MEMORIAL AND MUSEUM

AUSCHWITZ-BIRKENAU

FORMER GERMAN NAZI
CONCENTRATION AND EXTERMINATION CAMP

Anniversary Quote

"WE HAVE A DARK PREMONITION BECAUSE WE KNOW"

Załmen Gradowski (ca. 1910 - 7 October 1944): Polish Jew and former prisoner of Auschwitz. Before the war he lived in ‎‎Łunno near Grodno. In November 1942, he was deported to the camp in Kiełbasin; in December he was deported to Auschwitz along with his whole family. During the selection on the ramp he lost, amongst others, his wife, mother and two sisters. He was forcefully conscripted to the Sonderkomanndo in Birkenau, and was one of the prisoners behind the Birkenau revolt of October 1944. It is possible that he was killed the same day during combat, or shot by the SS during the repressions after the revolt.  He was the author of two scripts written in Yiddish, which he hid and which were later discovered after the war on the premises of Birkenau. Quote from his manuscripts.

Who was prepared to believe that millions of people were being seized for no reason whatever and led to slaughter by multiple means?
Who was prepared to believe that a whole people was being led to destruction at the diabolical will of a gang of contemptible criminals?
Who was prepared to believe that a whole people was to be exterminated to compensate for failure in a struggle for power and supremacy.
Who was prepared to believe that a people would blindly obey a law leading to death and destruction?
” noted Załmen Gradowski in the Auschwitz camp.

It may be that this, these very lines I am writing, will be the only witnesses to what was my life. But I will be happy if my writings reach you, free citizen of the world. Perhaps a spark of my inner fire will ignite in you, and you will fulfill at least a part of our life’s desire: you shall avenge, avenge our deaths!” he wrote.

The two manuscripts written by him which were found in Birkenau after the war consist of four accounts on different subjects and a short letter. The first, a separate notebook, may have been written as early as 1943. In it, Gradowski describes the course of the transport to the Auschwitz concentration camp. The second, which is in three parts, begins with a beautiful metaphorical address to the moon and goes on to recount the events which took place in the barely two weeks from 24 February to 8 March 1944. Gradowski first described, in exceptionally moving language, the selection of Sonderkommando prisoners by the SS on 24 February, as a result of which more than half of the members of the Sonderkommando were deported from the camp and perished. He then recounted the extermination of almost four thousand Jews from the Theresienstadt ghetto who were murdered in the night of 8 to 9 March 1944 after spending six months in Birkenau.

More:

Full edition of the manuscripts: „From the Heart of Hell. Manuscripts of a Sonderkommando Prisoner, Found in Auschwitz"

Online lesson dedicated to the history of Sonderkommando