Page 55. " You Jew finished. You soon ready for crematorium "

Auschwitz-Birkenau played a central role in the Nazi's systematic extermination of the Jews of Europe. During the summer and autumn of 1941, Zyklon B gas was introduced into German concentration camps as a highly efficient means for murder. The SS initially converted two farmhouses for use as gas chambers, but judged these facilities inadequate for the scale of gassing they planned at Auschwitz-Birkenau. Four large crematorium buildings were constructed between March and June 1943. Each had three components: a disrobing area, a large gas chamber, and crematorium ovens. To prevent panic, the Nazis told new arrivals that they would be taking a shower. Instead they were gassed to death and then burnt in the crematoria. The SS continued gassing operations at Auschwitz-Birkenau until November 1944.

Page 57. " The tunes are few, a dozen, the same ones every day, morning and evening: marches and popular songs dear to every german. "

Camp Orchestra
Public DomainCamp Orchestra
Orchestras formed of camp inmates played in concentration and extermination camps. Orchestras functioned in various parts of Auschwitz from 1941 to 1945 and consisted of some of Europe's finest musicians. There were men’s orchestras in the Main Camp, Birkenau and Monowitz.  Much was demanded of these musicians. They performed for hours during role call and had to play when new arrivals were sent directly to the gas chambers. Prisoners would march in time to the orchestra's music as they left and returned to camp on work details. The orchestra also played during Selections, and when executions were ordered. They gave concerts for the SS men and their families on Sundays and holidays, and played at dance evenings and social events.

Members of the camp orchestras tended to receive preferential treatment. Their barracks were less cramped and squalid, and they usually received better quality rations than the other inmates.

Page 67. " It is a pitiless dream which the creator of the Tantalus myth must have known "
Public DomainTantalus

Tantalus is a figure in Greek mythology.

Tantalus offered up his son Pelops as a sacrifice to the Gods, cutting him up, boiling him and serving him up at a banquet. Aware of the gruesome nature of the menu, the Gods didn't touch the offering. Only Demeter, distraught at the loss of her daughter Persephone, absentmindedly ate part of the boy's shoulder. Zeus (King of the Gods) ordered Clotho, one of the three Fates, to bring the boy to life again. His body parts were collected in a sacred cauldron and boiled, and his shoulder rebuilt from ivory. Pelops grew to be extraordinarily handsome, so much so that the god Poseidon fell in love with him and abducted him to Mount Olympus.

Tantalus's crimes of cannibalism, human sacrifice and infanticide were atrocities and breached all taboos. The punishment for his act (now a proverbial term for temptation without satisfaction, and the source of the English word tantalise), was to stand in a pool of water beneath a fruit tree with low branches. Whenever he reached for the fruit, the branches raised his intended meal beyond his grasp. Whenever he bent to drink, the water receded before he could reach any. His fate was to be cursed with eternal deprivation.