Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Martin Water - 1982

Witnessing Killings

Then while I was with this Kommando, there was an incident that is worth mentioning. There was this man. He was working, with his pick--was sub-zero, very, very cold and he--all of a sudden a dialogue ensued between him and a young boy. He said, "Here's my can. I don't want to live. I'm gonna tell the Germans to kill me."

Here is his can? Can you explain...

Can. Can for the soup.

For the soup.

Yeah, he had a little can. This went up along--there'd be a little, a little wire--string went across, and you held it, and soup was given to us in this little can. And they were talking back and forth, and suddenly the young man said to him, "What are you talking about? Hold on. It won't take long. It won't take long." He says, "No, I cannot make it." All of a sudden, he went towards the Germans. Yeah. This was a, a tragedy uh, like a trag...Greek tragedy. Was a very cold day, very windy. The two Germans--or I should say rather, two SS men--one was a young man, blond, with a scar on his right cheek, up to his temple. The other one was an elderly man--as far as I'm concerned, probably he was about fifty--but in those days, to me, he looked elderly--was very obese--a scar on his neck--on his big, fat neck. They know that for a fire not to be extinguished, they erected a little wall. And they sat there and warmed themselves. So he goes over to them and he says, "I want you to kill me." So the youngest, eh, SS man said to him, "Walk." Now there was an unwritten law: if you walked across the street, you were shot. So he walked a few paces, and the elderly SS man went after him, grabbed him by his neck, and he says, "Go back to work." So he went back to work. About ten minutes later the same thing happened. He started talking to the young man: "I don't want to live. I can't take it, I cannot take it. I don't want to live." And he was trying to talk him out of it. Finally he handed over the empty can, and went over to the Germans again and he said the same thing he said. They said to him, "Walk." He walked. The younger soldier--SS man--kneeled down on one foot, took off his ???, leaned over that little wall, and fired. He missed him. Whether it was purposely or not I don't know, because it wasn't too far away to miss, and you had to be a marksman to uh, miss from such a short distance. The man turned around, he opened up his jacket--he gave him a target. He fired again. He hit him. He fell down. They walked over to him, they gave him the coup de grâce: another bullet. Now, an incident like that, I can never forget, never forget. Now I would like to go back to one incident in the ghetto--I mean, not in the ghetto, in the concentration camp.

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