Back to Auschwitz

On 4 January 1945, two women left the Buchenwald subcamp in Hessisch-Lichtenau accompanied by a member of the SS. Their destination was Auschwitz-Birkenau. Months earlier, the Auschwitz SS had decided not to kill them immediately. Instead, they had sent the two Hungarian Jewish women to Germany to perform forced labour in an explosives factory.

One of the two, the 33-year-old Aranka Steiner, was eight months pregnant. At such an advanced stage she could no longer conceal her pregnancy, and that meant certain death. Like sick inmates, she was considered “unfit for work” – and thus as worthless – by the SS. In the previous months, the SS had repeatedly taken Jewish inmates back to Auschwitz to be killed.

However, Auschwitz refused to admit the two women, as the camp’s clearance was inevitable. So the two women were taken halfway back across Germany to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, the main “Sterbelager” – that is, a camp where inmates were left to die of the consequences of their imprisonment. “Our sister never returned”, one of Aranka Steiner’s sisters later recounted.

(Michael Löffelsender)

Reference: Dieter Vaupel, Das Aussenkommando Hess: Lichtenau des Konzentrationslagers Buchenwald 1944/45: Eine Dokumentation, Kassel 1984.