Walentyna Nikodem. "Women would drown in feces. Some of them were so weak that it was impossible to take them out"
"They told us to strip naked and rushed us behind this male 'lagier' (male section of the camp). It was horrible. All women, those 80-year-old and 15-year-old children. There were those barbers who would remove all hair from our bodies. Such humiliation, such cries, such screams. I started to cry. It was other prisoners who did the haircuts and one of them said: "Don’t cry child, let them be ashamed of what they are doing"", said Walentyna Nikodem 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.
Born in 1922, Walentyna Nikodem was a member of a Polish independence organization. She was taken to Auschwitz-Birkenau in July 1942, together with her mother. Her prisoner number was: 8737.
Ms Nikodem shared her memory of the moment of entering the camp. "Huge fright. It was afternoon when we arrived and the 'komandas' (teams, units) were returning from work. The gates opened and those monstrosities started to enter. Shaved heads, those uniforms… they were neither male nor female, who were those people? The horror, where were we? They entered and screamed, they had their bowls tied on a string of rope. Horrible," she said.
"They took us outside to work. We would dig ditches for the foundations of some structure. It was the 26th of July, it was very hot, a real scorcher. We had nothing to drink. Whenever some water broke out in those ditches, women would pounce on the source and drank that water. The SS women who were watching us would beat and batter us. With time, one would get used to it, but the beginnings were horrible," Ms Nikodem recalled.
She also highlighted that "women who were in Ravensbrück, they lived like they were in a hotel there". "When they were brought here and saw what was going on, they couldn’t believe it was true. Back there they had beds and bedsheets. And here? Just some old cloths on the bunks and nothing more," she added.
"The lice were size of a long grain of rice. We just couldn’t kill it. The rats… I’m even afraid of mice today, because those rats there were big like cats. In broad daylight, they would walk over dead bodies with no fear at all," the former prisoner said.
"There wasn’t a single tap there, so we could wash, no toilet. Feces just flew by. There was as a single toilet for the whole 'lagier'. So, when a thousand women rushed there in the morning, you wouldn’t get in anyway. Those toilets were just quite deep ditches with concrete brinks. Women would fall into those ditches. In the mornings, when so many women rushed there, some would fall inside and drown. Some were so weak that it was impossible to take them out," she said.
Ms Nikodem said that she had seen women drowning in feces. "After that you simply become indifferent".
"My mother died after three months. She was so exhausted that she couldn’t even stand during roll calls," she recalled. "They chucked her body outside the barrack. There was always a pile of bodies next to the barrack. Every now and then, the Totenkommando would arrive, chuck the bodies on a small car and take them to the crematorium," she added.
Ms Nikodem described the process of delousing of the block. "On the 6th of December, at 4 in the morning, the whole female camp (would have to) strip naked, leave everything inside as delousing was ordered. So, naked, at 4 a.m. we would have to go outside, where today is a parking lot. It was raining and snowing for the whole day. We had to stand there until 4 p.m. One third of those women never left that place, never stood up. Two rows of SS officers, male and female, were all equipped with whips and canes for hitting. Each of them had something for hitting. They ordered us to run back to the barracks in fours. I barely recovered from typhus at the time. I felt very weak for two weeks. So, we ran. My friend was supporting me and repeated: "a little bit more, come on Waluś, fly a bit more, we will fly over". That’s how we made it," Walentyna Nikodem said.
The former prisoner of Auschwitz-Birkenau was asked about the message she would like to pass on to younger generations. "So, there is peace. Eternal peace. However, first people must abide by the Ten Commandments. I myself, had no idea what war really was, until it broke out," Walentyna Nikodem highlighted.
Autor: gf / Źródło: TVN24 News in English
Źródło zdjęcia głównego: tvn24