Wisconsin Survivors of the Holocaust
Witnessing the torture of prisoners caught trying to escape
Rabbi Manfred Swarsensky, was sentenced to forced labor at Sachsenhausen in 1938 for three months
Listen to audio
"It did happen that some of those who were nineteen, twenty, twenty-one, daring Jews, did not return from outside the camp. But by hook or crook they had hidden that day in the woods, they were all around, woods.
They had tried to sneak into the system of the underground, what is it, sewer, the sewer system, and tried in the hope of being able to crawl through the sewers and come out somewhere in Berlin. Some did it.
When these poor fellows were caught, and they were invariably caught, first of all, you just can't get through there, I mean practically, I don't know what they had in their minds, but people do all kinds of things in desperation.
Then they were brought back, they were put on a block in the middle of this exercise field, high up. And then something happened which one could see in a TV presentation of Holocaust. They were beaten up publicly. Maybe ten of these horrible guys took turns and beat these poor people up with whips. The blood spurts.
They didn't immediately die. After the beating was over and the singing, and the beating took place to the songs we had to sing.
Then they would put this poor fellow, naked — the nude business played an important sadistic or sexual role too — always nude, they would put him, December, January, whenever, in front of the barbed wire he had to stand in attention all night.
They would pour water over him. The water would freeze on his body and naturally, the fellow would die, you know, the terrible tortures.
And other things, too horrible even to describe."
Swarsensky Interview, Tape 10, Side 1
Transcript page 175 (PDF, 846 KB)