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Into That Darkness: From Mercy killing to Mass Murder

Sereny, Gitta | McGraw-Hill, 1974


pp. 198 - 199

Richard Glazar, a Treblinka escapee, tells how prisoners tried desperately to stay alive by looking as if they deserved to live (e.g. Glazar shaved up to seven times a day and polished his boots to a high shine). But prisoners never knew whether a good shave or a high shine “might make them too conspicuous. The effect of being clean always helped–it even created a kind of respect in them. But to be seen doing it might be considered showing off, or toadying, and provoke punishment, or death. We finally understood that the maximum safety lay in looking much–but not too much–like the SS themselves.” Also the Nazis recognized and exploited the differences between the highly educated and sophisticated Jews from Western Europe and the much less cosmopolitan ones from East Europe. P. 199: With “terrifying astuteness” Nazis understood “the capacity of Western Jews individually to grasp the monstrous truth and individually to resist it, and therefore ordered that great pains be taken to mislead and calm them until, naked, in rows of five and running under the whiplash, they had been made incapable of resistance. By the same token they realized that these precautions were unnecessary with the Eastern Jews who–up to a point–expected terror.” All that was needed here was to create more hysteria. Most—Western or Eastern—would be dead two hours after arrival. Those two hours “were filled with such an infinity of carefully devised mass violence that it robbed these hundred thousands of any chance to pause, or think.”