With the same feverish movements with which the old workman on the railway bank removed it, the string had been tied round the hammer the previous day by the trembling fingers of its owner, an old workman. One hundred pairs of eyes watched his every movement with fear and hope.

The carpenter had been caught, with his tool-box under his arm, when going down a street by the river Vistula. The words "Komm, Komm," from a German, armed with a rifle and appearing from behind a heap of coal, interrupted him on his daily route. The German pushed him with the butt of his rifle into an already overcrowded lorry.

A good workman always thinks of his tools, so the carpenter presses the box under his arm and does not leave it behind: now, when he is shut up in a dimly lit railway wagon with a hundred others, he instinctively makes sure that nothing is missing.

There have been few up to now who succeeded in getting news through to their families. It is also uncertain whether the notes scattered about the streets, fell into the right hands and reached their destination. The small openings in the ventilator shutters right under the roof only let in very little light and it is impossible to squeeze even a piece of paper through them. One of the suddenly conceives the idea of using the tool-box. It includes, among other things, a drill and a hammer. After a moment, when the train begins to move, and there is no guard in the van, a small hole is made in the floor, growing with every turn of the drill. It is already big enough to get a tool from the box through it. Like men, shipwrecked on a desert island, who trust their fate to a bottle thrown into the sea, those people caught in the streets of Warsaw push their desperate S.O.S., hidden in a hammer's handle, through that hole in the wagon floor.

The train moves along lazily. The slow heavy movement of the wheels shows that the engine is working hard, dragging along at least several dozens of crowded wagons. Each of them contains a hundred to a hundred and twenty people. Their teeth do not chatter any more as they did the night before – on the contrary; everybody feels hot. Their sweating bodies stick to each other. There is no hope of a little air; cattle trucks do not have windows, and the doors are securely bolted from the outside. It is also difficult to be standing up the whole time – but cattle trucks have no benches. After the excitement of their drive to the station and loading into the wagons – when the final movement of the train reveals that no change in their situation will take place within the next few hours, thirst sets in, and the sight of passing stations reminds them of loaded buffets and boys handing round lemonade.

After a time the unbearable feeling of thirst is surpassed by pangs o{ hunger; since they had left home – when was that? – 48 hours have passed. Even their highly-strung nerves cannot shut out that dreadful longing for something to drink, and that gnawing pain in their insides.

The feeling of emptiness in their bodies is terrible, but the internal discomfort is equally painful. Cattle trucks do not possess water closets and people are forced to act like animals. After many hours on the way one corner of the wagon is covered with filth and puddles, filling the air with their nauseating smell. It gets hotter and more foul-smelling every moment. Not everybody's lungs can manage to breathe the little air which is left and stand up to the dreadful atmosphere. Before the load of people arrive at their destination, several persons in each wagon have lost consciousness. It is impossible to revive them, as there are no windows, and the doors are bolted, and the small openings of the ventilators under the ceiling let in hardly any air.

The hours or days of the journey – nobody can judge the amount of time spent in agony-drag along like a bad dream which it is impossible to shake off. Awakening will come after the unbolting of those heavy doors and the first inhaling of fresh air. As long as this does not happen, one has to exist somehow, and just try not to think. One has only to last out in that suffocating tightness of the truck.

Suddenly the train stops. Not at a station, but in the middle of deserted fields, surrounded by hedges. Some people in the last truck of that long train have managed to interrupt their delirious sleep and somehow to open the heavy doors, while the train is still in motion: They fill their lungs to bursting point with fresh air and, intoxicated by it, decide to flee. The engine pants slower and slower, the sound of the wheels stops. Another noise interrupts the silence of the sleeping fields: three machine-gun salvos. Three prisoners finish their flight in the nearby bushes; their bodies fall riddled by bullets from the German machine-guns. The train does not move on, but remains motionless for another hour. This gives the German policemen time enough to dash to the nearest village, catch three peasants in their huts, and push them towards the waiting train. They are bundled into the same wagon from which only a short time ago three men tried to reach liberty. These three peasants complete once more the number of victims required. The engine puffs once, twice, three times; it moves on with its full complement for Auschwitz.
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