Previous Pamphlets in the Liberty Publication Series have helped to inform us about Poland, about her past and her present, about the hopes of Polish democrats for the future – a Poland restored to freedom and independence in the family of European nations.
This pamphlet deals with the present, the hideous and tragic present. It makes painful reading. There are pages which sicken one with horror, pages which it is scarcely possible to believe. But we know they are true... From these harsh and ugly facts we dare not turn aside, shuddering and unbelieving or, if believing, protesting that they should be forgotten-for these facts are part of the living experience of a great people... We dare not, for the sake of our own comfort, fail to pay the brave people of Poland our debt of understanding, understanding of what the cruel years of German occupation have meant.
This stark record of life and death in the notorious Auschwitz concentration camp reveals the cunning, calculated brutality by which the Germans are attempting to destroy the Polish nation. It is difficult for civilised people to comprehend the racial theory by which the Germans justify their policy of extermination in Poland. Biology, morality, and commonsense alike refute that senseless theory. But it is still more difficult to understand why those who are destined by their oppressors to die, must first be tortured by all manner of revolting cruelties – unless it be that the oppressors hope to have the ghoulish satisfaction of reducing their victims to their own level of savagery before they die.
Some have escaped, some have been able to send messages to the outside world telling the terrible secrets of the camp of death. And in spite of the fate that awaits those who are caught by the Gestapo, thousands of men and women in Poland daily risk their lives in the underground resistance movement, with the moral and spiritual support of the rest of the Polish people who have so far escaped death, concentration camp or deportation to Germany. The facts set forth in this pamphlet are a message from gallant allies inside Poland. They are a challenge to us to intensify our efforts to hasten the day of victory, liberation, and restitution.
Jennie L. Adamson, M.P.
The Polish Underground obtained secretly access to the official German camp-roll of Auschwitz, showing the consecutive number of prisoners up to March, 1943, to be 113,272. This is the number of prisoners who have passed through the camp during 2.5 years. 11,274 were shot, 33,923 were executed in gas chambers, 31,524 died from exhaustion or tortures – in all 76,721 dead.
In all that time 1,117 persons were released from the camp and 6,019 transferred to other concentration camps. Accordingly the number of living inmates at Auschwitz was on March 1st, 1943, 29,415. However, the number of persons executed is far from complete. The official German camp-roll includes only a part of the murdered prisoners. Large transports of people have been directed from the trains. immediately to the gas chambers and killed there without registration on the camp-roll. The Polish Underground Labour Movement estimates the number of people, largely Jews, who died at the camp up to December, 1943, without formal registration, to amount to 1,000,000.