My name is 82304 – How one Serbian woman, Auschwitz inmate Verica Jankovic faced the infamous Dr Mengele

Posted on January 24, 2015 by


How one Serbian woman, an Auschwitz inmate Verica Jankovic was arrested by Nazi soldiers, taken to Auschwitz, came across the infamous Dr. Josef Mengele. And survived.
‘I was a teenager when  I became aware of the fact that my own mother was a prisoner of the most monstrous Nazi concentration camp during World War II – Auschwitz.  Verica never talked much, and as a kid I didn’t show a special desire to hear stories about those horrible experiences. However, I will never forget the fact that she was there and that, among other things, during days, months, she was meeting, face to face, one of the most monstrous people ever, so-called ‘angel of death’, Dr Josef Mengele.” – says Milan Jankovic, Verica’s son.


Verica Jankovic (photo: personal archive)

– Josef Mengele, according to the available data, ended up of a heart attack or a stroke in 1979. on a beach in Brazil, avoiding justice thatnks to Vatican infamous ratlines ( ‘ratline’  – escape route former top NAZI and Croatian Ustashi used to flee to South America after the war),  where he spent decades in prosperity and tranquility, despite all the evil that was done to the human race.

“Mengele didn’t  seem like a torturer, on the contrary, his appearance was smooth, polished, his boots were shiny …”, my mother said.  However, Verica was aware what he was doing –  experiments in vivo, , quasi medical experiments on living people, so-called research related to twins …

‘He did not care whether someone dies, since there were always new human ‘materials’.

– But before getting to Auschwitz, Verica tried to break down and destroy Hitler’s Army, as we used to make jokes here. As a highly engaged member of Serbian Resistance, twentysomething years old Verica and her fellows dreamed about uprising against German Nazi occupation. So she was arrested by  Gestapo in Kosovska Mitrovica; the Gestapo took her to Belgrade, to Banjica, the notorious Nazi German camp.

Verica, a Serbian rebel, arrived to hell.

In June 1944, when the Wehrmacht was already before the beginning of its end, his mother was deported to Auschwitz – Birkenau, the Nazi gulag in Poland, where nearly a million and a half persons have been tortured and killed.

–  Since the satraps estimated that she was able to work, they spared her life.  She was called: 82304. That was her identity.

That was the number Germans tattooed on her arm.

“We were depersonalized, nameless. Non humans, but only the numbers,”  – Verica said.

This was followed by torture, bestiality, slave labor, starvation, fight for life. She saw German soldiers killing thousands of martyrs daily.  Nazi soldiers used to force them  nude into the “bathroom”, but instead of water from the roof  deadly poisonous gas “Zyklon B” was sprayed on them.  After they die or faint,  Nazi staff remotely opens  holes in the floor so the victims were falling directly into the fire.

‘Some were burned while they were still alive. The unbearable stench of burned bodies was spreading everywhere..:”

– My mother told me that during a period she was asigned to clean the hospital. That’s how she first saw Josef Mengele. She told me that she heard weird and gruesome sounds coming from Mengele’s “offices”, groans, horrible painful screams.

 ‘No one could help. They died in excruciating pain,  to be repalced by some new victims.’

In October 1944. after Verica finished cleaning one of the rooms of death in Auschwitz hospital, she saw radio apparatus in the office. Totally aware that life is at stake, she included the receiver and began to dial the station.

‘Everything was crackling and it was incomprehensible.However, even though the announcer spoke in German, she managed to recognize the words:  “German army had to withdraw from Belgrade.”

‘Our capital is liberated!’  Of course, the news was immediately flied through detention pavilions. There were tears of joy, fear and even silenced, almost mute,  songs. But that was not the end.

Trying to destroy evidence of the crimes, the Nazis began evacuating Auschwitz, displacing hundreds, thousands of survivors and prisoners to other camps, not as large as Auschwitz, but not less evil.  Verica has arrived to the territory of Germany.

‘The inmates felt that the war was coming to an end, that the allied forces were very close.”

However, my mother, like her surviving friends, had to wait. All they had was only hope, one more death march, this time from the Ravensbruck concentration camp! During the multi-day evacuation in 1945, many inmates have died in these paths of death, some of exhaustion, the other while trying to escape from the column. They were shot by German guards.

“We still managed … Two Serbian friends and me, we managed to hide in a barn. In the morning we saw a German lady and, since it has been announced that Germany was losing the war, she decided to help us to survive.

‘Few days later some soldiers have appeared.
Different from those which we have been surrounded by in the camps.
They were well-armed, but exhausted;  they looked triumphantly. We were told only: ‘Dyevushka, ‘Svobodna” , ‘You are free’ in Russian… ” recalled the mother of her first meeting with members of the Red Army.

After many vicissitudes and wandering through the devastated cities of Europe, Verica returned to their homeland. She started a family, got secure job. She worked as a teacher in primary schools in Kragujevac and Belgrade, trying to live an ordinary life. But after surviving the horror that was extremely difficult. I remember that she was often overwhelmed by thinking, often little depressive. Now I know that she was , in these moments,  revolving images of horror before her very eyes.

Everything scared her: thunder – reminded her of the bombing,  police reminded of Gestapo or SS Nazi units. For all her life she was scared of uniforms. As for her, the Germans were synonymous with the Third Reich.

She had neither the time nor the will to realize that everything changed. She died in 2003 at the age of 80, without waiting to personally receive part of the financial assistance of the German government for slave labor in Auschwitz and other concentration camps. In her memory they are all Mengele or some other creator of sick plan of extermination of innocent people.

“I do not know, I really do not know how I survived Auschwitz,” she repeated countless times.

Source: Politika, 24. January 2014.
author: Milan Jankovic

Posted in: Uncategorized