Zigeunernacht, August 1944
Towards the end of the war, as more and more transports arrived at Auschwitz, the decision was taken to liquidate the entire Zigeunerlager to make room for more prisoners.
Word of this reached the Zigeunerlager in May 1944, prompting a rebellion by the camp that caused the SS to retreat.
But the SS would not make the same mistake twice.
In late July Mengele ordered the ‘stronger’ Romani men to be force-marched away from Auschwitz to be used as labour in other parts of Poland and Germany.
Then, in August 1944, almost 3,000 of those remaining at the Zigerunerlager – the elderly, the sick, the women, the children – were lured out of their barracks by promises of bread and sausages, loaded onto trucks, taken to the gas chambers and killed.
Witnesses tell of SS guards picking children up by their ankles to smash their heads against walls.
It became known as Zigeunerhacht, Gypsy Night, and the death of Auschwitz.
Josef Mengele made sure every Romani child was accounted for, tracking down those who had hidden, luring them into his car and driving them to the gas chambers. Witnesses heard their cries all day and into the night.
Then it went quiet.
It was the end of the Zigeunerlager.