The Holocaust Odyssey of DANIEL BENNAHMIAS, Sonderkommando


The University of Alabama Press

Copyright © 1993 The University of Alabama Press. All rights reserved.
ISBN: 0-8173-0598-X

Chapter One

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!
—Mary Rouben

                           We are friends, and we havetalked about getting this story down for about a year. Whenwe meet for the first time with this specific objective inmind, however, neither of us suspects how long it will take.We are in earnest as we begin, and Danny is the first tospeak.

    "One day, as I was on my way home from school—thiswas in Salonika—I ran into an old friend. After a while, heasked me if I had ever heard of Beethoven. I told him that Ihad not. `Here, take this,' he said. Before I knew it, he hadthrust a recording of Beethoven's Second Symphony intomy hands. When I got home, I played it on our Victrola—I'msure you know the kind I mean—and I went wild. Thatday, I must have lost my mind and driven my mother crazy.I could not hear this music enough, and I played it over andover again. Beethoven was a discovery for me. Later on,when I was in Auschwitz—walking from crematorium I tocrematorium II—I heard the first few bars of Beethoven'sFifth emanating out of a room occupied by a Germanofficer. The door was ajar, and the radio was on.Pom-pom-pom-pom; pom-pom-pom-pom; pom-pom-pom-pom.... Iconvulsed violently and doubled over. In the galleys of hell, Ihad been reminded of a life that was no more and couldnever be again.