Hoffman: I used to think so much of myself... What I'd make of my life. We can't know what we're capable of, any of us. How can you know what you'd do to stay alive, until you're really asked? I know this now. For most of us, the answer... is anything. It's so easy to forget who we were before... who we'll never be again. There was this old man, he pushed the carts, and on our first day, when we had to burn our own convey, his wife was brought up on the elevator. Then his daughter... and then both his grandchildren. I knew him. We were neighbors. And in 20 minutes, his whole family, and all its future, was gone from this earth. Two weeks later, he took pills and was revived. We smothered him with his own pillow, and now I know why. You can kill yourself. That's the only choice. I want them to save you. I want them to save you more than I want anything. I pray to God we save you.
Title Card: As a part of the final solution the Nazis employed "special units", known as the Sonderkommandos, to aid in the extermination process at Third Reich death camps. These Jewish moles ushered victims into the gas chambers and processed their corpses after gassings. In exchange for their work, they received privileges unheard of by camp standards, before being exterminated themselves after four months.
Title Card: Based in part on the eyewitness account of Dr. Miklos Nyiszli, the Hungarian Jew assigned by Dr. Josef Mengele to assist in medical experiments on camp inmates, this film addresses true events surrounding the twelfth, largely Hungarian, Sonderkommando at Auschwitz II - Birkenua.
SS-Oberscharfuhrer Eric Muhsfeldt: I never fully despised the Jews until I experienced how easily they could be persuaded to do the work here. To do it so well. And to their own people! They'll be dead by week's end, every soul. And we'll replace them with others no different. Do you know how easy that will be?
SS-Hauptsturmfuhrer Josef Mengele: This isn't our war.
Doctor Miklos Nyiszli: Not mine.
SS-Hauptsturmfuhrer Josef Mengele: Nor mine. I can assure you. But, to allow this all to go to waste.
Doctor Miklos Nyiszli: I understand your position.
SS-Hauptsturmfuhrer Josef Mengele: Clearly you do more than that.
Doctor Miklos Nyiszli: As you wish.
SS-Hauptsturmfuhrer Josef Mengele: Meaning?
Doctor Miklos Nyiszli: There is no meaning.
SS-Hauptsturmfuhrer Josef Mengele: We're going to be increasing the volume of our research.
Doctor Miklos Nyiszli: I shall need more staff.
SS-Hauptsturmfuhrer Josef Mengele: Then you shall have more staff.
Gestapo Interrogator, SS-Untersturmfuhrer: [executing prisoners] I could say that I don't want to be doing this, but that wouldn't be true.
Simon Schlermer: I do not wish to be alive when all of this is over.
SS-Oberscharfuhrer Eric Muhsfeldt: I feel sorry for the world if we don't win the war.
Hoffman: [outside the gas chamber] You're all fine! The quicker you get undressed, the quicker you'll be clean, settled and reunited with your families.
Morris, Man with Watch: Filthy liar.
Hoffman: Remember the number of the hook you hang your clothes on!
Morris, Man with Watch: He's a liar! I can't believe it's Jews doing this!
Girl: After the revolt half the ovens remain, and we are carried to them together. I catch fire quickly. The first part of me rises in dense smoke that mingles with the smoke of others. Then there are the bones, which settle in ash. And these are swept up to be carried to the river. And last, bits of our dust that simply float there, in air, around the working of the new group. These bits of dust are gray. We settle on their shoes and on their faces and in their lungs. And they become so used to us that soon they don't cough and they brush us away. At this point they're just moving, breathing and moving like anyone else still alive in that place. And this is how the work continues.
Title Card: Dr. Miklos Nyiszli survived internment. He died of natural cause a decade after his release from the camps, never having practiced medicine again. His wife died in the late 1970s. The whereabouts of his daughter is unknown.
Title Card: Oberscharfuhrer Eric Muhsfeldt was tried in Cracow by the Supreme National Tribunal in 1947, where he was sentenced to death. The sentence was carried out.
Title Card: Of thirteen consecutive units of Sonderkommandos at Auschwitz, the twelfth rebelled. Its members destroyed nearly half the ovens on the Third Reich's largest and numerically most lethal death camp. These ovens were never rebuilt.