I received a touching hand-written note this week from Roman Halter, a friend of mine and survivor of Auschwitz who I’ve interviewed already as part of my happiness research project. His interview is available to read on this site, but he decided to write an addendum. He writes:
A life free from being terrorized, free from that fear, is happiness.
Freedom under the law in a true democracy where the citizen is protected from the criminal and the criminal is isolated from society is, for the citizen, happiness.
Happiness on many levels.
One man, before being taken to the gas chamber at Auschwitz [said] Psalm 31, verse 6 [and was] calmly led to a happy end with a spirit that was devoid of fear. [The verse reads: ‘You hate those who pay regard to worthless idols, but I trust in the Lord’.]
We were told (the group of 500 metal workers from Lodz ghetto selected for slave labour) in Auschwitz-Birkenau that we looked so weak and were so starved that we, all of us, were only fit for the gas chambers and we should know that we came to Auschwitz-Birkenau through [the] gate which is only one way and that is ‘IN’. The out part is through the chimney. So, when eventually we were put into cattle trucks and PASSED OUT of Auschwitz-Birkenau the joy, the happiness of most was something I will not forget.
Roman has also added a simple line drawing of the recognisable gateway to the camp at Auschwitz with an arrow pointing to the entrance.