A Seder In Auschwitz
Below is Israel Cohen's account of a seder in Auschwitz from his book "Destined to Survive":
"On the night before the first night of Pesach, I ate my portion of bread very late. In the morning I did not eat anything but "soup". I was determined that at least on the first night I would not eat any chametz. That evening we talked about Passover before the war, and how we all celebrated the holiday with our families. We remembered the kneidlach that our mothers had prepared and all the treats that came with the festival. When the light on our block went out, and everyone turned over on their sides to sleep, I said to my friend Yossel, "Well, we can't fulfill the commandments of eating matzah and bitter herbs - but we really don't need any bitter herbs to remind us of the bitterness the Jews suffered in Egypt. Could theirs have been worse than ours? Impossible! Let us at least say the Haggadah, whatever we remember by heart."
So we recited "Ma Nishtanah" and "Avadim Hayinu" and everything else that came into our memories. Even though we chanted in very low voices, we seemed to be disturbing our neighbors. "What are you crazy chassidim doing, saying the Haggadah? Do you have matzos, do you have wine and all the necessary food to make a seder? Sheer stupidity!"
I remembered that I answered them, "We aren't doing it just for the fun of it. We are fulfilling the commandment of the Almighty to relate tonight the story of the Exodus from Egypt. If we don't have all the necessary accompaniments, it is not our fault, and we are not commanded to do the impossible. And who knows which seder is more welcome in Heaven, our seder in the dark and on empty stomachs, in pain and suffering and under duress, or the seder of our brothers in the United States and other countries that are not under the German's boots, who have matzos, wine, fish and chicken, and have big chandeliers lighting their tables, and are free to do what they want."
At this they became silent, and we felt afterwards that they showed us more respect."