I am going to make this blog post a bit different. I read Olga Lengyel’s book Five Chimneys which is her story of survival in Auschwitz. There were many moments in the book where my jaw dropped and I literally had to put the book down because it was so horrific. I want to bring those moments out so you are able to read them for yourselves to see a little bit more of how horrific the death camps were.
This is Olga. She was the wife of Dr. Miklos Lengyel who was taken into questioning by the Nazis and later was sent to a prison camp; Auschwitz. When her husband was being sent she refused to let him go alone and instead went with him also bringing along her two young sons and her parents. Olga starts her book off very tragically and it really is hard to read how she felt and still feels about her own actions. ” I cannot acquit myself of the charge that I am, in part, responsible for the destruction of my own parents and of my two young sons” (pg. 11). When Olga brought them along she was indirectly sending them to their deaths. She had no idea where they were headed but once she realized she knew she had made a mistake. Throughout the entire book this ways on Olga and she still regrets what she did to this day. When the camp was liberated Olga was the only one in her family that survived.
To help herself survive Olga became a slave member for the Infirmary. Here Olga encountered the many doctors that are known in Auschwitz such as Dr. Mengele. She tells many horrific stories of what happened in this camp but one stood out the most to me. Olga is discussing when she had to take the dead bodies to the crematorium from the infirmary and what she saw.
” Immense casks were used to gather the human grease which had melted down at high temperatures. It was not surprising that the camp soap had such a peculiar odor. Nor was it astonishing that the internees became suspicious and the sight of certain pieces of fat sausage” (pg. 88).
This quote really bothered me. I cannot even imagine knowing this at that time and yet using that soap or eating that sausage for means of survival. This extremely graphic quote puts it into perspective how disgusting and horrific the death camps were. Olga continues on in her book and has many more gruesome stories that she shares. I could share for days how bothered I was by this book and the quotes that stuck out to me. I really suggest reading this book because it truly makes you see the inside of the death camp from someone who has lived it like no other story could.
Lengyel, Olga. Five Chimneys. Chicago, Illinois: Ziff-Davis Publishing, 1947.
“Olga Lengyel.” Memorial Library: Home of the Holocaust Educators Network. 2015. Accessed November 19, 2015. http://memoriallib.wpengine.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/olga-thumb.png.