"Nightmare Come True," Commentary, October 1947. (A review of The Other Kingdom by David Rousset, Smoke over Birkenau by Seweryna Szmaglewska, and Beyond the Last Path, by Eugene Weinstock.)
We wish that the men in Buchenwald had acted differently, that there had been more human cooperation and self-sacrifice. But how would we have acted? What would we have done in the face of the diabolical trap that forced the prisoners to stand roll-call in a space too constricted to hold them all, with the surplus summarily executed? Would we have fought, scratched, kicked, and killed to get into line—before the uproarious belly-laughs of the SS—when the very space our bodies occupied spelled an innocent man’s death?