The murder of Yankel Meisel
17th July 1942: In Auschwitz individual survival hangs by a slender thread
July 17th, 1942 was a date that new Auschwitz inmate Rudolf Vrba1 would not forget - he had arrived in the camp at the end of June and he was watching very carefully, trying to learn the rules of survival in this new world.
All of the inmates were lined up outside their accommodation blocks. The camp orchestra - all prisoners - was playing "Why should we not be merry, when God gives us strength" from the Czech opera 'The Bartered Bride".
They were all waiting for Heinrich Himmler to arrive. Both prisoners and SS men were hoping that the formal visit would go without a hitch. Unfortunately at the last minute a transgression was discovered:
In the tenth row outside our Block, the Block Senior found Yankel Meisel without his full quota of tunic buttons.