An Analysis of “This Way for the Gas Ladies and Gentlemen”
The short story “The Death of Schillinger” was a story about a First Sergeant whom ruled over labor sector ‘D,’ a laboring portion of Birkenau which was formally known as the Auschwitz extermination camp. Schillinger was a short stocky man and was truly evil at his essence; “He visited the crematoria regularly and liked to watch people being shoved into the gas chambers.” (pp.144) One day in August of 1943, the SS were unloading a transport and preparing to load stripped Jews into the gas chambers. However, before this could be done Schillinger took a liking to one of the nude women and grabbed her out of line; she threw gravel in his eyes, grabbed his revolver, and shot him several times. After being fatally wounded Schillinger was repeatedly asking himself, “My God, what have I done to deserve such suffering?” (pp.146) Later that day several Sonderkommandos attempted to rally a revolt at the crematoria, however all were killed by German SS soldiers via machine gun. I believe the theme of this short story is that death was so prominent in Birkenau that no one, even the sergeants, were safe. While Schillinger may have been truthfully ignorant to his ways, I believe the death of the Sonderkommandos symbolized the lack of justice in Auschwitz. Even though the evil Sergeant was killed, by no means did that suggest the innocent would escape or achieve their vengeance.
The short story “The Man with the Package” was about a man who was a Schreiber; a Schreiber escorted patients in and out of the hospital, helped to keep records, and indirectly selected Jews for the gas chamber. The Schreiber described in the story eventually became ill with flu like symptoms and was to be sent to the Waschraum. If a Jew was sent to the Waschraum, they were to be later sent to one of the four crematoria. Before the Schreiber was sent to Block 14 (a precursor to the Waschraum) he...