I couldn't look at them. My eyes filled with tears

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Indy Lifestyle Online
Emmanuel Fisher's Belsen diary, 21 April 1945

TODAY our CCS began to receive some hundreds of these patients - all women. We had cleared a number of houses (temporary German military barracks) and prepared beds in every available space.

The patients were first brought to a delousing centre, where they were bathed and deloused by German nurses under the supervision of staff. Then they came to us, born on stretchers by Hungarian soldiers we had conscripted as "unskilled labour", and were literally bundled into bed, for most of them were, or at least appeared to be, just nondescript bundles wrapped in three blankets. I helped to carry some of them in. They weighed three to five stone - less than my little brother aged nine.

Acting as interpreter, I had to talk to some of them. One Jewish woman, aged about 45, as far as I could guess by her conversation (it was otherwise difficult), said, as soon as she was put in bed, "Please, I want to go to America. How long I have waited for this moment. They shot my husband and two sons in front of me." Another said "Must I die? I am only 17". Another spoke to me in English. She was quite insane.

I was giving each a warm drink - it took one woman a full minute to bring her arm out of her blanket to grip the cup. I simply could not look at these human wrecks for more than a few seconds. I found my eyes filling with tears, and had to turn away from my comrades.

These women were not easily distinguishable - the same formula applied to them all from the neck downwards - just human skeletons.

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