Magically efficient Nazi pneumonia

Found in: Sophie’s Choice, by William Styron. London: Cape, 1979.

“The Russians were coming [toward Auschwitz/Birkenau] and the SS wanted the children destroyed. Most of them were Polish; the Jewish children were already dead. They thought of burning them alive in a pit, or shooting them, but they decided to do something that wouldn’t show too many marks and evidence. So in the freezing cold they marched the children down to the river and made them take off their clothes and soak them in the water as if they were washing them, and then made them put on these wet clothes again. Then they marched them back to the area in front of the barracks where they had been living and had a roll call. Standing in their wet clothes. The roll call lasted for many, many hours while the children stood wet and freezing and night came. All of the children died of being exposed that day. They died of exposure and pneumonia, very fast.”