Guards are needed at Auschwitz Concentration Camp. Follow the story of Gunter Maartens
|Günter Maartens awoke suddenly, a bomb had gone off. The ground was still shaking as he stumbled over to the blacked out window. He watched sullenly as four armed Gestapo officers strutted across the yard. He was not afraid, he had nothing to hide. This had happened before, they stormed in, checked for Jews, stole some food and left.|
However this time was different, they rang the bell. Even that was unusual. Günter lived by himself, after his brother and his wife had been forced to work in a prison that held Death Candidates, todeskandidaten. People who have done a minor offence against the Reich are kept in these prisons. If however, a resistance group blew something up or shot Gestapo officer, they would take a handful of the todeskandidaten and would shoot them in front of the entire village in which they were held.
Günter opened the door. The men walked in.
“We are looking for people to work in the Auschwitz concentration camp.” Günter nodded. “You have ten minutes to collect your things, otherwise we kill you, and everyone you love.” His words were harsher now almost shouting, “Schnell, quickly, quickly.” Günter leapt to his feet, and dashed upstairs.
He was frogmarched to a large truck with threadbare canvas sides. Günter was thrown inside, hands grabbed at him and dragged him deeper into the gloom. Günter watched his house disappear into the distance through a tear in the material. A tear trickled down his pale cheek, his fists were clenched so tightly that his knuckles turned white and his nails dug into his palm. He must cooperate with the Gestapo, he must save his family, he had no choice.
That was how Günter Maartens ended up outside the tall chain link fence, surrounded by about thirty men, their faces ashen after the long journey. A man of around forty addressed the crowd, he was well built and ruggedly handsome. His voice was husky, “I am Warden Miguel, within these walls are Jews!” he said the word as though he was talking about a dog's droppings that nobody had bothered to clean up. He spat on the ground, narrowly missing Günter's boot. “They are inhuman, if they step out of line you whip them. Hard! If they speak out of turn you whip them! If they work too slowly you whip them! You may whip them just because you want to whip them! Do you understand Saukarl?” The men raised their hands in the Nazi salute.
“Hail Hitler,” they chorused.
The Warden turned on his heel and marched through the gates, the men followed suit. He lead them toward a large brick barrack, this was where most of the Wardens eat, slept and socialized. The Warden appointed each of them a bunk and a uniform, the uniform had a faded Swastika sewn onto the sleeve. He was issued with a whip and told where the most vulnerable places to strike were. Günter felt sick, he was not used to this kind of brutal severity.
The men stepped from the barrack and the Warden told them to observe the regulations, and if anyone was to ask anything, they were to whip them. Günter walked East, as far as he could tell all the barracks looked roughly identical. He came across an old man with a pale sunken face and mere scatterings of grey short cropped hair.
Günter felt a wave of shock and sadness come over him. This was not what the German public were told, they were told the concentration camps were just to separate the Jews for the Non-Jews. This man however looked thin and undernourished; like a living ghost.
Günter composed himself, took a deep breath and strode on. Almost every person he met cowered from him like a mouse would to a cat. Günter poked his head round the entrance of one of the many barracks, once again he was shocked by what he saw. It was filled with bunks and insects roamed free, crawling over and under the various sheets. There was very few people here, and the few that were, didn't seem to notice his arrival.
Early the next morning Günter was put to work, he was supervising the inmates who were loading heavy blocks of concrete onto wheelbarrows and steering them towards another unit. A frail young man was clutching his back and groaning terribly. Günter approached him, his whip held high. He took a deep breath and swung, the strike was deafening and Günter felt flesh give way, the man made a high pitched animal like howl, his face was contorted in pain. Günter felt immensely guilty although he tried not to show it. Dark red blood seeped through the thin cloth of the man's shirt. Günter vowed that he would never hit another soul as long as he lived, even though that was not to be a particularly long time.
Günter turned a blind eye to prisoners who were slacking. Unlike other Wardens, Günter didn't see what was so bad about the Jews. He thought that everyone should be treated equally and not criticized for their beliefs. Of course he didn't tell anyone that, that would be suicide.
Unfortunately, Warden Miguel noticed that Günter wasn’t using his whip. He called him over, Günter was shaking he feared for his life. The Warden was suspicious and kept a close eye on the troubled guard. A couple of days later a bullet found it's way between Günter's shoulder blades. His last words were “It's not fair, I'm sorry.” as his whip soared down on a trembling Jew.
Günter fell like a rock, his features moulded in shock. The Warden stalked over, “Fair play Günter, fair play.” He spat on the lifeless body of Günter Maartens, and marched into the distance.