Unknown hero of Auschwitz Birkenau

When we hear about KL Auschwitz-Birkenau, and especially about the officers working there,
the image of the „evil guard” comes to mind. One who beats, challenges, humiliates, and
does everything to make the prisoners’ lives difficult. Today we want to tell you about one of
the first prisoners who worked in one of the most important positions in the extermination
camp, and who at the same time broke out of this stereotypical image.

Otto Küsel was the second prisoner registered in the camp. He was sent there for criminal
offenses as a political prisoner. Political prisoners were marked with a green triangle sewn
onto their striped uniforms. He admitted that he was a thief who stole money, but only him
confirmed this information. Political prisoners, especially the German ones, were an
excellent labor force in administrative matters. Otto quickly managed to get the position of
assigning jobs to other prisoners. Of course, he had SS men above him, who, for example,
determined how many people should be given employment, while Küsel determined who
exactly should be assigned certain jobs.

And it saved many lives.

Otto Küsel tried to match the work to the physical and health capabilities of the prisoners.
We also only know about one beating, and a kapo who did not beat was extremely rare.
Anyway, this beating was also merciful. The point was that one of the prisoners was tortured
acutely by one of the kapos. Küsel, wanting to help the prisoner, approached him and placed
a right hook on him, which rendered the prisoner unconscious but did not kill him. A few
days later, Küsel came to the prisoner, whom he struck with bread and sausage and wanted
to apologize to the prisoner and explain everything.

Otto quickly learned Polish language and communicated freely with Polish prisoners. So
much so that when three Polish prisoners decided to escape, Otto escaped with them.
Unfortunately, nine months afterward, he was caught and sent to the death block. One could
say that he was lucky, at that time a new camp commandant appeared, who ordered the
amnesty that was probably the only one in the history of KL Auschwitz, from which people
never returned from the block thanks to which Küsel was saved. Shortly before the liberation
of Auschwitz, he was transferred to KL Flossenbürg, where he was set free from the hands
of the Americans. He died at the age of 75.

The prisoners who met Küsel always spoke good words about him. Captain Pilecki himself
wrote a positive note about him. Otto Küsel became an example of German-Polish heroism,
and he is considered a hero of KL Auschwitz-Birkenau.

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