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This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen
by [?]

We say that prisoners leave in a delicate, gray smoke through the crematorium chimney, and that Jews from other countries whose transports are unloaded from the ramp every day float out in black smoke. A group of prisoners known as Canada in camp jargon works here. The work of these people was hard, physically exhausting, and psychologically not to be endured by the occasional actor. The work continues without a break for several hours, several days, several years. Lasts without a break through four and a half million burned people. However, those who loaded them into the gas weren’t bad people. They were Jews whose families were also burned.

They weren’t bad people, they were simply accustomed.

All of us walk around naked. The delousing is finally over, and our striped suits are back from the tanks of Cyclone B solution, an efficient killer of lice in clothing and of men in gas chambers. Only the inmates in the blocks cut off from ours by the "Spanish goats” (crossed wooden beams wrapped in barbed wire) still have nothing to wear. But all the same, all of us walk around naked: the heat is unbearable. The camp has been sealed off tight. Not a single prisoner, not one solitary louse, can sneak through the gate. The labor Kommandos have stopped working. All day, thou­sands of naked men shuffle up and down the roads, cluster around the squares, or lie against the walls and on top of the roofs. We have been sleeping on plain boards, since our mattresses and blankets are still being disinfected. From the rear Blocks we have a view of the FKL — Frauenkonzentrationslager, there too the delousing is in full swing. Twenty-eight thousand women have been stripped naked and driven out of the barracks. Now they swarm around the large yard between the Blocks.

The heat rises, the hours are endless. We are without even our usual diversion: the wide roads leading to the crematoria are empty.

For several days now, no new transports have come in. Part of Canada has been liquidated and detailed to a labor Kommando —one of the very toughest — at Harmenz. For there exists in the camp a special brand of justice based on envy: when the rich and mighty fall, their friends see to it that they fall to the very bottom. And Canada, our Canada, which smells not of maple forests but of French perfume, has amassed great fortunes in diamonds and cur­rency from all over Europe.

Several of us sit on the top bunk, our legs dangling over the edge. We slice the neat loaves of crisp, crunchy bread. It is a bit coarse to the taste, the kind that stays fresh for days. Sent all the way from Warsaw — only a week ago my mother held this white loaf in her hands — dear Lord, dear Lord.

We unwrap the bacon, the onion, we open a can of evaporated milk. Henri, the fat Frenchman, dreams aloud of the French wine brought by the transports from Strasbourg, Paris, Marseille… Sweat streams down his body.

“Listen, mon ami, next time we go up on the loading ramp, I’ll bring you real champagne. You haven’t tried it before, eh?”

“No. But you’ll never be able to smuggle it through the gate, so stop teasing. Why not try and organize some shoes for me instead — you know, the perforated kind, with a double sole, and what about that shirt you promised me long ago?”

“Patience, patience. When the new transports come, I’ll bring all you want. We’ll be going on the ramp again!”

“And what if there aren’t any more cremo transports?” I say spite­fully. “Can’t you see how much easier life is becoming around here: no limit on packages, no more beatings? You even write letters home… One hears all kind of talk, and, dammit, they’ll run out of people!”

“Stop talking nonsense. ” Henri’s serious fat face moves rhythmi­cally, his mouth is full of sardines. We have been friends for a long time, but I do not even know his last name. “Stop talking nonsense, ” he repeats, swallowing with effort. “They can’t run out of people, or we’ll starve to death in this blasted camp. All of us live on what they bring. ”