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Auschwitz Witness Testifies Seeing Jewish Bodies Thrown into Fire

The burning of a Jewish baby alive, the stuffing of the gas ovens at Birkenau with so many Jewish victims that the Nazis had to build an outdoor pyre to cremate the martyrs more quickly, and the deaths of many from rat bites were described in detail here today at the resumed session of the trial of 22 former Auschwitz-Birkenau officers, guards and medical personnel.

The testimony came from a non-Jewish woman physician, Dr. Ella Lingens, of Vienna. She spent two years at Auschwitz for having been active as an anti-Nazi in the Austrian Social Democratic Party.

“I was not a typical prisoner, ” she told the court, “but I saw and heard every thing. The mortality rate in the women’s camp was as high as 350 a day. They died from disease, exhaustion, beatings, hunger.” Rats attacked both the dead and the living, she said.

She said she knew about the Birkenau crematorium almost as soon as she arrived at the death camp. “At first, I thought it was used only to cremate bodies of people who had died ‘natural’ deaths. Then one night I saw women being driven into the gas ovens, screaming and begging for mercy. About 15 minutes later, I saw the smoke becoming thicker, rising from the chimneys. Then I knew.”

Early in 1944, she said, thousands of Hungarian Jews were brought into the camp, “They sent so many to the gas chambers,” she continued, “that the crematoria were too full. So they built a pyre outdoors, and threw bodies into the fire. I saw one SS officer throwing a live baby into the fire.”

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