In front of us, those flames. In the air, the smell of burning flesh. It must have been about midnight. We had arrived. In Birkenau. (2.63)
"Hey, kid, how old are you?"
The man interrogating me was an inmate. I could not see his face, but his voice was weary and warm.
"No. You’re eighteen."
"But I’m not," I said. "I’m fifteen."
"Fool. Listen to what I say."
Then he asked my father, who answered:
"No." The man now sounded angry. "Not fifty. You’re forty. Do you hear? Eighteen and forty." (3.11-19)
"Shut up, you moron, or I’ll tear you to pieces! You should have hanged yourselves rather than come here. Didn’t you know what was in store for you here in Auschwitz? You didn’t know? In 1944?"
True. We didn’t know. Nobody had told us. He couldn’t believe his ears. His tone became even harsher:
"Over there. Do you see the chimney over there? Do you see it? And the flames, do you see them?" (Yes, we saw the flames.) "Over there, that’s where they will take you. Over there will be your grave. You still don’t understand? You sons of bitches. Don’t you understand anything? You will be burned! Burned into a cinder! Turned to ashes!" (3.25-27)