Dugo Litner

“Even in the darkest place on earth, you can find a sense of Humor.

When people think about the Holocaust, they rightfully think about the atrocities that the Jewish people suffered.

The Nazis did everything they could in order to break down our human spirit, so the only thing I could do to maintain my Humanity was to try to use my sense of humor and to make myself and the people around me happy.

Just for example:

In the cattle car, on our way to Auschwitz, the cart was so packed where you couldn’t even move. I demanded from the person who was almost glued to me to see his valid train ticket… in response, that person was about to hit me, but, luckily, my dad who was still with me at that time managed to stop that.

or

In that death camp itself. When I saw one of the Kapos limping, I imitated him behind his back in order to encourage my friends and to make them smile. If the Kapo would have seen me imitating him he would have killed me on the spot.

I was born with humor. There was always humor in my family. In school and at home I always made people laugh. Humor is part of my D.N.A, like the color of my eyes, It’s not something that changes. In the Getto, I walked around with the yellow badge, and despite all the terrible hardships, I was a happy kid because of the simple reason that I missed school and I didn’t have to go to the ‘Cheder’ and sit there all day long.

In Auschwitz, I worked cleaning the toilets, not something to laugh about. on the other hand, it’s the best job in the world if you are a certain candidate for extermination – As long as there will be poo – there will be someone to clean it. While cleaning it, there was so much poo. it was at the height of my knees. In that situation, you have two options: to die or to laugh. I preferred Laughing.

If not Laughing, from where would I find the strength to sing and dance, day after day in front of Jewish families who were oblivious to the fact that in a short while they will be consumed at the crematorium.

Down along the road I discovered that it’s very difficult to laugh after you receive 10 lashes as a punishment.

I also discovered that you can hide explosives in buckets of feces that later on will be delivered to the Sonderkommando who will carry out the explosion of crematorium NO. 4. That explosion took place on the 7th of October 1944 and I’m proud that I took part in that history.

During the Holocaust, I lost my entire family. The only survivors were my young brother who later on died at a young age in Israel and a few cousins. I went through hell and maybe this is the reason why I want to convey this message:

Each and everyone, in any circumstances in life, has the option to choose how to respond to it.  

If not for my sense of humor and the hope that my father is waiting for me at home, I’m sure I would have run directly to the electric fence and kill myself on the spot.

This is exactly the reason why I’m posing with a yellow-colored balloon in the shape of the yellow badge with the word “Jude” written on it, on a background of a brick wall…

I’m taking back the ownership for the symbol that turned me into a subhuman and turning it into an optimistic and smiling creation. When I tell my testimony in front of a crowd, I’m not skipping the moments of despair and crying. They are all there, But, I rather emphasize that life prevails.

After all, one of the most important mitzvahs in Judaism is to be constantly Happy!

This is my life motto:

Am Yisrael Chai! (The people of Israel is alive)

Am Yisrael Chai Vekayam! (The people of Israel is alive and endures)

Am Yisrael Chai Vekayam VMabsoot! (The people of Israel is alive, endures, and satisfied)

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