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Testifying at Düsseldorf

Rachel Nurman, Holocaust Survivor

Oh, about the children, what I want to say.  The children were standing in that barrack all night, crying, and that the wall could break from that crying.  And I stayed outside.  I thought it’s my brother that I heard his crying in there.  That my—that was my—among so many children, could I recognize my brother?  I couldn’t, but I thought so.  That is my brother!  And I didn’t go into the barrack to sleep, I just standing under the barrack.  She didn’t see me.  In the morning, one of the guards—“Bloody Brygida,” they called her. She came with a truck with a Red Cross band on her arm and start taking out the children.  And she opened up that barrack where the children were, and she ordered the bigger ones to carry the smaller ones to the truck.  And the rest, the little ones she took and she threw it on the children, on the heads, on the truck because they couldn’t walk no more, the children.  So she threw them over the heads of the other children, and straight to the gas chamber with them.

And I saw that, and I testified in the court in Düsseldorf.  And I saw her in the court, and my son-in-law went with me, Eddy, and he was sitting in the front row.  We had to go every day in the court. There was a judge and he didn’t like to try his own people, because he was German.  Anyway, but that’s what they did.  He asked me why I survived and my family didn’t.  And I told him just plain (audio garbled) I said, “I fill in for the soldiers which they went to the front in Germany.”  I worked in the fields first, and then I worked in the crematorium there.But anyway, in the middle of the trial I saw her, and then he put me in a room.  It was a little dark, let down the curtains with a—it was about four of them, women, the German guards in the camp.  And he said, the judge, I should recognize the one who hit me.  She wore the boots and on the (inaudible) of the boot was an iron thing to that.  That’s what they wore, the women.  The women were worse than the men in Germany.  So she used to hit a girl at work with that boot, in the bone, here in the foot.  She was laying dead already.  It was malnutrition, the girl; just one kick like that she was dead, you know, little children.  So, in the court, the judge told me to recognize her.  And today she is—I mean, this was in—you know what year this is?  It’s written in my book, that I was with Eddy.She was heavy, and old.  So the judge told me to recognize her, and I looked at every one of them, and I—anywhere I’d recognize her.  She had this big—she was a pretty woman, younger then, and she was slim.  And today she was a heavyset woman and—

So I told the judge which one it is, okay.  Then we went to the courtroom, and my son-in-law is sitting in the front row, right, and then I saw her.  I remind myself that minute what she did with these children, how she’s screaming to them, “Hup, hup, schneller!” she yelling to them.  “Hup, hup, schneller!” like it was a joke to her.  So many lives she destroyed, and here she yells to them, “Hup, hup, schneller! Schneller!” She wanted faster to go with them to the gas chambers. 

So I’m just looking at her, and I felt if I be sitting near her, I could take her by the throat and kill her.  I’m not a person to kill anyone, not a fly even.  But with her, I felt that I could do it.  And I went over to her.  I did.

And I said to her—she was writing on a pad something.  I asked her, “How could you live with that?  How could you sleep nights, that you killed so many children?”  I asked her that, how she could live with that.  She didn’t answer me a word, nothing, and she still writing on the pad.  I don’t know what she writing.  So the judge, you know what he said to me?

“I’m not going to continue with the trial, because you are not allowed to do that.”  What did I do to her?  I didn’t hit her—I should have, but I didn’t.  Just for telling these few words?  And words she needs to get, for killing so many people.  I didn’t do nothing.  I said, “Judge, I didn’t hit her, I didn’t do nothing.  But this moment when I saw her,” I said, “I remembered that so many children that she killed, and I was that minute in Auschwitz.  That moment, I wasn’t here, I was in Auschwitz, and I saw everything and I remember everything, and what it did to my childhood by seeing those things.”  So the judge is looking at me, and he said, “Okay, this time I forgive you, because you said that, that you were just in Auschwitz.”  And he continued with the trial.

Yeah, she got life prison, but she died in the prison.  She had a son from before and the son used to come to her, but later he didn’t want to know about her.  He got to know the truth about her, so he didn’t want to continue to come to see her.  And she died, shortly after that.