loose very bad things happening are guaranteed. It does seem to fit into the range of other similar incidents.

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