Monday, 11 December 2006



As yet unseen beautiful green countryside surrounds
The razor wired camp that is entered once only
From cities all over Europe

Sealed Boxcars are flung open in the dark
As human cattle spill out
Terrified into driving searchlight lit rain

Freezing cold breaths emit hateful strange words
as black alsatian dogs
straining on leashes
Bark repeatedly while biting on limbs

I am rifle-butted in the arm into a left queue
as the surviving old, infirm and children
get herded rightwards roughly brutally murderously

They are never see again

We are ordered to stop outside a hut
and terrorised into showers crying
howling, shaking , avoiding eyes and blows
as a man gets beaten for walking too slowly

Cold pressure-less showers come on
amidst howls ,crying ,wimpering, shouts
Green ,pink, yellow and red triangled rags
get tossed at us before we are clean

as we are shunted towards a wooden hut
and ordered inside where we momentarily stop-
Human skeletons ashen and gaunt
stare at us from blank emotionless faces
three abreast on each filthy mattress

Urine, shit, vomit, death and fear odours
mix with cold breaths, coughs, groans-
a skin covered skeleton rocks violently back and forth
in the corner

“I must sleep
is sleep possible here ?

“Do I dare sleep here” ?

Dozing dreaming

the dream words mimicking
the sound of the new train arriving
on tracks into the camp

A man gets denounced in the night
in exchange for a promise of food

Whispered rumours
Whispered deals
People pretending to sleep

Truck engines start up close by
and move off their engine noises
getting fainter and fainter

3.30 am lights go on in the dark
Raus ! Raus ! Raus !
The skeletons fumble stagger
outside into a searchlight beam
of light directing us to a square
for roll call

A man is taken aside
and beaten in full view
as numbers are called out
and names get ticked off
by sadistic number-obsessed
black -uniformed guards

We are ordered to begin trudging
towards the well sign-posted quarry
as Beethovens’ Sonata surreally crackles out
from camp speakers

The icy snow gradually turns to mud
as 60lb bags of bones work in the dark
lifting rocks with bear hands

“I must eat, I must eat”

A man working next to me whispers-
“You are a political, like me
They hate us , but not as much as the Jews-

Its possible for us to survive here but you must
learn the ways of the camp fast”

“Never argue with them , never look them in the eye
Eat everything no matter how disgusting it is
Each spoonful is another day alive.
Just pray you don’t pass blood- that means death”

“When do we eat”?

“After work” .

“Be servile and try and make yourself
useful to them in some way
or you will be selected”

“Resistance is pointless here”.

We trudge back in the snow
barely able to walk


with nothing to look forward to
observed closely by hate -fuelled

A shot rings out and a woman
some way ahead of me slumps
to the ground but no one helps her
I look at my new advisor
who quickly shakes his head
at me “save yourself” written
all over his white face

helping means death here

A man is shot in the leg from
the same watchtower and falls
clutching at his wound
he pulls himself along trying
to reach the cover of a wooden hut
another shot rings out missing him
by a couple of feet

“He’s going to make it”
“He’s going to make it”

“A few more yards- keep going, keep bloody going”

Another shot whizzes through the air-
his head bursts open and
blood pours out on to pinkening

“He is lucky-
the injured become the subject of jests and ridicule
here. He would have been ritually
humiliated and then selected by the Nazis
because he could no longer work”

“Now, at least, he’s out of it”.

“What ,-what are those huts for ?
The first is a brothel for the Kapos
The better looking women are
taken there for their pleasure
but it does not save them

The one that looks like a hospital-
that’s where these brutes experiment
on us. The big corporations pay the
camps for experiments, chemical tests
needless amputations”

There are rumours that they try to
make soap from the dead bodies,
paper from skin,
fertilisers from bones

IG Farben and the other corporations
are interested in the
slave labour and products

“We must try and escape”

“Escape means death”
we are too weak-
It is wilderness for miles”

“But we’re almost certain
to die anyway, and every
day we get weaker and less
able to resist”

“The politicals meet at the Latrines
after lights out but count me out -
You should try and stay alive
I must go now.”

I leave to meet the other politicals
at Midnight feigning dysentry
but get met there instead
by a Kapo, some SS and my
new found friend

Perhaps promised a crust of bread
or a bowl of soup for betraying me
It matters not

A group of duped politicals
gets taken
Past pits of dead bodies
Past torture cages
Past hospital facades
To wooden huts that look
Just like all other huts
except for the human scratched
walls and the sounds and smells of
Gas canisters
And panic
And praying
And urine
And shitting
And fighting
And screaming
And trampling
And bones breaking
And scratching
And crying
And whaling
And eyes watching
And fatigue
And memories

And…..losing consciousness

And soon please-No more pain.

Peter Burton December 2006

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