6. Sobibor Becomes A Giant

No sooner had Klatt, the guard, left our workshop carrying with him his pay in gold and my answer to Abraham than the Nazi Poul came in again. Drunk as usual, he had the air of a lunatic, so disorderly was the manner he entered the room and addressed me. He immediately demanded that I make the ring he had told me to manufacture a few days before.
 
As Wagner had told me, in front of him, that I could make it only after I had finished delivering the large order of the silver rings with gold emblems for all the officers in the camp. I tried to remind him of that and regretted I could not serve him yet. I added that I did not have any free time, because I was only devoted to that task and besides, I could be punished for disobeying the orders of my master.
 
But the SS man did not pay any attention to my words. He ordered me to do as I was told very promptly and worse still, that he would come back for the ring the next day, without fail. As I realised I ran the risk of being beaten again I finally said I would try very hard to do what he asked me. Then he threw a small package on the table and tottered away.
 
I opened the package and I saw it contained lots of used rings and human teeth with gold fillings, as well as teeth all made of gold. As to the jewels I already knew where they came from and I had gotten used to receiving them. However, I was shocked at the sight of a new material which,up to that day, had never come to my hands. From the teeth still hung pieces of bloody gums which made me come to the conclusion that they had been violently pulled out only a few minutes before. And only one hour had passed since another unusually large group had arrived in Sobibor.
 
What was even more strange was the fact of Poul having bought more gold. A few days before, when he had ordered the ring, he had bought me a good amount of gold and had given me a beating. Most certainly he was always drunk, he had reached the point of alcoholism and had forgotten what he had done. As my gold reserves were a little low due to the payments I had made to Klatt, I decided to keep quiet about it.
 
The next visitor I had was Wagner in his daily routine. He was in the habit of checking every day, all the quarters in Camp 1, whose commander he was. He did it as if he were taking a stroll, so informal was he. He immediately asked me about the rings and I answered I would have been working on them if it had not been for Poul’s interference.
 
I told him in detail the absurd demand of the other officer and said I had promised him to make the ring, although I would hardly be able to. I affirmed I was terribly afraid of Poul and that if I did not agree to what he wanted, I would certainly be beaten, since I had already felt in my own body how brutal he could be. I finished by adding that I would spend the night working on that order, so as not to interrupt the manufacturing of the other rings.
 
After having listened to me carelessly Wagner went away if he had not attached any importance to what had happened. At night I decided to work hard and finish the cursed ring once and for all. I picked up the material Poul had given me and started to melt it. The teeth which had pieces of gum attached to them were among the jewels I was melting and the terrible smell which they produced I will never be able to forget. The gold and the flesh simultaneously submitted to the effects of heat gave off an odour, which was nauseating to say the least, and the whole atmosphere in the room was impregnated with it.
 
It was revolting that I had to do this, and I hated myself for having used teeth which had come from the mouths of Jews, people who had my own blood, to manufacture jewels for the fierce Nazi hyenas. I would never do such a degrading thing again. In the afternoon of the following day, the German came to ask for his ring , drunk as usual. As I had already finished it I handed it to him without a word. I was then given a prize for the finished job - half a bottle of vodka.
 
When I was starting to refuse it , my eyes crossed Poul’s and I abandoned my intention. The German’s eyes looked like two lanterns and a gleam of wickedness and contempt showed that his offer was not to be refused. I took it then because I knew I would be forced to drink all of it, whether I wanted to or not. And this was exactly what I had to do, in front of him, while he laughed madly at the grimaces I made out of aversion for the strong beverage.
 
A few minutes later I was totally drunk and that made me have a peaceful night and forget the repentance, which was gnawing me since the gruesome operation of the night before. However, I was to have a great surprise the next day. Very early in the morning two sinister well-known figures appeared at the door of the workshop. They were Wagner and Poul, both of them smiling and with an air of derision.
 
They did not even come in - Poul promptly shouted “Come outside”. I did as I was told and he ordered me to take off my pants right away and start counting. -"You are going to get ten whiplashes across your buttocks",  he told me. I submitted again for it would be useless to disobey him. I was hit the first time and I felt a violent cutting shock. I was not strong enough to bear the pain and shouted “Mother”. And then I started counting – “One Mother, two…… When Poul’s whip hit me for the last time I called my dear mother for the tenth time. But she was not there to help me, she was already resting in heaven with Daddy and Ryrka.
 
Only those who have ever been whipped by an infuriated SS can calculate the pain this kind of punishment brings. A throbbing pain radiated from the purplish welts left on me by the well –managed whip of the bandit, and the signs of the blows crossed each other in every direction and stayed on my body for many days. Once the punishment was finished, the two Nazis went away as they had come, without ever telling me the reason for all that.  
 
To this day I cannot understand why Wagner could let the moment go and not give vent to his sadism. It was from him I could expect punishment. Yet it never came. On the other hand, the German should be happy on account of the jewel I had made for him, the same man who had been so delighted the day before as to even give me half a bottle of vodka, had mercilessly whipped me. I was getting increasingly sure of the high degree of mental alienation of those devils who could enjoy torturing us in any possible way without rhyme or reason.
 
My desire to revolt grew whenever I watched the brutality of their acts. My heart could no longer shelter any other feeling than a passionate thirst for revenge, since there was no place in it for any feelings of conformity or mercy. However, I had to resign myself because I was totally restrained in my freedom to act. Wherever I looked I could only see guards and wire fences. I could not think of vengeance or escape from that mousetrap yet. For the time being I could have only one aim, the most important of all – to stay alive. As the rings for all the officers in the camp were finished, their owners came to fetch them. However, they were never satisfied with only what I had been authorised by Wagner to make.
 
They all wanted me to make them some other jewels, of the most varied kinds, and for that they had available immense quantities of gold  which came from the constant levies of Jews who arrived in the transports.
 
The Jews came from all over Europe, from the places under the rule of the Reich. While the Polish Jews who were bought to Sobibor came on freight trains under the worst possible conditions, those who came from other countries were transported in luxurious cars.
 
They came from France, the Netherlands, from Germany, from Central Europe and from the Balkans. In short, from all places where the fearful Swastika waved. These innocent Jews did not suspect anything, when they were put on board the trains in their native countries, they did so with every valuable thing they possessed and with everything that could be useful to them. They brought lots of luggage and they were usually very well dressed. The Germans used luxury trains so as not to raise their suspicions and they deceived these poor people by telling them they were going to work on farms in Poland.
 
When they arrived in Sobibor they did not even have time to think since they were exterminated on the same day, after having been properly looted of everything they had. With this, the fountain of objects of the most widely varied types flowed in ever-increasing volume, into the hands of the Nazis, and vast quantities of gold arrived in Sobibor.
 
One day Wagner came and ordered –“Tomorrow all of you are not to leave the workshop for any reason. You will have to stay locked inside. This is an order”. We soon learned that these measures were being taken because on the next day a committee would arrive from Germany. We were worried and curious. As we were not free to move and we were not entitled to anything, we decided to peep through the cracks in the door and windows of the workshop.
 
Indeed very early next morning, a group of high –ranking officers came and we did not know any of them. From our makeshift we saw very clearly Stangl, Wagner and some others talking with the members of the committee. By the gestures of the former, we noticed that they were trying to flatter the newcomers. Stangl was particularly solicitous and excessively cheery, presenting an unseen euphoria, which did not match his customary arrogance.
 
Amidst the whole group of strangers we could notice one element who was very outstanding, since he was a target of all the attention and the smiles of the leaders of the camp. He was a tall, middle –aged man who wore glasses thinly rimmed in black.
 
We kept watching and then we saw that after the inspection they made of the buildings on the camp, the VIP’s on the committee started to gesture more frequently and to point at different places, as if they were suggesting or consenting to something. We then came to the sad conclusion that they were a band of Nazi scoundrels very highly specialised in the elimination of Jews.
 
Our forecast was doubtlessly correct. Worse than Stangl and his gang, they represented the summit from which emanated all the plans and orders which would make it possible to eliminate us more efficiently.
 
Soon afterwards, we learned that they were responsible for the enlargement and the improvements introduced in the Sobibor camp. Their visit was connected with this re-building. The tall bespectacled man was the all-powerful Heinrich Himmler, the head of the cursed Gestapo and of the SS troops, accompanied by his brilliant entourage.
 
Maybe the arrival of Himmler and his gang gave me the opportunity of telling this story to the world. It was on that day that maybe the possibility of our living a little longer was born, as the reader will soon learn.
 
Some days afterwards, a great change in the panorama of Sobibor was introduced. New structures started to be raised and the exterminating engine was given some improvement, which would generate a substantial increase in production. In Germany, the Nazi party did not seem satisfied with the indices of genocide and its leaders conceived of new methods which would raise these indices to much more impressive levels.
 
With the continuous arrival of new batches of Jews, the killings acquired new vigour. Thousands of Jews were incessantly killed and their number would still grow considerably. Colossal amounts of the Jews’ personal belongings were daily gathered. It was jewels, clothes,shoes,canned food,blankets – in short , a long series of items of the most diverse kinds. The Nazis had appropriated all that.
 
Out of this the need rose to put this precious booty to a more rational use. Then, the Germans started to seriously worry about that,because, after all , they were surplus which would be extremely useful to a country at war.
 
Soon after Himmler’s inspection, they set to work and the camp came to acquire a new appearance. Shacks, sheds and some other buildings were raised in a hurry, and soon Sobibor would be seething with activity.
 
As we did not believe that all this enlargement was being made to make us more comfortable, we thought of something which seemed more logical , that is they were going to improve the slaughtering methods in the death camp, so that a larger number of Jews could be swallowed by it.
 
We had been in Sobibor for a little more than a month when a new batch came from the city of Wlodawa. As usual the batches were immediately separated according to their sex, inside our camp, and then they disappeared in the direction of Camp 2.
 
Hours later, we had a great surprise Gustav Wagner came into the workshop with three women, and derisively said to us –
 
“Look things are now going to be better for you”. Next he led them through the compartments of the large shack where we lived and showed them a small room for them to clean and lodge in. This done he went back to his quarters.
 
In the afternoon, the others and I tried to contact our three new companions and talk to them. We approached them and soon found out they were very distressed and terribly afraid, perhaps because of what they had been through a few hours before. The impression left by the usual savage events at their arrival must have caused in their minds a state of anxiety and fear. Thus, obviously, they could not be either calm or talkative.
 
After we had mutually introduced ourselves I started to give them a mild explanation of what we had in Sobibor, because they showed visible interest  in the subject and, as it was only natural, they were worried about their own fate.
 
I tried not to describe what really happened since the shock would perhaps be too strong. I omitted the fact that they had come to a place where Jews were killed at an enormous rate. I preferred to let them think that they had come to a labour camp, with the only exception that the orders given to us were rather rude.
 
I noticed that the explanations I had supplied brought them some comfort. I could not evaluate the exact degree of their suffering and their real need yet. I did not know whether they had suffered as much as I had or even more, perhaps.
 
I was not able to make sure whether I had convinced them with my few comforting words. The truth is that our presence eased their suffering and we became friends in the calamity which enveloped us all.
 
As sooner or later they would learn the truth I tried with some perspicacity, to prepare them so they would not abandon themselves to despair when they faced the reality of Sobibor. I instilled into their minds all that we could expect from the Nazis and that, whatever their attitude, they should always be prepared for the worst.
 
Their names were Edda, Esther and Bajle. Edda was a young woman, about twenty- five. She was intelligent and pleasant. She commanded respect very easily, anywhere, with her strong personality. Her sober appearance and her level of education identified her as a secondary school teacher. She later escaped from Sobibor and now lives in Israel.
 
The second one Esther, was the youngest and the most out-going of the group. Although she was very communicative, she was a little hot-headed and even violent. Quite often she had difficulty in controlling her own impulses, and gave vent to her temper which was even more excited, due to the circumstances, she found herself in.
 
The last one of them was Bajle, had nothing in particular to call anyone’s attention. She was quite common in appearance, serene, kind and affable. She was twenty- four years old and her face did not reflect any malice. On it only pain and melancholy had left their marks, as it happened to most of us Jews, in that gloomy period.
 
Next day due to the confidence which had developed among us, and as I thought I did not have the right to hide the truth from them, I told them the whole truth about what happened in Sobibor and about the risk they ran.
 
I did this because I believed that was the right thing to do. They would come to know everything, someday and I did not want them to blame me later on with omitting anything. The first reaction prompted by my report was terrible. All of them were desperate and, after the first few minutes, they were wrapped in a mantle of profound sadness. They became silent and lowered their heads, as if they tried to foresee what was going to happen to them.
 
They had been deceived by the promises of the Germans when they had left on what might be their last trip. They had then supposed they were being taken to a mere labour camp and now they saw at close quarters the stark and naked truth, implacable, inhuman.
 
However, little by little, they regained their calm and inevitable conformity took care of the rest.  And thus another day went by. With the passing of time my friendship with Bajle grew closer. The understanding of each other, with the repeated descriptions of our hardships, generated in her some sympathy for me. My frank way of telling them about our reality as well as the sincerity I used with her, made her trust in me grow day after day.
 
Our confidences were now more encompassing and they also became more intimate and open. She told me she had come with her husband and her little daughter and that now, after what she had heard, she no longer nourished any hope of their still being alive. She seemed to be resigned to everything that had happened and she no longer had any illusions about the future. Her feelings had already been totally undermined by the constant misfortune that had lately fallen on her family. She then let herself be possessed by an irrepressible apathy and nothing ever bothered her now that she no longer had anyone she loved.
 
Other days went by and new batches came, again and again. From one of them two shoemakers and two saddlers were selected. The former were called Szol and Icek. They had been chosen with the aim of manufacturing the shining boots of the Nazi tyrants. Icek has survived and he now lives peacefully in the right place – Israel. The latter two , the saddlers were selected mainly to make the whips which would be used on us.
 
From the following transports five tailors were chosen, four of which were brothers and the other one was called Jankel, all of them from Warsaw. The eldest of the brothers was called Mundek.  Their tasks was to make the uniforms and other clothing for the Germans. With them was also a hatter who, from now on, would make hats and caps for the Germans.
 
All these newcomers would be used in their own professions to work for the Nazis of the camp. For this reason they were put in our shack where they lived in rooms which had been vacant up to them.
 
With that addition the group of Jews in the service of the tyrants grew and among us, a close friendship developed, given the understanding we all had of what happened in Camp 3. We then tried to live in the happiest possible way, since we were aware that being sad and silent would not help us in any way. We played our games and made our jokes. In my group we had almost ran  out of topics, so we hardly had anything to talk about. With the coming of the others we became more cheerful and thus the first smiles started to bloom on the lips of the Jews of Sobibor.
 
At night, I was starting to think of something which had never seriously bothered me before – women. It is true that I had known Zelde. In those days in the Wolwonice ghetto, while I was living on that potato farm managed by the unforgettable German sergeant. But then the natural instinct of a man towards a woman had only been served.
 
Now that I was between my fifteen and sixteen years of age it was only natural that the constant presence of females in my dull life would stimulate my desire. I liked Bajle very much and she was always in my mind.
 
Although I was too young and too little experienced for her I felt she liked me and I felt the same for her. However, I was not bold enough to tell her about my feelings and ask for her favours. Besides I was afraid of her refusal, since she was still wrapped in the memory of the recent tragic events.
 
Bajle, as well as her companions, had been selected from a levy, which had been brought with the aim of cooking for the growing number of tenants in our shack. They lived there too, in the room adjoining the kitchen.
 
I used to visit them quite frequently and then we would talk about the most varied subjects which, however, related to our sad fate. As I had never found her alone I could not open my heart to her and I would finally go back to my workshop with no change in our monotonous routine.
 
One day I went to the kitchen and found her alone. She greeted me very warmly and said that Edda and Esther were having their bath. I thought the opportunity was favourable and I kissed her face and told her my wish. She smiled then and told me I was too young for her. She added that perhaps I should try Esther who was some years younger.
 
I blushed and did not know what to say. I got hold of myself however, rather quickly, and told her that I did not love Esther but her. I then noticed she was starting to yield. Before she could counterattack though, I added that I had never tasted an apple and that I would not like to try a very green one.
 
At that moment the barrier, which still separated us, was broken. Very naively and using such frankness which might have put an end to my intentions.  I had just touched one of the weakest points in a woman – pride in herself. Bajle was twice proud, not only for being the one I had selected among the three but also, and mainly, because she had been preferred to a younger woman.
 
From that moment on she was theoretically possessed. Only the actual performance of the act was missing. We made a date to be held in the workshop when the others were not there. I took all the necessary steps and away went my chastity.
 
Next day a large quantity of material came to Sobibor. As it usually happened, whenever some novelty broke the routine of the camp, we were all curious and started watching. It was not long before we found the solution to the enigma. It was a giant pre-fabricated shack. It was literally dismantled and its pieces reminded us of a children’s jigsaw puzzle. All we had to do was join the pieces, and presto….
 
At the same time, the Nazis selected about one hundred men from that day’s batch. They would be used in assembling the new building.
 
Some of them were carpenters and joiners who were real experts in their fields. Most of them, however, knew little or nothing about it. No matter how well they knew their business, the shack was taking shape although some of the men had soon been withdrawn from this job. As a matter of fact, whoever was not good enough for work was immediately sent to Camp 3 and found death.
 
When the shack was ready its huge bulk was impressive, it was dozens of meters long and it had only one door, the windows were pre-installed and did not open. Inside, many partitions were put up.
 
In one of them, the back one, a kitchen was installed. Another was set apart to be the women’s quarters. A third one was reserved for the kapos and this way all the different rooms were given their use. The kapos were nothing but the Jewish commanders of the various camps. Selected by the Germans to direct their own brothers, they were as unhappy as we were. Each of them were responsible for his work-team.
 
We soon came to learn that other huge sheds were also being assembled in Camp 2. They would also be used as storehouses for the booty taken from the Germans who arrived by the thousands every day. The quantity and variety of the objects thus obtained by the Germans was such they decided to allot a shed to each type – clothing, blankets, footwear, cans of food, glasses etc.
 
As soon as the sheds were assembled the Nazis selected from the next batches the strongest men to do the job. Then they started to select the women. All of them were used for work inside the giant shacks since , with the enlargement of the quarters in Sobibor they needed more workers.
 
There was no doubt the deadly machinery would start to function in a more ostensible way after the visit of Himmler and his train. On account of this Sobibor gained a new appearance and a new life.
 
After they had finished building the the huge shack in Camp 1, they started to build another which would be divided into two sections. One of them was set apart for a machine shop, which I was later appointed to manage. For the other sector, that of the carpenters, only the best were chosen, the real experts in carpentry and cabinet making. Their task was to manufacture furniture for the Nazis.
 
From the next levies four shoemakers and four tailors were also chosen. For them a new workshop was set up, so they would not mix with those already working for the Germans. From now on two workshops for tailors and shoemakers, would be functioning – one to cater to the Germans and the other for the Ukrainian guards.
 
Some days later they also selected two cooks, they were brothers and came from Lodz. As they were not enough, two others came. One of the latter, the father, was appointed the chef. His name was Herszel and, having escaped from Sobibor, he now lives in the United States of America. The other one his son, also escaped but came to die later on. With the coming of these servants our group became quite large and now there were ten of us sleeping in our old room.
 
Next a bakery was set up and a baker, who soon joined our group, was chosen. His name was Mendel. They had thus gradually taken from the transports more than five hundred Jews. For the time being, their death had been postponed. They all catered to the Germans needs, besides performing those tasks which referred to the continuous slaughtering, not only in our camp but also in others.
 
To facilitate the administration and control of this multitude of people, the Germans divided us into large blocks. In Block Number 1 they included the tailors, the shoemakers and carpenters. Their leader was a tailor by the name of Mundek. Block Number 2 gathered those who enjoyed some privilege in the camp – myself and my group, the washer-women, the cooks, the masons, the cleaning people and the bakers.
 
I was appointed the manager of this block. Mundek and I held the position of Blockeldester (Block Leader). Our job would be to answer for the presentation and the counting of the elements in our care.
 
In the other blocks, from the third to the sixth, were placed those who were responsible for the separation and elimination of the remains of the people exterminated in Camp 3. To head each of these blocks some Jews were chosen as Kapos.
 
Besides these, there was a Commander –General , also Jewish , to whom all were subordinate, including the Kapos. Their jurisdiction however, extended only over Camps 1 and 2. This Commander was called Moses.
 
Unbelievable as it may seem, neither the Kapos , nor Moses were able to do anything for us. They were eventually eliminated in the same way that the other poor devils sent to the Death Camp.
 
Moses was a young man a little over twenty. He was merry and playful, he was always smiling and seemed to be unaware of the dreadful tragedy we lived. Unfortunately he had very unpleasant duties. The Nazi tyrants made him obey all their orders, including those of punishing his own companions. If he did not do so he would receive, along with the Kapos, the punishment destined to transgressors.
 
The routine in Sobibor was changed before our very eyes and all of us felt it.
We started to live under a truly military regimen. Early, in the morning, at seven o’clock , we had to be in formation to receive instructions about the day’s tasks. Before that , however, the Jews were counted, by the leaders of the blocks, in Wagner’s presence.   
  
If there were any unjustified absences, the leader of that particular block would be punished with twenty- five whiplashes.  The tally was repeated twice in the day – when we came back from work at lunchtime, and in the evening, at curfew.
 
Whenever, a man was frequently absent he would soon be sent to Camp 3 to be killed. Sometimes, to avoid this, we, the Block Leaders, did not inform on the absence of those who were sick, thus trying to save them.
 
In these cases, whenever, we were caught, we were severely punished.
 
One day, the Jewish Commander, Moses, had to punish one his subordinates. The act was performed in public and in Wagner’s presence. The transgressor was a boy who would receive ten whiplashes and, as it was the custom, he would have to count them, one by one.
 
When the whip hit him for the first time , the young man shouted, as fast as possible, One, two, three ….. up to ten. With that he thought the punishment would be over. All of us burst out laughing and so did Wagner who ordered the second lash to be struck. The boy did the same fast counting up to ten, but he actually got the ten whiplashes.
 
It was the beginning of July, in the middle of summer. After all the modifications which had been introduced in the camp, not only in its physical appearance, but also in its personnel, another unexpected thing was in store for us.
 
They started to militarise us as to discipline and also in making us march to work. We marched to and from work, as if we were a military unit. Military drilling was performed at the end of long and hard-working days, and all of us had to participate. We were already tired, hungry and thirsty,in need of rest, food and water. Even so, we were not allowed to do anything before we aligned for the exercise. All this was not as easy as it may look at first sight. We should never forget that there were old, weak and sick people amongst us, not to mention the general exhaustion that enveloped us all.
 
Besides, hardly any one was familiar with the austere military system or was strong enough to stand the arduous marching we had to do by the Germans orders. They started by teaching us how to form rows and columns, then to practice a series of exercises. As we progressed we lost the right to make mistakes, since every fault was punished with the most varied and tiresome postures, like lying down and getting up in quick succession, crawling on the ground or walking with a goose step. Besides all this they made us sing German hymns, in loud voices, while we marched. Any wrong step would certainly bring about punishment.
 
The truth is that, at the end of a few days, the ragged levy of Reich slaves became an elite troop, so high was the level of instruction they reached. We marched all over the camp singing the hated hymns in perfect rhythm. It seemed as if there were a Jewish army in Sobibor.
 
Meanwhile, my work at the shop went on without pause. I had not finished the cursed forty rings yet. Wagner visited us, as usual, sometimes with over officers. Between Bajle and I everything was running beautifully. Our love trysts were frequently repeated whenever possible. As she was very affectionate, she washed my clothes and brought me my food, trying to show her interest in me.
 
One day Wagner came in and told me, without any preamble, that as neither my nephew, Jankus, nor my cousin Nojech knew anything about jewels, he was going to take them away from the workshop. And he immediately did so. I felt then completely at a loss because I could see their last hour had come. I did not expect anything but their being led into Camp 3. I imagined then they were irretrievably lost, and I nearly went into despair.
 
I stayed like this for the rest of the day. Sometimes I thought, against all hope, that they might still be alive and working in Camp 2. Finally, in the afternoon, they came back and told me what had happened to them.
 
They said that when they had left with Wagner, he had taken them into the most secluded place in the camp. There,he had baptised Nojech  as platzmeister. As to Jankus, he made him his personal valet. His duties would be to run his bath, to shine his shoes and boots and ran some errands for him. He was also baptised with the name of Benjamin. Next, Nojech explained his duties as platzmeister. He said that, immediately after his baptism. Wagner had taken him to an unknown place and had instructed him about what he was to do from then on.
He would be in charge of gathering all the pots, pans, buckets, wheelbarrows, in short, each and every utensil with metal bottoms, which was taken from the Jews on arrival.
 
After separating these objects, he should put them in rows according to type and count them, checking every item, so as to make sure that none had a false bottom. To do so, he would use a small hammer, with which he would hit the bottom of the various containers.
 
If any of them had a false bottom, the characteristic sound of the hammer blow would reveal the fraud. After everything had been checked, he was to prepare the whole load for shipment. The job was rated as highly important because this artifice was commonly used to hide jewels and gold objects so as to smuggle them into Germany, since all these things were destined to help the Nazi war effort and were sent over to that country.         
 
Nojech was very pleased with his new duties. He would work even harder than before but the task was reasonable and it meant that he was going to live longer. After I heard the news I was elated since nothing serious had happened to them.
 
Some days later a fearful creature came again into my workshop. His hateful presence put me immediately on the alert, expecting some other disaster. Tall and fat he appeared to be forty years old and his face looked like a huge tomato, so red it was. He was bow-legged and walked as heavily as a pachyderm. Besides he was also known as an inveterate drunkard.
 
He was the insane “Red Cake” in his natural state, that is to say drunk. With his characteristic arrogance, he ordered me to make him another ring  in three days time. He took from his pocket a bundle containing jewels and gold teeth and threw it on the table.
 
Once more, I tried to evade the charge by reminding him of Wagner’s prohibition. I also asked him to bring me the necessary authorisation without which I could not serve him, as I was terribly busy. But “Red Cake” was not willing to argue. He said he was not in the habit of explaining anything to Wagner or to anyone else and that three days later he would come back for the ring. He warned me he wanted me to make it as bulky as possible, because he would be leaving on vacation in a few days and wanted to take it with him. He gave me a bottle of vodka he had under his arm and left.
 
As he had left I put the bottle away as I would not be forced to drink it in his presence. I thought the situation over very carefully and decided not to make the ring since no matter what I did I would be punished.
 
When the three days had elapsed  “Red Cake” came early in the morning, to get his ring. He asked me if I had made it and I said I had not. Then he said All right. He left very calmly, followed by his famous dog Barry. Once in the yard he started to blow his whistle and to shout like a madman – Come out all of you, you tramps, you lazy Jewish curs.
 
Immediately a torrent of men, including ourselves started to run out of their places of work. When he saw us all in the yard the German blew his whistle again to make us align. Then he started the punishment, making all of us crouch, raise, run, stop and crawl. We did all this at the blow of a whistle, in endless succession, abruptly alternating the painful movements of the swaying Jews, already exhausted by the violence of the inhuman exercise.
 
However, the sadism of the drunken Nazi had not reached its climax yet. At a given moment, he blew his whistle to make us all lie down and drawing his gun started to shoot us.  With the bullets whistling past my head my only thought was – “This time I’m done for”. After he had fired his last shot he walked in our direction and stopped beside me. He kicked me violently and shouted “Run”.
 
I got up quickly and started to run as fast as I could. I had only gone a few meters when I got a violent blow from behind and then I felt terrible pain. Barry had attacked and bitten me. I still have the scar that his sharp teeth left where they tore off my flesh. It seemed as if “Red Cake” wanted to put an end to me with his dog that had been trained to do that.
 
All of a sudden a saving order was heard, given at the right moment. It was if it had fallen from heaven. Wagner had come, no one knew where from and ordered my torturer to call his dog off me. Maybe his attention had been drawn by the shots he had heard and thus prevented my death.
 
He did that on purpose as he could not admit of any interference by the other officers in the internal discipline of Camp 1, of which he was the commander. He reserved for himself alone the right to abuse us and the scene put up by his bloody companion had not pleased him.
 
The truth is that, with his providential interference, he had saved my life. Soon afterwards he hugged “Red Cake” and whispered something in his ear. Then he told us to get back to our work and left arm in arm with his comrade, as if nothing had happened. The whole group of Jews, about forty men, had borne the consequences of the furious hate that Nazi officer felt for me. They had nothing to do with the reasons, which had triggered these events, and I was remorseful for being the only one to blame for their suffering.
 
After this sadly strange episode I never heard of “Red Cake” again. He completely vanished from Sobibor.