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March 8, 2013

The amazing journey of William Schick — from the Nazi death camps to the good life in America

Filed under: Holocaust — Tags: , , , , — furtherglory @ 9:39 am

You can read the tale of William Schick on Don Moore’s War Tales website here. Schick died on New Year’s Eve in 2010, at the age of 90, in Gloucester, MA in the USA.  Schick is shown below in his back yard at his winter home in Venice, Florida. (Photo credit: Don Moore)


William Schick was a young Jew, living in Prague, Czechoslovakia, innocently minding his own business, when he was sent, as one of the first prisoners, to the concentration camp formerly known as Theresienstadt.  After spending time in Theresienstadt, which Schick called a “show camp,” he was sent in 1941 to the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp where prisoners were expected to live for only three months, according to the War Tales article.

At Auschwitz-Birkenau, Schick was put into the Czech family camp, where men, women and children lived together; this section of Auschwitz-Birkenau was called B11b or B2B. You can read about the Czech family camp and the selections for the gas chamber on my website here.

This quote is from the article about William Schick on the War Tales website:

After three months at Auschwitz, a prisoner’s time was up.

“They told everyone in Camp B2B we were going to be sent to Germany as slave laborers, but we had to clean up and shower first and we’d be issued new uniforms,” he said. “When we reached what the guards said were the ‘showers’ there was a commotion going on. I could speak a little German and I heard the guards say something was ‘kaput.’”

He learned later the apparatus that filled the showers with poison gas was ‘kaput.’ The prisoners from B2B had escaped death. They were marched back to their barracks. Three days later they were marched back to the gas chambers to die.

“We were just about to go into the gas chambers once more and there was another commotion out front.

“A train with 10,000 Jews from Hungry had just arrived. They had no place to put them. We were sent back to our barracks once again. They marched all 10,000 Hungarian Jews into the three gas chambers at Auschwitz and killed them all in 24 hours.”


The third call-up for Schick and the other Jews in B2B was ordered by Dr. Josef Mengele, the notorious “Angel of Death.” He checked them out to determine if they lived or died.

“When Dr. Mengele came to our camp, we had to stand before him completely naked. We were nothing but skin and bones,” Schick said.

“He was dressed to kill,” no pun intended. “He was unbelievable in his tailor-made uniform and handcrafted boots. I could see myself in his shiny, black boots as I stood for 10 or 15 seconds before him while he looked me over.”

He signaled with one thumb that Schick was to join those in the right line. Those in Schick’s line looked healthier. The less healthy prisoners in the left line would be sent to the gas chambers.

Dr. Josef Mengele who selected prisoners for the gas chamber at Auschwitz

Dr. Josef Mengele who selected prisoners for the gas chamber at Auschwitz

William Schick was saved from the Nazi gas chambers THREE times; what are the odds of that?  Actually, it was not at all unusual for Jews to escape the gas chamber multiple times. Every Holocaust survivor has a story to tell about how he or she survived the gas chambers at Auschwitz. Some survivors were saved from the gas chamber as many as six times.  What a sloppy way to conduct a genocide!  Hitler would be turning over in his grave, if he had a grave.