Arrival at Rothau railway station, dehumanisation before the camp

“We were ordered to immediately get out of the cars. A tall SS man, Hermanntraut… was wildly gesticulating with his huge legs and arms and waving a whip in one hand.

Life in hell began. We moved quickly, quickly – schnell, schnell, the word we constantly heard all day long from now on. We quickly lined up on the railway platform…

They pointed to three lorries and we had run and climb as fast as we could over and through lines, tracks and platforms to reach them, chased by dogs and S.S. armed with clubs...

The lorries struggled to climb up a steep hill with lots of switchbacks. We reached the snow... I just had a suit on, no overcoat, and started to feel cold. I said ‘kalt’ [cold] to an S.S., who let loose a torrent of insults against me. I couldn’t understand a word he was saying. That would come later. Every day we lived in an atmosphere of continuous, brutal shouting…

We reached the top of the hill, which was completely bare of trees. The cold wind was howling, kicking up whirlwinds of snow. On our right we passed a big farm with lots of outbuildings —Struthof — before walking near a little villa on the left, with a swimming pool, if you please! That was the commander’s house… and a few hundred meters later we were at the camp’s gate, staggered on the hillside.”
André RAGOT