Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
"Sunday, just after the noon meal, the air was unusually still. The big field outside the compound was deserted. Suddenly someone began running toward the gate at the other side of the field. Others followed. The word was shouted through the mass of gray, tired prisoners. Americans! That word was repeated, yelled over the shoulders in throaty Polish, in Italian, in Russian, and Dutch and in the familiar ring of French. The first internee was shot down as he rushed toward the gate by the guard. Yet they kept running and shouting through eager lips and unbelieving eyes. Americans!"
Read from a diary whose very existence, if discovered, meant certain death:
"Will you ever read these pages? Each page is a source of danger and who knows how many pages I will write, but even if I can put down all I experience. . . . it is so hard to hide these pages. May a good power protect them and keep them in safety, so that one day I can give them to you, together with the heart of stone that was wrought for you secretly during days and days and that I wore for a long time. Perhaps these pages will survive me, and some stranger will bring them to you. . . .
"Someone came and pulled the blankets from my head. It was a Polish friend of mine. He told me about a priest, a schoolmate of his. Here in Dachau they met again. The priest was suddenly taken to the Revier--that is the name they give to the hospital here, to be experimented on. . . . The priest secretly sent a short note to his friend. The last sentence was not legible, for, as he himself said, he had 40 degree temperature. He did not ask for help because he knew all was lost. He only prayed that a way be found to prepare his family for the worst. . . .
"I was talking to a friend today. Some months ago he left with a transport to Mauthausen. There were 1600 of them. Now, after nine months, he too returned, as in another world. More dead than alive, he was . . . he and the remaining nineteen men. That means that 20 men remained out of 1600."
Then there is the woman, interviewed at Dachau, who claimed to have been the mistress of Auschwitz's infamous Rudolf Hess, a man responsible for over two million deaths:
"I hadn't heard the opening of my cell and was such frightened. It was dark in the cell. I believed at first it was an SS man or a prisoner and said, "What is this tomfoolery. I forbid you." Then I heard "Pst" and a pocket lamp was lighted and lit the face of the C.O. I broke out, "Herr Kommandant."