Scrapbookpages Blog

March 16, 2014

11-year-old boy who was selected to be a Sonderkommando at Auschwitz

Filed under: Holocaust — Tags: , , — furtherglory @ 4:53 pm

At Auschwitz, the Sonderkommando Jews were selected to work in the crematoria, carrying bodies out of the gas chamber, and shoving them into the cremation ovens.  But first, the Sonderkommando Jews had to pull the gold teeth out of the mouths of their fellow Jews, after they had been gassed.  (Shouldn’t they have pulled the gold teeth out BEFORE the Jews were gassed, and their bodies were contaminated with poison gas?)

Bodies of dead Jews were put onto a trolley before being shoved into the ovens at Auschwitz

Bodies of dead Jews were put onto a trolley before being shoved into the ovens at Auschwitz

Holocaust survivor Martin Becker was selected to be one of the Sonderkommando Jews, at the age of 11; he worked in this job for 5 years before he was marched out of the Auschwitz camp.

Martin Becker is still alive, at the age of 87, and he is out on the lecture circuit, telling his story, which you can read in full at

Look at my photo above, taken at Auschwitz in 2005.  It shows the trolley, on which the bodies were placed, before they were shoved into the ovens at Auschwitz. At the age of 11, Martin Becker had no trouble dragging a body out of the gas chamber and throwing it up onto a trolley car.

My 1998 photo of a trolley for putting bodies into the oven at Auschwitz

My 1998 photo of a trolley for putting bodies into the oven at Auschwitz

In my photo above, there are lighted candles on the trolley where the bodies would have been placed by the Sonderkommando Jews.  At the age of 11, Martin Becker was not much taller than the trolley car.  Yet, he somehow managed to do his job as a Sonderkommando, so that he would not be shoved into the oven alive.

Why did the Nazis keep Martin Becker alive for 5 long years?  Didn’t they know that he might live to the age of 87 and tell his story to the world?

This quote is from the article about Martin Becker:

Born in Karlsruhe, Germany, Martin Becker was sent to Auschwitz in 1941, as a child of 11. His parents and grandparents were marched off to the gas chambers. He was handed a pliers and ordered to pull gold from the teeth of gassed corpses, individuals — he recalled in my living room this week — who moments earlier had been alive.

Martin Becker lived and worked in this death camp [Auschwitz] for five years, forced to serve as a Sonderkommando, one of the cursed crew charged with disposing of corpses, removing valuables and putting them in the ovens.

It was terrible,” he said simply, with devastating understatement. He recalled a friend he made among the Sonderkommando, Eric, who missed some of the gold in the teeth. He was thrown in the oven by a Nazi guard, still alive. He recalled 1944, when the Hungarian Jews were shipped to their deaths in Auschwitz: “They had a lot of gold in their teeth.”  […]

The Nazis were careful to kill the Sonderkommando at regular intervals. They were witnesses to crimes, and as such, needed to be liquidated. Martin Becker said that at a key moment of liquidation, he slipped into a line of Russian children and was overlooked.  […]

How many times did Martin have to slip into a line of Russia children to escape being killed?  According to Wikipedia, the Sonderkommando Jews were killed every 4 months, and replaced by Jews who had just arrived at the camp.

This quote is from Wikipedia:

Because of their intimate knowledge of the process of Nazi mass murder, the Sonderkommando were considered Geheimnisträger — bearers of secrets — and as such, they were kept in isolation from other camp inmates, except, of course, for those about to enter the gas chambers. Since the Nazis did not want Sonderkommandos’ knowledge to reach the outside world, they followed a policy of regularly gassing almost all the Sonderkommando and replacing them with new arrivals at intervals of approximately 4 months; the first task of the new Sonderkommandos would be to dispose of their predecessors’ corpses. Therefore since the inception of the Sonderkommando through to the liquidation of the camp there existed approximately 14 generations of Sonderkommando.[1]

Was Martin Becker big for his age, when he was 11 years old? Was he a big, strapping boy, who could throw the body of a grown man onto a trolley cart?  His photo below, shows that he is shorter than the average man today, but maybe he has shrunk with age.

Martin Becker was a Sonderkommando Jew at Auschwitz

Martin Becker was a Sonderkommando Jew at Auschwitz


  1. The reverent tone of the comments on the Becker story is hilarious.

    Comment by eah — August 29, 2015 @ 9:57 am

  2. I’ve been reading Primo Levi’s THE DROWNED AND THE SAVED in which he mentions messages found in bottles buried by the Auschwitz Sonderkommandos that describe gassings. Can someone tell me anything more about these messages – where they are today and if they have been translated into English and published? Here’s another report of bottled message from the doomed found bricked into a wall. David Olère was a Polish sondercommando who miraculously survived the horrors of camp life to capture in paintings and drawings that exceed the mastery of “the four Vs” (Van Dyke, Van Eyk, Vermeer and Von Dutch) the fiendish brutality of the Nazi’s extermination program.

    Comment by who dares wings — March 17, 2014 @ 11:52 am

  3. Try the Kosher Wikipedia entry on Majdanek concentration camp where all those who weren’t gassed at Treblinka arrived. The entry even has a picture of the gas cylinders they used to poison the helpless people in the showers !

    “Cylinders for poison gas that was fed to the shower rooms near the entrance to the camp “

    Comment by peter — March 17, 2014 @ 2:39 am

    • When I visited Majdanek in 1998, I saw the little room, in one of the gas chambers, where the carbon monoxide cylinders were kept. I wrote about this on my website.

      Quote from my website

      “In the second gas chamber in this same building, there is a small interior room which has a small barred window, about 6 by 10 inches, on one of the walls. This window had no glass and no window frame when I saw it. Through this window, the killing process could be observed by an SS guard standing in the small interior observation room, according to my tour guide. Inside the interior room were cans of carbon monoxide, which was also used in this chamber, according to the guidebook. The entrance to the small observation room is inside the gas chamber and there was no door. The tour proceeded very quickly through the gas chambers, as the tour guide wanted to get out of these creepy rooms as quickly as possible.”

      The photo of the carbon monoxide cylinders is at

      Comment by furtherglory — March 17, 2014 @ 6:44 am

      • Interesting ; so is this how ( ie with CO cylinders ) the Jews were killed according to official accounts in the alleged gas chambers at Majdanek ?

        Comment by peter — March 17, 2014 @ 10:50 am

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