Eight Months in the Sonderkommando of Auschwitz
This is a unique, eye-witness account of everyday life right at the
heart of the Nazi extermination machine.
Slomo Venezia was born into a poor Jewish-Italian community
living in Thessaloniki, Greece. At first, the occupying Italians
protected his family; but when the Germans invaded, the Venezias
were deported to Auschwitz. His mother and sisters disappeared on
arrival, and he learned, at first with disbelief, that they had
almost certainly been gassed. Given the chance to earn a little
extra bread, he agreed to become a ?Sonderkommando', without
realising what this entailed. He soon found himself a member of the
?special unit' responsible for removing the corpses from the
gas chambers and burning their bodies.
Dispassionately, he details the grim round of daily tasks,
evokes the terror inspired by the man in charge of the crematoria,
?Angel of Death' Otto Moll, and recounts the attempts made by
some of the prisoners to escape, including the revolt of October
It is usual to imagine that none of those who went into the gas
chambers at Auschwitz ever emerged to tell their tale - but, as a
member of a ?Sonderkommando', Shlomo Venezia was given this
horrific privilege. He knew that, having witnessed the unspeakable,
he in turn would probably be eliminated by the SS in case he ever
told his tale. He survived: this is his story.
Published in association with the United States Holocaust Memorial