Among the novelties ofconcentration literaturethat generated this January the75th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp, which is remembered this Monday, highlights three titles that rescue solid and lucid women’s voices.
Two of them rescue thetestimonies and reflections of two French survivors: Frenchwoman Charlotte Delbo, who is published in a single volume, ‘None of us will return‘, the two most overwhelming titles in his Auschwitz trilogy, and’Return to Birkenau‘by Ginette Kolinka, who returned to the camp 55 years after the end of the Second World War. The third is an essay, ‘The 999 women of Auschwitz‘, where writer Heather Dune Macadam tracked the first young Jews who were deported from Slovakia. Here are their stories:
The sharp voice of Charlotte Delbo
“The chimney smokes. The sky is low. The smoke wanders over the field and weighs and envelops us and is the smell of burning flesh.” The direct and sober literature ofCharlotte Delbo (Vigneux-sur Seine, 1913 – Paris, 1985)hits sharp and at the same time poetic. “Those who are lying there, in the snow, are our companions yesterday. Yesterday they were standing during the count (€) They went to work, they crawled in the direction of the marshes. Yesterday they were hungry. They were lice, they scratched. Yesterday they swallowed the lousy soup They had diarrhea and they hit them Yesterday they suffered They wanted to die yesterday They are now therenaked corpses on snow“.
She,arrested in 1942 with her husband, shot shortly-both members of the French resistance-, was deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau along with 230 other dams. They survived 49. His words, written feverishly while he was recovering in a Swiss sanitarium after the liberation of the camp, which is 75 years old on Monday, did not want to publish them until they were allowed to stand for two decades, becauseI didn’t want them to be just a testimony of horror(That work was left to the journalists, he said) or be seen as a “mediocre” work, but that its literary value be considered.
The result was the shocking ‘None of us will return‘, which now offer in a new translation Books of the Asteroid in Spanish and Club Editor in Catalan, including’Useless knowledge‘, a later piece that is part of his Auschwitz trilogy (the third title,’ La mesura dels nostres dies’, which speaks of return and life ‘after’, was advanced a year ago by Club Editor.
According to its editor, Maria Bohigas, it is aboutshort texts, dotted with poems, “with a clear, simple, direct language, such as lashes, that challenges the reader.” An example, when an SS orders his dog to kill a prey and it sticks his fangs in his throat: “The SS pulls on the leash. The dog withdraws. He has some blood in his snout. The SS whistles, it goes”.
“There are fewer female testimonies of the Holocaust-replies Luis Solano, editor of Asteroid-. She gives voice to the set of prey, it shows that a woman writes, her vision is different from that of men. It stops more in things that have a relationship with the body, hygiene, the physical relationship between inmates, hugs and caresses, which are present throughout the book. Also the shame and humiliation that it means for women to have to undress for checkups and selections surrounded by men. “
“I didn’t think about anything. I didn’t look at anything. I didn’t feel anything.It was a cold skeleton with the cold blowing through all those chasmsthat form the ribs of a skeleton, “Delbo writes.” For her, to survive one day in the countryside is to survive the infinite – Bohigas points out. While the typhus decimated them, they were worried about the need to leave a trace, that there would be some left alive to inform the world. ”She succeeded.
Ginette Kolinka’s obsession
TOGinette Kolinka, 19, recently deported to Auschwitz, the veteran dams said: “Do you see that smoke out there? Well there they are! It’s their bodies, it’s your families that are burning!” “I don’t believe them, but I know,” writes this survivor of the Nazi camps, already 94 years old, in ‘Return to Birkenau‘(Seix Barral), thinking of his father, 61, and his brother of 12, whom he did not see again after being gassed when they arrived together in a convoy in April 1944 after being arrested by the Gestapo in Avignon.
In the book, written with the journalist Marion Ruggieri, describeshow the number 78599 was tattooed, how they were forced to undress – “the shame of nakedness is such and intense that I don’t feel anything else and they shaved their hair and pubic hair. Also what they saw the first time they woke up:” lots of rags in the corners of the bunkhouse. They werethe dead of that night“Remember the counts, for hours in the open,” firm, freezing, shaking, exhausted, “and beatings:” every order is a blow.They hit us all the time, all day, for nothing. (…) It’s continuous, so much that it doesn’t even hurt anymore (…). It is no use going to the hospital. His first reflection is to kick you out; the second, kill you. “
“We must not answer, we must not look, just obey without more (…) I decide to go as unnoticed as possible, never rebel, accept everything (€)Losing one’s mind is precipitating death“writes Kolinka, who from Auschwitz-Birkenau was transferred to Bergen-Belsen and Theresienstadt, where they put her to work in war machinery.When released they weighed 26 kilos.
In 2000 he returned to Auschwitz with high school students. He answers his questions, for example, about how women managed the rule – “No one had the rule anymore. Was it about food, fear, hygiene conditions?” – but regrets not being questioned about what he ate, “Hunger, because the countryside was that: hunger” and they did want to know if he saw Hitler. Kolinka fears that todayBirkenau be seen as “a set”. “In my head is the smell, the dirt, the people wandering everywhere. And it saddens me to think that the people who visit it can imagine something else € How to see the smoke, the screams, the shoves; those tens of thousands of people who work, who run, who fall to the ground? There is nothing like that anymore. There is no mud anymore. And there is no soul. “
999 young deceived beans
In 1942, the Government of Slovakia recruitedsingle beans between 16 and 35 years oldto be sent to work abroad for three months. They were voluntary and confident, and deceived. Most believed they would return home soon, butthey were deported to Auschwitz. Heather Dune Macadam kept track of the survivors to tell their stories in ‘The 999 women of Auschwitz‘(Roca / Comanegra). Slovakia paid Nazi Germany 500 marks for what they called “relocation.”