Alina Dąbrowska. "I thought to myself then: that’s how hell must look like"

TVN24

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"When I was at the block, all I felt was despair. Despair that I had to go through all that. I wasn't just a witness, I took a part in this. This was my life," said Alina Dąbrowska in a conversation with Magda Łucyan, a reporter from "Fakty" TVN.

The series of conversations with former prisoners of KL Auschwitz-Birkenau has been conducted to commemorate the 74th anniversary of the camp’s liberation that falls on the 27th of January.

Alina Dąbrowska, born in 1923, was taken to Auschwitz-Birkenau in June 1943. She was 20 years old at the time. Her prisoner number was: 44165.

"I had heard about the Auschwitz camp before. When I was in prison, I was there for the whole year, I heard that people were dying on a daily basis there (in Auschwitz). Also, that there was no food there. Unfortunately, the reality turned out to be much worse," Ms Dąbrowska recalled her first day in the camp. "They took us to some sort of a big room and told us to strip naked. The second memorable moment was when they shaved our heads. We looked terrible. Some of the girls were crying. They gave me two shoes, each from a different pair. That dress I got or any other clothes were all infested with lice," she said.

"Then they would tattoo the number on our hands. I learned that my number was: 44165. That was my number, my surname and my identity," she highlighted.

"After a while, we walked to the barracks. We went inside and I think that was one of the worst experiences of life. That's because it was nothing like the things I knew before. Some 500 women gathered in that building. Rarely we saw any light. But most importantly, the bunks. Bunks and women. It wasn't that it was a bed per woman. A few on each bunk. You couldn't even see the bunks, so many women were there," said Alina Dąbrowska.

"All of them with no hair. They didn't even resemble women. I simply did not realize where I was. At that very moment I thought to myself: this is how hell must look like," she added.

On more than one occasion, Ms Dąbrowska witnessed the so-called selections. "Yes. One day we were told that there would be a selection. They lined us all up in rows. An SS officer showed up and pointed at chosen women, not even with his hand, but rather with a cane," she said. "The assistant just jotted down the numbers and after that you would know what selection was. Those people were selected to die," said the former prisoner of Auschwitz-Birkenau.

One person in particular had stuck in her memory. "One of them was this older Jewish woman and she accepted her fate with calm. In my opinion, she hoped until the very last moment that something would change," she said.

"Dead bodies lying around was our daily bread. I was there long enough already to know that people were dying, bodies were piled up, one next to the other and that death was an everyday thing," she recalled.

She also spoke about the mass exterminations that were carried out in the camp. As she remembered, whole blocks of people were being murdered. "That was the worst thing," she said.

She also saw when whole groups of people were going straight to the gas chamber. "One of the first groups were Gypsies. There were selections in their section too. They would try to defend themselves, talk their way out, they screamed. They would be simply transported through the whole camp to the crematorium. But those whole groups of Jews that they would burn in there in 1944, they wouldn't even scream. Because they were unaware of where they were going," she said. "They were sure they were going to the shower room," she added.

Ms Dąbrowska caught typhus in the camp and encountered Josef Mengele, a cruel doctor and former SS officer who carried out barbaric experiments on people.

At the end of the conversation, the former prisoner of Auschwitz-Birkenau was asked by "Fakty" TVN reporter about the message she would like pass on to younger generations.

"First and foremost, to respect other human beings", Alina Dąbrowska replied.

Overall numbers of victims murdered at KL Auschwitz by ethnicity or category of deportee
auschwitz.org

Autor: gf / Źródło: TVN24 News in English