Extreme Punishment

Kolce, Poland

In June of 1944, Ben was transported to a rock quarry labor camp in Durnhau. The labor camp was a sub-camp of the Gross-Rosen concentration camp (Lesser, 121). Fortunately, he had not been separated from Isaac and his Uncle. Here, the manual labor was almost fatally-exhausting. Using sledge-hammers, the men had to break down large boulders into pieces small enough to be thrown into mining carts. Next, they would run the carts down the hill to grinding machines where the boulder pieces would be reduced to gravel (Lesser, 121). After this, they had to run the empty cart back up the hill and start over. They repeated this process over and over until the day was ended.

In fear that his Uncle would not be able to survive doing the extreme labor much longer, Ben came up with a plan in effort to save him. Using all the diamonds that his Uncle had hidden within his shoes, Ben bribed the kitchen chef into getting his uncle a job in the kitchen (Lesser, 122). This was not the only sacrifice Ben would make for his Uncle while in Durnhua.

One day, three inmates had escaped the labor camp (Lesser, 122). As a result, the rest of the inmates were punished. The order was that every tenth person in line was to receive the punishment. Ben saw that his Uncle was one of the tenth persons in line and switched places with him to save him (Lesser, 124). The number 10’s were made to stand in a hunched position over a sawhorse. They were to be lashed 25 times with hardwood stakes, about two feet long with razor sharp edges (Lesser, 123). They had to count out loud while being whipped with the stakes. If they were to miscount, they were forced to start over from one again. This was also the case if a heel touched the ground, or any part of their bodies touched the sawhorse (Lesser, 124).

Ben witnessed the brutal murders of the three men who had gone before him (Lesser, 125). When he was up, he assumed the position over the red splattered sawhorse. Ben’s flesh was torn from his body with each hit (Lesser, 125). To everyone's surprise including his own, Ben had finished and survived the sinister punishment. It was his determination to live that got him through it.

In February of 1945, the entire camp was evacuated (Lesser, 128). Everyone who could walk would be marched out of the camp. Ben never saw his uncle again after this evacuation (Lesser, 12). Fortunately, he still had his cousin, Isaac. It was unknown to them that the journey they were embarking on was the infamous Death March (Lesser, 129).