Świebodzice, 25.02.2005

My answers to the young people’s questions

I was arrested aged 16 by the Gestapo on 8th March 1944. The village was razed to the ground on that day, older people were shot and the young people forced into cars and transported to prison, and the village pacified – all the buildings burnt to the ground.

I was imprisoned in Radomsko and here in that prison the torturous interviews by the Gestapo began. The methods they used made it an inhumane ordeal. After one week, they transported us – female prisoners from Pawiak – that prison – into cattle wagons. The conditions were terrible – we were hungry – it was cold… it took two weeks for us to get to Ravensbrueck. When we crossed the camp gate, hell on Earth began. Female SS acted like beasts – they hit us, kicked us when one of us could not stand up in line. I wept that I was born, sentenced to such cruelty, that I found myself in such circumstances…. Beatings without cause… it wasn’t enough that people were just skeletons, but they actually took pleasure in beating us even more.

The food was disgusting: dried bitter swede/turnip with sand, assorted bread with chestnut flour…but we ate it out of hunger because there was nothing else.

I spent seven weeks in Ravensbrueck. During that time, I was experimented on. A white liquid was injected into my vagina (unknown to me even today) I had high fevers and intense stomach pain. It was very painful. The experiment was carried out by a uniformed Army man in SS uniform. For two weeks, we would stand naked in the yard as they did experiments and took pictures. After seven weeks, they transported us young ones to Neubrandenburg, to very hard physical labour to build a new Lager (camp) in a forest. It was very hard work with cement and bricks, we had to push carts up such big hills that sometimes our eyes would pop out with the pressure, but we were not allowed to rest, for the functionary would beat us until we lost consciousness. Every day was hell. The roll calls took place every morning and evening for two hours. We had to stand motionless for that time.

You ask where we found the strength to continue living. Not everybody could survive, many preferred to end their lives on the electric fences.

Did we feel hate towards our persecutors? Very much so. I don’t have the words to name what they were – vicious beasts without limits. I do not bear a grudge against the German people. They were not guilty of such inhumanity. It was Hitler who chose people to carry out such murderous work.

Did I hate the Germans later? I personally have contact with many German citizens and I appreciate the fact that they take interest in this terrible history and, as far as they are able, they come with aid. They open their hearts wide to us, they simply want to make up for the harm done by their fellow countrymen of a previous generation.

I hope that this will not happen again and that these monsters do not exist.

Maria Mielińska

From the house of Zafoń

Born 29.09.1926

From March 1944 to May 1945 Ravensbrück – Neubrandenburg, prisoner nr 30953

Translated by Karen Forth