Chapter XVII

I WAS TAKING MY AFTERNOON NAP when Oberschaarführer Mussfeld, pushing three prisoners ahead of him, entered my room. He informed me that Dr. Mengele had given me three assistants, and so saying he darted a glance in their direction, his expression a mixture of cynicism and pity.

They were indeed pitiful to behold, standing there in dirty rags, dumb from the ill-treatment to which they had been subjected, mortally afraid, and feeling both clumsy and embarrassed by their change of environment. They too had left all hope behind them when they had passed through the crematorium gate.

I extended them a friendly and compassionate hand. We introduced ourselves. The first who took my hand was Dr. Denis Gorog, a physician and pathologist from the state hospital at Szombathely. He was a small, lean man of about 45, who wore thick glasses. He made a favorable impression on me, and I had a feeling we would become good friends. The second was a man of about 50; small, stooped almost to the point of being hunch-backed. He was pot-bellied and had a most disagreeable face. His name was Adolph Fischer. For twenty years he had been the lab assistant at the Prague Pathological Institute. A Czechoslovakian Jew, he had been a KZ prisoner for five years. The third newcomer, Dr. Joseph Kolner, was from Nice, France, and had been interned in the KZ for three years. He was a young man of only 32, not at all loquacious, but most gifted.

Dr. Mengele had fished them out of the D Camp barracks and sent them to me so that the ever-increasing numbers of autopsies could be effected without risk of a bottleneck. I was still responsible for the research undertaken, for the keeping of files and the writing of all reports made on the autopsies performed. The two doctors were going to help me with the dissections, and the lab assistant, faithful to his profession, would prepare the bodies. He would open the skulls, and extract and prepare certain organs for examination. After the dissections he would remove the bodies from the table and see that the dissection room and work room were kept neat and clean.

So I had been given competent, qualified collaborators, who would share my burdens. For me this was an undeniable relief.

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