The "wheelbarrow kommando" and "Death Ravine"

“When we arrived, barbed wire held up by poles about 30 centimeters high with signs on top that were smaller but just as black ran along the downhill part of the road. They had a skull and crossbones on them, the S.S. emblem (2).

We had been warned: ‘if one of you crosses that line, it will be considered an attempt to escape and in that case the guard has strict orders to shoot immediately. Watch out!’ Nobody ever had to repeat that warning to us again.

(…) The July N.N. …often worked in this spot, building the big platform above and outside the camp on which the S.S. barracks had been built. The Deportation Memorial and Necropolis, places of pilgrimage and reflection, were built there. That is also where several French N.N. deportees were murdered in July-August 1943. Pushing wheelbarrows or carrying big stones on the platform, they were tripped or pushed down to the bottom. Escape attempt, the guard opened fire. Hitting his target.”

(2) The Totenkopf, ‘death head’, was the emblem of the S.S., who were assigned to guarding and running the camps.

“We reached a big mound on the other side of the camp. We had wheelbarrows. We hit the ground and stones. We loaded up our wheelbarrows and dumped all that into the ravine to make a platform.”