Dario Gabbai and the Auschwitz Sonderkommando

Tue, 03/19/2013 - 1:07pm

In spring 1944, after losing nearly his entire family on the day they arrived at Auschwitz II-Birkenau, 22-year-old Dario Gabbai was assigned to one of the special units of Jewish prisoners required to work in the gas chambers and crematoria: the Sonderkommando. Members of these units were routinely killed, but Dario survived to take part in the October 7, 1944 uprising at Birkenau’s Crematorium IV, where hundreds of thousands of Hungarian Jews had been sent to their deaths.

Dario gave his testimony to the Institute on October 9, 1994—almost 50 years to the day his Sonderkommando unit fought back against the SS guards at Birkenau and set fire to Crematorium IV. His memories of that horrific time, and of the desperate act of resistance in which he participated, are detailed in The Auschwitz II-Burkenau Sonderkommando, part of the Institute’s Segments for the Classroom online video series. Watch

Survivors like Dario know what can happen when we follow the path of prejudice to its dead end, which is why he continues to share his story with the world. On March 8 he spoke at the Institute; watch a short video here.