Rebecca Hauser, a Holocaust survivor who recently spoke to Duke University students, said that she was saved because she chose to walk, instead of waiting for the truck that transported new arrivals at Auschwitz to the gas chamber. At the age of 22, she had been sent from Greece, in early April 1944, to the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp.
This quote is from the online Duke University newspaper:
Upon arrival at the [Auschwitz-Birkenau] concentration camp, individuals were given the option of either walking or riding to the showers, Bonnie Hauser [Rebecca’s daughter] said. Against her mother’s request, Rebecca Hauser chose to walk. She was then escorted in line to the showers, where everyone’s head was shaven (sic), and they were ordered to walk wet, cold and naked across the grounds to pick up their clothes. She was tattooed with an identification number, still visible on her left arm today.
Rebecca Hauser said her mother, father and the others who chose to ride to the showers were taken to the crematorium where they were killed. Although she occasionally regrets having disobeyed her mother’s request to ride with her on the last day of her life, she also recognizes that if she had done so, she would have been killed.
The photo above shows prisoners who have been brought inside the Birkenau camp; the tall chimneys of Crematorium II and Crematorium III can be seen in the background. Crematorium II (Krema II) is on the left and Crematorium III is on the right. Trucks were needed only for the elderly Jews who could not walk. The photo below shows Jews who are waiting for the trucks.
According to Rebecca Hauser’s story, the prisoners were given the choice to live or die. If they were in good enough condition to walk to the shower room, they would live. The shower room at Birkenau was in the building shown below, which was located about a mile from where the trains stopped.
In the photo below, two women who have chosen to walk, head north toward the Sauna building. Note that the SS man has directed the women to the left, which is the direction of the Sauna.
Rebecca Hauser’s story of how she survived the Holocaust clears up a lot. The tall SS man in the photo above is politely asking each new arrival “Do you want to walk to the shower or do you want to wait for a truck to take you?” The two women in the photo have chosen to walk and they are headed north toward the Sauna where they will take a shower and live to tell their story to university students years later.