This quote is from a recent news article: “Samuel Pisar, who survived Auschwitz as a boy to become a successful lawyer, an adviser to presidents and the creator of the text for Leonard Bernstein’s symphony “Kaddish,” died on Monday in Manhattan. He was 86.”
When I read in the news today that Samuel Pisar had died recently, that name instantly rang a bell. I knew that I had written about him on my website many years ago. I looked up his name, and sure enough, I found what I had written about his survival, as a teenager in the Auschwitz death camp, and his march out of Dachau, just before the camp was liberated by American soldiers.
This quote is from the news story about Samuel Pisar’s death:
In a series of interviews with The New York Times in 2009, he [Samuel Pisar] described how he had survived the death camps by becoming pitiless and cruel, finding older protectors and ways to appear privileged in a hierarchy of despair, like persuading a prisoner-tailor to refashion a cap so that the stripes on the top perfectly met the stripes on the side. He was condemned to die at least twice, but managed to slip back into the general prison population, once convincing a guard that he was there only to wash the floor.
“I had to learn bad habits,” he said, “to be good at lying and make instant judgments about people, what they were saying, what they really thought, and not just the guards and torturers, but my fellow prisoners, too. I was a cute kid, and there were a lot of psychotics around.”
At the end of the war, he escaped during a death march [out of Dachau].
But to rejoin the world, “I had to wipe out the first 17 years of my life,” he said. “I muted the past” and “turned to the future with a vengeance.”
This is what I wrote about Samuel Pisar on my website years ago:
Acting upon Hitler’s orders, the Commandant of Dachau, Wilhelm Eduard Weiter, made an attempt to evacuate the Dachau main camp before the American liberators arrived. On April 26th, 1945, Weiter left the camp with a transport of prisoners bound for Schloss Itter, a subcamp of Dachu in Austria. On that same day, 1,759 Jewish prisoners were put on a train that was headed south.
Also on April 26th, there were 6,887 other prisoners, half of whom were Jews, that started on a march south to the mountains.
[These prisoners were being marched out of Dachau because the Nazis were afraid that they would roam the countryside, killing German civilians, if they were released from Dachau by the American liberators. A few did escape and that is exactly what happened.]
One of the prisoners who survived the march out of Dachau was Samuel Pisar, a Polish Jew who emigrated to America after the war, became an international lawyer and wrote a book entitled Of Blood and Hope.
Pisar was 13 years old when the Bialystock ghetto in northeastern Poland was liquidated. He was sent to the extermination camp at Majdanek, but his mother and younger sister were sent to Auschwitz. His father had already been shot by the Gestapo.
A few months later, Pisar was transferred to Auschwitz where he was given a job working near the crematoria at Birkenau. He could hear the cries of the innocents as they were herded into the gas chambers while an orchestra played classical music.
When Auschwitz was evacuated in January 1945, Pisar was one of the prisoners on the death march out of the camp; he ended up in Dachau where his misery continued. When American planes strafed the column of Jews marching out of Dachau, he managed to escape and was eventually rescued by American soldiers. He had just turned 16 and had survived three long years of Nazi persecution.
End of quote from my website
Samuel Pisar’s whole story is one of Holocaust denial. As everyone knows, the Jews went through a selection process in the death camps, and everyone under the age of 16 was gassed.
Pisar was sent to Majdanek, which was a death camp, at the age of 13, but he wasn’t gassed. From Majdanek, he was transferred to Auschwitz-Birkenau, another death camp. When the Nazis marched out of Birkenau, he joined them instead of waiting to be liberated by the Soviets. For some reason, he had no fear of following the Nazis to Dachau where there was another gas chamber waiting for him.
Then he was sent on a death march out of Dachau, but he wasn’t killed. His whole story is one of Holocaust denial. The purpose of a “death march” was to kill the prisoners. The first time that I was called a Holocaust denier was when I wrote that the purpose of a “death march” was NOT to kill the prisoners, but to prevent them from roaming the countryside and attacking German civilians.