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REVIEW: Tadeusz Sobolewicz's BUT I SURVIVED-and How to Take the Longer View on Horrors of War, Terror and Torture

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The story of his time in the kitchen is an important one because one perceives a sort of Stalag-17-functioning resistance working out of the kitchen in Auschwitz led mostly by Polish political prisoners. Tadeusz was able to help out a lot.

Alas, by the end of 1942, the SS had gotten wise to the personal suasion and connections fostered over years by these older camp prisoners, and, therefore, began to put spies and peoples of other nationalities, such as Ukranians in their midst. In one of these catches against the camp cooking staff, Tadeusz was caught up (and like many of the older Polish political prisoners that same winter), so he was sent off to another work camp: Buchenwald.

1943-1945: Five more Camps in Two Years

Before WWII was over, Tadeusz had gotten a working tour of various famous extermination and industrial work camps. His first stop was in Buchenwald, where he and other newly transported prisoners had to start over in a new pecking order. This meant that even the senior political prisoners had no connections or support network at these other prison camps. This shifting from camp to camp would happen several times over Tadeusz' next two years in confinement.

For Tadeusz, probably the worst place he could have ended up was where he got caught in a life-or-death fire in the cellar of a V1Rocket factory. (There was no way prisoners could have thought of escaping it would seem, i.e. so far under the earth.) This fire took place because some Russian prisoners had successfully sabotaged some weaponry at the site. The SS soldiers response was ruthless and all prisoners in Tadeusz' block were told that none of the Russian prisoners would not be allowed to eat until someone turned someone in. Tadeusz and his fellow prisoners could not look each other in the eye as the Russians received no substance day after day.

After several days of this, the Russians flipped out. Some Russian set the underground area on fire in hopes of some of them escaping into the night.

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Tadeusz was caught in this fire and was burnt badly. Hundreds of other prisoners either died in the flames, or from smoke or were shot fleeing through the few doors and window. Luckily for Tadeusz, that particular underground camp, Muelsen, belonged to a much larger work camp 5 hours to the west. Therefore any surviving wounded prisoners or guards were sent to that camp's medical facilities. This camp was in Bavaria and was known as Flossenburg.

Again, a particular miracle worker stepped in at this camp and saved Tadeusz' life. It seems that this medical professional, too, was Polish and like Tadeusz, was a survivor of Auschwitz. This particular Pole worked overtime for months cleaning Tadeusz' wounds of scraps of earth and stones embedded in the wounds. The polish medical profession also oversaw and treated him for all related infections. Later, when Tadeusz, was sent out to work in the camp, this same new savior of Takeusz helped him again and again-even keeping Tadeusz from the hands of a maniacal German camp doctor, who liked to do horrible experiments and related dangerous surgeries on patients.

1945: Death March

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As the war neared its end, some Gestapo (and soldiers) became more & more vicious while some became less of the monsters they had once been. This is what Tadeusz and his fellow prisoners began to witness from the time of the June 1944 Allied Invasion of Normandy till the end of the war. For example, one former officer from Auschwitz who never would have thought a second about shooting Tadeusz in Auschwitz, decided to simply have Tadeusz whipped for smuggling bread to other prisoners when he was serving again as cook in Regensburg.

Due to this increasingly unclear constellation of actions by both German soldiers and SS helpers, the remaining prisoners began considering more escapes. Such uncertainty and the growing need to take one's life into one's own hands, led Tadeusz and several companions escape during a death march to Austria in late April. By May 2, 1945 his life was in Allied Forces hands-but only because several Bavarian villagers had, in the meantime, helped him and his peers to hide inside their little town on several occasions, i.e. at risk to their own lives.

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KEVIN STODA-has been blessed to have either traveled in or worked in nearly 100 countries on five continents over the past two and a half decades.--He sees himself as a peace educator and have been-- a promoter of good economic and social development--making-him an enemy of my homelands humongous DEFENSE SPENDING and its focus on using weapons to try and solve global (more...)

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