Oral History

Sandor (Shony) Alex Braun describes the death of his father in Kochendorf, a subcamp of Natzweiler

Shony's town was occupied by Hungary in 1940 and then by Germany in 1944. In May 1944, Shony was deported to Auschwitz and forced to work in a Sonderkommando, carrying bodies to the crematoria for burning. To be reunited with his father, Shony managed to switch places with another prisoner. This switch saved his life; the other Sonderkommando members were shot. Shony was transferred to the Natzweiler camp system and then to Dachau, and was liberated by US troops in April 1945.


One prisoner was missing. After several recounts, prisoner...one prisoner was still missing. So the Kapos went to the barrack to see...or, or to look for him. And they found the missing man sleeping in a corner. My father. They dragged him from, from his collar, from, from his collar, to the SS guard. That's February, it's cold, snowing, ice on the ground. And, the SS guard turned to the assembly, to us, said "As I understand, the Jewish dog has here two sons. I want them to step out and come near him. Witness his punishment." So we had to step out. So we stepped out, and we were standing near him. Then he turned to the rest of them. He says, "This dirty Jewish dog kept Germany from victory ten minutes, because that's how long it took to find him." Then he gave a swift kick to my father which signaled the Kapos to start the punishment. They rushed toward him, and was kicking and beating him from all direction. Whipping him. We fell on our knees. And we turned to the SS and said, "Please, stop. Beat us. Please don't do that." The...the beating was even more severe. Then slowly, I started chanting the...the Twenty-second Psalm. I think it's the Twenty-second. "Eli, Eli, lama azavtanu?"--"Oh, God, my God, why have thou forsaken us?" They were beating him until he collapsed, my father, and was silent, except for his lips were moving, tried to say something. And I noticed...came closer, and I noticed that he was reciting the declaration of faith of the Jewish people, Sh'ma. The Sh'ma: "Sh'ma Yisrael, Adonai elohenu, Adonai echad"--"Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One." Then he was very silent.

  • US Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection
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